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I hooked up the Dual unit to my reference system, and played a variety of CD’s, MP3 encoded discs, iPod of course, and for fun I also copied a few dozen tunes to a USB drive. I’m happy to report the Dual XHD7714 played each of them without fault. All the compressed format songs I tried worked fine on any of the storage formats, and the unit recognized my iPod and was able to play songs and control my iPod immediately. The user interface works really well and is quite logical to operate, but if you’re like me with thousands of artists and tens of thousands of songs, finding the exact song you want can take a lot of knob turning. From a sound quality point of view, I thought the Dual sounded solid. Maybe a slight tick or so off from my reference piece, (which costs about 3 times as much), but all in all the Dual XHD7714 sounded very good! I noticed a slight loss of very high frequency detail, but that sort of thing you’d seldom ever hear in a car anyways, unless you’re sitting in the garage with the door closed and the engine off. I also paired the Dual XHD7714 to my Blackberry to check out the Bluetooth function. It worked perfectly the first time, and I was able to setup the unit to make and receive calls within minutes. The microphone for the Bluetooth hands-free is thoughtfully built into the faceplate.
ON THE BENCH
Moving into the electronics lab and firing up the trusty Audio Precision analyzer, I spent a few hours “getting the numbers out” of the new Dual.
It measured quite well in most respects, and its actual performance either met or exceeded the performance claims in the owner’s manual. The frequency response was flat up to about 17.5kHz, and the signal to noise was great on both the amplified and preamp outputs.
Preamp output MOL (Maximum Output Level) measured 3.3 volts, and the source impedance was very low (lower is better) at under 90 ohms. The built in amplifier delivered 18.3 watts x 4 and the FM tuner had average sensitivity, pulling in most of the local stations without difficulty. AM performance was not quite as good, but still what I’d consider very decent, especially if you live in an urban area. The auxiliary input will accept almost a full volt of signal without clipping, so it will be compatible with most any portable media player. W ith a century of experience, Dual is clearly no stranger to innovation and technology. They have recently introduced a new head unit that incorporates Bluetooth functionality as well as an HD Radio tuner into a single DIN chassis. What is HD Radio you ask? It’s the latest method of digital radio broadcasting, it’s subscription free, and it’s very cool! Here’s a really quick history lesson on HD Radio before we jump into our review on the latest from Dual, the XHD7714.
One of my favorite things about having the HD tuner included, is you also get iTunes tagging, so when you hear a song you like, a simple press of a button will save that songs “tag” to memory, or if your iPod is connected, it will send the tag directly to the iPod. The next time you sync your iPod with iTunes, the tagged songs are displayed in iTunes for preview or purchase.
The Dual XHD7714 is indeed a small box chock full of value and technology. The thoughtfully chosen features incorporated are useful in the real world of daily commutes and long road trips, plus it offers it all at a very low price compared with a lot of competitive products.
While it might not have quite as much polish on its cosmetics and interfaces, the Dual XHD7714 with built in Bluetooth and HD Radio still manages to cost less than some companies Bluetooth adapters!
In my opinion, the Dual XHD7714 represents one of the best buys out there in terms of value and functionality!