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    Head Units and External Hard Drives

    I have been reading what I can on this but am still a little confused. I'm looking for a HU to satisfy my MP3 needs but I'd really like to avoid using an Ipod. The option that seems most attractive to me is buying a HU w/ USB and getting me a little WD Passport (or similar) 120G HDD to tote my music around on. The HU in particular I'm liking is the Pioneer 6900ub, I do have some concerns though. Any answers about this HU in particular would be great, but I'd even love to hear answers about USB HU's in general, too.

    1. How is the navigation on the HU using a portable hdd?
    2. Size limitations? I've heard of limits from 1G-4G on other models
    3. Power- I've heard the Kenwoods can't power an external HDD, how about Pioneer's?
    4. Durability of the HDD in a car environment- Has anyone done this with an external? How did it fair with extreme temps?

    Thanks,

    Jason







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    Re: Head Units and External Hard Drives

    I have the JVC KD-AR770 hu which has a usb port. I am using a Memorex 4gb flash/thumb/travel, etc. drive. I love it. I have around 300 songs on it and am using just over one half with the songs as wma files at the sq level Windows Media Player, the latest version, uses as default because I have not had time to play around with other settings.
    My hu is middle of the road in the JVC offerings I think at $219 msrp.
    Navigation is easy. I have my songs in folders by genre...Favorites, Road Trippin', 60's Oldies, Hard Rock, etc. and the folder names pop up on the screen in alphabetical order and starts playing the first folder alphabetically so I rename favorites folder to A_Favorites and it starts first.
    I am unsure about size limitations. I know nothing regarding Kenwood or Pioneer hu's. I know nothing about hdd durability in extreme temp conditions but my travel drive is so small it should not be bothered by anything.
    Good luck and keep us informed.




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    Re: Head Units and External Hard Drives

    I have a Blaupunkt Memphis with a 40GB hard drive, and I discovered that compatibility (based mainly on head/cylinder count) is very limited. It's best to check with Pioneer.

    It is nice to have a huge library all the time, but different units mange them differently.

    For example my HU was advertised as supporting M3U playlists (as is the Pioneer), but I had to alter the file to get it to work, and the HU doesn't retain the playlist in memory when turning off the car (like it does when resuming a music file). That rendered them useless.

    I like the Kenwood approach of providing software to build the library (including ripping), and manage playlists. The second generation Kenny USB units are out, but I'm waiting for the 991.




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    Re: Head Units and External Hard Drives

    My problem is that I would need an HU capable of handling an external HD w/ 300GB of music, which I have not found yet.




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    Re: Head Units and External Hard Drives

    Kenwood has said that their new models have 'enhanced compatibility', but a really large drive would need supplemental power, like a cig. lighter/USB charger.

    Also there are known 80GB models that work, and I guess one could use a non-powered USB switch to select among multiple drives (not via a USB hub).




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    Re: Head Units and External Hard Drives

    Thanks for the input.

    I'd love to have the ability to throw a 500G or something and then I could have access to all my flacs too. 120 would work though, if the extra 40G meant having to seek an extra power source, I'd even be willing to step down to an 80G. What are the known 80G models that work?




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    Re: Head Units and External Hard Drives

    Quote Originally Posted by Down55555 View Post
    Thanks for the input.

    I'd love to have the ability to throw a 500G or something and then I could have access to all my flacs too. 120 would work though, if the extra 40G meant having to seek an extra power source, I'd even be willing to step down to an 80G. What are the known 80G models that work?
    Well the issue there is to find a HU that supports FLAC. So far I haven't seen any, and the best quality via USB I've seen is the upcoming Alpine which supports iTunes Lossless. The Kenwoods support WAV's, but the models so far don't allow WAV via USB. Otherwise it's 320Kbps MP3's.

    This point is a bit moot for a car stereo system though. To hear the difference between a 256Kbps MP3 and the original CD you'd need to be listening in a silent, 'dead' environment with very expensive speakers. With all their windows cars are very 'live', and far from silent.

    But to use FLAC or OGG for now you'd have to have a car PC.




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    Re: Head Units and External Hard Drives

    Quote Originally Posted by brad1011a View Post
    Well the issue there is to find a HU that supports FLAC. So far I haven't seen any, and the best quality via USB I've seen is the upcoming Alpine which supports iTunes Lossless. The Kenwoods support WAV's, but the models so far don't allow WAV via USB. Otherwise it's 320Kbps MP3's.

    This point is a bit moot for a car stereo system though. To hear the difference between a 256Kbps MP3 and the original CD you'd need to be listening in a silent, 'dead' environment with very expensive speakers. With all their windows cars are very 'live', and far from silent.

    But to use FLAC or OGG for now you'd have to have a car PC.
    Honestly, the ability to play lossless in the car isn't that big of a deal to me. It'd be kinda cool to just image my music hdd to the car, but not too big of a deal. 90% of my music is V0 VBR mp3s, with a small smattering of 320 and 256.

    My main concern on the HU is whether it will recognize 80 or more gigs and whether it puts out enough juice over its USB to power a small hdd. I don't want to gamble with buying a set-up that won't work, I'd rather bite the bullet and drop a few hundred on a big Ipod.




