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Our take on the Alpine CDE-121 by Crutchfield's Zak Billmeier
Play and charge your iPod® or iPhone® through this sweet-sounding Alpine CD receiver. Just connect your player to the CDE-121's front-panel USB input, and you can use the rotary controller to search for tunes. And it's no problem if you have a lot of music — Alpine's Percentage Search lets you jump through your list quickly using the radio preset buttons.
More ways to play your music
The CDE-121 will play your CDs, plus discs you've loaded with MP3, WMA, and AAC files. You can also load your files on a USB thumb drive and pop it in the front USB input. The front auxiliary input comes in handy for connecting a Dock & Play satellite radio or another portable player.
A set of subwoofer preamp outputs provides a convenient connection for an amp & sub combo or a powered sub, and you can use the subwoofer level control to dial in the right amount of bass. Then fine-tune your sound using the adjustable bass and treble controls. One more cool feature — this receiver works with Alpine's Power Pack, a compact box that hooks up easily to your receiver, boosting its power from 18 watts up to a serious 45 watts RMS per channel.
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 Alpine.
Installation Note: This receiver's preamp outputs are intended for subwoofers only. This Alpine won't work with wiring harnesses or OEM adapters that require a receiver with preamp outputs.
I've been an alpine fan since day one of doing sound systems. Especially their deck and amps. Great deck for the price. I have 4 alpine decks one per vehicle, from DVD deck to this deck and all is good.
All day 808, Kauai, Hi
What's in the Box:
- AM/FM CD receiver (with 10A ATC fuse inserted in chassis)
- Sleeve (installed)
- Trim ring (installed)
- Face (attached)
- Hard plastic face case
- Wiring harness
- 4 Flat-head ISO-DIN screws (M5 x 8mm)
- Face fixing screw
- 2 Radio removal tools
- Owner's Manual(Eng/Fre/Spa)
- Customer Care Registration card
- CD receiver with AM/FM tuner
- built-in amplifier (18 watts RMS CEA-2006/45 peak x 4 channels)
- plays CDs, CD-Rs, and CD-RW discs, including discs loaded with MP3, WMA, and AAC music files
- detachable face with 1-line display
- wireless remote-ready
- built-in iPod control
- 2-band EQ with selectable bass and treble centerpoints
- inputs: front-panel USB and auxiliary inputs
- outputs: 2-channel, 2-volt subwoofer preamp outputs
Other features and specs:
Alpine CDE-121 Reviews
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Features and Specs
|Memory Card Slot||USB memory|
|Satellite Radio Ready||No|
|RMS Power Output||18 watts|
|Peak Output||50 watts|
|RMS Power Bandwidth||20-20kHz|
|Sub Preamp Outputs||Yes|
|Switchable Rear Preamp Outputs||No|
|Preamp Voltage||2 volts|
|Key Button Color||Red/Blue|
|Steering Wheel Control Compatible||No|
|Parts Warranty||1 Year|
|Labor Warranty||1 Year|
|FM Sensitivity||9.3 dBf|
|Radio Data System||No|
USB Port: The Alpine CDE-121 features a front-panel USB type-A port, so you may connect a USB memory device to this head unit. Your connected USB memory device may contain MP3 (8-320 kbps), WMA (32-192 kbps), or AAC (16-320 kbps) music files formatted in FAT 12/16/32. This unit will recognized up to 100 folders and 100 files per folder. ID3 tags (v1, v2) and WMA tags are supported; track title, artist name, and album name ID3/WMA tag data can be displayed. The head unit will play back files on a USB memory devices with the same controls and modes as playback of CDs containing MP3, WMA, and AAC audio files.
