Notes on the Alpine iDA-X100

mleboeuf

Standard Member
Hello all, I’m a complete noob here. I hope my first post doesn’t ramble too badly! I did a fair amount of reading on this forum and many others regarding the Alpine iDA-X100 both before and after I bought one. I thought Id share my observations and issues with the group.

First off, I’ve owned the iDA-X100 for a little over four weeks now. The head unit is solid and functional. The overall sound quality isn't on par with the higher end CDA-7894 that was in the car before. This is mostly due to the fact that the wizards of Alpine have relegated the finer audio controls to the IMPRINT module (available at extra cost naturally) which were built into the 7894. Aside from some minor nits such as the volume control and the glare on the LCD Screen, I’ve found the unit to be an admirable replacement for my older CD/MP3 player. At the same time I purchased myself a 160MB iPod classic (6th generation).

Installation was clean, all the connections are made into the back of the head unit and the only wire dongle is for the power. Everything else plugs into jacks or sockets. It’s a high power unit so your best bet is to run a dedicated line to the battery. I lucked out in that my car came from the factory with a high powered stereo so the fused lines to the factory head unit were AWG12 with a 20A dedicated fuse. The USB Cable attaches to the rear of the head unit as well although it has a screw in thumb screw to keep it attached. The USB lead is long enough to reach to the glove box or center console of most cars but not nearly long enough to reach to the rear seat or trunk of most mid sized US cars. Luckily, the wiring harness was identical to my older CDA-7894 so changing the wiring harness wasn’t necessary to upgrade to the iDA-X100. This saved me over an hour of cutting, stripping and applying heat shrink to the speaker and accessory wires. A word of advice, if your car has dash dimmer controls, Id recommend hooking up the illumination lead of the head unit. Having the head unit dim with the rest of the dash lights definitely separates your install from the rest.

Operation with the iPod classic is fairly straight forward, when you connect the USB dock cable provided with the head unit into the iPod, the unit displays an Alpine splash screen and disables the iPod controls. Everything is controlled through the round jogger control and the center select button. There are several different search modes available depending on how you set up the options on your head unit. The manual sorts them out fairly well. It will pay off when your driving if you spend some time with the jogger control while parked so you can find your songs quickly and easily. Otherwise, frustration, cursing and potentially an accident will result. Its not quite as intuitive as the Apple, but not bad. Also pay attention to how Alpine lets you search the folder or several folders by pushing down on the outer ring of the jogger and twisting slightly left or right. This also works on play-lists.

As a side note, you can use a massive hard drive hooked up to an IDE/SATA to USB dongle. As long as the dongle is USB2.0 compatible, the Alpine will recognize the drive as storage. The downside is that the head unit will start playing at the first song on the drive every time and will not remember the song you were playing when you turned the car off. Even if you wire the drive to run while the car is off, the head unit starts from zero every time it searches the drive. USB Thumb drives operate in the same way. This is a major bummer since 1TB drives are available in the US for less than $250. Also, even though the Creative Labs Zen Vision has a docking port, this head unit will not control those MP3 Players unless you enable disk mode on the player. Then the head unit accesses the Zen the same way the basic hard drive works. Again a bummer since the Zen players will handle WMA files as well as WAV and MP3 Most ratings put the WMA format slightly above the AAC format used by the iPod in terms of musicality and tonal quality. Honestly, I can’t hear the difference between WAV, WMA and the Apple Lossless compression, but I can hear a marked difference between any MP3 and the above mentioned compressors.

Now for the fun parts. I noticed early on (the first day I drove the car to work) that the iPod classic will randomly stop playing music. The display will stop counting the time on the song and the audio will stop. After several seconds, the audio will resume and everything will be as it should on the display. This happens several times during my commute (70 minutes) and has no apparent pattern or cause. This occurs with iPod Classic software 1.03 as well as 1.1.1 and 1.1.2 The only visible difference between the three versions is that now the iPod backlight turns off after the time out period where as before it would stay on as long as the iPod was connected to the head unit. At first I considered that the hard drive was skipping as the suspension in my car is fairly stiff. I orientated the iPod horizontally, vertically and at 15 degree increments between the two, both face up and face down. Orientation made no change in the frequency of failure. I also ran the head unit and iPod with the car standing still. Again, the failure was present with approximately the same frequency as before. I did have one error free drive the other day and the only physical change I can think of is that it was cold outside (mid 50’s) versus the mid 60’s during the other drives. It was also overcast and there was no sun shining on the iPod as it sat in the passenger’s seat. I’ve yet to fully test this theory, but I don’t have high hopes based on my other observations.

