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Old 05-13-2010, 09:47 PM   #1
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New Stereo

So my 2000 stock stereo is on its last leg. I want a new one and wondered what features people love about their aftermarket head units? I would like to know what features you love and ones that are just gimmicks.

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Old 05-13-2010, 09:53 PM   #2
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i like to keep it simple. i always get the mid ranged priced ones. for the past 2 years ive had a Pioneer and i like it.

it has a headphone jack in the front so you can plug in an ipod or what ever. i feel thats all your really need.

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Old 05-13-2010, 10:18 PM   #3
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My personal opinion...

1.) Easy to use controls (make sure the knob used to navigate through music feels like it'll be easy to utilize while driving...sucks when a knob is so sensitive you screw up what you're doing every time you hit a bump)...plus if there's a ton of unnecessary buttons, it's just more to have to learn when your features are scattered all over the place)

2.) Speaker output rating (RMS not peak) - the higher the better

3.) MP3 capabilities...I still use CDs to play my music unless most sheep...I mean ipod users...but sometimes it's nice to burn a mix CD with like 5+ albums on it instead of only using audio cd's with 15-20 songs tops.

4.) Attractive colors...matches/fits with the colors of my vehicle. Come on...if your Jeep is red and black, do you really want a headunit with teal buttons? lol

5.) For my next headunit...I will be ensuring that is has a front USB port so I can just load a flash drive with mp3's and plug it into my headunit. Easier than bringing an ipod along (unless you got one of those super tiny ones)...when you get out, you can either hide the flash drive, lock it up, or pocket it...and adding/removing songs is a snap...plus they're cheap.

6.) ipod/auxiliary input port (if you use an mp3 player for your music)

7.) RCA jacks on the back for subs (if you have or intend to run subs)

7b.) Multi-band equalizer...this can be crucial for an audiophile running subs or not, though typically if you're just running standard mids it won't matter much, but it is REALLY beneficial when running subs. A lot of newer headunits actually have really basic equalizers...I'm thinking the nicer ones are like 6 band (but I could be wrong).

I think that's bout it...spend the extra money and buy one from a company with a good reputation. Personally I like Pioneer...but there are plenty of other good companies out there.
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Old 05-13-2010, 10:32 PM   #4
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After some dude tried to steal my deck but just ended up breaking the heck out of it, I went went a el cheapo sony and have regretted it since because the sound quality isn't all that great compared to the kenwood that was ruined. I agree with going with a mid priced unit.

- MP3 discs are great because who cares if they get stolen, that USB key idea is even better!
- Front and rear Aux inputs. I have a front but I would like to have the rear option so there isn't a cable hanging down the front.
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Old 05-14-2010, 11:42 AM   #5
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I bought this one from amazon, it's a marine sony (so I don't have to worry about a little water getting on it with the top off):

Sony CDX-M10 Marine CD receiver with front-panel auxiliary input at Crutchfield.com

As stated by the others, get one with aux in the front (like this one). So many benefits, like hooking up your ipod, or doing what I plan to do this weekend when I install my cb, which is to get a y-splitter and hook up both my cb and my ipod to the aux in, that way I get my tunes and can hear what my buddy is yelling. If the music is too loud and I need the cb to be louder, just turn the volume down on the ipod and leave the stereo volume up.

At least this works in my head, I will try it out this weekend...
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Old 05-14-2010, 02:03 PM   #6
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SONY IS CRAP!!!! never waist your money on sony car audio!!
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Old 05-14-2010, 02:26 PM   #7
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I bought this one from amazon, it's a marine sony (so I don't have to worry about a little water getting on it with the top off):
the marine part, I like. smart thinking!
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Old 05-14-2010, 02:31 PM   #8
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I've ran a Pioneer system in all of my vehicles to date. Right now I'm running one with mp3/ipod control (among other things I don't use).

I also have customized the speakers in my jeep: 4x6 pioneers in front, 5.5" pioneers in the soundbar, and two 6x9 Polks sit in the back (with extra wire to pull them out for camping trips/working outside).

