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Kenwood ddx26bt ddx276bt ddx376 car head unit

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  • Stash
    As an updste to the KENWOOD DDX26BT.

    Over the past few days I have tweaked the sound. What a difference. The low end is full and deep. Mids are clean and smooth. Highs are so detailed now. Instruments sound 'real'. Not fuzzy or unclear. Very distinct and detailed.

    I turned OFF the DRIVE EQ. I just do not like DSP sound. This particular DSP EQ made the bass sound 'hard', masking the deepest smooth bass with a hard 'knocking' hollow mid-bass tone which is fatiguing.

    I only use slight adjustments of the 13 band EQ, and I make use of all the various GAIN levels and the tweeter crossover settings.

    The various gain adjustments really even out the percepted left/right imaging. At first, I did not notice any affect via the tweeter crossover. However, as I fine tuned the system, the tweeter crossover actually improved the sound. I was listening to Five Miles Out by M. Oldfield, on CD. Track #3 is very nice instrumental beginning with many treble range bells. The bells were sounding a bit fuzzy, until I moved the tweeter crossover to the highest 12.5 kHz setting. Suddenly, those bells are as distinct and clear as in my home system! I sat in my little Mirage in my driveway and listened to the rest of the CD. Man, what a difference haha. I love listening to music on a good system.

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  • Stash
    Yes! I just said the same to tomzarbo.
    I used to really enjoy going out and buying a new 7 or 10 band booster/EQ and finding a spot to anchor it under my dash. The VU meter LEDs bouncing to the tunes. That was a lot of fun. Not nearly as good sound tho. Not as clean. Unless you bought something very expensive, which I did not lol. I always went for the cheap boosters.

    My all-time favorite pair of flush mount car speaker systems were a pair of MARANTZ 6x9 5-ways, installed in the rear deck of my '69 Pontiac LeMans. Those speakers delivered such good sound. Featured a 4-inch midrange, a tweeter and 2x super tweeters, if I remember correctly.
    Lol, the so-called super tweeters were useless, much like the cheap Piezo tiny tweeters in today's low-end co-axials. However, that large 4-inch mid really delivered voice range. I've never seen another co-ax or tri-ax speaker with such a large mid. And MARANTZ products were always top notch.

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  • Stash
    commented on 's reply
    Alpine has always been a great product going all the way back to the 70's & 80's. Alpine was up there with Pioneer, Clarion and others and considered a step above by some. Too bad about your GPS tho. These car stereos are so complicated nowadays. One never had problems with stereos freezing up back in the day lol. .maybe just cassette tapes getting jammed hahaaha

  • tom_s
    Great review! To those of us who remember when a car stereo was a simple cassette player & booster amp that you mounted below your dash, the features you get for a few hundred bucks these days is astounding.

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  • tomzarbo
    I had the stereo shop put an Alpine in my Chevy. It was in the $400 dollar range, but I insisted it had GPS Navigation, which was probably a waste. It doesn't work all the time and I don't feel like I can reliably rely on it.

    The Alpine does have really good effects and sound enhancers and I think they actually improve the sound believe it or not. It also has a really good 'Lots O' Bands' Equalizer. Oh, it's costly too because I wanted the CD player. I think it's a DVD player actually.

    Sometimes the whole thing just freezes up and won't play for a few minutes. I didn't want to do it, the stock unit was pretty good, but I wanted a front/rear camera setup and this was really the only way to do it. I just seem to loose with car stereo installs. I'm the Charlie Brown of car stereo I guess.
    Good Grief.

    Glad you like the Kenny! and thanks for the review.


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  • joeybutts
    My first choices are Kenwood and pioneer. Pioneer gives a great host of adjustability in almost all units, specifically 3-way networking.

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  • Stash
    commented on 's reply
    Agreed. I have always liked Kenwood home audio components. Idk if Kenwood has been bought out by some huge China conglomerate. But, from what I see in this unit, and Kenwood's brochure of products, it seems Kenwood continues its tradition of designing and manufacturing high fidelity components.

  • Wolf
    Kenwood is a clear step above Boss, Dual, and the like. Always has been.

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  • Stash
    started a topic Kenwood ddx26bt ddx276bt ddx376 car head unit

    Kenwood ddx26bt ddx276bt ddx376 car head unit

    This review is specifically for the Kenwood DDX26BT.

