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Kenwood Excelon KDC-X491

CD receiver with MP3, WMA, & AAC playback

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  • Kenwood Excelon KDC-X491

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  • Kenwood Excelon KDC-X491

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Item# 113KDCX491
 

Review Summary

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Our take on the Kenwood Excelon KDC-X491

by Robert Ferency-Viars
Kenwood

Why replace your factory radio?

Two good reasons - sound quality and cool features. A new car stereo offers power that's superior to most factory radios, along with more sophisticated tone controls. And most car stereos offer built-in or optional features that add safety and fun to life in your car, including inputs for your iPod or MP3 player, Bluetooth connectivity for hands-free cell phone calls, satellite radio or HD Radio reception, and connections for building an audio system in your car.

Treat yourself to the premium sound and quality of a Kenwood Excelon CD receiver. The KDC-X491 CD receiver features a front-panel USB input for connecting — and controlling — your USB-capable portable music devices. Its powerful amplifer and premium digital-to-analog converter deliver crystal-clear sound for all of your tunes. Six preset tone curves give you quick sound changes, while a 3-band parametric equalizer offers fine tone adjustment.

The stereo plays MP3, WMA, and AAC music files from disc. For fans of portable music players, Kenwood's iPod® control adapter connects to the KDC-X491's CD changer port, keeping its other inputs free for your other gear. Connect your audio player to the USB input, and you can even access any purchased music files stored in the Microsoft PlaysForSure™ format. You'll also find a rear-mounted auxiliary input for connecting your non-USB music player.

If you have a larger system in mind, three sets of 4-volt preamp outputs make it easier to connect external amps and subwoofers. For optimum performance, you can manage your bass settings with the built-in subwoofer controls, and adjust the frequencies going to your various speakers with the high- and low-pass filters. You can also expand your listening options with a Kenwood HD Radio™ tuner or satellite radio.

The KDC-X491 comes with a 2-year warranty for extended peace of mind.

Highlights:

    General features:
    • CD player with built-in MOSFET amplifier (22 watts RMS/50 peak x 4 channels)
    • plays CDs, CD-Rs, and CD-RW discs, including discs loaded with MP3, WMA, and AAC files (will not play Digital Rights-protected music files on disc)
    • detachable face
    • remote control
    Audio features:
    • 24-bit digital-to-analog converter
    • System Q EX Sound Control (6 EQ curves and a 3-band parametric equalizer)
    • "Supreme" audio processing for better sound from your compressed music files
    • speaker settings that allow you to tailor the sound to the size and type of speakers in your car
    • System E's+ high- and low-pass filters
    Expandability:
    • compatible with Kenwood's Bluetooth and iPod adapters, HD Radio tuner, and satellite radio (tuner, service subscription, and antenna required)
    • inputs: front USB input and rear auxiliary input
    • outputs: three sets of 4-volt preamp outputs
    Other features and specs:
     

    Hands-on research from the Crutchfield Labs (what are the Labs?)

    Features and Specs
    General
    CEA-2006 Compliant
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    No
    RMS Power Output
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    22 watts
    Peak Output
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    50 watts
    RMS Power Bandwidth
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    20-20kHz
    Preamp Outputs
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    6-channel
    Sub Preamp Outputs
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    Yes
    Switchable Rear Preamp Outputs
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    No
    Preamp Voltage
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    4.0 volts
    Display Color
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    Blue
    Key Button Color
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    Red/Blue
    EQ Bands
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    3
    Wireless Remote
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    Yes
    Steering Wheel Control Compatible
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    ---
    Parts Warranty
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    2 Years
    Labor Warranty
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    2 Years
    Expandability
    AUX Input
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    Rear and Optional Rear
    USB Input
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    Front
    Memory Card Slot
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    No
    Bluetooth Compatible
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    Optional
    Satellite Radio Ready
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    Both
    HD Radio
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    Optional
    Navigation
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    No
    iPod Compatibility
    Full size
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    ---
    Nano
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    Touch
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    Mini
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    iPhone
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    Tuner
    FM Sensitivity
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    9.3 dBf
    European Tuning
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    Yes
    Seek/Scan
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    Seek
    Radio Data System
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    No
    Product Research
    What's in the box?

    Download owner's manual

    • AM/FM/CD/MP3/WMA/AAC/WAV/USB receiver with 10-amp fuse inserted into the chassis
    • Face
    • Sleeve
    • Trim ring
    • Wiring harness
    • RC-547 Wireless remote
    • 2 "AA" batteries
    • Soft fabric face pouch
    • 2 Removal tools
    • 4 Panhead ISO-mount screws
    • 4 Flathead ISO-mount screws
    • 1 Face fixing screw
    • Instruction Manual (English/Spanish/French)
    • Warranty Card
    • Kenwood Car Audio Passport card
    • "Attention" note

    Our Product Research Team

    At Crutchfield, you'll get detailed, accurate information that's hard to find elsewhere. That's because we have our own in-house Product Research team — they open the box, verify contents, check the owner's manual, and record dimensions, features and specs. We stay on top of new products and technologies to help people make informed choices.

    Features
    External Device Controls

    Features

    Overview: The Kenwood KDC-X491 AM/FM CD receiver features a detachable face, rear auxiliary input, 3 sets of 4-volt preamp outputs, CD changer and Satellite radio controls, HD radio, Bluetooth and iPod ready functions, as well as a front panel USB connector, plus AAC/MP3/WMA/WAV playback. The CD player comes with a soft face case and an IR wireless remote control. The unit's Mos-Fet amplifier is rated at 22 watts x 4 channel RMS and 50 watts x 4 channel peak.

    Detachable Face: The unit features a single front loading CD face that detaches from the chassis to deter theft. There is a red indicator light that will flash on the unit after the face has been removed to warn potential thieves. You can turn this flashing LED on or off. The CD player comes supplied with a soft black fabric, draw string face case to protect the detachable face when you have it off the chassis.

