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Old 01-07-2017, 11:03 AM   #1
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Best Affordable Head Unit

Hey Guys,

The Aux Jack on the stock head unit of my 2012 Wrangler stopped working last week so im looking to replace the head unit with something fairly basic that has bluetooth and a usb port. Possibly something that is plug-and-play or that comes with an easy wiring harness. The 4 speakers are upgraded mopar, the tweeters are stock and there is no sub.

Any suggestions?

Thanks a lot.

Alex
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Old 01-07-2017, 12:11 PM   #2
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Crutchfield tends to have a good selection of wiring harnesses that make installations plug & play though my bet is Amazon.com does too by now... where I'd bet the pricing for a good head unit would be a lot less costly too.

I've had very good luck with Sony head units in my Jeeps over the past 20 years. Plus Sony has a new 40 RMS watt per channel head unit that I'd love to replace my current head unit with. Most head units typically have limited wattage ratings, most are no more than 20-22 RMS watts per channel.

Don't mistake wildly misleading wattage ratings labeled as 'peak', 'music power', 'maximum', etc. Only RMS Watts can be compared apples to apples Using misleading ratings, an unscrupulous seller could describe a radio that puts out 40 RMS watts per channel as 80 or even more watts per channel by using a misleading way of measuring those watts. Or even combine all the channels and call it a 320 watt radio. Just be wary of misleading sales tactics.

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Old 01-10-2017, 07:49 AM   #3
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All the decks I've put into vehicles over the last 20+ years have always been either Pioneer or Kenwood. I don't have any specific brand loyalty but I just always seem to go with those. Sony can be fine also but a lot of their stuff I looked at recently seems to go for the "light show from Tokyo" effect to look trendy. Some of the Pioneers can be that way also. Kenwoods can be more understated and timeless in my opinion.

But Jerry is right about the power. Don't worry about power ratings so much. when it comes down to it, most will play about as loud and clear as the others until you add an external amp.

Crutchfield.com is a good place to buy stuff if you don't have a good local installer. They'll make sure you get the right wiring kit, etc and have good tech support if you get stuck during an install.
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Old 01-10-2017, 08:11 AM   #4
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I have the basic 130. In your opinion, would it be better to go with a 430 for like $300 or would it better for me to go with a an aftermarket head unit like Sony, Pioneer, or Kenwood?
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Old 01-10-2017, 12:37 PM   #5
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I'm glad I stumbled upon this thread.
I have the very basic sound system in my 2014 Wrangler Sport. I am looking to get better sound out of the stock speakers until I can afford to buy upgraded speakers. I've been searching on the forum for ideas and seem to find that the main response is to upgrade the head unit first.

I know practically nothing about audio systems. I eventually would like to upgrade the speakers (probably a set of Polk Audio), and it's possible I could inherit a subwoofer from the upgraded Alpine system of a Rubicon. I know, not really much of an upgrade, but going from no subwoofer to that is better than nothing!

With the limited amount of knowledge I have about this stuff, this is what I've looked at and have contemplated getting:
Kenwood Excelon DPX792BH (or the DPX592BT) same thing except the 792 has USB input in front and back of unit.
JVC KW-R925BTS
Clarion CX505
All have 22 RMS output, 50 watt peak output, 6-channel pre-amp output, sub preamp output, and 4 volt preamp voltage. I also need the steering wheel control adapter.

That being said... suggestions for an affordable but decent head unit if these are not up to par? possibly sub $250, don't need a touch screen.

Thanks!
Summer
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Old 01-10-2017, 06:50 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BZSurfer View Post
I have the basic 130. In your opinion, would it be better to go with a 430 for like $300 or would it better for me to go with a an aftermarket head unit like Sony, Pioneer, or Kenwood?
$300 would buy you a pretty nice aftermarket deck. Theres al ot of good single- DIN units for less than $200, But a double DIN sized unit would be more stock looking and should still keep you under $300 unless you go nuts with a lot of options. Take a look at Crutchfield and you can set up a few filters to narrow down your options quickly.
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Old 01-10-2017, 07:04 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SummerT83 View Post
I'm glad I stumbled upon this thread.
I have the very basic sound system in my 2014 Wrangler Sport. I am looking to get better sound out of the stock speakers until I can afford to buy upgraded speakers. I've been searching on the forum for ideas and seem to find that the main response is to upgrade the head unit first.

