Auto Repair forum

General discussion

Car Stereo with USB; portable hard drive questions

by Steroids / May 1, 2006 3:42 AM PDT

Hey now, I just picked up a new stereo for my car. The Kenwood KD-X590 comes with a USB pigtail in the rear. Ive come to the conclusion that 320k MP3 files while not perfect will be acceptable for the car stereo envoironment. The USB connection works great with a 512 flash drive so far.

My question is, has anyone tried to use one of the 2.5" portable hard drives for a car stereo application? My manual says the stereo will power usb devices up to 500ma. Manufacturers do not list the power requirements for these portable drives other than the simple feature promotion "runs off usb power!" Im not willing to make a $100+ purchase on the chance it might work.

Also, knowing the car is a harsh envoironment, which drives have the best shock absorbtion, which ones run like a tank and which tend to fail etc?

I welcome input from anyone with insight or experience on the subject.

Discussion is locked
You are posting a reply to: Car Stereo with USB; portable hard drive questions
The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited. Please refer to our CNET Forums policies for details. All submitted content is subject to our Terms of Use.
Track this discussion and email me when there are updates

If you're asking for technical help, please be sure to include all your system info, including operating system, model number, and any other specifics related to the problem. Also please exercise your best judgment when posting in the forums--revealing personal information such as your e-mail address, telephone number, and address is not recommended.

You are reporting the following post: Car Stereo with USB; portable hard drive questions
This post has been flagged and will be reviewed by our staff. Thank you for helping us maintain CNET's great community.
Sorry, there was a problem flagging this post. Please try again now or at a later time.
If you believe this post is offensive or violates the CNET Forums' Usage policies, you can report it below (this will not automatically remove the post). Once reported, our moderators will be notified and the post will be reviewed.
Collapse -
2.5" drives
by Jutz / May 9, 2006 9:47 AM PDT

I have tried the Pexagon Store-It 2.5" and 1.8" drives. The head unit will not power the 2.5", but will power the 1.8". However, the unit will not read music files from the 1.8". Has anyone been able to find a drive that will work? I'm waiting for another response from Kenwood, but their first response was to review this page - Unless I'm missing something, the 1.8 Store-It drive meets these requirements, and still won't work.

Collapse -
follow up on USB hard drive in the car
by Steroids / June 20, 2006 6:02 AM PDT
In reply to: 2.5" drives

Before purchasing I sent an email to all major hard drive manufacturers and the only one to respond was Lacie. He recommended their "mobile" hard drive. 80 gigs, very small and so far it works great. My only complaint would be that it take a few minutes for the Kenwood unit to read the information and begin playing... such is the price to pay. I am diggin' it.

Collapse -
Which LaCie Mobile Model?
by Jutz / June 23, 2006 4:54 AM PDT

That's great news!!! I looked for a LaCie Mobile drive, and found several. Which specific model did you end up getting? I can't wait to get this up and running! Thanks for your input.

Collapse -
USB hard drive
by swallen62 / June 27, 2006 11:24 PM PDT

Which LaCie portable do you have? And did they recommend a particular one?

Collapse -
LaCie Mobile 80GB External USB 2.0 Hard Drive
by Jutz / July 26, 2006 3:53 AM PDT
In reply to: USB hard drive

After buying 2 duds, and whole lot of web searching I finally went out and bought the 'LaCie Mobile 80GB External USB 2.0 Hard Drive' from Best Buy for $149 ( IT WORKS!!!! The load time is kind of long (about 65s, and I have a very simple folder structure), but well worth it when I can listen to ALL 20 gigs of my music, with space to add lots more. Just put it on random and you have your own radio station. Hopefully this helps you all out.

Collapse -
Update on Lacie 80gb drive
by Jutz / September 1, 2006 8:48 AM PDT

I now have over 40gb of music on my drive. The load times were getting a bit out of hand (about 2 min each time I accessed the USB drive). After a bit of trial and error, I created 4 equal primary partitions on the drive, and split up my MP3 folders alphabetically. The load time is no no more than 30s (not too shabby). Things to watch out for:
1) if the drive is cold, it may not load correctly (just warm it with your hands for a few min)
2) if you set to All Random, it may not pickup where it left off when you turn off the unit or select another source (just turn off All Random and it should be good to go).

