Product Type: Kenwood in Car Audio
Newest Review: ... as I had never done anything like this before so thought it was best for someone more technical to deal with it. The fitting process didn'... more
A cracking headunit for the money!!!
Kenwood KDC W4044UA
Member Name: valve90210
Kenwood KDC W4044UA
Advantages: Cheap, plenty of features, well built, simple to use, subwoofer out
Disadvantages: Only one set of preouts
At the start of my car stereo career I had several good years of service from a nice Kenwood cassette headunit, when I finally left university and got my first real job I decided to upgrade and move on to something more advanced. Being a media student at university I had spent a lot of time using minidiscs and had my own minidisc recorder so I decided to go for a minidisc headunit as I knew that the buffering system on minidisc would be good for use in a car especially seeing as the roads in my areas are rather lumpy and bumpy and friends of mine suffered lots of skipping with cd headunit something the minidisc would not suffer from! The headunit I went for was another Kenwood.
Last year I decided it was finally time to upgrade again and once again I decided to go for another Kenwood. This time I went for a single CD headunit as the time of Minidisc had really passed by and all my minidisc recording gear was packed away in the loft. I wanted a headunit with a USB input as I have my entire music collection stored digitally so it would be nice and simple to copy music across to a USB stick and use that to play it in the car.
When I got this new headunit I was running a fairly nice sound setup in my car designed around my minidisc headunit, whish only had one set of preouts, as such I was perfectly happy to go with this head unit which being an entry level headunit also only has one set of preouts unlike more expensive models which have two sets or even three. This might be a reason for some people to avoid this model but it suited my needs so I was happy.
In that setup I had the preouts connected to an active crossover which split the signal into two amplifiers one which powered the subwoofer, the other powered the front speakers (a nice set of Kenwood component speakers), it worked perfectly and sounded great.
I have since had to grow up and buy a far more sensible car in order to transport my young (5 month) son and all the items that requires, so boot space is at a premium, hence I no longer have the amps etc in place and I am now running just the headunit with the standard speakers. It doesn't sound like it used to but it's not to bad as at least car manufacturers now install speakers which have some musicality and can even put out a bit of bass unlike when I was 17!
Upon receiving the headunit I was pleased to see that the build quality had not suffered over the years and it was every bit as sturdy and well made as my previous 2 headunits. The pop off faceplate is always good to see as it can act as a deterant to the scum bags that nick car stereos, and I have to say the faceplate feels good quality too, unlike some I have felt which have been very light weight and flimsy feeling! The buttons all have a nice positive feel too them without being too stiff. You can tel you have pushed them without having to press hard. The screen is nice and clear and easy to read and everything illuminates nicely making it just as easy to operate in the dark.
Installing the headunit is a nice simple affair as it is a stanard single DIN size and has an ISO to Kenwood conversion lead included, it is simple a case of remove the factory headunit (which in my case was nice and easy), fit a surround blank if needed (wit was in my case, this had to be purchased separately), push the attaching cage into place and make sure it is firmly held in place by pushing as many metal tabs up as possible, pull the leads through, hook them up to the conversion lead then into the back of the headunit, push the headunit into the cage until it clicks, then fit the finishing surround and hoorah you are all done.
I had also purchased an adapter so I would still be able to use my steering wheel controls, this simply plugged in between the ISO lead in the car and the conversion lead so again was fairly simple.
Setting up the headunit in my new car was very simple too, a simple menu let me choose what type of speakers were connected up, in my case OEM ones, and off I went. There are plenty of controls to get the best oout of the sound and to tailor it to your tastes, included front/rear fade, bass mid and treble levels, bass boost, bass eq etc etc, all of which are easily adjusted using the volume wheel/button.
When used by itself there are four inputs which are switched between using the source button, these are Tuner, USB, CD and Aux (which can be renamed if you want...mine is labelled as portable) there is also a standby mode though I have very rarely used this.
As you switch inputs the radio beeps through the speakers. Each input has a slightly different beep which gives an audio clue as to which input you have switched to, allowing you to keep your eyes on the road.