The Alpine manual mentions that iTunes versions higher than 7.4.3.1 are not tested with the head unit. I downgraded my iTunes version to 7.4.3.1 and re-synced my iPod. The problem was still there and with the same frequency. Since there was no difference, I went back to iTunes version 7.6.2.9.

Thinking that the iPod was having problems keeping up with the data stream caused by a massive library ripped using Apple lossless compression, I re-ripped several playlists down to 128kbps MP3, 128kbps AAC, and even WAV encoder with no positive reactions.

Doing some research on the internet, I found this type of problem quite prevalent in the earlier models of the iPod Classic and suspect it’s a firmware/hardware/software problem yet to be sorted out by Apple. Out of frustration, I went and got the 32GB iPod Touch. This unit runs software version 1.1.4 and does not exhibit the problem that the iPod Classic has. It has run for hours on end without failure, it runs in direct sunlight (hot) and even sitting right under the A/C vent. It also responds much quicker to user input which is understandable given this unit does not employ a hard drive. The down side is that the touch will never hold my media collection in lossless format.

Based on my experience thus far, I would highly recommend this head unit. While its not the cheapest head unit available from Alpine that will allow you to play compressed music and control an iPod, it has some nice features that made it worth the $349.99 here in the USA. I would not recommend using the iPod classic (either the 80GB or 160GB versions) as there seems to be some issues that Apple needs to work out still.


:suicide:
 

tommyturbo

Standard Member
Very informative post:smashin:

Can the artwork be turned off in the USB mode do you know as it takes up valuable space on the screen:confused:
 

tritoch

Novice Member
Hiya, I am looking into getting an iDA-X300/iDA-X200/iDA-X100/iDA-X001 and just wanted to say thanks for the information.

I also have an idea as to why the pause occurs. After scouting the internet, I've noticed that this problem seems to occur with the larger iPod's (in terms of disk space).

Thus, the 160GB would give the worst problems as file indexing and library building takes much longer than would on an 80GB.

Anyway, thanks for the information.

Mo.
 
M

masayoshi

Guest
Thanks for that very informative review. Sounds like the 6th Gen iPod compatibility issues are all across the board! My iDA-X100 won't see my 160G through USB at all. I had to buy the "Full Speed" cable for it to work. Another problem is it won't do the "page skip" or "percent skip" as it's supposed to. I have to sit there and skip through album by album. Its a big pain in the...! I read somewhere else that Alpine may do a firmware update, so I'm going to call them and find out if that's true or not or even possible.

Even with all the problems, I'm most likely going to keep the iDA-X100 because of the "Imprint" feature. I do live sound for a living, so having time alignment and parametric or graphic EQ is a must for me. This unit is replacing my old Clarion with the add on module similar to Alpine's Imprint module.

If I get my old 4th Gen iPod working again (replacing it's burnt out motherboard), I may leave it in the trunk full time. That is...if there aren't more compatibility issues with 4th Gen's, sheesh!
 

daveb975

Well-known Member
This is a very interesting thread. I have had an X100 for a few weeks now, and it has been near faultless with my 160G Ipod Classic. On a couple of occasions, I have started the engine and the X100 has come up with 'Error', and I have had to disconnect the Ipod and start again. Apart from that it has been perfect.

masayoshi - I don't think that the percentage skip function works unless you have the Ipod connected by USB.
 

jimnorth

Active Member
1) Do these Alpine units charge the Ipod as you are using either the USB or the fast data cable?

2) Do you have to turn the Ipod on/off manually?

3) Can you plug an active subwoofer into the back?

TIA :smashin:
 

daveb975

Well-known Member
1) Do these Alpine units charge the Ipod as you are using either the USB or the fast data cable?

2) Do you have to turn the Ipod on/off manually?

3) Can you plug an active subwoofer into the back?

TIA :smashin:

1) They do charge the iPod through USB, not sure about 'full speed'

2) No

3) Yes, the X100 has 3 pre-outs, and you can control the sub independently directly from the HU.
 

twinbeam

Standard Member
Hello all, I’m a complete noob here. I hope my first post doesn’t ramble too badly! I did a fair amount of reading on this forum and many others regarding the Alpine iDA-X100 both before and after I bought one. I thought Id share my observations and issues with the group.

