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Car Audio Buying Basics What to Know Before You Buy 2013 Car Audio Buying Guide Not getting the most enjoyment from your car audio? Whether you want to add to your existing car stereo system or completely replace a factory-installed entertainment system, this guide will help you determine which components you need for the crisp, powerful sound you want Giving you a better way to buy

Car Audio Buying Basicscontentz.mkt941.com/lp/27506/234621/T498 Car Audio Buying... · 2013-02-26 · 2013 Car Audio Buying Guide Stay connected: 3 The heart of your car audio system

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  • Car Audio Buying BasicsWhat to Know Before You Buy

    2013 Car Audio Buying Guide

    Not getting the most enjoyment from your car audio? Whether you want to add to your existing car stereo system or completely replace a factory-installed entertainment system, this guide will help you determine which components you need for the crisp, powerful sound you want

    Giving you a better way to buy

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    Head Units / Receivers

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    The heart of your car audio system sits in your dashboard and is commonly referred to as the head unit or audio receiver. It connects all the different parts of your radio to the speakers, and it provides power to all the components through your vehicle’s electrical system. Your head unit may include a built-in CD player, radio tuner or a controller for a multi-disc CD changer. To accommodate more recent technology, many receivers have started including interfaces for digital music players, connectors for HD or satellite radio and connections for car video systems.

    Head units are available with large touchscreen displays with Bluetooth and GPS capabilities, more traditional push-button and dial controls or a combination of the two! Make sure you know the size of the opening in your vehicle before ordering to eliminate the need for dash modifications.

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    When shopping for a new car stereo, most people think in terms of wanting more power. An amplifier takes a signal from a source and makes it larger, which makes the sound louder. Amplifiers will boost power to your speakers, ideally without adding any distortion. Car amps can power one, two or four audio channels, with the most common being two- and four-channel models. Before you buy, there are a few specifications to note:

    •Car amplifiers will list RMS power, which is the steady power level the amp will produce, and peak power, which is the maximum power your car amplifier can produce in short bursts. Match the power rating on the amp to your car speakers to prevent damaging the speakers.

    •Low-pass filters provide better low-frequency bass sounds; high-pass filters provide better high- and mid-range treble sounds.

    •A pre-amp is a second amplifier hooked up in sequence to your car stereo for an even bigger sound.

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    One of the most important audio components for superior sound quality is speakers. Auto manufacturers typically do not install high-end car speakers, which can result in poor playback (especially noticeable while driving). When purchasing after-market speakers, you should be mindful of a few things. If using your existing receiver, you’ll need to choose speakers that both fit your car and closely match its RMS wattage output. Whether you decide to work with your existing head unit or completely replace your audio system, upgrading speakers is an excellent way to improve your in-car listening experience.

    PowerWhen selecting a head unit, it’s very important that you match the receiver power to the speakers. Receivers and speakers work best together when their RMS (sustained power) output wattages match. Too much or too little power to the car speakers can damage them or distort your sound quality. Before buying, you should also consider the speakers’ sensitivity, which refers to the sound your speakers produce based on the electricity they receive. Speakers with high sensitivity work best with radios with lower power levels and vice versa.

    Features Speakers that have more features can produce fuller sounds. A typical factory-installed car speaker is a two-way speaker, which means that there are two separate drivers (also known as speaker cones) in each speaker. One driver reproduces the lower frequencies coming from the car’s audio receiver; the other produces the higher frequencies. Three-way speakers go a step further by having three separate drivers inside of each speaker, with each driver handling a narrow range of frequencies. This delivers sound that is clearer and more powerful across the entire hearing spectrum. While listening to your favorite music you will clearly hear background instruments and more subtle tones.

    Size & Shape When choosing new speakers for your car audio system, use your existing speakers to help gauge the correct size. Many factory-installed speakers systems include either 5.5” or 6.5” speakers in the front door panels and either 6.5” or 6”x9” speakers in the rear speaker panels. For the fewest complications and modifications, look for speakers that are the exact dimensions as the ones you are replacing.

    You’ll also want to check the depth and shape of your new speakers to make sure they’ll fit in the current speaker enclosures. If round speakers won’t work for your door panels, you may find other shapes that fit in your current spaces.

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    Whether you’re looking to turn your car into a performance machine or simply boost the quality of your favorite tunes, car subwoofers are the way to go. A subwoofer completes the aural coverage of your car audio system by producing low bass sounds. Even 6”x9” speakers can’t reproduce sounds as low as a subwoofer.

    Subwoofers enhance bass quality by amplifying and feeding the audio signal back through an enclosure of 8 to 21 inches in diameter to produce a frequency of 20 to 200 Hz. The lower the frequency, the higher the quality of sound will be — and the bigger the beats. The subwoofer will also filter out other frequencies, which allows for better quality and a clear, crisp sound.

    It is unlikely that your car stereo alone would be able to power a subwoofer. In this instance, you would want a powered subwoofer or you can connect an amplifier to your audio system. You’ll want to match the RMS wattage output of the amplifier with the RMS power handling of the subwoofer and the ratings for the rest of your car stereo components. Cone material and the subwoofer enclosure will also affect the sound. You might have to adjust power levels from your amplifier to help reduce excessive vibration in your vehicle.

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    Satellite Radio

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    If you’re ready to make the switch to satellite radio, and revolutionize your car radio experience, you should do your homework before you buy. Benefits of satellite radio include genre-specific programming, digital audio signals, commercial-free music and automatic display of song titles and artist names.

