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Sony XDP-PK1000 Sound System

Right now, there are millions of folks who have recently bought or leased a new car and are not completely happy with the audio system. Among the most common complaints are a distinct lack of bottom end and no good way to incorporate an iPhone or iPod.

Because the OEM system is fairly integrated into the vehicle and may even include GPS and other handy features, many people don't want to tear everything out and start over – especially those who lease their vehicle.

If you are in this group, I have some good news for you. Sony has released a complete system that takes care of all the most common complaints, providing upgraded sound, better bass and a convenient way to connect your iPhone or iPod Touch. The system is called the XDP-PK1000 Digital Link Sound System. Its retail price is about $599.

The entire system arrives at the lab in a single large carton. Inside I find all the bits and pieces to turn an OEM system into something much better. The kit contains a ready-to-install sealed subwoofer enclosure fitted with a Sony XS-PK120LC “dimpled design” 12-inch subwoofer complete with sturdy mounting brackets and all the required hardware. Also included in the kit is the Sony XM-PK100D subwoofer amplifier and XDP-MU110 DSP master unit/four-channel amplifier and a very nicely-made cradle/dock for your iPhone or iPod Touch.

Sony XDP-PK1000 Sound System

The basic premise of the system is quite simple and revolves around the DSP master unit. To install the system, the DSP master unit gets connected to the speaker level outputs of the OEM system and the iPod dock. You then install the subwoofer enclosure and the subwoofer amplifier, and connect the outputs of the four-channel amplifier built into the DSP master unit to your car's speakers. When you're all done, controls on the cradle allow you to select the desired source and adjust volume or tracks on your iPod device. The end result is a system with real bass and full compatibility with your iPod. Problem solved!

Let's take a closer look at each of the main components of the XDP-PK1000 system and give you an idea of all the available features, functions and how to expand upon the system for even better performance.

XDP-MU110 DSP Master Unit / Four-Channel Amplifier

The heart of the system is the DSP/Amplifier “black box.” It's here where the input signal connections are made and the internal digital signal processing can improve the quality of both your original factory system as well as the sound of your iPod Touch or iPhone. The unit can be set up for either two- or four-channel input configurations. By setting three different switches to some combination of the 18 different variations, you can customize the sound to suit your tastes.

The first switch is for the subwoofer location and provides adjustment for the arrival time of the rest of the system to coincide with the subwoofer output by setting the switch to “Near,” “Mid” or “Far.” The second switch is labeled “Trunk” and has two possible settings – yes or no – depending on whether or not your subwoofer is located in the trunk or inside the passenger compartment (like it would be in a pickup or SUV, for example). The third DSP control switch is used to select the size of the vehicle – large, medium and small are the choices.

Sony XDP-PK1000 Sound System

Adjusting these switches to match your vehicle and installation tells the digital processor how to adjust channel delay, equalization and even crossover points, so some experimentation may be necessary to get things optimized for your specific system. For example, it's not a bad idea to listen to the system in various combinations, because even if you drive a large SUV or sedan, it may sound better to you to set the vehicle size switch to something other than large. The point is, don't be afraid to experiment.

The four-channel amplifier built into the XDP-MU110 is CEA-2006B rated at 17 watts per channel and designed to drive four- or eight-ohm speakers. And, if that's not enough for you, there are front and rear RCA outputs on the DSP master unit that will allow you to add additional amplifiers to get whatever power level you desire. Just remember that if you are going to run larger amps, you'll want to upgrade those OEM speakers while you're at it!

XM-PK100D Subwoofer Amplifier

The separate subwoofer amplifier is typical of car stereo sub amps with the usual inputs and outputs. Power and ground connections are made via large gauge terminal block style connections as are the dual sets of speaker outputs. The amp has a pair of RCA input jacks that connect to the DSP unit's subwoofer output connections and there is also a pair of RCA output jacks. All of the terminals are gold plated to resist corrosion. Something a bit different about this amp is that it has no adjustable controls of any kind. There are no gain pots, no crossover knobs and no switches, because it simply doesn't need them. All of that is handled by the DSP master unit that provides the input signal. About the only thing on the amp that provides any user feedback is the dual color power/protection LED that lets you know there is some issue causing the amp to protect itself. A pair of 30A ATC-style fuses provide over-current protection as well.

