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Discussion Starter #1
Received my Clarion DXZ785USB friday, and hooked it up today. Here is an attempt at a review of it. Partly because I want to inform, partly because I want feedback from other DXZ 785 owners.


When first plugging it in, I was pretty happy: a clear sound, good soundstage / stereo feel, good dynamics, snares, toms etc were clear and very audible. I had heard the 785 was harsh, but nope, not harsh at all.

The look was much better than people have said. Once I tweaked the colors, it fit in quite nicely in my Audi. So far, so good. I was ready to give the unit a good review here in these forums.


The white noise:

After listening a while, I noticed a white noise effect. Is it there? Or is it the music? I turned up the volume, the noise seemed to stay at the same level. Turned down the volume again, found the point where it stood out the most. Yep, definitely a white noise effect.

Another observation was that while some songs sounded great in my first impression, others lost their charm completely. This usually means there's some sort of coloring.

The display also, as people have said, has poor visibility. This seems partly due to a low quality LCD screen, and partly due to the fact that the background isn't dark, but lit. Pretty silly.

USB: I tried playing from two different USB sticks, but the unit gave me "Error 2", which is supposed to be an error in the mp3 encoding. Unlikely, since it plays the same mp3 files from CD. I will post about this when I find out what the problem is..


The monitor headphone test:

I hooked up some Beyerdynamic monitor headphones into the RCAs. These have an exceptionally clear and neutral sound, and I can use them as a reference point. I put on some music that I have played many times before with these phones (using a hi-fi headphone amp and a hi-fi DAC).

I immediately noticed that what was supposed to be neutral, un-equalized sound, had a strong nasal quality, and that it sounded kind of "canned". Definitely colored base sound, no doubt about it. Disappointing, Clarion.

The white noise was also more audible here, I could hear the white noise switch between different volume levels in "steps". The noise itself wasn't very "digital", it sounded like good old-fashioned TV / radio white noise. This could be a bug in the mp3 algorithm, but it sounds too analogue. It is probably due to the amped 6V outs of this unit.

The highs were not very good either, and together with the white noise hiss, definitely not worthy of the Morels I will soon be installing. :(

It might be that this unit is equalizable, I will edit this post if the equalizing somehow does wonders.


Conclusions so far:

+: nice soundstage, decent display
+: extremely many typical "audiophile" tweakpoints.
+: nice configurability, nice random function

-: Colored base sound, amplifying bass and high mids. Probably for that first impression of good car sound. I will write more feedback / correct myself when I have tried tweaking the EQ.
-: A white noise hiss that doesn't increase by volume, but changes the volume in "steps" depending on dynamics in the music. This could be a bug in the (320 kbps) mp3 decoding, but I doubt it. The noise doesn't sound "digital", but it sounds like some sort of digital technique of managing the 6V outs. Maybe I'm wrong, maybe I made a mistake, since noone else has mentioned this?
-: I can't find a way to turn the bright display off in standby mode. Annoying.
-: at best, clunkily implemented USB functionality.

Not going to rate it yet, but so far, not very happy. The sound isn't horrible, or else I wouldn't have liked it in the beginning, but after some intent listening, I feel pretty confident this unit is not worthy of being the root sound output in an expensive setup.


If you have this unit, and don't have these problems, please give me feedback here or in PMs. If what I hear is just because I have done something wrong, I would of course like to know! I will edit this post according to what I find out.
 

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i dont have any problems with mine. and to me the clarion performs just as well as the alpine it replaced but has the features i needed.


the display does suck though
 

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I haven't hooked up either of my 785's yet (one will be going in my sister's car) but I had a 585... should be VERY similar to the 785 without the active crossover options. I noticed no hiss with the 6v preouts. I used my friend's blackberry, my iPod, and an iPhone with the 585 and had no issue with sound coloration as far as I could tell.

Is the amp off? How is your HU grounded?

I was very happy with the 585.
 

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I was wondering if a film screen over the face (like the ones used for computer screens before LCD) would help... polarized will black out lcd, though.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I haven't hooked up either of my 785's yet (one will be going in my sister's car) but I had a 585... should be VERY similar to the 785 without the active crossover options. I noticed no hiss with the 6v preouts. I used my friend's blackberry, my iPod, and an iPhone with the 585 and had no issue with sound coloration as far as I could tell.
Mine definitely has a very clear emphasis on high mids / bass with the P/EQ off. I can understand why they have done this. It really makes the high details stand out clearly from the bassy "floor".

Is the amp off? How is your HU grounded?
It's definitely no ground noise, it is a subtle white noise hiss. But I will experiment a bit more with the amp on/off, and see if I notice a difference. I will also try to EQ tweak the unit using the headphone monitors.

I hope I'm wrong, and I hope it's tweakable. I'm not really ready to buy another unit..
 

