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Discussion Starter #1
Anyone know which is the better head unit:

Alpine ida-X100 or Alpine CDA-9886?

I will be using it with my old 3G 40GB ipod so 422 lead for both units, and / or my 16GB ipod Nano in which case i can use the USB connection on the X100.

I prefer the look of the CDA-9886 and its complete front comes off!

But which works best with ipod, browse & seek times clarity of information etc?

And which is easiest to connect to my steering wheel controls?
 

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AO Silver Member, 155 Lounge Winner 09
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define "better"?! it depends on your own priorities. :)

9886R has advantage of separate USB port if that's of any use. and of course, it plays CDs.

both have inbuilt steering wheel control interface, so is virtually plug-and-play (need to make the physical connections which requires modifying the wires/plugs).

i'd personally go the 9886R cos of its CD playback - i prefer the sound quality of redbook/original CDs to compressed MP3's. mind you, i also do have an iPod fitted, and it is convenient.

use both (ie: try them in a store), but the iDA has a better interface and navigation of iPod. yet the standard alpine models like the 9886R are fine for most people.

:)
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Better maybe in the sense o the ipod technology. I had the impression the 9886 maybe an older unit and doesnt offer the browsing ability of the X100.

But I do think it looks better and i agree I far prefer full bandwidth audio (but then being an audio engineer i have to say that - although some of the people I work for would prefer me to say MP3s are better lol!)

But the convenience of an ipod in the car with 1000s of albums on it is great! and i never have the problem of not having a CD to hand at home anymore!

Something I have never tried is loading up the ipod with uncompressed audio to see how it sounds - i may give it a whirl!

What are the navigational differences? I liked the X001 becuase it worked like the ipod...
 

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AO Silver Member, 155 Lounge Winner 09
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faster access to tracks, partly cos of the iPod-like jog-dial, like you mention. but i also think the firmware makes accessing faster - i haven't used an iDA model enough to really notice (only on a demo board).

i have an older 9885R, and i find using an iPod fine, particularly cos i just select a genre and let it play right through. but trying to find individual tracks or albums is a bit more tedious, though not an issue for me.

:)
 

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Discussion Starter #5
What does the 9886 do apart from CD playing that he IDA doesnt?

Also is the X100 really necessary - artwork is probably a bit of a gimmick / irritant? The X200 seems same spec but with VFD display

Any thoughts on something other than an Alpine?
 

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AO Silver Member, 155 Lounge Winner 09
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9886R has the USB port that i mentioned.

X100 is never "necessary". however, i don't think the X200 has the inbuilt steering wheel control interface. check with your local alpine dealer; specs can change and will depend on the 'market' (ie: UK vs where i am, in australia).

if iPod is a priority, then have a look at pioneer's iPod 'Direct Control' models, like the 6000UB or 7000UB.

:)
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I was pretty much decided on the 9886 when i saw the 9887.

For another 60 quid it has a 5 band parametric (or rather sweep) eq and graphic eq built in. But it doesn't have a USB connection.

Is the inbuilt EQ any good? None of my local dealers carry this model in stock, and when you say iPod they all say get the X100...

I do know from working as a sound engineer that a good parametric eq is invaluable, however a band parametric EQ is pretty much worthless. My concern is that a good parametric EQ normally costs several hundred if not thousands of £s on its on own.

So what can alpine give me for £60 and will it be any good? or will I end up not using it!

Also to do the full interior analysis and tune up Alpine recommend the KTX100EQ which i guess uses pink noise to check the frequency response of the car an then tries to flatten it by generating an inverse eq curve atomically for you.

So do i splash out on the 9887 or do i save a few £s buy the 9886 and put the rest towards a new amp / speaker combo?

One thing the dealer couldn't tell me was if i can use the P EQ and the G EQ in the 9887 simultaneously or if the DSP only supports one or other?
 

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AO Silver Member, 155 Lounge Winner 09
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the 5-band parametric in the 9887 - like other alpine headunits before it with this feature - is arguably 'too few' in bands, but it is better than nothing (ie: other brands like top-end clarion and eclipse have more bands). you can select the centre frequency (1/3-octave jumps), the Q factory (width; 3 choices), and amount of boost/cut (+/-6dB).

my usual advice to people is to only bother with the 9887 IF they think they know how to tune it! otherwise, it's too complex for 99.9% of people. as a sound engineer, then i presume you have a much better understanding than virtually anyone, so you should be able to tune it without probs. so too the time correction and inbuilt xovers. you might find these features a boon, and it can make a significant difference.

from all reports, the Imprint KTX is not worth it, especially if you know how to tune things yourself. unfortunately alpine have calibrated to tune for a 'far too flat' frequency response, and therefore ends up sounding too dull: lack of bass, lack of treble. incar tuning needs to be more like a 'smily face' frequency response (on a realtime analyser). so i don't recommend it - you'd probably only use it, then decide you can do better yourself.

iPod connectivity between the 9886 and 9887 is the same - via the FullSpeed connection. USB is an extra feature - so if you won't utilise it, then you won't miss anything by having the 9887.

