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Video: What are Digital Media Receivers?

I've written about car audio for Crutchfield since 2003, after four years as Crutchfield Sales Advisor, and 10 years as a music teacher. I'm an avid music listener, with a real love of classical and film music. I love having a great system in my car, and I'll still match the system in my 98 Ford Ranger (may it rest in piece) up against anything else I've heard for great SQ. I attended West Virginia University, where I received a Master's Degree in Music Performance and a Bachelor's Degree in History. Let's Go Mountaineers!

More from Ken Nail

I've been a camera nut all my life, so it makes sense I'd end up being a video producer. Of course, it has been a roundabout journey for me, as I started at Crutchfield in 2007 writing about car audio gear. Over the years I've learned about all the electronic items we sell, and it is my job to make sure we are making videos that you will find useful, whether you're shopping for something specific or trying to install some new gear yourself. My job is a lot of fun because I get to play around with all the cool stuff you see on our website while I'm making videos about it. Getting hands-on with the gear helps me see what I should show you about a product, though the flip side is my personal wish list is a mile long...

More from Zak Billmeier

Crutchfield's car audio experts Zak and Ken take a look at a new trend in car stereos: in-dash receivers that do not play CDs. They answer the obvious question: How do you know if one of these digital media receivers is right for you?

Video Transcript

Ken: Hi, I'm Ken.

Zak: I'm Zak.

Ken: Hey Zak, you got many of these in your car anymore?

Zak: You know what, Ken? I used to, but now they're all on here.

Ken: Yeah, the iPod's taking over from the CD, it seems like. I use one myself — so do a lot of people. Or people put their music on USB drives, other brands of MP3 players.... That's why we're starting to see these things come around a lot more: the digital media receiver.

Zak: Yeah, and one thing that all media receivers don't do is play CDs.

Ken: That's right. If you don't have a CD slot, you need to get your music from somewhere, so they'll have USB inputs, maybe an SD Card slot, auxiliary inputs, Bluetooth for music streaming. A lot of them also have built-in iPod controls or the option to add on an iPod adapter.

Zak: And one thing that's different that you can see right here is that since they don't have to build this around a CD slot anymore, they can play around with the form factor. They've moved the knob into the middle and changed the way these things look.

Ken: Yeah, it really frees things up. This model is very iPod-centric, for lack of a better word, and we have an iPod hooked up. You can see that you can go right through things like you normally would on an iPod. Work your way through and then drill down into what you're looking for, and check the options.

Zak: That's great. This particular model we're looking at is the Alpine iDA-X100, which is a popular model in this line. But we have more of these available at You go into the in-dash receivers and look for the category of digital media receivers.

Ken: It seems like we get more every day. So, if you're one of those people who don't use these as much, and maybe use those a lot more, digital media receivers are the way to go.

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