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Been enjoying mine for about a month now, still find myself tuning and tweaking quite a bit. Which is o.k. as long as the end result is SQ. I like the features and yes the face was different at first, but like it now. My front stage sounds very detailed and accurate, and with the time-alignment is a really cool feature to have. I love this HU.:D:D
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Been enjoying mine for about a month now, still find myself tuning and tweaking quite a bit. Which is o.k. as long as the end result is SQ. I like the features and yes the face was different at first, but like it now. My front stage sounds very detailed and accurate, and with the time-alignment is a really cool feature to have. I love this HU.:D:D
Glad you enjoy it. :)
I agree completely that the display doesn't really matter, but I felt I had to include it in the review.
I also felt that the sound was very clear and detailed in the beginning.
Listening some more for the next days, again I hope I am wrong, I really wanted to like this unit.
 

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I have been using the 775 for about 3 months with no issues. I am not having any white noise issues. I can tell a difference between some MP3 songs though, I attribute that to the recording.

I also have a 785 in my truck.

The one draw back for me in the truck was in 3-way mode the mid LP is limited to 630hz. This sucks for a 4-way in my truck. So I had to find a work around which was to use 2-way mode use the rear outs for midbass and use the mid in pass through then use the sub amp to handle the x-over duty.

I agree about the screen the sun just kills it and then if you have sunglasses on its almost plain washed out completely.

I have had no white noise from either unit.

The 6v outputs are strong.

I am working on still figuring out how to get better at navigating the MP3 set-up. Might be me or this HU is a little difficult in navigating around a 8 to 16GB thumb drive.

I agree that it appears the emphasis for any coloration was placed on the mids and highs. Which with a little EQ can be taken care of. I dailed back 12.5k, 400hz some a leveled my set-up out, could have been my drivers though.

All in all this HU is clear and detailed with very good sound. I will eventually compare it against a Ecplise 8455 and Denon A-100. It sounds way better than the DVA-9860 I compared it against just more detailed and cleaner sounding. The 9860 just seems to have no detail and clarity in the high/mid region. Thats why its in the wife's SUV.

All in all for me this is one of my fav. HU I have owned. Well worth the money and overlooked will it was made.
 

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I tuned 2 different trucks with this basic unit (775 and 785) and it was a joy to use. Didn't notice anything funky going on with noise either. In the truck I did eq work in I also dailed down 400hz and 12.5khz iirc. HAD to take some of the forwardness out of those hds tweets though:eek::pOther than that the Clarion has all the tweaks needed to tune for sq except I doubt I'd ever consider running one because the slopes only go up to 18db. The 3 band peq is really all you need in my honest opinion for smoothing out the REALLY bad spots.

EDIT: I think the crossovers on my amps are 24db and a helluva lot more accurate than the jumps your average digital processor makes so sub and mid highpass could be taken care of better there than it is now with the 24db slopes used for the sub and mid lowpass in my alpine. Looks like I found my next headunit if they're still making a 3-way unit when my alpine goes out.
 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
Been looking at it (a lot) more. I just gave up the noise thing and focused on the EQ. I've used reference equipment and tweaked my ass off for hours. I still come up with the same result. And this:

Genxx said:
It sounds way better than the DVA-9860 I compared it against just more detailed and cleaner sounding. The 9860 just seems to have no detail and clarity in the high/mid region. Thats why its in the wife's SUV.
.. as well as one of the reviews I found..
online review said:
Even at 75 mph with the top down, the sound is much clearer at louder volumes...The DXZ785USB's clarity is extremely good!
..confirms what I hear in the monitors. The unit does have a "nasal" high mid boost, to make it sound "cleaner" and "clearer", especially at high speeds in a car. I noticed it myself without using the monitors; the unit sounds very detailed, even at high speeds, without sounding "harsh". The frequency area seems carefully picked. The base sound seems to be pretty good, so there is a lot of detail here, no doubt. Unfortunately, it is the heavy builtin EQ which makes the quality and detail of the base sound so noticeable.


Like I said, I've tried tweaking the EQ for several hours now. I found the Clarion-boosted area, it's very easy to hear on my monitor equipment. The boosted area, which gives the illusion of an extremely "clear" sounding unit, can be removed by using the P.EQ at 1600 or 2000 Hz and dampening it by -7 dB..

Unfortunately, the filter is not precise enough to remove the boost without removing other parts of the sound as well. So I ended up switching between 1600 ("canned") and 2000 Hz ("dull"), depending on the music, I switched maybe 10-11 times without success, so I assume the area is around 1800 Hz.


I am not out to diss this unit, that a lot of people obviously love. The unit itself actually seems to be quite good, with a detailed DAC, good interface, many options etc. The problem is that this unit has been presented as a cheap, neutral "high end" player, which it is not. My suggestion to Clarion would be to make this "clarity effect" optional, and just provide neutral sound?

If you want a unit that can make music sound clear and detailed at high speeds, and you don't mind giving your entire music collection the same, crispy, detail enhanced shine, it is a great unit.

But If you want a neutral HU that lets external equipment do the job of making it sound good, then this is a dead end, unfortunately...
 

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I posted this in another thread yesterday and thought I would copy it over to here.

Keep in mind I have untrained ears and no experience with other HUs recently.

OK, I finally got the 7785USB installed this weekend and I expect that it has more features for the money than any other HU that exists. I first saw this thread a few weeks ago and checked NewEgg to no avail. I was then watching it on Amazon for $217 for a few weeks and then saw it at sonic for $157 after shipping. 5 minutes before I pulled the trigger I checked Amazon once more to see that they had one in stock direct from Amazon for $129.00 free shipping. So 129 it was.

