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Old 18-01-2020, 04:00   #1
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Car stereo recommendation

Hi all,

I am very happy report that I just vaporised my crappy Pioneer car stereo in the boat.

The thing was a total piece of junk. It frequently overheated, it had about two mouse-farts worth of amplification and the bluetooth range was 30 cm on a good day.

So, destroying it with an interesting wiring mishap is a blessing, as I am now able to start again with a clean slate.

I am looking for a decent stereo head unit, with bluetooth, spotify if possible and an Iphone app.

It doesn't have to have ear-melting power, but a bit of grunt would be nice, as I need it to drive a pair of Tannoy Reveals and they do suck up the power before they make much noise. Perhaps, most important of all, is good bluetooth range, as it is nice to be able to move about the boat without dropouts.

I am not all that keen on the marine stuff, it seems terribly overpriced and the interior of my boat is drier than many of the cars I have owned, so it doesn't seem important. I figure people here must also be using car stereos in their boats and might have some recommendations.

Over to the resident audiophiles.

Matt
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Old 18-01-2020, 06:24   #2
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Re: Car stereo recommendation

The problem is that there are so many receivers on the market with so many features that only a dedicated car audiophile is going to have any meaningful advice, and I'm not sure that there is one on the forum. Try cruising the internet and the internet reviews. The big sources such as Amazon and Best Buy should let you compare models and prices, even if you buy from someone else. In any case, do share your results; I for one would like to know.
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Old 18-01-2020, 06:54   #3
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Re: Car stereo recommendation

I've never used anything other than a car stereo. I've usually installed JVC because of the appearance. just make a list of the features that are important. For me the only really important feature was a remote, bluetooth and USB jack. These says that can be had in a single din deck for a little more than $100
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Old 18-01-2020, 07:52   #4
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Re: Car stereo recommendation

Do the stores with automotive sound still have the displays where you can test deck and speaker combinations?


I typically gravitate to Sony. My current Pioneer in the RV is OK, pretty to look at with a 16M color LED light show but some of the features like song ID from the radio do not work 100%. Still a lot of radio and as mentioned above, single DIN and less than 100$.
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Old 18-01-2020, 07:57   #5
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Re: Car stereo recommendation

I've had several Kenwood head units, and been happy with them.

I suspect though that the power demands of your speakers might be a bit much for the average head unit. The amps in them, while having apparent high power specs, are somewhat limited in current. They do not like low impedance loads. What is the impedance of your Tannoys? Car head units are intended for 8 ohms, not much less.

For these reasons I think you might want to consider a separate amplifier. I recently put one of these in an old Jag,

https://www.kenwood.com/usa/car/amplifiers/kac-m3004/

It's only 6" x 4" x 2", class D so very efficient (no heat), and has plenty of power.

Please note that it's 50W x 4, but if you only need two channels you can bridge it to get 150W x 2. It's rated right down to 2 ohms impedance.
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Old 18-01-2020, 08:03   #6
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Re: Car stereo recommendation

I used to have big car systems, the kind you hear coming down the block. These days for portable sound I e moved to portable bt speakers, quality ones not the junkers you see at the end of the isle at Walmart. Seriously consider them, Iíve gone to JBL charge 3 https://www.google.ca/amp/s/www.soun...view-9360/amp/
We have two on board that can be paired (up to 4 I believe) for surround sound, take them to shore, fore deck you name it. Something to consider.
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Old 18-01-2020, 18:24   #7
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Re: Car stereo recommendation

Hmmm... seems I am not alone in being happy with Kenwood. I am thinking that will be the brand I go with. As an aside, JVC and Kenwood seem to have merged which is helpful because Iíve also had good experiences with JVC head units.

In the meantime, I have learned that there are three power levels of transmission for Bluetooth, and from the description of each Iíd say the Pioneer I blew up was class 3, the lowest power level. I checked the Pioneer site and they donít actually state which level the head unit had, so I will probably never know. But Kenwood DO state the Bluetooth level and the units I am considering are all class 2, with a range of 10 meters, line of sight. That should be more than enough for me.

The pioneer would start to drop out by a meter or two, totally unusable by four meters.

Mark, your amp link got me thinking. That particular model is not readily available in Australia but similar Kenwood models are, so I think maybe the smart move will be to add a small amp to the mix, to compensate for the heavy draw from the speakers.

Rbk, good point about the portable speakers, they really are getting good, but Iím kind of a Tannoy addict, and I cannot imagine listening to music on anything else these days. Probably a sign I am going deaf.

