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Nitrousbird

Help me choose a head unit for the tow vehicle

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Nitrousbird

I installed a budget system in my Avalanche back in 2006. I spent 2 months price shopping as I wanted to get the very best bang for my buck you could possibly get for under $900 (out the door w/ box and wiring). Ended up with two 10" Kicker's under the rear seat, Eclipse Class D Monoblock amp, Infininity coaxes in the rear, Kicker components up front and a Pioneer Premier 980BT

I got this head unit a week after its release for a freaking steal of a deal and it was Pioneer's top featured single-din unit for a couple of years. I still like it but she is wearing out - the right direction button now hits down half the time and recently it has been factory resetting itself after a few hours of being off (not a battery issue). Time to replace her.

My requirements:

- Single DIN. Sadly, my Avalanche is the only year offered with a 1.5 DIN opening. I'm not willing to go through the work/cost to convert the dash to double DIN

- Must have a rear AUX input

- At least 4V pre-outs

- Some sort of iPod/iPhone connectivity. This is where it gets tricky. For my current unit, I have an old 20GB iPod that is basically a portable hard drive that stays in the truck, then I connect my iPhone via Bluetooth. I'd like to be able to control my iPhone via the lightning connector AND have my old iPod in use as well. May/may not be possible with anything out there. Loading everything on a big USB stick/SD card that stays in the truck is also 100% okay.

- I'm cool with a pull-out nav screen unit. I don't need navigation as I do have a hard mounted Garmin but it would be nice - willing to spend a little extra for this.

What I've found so far:

Pioneer AVH-X7500BT. I like it except Pioneer's implementation of the iPhone 5 hookup is pretty poor...it is a patched together mess to be honest and is a significant additional cost to make it work.

Pioneer DEH-80PRS. I don't need a CD player. Decent specs, though I'm not sure how well the iPhone 5 will hook up with it.

Kenwood KDC-X997 is about the only unit I saw on the website I was really interested in. Seems similar to the Pioneer above.

Clarion's website sucks. I saw a couple alright units, but I don't think any of them meet the needs as well as the above 3 would.

Alpine CDE-HD149BT. For a non-pullout screen unit, I am really liking this, especially for the price.

JVC KD-X80BT. Seems alright and a good price, though I've not been overly impressed with JVC in the past.

Sony didn't have anything I was impressed with.

Any thoughts on the above or any units I didn't mention worth a consideration? As long as we aren't talking low-end price point brands, I'm pretty much open to anything as long as it is good.

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Nitrousbird

http://www.crutchfield.com/S-7bLWk0u4eeZ/p_158DSX310B/Sony-DSX-S310BTX.html

I have heard excpetional things about this H/U...lot of guys in Cali are running them in boats with 15k to 20k invested in the stereo.

My issue with that unit is I need to buy a specific iPod to fit inside and I thought it was a bit gimmicky. Not real confident on its iPhone control and you also have to utilize the front USB which I'm not a fan of at all according to the documentation.

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shawndoggy

Seems like the DEH-80prs is the easy call. has bluetooth, two usb and an sd card slot (just throw a 64gb sd card in and call it a day). Basically the new iteration of what you already have. Great SQ HU, and it will be plug and play with what you already have. Time alignment for goodness sake!

I have a double din pioneer touchscreen (dvd4300) in my truck and really DON'T like the touchscreen for controlling stuff while driving. buttons are a lot better in that regard. I'd replace it but I've got an ipbus xm tuner that seems to be permanently enabled, and pioneer dumped the ip-bus interface on the newer stuff.

I just put a double din sony in my daughter's car, and their new ap-remote setup seems pretty good. no problem interfacing iphone 5 and hu through an amazon lightning cable.

The MEX-GS600BT does most of what you want (but only one usb input), and the screen isn't nearly as sexy as the pioneer. It's a lot cheaper than the pioneer though and if you don't use the advanced features of the pioneer might be a good buy?

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skyskier

I have never met an Alpine that I didn't like. The controls are always simple and intuitive....and the volume control is a rotary knob. Old guys like that. Thank you Jesus. I used their CDE-148BT CD with Bluetooth and HD radio in a recent system. It does everything it is supposed to do and does it well. The sound quality is excellent.

