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Receiver - Kenwood VS. Sony

Car Audio, Video, & GPS

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Receiver - Kenwood VS. Sony

  • Ok, so here's the lineup for in my 2002 Ford Escort ZX2.

    Kenwood KDC-MP2035 http://www.crutchfield.com/S-wwpgWcoLCi8/cgi-bin/ProdView.asp?I=113MP2035

    Sony CDX-GT510 http://www.crutchfield.com/S-wwpgWcoLCi8/cgi-bin/ProdView.asp?I=158GT510

    They both cost the same and have similar features including remote and fancy equalizers and pre amp outputs.  I'm looking at these to go with my Kenwood speakers I'm planning on getting ( in the door - http://www.crutchfield.com/S-wwpgWcoLCi8/cgi-bin/ProdView.asp?I=113KFC1661 rear deck - http://www.crutchfield.com/S-wwpgWcoLCi8/cgi-bin/ProdView.asp?I=113KFC6880 ). I had these speakers recomended to me by email talking to a Crutchfield expert for with my stock receiver so would these still be good speakers also for either of these receivers?  The speakers can all take the output of either receiver based on RMS rating.

    I like the looks on both ok but prefer the Sony's set up but the blue on the Kenwood would match my car's color better. I narrowed it down to these two through comparisons of all the brands at this price level. They both have the best FM sensitivity and signal to noise ratio of all of them but the Sony is a little better on both. Am I not seeing something in the numbers that might tilt the scale a little bit one way or the other or does anyone have other things to consider with them or completely different options?

    This would be my first aftermarket receiver as well as first aftermarket speakers (on vacation now, waiting to get home to order speakers). Except for waiting for the money on this my problem is also with the faceplate replacement. For my car (according to "outfit my car") the faceplate they offer i'm not even sure is the right one because when you click the "Crutchfield hands-on research" tab it says faceplate is for 1997-2000 Escorts.  Mine is a 2002 ZX2. http://www.crutchfield.com/S-wwpgWcoLCi8/cgi-bin/prodview.asp?I=120995720 . Even if it is the correct one for my car, I think it looks horrendous and it would be a huge black spot in the middle of my tan interior.  Do I have any alternatives to this?  Sorry to present so many problems in one post but I figured since it's all the same topic it would be better than re presenting my information many times. Thanks for the help!



    [edited by: Silver Storm at 7:51 PM (GMT -5) on Mon, Jul 23 2007] [edited by: Silver Storm at 7:50 PM (GMT -5) on Mon, Jul 23 2007] [edited by: Silver Storm at 7:49 PM (GMT -5) on Mon, Jul 23 2007] [edited by: Silver Storm at 7:45 PM (GMT -5) on Mon, Jul 23 2007]
    My normal response is to throw more wattage at the problem
  • Silver Storm:
    I had these speakers recomended to me by email talking to a Crutchfield expert for with my stock receiver so would these still be good speakers also for either of these receivers?  The speakers can all take the output of either receiver based on RMS rating.

    Yes - the 6x8's are the ones I plan to get for my Focus.  I think Sony might have slightly better bass on the 6-1/2's, but the Kenwoods are very good also.

    I like the looks on both ok but prefer the Sony's set up but the blue on the Kenwood would match my car's color better. I narrowed it down to these two through comparisons of all the brands at this price level. They both have the best FM sensitivity and signal to noise ratio of all of them but the Sony is a little better on both. Am I not seeing something in the numbers that might tilt the scale a little bit one way or the other or does anyone have other things to consider with them or completely different options?


    Personally, in that price range, I would get either the Alpine CDE-9870 or Pioneer DEH-3900MP.  Do you have a picture of your dash?  If it has the standard light green illumination like my Focus, I would think the Sony would look better.  Sony has an annoying beep that you can't disable if you don't take the faceplate with you (I don't, but if you do, it won't matter).  I had terrible FM reception on a Kenwood that I owned, and one of the ones I looked at had a long delay when switching from FM to CD and back again.  I don't know if that would be an issue with the particular model you selected, though.

    Even if it is the correct one for my car, I think it looks horrendous and it would be a huge black spot in the middle of my tan interior.  Do I have any alternatives to this?


    Metra also shows the same kit for a 2002 ZX2 also.  Again, can you either post a picture or post a link to your dashboard.  Here is a picture from a 1998 ZX2, and you can see how the kit would fit there.  You could paint the kit as the person with the photo did, but I don't know what type of paint to use, or what results to expect.