    AAC/MP3/WMA/WAV Playback: The KDC-X491 can play MP3, WMA, WAV and AAC files with ID3 tag information recorded on CD-ROM, CD-R, and CD-RW discs in ISO9660 Level 1/Level 2, Joliet, Romeo and Long file name formats.

    24 Bit D/A Converter: The Kenwood KDC-X491 utilizes a 24-bit digital to analog converter for superior CD sound quality.

    Supreme Setting: When MP3 or WMA files encoded at a low bit rate (less than 96 kbps, 44.1k, 48kHz) are played, the Supreme Setting function restores their high frequencies so the sound quality is closer to files encoded at a high bit rate. The processing is optimized for the compression format and the bit rate used. When the Supreme Setting is Off, the unit plays the original sound stored in the audio file.

    AUX Input: The KDC-X491 is equipped with a rear panel 3.5mm minijack auxiliary input for connecting external portable audio devices such as an MP3 player or Tape walkman. The receiver allows you to turn the Auxiliary input On our Off so you don't have to scroll through that source if you are not using it. The 3.5mm female minijack connector is attached to a 7.5" pigtail.

    Auxiliary Display: The KDC-X491 allows you to select the source type displayed when using the auxiliary input. You can choose from AUX, DVD, Portable, Game, Video or TV.

    Dual Zone: The Dual Zone mode allows you to output the Main source and the Auxiliary input separately for the front and rear channels. You can select whether the auxiliary input will play in the front or the rear.

    3-Sets of 4V Preamp Outputs: The KDC-X491 features front, rear and subwoofer 4V preamp outputs. The Subwoofer preamp output can be turned On or Off and adjusted independently. The front and rear speaker preamp outputs are balance and fade adjustable. The subwoofer preamp output is non-fading. The front and rear preamp outputs are fixed to the chassis, while the subwoofer output is  on 7.5" pigtail lead.

    Front and Rear High-Pass Filter: The KDC-X491 features an independent High-Pass Crossover for the front and rear channels. You can adjust the high-pass crossover from through, 40, 60, 80, 100, 120, 150, or 180, 220Hz. The "Through" selection is a full-range setting. This feature is very helpful when you have smaller-type speakers in the front and larger-type speakers installed in the rear of the vehicle.

    Low-Pass Filter: The receiver features a built-in Low Pass Filter control for the preamp-output when the Subwoofer Output is "on". You can select from 50, 60, 80, 100,120Hz or Through. The "Through" setting allows your external amplifier's crossover network to do all the filtering for your subwoofer.

    Subwoofer Level: Once you have switched the Subwoofer Output to "on" you can independently control the subwoofer preamp output level from the CD receiver. You select levels between -15 to +15.

    Subwoofer Phase: You can adjust the phase of the subwoofer output between 180-degrees (Reverse) or 0-degrees (Normal).

    Rotary Volume Control: The CD receiver uses a rotary volume control that increases and decreases the volume of the stereo from 0 to 35. The rotary knob also controls other audio settings such as Bass, Treble and preset EQ settings.

    Attenuator: The CD receiver features an Attenuator button that turns the volume down very quickly with one touch of one button.

    Speaker Settings: The Speaker Setting function tailors the System Q Sound Control settings according to the type of speakers in your vehicle. You may select a Speaker Setting of "SP Off" (flat), "SP OEM" (for OEM factory speaker systems), "SP 6x9/6" (for systems with 6" and 6"x9" speakers), or "SP 5/4" (for systems with 4" and 5" speakers).

    Note: The Speaker Setting affects the bass, midrange, and treble values of the System Q presets. The speaker setting should be selected first.

    System Q Sound Control: Six EQ curves are preset into memory, allowing you to recall the best preset EQ curve for different types of music. Each preset has its own level settings for bass (100Hz), midrange (1kHz), and treble (10kHz). The 6 preset curves with their respective bass, mid, and treble levels are as follows:

    • Rock: Bass +6, Mid +1, Treble +2
    • Pops: Bass +3, Mid +2, Treble +6
    • Easy: Bass +6, Mid 0, Treble -2
    • Top 40: Bass +3, Mid +1, Treble +8
    • Jazz: Bass +5, Mid +2, Treble +2
    • Natural (Flat): Bass 0, Mid 0, Treble 0

    Note: The above values reflect the System Q settings when the Speaker Setting function is turned off. When the Speaker Settings are selected, the System Q level settings are different.

    Bass/Treble/Mid Control: The KDC-X491 features independent Bass, Treble and Midrange control. You can adjust each one from -8 to +8db.

    Detail Audio Control: The Detail Audio Control allows you to adjust the following settings for the Bass, Treble and Mid levels.

    • Bass Level:
      • Frequency: 40/50/60/70/80/100/120/150 Hz
      • Q-Factor: 1.00/1.25/1.50/2.00
      • Bass Extend: On/Off (when this feature is set to "On", the low frequency response is extended by 20%)
    • Mid Level:
      • Frequency: 0.5/1.0/1.5/2.0 kHz
      • Q-Factor: 1.0/2.0
    • Treble Level:
      • Frequency: 1.0/12.5/15.0/17.5 kHz

    Loudness: The Loudness feature compensates for low and high tones during low volume. You can turn this feature either on or off. Only the low tone is compensated for when the tuner is selected as a source.

    Volume Offset: The level of each source may be independently adjusted to prevent radical leaps in output volume when switching from one source to another. The available settings range from -8 to 0.

    Source Tone Memory: This feature allows you to store System Q bass, middle and treble tone settings for each source (CD, FM, AM and Aux).

    Text/Title Scroll: The KDC-X491 will display CD text, Audio file text and Satellite and HD radio text. You can turn the scrolling feature "on" to scroll longer titles across the screen.

    Last Position Memory: If the unit is shut off or switched to the tuner mode while a CD is playing, the next time CD is selected as the source, playback will resume from the point where it left off.

