Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 Stereowise Plus Editor's Choice Awards

2016 is about to end.  It has been a great year for products.  Many of them are award winners.  But the best of the ones that have come across my desk have been give our highest award: the Editor's Choice Award.  Below is a list of this year's Editor's Choice Award recipients, and a link to their reviews.  Check them out.

Audiofly AF180 In-Ear Monitor

Audio-Technica ATH-A1000Z Art Monitor Closed-Back Dynamic Headphones

Ballistic Competition Sound Dampening Kit

Beyerdynamic DT  1990 Pro Headphones

Blue Lola Headphones

Creative Labs SoundBlaster iRoar Wireless Speaker System

Creative Labs SoundBlaster R3 YouTube Audio Starter Kit

Eton FRX5 All Purpose Quad Power Charging Radio

Harman Kardon Omni 20 Wireless Speaker System

Image Dynamics IDMAX 10" Car Subwoofer

JBL Everest Elite 700 Wireless ANC Headphones

JBL Xtreme Portable Bluetooth Speaker

Kenwood Excelon DNX-893S GPS Navigation System

Klipsch X20i In-Ear Monitor

Massive Audio Summo 10" Car Subwoofer

Magellan MiVue 420 Dashcam

Monster Elements Black Slate Wireless Over The Ear headphones

Re Audio SXX 10" Car Subwoofer

Sigma Buster LED Bicycle Light

T-Spec V10 Series 4 Gauge Wire

Westone Am Pro 30 In-Ear Monitor

We at Stereowise Plus would also like to thank these manufacturers, as well as all of the other manufacturers that allowed us to be part of their 2016.  As well as all of our readers being part of our 2016.  It truly has been a great year.  And we look forward to what 2017 has in store!

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Sunday, December 11, 2016

Kenwood Excelon DNX-893S GPS Navigation System Review

We all work hard for our money. So when you are in the market to purchase an item, you want to get the biggest bang for your buck. When it comes to car stereos, Kenwood has a great reputation for providing a huge bang for your buck. Their products provide a lot of features, but it’s more than that. The features work well, and they are built to last. If you want the best that’s available, it’s the Kenwood Excelon DNX-893S GPS Navigation System that should be at the top of your list.

Features and specs:

6.95 inch Wide VGA Color LCD Display with LED Backlight
Glossy & Capacitive Touch Panel
Motorized Reverse Tilt & 6 Step Tilt Angle Adjust
Touch Panel Control, Variable Key Illumination
Background Customize (JPEG x1), Display Customize (Color Coordinate)
Picture in Picture (Visual Source in Navi)
Multi-Language Menu & Tag (21 Languages (English, Spanish, French and others))

Maximum Output Power : 50W x 4 (MOSFET Power IC)
3 Preouts (5V)
HDMI / MHL Connection with Optional Cable *1
1 Rear AV Input (Mini-jack, Swithcable), 1 Rear AV Output (RCA: Video / Mini-jack: Audio)
1 RCA Video Input for Front Camera / 1 RCA Video Input for Rear View Camera
Sound Excellence DSP (13 Band Graphic EQ / Digital Time Alignment / Space Enhancer
Sound Realizer / STAGE EQ / Bass Boost / Loudness / Drive EQ+)
Installer & Backup Memory (Store & Backup Audio/Video Settings) 

*1: KCA-HD100 for HDMI, KCA-MH100 for MHL

Built-in Garmin Navigation
Photo Real Junction View, Lane Assist, Multiple Route Preview, ecoRoute, My Trend
SD Card Slot (for Map Update)
Parking Guide Line

DVD Video±R/RW Playback, MPEG 1/2/4, H.264 Video Playback
VCD Compatible, MP3 / WMA / AAC / WAV / FLAC / CD-R / -RW Playback
CD Text Ready, Repeat / Random Play
24 Bit D/A Converter

Built-in HD Radio
Sirius XM Ready
FM / AM 24 Station Presets (FM x 18, AM x 6)
RBDS with Radio Text Plus
AME (Automatic Memory Entry), Up/Down Seek Tuning

USB Interface x 2 (Rear, Detachable)
MP3 / WMA / AAC / WAV / FLAC Playback, MPEG 1/2/4 Video / H.264 / JPEG Playback
iPhone/iPod USB Direct Connection with Optional Cable *2
iPhone App Mode
Android Rapid Charge
Apple CarPlay
Android Auto
Hi-Resolution Audio Capacity 
*2: KCA-IP102 / KCA-IP103 (1 Wire) for iPod Music, KCA-IP202 (2 Wire) for iPod Music & Video