First off, I’ve owned the iDA-X100 for a little over four weeks now. The head unit is solid and functional. The overall sound quality isn't on par with the higher end CDA-7894 that was in the car before. This is mostly due to the fact that the wizards of Alpine have relegated the finer audio controls to the IMPRINT module (available at extra cost naturally) which were built into the 7894. Aside from some minor nits such as the volume control and the glare on the LCD Screen, I’ve found the unit to be an admirable replacement for my older CD/MP3 player. At the same time I purchased myself a 160MB iPod classic (6th generation).

Installation was clean, all the connections are made into the back of the head unit and the only wire dongle is for the power. Everything else plugs into jacks or sockets. It’s a high power unit so your best bet is to run a dedicated line to the battery. I lucked out in that my car came from the factory with a high powered stereo so the fused lines to the factory head unit were AWG12 with a 20A dedicated fuse. The USB Cable attaches to the rear of the head unit as well although it has a screw in thumb screw to keep it attached. The USB lead is long enough to reach to the glove box or center console of most cars but not nearly long enough to reach to the rear seat or trunk of most mid sized US cars. Luckily, the wiring harness was identical to my older CDA-7894 so changing the wiring harness wasn’t necessary to upgrade to the iDA-X100. This saved me over an hour of cutting, stripping and applying heat shrink to the speaker and accessory wires. A word of advice, if your car has dash dimmer controls, Id recommend hooking up the illumination lead of the head unit. Having the head unit dim with the rest of the dash lights definitely separates your install from the rest.

Operation with the iPod classic is fairly straight forward, when you connect the USB dock cable provided with the head unit into the iPod, the unit displays an Alpine splash screen and disables the iPod controls. Everything is controlled through the round jogger control and the center select button. There are several different search modes available depending on how you set up the options on your head unit. The manual sorts them out fairly well. It will pay off when your driving if you spend some time with the jogger control while parked so you can find your songs quickly and easily. Otherwise, frustration, cursing and potentially an accident will result. Its not quite as intuitive as the Apple, but not bad. Also pay attention to how Alpine lets you search the folder or several folders by pushing down on the outer ring of the jogger and twisting slightly left or right. This also works on play-lists.

As a side note, you can use a massive hard drive hooked up to an IDE/SATA to USB dongle. As long as the dongle is USB2.0 compatible, the Alpine will recognize the drive as storage. The downside is that the head unit will start playing at the first song on the drive every time and will not remember the song you were playing when you turned the car off. Even if you wire the drive to run while the car is off, the head unit starts from zero every time it searches the drive. USB Thumb drives operate in the same way. This is a major bummer since 1TB drives are available in the US for less than $250. Also, even though the Creative Labs Zen Vision has a docking port, this head unit will not control those MP3 Players unless you enable disk mode on the player. Then the head unit accesses the Zen the same way the basic hard drive works. Again a bummer since the Zen players will handle WMA files as well as WAV and MP3 Most ratings put the WMA format slightly above the AAC format used by the iPod in terms of musicality and tonal quality. Honestly, I can’t hear the difference between WAV, WMA and the Apple Lossless compression, but I can hear a marked difference between any MP3 and the above mentioned compressors.

Now for the fun parts. I noticed early on (the first day I drove the car to work) that the iPod classic will randomly stop playing music. The display will stop counting the time on the song and the audio will stop. After several seconds, the audio will resume and everything will be as it should on the display. This happens several times during my commute (70 minutes) and has no apparent pattern or cause. This occurs with iPod Classic software 1.03 as well as 1.1.1 and 1.1.2 The only visible difference between the three versions is that now the iPod backlight turns off after the time out period where as before it would stay on as long as the iPod was connected to the head unit. At first I considered that the hard drive was skipping as the suspension in my car is fairly stiff. I orientated the iPod horizontally, vertically and at 15 degree increments between the two, both face up and face down. Orientation made no change in the frequency of failure. I also ran the head unit and iPod with the car standing still. Again, the failure was present with approximately the same frequency as before. I did have one error free drive the other day and the only physical change I can think of is that it was cold outside (mid 50’s) versus the mid 60’s during the other drives. It was also overcast and there was no sun shining on the iPod as it sat in the passenger’s seat. I’ve yet to fully test this theory, but I don’t have high hopes based on my other observations.

