Clarion NX702 Receiver Review
The NX702 is Clarion’s attempt at making a complete double din car stereo, a comprehensive solution for all you could wish on the road, and make your drive more delightful. This 2-DIN DVD multimedia station offers a 7” high-resolution touch panel with flick operation, built-in car navigation with up-to-date maps, hands-free calling and audio streaming through Bluetooth connectivity, HD Radio, and compatibility with a wide variety of digital media.
Priced very competitively, the NX702 is ideal for those who desire a robust built-in navigation system without compromising sound quality.
Price: $470 (used)
Review of Clarion NX702 Double-Din Car Stereo
No matter where you hit the road, the built-in navigation has you covered. You’ll get maps of all 50 states plus Puerto Rico and Canada, all easy to see on the NX702’s sharp 7” touchscreen. In some major cities, buildings and other landmarks are rendered in 3D, which is more than a simple gimmick, since it gives you visual clues as to where you are. Other visual cues include patches of green for wood and grey for populated area. As far as the actual navigation goes, the routes are easy to program, the screen show the next 2 turns on your route, and auto-zooms in and out of the map based upon upcoming turns, so you can clearly see the lanes and exits you should take, as well as route signs and speed limit.
Thanks to a built-in tuner that connects to Clear Channel’s Total Traffic network, you’ll get free traffic updates, warning you of traffic jams along your route. If there’s one ahead, the NX702 will plot a new route around the trouble spot to keep you on target. The screen also displays your speed, the speed limit and a graphic that changes color when you are within or over the speed limit. Regarding user interface, the Nav options and settings are easy to use and fun to play with.
What’s more, the receiver includes 8 GB of map storage, 15 million Points of Interest, and supports English, Spanish and French. And unlike the JVC’s navigation car stereos, you’re guaranteed the latest 30-day map updates, so maps obsolescence is avoided at time of purchase.
The navigation on the NX702 isn’t without flaws however. Your location and ETA can be off sometimes and overestimate congestions. It’s not as precise as Google Maps in that regard. Also, don’t use the voice recognition to command your GPS, it scarcely works. It’s much faster to use the touch controls.
The NX702 supports Bluetooth hands-free communication from your Bluetooth-compatible phone, thanks to industry-leader Parrot. This lets you pair your phone and talk hands-free. What’s cool is that you don’t need any external microphone, since one is built in the driver’s side of the NX702 receiver. Surprisingly, it works really great and lets your callers hear you loud and clear.
You can also use the Bluetooth connection to stream music from your phone, although you must make sure that your phone is able to interpret certain profiles. This unit is compatible with the following Bluetooth profiles:
- Hands-Free Communication: HFP (Hands Free Profile), PBAB (Phone Book Access Profile).
- Audio Streaming: A2DP (Advanced Audio Distribution Profile), AVRCP (Audio/Video Remote Control Profile).
The NX702 can be set to automatically answer your incoming calls and mute any music audio so you can instantly carry on a phone conversation hands-free. The integrated front-panel microphone carries on your side of the conversation while your car's speakers are used to hear the other person. When you receive a call, the caller’s phone number will be displayed on the unit’s screen and a ring-tone will be heard. You can make a call by entering the phone number, selecting a contact from your Phonebook list, or using the Call History Log of received/dialed/missed calls.
The Bluetooth on this double din car stereo isn’t 100% perfect though. It doesn’t auto-connect to your phone, and you have to connect the Bluetooth before you can use it. Besides regular calling necessities, this can become irksome for Bluetooth music streaming: since the most recently selected audio input is chosen upon turning on the stereo, it always reverts to the radio since Bluetooth isn’t paired at power-up, thus needing an extra step to get your Bluetooth music streaming.
Regarding Bluetooth connectivity, it isn’t a work in the park either. The connectivity with Android systems is not seamless, and requires the latest upgrades to work properly. If you have an iPhone 5, be sure to download the latest upgrades also, to solve any Bluetooth audio streaming issues due to the iOS6, which was released after the NX702 was built.
Built-in HD Radio and SiriusXM Satellite Radio compatibility
If you’ve never heard how good digital AM/FM radio sounds, be ready to be blown away. The NX702 features a built-in HD Radio tuner that lets you dial in all-digital broadcasts that really pump up the sound quality of local HD Radio stations. As we explained on our JVC KW-NT30HD review:
"These stations transmit audio and data by using a digital signal embedded on-frequency within the station’s standard analog signal, providing the means to listen the same program in either HD (digital radio with less noise) or as a standard broadcast (analog radio with poorer sound quality). These stations can also broadcast additional content on a secondary frequency (HD2 & HD3 channels). 1,900 stations are broadcasting with this technology, covering approximately 84% of the United States."