Built-in Bluetooth
(Hands-Free Profile / Audio Profile (A2DP) / AVRCP1.5 / SPP)
Bluetooth Auto Pairing (iPhone/Android)
Voice Control with iPhone using Siri
Dual Phone Connection
Wireless Music Browsing
OEM Remote Control Interface

The Kenwood Excelon DNX-893S came in a great looking color printed box with photos of the receiver and it’s specs. Opening the box revealed a very well protected receiver held in custom fit Styrofoam. Materials used in construction were mostly metal, with some plastic. Quality of materials used was very good. The fit and finish was excellent. The Kenwood Excelon DNX-893S was very well made and felt so in hand. Also included in the box were the bevels for installation, mounting screws, keys, GPS antenna, microphone for voice controls, dual USB doggle, wiring harness, and owner’s manual.

Getting the Kenwood Excelon DNX-8935 installed was fairly straight forward. Once installed, I was a bit taken back. There are so many features, where do I start? It was like being a kid in a candy store with a pocket full of money. Having the Kenwood Excelon DNX-893S is a lot like that.

I think the first place to start is the basics. The Kenwood Excelon DNX-893S is a double-din GPS Navigation System. It starts with a 50x4 mosfet internal amplifier. There are three 5V preouts for a clean powerful signal, as well as multiple other inputs and outputs. The Kenwood Excelon DNX-893S gives you a lot of options. Additional optional accessories are HDMI cable, front and rear cameras, and remote control. The display is a 6.95” LED backlit touch screen. It’s tuner has 24 station presets, with RBDS. The transport is a DVD/CD player.  Additional media control features include Bluetooth and dual USB inputs, as well as an SD card slot for audio/video playback as well as GPS map updates.

The Kenwood Excelon DNX-893S also includes many advanced features such as advanced panel, new GUI and premium audio. There are advanced navigation features with Garmin Navigation, parking guidelines, and INRIX, with either the USB or Bluetooth connections you can access your phones features through Apple Carplay, Android Auto, Wireless Music Browsing, including Dual Phone Connection. Another optional feature is the idatalink Maestro. With newer vehicles it will tap into its system to view it’s info , such as gauges, climate, and vehicle info.

I love the look of the new GUI interface. The colors are vivid with high contrast. Texts are crystal clear. Navigating the set-up, and the various pages for accessing it’s features, was very simple. Once the power button is pressed, the system was up in 14 seconds, which was about as expected. Navigating the screens was fast and responsive, thanks to its new dual-core processor for running its Linux based OS. The Kenwood Excelon DNX-893S is redesigned inside and out, and it shows. Not only is it quick and responsive, the new interface looks simply sexy. And I love the ability to have a graphic EQ spectrum analyzer on the display.

The advanced audio features are also excellent! At it's core, the Kenwood DNX-893S is an Excelon.  This means it was designed for the audiophile in mind, with higher quality and standards in mind, like the 5V pre-outs, and 13 bands of EQ.  These advanced features include Sound Excellence DSP, 13 Band Graphic EQ, digital time alignment, space enhancer, sound realize, Stage EQ, bass boost, loudness and drive all of this lets you totally customize your sound the way you like it. And with its extensive sound tweaking abilities, customizing your sound is very easy to do. Not only will your CD’s and MP3’s sound great, it also can handle High Resolution Audio up to 192 kHz/24it! So it’s ready for your music now and in the future.  It's enough to get any audiophile drooling!

The Kenwood Excelon DNX-893S also does an excellent job in getting you to your destination, and doing so safely. With front and rear cameras connected, you will have parking guidelines, to help you get in those tight spaces. INRIX gives you traffic info, parking locations, as well as gas prices, even weather info for your commuting needs.  2 years of the INRIX service is included. And of course the Garmin Navigation does an amazing job of getting you from point A to point B. Garmin’s built-in lane guidance and Photo Real Junction View helps to ensure you are on the right path, and keep you there.  Of course if you miss your turn, no need to fret.  You'll get re-directed.  And you can also updated your preferences such as shortest distances, or quickest drive times.  Don't like toll roads?  You can choose to avoid those as well, thanks to it's well thought out preferred travel settings.

