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Sony Head Unit CD Player CDX-GT660UP

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
Sony Car CD Player
CDX-GT660UP

I know head units are not exactly covered by this website. But I think audiophile quality matters in all forms of audio. Headphones especially but if you are like me you want to take your love of quality with you. Recently, I bought a pioneer of some sort. The CD player after two years skips, usb has limited use, and even the auxiliary cable does not work. The most likely issue is that the motherboard is at the end of its short life. So, obviously, I need a new. Instead of going pioneer or kenwood I decided to try a head unit that is something I have heard so much about but never tried. For you audiophiles you know sony has a long history with great sound production. The first ps was so great at this that people used it as their main cd player. Sony also has some great headphones and mp3 players. I have not received this yet and it should arrive tomorrow. I will review asap after the install is successful. Here are the specs:

-Pandora® Internet Radio Control
-Pandora® is the leading internet radio service, giving people music they love anytime, anywhere, through personalized radio stations. The CDX-GT660UP provides complete access to your Pandora account using your iPhone®4.
-Detach face with front aux input
-The easy-to-read flip down, two line LCD display shows clock, station ID and track data when playing back your digital MP3/WMA/AAC files1. Front auxiliary input lets you connect almost any portable audio device to your car's sound system.
-Intuitive Search Features
-Use Quick-BrowZer® feature to find music by artist, album, genre, song or playlist. Jump Mode allows you to fast forward in a category in 10% increments while the ZAPPIN™ feature can play a 6/9/30 second intro clips to help you find a specific song.
-Automatic Level Optimizer
-Automatic Level Optimizer analyzes each track’s playback levels and adjusts output level to optimize transitions between tracks and sources.
-Radio Data System
-Radio Data System (RDS) feature displays radio broadcast information such as artist and track information when listening to compatible AM/FM stations.
-Front USB 1-Wire
-Connect, charge, and control your iPod®2, iPhone®, Walkman® or other compatible USB devices via the USB 1-Wire jack in the front of the unit. You can also view metadata like song title and artist on the front display.
-SiriusXM™ Satellite radio3
-The on-board SiriusXM™ connector3 simplifies satellite radio installation by eliminating compatibility issues and providing direct connection to the new platform of tuners.
-RCA outputs for external amplifiers
-When you’re ready to expand your system, the CDX-GT660UP offers 2 volt front, rear and subwoofer pre-amp RCA outputs for external amplifiers. Set the built in electronic HPF/LPF crossovers to improve sound quality and reduce system distortion.
-Wireless Remote Included
-The included wireless remote lets you control the basic functions of your CDX-GT660UP while keeping your eyes on the road.
-Dynamic Color Illuminator
-Match your radio’s illumination to complement your existing vehicle lighting components with the Dynamic Color Illuminator. With selectable Sound Synchronization, the timing of the color change is synchronized with the audio source.
-MP3/WMA/AAC playback1
-Multi-format playback lets you play your MP3, WMA, or AAC songs1. Hear digital music files in their original vibrancy with DM+ (Digital Music Plus), a Sony® codec enhancer that reproduces detailed frequencies from compressed audio files.
-Advanced Sound Engine
-The Advanced Sound Engine uses EQ7 equalizer, adjustable LPF/HPF crossovers, Listener Position calibration, DM+ advanced sound restoration, Rear Bass Enhancer, and Dynamic Loudness volume leveler to deliver an impressive listening experience.
-SensMe™ App Music Channels
-SensMe™ application can organize your music into playlists that perfectly match your mood, scene and location, making it easier to choose the music that fits the moment.

Now those are the specs of the unit. If you noticed it has and EQ7 and DM+. I am thrilled to hear what these will do to the audio. COWON media players also have these types of equalizers and I have tried them. I would like to see how the two compare. Update hopefully by 12 on Saturday.

P.S. I could of missed the category for this and I apologize if I have but if I have not lets add it. Lets be audiophiles on this website everywhere. The sites that talk about car equipment make me think 90 percent of the commentators have hydraulics. Before you say mr. who ever this is hydraulics are just so much fun. I just don't care. lol
Edited by foolsgold1986 - 12/6/12 at 7:35pm
post #2 of 6

Depending on how serious one is about sound quality is for one's car, this receiver still lacks a few important features that a Cowon doesn't have because a car listening environment is very different :

 

1) 3-way digital crossover / HPF, Bandpass, LPF (preferably with a low cut-off point on the HPF-Bandpass)

 

The 3-Way digital crossover allows you to tailor the cutoffs of the crossover to individual drivers. Sure, most commercial sets come with their own passive crossovers, but they don't take into account vehicle acoustics. Or maybe you'd want to use a Vifa tweeter that can go as low as 800hz. Or maybe use midrange and tweeters on the dash/pillars, even with their own passive crossover, you can now cut at the lowest frequency your dome or cone midrange can handle. Why would you do that? So as much as possible you can have a lot of the sound up where your ears are, instead of down by the floor where the door-mount driver - which requires a lot of air as well as cone area to produce upper bass frequencies. That in turn needs to be produced as low as possible too, that way the bass doesn't get pulled to the rear by the subwoofer, unless you have one of those Bose sytems where the sub is on the dash (or you hack up your car like those Polk Audio show cars to do the same).

