View Full Version : Most Important Head Unit Features
01-31-2011, 01:15 PM
OK, I'm a newb for the most part on these setups. I'm trying to slowly make some changes. For now I'm staying with one battery as I run almost all the time when the stereo is on-- if we sit it's usually for 20 min. or less. But, I'm running a 5 channel Infinity amp for in-boat and my little sub. No changes there this year. It's adequate for now. I want to switch to some better tower speakers and run the amp I have now (zx250.2) but maybe something just a little bigger before too long.
As I have been reading all the stuff on here I have started questioning my head unit. Right now I have the stock KDC MP2035 one. It only has one pair of pre-amp outs. They are split to the two amps.
I also have an older KDC MPV7019 available. It has 3 sets of preamp outs but says the preamp voltage is 1.8 volts. So my question is if it is worth bothering to change to this older unit for the extra outs or it it's kind of a waste of time and time to look for a new one. This is keeping in mind that I am not changing much else from above for this season. Neither HU has a USB connection but both should work with my wired remote and IPOD connector cable.
Also, in a head unit, what do you see as the most important considerations? Thanks for all your thoughts.
01-31-2011, 01:46 PM
So many boaters are now using their source unit as a pass-thru for their ipod and little else. So based on that I would identify ipod connectivity as you already have. Second, would be a strong preamp section.
Any changer or satellite radio ready source unit is going to facilitate a direct and clean ipod connection. The important issue is not what you convert to but the fact that you are exiting out of the iphone/ipod's bottom port for a clean preout signal rather than out the top headphone jack.
A strong preout voltage is important to good quality sound as in a low noise floor and a broad dynamic range (talking contrast and clarity and not necessarily volume). Multiple preouts mean that you will have less division (division weakens the preout voltage) and better zone control. However, if your source unit is on the port side the dual or triple preouts don't do you a lot of good being accessable only from the glove compartment. You are now limited to a global control at the helm. As your system evolves you will most likely get around to some form of convenient zone controls at the helm. If you are using line drivers with remote level controls (Kicker, JL Audio, Audio Control, etc.) or you are using an equalizer then either of these products will resolve the issues of strong and multi-preouts plus independent zone controls at your fingertips.
01-31-2011, 02:22 PM
I wish that goofy headunit wasn't in the glovebox. I thought a lot about relocating it to the drivers side so it's useable but in the end just went with an EQ to make tower control easy. Then the ipod just hooks into the EQ and bypasses the headunit all together.
So, I guess what I'm saying is that I wouldn't put too much cash into a pass-thru device. Focus on ipod integration and strong preout signal, and figure out how you want to do your zone controls. Maybe I should have just said "yeah, what David said"....
01-31-2011, 02:31 PM
" If you are using line drivers with remote level controls (Kicker, JL Audio, Audio Control, etc.) or you are using an equalizer then either of these products will resolve the issues of strong and multi-preouts plus independent zone controls at your fingertips."
I think this may be an extremely important bit of information that I haven't seen anywhere -- or at least haven't paid attention to. Does using a device like the Kicker Dual Zone Remote Level Control mean I wouldn't have to swap out the deck that has only 2 2v preamp outs?
I read this before but I may begin to understand it now:
(from Earmark description)
. . .
It features a single line-level, (RCA) stereo input that handles up to 4.5 volts and differential-balanced inputs for minimizing unwanted noise . The ZXM-RLC boasts a stout preamp design providing up to 9VRMS of unclipped output to amplifiers and dual line-level, (RCA) stereo zone outputs, each with its own rotary volume controls. The remote volume controls have their own extendable umbilical cords for effortless mounting flexibility.
. . .
For my purposes it may be wiser to add one of these (which was going to be very high on my list anyway) than worry about changing the HU ? ? ?
01-31-2011, 03:53 PM
Yes, you could prolong replacing your source unit. One point worth considering is that even with a new and top-of-the-line source unit replacement you will most likely want the convenient zone controls on the driver's side. So the line drivers or EQ would probably be a staple regardless.
There is no benefit to stacking a 4 or 5 volt HU preout on top of a 5 to 10 volt line driver as you're going to gain all the excess out anyway during tuning.
With this class of line driver, the line amplifier stays on the port side between the HU and amplification. It really becomes an extension of the HU.
A telephone-type cable connects with the controller on the driver's side. This cable/controller only carries a control voltage but is not in the signal path. The signal path stays very short and on the port side. There is no to and from transverse audio cables. You couldn't ask for a cleaner scenerio. Well, I guess you could ask.
01-31-2011, 04:48 PM
My stock head unit in my 08 is a kenwood and it has two sets of pre outs. One pair is for the inboat amplifier. The other pair is for my sub and tower speaker amp. It allows me to fade between the inboat speakers and the tower on the head unit. Check out the wiring behind the head unit. My second pair was tied up in the bundle of wires.
01-31-2011, 07:35 PM
I just checked and you're right. There are two sets of preamp outs. I think the front goes to the amp for the cabins and sub and the rear goes to the amp for the tower speakers. I think I actually had it set to be able to use the fader on the HU, but, again, not from the driver's seat.
01-31-2011, 07:50 PM
That's funny. I'm sitting in the boat right now listening to tunes. My wireless works great out here. I wish I could get on the water to do a serious review of what I want to do. Hard to tell anything in here. Another month or so.
01-31-2011, 07:54 PM
Btw, if it ever gets to the point that a source unit replacement is going to happen, then the Alpine 118M when combined with the MC20 remote will actually provide 'dual zone' at the driver's location. And that is unusual. Alpine has excellent ipod functionality too.
01-31-2011, 09:53 PM
Good stuff, david. Thanks!
02-01-2011, 01:20 PM
I install Alpine CDA-118M (in glove box) with the MC20 remote (drivers area) in my boat a few weeks before I took it into Exile. I haven't spent a full day on the water with it yet, but i have played around with it for several hours. The dual zone feature on it is great to have. Liked being able to turn my tower speakers off and still play the cabins while I was working on my hot water shower install. And like David said Alpine has excellent iPod functionality. It is much easier to use then the Kenwood deck I had previously.
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