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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
On the rare occasions when I'm not listening to the wonderful music coming from under the boot, I'm usually listening to a very eclectic range of music. However, the Blaupunkt seemed to skip almost everywhere I went and was even worse with MP3's on a CD-R.

So I bought the Alpine CDA-9831 head unit and the KCA-420i iPod interface. The head unit fits perfectly where the Blaupunkt once sat and the tiny interface unit fit almost anywhere you could think of. Prices are pretty good on ebay - I paid $231 for the head unit and $74 for the interface.

I clip the iPod to the little shelf to the left of the steering column (it just barely fits) and the iPod cable comes out through the pocket below the light switches. The interface disables all buttons on the iPod so there no need to have it accessible until you park. The best thing is that all of the song information is displayed on the head unit in easy-to-read, but not distracting readouts.

Sound quality is great, even with the awful Blaupunkt speakers and no subwoofer. The MX Media Expander de-compresses the MP3 files to give much more depth and bass. Even better, it added little or no weight to the car. I've always hated draggin CD's around with me...they were always scattering when I'd hit Mullholland Drive at speed.

Pictures to come when I get out from under my work.
 

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I was thinking of also getting an Alpine with the iPod interface. Did you do the install? If so how long did it take and do you have any tips?


Patrick
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I had a "professional" installer do the work because every other time I've tried taking apart a dash, I was left with a handful of "extra" screws. The install set me back about $200. If I did it myself it would probably take a full day of back-wrenching contortions and a bottle of tequila to drown the frustration - hey...I know my limits!

One tip for this system is to organize some playlists for your music because the head unit can only handle about 250 songs per folder.

The buttons are pretty complicated and small, but I think I'll become accustomed to them after a while.
 

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Alpine CDA-9831 head unit and the KCA-420i iPod interface

I bought and installed the Alpine CDA-9831 head unit and the KCA-420i iPod interface. Install was quite easy. Running the wires for the iPod would have been easier if I had smaller hands. The iPod interface with this head unit is the best one I have seen so far. I can even shuffle songs and do searches.

I had the Pioneer AVIC in my ferrari and found that it really need external amps to get quality sound. This Alpine has a great amp in the Head Unit & there really isn't any need for an external amp. I adjusted the EQ settings to maximize the punch out of the stock speakers and they now sound acceptable.

As for NAV head units, they require the placement of the brain which is quite tight and extra wait. Also I rarely had the screen out except on the once in a while trip to an area I was unfamillar with. I would reccomend a stand alone NAV like the Magellin or a PDA rather than deal with the placement of a screen that needs to pop out. There really isn't enough room for a screen to pop out without hitting your wipers arm. Also you can easily remove it if you plan on going to the track.

Just my opinion.
 

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eliseum said:

One tip for this system is to organize some playlists for your music because the head unit can only handle about 250 songs per folder.
Is that to say if you want to browse an iPod collection of >250 songs it can't be done from this head unit?
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
You can still listen to the songs, but the searches will not list song names or artist info - instead it shows up as track #s.

Even still it's pretty cool.

I'm looking for a super lightweight subwoofer that I can easily remove for track days as well.
 

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iPod interface

I don't know about the 250 list. I just got back from driving the car, I was able to search by album, and by song. I have over 4000 songs on this iPod and saw them all. However, I did just update the iPod software for my iPod. Maybe they have made some subtle changes to the interface or it just works differently with this head unit.
 

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Re: iPod interface

scottyb said:
I don't know about the 250 list. I just got back from driving the car, I was able to search by album, and by song. I have over 4000 songs on this iPod and saw them all. However, I did just update the iPod software for my iPod. Maybe they have made some subtle changes to the interface or it just works differently with this head unit.
That's a LOT more heartening. Thanks.
 

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Question:
is the iPod the only thing that will fit the KCA-420i interface cable? My new Exige comes with the KCA-420i unit, but I don't have an iPod, and am not keen on getting one. Was hoping the connection cable would fit something else (hard drive? MP3 player?) other than just an iPod.
The Alpine CDA-8320XM head unit that comes with the Exige doesn't play MP3 disks, and apparently I am unable the plug an extra CD changer (that will play MP3s) into the Alpine, as the Ai-NET plug is already occupied by the KCA-420i unit that came with the car.
 

