UPDATE: It appears that there is a developing problem with this line of car radios from JVC where the CD drive will “click” when first turned on. JVC released a firmware update which has not worked for my stereo. For this reason, I do not recommend purchasing this model.
With our recent tax rebate, my wife and I decided to upgrade our existing car stereo in our ’99 Honda CRV. With our old car stereo, the sound wasn’t quite working and we wanted a way to use our MP3 player quickly and easily. When looking for a stereo, we marked the following requirements.
- Needed to have an axillary input
- Able to play MP3/WMA CDRW discs
- Not look like something out of a high school Honda Civic with a grotesque spoiler
- Needs to have HD radio tuner built-in
With those requirements I set out trying to find the best deal. From reading various articles on my vehicle, I learned that it would be very difficult to install. Usually I don’t mind attacking anything to do with the installation of electronics, but I just don’t have the time right now. This is why we purchased the stereo that provided free installation. We finally landed on getting a JVC KD-HDR30 which is a new model. I found it hard to get a hold of locally though. After installation and use for a few weeks here are the pros and cons.
- HD Radio is a really nice step up from traditional radio. Didn’t realize we had so many channels available to us in our area.
- We have many options to upgrade and use this stereo for our needs. The AUX input and bluetooth/iPod add-on modules are great ways to connect all your audio gear.
- Although this is a simple feature, having a CD player that can read MP3’s is great. It saves us so much time from switching between all of our old CDs.
- The remote works well and can be connected to the steering wheel for added convenience and safety.
- There is no quick seek where the radio plays a few seconds per station and allows you to find a good song while you drive. The lack of this feature is bizzare, but we hooked up the remote now and just use that to navigate while driving.
- The lights on the stereo are really really annoying at night. Even though they dim slightly when the headlights are turned on, it’s really distracting and makes it hard to concentrate on the road.
- Although HD radio is great, it’s not as awesome when you live in an area that only gets the signal here and there. Unlike analog signals that get added noise, digital HD signals just plain go out and all your hear is silence for a little while until the radio finds the station again. Also, it takes the stereo 4-5 seconds to “lock into” a digital radio station. You get used to it, but it would be nice if it just connected right away.
- The iPod adapter doesn’t work with the iPhone. It’s Apple’s fault, not JVC’s.
We’re pretty satisfied with our purchase and the installers at Circuit City. The stereo has a few small feature issues, but it works very well and the sound is great. I recommend not purchasing a car stereo that is “HD ready”. Always get the type with the tuner built-in. You’ll save money and installation costs down the road. It reminds of the “HD ready” TVs that went out of style within months of their launch date. Just spend the extra 30 bucks and get the tuner built-in.
With the built-in HD tuner, AUX front input jack, and MP3 CD player functionality, I’d give this stereo 4 out of 5 stars.