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Alfa Romeo 145 - 146 Forum _ ICE Lounge _ New Stereo Dilemma

Posted by: GialloEvo94 17th October 2008 15:52

I'm looking at possibly moving into the 20th century with stereo technology by replacing the bog standard 10-year old factory-fitted Sony Tape Deck / CD-Changer head unit with a more modern one.

I would like one with Bluetooth and also USB functionality, and was also hoping to try and also retain the CD-Changer functionality with the existing Sony CD-Changer in the boot but unfortunately the only head unit that Sony does with both Bluetooth and USB (MEX-BT3600U) doesn't have CD-Changer capabilities. The Sony one that does have Bluetooth and CD-Changer capabilities (MEX-BT5100) doesn't have USB rolleyes.gif As USB is my preference over CD-Changer functionality it looks like I will therefore have to bin the idea of still being able to utilise my current CD-Changer.

The only *concern* I have over the Sony unit is that the USB port is on the front and not a trailing lead from the back as some units have. I'm in two minds as to whether the USB slot being on the front is a good thing or a bad thing. The pros are that there is no faffing about trying to find a cable in the back of the glovebox to plug a USB stick into, but the cons are that a USB stick will be protruiding quite a long way out from the front and for security I would have to remove it every time I leave the car. With the "lead in the glovebox" systems it would be hidden so no need to remove it all the time. Does anyone have experience of a front-mounted USB stereo or any other thoughts on this to help me try and make up my mind?

These are the two units I've currently shortlisted as potential candidates (click for links to the detailed info):-

The Pioneer does actually have CD-Changer capabilities in addition to both Bluetooth and USB but it can't be connected to a Sony CD-Changer and I'm not paying for a new Pioneer CD-Changer just as a nice-to-have. Therefore, the CD-Changer option on that one is pretty much irrelevant.

Posted by: returner 17th October 2008 16:29

my personal preference is audio input on the front so you can plug anything that takes headphones directly into it whether its an ipod, tele, mobile phone, plus if someone else is in the car with there mp3 player they can plug it in, one lead fits all

Posted by: Mason 17th October 2008 16:45

IMO, go for the Pioneer. It looks smart. If you a very very serious music listener and listen to about five cd's a day then go for all that 'fancy stuff'.

Look at it this way, if you swop between cd's all the time whilst driving, then go for the 'fancy stuff', if however you don't particularly do that. Then why get all the gimmicks, I would just get something simple.

Posted by: rhyds 17th October 2008 17:40

My blaupunkt hamburg has served me well. The understated design suits the dash (in my opinion) and the bluetooth phone connection works well. The current plan is to fit a surface-mount USB socket in the dash like the current 147/159s.

Posted by: GialloEvo94 19th October 2008 22:10

Well I went to a car audio specialist today and had a look at what was on offer in the flesh.

I have to say that I was very disappointed with the http://www.pioneer.co.uk/uk/products/25/121/61/DEH-P700BT/index.html unit which before seeing I was very tempted to go for. The most offputting thing about it was the main "controller disc" on the left hand side which is a hideous device that can best described as a cross between a knob and a joystick. To operate various functions you press the edges of the disc and it flexes over on what feels like a rubbery shaft. It really did feel quite horrible to use...I don't know what the Pioneer designers were thinking of when they came up with that one. Anyone who sees one in real life will see exactly what I mean. The rest of the functionality is great but that controller disc alone was enough to wipe the DEH-700BT off my shortlist.

The http://www.kenwood-electronics.co.uk/products/car/cd_receivers/KDC-BT8041U is also a really nice unit in the flesh and has all the functionality I'm looking for so now it's a toss up between that one and the Sony and the http://www.sony.co.uk/product/ica-bluetooth-car-stereo/mex-bt3600u.

Posted by: Mason 20th October 2008 20:24

I really thought that Pioneer had turned around and started making better equipment these days, but I guess with the location of the stereo in these cars, that Pioneer would be rather irratating.

I would go for the Kenwood, looks fairly straight forward and smart. No other brand you like in particular? Or are you not to fussy?

Posted by: GialloEvo94 20th October 2008 23:10

I'm only fussy in terms of the equipment being a respected manufacturer in terms of car audio equipment. I looked at the Blaupunkt units but I think you either like their styling or you don't. I'm in two minds and the ones that I do like are way above the price I want to pay. Alpine is another good make but again they have some very strange designs out at the moment which you either like or you don't. Never been a real fan of JVC stuff and not that keen on the current Clarion range.