    The technology uses powerful satellites that beam signals across broader areas than traditional terrestrial transmitters (whose reach is ultimately dependent on their height). And because satellite radio broadcasts digital rather than analog audio signals, any receiver that is capable of decoding a satellite-radio signal can offer more channels than a traditional tuner and with better quality, as there’s no static or channel interference. Song titles and artist names are displayed while the music plays, so it eliminates the need to wait for disc jockeys to identify the song you are hearing.

    Programming variety is another key benefit of satellite radio. You’ll have access to channels from all over the country that are dedicated to specific genres (rock, country, jazz and more) and subgenres (such as indie, hip-hop, rap and dance), music organized by decades, news and sports programming and call-in radio shows.

    In order to reap the benefits of satellite radio, you need a satellite radio and a subscription with SiriusXM. You can listen to satellite radio in your vehicle or on your computer or smartphone.

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    GPS Navigation

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    GPS navigation systems are standard in many luxury vehicles, and are readily available as options on other more mainstream vehicles. GPS stands for Global Positioning System, a constellation of nearly 30 satellites orbiting Earth which can provide your precise location anywhere, any time and under any atmospheric condition. Not only can navigation systems help you stay on course when traveling, but they can also help you save time by avoiding traffic and help you find restaurants or other points of interest.

    While some cars feature built-in navigation systems, many others do not. You can purchase a portable GPS that moves from car-to-car with ease. Before you buy, there are quite a few factors you should consider.

    Screen AppearanceConsider the following in regards to the screen: How big is the screen? Is it in color? Does it have glare protection? What type of resolution does it offer? Can it be read in direct sunlight? Is it clearly readable from both the driver and passenger seats?

    Space/Size Considerations If your GPS is built-in, you don’t have much input as to the location or amount of space that the unit occupies. However, if you are purchasing an independent unit, you should consider its overall size and how you will position it within your car. Many GPS systems can be attached to the windshield with a suction-cup arm, or you could have the unit installed within the dash.

    When you place the GPS, you want to make sure that it does not distract you from the road or interfere with your ability to see out of the windshield. The primary objective is that you are able to keep your eyes on the road... where they belong!

    Type of Operation Touchscreen operation is the most common and seems to be the most straightforward and easy-to-use; however, some people find joysticks and dials to be faster to manipulate.

    DVD or HDD-Based At least 80% of today’s navigation systems are DVD-based. More and more automakers are moving to mapping software on a hard-disc drive (HDD), which provides faster map-access speeds and often share space with music files.

    Updating Mapping Information Major highways rarely change, but local roads quite often get rerouted or renamed. How easy will it be for you to update your GPS with the latest maps? How often you make updates is more of a preference, based on your GPS usage history.

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    AACAlso known as m4a files, AAC are Apple format files used in CD ripping. AAC offers excellent sound quality in a smaller file size than MP3 or WMA.

    ACDrive (Advance Codec Drive) Music manager software included with many Kenwood Excelon and Kenwood model receivers. The software, called PhatNoise Music Manager, allows users to edit and rip files from a CD and manage a large list of music files. ACDrive lets you audibly search files by Genre, Playlist, Album Name or Artist and hear and see song files with text-to-speech capability.

    A.M.S. Amplifier Management System Amplifier Management System - A.M.S. is an extremely sophisticated system that provides extensive control over an amplifier’s bass and treble EQ, bass extension and volume offset. It also lets you control and monitor key amp performance criteria (source voltage, current consumption, internal temperature, fan speed, protection status).

    All Channels-Driven Surround Power The ability of a multi-channel receiver to deliver its rated power output in all of its channels simultaneously. All Channels-Driven Power is a realistic indication of how the receiver will be able to deliver power while playing multi-channel music formats like DVD Audio, while conventional power ratings indicate how the receiver will perform with 2-channel music sources.

    Amplifier Classes There are three most common amplifier classes: A, A/B and D.

    Class A amplifiers produce better sound than A/B amplifiers, but are rare in car audio because of their high power drain and low efficiency.

    Class A/B amplifiers are more efficient than the class A design and are the most common type of amplifier in the car audio market.

    Class D amplifiers are typically reserved for use with high power subwoofer amplifiers and can reach efficiencies above 80%. Class D amps are more compact, use less current, and produce less heat than the other classes.

    AppRadio by Pioneer Smartphone-based car multimedia receiver with Capacitive Touchscreen. Compatible with iPhone, touch and select Android devices.

    Attenuator with Smooth Volume Return Drops the volume by a preset level. Smooth Volume Return gradually increases the volume to the original level when the ATT button is pressed a second time, eliminating a jarring change in volume.


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    Audio DSP Listening Modes DSP (Digital Signal Processing) recreates different sonic ‘environments’, simulating the acoustics of places like Arenas, Churches or Clubs. Playing music through a DSP mode can create a more vivid, life-like listening experience.

    Auto Power On/Off Automatically turns the power on when a signal is received; automatically puts the speaker in standby if no signal is received for several minutes.

    Automatic Memory Entry Automatically programs 1 memory band (6 stations) in a given area, making it especially easy to find stations during long-distance travel.

    B.M.S. (Bass Management System) A high Q-value bass enhancement circuit featuring variable center frequency (50Hz - 100Hz) and selectable 6dB or 12dB of enhancement. The high Q-value narrows the frequency range, allowing strong bass enhancement while minimizing negative effects on the midrange.

    Bass Management Lets the user set up the system so that deep bass is sent only to those speakers designed to handle it, reducing distortion and increasing dynamic range. Full Digital Bass Management is performed digitally, allowing greater precision and user control.