The Alpine manual mentions that iTunes versions higher than 7.4.3.1 are not tested with the head unit. I downgraded my iTunes version to 7.4.3.1 and re-synced my iPod. The problem was still there and with the same frequency. Since there was no difference, I went back to iTunes version 7.6.2.9.

Thinking that the iPod was having problems keeping up with the data stream caused by a massive library ripped using Apple lossless compression, I re-ripped several playlists down to 128kbps MP3, 128kbps AAC, and even WAV encoder with no positive reactions.

Doing some research on the internet, I found this type of problem quite prevalent in the earlier models of the iPod Classic and suspect it’s a firmware/hardware/software problem yet to be sorted out by Apple. Out of frustration, I went and got the 32GB iPod Touch. This unit runs software version 1.1.4 and does not exhibit the problem that the iPod Classic has. It has run for hours on end without failure, it runs in direct sunlight (hot) and even sitting right under the A/C vent. It also responds much quicker to user input which is understandable given this unit does not employ a hard drive. The down side is that the touch will never hold my media collection in lossless format.

Based on my experience thus far, I would highly recommend this head unit. While its not the cheapest head unit available from Alpine that will allow you to play compressed music and control an iPod, it has some nice features that made it worth the $349.99 here in the USA. I would not recommend using the iPod classic (either the 80GB or 160GB versions) as there seems to be some issues that Apple needs to work out still.


:suicide:

I just bought the ida-x100 and a ipod classic 80 gb and the headunit does not work with it. Its works fine with flash memory. I bought this unit so that I could use the playlist feature and random shuffle. But I'm still within my return timelimit so its going back to the store. They should have done more test to make sure Apple cant come out with an update that would disable a very important feature.

I will try and call alpine to see if they have a fix for this. If not they just lost a customer.
 
M

masayoshi

Guest
Update...I went back to the owners manual a few times and finally figured out how to get to the "percent skip" feature, so its definitely available using the "Full Speed" cable. Oh, and yes this cable also charges the iPod. Haven't had time to call Alpine about the firmware update question yet.
 

descb600f

Active Member
1) They do charge the iPod through USB, not sure about 'full speed'

2) No

3) Yes, the X100 has 3 pre-outs, and you can control the sub independently directly from the HU.

Yes it does turn the iPOd on and off you just need to make sure you have a switched live to the back of the stereo.
If you just turn the stereo off yourself it doesn't turn it off but if the unit is powered down by the switched live it will.

Can seem to get % search to work I don't appear to have an option to change the search function and am stuck with page skip
 

Varvs

Standard Member
Chiming in that I have the same pausing issue with my 8gb 3rd gen Nano. However there was an ipod update released today which I have applied so I will test it out this week.

Im also clearing a lot of crap off my ipod so we will see how that affects it (library building)

Does anyone else encounter a half second delay when skipping tracks? I press skip, and it takes half a second for it (roughly) to change tracks.
 

descb600f

Active Member
Yep I have seen it take a spit second to get a skip.
Im not sure if it's to do with it accessing the artwork which is slowing it down
 

descb600f

Active Member
Has anyone managed to get the radio presets to show the station name rather than the frequency a little annoying as you have to remember what preset is what.
Hoping someone can help des
 

Supernaught

Novice Member
I previously had the Alpine CDE-9850Ri and thought that the X100 would be an upgrade, but I have noticed a marked difference in sound quality. While I cant knock the X100 for clarity, mids and treble, there seems to be almost no bass until I turn the bass level up to +4 or 5, which then gives me a dull bass mush, rather than a punchy solid bass that a had with the older unit.

I use the Chili Peppers for all my audio tests and the diffrence stands out a mile. I really like the X100 and Im thinking of shelling out for a basic sub + amp to improve matters.

Does anyone in the know think the Imprint unit would be more beneficial?

Thanks...
 

descb600f

Active Member
Im about to change the speakers in my Golf Mk5 to try and sort the sound (I think my standard ones are f*****). Have you got standard speakers or have you already changed them.
I think they may be wanting you to buy the "Imprint" kit I notice that there is a light to show the muti eq is active.
Starts to make the whole thing look expensive especially as I want the BT kit when it comes out.
You can't put this in a small car you'd run out of space for anything but the stereo and all the stuff that you need to go with it to get the sound your after.

Edit
My local ICE installer says they have done an upgrade on one an got a nice sound out of it, I'll maybe quiz some more before they upgrade my speakers
 
Last edited:

daveb975

Well-known Member
I have run mine with an amp from the outset. It does not have to take up too much room - I have got a 4 channel amp in the spare wheel well running a sub in a 'stealth' box which fits above a wheelarch and a set of components up front. I have at least 80% of my boot left, and the sub is the only thing that is visible.