And before you ask, I am running my 4x6 and 5.5 through the same channel. Some speakers out there max out a channel, but the 4x6 and 5.5 together don't max out the channel so I'm safe.

If you're going to invest in aftermarket stereo, might as well go with the speakers as well!!
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Old 05-14-2010, 02:41 PM   #9
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I personally have an Alpine headunit and it has everything that I would ever want like:
-Ipod capable/Ipod jacks
-USB jacks
-Bluetooth
-Multi color options on the LED screen
-CD player
-removable faceplate
-Requres two keys to remove the headunit to deter stealing
-HD radio, puts out crystal clear sound
-RCA jacks for subs, also works for center-console sub (I have both that and aftermarket subs)
-Equalizers
-easy to use controlls, also has a remote that comes with it

I absolutely love it, and a am a musician so I have to hear good and clear sound. i hope this helps!
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Old 05-14-2010, 02:57 PM   #10
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I've had Three in my 2001, Best one I've liked so far is the Sony. It sounded better than my previous Pioneer and Kenwood with the original Jeep speakers and wiring. As far as features, it really depends on what you are going to do.
I play CDs seldom, most of my music is in MP3 format so I transfer it to a USB stick and play via that. My Sony has RCA out for Amp, USB and AUX on the front, and an IPod cable in the back that is long enough to run anywhere and plug an IPod into and set down on a seat. I don't use the IPod cable, so I keep it stored in my glove box. I'm sure it is long enough to run from the dash under the carpet into the center console box though.

If you get one that has USB, make sure of the maximum size it can support. Some advertise USB but they will only go up to 512MB, 1G or maybe 2G. I use 4Gs and up, and on some of those stereos like in my sons car it has problems reading all the alblums. It's not the USB stick, it's the inferior radio. I always go online and D/L the manuals before purchasing one to make sure there are no surprises. If you can go into a store and play with one, that's good also. Keep in mind, it won't sound like that in the Jeep though. Obviously it depends on how much you are willing to spend, but more expensive is not always better. I've tried to keep my price around $200 for a stereo, the Sony is $99 at Walmart about a year ago, and it's been the best so far. Better speakers would make a world of difference, I haven't went there yet.
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Old 05-14-2010, 03:01 PM   #11
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I concur with the aux output and the card reader....have had units stolen and broken. one twerp just stole the faceplate and left the stereo so had to get new radio anyway. sorry but sound quality in a noisy jeep isn't just a real priority is it? I like having a remote tho so that I can pay more attention to the road instead of fiddling with knobs and buttons
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Old 05-14-2010, 03:10 PM   #12
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I got a single disc Alpine for Christmas with a usb/headphone jack for auxiliary stuff (ipod, mp3 etc.). It never skips, and sounds really awesome. The only thing I HATE about it is that the time doesn't display when it's turned off. Just make sure you get a removable face to keep thieves walking on by.
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Old 05-14-2010, 04:36 PM   #13
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Don't get a Sony...I had one once and it was a mistake. Luckily a guy broke into my Jeep and stole it and insurance covered it amongst other things. Went back to Pioneer and haven't looked back.

Best Buy has decent stereos and a bunch of speakers set up. You push buttons to select the unit you want to use along with what speakers. Its a good way to get a feel for the system you will be buying and to test out the ease of using the stereo.

Its all about what you like though, but I would stick with Kenwood or Pioneer.
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Old 05-14-2010, 05:20 PM   #14
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Try reading up on these:

Pioneer USA - CD Players

Dollar for dollar,
I think this is the best bang for your buck:
(retail price in stores will obviously be cheaper)

Pioneer USA - DEH-P710BT - Premier™ CD Receiver with Full Motion OEL Display, Built-In Bluetooth and USB Direct Control for iPod


- Rear USB ports to hide the ugly cables if you intend to use a HDD or Ipod

- 7 Band EQ

- Bluetooth built in

- Tons of features and complete control for EVERYTHING

It really has all the bells and whistles,
and they all serve a purpose, not just a gimmick.
I've been running a similar model for a year and a half now,
and haven't looked back.

