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Our take on the Kenwood Excelon KDC-X879 by Crutchfield's Robert Ferency-Viars
Looking for audiophile-quality playback in your car? Then look at the Kenwood Excelon KDC-X879 CD receiver. It uses a 24-bit D/A converter to create outstanding music from all your discs, even those loaded with your MP3 and WMA song files. Additionally, SRS WOW technology enhances the 3-dimensional surround effect, improves the soundstage, and creates greater fullness of bass. The result is detailed musical playback that sounds like you're sitting right smack in the middle of the band!
The 3D MASK Pro faceplate gives you a clean-looking control panel and high-resolution display for stunning visuals. When you power down, the panel folds up to hide everything behind a blank plate; or you can detach the face and take it with you.
The KDC-X879 punches out your tunes with a built-in high power amplifier (22 watts RMS/50 peak x 4 channels) and the precision tone shaping of System Q EX (with its 6 EQ curves, speaker size matching, and 3-band parametric EQ). For additional control over your sound, System E's+ gives you access to adjustable high-pass crossovers for the front and rear speaker and preamp outputs, with a low-pass filter for the subwoofer preamp outputs.
Adding amplifers? If the amps are new Kenwood Excelon amplifiers, then you can take advantage of Kenwood Excelon's Amplifier Management System (AMS). It gives you remote control of all the amp functions (bass/treble frequency and level, bass width, bass extension, and overall gain setting) and lets you monitor the amp's diagnostics (voltage, current, temperature, fan speed, and protection notices) all right from the dash!
Expand your entertainment options! Connect a Kenwood CD changer, Music Keg digital media player, or SIRIUS satellite radio tuner (subscription and antenna also required). And, as HD Radio becomes available, you can upgrade your AM/FM reception by adding Kenwood's HD Radio tuner. Use the KDC-X879's auxiliary input to listen to the audio from a video game, DVD player, or VCR through your vehicle's sound system.
And, of course, Kenwood covers this high-performance, 3D MASK Pro receiver with a 3-year warranty.
SIRIUS offers more than 120 channels of top-notch entertainment for just $12.95 per month. Check out 65 channels of totally commercial-free music, which feature an incredible variety of songs from a wide range of genres. You'll also get news, talk, sports, and entertainment, including round-the-clock traffic/weather updates for major metropolitan areas and broadcasts of NFL, NBA, and NHL games. (Satellite radio service is available only within the lower 48 states not available in Alaska, Hawaii, or U.S. territories.) Subscribers can also take advantage of free online streaming of all SIRIUS music. The KDC-X879 also accepts XM satellite radio via the XMDirect tuner and adapter.
What's in the Box:
- AM/FM/CD receiver with 10-amp fuse inserted into chassis
- Control back panel
- Hard plastic panel case
- Trim ring
- Wireless remote control (RC-505)
- 2 "AA" batteries
- Wiring harness
- 2 Removal tools
- 4 Panhead ISO-mount screws (red)
- 4 Countersunk ISO-mount screws (red)
- 2 Face fixing screws
- Instruction Manual (English)
- Instruction Manual (French/Spanish)
- Warranty Card
- Kenwood Car Audio Passport
- eXcelon on-line registration card
- Sticker affixed to chassis concerning Demo mode
- Sheet attached to sleeve concerning Demo mode
- 3D MASK Pro motorized, detachable face
- fine-dot 3-D multicolor FL display
- CR-2 tuner
- 18 FM/6 AM presets
- seek tuning
- plays CDs, CD-Rs, and CD-RWs (including discs loaded with MP3 and WMA files)
- SRS WOW sound enhancements (raises the soundstage, improves imaging, and strengthens bass)
- System Q EX Sound Control (6 EQ presets, speaker size matching, and 3-band parametric EQ)
- System E's+ crossover system
- source tone memory
- XM and SIRIUS Satellite Radio controls
- HD Radio-ready (will control Kenwood's HD Radio tuner)
- CD changer controls
- dual zone audio control
- 5-volt front, rear, and subwoofer preamp outputs
- Amplifier Management System (AMS) provides remote control over compatible Kenwood Excelon amplifiers
- rear auxiliary input
- wireless remote
- 22 watts RMS/50 peak x 4 channels
- CD frequency response 10-20,000 Hz
- CD signal-to-noise ratio 110 dB
- FM sensitivity 9.3 dBf
- warranty: 3 years