Last but not least among the great features is the ability to more conveniently and safely use your smartphone’s features. No matter if you use iPhone or Android, the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto features have you covered. The features you are used to using on your phone, such as sending or receiving texts, making or receiving calls, listening to your music, or using Voice/Siri, and now be done through the Kenwood Excelon DNX-893S. All of these features can be conveniently seen on the receiver's display. The Dual Phone Connection features will allow you to use two separate smartphones. Switching phones for making and receiving calls is as simple as a press of a button. You can also with Wireless Music Browsing go through your music selection on your phone through Bluetooth.

The Kenwood Excelon DNX-893S GPS Navigation System turned out to be a very solid performer!  The built-in amp put out plenty of power (for a receiver).  Located in rural Arizona, radio channels are not easy to pull in, but the Kenwood Excelon DNX-893S did a very good job in pulling in those channels.  And I loved the built-in HD Radio.  The music was cleaner in the FM, as well as the AM.  I also liked the sub channels for extra content, as well as the music info being displayed such as artist and song. 

The DVD/CD transport also provided a smooth well functioning operation.  With a push of a button the screen slid down to allow insertion of the CD/DVD, or the eject of a disc.  CD sound quality was excellent as was the tracking of the songs on the disc.  The same was also true for DVD movies.  I would expect nothing less from any receiver, and the Kenwood Excelon DNX-893S performed just as expected.

This is the 10 year anniversary of Kenwood's partnership with Garmin in their GPS enabled receivers.  In that time, thanks to Garmin's experience, Kenwood has had a lineup of well functioning GPS navigation receivers.  The Kenwood Excelon DNX-893S's navigation function has met my high expectations.  I was easily able to see my location, and route to my destination.  The spoken turn by turn directions were also easy to follow.  The unit has yet to not get me to my desired destination.  Of course being able to see the POI's along the route was also very helpful!  So if you need some gas, or just a bite to eat, the Garmin navigation features have you covered as well.

The extra features, such as Android Auto was also easy to use.  I enjoyed being able to use my phones features, such as making and receiving calls as wells as texts.  And of course I also can't forget being able to access my Spotify and Pandora tunes!  Unfortunately I had a compatibility issue with my HTC One M9 smartphone, so I was not able to use the mirroring function.  But a simple software update can potentially fix that.  Having an SD car slot also proved extremely handy!  The SD card slot is used to updated the navigation maps.  But it can also be used to play music and videos.  Given the size of your music collection, you can potentially put all of your collection on a single SD card, and have all your music with you on the go!  I know many of us have transitioned our entire music collection from our old iPod to an SD card, or even microSD card, so you can have it all with you on your phone.  Now you can take your card with you in your Kenwood Excelon DNX-893S!

Kenwood has done it again.  For the many years I have had the privilege to review Kenwood products, their reputation has given me high expectations for their products.  And again I am pleasantly unsurprised at Kenwood's ability to deliver a product that meets my high expectations.  One of their standard single DIN receivers provide a lot of features.  But if you want top of the line features, the Kenwood Excelon DNX-893S GPS Navigation System should be on the top of your list to check out.  It truly is loaded in features, and it also performs extremely well!  It's build quality also appears good enough to give years of service.  Based on its design, features, quality, and performance, the Kenwood Excelon DNX-893S GPS Navigation System as earned our Editor's Choice Award.  Kudos to Kenwood on such an excellent product.  For more info and complete specs, check out their website at Components of reference system used in the review: German Maestro MS 654010 Active component system, Alpine SPX13-REF component system, Image Dynamics IDMAX10 subwoofer,  JL Audio XD600/6 Class D amp, Vibe Audio LiteBox Stereo 4 Class GH amp,  Vibe Audio Black Death Bass 1 Class GH sub amp, Audio Control DQXS electronic crossover and equalizer, Kicker Front Row DSP/Crossover.

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Sunday, December 4, 2016

Harman Kardon Omni 20 Wireless Speaker System Review

Our music has gone portable, with many wireless services, which makes it easy to use on our smartphones. This in time lets us take our music with us anywhere. But once we get home, we want an easy way to enjoy our tunes. So wireless speaker systems have gotten popular. Yet not all wireless speaker systems are created equal. Enter the Harman Kardon Omni 20. They are an elegantly styled home wireless speaker system that would fit well in any décor.