    The DDX26BT is. 6.2" monitor (not HD), with DVD, BT & receiver. No Android Auto/Apple Carplay. Price was $219.

    Screen is clear and clean. IDC about HD in the car. Background is black with white lettering. Reminds me of my wife's 2020 Outlander OEM HU. Looks OEM in appearance.
    The display is a resistive type. When you press on the screen, it feels soft, like a gel cushion. It is not a hard glass screen. I'm not picky about responsiveness. It works fine for me. I keep it clean of fingerprints with a soft microfiber cloth or I use a rubber tipped stylus pen.
    Display is a bit hard to see in daylight, which plagues many aftermarket HUs. Reflection of rear window in particular, not unlike window reflections on home TV screens.
    Angle adjustment adjusts screen (contrast I believe?), depending on one's selected viewing angle.
    You can upload your own wallpaper.
    I don't see a useful difference between 6.2" vs 6.5" or 7" monitors. I prefer this unit for its DVD/CD capability and the larger mechanical buttons which are much easier to use and more responsive IMO. The larger mechanical buttons retain the OEM look and functionality.

    [7" monitors actually use the same size unit. The manufacturer simply saves space, by eliminating features such as DVD, and/or reducing button size, etc, in order to squeeze in a slightly larger screen, fyi]

    BT works well. No dropping. No freezing. The difference between this unit and Android Auto/Apple Carplay, is this unit does not have Pandora or other such apps. One cannot download such apps or use the phone's app. Therefore, one can PLAY, select NEXT/PREVIOUS TRACK. But no other streaming app features. Title, artist, appear if available.

    If your phone is equipped with USB 3.2 or better, you should be able to MIRROR the phone's GPS screen onto the HU. You will not control the GPS features via the HU, but the screen may be easier to see. Sadly, my phone is USB 2.0, ugh.

    No GPS. Since no AA/AC, no streaning of such to HU. If you wish to listen to BT whilst driving, you will have to select BT app (or radio) for music and use your phone's screen for the GPS map. If you select to listen to music, you will not hear navigation directions.

    However, you can use voice activation on HU to make a call or navigate, as long as your phone's voice activation is working properly. Your phone will switch to either MAPS mode or PHONE mode, dependent on your command. You can hang-up via HU screen, if calling. If navigating, as I mentioned, the MAPS screen will appear on your phone.

    DVD/CD work as expected. The specs on the DVD section are quite good. Comparable to home audio components. 90dB S/N Ratio and Dynamic Range. Unmeasursble Wow/Flutter. 20Hz-22kHz freq resp. These specs are significantly better than specs of many BOSS, DUAL or other such HUs.

    Radio works well. Features RDS for song title, artist name, etc. Again, the specs compare to home components. 68dB S/N Ratio. 30Hz-15kHz freq resp (-3dB). Significantly better than other mentioned brands.

    The amplifier section is amazing! This is like a home receiver in the car.
    Rated 22W, 4 channels driven, 20Hz-20kHz, <1%THD. However, according to tested reviews online, this unit delivers about 17W at around 0.1-0.2% THD. If this HU incorporates the Toshiba TB2931HQ chip, then it may indeed deliver approx 17W, 4 channels driven, 20Hz-20kHz at 0.2% THD. This is, again, significantly better than other brands and approaches home component hi-fi specs.

    [My home component Yamaha receiver is rated 70W RMS, 20Hz-20kHz at 0.09% THD. Therefore, the Kenwood compares favorably, which should translate to cleaner sound.]

    13 band equalizer, from 62.5Hz to 16kHz, +/- 10dB.
    EQ band width selection (Q-factor), of 1.35, 1.5 & 2.0.
    Bass Extension ON/OFF, which extends the 62.5Hz band to affect the entire bass level below 62.5Hz.

    Drive EQ ON/OFF, which makes the music louder, similar to speed sensitive volume on some vehicles, except it boosts all the time. Works well. I use it along with modest +2dB EQ at 62.5Hz.

    [Kenwood states Drive EQ works by expanding the bandwith to compensate for road noise. However, listening to this function, I believe it may actually compress the sound, as a home receiver might compress dynamic range for night viewing. This is only my guess, however.]

    Supreme Sound ON/OFF supposedly enhances/restores lost fidelity of compressed files. I do not use it.

    Realizer ON/OFF also enhances sound quality. I do not use it.

