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Kenwood KDC-BT838U

CD receiver (New Stock)

30 Reviews

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Our take on the Kenwood KDC-BT838U

Build a capable, flexible system with Kenwood's KDC-BT838U CD receiver. It features built-in iPod® controls and Bluetooth® technology, so you won't have to add any extra cables, adapters, or boxes to enjoy your iPod or hands-free calling while you're on the go.

Build a capable, flexible system with Kenwood's KDC-BT838U CD receiver. It features built-in iPod® controls and Bluetooth® technology, so you won't have to add any extra cables, adapters, or boxes to enjoy your iPod or hands-free calling while you're on the go.

The KDC-BT838U plays your regular CDs, plus any discs that you've loaded with MP3, WMA, or AAC files. The bright, 3-line display lets you take in song information at a glance. Kenwood's Supreme Setting feature enhances files recorded at a low bitrate to make them sound more full-bodied, and closer to the sound quality of the original source.

The stereo's built-in amplifier offers plenty of power, and you can shape the sound with a 3-band equalizer and six preset tone curves. If you're putting together a high-powered system, the three sets of preamp outputs provide excellent flexibility for connecting multiple external amplifiers. Built-in high- and low-pass filters tailor the output from the receiver to get the best possible sound from your speaker system.

Want a few more options? If you're not connecting an iPod, use the USB input for a thumb drives or hard drive — it's a perfect way to have an entire virtual jukebox on call whenever you get into the car. You'll appreciate the convenience of an auxiliary input as well, for connecting other audio sources or a plug-and-play satellite radio.

Tune into the clarity and variety of HD Radio™ with an optional tuner, or add a satellite radio tuner or CD changer for more musical variety.

iPod note: If you're going to use your iPod with this receiver, be sure to check "Details" for specific iPod model compatibility with this receiver.

Bluetooth note: Use of this receiver's Bluetooth features will depend upon your phone's Bluetooth capabilities. Learn more in our article explaining Bluetooth profiles.

Product 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 music files
    • detachable face
    • remote control
    Audio features:
    • System Q Sound Control (6 EQ curves and a 3-band equalizer)
    • Supreme Setting function restores high frequencies in music files
    • high- and low-pass filters for speaker and preamp outputs
    • subwoofer level controls
    • built-in Bluetooth and iPod controls — no iPod adapter necessary, but adding Kenwood's optional connecting cable lets you leave your iPod cable at home
    • compatible with satellite radio, HD Radio tuner, CD changer
    • inputs: USB input, rear auxiliary input, optional second auxiliary input
    • outputs: 6-channel preamp outputs (front, rear, subwoofer)
    Other features and specs:

    I ordered this Tuesday night and received it Friday, which is awesome. It's a great product, I happen to like the lack of buttons and the interface that you control almost exclusively with the control knob. It made a huge improvement in sound quality of my stereo even with the OEM speakers.

    Anonymous, Chicago, IL

    What's in the Box:

    • AM/FM/CD/MP3/WMA/AAC/USB receiver with 10-amp fuse inserted into the chassis
    • Sleeve
    • Face
    • Trim ring
    • Wiring harness
    • RC-547 Wireless remote
    • 2 "AA" batteries
    • Microphone with attached 9.75' cable (has a minijack connector)
    • Soft fabric face case
    • 2 Removal tools
    • 4 Panhead ISO-mount screws
    • 4 Flathead ISO-mount screws
    • Back support screw
    • USB protection cap
    • Kenwood Music Editor CD-ROM
    • Instruction Manual (English/Spanish/French)
    • Warranty Card
    • "Attention" note
    • "About SMS" note

    Kenwood KDC-BT838U Reviews

    Average Customer Review(s):

    (30 Reviews)

    Awesome product from awesome company

    Anonymous from Chicago, IL on 1/29/2010

    I ordered this Tuesday night and received it Friday, which is awesome. It's a great product, I happen to like the lack of buttons and the interface that you control almost exclusively with the control knob. It made a huge improvement in sound quality of my stereo even with the OEM speakers.



    Great features, poor controls

    ruddock from Montville, NJ on 10/26/2009

    This head unit just about does it all. I use it to control my Sirius Stiletto (using a sirius adapter) and I also plug a 8GB usb flash drive into it to hold a ton of music. The satellite radio interface is great. Especially useful us the fact that this unit has a 3 line display. it displays the channel name, artist, and song title all on one screen. 3-line is the way to go for satellite radio! The USB interface works great. It seems to accept just about any file format I throw at it, except for DRM songs of course. The only trouble is that you need to scroll through your library by folder number. The unit does display the artist and title information, but only after you select the folder and a track. There is no alphabetical listing of your artists or songs. I did try connecting my iPod which works, but the interface was even more ridiculous. Although the iPod interface does let you browse your library by Artist or Song, there are way too many menus to dig though. I'm sticking to my trusty USB drive. So the features of this unit are actually superb as far as what it can do. The trouble is the interface! Way too many twists, clicks, and button presses to get anywhere. It's almost comedic to watch me navigate to a particular radio channel, as I go through the "launch checklist" of twist, pushes, and clicks, necessary to get the job done. Literally none of my friends or family can figure out how to operate this radio!