    Best Selection File Lets the user program up to 32 tracks from any discs in the player for playback as a group by pushing one button.

    Built-In Volume Control A control unit on the cord allows for volume adjustment without having to reach for the volume control on the receiver.

    Butyl Rubber Surround Butyl rubber has greater internal loss than standard urethane, preventing harmonic distortion at higher frequencies. It more efficiently absorbs edge reflections that can cause audible distortion, resulting in clearer bass performance.



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    Camera Angle Function When used with compatible DVDs, allows a single scene to be viewed from more than one camera angle.

    CD Text Displays text from encoded CDs on the unit’s display. Text can include disc/song title and artist information, as well as disc genre (for example, ‘Jazz’, ‘Classical’, etc.).

    CD Track Title Display When used with compatible changers, the remote downloads the track titles of the active disc and shows them on its display.

    Cinema EQ Enhances bass response for films and smoothes the blend between front speakers and subwoofer.

    Component Speakers Combine separate midbass, tweeters and crossovers in a system that offers better power handling and performance than most two- or even three-way integrated speakers. Component systems allow you to mount your tweeters in different positions to improve the overall stereo imaging. These speakers are the best way to get high-quality sound in your vehicles and are the perfect choice for the real music aficionado.

    Component Video Inputs Video connections that transmit the black & white and color difference portions of a video signal on 3 individual sets of wires. Offers superior color and detail reproduction over S-Video connections.

    D MASK Motorized Faceplate The user presses a button to rotate the faceplate forward and down, revealing the tape or disc loading slot located behind the faceplate. This allows a larger display containing more information that’s easier to read. The faceplate can be removed while in the flip-down position, or the user can push the faceplate the rest of the way over, locking it with its blank rear panel exposed. The blank panel disguises the presence of the unit and eliminates the chance of losing a removable faceplate.

    D MASK+ Self-Hiding Motorized Removable Faceplate with Carrying Case Improved version of Kenwood’s exclusive MASK technology. When the power is turned off, the unit’s faceplate automatically revolves away from the unit and stops, allowing the user to remove the faceplate. If the faceplate isn’t removed after a user-determined amount of time, it continues to revolve the rest the way over until it locks with its blank rear panel exposed. The blank panel disguises the presence of the unit and eliminates the chance of losing a removable faceplate. The CD loading slot is behind the faceplate, allowing a larger LCD display containing more information that’s easier to read.



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    D’Appolito Configuration Speaker driver arrangement that places two woofers one on either side of the other speaker elements. This narrows the speaker’s vertical dispersion, reducing unwanted sound reflections, while widening its horizontal dispersion, allowing more people to hear it properly.

    Dialog Language Function When used with compatible DVDs, plays a film’s dialog track in different languages.

    Digital Anti-Skip A circuit that reads musical data from the disc, stores it in memory, then plays it back from the memory buffer, which results in less skipping caused by bumping or vibration. The more seconds of storage time in the buffer, the more protection against skipping.

    Digital Filter Circuit that removes unwanted digital artifacts from the signal while it is still in the digital domain, allowing the use of more gently-sloped, better-sounding analog filters.

    Digital Optimum Servo Control Circuitry that enables the CD player to determine each disc’s reflection rate and the modulation rate of its pits, enabling the player to set the ideal servo gain for each disc. DOSC also adjusts servo gain and balance when it encounters vibration, scratches, dust, or fingerprints, reducing mistracking and skipping.

    Digital Signal Format Auto Detection/Auto Switching Detects the format of the incoming digital data stream, automatically activating the proper surround decoding mode (or allowing PCM digital signals to pass un-decoded). Listeners don’t have to manually switch between different surround modes when changing digital sources or software formats.

    Digital to Analog Converter (DAC) Circuit that converts digital data into an analog music signal.

    Digital Signal Processing (DSP) DSP recreates different sonic ‘environments’, simulating the acoustics of places like arenas, churches, or clubs.

    Digital Video Enhancer Provides both horizontal and vertical DVD digital image enhancement, improving small details, color accuracy, and depth perception without introducing video artifacts or distorting the image.

    DIN (Deutsches Institut für Normung ) DIN is an acronym that was adopted after the Deutsches Institut für Normung (DIN) and the International Standards Organization (ISO) defined it as a standard car stereo measurement. The size of car stereo head units is deemed either DIN or double DIN. DIN units measure 2” x 7”, while double DIN units measure 4” x 7”. Double DIN was adopted by some car manufacturers to fit larger radios.


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    Direct Component Control Allows the remote to operate a component even if it is not the selected source, simplifying operation. For example, a user can use the remote to put a VCR in rewind while a CD is playing.

    Direct Input Source Selection Input sources can be selected directly, without having to scroll through each one, making it easier to use and more compatible with system macro operations.

    Disc Naming Lets the user program a title for each disc. The disc player reads the disc data and shows the name on its display.

    Disc Sensing Automatically detects which disc positions are occupied when the access door or tray is closed.

    DivXDivX® is an advanced digital media format that lets you play, create and share digital video by turning bulky videos into manageable DivX files. The DivX® codec (short for compressor/decompressor) can compress video to a convenient size without losing any noticeable quality and play those videos back on almost any device.

    Dolby 3 Stereo Circuit that decodes 2-channel Dolby Surround-encoded soundtracks into 3 discrete channels (left, center, right), allowing more accurate placement of sounds across the front than conventional 2-channel stereo.

    Dolby Digital Digital multi-channel sound delivery system that uses proprietary data compression (AC-3) to deliver up to 6 independent soundtrack channels. More dynamic, involving, and realistic surround-sound experience than Dolby Pro Logic, with more realistic sound movement between channels. Available on laser discs, DVDs, DSS pay-per-view programming and HDTV.

