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Alpine vs. Pioneer vs. Sony

Car Audio, Video, & GPS

Car Audio, Video, & GPS
Talk about stereos, navigation, amps, subs, and all things car audio

Alpine vs. Pioneer vs. Sony

  • I originally bought the Sony CDX-GT610Ui specifically because it had a built in Ipod cable and USB input -- and because it had pretty good specs at a good price.  However, where I live the radio reception was better with the stock Toyota radio (I had the same Sony radio in a 2004 4Runner and a 2003 RAV4).  I returned the Sony last week and am now debating between the Alpine CDA-9883 and the Pioneer DEH-P4900iB.  The Pioneer is $20 cheaper than the Alpine, and I can use a $20 credit if I go with the Pioneer since Crutchfield coupon codes don't work for Alpine (although I haven't checked to see if the referral code will).  My actual hands-on with both units (which was me going to Best Buy) gives the edge to Alpine because of the nicer looking display and somewhat easier to understand controls, but I need input on both of these models from anyone with "real world" experience with them, or from a Crutchfield rep that sees which one gets returned more.  I live in the Atlanta area and we do have some hilly areas where reception can be tricky, but FM reception is a major factor in my decision.  Thanks to anyone who responds.

  • reds91185:

    My actual hands-on with both units (which was me going to Best Buy) . . . I live in the Atlanta area . . .and FM reception is a major factor in my decision.


    You can't tell anything performance wise from BB - they have no antennas connected, and all the units are tuned to XM.

    The key specification for FM is sensitivity - lower is better - Pioneer is 8, Sony is 9, oddly both Kenwood and Alpine are 9.3.

    I would be curious in replies to this as well. I am near Atlanta as well. (I would like to get an HD-capable radio, so am considering the JVC KD-HDR1, Kenwood KDC-X491 or X519, Alpine CDA-9883 or maybe Pioneer DEH-P2900MP).

    My personal experience has been as follows:

    I had a Pioneer cassette deck - KE-3636 or similar, and it was hands-down the best FM reception deck I have ever owned.

    I had a Kenwood KDC-1000 (I think) CD deck and I think it had the 9.3 tuner, and like you said with the Sony, I thought my Tempo's factory radio did a better job on FM reception.  (But it might have been a bad unit, exception, etc. - it was either a Crutchfield outlet or scratch-and-dent unit).

    A friend had an Alpine HU (older cassette model) and the amplifier was very clean, but I don't remember how good the tuner was.  I have read mixed reviews on Alpine FM reception, some praising it, some saying it was poor - none really specific to Atlanta or the CDA-9883.

    One thing that I don't like about the Alpine is only 12 FM presets, if FM is important to you.  Also, I like the Easy EQ of the Pioneer's compared to the bass and treble only of the Alpine and found Pioneer's ergonomics better, but that's a matter of personal preference as well.

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

  • i have a pioneer DEH-4800MP and i live in the mississippi country side...lol...i really like the fm reception that i get out of it...i have had friends that run alpine religiously and it has seem that i could get just a bit better reception than they could....but i belive you would be happy with either one of them short of going with XM or some other type of service such as that.
    Havok Customs Owner/Operator "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." Our background and circumstances may have influenced who we are...but we are responsible for what we become."
  • i have a pioneer radio and i get perfect reception in chicago and my friend has an alpine and he gets good reception on the bigger stations but the stations outside of chicago a little farther away are better on mine.
  • Hey reds,

    I'll chime in for the Pioneer units as well. I've had a Pioneer in my Jeep for four years and the FM reception is great. I live in a mountainous region and FM reception is pretty challenging, but as soon as I replaced my HU, I noticed an immediate jump in how many stations I could hear clearly. As a general rule, I always recommend Pioneer when someone is looking for a CD player and also wants to listen to FM stations. As mentioned before, FM sensitivity is the spec you want to check out. Anything under 10 is considered good. Pioneer units run around an 8. That's excellent.

    I say try out the Pioneer line. You'll love it and don't forget to tell us how it turns out for you.

    Warren

  • I agree. I have owned all three of these brands, and the Pioneer has the best FM reception. I have a Pioneer in my truck, and an Alpine in my wife's truck. The Pioneer does a better job in this department.
  • I am going to have to go with alpine on this because the flexibility of their stuff is second to none also the quality of the products is excellent.  As for sony I have had one in the past and it was awful and their quality has gone down hill.  Pioneer is an excellent brand if you get their Pioneer Premier line because it offers higher quality decks and more adjustability.  I have had a P930 in a Toyota until I sold it two years ago and it was excellent.  If I had to make a decision right now I would go with Alpine because thier displays are very straight foward maintain a easy to read professional looking output.  Also with the alpine you have greater flexibility if you want to go with satelite, I have a in dash Alpine DVD player IVA 200 with satelite and a few other pieces integrated to it and I must say its the best head unit I have ever had.  For the money what you get with the single din units is excellent when compared to Pioneer or the other brand.  Also the new alpine unit that is designed specifically for integration with the IPOD is a great fit for your needs.  Call a crutchfield sales advisor they will give you an honest answer that meets your needs.
  • I agree with Tyler. I have the Apline IVA-W200 as well, and it is nothing shy of phenominal. Alpine's equipment is top-notch.

  • Any further opinions on the FM reception in Pioneer units?