I have not bothered with the Imprint kit, but would certainly recommend getting a proper amp first.
 

descb600f

Active Member
I was hoping to avoid going that route.
I was going to change the front speakers and get a pair of 6"x9" in a stealth shelf.
I want a good sound without filling the boot.
 

daveb975

Well-known Member
I was hoping to avoid going that route.
I was going to change the front speakers and get a pair of 6"x9" in a stealth shelf.
I want a good sound without filling the boot.

6x9s are another option. I have got a Honda Civic and the road noise the really high, so I think I would find it hard ever to get anything approaching good sound without a sub, but if you have something a bit more refined you may not need it.

This is the type of thing I have (although mine is not quite as nice):

http://mobile.jlaudio.com/products_stealthbox_detail.php?fit_id=1390

You can get a good sound without really taking up too much of the boot.
 

descb600f

Active Member
That looks ok, does it house the amp too?

I'll try the 6x9 route. Im putting some 3way pioneers in the front and i think they recommended 2way for the 6x9 although they could be 3way as they did mention that the 6x9's were the "same" as the 17 fronts.
 

daveb975

Well-known Member
That looks ok, does it house the amp too?

I'll try the 6x9 route. Im putting some 3way pioneers in the front and i think they recommended 2way for the 6x9 although they could be 3way as they did mention that the 6x9's were the "same" as the 17 fronts.

No, I have the amp where the spare wheel goes.

The only problem that you may find with 6x9s is that they can drag the soundstage into the back of the car as the treble overpowers that from the components. Saying that, I do not like the purists route of only having front speakers and a sub with no rear fill at all. (I use the factory rears powered directly from the Alpine.)
 

descb600f

Active Member
I like my soundstage slightly behind me.
Best sound ever had was an Astra Mk3 with uprated fronts and a pair of 6x9's I try to get the sound I had in that car everytime I change but never matched it yet.
 
Last edited:

descb600f

Active Member
Have you tried playing with the settings you get if you hold down the Imprint button, just tried it on the way home and I swear when turning sub off in the settings it gave me a better base sound (remember Im not running a sub)
Also I imagine playing with the Bass centre frequency and bandwidth could take a while but Im sure it would yield some improvement. I'm going to wait untill the new speakers are in first
 

Supernaught

Novice Member
OK guys, thanks. Ill now go for a sub + amp before even considering the IPRINT.

Im not sure what I did while playing with the EQ settings on the IDA-X100, but I wasnt happy with the sound so took a look at the default user presets and my bass came back a lot better. Its still not great but its much improved.

Not wanting to spend much, and not wanting to go for a 4 channel amp, bridge 2 channels for a sub and lose the use of my rear speakers I reckon Ill go for a mono sub amp.

This package looks pretty decent http://www.caraudiodirect.co.uk/alp...3.html?cadid=f31343746d660316ad1e9d48ebe14025 considering after shopping around I found it hard to beat that price for both pieces individually, not to mention having the wiring kit included.

Ive also got my eye on a couple of bits in my local Motor World, a JBL amp and sub for £170. I reckon the Alpine is probably the better buy though, especially for the price.
 

daveb975

Well-known Member
OK guys, thanks. Ill now go for a sub + amp before even considering the IPRINT.

Im not sure what I did while playing with the EQ settings on the IDA-X100, but I wasnt happy with the sound so took a look at the default user presets and my bass came back a lot better. Its still not great but its much improved.

Not wanting to spend much, and not wanting to go for a 4 channel amp, bridge 2 channels for a sub and lose the use of my rear speakers I reckon Ill go for a mono sub amp.

This package looks pretty decent http://www.caraudiodirect.co.uk/alp...3.html?cadid=f31343746d660316ad1e9d48ebe14025 considering after shopping around I found it hard to beat that price for both pieces individually, not to mention having the wiring kit included.

Ive also got my eye on a couple of bits in my local Motor World, a JBL amp and sub for £170. I reckon the Alpine is probably the better buy though, especially for the price.

You don't have to lose your rear speakers. I have got a 4 channel amp running the front components and sub and I have left the X100's internal amp running the factory rear speakers. They sound awful on their own, but I use them faded down just to stop the impression that all the sound is coming from in front of me.
 

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