i personally, would always take the 9887 cos i want more tuning features, and know how to use them. i think you'd be the same.

if iPod is a priority, you really need to try and spend some time using each model to determine whether you'd be frustrated with the relatively limited (more cumbersome) search function associated with the normal 'CDA' series of headunits (CDA-9886R/9887R), compared with the iPod 'iDA' (eg: iDA-X100) series. for someone who relies on using the search feature heaps, to choose and change songs, an iDA is probably preferable. if you're like me, and mostly set-and-forget your iPod (eg: choose a genre, then stick with the entire playlist), a CDA model is perfectly good.

you cannot use the PEQ and GEQ modes at the same time. you can only choose one or the other. how do they not know that? ;)

:)
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Well when I went for the demo the guy spent ages trying to get my ipod working with the 9886 before realising he had plugged it into the wrong unit, even then it still didn't work! But it did with the X100 in the same rack... This is my local Alpine main dealer - he didn't seem to know much!

I use my ipod a lot, but i don't tend to change things much when i am driving (maybe next / prev track), as i still haven't managed a decent demo on the CDA I am not sure how the control of the iPod differs from the IDA.

One of the things i don't like about the IDA is the 'tacky' appearance and the half removable front panel, having had a X001 previously I never got used to the way it looked.

But the ida it does work just like the ipod... How does CDA differ? Can it scroll through a list of artists for example, then select in and select album etc...

When you scroll does it show a snapshot of the list (so the current selection plus the one above and below - like on the iPod display) or does it only show the current selection?

Can it random play an entire play list?

Maybe I should just buy one online which gives me 14 day to send it back and see how i get on!

Does the add on imprint processor add any more than 5 PEQ bands to the 9886 / X100?
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Something that has just entered my mind...

When the guy in the shop hooked up my ipod to the 9886 it presented the option of 'ipod' in the source list but when ipod was selected it just said searching. After about 5 min of waiting we gave up.

Then we plugged it into the X100 and it cam up instantly.

My ipod is an older unit and as such will only function using the KCE422i cable on the full speed connection.

Could it be that the CDAs will not function with it? Or had the buffoon in the shop plugged it into the USB connection and not the full speed connection?

If it transpires that the CDA needs to scan the iPod every time I connect it then I think my decision has been made....
 

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Hi Alza,

I have a 5th gen iPod (iPod with video) and a 9885 and it works great 99.5% of the time. Occasionally it will crash and reset itself, but I think this is my heavily used iPod, not the unit. I have a the "full speed iPod lead", the blue connector to the iPod connector lead, to connect mine.

The X001 and later generation do something different, they use the USB connection to see the iPod and read the database directly as if it was a disk (they license stuff from Apple to do this). This makes it slightly faster apparently, and of course the actual MP3 "playing" is done in the Alpine unit, with its D-A convertors, not by the iPod.

The full speed link uses the iPod interface that is defined to navigate and select a track, and the iPod plays out the music (iPod does MP3 "playing") down a line out into the Alpine that just amplfies it. This the is the main difference between the two units and how they work.

The 9886 (replaced 9885 I think that I have) should work just fine, as should the 9887, unless your iPod is ancient? Can you define what unit you have, iLounge.com has a guide with photos if you are not sure.

I would say, that the 9887 is not that great in terms of what it provides, or the 9886 with the external box, as you need a dealer to tune it, or you need to buy the £100 mic, software and cable kit to tune it yourself. I decided it was NOT worth the money.

If you have a lot of amps, then the "proper" external DAC is the way to go, if you are using the head unit to power the speakers, I would not get drawn into the "next one up has..." debate.

Caraudiodirect.com have always been very good, I would say give them a call, I bet they know more than your local supposed "expert"!

Good luck with your choice ;)
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Thanks for that.

Alpine tech support say any ipod with a dock will work with the high speed link so I am ok with that.

I like the idea of having the extra EQ the 9887 offers, as i always find cars have a dirty great peak in lower mid band that conventional tone controls can't deal with. If the 9886 had a graphic built in I would probably go with that as i am not trying to build the last word in cars systems, hover if I am spending £200 on a 9886 why not shell out another £60 for the 9887?

The 9887 is probably overkill for what i want but it does offer a parametric EQ....

I don't know I am too undeceive!
 

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Discussion Starter #13
All of the Alpine dealers I have spoken to tell me you can not use the PEQ or the GEQ in the 9887 unless it has been 'activated' (unlocked) by a dealer with an imprint tune / upload.

However one of the guys I spoke to at Alpine said he thought you could access these EQs without doing the tune up.

has anyone played with a 9887 to see if you can access the PEQ / GEQ straight out of the box?
 

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AO Silver Member, 155 Lounge Winner 09
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I use my ipod a lot, but i don't tend to change things much when i am driving (maybe next / prev track), as i still haven't managed a decent demo on the CDA I am not sure how the control of the iPod differs from the IDA.

How does CDA differ? Can it scroll through a list of artists for example, then select in and select album etc...

When you scroll does it show a snapshot of the list (so the current selection plus the one above and below - like on the iPod display) or does it only show the current selection?