- Our 60-day money-back guarantee
Features and Specs
|Memory Card Slot||No|
|Satellite Radio Ready||Sirius|
|RMS Power Output||22 watts|
|Peak Output||50 watts|
|RMS Power Bandwidth||30-20kHz|
|Sub Preamp Outputs||Yes|
|Switchable Rear Preamp Outputs||---|
|Preamp Voltage||5 volts|
|Key Button Color||Blue + Red or Green|
|Steering Wheel Control Compatible||---|
|Parts Warranty||3 Years|
|Labor Warranty||3 Years|
|FM Sensitivity||9.3 dBf|
|Radio Data System||Yes|
3D MASK Pro: The KDC-X869 features the 3D MASK 2-piece control and display system. It has a motorized fold-out control panel, and an extra-large high-resolution color display with dot-matrix graphics. The angle of the display panel and the control panel can be adjusted for maximum visibility and convenience. The display panel also includes Soft-Key controls for several menu functions. When accessory power to the unit is turned off, the control panel folds up to reveal a plain black panel. For additional security, the back part of the control panel is detachable. Note: When a disc is being loaded/ejected, the control panel protrudes 3-1/4". Please make sure you provide enough clearance in front of the receiver for loading and unloading discs.
Multi-Function Key System: The radio preset keys (2-5) double as multi-function "soft key" controls. The lower portion of the display shows the function of the soft key directly below it. The main soft key functions include Audio, Display and Panel controls. Once the main function is chosen, other sub-menus are revealed. Preset 6 also doubles as a "return" key, allowing you to go back to the main soft key menu.
3-D High Resolution Display: The unit features a 3-D high resolution display with 8 tone gradations and fluorescent backlighting. The front panel features a full dot matrix display featuring 6912 total pixels (192 dots wide x 36 dots high). This fine pitch dot matrix display is easy to read and offers large motion graphics.
Selectable Display Modes: The unit's large display features a fine-pitch dot matrix readout with 4 display modes to choose from, each with numerous graphics, fonts, wallpapers, and text displays. Text displays can include all CD Text and ID3 Tag info, station names and frequencies, disc/track titles, track/file number, and track/file elapsed time, and can be displayed along with the graphic display.
MP3/WMA Playback: This unit can play MP3 and WMA files recorded on CD-ROM, CD-R, and CD-RW discs in ISO9660 Level 1/Level 2, Joliet, and Romeo formats. Each disc should have a maximum of 8 directory levels, 50 folders, and 255 files per folder. A total of up to 512 MP3/WMA files and folders can be played back by this unit. During MP3/WMA playback, the unit displays any recorded ID3 Tag information.
Sirius Satellite Radio Controls: This unit can control the optional Kenwood Sirius Satellite tuner (item #113SR903). In addition to the Sirius tuner, you will need an antenna and subscription in order to receive Sirius Satellite Radio programming. The Kenwood Sirius radio tuner has a CD-changer pass-through, allowing the connection of an optional Kenwood CD changer in addition to the Sirius tuner with only one connection to the head unit.
24-Bit Burr-Brown D-A Converter: The KDC-X879 features an audiophile-quality 24-bit Burr-Brown digital-to-analog converter for superb CD sound. The Burr-Brown D-A converter maximizes the musical resolution of CDs, CD-R/Ws, and MP3/WMA-encoded discs.
System Q EX Sound Control: 7 EQ curves are preset into memory, allowing you to recall the best preset EQ curve for different types of music. The preset curves are named "Natural", "Rock", "Pops", "Easy", "Top 40", "Jazz" and "SRS Wow" (see below). In addition, you may store your own settings under the "User Memory" EQ curve. Each preset has its own bass center frequency, bass level, bass Q factor, bass extension, middle center frequency, middle level, middle Q factor, treble center frequency, and treble level settings. You may adjust the bass center frequency (60, 70, 80, 100 or 150Hz), bass level (-8 to +8), bass Q factor (1.00, 1.25, 1.50 or 2.00), bass extension (On or Off), middle center frequency (0.5, 1.0, 1.5 or 2.0kHz), middle level (-8 to +8), middle Q factor (1.0 or 2.0), treble center frequency (10.0, 12.5, 15.0 or 17.5kHz), and treble level (-8 to +8). The System Q EX can be turned off in the menu, still allowing you to adjust the bass, middle and treble levels only.