    [My Yamaha home component also has sound enhancement, to restore compressed files. I do not use it either. These functions only make the source sound shrill and annoying, IMO.]

    Spatial ON/OFF creates simulated larger space. I do not use it.

    [Again, my Yamaha features such settings. To me, they sound terrible. Such sound effects only add annoying echo and alter the timbre, IMO.]

    Source Level -15 to +6dB. Incredibly useful. Raises level of lower playing streamed services. Adjust individually for each source, such as Radio, DVD, BT etc.

    Fader/Balance, as in any car stereo. I do not use it.

    Speaker Size. Select the size of your drivers. My woofers are 6.5", but I selected 6"x9" just in case this amp adjusts output according to selected size. I'm not sure I hear any difference choosing different sizes.

    Tweeter Size, SMALL, MEDIUM, LARGE. Idk what size is appropriate for my 1" domes. I selected SMALL, which seems to sound right. I do know, by selecting a different tweeter size, the amp automatically adjusts the so-called tweeter crossover point.

    Tweeter Crossover. You can select 1kHz to about 12.5kHz. You choose 0dB (flat) or select attenuation at crossover point in -1dB steps. You can select different attenuation of each front tweeter This is NOT a true tweeter crossover. No discrete wiring to tweeter. Rather, this is a user amplifier curve adjustment. For example, I selected -4dB at 12.5kHz. Therefore, the amp delivers flat output up to about 10kHz. The amp output then drops linearly, down 4dB at the 12.5 set point. The amp curve is then flat, from the -4dB point and beyond. By setting as I chose, my woofers play flat to about 10kHz and attenuate -4dB at 12.5kHz. The tweeters, which I have passively crossed over at about 12kHz at -6dB, receive the attenuated output from the amp.
    I like the flexibility. It seems to work ok. My tweeters sound good.

    woofer crossover is basically if you install a sub. I selected THROUGH, which allows the entire audio band. If you have a sub, you select from 30Hz up to a couple hundred hertz, I believe. I think you can also select the crossover slope if using a sub, such as -12dB, -24dB etc.

    Distance and Gain are adjustable, just as in home component surround sound receivers. Distance from a fraction of a foot up to 20 feet. I adjusted my distances manually. I am not sure if I hear a difference. I have never been totally convinced time delay works. Even with my home setup. But I do use it.
    I use gain to slightly lower the output.of the driver's side speaker components, to balance what I hear from all drivers. This is a well worth feature. Much better than fade or balance. It affects only the selected drivers, not the others.

    After hours of playing with the above adjustments, my car audio sounds significantly better. Distortion is gone. Stereo separation is much improved. Musical detail is significantly better. I can hear treble and mid nuances which, previously, I only heard on my home audio systems. Bass is extended and deep. I'm using 8-ohm woofers. They move like crazy. This amp has no problem pushing the drivers.

    I bought this HU for the myriad of sound adjustments and the built-in DVD player. After all the issues I had with Android Auto, I lost interest in that app. Android Auto seems to work well with some HUs. My wife's Outlander OEM HU is a great example. It is what it is. I like playing CDs on occasion. No matter what is said about CDs, a good CD recording will stand up to any other music source, in fidelity, quietness and dynamic range. Even my old homemade CDs were recorded in Lossless format for full fidelity. I despise compressed music. I have never used or liked MP3 or any variant thereof.
    The DVD is not really useful, in my car. However, it represents sentimental value. During this past winter, when we lost all power for several days, I sat with my wife in my car, in the evening, heat blasting, and watching movies via DVDs. That was a bright spot in an otherwise dismal few days lol. Sometimes, you never know when a feature will suddenly become remarkably useful.

    I understand one can also purchase a remote control if so desired.

    I have not bothered with an interface for my steering wheel controls. I may try such a device one day. I bought a PAC SWI-RC-1. The directions were vague and did not include my car. I returned it for a refund. I have read the AXXESS ASWC-1 is recommended. However, Axxess does not list my vehicle either. So, I am hesitant to spend the 60 bucks at this time.
    But, the option is available, dependent on your vehicle make and year.

    For anyone considering upgrading, the Kenwoods and JVCs seem like a great middle-of-the-road priced units.

    By the way, for a slightly higher price, Kenwood offers HUs with very similar specs, minus the DVD player, and including Android Auto/Apple Carplay with Approx a 7" screen, if you are so inclined.