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Thread: Car Audio.

  1. #1
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    Car Audio.

    The Benz hasn't exploded yet, so it's time to start thinking about a stereo replacement. It still has its original Becker tape player, with sweet 6-disc changer in the trunk. It's no bueno. I believe this car has a built-in amplifier or crossover or something but it's all speaker-level inputs, so I don't need anything fancy. In fact, I don't want anything fancy. AM/FM/CD/USB. I might be willing to give up CD. I might want to add Bluetooth. I'm sorely tempted to take the JVC out of the Fiero and move it over to get more features in the Fiero, but that head unit looks darned decent in the Fiero and would look terrible in the Mercedes. So sad. I'd like rear USB for the stealth factor, but am leaning towards front USB for the ease of install. Perhaps I don't care enough about either scenario.

    Possibly a Pioneer DEH-X6600BT (CD, front USB, BT)


    or a Pioneer DEH-X560BT (no CD, rear USB, BT)


    or a Blaupunkt Helsinki 220 BT (CD, front USB, BT)


    I'm leaning towards the Blaupunkt for its looks (keep it German, yo), but I'm not sure about how graceful its Bluetooth will be. I've had issues in the past.

    These are all really cheap receivers, but should do the job fine.

  2. #2
    Corvette Enthusiast Kchrpm's Avatar
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    Get that weak shit off my track

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    Sony does not have variable color lighting, so they are summarily dismissed along with Alpine. But, for $220 I think the Pioneer DEH-X8600BH is a better choice anyway. You lose two eq bands and satellite radio, but gain HD radio, Siri pass-through, variable lighting, and a better FM tuner. I haven't found anything compelling about Sony's car audio in many years. They used to be 1-2 with Pioneer and ten years ago won a lot of business from me with their early, awesome support for MP3 but I feel like they've really lost their way. I haven't looked at Sony seriously in probably six or seven years.

  4. #4
    Corvette Enthusiast Kchrpm's Avatar
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    Oh, I only went for the most expensive Sony single DIN, I know nothing about them I would want one that has some sweet visualization thing on a full color, high res LCD.
    Get that weak shit off my track

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    I used to want rear usb for the stealth factor, I wanted to run the cable somewhere and have a usb port in the car. Then I discovered the tiny form factor that usb drives were available in, such as the cruzer fit range. I have an 8 gig one in the alpine in the SLK. It never leaves the faceplate, it even fits in the case with the drive in the port. I only have to take it out to put new music on, and with 64 gig drives now available you wont be doing that often.

    Years ago Sony bought out a receiver with a gig of flash memory in the faceplate itself which you plugged in to a computer to transfer music to. I always liked the concept but it was a little too clumsy dragging the fascia to a pc and hooking it up via the mini usb plug. Having a tiny high capacity drive in the faceplate at ask times is the evolution of this concept and works stunningly well.

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    Yeah, I use tiny little USB drives as well -



    I bought a handful of 32gb ones ($18ea) and just leave them in the cars. I set up a profile in Allway Sync to copy one to the next, so I just make a master and then duplicate it to four or five other drives periodically so there's all the same. Works perfectly, and I never take them out of the stereo.

    The only reason I still think about stealth USB ports in the car is for the person who might want to plug in their phone for music (instead of BT) or charging. With a remotely mounted USB port, you don't end up with a phone cable draped across the center console. That scenario is reasonably unusual so I don't stress about it, but it's still a consideration. I suppose if you didn't have a supported cell phone or were still rockin' an iPod shuffle, having a remote mounted aux in port could be handy too. If I run one, I'd run them both. Not sure either really matter in the Mercedes.

    That said, I am leaning towards the Pioneer MVH-X560BT - I like the bigger display that results from not having a CD slot. I'm just trying to figure out what the stock stereo in the car consists of. I can't get a straight answer about the factory amplifiers, and whether they expect line level in or speaker level in... that answer might sway my vote. Crutchfield seems to think they are speaker level, but Metra seems to think they're line.

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    I opted for the MVH-X560BT, screw CDs! Sonic Electronix had it for $110 and they include the wiring harness and antenna adapter for free. Unfortunately, they don't have a wiring harness for a 1994 E320, so I told them it was a 1992 Jetta. GO UNIVERSAL EURO ISO! About $10 in tax brought me to $120, which is still $10 less than Crutchfield was selling it and I get it three days earlier. Ah Crutchfield, I am struggling to figure out what you're good for anymore - and how I am ever going to use up the $62 of credit you're holding for me.

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    MVH-X560BT, initial reactions: It's tiny. I thought it was going to be a normal head unit with no CD mechanism. but it's not. It's half the depth of a normal head unit, which I enjoy very much. The knob is about the cheapest knob I have ever felt from Pioneer. It's functional, but doesn't feel like quality. The display is also not nearly as nice as it appears in the pictures. Again, it works (and in fact it's very bright and very clear), but being very clearly segment based sucks just a little. I had hoped for more, but it meets expectations - at $110 you get what you pay for.

    I'll check out the USB & Bluetooth functions in a couple days. I'm betting the electronics that run that stuff is common across all current Pioneer stuff, so I'll bet it's solid. Oh, also, one thing I hadn't noticed in the specs is that is supports RDS. That's a happy surprise - I just can't believe that these days some things don't, but it seems to be the exception not the rule.

  9. #9
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    USB: Works great. Parsed a 32gb flash drive very quickly, and moves track to track and folder to folder instantly. Reads and displays ID3 tags super fast. Very typical Pioneer performance. As corny as it looks, again the big 9-segment display makes it very easy to read track information.

    Bluetooth: Had a feature called "autopair" enabled with prevented it from pairing to my phone. My phone couldn't even detect it. Once I turned that on, the stereo appeared instantly in the Bluetooth list and it was easy to pair. I enjoy that the stereo supports the 6-digit confirmation code so that you don't have random schmoes on the road trying to pair to the stereo. Having been one of those random schmoes pairing on I80 to "Katy's Kar" I appreciate the added security. I did not let it grab my contacts, so no idea how that works. Complaints are limited to a non-adjustable mic volume (as far as I can tell) and no phone voice control passthrough (that I can find). I'll look deeper to be sure it doesn't have that latter feature - because I find it very convenient to be able to text & drive with voice commands. Basic Bluetooth for making & receiving calls works great, so my core goal was met.

    Given you don't need a CD player and you have external amps, this head unit is probably the best bang for the buck there is. If it did better than 14w RMS, it would have broader applicability, but oh well. It's a perfect fit for this application - I definitely made the right choice.

  10. #10
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    In my searching for head units for the Mercedes I must have checked out Amazon's prices because they have been emailing me mercilessly with "you might also be interested in..." advertisements.

    It looks like they now stock the Rockford Fosgate PBR300X4, the Clarion XC1410 and the Alpine KTP-445U. These are all Class D 4-channel ultra-compact amplifiers - the RF and Clarion being 4x75w and the Alpine 4x45w. They're all about the same size - 1-2" x 1-2" x 6-7" - a little more than palm-sized. I'm sure the guts inside are all roughly the same. The Clarion and Alpine are both under $100, the RF about $130. I feel like they must be on sale, as last time I looked they were $150+. I'm kinda thinking about jumping on one of them for the SPG and maybe another for the Falcon while they're cheap. Anyone heard about any of them in the year since they were last discussed?

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