The tuner is your everyday affair, it works for both FM and AM so will pick up most of the analogue radio stations and will continue to do so until radio completes it's digital switch over, though that is not due for some years yet so it is not a worry at this point. I have found that the tuner, as with my previous Kenwood headunits, is very good and is able to pick up stations which my Ford headunit would not. The reception is clear and the sound quality decent, as good as you will ever get from the radio.
Even the AM performance is pretty good with minimal engine whine which is sometimes a problem. Radio 5 Live is perfectly listenable, which is great at the moment when the football is on while I'm on my way home from work (Euro 2012)
As with most tuners, you can set presets making it simple to jump from station to station, they are simple to set up, just tune to a station then hold down the preset button you want it saved to.
The CD performance is also much the same as any other headunit, the disc slides nicely into the slot and is recognised nice and swiftly. When changing between inputs or leaving the car and returning it resumes playback from where you left off which is nice.
The auxillary input is a 3.5mm stereo jack socket on the front of the headunit which allows you to hook up any audio player with a headphone output using a 3.5mm stereo jack lead. This works nicely but requires the player to be controlled on the player itself which is not ideal when you are driving. I have used it a few times with my android phone for listening to podcasts using a player design for car use with my phone mounted on the dashboard and it has been quite simple to use.
The final input to describe is the one I use the most, the USB input. This takes the form of a standard full size USB socket on the front of the headunit which is covered by a plastic flap which snaps open and into the body of the headunit so it is not in the way. This covere stops dust etc getting into the USB socket or the 3.5mm socket which is also house beneath it. The USB socket allows connection of a USB memory stick packed with music which can then be browsed and played using the headunit controls and I have to say it works very nicely indeed.
To use a USB stick, you need just need to copy the music to the memory stick. Once that is done, you run a small piece of software which is available from the Kenwood website, which reads the files on the memory stick and creates a database onthe stick which can then be read and searched by the headunit. All my music is well organised with a folder for each artist then a folder in there for each album, and every file has full id3 tagging so for me this was a very simple task. I am using a 16GB memory stick which is nigh on full and took only about 5 minutes or so for the software to create the database.
Once this is done the headunit can search by artist, album or song which makes it nice and simple to find what you want to play. There is a dedicated search button (a magniffying glass) which takes you to the last level searched at, there is also a back/up button which will take you up a level when browsing through the folders. scrolling through for example the artists is done using the volume wheel, turning left and right to scroll through and clicking it in to select, it works really well as it is quick and simple.
Selecting an Artist then moves you to the next level of navigation which is on an album level allowing you quickly select an album to play, or indeed you can select to play tracks from all the albums which is great if you have several albums from an artist and want to listen to tracks from them all.
In addition to this there are some nice features when it comes to random play as you can apply random to various levels from simpy playing and album in random order through play tracks from all of an artists albums in random order right through to playing music from the entire selection on the memory stick in random order! The only limitation of this is down to the number of tracks it supports which is 999, so if you have more than 1000 tracks it will only play at random from the first 999 and ignore the rest. It's a bit of a shame that it works like this but overall 999 tracks will keep you going for quite sometime, or you can work around it by creating a separate folder/album into which you can put up to 999 of your favourite tracks and just play that folder at random. My girlfriend and I have done this when we were going on holiday and it worked really well giving us a huge amount of music to listen to and a nice variety.
The single preout can be switched between a full range preout or a subwoofer output, which is brilliant as it means that at some point I could add a small removeable subwoofer to my car which will allow me to keep my boot space when needed and give me nice bass when I want it! There are full controls on the head unit for adjusting the sub level and crossover frequency etc which for a low end head uint is very welcome indeed!
This headunit also has ipod functionality though not having an ipod I've not tried this so can't really comment other than to say I imagine it'll work flawlessly like everyting else on the headunit.
For what can only be described as an entry level headunit costing a mere £80 this really is a cracking good headunit and one which I would heartily recommend to anyone who is looking for a new headunit and who does not need more than one set of preouts.
Summary: A brilliant entry level headunit
|Ease of use:|