SRS WOW: The KDC-X879 is equipped with SRS WOW, a technology developed by SRS (Sound Retrieval Systems) Labs, which restores the loss that occurs to compressed audio delivered over the Internet and broadcast mediums, and reduces the hollow-sounding effects caused by smaller speakers. SRS WOW incorporates other SRS technologies such as TruBass, Focus, and SRS for improving the sound of CDs and radio:
- TruBass: uses harmonics to enhance the bass frequencies (settings: on/off)
- Focus: adjusts the sound image by changing the vertical position of the speakers virtually (settings: low/high/off)
- SRS 3D: creates a natural 3-dimensional sound field (settings: on/off)
SRS WOW can be accessed through the Audio menu or the System Q EX menu. There are three settings for SRS WOW: low, high and off. TruBass, Focus, and SRS can be independently set, or are set according to preset values of SRS WOW.
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 O.E.M." (for OEM factory speaker systems), "SP 6*9/6" (for systems with 6" and 6"x9" speakers), or "SP 5/4inch" (for systems with 4" and 5" speakers).
Dual Zone Audio Control: When an external audio source is connected (CD changer, Sirius Radio, or Auxiliary Input source), the KDC-X879, with its Dual Zone Audio Control, allows you to play the external audio source in one zone, while at the same time play an internal audio source (CD or tuner) in another zone. When Zone 2 is switched on, the output of the front channels becomes different than the rear channel output. You can choose whether you want the external audio source to play through the front channels (sending the internal source to the rear channels), or through the rear channels (sending the internal source to the front channels). When operating in Dual Zone mode, audio adjustments can only be made to the internal source.
System E's+ Advanced Crossover System: The System E's+ Advanced Crossover system allows you to tailor your system with selectable crossover points for all channels. For the front and rear channels, there is a 6dB/octave high-pass filter with independently selectable crossover points of 40Hz, 60Hz, 80Hz, 100Hz, 120Hz, 150Hz, 180Hz, 220Hz or Thru (no filter). The non-fading preamp output, for use with subwoofer amplifiers, has a 12dB/octave low-pass filter, with a selectable cutoff frequency of 50Hz, 80Hz, 120Hz or Thru (no filter). You can also switch the phase of the NF output from normal to reverse, and adjust the level of the output from -15 to +15 in 2dB steps, or switch it off.
Built-in Amplifier Mute: If this unit's internal amplifier is not being used, it can be switched off to enhance the quality of the preamp output signal quality.
Zero-Bit Mute: This unit features independent left and right channel zero-bit mute circuits. During silent passages, the digital-to-analog converter is shut off, yielding absolute silence between songs.
Amplifier Management System (A.M.S.): This unit is equipped with an interface which controls certain special features of A.M.S.-equipped Kenwood eXcelon amplifiers. A 13-pin DIN cable (sold separately) is required to use the A.M.S. feature of this head unit; item 113E304138 or item 469KNWDIN can be used to make the connection between this unit and a A.M.S. compatble Kenwood amplifier. This unit, when properly connected, can remotely activate and adjust the amount of bass boost in the amplifier. You can choose between +6dB, +12dB, or +18dB bass boost, or flat (no boost). In addition, you can lower the bass boost center frequency by 20%, switching between "Normal" and "Low".
Source Tone Memory: This feature allows you to store bass, middle and treble tone settings for each source (CD, FM, AM).
CR-2 Tuner: This unit uses Kenwood's CR-2 tuner provides high signal strength for clear radio reception. The tuner incorporates an Automatic Noise Reduction Circuit (ANRC), along with the Clean Reception System Circuit (CRSC), for improved rejection of distortion due to multi-path. 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.
HD Radio Ready: The KDC-X879 is HD Radio ready. With an optional Kenwood HD Radio tuner (item # 113KTCHR10), 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.
Radio Data System (RDS): The unit's tuner features RDS (Radio Data System). RDS is a service used by some radio stations to transmit data outside of normal radio broadcast signals. When an RDS station is received, you can immediately find out what kind of data is being transmitted by looking at the program service name which appears in the display after the frequency. RDS features an emergency transmission function which interrupts regular programming to broadcast an emergency announcement (such as a tornado or severe storm). There is also a switchable Traffic Information function, which will automatically tune a traffic bulletin when it is broadcast, even when you're not listening to the radio.
