Alpine CDE-102. My thoughts

Discussion in 'ICE, Sat Navs & Dash Cams Forum' started by funkyspider, Jun 15, 2009.

  1. funkyspider

    Well-known Member

    Jun 7, 2007
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    Fitted my new CDE-102 into Audi A4 Estate and replaced the Audi Concert head unit. Speakers are standard factory fitted, but they are powered (there is a seperate amp in the boot) and it has a factory fitted sub, also in the boot. It's not the Audi BOSE system though.

    The head unit looks good in the audi dash. It's red illumination matches the dash/switch colour perfectly (you can select from 4 illumination colours). The third party facia adapter is a pretty good match. It doesn't visually look out of place, but if you run your fingers over it you can tell it's much cheaper plastic than the original Audi plastics.

    I must say the sound is excellent. Much better than the Audi Concert unit it replaced, which I must admit was pretty good for a factory fitted system.

    The paper manual is rubbish, but the one supplied on CD in the box (or available for download) is much better.

    The EQ on the Alpine is fairly limited, and without the fancy graphical display we are used to when tweaking EQ, quite difficult to use, but it does make a noticable difference. There are basic '+/-' overall control Bass/Treble as you would expect and this is accessed by simply pushing the large rotary button which toggles through Sub/Bass Level/Treble Level/Balance/Fade/Defeat (see below), returning to Volume. Further tweaking of the EQ is available via the Sound/Setup button where you can change the Bass Boost bandwidth (Narrow to Wide), the Treble centre frequency and a High Pass Filter. Settings made here are stored per source - so you can have different settings for CD/Ipod/USB etc. But note : The Defeat option which I mentioned above. It's an on/off setting and if toggled to On it seems to reset all these EQ settings to factory defaults (annoyingly).

    MP3 from USB : It copes with folders, folders within folders and has played everything I've thrown at it so far (MP3 various bit encoding, WMA and AAC). ID3 tags are read from the files and, importantly for me, it remembers where it stopped and restarts from the same point even if you remove the front - as long as you've left the USB stick in the front when you remove it. You can skip forward/backwards through full folders, or tracks skip through a single track. You can use random folder to randomly play tracks in the current folder or random song to randomly play tracks from any folder.
    Clicking the search button allows selection of 'folder' or 'file'. Click to select and the rotary button scrolls through folders/files.

    Ipod : The Ipod cable is included in the box - which is good as it's 20quid or so extra. The Ipod cable connects to a dedicated port at the rear of the head unit - I've had it routed into the glove box. This is nice as it allows you to have a USB stick in the front and the Ipod connected at the same time - some head units connect to Ipod via the USB. You have full control of the Ipod from the head unit. Clicking the search button turns the rotary button into the ipods selection wheel and gives you the standard Playlist/Artist/Album/Song etc. The shuffle works fine.

    The downside : The limiting factor for me is the short (12chars from memory) single line display. It's large enough to read easily, but simply doesn't display enough to easily locate tracks/folders when long names are involved. You can select to display Folder/Album/Artist/Track name etc but when navigating through it initially displays "F01 T01" etc for folder/track (on usb). Only displaying the selected text when you stop navigating. It does scroll through longer text, but it doesn't make finding tracks easy.

    Summary : In my opinion an excellent head unit for the price of £129.99 (from car audio direct - who were excellent) which includes the Ipod cable. If you want a better display then you will have to pay more in the Alpine range or look elsewhere. I used to have a JVC USB capable head unit in the old car and it's display was much better (2 line, more characters and better scrolling) which made it much easier to find folders/tracks from USB.

    So will I keep it ? Well the sound is excellent and it looks great in the dash - I really like it. But the single line display I find a little limiting, but as I know the folder structure on my USB I'm just skipping through folders rather than using their 'search' function so I'm getting used to it.

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