Sunday, July 23, 2023

Kenwood Excelon Motorsport KMR-XM500 Digital Media Receiver Review

Summer is here. And if you’re like me, it’s time to hit the outdoors. Whether that means hitting the trails in your side by side, the golf course in your golf cart, or the lake in your boat, you may want to bring your tunes with you. Kenwood has a knack for providing the products we need to enjoy our music in our various vehicles. Up for review today is their Kenwood Excelon KMR-XM500. MSRP is a very reasonable $500.


Features and specs:

3” Gauge-Style Mounting

2.7” LCD Display

AM/FM/Global Weather Band Tuner

Waterproof Rating of IP66

Wired Remote Ready (KCA-RC35MR, Sold Separately)

SiriusXM Ready®

Rear USB Port w/ 1.5A Charging

Variable Color Illumination

Bluetooth® Streaming

Rear View Camera Input

50 Watts x 4

3 Pre-Outs (5.0V)

The Kenwood Excelon KMR-XM500 came in a great looking color printed box with photos and specs of the receiver. Opening the box revealed a well-protected product, held in place by custom molded Styrofoam. Materials used in the construction was plastic and some metal. Quality of materials used, as well as fit and finish, is very good. This is Kenwood’s top motorsport receiver, and it shows. Also included was the mounting gasket, bracket, hardware, as well as wiring harness and owner’s manual.


It used to be that you needed a receiver for your home audio system due to all of the different components. Whether it be radio, tape deck, CD player, Cable TV, VCR, or Blu-ray player, you wanted to be able to listen to/watch them all thru your speaker system. Car audio used to just be radio and tape player, or radio and CD player. But it too evolved to a multitude of choices, such as radio, CD, Sirius XM, Bluetooth, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, USB, SD card, etc. now you can take your tunes with you everywhere you go.

I love the design of the Kenwood Excelon KMR-XM500. Just as home audio has evolved, followed by car audio, so has audio for our recreation vehicles. Thanks to Kenwood and their Excelon KMR-XM500, it provides the same functionality as their car receivers. It has your antenna input for local radio, Sirius XM connecting USB connector, Aux input, front & rear and subwoofer audio outputs, and even a video input. All of the different sources for your music is at your fingertips.

The design of the Kenwood KMR-XM500 is also about getting the sound that you want. While it has the built-in amp to power your front and rear speakers, it can take it to the next level as well. Just as Kenwood’s car receivers have 6-line outputs for front, rear and subs to be connected to external amps, so has the Kenwood KMR-XM500. So if you want the same caliber of excellent audio system in your boat, side by side, golf card, or other recreational vehicle, as you have in your car or truck, the Kenwood KMR-XM500 gives you that same functionality as well.

The innovation doesn’t end there. Kenwood also gave us a great looking color display. So your input icons look great, as do your settings. And when using a connected back-up camera, the image of behind your vehicle looks even better. When using this on a boat, for example, it’s a much easier way to watch and keep an eye on the water skier on tow behind you!


Installation was rather simple. I love the options the Kenwood Excelon KMR-XM500 provides. The amp inside is actually 2-ohm rated for extra power. You also have all of the outputs you have become used to with Kenwood. There are outputs for external amps should you choose, as well as camera inputs. All of the expansion options you are used to, has been carried over. There’s a durable metal housing, with a nice foam gasket to go between the receiver and your vehicles dash to protect it from the elements, and a U-shaped metal bracket to hold it into place.


To put it to the test, I wanted to test it’s 2-ohm ability. Kenwood just sent us a pair of their new XM65R 6.5-inch coaxial speakers for their new Harley Motorcycle series to review, which are 2-ohm speakers. Perfect! It’s a match made in heaven. Pairing it to my smartphone thru Bluetooth was also a breeze. And there were also the internal settings to make audio adjustments, like with fixed and customizable EQ curves. Now let’s see how it sounds.

AC/DC – Back in Black: kickdrum had nice dynamics with good impact and authority. Guitar was nice and raw with nice harmonics. Vocals were also nice and raw. 

Disturbed – Sound of Silence: piano sounded very natural with great harmonics.  Vocals were silky smooth with very good resolution of the texture of the timbre.  The acoustic guitar was really crisp, hearing the contact on the strings.  Violins were also really smooth.  Tympani was nice and dynamic with good resolution of the mallet pounding the tympani.

Rush – Tom Sawyer:  Kick drum had really good impact.  It was nice and tight, with good low-end extension, and played with good authority.  Snare drum was nice and dynamic.  Cymbals were really crisp and clean with great resolution of the impact of the wood sticks on the metal cymbal.  Vocals were silky smooth with excellent harmonics of the texture of the timbre.  Guitar sounded nice and raw.  The drums were killer with better-than-expected pitch definition of the midbass, that was very dynamic and played with great authority.  Obviously noticeable was also the soundstage and imaging.  The soundstage revealed to be not only wide but also deep.  And imaging for the different instruments was spot on.


I was impressed with the Kenwood Excelon KMR-XM500.  With a round design, it will fit in the 3-inch gauge space of any recreational vehicle like a side by side, boat, or golf cart.  The metal design of the housing also appears to do double duty as a heat sink as well.  To test this, after rocking out with many of my favorite tracts and seeing what the KMR-XM500 can do, I wanted to check the temperature of the housing.  The Kenwood Excelon KMR-XM500 did very well powering the Kenwood XM65R 6.5-inch coaxial speakers.  After a long listening session, there was not a single hiccup.  And touching the metal housing revealed that they were only a tad warm. But that showed that it was doing double duty as a heat sink, and they were doing very well!  So handling a 2-ohm load is not a problem.


When it comes to taking your tunes with you on the go, Kenwood has yet again got you covered with a great product for your recreational vehicles.  And it has multiple options to get your tunes, either thru your phone, streaming service, etc. And it does so with high quality clean sound.  And the internal amps put out enough power to do a sufficient job of powering some speakers.  After all, the Kenwood XM65R 6.6-inch coaxial speakers did sound very good.  If you have a recreational vehicle, the Kenwood Excelon KMR-XM500 deserves some of your time to be checked out.  Based on its design, features, quality, and performance, the Kenwood Excelon KMR-XM500 has earned our Editor’s Choice Award.  For more info and complete specs, check out their website at