    Kenwood KDC-BT838U

    vashon from massachusetts on 7/10/2009

    2007 Nissan Maxima
    Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

    i usually dont leave reviews but opinions are mixed on this unit. i love it. tons of options. double to tripled the sound of my factory system without changing speakers yet. the menu is tough bbut i have had it about 3 days now and i pretty much know everything about the radio. if your not in to stereos and electronics confuse you, maybe you should stick with the factory stereo anyways. my downfalls are you cant browse the ipod, if you can i cant figure out how to. and the menu but like i said, you can figure it out. install was easy. with support. my ground had to go to the chassis which isnt always the case. i called again for help on how to hook up the dimmer with the light dimmer you use in the vehicle. they had the wiring schematic. worked great., thanks crutchfield.



    kenwood blast

    ben from Tucson, AZ on 7/3/2009

    I just finished hooking up the unit to my 2001 ford focus it was replacing a severely outdated Pioneer DEH-P6400. The unit was easy to install, took some time, but i tend to be a perfectionist and wanted my install to be clean and neat. The unit works smoothly with A2DP bluetooth audio hookup to my HTC touch diamond (Sprint). The unit is working well in conjunction with me Blaupunkt va2200 amp. The head unit although lacking a variety of colors was a steal online in new not refurbished condition. The controls are somewhat awkward as all choices are made through the use of 2 rotary dials. The lack of buttons to jump to preset stations is slightly annoying but you can preset favorites and jump through them still rather quickly. I would absolutely reccomend this unit to my friends and family.



    Interface is terrible

    Troy from San Diego, CA on 6/2/2009

    Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

    So, I'm usually very easy to please. Reading these reviews about the poor interface of this stereo didn't stop me from buying it - I figured others were just complaining or didn't give themselves enough time to learn the interface... boy was I wrong. The manual is completely worthless so throw it out or burn it right away. Through trial and error you will figure out how to use the 5-way button on the right, in combination with twisting and clicking the button on the left, to accomplish functions. Also, if you have as much music as I do - forget it. IF you want to listen to the Yeah Yeah Yeah's, for example - be prepared to twist the little dial about 5 million times to get there. There is no speedy way to sift through the alphabet. The unit sounds fine, and the display is actually very nice... but seriously folks, this is the most poorly designed product I have ever purchased. The only real plus here is that I've dealt with Crutchfield for over 15 years, and you will NEVER beat their customer service. Packaging this for return was a snap and my new head unit will be here in no time. Thanks Crutchfield! No Thanks Kenwood...




    papafevers from Knoxville TN on 5/19/2009

    I have used many recievers including Kenwood models in the past but this one takes the cake...... In the last year and a half i have had a Jensen VM911ts and loved it but it was stolen... I recently purchased a Valor in Dash DVD with Bluetooth and it was ok The faceplate was loose it would move while i drove?????? I was kind of nervous Buying because i had a radio stolen didnt want something very expensive to donate to a criminal... but i was VERY pleased with the pricing and i agree with most everyone else saying that Crutchfield is easy to work with. As far as the features of the radio I ove the bluetooth I have a Samsung Delve and everytime i get into the car it auto connects also I have an IPOD touch 2nd Gen and it works great but i also took a chance and added a 250 GB external hard drive and after i reformatted with my computer and using the included software from Kenwood i now have approx 220 GB available for more music . Thanks Crutchfield and Kenwood for the Great service and The GREAT product



    Nice stereo

    Jeff from San Jose, CA on 5/2/2009

    1999 Dodge Ram
    Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

    Fast shipment. Nice price. Install was a breeze- A detailed easy to read cable schematic came with the cable harness(which was free) so I didn't have to look at a repair manual for my truck. Stereo works great. Once I learned how the control knobs work, it became easier to understand the organization of the controls. Word to the wise: definitely keep the user manual handy in the vehicle. There are a lot of functions and how to get those functions are spelled out in the user manual. Some issues: Not really issues...but just things to look out for: Doesn't read old first gen ipods. Maybe new cable might fix this- but it may not be that big a deal. I use a 16GB travel drive and I have my entire Itunes collection on it. If you copy the library directly- folders and all- it will read and index them as if it was reading from the ipod. The three band eq is just average. It has enormous power but sound quality isn't that great. I attribute this mostly to the low quality factory speakers that struggle to contain the power this unit sends out. I will get new speakers to fix this. You should too. Also, selecting preset stations or between USB and radio is best done with the remote. Those functions are too difficult to select with the control knob while driving with a bumpy ride. Overall, this is probly the best digital-1din unit for under $500. I've been a longtime Alpine customer but this Kenwood unit showed me a lot more for what I think is a very attractive price.



