Pioneer DEH P780MP
Prior to purchasing the P780mp, I was solidly in the Alpine camp. I was very happy with the cda9830 and thought I would never leave Alpine. However, after researching the latest set of offerings from Alpine, I became convinced that I needed to look around at some alternatives. I simply cannot regress to a 2volt deck that lacks crossovers, custom eq and other sound enhancing features just to get their biolite screen and the superior Ipod interface. Sound quality is the most important aspect for me. So I began doing research through dealers and forums such as this and the Premier DEH P780MP emerged the choice for me. But how would it ultimately perform once installed?
This is a beautifully designed deck and as has been written over and over the screen is gorgeous and really stands out in my 2002 Ford Explorer. It can be seen clearly in all circumstances and the color will dazzle you. It offers a variety of displays and video options, including custom, but I am more than satisfied with the standard background of cascading colors. This configuration is clean and allows you to display your music the way you want it. I prefer to see the artist and song title. Suffice it to say that you will be happy with the screen.
The Rotary Knob
I have read critiques about the rotary knob and find them to be unwarranted. For me the rotary knob is an excellent tool that gets you to the various options quickly. Sure you have to play with it to understand whether you need to push, turn up or right or whatever, but you learn this pretty quickly and my thought is you will need to consult the manual less down the road. Everything is straight forward and you don’t have to worry about memorizing combinations of buttons etc. You just scroll thorough the menus until you find the one you want. This set up is very intuitive.
The remote does everything, including PAUSE and MUTE. In fact, if you do not want to, you would never need to touch the deck at all. The remote is credit card size like the Bose Wave Radio remote and very intuitive and efficient. You learn it quickly so you do not need to look at it while driving. The remote really adds value to the overall experience.
The Audio controls
This deck really does allow you to fine tune your music. For me, it picked up where my cda9830 left off. Like the Alpine, the P780MP allows you to set both the high and low pass filters, select preset eq or customize your own; two settings, set the time alignment and adjust the subwoofer settings accordingly. It just does so better with additional controls for greater flexibility. While the 780 offers five preset EQ settings, I would recommend customizing your own settings. I started with the “Powerful” setting and then toned down the highs as my Boston Pro 60's are already bright at the flat level. In any event, tuning the 16 band graphic Equalizer to your satisfaction is not difficult. The BBE and Comp/BMX options should not be overlooked and definitely add value. In particular, the Comp/BMX functionality really impacts the sound when playing compressed files. The BMX settings seem to brighten while the Comp settings seem to tone down unnecessary highs. So what you use really depends on the song. In any event, these settings coupled with the with the range of BBE controls produce the fuller sound that I was looking for in mp3's.
24Bit Burr Brown Digital CD Decoder
The sound from the 24bit Burr Brown digital to analog decoder really comes at you clean. I could not believe how good the remastered Chicago sounded when I first put it in. It was good on the Alpine but this was something else altogether. This CD player decoder really does produce the superb sound that Crutchfield advertised. In some ways, you want to go back to recording everything on CD’s rather than the Ipod. Speaking of which…
Because I organize my music via Playlists, I never had the complaints others do about these IPOD interfaces. The P780mp allows you to scroll through your music fairly quickly via playlists, artists, songs etc., It does a good job in replicating the Ipod navigation. True, it is not nearly as fast as the full speed Alpine connection or the Ipod itself but is much faster than the old Alpine interface and looks great coming across the screen. Like the Alpine, the sound quality is excellent although I can’t say it is as good as coming through the 24bit Burr Brown CD player. There is one significant flaw however and I will agree with the critics on this one. It is very annoying that when you invoke the “List” feature to search for a song you are required to start from the top menu. What this means is that when searching for a song that is in the same menu you still have to start over meaning,for example, Playlist, select Playlist then scoll to song. Even the older Alpine interface let you start within the menu that is currently playing. Still, I am happy with the overall interface Ipod experience. This deck is beautifully designed.
5Volt vs 4Volt and Overall Noise
It is difficult to say since my Alpines volume control went to 35 and the Premier goes beyond 50, presumably to 60, but I do feel like the signal is cleaner. You feel more power but under control. There is noise however. The Alpine signal to noise ratio was superior to the Pioneer and true to form I am hearing more of the “shhhhhhhhhhhhh” sound in the Pioneer. Not on all songs but on some and you definitely notice it at the beginning of songs. Still the overall improvement in sound quality makes up for this deficiency.
This is a beautifully designed deck that is exactly what I was looking for in an upgrade. First and foremost, the sound quality improvements are immediate and significant. Everything is cleaner, crisper and tighter. The bass from my JL Audio sub has more punch. I am now happier with my Boston Pro 60’s components up front. The user interface is intuitive and because I read the manual I was able to tune the deck to near satisfaction in about 30 minutes. Yes the Ipod interface could be tweaked some and I am hearing some additional noise but overall I could not be happier with this deck. See for yourself. I got to go play with mine some more!