I know practically nothing about audio systems. I eventually would like to upgrade the speakers (probably a set of Polk Audio), and it's possible I could inherit a subwoofer from the upgraded Alpine system of a Rubicon. I know, not really much of an upgrade, but going from no subwoofer to that is better than nothing!

With the limited amount of knowledge I have about this stuff, this is what I've looked at and have contemplated getting:
Kenwood Excelon DPX792BH (or the DPX592BT) same thing except the 792 has USB input in front and back of unit.
JVC KW-R925BTS
Clarion CX505
All have 22 RMS output, 50 watt peak output, 6-channel pre-amp output, sub preamp output, and 4 volt preamp voltage. I also need the steering wheel control adapter.

That being said... suggestions for an affordable but decent head unit if these are not up to par? possibly sub $250, don't need a touch screen.

Thanks!
Summer
Kenwoods are usually really reliable and sound good. Clarion and JVC can be hit and miss. Unless I'm missing something about a stock sub, you'll have to buy an amp to power it, or a factory amp would be difficult to integrate with an aftermarket head unit. Personally I'd do that last and look at something like a JL Audio Stealth box. But you're easilly going to double your budget once you get into sub, box, and sub amp.

For $700-800 you could do a decent head unit, 2 prs of modest 6.5 speakers ( verify size for your jeep) and a modest 4 channel amp. Plus additional for install. It would still kill 95% of factory "premium sound" factory systems out there.

Personally, I'm going to replace the head unit first to add some functionality but Im not expecting much of an improvement in sound until speakers get replaced. Then comes the amp. Subs may never happen, or they will be part of a later phase.
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Old 01-11-2017, 11:26 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crazychile View Post
$300 would buy you a pretty nice aftermarket deck. Theres al ot of good single- DIN units for less than $200, But a double DIN sized unit would be more stock looking and should still keep you under $300 unless you go nuts with a lot of options. Take a look at Crutchfield and you can set up a few filters to narrow down your options quickly.

Awesome. Appreciate the help!
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Old 01-11-2017, 02:30 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by crazychile View Post
Kenwoods are usually really reliable and sound good. Clarion and JVC can be hit and miss. Unless I'm missing something about a stock sub, you'll have to buy an amp to power it, or a factory amp would be difficult to integrate with an aftermarket head unit. Personally I'd do that last and look at something like a JL Audio Stealth box. But you're easilly going to double your budget once you get into sub, box, and sub amp.

For $700-800 you could do a decent head unit, 2 prs of modest 6.5 speakers ( verify size for your jeep) and a modest 4 channel amp. Plus additional for install. It would still kill 95% of factory "premium sound" factory systems out there.

Personally, I'm going to replace the head unit first to add some functionality but Im not expecting much of an improvement in sound until speakers get replaced. Then comes the amp. Subs may never happen, or they will be part of a later phase.
Thanks for your help. I'll have to do a bit more research before diving into a sub and new speakers. But good to know about Kenwoods being generally reliable.

There seems to be a huge price difference between the Kenwood with only the front USB port and the model with a USB port in the front and back. I can probably get away with just the one input, I can't think of a situation that I would need one in the back... What are your thoughts?
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Old 01-11-2017, 02:38 PM   #10
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I'd rather have the USB port in the back than my single front USB port. I can leave the USB cable plugged into the back and just run the cable into the glove box for my iPod or whatever else I want to plug in. I just don't like always having the cable plugged into the front of the radio to listen to my iPod I leave in the glove box.
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Old 01-11-2017, 02:45 PM   #11
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I'd rather have the USB port in the back than my single front USB port. I can leave the USB cable plugged into the back and just run the cable into the glove box for my iPod or whatever else I want to plug in. I just don't like always having the cable plugged into the front of the radio to listen to my iPod I leave in the glove box.
Good point. I only have my iPhone connecting to the unit for now (via Bluetooth), but who knows what else I'll want to connect on road trips and what not.
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Old 01-12-2017, 08:07 AM   #12
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Yeah, I'm with Jerry regarding the USB in the back. I'll probably run mine to the center console, so install will be a little more involved than just having one on the face of the unit, but long term it will probably be more convenient.