There is no doubt that the interface is just not something that most people will like, especially the first hour or two of use. After awhile you get used to it and then you take a drive and have to get used to the fact that, with your convertible top down, in the sun, its impossible to read so no fooling around with it while sitting at a traffic light. The lettering on most of the buttons is to small. The volume button is poorly illuminated at night and the contrast and dimmer dont really help.

Having said that I'm sure that this is the HU for me, at least for a good while. I am new to 3-way active and this will be the perfect way to learn.

Other than the interface this is a very nice HU. You can choose just about any color illumination that you like. It has 6volt pre-outs. You can either use the Bass and Trebel feature or the 3 band Parametric eq. in 3-way active mode it is actually HP, Band Pass, Band Pass instead of HP, BandPass, LP so this HU is also good for 3-way active up front with NO sub.

My feeling would be that at Sonic for $157 its pretty much a no brainer. At Amazon for $217, maybe not. I may try to find a good deal on the PRS880 which you can find for around $240-$280 on ebay.

Since my entire system has not yet been installed, I am currently running the Clarion in Normal mode as opposed to 2-way or 3-way mode so I have NOT used the XO and I can not really comment on the sound quality as of yet.

I have been fooling with the Peq but I dont really understand it completley. I need more education on tuning and XO points and q curve etc. etc.. Can anyone that has used the Peq on this HU help me understand it a bit better?

Also, I can take a few pics if anyone is interested. I used the Metra install kit which I was pretty unhappy with as I had to use gorilla tape, plumbers tape, epoxy and a screw to make the pocket fit correctly.
 

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The problem is that this unit has been presented as a cheap, neutral "high end" player, which it is not. My suggestion to Clarion would be to make this "clarity effect" optional, and just provide neutral sound?


But If you want a neutral HU that lets external equipment do the job of making it sound good, then this is a dead end, unfortunately...
No one has presented this unit as "high-end". It has always been presented as a bang for buck way to go active on the cheap.

Nothing more nothing less. This is not a Denon transport.

The HU is no longer even made.

I have found nothing for $120 bucks that or even at $200 BNIB that does what this HU does.

Is it a DRZ9255, 8053, 8455, 9835 no it is not. (I have owned 3 of those HU) What it is the best Bang for Buck out there.IMO

If you want "High-end" people he need to start laying out the cash for Denon, Mcintosh, Denford, DRZ9255, Alpine F1, Nak. None of which will do an active set-up except the DRZ which is around 5 times the price of a 785 if you can find one.

Other Options are 880, 800 be careful with the pico fuse, Alpine 9887, Eclipse CD7200 MKII. All of which will run more cash than a 785.
 

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Discussion Starter #13 (Edited)
No one has presented this unit as "high-end". It has always been presented as a bang for buck way to go active on the cheap.

Nothing more nothing less. This is not a Denon transport.

The HU is no longer even made.

I have found nothing for $120 bucks that or even at $200 BNIB that does what this HU does.

Is it a DRZ9255, 8053, 8455, 9835 no it is not. (I have owned 3 of those HU) What it is the best Bang for Buck out there.IMO

If you want "High-end" people he need to start laying out the cash for Denon, Mcintosh, Denford, DRZ9255, Alpine F1, Nak. None of which will do an active set-up except the DRZ which is around 5 times the price of a 785 if you can find one.

Other Options are 880, 800 be careful with the pico fuse, Alpine 9887, Eclipse CD7200 MKII. All of which will run more cash than a 785.
Well, the 785 has been recommended as a unit that went beyond units like the 9887 and other Alpines, and as having an outstanding sound. Words like SQ have been mentioned, etc etc, and although people are mostly talking about the DRZ9255, many have been raving about the 785 too (and Clarion in general).

After a lot of research, I thought, OK, Clarion have cracked the code and decided to provide a good digital to analog converter (DAC) at a normal price, unlike the overpriced units you mention. All these units really provide for people with external amps, is a DAC. That's all we need, but you pay for all sorts of other stuff. Weird thing is, it is kind of true, the DAC is actually quite good. The problem is, they added this strong factory EQ on top of it, that I am discussing in this thread.

Like I said, I'm not saying this is a crappy unit at all. In fact, it's the best unit (by far) I have tried in it's price class.
So I think we agree. I'm just giving objective information here, and notifying that this is in fact not a neutral deck, that you shouldn't buy this if you want neutral sound, or expect some kind of SQ/hifi/audiophile bargain (which I admittedly did after reading up on it).
 

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This has me curious enough that I think in a few weeks or so I'm going to try hooking one of these up to my soundcard (it's a pro card don't worry) and measure frequency response.
 

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Discussion Starter #15 (Edited)
This has me curious enough that I think in a few weeks or so I'm going to try hooking one of these up to my soundcard (it's a pro card don't worry) and measure frequency response.
That would be really cool :)
I thought about doing the same, I have an M-Audio 2496 card with a pro DAC, but I've kinda spent enough time on this, so I probably won't get this far..
 
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