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robtr8

For the money, you won't find a better HU than the 80PRS. Zero floor noise, very good DAC, only thing it's missing is HD radio. Should work with the iPhone 5, I tried my iPad 4 w/iOS 7 the other day and it worked fine. If your not going to run it in network mode with the active crossover though, it's probably overkill. There is a firmware update for the BT and iOS 6 that I haven't applied yet because it requires a laptop with BT and Win 7, which I don't have. The 80 PRS thread on DIYMA is 90 pages long and still active. Mostly praise for it's incredible sound.

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Nitrousbird

After researching a little more, I've narrowed it down to two: Pioneer DEH-80PRS and the Alpine CDE-HD149BT.

Now I'm trying to narrow it down further.

- Alpine I can score for $228 shipped (or slightly cheaper). Pioneer is $251 shipped. Win for the Alpine, but only slightly

- Alpine has 4V pre-outs, Pioneer has 5V. Win for the Pioneer, but only slightly

- Looks like both need the 30-8 pin adapter to work. The Pioneer for sure as it was released in 2012, the Alpine is harder to tell. A loss for both.

- Alpine unit was released in Spring 2013, Pioneer is Spring 2012, so the Pioneer is likely to be replaced sooner in the lineup. Win Alpine.

- I have 0.0 use for HD Radio. Win for Pioneer I guess, but doesn't really matter.

- Alpine has the new TuneIt app which I've read some decent things about. Win for Alpine.

- Alpine has a Sirius ability with replay; Pioneer doesn't have Sirius abilities. I currently run my Sirius on a dock and through the Aux input - I'd have to do the

same with the Pioneer but could get a SCVDOC1 and hide my Sirius unit away and control it with the Alpine. Big win for Alpine

- Pioneer has 2 USB ports + SD slot. Alpine has one USB. That a huge minus for the Alpine, as I can't use a storage stick/old iPod to keep in the truck while still hard wiring the iPhone. Big win for the Pioneer.

Hmmm, it's a hard decision. I'm leaning slightly towards the Alpine based on the Sirius, TuneIt app and price. But it is slight at best and I could be swayed by any reasonable evidence against the Alpine. I know the Alpine had some power antenna issues but that wouldn't impact me.

I'm not sure how each company has upgraded their menu setups. I have the Alpine iDA-X100M + Imprint box (thank god they went away from all the add-on crap), and my old Pioneer has a better menu setup by a mile.

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robtr8

The 80PRS bypasses the iPhone DAC and uses it's own Burr Brown chip. You can use the USB to Lightning cable.

The Pioneer - Apple interface is way better than all of the others accept Alpine. Alpine worked with Apple right from the start of iPoddom and they do it very well. Only downside to Pioneer is the menu (search) starts fresh each time you restart the car. Minor annoyance, depending on how you listen to your playlists.

TuneIt looks pretty neat. But in practice I would trust your ears over another persons "tune". You can achieve similar results with Pioneer's awesome autoEQ feature and then fine tune it using the FFT App from Studio Six.

I think you'd be happy either way. I suggest going and playing with each of them as ultimately, the tactile feel of each unit is what you have to live with every day. I have a feeling the nod goes to Alpine on this one. Part of the reason the 80PRS is so cheap compared to Pioneer's Stage 4 P99, which Crutchfield sells at $1,200, is that it shares the front plate of the rest of the single DIN line up, which is kinda chintzy.

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shawndoggy

A non answer, but on my pioneer I leave a 16gb thumbie with music on the USB cable. Reads fine but it probably takes 15 seconds or so to actually read the thumb drive which gets annoying after a while.

I like the pioneer because you can reuse all of your existing wiring and because you are otherwise familiar. But just barely. The alpine looks nice too.

First world problems.

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Nitrousbird

Ugh, this is getting more difficult for me.

I've found refurbs of the Pioneer 80PRS for $190 shipped. I'm fine with refurbs. That makes it cheaper than the cheapest I can find the Alpine @ $230.

But then I look at that JVC some more...specs sure looks similar but I can score it for $130 shipped.

I'd like to say the display quality on ALL of the different brands 1-DIN units is freaking garbage compared to what was offered a couple years ago from everyone. I've had head units from the 90's with better displays.