    Dolby Pro Logic Circuit that decodes 2-channel Dolby Surround-encoded analog soundtracks into 4 discrete channels (left, center, right, surround), creating a movie theater-like surround-sound experience in the home. Available on satellite, broadcast and cable TV, laser discs, and VHS tapes.

    Dolby Pro Logic II Advanced version of Dolby Pro Logic (see above) designed for use with stereo music programs as well as Dolby Surround-encoded film soundtracks. Improvements over original Dolby Pro Logic include wideband stereo surround channels, smoother sound movement between channels, fewer side-effects, and a dedicated music listening mode that derives a 5.1-channel surround sound field from standard stereo sources.


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    Dolby Pro Logic IIx State-of-the-art matrix decoding technology that expands native two- and 5.1-channel source audio for 6.1- or 7.1-channel playback (Left/Center/Right/Left surround/Left Back/Right surround/Right Back/Low-Frequency Effects), resulting in a seamless, wraparound sound field.

    Dolby Headphone A signal processing technology that delivers 5.1-channel surround sound over any pair of headphones for a richer, more spacious and less fatiguing listening experience. Look for Dolby Headphone on several Kenwood receivers and Home-theater-in-a-box systems.

    DTS Digital Surround Digital multi-channel sound delivery system that uses scalable data compression to deliver up to 6 independent channels of multi-channel film soundtrack or multi- channel music reproduction. The scalable compression rate allows performance to be maximized for any software delivery platform. Available on laser discs, CDs, and DVDs.

    DTS-ES® Extended Surround A 6.1-channel Surround format, expanding upon 5.1 surround by adding a dedicated center surround channel to the existing left & right surround channels. This center surround information can be carried as either a separate channel (DTS-ES Discrete), or it can be combined with the existing surround channels via a matrix (DTS-ES Matrix). All DTS-ES discs are fully compatible with 6.1 Matrix decoders, and 5.1 Digital Surround. There is also a dedicated 6.1-channel music listening mode (DTS-ES Neo6).

    DTS 96/24 A multi-channel sound delivery system that offers an a high level of audio quality for multi-channel sound on DVD-Video. DTS 96/24 is fully backward-compatible with all DTS decoders. “96” refers to a 96kHz sampling rate (compared to typical 48kHz sampling rate.) “24” refers to 24-bit word length.

    Dual-Room/Dual-Source Operation Allows users to play an audio/video source in one room, and a completely different audio/video source in a second zone. All surround and video formats are available in the main zone, while the second zone receives a stereo analog audio signal that is Dolby Pro Logic-compatible and a Composite video signal.

    Dual-Side Play Plays both sides of dual-sided DVDs without the disc being removed from the player.

    Dual-Zone Control When used with an appropriate adapter or CD changer, the head unit can send its internal sound sources (tuner and CD) to the front speakers and preout while simultaneously sending an external sound source (connected via the adapter or changer) to the rear speakers and preout, with independent volume control for each zone.


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    DVD Audio Advanced audio format that offers significant improvements over CDs in both audio performance and flexibility. A DVD Audio disc can contain a 2-channel music program recorded with 24-bit resolution at 192kHz sampling, which is substantially better performance than the conventional CD standard of 16-bit/44kHz. Alternately, a DVD Audio disc could contain multi-channel music (up to 5.1 channels) at the conventional CD standard, providing a true surround sound music experience. Additional features can include video graphics, interactive menus, text, and in some cases, full-motion video.

    Dynamic Control (Automatic Level and Separation Control) Automatically controls the level and separation of the FM modulator output to better match the FM radio’s input. Reduces noise and distortion when playing CDs.

    Front/Rear Fader Controls both the speaker level (power) and preamp level (front and rear RCA preouts) levels at the same time with a single control. This makes it easy to change the system’s front/rear balance even if it has external amplifiers.

    Full Bandwidth Power (less than 1% THD) Unlike other brands, Kenwood head units are rated at full bandwidth power (from very low to very high frequencies) with less than 1% THD. This more accurately shows how the unit will perform when playing music.

    Fully Automatic Analog and Digital Signal Format Detection and Selection Automatically senses if the incoming signal is in digital or analog format and activates the proper input. Digital surround signals automatically activate the proper surround decoding mode. PCM digital and analog signals automatically activate the last sound mode used for that input. Listeners don’t have to manually activate the input type or change the sound mode when changing any source or software format.

    Graphic Motion Analyzer (GMA) An exclusive Kenwood technology that lets users see the performance of their vehicle on the receiver’s display. GMA offers five different types of displays: G-Graphic, G-Meter, G-Counter, Stop Watch and Horsepower function.

    Ground Isolation Circuit A circuit that cancels noise from the input of the negative side of the RCA cable, preventing vehicle electrical noise from interfering with the music.




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    HD Radio A high definition radio uses digital broadcasting instead of conventional analog broadcast for improved sound quality. HD-ready radios can also display text that tells about the song that’s playing, or about the person who’s being interviewed.

    High-Speed Multi-path Control (CRSC) with ANRC A circuit that controls multipath distortion by reducing stereo separation. As stereo separation is reduced, multipath has less effect on the radio signal, improving reception in areas with tall buildings or mountains.

    IC2-IV New head unit integrated circuit that performs all audio functions (except for System E’s+). Dual L/R power supplies give IC2-IV improved dynamic range, channel separation, crosstalk and signal-to-noise performance.