Anyway, after all the dithering about, I've finally come to a decision on the http://www.kenwood-electronics.co.uk/products/car/cd_receivers/KDC-W7541U. It doesn't have built-in Bluetooth but can be extended to handle Bluetooth Hands-Free Phone functionality and A2DP/AVRCP Audio Streaming by using a http://www.kenwood-electronics.co.uk/products/car/accessories/KCA-BT200 which I also intend to get. The cost of both of those doesn't work out to be too much more than the http://www.kenwood-electronics.co.uk/products/car/cd_receivers/KDC-BT8041U unit on it's own (which has native built-in Bluetooth support) but the advantage with the KDC-W7541U is that is has 3 sets of pre-outs (front, rear & sub) instead of just 2, and it also has a "5L Bus" connection socket on the back which allows for external modules to be connected (Bluetooth Interface, CD Changer etc.) which makes it much more flexible for possible future expandability if I ever go that route. The Kenwoods do have USB and auxilary inputs (both on the rear) as well as native iPod control so they can handle pretty much any external music source you throw at them.

Posted by: 67duetto 21st October 2008 06:35

If you have decided on Kenwood then look at http://www.kenwooddirect.co.uk/ before giving your hard earned dosh to a dealer. smile.gif

Posted by: Mason 25th October 2008 21:19

Why don't you get one from these blokes....? ( try the CD-300 )

They rather different

Posted by: GialloEvo94 25th October 2008 21:52

QUOTE(Mason @ 25th October 2008 22:19) *
Why don't you get one from these blokes....? ( try the CD-300 )

They rather different

Whats a CD-300? The only references just returns results for a Sony camera unsure.gif

The equipment was ordered last week. The Head Unit is coming from http://www.icebuyer.co.uk/kdc-w7541u-cd-mp3-player-usb-wma-p-12870.html at £123 which is the cheapest place by a long shot (the next cheapest place is £148 and the average selling price is around £170 so it's a good saving). The Bluetooth Interface Unit is coming from http://www.lowcostcaraudio.co.uk/lcca/4148/mia/pid/7340594 as they have an offer on which saves about £10 over the next cheapest seller. So all-in, just short of £200 with delivery costs.

Posted by: Mason 25th October 2008 21:59

QUOTE(GialloEvo94 @ 25th October 2008 23:52) *
Whats a CD-300? The only references just returns results for a Sony camera unsure.gif


Sorry, I forgot to add the link in. It was a Nakamichi. blush.gif

So it was the Kenwood then?

Posted by: GialloEvo94 25th October 2008 22:09

QUOTE(Mason @ 25th October 2008 22:59) *
Sorry, I forgot to add the link in. It was a Nakamichi. blush.gif

So it was the Kenwood then?

That Nakamichi unit doesn't seem to be available in the UK for some reason (certainly no online suppliers for it that I can find anyway). However that said, from the specs on the Nakamichi website it doesn't have any external connectivity options (no bluetooth, aux input, USB or CD changer options) so wouldn't really have fitted my requirements.

Yes, I did go for the Kenwood gear. I hope I made the right decision. I guess I'll find out once it arrives and I've managed to install it.

Posted by: Hodges33 26th October 2008 09:09

QUOTE(GialloEvo94 @ 25th October 2008 22:09) *
That Nakamichi unit doesn't seem to be available in the UK for some reason (certainly no online suppliers for it that I can find anyway). However that said, from the specs on the Nakamichi website it doesn't have any external connectivity options (no bluetooth, aux input, USB or CD changer options) so wouldn't really have fitted my requirements.

Yes, I did go for the Kenwood gear. I hope I made the right decision. I guess I'll find out once it arrives and I've managed to install it.


Alrite guys, you'll probabley laugh at me when i say this but i recently bought a stereo from ALDI!
Its got bluetooth hands free, USB, memory card slot and a headphone jack too!
Sound quality is better than my pioneer (100) stereo, all this for

49.99!
Cant go wrong

Posted by: Mason 26th October 2008 13:56

QUOTE(GialloEvo94 @ 26th October 2008 00:09) *
That Nakamichi unit doesn't seem to be available in the UK for some reason (certainly no online suppliers for it that I can find anyway). However that said, from the specs on the Nakamichi website it doesn't have any external connectivity options (no bluetooth, aux input, USB or CD changer options) so wouldn't really have fitted my requirements.

Yes, I did go for the Kenwood gear. I hope I made the right decision. I guess I'll find out once it arrives and I've managed to install it.


Sounds good, that Nakamichi is really different. One either likes or dis-likes it. But is real good quality.


That is a fair amount of dosh you spent on the head unit. What speakers/amp do you have? I will be interested in how the unit fits in...? I battled with mine, and even today it don't sit to well. Its a little loose...