Features and specs:

Device Compatibility


General Specifications

Transducers2 x 75mm woofer, 2 x 19mm tweeter

Rated Power4 x 15W

Bluetooth Transmitter Frequency Range2402 − 2480MHz

Bluetooth Transmitter Power<4dbm span="">

Bluetooth Transmitter ModulationGFSK, 3.14/4 DQPSK, 8DPSK

2.4G Wi-Fi Transmitter Frequency Range2412 − 2472MHz

2.4G Wi-Fi Transmitter Power<20dbm span="">

2.4G Wi-Fi ModulationOFDM, DSSS, DBPSK, DQPSK, CCK, 16QAM, 64QAM

2.4G Wi-Fi Network CompatibilityIEEE 802.11b/g/n

Weight (g)2125

Audio Specifications

Frequency Response53Hz - 20kHz @ -6dB

Signal-to-Noise Ratio>80dB


Width (mm)260

Width (in)10-1/4

Depth (mm)164

Depth (in)6-7/16

Height (mm)166

Height (in)6-9/16

The Harman Kardon Omni 20 came shipped in a nice looking box, with photos of the speaker and its specs printed on the box. Opening the box manifested an elegant looking speaker held firmly in place by protective packaging. Materials used in the construction is mostly plastic with some cloth. Quality of materials used in the construction is excellent. And the same is true for the fit and finish. The Harman Kardon Omni 20 felt very solid, and well made. Also included is the power cord, and safety instructions, and manual.

The Harman Kardon Omni 20 is controlled with the Harmon Kardon Controller, which is an app for your phone or tablet that you would download online. My initial thought was some people who are not tech savy could be confused and not know what to do without any owner's manual with step by step instructions. Then I saw in the start-up guide that the owner's manual is available online, with clear step by step instructions.  And it is rather simple. Just download and install the app, and it will walk you through getting everything set up. You will be listening before you know it.  It took a few tries, and then I saw there was a software update.  After installing the update I was easily connected to my home wi-fi.

I loved the ability to link up to my wi-fi system. Doing so allowed me to link two Omni 20’s together for either stereo sound in one room, or to have whole house music. You can also have it linked to your music, so when you go from room to room from one Omni 20 to another, your music follows you. You end up having a lot of options and usability.  Although as great as the multi-room whole home system is, this isn’t for everyone.

I really liked its versatility as well. Not only can you do wi-fi, but there are also the typical Bluetooth as well as wired connections. If you aren’t looking to use multiple Omni 20s together for a whole house system, or maybe that’s a little too advanced for you, there is still the ability to use these more traditional connections. Any mp3 player can be connected to the 3.5 mm wired connection. The Bluetooth connection also works very well, and was really easy to pair with my HTC One M9 smartphone.

Now that I’m paired, it’s time to jam to some tunes. And jam it can! The Harmon Kardon Omni 20 can really bring out the awesomeness in your tunes. Kansas: Carry On My Wayward Son, had very good harmonics and texture in the vocals. The percussion was dynamic with crisp cymbals and kick drums with very good depth. Fresh Aire II: Going to Another Place, had better than expected resolution. The strings were so crisp and clean, so much so that I could hear the pick sliding across the strings. The piano also sounded very natural. The flute was very smooth without being too warm, and had very good air.

With it being the Christmas season, I thought I’d also turn to some holiday music. Manheim Steamroller: Pat A Pan had really crisp percussion. When the bass kicked in, it play with more authority and deeper than expected. The passive radiator on the back did it's job very well, as I could actually feel it in my chair. The flute also had good harmonics and air, and was only a tad warm. The strings were also very smooth with good texture and detail.

I ended up going through a multitude of different songs from a lot of different genre. And I kept hearing the same thing; songs that were true to the sound of the original recording. Highs were crisp yet not bright, mids were smooth yet not overly warm. And the bass had nice texture, dynamics, depth and played with authority. And while being small in size, the Harman Kardon Omni 20 still threw a good sized soundstage, and had very good imaging. The sound was very good in all aspect.

The Harman Kardon has hit the ball out of the park with the Omni 20! The Wife Acceptance Factor is high based on its elegant looking oval design with gloss black cabinet. It will fit right in with any décor. The Omni 20 also sounds as good as it looks. With the built-in WPS button on the back, it was also fairly easy to get it set up on my wifi network. Add in the fact that it also does Bluetooth as well as having a 3.5 mm input, it is a fairly universal speaker system. The build quality is also top notch, giving well built speaker system to provide years of service. The only downside- their music service selection doesn’t include Spotify or Pandora, which was a little surprising and slightly disappointing.
Based on its design, features, quality and performance. The Harman Kardon Omni 20 wireless speaker system has earned our Editor’s Choice Award. With an MSRP of $299. And add to the fact that you can use multiple Omni 20’s together to create a whole house system is just icing on the cake! It is a good value, and would be rather economical to create a whole house system. For more info and complete specs, check out their website at

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