Matt
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Old 18-01-2020, 20:18   #8
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Re: Car stereo recommendation

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Originally Posted by GILow View Post
Hmmm... seems I am not alone in being happy with Kenwood. I am thinking that will be the brand I go with. As an aside, JVC and Kenwood seem to have merged which is helpful because Iíve also had good experiences with JVC head units.

In the meantime, I have learned that there are three power levels of transmission for Bluetooth, and from the description of each Iíd say the Pioneer I blew up was class 3, the lowest power level. I checked the Pioneer site and they donít actually state which level the head unit had, so I will probably never know. But Kenwood DO state the Bluetooth level and the units I am considering are all class 2, with a range of 10 meters, line of sight. That should be more than enough for me.

The pioneer would start to drop out by a meter or two, totally unusable by four meters.

Mark, your amp link got me thinking. That particular model is not readily available in Australia but similar Kenwood models are, so I think maybe the smart move will be to add a small amp to the mix, to compensate for the heavy draw from the speakers.

Rbk, good point about the portable speakers, they really are getting good, but Iím kind of a Tannoy addict, and I cannot imagine listening to music on anything else these days. Probably a sign I am going deaf.

Matt
Matt, I highly suggest going into a store (Walmart, Target, Radio Shack etc) and listen to one or pair if theyíll let you. Charge 3 was the smallest Iíd go and they sell decent cases for $20 on Amazon. I would never have bought one myself until I was fishing with a buddy who had one, thing pounded all day in the cockpit, in the pouring rain while getting kicked around, didnít skip a beat and the sound was impressive. Did some research and JBL was my choice, itís nice that it doubles as a battery bank to charge phone or my handheld off it. Iíve run RF, Polk, Aura, Sony ES, and all the budget brands (I think Bose are garbage) the charge 3 is my take anywhere sound system. First time out our youngest took it off the river boat now and threw it in the lake; picked it up put it back, didnít stop playing. I donít know if Iíll ever buy another ímobileí system (car, boat, truck) again in all honesty.
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Old 23-01-2020, 18:04   #9
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Re: Car stereo recommendation

Ditch the 1980's car stereo setup and just get a Beats Pill. Wireless, up to 12 hours of battery, recharge in 3 hours, you can move it around the boat to any location on the boat, add additional "pills" for more locations which you can move anywhere you want, they can be used to make phone calls, etc. There's really no reason to have a car stereo speaker setup anymore.
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Old 23-01-2020, 23:42   #10
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Re: Car stereo recommendation

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Ditch the 1980's car stereo setup and just get a Beats Pill. Wireless, up to 12 hours of battery, recharge in 3 hours, you can move it around the boat to any location on the boat, add additional "pills" for more locations which you can move anywhere you want, they can be used to make phone calls, etc. There's really no reason to have a car stereo speaker setup anymore.
Totally agree. I'm having my interior rebuilt to remove 50-years of holes from ancient electronics. No stereo and no TV as everything is now driven from a smartphone.

That said, if you gotta have a car stereo, the good folks at Crutchfield are extremely knowledgeable. It's been a few years, but their website was informative on the different brands and features.
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Old 24-01-2020, 16:57   #11
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Re: Car stereo recommendation

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Originally Posted by mvweebles View Post
...

That said, if you gotta have a car stereo, the good folks at Crutchfield are extremely knowledgeable. It's been a few years, but their website was informative on the different brands and features.


Yes, Crutchfield have some terrific articles and Iíve referred to them often.
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Old 31-01-2020, 03:34   #12
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Re: Car stereo recommendation

Quick follow up on this one.

Went for the Kenwood head unit in the end, plus a Kenwood amp as suggested by MarkSF, which got around the power problem.

A separate amp to drive an Alpine 12Ē sub filled out the low end nicely.


Standby draw of the whole lot is trivial (< 0.1 amp) as both amps are switched by the head unit. When all are running thereís a base draw of about 1.5 amps, which goes up with volume as youíd expect.

Couldnít detect any RF interference from any of the equipment across either VHF or HF.

The Bluetooth range of the Kenwood is adequate to cover the whole boat without much trouble, but the remote app they provide for the IPhone is simply hopeless. Laggy as heck, it chokes up the sound streaming any time you make a simple adjustment, and eventually just crashes.

Thankfully the Kenwood head unit has a good Spotify interface so I set the volume to something a fraction higher than I think Iíll want and then control the volume using the phoneís output volume. Not ideal, but ok.

I hope this helps someone looking for a similar setup.
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