Head of the Class
JVC has thus expanded on the unit, building the KD-AVX2. It is iPod-ready and JVC's XA-HD500 hard drive digital audio player can be connected to the unit, as well. A new feature called "headphone surround" delivers a surround sound experience through any style of headphones, and the unit also supports direct playback of MPEG-1 and MPEG-2 files. In addition, the KD-AVX2 offers an upgraded version of JVC's Giga MP3 feature, called Giga MP3 Multi, which can handle DVD-Audio, WAV and MPEG-1 and -2 files in addition to MP3 and WMA digital audio files.
Kenwood was among the first to partner with Phatnoise (now part of Harman Consumer Group) and have mass storage music systems for the vehicle. The new Kenwood Excelon KDC-X890 (MSRP $430) takes the idea of a HDD storage system a step further by eliminating the middle man of the 'mass storage decoder.' Instead, the KDC-Z890 adds USB connectivity built-in at the factory. Kenwood's AC Drive (Advance Audio Codec) allows easy playback and management of large music files stored on a USB connected device or a disc. AC Drive includes another feature, voice indexing, that can announce music by playlist, artist, title, album and genre. This feature is especially important in a moving vehicle—when trying to navigate an entire music library.
The KDC-X890 also sports an upgraded version of G-Analyzer that displays the vehicle's motion, horsepower output and a variety of graphics on the 64-color display. Another nice Kenwood exclusive is System E+, which includes adjustable crossover points for the front and rear speakers. This can potentially make the system play louder and sound better by blocking bass tones from small-diameter speakers.