 

Not to say you'd always have to cut as low as possible; I'm cutting my tweeters at 4khz to reduce midrange glare, but if I didn't have an active crossover, I won't be able to fine-tune without tinkering with one pair (or several, just to make it faster) of passive crossovers. Or if I eventually used a midrange, I can still cut it down to 1.2khz, which is the lowest my current receiver can go.

 

 

2) 6ch Time Correction

 

When you use headphones, the worst acoustic issues of having driver units too near to your ears and each ear can't hear the other - already have sufficient solutions : crossfeed and angled driver mounts/earpads. With speakers, provided your room is at least quiet enough and the walls aren't too near to the speakers, all you have to do is aim the speakers properly given a seat smack in the vertex angle point (imagine your seat and the speakers as points in a triangle).

 

In a car, unless you turn a McLaren F1 into an //////Alpine show car, you're sitting on one side of the cabin, and if you're using 2-way speakers, you have one tweeter too close to you, followed by one midwoofer, then the other tweeter, then the other midwoofer; all that with a dashboard, steering wheel, and your legs between them. Plus the subwoofer's in the trunk.

How do you get around this? Time correction introduces delays to the drivers (as in speaker units) farthest from the driver (the one doing the driving), each delay tailored to compensate for each speaker's distance. You can't do this if your entire front system is dependent on the passive crossovers they came with, since you only get one channel out of the receiver for it - unless you have bi-amp crossovers, but given receivers with this feature have the other feature anyway, you might as well get rid of the passives. The result? Not only do you get the sound closer to accurate tonality as well as spectral balance, but you get to hear better imaging - vocalist ideally in the middle of the dash, a bit forward, with other instruments behind stretched left to right - exactly what a speaker system at home can give you. Since I've tuned my T/A properly I've left the EQ at Flat setting.

 

---

 

For now, the cheapest options to have these seems to be to use the Pioneer 80PRS (and I can't seem to find if it takes anything that isn't an iPod in its USB port), or for better digital connectivity options, the Alpine X305 iPod/media storage receiver paired with the Ai-Net external processor (which basically has the tuning features of the Pioneer, sold separately, for those who need it while the X305 is marketed to a wider audience who needs connectivity options more).

 

 

---

 

On its own though that Sony receiver has a lot of features for sound tuning; however I'd say you cannot expect sound quality (especially in terms of imaging) near to what you'd hear out of a Cowon and a tonally-balanced head/earphone that it can power. Without time alignment, you can experiment on custom installs, but chances are most cars cannot get accurate imaging with just one or the other - most cars given design consdierations will need custom installs fine-tuned by time alignment. For one, you are sitting off-center; second, nearly all cars have a huge instrument cluster hood that blocks the driver-side tweeter - windshield angle means installing it higher puts it closer to your head, and installing it lower near the other speaker cannot guarantee that aiming it will put the soundstage height high enough.


Edited by ProtegeManiac - 12/7/12 at 5:13am
post #3 of 6
Thread Starter 
So I had the head unit installed for a little over 3 hours now. Tested for about 2 hours. The sound quality is great and I am impressed. I would say to the comment and i am very grateful for it. The reason why pioneer was not what I chose because they have short longevity. Also, my friends in car audio despise the brand with about as much intensity as audiophiles hate beats. The album I used to test them out was kishi bashi's new album. If you ever heard the album it is a beautifully recorded album. Lots of depth and diversity.
post #4 of 6
Quote:
Originally Posted by foolsgold1986 View Post

So I had the head unit installed for a little over 3 hours now. Tested for about 2 hours. The sound quality is great and I am impressed.

 

Nice. How is the staging and imaging in your car?

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by foolsgold1986 View Post

The reason why pioneer was not what I chose because they have short longevity.

 

Really? I'm still using my 860MP and it only started to have issues with some channels this year. Haven't had time to have it repaired, since there was a major construction along the main road going there, plus I was in California for spring. Almsot grabbed an 80PRS but my friend promised to fork over his Alpine DVD Ai-Net unit when he upgrades ($300 for an updated GPS disc?! WTF) his whole system, so I can just use that with the PXA-H100 processor.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by foolsgold1986 View Post

Also, my friends in car audio despise the brand with about as much intensity as audiophiles hate beats.

 

Can you explain why? Because right now Pioneer has the cheapest head unit all audiophiles want. For $330 the 80PRS has 6ch time correction, true 3-way crossover (HF, bandpass, LF), and a choice between parametric and graphic EQ. I don't know if it's the same as its predecessor but the previous one even had an independent Left-Right EQ setting.

