Kenwood Excelon KDC-X396
CD receiver (New stock)
Our take on the Kenwood Excelon KDC-X396 by Crutchfield's Ken Nail
Step into Kenwood's Excelon lineup
Kenwood Excelon receivers are a great choice if you want to push the sonic boundaries of your system, and enjoy reliability that's backed with a 2-year warranty. The KDC-X396 CD receiver kicks off the Excelon lineup with a nice blend of audio features and styling. And thanks to its selectable color feature, you can pick a button color that matches your vehicle's illumination so the receiver will look perfect in your dash.
Better sound from your iPod or iPhone
If you're an iPod® or iPhone® user, you won't miss a note of your favorite songs. Just plug your player into the convenient front-panel USB input, and you'll enjoy outstanding control right from the receiver. When you're connected via USB, the KDC-X396 bypasses your iPod's internal digital-to-analog converter, sending the digital data to the Kenwood's superior 24-bit D/A converter. Your music will sound more natural and lifelike.
If you're a Pandora® Internet radio fan, you can even pick from your favorite stations when your iPhone's connected. You've got more options, too. You can liven up your drive by loading in a disc full of music files, or by jacking another device into the front-panel aux input.
If you store your music on an Android device, download Kenwood's free Music Link app and you can enjoy a variety of search and playback features when your phone is plugged in via the front-panel USB.
Kenwood Excelon sound quality
If you're building a car audio system, one of the keys to the getting the most out of your system is a clean, powerful signal from your preamp outputs. All Kenwood Excelon receivers feature 4-volt preamp outputs that'll provide your amps with the strong signal they need for top performance.
Want to keep your car's steering wheel audio controls?
In most vehicles, you can use an adapter to connect your vehicle's steering wheel controls to this Kenwood stereo. Connect a few wires, then program the adapter for your particular car and this Kenwood, and you'll retain the convenience of your steering wheel controls. Check the "Accessories" tab for compatible adapters.
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.
- CD receiver with AM/FM tuner
- 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 and WMA music files
- detachable face with 13-digit display and variable-color button illumination
- remote control
- System Q Sound Control (8 preset EQ curves and a 3-band equalizer)
- speaker size settings
- Supreme Setting improves the sound of files encoded at low bit rates
- bass boost
- low-pass filter and subwoofer level control
- iPod/iPhone direct control via USB input — no adapter necessary, but adding Kenwood's optional connecting cable lets you leave your iPod cable at home
- Pandora control with iPhone
- compatible with Music Link app for Android devices
- inputs: front-panel auxiliary and USB input
- outputs: 6-channel preamp outputs (4-volt front, rear, and subwoofer)
Other features and specs:
- compatible with most factory steering wheel audio controls (adapter required)
- warranty: 2 years
- Our 60-day money-back guarantee
What's in the Box:
- AM/FM CD receiver (with 10-amp fuse inserted into the chassis)
- Face (attached)
- Trim ring (attached)
- Sleeve (installed)
- Wiring harness
- Wireless remote control (RC-405)
- CR2025 3V lithium-battery (installed in remote)
- Cloth face pouch
- 2 Removal tools
- 4 Panhead ISO-mount screws
- 4 Flathead ISO-mount screws
- Face-fixing screw
- Instruction Manual (Eng/Fre/Spa)
- Warranty Card
Great deck, easy to install, all the features needed when upgrading from factory radio and not needing a competition sound system.
Kenwood Excelon KDC-X396 Reviews
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Features and Specs
|Android Control||USB MSC protocol|
|Memory Card Slot||USB memory|
|Satellite Radio Ready||No|
|RMS Power (CTA-2006)||N/A|
|RMS Power (Manufacturer)||---|
|Peak Output||52 watts|
|RMS Power Bandwidth||20-20kHz|
|Sub Preamp Outputs||Yes|
|Switchable Rear Preamp Outputs||No|
|Preamp Voltage||4 volts|
|Display Color||Bluish white|
|Key Button Color||Variable|
|Steering Wheel Control Compatible||Adapter required|
|Parts Warranty||2 Years|
|Labor Warranty||2 Years|
|FM Sensitivity||11.2 dBf|
|Radio Data System||No|
Excelon Series: The KDC-X396 CD receiver is part of Kenwood's Excelon series line-up. It incorporates the latest technologies and delivers the highest sonic performance. From advanced audio tuning capabilities, crossover and equalizer system, high-voltage preouts (4V), and a two-year warranty - Kenwood Excelon represents exceptional audio quality with long-lasting dependability.