    Integrated Quad 1-Bit Digital-to-Analog Converter Four digital-to-analog converters, 2 for each channel, improve playback sound quality, including musical detail and resolution. Using 2 converters for each channel reduces distortion by half.

    Intro Scan Plays the first 10 seconds of the track or disc, making it easy to find a particular song or disc.

    iPod-Ready A car deck that is equipped to connect to your iPod and play its music files through the deck. Typically an iPod-ready car stereo includes its own cable for easily connecting it to an iPod. Once connected, many decks give you total control of your iPod through your car’s audio system, including easy access to playlists, artists, albums and more. Choose a song using the controls on the stereo deck, or the remote control. No need to fumble with the clickwheel and display on your iPod. Then safely store the actual iPod unit in the glove box or console.

    Iso-Mount Capability for Japanese Vehicles Unit has mounting holes designed to fit the factory brackets of many Japanese import vehicles. Units with removable faceplates have a removable faceplate trim ring for easy mounting.



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    K-Glow Tweeter Protection Circuit Tweeter protection circuit using an incandescent lamp to divert power from the tweeter at excessive input levels. Because the lamp’s impedance increases with heat, as the power to the tweeter increases the circuit absorbs more power, continually protecting the tweeter from damage.

    K-Ground Kenwood-developed grounding method that uses a single ground point for all of the amplifier’s components. Eliminates ground noise caused by current flow along the ground path, improving sound quality.

    K-STAT Discrete Audio Amplifier Exclusive Kenwood-developed output circuitry incorporating a thermal compensation sensor inside the power transistor housing. This eliminates any amplifier warm-up period and allows the amplifier to instantaneously adjust to temperature changes, greatly improving sound quality and consistency at all volume levels. K-STAT is the world’s first transistor designed specifically for audio amplification purposes.

    KAM-1 Power Amplifier Circuitry Exclusive Kenwood modular amplifier circuit that doubles electrical efficiency, producing more power while generating less heat. KAM-1 offers improved sound quality and reliability in less expensive products.

    Kenwood CR-2 Advanced Tuner An advanced tuner featuring improved rejection of multipath distortion (new CRSC). The CR-2 tuner retains the ANRC circuit found in the CR-1 tuner (see CR-1 listing for explanation).

    Kenwood DRIVE Distortion Reduction Circuitry A Kenwood-developed circuit that uses digital low-pass filters and extremely high-speed digital switching to eliminate digital distortion, improving musical clarity and detail. 32-Bit DRIVE III uses powerful DSP processing to provide extremely accurate results.

    Kenwood Music Keg Digital music system that makes it easy to take an entire music collection (up to approx. 2,500 songs) on the road. The Kenwood Music Keg consists of a trunk-mounted ‘Keg’ unit, a portable 10GB DMS cartridge, a USB desktop cradle and Kenwood Music Manager computer software. The software makes it easy to collect digital music files (MP3, WMA, FLAC format) on a PC and organize them into custom playlists. The desktop cradle allows the files and playlists to be transferred to the DMS cartridge, which inserts into the trunk-mounted ‘Keg’ . The ‘Keg’ connects and is controlled like a conventional CD changer.

    Kenwood Ultrasonic Response Amplifier Kenwood-developed power amplifier circuitry specifically designed with its upper frequency response limit extended out to 100kHz. Provides more accurate reproduction of wide-bandwidth sources, like DVD Audio and SACD.


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    Kenwood Universal Video HD Automatically upconverts Composite video signals to S-Video and downconverts S-Video to Composite video. In receivers with Component video, also upconverts Composite and S-Video signals to Component video. Receivers with Universal Video require only a single connection between the receiver and video display, greatly simplifying system setup and operation when components with different video connection types are used together. Universal Video HD will pass HDTV signals without degradation.

    Kenwood-Designed Superior Disc Transport A disc transport mechanism that uses soft butyl rubber insulators for exceptional shock resistance, along with ceramic-injected silicon oil that absorbs jarring vibrations even at extreme temperatures, reducing skipping and mistracking.


    LAPT Audio Transistors High-speed output transistors that operate over an extremely broad frequency range and produce minimal distortion even when handling large amounts of current.

    Last Sound Mode Memory Remembers the last user-selected sound mode for each input and switches to that mode whenever the input is selected.

    Loudness Control Built-in EQ curve designed to compensate for the human ear’s lack of sensitivity to low and high frequencies at low volume levels, giving music a richer, fuller sound. It automatically defeats when the volume is approximately 3/4 of the maximum level.


    Magnetically Shielded Allows speaker to be placed next to a TV without interfering with the TV’s picture.

    Manual Bias Fine-Tuning Lets the user fine-tune the bias by ear, allowing personalization of the recording’s response.

    Memory Calendar Scrolls a user-programmed message of up to 32-characters across the unit’s display whenever the unit’s power is turned on. The user can program a different message to appear on each day (up to 30 per month) for an entire year. Handy for birthday and anniversary reminders.


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    Midnight Theater Mode Circuitry that makes a Dolby Digital soundtrack’s loud passages softer, allowing people to listen to a film without disturbing others. Midnight Theater responds to special encoding contained in the Dolby Digital soundtrack itself, and only functions during very loud passages.

    MP3A compressed audio format that uses MPEG-4 encoding.

    MPEG 5.1 Surround Digital multi-channel sound delivery system sometimes used as an optional digital surround sound format on DVDs.

    Multi-Channel Music Mode Plays 2-channel music sources through the left & right front and left & right surround speakers simultaneously.