Better sound, more programs to choose from, that’s what makes HD Radio so great.
The NX702 also receives SiriusXM Satellite Radio with an optional tuner. This would give you access to over 130 channels, including commercial-free music and the best sports, news, talk and entertainment channels.
Video and Music Controls
DVD playback is a pretty standard feature on double din headunits, and this one doesn’t escape the rule. The resolution on the NX702 is 640 by 480px. The receiver plays DVDs with dual zones for the kids in the back as well.
The NX702 can play almost any time of music file from a CD, an iPod or smartphone, a USB device or a SD/SDHC memory card. It has a rear panel USB output complete with a meter long cable, so you can put your music-playing device out of sight in the glove box.
If you have an iPhone, you can bring your Pandora stations on the road. All you have to do is plug your phone in the rear USB slot and you’re good to go. You can change stations, rate songs, and see album art on the NX702’s screen. When you use it with an iPod, the screen allows you to control the files like you would on the iPod directly. Be aware that if you want to play music files on the SD card or USB drive, the headunit has to load and mount the files, which can take a long time if you have a lot of data (you don’t have that problem with the iPod, since the files are already mounted and ready to play).
The sound quality is superb; indeed, the unit's 24-bit D/A converter re-quantizes the 16-bit audio signals from CDs as 24-bit data while maintaining low distortion, which allows an expanded dynamic range and clearer reproduction of subtle nuances, for a richer sound.
Clarion's Beat EQ Plus gives you a nice suite of sound-enhancing tools. High- and low-pass filters let you tailor the NX702's output to your speakers and subs by sending them the frequencies they were designed to handle. Next, you can hone in on the perfect tone with the 5-band parametric EQ. Then it's time to work on your soundstage with the time alignment feature — it adjusts the timing of your speakers so the sound arrives at your ears at the same time, creating the illusion you're sitting front row center.
There’s a known issue with balancing the levels of different sound sources though, especially with the iPhone. One moment you’re listening to the radio and the volume is low, the next moment you switch the audio source to your iPhone and the sound is blasting out of your speakers… Not very pleasant.
To solve this, you need to re-download the MPU, MCU and BT updates and follow the instructions on the Clarion website: http://www.clarion.com/xl/en/support/software/NX702/MPU/index.html. Do things in order, reinstall the updates, power off and on in between each step as instructed and the levels should be perfect.
Clarion has a habit of designing great-looking interfaces. The one on the NX702 hides certain functionalities to give it a clean look, but the touchscreen lets you “flick” your way through screens by touching little arrow prompts to get more options that you can scroll through. This helps give the interface a clean look and avoid overcharging the screen. Admittedly, some onscreen commands are right next to each other, which can make it a bit hard to hit the correct button while driving. It’s a good thing that you can drag and drop icons where you want them, helping optimize the main screen with the most used features. You can also add your own wallpaper – possibly making for Clarion’s most exciting interface yet.
Every part of the unit is enjoyable once you learned its quirks, and there are a few of those. If you get this receiver, you will need to spend a considerable amount of time getting it setup the way you want. Fortunately, it does have the flexibility to change a number of settings the way you want. But don’t plan on the manual taking you by the hands and doing everything for you. Apparently, it’s badly translated from Japanese and it’s pretty useless. You’ll have to figure out how to do things the hard way: by your own trial and errors. We suggest you work with the unit a while. Some things as easy as pairing your Bluetooth or saving radio presets can be challenge.
Although the learning curve is far higher than double din Pioneer receivers, the NX702 is the ultimate all-in-one solution to make your drive more enjoyable. It offers everything from touch panel to built-in car navigation, Bluetooth, HD Radio, and enjoyment of a wide variety of digital media.
It does so many things for such a reasonable price, it is almost the best double din car stereo out there when it comes down to return on your investment. Even for its minor flaws, it is still $200 to $300 cheaper than the 2-DIN receivers from competing brands that offer the same wide range of features.
Of course, a perfect car stereo is almost impossible. But if this one ticks all the boxes of what you’re looking for and you’re willing to put the time to learn how to use it and make it work like you want it, buy it now because if you wait to find a better one out there, you’re going to come up empty-ended.
Price: $470 (used)