    A lot of radio for the money

    mtucker from Escondido, CA. on 4/27/2009

    2003 Toyota Tacoma
    Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

    I was looking for a head unit with both bluetooth and USB. Bluetooth: The radio was able to connect to my 1st gen iPhone without problems. The radio came with bluetooth firmware version 1.6 and I updated it to 1.7. The phone sound quality is much better than my last radio and several people have commented about the improved sound. USB: I have a 16GB thumb drive connected to the Kenwood. I read through the manual before I bought the radio and I was a little wary of the 255 songs/folder limitation. That is the case, but if you use the Kenwood music editor software that comes with the deck, it will take care of making the folders for you with the max 255 limit. Then you can pull up all your music my artist, genre, title..... the folders are invisible to you. You can also make playlists that can be selected with the radio. Ease of use: Yes, having only a few buttons and two knobs makes the radio very menu driven. Even if your are fairly techie, you will need to refer to the manual sometimes at first (so so manual). For example, changing the radio station is a pain at first (as much as three actions to change a station), but you can change tuner modes so you can just hit one button and go to the next programmed station. I found I preferred the Kenwood's crossover settings over the ones built into my amplifier. Installation was pretty easy thanks to the documents from Crutchfield. Matt



    Kenwood KDC-BT838U

    James from Chi-town on 4/26/2009

    2003 Chevrolet TrailBlazer
    Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

    This is a great product!! Have had in my 03 Trailblazer for about a month now and I love all the features it has. The bluetooth is really good I can have all the windows down and talk to people and they dont complain that they cant hear me. It does take a little time to get familiar with the controls but otherwise I have no complaints..



    Great Radio/Great Service

    Bill from Florence, SC on 4/21/2009

    2000 Volkswagen Jetta
    Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

    I bought the factory refurbished model. It works fine. No blemishes or scratches. If it wasn't for the little sticker you'd never know it was the refurbished model! Crutchfield sent a great Master sheet for the install into my VW Jetta. Everything you need to install is in the box, including removal keys. The only hitch I had was that the speaker brackets needed for an install into a VW was left out of the shipment. To their credit, and why Crutchfield earns 5 stars in my opinion, when I called to let them know of the oversight, they promptly shipped them out with no charges of any kind. Great Service, Great Product, Great features on the Radio!



    Worth the purchase

    Scott from Campo, Ca on 4/21/2009

    2001 Ford Windstar
    Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

    I choose this radio for 3 things. A No-nonsense auxiliary input for our DVD player. USB Input for USB flash drive. Better radio reception. I am very happy with all 3 items. The auxilary input was built in and there was an additional input for a CD changer if you wish. And an optional adapter for a 3rd input. The USB input was very nice. Plug in your USB flash drive and you music is there and is easy enough to navigate by track, folder or artist. The AM Radio reception was outstanding, FM about the same as stock radio. The Bluetooth works ok, but since I have never had bluetooth in a radio before, I have no basis to base it on. I think for the price it was a good radio.



    Good Sound, but that's about it.

    Cyberbilly from Fredericksburg, VA on 4/19/2009

    This unit is very easy to install, and puts out some fantastic sound. And I cannot say much more that is good. The interface is extremely cumbersome, the three-line low-resolution display looks too old-school and is difficult to read in bright sunlight, the documentation is poorly arranged, and don't even get me started on the Bluetooth. You cannot even change radio stations easily. Everything takes a combination of button pushing and knob turning for even the simplest of tasks. Consult the manual? Fugeddaboudit. Even if you try and use the book, the instructions are vague and I am constantly jumping from the front of the book to the back in order to set something up. After three months it is still not the way I would like it to be, and probably never will be. For your own safety and the safety of others, do not, I repeat DO NOT try to operate this thing while driving. Some other reviewers said they had problems setting up their bluetooth connections to their phone. Mine won't even recognize my phone even after upgrading the firmware. I'll probaly keep it, but I wish I had gotten something less complicated. If you are not a "techie" type person, don't even THINK of getting this unit. The only reason I gave it two stars and not one star is because it does sound great - if you can figure out how to operate it.



    Great receiver, easy installation

    Edward from Philadelphia, PA on 4/13/2009

    2000 Subaru Outback
    Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

    Easily installed in my 2000 Subaru Outback Limited Wagon thanks to excellent instructions from our friends here at Crutchfield. Hats off to them for the service they provide! This receiver is LOADED with features for the price and works great! Fantastic remote also. Linked up to my iphone 3G and ipod with no problems - offers great control. Only suggestion for improvement is the limited controls for navigating the features on the radio itself. BUT thank goodness for the excellent remote control! Crutchfield harness matched up perfectly. This receiver plus Crutchfield = a winner!