After figuring out how to get the load times, it's been a great unit/drive combo. Hopefully this post helps someone out there.

Collapse -
Your post very much helps.
by PizzleDizzle / September 7, 2007 5:00 AM PDT

Jutz, drop me an email or message on my Myspace. I wanted to discuss the particulars on the file structure and hard drive selection. I'm helping my brother with his newly installed Kenwood 535u (?) receiver that has a USB port with a 500mA max ouput. I'd appreciate it. From what I gather through research any drive that is self powered with a spindle speed of 4200RPMs draws a current load that is less than 500ma.

Collapse -
Pioneer 7000bt with usb
by REDVSTORE / July 18, 2008 5:19 AM PDT

Enjoying your discussion on portable hard drives for car stereos. I have a Pioneer 7000bt with USB and a WD 320gb portable drive. I have tried every type of music format(wav,mp3 etc.) I have an external power supply and my drive lights up but the head unit always says that there is no audio. What am I doing wrong? Any help on how to make this work would be greatly appreciated.



Collapse -
pioneer 7000bt with usb
by joshthsn / February 24, 2009 11:55 PM PST

Bill, I have a pioneer and I have been work on the same problem that you are having. Is what I have found out the last two days is that you radio is only able to read fat32 formate and your hard drive is in ntfs formate. Now I had 80gig hard drive that was fat32 formate that work great and I love It know it broke so I went and bought a 250gig harddrive its in ntfs formate. I brought that harddrive to bestbuy to the geeksquad and they had to divide in to partitions of 30gig in fat32 formate and thats is working great. I use most of the partitions for music then I use couple of the partitions for make play lists.

Collapse -
Not all Pioneer USB hosts accept multi FAT32 partitions
by chortkeh / January 12, 2010 6:06 PM PST
Collapse -
Folder Structure on external drive
by TheDude60 / February 23, 2010 4:04 AM PST

I have a similar amount of music as you, and it's separated into albums, each with its own folder. The songs on each album have number prefixes in their titles (01, 02, 03 etc), so if I combined all the albums from one artist, the order of songs will be wrecked - all the first songs will play first, then the second songs, etc. My unit (Kenwood KDC-MP642U) is limited to 255 folders "per device" (connected to USB) and 255 files per folder. Do you know any way around this limitation, without having to rename every file in my collection?


Collapse -
Kenwood directory loading times
by pea_dids / July 3, 2006 8:56 AM PDT
Collapse -
Made for a purpose
by mediagt / September 7, 2007 1:41 PM PDT

Normally Portable hdd wont work well on Car USBs. The player cant supply enough power for the HDD. Soon ur hdd will spoil too. The error in files will start to appear. Just use a thumb drive, the best solution. I tried a full 40GB. oso have many errors

Collapse -
Connecting drives to USB car audio
by bill4207 / May 23, 2006 12:24 PM PDT

Hey, My Dell DJ is listed as using 5 V, and less than 2.4A. It appears that this unit is likely way over 500 mA. Incidentally this model will only charge from a USB connection if it has over a 25% charge on the battery. If your IT dept at work doesn't have a loaner drive that you can try, consider going to a university help desk. They probably have 2.5'' drives sitting around. A lotof universities have check out programs for these kind of items

What do you think about navigating MP3 folders on the USB drive? Is it straight forward? Have you used the device driver (IPOD) controls to navigate playlists? Does random work on the USB files? Lots of questions but as you have guessed I love the idea of buying this unit, but there are few people to talk to.

Collapse -
usb in car
by Steroids / June 20, 2006 6:08 AM PDT

Im not an Ipod person so I dont know about that, but...

I can tell you the Kenwood lets you choose search modes i.e. folder, artist, album, song. It also has voice (when using kenwood phatnoise) so you can watch the road rather than the deck.

Very happy so far.