Posted by: GialloEvo94 26th October 2008 17:42

QUOTE(Mason @ 26th October 2008 13:56) *
That is a fair amount of dosh you spent on the head unit. What speakers/amp do you have? I will be interested in how the unit fits in...? I battled with mine, and even today it don't sit to well. Its a little loose...

I didn't actually think that price was too bad for a decent make system with stacks of functionality & expandability. Mind you, I've been out of the stereo market for quite some time and there seem to be quite a lot of stereos around these days with a lot of features for not a lot of money. The last stereo I bought (some 8 or 9 years ago) was a Pioneer KEH-P8600R head unit which cost me £500 alone without any additional extras. Previous to that I had a Pioneer KEH-P9600RDS which was £600 although some toe-rag broke into the car and nicked it.

Currently I'm on the standards speakers but will look to change those in the near future. I'll let you know how I get on with the fitting of the head unit.

Posted by: Mason 26th October 2008 18:09

QUOTE(GialloEvo94 @ 26th October 2008 19:42) *
I didn't actually think that price was too bad for a decent make system with stacks of functionality & expandability. Mind you, I've been out of the stereo market for quite some time and there seem to be quite a lot of stereos around these days with a lot of features for not a lot of money. The last stereo I bought (some 8 or 9 years ago) was a Pioneer KEH-P8600R head unit which cost me 500 alone without any additional extras. Previous to that I had a Pioneer KEH-P9600RDS which was 600 although some toe-rag broke into the car and nicked it.

Currently I'm on the standards speakers but will look to change those in the near future. I'll let you know how I get on with the fitting of the head unit.



I don't know the prices there but over here, one can get the real high end equipment for that money. Its a pity the newer Pioneer was not up to standard, I sense a bit of a Pioneer fan here.

I changed my front and rear speakers with more modern items, but simply run them off my head unit. I can't be bothered trying to fit a amp and then trying to run cables and all that nonsense. Try squeeze in some new front speakers, nothing expensive, it will make a huge difference.

Posted by: GialloEvo94 26th October 2008 20:28

QUOTE(Mason @ 26th October 2008 18:09) *
I don't know the prices there but over here, one can get the real high end equipment for that money. Its a pity the newer Pioneer was not up to standard, I sense a bit of a Pioneer fan here.

I changed my front and rear speakers with more modern items, but simply run them off my head unit. I can't be bothered trying to fit a amp and then trying to run cables and all that nonsense. Try squeeze in some new front speakers, nothing expensive, it will make a huge difference.

Well, when you consider the price of fuel at the moment it is only the equivilent of 2 tanks of petrol in the UK rolleyes.gif I used to love the Pioneer stuff but they seem to have gone a bit off track with their way-out designs in recent times.

With previous cars I've always gone the whole hog and fitted individual amps for the fronts, rears and sub but this time I will probably just stick with the head unit outputs and the 4 in-car speakers although something better than the standard ones smile.gif

Posted by: Mason 26th October 2008 20:54

QUOTE(GialloEvo94 @ 26th October 2008 22:28) *
Well, when you consider the price of fuel at the moment it is only the equivilent of 2 tanks of petrol in the UK rolleyes.gif


Wow..... That is rather heavy blink.gif

For me, an equivalent radio is about 5 tanks of fuel...

Posted by: gman145 1st November 2008 00:29

Hi All,

Bit late for this reply but never too late! smile.gif

Not to hijack this thread.....

But I've owned a Nakamichi and currently have my BRILLIANT Nak CD-400 for sale.
So if anyone wants one of the best sound quality head units ever produced, then let me know.

Anyhow...

The Pioneer DEH-P700BT is a cracking unit!!!
3x hi volt pre-outs,
USB, Aux-in, P-Bus for expandability too.
RGB colour, flip front, 4x 50 Mosfet amp,
iPod direct (charge and full control)
Built in B/Tooth with included mic...

What more could you need????

Granted you may not initially likeed the feel of the rotary commander. but then you probably tried it with your right hand in the store. It's designed to be easy to use while in the car- used mainly with your left hand for when its installed. By having this all in one menu it removes the buttons off the front of the fascia cleaning it up making it look far better and easier to use! Compare it to anything else in comparison and you'll see what I mean.

Still.. it's your choice and the fact you purchased the seperate components already means you made the choice right for you. smile.gif

Anyone else.. Sony is Pony! haha.

