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View Full Version : SOUND: Pioneer 6800 VS Kenwood Excelon X590



vincentp83
10-14-2006, 10:34 PM
I'm really caught up buying a head unit. I've always bought Pioneer in the past, and liked them, but this time I actually want to do more research. I'm more interested in sound quality than anything else. I don't care so much about how the thing looks (Though it helps), whether it has USB or iPod support, satellite radio, etc. I just want something that sounds great and gives me the ability to tailor my sound the way I like it.

I went to a local store and took a listen to some different HUs. The ones that sounded the best IMO were the Pioneers and Sonys. I was not able to test Alpine or Kenwood because they just didn't sell them. These are two brands I would really like to hear for myself. I did however test out an Eclipse CD3000 unit, which I've heard are very nice, and it sounded terrible to my ears. The sound was really hollow and obnoxious. I thought maybe the sound just needed to be tailored, but looking at the HU's specs, it only has a 3-band EQ. Eh. Maybe I have a strange ear?

For the record, most of my music is on MP3/WMA discs. I have a set of alpine 6.5" coaxial speakers, I don't use a seperate amp and I don't run subs, though I may add some inexpensive subs and an amp in the future.

The two units I'm leaning towards at the moment are the Pioneer 6800 and the Kenwood Excelon X590. They both cost about the same, but have different appeal. Here's what I've noticed about them:

PIONEER
+7-Band Graphic EQ
+Selectable Loudness levels
+Compression and BMX functions

KENWOOD
+Speaker settings
+System Q-EX Sound Control
+24-bit Burr-Brown converter

Notice I only really picked the features that deal with sound quality and adjustment. Assuming that, what other options are there for me in the 180-230 price range? What would you pick, and why? It's rough for me trying to pick out the unit with the best sound quality when I can't listen to all of them, and people tend to be not so useful when answering my questions. If you think I should buy a specific unit, please tell me why you think so. Remember, I want ******* sound, not pretty graphics or ten thousand worthless features.

heyman421
10-14-2006, 10:38 PM
prices of each?

you'd be fine with the kenwood, and they sound great, but if the pioneer's less expensive, i'd get it.

vincentp83
10-14-2006, 10:58 PM
The price difference is negligible, if any. I think they're within 10 bucks of each other. I forgot to mention, the other unit I've looked at is the older Kenwood Excelon X889. This thing has a ton of sound features including SRS WOW enhancement. It seems like it's a little tough to find, but if I could get my hands on one of these, would it be an even better choice than what I'm already looking at? The only thing I worry about here is getting an installer (I trust a few of the installers at my local circuit city) that would have the wiring harness and kits for this, since CC doesn't even sell Kenwood, would they have the parts available to install it? Or would I be able to purchase them somewhere online?

heyman421
10-14-2006, 11:00 PM
i'd rather have the burr browns over the extra features of the 889.

the burr browns were only in the xxv-01d last year.

i've played with the srs stuff in my car, but it doesn't do anything you can't do with the eq.

and the 24bit DAC's are AMAZING.

heyman421
10-14-2006, 11:01 PM
oh, but i digress, if you're gonna listen to mp3's most of the time, get the 889, since you wont be using the DAC's anyays.

and then you may as well have the extra functions

heyman421
10-14-2006, 11:03 PM
and.... for the record....

mp3's and wma's on the excellons sound WAY better than burning mp3's to an audio cd and then playing them.

the decoders are really really nice.

honestly a big difference. Plus, 10+ hours of music on a disc FTW!

Ford302Redneck
10-14-2006, 11:04 PM
Kenwood>Pioneer

MBrock4u
10-14-2006, 11:15 PM
Pioneer head units are nice but I prefer the excelon line. SQ is amazing. as mentioned the burr brown dac is incredible. I love my Excelon. If you really want a beauty, try to get a hold of the 25th anniversary unit. I would like to have that one myself.

vincentp83
10-14-2006, 11:20 PM
Ok, so my gut feeling was telling me to try the Excelon series and that seems to be the concensus. Doesn't the X889 have the Burr-Brown converter too? The Crutchfield archives show it in their research section. That's the one I'm leaning towards right now.

heyman421
10-14-2006, 11:24 PM
maybe it does, i may have been thinking of the x990

Bdawg15
10-15-2006, 01:04 AM
if u choose the x590, here's a good place to buy from for only $160 with free ground shipping :)

http://www.millionbuy.com/kenkdcx590.html

MrSwiss
10-15-2006, 01:35 PM
i bought my x790 from millionbuy, great seller, best price i could find.

Prowler573
10-15-2006, 01:45 PM
i'd rather have the burr browns over the extra features of the 889.

the burr browns were only in the xxv-01d last year.

i've played with the srs stuff in my car, but it doesn't do anything you can't do with the eq.

and the 24bit DAC's are AMAZING.

Where in the world did you come across this incredibly idiotic information????
The KDC-X679 ('04 model eXcelon HU) that I ran before I upgraded to an XXV-01D had Burr-Brown DACs in it and that was from two model years prior to the 25th Anniversary gear's introduction.