    Great deck/deal- but returning refurbished for new unit

    jasonv from phoenix, az on 4/7/2009

    2004 GMC Canyon
    Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

    i liked this deck because the aux input (normal headphone jack 3.5mm- no adapter needed) is on the back of the unit and the usb connection is on a 39 inch cable that you can plug your thumb drive into and hide behind the dash! i don't know why anyone would want these connections on the front of the deck and have wires hanging all over your car. the dual knob set up looks ok but is goofy to use- the remote works better. NOTE: i read some people's complaints about the bright blue lighting accents- they are bright but they can be dimmed or turned off completely. the bluetooth connection to my lg dare was easy because it was already preloaded with firmware version 1.6 (see kenwood's website for what version your phone requires)- fyi you will need a bluetooth laptop to upgrade if required. it sounds good and downloads my phonebook and recent calls everytime it automatically syncs (everytime you get in or out of the car). but the best thing is that i can play the music on my phone through the wireless bluetooth connection to the deck and control my phone with the deck's remote- all wireless- way better than any ipod setup! if i could get a micro sd card for my phone big enough i wouldn't need the usb connection for a thumb drive. however, i am returning my 'refurbished' model with a new model in hopes that the new one does not overheat after 20 minutes at 2/3's volume. this will make this 5 star review a 1 star.



    Great Stereo

    Pat from Shelbyville, IN on 3/28/2009

    Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

    Purchased 10 days ago. Master sheet is very clear. I finished installing the Kenwood in my 05 Corolla about 90 minutes after I opened the box. Most of the time spent was connecting the leads to the wiring harness. Not difficult, just time consuming. The included USB cable is plenty long enough to route anywhere I wanted. If you plan to plug in a 3.5m device, you'll need an adapter cable. No front inputs. Positioned mic on instrument cluster shelf directly behind the steering wheel. Sounds like speakerphone, but clear. Pairing with Nokia phone took about 30 seconds. They work great together. This unit instantly made my factory speakers sound much better. New speakers are in my future, but this was a huge improvement. The stock EQ settings will satisfy most people, but you can fine tune the settings to anything you want. The only reason I didn't give it a 5 is the difficulty in navigating the menus. Owner's manual is only marginally helpful. After playing with the stereo for a few hours, I figured out most of the features that I'm interested in. I read another review that says this is preferable to a lot of tiny buttons. I agree. Difficult to figure out, but worth the effort. Highly recommend both this stereo and Crutchfield. Great experience.



    Kenwood KDC-BT838U

    Ralph from phila,pa on 3/21/2009

    Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

    great looking ,great performance and easy installation. The manual could be a little clearer and the programming is a little tricky otherwise a great fit in my 2002 Ford F-150



    Great Product

    Aggie from Chattanooga, TN on 3/15/2009

    Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

    I really like this head. I took it out on it's first road trip last week and was very impressed. This was my first experience with sattelite radio and I was not disappointed. The radio was a breeze to install. It takes a little getting used to so far as programming is concerned but the instruction manual is very easy to navigate and once you understand the different controls it all makes pretty good sense.



    Great Features - Slight Learning Curve

    Joe from Rochester, NY on 3/5/2009

    Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

    iPod: The iPod connects via USB cable only, so you don't need a fancy cable to hook it up, just purchase a spare dock cable. You may only use one USB device at a time though. So if you wanted to swap devices (use maybe a thumb drive) Get a USB extension cable to run from the back of the unit in to your car so you can swap devices. I also got a 3.5mm extender to run the AUX port in to the car for hooking up pretty much anything else under the sun in the realm of portable music players. Be advised, if you have your deck set to shuffle all, you won't be able to use the iPod menu's (Playlists, artists, etc.) disable that and you should be fine. *I wish there were a way to quickly browse by letter for artists but you have to scroll for a very long time using the left wheel.* Bluetooth : The mic is not built in to the deck, it is on a long cord though. I was able to have the mic placed just above my girlfriend's rear-view mirror. It is out of site and still has good reception. If you find problems with call quality, you may want to consider a firmware update. As soon as you sync your phone with the deck it downloads your phone book instantly. Yes, controls are tough at first. Read the manual. I'd rather have to learn a few controls than to have the face of my deck be covered in billions of tiny buttons for my huge fingers to try to press while screaming down the freeway. Don't let this deter you from this fantastic deck.



    Outstanding Value, Fantastic Features

    Scott from Thousand Oaks, CA on 1/29/2009

    The first thing I'd like to point out is that I too, had issues with the outgoing sound quality of the bluetooth. People on the other end heard me as garbled and unclear. So I did some research...and found out that Kenwood released BT firmware 1.70. I loaded it up on my laptop, connected my laptop to my stereo and upgraded the firmware. Problem solved. Now it works great. So everyone that bashes the BT implementation, needs to do a little legwork. Now, some people may not have a BT laptop, and in that case, I'd wait till there is another way to update the head unit. BTW...completely downloaded my iPhone 3G phonebook and displays signal and battery power on the face. Otherwise, it's a fantastic device. It controls my iPhone 3G (and charges it for those curious), so I'm a happy camper. My last Kenwood deck only played playlists from the iPhone and didn't charge. I am extremely happy with my purchase and I recommend it to anyone who has a little savvy to get the firmware updated.



