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Topic: Car MP3 Player (Read 12339 times) previous topic - next topic
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Car MP3 Player

Wal-mart has an in-dash car CD player for sale (~$150, I believe), that is advertised to also play MP3s from CDR.

Pretty inexpensive(!), and it seems pretty cool, if it works as promised. My question - does anyone here own one of these type of units? Any positive / negative experiences with them? Any glaring limitations (VBR, bitrate, replaygain, ID3 tags, lowpass, etc.)? Should I go up to the next price range if I want a 'good' car MP3 player?

FWIW, my car stereo isn't some great boomy system - but an inexpensive way to store 7+ albums on one disc and take them on the road with me would be pretty nifty.

Car MP3 Player

Reply #1
I opted for an Aiwa CDC-MP3.  They currently run $229, and it has no problems with any of my mp3s.  I wish it could play MPC, but that is another story.  The new ones (CDC-MA1 or something) play WMAs, but I have none of those anyway.

Anyway, my Aiwa plays all my VBRs, shows all ID3 tags, and works just perfect.  I really really love it.  I have a 48 disc case to hold all 5100+ of my mp3s in on CD-Rs.  How many people can say they carry over 5100 songs with them everywhere they go?  : )

Car MP3 Player

Reply #2
bring a mp3 cd with you and pop it in.  only real way to tell

Car MP3 Player

Reply #3
This is a bit of a rant, but it has a happy ending.

I was an early adopter of the Aiwa CDC-MP3. It sold out in Austin, so I drove down to San Antonio with my brother and purchased one at Best Buy. It was really neat to be able to burn mp3s to a CDR and listen to them in the car. I was so smart. I was ahead of the game. No one had a car stereo as cool as mine.

However, I soon learned the limitations of the Aiwa CDC-MP3. It skips often. It blanks out often on mp3s even when the car engine is not running, so I don't think that it is a vibration or jarring issue. Other people on the board listed below ( ) will argue both sides of the case. Some say that it skips on everything including commercial audio CDs. Others say that if you use Nero at 4x or less and use Taiyo-Yuden manufactured CDRs (usually the ones that say made in Japan), you will never have a problem.

Let me save you some time and frustration. I tried every suggestion on that board to make my Aiwa CDC-MP3 skip free. I purchased so many damn different brands of CDRs that I am in no danger of running out for a couple of years. I tried Nero which is a great program, but it did not fix the problem. I tried my plextor writer and my hp writer at every conceivable speed with no luck.

One weekend when I was ranting about this to my brother, he said "Why don't you just go buy a new player that works instead of wasting all of this time and money on a player that doesn't work."

Epiphany time! I don't know why it took someone else to point out the obvious. The Aiwa CDC-MP3 sucked the day that I bought it. It sucked every time that I tried a new brand of CDR. It sucked every time I changed burning programs. It sucked every time I changed burning speeds. It will continue to suck no matter what I do. I am powerless in the face of the giant shadow cast by the suckiness of the Aiwa CDC-MP3.

All the while I had been reading about all of the other models that were out there on I narrowed it down to the Kenwood KDC MP-8017 and the JVC KD-SH99. I drove out to Fry's and purchased the Kenwood which happened to be on sale.

The Kenwood KDC MP-8017 has been awesome! I have not had any problems with it except for a few blank outs on cheapo Office Depot CDRs burned at 16x. I have never had a problem using Fuji or Acer CDRs burned at 4x with EZ CD Creator on my Plextor.

Consequently, I would recommend that you burn decent CDRs at 4x or slower. My research a couple of months back indicated that most people think highly of Taiyo-Yuden manufactured CDRs. Taiyo-Yuden manufatures the goofy colored Fuji CDRs (among others) available at Target.

The moral of the story is to accept the consequences of early adoption of technology. My mistake was not the purchase of the Aiwa CDC-MP3. My mistake was not giving up on it when it was obvious that the market had passed it by.

Please don't buy the Aiwa CDC-MP3 because it costs $100 less than other brands like Kenwood or JVC! It is so worth the extra money to avoid the hassles that I went through with my Aiwa.

By the way I did not go "Office Space" on the Aiwa after I took it out of my car. It has a happy life as a commercial audio CD only player in my sister's car. She is thrilled to have it, and I am thrilled that it is out of my life.

Here is the link again. It is not always completely up to date, but the bulletin boards have great information on each of the players.

Car MP3 Player

Reply #4
Or simply build your own car-puter.  My car-puter is at around 5500 songs right now, all on a 80GB hd with more than 50% space remaining. While not cheaper than an in-dash player(depending upon components..about $200-$300 more), it gives you more options and more song space.....AND the ability to have all your music available for play at the touch of a button.  Random-play mode is sweet with 5500 songs.  :-)

Car MP3 Player

Reply #5
JVC KDSH-99 works pretty  darn good for me.
flac>fb2k>kernel streaming>audiophile 2496>magni>dt990 pro

Car MP3 Player

Reply #6
Ditto on the's good to go.