24 Bit D/A Converter: The Kenwood Excelon KDC-X396 utilizes a 24-bit digital to analog converter for superior sound quality.
MOSFET Amplifier: The Kenwood Excelon KDC-X396 is equipped with a MOSFET amplifier. Compared to conventional power supplies, the MOSFET amplification circuit is smaller and more efficient, and it delivers increased power with less distortion and absolutely zero on/off switching noise. More power means louder and cleaner music at higher volumes because you're not pushing the limits of the amplification circuit. The power output specs for the KDC-X396 are as follows:
- Full Bandwidth Power: 22 watts RMS x 4 channels (at 4 ohms, 20-20kHz, 1% THD)
- Maximum Output Power: 50 watts x 4 channels
3-Way 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. In addition, the rotary knob allows you to scroll through and select your music tracks when the Music Search function is activated.
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 (-8 to +8 for Aux source).
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/off), '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).
Preset EQ: Eight 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 (12.5kHz). You can choose from the following preset EQ curves - Rock, Pops, Easy, Top 40, Jazz, Natural, Game, and User.
EQ Pro: The Excelon KDC-X396 features independent Bass, Treble, and Midrange control when the Preset EQ is in User mode. EQ Pro allows you to adjust the following settings for the Bass, Treble and Mid frequency levels.
|Center Frequency||Q-Factor||Bass Extension||Level|
|Bass||60, 80, 100, or 200 Hz||1.00, 1.25, 1.50, or 2.00||On/Off||-8 to +8|
|Midrange||0.5k, 1.0k, 1.5k, or 2.5k Hz||0.75, 1.00, or 1.25||N/A|
|Treble||10.0k, 12.5k, 15.0k, or17.5k Hz||N/A||N/A|
Bass Boost: In addition, the Kenwood CD receiver features a Bass Boost control that can be set to the following levels (BB1, BB2 or Off).
Loudness: This function enhances low and high frequencies to make the sound clearer at lower volumes. There are 3 levels (LV1, LV2, or Off).
Source Tone Memory: This feature allows you to store Preset EQ and EQ Pro bass/midrange/treble tone settings for each source (CD, AM/FM, Aux, USB, iPod, and Pandora).
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.
6ch/4V Preamp Outputs: The KDC-X396 features front, rear and subwoofer 4.0-volt preamp outputs. 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 fixed to the rear chassis of the head unit.
Front & Rear High-Pass Filter: The KDC-X396 features an independent High-Pass Crossover for the front & rear channels when your front & rear speakers are connected by the unit's speaker-outputs or preamp-outputs. You can adjust the high-pass crossover from "Through", 100, 120, or 150 Hz. 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.
Subwoofer Controls: The Kenwood Excelon KDC-X396 offers the following subwoofer controls, when you have the unit's subwoofer preamp output activated.
- Low Pass Filter: The receiver features a built-in Low Pass Filter control for the preamp-output, when the output is set to Subwoofer. You can select from 85 Hz, 120 Hz, 160 Hz, or off.
- Subwoofer Phase: You can adjust the phase of the subwoofer output between 180-degrees (Reverse) or 0-degrees (Normal).
- Subwoofer Level: Once the Subwoofer preamp output is activated, you can independently control the subwoofer preamp output level (-15 to +15) from the CD receiver.
Tel Mute: The KDC-X396 features a cell-phone mute wire (tan) 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.
Key Beep: The in-dash head unit provides an audible beep to confirm button operation. This function can be turned On or Off.
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 Playback: The KDC-X396 can play MP3 (8-320 kbps) and WMA (32-192 kbps) files recorded on CD-R and CD-RW discs in ISO9660 Level 1/Level 2, Joliet, Romeo, and Long file name formats. Each disc can have a maximum of 8 directory levels, 50 folders, and 255 files per folder (512 maximum number of files and folders). During MP3/WMA playback, the unit displays any recorded ID3 Tag (ver. 1.x/2.x) and WMA Tag information - up to 60 characters.