Note: You can only play back non-copy protected MP3/WMA/AAC files.
iPod/iPhone Direct Connection: You can connect your iPod or iPhone to the head unit's front-panel USB port using the Alpine KCU-445i iPod/iPhone cable (500KCU445I, sold separately) or the iPod dock-connector cable that came with your iPod/iPhone to get access to all of your iPod/iPhone's stored music, right from the head unit. If you have an iPod nano (7th gen), iPod touch (5th gen), or iPhone 5; use the Lighting-to-USB cable that came with your Apple device to connect to the head unit. Using either cable allows audio playback, music navigation, information display, and charging of select iPod/iPhone models from the CDE-121.
iPod/iPhone Audio Playback: The Alpine CDE-121 supports audio playback of music, podcast, and audiobook files stored on your iPod or iPhone. The USB connection allows your iPod/iPhone's large music libraries to be loaded instantly to the Alpine head unit and sound quality to be maximized through the head unit's 1-bit D/A converter, allowing for a Signal to Noise ratio up to 105dB.
iPod/iPhone Control: Once your iPod/iPhone is connected, you get convenient control of your iPod/iPhone from the head unit. Your connected iPod/iPhone's clickwheel or touchscreen will be locked.
- Music Browsing: The Alpine CDE-121 lets you navigate your iPod/iPhone by Playlist, Artist, Album, Song, Genre, Composer, Podcast, or Audiobook. You can then search these categories alphabetically. For especially big music libraries, the Percentage Search function uses the preset buttons for quick jumps to specific parts of the list (Preset 1: 0% to 16%, Preset 2: 17% to 32%, Preset 3: 33% to 49%, Preset 4: 50% to 66%, Preset 5: 67% to 82%, Preset 6: 83% to 100% of the song library).
- Shuffle: The head unit offers three Shuffle (Random)
- Shuffle Albums: songs in each album are played back in proper order; upon completion of all the songs in the album, the next album is selected randomly
- Shuffle Songs: randomly plays back songs within a selected category (playlist, artist, album, song, genre, composer.)
- Shuffle All: plays all songs on your iPod/iPhone randomly
- Repeat: A single song can be repeatedly played back.
iPod/iPhone Charging: While connected and the ignition switch is set to ACC or ON, the head unit's USB connection will power and charge your iPod/iPhone.
Note: If your iPod/iPhone has no initial battery charge, then the unit will not recognize it.
iPod/iPhone Compatibility Chart: The Alpine CDE-121 is "Made for iPod/iPhone" compatible and supports the following iPod/iPhone model features (as of 9/27/2012):
|iPod Model||Generation||Tested Version||Media Type||Control Type||Display Type||Charge|
|Audio||Video||Head Unit||iPod||Artist/Song Text||Track Info|
Note: Apple iPod/iPhone software updates may change functionality results. If you download a newer software version, you may need to reset the head unit and your iPod/iPhone to regain functionality. If this doesn't work, you may need to wait until a newer software update is available.
Auxiliary Input: The unit is equipped with front-panel minijack (3.5mm) auxiliary input. You can input audio from an auxiliary source unit: such as a portable MP3 player. You can change the name on the display to match the type of device connected to the front panel input; Auxiliary, TV, DVD, Portable, or Game.
Disc Compatibility: The unit features a single disc player that will playback CD-Audio, CD-Text, and finalized CD-R/CD-RW audio discs.
MP3/WMA/AAC Playback: This unit can play CD-R and CD-RW discs containing MP3, WMA, and AAC files recorded using the ISO 9660 Level 1 or Level 2 formats. MP3 files with bit rates from 8-320 kbps, WMA files with bit rates from 32-192 kbps, and AAC files with bit rates from 16-320 kbps are supported. Variable bit rates are also compatible. Up to a maximum of 255 folders and a maximum 509 files can be read from one disc. ID3 tags (v1, v2) and WMA tags are supported; track title, artist name, and album name ID3/WMA tag data can be displayed.
Text/File/Folder Quick Search: When you are playing a disc with CD Text, ID3, or WMA tags, you can easily search for a track, file, or folder by its title. Once you have activated the search mode, you can use the rotary encoder to quickly scan through the titles to locate the desired track. For discs without CD Text, ID3 or WMA tags, searches are made using the track numbers associated with each song.
Playback Modes: The Alpine CDE-121 offers Repeat and Random playback modes.
- Repeat: Repeat Play (repeats playback of current track/file), Folder Repeat (repeats only files in current folder).
- Random: Random Play (all tracks/files on disc are played in random order), Folder Random (only files in current folder are played back in random order).