     I wanted to add to the thread and tell you about my experience with an old Blaupunkt Malibu CR67 (cassette receiver with Codem III tuner) versus a new entry level Dual XDM6830 (which I bought because of the price and the MP3 features).  According to the specs, the Dual has a 8.5 dBf sensitivity, while the old Blaupunkt had a MONO sensitivity of 13 dBf.  The Dual had very disappointing results in Los Angeles County for jazz and public radio stations.  I checked my coax antenna cable to see if it was the problem, and after cleaning the male plug, the reception was still lousy.  I then plugged in the old Blaunpunkt on the floor next to it (just to make sure there wasn't some kind of interference from other wiring), but the Blaunpunkt was simply better.  This was really disappointing considering the Dual is probably 10 or 15 years newer.  I decided to return the unit to Crutchfield.  I'm really skeptical of the sensitivity specs now.

     I can't give you any real world info about the current Blaunpunkts.  Their tuners have a new name (Codem Concept III), but I don't know if they're better or worse than the old ones.



    [edited by: spacejump at 3:47 PM (GMT -5) on Sat, Jan 26 2008] [edited by: spacejump at 3:45 PM (GMT -5) on Sat, Jan 26 2008]
  • I ended up going with a Sony since my earlier reply to this thread.  I wouldn't say it's reception is better than the ancient Pioneer that I had, but it definitely seems better than the factory or Kenwood I had earlier.  But I use the HD tuner, so I'm not sure that's a fair comparison.

    I was glad to see your posts b/c I was innately skeptical of both the Dual's 8.5 dBf (can they really be that good - Pep Boys and Wal-Mart used to carry them), and the Blaupunkt's 13-18 dBf (can they be that bad, their OEM for Porsche)?

    You confirmed both my gut instincts.
     



    [edited by: TigerHeli at 7:13 AM (GMT -5) on Thu, Feb 07 2008]

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

  • I really love my alpine 9886, It has sirius, USB, ipod, and aux.  The am/fm is not that good compared to my stock chevy HU, but I rarely listen to Fm any more.  I live in Philadelphia, but travel into NJ a lot, so I get both NYC and philly stations.  If you go with sat or Hd I think you would find yourself not listening to am/fm much any more.  The only problem I am having with my alpine is an issue with my 5th gen ipod and the 9886, but everyone says an update is coming soon either from alpine or apple.
    2007 Chevy Express Diesel Van Alpine CDA-9886 HU - KCA-SC100 Sirius - USB Drive - 80Gb Ipod Kenwood KAC-859 Amp Alpine SPR-17S 6.5 - front Polk DB460 - rear (off HU) 2-Soundstream SPL-10 DVC 4 ohm subs in sealed box (10 years old!)
  • TigerHeli:

    I was glad to see your posts b/c I was innately skeptical of both the Dual's 8.5 dBf (can they really be that good - Pep Boys and Wal-Mart used to carry them) 

    Wlamart carries Pioneer, Sony, Jensen, Dual, JVC....some are the same models that you can buy from Crutchfield. In fact, I was comparing a model that BestBuy had to one from Walmart and found out BB carried the old model and WalMart had the new model!

  • I currently own an Alpine 9886.  Very good HU in every field except for FM.  The FM in my OEM ford was better. My old car came with a sony, and I upgraded to a pioneer, I have also used JVC.  My buddy has kenwood, and has multiple other brands. Out of all of them I have found the pioneer to have the past fm.
  • In my time driving, i have had 4 cars, and only 2 different head units.

    1: 92 Toyota pickup. My grandfather bought it brand new, and sold it to my dad after it hit 10k miles. it came with a single din HU, with just a radio. my dad bought a tape deck receiver at checkers, put it in himself, and always got good  reception, am and fm. when i inherited the car, i put a in JVC refurbished CD player. also got great reception

     2: 95 Chevy blazer 4 door. purchased an alpine 9827 the day after i bought it. it got marginally better reception on am, the same on fm. but i rarely listened to the radio. what i did notice was that i could pick up several stations from a city 60 miles away very clearly. by the way, the speaker setup in this car, stock, was amazing. almost as good as what i have now (#4)

    3: 90 Mazda MPV. swapped the alpine into this after having it about 2 weeks. great reception from the stock pioneer deck, great reception from the  alpine unit as well.

    4: 2003 VW Golf four door. great system when i bought it (monsoon), but for some reason i decided to spend a lot of money, put 2 sets of alpine speakers, and an alpine mrp-f450, all new wiring and the 9827 up front. the stock unit had absolutely no am reception, poor fm reception. with the new headunit and an amplified tuner antenna, still no am, still poor fm reception.

     So i feel safe making the statement that it definitely has more to do with the car antenna that you are hooking the radio up to more that the radio itself.

     I can also say the my friend with the 96 GMC jimmy has been very disapointed with his sony HU through the stock speakers. not sure about the radio, but he remembers how mine sounded with the alpine unit, and he has the exact same speaker setup.

    I guess you could say i have expensive tastes, but unless you are buying stolen goods, you are really gonna get what you pay for. a more expensive unit will usually produce better results.

  • acmectec2001:
    Wlamart carries Pioneer, Sony, Jensen, Dual, JVC....some are the same models that you can buy from Crutchfield. In fact, I was comparing a model that BestBuy had to one from Walmart and found out BB carried the old model and WalMart had the new model!

    On further reflection, I struck through that part of my comments, but I'm still not sure the Dual brand is in the same league with Alpine and Pioneer. 

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