Text Scroll: The KDC-X396 will display CD text or Audio file text. You can set the text scrolling feature to three different modes (Auto, Once, or Off) to scroll longer titles across the screen.
Music Search: The Kenwood AM/FM CD receiver features a Music Search feature which allows you to scroll through and select your MP3/WMA music folders and files, as well as scroll through your audio CD's music tracks using the head unit's rotary knob.
Direct Music Search: The supplied IR wireless remote control (RC-405) allows you to search for music directly by entering the track number.
Playback Modes: The Kenwood Excelon KDC-X396 features the following Repeat, Random, and Scan playback modes.
- Repeat Play: Track, File, or Folder
- Random Play: Disc or Folder
- Scan Play: Track or File (plays the first 10-seconds of each music track on a disc or music file in a folder)
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 Read: This function sets the method for reading a CD disc. You can choose between two modes.
- CD1: Automatically distinguishes between audio file disc and music CD when playing a CD or CD-R/RW disc.
- CD2: When unable to play a special formatted CD, set this function to CD2 to force playing. Some music CD discs may be unplayable even when set to this mode.
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: If the ejected disc is not removed within 15 seconds, the disc is automatically inserted again into the loading slot to protect it from dust.
iPod Direct Connection: The KDC-X396's front-panel USB port acts as an iPod/iPhone high-speed direct connection when used with the optional Kenwood USB Direct Connection Cable (113KCIP102, sold separately) or the USB/iPod cable that comes with your iPod/iPhone. 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 KDC-X396.
iPod DAC Bypass: The USB connection allows your iPod/iPhone's large music libraries to be loaded instantly to the head unit and sound quality to be maximized through the head unit's 24-bit D/A converter, allowing for a Signal to Noise ratio up to 105dB. The Kenwood head unit supports audio playback of music files and podcasts stored on your iPod or iPhone, as well as music apps streamed to your iPhone.
iPod Control: You can choose to control the iPod/iPhone from the head unit or from your iPod/iPhone's clickwheel or touchscreen.
- Head Unit: The Kenwood head unit allows you to navigate your iPod's music by Playlist, Artists, Album, Genre, Composer, Song, or Podcast. You can search these categories alphabetically or using a percentage search (0.5%, 1%, 5%, 10%). The head unit supports Repeat (file) & Random (folder) playback functions of your connected iPod/iPhone.
- iPod/App Mode: In iPod/App mode, you can navigate the stored music on your iPod/iPhone from its clickwheel or touchscreen. You can also listen to your favorite music apps (such as iHeartRadio, SiriusXM, Last.fm, Rhapsody, & Slacker) from your iPhone (iOS 3.0+) through the Kenwood head unit and your vehicle's speakers. You will continue to use your iPhone's touchscreen to navigate your apps. Not all apps will be compatible with App Mode.
Note: Access to your iPhone's downloaded applications will depend on the availability of a cellular and/or WiFi network for purposes of allowing your iPhone to connect to the Internet.
Pandora App: The Pandora App (free) lets you play music from the Pandora music service through the Kenwood Excelon KDC-X396 using your connected Apple iPhone, via the Kenwood KCA-iP102 USB/iPod connector cable (sold separately), or the USB/Dock cable supplied with your iPhone. The Kenwood KDC-X396 provides control over the Pandora music service and displays Artist, Album, and Song information. You can select Pandora stations from your station list and sort them by date or alphabetically (A-Z). You can also skip song tracks within a station. You can even give songs a thumbs up or thumbs down. To access Pandora you must have an Apple iPhone (iOS3 or later) with the latest version of the Pandora application from Apple's iTunes App Store. Your iPhone will need an active Data Plan account with connection to the Internet via 3G, EDGE, or WiFi. You will also need a Pandora music service account.