    Kenwood KDC-BT838U

    Alex from Tampa Bay, FL on 1/27/2009

    2002 Ford Explorer
    Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

    After doing some research, got this headunit for wife. She has been completely thrilled with the BT, USB and sound quality through OEM speakers. The user interface is much more friendly when you use the supplied remote. That being said, the big drawback is the display. It washes out in sunlight and does not dim at night. The animations during control inputs are gimmicky and unnecessary. NOTE: This headunit is not recommended if you have limited technical ability. You must absolutely install a firmware upgrade if you intend to use the bluetooth features. The instructions suggest mounting the microphone on your steering column. This is rubbish. The steering column transmits vibrations you can feel on the wheel when you drive and both the wheel and your hands block the microphone from your mouth. I mounted the mike at the top of the A-pillar where there is a direct path to the driver's head. Sound quality from the mike has been good thus far. If there was an Excelon version (5V pre-outs for amps), I'd get one for myself.



    acceptable head-unit

    ian from lodi ca from . on 12/29/2008

    Owning this stereo for about 6 months the only problems i have had was using the BLUETOOTH feature and reading the text when sunlight shines abundently. The BT feature worked well (communication was great!)however i am currently having troubles with my phone connecting to the stereo. My phone says its connected but the stereo doesnt. The illumination effect is pleasntly bright but not irritating. I enjoy this head-unit and most of its easy to use features- Highly recomendable



    Great Unit!

    Sean from Louisiana on 11/17/2008

    2004 Dodge Grand Caravan
    Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

    I've always used Kenwood car audio equipement and have never had any problems. This head unit is no exception. I installed this unit in a 2004 Dodge Caravan. Installation was effortless using the included adapters and instructions from Crutchfield . This unit has an extradordinary amount of features including bluetooth and an Ipod controller. The user interface is complicated at first, but easy to learn. I placed the microphone for the unit, in the headliner adjacent to the windshield and was able to route the cord through the dashboard to the head unit. I routed the Ipod/USB cord into the glove box so my Ipod isn't bouncing around the vehicle. Overall, the sound is great, the interface is highly customizable, and installation was simple. Overall, if you want bluetooth and an Ipod controller in a head unit without having to buy extra adapters, this is the radio for you!!!



    Pretty good, but could be better

    Ben from Atlanta, GA on 11/13/2008

    2002 Jeep Grand Cherokee
    Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

    This head unit is pretty good. Since I was replacing another Kenwood, I knew what to expect with the installation. Overall, the install went well. However, I was disappointed that the screen has no color. This unit is totally monchrome. The blue LEDs add alot, but that's value add only. Also, the menu system is cumbersome and complex. Looking back on it, I think I would have gone with a slightly more premium unit that offered a better user interface. Still, the quality of any Kenwood unit should be enough for someone to purchase the unit. All in all, do your research!



    Fine head unit - lots of features

    Patrick from Springboro, OH on 9/10/2008

    2002 Honda Odyssey
    Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

    Fine headunit with loads of features. I use almost all, except the AUX input and the HD option. User interface is a bit difficult to get used to, but most of the more difficult stuff is used only for setup anyway. The display, however, is too bright at night. The blue lighting around the knobs and on the two main buttons is distractingly bright and can't be dimmed much. I'm working around it. Somebody else reported poor quality on the microphone so I installed my portable GPS unit's microphone and it sounds fine. Bluetooth is great! iPod control is great! XM radio is great! I waited for several years to get an in-dash headunit with multiple XM display lines before replacing my old XM Commander that had 2 lines. This fits the bill perfectly. Would give 5/5 if the lights could be dimmed as much as desired.



    Kenwood KDC-BT838U

    Terry from Mesa, Az on 8/20/2008

    Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

    Good sound quality for the stereo. Terrible user interface. The bluetooth phone interface is so cumbersome that it makes "handsfree" phone operation useless. Also, the bluetooth audio quality is very poor. People receiving a call from it cannot recognize the voice. I'm sending mine back. Thanks to Crutchfield for their the easy return policy.



    Bad Bluetooth Expierence

    Josh from Santa Rosa, CA on 8/16/2008

    Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

    I purchased this unit mainly for the hands free bluetooth connection plus iPod controls. I have an iPhone and live in CA where the new law mandates hands free. The unit has many features and would the perfect fit, but the bluetooth MIC sounds horrible. Everybody I talked to while using the hands free said I sounded like I was under water and could barley understand me. I can hear everything perfectly in the car, it just seemed to be the MIC. I worked with Crutchfield's product support specialists who tried to help figure out why. They replaced the whole unit, but still had the same problem. I am now switching brands. I was very disappointed with this unit. I also agree with the other posts relating to the user interface. Simple tasks seem to be very complicated on this unit. My biggest complaint is that the second dial rotates and pushes in for a button. Tying to push the button in without accidentally rotating the knob proved challenging while driving and became frustrating.