    2002 Ford Focus JVC KD-A815 Sony CDX-GT410u Sony XT-100HD HD Tuner Stock speakers, no amp, no subs

  • Thanks for reply. --- I'll look at those two receivers and see how they look. My biggest concern with the Kenwood is complaints on the buttons which I would rather avoid. I think I could deal with the beep on the Sony since I would probably usually take it out anyways. It does have the green lighting which would match good but the blue knobs on the Kenwood match exterior color of the car. This Kenwood "claims" to have good FM reception so I hope that wouldn't be an issue here. --- I'll take pictures of the dash and put them up in a couple days when I get back home. Until then, thanks for the help. I didn't even consider painting it but with that option I might consider the kit. I started with planning on just upgrading the speakers because it's not noticeable and should increase sound quality a lot but reading about results of factory to aftermarket receivers, I have to wonder how much better it could be. Pics in a few, thanks again!


    [edited by: Silver Storm at 1:52 PM (GMT -5) on Tue, Jul 24 2007] [edited by: Silver Storm at 1:51 PM (GMT -5) on Tue, Jul 24 2007]
    My normal response is to throw more wattage at the problem
  • Silver Storm:
    My biggest concern with the Kenwood is complaints on the buttons which I would rather avoid.

    Meaning the red color of the buttons, or the ergonomics - how the buttons and menus are laid out?

    I think I could deal with the beep on the Sony since I would probably usually take it out anyways.

    Right, not much of a problem then. Sony should have made a way to disable it by a menu IMHO, but they didn't.

    It does have the green lighting which would match good but the blue knobs on the Kenwood match exterior color of the car.


    Okay - that's where the blue comes in. The Pioneer 3900 has a blue volume knob and green buttons, and the Alpine 9870 has blue chicklets and green buttons, FWIW.

    This Kenwood "claims" to have good FM reception so I hope that wouldn't be an issue here.

    The Kenwood claims 9.3 dbf sensitivity, which was the same as the one I had (KDC-1000 (???), one of the first CD Kenwoods). (But it might have just been a defective unit, bad antenna connection, etc.) Alpine has the same spec. Sony is 9.0 (better) and Pioneer is 8.0.

    I really like Alpine's amplifier sections. I had a Pioneer cassette deck that was the best FM section I have ever owned. My daughter has a Sony, and it seems to do okay, but I haven't driven with it enough to know how strong the FM tuner is.

    I'll take pictures of the dash and put them up in a couple days when I get back home.

    Thanks!

    I didn't even consider painting it but with that option I might consider the kit.

    I'm not sure you have many options - if your radio is curently in that oval thing in the dash, you are likely going to need the kit to get the new HU installed. BTW, Theres a lot of options with painting the dash - check out these threads on FocusFanatics and FocalJet and the painting procedure here.

    I started with planning on just upgrading the speakers because it's not noticeable and should increase sound quality a lot but reading about results of factory to aftermarket receivers, I have to wonder how much better it could be. Pics in a few, thanks again!


    From what I've read on FocusFanatics (different radio probably, though), the factory speakers aren't that bad (although I'm sure the aftermarket ones are much better, but the biggest sound improvement came from scrapping the factory HU.


    [edited by: Daniel at 2:43 PM (GMT -5) on Tue, Jul 24 2007] formatting

    2002 Ford Focus JVC KD-A815 Sony CDX-GT410u Sony XT-100HD HD Tuner Stock speakers, no amp, no subs

  • People in reviews of the Kenwood say the volume knob is very sensitive and to easy to push in which brings you to a menu and that it's difficult to transition from the display of whatever input you are on to the clock mode.  Mostly because of this I am leaning to the Sony of the original two.

    Now for the two you reccomended as competition.  For the Alpine, I have to say no because even at the level 30 dollars higher than these it has no remote or Aux input. The Pioneer's looks impressed me, I think I like it's layout the most out of all of these, but I don't like the way the equalizer sounds from the description and its specs dont match up quality wise (Sensitivity and Signal-Noise ratio). The whole reason for this is to get quality sound (well, and so I don't have to use a tape player adapter for Mp3/CD player).

    I do have the oval formation for radio and climate controls and I kinda like the way it looks, better than the flat kit. I will check out those threads though and see how hard it is to get it decent looking.

    The factory speakers are pretty good compared to listening to music in other peoples cars with stock systems.  It can hit the bass ok (for full range speakers) and the highs are decent. All of this in the planning stage of course, I hope to order the speakers and see the improvement until I have money for the new HU and kit if I think more improvement is necessary or capable.



    [edited by: Silver Storm at 5:25 PM (GMT -5) on Tue, Jul 24 2007]
    My normal response is to throw more wattage at the problem
  • I think you are missing some things, but I'll respond and see where we end up.