Note: Access to the Pandora service will depend on the availability of a cellular and/or WiFi network for purposes of allowing your iPhone to connect to the Internet. Pandora is not supported in Canada and only available in the United States.
iPod Display: The KDC-X396 will display your iPod/iPhone's music file information when you are controlling your iPod or iPhone from the Kenwood head unit. The head unit will display Track number, Elapsed playing time, Artist name, Song title, and Album label. If you choose to operate your connected iPod/iPhone via its clickwheel or touchscreen controls, the KDC-X396 will not display your iPod/iPhone's music information (the head unit will instead display "APP/iPod").
iPod Charging: The head unit's USB connection provides 1A of current to power and charge your connected iPod/iPhone when your vehicle's ignition switch is set to the 'ACC' or 'On' position. This unit does not charge the iPad.
Note: If your iPod/iPhone has no initial battery charge, then the unit will not recognize it.
iPod/iPhone Compatibility Chart: The Kenwood Excelon KDC-X396 is "Made for iPod/iPhone" compatible and supports the following iPod/iPhone model features (as of 9/25/2012):
|iPod Model||Generation||Tested Version||Media Type||Control Type||Display Type||Pandora app||Charge|
|Audio||Video||Head Unit||iPod||App mode||Artist/Song Text||Track Info|
| clickwheel |
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.
Music Control for Android Smartphone: The Kenwood Music Control app for Android organizes your Android smartphone's music, while providing quick and easy search capability from the Kenwood CD receiver. The free Kenwood Music Control App for Android can be downloaded onto your Android smartphone from the Android Market place. Your Android smartphone must be running Android OS 2.2 or later. Once the app is downloaded and has a chance to organize all the stored music on your Android smartphone, you can connect your Android smartphone to the Kenwood CD receiver via USB (your compatible Android smartphone must be recognized as a USB mass storage class device; not compatible with MTP protocol). The Kenwood Music Control app offers the following Android supported functions.
- Song Management: Music stored in your Android smartphone can be navigated from the Kenwood CD receiver. Songs can be easily selected by searching for a Song title, Artist name, Album label, or Genre.
- Song Information Display: Song information such as Artist name, Song title, and Album label are displayed on the connected Kenwood CD receiver.
- Mood Playlist: Playlists can be created by classifying songs into categories by type of mood. Songs are analyzed and classified into the following categories of moods - High Energy (Active/Powerful/Core), Acoustic (Detailed/Simple/Smooth/Easy), Standard (Dynamic/Rockin/Vivid), Stylistic (Cool/Urban/Trance)
- Intro Skip: This function allows you to choose and listen to only the hook-lines of songs stored in your Android smartphone.
Note: When the Kenwood Music Control app is first downloaded it will require some time to populate all the music, so we suggest doing this overnight.
Music Files Format Supported by Music Control app for Android:
|Codec||Extension||Bit Rate||Sampling Frequency|
|AAC||.aac, m4a||up to 160 kbps||8-48 kHz|
USB Port: The Kenwood Excelon KDC-X396 features a front panel USB (type-A) port that is hidden behind a flip-up cover. The USB port enables connection and control of a portable USB mass-storage class (MSC) device with MP3 (8-320 kbps) and WMA (32-192 kbps) music files. The USB port is compatible with USB mass storage class devices that support the FAT16 or FAT32 file system. Your USB device should only have a maximum of 8 folder layers, 255 folders, and 255 files per folder - with a maximum of 65,025 files and folders. USB portable audio players that can be charged via USB will be charged when plugged into the CD receiver's USB port (max. 1A), and the vehicle's ignition switch is set to ACC or On.
Note: You cannot connect a USB device via a USB hub or Multi-Card Reader to this unit.
Music Editor Compatible: The Kenwood Excelon KDC-X396 supports the PC application, Kenwood Music Editor Lite (ver.1.1.0). Kenwood Music Editor Lite is a Windows-based desktop software that helps organize, manage and transfer MP3/WMA music files to your USB (MSC) devices from your PC. When you playback audio files that have been stored on your USB (MSC) device using Kenwood Music Editor Lite through this unit, you can search a file by title, album, or artist name using the head unit's Music Search function.
System Requirements: The Kenwood Music Editor Light (ver.1.1.0) Windows-based software can be downloaded for free from Kenwood.com to your PC. The Kenwood Music Editor Light is compatible with the following Windows Microsoft Operating Systems.
