Tweak this car stereo's sound with a smartphone app
The CDE-147BT -- Alpine's latest car stereo -- lets users create and share custom sound settings via a companion app for iOS and Android smartphones.
Antuan GoodwinReviews Editor / Cars
Antuan Goodwin gained his automotive knowledge the old fashioned way, by turning wrenches in a driveway and picking up speeding tickets. From drivetrain tech and electrification to car audio installs and cabin tech, if it's on wheels, Antuan is knowledgeable.
ExpertiseReviewing cars and car technology since 2008 focusing on electrification, driver assistance and infotainmentCredentials
North American Car, Truck and SUV of the Year (NACTOY) Awards Juror
Most car stereos that I've ever fiddled with have offered some sort of equalizer setting that lets the driver customize the sound to their liking, but fitting more than the basic treble, bass, and --occassionally-- midrange controls onto the cramped display of a single DIN receiver is a tricky endeavor. Alpine wants to make it easier for users of its new CDE-147BT receiver to access advanced graphic EQ controls by offloading the audio tuning interface to an Alpine TuneIt app for Android and iOS devices.
The app lets users create a profile for their vehicle and any other Alpine equipment that is installed therein. Once the profile is set up, users can adjust parametric EQ, crossover, time correction, bass/mid/treble, and Media Xpander settings, among others by tapping and swiping at an interface on their phone's touch screen. Users can save up to 100 different sound settings for different types of music and can share and download setups with other Alpine TuneIt users. The app gives users the ability to find, download, and profiles created by other users and to rate those settings profiles.
Normally, I'd turn my nose up what seems at first to be superfluous sharing, but the TuneIn app's sharing function could be useful for car audio enthusiasts who perhaps don't know where to start when tuning their stereo's sound. They could just search for a highly rated setup for their vehicle and adjust from there. The end result is that, for example, a novice user who owns a Kia Soul could find the best setups for the stock Kia speakers when listening to dubstep, bluegrass, or podcasts and audiobooks by searching for and downloading a preset.
The CDE-147BT hardware connects to the TuneIt app via USB for iOS devices (and presumably Bluetooth when using the Android version). The receiver itself otherwise seems fairly typical of Alpine's solid lineup of single-DIN CD receivers. The head unit boasts Pandora Internet radio controls when paired with an Android or iOS device running the app, Bluetooth for hands-free calling and audio streaming, USB and iPod connectivity, and a two-line, dot-matrix display. Internal amplification is rated at 18 watts by 4 channels and external amps can be added via its three 4-volt preamp outputs.
The TuneIn app has one more social function that seems a bit less useful: Facebook notifications. When the app is linked to your Facebook account, it can inform the driver of an impending notification with an audible alert and by blinking the blue source selection button on the CDE-147BT's face. The username associated with this incoming notification also appears on the receiver's screen, but it sounds like no other data will be displayed. Alpine tells us that this function serves to remind the driver to check their Facebook account on the phone when the car is parked, which seems like a bit of unnecessary distraction (albeit a very tiny one) when the Facebook app itself already sends user notifications.
The Alpine CDE-147BT is available now at an MSRP of $230. Its companion Alpine TuneIt app is a free download in the iTunes app store. The Android-compatible version of the app will be available in the Google Play store later this month.