My time with a Pioneer Premier DEH-P860MP
When I first got into car audio (2 years ago) I purchased an Alpine CDA-9805, because I had always been intersted in alpine. I had nothing but a great experience for the year and a half I owned it, and it never gliched once. Then I got a job a car audio store and decided that it was time for an upgrade. We were out of alpine 9835's, and this is how I came to be the owner of an 860.
I'm going to separate this review into two parts, the good first and then things I do not like about the unit.
The good- Out of the box, the unit has fantastic cosmetics, and the color O.E.L display is entertaining, while at the same time very clear and has a variety of settings. I am a major fan of the dual knob approach, and the rotary commander on the right side of the faceplate makes using the menus and making adjustments a BREEZE. It also facilitates the best navigation through MP3 CD's of any CD player I have used (just ahead of the Alpine 9855 with Glidetouch and flip out touchscreens). This adjustment ease is important when navigating through the 13 band parametric equalizer which allowed for a enjoyable range of ajustments. The crossover networks built into the deck also allow for easy, precise adjustment and allow custom tailoring of the sound to fit speaker size. I enjoyed the upgrade from the 9805 to be able to choose the frequency for the subwoofer, and change the level at my desired slope (for example). I never really got too far into the time alignment functions of this CD player, other then using Auto T/A (more on that later). The 6.5volt outputs gave me a strong signal to my amp, and the soundquality of this unit was quite good overall in my opinion. I would not have upgraded so soon if it hadn't broken on me.
The Bad- I hate Pioneer's iPod interface. They should have made use of the rotary commander to navigate through the iPod like the clickwheel does on the iPod itself. 8 characters of display and no scrolling? This is why I bought the CD-RB10. The Auto EQ and T/A are not that great, in my opinion the deck sounded way better with a custom tuned EQ and no auto T/A. People have complained about RCA ground issues in the past, and this was NEVER an issue on my unit. I did however have a problem with one wiring harness falling apart (dealer cost is 28$ so these things are not cheap). A feature a deck of this magnitude should have is a off selection for the internal amp. That is it really, my list of complaints overall is very short. It is a very nice unit, unless you have a defective one...
My problem started around 2 weeks ago, when my unit refused to eject CD's. It also wouldn't reset. No big deal, I pulled it out of the dash and pulled the plug and bam, no more problem. Then last week it did it again, and developed another problem where it would not turn on when I turned on the car. It also would not communicate with the remote. The final straw was earlier today when I was driving from school to work, and when I moved the commander to change the track the screen turned off and would not turn back on, and the buttons would not work (but audio still played). At this point, I removed it from my truck and called my Pioneer rep who without any hesitation said to just send it back to them and they would give me a new replacement.
Bottom line- I would never purchase one of these from someone other then an authorized dealer. I highly doubt many others will have the same problem I had, and these CD players offer a fantastic amount of features and performance at the price point. Buyer beware though when purchased without a warranty from Pioneer. I am going to upgrade from my 860 at this point, most likely to a Clarion DRZ9255 (posted elsewhere). If anyone is thinking about purchasing an 860, feel free to PM me if you have any questions.