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....and apparently I am unable the plug an extra CD changer (that will play MP3s) into the Alpine, as the Ai-NET plug is already occupied by the KCA-420i unit that came with the car.
Ai-Net works like USB. You can daisy chain components. I have an 1st Gen XM decoder in my Z and it's got an Ai-Net in and out on it. A Changer and the iPod Adapter should have something similar.
 

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eliseum said:
I had a "professional" installer do the work because every other time I've tried taking apart a dash, I was left with a handful of "extra" screws.
The professional installer probably ends up with a handfull of extra screws, too - he just has the courtesy to throw them out and not mention it to you when you pick up the car.

:D :D :D











Just kidding. But now you'll wonder... :evil:
 

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Lotusglider said:
Question:
is the iPod the only thing that will fit the KCA-420i interface cable? My new Exige comes with the KCA-420i unit, but I don't have an iPod, and am not keen on getting one. Was hoping the connection cable would fit something else (hard drive? MP3 player?) other than just an iPod.
The Alpine CDA-8320XM head unit that comes with the Exige doesn't play MP3 disks, and apparently I am unable the plug an extra CD changer (that will play MP3s) into the Alpine, as the Ai-NET plug is already occupied by the KCA-420i unit that came with the car.
I doubt you'll find anything that can truly interface with an MP3 player other than an iPod, since the iPod dominates the market it seems like all of the car audio people are working solely to integrate with it alone.

With that said, there are options. You can add an fm modulator to the backside of the head unit (if there aren't auxillary inputs already) and use that to play music from your mp3 player. I had a setup like this with my iPod in my old car. You set the fm modulator to take over an empty radio station and run an RCA-minijack (3.5mm) cable from the modulator to your mp3 player. This gives you extremely good quality (compared to wireless "solutions") but the downside is that you have to watch the MP3 player's volume and you have to control it via the MP3 player.

It's a cheap solution, but nowhere near as elegant as the iPod interfaced solutions. If I were you I would just pick up a used iPod on eBay for $100~ and use that as your in-car storage. It's so much better than cds and a cd changer and isn't much of a hassle at all to update with new music.
 

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I know that a number of manufacturer's (PIE comes to mind) sell AI-Net wiring harnesses that allow you to connect an iPOD, RCA or phillips (3.5mm) equipment to the Alpine HU's. I bought one that only has 3.5mm for my PocketPC phone. Alpine also makes USB "adapter" (it's a box), but it's stupidly inflexible (restarts playing song from begging every time you power off, limited folder numbers, etc)...


Shaggy said:
I doubt you'll find anything that can truly interface with an MP3 player other than an iPod, since the iPod dominates the market it seems like all of the car audio people are working solely to integrate with it alone.

With that said, there are options. You can add an fm modulator to the backside of the head unit (if there aren't auxillary inputs already) and use that to play music from your mp3 player. I had a setup like this with my iPod in my old car. You set the fm modulator to take over an empty radio station and run an RCA-minijack (3.5mm) cable from the modulator to your mp3 player. This gives you extremely good quality (compared to wireless "solutions") but the downside is that you have to watch the MP3 player's volume and you have to control it via the MP3 player.

It's a cheap solution, but nowhere near as elegant as the iPod interfaced solutions. If I were you I would just pick up a used iPod on eBay for $100~ and use that as your in-car storage. It's so much better than cds and a cd changer and isn't much of a hassle at all to update with new music.
 

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Has anyone done the Bluetooth with the Alpine head unit?
 

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Has anyone actually tried installing an Alpine 6-disk CD changer somewhere in the car? I'd like to install one, but wonder if there is space. (Other than just mounting it in the trunk, aka boot).
 

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I haven't done that but I'd make sure that the changer/amp/whatever is out of the direct "splash" reach :) By that I mean if you're driving with a top off and it starts raining - make sure that the electronics boxes are out of direct reach of rain and water splashes. That I would imagine, prevent things like bottom of the trunk/boot and area behind seats should probably off limits as well.


Lotusglider said:
Has anyone actually tried installing an Alpine 6-disk CD changer somewhere in the car? I'd like to install one, but wonder if there is space. (Other than just mounting it in the trunk, aka boot).
 

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Lotusglider said:
Has anyone actually tried installing an Alpine 6-disk CD changer somewhere in the car? I'd like to install one, but wonder if there is space. (Other than just mounting it in the trunk, aka boot).
I looked into it when I got my first Elise in 2004. When I went to the shop, the installer said to just install an iPod. It's smaller and has a much larger capacity. He was right!
 
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