Now I'm in a 3-way decision. It seems my current head unit isn't acting up as bad right now (hasn't reset itself in a couple of days), so I'm not in as big of a rush to upgrade.

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nuttyskier2002

Nitrous......my experience with JVC is not good! The quality just doesn't seem to be there. I wouldn't even have them on my list. I do have experience with the 80PRS and in my opinion.....from a sound quality standpoint........you can not beat this unit. I've also had a bit of experience with Alpine. Not the unit you have listed above but with their single din marine unit they currently sell that has not been upgraded for more than 5 years. So here's my take on Alpine vs Pioneer. You can spend the same money on Pioneer and on Alpine but after you get each installed.......with Pioneer you are done. You have a very nice and warm sounding system that has an unbelievable amount of tunability. With the Alpine you have a mediocre sounding system that you have to spend more money buying upgrade items to get the same sound quality. Maybe Alpine has changed over the last couple of years but this has been my experience,

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Nitrousbird

Nitrous......my experience with JVC is not good! The quality just doesn't seem to be there. I wouldn't even have them on my list. I do have experience with the 80PRS and in my opinion.....from a sound quality standpoint........you can not beat this unit. I've also had a bit of experience with Alpine. Not the unit you have listed above but with their single din marine unit they currently sell that has not been upgraded for more than 5 years. So here's my take on Alpine vs Pioneer. You can spend the same money on Pioneer and on Alpine but after you get each installed.......with Pioneer you are done. You have a very nice and warm sounding system that has an unbelievable amount of tunability. With the Alpine you have a mediocre sounding system that you have to spend more money buying upgrade items to get the same sound quality. Maybe Alpine has changed over the last couple of years but this has been my experience,

I have the Alpine in the boat (iDA-X100M). I have the add-on units as well (Sirius Tuner, Imprint Box, Imprint Sound Manager, plus transom and floating remotes). The new Alpines don't need all the add-on boxes, which is obviously a very good thing, but sadly Alpine is getting out of the marine game.

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robtr8

I just discovered an ID10T error with my 80PRS. For a while now I've struggled to keep my playlist and my son's playlist whittled down because we were sharing a single Nano I had attached to the rear USB. It dawned on me this weekend that the HU has TWO UBS's in back! I popped in another 30 pin cable and hooked up one of the old Touch's I have laying around. Now I'm on USB 1 and he's on USB 2. Tomorrow I'll work on chewing gum and walking at the same time.

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Nitrousbird

I'm still trying to whittle down which one to get. Since my Premier deck stopped resetting itself every day, I am delaying the purchase until I find a killer deal. I should have scored that refurb 80PRS when I had the chance (gone now), so I'm waiting until another deal pops up - or until the Premier deck starts to act up again.

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Murphy8166

Let's hope that Alpine has some new marine stuff at this years CEMA!!!!

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Nitrousbird

I have a feeling Alpine is getting out of the marine game entirely.

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Nitrousbird

Ordered my head unit today...ended up being NONE OF THE ABOVE.

Pioneer just released their 2014 lineup. Ended up getting the DEH-X9600BHS.

Hopefully it is decent - it is too new so there are no reviews on it anywhere. I chose it due to:

- Being cheaper than the Alpine or 80PRS (which is now discontinued) at $209 shipped

- Had a couple of the items I wanted that the 80PRS didn't. I took this as the Alpine 149BT with a couple extra things on it

- Better Lightning connector (all digital) compatibility than the 80PRS or Alpine.

Hopefully this is a decent unit. From a sound quality / sound feature standpoint this is likely a step down from the 80PRS, but I don't need all of those features for this application either. I do want the other features and will make good use of them.

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shawndoggy

My dvd4300 is like 3 or 4 model years old now and it has no problem with my iphone and lightning. What are the problems you are concerned about?

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wakesetter8796

I had an alpine CDE 121, got it new for $80. Wasn't bluetooth but charged my iphone 5 fine.

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Nitrousbird

My dvd4300 is like 3 or 4 model years old now and it has no problem with my iphone and lightning. What are the problems you are concerned about?

To do audio with an older unit, you have to run the Apple 30 to 8 pin adapter or stream via Bluetooth. There are concerns with App Mode running with the adapter and in general the older units don't seem to control iOS 6 and 7 very well.