Some people thumb their nose at the Bluetooth feature.
It will work great with your Hard Top on.
(Even with the window down at 60mph)
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Old 05-14-2010, 05:45 PM   #15
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Personally I think it comes down to speakers and amps. Any single din head unit will be just about the same across the board whether it's a $80 Sony or a $400 Alpine. If all you want is music that you can hear with the top down and you aren't looking to expand into amp territory I would suggest this. Replace the speaker bar speakers with 6in 150 watt speakers and go with a head unit that has at least 40 watts RMS output. This will drastically improve your stock sound. If you want a little more "bang" for your buck you should look into amps and pre-amps.

I run a $90 Kenwood head unit with an aux input on the face for MP3/iPod etc. Coupled with that are 2 800 watt amps and a pre-amp for qality of sound adjustments. I lost the useless dash speakers all together because they are well...useless. 2 6in Pioneers in the sound bar and 2 300 watt 8inch mids in the cargo area. I love my setup but different strokes for different folks. I could easily add subs to this system as well if that was the desired outcome. Let me know if you want any other details or have any q's
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Old 05-14-2010, 05:53 PM   #16
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i run the older version of the pioneer deh-p710bt, has all the same features, just changed the look and updated their ipod recognition system for the newer ipods and iphones.

the 7 band eq is amazing to have makes a world of difference.

i just did a complete overhaul on my system. kept the headunit, got new kappa perfect components front and rear, 12" incriminator audio death penalty, mb quart dsc 1500.1d amp, 0/1 gauge wires, big 3 wire upgrade, 2 farad cap, kappa amp for the components, 2 cube ported box tuned at 35-hz.
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Old 05-14-2010, 09:31 PM   #17
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SONY IS CRAP!!!! never waist your money on sony car audio!!
Another person stuck on the 2004 audio stereotypes. Sony's audio with their latest series is legit, especially with how hard their package subs hit! The headunits still have to much flair for my taste, but sound quality they're ranking up with Kenwood, Alpine and Pioneer.

I personally run a Pioneer head-unit. The features that you definitely need to look for...
  • IPod/USB integration - It should be built in, no external box required. I personally HATE front USB ports since I couldn't stand having a dongle sticking out of the front, but my Pioneer has it run through a cable in the rear that sits inside the glovebox. The USB stick stays inside the glovebox, which remains locked, and I don't have to worry about unplugging it each time!
  • Preamp OutPuts - If you're concerned about sound quality, plan on getting an external amp. Doesn't mean you need subwoofers, but powering your soundbar speakers at 75watts RMS is amazing, and completely audible at 65 mph with the top down and the doors off. Look for a system that has a Front/Rear Output, a Subwoofer Output, and a AUX input!
  • AUX Input - Again, for me this has to be in the rear because I'm not having cords and cables sticking out of the front. It's a simple RCA hookup in the back that allows you to connect things like cell phones, my Blackberry, or other headphone jack players and then stash 'em in the glovebox. For me, I run Pandora on my Blackberry and then connect my blackberry via the aux.
  • MOTORIZED Removable Faceplate - Obviously you don't want stuff stolen out of your Jeep. No faceplate means a useless radio for wannabe thieves. It's no guarantee, but it does deter some theft. I say motorized because if it's not, expect the contacts to eventually become loose and for the faceplate to stop working after a while. Happened to my Kenwood and with my Pioneer I feel more secure.
  • A Good Screen - This is totally up to you, but make sure your happy with the screen. You're in a Jeep, so make sure it's bright and easy to see in the sunlight. Make sure its not TOO obnoxious for you. Ya like the layout, etc. etc.
  • Crutchfield.com - Accept no substitute. Order from Crutchfield, have the complete package, and have some piece of mind!

