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Discussion Starter #1
Two questions:
  • What are some current Android 8 or better media controllers that produce quality sound?
  • What chipset should I be looking for in the device that will indicate quality or lack there-of?

Backstory:
I am assisting a friend replace the audio system in his 2003 Legacy.
He has a limited budget ($1500 = Infinity Components front stage, infinity coaxial backfill, STX-5x, 10w3, controller) so we are looking for the best bang for the buck.

My recommendation was a Kenwood or Pioneer 2din controller.
He would like a hard drive, wifi, Bluetooth, 2+ usb, touchscreen, customizable display (add his own pix).

After some discussion we focused on the Android systems out of china as they have all the features he is looking for.

I have looked at dozens but cannot find anyone that has actually purchased one and could provide a sound quality evaluation.
 

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I've tried two Chinese Android-based headunts in my 2012 Impala (both plug-and-play models) - an Eonon GA9180A and a Hizpo model (not sure of the exact model number off-hand). They were both Android 8.0 units with octacore processors and 4GB of RAM. I tested them on the bench in my house for quite a while and loved the functionality while playing around with them. I ended up liking the Eonon better, so I returned the Hizpo (Eonon seemed to be a little better quality-wise). After experimenting with them on the bench for quite some time, I finally installed the Eonon in my 2012 Impala. Let's just say that I took it back out of my Impala in less than 48 hours...

These units have lots of quality-related issues and will never compare to a name brand head-unit in terms of quality (Pioneer, Kenwood, JVC, etc).

While the functionality provided by a full-blown Android install was kind of cool at first, I eventually realized that it really wasn't all that useful when actually using the unit in-car. I mean, do you really need to play Android games on a 7" car radio? Most of the stuff that you really need a head-unit to do (like play music) can be done with any head-unit - and with Android Auto, it makes needing a full-blown Android OS not so beneficial. I really didn't find having a full-blown Android OS all that useful in real life.

Some of the issues I had with the units:

- Poor quality screen (TFT screens, poor viewing angles, poor brightness, poor contrast, etc). It was almost impossible to see white text on a grey background, for example.
- Lots of audio "interference" - the dashcam caused noises from the speakers, poor S/N ratio, electronic noises from the speakers when wifi was used, etc. I didn't have any alternator whine, but lots of people report issues with that as well.
- A lot of people had issues where the bluetooth wouldn't work when it got cold outside (defective hardware).
- Rotary knobs felt cheap
- Warning chimes and turn signal sounds were absolutely laughable - sounded so bad.... Normally, these sounds come out of the car speakers with a factory unit on the Impala, but these units have one of those little speaker boxes that the sounds come from. While that can work OK, the quality of the sounds were just *so* bad on these units. The speaker in the little box wasn't the issue either - it was the electronics that actually generated the sounds - so no way to fix).
- Things you take for granted with a regular radio, like having it start playback from where it left off when you turned the car off last simply do not work on these units. To get a simple thing like that to work, you have to install Tasker and "program" it to make it work. I did eventually get it working, but most people couldn't get it working, even with detailed instructions I gave them.
- Sound quality was not as good as the unit it replaced (Rosen or Dynavin) - even when using an external amp.

I'm sure there are other issues that I can't think of off the top of my head. But in a nutshell, you get what you pay for....

Do you know *why* he wants an Android head-unit? Do he need to do something that actually requires a full-blown Android OS?
 

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Look at the new pie4. They have a complete audio programming for them and you can use Touch screen monitors and usb, WiFi and hdmi and a ton of things. All for under 125 and that’s going all out on it


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

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Look at the new pie4. They have a complete audio programming for them and you can use Touch screen monitors and usb, WiFi and hdmi and a ton of things. All for under 125 and that’s going all out on it


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
I assume pie4 is referring to the new Raspberry Pi 4? If so, what OS are you running?
 

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I assume pie4 is referring to the new Raspberry Pi 4? If so, what OS are you running?

I know nothing about the PI4. But i use the RaspPi with Max2Play and have had great results, but I only use a hard drive for the music. They have other options I have never used so I can't vouch for those--share play, radio ....
The only thing I'd do differently is not have the RasPi the access point in WIFI.

I have a similar raspi3 in my home which I do have connection issues that I haven't figured out yet, but it has bluetooth unlike the pi in my car. Again, I hate computers, so a competent person could probably figure out the accessories.

Very good sound quality. I control it with a cheap android tablet with "Orange Sqeeze"-- I can use my Iphone but the phone loses internet because you are signed into the PI's network---this is the access point issue I mentioned above. Maybe a hotspot using my phone would fix this, maybe the bluetooth?