- Windows XP Professional, Home Edition SP2 or later (32-bit)
- Windows Vista (32/64-bit)
- Windows 7 (32/64-bit)
Note: Not compatible with Apple iPod/iPhone/iPad, Android, or Zune.
Aux In: The unit is equipped with a front panel 3.5mm minijack auxiliary input that can be used to input audio from a portable audio source, such as a portable MP3 player. The Aux input must be turned on to function. The unit has 3 auxiliary input modes.
- On1: Outputs the sound of the external unit connected to the Aux terminal when switched to the Aux source.
- On2: Activates the attenuator function when turning on the power with the auxiliary source selected. This prevents the noise when no external unit is connected to the Aux terminal. Turn off the attenuator function when listening to output from an external unit.
- Off: Disables the selection of the Aux source.
Auxiliary Display: The KDC-X396 allows you to select the source type displayed when using the auxiliary input. You can choose from AUX, DVD, Portable, Game, Video, or TV.
AM/FM Tuner: The Kenwood Excelon KDC-396 features a built-in AM/FM tuner. You can choose one of four tuning methods: Auto 1 (seek tuning), Auto 2 (cycles through and tunes the selected band's preset stations only with each button press), Manual Tune, or Direct Access (via remote).
Tuner Presets: The Excelon KDC-X396's tuner features 3 FM banks (1, 2, 3) and 1 AM bank for storing presets. The Kenwood Excelon KDC-X396 offers two preset modes.
- Normal: You can store 6 presets for each AM/FM bank giving you a total of 18 FM presets and 6 AM presets (total of 24).
- Mix: A total of 6 preset stations can be assigned to the head unit's 6 preset buttons, regardless of AM/FM band. This lets you recall a preset station without switching between bands.
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.
Direct Access Tuning: You can directly access an AM/FM station by entering in the frequency number using the include wireless remote control.
Mono Mode: The Mono mode improves the radio's FM reception, but the stereo effect will be lost.
Detachable Face: The Kenwood Excelon KDC-X396 features a single front loading CD face that detaches from the chassis to deter theft. The head unit includes a cloth pouch for storing the face-plate when detached. 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.
Fluorescent Display: The Kenwood head unit features a single-line, 13-character, bluish-white backlit fluorescent display.
Variable Button Illumination: The Kenwood Excelon KDC-X396 features variable color button illumination. You can choose from one of 24 preset colors, have the unit scan through all 24 preset colors continuously, or customize your own color (RGB; 0-9). The custom setting allows you to individually adjust the intensity of Red, Green, and Blue (from 0-9) to better match your vehicle's interior lights. The Kenwood logo and eject button remain red.
Illumination Dimmer: The head unit's fluroescent display has two dimmers settings to adjust the brightness of the display according to the surrounding illumination. You can switch the display dimmer setting On or Off. The head unit's button illumination has an independent dimmer setting from the display which lets you set the button illumination dimmer to LVL1, LVL2, or Off. The Kenwood logo and eject button remain the same brightness.
Display Illumination/Clock Display: When the unit is in Standby mode, the face and button illumination is "keyed." 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.
Demo Mode: This unit features a Demo mode which can be turned On or Off within the menu.
Wireless Remote Control: The KDC-X396 comes with an IR remote control (RC-405) for wireless operation of the head unit. The remote will control Audio, CD, USB, and Tuner functions. It is powered by a single CR2025 3V lithium-cell battery (supplied).
- Numeric Keypad: The wireless remote control features a numeric keypad (0-9) which allows direct track access of your music tracks & files (from CD or USB), as well as AM/FM presets.
- Attenuator: The CD receiver features an Attenuator button on the supplied remote control that turns the volume down very quickly with one touch of the button.
Steering Wheel Remote Compatibility: The head unit features an OEM steering wheel remote control input wire (blue/yellow) within the included wiring harness that lets you keep your vehicle's factory radio steering wheel remote controls when used with an optional steering wheel audio control adapter (sold separately). Please consult Crutchfield's Outfit My Car to see if your vehicle is compatible.
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