Car MP3 Player

Reply #7
I thought about the car-puter option - but I wonder how well a hard drive can hold up under driving conditions... I dunno - I'm a little spooked of the idea - and intrigued as well.

Anyhoo, I think I'll follow the collective advice here and go at least one step up from the very cheapest device available.

Car MP3 Player

Reply #8
I have had my fair share of experience with the aiwa player with similar headache, the only thing i can think of to add to the above rant is to avoid ALL aiwa products if you can. Im pretty sure they use less than quality components in their products as every aiwa product i have owned has failed to date. The cdc-mp3 skips constantly for no apparent reason and randomly reports mystery errors while loading mp3 cds. In addition to all that, it isnt a really quality sounding deck in the end anyway, the only thing it really has going for it is its flashy looks, sadly enough, anyone who is stuck with one of these is better off using the external stereo in jack and using a portable. This is the only scenario i think it could handle.

Car MP3 Player

Reply #9
Originally posted by krsna77
I thought about the car-puter option - but I wonder how well a hard drive can hold up under driving conditions... I dunno - I'm a little spooked of the idea - and intrigued as well.

How about a used notebook computer, maybe about a P133, with a newer hard drive & some kind of sound card?  Doesn't take much horsepower to play MP3's.  Probably could find something cheap on Ebay, even a grayscale LCD would do.

Car MP3 Player

Reply #10
I bought a JVC KD-SH99 back at the end of August in 2001, and it is an awesome deck, better playback features than the Kenwood too.  Now I have a KVC KD-SH909 (note the 0) and the mp3 decoder and/or DAC sound different to me, a little harsher perhaps, a little more distortion or something.  I'm actually trying to track down another KD-SH99 so I can go back to it, heh.

Car MP3 Player

Reply #11
Wow, I am surprised to hear about the problems with the Aiwa.  I have been lucky, I guess.  It has given me a loading error twice, and has skipped when I hit a major pot-hole, but other than that, it has worked well. 

I have been spoiled by it in fact, and now I am interested in the "car-puter" option myself.  I mean, having to load 48 CDs sucks when you can just randomly play them all, like Dacs_IV said.  Gonna have to check into that...

Car MP3 Player

Reply #12
never had either the JVC KD-SH99 or KD-SH909 skip on me, guess that's one more in their corner.  I'm not sure about the 909, and I think the much lower retail price probably speaks to this, but the 99 has a very nice Burr-Brown DAC in it and I think the 909 must have something of lower quality to account for the cheaper price.  I'd have to say they probably cheaped out on the DAC and the mp3 decoder, as the deck just doesn't sound quite as good as the older 99.  I didn't even consider the Aiwa as I'd heard that it doesn't remember the position of the song when you power-off.  Didn't consider the Kenwood because it wouldn't randomize a whole disc, only a directory.  The JVCs both randomize a whole disc or a directory, remember the song and position at power off.

Car MP3 Player

Reply #13
The JVCs both randomize a whole disc or a directory, remember the song and position at power off.

Shee-it, that is cool as hell!  I had no idea any mp3 deck could remember where it left off in an mp3 file, and whole disc random too-- damn.

As much as I love to learn new stuff here, I just hate it when I find out that what I have and think is totally awesome is pedestrian to some other thing.  I am gonna drag on my Aiwa now, just knowing how much better the JVC is.  Waaaa.  I got it as soon as it came out, and I think there was only a Kenwood available (for like, $650?) that also played mp3 files, so my choices were really limited then.  And I thought the Kenwood couldn't read ID3 tags, so I read.

Good.  I am glad that they are making them better and better.  You would think that RIAA would have them banned by now.

Car MP3 Player

Reply #14
I'm in the process of making my own car-puter now,I have an old Celeron 400 laptop,4.3gig drive and only 32meg ram,but it will do for mp3's,I intend to place it in my Van for work,its going in the glovebox,I have a side vent redirected into the glovebox already to keep it cool,and all the wiring is in place,the van is equipped with an Invertor for always on power via another battery charged from the engine.If all goes well i shall be upgrading the speakers and head unit,but for now it'll do me fine,and hopefully while away the long hours.

Wht I intend to do is have Winamp in startup with a resume plugin I have that remembers where it was on shutdown and resumes,so when the van starts so does my laptop and soon music on the move,the only downer is manually shutting it down unless someone has a good tip for me? (apart from just switching it off and risking drive damage,which I could look into as I didnt pay for the laptop)

Car MP3 Player

Reply #15
Originally posted by Tinribs
the only downer is manually shutting it down unless someone has a good tip for me?