Let us know once you've installed it as to what it's like.. be interested to see how you got on. smile.gif

Posted by: GialloEvo94 1st November 2008 00:45

Installed the head unit this morning in about 20 mins flat. Then another hour looking at and setting up the various options. Looks and sounds fantastic even with the standard speakers although I'll look into upgrading those when I can in the not too distant future. I'll be putting the bluetooth interface unit in tomorrow after I've got some stick-on velcro strips as it's going inside the centre console and I don't want to drill any unnecessary holes. With the separate bluetooth unit, the Kenwood has everything the Pioneer has without the stupid navigator knob/joystick and so far I'm very pleased with it biggrin.gif

Posted by: gman145 1st November 2008 01:00

including extra buttons and flashy lights... wink.gif

For your mic, it should be able to be clipped into the top of your a pillar.
Run the cable behind that panel and then safe and securely under the bottom of your dash into the centre console to the unit.

No drilling is needed for b/tooth units on all manufacturers.

If you sometimes have your phone in the pocket under the stereo, then when you install your b/tooth module, mount it far as possible from this area otherwise you'll get interference during calls.

Enjoy it. smile.gif

Posted by: GialloEvo94 1st November 2008 10:29

QUOTE(gman145 @ 1st November 2008 01:00) *
If you sometimes have your phone in the pocket under the stereo, then when you install your b/tooth module, mount it far as possible from this area otherwise you'll get interference during calls.

Hmmm...I was going to mount it just inside the the bottom hole where the pocket clips in and velcro it vertically to the left hand side of the centre console trim surround as there is a perfect size area there for it to fit in. Do you think that's a bad location? If so then I'm going to have to try and find somewhere else.

Does this also mean that for anyone who gets a stereo with built-in bluetooth (where you can't physically locate the bluetooth comms interface somewhere else as it's part of the stereo itself), then they will get inteference if they put their phone in that pocket?

Posted by: gman145 2nd November 2008 14:48

No.

I've been using the Pioneer DEH-P700BT and had the phone in the pocket underneath and had no real problems with both a samsung handset and a nokia handset.
This has the B/tooth all built in.

Just on external seperate modules they can sometimes cause echo's for the other end if the phone is too close to the module.
So to save any potential issues, just fit it elsewhere if you can find a suitable location.

Cheers,
G.

Posted by: GialloEvo94 2nd November 2008 15:17

QUOTE(gman145 @ 2nd November 2008 14:48) *
Just on external seperate modules they can sometimes cause echo's for the other end if the phone is too close to the module.
So to save any potential issues, just fit it elsewhere if you can find a suitable location.

I found a good alternative position for the bluetooth unit under the dash of the passenger side footwell so well away from the head unit. Fitted it this morning with heavy duty velco and it works a treat smile.gif With the phone in the pocket under the stereo there is no echoing either in the car or on the other end. The bluetooth audio streaming from the phone also works well smile.gif I put the microphone just below the heater dials right next to the panel that hides the airbag connector so the mic wire just goes straight in through the gap in that panel and is completely hidden. Goes quite well there and is accessible to both driver and passenger depending on whose phone is linked up to the stereo via bluetooth.

I'll get some pictures later and post them up.

Posted by: GialloEvo94 2nd November 2008 17:14

QUOTE(GialloEvo94 @ 2nd November 2008 15:17) *
I'll get some pictures later and post them up.

Kenwood KDC-W7541U Head Unit and bluetooth unit microphone...



Kenwood KCA-BT200 Bluetooth Interface Unit mounted up under the dashboard...



The USB connector is on a lead coming from the back of the stereo and I have fed it into the back of the glovebox so the plugged-in USB memory stick is hidden well away inside the glovebox and out of view from any potential thieves but still very easy to access and change over sticks if need be smile.gif

Posted by: alfats 2nd November 2008 20:32

well choosed SD card type of radio
perfect choisse 2 GB SD card cost 4-5 pounds
radio price was 85 euro pretty cheap
http://www.engadget.com/2007/09/20/blaupunkt-rolls-out-sd-card-based-car-stereo/

Posted by: yetyGT 3rd January 2012 15:03

Heaving the same dilemma myself. Car came with pretty cheap looking circus style JVC head unit and would like to change it to something that fits the look of the dashboard. Was thinking about the VDO, BLAUPUNKT and BECKER units.

Nevertheless still tempted with the OEM SONY units with integrated shelf. But can't find any. Are they still available? Where to look for them?

Posted by: Alfa&i 2nd May 2012 22:10

Hey, not sure if you've made your mind up yet,
I've got the old version of the Pioneer and it fits really nicely in it's slot, no issues at all.
Plus i've had my pioneer for about 4 years and it's still going strong!
i've also got steering controls from the song tape deck that was in the car (not sure if that was original) but these also work with the pioneer.
so i'd say go with that!

Posted by: JasonHillAO 2nd May 2012 22:31

I purchased a Sony xplod headunit with Bluetooth for 50 of of eBay and it plugs straight in and the original steering console controls fit right in and the changer in the boot works perfectly smile.gif

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