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Alpine Vs Eclipse CD Head Unit?

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
Last Spring I installed 6-1/2" Alpine coax speakers in my xB doors and the sound improved tremendously, but it's obvious the OE Pioneer head unit is still a serious limiting factor. I've been looking through Crutchfield's collection for a hopefully very good sounding replacement at a reasonable price (previously bought a Kenwood cassette HU there for my 1990 Eclipse) and the Alpine CDA-9884 looks a good possibility -- even provides iPod and Aux inputs (as does the OE HU.)

http://www.crutchfield.com/p_500CDA9...&tp=5684&avf=N

Someone was saying Eclipse makes good sounding units, but I don't have any experience with either. Alpine has a great rep, but at a similar price point, is it typically a better choice than Eclipse (including reliability)?

http://www.crutchfield.com/p_099CD31...&tp=5684&avf=N
http://www.crutchfield.com/p_099CD32...&tp=5684&avf=N

Anybody have any experience with these brands? What do you think?

Thanks -- Trevor

PS. FM reception DOES matter and I'm not using external amplification.
post #2 of 25
Eclipse head units do have better sound than most head units IMO. But that is usually only when using the pre-amp outputs. The joystick controls are kind of a pain at first till you get used to them. The 3200 has some very helpful features over the Alpine with the built in bluetooth and USB input. The latter is nice because you can purchase thumb drives fairly cheap and load all your music onto them. The unit also has an Aux input and Ipod ready capability.

If you want bluetooth and USB, then definitely the 3200 is the way to go. If those don't interest you, then the 3100 is an incredible value. I don't see any advantage the Alpine unit offers besides the control issue I mentioned above.
post #3 of 25
Thread Starter 
So in terms of sound, Eclipse has an advantage when used as a preamp? How about when used for the amps as well? I understand the Eclipse 3100 is directly compatible with my steering wheel controls, though it can only support EITHER iPod OR Aux which is a negative.
post #4 of 25
IMO deck power from all decks sounds bad. That is why I went with the Eclipse 7200mkII in my own vehicle which doesn't have internal power.

To use the steering wheel controls, you will need an adapter. http://www.crutchfield.com/p_127SWIE...+wheel+control

You can use both the Ipod and Aux with the 3100. The Ipod controller has an input for the aux to plug into allowing you to use both.
post #5 of 25
Thread Starter 
I guess all things are relative. If one is willing to add the cost and complication of external amplification, then apparently the sound can be bettered, but that isn't for me. Ergo, I concern myself with the HU amplification. Thanks for the tidbit on iPod support allowing simultaneous aux connectivity. Turns out the Eclipse units directly support certain Honda and Toyota steering wheel controls without having to use adapters. My xB is one of them.
post #6 of 25
Thread Starter 
I hooked up an Eclipse CD3100 today and found it to be a little unfriendly to my ears in the highs, though if your goal is lots of bass, it seems to do fine! Very engaging and exciting sound, but not what I would consider good sound. Still, I haven't listened to the Alpine yet!
post #7 of 25
It sounds like you had the Loud setting turned on. I'd recommend going through all the menus and turning everything to flat.
post #8 of 25
Thread Starter 
The wake up setting is indeed very bass intensive, but the one I actually tried to listen to was with the equalization setting set to "defeated" -- unfortunately, the highs remained a problem. Although the elevated bass of the earlier settings move the spotlight away from it, they don't eliminate it (reasonably clean highs are important to me.) I hope to see how the Alpine makes out tomorrow.

PS. I may well have to go back and forth several times making adjustments before I reach a final conclusion. Initial impression was not great for the Eclipse -- very flashy display though !)
post #9 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by TrevorS View Post

The wake up setting is indeed very bass intensive, but the one I actually tried to listen to was with the equalization setting set to "defeated" -- unfortunately, the highs remained a problem. Although the elevated bass of the earlier settings move the spotlight away from it, they don't eliminate it (reasonably clean highs are important to me.) I hope to see how the Alpine makes out tomorrow.

PS. I may well have to go back and forth several times making adjustments before I reach a final conclusion. Initial impression was not great for the Eclipse -- very flashy display though !)

Optimized the audio settings on both the Eclipse CD3100 and the Alpine CDA-9884 today, and spent a lot of time going back and forth -- kind of a hassle since I had to keep installing and removing the chassis from the adapter frame which also kept having to be installed and removed from the vehicle ! Fortunately, I installed adapter harnesses on both, so at least wiring required little more than plugging and unplugging into the vehicle harness.

I ultimately concluded both decks have imperfect highs, though the Alpine may be a little cleaner, however, the level of sonic definition is clearly on the side of the Alpine. In comparison to both the Kenwood combo in my '90 Eclipse (KRC-335/KDC-D301) and the Alpine, the Eclipse receiver sounds veiled (same material on all three.) The Alpine and Kenwood sound relatively more lifelike. I think I like the Alpine FM tuner performance over the Eclipse as well, seemed to do a better job of pulling in stations -- though I didn't spend much time evaluating that.

