Pros: Well made, uncluttered panel, respectable features, cheap
Cons: Sleeves too short
Since I spend a lot of time in my car, it made sense to buy a new head unit and replace the dying Grundig cassette radio with a modern CD player. I bought a JVC KD-S580 CD player/radio head unit for my 㥨 Corsa and fitted it myself over the weekend gone. I must say that I had no idea how to do it, but its very easy once you get the entire dashboard opened up. The new head unit went in without much fuss, and less complaint than what the old unit gave coming out.
The first choice when it came to choosing a new unit was the price, and looking along Halfords wall of sound I could only chose the dinky JVC among all the highly fashionable Sony, Alpine and Pioneer head units. What with it being the cheapest, it also is the less eye-catching, which is important when something is in a car without an alarm, and less than secure window seals. However, there is always the security of a removable faceplate, and the JVC has one. Even if you hide it in the door tray or glove box, its better than on show, like my mother unfortunately found one Saturday night. I can tell you, not even a very loud alarm can stop the most determined thieves these days so its important to always remove the faceplate.
I found the JVC for #90, marked down from #100, which is a fair price for what you get. You may also need adaptors or harnesses so that you can fit it. Although most modern cars have the sockets or plugs this unit needs. In my car, I only needed an aerial adaptor specified by one of the helpful staff. It might have been overpriced, but the #4 aerial adaptor is essential. After I bought the unit, I took my car home and fitted it there. It took more time getting the old unit out but the JVC went in without a problem. In my car there was a sleeve fitted to the old unit, which I removed for the JVCs chassis. The JVC unit does come with half-length sleeve, but in my case, wasnt long enough, so I used the old one. After fitting it and getting it fired up without any hitches, its still running soundly.
The JVC KD-S580 has four channels of amplification, rated at 17w per corner with a maximum output of 45w, and considering the high sensitivity of most car speakers, it should be quite loud enough. This is also into 4ohm loads, while up to 8ohm is in tolerance. Features are respectable, considering the price you get all of 18 channels for presets on the radio section in AM or FM, simple CD functions and EQ settings all digital. By far the best thing about the unit is its display, the bright white LCD panel on black makes it very easy to read even in sunlight and not distracting at night. Tuning on the unit is quite easy, given it doesnt have an auto search, it does display an M for a matching signal. Presetting is also easy; I could do all the features without picking up the manual. Another neat feature is a line out, which means you can add additional amplifiers for more speakers. The line out is a set of RCA phono sockets.
Aside from the easy interface, the buttons are loose but well made and positioned. Illumination is good, but a bit difficult to read on a few buttons. Its pretty good at playing CDs, and sounds fine at the moment.
During the short time that I have had the unit, I'm happy with the sound quality granted I am still using the manufacturers' speakers built into the door panels. Given their poor sound quality, you can overcome harshness or distortion easily by using the JVC's multiple sound modes, which allows you to store three individual sound settings under Pop, Beat and Soft. These are under the 'SCM' mode, JVC's answer to a DSP...This allows me to select a setting for a particular loudness so I don't do harm to the speakers or my ears. The CD transport is quite smooth, it reaches tracks and scans through them steadily but accurately. I've only had it skip once or twice on very rough roads, but not over the speed bumps that litter practically every street these days.
Generally a good all-rounder. The best thing about the JVC KD-S580 is its usability; with an uncluttered interface it takes away the hassle of playing a CD or switching radio stations. A few advanced features are missing but hardly missed.