    CD Force: When there is a problem with playing a CD with a special format, this setting plays the CD by force. Some CDs still may not play in the CD Force mode.

    CR-2 Advanced Tuner: This unit uses Kenwood's CR-2 Advanced tuner for clear radio reception. You can choose one of three tuning modes: Auto 1 (seek tuning), Auto 2 (cycles through and tunes the selected band's preset stations only with each button press), or Manual.

    Auto Memory Tuning: Not only does the CD receiver's tuner allow you manually enter your desired presets you can choose to have the unit automatically put stations with good reception in the memory banks automatically; this is a handy feature when traveling. The tuner features 3 FM banks (1, 2, 3) and 1 AM bank. You can store 6 presets for each AM/FM bank giving you a total of 18 FM presets and 6 AM presets.

    Clean Reception System Circuit (CRSC): This circuit controls multi-path distortion by reducing stereo separation. As stereo separation is reduced, multi-path has less effect on the radio signal, improving reception in areas with tall buildings and mountains. The CRSC circuit can be turned on or off.

    Receive Mode: If you choose to connect the optional HD tuner, the Receive Mode allows you to choose to receive analog or digital AM/FM broadcasts. You can choose from the following.

    • Auto: analog and digital broadcast will be received with the digital broadcast having priority
    • Digital: receives digital broadcasts only
    • Analog: receives analog broadcasts only

    Tel Mute: The KDC-X491 features a cell-phone mute wire (brown) in its harness that when hooked up to your car's phone system mute wire will automatically mute the receiver's audio signal when a call comes in.

    Beep Tone: The CD player features a touch sensor tone that beeps when you have selected a function of the unit. You can turn the beep tone ON or Off.

    Security Code: You can enter a 4-digit security code which must be used when the unit is removed from the vehicle, or the constant power source is disconnected from the unit. When constant power is restored to the unit, the security code must be entered before the unit becomes operational.

    FL Display: The unit features a large 14-segment Fluorescent display that uses a black background and blue characters that are easy to read.

    Display Illumination/Clock Display: When the unit is in Standby mode, the face/button illumination is "keyed." In addition, while the unit is in Standby mode, you can turn the clock display on or off. When the Clock Display is turned on and the unit is in Standby mode, the Clock Display is also "keyed." Pressing and holding the source button turns the unit off completely.

    Display Illumination Control: This function turns off the display when have not performed an operation for 5 seconds. This is effective for when you are driving at night.

    Dimmer: The dimmer function will dim this unit's display automatically when the vehicle light switch is turned On when you connect orange/white Illumination wire of this player.

    Remote Control: The KDC-X491 comes with the RC-547 IR wireless remote control with a full numeric keypad. The remote will control Audio, CD, Tuner, Satellite, HD radio and Dual Zone functions. It is powered by 2 "AA" batteries (supplied). The dimensions of the remote are: L = 5.362", W = 1.962", D = 1.115".

    External Device Controls

    iPod High-Speed Connection: The USB port and AUX input are also compatible with iPod devices when used with the optional KCA-iP200 adapter (part # 113IP200, sold separately). The USB Direct Connection enables high-speed iPod data communications of 12MB/bps via the optional KCA-iP200 (2-Wire) interface. One end of the cable plugs directly into your iPod's dock connector while the other end of the cable uses two connectors that plug into the headunit. The USB type-A connector portion of the cable plugs into the receiver's front-panel USB port and handles the control and charging of your iPod, so you can navigate through your music files using the headunit's controls and view song info on it display. The 3.5mm miniplug connector portion of the cable plugs into the Auxiliary 3.5mm input on the receiver and transfers the music from your iPod to your Kenwood CD player. By using the Auxiliary input the music travels to the receiver as an analog signal, so you can even play the Digital-Rights-Protected files you've stored on your iPod. The controls of the KDC-X491 are seamless when used with the optional KCA-iP200 and include metadata browsing and playback of DRM contents, as well as the ability to choose any iPod playback mode to suit your listening application.

    Satellite Radio Ready: There are several options for connecting an optional XM or SIRIUS Satellite Radio receiver to this receiver:
    • XM Satellite Radio: To receive XM Satellite Radio, you can connect the optional CNP2000UC XM Mini Tuner and the CNP-KEN1 Kenwood adapter cable (package item number 700XMKEN1).
    • SIRIUS: To receive SIRIUS Satellite Radio, you can connect the optional SC-C1 SIRIUS Connect vehicle tuner (item number 607SCC1) and the Kenwood/SIRIUS adapter (item number 113KCASR50).
    • Dock: Select dock-and-play and portable SIRIUS radios can be controlled using the Kenwood/SIRIUS adapter (item number 113KCASR50) and the SC-VDOC1 dock (item number 607SVCDOC1).
    • Auxiliary Input: A portable satellite radio receiver, such as the Delphi SkyFi3 or SIRIUS Sportster, can be connected to the head unit via the auxiliary input (adapter may be required).

    Note: A subscription is also required to receive satellite radio programming from SIRIUS or XM.

    HD Radio Ready: With an optional Kenwood HD Radio tuner (item # 113HR100TR), you will be able to receive digital AM/FM broadcasts from local stations where available. This new technology will significantly improve audio quality and reception, as well as include information such as artist name and song titles or traffic news, viewable on the receiver's display.

    Bluetooth Ready: The unit is also Bluetooth compatible using the optional Kenwood KCA-BT100 Bluetooth adapter. Using this adapter you can make and answer phone calls from the Kenwood headunit. You can even download your Phonebook information from your compatible mobile phone into the headunit. You are able to register up to five compatible Bluetooth cell phones when using the KCA-BT100 adapter.

    USB Port: The Kenwood KDC-X491 features a front-panel 2.0 USB type-A port that is protected by a clear plastic, sliding window when not in use. The USB port enables connection to portable USB mass-storage players, USB thumb drives and audio control of MP3 player. The USB port is compatible with all USB mass storage class devices that support the FAT16 or FAT32 file system.  A single or multi-slot card reader can also be connected the USB port, allowing your music to be put neatly into different types of memory cards.