    Silver Storm:
    People in reviews of the Kenwood say the volume knob is very sensitive and to easy to push in which brings you to a menu and that it's difficult to transition from the display of whatever input you are on to the clock mode. Mostly because of this I am leaning to the
    Sony of the original two.


    I can't really comment on this - except a general statement, that I find a lot of the "small buttons, buttons too close together" comments I tend to brush aside, as this has never been a problem for me. As far as the clock mode - that was the main reason I personally ruled out the Alpine, you have to scroll through Folder, File, Artist, Album, Song, and Comment, to get back to Clock display. I do know the Pioneer has a separate button to turn clock display on and off.

    Now for the two you reccomended as competition. For the Alpine, I have to say no because even at the level 30 dollars higher than these it has no remote or Aux input.

    The Alpine iPod adapter is an additional $30, but it is by all reports the finest iPod adapter on the market if you want to control your iPod from the HU. Now if you have a non-iPod MP3 or simply want to plug your iPod in and use it to select songs, it might not be the best option for you.

    The Pioneer's looks impressed me ..., I think I like it's layout the most out of all of these, but I don't like the way the equalizer sounds from the description and its specs dont match up quality wise (Sensitivity and Signal-Noise ratio). The whole reason for this is to get quality sound (well, and so I don't have to use a tape player adapter for Mp3/CD player).

    The equalizer is pretty basic - preset for rock, powerful, vocal, and a user selectable, and a separate control for bass boost. You can get pretty good sound out of it, though. You do understand sensitivity specs - lower is better - Pioneer is 8 dbf, I don't know of another manufacturer below 9 dbf. Not sure how low you
    want them, but my personal experience (and others) Pioneer has the best FM section available today. S/N specs aren't as good, but I'm not sure how important that is in a mobile environment.

    I do have the oval formation for radio and climate controls and I kinda like the way it looks, better than the flat kit. I will check out those threads though and see how hard it is to get it decent looking.

    Your car looks like this but in tan not gray then? I see where you are coming from, but you are contradicting what you said originally. At first you implied that you had a tan dash and the kit didn't even look like the correct one. Now it looks like the kit is the one you need, and I don't see any way other than the kit for you to install your new HU. I think your concern is with the flat panel on the kit as opposed to the more rounded lines of the stock panel. Best advice I can give would be to do a Google search on ZX2 radio and click the "images" tab and see how the kits look in other people's ZX2's.

    I hope to order the speakers and see the improvement until I have money for the new HU and kit if I think more improvement is necessary or capable.


    Again, from my experience with other Fords, I would recomend changing the HU first and then the speakers, but either way you'll likely end up swapping both in the end, so not a big deal.


    [edited by: Daniel at 9:53 AM (GMT -5) on Wed, Jul 25 2007] formatting

    2002 Ford Focus JVC KD-A815 Sony CDX-GT410u Sony XT-100HD HD Tuner Stock speakers, no amp, no subs

  • About the buttons, I don't have fat hands and I know I could get over it even if it was a small problem but the clock part does bother me a little bit. Would most audio stores have these on display so I could play with them?

    I don't have an ipod, I would want the Aux plug for my mp3 player or a friends or maybe a tape player for those few tapes I have laying around.

    I think you're right about the equalizer.  I got kinda star struck reading about a bunch of presets and compared to 3 it didn't look that impressive. You're right about the S/N ratio not being quite as important as FM sensitivity.  I'm having trouble not picking one slightly bad feature and completely ruling out that receiver.

    Sorry for any confusion, I do have a tan dash but the place for stereo is black like in the picture and the color of the kit.  The problem with not thinking it is the correct one for my car is that in my car the rear defroster button is on the right (and round - cosmetic i'm sure) and on the kit it is on the left. Other than the flatness of the kit, like you said, it's really not that bad.  It's just a bigger change than pulling out a rectangular box and putting in a new one.  I'm not scared about the modifications Crutchfield said are necessary, since I have complete confidence in the master sheet, based on other reviews saying how wonderful it is. And if it's not what I was looking for, I can always put the stock back in.

    Ok, so either replacing all the speakers or getting a new HU cost about the same and you say I should get a new receiver. I might just do that and see how well it does.  Thanks for the suggestion.

    My normal response is to throw more wattage at the problem
  • Silver Storm:
    About the buttons, I don't have fat hands and I know I could get over it even if it was a small problem but the clock part does bother me a little bit. Would most audio stores have these on display so I could play with them?

    I recommend you buy from CF, but the big yellow tag store should have most of them on display.  I spent a lot of time looking there.  And I went through the same thing with the clock - My factory stereo has the clock always displayed and so I liked the fact that on the Pioneer it was a separate button rather than pushing the DISPLAY or MODE button six times before it re-appeared.