Collapse -
usb, I'm ready
by xappt / September 17, 2006 9:05 AM PDT
In reply to: usb in car

I have been trying to find a cd player that will support my mobile 40 gig harddrive. I have tryed the ones in store that I could find but have a problem with navigating within the menues.
which ken wood do you have ?
does anyone have any luck with other brands

Collapse -
Connecting Sony k750/w800 to Kenwood w6534u car head unit
by muffindell / August 9, 2006 9:59 PM PDT

Does anyone know if you can connect a Sony K750i or W800 mobile phone to a Kenwood w6534u and if the usb reader can see it? It would be great, since my phone would charge up while I drive and I can play the AAC or Mp3 files using the phones memory stick, a fully intergrated system :o)

Collapse -
Kenwood usb storage
by pea_dids / June 27, 2006 9:47 PM PDT

I've just bought a Kenwood KDC-W6534U which sounds similar to your units.I've tried a Maxtor 2.5 external drive which won't work on its own. When it is connected with an additional usb power supply from the ciggarette lighter socket it gets as far as reading the directory but drops out as soon as it starts to play the first track. When I get time I'll work on a more stable power supply. A Creative Zen 6Gb MP3 player can be configured to use 2Gb of it's hard drive for external use but you lose that 2Gb from the nornal player mode and the battery goes flat if you leave it plugged in. The Iomega mini 40Gb 1.8inch drive
works but takes 45sec to load the directory with 10Gb of music loaded.
Hope this is some help.

Collapse -
2.5" USB Drives
by mkaddosch33 / July 12, 2006 2:23 PM PDT
In reply to: Kenwood usb storage

I was looking on another page,, and this is what they say about USB drive power usage.

"Some 2.5" USB hard drives require up 900mA to start up, more than 500mA a USB port can provide; so, they will require a second USB cable just for borrowing power or a AC adapter. 1.8" USB hard drives wouldn't have the same problem as it only requires 450mA to spin up."

So it looks like the best bet is to start with a 1.8" drive.

Collapse -
2.0 Gig USB Flash Drive Questions
by MildApplause / July 14, 2006 9:53 PM PDT

My music playing usually stays pretty consistent, therefore I was thinking of forgoing the real hard drive and just using a large USB flash drive. Has anyone tried using a 2G (or higher) on the X590? If so, what size and brand did you use and did it work well? How is the load time? Any over-current consumption problems?

Any information would be appreciated!


Collapse -
2.5" Hard Drives
by TheHoh / January 3, 2007 1:12 AM PST

I am getting ready to buy the Kenwood KDC-PM632U CD deck with USB input and found some information on what you need to put a 2.5" hard drive in:

1: The Kenwood decks need a hard drive that is formatted to FAT 16 or FAT 32. Anything else won't work with Kenwood.

2: The Kenwood deck only puts out .5 Amps of current through the USB, most hard drives need 1.0. I have found that you can get a Universal USB Cigarette lighter adapter that will allow you to plug any USB cable into your cigarette lighter ( This will easily supply the power needed. So you will need to look for a hard drive that has a secondary power input. I found the LaCie drives have this, they also include the USB-powersharing cable so you don't have to purchase it seperately.

I am quite disappointed in Kenwood and the other care stereo companies for not seeing the great possibilities of connecting larger hard drives to car stereos. The next step they need to take is to start making stereos with hard drives already installed. I know that most of the stereos with navigation are using larger hard drives, but I have an atlas and don't want to spend $1000 or more just for a hard drive.

From what I have found for deals online I can get the Kenwood deck, LaCie 120Gb hard drive and a few extra install parts for about $250.00, and I will never need to carry another CD in my car again.

Good luck to everyone else out there thinking big!


Collapse -
headunit with USB + 40G portable multimedia player
by tonio_4est / January 30, 2007 8:22 AM PST
In reply to: 2.5" Hard Drives

i have a 40G portable multimedia player. it does not need to have a separate power since it has its own battery. i would like to connect it to a headunit that has an USB interface. will it work?

Collapse -
If it works like an external drive in Windoze...
by BassBinDevil / September 7, 2007 12:08 PM PDT

If the multimedia player shows up as a USB drive in Windoze, the headunit should read it too.

FWIW, a while back Woot was blowing out the Omnifi DMP1 car hard drive player for about $100. This unit originally sold for about 5 times that. It only has a 20 gig drive stock, but can be upgraded. There's open-source replacement software for it now that makes it more useful. You can find them on eBay regularly.