The XM-PK100D is rated at 330 watts continuous power into four ohms and has a frequency response of 20 Hz to 120 Hz. The amplifier is not recommended for load impedances less than four ohms.

XS-PK120LC Subwoofer and Enclosure

The subwoofer and enclosure included in the Sony Digital Link system are also unique to this product. As I mentioned earlier, the 12-inch woofer uses the same five-sided, lightweight dimpled cone technology and rubber surround found in Sony's XS-GTR120L woofer. And, the system's woofer is rated at 420 watts (CEA-2031). The woofer uses a standard ferrite ceramic magnet and a stamped steel basket. To improve power handling and reliability, the XS-PK120LC woofer uses a generously-vented basket,with plenty of airflow under the spider to keep the voice coil cool.

The wedge-shaped sealed enclosure is small enough to fit in virtually any vehicle, measuring approximately 17 x 14.7 x 12.4 inches. Constructed of 5/8-inch MDF with liberal amounts of glue and lots of strategically-placed braces, the enclosure should do a very good job and easily handle the rigors of the automotive environment. Covered in automotive-grade black carpet, the enclosure should blend into most interiors. The woofer is front mounted and, while a full grill is not included, a cosmetically-appealing trim ring has protection built into it to keep larger objects off the face of the woofer. Wiring connections are handled by a set of gold plated five-way binding posts.

Sony XDP-PK1000 Sound System

iPod/iPhone Docking Cradle

The iPod Touch/iPhone docking cradle that comes in the kit is a very nicely-engineered piece. With a well-made suction cup mount and plenty of adjustability for angles and rotation of the cradle itself, you should have no problem finding a convenient spot for the docking cradle. What sets this mount apart from others I've seen is the special smooth base sheet that attaches to your chosen location first and then the silicone suction cup will attach to it. This method minimizes the chance of air leakage under the suction cup and provides a strong secure mount. But, stuff happens and; so, I thought it was prudent that Sony also includes a fail-safe security strap to prevent your iPod from hitting the floor in case the suction cup mount ever did let go. The swivel and tilt adjustments are smooth,and have just enough friction to hold things securely in position without being too stiff to adjust for a perfect viewing angle.

Once the device is mounted in the cradle, the Sony Digital Link Sound System supports audio playback of any stored music or streaming music apps. Also included in the system is a small card style wireless remote, which allows source selection and adjustments to volume, fader, bass, treble, subwoofer level and track navigation functions.

Sony XDP-PK1000 Sound System

Any advanced playback functions will still be controlled via the iPod' click-wheel or touchscreen and, since the Sony system does not have any type of display of its own, all of the artist, track and other playback information will remain displayed on the iPod screen.

And, it's worth noting here that although the cradle is designed specifically to hold only the iPhone or iPod Touch, the dock connector still is electrically compatible (including playback, control and charging) with an iPod Classic or Nano device. However, securing one of those devices into the cradle is up to your own ingenuity.

There you have it – a system designed specifically to address the needs of a great many folks who simply want to improve the sound of their existing system and integrate their iPhone or iPod at the same time.

SYSTEM SPECIFICATIONS

XDP-MU110 DSP Master Unit / Four Channel Amplifier

Signal to Noise Ratio referenced to 2 V output

(CEA-2006A) (1 W @ 4 ?)

-80 dBA

 

Signal to Noise Ratio referenced to full output

-92.3 dBA

 

THD+N at rated 4 ? power

<1.0%

Frequency Response (-3 dB)

20 Hz – 20 kHz

Tone Controls

Bass +/-7 dB @ 100 Hz

Treble +/-7 dB @ 7 kHz

Sony XDP-PK1000 Sound System

XM-PK100D Subwoofer Amplifier

Signal to Noise Ratio referenced to 2 V output

(CEA-2006A) (1 W @ 4 ?)

-65 dBA

 

Signal to Noise Ratio referenced to full output

-90.2 dBA

 

THD+N at rated 4 ? power

<1.0%

Frequency Response (-3 dB)

20 Hz – 120 Hz

Low Pass Crossover

Fixed 120 Hz

-12 dB/Oct

XS-PK120LC Subwoofer

Power Handling

 

420 W (CEA-2031)

 

Frequency Range

 

30 – 500 Hz

 

Sensitivity

 

88 dB/SPL @ 1.0 W

Nominal Impedance

 

(1) 4 ? coil