    I don't have an ipod, I would want the Aux plug for my mp3 player or a friends or maybe a tape player for those few tapes I have laying around.


    Okay - likely Alpine is out then, and all the others are still in.

    I think you're right about the equalizer.  I got kinda star struck reading about a bunch of presets and compared to 3 it didn't look that impressive. You're right about the S/N ratio not being quite as important as FM sensitivity.  I'm having trouble not picking one slightly bad feature and completely ruling out that receiver.


    If I'm reading that correctly - I had almost the same problem.  I decided that I wanted to always see the clock and wanted a two-line display for my MP3 CD's, so I decided on the JVC KD-G830 (with the Pioneer DEH-P5900MP as a backup) (I change my decision about every two weeks, though so don't hold me to that), but the DEH-3900MP would have been my third choice out of those, and I spent a long time wondering if it was really worth an extra $100 for a permanent clock and two-line CD text display.

    The problem with not thinking it is the correct one for my car is that in my car the rear defroster button is on the right (and round - cosmetic i'm sure) and on the kit it is on the left.

    Yep, I'm pretty sure you have to move the plug for the defroster switch harness plug over to the other side with the kit.  (Not sure why they did that as it looks like they could have put it on the right and been more what you were used to, but it might work in other cars as well, or there might be space issues behind the dash).

    And if it's not what I was looking for, I can always put the stock back in.


    I doubt you'll be doing that.

    Ok, so either replacing all the speakers or getting a new HU cost about the same and you say I should get a new receiver. I might just do that and see how well it does.


    Actually, what I said was the people on FocusFanatics said that the 2002 Focus did better with a new HU than new speakers.  But I do cover this in my Don't Overbuy thread.  However, in talking with you, I would recommend the HU first.  New speakers can help the SQ, but basically, if you've lived with the system for a while and are used to the current SQ, you get accustomed to it.  OTOH, a new HU gets you instantly more power, generally better FM reception, MP3 CD capability, an AUX input for your MP3 player, likely better sound customization, etc.  (The sound customization is important also - I have read reports (in years past though), where the factory speakers were intentionally bad so they didn't pick up high frequencies or low frequencies so you didn't notice things like tape hiss, alternator whine, etc.  People put in new aftermarket speakers and the sound was immediately worse b/c the speakers were now playing all the "noise" that the car manufacturer was trying to hide.  OTOH, the new receiver may have things like selectable bass frequencies, high-pass filters, etc, so even if you stock speakers can't play below 80 Hz (just a guess), you can filter these frequencies out so they don't try to.)

    HTH!!!


    [edited by: TigerHeli at 3:39 PM (GMT -5) on Wed, Jul 25 2007]

    2002 Ford Focus JVC KD-A815 Sony CDX-GT410u Sony XT-100HD HD Tuner Stock speakers, no amp, no subs

  • Wow, you gave me a lot to think about.  Don't worry, I will definitely buy from CF as they are too nice and too helpful to shorthand and save ten bucks. The defroster movement wouldn't be a problem. With your help I narrowed my objection to the kit down the fact that it's flat which I could get over if the benefits of the new stereo were good enough.

    The reason I picked speakers rather than a HU besides original fears of the kit is that I love those low tones.  Will a new HU get me a little better bass without hurting the speakers?  I probably will replace those too though but I would rather do it voluntarily than because of a busted speaker. Thanks again for everything.

    My normal response is to throw more wattage at the problem
  • Silver Storm:
    Wow, you gave me a lot to think about.  Don't worry, I will definitely buy from CF as they are too nice and too helpful to shorthand and save ten bucks.

    Trust me, you won't save $10 bucks going elsewhere.  See my comments in this thread, but in your particular case, you won't get a new HU installed without that install kit (costs extra at yellow tag), and CF drops the price of it in half when you buy a new HU.  Add onto this, that you can drive around with your system installed for 30-days and then return it with free shipping for full credit if you don't like it, lifetime (very good) tech support, and ...

    The reason I picked speakers rather than a HU besides original fears of the kit is that I love those low tones.  Will a new HU get me a little better bass without hurting the speakers?  I probably will replace those too though but I would rather do it voluntarily than because of a busted speaker. Thanks again for everything.