    Changer Controls: This unit is directly compatible with Kenwood changers manufactured in 1998 or later. If the changer has an O-N switch, the switch will need to be set to the "N" position. In addition to basic disc navigation features, this unit has the following changer controls: direct disc access (using the remote), direct track access (using the remote), track intro scan, track repeat, disc repeat, disc random, and magazine disc random. When connected to a CD Text capable CD changer or an MD changer, this unit can display disc and track titles for discs encoded with disc and track title information. The text information can be scrolled manually or automatically.

    Additional/Optional Rear Auxiliary Input: The unit already features a rear panel auxiliary input, but if you need a second auxiliary input, another one can be added to the rear of the unit. When used with an optional adapter, this unit can accept a rear input from an auxiliary source. When the CA-C1AUX adapter (item 113CAC1AX) is used, you cannot connect a CD changer to the head unit because the adapter plugs into the DIN changer control connection on the head unit. When the KCA-S220A 2-changer switch (item 113KCAS220) is used, you can connect a CD changer and an auxiliary audio source at the same time. When an auxiliary audio source is connected, you can choose from one of six names for the source: Aux Ext, TV, DVD, Video, Game, or Portable.

     
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    Kenwood Excelon KDC-X491 Reviews

    Average Customer Review:

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    1 out of 5

    Pre-amps gone bad

    Written By Mark, Reading, PA on Friday, April 04, 2008
    Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
     
    I bought this back
    in september. first
    hooked it up to a
    profile amp and ran
    polk db6500's. then
    added a JL sub and a
    another amp. running
    great until
    yesterday. above a
    certain volume
    (around 20 out of
    max of 35), you can
    smell it getting
    hot, then 3-5 min
    later the rca
    pre-amps cut out. i
    have my factory
    rears still hooked
    up straight to
    headunit. strange
    thing is they will
    work after rca's cut
    out. i think ill
    look into getting a
    new HU with hd
    radio.
    Was this review helpful?    Yes | No
     
    2 out of 5

    too many glitches

    Written By Bill, San Francisco, CA on Monday, December 24, 2007
    Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
     
    errors happen when using other than I pod with I pod dedicated accesory. I have even had errors come up when using mp3 encoded discs.( even when they worked fine several times before then out of nowhere it will not read the disc then it will) It could be the usb devise plugged into the front is to blame I had a cheap mp3 player that was so finicky that any bump in the road would make it quit working, the only way to make it work again would be to shut off both the player and the receiver and unplug it and turn it on again, very frustrating. works ok with I pod- only Ok becouse limited controll features having to set to random. another thing even with regular CDs it spends a long time to load/read discs. later I found out that kenwood offers a solution to this by downloading a firmware application to allow disc read time to improve. the controll knob is not intuitive if you are not careful, what should be a simple choice is changed to changing the functions of the knob to the menu. the unit produces good sound, I will give it that but I should have sent it back for another unit. I am not saying to avoid Kenwood product just this particular one. too many glitches, even if the MP3 player was responsible for one of them.
    Was this review helpful?    Yes | No
     
    4 out of 5

    Kenwood Excelon KDC-X491

    Written By Joe, Illinois on Wednesday, November 21, 2007
     
    I got this receiver for my 97 VW Passat. Crutchfield said I'd have to make modifications to my car for it to fit, (something about removing a rear stereo bracket), which kind of concerned me as this was the first time I'd installed my own car stereo, but it fit perfectly without any modification to my car.

    I'm not sure why so many people have problems getting the unit out of the initial Demonstration Mode...mine came with a large tag on top of the unit to tell you where to look in the manual to get it out of Demonstration Mode. Fortunately, it was about the only part of the manual that was easy to understand despite the poor translation to English.

    Pros:
    Great sound,
    Front USB Input, plays music from USB Flash drives and my Ipod Shuffle,
    Rear AUX input,
    Nice remote,
    Great EQ options,
    Display is easy to see,
    Detachable faceplate is sturdy compared to others I've seen, and comes with nice storage bag,

    Cons:
    Front USB Port doesn't supply enough power to use my USB Harddrive,
    Menu options are very hard to navigate and not intuitive, and need to be reset every time you disconnect the battery,
    The manual is very poorly translated, making it virtually useless.
    2 out of 2 people found this helpful
    Was this review helpful?    Yes | No
     
    3 out of 5

    No true random playback

    Written By Silverdude, near New Orleans on Friday, November 16, 2007
     
    I agree with some of the other reviewers here that the controls aren't very intuitive. For the most part this receiver does what I need it to do (play music), but my biggest complaint is the (lack of) random function. What I'm talking about is the ability to skip COMPLETELY around on an MP3 CD or my USB hard drive. This deck will only play songs in a random fashion in the SAME FOLDER, and this is a big problem for me. My USB hard drive has hundreds of artists on it with thousands of albums, and this head unit has to go through them 1 by 1 by 1!!! My only 2 options it seems are to have all 60-something gigs of MP3s in 1 gigantic folder to randomize, OR I need a new deck. I've looked through the instruction manual, but it was no help. So, if you don't have much music to play, this shouldn't affect you; everyone else be warned.
    2 out of 2 people found this helpful
    Was this review helpful?    Yes | No
     
    4 out of 5

    Good Value

    Written By MARK, Miami, FL on Thursday, October 18, 2007
     
    Excellent value on this HU. The front USB works perfect with my 4G thumb drive. Definitely lives up to the Kenwood name. Very customizable to fit any system. The only reason I gave it 4 stars is because it is a little tricky to get the HU out of DEMO MODE. (I'm shamed to say my girlfriend figured it out). Running all channels through the 4v RCA's (extremely clear). I recommend this HU for anyone who wants the USB for a thumb drive. If your one of those Ipod people, get the Kenwood model with the rear USB port.
    3 out of 3 people found this helpful
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    5 out of 5

    Great Radio

    Written By Harry, Corpus Christi, TX on Saturday, September 08, 2007
    Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
     
    This is a great radio, and I really appreciate all the different possibilities for tailoring the sound with the built-in crossover network. I can fit my entire MP3 collection onto a flash drive and bring it with me. The only thing I didn't like was the USB connection in the front. I would rather have the USB connection in the rear of the unit.
    1 out of 2 people found this helpful
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    4 out of 5

    Just what was needed.

