Monday, January 30, 2023

Kenwood Excelon Reference Series DMX958XR Monitor with Receiver Review

When it comes to electronics, you can always count on advancement. The features get better and better, year to year. Kenwood gives you a great bang for the buck. And it doesn’t get any better than Kenwood’s Excelon Reference Series. Up for review is their Kenwood Excelon Reference DMX958XR, which is big bang for the buck at only $849 MSRP.


Features and specs:

6.8" High Definition Monitor with Capacitive Touch Panel

Android Auto™ & Android Auto™ Wireless

Wired and Wireless Apple CarPlay®

High-Resolution Audio Wireless

Wireless Mirroring for Android

USB Type-C

13 Band EQ & Digital Time Alignment

4 Camera Inputs / HD Rear Camera Ready

3 Preouts 5.0V


Capacitive Touch Panel

Clear glass display with swipe functionality that provides superior picture and touch panel control.


Wireless Mirroring for Android

Solution for seamlessly displaying and controlling your smartphone apps on a screen without cables on select Android devices.

4 Camera Inputs

Optional camera connection method for up to 4 cameras in various configurations.


HD Rear Camera Input

HD Rear Camera (CMOS-740HD) can be connected for High Definition viewing.


Parking Guidelines

Parking guidelines (requires installation of compatible backup camera) that enhance the effectiveness of a backup camera.


Music Mix

Up to 5 Bluetooth® devices can be paired to the receiver at the same time. You can enjoy audio streaming just by switching the devices with your friends or family.


Dual Phone Connection

While you are connected through Bluetooth, with a touch of a button you can switch between two phones.


High Quality Sound Parts

High quality sound parts (custom-made or carefully selected capacitor, etc) are adopted to provide superior sound quality.


Graphic EQ / Digital Time Alignment

13-Band equalizer and DTA gives optimal tuning enhancements for listeners.


USB Type-C

USB Type-C cable and USB Type-A adapter are included to the set.

Rapidly charge your compatible Android smartphone with the USB port, up to a maximum of 3.0A


Short Chassis

With receivers shorter in depth than any of our previous models, installation is made easier in a wider range of cars than ever before.

The Kenwood Excelon Reference DMX958XR came in a great looking color printed box with photos and specs for the receiver. Opening the box revealed a well-protected receiver, held in place by custom Styrofoam. Materials used in the construction was metal and plastic, as is typical for car receivers. The frame is metal, with a plastic face, and controls. Quality of construction, as well as the fit and finish, was excellent. Also included was the wiring harness, USB extension cables, GPS antenna, microphone with bracket, RCA adapter cable, removal tools, mounting screws, trim ring, and quick start guide.


I really like the design of the Kenwood Excelon Reference DMX958XR. For some it could take some getting used to, as it’s mechless. This means there is no DVD/CD player. If this makes you hesitant, ask yourself when the last time was that you actually listened to a CD. If you already have a music streaming service, this mechless model will save you some coin over the alternative. And while it doesn’t have navigation built-in, thanks to Android Auto, you can use google maps for your on-screen navigation. Or for you Apple users, it’s got Apple CarPlay.  And the provided GPS antenna makes sure you have a strong satellite signal for your navigation.


While the Kenwood DMX958XR doesn’t have a CD player or built-in navigation, it still has all of the features found on Kenwood’s top of the line Excelon Reference Series. These include feature such as Wireless Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Hi-Res Audio and Hi-Res Audio Wireless, Android Wireless Mirroring, dash cam capability, parking guide line, and HD camera input. New features also include multiple camera inputs, USB-C input and rapid charging. There are also the other features that we have come to enjoy from Kenwood with HD Radio, time alignment, 13 band EQ, Drive EQ and 5-volt pre-outs, and DSP, to name a few.


Although one of my favorite features that I have come to love from the Kenwood Excelon Reference Series is the HD display. At 1280x720 resolution on a 6.75” display, the image is pure eye candy. To say that the display is breathtaking, doesn’t come close to the quality of images displayed. It doesn’t matter the color: reds, greens, blues; they are all well saturated but not overly so, and dynamic, with deep blacks and excellent contrast. With our reference system comprising of a fully active system, using top of the line components, such as Audio Control processors and German Maestro M-line 3-way speaker system hand-made in Germany, we are accustomed to high quality sound. We have reviewed previous Kenwood Excelon Reference Series receivers that have delivered in spades. Let’s see how this one performs.


Thanks to the built-in MOSFETS for the amp, there is enough power to sufficiently drive your speakers. As I went through my favorite tracks, I heard what I expected to hear. Highs were sufficiently clean, mids were smooth, vocals had good resolution and texture of the timber. The midbass from the mids had better dynamics than expected. The built-in amp overall was more transparent than expected as well.


Now don’t get me wrong, this is just an internal amp. The resolution and dynamics that the additional power, and motor control that comes with significantly more power from an external amp, was not there. But for an internal amp, it did great. And the HD Radio and Hi-Res audio also sounded great.  Switching gears, and tapping into the RCA’s to use my reference system, the Kenwood DMX958XR not only shined, it was stellar! It provided a high voltage transparent signal to my amps for my fully active system to shine as normal. My reference Kenwood DNX997XR has been a reference receiver giving the level of performance that I get from the rest of my reference gear, and the DMX958XR gave the same level of performance.


While the Kenwood DMX958XR doesn’t have built-in Navigation, and is mechless, I haven’t missed those features.  The HD Radio and Hi-Res Audio have been great through streaming. And Android Audio has worked great to be able to pull up google maps with all the directions on screen and thru the speakers.  And the eye candy the high res display gives, will make you as giddy as an 8 year old school boy in a candy store with a $20 bill, and no parents at his side.  The DMX958XR is an Excelon Reference Series product, and it shows!


When it comes to Kenwood’s product line, their Excelon Reference Series is their best of the best. In the past, the Reference Series models we have reviewed proved that they are the best. It’s easy for companies to ride on a name, but I’m glad to see that the Excelon Reference Series continues to perform to its name’s reputation. I am unsurprisingly unsurprised at the performance the new Excelon Reference receiver from Kenwood provides. The Kenwood DMX958XR is a well-made product that performs in spades. With an MSRP of $849, it’s not cheap yet provides a big bang for the buck for what you get. It’s a receiver you can’t go wrong with. Based on its design, features, quality and performance, the Kenwood Excelon Reference Series DMX958XR has earned our Editor’s Choice Award. For more info and complete specs, check out it’s website at Reference gear: AudioControl DM-810, AudioControl In-Dash Epicenter, JL Audio XD600/6 Class D amp, Vibe Audio LiteBox Stereo4 CLass GH amp, Massive Audio Nano BLU BL1 Class D amp, German Maestro M-Line 3-way components, Alpine Type-X 2-way components, Image Dynamics subs.