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    Re: Head Units and External Hard Drives

    Quote Originally Posted by Down55555 View Post
    Honestly, the ability to play lossless in the car isn't that big of a deal to me. It'd be kinda cool to just image my music hdd to the car, but not too big of a deal. 90% of my music is V0 VBR mp3s, with a small smattering of 320 and 256.

    My main concern on the HU is whether it will recognize 80 or more gigs and whether it puts out enough juice over its USB to power a small hdd. I don't want to gamble with buying a set-up that won't work, I'd rather bite the bullet and drop a few hundred on a big Ipod.
    Well I have experince with Blaupunkt, and they support the 80GB Lacie 'by Porsche' hard drive. Some retailers in the UK sell the HU and drive as a package. I'm using the 40GB version, and the 60 works too. I've been participating in the UK's TalkAudio forum where there seems to be more interest in USB. So far people there have been using the same drives with the older Kenwoods, but with the drive's supplemental power (via a car USB charger which can be hard wired). I'm not sure if the new units can power them alone.

    The USB spec. is for 5V at .5A. Most larger drives need more current, so using the supplemental power is required as long as the drive is otherwise compatible.

    The Lacie drive: (corrected)
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16822154132

    My HU (which I don't really recommend):
    http://www.crutchfield.com/S-J4OsolK...0&I=023MEMMP66

    The Kenwood (I'm waiting for the 991):
    http://www.crutchfield.com/S-J4OsolK...0&I=113KDCX891
    Last edited by brad1011a; 03-27-2007 at 02:09 PM.




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    Re: Head Units and External Hard Drives

    good thread, i was interested in the same thing



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    Re: Head Units and External Hard Drives

    Quote Originally Posted by Down55555 View Post
    1. How is the navigation on the HU using a portable hdd?
    .
    .
    4. Durability of the HDD in a car environment- Has anyone done this with an external? How did it fair with extreme temps?
    Sorry I forgot about two of your questions. Navigation on mine is straightforward, and is made easier by the four line display (the Kenny 991 will have four lines too). Some only have two lines (The Pioneer may only have that many), and some three. a car PC is better in this respect, but without a detachable screen, mine would be 'gone in sixty seconds'.

    Playlist support is important to me so I don't have to do a lot of navigating while driving, but steering wheel remotes help (I need mine to come from the HU mfr., my car doesn't have them).

    One oddity of note; the HU's generally play the files in date/time order (the order in which they're copied to the USB device). Making that work alphabetically is easy with the freeware program 'FolderSort'.
    http://www.jetman.dircon.co.uk/software/foldersort.html

    The Kenwood software helps keep the library in order too, and can create working playlists.

    As far as hard drive reliability; I keep mine velcroed to the rear wall of my glove box at all times with no problems.

    And correction: This is the Lacie 80GB drive:
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16822154132




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    Re: Head Units and External Hard Drives

    I was looking into this pretty seriously a few years back but I just wasn't at all impressed with HU functionality and support - this seems to have changed. With the Lacie HDs that are listed, you can get a lot of high quality (high bitrates) music on board without using an ipod.

    My main question is wrt playlists though. For a unit like the Eclipse 5100, it looks like you'd have to rip music to either mp3 or wma only....is that the case? And if that was, what kind of software could you use to organize the music into playlists, etc? I assume there's freeware stuff out there that's pretty decent (in addition to the one example listed above)




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    Re: Head Units and External Hard Drives

    When I found out that my Blaupunkt doesn't really support playlists I tried 'favorites' folders, but after selecting different content on the same drive it doesn't remember what you were last listening to if you go back to the fav. folder.

    Fortunately the Blaupunkt has an SD card slot (2GB max.) that I use for playlists with the hard drive holding the main library. That way when switching back and forth it remembers where you were.

    As far as I know Kenwood handles playlists better than the rest. The latest version of their software can assemble 'auto-playlists' based on tempo and volume (besides the manually created playlists).

    http://www.kenwoodusa.com/Dealers/Us...celon_2007.pdf

    Pioneer advertises Windows playlist support, but after my experience with the Blaupunkt I would verify that they resume properly after turning the car off/on.

    Clarion makes some USB units (one with time alignment), but I don't know much else about them.




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    Re: Head Units and External Hard Drives

    Quote Originally Posted by clone View Post
    My main question is wrt playlists though. For a unit like the Eclipse 5100, it looks like you'd have to rip music to either mp3 or wma only....is that the case? And if that was, what kind of software could you use to organize the music into playlists, etc? I assume there's freeware stuff out there that's pretty decent (in addition to the one example listed above)
    I'm not sure about Eclipse, but hopefully they have a downloadable manual. Unless they specify playlist support I wouldn't count on it. Unsupported software would not be recognized by the HU.

    Many units (including mine) only support WMA/MP3, but not WMA lossless. Some allow AAC via USB.




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    Re: Head Units and External Hard Drives

    I just registered because I have a USB HU issue...

    I just installed the Pioneer 6900UB and it works fantastic with my flash thumb drive, but im not getting enough power for my Maxtor 120g external. Ive expiremented with a usb car adaptor for the second half of the Y cable and i can feel the disk spinning, but its not reading. Unfortunatle the only usb car adaptor I could find on the quick was a unit that was supposed to charge a Nintendo DS or some crap.

    BTW the Pio 6900 can take up to 250 gig of MP3, WMA or ACCs

    Any help would be appreciated.




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