    Written By Kevin, Logan, UT on Wednesday, September 05, 2007
    Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
     
    Pro's: Aux input available, sub outputs are great, usb connection is perfect (have been able to hook up a cell phone w/mp3's, an mp3 player and jumpdrive w/mp3's). Allows bass, mid, and treble user adjustments on the equalizer also can select the size of speakers you're using for best sound. Ton's more clarity and kick than the oem unit! Well worth the price!

    Con's: USB does hang out the front of the unit and is a but awkward. Faceplate flange doesn't seem to be entirely secured and wiggles with the faceplate removed. Remote fairly big, wished that it was credit card sized.

    Any other problem that may have been encountered was EASILY resolved just by reading the Users Manual (try it sometime guys!)
    1 out of 2 people found this helpful
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    2 out of 5

    Lacks the basics

    Written By ltost, Pennsylvania on Saturday, September 01, 2007
     
    Stereo lacks some basic features IMO:

    1) Display is VERY limited. You cannot display the clock and anything else at the same time. You can't even easily switch between clock and something else (station, song title, etc). It takes a lot of fiddling to switch the display to clock and then it changes it for ALL inputs. Not something you want to attempt during driving.

    2) Only 6 presets (3 FMs, but my old Kenwood had 3 FMs plus 10 presets because button 1 was 1 or 6, button 2 was 2 or 7, etc.

    3) Display is impossible to see in some light

    4) ipod control is klunky at best... plus the usb cable has to hang off of the front of the unit. Arrow buttons would be easier to use than pushing the knob around.

    5) inconsistent knob usage. Most times you press it right, left, up, down... but sometimes you rotate it to rotate between options. pick one! (I prefer rotate).

    I've ordered a JVC for a little more money and will be returning the X491 as long as the JVC doesn't turn out to be a bigger lemon!
    1 out of 2 people found this helpful
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    4 out of 5

    Nice Feature Set for the Price

    Written By Jason, Cleveland, Ohio on Friday, August 24, 2007
    Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
     
    There is no shortage of features on this unit for the price tag. Front USB is a great way to throw down 8 gigs of mp3's for a small investment. The Sound quality is on par with the Kenwood name. Nothing is overemphasized unless set so by the user.

    I had a nightmare getting it out of demo mode. Manual says hold control button up for 2 seconds when in reality you have to get to standby mode, then press menu then PUSH in the control knob then scroll to demo on then push it in again to finally turn left or right to turn it off.

    Menu structure and lack of documentation in the manual give this a 4. Is it better than most OEM units? yes, its a good unit from a quality company.
    1 out of 1 people found this helpful
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    4 out of 5

    Excellent receiver - pitiful owner's manual

    Written By Mike, Western North Carolina on Wednesday, August 22, 2007
     
    The sound quality and features offered by this receiver are excellent. It allows for substantial customization of sound with built in speaker selection, by-pass and low-pass options so you can get the most from your speaker set up, whatever it may be.

    Front USB port allows you to plug and play music from IPODs and MP3 players directly. CD play quality is excellent and I have yet to encounter a skip. Tuner reception is very good as well.

    The reason that I give this HU a four star rating as opposed to a five star is due to the complicated menu setup and the virtually useless owner's manual that is incomprehensible.

    1 out of 1 people found this helpful
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    4 out of 5

    Very Pleased - eventually

    Written By Lionel, Springfield on Saturday, August 11, 2007
    Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
     
    Have 2003 Volkswagen Jetta with Monsoon sound. Original deck 4" high with annoyance: drop down the drink holder and it covers the cd insert point. Kenwood unit is only 2". Mount it at the bottom of the 4" cavity and this problem goes away. I use the upper 2" for the CD tray insert provided by Crutchfield - it holds the remote control perfectly - it holds CDs not so well.

    I was mainly after getting a receiver that would decode MP3 from a USB storage device. This kenwood unit does that just great - even those with odd bit rates, missing ID3 tags, and damaged MP3 headers. I have not found the MP3 file that will not play.

    Install went...tight. Youll fight to tuck the wires into recesses. The Crutchfield instructions didnt indicate HOW to run the power wire behind the dash. I needed a Torx bit. Kenwood makes you tap into an existing fuse for protected power - VERY difficult to reinsert fuse. Turn the ignition key once and receiver comes on. Turn it again to start the car, and the receiver goes through initial power-up again. Not cool. Especially as it takes 8 seconds or so to mount up the USB flash file system before it starts playing.

    Controls: not at all intuitive. But you get used to it. You cant fast forward fast enough to my liking.
    Steering wheel controls for volume and track selection are not addressed on the Crutchfield wiring harness clip. Perhaps the Kenwood unit doesnt allow external signaling for these controls?

    Speakers: set speaker type to OEM and it sounds much better. Factory speakers sound the best they ever have.

    Great price/performance. Some annoyances drop rating to four stars.
    1 out of 1 people found this helpful
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    5 out of 5

    Not Bad Kenwood

    Written By Chad, Miami Beach FL on Monday, August 06, 2007
    Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
     
    Just put this in my new Accord with a box and amp and sounds great. Not too much time to play with it but definately has everything I need. Front USB is great. happy I can use my shuffle as a flash drive too. Excellent head unit for the price. This is my 2nd Kenwood and would definately get another one. Remote should fast foward however, and it is slow to play once turned on. a little annoying but no biggie. Great value without a doubt.
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    5 out of 5

    Perfect for USB flash drives

    Written By Marshall, Indianapolis, IN on Sunday, August 05, 2007
    Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
     
    I have this unit hooked up to two MTX thunder amps, a Kicker L5 subwoofer and 4 Infinity speakers. It sounds great and was easy to install. The three sets of pre-outs made hooking up the amps a snap.