The new Pioneer takes an all-digital input now. No need for adapters and the units are actually made to handle the newer OS's and connections.

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MLA

I see you made a choice already, but here is what i got recently. Im restoring my pop's 93 S-10 (has only 78K on it) and went with a Farenheit TID--893B. The BT works very well. The USB work well with a couple of non-apple MP3 players I have, but havent tried my Nano and dont use Iphone. Have not played video yet either. The Wife's SUV needs an upgrade, so i think im gonna go with a similar model, but double-DIN fixed screen instead of motorized flip out.

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shawndoggy

To do audio with an older unit, you have to run the Apple 30 to 8 pin adapter or stream via Bluetooth. There are concerns with App Mode running with the adapter and in general the older units don't seem to control iOS 6 and 7 very well.

The new Pioneer takes an all-digital input now. No need for adapters and the units are actually made to handle the newer OS's and connections.

So the lightning cable that's plugged into my pioneer didn't just play music on the eight hour drive to grandmas house? Weird. Will have to tell the family we were all hallucinating.

(Lightning to USB works fine on mine)

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Nitrousbird

So the lightning cable that's plugged into my pioneer didn't just play music on the eight hour drive to grandmas house? Weird. Will have to tell the family we were all hallucinating.

(Lightning to USB works fine on mine)

Everything I had read previously was that Pioneer was taking the analog signal via the USB on the 30 pin connector, so it wouldn't work via the lightning cable. That was the issue with my AppRadio 1 (POS) I had it my previous company vehicle.

Anyway, I installed this last night, though only had a couple minutes to play with it. I'm actually pretty disappointed so far:

- Says it has a detachable face...in the 30 seconds I messed with it I didn't see a way to pull the face off.

- The unit feels cheap, at least from a faceplate standpoint, compared to my previous unit

- Pioneer for some reason decided to slightly change the harness port and cage, so I couldn't reuse my old ones. The changes are so small I can't see a reasonable reason to do so...just made my install take longer.

- New display is downright awful. Not sure how the top end unit that is 8 years newer had a display that looks 8 years older than the unit it is replacing

- Knob control feels much cheaper in comparison to my old unit

- Menus, since you don't have the same kinds of directional control, are not as nice to navigate as my Premier unit

- Can't select audio level outputs for front/rear channels (other than fader control). You can at least for the sub

- Can't select crossover curve for front/rear/sub

- You don't realize how much you miss a 16 band EQ until you go to a 5 band. It sucks

- I like having an Aux input on the front (though I'll never use it). I don't like how it doesn't have a rear input. This has forced me to swap my Sirius from a dock w/ Aux input setup to the SCVDOC1 like I use in the boat. I planned to anyway, but this eliminated the option that I previously used.

- HD radio, though I'll never use it, mixes analog with HD in the HD Radio input, which doesn't make much sense. I'll have to look at that bit more closely just to see

- MIXTRAX is a stupid gimmick and annoying. The fact a button is dedicated to that crap is sad.

- Documentation is pretty poor - same documentation online. None mentions the Siri Hands Free, Media App, App Mode, etc. I know I'll figure it all out but could have shaved a bit of time off looking through some instructions to clarify a few things.

Things I like:

- Two USB inputs with iPod/iPhone control. Seems to sync up quickly with my iPhone

- Microphone looks like a much better design than my previous unit. I'll have to wait and see if it works better (I hope it does, old one sucked)

- Pandora control and supposed to have SiriusXM app control, which I'm really looking forward to trying out

- Doesn't require external brain boxes for Sirius and iPod control like my previous unit

- You can change all the menu settings without shutting off the unit, unlike my previous unit

- RCA connections are directly on the unit instead of a harness

I'll know more once I play with it. Hopefully this unit grows on me or I'll likely replace/sell it next spring when everyone releases their 2014 lineup. I wish I could have waited but I had to replace my head unit now. :(

Edited by Nitrousbird

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shawndoggy

yeah your old HU was really way ahead of it's time. It's still a nice HU by todays standards. I had one a few cars ago and still wish I'd have removed it before selling.

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Murphy8166

I am looking at headunits as well. Went up to Earmark today and played with a couple. Looked at Alpine and Kenwood and the Kenwood Excelon 897 and 997 really impressed me. I'm thinking I am going to throw the 897 in the boat.

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