 

Among the people I know it's actually Sony that's synonymous with Beats, starting with the gimmicky "XPLOD" brand name,* and then they were among the first to drop similar tuning features outlined above (not that it was even popular since Alpine, Pioneer and Eclipse, probably even Clarion's HX-Dx series outsold them). Alpine eventually gave the all-in-one processor-receiver to focus on connectivity/storage options, like pure iPod receivers (no CD transports), but used their Ai-Net protocol to send data to and control outboard processors. PXA-H100 was brought out as the affordable processor vs the PXA-H700 that can be used as a processor for multiple active drivers or as a surround sound processor for DVD receivers. All the brands that make receivers though tend to make sucky amps and speakers, Pioneer included somewhat* but definitely not Alpine, especially after the PDX amps and the Vifa-designed Type X speakers came out. Still, comparing the price of the PXA-H100+X305 iPod receiver vs the USB-capable 80PRS, the Pioneer comes out cheaper based on MSRP. I think it was only recently that the X305's price started to drop.

 

 

*I think they've stopped using this now though

**the 3-way in the Scion FRS is very good, for a stock system anyway; a bit better than the RFs in some Mitsubishis I've taken for test drives. My brother was actually impressed, and personally my only real issue is the imaging


Edited by ProtegeManiac - 12/9/12 at 1:46am
post #5 of 6
Thread Starter 
I will have to consult a few people explaining pioneers issues. But I mean the one you are talking about I bet they are great. 330 is a lot while I think most who buy pioneer get the 120 or 80 versions. I really don't mean to comment on their premium side. Just the their more popular units. The staging and imaging I am not sure yet. I swear the amount of settings for this system runs me dizzy and I am really good with technology. I will get back to you as soon as I figure out all the setting. There was one thing that I am not convinced of the worth and that is the DM+ which is supposed to improve the sound of compressed audio. It sounded a bit off 'ringy'. Not sure how else to explain it. Hey could you post the head unit you are talking about. I want to do as much testing with this thing as possible. Will get back to you asap, promise.
post #6 of 6
Quote:
Originally Posted by foolsgold1986 View Post

I will have to consult a few people explaining pioneers issues. But I mean the one you are talking about I bet they are great. 330 is a lot while I think most who buy pioneer get the 120 or 80 versions. I really don't mean to comment on their premium side. Just the their more popular units.


Well, those aren't popular with the people I know either tongue_smile.gif The people not running fully active systems are usually the ones with insane custom installs to maximize aiming (and therefor imaging and staging) and are probably using the copper-chassis Denon-Rockford Fosgate receiver (which is basically a Denon CDPlayer miniaturized and comes with tuner), or the older Nakamichis.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by foolsgold1986 View Post

The staging and imaging I am not sure yet. I swear the amount of settings for this system runs me dizzy and I am really good with technology. I will get back to you as soon as I figure out all the setting. I want to do as much testing with this thing as possible. Will get back to you asap, promise.

 

You'd be dizzier with Pioneers that have independent EQ settings for Left and Right channels, plus running fully active crossovers and custom time alignment, which is never the exact physical distance (and inputting the delay in microseconds is a bigger headache), plus you have to experiment with a point of reference (I use a point in the center of the headrest, three inches forward).

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by foolsgold1986 View Post

Hey could you post the head unit you are talking about.

 

Here's my current head unit: http://www.pioneerelectronics.com/PUSA/Car/CD-Receivers/DEH-P8600MP

 

Here's the current one in the same series as far as tuning features are concerned : http://www.pioneerelectronics.com/PUSA/Car/CD-Receivers/DEH-80PRS

 

My wet dream from Pioneer : http://www.pioneer.eu/eur/newsroom/news/news/dexp99rs/page.html

My wet dream from Clarion : http://clarion.com/ca/en/products/2012/HX/source_units/HX-D3/ca-en-product-pf_1259583451616.html

 

My favorite classic headunits :

http://memimage.cardomain.com/ride_images/2/3866/1881/22163440002_large.jpg

http://www.crutchfield.com/S-4KASQDDVWKj/p_500CDA9815/Alpine-CDA-9815.html

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3BHA4zVRlFY

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by foolsgold1986 View Post

There was one thing that I am not convinced of the worth and that is the DM+ which is supposed to improve the sound of compressed audio. It sounded a bit off 'ringy'. Not sure how else to explain it.

 

It's basically guessing how much bass and treble was lost to compression, but a mathematical formula on how much is theoretically lost when you do that doesn't apply to all songs. Wasn't a fan of Alpine's MediaXpander on MP3s vs the actual CD - the bass is too rumbly and soft, problematic since most of my music involves a drummer with double bass pedals.

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