Kenwood Excelon KDC-X491
Equipment used immediately prior to this:
Paid about 280$ new a few years ago (recently stopped playing cds so I had to replace it with something cheap).
The reason I mention the Panasonic is that, I have one CDT sub and a 250 watt (or so) Kicker amp to power it. I had to have the gain all the way up AND the bass boost to get a reasonable thump. (Panasonic claimed an overrated 5v preamp, which I discovered to be more overrated than I once thought).
The Panasonic, while a bit more pricey and lacking in features, sounded crisper at higher volumes than this Kenwood, but the Kenwood so far is superior in almost every other way (and not only due to its 135$ shipped price tag on ebay).
- Separate high pass filters for your front AND your rear speakers
- Low pass filter for your sub
- Front/Rear/Sub preamp outputs (4v)
- 22 watts x 4 rms
- USB plug on front of the cd player (Will even read those a55 backwards Sandisk Cruizer Mini jump drives that installs its own emulated cd rom drive that my friend's car cd player won't read because it automatically loads the emulated install drive and not the mp3s)
- Ipod addon (sold separately so I'm not sure what it is)
- Low/Mid/High manual EQ setting (saves settings for each input)
- HD Radio / Satellite / Bluetooth ready (have not tested)
This cd player is worth more than it's 135$ price tag by just the features alone, but I discovered something interesting with this cheapo cd player. It actually has more preamp voltage than the expensive panasonic I had before. I literally had to turn my bass boost off and take the gain down on my amp because my sub was just too much for the music.
Sound quality at lower volumes is comparable to the more expensive panasonic (if not better - sometimes it's hard to tell if something's better just because it's different than what you're used to). At higher volumes, distortion is evident (but I am running the speakers off the head unit and not using a separate amp - if I were, I would wager it would sound incredible).
Faceplate design is very standard, making it look like an inexpensive cd player (which it is) and it scratches easily (scratched it a little installing it), but it doesnt have a cheap feel to it and it packs a punch behind that faceplate.
For the money, I don't think you can do much better. If you want to get a professional cd player, then go get one, if you need a cheap replacement or have a tight budget, I'd fully recommend this cd/mp3/usb player.