Sunday, September 10, 2023

Kenwood Excelon Reference DNR-1007XR 10.1" Navigation Multimedia Receiver and CMOS-740HD Camera Review

I love car audio. There’s something therapeutic about getting in your car after a stressful day at work and blasting some tunes to sing along to. And the car receivers are constantly evolving, getting better. The recent trend is going bigger. For aftermarket radios, what once was standard single DIN sized progressed to Double DIN, 6.75 inch diagonal sized screen. Now you can get the new wave in car receivers in a whopping screen size that’s over 10 inches.


Up for review today is Kenwood Excelon Reference DNR-1007XR. It is Kenwood’s top-of-the line car stereo receiver. It’s part of their Reference Series. And it sports a display that is a huge 10.1 inches. In some things, size does matter. MSRP is a bit pricy at $1900, but you do get a lot for your buck


Features and specs:

10.1" High Definition Monitor with Capacitive Touch Panel

Floating Panel Mechanism with 3-way Position Adjustment

Android Auto™ & Android Auto™ Wireless

Wired and Wireless Apple CarPlay™

High-Resolution Audio Wireless

Wireless Mirroring for Android

4 Camera Inputs, HD Front/Rear Camera Ready

Built-in Bluetooth, HD Radio & Wi-Fi

3 Preouts 5V

Garmin Navigation with 3D Terrain View


The Kenwood Excelon Reference DNR-1007XR came in a great looking color printed box, with photos and specs of the receiver. Opening up the box revealed a well-protected receiver, protected by custom molded Styrofoam. The receiver is actually in two parts. The first is the internals of the receiver that is double DIN size and mounts in the dash. The 2nd part is the screen that connects to the receiver body. Materials used in the construction was mostly metal with some plastic. Quality of the materials used was excellent, as was the fit and finish. The DNR-1007XR is their top of the line, and it show!


I mostly love the design of the Kenwood Excelon Reference DNR-1007XR. I say mostly, because it does come at the end of an era. I’m old school and used to using CD’s. Yes, the DNR-1007XR is mechless. Which means that it has no DVD/CD drive. Fortunately, I have been working on the transition and I am doing well. Many of you reader may have already made the leap. After all, mechless is where everything is heading.


Other than removing that one feature, Kenwood has you covered with everything else. In true receiver fashion, there are a lot of options to pick from for source material. For radio, you have both HD radio as well as SiriusXM satellite radio. From there your other source material options are Android Auto including Android Auto Wireless, Apple CarPlay, including Apple CarPlay Wireless, USB, and even SD card. So yes, even though I may be mourning the loss of the CD player, and some of you may be right there with me, there’s an even better solution. The SD drive.

Thanks to the huge capacity on SD cards, you can now take your entire CD collection with you and no more fiddling with discs. Just put in the SC card, and no need to take it out. Sure you can also use the USB connection for a massive flash drive and do the same thing. But you may want to save that USB connection for a phone. 99% of the time there are no issues connecting through Android Auto Wireless or Apple CarPlay Wireless. But I have seen the occasional phone have an issue connecting wirelessly for some odd reason. So while you could use the USB connection for a flash drive with your CD collection, I would still highly suggest using the SD card clot for that. While not all of Kenwood’s receivers have a SD card slot, it’s well worth getting one that does. And the Kenwood Excelon Reference DNR-1007XR is one of those models that has an SD card slot.


While all of those features are great, it’s probably the screen size, after all, that has you considering the DNR-1007XR. Kenwood does have other 10.1 inch screens in their other series. But being in their Reference Series, the Kenwood Excelon Reference DNR-1007XR actually has an HD display. Their HD display looks amazing on their double DIN sized receivers, like their DNR-997XR. But at 10.1 inches, when the DNR-1007XR is installed and you see the HD display in all of its eye candy glory: I’ll put it his way. Remember how you felt in the end scene of the movie, Rudy, when Rudy finally got onto the field to play, got the sack on the quarterback, and was carried off the field? Or in the scene of Avengers: Endgame, when Thor’s hammer comes to Captain America? Seeing the high-res screen on the DNR-1007XR, it’s a lot like that.


The Kenwood Excelon Reference DNR-1007XR also comes with all of the features that are typically found in their receivers, like the Mosfet 50 watts per channel amp, sound control features like time alignment and equalization, and sound adjustments. So if you are to use the receiver to power and control your system, it can do it in spades. And there’s the other great features like designed and built for Hi-Res Audio including Hi-Res Audio Wireless, and the 4 camera inputs and parking guidance. And we also can’t forget the built-in Garmin Navigation. Now that we know all about its great features, let’s see how it all comes together and how it actually performs.


Let’s start with the display. After all, it’s one of the main selling points. No matter what source is being displayed…maps, album art, backup camera, or video, they all look stunning. Colors are vibrant and well saturated, but not overly so. And the resolution is excellent! Even when the source material being displayed isn’t high definition, it still looks really good.  I’m familiar with the HD display, having had it for a few years with the DNR-997XR.  But even so, I still catch myself admiring how crisp and clear the display looks, with such excellent resolution!  I did not think it would be that big of a deal going from the double DIN DNR-997XR to the 10.1” DNR-1007XR, but I love the larger display!