    Looking for a featured packed radio? Stop here.

    Harry from Los Angeles, CA on 8/5/2008

    2000 Chevrolet S10
    Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

    First and foremost - Crutchfield is truly amazing. Great Customer Service and all the freebies are great! Nothing else to buy - which is a huge plus. The unit is great. Many features including Bluetooth, HD Radio Ready, An Amazing Display (which is customizable to show all the info you want to see - track title, artist, etc.) and the ability to play MP3's. The iPod control is quick and painless - with the same song/atrtist/playlist choosing method as the iPod. I was amazed at how quickly it accesses the info from the iPod - it's almost immediate. There is one major design flaw with the iPod control - there is no way to skip to a specific letter using the unit. In other words if you want to scroll to a letter deep in the alphabet, you are literally turning the knob hundreds of times - which is just plain annoying. However, the unit does have the ability to randomly select songs and this is usually how I listen to the iPod anyway, so this flaw isn't too bothersome. The unit also charges the iPod. Sound quality is great and the tuner is very strong. A final note - this radio can do A LOT. That means that the controls need a little getting used to. They're not "hard" to use, but you will need to get the feel for them before you'll be completely successful at using them while screaming down the freeway - thank God for the remote.



    Kenwood KDC-BT838U

    Larry from Middlesboro, KY on 8/5/2008

    Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

    Works with my nokia N80 Perfect and my Apple Itouch Perfectly. The menu is really not that bad :) It takes a little getting used too. One of the coolest things about the receiver is that it downloads the address book every time your phone connects. When using the itouch with it, if u change sources it keeps the last place it stopped on the song :))) The only thing i can find wrong with the receiver is that display gets washed out by direct sunlight :) not a big deal. You can still read the display ok. And of coarse CRUTCHFIELD was AWESOME about everything.




    Chris from Boston, MA on 7/29/2008

    2005 GMC Envoy
    Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

    I bought this unit after much research on my own and discussion with multiple Crutchfield advisors. Unfortunately I have been very disappointed. I was looking for a unit with handsfree phone capability and compatible with a blackberry phone. This unit is neither. The handsfree capability is very difficult because of all the buttons and menus you have to use to get to the phone or any other operation. The receiver won't let you use the voice recognition on your own phone. To use voice recognition you need to record "voice tags" for your contacts, limited to 35 voice tags, and then you need to go through a long menu process just to activate the voice recognition system. Totally defeats the purpose of voice recognition. Despite claims by Kenwood the receiver is NOT compatible with blackberry phones. The receiver constantly freezes while trying to download the phonebook from my phone. I did find a way to work around this and supposedly Kenwood is coming out with a firmware update to fix this despite the receiver being on the market for less than 2 months. With today's technology and given the current market demand for handsfree systems you would think Kenwood and their partner on this receiver, Parrot, could get it right. They didn't.



    Great features, terrible user interface

    Steven from Madison, wi on 7/28/2008

    1996 Mercury Mystique
    Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

    I bought this for the iPod and BT features, but have been very unimpressed at how this device was designed. Everything seems to be designed around needing a combination of both wheels. To change sources, you push in one of them, then scroll with the other. To make a phone call, you hold in the ATT button for one second, push in the second wheel twice, use that same wheel to scroll to the contact name, and then have to use the remote control to select the contact. If I wanted to use an external source to make my calls, I'd use my phone... There are two pages in the manual that list all the different combinations of wheel clicks that you need to use in order to perform normal functions. Saving radio stations is obscure. Scanning stations is impressively quick, but changing between your presets is slow and requires far too much time looking away from the road. You turn the second wheel, wait for the cutesy animation to finish, scroll through the list, and then try to push the second wheel in straight instead of up/down/left/right to select that station. This isn't always the easiest when you are trying to keep your eyes on the road and drive. Overall this includes some amazing features, but the hoops you have to jump through to get to them aren't worth it. Poorly designed product interface, ugly display (the pictures are deceiving), but awesome features bring this back to a two star rating. They also will be getting the product returned for something better.