Many other eXcelon HUs had it as well. The XXV-01D was simply the best non-DVD HU Kenwood offered for '05. But it was nowhere near the only unit they built with Burr-Brown DACs :fyi:

explorer2
10-15-2006, 04:00 PM
my 889 has burr browns, sounds excellent. I seriously doubt that anything could even get close to it for the price I paid. There are so many different settings to get it to sound the way you want or you can just use presets. It took awhile to set it to my liking with alot of trial and error on the eq, but the memory feature makes it very easy to get it till you like it, save it and then compare with other settings until you get it just right.

vincentp83
10-15-2006, 05:38 PM
I went ahead and purchased an X889. I seriously doubt that I won't be happy with it, I seem to be hearing only great things about the Kenwood Excelon decks and this thing has features out the ***. I'll be back to review it briefly after I install it :)

Prowler573
10-15-2006, 05:41 PM
You should like it just fine.
The KDC-X889 is a more than capable unit ;)

MTXman
10-15-2006, 08:11 PM
I always buy Pioneer HUs and they have always been faithful, especially with the tuning abilities.

The kenwood is fugly IMHO, but if looks dont matter base it on other things, but its hideous.

heyman421
10-15-2006, 08:34 PM
he's got a point, SILVER matches most car interiors way better than black and red.

:uhoh:

Prowler573
10-15-2006, 08:34 PM
heyman421??
Care to respond to my question regarding your earlier post???

heyman421
10-15-2006, 09:53 PM
ah, no i was confused because i remembered last year everyone was comparing the xxv-01d and the x990, and i remembered one of them had a different DAC that the other kenwoods didn't have.

then for some reason i was thinking it was the xxv-01d, where it was the x990 that use wolfenso-and-so DAC's

i already addressed the mixup on the last page

and besides, you really went out of your way to call me out on that, can't we persecuted kenwood fans just get along? :)

Prowler573
10-15-2006, 09:59 PM
Ahh......mixing it up between the Burr Browns and the Wolfsons ;)
It all makes sense now...

Yeah, we can get along. :thumbsup:

ty1er
10-16-2006, 11:01 AM
I went ahead and purchased an X889. I seriously doubt that I won't be happy with it, I seem to be hearing only great things about the Kenwood Excelon decks and this thing has features out the ***. I'll be back to review it briefly after I install it :)

Good choice!

I have owned quite a few different kenwoods, and pioneers. If your looking for excellent SQ, Kenwood far exceeds pioneer.

thats my 2cents

vincentp83
10-17-2006, 05:50 PM
OK, I lied. The store I was buying from didn't have the x889 in stock anymore, even though it showed it on their website. I called in and they had the x890 for around the same price, so I bought that, but I'm a little bummed. It seems like the x889 had better speaker size settings and it had the SRS WOW functionality, which the x890 doesn't. Sure, it has USB, but I won't be using that. I really don't want to wait much longer to put this in my car, so I'm not feeling like returning it and searching around for another 889. Is the SRS a big deal to be losing, or is the x890 actually a better unit? I'm sure I won't be dissapointed with it, I was just a little disheartened to find out it didn't come with that feature since it sounded interesting to me.

explorer2
10-17-2006, 05:52 PM
The 890 has wolfson dacs, which are claimed to be better. I dont use the srs anyways but the speaker size settings are nice, what did they change?

vincentp83
10-17-2006, 06:01 PM
It's hard to tell. According to Crutchfield, these are what each unit offer for speaker settings:

For the X889

Sound Management System (S.M.S.): In order to optimize the sound quality, you can use the Sound Management System to set the vehicle and speaker sizes. The S.M.S. settings include the following:

Cabin Setting: Choose from Compact, Full Size Car, Wagon 1, Wagon 2, Mini Van 1, Mini Van 2, SUV, Mini Van Long, or Off
Speaker Select Front: Choose from 4", 5", 6-1/2", 6-3/4", 7", 4" x 6", 5" x 7", 6" x 8", 6" x 9", 7" x 10", or O.E.M.
Speaker Select Rear: Choose from 4", 5", 6-1/2", 6-3/4", 7", 4" x 6", 5" x 7", 6" x 8", 6" x 9", 7" x 10", O.E.M or None.
Speaker Select Subwoofer: Choose from 6-1/2", 8", 10", 12", 15" or over, or None
Preset Memory: Call Mode 1 & 2 and Memory Mode 1 & 2


For the X890

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).

My car has 6.5" speakers front and back, so there doesn't even seem to be a proper setting for it.

boarder124
10-17-2006, 06:16 PM
I really like my x889. It is almost identical to the xxv-01d, as the maunals are the same. The only difference that i could find between the two is the screens and the xxv-01d might have better quality rca cables out of the hu, other than that, I honestly don't think that there is a difference between the two. The SRS function is useless in my opion, as it degrades the SQ of the unit. The only think that kenwood needs to work on is getting a hu to go 3-way active. If the x889 had that feature it would be hands down one of the best hu's on the market, but it still is one of the best hu's for the money.