For the audio side, we’ll start with radio. While the radio turner isn’t exceptional, it performs as good as can be expected. When you get an HD Radio signal, it sounds excellent. And I love the album art that comes with HD Radio.


The other Sources also sound great. Whether it’s the USB connection or the SD card slot, they provide great sound. And I love the Hi-Res Audio Wireless. My Amazon Music HD over Bluetooth sounds exceptional. The audio through Android Auto sounds equally stellar.


What’s also special about the Kenwood Excelon Reference DNR-1007XR, is it provides the features you need. The internal amp, DSP, and crossovers, you may not need any additional amps, crossovers, or DSP. My reference system is extensive. It’s a fully active system with 3-ways up front, 2-ways in the rear, and quad subs, with external processor and amps. So in my system, the DNR-1007XR just provides the signal to my processor and amps. It executes this in a very transparent fashion, which allows my songs sound exactly like they should without any coloration to the source signal. So no matter how you plan on using the Kenwood Excelon Reference DNR-1007XR, it will get the job done.


The built-in Garmin navigation also performed in spades. Sure you can get navigation with your smartphone through Android Auto. But having built-in navigation does have its benefits.  Some highways, intersections, and on/off ramps can be confusing. Especially when you are not familiar with them. With Garmin, not only do you get lane guidance, it also provides 3D terrain view, as well as Photo Realistic Junction View. It’s well worth it.


I love its additional functionality of the four camera inputs. And of them, the Kenwood Excelon Reference is designed to work with Kenwood’s cameras. Thanks to the HD display, the Kenwood CMOS-740HD is a perfect fit, and can be used as both a front and rear camera. It’s HD resolution mates perfectly with the DNR-1007XR.  Kenwood provided two cameras to review with the receiver, to test functionality of both front and rear cameras with the DNR-1007XR.


Installation of the Kenwood CMOS-740HD was straight forward. Setting it up was simple. The Kenwood Excelon Reference DNR1007XR already has a setting for setup of the cameras. For the rear camera there is a grid that automatically pops up to help with parking. And in the setup screen you can easily make adjustments to the grid. And while there isn’t a grid that pops up for the front camera, the front camera is still helpful, such as with parking. I have a full size struck with a tall hood, so it is a big help with parking.


As far as the image from the front and rear Kenwood CMOS-740HD camera, they really take advantage of the DNR-1007XR’s HD resolution. Putting the truck into reverse, the rear camera automatically popped up with the parking guidance.  Moving into drive, the front camera automatically popped up, and stayed on for several seconds or so.  The image is beautiful with very good saturation. At dusk and at night, producing a good image gets more difficult. At dusk, there is a great deal more noise in the image, but it’s still plenty light enough to see what is behind you. When it’s completely dark out, you lose range or distance of how far you can see behind you. But you still see very well what is directly behind you. And HDR does help in lighting what is around you and reducing blur/brightness of headlights.  And while the cameras do produce a fisheye effect, it’s only noticeable if you look at any of the corners.  With everything installed, let's see how it sounds.


Van Halen- Jump: Keyboard synthesizer was really crisp with excellent harmonics. Drums were very dynamic with very good punch and low-end extension of the kick drum. Cymbals were really crisp and clean. Vocals were very smooth with excellent texture of the timbre. Guitar was nice and raw.

Rush- Tom Sawyer: Cymbals were extremely crisp and clean, hearing the contact of the stick. Kick drum has really good extension, and played with excellent dynamics and punch. And the high, medium and floor toms also had excellent dynamics and pitch definition. Vocals were also nice and smooth with good texture.

Guns & Roses- Patience: Acoustic guitar is crisp and clean, with excellent resolution so you can even hear the decay of the strings. The whistling was so silky smooth with excellent harmonics, and the soundstage was so tangibly wide and deep it sounded almost holographic. Vocals were also silky smooth with excellent texture.

In the end, the Kenwood Excelon Reference DNR-1007XR not only provides a lot of features, it executes all of them extremely well. It provides a synergy that is more than a sum on the parts. With its $1900 MSRP, it’s not for everyone. If you can manage it, it’s worth the price. I think Ferris Bueller said it best: “It’s so choice. If you have the means, I highly recommend it!” And the Kenwood CMOS-740HD Camera is the perfect accessory for the DNR-1007XR that also performed in spades.  Based on their design, features, quality and performance, the Kenwood Excelon Reference DNR-1007XR and Kenwood CMOS-740HD Camera have earned our Editor’s Choice Award. For more info and complete specs, check out their website at Reference gear used:  Nakamichi NDST500A 12-Channel Digital Signal Processor 10-Channel Amplifier, Wavtech Link 1000.1 Subwoofer Amplifier, German Maestro M Line 3-way speaker component system, Alpine Type-X 2-way speaker component system, Image Dynamics ID8 quad subwoofers.