    Hands-on research

    Features and Specs

    AUX Input Rear and Optional Rear
    Audio/video Input ---
    USB Input Rear
    CarPlay No
    Android Auto No
    Siri Control No
    Android Control No
    Memory Card Slot USB Memory
    Bluetooth Compatible Built-in
    Satellite Radio Ready Both
    HD Radio Optional
    Navigation ---
    iPod Compatibility
    Full size Classic/5Gen
    Nano Nano4/Nano3/Nano2/Nano1
    Touch Touch2/Touch1
    iPhone Phone/Phone3G
    RMS Power (CTA-2006) N/A
    RMS Power (Manufacturer) ---
    Peak Output 50 watts
    RMS Power Bandwidth 20-20kHz
    Preamp Outputs 6-channel
    Sub Preamp Outputs Yes
    Switchable Rear Preamp Outputs No
    Video Screen No
    Preamp Voltage 2.5 volts
    Display Color Black/White
    Key Button Color Blue
    EQ Bands 3
    Wireless Remote Yes
    Steering Wheel Control Compatible Yes
    Parts Warranty 1 Year
    Labor Warranty 1 Year
    FM Sensitivity 9.3 dBf
    European Tuning No
    Seek/Scan Seek
    Radio Data System No

    Product Research

    External Device Controls


    Overview: The Kenwood KDC-BT838U AM/FM CD receiver features a detachable face, rear auxiliary and USB input, three pairs of 2.5-volt preamp outputs, CD changer and Satellite Radio ready controls and built-in iPod operation, as well as MP3/WMA/ACC playback. The unit also features built-in Bluetooth operation and comes supplied with microphone. In addition, the CD player comes with an IR wireless remote control. The unit's 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. 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 Playback: The KDC-BT838U can play MP3, WMA and AAC files with ID3 tag information recorded on CD-R and CD-RW discs in ISO9660 Level 1/Level 2, Joliet, Romeo and Long file name formats. Each disc should have a maximum of 8 directory levels, 50 folders, and 255 files per folder with a maximum of 512 files and folders. During MP3/WMA/AAC playback, the unit displays any recorded ID3 Tag (Ver.1 or 2) information. The headunit will display up to 30 characters.

    Supreme Setting: When MP3, WMA or AAC 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.

    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.

    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.

    Off Eject: The KDC-BT838U allows you to eject your disc for 10 minutes after switching off the vehicles engine.

    AUX Input: The KDC-BT838U 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.

    Auxiliary Display: The KDC-BT838U 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 Preamp Outputs: The KDC-BT838U features front, rear and subwoofer 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, rear and subwoofer preamp outputs are all fixed to the rear chassis of the headunit.

    Built-In Amp Setting: If you are using external amplifiers to power all of your vehicle's speakers you can turn the unit's built-in amplifier off to enhance the player's preamp output quality.

    Front and Rear High-Pass Filter: The KDC-BT838U features an independent High-Pass Crossover for the front and rear channels when using either the unit's speaker outputs or preamp outputs. You can adjust the high-pass crossover from through, 80, 100, 120, 150, or 180Hz. 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 60, 80, 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 3-way 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 Balance, Fader, Bass, Mid, Treble and preset EQ settings.

    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-BT838U features independent Bass, Treble and Midrange control. You can adjust each one from -8 to +8db. The bass frequency is adjusted at 100 Hz, the treble frequency is adjusted at 10 kHz and the midrange frequency is adjusted at 1 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.

    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).

    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.

    Attenuator: The CD receiver features an Attenuator button on the headunit as well as the supplied remote control that turns the volume down very quickly with one touch of the button.

    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.

    Tel Mute: The KDC-BT838U 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.

    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 black and white Fluorescent full-dot, 3-line text display with spectrum analyzer.

    Station/Disc Naming: The unit allows you to attach a 5-character title to a radio station or a CD. The unit can memorize up to 30 FM/AM station names and 10 CD names.

    Text/Title Scroll: The KDC-BT838U will display CD text, Audio file text and Satellite radio text. You can turn the scrolling feature "on" to scroll longer titles across the screen.

    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.

    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-BT838U comes with the RC-547 IR wireless remote control with a full numeric keypad. The remote will control Audio, CD, Tuner, Satellite 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".

    Steering Wheel Remote Compatibility: The KDC-BT838U has a "steering remote control" lead on the back panel. When used with the optional SWI-JACK interface (item number 127SWIJACK), you can retain the use of your steering wheel and/or rear seat radio controls when replacing the factory head unit in select vehicles. The SWI-JACK is compatible with over 95% of the vehicles made from 1986 to the present. Compatible vehicles include many Acura, Audi, BMW, Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Dodge, Ford, GMC, Honda, Hummer, Infiniti, Isuzu, Jaguar, Jeep, Kia, Land Rover, Lexus, Lincoln, Mazda, Mercury, Mini, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Oldsmobile, Plymouth, Pontiac, Saab, Saturn, Suzuki, Toyota, and Volkswagen vehicles and Harley Davidson motorcycles. Please consult "What Fits My Car" to see if your vehicle is compatible.