    Hard to say, and I suspect I can give you better answers after I upgrade my 2002 Focus stereo.  What I can tell you (but might not apply to you):

    1)  On the Focus forums, they recommend replacing the HU before the speakers or rather than the speakers if you can only do one.
    2)  I plan to replace the HU first and may or may not replace the speakers later.
    3)  The Visteon 6006 (Factory 1-3/4 DIN unit, not the same as your ZX2) is rated at between 2-4 W RMS.  The biggest problem I notice with my system is poor FM reception (sounds muddy in some parts of my commute and clear in others), and muddy bass response at mid to high volume due to clipping of the weak internal HU amplifier.  Replacing the amplifier with a 20-22W RMS aftermarket HU should improve the bass response somewhat, due to the additional power available to the speakers to generate clean bass.
    4) The factory 6x8 speakers say 25W on the back of them.  I assume this is peak, not RMS power, so I am not planning to turn the new stereo all the way up (but I probably wouldn't even with aftermarket speakers).  I know from past experience you are more likely to damage speakers with low power and distortion than clean high power, but 20W RMS supplied to 25W Peak speakers is cutting it a bit close.
    5)  I have no idea what the impedance or frequency response of the factory speakers is.  I have to believe they don't get down to 30 Hz like the Kenwood's.  But whether they can't handle 50 Hz, or 60 Hz, ???  That said, I actually believe I will get better bass out of them by say High-Pass Filtering them at say 50 Hz and boosting the 60 Hz frequency, than I will trying to feed them 30-40 Hz tones that they can't reproduce, if that makes sense.

    Finally - I want to point out that while I said Sony's 6.5's have better bass, it is usually recommended to keep (at least) all the full range speakers from the same manufacturer to match tonal qualities (timbre, thanks Carolinasp3 for mentioning this).

    Hope this helps!!!!

    2002 Ford Focus JVC KD-A815 Sony CDX-GT410u Sony XT-100HD HD Tuner Stock speakers, no amp, no subs

  • Ok, back home.  Wow I hate busses.  Anyways, gonna take some pictures tomorrow and put them on here and see how difficult it is to rip off trim panels and what not :) .

    Same manufacturer but what about same series?  For my situation, I was recomended S series Kenwoods in the front and IE's in the back.  Should I spend an extra forty on the fronts and get those in the same class?



    [edited by: Silver Storm at 12:13 AM (GMT -5) on Sat, Jul 28 2007]
    My normal response is to throw more wattage at the problem
  • Ok, wow, rough couple days.  Finally got those pictures but bad news, I probably won't be able to get the stereo or speakers for some time because I have to register the car under my name and get the title for it which is gonna be about 200$ and I accidentally broke the windshield yesterday trying to kill a mosquito no less.  I didn't even get him. I'm not sure if insurance will cover that since it's only liability and if not I have no clue how much that would cost to replace so it will be a while.
    My normal response is to throw more wattage at the problem
  • Silver Storm:
    Same manufacturer but what about same series?  For my situation, I was recomended S series Kenwoods in the front and IE's in the back.  Should I spend an extra forty on the fronts and get those in the same class?

    I don't think that matters as much.  Actually, you could go with Sony or Pioneer in the front, you just might not match the tonal qualities to the Kenwoods in the rear.  BTW, there are IE's that are only $20 more (not sure if they fit the ZX2).  Comparison here

    2002 Ford Focus JVC KD-A815 Sony CDX-GT410u Sony XT-100HD HD Tuner Stock speakers, no amp, no subs

  • Silver Storm:
    I'm not sure if insurance will cover that since it's only liability and if not I have no clue how much that would cost to replace so it will be a while.

    Normally, that is covered under comprehensive, rather than liability, although some states have a zero-deductible provision for the front windshield.  You could be vague about how it got broken, ... (just a thought).  If it's not covered, I think the last one I had to replace was around $200 (Honda Civic), but it depends a lot on how complex the glass is and how common your car is.

    2002 Ford Focus JVC KD-A815 Sony CDX-GT410u Sony XT-100HD HD Tuner Stock speakers, no amp, no subs

  • Its looking like it's going to be 150 for my cheapest price so it wouldn't be too bad if insurance won't do it.

    Picture time

    Car from outside:  http://s94.photobucket.com/albums/l119/arch_pheonix/?action=view&current=0729071505.jpg

    Stereo from far:  http://s94.photobucket.com/albums/l119/arch_pheonix/?action=view&current=0729071508.jpg

    Stereo up close:  http://s94.photobucket.com/albums/l119/arch_pheonix/?action=view&current=0729071508a.jpg

    My newly acquired injury :( :  http://s94.photobucket.com/albums/l119/arch_pheonix/?action=view&current=0729071510.jpg



    [edited by: Silver Storm at 1:21 PM (GMT -5) on Mon, Jul 30 2007]
    My normal response is to throw more wattage at the problem