I love car audio, so feel free to ask me any questions you have. I run an external amp for my subwoofer and my soundbar, and it's audible even in the wind and no doors. My front speakers, since they're weaker, run off of the stereo.
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Old 05-15-2010, 10:24 AM   #18
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Thanks. Like always everyone has helped out immensely. I have removed the stock speakers and now have Pioneer 4X6 speakers up front with 5 1/4 Kenwood speakers in the sound bar. I am trying to figure out where I can put a 8" sub just for a little more base. Maybe under the back seat will work. I am going to start looking today. Thanks for the help. This forum is the best.
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Old 05-15-2010, 11:37 AM   #19
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I never remove my faceplates...too much of a hassle, but if you live in an area where auto theft isn't uncommon, you'll need to do something. This is what I intend to buy eventually.

Quadratec Exclusive 13104.51 - Quadratec® iVault® Stereo Mount for 97-06 Jeep® Wrangler TJ & Unlimited - Quadratec

If you go to Quadratec and search for "ivault" they also have package deals for under $200 that include some pretty nice headunits with the ivault and also come with the plug n play wire harnesses.

I'm running an older Pioneer DEH-P670MP...I've had it probably 5 years or so now and its still runs great. The only problem I've recently run into is it doesn't eject my CDs straight anymore...they get hung up on the flap, but my buddy who runs a computer shop and does a lil work on car headunits says all it needs is to have the drive realigned which takes all of about 5 minutes and it'll work fine again. The only thing I don't like about that particular headunit is no hookup for a flash drive...so I'm only able to run mp3 cd's and regular audio cd's (as well as the normal radio).
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Old 05-15-2010, 01:14 PM   #20
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All the opinions in the world don't mean poop! You need to go to a store and play with a couple of units. Dont be afraid to fiddle with it and switch to different speakers. Just because one guy loves or hates his head unit doesn't mean you will too.

..Just my $.02
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Old 05-15-2010, 01:40 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by barratt View Post
All the opinions in the world don't mean poop! You need to go to a store and play with a couple of units. Dont be afraid to fiddle with it and switch to different speakers. Just because one guy loves or hates his head unit doesn't mean you will too.

..Just my $.02
To an extent... as far as reliability, build quality, certain features go, opinions can save you from regretting your purchase. When you get down to whether this feature is better than that feature...this brand is better than that brand...this one looks cooler than that one, etc. That's where you need to go mess with one yourself and make up your own mind.

Also... I saw some folks mentioned Sony headunits are crap above. 5 years ago...that was quite true. I mean they looked and functioned well, but they were unreliable and would begin to fail very quickly. I had a Sony Xplod headunit in my old truck...I loved it...I could change the display colors to match the color scheme of my truck, it played mp3's and had great sound output...but then it started having weird errors reading CDs...it'd randomly shut off...the volume would crackle and pop until you smacked the headunit, the faceplate connections started to have issues making good connection so half the buttons wouldn't work, etc.

I put the unit in our Kubota tractor at work...it still plays well enough to use for basic radio purposes...and that's when I bought the Pioneer.

BUT... sorry, I started rambling...while I haven't used their headunits since then, I have friends who use them and they said shortly after that, their quality and reliability increased dramatically and they now produce some of the best headunits they've ever had. So I wouldn't nix a Sony until you test one out for yourself...and go read a few reviews on it.
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Old 05-15-2010, 03:38 PM   #22
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Quote:
SONY IS CRAP!!!! never waist your money on sony car audio!!
I cant speak to their head units, but I have absolutely no complaints about the amp or 6x9s that are made by Sony. Maybe my ears arent as well tuned as some peoples, but I love the Sony stuff I have, especially for the price.
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Old 05-15-2010, 03:46 PM   #23
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I am an engineer and I am all about quality. I would rather pay double and have it last forever than replace it every couple years. The comments have been invaluable.
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Old 05-15-2010, 06:00 PM   #24
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About the iVault, check some reviews on it and you'll find it is a piece of junk and is easily breakable. I only know because it was on my list of things to do, almost pulled the trigger and read some reviews. Really, stereos are useless to steal without the faceplate, and the Jeep holds the unit it well enough that it's not something I'd be terribly worried about unless you're in the heart of camden.