    External Device Controls

    Built-In Bluetooth: The Kenwood KDC-BT838U CD-Receiver features built-in Bluetooth technology (version 1.2) supporting the following profiles: HFP, OPP, PBAP, and SYNC. The controls of the KDC-BT838U can be used to dial a number, answer an in-coming call or end a call. The KDC-BT838 can even be setup to automatically answer a call. The unit also has a microphone that can be mounted in the dash or headliner, so you can listen to the conversation through your car's front speakers. During a conversation, you can switch between the Private Mode (talking directly on your cell phone) and the Hands Free Mode. Your cell phone must be paired with the KDC-BT838U before you make and receive calls. You can register up to five cell phones. You can also wirelessly download the short message (SMS) arrived at your cell-phone so that is can be read on the headunit's display. In addition, the KDC-BT8338U is compatible with Bluetooth audio players that have A2DP or AVRCP profiles. Playback functions include: Play/Pause, Skip Back/Forward, Fast Forward/Reverse, and Stop. Using the KDC-BT838U, you can dial a phone number in one of the following ways:

    • Entering a Phone Number: Allows you to directly dial a phone number up to 32 digits.
    • Speed Dialing: Allows you to register up to 6 phone numbers for quick dialing.
    • Phone Book: You can dial by using the downloaded phone book. You can download phone book data from your cell phone to the KDC-BT838U. Up to 1000 numbers can be stored for each registered cell phone. Each number can be up to 32 digits long and each name can be up to 50 characters long. You can search for a number by the initials, or you can search the phone book in alphabetical order.
    • Outgoing Call List: Allows you to dial by using the outgoing call list. Up to 10 phone numbers are stored in the outgoing call list.
    • Incoming Call List: Allows you to dial by using the incoming call list. Up to 10 phone numbers are stored in the incoming call list.
    • Missed Call List: Allows you to dial by using the missed call list. Up to 10 phone numbers are stored in the missed call list.
    • Voice Dialing: If your phone supports voice recognition, then you can dial out by voice command. You can register up to 35 voice tags.

    Note: Visit for a complete list of compatible Bluetooth enabled phones.

    USB Port: The Kenwood KDC-BT838U features a rear panel 2.0 USB type-A port that is attached to the headunit's chassis by a 39" pigtail. The USB port enables connection and control of a portable USB mass-storage class device. The USB port is compatible with all USB mass storage class devices that support the FAT16 or FAT32 file system. Your USB device should only have a maximum of 8 directory levels, 255 folders, and 255 files per folder with a maximum of 65,025 files and folders. When your USB device is connected to this unit, it can be charged up provided that the KDC-BT838U is powered on. The headunit comes supplied with a USB cap to place over the USB when not in use.

    Note: You cannot connect a USB device via a USB hub or Multi-Card Reader to this unit.

    iPod High-Speed Connection: The KDC-BT838U's rear-panel USB port also acts as an iPod high-speed direct connection when used with the optional Kenwood USB Direct Connection Cable (113iP101, sold separately) or the USB/iPod cable that came with your iPod. Using either cable allows you to connect, control, and charge the following iPod models with the KDC-BT838U: iPod nano (1st/2nd/3rd/4th generation), iPod video (5th generation), iPod classic (80/120/160GB) and iPod touch (1st/2nd generation). You should update your iPod with the latest software version from Apple's website before connecting it to the KDC-BT838U. When your iPod is connected to the KDC-BT838U, the iPod's controls will be disabled and you will need to operate your iPod through the KDC-BT838U's controls.

    Note: All other iPod models not mentioned above are not compatible with this unit.

    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).
      • Note: You must download firmware from Audiovox's website to make the CNP2000UC compatible with this receiver and CNP-KEN1 Kenwood adapter.
    • SIRIUS Satellite Radio: To receive SIRIUS Satellite Radio, you can connect the optional SIRIUS Universal Vehicle Tuner (607SCC1) and the optional Kenwood Sirius Satellite Radio Interface (113KCASR50).
    • 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 or a Kenwood Auxiliary Input Adapter, such as the CA-C1AX, CA-C2AX, or KCA-S220A.

      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 # 113KTCHR20), 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.

    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.

    Rear Auxiliary Input "Ready": The unit already features a rear panel auxiliary input, but if you need a second auxiliary input, 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.


    Supplied Software: The KDC-BT838U comes supplied with the Kenwood Music Editor Version 2.0.0 CD-ROM. Kenwood Music Editor is a desktop software that helps organize, manage and transfer music files to your USB devices from your PC.

    System Requirements:

    • Operating System:
      • Microsoft Windows XP Professional/Home Edition SP2 or later (32-bit version)
      • Microsoft Windows Vista (32-bit version)
        • Operation on Windows XP/Vista (64-bit version) is not guaranteed.
    • Other Programs:
      • Microsoft .Net Framework 2.0
      • QuickTime 7 or later (when using AAC file)
      • Windows Media Player 10/11
    • Hardware:
      • Hard disk with at leas 100MB free space
      • CD-ROM drive (CD-R/RW drive when writing to CD-R/RW)
      • USB interface (2.0/1.1)

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