    Multiple Component Crossover Network Crossover network utilizing several electronic elements that more accurately divide the sound between the different speaker units than the simple capacitors found in less sophisticated designs.

    Music Type File Lets the user group and play discs by music type, such as Jazz, Classical, etc.

    Natural Bass Narrow-band bass boost that is more precise than conventional loudness controls. Increases the sound’s fullness at low volumes without making it boomy.

    Noise Shaping Digital circuitry that shifts digital noise (created in the D/A conversion process) beyond the threshold of human hearing, reducing distortion and improving dynamic range.



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    OELOrganic Electroluminescent (OEL) is a type of display that offers crystal clear color capability and high resolution graphics. OEL displays are efficient, self-emitting devices that have uniform brightness across the entire display.

    Offset Dual differential (O.D.D.) This technology creates high quality sound by eliminating the digital distortion/noise in the digital-analog converter. O.D.D. uses two sets of 24 bit D to A converters with one set slightly offset. When these signals are recombined, the digital noise is greatly reduced, making this one of the best sounding Digital to Analog converters on the market.

    OHMVery low frequency sound.

    One-Touch CD Recording (CCRS) Scans the CD, determines its dynamic range, sets the optimum recording level, then activates the recording process with the touch of a single button.


    Parental Control Allows parents to restrict viewing of certain discs or chapters containing content they deem inappropriate

    PC Link NetNamer Automatic Title Downloading When connected to a PC, uses an Internet connection to automatically download disc titles (and in some players, track titles) from the CDDB on-line database site into the CD changer’s memory. Discs and tracks can then be selected directly by title.

    Pearl Mica Injection-Molded Polypropylene Cone Polypropylene is used for speaker cones because of its resilience, fast response, and natural resistance to moisture. Our pearl mica crystals are uniform, and form an overlapping structure that lends strength and heat resistance to the polypropylene. The injection-molding process results in uniform thickness and density in the cone wall. The results are tighter, clearer sound, reduced distortion, and improved reliability.

    PEI Film Dome Tweeter PEI (Poly-Ether Imide) is a polymer film that has ideal sound propagation speed characteristics for use as a tweeter (in 2-way speakers) and as a midrange (in 3-way speakers).


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    Perfect Macro Capability When used with an optional TV on/off sensor, Perfect Macro ensures that the TV is in the proper mode whenever a macro is executed. For example, if the TV is already on when a macro is executed, Perfect Macro will leave it on; if the TV is off, Perfect Macro will turn it on.

    Plus/Minus Power Source Generates higher supply voltages to audio circuits, enabling higher output levels with less noise and distortion. Additionally, the plus/minus power supply isolates the audio ground from the vehicle’s chassis ground, eliminating ground loops and interference.

    PointLess Remote Technology Uses RF (radio frequency) communication between the remote and the receiver, eliminating the need to aim the remote. PointLess technology also allows the remote to communicate with the receiver from another room, through walls.

    PowerTouch Graphical User Interface Exclusive Kenwood remote control that presents controls for an entire home theater system as graphical icons on an LCD touch screen. Users can navigate and make selections by touching the screen directly. In addition to being pre-programmed to control most brands of audio/video source components and TVs, PowerTouch also has 133-key learning and button renaming capability, allowing it to be customized for any installation.

    Programmable Security Code System A user-activated code system that prevents the unit from turning on after being disconnected from the battery unless a user-selected 4-digit code number is entered. The unit cannot be operated by anyone who removes it from the car and doesn’t know the code.

    Progressive Scan Deinterlacer Converts standard interlaced displays all of the scanning lines of the entire video picture in a single pass, which makes the lines less visible and creates a smoother-looking picture.

    Pure Audio Mode Shuts-off video circuitry in DVD Audio/Video players during DVD Audio playback, effectively blocking pathways for noise and interference that could reduce audio resolution.


    Quiet Turn-On Allows the amplifier to power up over a period of several milliseconds instead of instantaneously, protecting speakers from thumps and other sounds that could be damaging.


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    Radio Data System (RDS) Receives and displays text information broadcast along with program material by participating radio stations. This allows stations to be searched-for by genre, and provides traffic and weather bulletins, which can help drivers avoid delays caused by traffic or weather conditions.

    ReadRight Electronically Pivoting LCD Display A display that automatically pivots electronically when the unit’s orientation is changed from horizontal to vertical (and visa-versa) so that it is right-side up.

    Rental Zone Provides storage and play for discs in addition to those stored inside the changer, allowing rented discs to be easily played without removing discs from the changer.

    Rigid Construction Receiver chassis designed to minimize internal vibrations, reducing noise in electronic circuits. Metal panels with increased mass form a more complete enclosure than conventional chassis construction.


    System Q Five factory pre-set equalization curves (Rock, Top 40, Pop, Jazz and Easy, plus a flat setting) that give the user extreme flexibility over the sound’s tonal character. The preset curves can be combined with the unit’s bass and treble controls allowing users to personalize the sound to their particular taste.

    S-Video Connections Video connections that transmit the black & white and color portions of a video signal on 2 individual sets of wires. Offers superior color and detail reproduction over conventional Composite video connections.

    Scene Memory Stores a scene in memory so playback can be started from that point later on.

    Selectable Screen Viewing Modes Lets users select the format that best matches the video program they are watching. Normal Mode displays 16:9 widescreen format pictures that fill the entire screen width, and 4:3 (conventional TV) pictures display with black bars on either side; Full Mode expands 4:3 pictures horizontally to fill the entire width of the screen, distorting the picture slightly but retaining full image height; Just Mode expands 4:3 pictures horizontally only at the edges; Zoom Mode expands 4:3 pictures both horizontally and vertically, filling the screen without distorting the picture, but cutting off the top and bottom edges.