So, I've no way of knowing how the Eclipse line outputs perform, but I don't recommend the final output -- the Alpine is better. I'm now considering bumping the Alpine up another level in hopes of further performance gains !
post #10 of 25
Thread Starter 
As a follow up, I've concluded the Kenwood KDC-X692 easily beats both the Eclipse CD3100 and the Alpine CDA-9884 in CD and FM internal amp sonics. There's simply no contest.

As far as sonics with Aux, iPod, and preamp outputs, I haven't tried them, but my guess is the preamp is highly unlikely to be less good than the amp, more likely better. Still, I don't know how the preamp outputs compare between the three receivers.

Note: I've also come to realize that without an appropriately damped environment, receiver comparison is very difficult due to miscelaneous auto panel resonances (especially through the midrange, but elsewhere as well). I don't think that's something one tends to appreciate without actually experiencing the before/after difference.
post #11 of 25
If you are that serious about proper sound and staging, then you will not be relying on the processing or power from ANY head unit. You need to install an electronic external crossover and at least a 4 channel amp. Then you will be able to infinitely tune the system and the staging exactly as you want it. If you want to start out right and are used to good sound in your home, you will want to invest in Dynamat. Spend a weekend at least stripping the door panels and rear deck and matting everything. It will make a dramatic difference in sound quality and SQL overall.

Matthew A. Meisenbach
President

MCOR Automotive LLC
4134 Land O' Lakes Blvd.
Land O' Lakes, FL 34639
(813)362-5454
post #12 of 25
Thread Starter 
I'm serious within the constraints of what I consider a reasonable expenditure for my auto sound. I spent a number of hours installing a respectable damping material within my doors, and although I can clearly spend more on both damping materials and amplification equipment, I don't consider it meriting the further expense.

What I'm looking for is a high degree of satisfaction within defined limits, and as typical, that in itself can be a challenge to identify. Non fatigueing but engaging sound, without additional electronics, is my specific goal. It appears Kenwood offers products that meet that goal! However, I don't question the sound can be bettered with additional expenditure !
post #13 of 25
Even a cheap outboard amplifier can sound immensely better than internal amplification IMO. I see comparing internal amplification on different head units like someone comparing built in speakers on different tv's and choosing the tv based on the one that sounds best. But then it is your vehicle and if you are happy with the way it sounds without spending the extra money, then that's all that matters. But I really think you are missing out.
post #14 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Steven Kephart View Post

Even a cheap outboard amplifier can sound immensely better than internal amplification IMO.

No doubt it can -- it all depends on the individual quality of the two amps in question (as is always the case.)

You're welcome to your perspective ! Most people are less inclined than you to add component electronics to their cars -- a good sounding upgrade from their OE receiver typically fitting the bill. However, either way, that really doesn't have any bearing on my personal choices. For me, the internal amp matters VERY much! I'm just glad to find at least one manufacturer that appears to care as much as I do !

PS. As further heresy -- I actually find the bass output from my four door mounted 6-1/2" drivers to be satisfying -- hopeless case, eh ?
post #15 of 25
Thread Starter 
I've just realized from another thread that BOTH you people are in the business -- that's seriously disingenuous of you. No WONDER you are so pro component amp systems, and so DOWN on internal amplifiers. I STRONGLY suggest you acknowledge your professional biases BEFORE lending your advice! I'm especially concerned with Mr Steven Kephart's responses, MCOR Automotive's remarks were far more transparent!
post #16 of 25
What does that have to do with anything? My suggestions are valid either way. In fact my suggestions have the weight of quite a bit of experience behind them. And you act as if we were trying to swindle you or something? You can't expect people to post their resume prior to giving you advice in the off chance that you may have a prejudice.

The fact still remains that every system run by internal amplification that I've heard, which is quite a few, has sounded substandard at best. A decent quality external amplifier, even one you found on the side of the road (just to show there is no monetary interest to anybody involved) will improve the sound. But then my first job was at Mervyn's, so I might be biased.
post #17 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by TrevorS View Post

I've just realized from another thread that BOTH you people are in the business -- that's seriously disingenuous of you. No WONDER you are so pro component amp systems, and so DOWN on internal amplifiers. I STRONGLY suggest you acknowledge your professional biases BEFORE lending your advice! I'm especially concerned with Mr Steven Kephart's responses, MCOR Automotive's remarks were far more transparent!

??? What does it matter that we are "in the business"? I am no where near you so obviously I am not trying to sell anything. Whatever you do will not impact me any. We are giving professional advice since we are professionals. Do you value your doctors tax advice? Do you value your CPA' health advice? I have given free advice in forums for years and gained very little from it (do some research on MCOR).

Hell, watch Speed TV (Unique Whips or A&E's West Coast Customs Show), or go to ANY serious car audio forum and post your ??'s. You will find that this advice is universally followed in this arena. If you go to a respectable shop with a good display room, you can listen for yourself. You will see an IMMENSE difference in staging and SQL.

The point is, do what you are comfortable with and that is within your budget. I have seen people on a budget build some of the best systems that cost 1/3 of some others with more "money than brains".
post #18 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MCOR Automotive View Post

??? What does it matter that we are "in the business"?