Quote:
I am trying to figure out where I can put a 8" sub just for a little more base
I actually would skip an 8" sub. They can't handle enough lows to make it worth the price. Instead, look into some 10" subs. Big enough to handle decent lows for rock, jazz, rap etc. but not too big that you're shaking the neighborhood. Yes, I realize you can buy 10" subs that will do that, but some decent 10" will be more then capable for most Jeep enthusiast. You can mount them actually underneath the backseat (there are some guides available) or I have a 10" truck box that fits perfectly in the back behind the backseat.

With your upgraded speakers, they're not going to mean anything without a decent amp pushing them. And as stated, in the end, playing with the units yourself will be the best for decision, but remember, you get what you pay for. Dual and Jensen are cheap, but they're cheap for a reason. (Avoid Jensen)
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Old 05-15-2010, 07:58 PM   #25
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I cant speak to their head units, but I have absolutely no complaints about the amp or 6x9s that are made by Sony. Maybe my ears arent as well tuned as some peoples, but I love the Sony stuff I have, especially for the price.
if you buy an amp that is one notch up form the sony you will be amazed at how crappy that sony amp is. yes the speakers are louder than what the factory stereo or after market headunit but there is no quality to the added power.
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Old 05-15-2010, 08:58 PM   #26
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About the iVault, check some reviews on it and you'll find it is a piece of junk and is easily breakable. I only know because it was on my list of things to do, almost pulled the trigger and read some reviews.
Well damn...that sucks. I figure anything is breakable...but hoped it would be a decent deterrent. Kinda one of those...if they look in and see a blank cover where the radio is, hopefully they'd say screw it and move on instead of waste their time going after what could potentially be worthless. Imagine how pissed they'd be to pry that thing off and find a headunit with no faceplate...or a $15 Durabrand headunit. lol

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Originally Posted by burton160w View Post
I actually would skip an 8" sub. They can't handle enough lows to make it worth the price. Instead, look into some 10" subs. Big enough to handle decent lows for rock, jazz, rap etc. but not too big that you're shaking the neighborhood. Yes, I realize you can buy 10" subs that will do that, but some decent 10" will be more then capable for most Jeep enthusiast. You can mount them actually underneath the backseat (there are some guides available) or I have a 10" truck box that fits perfectly in the back behind the backseat.
I haven't used any 8's that have impressed me so I won't speak on that, but I tell you what... pick yourself up some e3.6 subs from Elemental Designs. They are a 6 1/2" sub and they sound really good. I had 2 of their precursor's precursors (EU-700's) in a small sealed box and they honestly sounded about as good as my two 10's (driven by the same eD NINe.2 amp.

Here's the page where you can buy them (or check Ebay...sometimes they list auctions on there that are cheaper than buying from their website) and it also lists the specs. I liked em a lot because I could run a super tiny box...which is much easier to keep hidden if necessary.

Elemental Designs

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Dual and Jensen are cheap, but they're cheap for a reason. (Avoid Jensen)
I may be mistaken, but I was told that Dual products are made by Jensen as well.
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Old 05-15-2010, 09:15 PM   #27
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ssa sells a nice 8 and 10" sub, very tight and accurate.

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Old 05-15-2010, 09:20 PM   #28
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my best advice is to go to a car audio forum and ask some pros in this field. a lot of advice that has been given is bits of this and that all mixed together. i know of a good web site to go to but im not too sure how keen this forum is on posting other forum sites.
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Old 05-15-2010, 09:44 PM   #29
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I just threw an Alpine CDE-9874 head unitAlpine CDE-9874 In-dash car stereos reviews - CNET Reviews in my TJ. I had a stock head unit but wanted the ability to use my iphone since all my music is in mp3 format (I havent bought an actual cd in years lol). The Alpine I bought wasnt that expensive at all. I spend 80 on it from craigslist but it lists new at 130. I use the aux input every day now. I have had a few alpines in different vehicles now and havent really had a problem. Hope this helped.
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06 Wrangler TJ X
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Old 05-15-2010, 09:53 PM   #30
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iPod hook up
& Removable faceplate

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