    I bought this unit primarily because of the front USB slot that is perfect for swapping out flash drives. The system reads them pretty quickly and automatically reads the artist and title on MP3 files.

    My only complaint is the controls are not very intuitive. The menu button doesn't go through the entire menu, for some features you have to press other buttons. The CD controls are also the pre-set controls and the symbols are tiny and hard to see. My previous two stereos were JVC models and the controls were much easier to use. The saving grace of the Kenwood is that it comes with a large and easy to use remote so the features you use most don't require the buttons on the head unit at all.
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    4 out of 5

    Kenwood comes through again!

    Written By Jamey R, Eldridge, IA on Monday, July 16, 2007
     
    This is my second Kenwood receiver and they didn't disappoint. The initial setup was a little clumsy but once I had it tuned in, it sounds great. I have a small pickup, 91' GMC Sonoma standard cab and I run two sets of Pioneer speaker right off the receiver. Overall, I would recomend it to someone with a need for a well priced, mid range CD/MP3 head unit.

    PROS: Very expandable and has every feature you could want short of DVD and navigation.

    CONS: Initial setup is cumbersome and the wheel controller is very sensitive.
    2 out of 2 people found this helpful
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    5 out of 5

    Perfect head unit for the price

    Written By Jason, Pass Christian, MS on Tuesday, July 10, 2007
    Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
     
    After owning several different brand receivers, I am happy to say I am back to being a proud owner of another Kenwood head unit. I did a lot of research this time out, and planned out my complete system ahead of time rather than just jumping into a purchase I would probably regret in a month. The biggest selling point of the Kenwood KDC-X491 was the front mounted USB jack. There are several units with USB jacks, but most are rear-mount jacks which makes swapping thumb drives impossible while driving. I don't own an iPod since I don't believe in overpaying for a MP4 player, so no reason to worry about hooking that up.
    The KDC-X491 features amazing zound, 3 pre-amp outputs, and detailed audio settings that change for each input source. I have been playing with this receiver for a few days and I still haven't found an end to all of the settings you can customize. The only thing I dislike about this head unit is the dial (which seems to be a common complaint). It is very small and does not stick out far enough to turn easily. Luckily this CD Player comes with a remote that does everything the dial does short of causing me to go into a fit of rage! All in all this is an amazing value for all the features you get. I would highly recommend buying one soon, before everyone else does and leaves you out of the buddy club!
    1 out of 2 people found this helpful
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    5 out of 5

    Great radio!!

    Written By Wesley, Heredia, Costa Rica on Wednesday, July 04, 2007
    Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
     
    I have a 2002 VW Jetta and was hesitant in changing the OEM radio since it is 4" in height and this radio was only 2". The fitting kits that came with the radio filled in the space nicely (although the spacer is used to hold CDs, the space is kind of small and not easy to put CDs in there). I personally think to keep the dash looking sleek, best not to try and have CDs in that holder anyway. The install took me a little over an hour, but that was because I wanted to take my time and make sure all was perfect. The accessories that came with the radio made the install easy and painless! I love the sound the radio is pushing and the USB is awesome – although suggest if you have kids like me to not have the drive in there to make sure it is not accidentally hit while the kids are in the car!
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    5 out of 5

    Excellent Receiver!

    Written By Jake, Greenville, SC on Friday, June 15, 2007
    Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
     
    I had purchased a different brand receiver and was not pleased with the way it sounded with my OEM speakers. I exchanged it (thanks Crutchfield!) with this unit and must say that I am VERY pleased with this unit. I have not experienced the complaints about the sensitive main dial...although I think it could be a little more ergonomic. I went through the setup on the unit and after setting it to "OEM" speaker settings, it rocks! Everything is clear as a bell and it clearly has more strength than my OEM head unit.

    The only minor issue I have is that you can't fast forward in a song with the remote, but having an individual EQ setting for each input, the USB port on the front (that reads my 1G thumb drive), and a reasonable and responsive EQ easily offset the very minor complaints. Very nice head unit that not only sounds very good, but fits nicely and doesn't exhibit an unsightly protrusion from the dash.
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    4 out of 5

    Kenwood Excelon KDC-X491

    Written By jim, Wichita Falls, Texas on Monday, May 28, 2007
    Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
     
    Love the unit as a replacement to my old factory receiver and a very good compliment to my new replacement speakers. I find some of the same comments, pros and cons from other reviews the same. For a sound purchasing decsion one should consider them fully so you are not disapointed.
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    5 out of 5

    GREAT STEREO

    Written By Danny, Las Cruces NM on Sunday, May 27, 2007
    Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
     
    This is the second KDC-X491 I have purchased. The first one went into my 2003 Dodge 2500 extended cab truck. My 17 year old son liked it so much I made him a deal. If he would pass a final with a score of 95% or better I would put one in his 1994 Ford Ranger. He scored a 98% so I threw in a set of speakers also. This stereo has everything you I could possibly need. Multiple inputs, sub-outs, everything I could want. If you are looking for versatility and great sound, this is all the farther you need to look.
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    4 out of 5

    Good for the Money

    Written By Paul, Omaha, Nebraska on Sunday, May 27, 2007
    Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
     
    I bough this for its USB and 3 4volt preamps. Everything works great and I havnt had any trouble. Theres some things I dont like but I cant really knock of stars when it was so cheap.

    -Slow reading mp3's and USB. Takes about 8 seconds from when the unit is turned on until it starts to play.
    -You lose all your settings with battery disconnect
    -The menu and choices are spread out. I'm not talking the layout, but theres options for high/low pass and speaker settings that adjusted from only in standby and only while in cd/usb mode.