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    SHARC® 32-bit DSP An advanced processing technology developed by Analog Devices that is based on a 32-bit super Harvard architecture. Several Kenwood A/V receivers incorporate Sharc 32-bit processing which combines a high-performance signal processing core with sophisticated memory and I/O processing subsystems.

    Sirius Satellite Radio Sirius Satellite Radio is a subscription satellite radio service that provides over 120 commercial-free channels including 65 music channels and over 55 news and information channels. Three high-altitude satellites provide coast-to-coast coverage without interruption, 24/7.

    SL16 Synchro Record When used with a compatible Kenwood CD player, recording begins at the moment the CD is put into the play mode.

    Sleep Timer Lets the user listen to music for a preset amount of time before the unit goes into the Standby mode.

    Source Direct Listening Mode Bypasses all digital processing and tone controls, yielding the purest sound possible for analog inputs.

    Source Tone Memory Remembers and recalls the most recent tone settings for each source (cassette, tuner, CD), eliminating the need for readjustments.

    SpeakersSpeakers are available in three sizes.

    Two-way (or coaxial) speakers contain a large main speaker called a woofer for low- and mid-range frequencies, and a tweeter mounted within the woofer to deliver high frequencies. Two-way speakers reproduce your music frequency range accurately, whereas factory speakers may sound a bit muddy and muffled.

    Three-way (or triaxial) speakers typically include the separate woofer and tweeter like two-way speakers, plus a mid-range driver for added warmth and texture. They offer that extra crispness and detail that factory speakers may lack.

    Four-way speakers combine a woofer, mid-range, tweeter and a “super-tweeter” for very high frequencies and even more crispness and detail.


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    SRS Circle Surround II Circle Surround II (‘CS II’) (patented by SRS Labs) is a powerful and versatile multi-channel decoder capable of delivering up to 6.1 channels of audio from any mono, stereo, matrix encoded or Circle Surround encoded material. It incorporates superior steering of surround information and remarkable center channel placement, while maintaining full-range bandwidth in each speaker. CS encoded material can be fully experienced using a CSII, CS, Dolby Pro Logic, or Dolby Pro Logic II decoder and a multimedia speaker system. Otherwise, it is played back as rich, vibrant stereo.

    SRS Circle Surround® 5.1-channel encode/decode process (patented by SRS Labs) that is backwards-compatible with any stereo or matrix-encoded material to provide a 5.1 channel surround sound experience even with 2-channel programs. Circle Surround provides stereo, full-bandwidth surround channels, even from Dolby Surround programs that have been encoded with a single, bandwidth-limited surround channel, and retains a spacious stereo presentation even on material that has strong center channel information.

    SRS WOW A function of DSP, Digital SRS WOW offers 10 adjustment levels and enhanced adjustments for TruBass, with separate front and rear settings. Having separate front and rear TruBass settings is great for systems with a subwoofer because it can be used on just the front speakers, creating a directional cue in the bass. This will make the bass sound more like it’s coming from the front of the car, which integrates the bass better with the rest of the sound

    Station Name Preset Play Lets the user find and select a preset radio station by its name.

    Station Naming Lets the user program a name for each preset radio station.

    Steering Wheel Controls To maintain original steering wheel controls, an adapter or steering wheel interface kit will be required. These accessories will let you keep full functionality and convenience of your original steering wheel controls.


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    SubwooferSpeaker dedicated to reproducing low frequencies sounds. Subwoofers can be wired with either single- or dual-voice coils. The coil wiring in the subwoofer works with current sent from the amplifier to produce sound.

    Single-voice coils provide one set of negative and positive terminals. These terminals are used to connect audio equipment to the subwoofer. There is a single coil wrapped around the speaker cylinder. Single-voice coil subwoofers can only be wired for the ohm (the amount of current the speaker will draw) specified.

    Dual-voice coils have two sets of negative and positive terminals. Two coils are wrapped around the speaker cylinder in a dual-voice coil. The prominent difference between single- and dual-voice coil subwoofers is the wiring options. Dual-voice wiring options are: parallel, series and independent. Parallel wiring produces the top output; series wiring uses one amplifier with a number of subwoofers; independent wiring uses one coil per channel.

    SupremeSupreme is an exclusive Kenwood technology (2006 and above head units) that helps restore critical high-frequency information lost during the compression process. With the Supreme function turned on, lower bit-rate (96 kbps) MP3, WMA and AAC files will approach the resolution of higher bit-rate recordings.

    System E’s+ Crossover System A single IC that allows the user to select from 8 different high-pass filter crossover frequencies plus pass-through, with independent selection for front and rear outputs. This makes it easy to optimize the performance of all amps and speakers in a car audio system without needing an external electronic crossover. System E’s+ also incorporates a phase switch and low-pass filter for the non-fading output. The low-pass filter has selectable cutoff frequencies of 50Hz, 80Hz, 120Hz and Through.

    System Q EX Sound Control Five factory pre-set equalization curves (Rock, Top 40, Pop, Jazz and Easy, plus a flat setting) and three speaker matching curves (OEM, 6x9, 5/4 plus a flat setting) that can be combined to give the user extreme flexibility over the sound’s tonal character. The preset curves include midrange contouring, giving music more clarity and presence. System Q EX allows the user to modify the preset curves by changing the amplitude of the bass, midrange and treble compensation, and the Q of the bass and midrange compensation. The new curves can then be saved as presets for future recall.