Can it random play an entire play list?
a CDA will do all of the above. you can readily select the next/prev track, and also select next/prev genre/etc depending on what button you press.

when scrolling, the highres BioLite display (as featured on 9886R and 9887R (not 9884R) shows decent info. it will show 3 titles on the display, including the current and the ones before/after. you can search by genre/album/etc, like on the iPod.

i'm unsure about random for an entire playlist, but if the iPod can do that, then i'd say you can do that via the headunit controls.

so the main difference - in terms of interface - between CDA and iDA is the buttons you press. the CDA is not as elegant, and you have to press different buttons for different things, making it less intuitive. however, as with anything, it is something you become accustomed to soon enough if you use it regularly. is it a dealbreaker/maker? not really, IMHO. i think the main maker/breaker is whether you want the unit to play CDs or not. i always would, so an iDA is not for me.

the audio/connection difference that TP mentioned is one i forgot about, and is a good point. it (theoretically) affects sound quality and speed.

Does the add on imprint processor add any more than 5 PEQ bands to the 9886 / X100?
it basically converts the 9886R into something like the 9887R: EQ (5-band PEQ or 7-band GEQ) + xovers + time correction. PLUS it also includes a mic for autocalibration (which i eluded to earlier as being substandard for some people).

as such, 9887R is much better value than 9886R + PXA-H100(Imprint).

9887R + KTX-100EQ(Imprint for 9887) doesn't add much. it mostly adds the autocalibration.

My ipod is an older unit and as such will only function using the KCE422i cable on the full speed connection.

Could it be that the CDAs will not function with it? Or had the buffoon in the shop plugged it into the USB connection and not the full speed connection?
how old is your iPod. there are limitations. can be used with the following or newer (taken from alpine website):

Fourth generation iPod: Ver. 3.1.1
Fifth generation iPod: Ver. 1.1.2
iPod photo: Ver. 1.2.1
iPod mini: Ver. 1.4.1
iPod nano: Ver. 1.2

All of the Alpine dealers I have spoken to tell me you can not use the PEQ or the GEQ in the 9887 unless it has been 'activated' (unlocked) by a dealer with an imprint tune / upload.
i haven't used one (yet). according to the downloadable manual, there is no restriction or lockout to access these features, nor have i heard anyone complain about it being like that.

is there another alpine retailer in your area you could visit, to try one out?

:)
 

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On the random issue - you can random play an entire playlist, the entire iPod, or random play albums (finish one, moves to another). I think button 5 selects random track, random album, off.

You can tune the 9887 as you like as I understand it, but, to get full auto setup you need the kit with the mic and the software.

This is a half solution to me, my old Pioneer P9000 had a mic included and did all of this built in - it does make a difference for sure to improve the dead spots in the sound. I have read people with polar opposite views on what the 9887 provides when the EQ is done... I think its a case of pays your money and makes your choice.

I don't think the iPod control on the CDA range will disapoint though, and the display is a lot better as Shiny notes above with multi-line biolite rather than the cramped square display on some of the models.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Alpine dealers around here are few and far between!

None of the ones i have called have a 9887 instock! Therefore none of them seem to understand how it works!

I think I will just take a gamble on the 9887 and buy it online its way cheaper anyway (possibly why no dealers stock it!).

I have to visit the states shortly and have thought about buying one there as its about half price! But I understand the tuner works differently. Can this be changed in a setup or firmware reflash? If so ho wlikely is it alpine would help out?
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I have to say I do not like auto-tuning. I have experienced it on several occasions when engineers try to tune a room to provide a 'flat' response.

The problem is sound is subjective and what sounds good to one person may sound dreadful to another - and usual does.

While having a 'flat' base line is a good place to start its not the be all and end all - although i can see how it could be marketed...

i find that using the 'inverse' EQ principle to provide this artificially never actually works leaving you with a heavily EQ'd sound which can sound artificially and dull. Not to mention odd!

This is why the most expensive part of a recoding studio is the control room design. Designed to offer a flat response.

I prefer tuning by ear usually in any audio source there will be one or two frequency peaks that are really nasty these can be easily identified using PEQ then cut to the desired level and some subtle boosting using shelving high and low will work wonders!

A lot of studio use time compensated speakers where there is a delay between the woofer and the tweeter so that all frequencies reach your ear at the same time. Whilst technically this may work on paper again it sounds odd to me and i prefer no time compensation. Having said that sometimes if sitting off centre it can help.
 

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AO Silver Member, 155 Lounge Winner 09
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alpine-UK are unlikely to be helpful in servicing/fixing a model bought from overseas. probably best to avoid a US model for this reason.

in a car, the acoustics are obviously quite terrible. time correction works very well when tuned properly. it can really improve sound staging and imaging, and upfront bass. of course, quality, careful installation (angle/position of drivers) goes a long way towards optimising sound quality, but there's just some things you cannot overcome by this alone, especially if you don't wish to customise your doors/A-pillars/dash for speakers.

:)
 

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Alza - if there are no local dealers, give car audio direct a call, they are very helpful, sure they can answer your questions.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
I have ordered a CDA-9887R will let you know how I get on with it! Cheers for the advice guys! :)
 
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