    Good cheap head unit with most of the options but no frills.

    Pzaul
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    5 out of 5

    USB

    Written By kevin, fayetteville, ar on Wednesday, May 23, 2007
    Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
     
    The KDC-X491 is one of the 4 in-dash car stereos that I have purchased over the years from Crutchfield. I've spent more on those radios in the past, but this X491 is packed with great features and a good sound for the dollar. ...I have upgraded speakers, otherwise, no custom modifications.

    One of the main reasons for purchasing the X491 is for the USB connection. I can plug a USB Flash Drive device into this port. My quality threshold for MP3 is about 192 kbs which I can get about 12-14 albums per gig. The X491 plays those files with no problems and sounds very good. I was not impressed with the FM transmitter/MP3 player combo that many people are using. So again, this USB connection is clear and sounds "way, way, way better" than the annoying interference sounds from FM transmitters. And again, I bought this radio for the USB, so I can have 20+ favorite albums at my thumb and finger.

    The thumb wheel used to regulate the volume and change the songs is no problem. I have not had any problems with it accidentally being pressed and cause the set up mode to come on. The set up options on this radio are intense. There are so many adjustments. I just pick one of the many presets and enjoy good sound. But, one can dial in a custom user sound to his preference. I believe that one can have a sound for input (CD, radio, or USB) set to a sound preference.

    Bottom line, this X491 sounds great. It tends to sound better at little more volume. And, CD player does not skip on bumpy, dirt roads yet. For the dollar, this stereo makes music enjoyable.

    Crutchfield has great service.
    4 out of 4 people found this helpful
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    4 out of 5

    New to Kenwood

    Written By ::CORY::, St. Marys, OH on Wednesday, May 23, 2007
    Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
     
    Great deck for the money:

    Pros:
    - Very visible display even in direct light
    - Uncluttered face (rare for Kenwood)
    - Fantastic sound and great specific adjustments
    - Nice full featured remote
    - Quick read times on thumb drives

    Cons:
    - Menus are all spread out for different settings
    - USB drive wont be remembered unless thru the remove process
    - Poor song search capabilities
    - a 2 line display would have been better to fit more song info
    - a longer rear-aux cable is needed for better positioning
    - manual translated from Chinese (or something)

    I’m very impressed with this deck and at the price with free shipping and bracket and harness from Crutchfield you cant beat it. I really wanted a unit with a front USB jack instead of the rear ones that most new units come with. This is the first Kenwood deck I’ve owned – I normally didn’t like them due to the over cluttered face plate. I am glad I got this one and am enjoying being a new Kenwood customer.
    1 out of 1 people found this helpful
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    5 out of 5

    Awsome

    Written By kevin, Deer Park on Tuesday, May 22, 2007
     
    Ive always pictured kenwood as one of the elite companies in car audio. But when i finally purchased this reciever i was suprised. It is better than expected. the power that it has plus the AUX input and the ipod USB input are very useful. The FM reception is also very good. CD's sound superb and the controls are fairly easy. I have had no problems with this reciever, i give it two thumbs up. Def. recomend purchasing one.
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    4 out of 5

    Terrific Sound, Amazing Features, Horrible Programming

    Written By CottyGee, Phoenix, AZ on Monday, May 21, 2007
    Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
     
    ****************************************************
    PROS:
    - Sound quality
    - Flexibility
    - Played a scratched CD flawlessly
    CONS:
    - Owners manual is poorly organized
    - Programming is difficult & confusing
    - Memory for programming erased w/ batt. Disconnect!
    ****************************************************

    I installed this deck a few days ago – a meaningful sonic improvement over my 12 yr. old Sony CD. The sound quality is fantastic - definitely cleaner than my old head unit & possibly more "punchy". To my amazement it played a badly scratched CD flawlessly. My old deck refused to play this CD.

    The parametric equalizer is a huge improvement over traditional bass & treble controls. I'm able to tune this deck to my speaker configuration far better than ever before. This sonic flexibility coupled with the myriad of hook up configuration options & the options for multiple sources (HD radio, Satellite, USB device, iPod) made selecting this deck easy.

    The downsides to this deck all relate to programming the unit. The owner's manual is mediocre at best. The way it is organized is confusing. For example, there is no place in the owner's manual where functions of each of the buttons is explained, nor is there a "legend" to understand all of the symbols on the display, nor is there the ability to "look up" the abbreviated messages the system gives you.

    Another big downside is that all of this time-consuming programming is instantaneously erased the moment the car battery is disconnected or fuses to the radio are removed or blown. Found that out yesterday. >:-(
    2 out of 2 people found this helpful
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    5 out of 5

    Great Sounding Kenwood Excelon KDC-X491

    Written By Ray, Clifton Park, NY on Saturday, May 19, 2007
    Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
     
    I like the way the Kenwood Excelon KDC-X491 sounds. This was installed in a '05 Toyota RAV4. If you don’t have an amplifier the 22 watts (RMS) is great! There is a USB connection up front that allows you to use a thumb drive. I use a 4 GB thumb drive (900+ songs) and never hear a repeat. I like the ability to select Bass, Midrange, and Treble. The pre-sets are easy to program. This is a great stereo and I would highly recommended it. I run this with a Profile 4X60 watt amp and 4 Polk 650B speakers (all from Crutchfield).
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    3 out of 5

    Great CD receiver (BUT)

    Written By triz, WPB,florida on Friday, May 11, 2007
     
    CD receiver is great but has or dont have 2 features i do not like which made me send it back
    1.you are unable to fast forward or rewind with remote control.
    2.to access the equalizer you must push inward right in the middle of the knob otherwise you reset the song your listening to (gets extremely annoying)
    1 out of 4 people found this helpful
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    5 out of 5