Off Insert/Eject: A CD disc can be inserted or ejected with the power off. When a disc is inserted with the power off, the unit will automatically power up and begin playback.
Auto Reload: When a CD is ejected and left sticking out of the CD slot for 20 seconds, the unit automatically reloads the CD to protect if from damage.
Angle Mounting: For proper CD playback, Alpine recommends mounting the CDE-121 no more that 35° above horizontal.
CEA-2006 Compliant: The specifications given by Alpine for the built-in amplifier comply with the CEA-2006 mobile amplifier power testing and measurement standards from the CEA (Consumer Electronics Association). All manufacturers who comply with the standard can display the CEA-2006 logo on their product.
- CEA-2006 Power Rating: 18 watts x 4 channels (at 4 ohms, 20-20kHz, 1% THD)
- Max Power Output: 50 watts x 4 channels
Bass & Treble: Bass & Treble settings provide control over your car audio system, so you can tailor the sound to your personal tastes.
- Bass Control:
- Bass Center Frequency: 60Hz, 80Hz (default), 100Hz, or 200Hz
- Bass Band Width: 1 (narrow) - 4 (wide)
- Bass Level: -7 to +7 (+/-14dB in 2dB steps)
- Treble Control:
- Treble Center Frequency: 10kHz (default), 12.5kHz, 15kHz, or 17.5kHz
- Treble Level: -7 to +7 (+/-14dB in 2dB steps)
Loudness: Loudness introduces a special low and high frequency emphasis at low listening levels to compensate for the ear's decreased sensitivity to bass and treble sound at low volume. There are three loudness settings (1, 2, & Off).
Subwoofer Preamp Output: The unit is equipped with a non-fading subwoofer preamp output with subwoofer level control. You can select from two types of subwoofer level control.
- Subwoofer System 1: Subwoofer level changes according to the main volume setting.
- Subwoofer System 2: Subwoofer level change is different from the main volume setting; even at low volume settings, the subwoofer is still audible.
Note: The unit's subwoofer preamp output is full-range and does not have a low-pass filter. You will need to use your connected amplifier's low-pass filter.
Audio Mute: Activating the Audio Mute function will instantly lower the volume level by 20 dB.
Interrupt Feature: Although the supplied wiring harness contains the pink/black Interrupt lead, it is not used in this unit. This radio does not have the audio interrupt feature.
AM/FM Tuner: The Alpine CDE-121 features a built-in AM/FM tuner with manual, seek, and preset tuning.
Preset Tuning: The built-in tuner provides 12 FM and 6 AM preset stations. Stations can be preset manually or automatically.
Local/Distance Tuning: Local seek tuning lets you tune in only those radio stations with sufficiently strong signals for good reception. Distance seek tuning allows both strong and weak stations to be tuned.
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 hard plastic face case to protect the detachable face when you have it off the chassis. A face-fixing screw is supplied for making the face non-detachable, if desired.
Note: An optional soft face case (142DFC1X, sold separately) can also be purchased for this unit.
1-Line LCD Display: This unit is equipped with a 1-Line white-backlit LCD, so you can easily view AM/FM stations, CD-Text, and ID-3/WMA tag information.
Text Display: Text information, such as the disc name and the track name, will be displayed if playing a CD text compatible disc. It is also possible to display the folder name, the file name, and the tag information, while playing a MP3/WMA/AAC disc.
Text Scroll: This unit can scroll the disc and track names recorded on CD-Text disc, as well as the text information of MP3/WMA/AAC files, folder names, and tags. There are two Text Scroll settings.
- Auto: The CD text information, the information of folder and file names, and the tags are scrolled automatically.
- Manual: The display is scrolled when a disc is loaded or when a track is changed.
Dimmer: Although the supplied wiring harness includes the orange illumination wire, it is not used. There is no display dimming feature on this unit.
Optional Wireless Remote: The Alpine CDE-121 is wireless remote control ready. Simply add on the Alpine RUE-4202 IR remote (500RUE4202, sold separately) to make it even easier to control the head unit's functions.
Our Product Research Team
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