|Alpine iDA-X305s Digital Media Receiver|
After jumping through the hoops required to install iTunes and QuickTime, reboot my PC, and then download the Pandora app for my borrowed iPhone, the application installed perfectly, and worked immediately. Sound quality was fine, particularly if you regularly listen to music on MP3 files ripped at average bitrates, plus there is a Pandora app option allowing double the streaming bitrate. The Pandora service did a very good job of finding music I liked, and I can certainly understand how casual music lovers quickly become addicted to the Pandora application. You can also bookmark songs played on Pandora for future purchase, plus a simple push and turn of the ring on the dual-action encoder know allows you to give certain songs a thumbs up or thumbs down to further refine your taste for the music selected for you. Moving from Pandora to my iPod, I played a couple of dozen of my favorite evaluation tracks, and could find nothing to gripe about. The Alpine iDA-X305S sounded very good, with a low noise floor and very good frequency response. With its 2 volt preamp outputs and no CD drive it might not find its way into many serious audiophile systems, but the vast majority of folks will love the way it sounds, and how simple it is to use.
ON THE BENCH
Moving into the lab, I connected the iDA-X305S to my USB drive full of test tracks. These tracks are extremely high quality, ripped at a bitrate of 320kbps. I measured maximum output levels, frequency response, crosstalk, signal to noise, output impedance, tuner performance, and checked the accuracy of the crossover and tone control settings as well. In each case, the measured spec was as good or better than the published number, so you’ll definitely get the promised performance from the iDA-X305S. I also noted that the RCA outputs can be clipped if the volume is at max and you are playing an all high bits track, which is one more reason audiophiles will tend to favor the previously reviewed Alpine CDA-117, which we loved the sound and performance of.
If you are a music lover who simply couldn’t be bothered ripping or downloading songs and then remembering to bring your media player every time you get in your car, Pandora internet radio may be exactly what you need. And with its intuitive controls and easy to read display, the Alpine iDA-X305S may just be the perfect companion, because it always seem to know the right songs to play.
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