Clock/Calendar: The built-in clock can be manually set or, through a tuned RDS station, automatically synchronized with the station's time data. In addition to the clock, this unit can also display the current date in one of seven modes.
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 feature can be turned on or off.
Direct Access Tuning: When using the remote, you can directly access any radio station by entering the frequency on the numeric keypad.
Station Name Preset (SNPS): This feature allows you to assign names to radio stations. Up to 32 FM stations and 16 AM stations can be named. Each name can be up to 8 characters in length.
Disc Name Preset (DNPS): You may assign names to discs played in the internal CD player. Each disc name can be up to 8 characters long, and the receiver has a memory capacity for up to 30 discs. (See below for further DNPS features with CD changers.)
Volume Offset Control: 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 With Smooth Volume Return: The attenuator immediately lowers the volume by a preset level. Smooth Volume Return gradually increases the volume to the original level when the ATT button is pressed a second time, eliminating a jarring change in volume.
CD Read Setting: If there is a problem with the CD player reading a disc with a special format, you can switch to a second CD Read setting which "forces" the player to read the disc. CD Read setting 1 is for normal CDs and MP3/WMA discs, while CD Read setting 2 cannot read MP3/WMA discs.
Panel Off Wait Time: If you plan on regularly detaching the rear panel, you can choose in the menu how long you want the motorized faceplate to pause before folding completely closed. You can select a pause of 3, 5, 10, 15, 20 or 25 seconds to give you time to remove the panel. If you normally do not detach the face, you can select 0 seconds pause, and the faceplate will not pause when closing.
Disabled System Indicator: A red indicator will blink on the unit after the faceplate is removed, warning potential thieves. This feature can be turned On or Off.
Security Code: You may program the unit with a 4-digit security code. Once the unit has been programmed with a security code, the code must be entered to use the unit after it has been disconnected from power.
Faceplate Finish: The faceplate and trim ring feature a glossy ebony finish. The control panel, when in the open position, reveals a silver finish.
Display Dimming: This unit is equipped with an orange/white wire that Kenwood calls an illumination lead, however, it acts as a dimmer lead. When the illumination wire of this unit is connected to the headlamp circuit of your vehicle, and you turn your lights on, the display will dim to a preset level. The display brightness is not affected by the vehicle's dimmer control.
Remote Control: The KDC-X879 comes with the RC-505 wireless remote control, a 22-button full-function remote with a 10-key number pad. It is powered by 2 "AA" batteries (supplied). The dimensions of the remote are: L=5.488", W=1.75", D=1.115".
Compatibility: 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. If you have a Kenwood changer manufactured before 1998, you will need the KCA-S210A switching adapter. Changers manufactured before 1994 require the CA-DS100 converter cord (113CADS100) and the KCA-S210A switching adapter.
Changer Controls: 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 all disc random.
Disc Name Preset (DNPS): When used with a compatible CD changer, this feature allows you to assign names to discs in the changer. Each name can be up to 8 characters in length. The number of names you can store depends on the CD changer that is connected to the head unit.
Disc Name Preset Play (DNPP): Once a disc has been named, you may press the DNPP button on the remote to display the name of each disc for 5 seconds. When the name of the desired disc appears, you can press the OK button on the remote to select the disc for playback.CD Text/MD Display: 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.
Music Keg Compatible: The KDC-X879 is fully compatible with the Kenwood Music Keg Digital Music System (models KHD-C710 and KHD-CX910).
Auxiliary Input: The KDC-X879 is equipped with a built-in auxiliary input. There is a set of stereo RCA jacks on a 12-inch pigtail on the back of the receiver for connecting an external audio source. The Auxiliary input can be activated/deactivated through the menu. When it's activated, you can select one of six names for the source: Aux, TV, Video, Game, Portable or DVD. When deactivated, Auxiliary does not appear as a source. With an optional adapter (item 113CAC1AX or 113KCAS210), you can also turn the unit's CD changer input into a second auxiliary input.
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, the Clock Display can be turned on or off using the display control button (clock must be selected for lower text display). 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 (SRC) button turns the unit off completely.
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