    Perfect core to an expandable system

    Written By IGO, Las Vegas, Nevada on Sunday, April 15, 2007
     
    In the early 90s I studied audio for two years in a Tec school. Entry level Kenwood Excelon head units is what I choose after 30 years of hobby installs.
    There is so much Bling out there these days but if you want just a straight aproach to infinite audio customabilty, this unit is the route to audio evel.
    Who would have thought 30 years ago. Pre-amp level crossovers before the cut signals are burned off in the wind. A parametric equalization not only alows me to adjust peak frequency centers but alows me to float those centers laterally; absolutely amazing and crytically useful.
    24 bit digital to analog sampling?! It is kinda an oxymoron to couple a junk compressed 2.5 meg mp3 input with the same unit that has this kind of digital sampling at the CD.
    Dedicated sub-woofer controls at the helm. Crossover and equalization as well. That overcomes 15 years of subwoofer tuning issues including crossover installs and a glove box full of remotes.
    At 22 watts root mean square, an old guy just might search really hard for as tightly made a pair of 91db efficient or higher speakers and this unit will blow him out of the car using nothing but the head unit amp.
    For the buck, there is no better head for your install.
    14 out of 18 people found this helpful
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    4 out of 5

    Kenwood's a winner!

    Written By Annette, Jacksonville, FL on Saturday, March 31, 2007
    Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
     
    After much research I decided on the Kenwood Excelon KDC X491 for it's numerous features, good price, and both Kenwood and Crutchfield's reputation. I had read the review about the display washing out, but I have not had that problem at all.

    My son installed this in my Explorer and it fit perfectly. He had to forego the clip for the back since the unit wouldn't fully slide in with it on.

    PROS: GREAT FM reception, simple to use remote, looks unassuming but sharp (unlike others in this price range that look like plastic toys)

    CONS: Instructions are poor, delay before cd start to play, setup is somewhat confusing and could be simpler and more logical

    I haven't really put it through it's paces yet...mostly played some cd's and listened to FM. It has been a pleasure so far, no problems at all other than figuring things out because of the incomplete instructions. I would definitely opt to buy it if I had to do it again.
    3 out of 4 people found this helpful
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    5 out of 5

    Best Kenwood I've seen.

    Written By Steve, Orange Park, FL on Tuesday, March 27, 2007
    Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
     
    This unit is caught my eye because it's a fresh improvement for Kenwood and the connectivity is so practical. I always thought the Kenwoods' faceplates were too cluttered, but now they've managed to clean it up and simplify it, all while leaving a CD slot which I prefer. Also about faceplates: this unit does seem tight and well built. I have noticed some other brands in stores with very flimsy buttons, knobs, and faceplates. You're always touching it so it should feel tight. This one does.
    PROS: Connectivity, Hi pass x-over, EQ, FM reception, good remote, logical menus, improved cosmetics, construction, 2 yr. warranty.
    CONS: Some hiss on aux input (perhaps caused by my cable?), inconvenient to display clock if you want your source names displayed, amp seems not very loud through Infinity Reference speakers.

    My install in "06 Frontier went great, wiring no problem. Watch out for the airbag harnesses, though. By turning the key to the "on" position with the harness unplugged, I caused an SRS light to flash continually requiring a system reset by my Nissan dealer. Thankfully they did it for free.

    Overall very happy with this unit. Highly recommend.
    6 out of 6 people found this helpful
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    4 out of 5

    Nice "flat" response

    Written By Yan00LX, NY on Tuesday, March 13, 2007
     
    I installed it myself in a 2000 Mazda Protegé, installation was easy, took all of 5 minutes once the harness was done. Had problems hooking up the antenna connector (too short), simply removed the pocket underneath the radio and connected it from under once radio in place.

    I compared Kenwood and Pioneer head unit before proceeding. I noticed Pioneers are voiced to impress (exagerated lows and highs), while Kenwood is much flatter, which comes out as a strong mid response when compared directly. This is the reason I went with Kenwood, I want to hear everything, not just fake bass and tiny highs. Listening to records I already had is eye opening with this unit, it's like putting on glasses. And to think I still have the old paper speakers...

    The electronic x-overs are great too, I hi-pass my front speakers a bit and get more clarity this way, I let the 6X9 in the back handle the bulk of the low-frequencies.
    I do wish I could lo-pass the rear speakers, this is the only thing I miss from my previous Pioneer unit.

    The USB port is just great. I use my iPod shuffle as a flash drive and it works. I put it on random and get music for hours without having to burn a CD. Plus, the DAC is handled by the X491's converters, not the iPod's, so sound is great (although a genuine CD sounds much better of course).
    I can turn the radio off, remove the USB device, it will resume at the same point next time.

    I like the no-nonsense design of the model vs the more expensive ones of the same serie. I prefer the CD slot on the face, to each his own!
    13 out of 14 people found this helpful
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    4 out of 5

    Kenwood Excelon KDC-X491CD Receiver

    Written By Bill, Louisville, KY on Saturday, March 10, 2007
    Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
     
    This installed with no problems in my 2007 Chevy Silverado Classic (old body style). The Metra VT-GMRC-01 GM Class II Data bus Interface is a MUST if you want to maintain the functionalities of a factory-installed radio. There was a typo in the wiring diagram for the data bus interface that could cause trouble for a novice. Follow the data bus instructions to set the door chime to a reasonable volume.

    PROS: I like the X491's larger-than-normal and well-lit station preset buttons and the richly featured remote. I like the positioning and markings of the faceplate function buttons. The unit sounds MUCH better than the factory radio.

    CONS: The display washes out completely in direct sunlight. With the clock displayed, there is no indication of what station preset or CD track is active. I liked that feature on a Pioneer unit I owned in another vehicle. The CD has skipped a few times, something I NEVER experienced with the Pioneer.

    Overall, I am happy with the unit and with my first order from Crutchfield.
    14 out of 18 people found this helpful
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    For a more in-depth review and enhanced detailed information on the Kenwood Excelon KDC-X491, please visit the Crutchfield website product page (/ISEO-rccbcspd/p_113KDCX491/Kenwood-Excelon-KDC-X491.html ).