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Dual XDMA6700 car stereo review: Dual XDMA6700 car stereo

The Dual XDMA6700 is a car stereo designed with hands-free calling in mind. While the system does not come with a built-in Bluetooth receiver, it does feature a prominent numerical keypad and dedicated buttons for making and ending calls. As a music player, the XDMA6700 has many of the standard digital-age audio requirements, including the ability to play (and search within) MP3 and WMA files, and the provision for an intelligent iPod connection. However, all this functionality comes buried beneath a clumsy control interface.

5.9

Dual XDMA6700 car stereo

Pricing Not Available

The Good

The Dual XDMA6700 is a competitively priced car stereo with respectable support for digital audio sources and a great optional Bluetooth calling interface.

The Bad

The system's goofy faceplate design leads to confusion when trying to control tunes on the road. Sound quality via the 1-bit digital-to-analog converter is unimpressive.

The Bottom Line

The Dual XDMA6700 is a bargain-basement stereo, ideal for those interested in a useful Bluetooth hands-free module that also plays music.

Design
The Dual XDMA6700 features an attractive faceplate design with blue backlit buttons, a single rotary control knob and a simple monochrome white-on-black display. However, this stereo's design is more ornamental than useful, and the scattered placement of audio search and control buttons is our principal gripe with this system. While the track skip forward and back buttons are located on the far left of the unit (in a vertical configuration, which is confusing enough), the folder skip buttons are inconspicuously buried in the keypad on the right side of the faceplate, doubling as the 5 and 6 buttons for making calls. To switch between the various information readouts for digital audio files (such as track, artist, and album information) or to mute the sound, drivers have to use the buttons at the bottom on the keypad, while to pause audio playback, they have to go back up to a button on the diametrically opposite side of the faceplate.


The XDMA6700's small phone keypad buttons double as a bank of audio controls, making it tough to control music on the fly.

Audio
The XDMA6700 can be used to play regular CDs as well as MP3- and WMA-encoded discs via its single disc slot. The first impressions one gets when attempting to play these discs, however, are not very positive, as the system takes around 10 seconds from the time a disc is inserted to start producing any music. With compressed digital audio files (such as MP3) playing, the display can be set to show one of a selection of ID3 information tags, including info on track name, directory name, artist, album, and song title.

Using the Disp button (the number 0 on the keypad), users can toggle between each of the categories, with a corresponding logo appearing on the top of the display. The XDMA6700's monochrome LCD display can show only eight characters at a time, but the brisk automatic-scrolling feature ensures that information can be viewed more quickly than on similar units, such as the JVC HD KDR1. For navigating digital audio libraries, the XDMA6700 makes use of two search buttons as well as its 12 keypad buttons, which each have a phone and audio function.

The XDMA6700 has a unique search function that enables users to fast-forward through the tracks on a disc to find what they are looking for without having to repeatedly press the forward skip button. Tracks can be searched either numerically or alphabetically after the rather arcane search initiation procedure (hold down the mode search button> press the same button again> turn the rotary dial to the required letter number> press the enter button to preview the results> press the same button to make a selection).

The search function can be used to find specific tracks, although the system does not differentiate between artists or track titles when performing its search. The alphanumeric search function works adequately well but requires entry of at least three digits to return decent results--two-letter searches result in every listing with those two letters in some part of either the song title or artist name being returned: for example a search for "to" brought up "A Message to You" (a track name), and Face to Face, Fear Factory, and Pato Banton (all artists). In general, we like the option of being able to search for tracks on vast digital audio libraries, but the process of entering the required information is too labor-intensive to make the XDMA6700's search function a really useful tool.


The system's search function works with the right number of letters entered but is labor-intensive to program.

In addition to its AM/FM receiver and its disc playback, the XDMA6700 can be used to play iPod tracks using Dual's add-on iPlug cable, which is sold separately. However, the system cannot be used as either a satellite- or HD-radio receiver. All audio sources play out through the XDMA6700's simple 1-bit digital-to-analog converter with a power output of 17 x 4 channels. For audio tweaking, users can choose between five preconfigured EQ settings (pop, jazz, classic, beat, rock), and EQ levels can also be customized manually using the main control dial. We found in our test of the acoustic output that the XDMA6700 delivered a weak, tinny bass note and there was little demonstrable difference between the preset EQ settings in terms of audio output.

Bluetooth
When connected to the Alpine's plug-and-play BTM60 wireless Bluetooth module (also sold separately), the XDMA6700 can be turned into a very useful hands-free calling interface. Pairing a Bluetooth phone to the XDMA6700 involves a straightforward process: using either the stereo or a button on the Bluetooth module, users set the system to discovery mode and then complete the process by searching for devices with their cell phone.


The XDMA6700's Bluetooth calling capability is its best feature.

All calls are routed through the stereo--even those made using the handset itself--unless the driver actively disables the Bluetooth connection. This is in contrast to other stereos we've seen that only route though the car's speakers those calls that are dialed using the stereo itself. The XDMA6700 is designed specifically with hands-free Bluetooth calling in mind. Unlike most single-DIN sized stereos on the market, the system has a full keypad to the right side of the faceplate, enabling drivers to make calls easily.

With a cell phone paired, users can make outbound calls by selecting Bluetooth as a source (which pauses or navigates away from any other audio playback), and then by punching in a number to the keypad followed by the Call button. Sound quality for outgoing calls via the XDMA6700's built-in mic is good, as is the quality of incoming calls through the car's speakers. To end a call, users have to press and hold the Mute button for three to four seconds--a little longer than we found comfortable. In general, though, we are impressed with the ease of pairing, ease of calling, and sound quality of the Bluetooth interface.

In sum
The Dual XDMA6700 is an inexpensive, good-looking car stereo with a great Bluetooth interface. Its music playback functionality, however, leaves far more to be desired. Those looking for an easy-to-use stereo with high quality acoustic output should look elsewhere.

5.9

Dual XDMA6700 car stereo

Pricing Not Available

Score Breakdown

Design 6Features 7Performance 5