    System Q Sound Control Five factory pre-set equalization curves (Rock, Top 40, Pop, Jazz and Easy, plus a flat setting) and three speaker matching curves (OEM, 6x9, 5/4 plus a flat setting) that can be combined to give the user extreme flexibility over the sound’s tonal character. The preset curves include midrange contouring, giving music more clarity and presence. The preset curves can also be combined with the unit’s bass, midrange and treble controls allowing users to personalize the sound to their particular taste.


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    System QEX Sound control system that incorporates extremely sophisticated user control of bass and treble compensation. The user can select from several bass and treble center frequencies, vary the compensation level in nearly 1dB increments, and select from 3 different bass Q factors. There is also a Bass Expander with a custom Q factor that is 25% wider below the center frequency, providing deep bass enhancement without affecting the lower midrange. Up to 6 different combinations of settings and adjustments can be saved as User Presets.

    THX® Adaptive Decorrelation Lucasfilm-developed circuitry that alters the phase or pitch relationship between the left and right surround speakers to produce a more enveloping surround sound field when the surround channels are receiving a mono signal. When the surround signal is stereo, Adaptive Decorrelation automatically switches off.

    THX® Bass Peak-Level Manager Lets the user set the maximum LFE-channel output level for their system, so as not to overload and possibly damage subwoofers or bass drivers in full-range speakers.

    THX® Front-Channel Re-Equalization Lucasfilm-developed circuitry that reduces the high-frequency response of the front channels, compensating for film soundtracks that can sound overly-bright when played in living room-sized rooms.

    THX® Loudspeaker Position Time Synchronization Compensates for the different distances between the listening position and each speaker in a home theater, creating a more cohesive, believable surround sound experience.

    THX® Select Certification Meets standards established by Lucasfilm for audio performance, user interface, construction and compatibility with other THX-certified products.

    THX® Timbre-Matching Lucasfilm-developed circuitry that equalizes the response of the surround channels, creating smoother sound movement between channels.

    THX® Ultra Certification Meets standards established by Lucasfilm for audio performance, user interface, construction and compatibility with other THX-certified products. THX Ultra certified products have power and performance designed to reproduce film soundtracks with very high accuracy in a wide range of acoustic environments.



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    TIL Voice Coil Bobbin TIL is a glass fiber-reinforced polyamide film that is heat resistant, maintaining its shape even in the larger coils used in high-power woofers. This increases the speaker’s power handling and reliability.

    Time Alignment A feature of DSP, Time Alignment allows the users to adjust sound based on the distance between the listener and the speakers. Sound can be adjusted from 0 to 20.3 feet.

    Time and Source Color Modes Features of the ColorShock display. Time Color Mode varies the display color every 6 hours: red at 6: 00 AM, yellow at noon, light blue at 6:00 PM and dark blue at midnight. Source Color Mode lets the user assign a different display color for each source.

    Tonorex® Power Supply Capacitors Audio filter capacitors designed to minimize sources of internal vibration, which reduces distortion and improves sound quality. Tonorex capacitors also feature improved efficiency and reduced current leakage.

    Tornado Woofer Cone A pearl mica injection-molded polypropylene cone that is formed with 3 raised circumferential ridges around the cone. The width of the ridges is graduated, making a “tornado” like appearance. The ridges make the Tornado Cone much more rigid than conventional parabolic cones, with resonances that are more than an octave higher. Additionally, the Tornado Cone’s resonances are of a more random nature than those of conventional cones, which reduces their intensity. Since these resonances are lower in amplitude and far above the woofer’s useable frequency range, they are much less audible, producing markedly clearer, more detailed bass sound.

    Touch-Tone Buttons Produces an audible tone each time a function key is pressed.

    Touch-Tone Keys Produces an audible tone each time a function key is pressed.

    Track Naming Lets the user program a title for each track on each disc. The disc player reads the disc data and displays the name on its display.

    TruBassTruBass is a patented SRS technology that enhances bass performance utilizing proprietary psychoacoustic techniques. These techniques restore the perception of fundamental low frequency tones by dynamically augmenting harmonics, which are more easily reproduced by contemporary loudspeakers. TruBass takes the low frequency information contained within the original audio track and helps speakers or headphones re-create it -- even if it is below the devices low frequency limitations.


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    Tuner Call during FF/REW Automatically switches to the last-tuned radio station during tape fast-forward or rewind.

    Tweeter A small, lightweight driver dedicated to reproducing the highest musical frequencies, such as cymbals, violins or female vocals. Cone tweeters are efficient and most affordable. Most home speakers use dome or “edge-driven” tweeters as they disperse sound for a smoother, more accurate reproduction. Semi-dome tweeters use a combination cone and dome construction for excellent sound clarity.


    Urethane Surround Surround material with very high internal loss, which reduces speaker cone distortion.


    Virtual Surround Uses sophisticated digital processing to create a believable surround sound experience using just two left and right speakers.

    Voice Index on Tap Software included with ACDrive that allows audible voice index browsing of playlist, artist, album, genre and folder during playback in your car.


    Wattage (W) Refers to the basic unit of power. Example: 50W x 4 means 50 watts peak power times 4 channels for a total of 200 watts of peak power.

    WAAS Used in Mobile Navigation (like Kenwood’s KNA-G510 navigation unit), Wide Area Augmentation System is a ground-based sampling system that corrects errors in the GPS satellite signals and provides greater positional accuracy.

    WMA Window’s Media Audio is Microsoft’s version of compressed audio format. The Windows Media Player creates WMA files that are found on most Windows-based computers.