I've used this set up for 4 years and would do it again. Only other issue is, in Sub Zero F temps there is an annoying whine kicks in and goes away once it warms up a bit.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Look at the new pie4. They have a complete audio programming for them and you can use Touch screen monitors and usb, WiFi and hdmi and a ton of things. All for under 125 and that’s going all out on it


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

I do have some pie running automation at home (opens steel dog door when dog approaches, locks when closed).

However, I am volunteering my efforts so don't want to jump down a rabbit hole for someone else. Good suggestion though.

Based on 1st reply I am considering a stronger push for a Kenwood / Pioneer solution.
Everything I have read confirms whats said above regarding noise/interference...which for me is a deal breaker...even the slightest whine is too much.
 

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Since I was past my return period with the Eonon, I did put it to good use.... It still creates noises from the speakers when it uses wifi, but it actually sounds pretty damn good using it like this (along with Viper4Android to tune the sound):









I actually went all out and put an unused Alpine 90Wx2 amp in it as well. :) For what it is, is sounds really good in this type of setup. It's portable enough that I take it out to the garage when I'll be out there for a while.

It's actually pretty amazing how much functionality is in a car radio - AM/FM, CD/DVD, apps like Spotify, Pandora, etc, has a full touchscreen, can send music to it via bluetooth if you want, wifi, GPS, SD card plus 64GB internal storage, etc, etc, etc.... It makes a very complete portable "music box". :) I actually had someone make the wooden box for me and it was made a little bigger than I had planned, but the box really enhances the sound quality.

Anyway, completely unrelated to the OP's request, but just something that these Android headunits *are* good for. :) The quality and noise rejection just isn't there for in-car use though...
 

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I do have some pie running automation at home (opens steel dog door when dog approaches, locks when closed).

However, I am volunteering my efforts so don't want to jump down a rabbit hole for someone else. Good suggestion though.

Based on 1st reply I am considering a stronger push for a Kenwood / Pioneer solution.
Everything I have read confirms whats said above regarding noise/interference...which for me is a deal breaker...even the slightest whine is too much.
Yeah, every single one of these Android "head units" that I've looked into or seen reviews for is the same. Terrible audio quality and all types of noise issues. Cheap, plastic-y build quality, connection and reliability issues. And good luck if you want to use your steering wheel controls.

The Android head units are not even close to being a real option yet, and that is coming from someone who has a very good, but extremely complex setup in one vehicle using the 8" Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 8.0 LTE/WiFi Phablet and a USB DAC as the main source unit into a Helix DSP Pro MK-II. The tablet is the International version with cellular phone calling and LTE data capability via an AT&T SIM card...Samsung model #SM-T715Y.

A decent double-DIN head unit with 4-volt F/R/Sub preouts, BT Handsfree calling, and the other necessary/desired features is still the way to go, even if the screen res and quality is still completely sub-par in this advanced smartphone era.

Android Auto and Apple CarPlay do offer some nice functionality, but they have some limitations at the same time. IME, Apple CarPlay is superior, but the latest update to Android Auto brings them more on par with each other.

There should be some good Black Friday/Cyber Monday/Thanksgiving & Christmas sales coming up. You can find a few good reviews on YouTube channels such as Quality Mobile Video, 5 Star Car Audio, and others.

My advice and M.O. for a source unit in a vehicle is just to K.I.S.S. with a decent quality head unit.
 

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...even the slightest whine is too much.


The whine I described is only when it's sub-zero out, so I have an issue 2-3 times a year for the first 15 minutes in the car. Other than that the sound is extremely good. If I kept my car in the garage at night I would not run into this situation.

I should add I am not using a stand alone Pi, I have a HifiBerry setup that does a great job. The sound quality will blow any cheap Asian players away. I have a very low noise floor in my system.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Since I was past my return period with the Eonon, I did put it to good use.... It still creates noises from the speakers when it uses wifi, but it actually sounds pretty damn good using it like this (along with Viper4Android to tune the sound):

I actually went all out and put an unused Alpine 90Wx2 amp in it as well. :) For what it is, is sounds really good in this type of setup. It's portable enough that I take it out to the garage when I'll be out there for a while.

It's actually pretty amazing how much functionality is in a car radio - AM/FM, CD/DVD, apps like Spotify, Pandora, etc, has a full touchscreen, can send music to it via bluetooth if you want, wifi, GPS, SD card plus 64GB internal storage, etc, etc, etc.... It makes a very complete portable "music box". :) I actually had someone make the wooden box for me and it was made a little bigger than I had planned, but the box really enhances the sound quality.

Anyway, completely unrelated to the OP's request, but just something that these Android headunits *are* good for. :) The quality and noise rejection just isn't there for in-car use though...
nice looking setup and wood work!
 
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