Only because people who are geared to sell a certain technology tend to discount other options and other needs, and that tends to tilt the playing field. The average person will tend to view the input of a technology professional differently from that of other persons, and without knowledge of who-is-who, it's much more difficult to weigh that input. I appreciate both your opinions, but it's very helpful to understand your inherent leanings.

And so -- I repeat, if you are coming from a professional position, it's a good idea to mention it when providing your input. (As I tried to suggest above, MCOR Automotive pretty much identifies himself via his boilerplate .)
post #19 of 25
Ah but see, I'm not a salesman. I'm an installer. My intentions are only to help give you insight on how to reach your goals. In fact you can trust our insight much more because of our experience. How many times have you seen someone come into a thread and recommend the stuff they own and discount other stuff even though they have no experience with it? Their opinion is the misleading one IMO.
post #20 of 25
Thread Starter 
I don't want to argue the point (gets kind of silly), but be it literal sales or installation or whatever connection, it's still professional affiliation and hence generally an inclination to promote! I'm going to leave it at that !

As I tried to say earlier, I appreciate the input, but I'm in no rush to move to the format you favor. I feel sufficient can be accomplished without external amplification to provide a pleasing auto-audio experience ! *(However, with any solution, there are always issues. Hence my latest thread in this forum !)
post #21 of 25
i had an eclipse cd5000, it was nice deck and can be had for cheap. I never had any problems w/ it other then it did not support itunes files. It was stolen and is going to be replaced w/ an alpine CDA-9887. One thing also about eclipse deck is they do not have a pause button..
post #22 of 25
Besides the fact that Trevor has poor forum educate to the point of me questioning his results, I have to say I installed an Alpine CDA-9884 this week and I'm very happy with the upgrade from stock.

Although the FM reception I think is slightly worse (one station in particular that always came in clear and strong now has noticeable noise), the iPod interface is extremely intuitive and well done and even running on the internal amplifier, there is noticeably more clear high end detail (typically the first area I see improvement on with nicer audio equipment, in my experience) from the stock deck.

That being said, it's certainly pointed out some of the weaknesses in the rest of my setup (fully anticipate having to upgrade the rest of my setup at some point, as funds become available). Being able to truly bring all of the sound to the front speakers the fact that my back 6x9s are shot has become even more obvious, and the difference between the ability of the smaller door speakers to produce low end relative to the larger 6x9s becomes painfully obvious.

I think the advice about amplifiers on here is quite sound and I've experienced this difference myself in person quite often. Good aftermarket speakers are dying to have nice, clean sound and not be underpowered. The advice to always go for a sub is hogwash, but for sure it can help for certain kinds of listening habits.
post #23 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by modestmelody View Post

Besides the fact that Trevor has poor forum educate to the point of me questioning his results

Poor forum etiquette (that which you apparently can't spell?) What exactly are you criticizing? Perhaps you object to my calling a spade a spade?
post #24 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by TrevorS View Post

Poor forum etiquette (that which you apparently can't spell?) What exactly are you criticizing? Perhaps you object to my calling a spade a spade?

Relatively old thread, but I felt the need to raise a question.

So, Trevor, if I interpretted your posts correctly, are you saying that because these gentlemen sell retail products in the area that you are interested in, their POV's are invalid, since there MUST be some sort of underlying intention?

I hope you realize that you make no sense whatsoever. So, if you wanted advice on a stove, would you go to your local car dealer, or would you rather:

A: Call the manufacturer of the item or brand you're interested in for further detail.

B: Visit your local appliance retailer/wholesaler for advice.

C: Call a local repair center for reliability of the product you are interested in.

One of the greatest things about AVS forums is that professionals do in fact frequent here, and offer advice FREE of charge. At no point in time did I read "you need Dynamat, pm me for a price". What I did in fact read were suggestions based on your posts, and what you were seeking.

Yes, your forum "etiquette" is atrocious.

Please, no need to respond to my post, as your POV has been so eloquently portayed.
post #25 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fanaticalism View Post

Relatively old thread, but I felt the need to raise a question.

So, Trevor, if I interpretted your posts correctly, are you saying that because these gentlemen sell retail products in the area that you are interested in, their POV's are invalid, since there MUST be some sort of underlying intention?

I hope you realize that you make no sense whatsoever. So, if you wanted advice on a stove, would you go to your local car dealer, or would you rather:

A: Call the manufacturer of the item or brand you're interested in for further detail.

B: Visit your local appliance retailer/wholesaler for advice.

C: Call a local repair center for reliability of the product you are interested in.

One of the greatest things about AVS forums is that professionals do in fact frequent here, and offer advice FREE of charge. At no point in time did I read "you need Dynamat, pm me for a price". What I did in fact read were suggestions based on your posts, and what you were seeking.

Yes, your forum "etiquette" is atrocious.

Please, no need to respond to my post, as your POV has been so eloquently portayed.

You don't read very well do you?

I said that it is helpful to the receiver of input to be aware of the providers of inputs connections to the industry should they exist.

Now, do you want to take another wild swing?
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