You might want to check out Leif Claesson's website, where he talks about his car stereo (very neat). About 2/3rds down the page he talks about a tri-relay automatic powering system he's hooked up to automatically get the PC to start up and shut down when he turns on the car.

Leif has also made a lot of very cool MP3 utilities, so check out his site.

Car MP3 Player

Reply #16
I shall do,thanks,I gave it a good test today and it workd a dream.Very handy,I'm thinking of using the remote from my dx3r dvd to control winamp,but we'll see.

Car MP3 Player

Reply #17
Originally posted by wonderspark
And I thought the Kenwood couldn't read ID3 tags, so I read.

Ah yes, I think you may be correct there too.  I just remember that there were too many reasons to pick the JVC over the Kenwood back during last summer when I picked up the JVC.  The JVC reads ID3 tags, the KD-SH99 can read ISO level 1 (8.3?) and level 2 filenames (30 chars?), and the KD-SH909 adds Joliet read capability as well.  If you can still find a KD-SH99 though, it is better overall.  It is sadly more money, but being replaced now by the 909 it may be had for less than it originally went for.  IIRC suggested retail for the 99 is CDN$650 and for the 909 it is CDN$500.  And of course they both read CD/CDR/CDRW discs.

Car MP3 Player

Reply #18
Well, sadly my car was broken into, the dash shredded, and my Aiwa CDC-MP3 stolen.  On the bright side, I had a good excuse to get the SH-99.  I found one online for $267US, so it is on the way.  I was just glad to find one still for sale!

Now, I just have to add either a car alarm, or rig a can of Raid to the stereo so it sprays when pulled out of the dash, ha ha.  Maybe a sticker on the dash that says "Protected by PoisonGasDeath, Inc."  I saw an article on that showed flamethrowers for your car.  Now that could be a good deterrent.

Man, I just hate theives.  Sorry to rag on about it.  After all, I now will have a better mp3 player!

Car MP3 Player

Reply #19
yeah, I had a similar experience maybe two months ago, and it sucks.  They smashed the window and took my subs.  I got an alarm the next day

Glad you were able to find a KD-SH99, they're great!  In fact I've managed to get another 99 in trade for my 909, so I'm happy too

ps- oh yeah, you should enjoy it a lot more than the Aiwa, it's so nice in so many ways

Car MP3 Player

Reply #20
Thanks, _Shorty!  Yeah, they broke my window in the process, but I got it replaced yesterday, just before the rain today.

What kind of alarm did you get?  I am checking them out now, the kind with glass detect and interior microwave sensors and junk.

Car MP3 Player

Reply #21
the vast majority of them, if not all by now, are made by one company, Directed Electronics.  So they are all very similar now, with probably the only real difference lying in cosmetics. shows you all their different brands.  I got a Clifford Cyber 100 which only came with the shock sensor that is built into the main unit, and it was $113Cdn.  I did the installation myself, but only because I have a little bit of knowledge in the area, having done this type of work before.  If I had them do the basic install I think it was $198Cdn instead, so $85Cdn in labour.  I think I will be getting the proximity sensor too, so I imagine with that I wouldn't also need the glass breakage sensor, since if they're close enough to break the glass, they're close enough to set off the proximity sensor.  I ended up adding door lock actuators to my car, since it didn't come with power door locks.  Kinda nice not having to remember to arm the alarm or lock the doors, I've got it set to arm and lock after 30 seconds of leaving the car.  Some find that annoying, but I prefer it since I don't have to stress out about whether I remembered to arm it, hehe.

Car MP3 Player

Reply #22
True, true.  I have always hated car alarms that start talking or beeping when you walk between cars in a parking lot, and now I find myself in the position where I may buy one myself.  So sad.  I am trying to avoid those prox. ones, though.  I keep telling myself that it won't happen that often, if at all, and the peace of mind in not pissing off people who walk by is worth just replacing a window once in a while.  Am I insane?  Ha ha....

PS. Thanks for the link + info.  You be cool, mang.

Car MP3 Player

Reply #23
well, you can adjust the distance that triggers it, I was thinking that whenever I pick that sensor up I'd set it so that you'd have to actually be within an inch or two of the window, so that it wouldn't start beeping just because someone parked next to me and was getting in/out of their car.  Pain in the ass needing one at all

Car MP3 Player

Reply #24
Didn't realize you could set it that close.  That would be very cool.  I think that is the way to go.  You are right.

Guess this got a bit off the original topic, but I have certainly benefitted from it all!  Hopefully we can join the "no-breakins-for-a-decade" club instead of the "my-stereo-got-ripped-again" club.

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