Collapse -
USB Power cable? Little help here...
by chadleydave / November 27, 2007 8:50 AM PST
In reply to: 2.5" Hard Drives

Does the second USB cable (for power) have to be a special cable or can you use a regular USB cable? I already have the spliced y-cable that I got when I bought the external hard drive case, it just doesnt reach the USB-AC adapter plugged into the cigarette lighter outlet. The USB specs dont mention much on if there is a difference in USB cables/plugs.

Collapse -
16GB flash drive speed?
by rokkein / December 7, 2007 2:10 AM PST

Has anyone tried this receiver with a 16GB USB flash drive? I'm wondering how much faster the load times would be than with a 40/80/120GB hard drive.

Collapse -
Current USB drives for a car stereo?
by Murph74 / July 28, 2008 5:41 AM PDT

Anyone aware of any current models of USB powered HDs that can be used with a car stereo with one port? Tried 3 models this week-- the Maxtor onetouch 4 mini 160GB (FAILED), the WD MyPassport Essential 160GB (FAILED) and the Verbatim SmartDisk 80GB (FAILED). From my research 100gb seems to be the power limit for a USB HD that can run off the 500ma provided on the bus. Anyone have any luck with any current models? Thanks!

Collapse -
My USB Hard Drive setup...
by VegasGuy55 / February 21, 2009 12:25 PM PST

I've had a 160gb PassPort 2.5 USB drive attached to a generic Chinese Audio/video head unit for about 6 months. A few observations:
1. I use a Y-adapter and a 5v USB power adapter ($5). Plug the power adapter into an unused cigarette or power outlet, one USB to it and the other to the head unit. Works like a champ with no power worries.
2. My particular unit doesn't recognize any file structure more than one folder deep, so it makes organizing your music a bit tedious, as all albums reside at the same level, but that's just this unit.
3. It plays videos off the disk without a hitch (only when I'm stopped, right?).
4. Startup when cold is a definite problem, though not so much here in Las Vegas. Still, a good 1 to 2 minutes before the head unit will read the disk correctly.
5. For music playback, I think a stick is the way to go. If you have the bucks, a SSD would probably give the best combo of storage and performance. With the power adapter and a good external case, you are really only limited by the size of available 1.8 or 2.5 disks.

Collapse -
DVico Tvix C3000U
by dkgrafix / March 31, 2009 9:47 PM PDT

hey guys!
i'm in the same prob. as u all are but the thing is I FOUND THE PERFECT GADGET for the on-board entertainment Happy BUT I CAN'T buy it 'cause it's only shippied in the US. (i'm from canada)...enjoy... wish i could be american for only ONE day...just kidding, ok, here it goes.|66%3A2|65%3A12|39%3A1|240%3A1318|301%3A1|293%3A1|294%3A50

Collapse -
I have the kenwood KDX-MP638U
by dfrankwilson / September 22, 2008 3:48 AM PDT

My Kenwood has USB also. not the same as yours but I have a
Lexar 8 GB flash drive and it works perfect. album name, song name ect. and it cost like $30 bucks at offic max. Holds a lot of music

Collapse -
i also have the kdx-mp638u
by luckyone84 / February 18, 2009 3:21 PM PST

I tried hooking my 6gig ipod mini 2nd gen and it won't reconize it at all (it will charge, but not play), but i plug in my friends 4gig nano video it plays just fine. Is my ipod too old to play through the USB? I can use it through the AUX though...

Also, I tried hooking up a 5gig Seagate flash drive (that what it says on the flash drive..)and it wont pull anything up. Does the flash drive have to be setup a certain way for the deck to reconize it or am I using the wrong flash drive.

Any help is MUCH appreciated!!!

Popular Forums
Computer Help 51,912 discussions
Computer Newbies 10,498 discussions
Laptops 20,411 discussions
Security 30,882 discussions
TVs & Home Theaters 21,253 discussions
Windows 10 1,672 discussions
Phones 16,494 discussions
Windows 7 7,855 discussions
Networking & Wireless 15,504 discussions


iPhone 8: Everything we know so far

This is all the iPhone 8 reports and rumors in one place. From a 5.8-inch OLED display, reports of wireless charging and even a 3D scanner for facial recognition, it's all here.