Right now I'm leaning towards the Kenwood DDX6703S or DDX9703S. My main criteria is that I wanted the look of a Double DIN unit, plus it has to play FLAC files. So that bumps me into higher models automatically. Most of my listening will be from FLAC via USB or streaming TIDAL from my phone app.
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Old 01-12-2017, 01:44 PM   #13
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Yeah, I'm with Jerry regarding the USB in the back. I'll probably run mine to the center console, so install will be a little more involved than just having one on the face of the unit, but long term it will probably be more convenient.

Right now I'm leaning towards the Kenwood DDX6703S or DDX9703S. My main criteria is that I wanted the look of a Double DIN unit, plus it has to play FLAC files. So that bumps me into higher models automatically. Most of my listening will be from FLAC via USB or streaming TIDAL from my phone app.
Do you think the HU would have enough power through the back USB input to charge an iPhone, or would it be better to stick with charging it through the power outlet (12V) in the lower dash?

I was thinking of routing a phone charger cord from the back of the HU to the compartment on top of the dash where my cell phone holder is mounted. I'm just not sure if the USB port will provide enough power to charge my cell at a normal speed.
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Old 01-12-2017, 04:25 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by SummerT83 View Post
Do you think the HU would have enough power through the back USB input to charge an iPhone, or would it be better to stick with charging it through the power outlet (12V) in the lower dash?

I was thinking of routing a phone charger cord from the back of the HU to the compartment on top of the dash where my cell phone holder is mounted. I'm just not sure if the USB port will provide enough power to charge my cell at a normal speed.
I have a Kenwood in another car with a front USB port and it charges the phone but it isn't as fast as the one I have plugged into the cig lighter. I think it's fairly universal that you will get some charge fron a HU USB port (front or back) but I would check the specs because I wouldn't expect stellar charge times.
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Old 01-12-2017, 06:15 PM   #15
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The USB cable itself also affects the charge time. Some USB cables are so cheaply made that they use wiring the diameter of a gnat hair which doesn't allow much charging current to pass through. Some USB packaging will tell you if it's suitable for charging purposes.
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Old 01-13-2017, 02:18 PM   #16
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So I went to Crutchfield and was looking around and between what I kinda wanted and the their support this is what I/we came up with.

Any thoughts? Good, bad, indifferent?

Pioneer AVH-4200NEX
iDatalink Maestro ADS-MRR Interface Module
iDatalink HRN-RR-CH1 Factory Integration Adapter
Metra 40-EU10 Antenna Adapter
Metra 95-6511 Dash Kit

OPTIONAL: Sound Ordnance B-8PTD

Did I miss anything?

Pricing for all of the items would be $730 which doesn't include the Optional sub. It's a lot more than I want to spend but I plan on having my Jeep for years and years (only a 2014 with 16K miles)and if it's a good set up, then I may just bite the bullet and go with it.

Thanks for any feedback.
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Old 01-14-2017, 08:02 AM   #17
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I wouldn't expect much from that Sound Ordnance sub, but I haven't heard it so maybe others can chime in that have. It looks like it takes speaker inputs so you still might have to hack into the speaker wire harness somewhere to make it work, and I'm guessing you still will need some basic form of amp wiring kit to get power/ground/remote turn on. Maybe call Crutchfield and speak to an advisor to see if they know anything special about this install.

On the other hand, for $150 you could buy two pairs of basic coax speakers that would be a noticeable upgrade over stock speakers. That might give you more satisfaction for the same money.

I think your Pioneer choice looks pretty solid and the deluxe kit options that you mention are the way to go if your Jeep has steering wheel controls or more.

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