Friday, September 4, 2009

The Dual XHD7714

I've been riding with the stock Bose system in my RSX for years now.  I'm tired of it.  Most of my music is on my iPhone and my only 2 options to play music in the case was the use of a shitty tape-deck adapter or a shitty fm tuner.  Both of which, are shitty.

I heard that 94.9 The Sound still exists, on 9.49 HD2.  So - an HD radio the new car stereo must.

My iPhone has bluetooth capabilities, including streaming music.  So - a Bluetooth thingy the new car stereo must.

If you go to - head towards Car Receivers, skip the car selection, select "Built in HD radio tuner".  I didn't want to have to purchase and external module unit.  That narrows the list to only 11 radios.  Seriously? 11?

Then - oh dear, I select Built-in Bluetooth.  That leaves 1 radio.  Only 1 freakin' radio.  The Dual XHD7714.  It has good reviews, and hell, it's only $180.  So I do my research, as best I can, get the appropriate equipment from so the new unit can send to my factory amplifiers with little effort.  A few days later all the crap shows up and I spend an hour or two installing it - beautiful.  I have me a new car stereo.

Well, I will say this about it - it does everything it says that it does, poorly.

Where to start.  Okay, lets start with the installation.  My first major concern was the lack of the typical Orange cable.  The Orange Cable is typically there to let the stereo know when the headlights are turned on, this allows the radio to be nice and bright during the day time, and tone it's shit down at night.  Yeah - no Orange Cable.  I checked the manual, there is a Dimmer setting in the menu on the unit - Dim, Medium, and Bright.  Default is Bright.  Dim is good for at night, but it's a pain to change it all the time so I just leave it on Dim.  I can't read the stereo during the daytime while wearing sunglasses.  Oh well - it's not *that* big of a deal.

The HD radio.  Ya know, I can't really complain about this - it sounds good - reception isn't too terrible either - so - +1 for the HD radio.  I get to have my 94.9 The Sound back. YaY!

The iPod cable.  The front of the unit has a headphone aux jack, and a usb jack.  They provided a cable which combines both of these and has a regular iPod connector on the end.  Kick ass, I get to listen to my tunes and charge my phone simultaneously.  Except if you use this on an iPhone - the iPod application part of the phone goes into "Dock Mode" and does not allow you to control anything.  All controls are from the head unit - which - compared to the interface on the phone, suck ballz.

Auxiliary cable.  Using just a regular mini-headphone->mini-headphone cable to go from the iPhone to the head unit works just as expected.  You have to turn the volume on the phone to 1 knotch below maximum to get decent volume with no distortion.  This is expected.  Sounds great - it's Aux - Aux is a really hard thing to fuck up.

Bluetooth stereo audio streaming.  I can leave the phone in my pocket and listen to music wirelessly?  Kick ass.  Except - not so much.  Yes, you hear music, bad music.  I haven't tested this with a laptop yet, but I'm pretty sure this is more the phone's fault than the stereo's.  See - the Audio over Bluetooth specification is called A2DP.  During an A2DP session the sending device determines bitrate and quality of the stream, not the receiving.  From what i've read the iPhone is an asshole and picks a very lower bitrate quality so the audio is very distorted and crappy sounding.  The unit should also be able to change tracks and get song info and whatnot over bluetooth as well.  It wants, it really really wants to - too bad the iPhone doesn't support it. Bleh.  So - until I try this out with either a different phone (non-iPhone) or a laptop - I'm going to assume for now that it sounds great.  I'll get back to you on that.

Handsfree bluetooh calling.  I found that unit has a freakin' microphone built right into the faceplate.  Nice.  Too bad the person on the other side of call can't understand a word out of your mouth.  The sound that little microphone picks up is very tinny and garbly.  I've used bluetooth handsfree headsets with my phone in the past with great success.  But the speaker phone - only use in case of emergencies.  However, there is a plus side to this.  If you leave the unit paired with your phone, it lets you know when it's ringing and displays the phone number on the screen.  Then just pick up the phone and answer it like normal.  Even during things like HD Radio - it will kill the radio and make a very distinct beeping over the car stereos.  Got the phone on the passenger seat, got he music cranked up, no way you could hear the phone right?  Well, this fixes that.  +1

Over all, when it comes to the XHD7714 from Dual, you get what you pay for.  $180 for this unit I still think was worth it.  Hopefully this was a test run unit for a more major manufacturer who can see the flaws and fix them in a newer (pricier) unit.  I like it - I enjoy my experience in my car greater than before, and that's all one can really ask for.