JVC KW-NT30HD Receiver Review


JVC’s double din car stereos are well-known for their integrated navigation system. The KW-NT30HD is JVC’s entry-level model to this line of navigation car receivers. It is more than a simple stereo: with multi-source music and video playback, Bluetooth connectivity and the nav system, the JVC’s KW-NT30HD is a complete road trip companion.


Built-in navigation

The KW-NT30HD features built-in car navigation, similar to the upper JVC models.

What’s cool though, is that the KW-NT30HD gives you many different map views, including a magnified split-screen view that shows you a close-up of your current location next to a broader overview of the area. While flat maps are fine, you sometimes want to look deeper to get a better idea of where you are, which make this little detail a plus. But that’s not all: you can also check out the local speed limit, and the receiver will even let you know what lane you should be in for your next manoeuver, thanks to a text-to-speech technology that calls out the name of the street for your next turn.

The built-in navigation has one major flaw though: it uses 2009 maps, which makes it a bit out of date. For some cities, the data is lacking. Imagine yourself in the Dallas metro area, where highways have recently been completed, and you can see how this can become a problem. Or if you want to go to that new shopping mall built last year: Unless you enter the area in the address, the navigation won’t take you there.

A map update (the v.3) has recently been released by JVC, but it comes with a $139 price tag. If that is too expensive for you, you can always resort to using the GPS on your phone.

And for what it’s worth, you can update your maps through the SD™-card slot. You can also copy your own points-of-interest from Google Maps on your home computer, then load them onto the KW-NT30HD using the SD card.


While some 2-DIN receivers are sluggish, this unit has a responsive User Interface that reacts quickly to all button presses on the touchscreen. You don’t want to spend time thinking about your radio when you’re driving, which makes this car stereo a winner in that respect.

The KW-NT30HD has no cryptic, multi-step menus for basic functions (like on some Pioneer receivers). Menus are intuitive here.

Like a lot of double din car stereos however, the display is sometimes hard to see in direct sunlight.

Built-in Bluetooth

JVC’s KW-NT30HD comes with built-in Bluetooth technology, which lets you make hands-free calls in your vehicle. When a call comes in, the receiver mutes the music and you'll hear the caller over your vehicle's speakers. While some car stereos’ Bluetooth quality leaves something to desire, the KW-NT30HD’s Bluetooth calling is crystal clear on both ends. What’s more you can connect more than one phone, and switch between them easily.

For maximum sound quality, you should mount the included microphone in a convenient spot, like the back of your steering wheel.

But Bluetooth is about more than simple calling. If you’re an iPhone user, you can play audio from your apps (Pandora Internet radio, etc.) through the car’s speakers, using the Bluetooth connection.. You can also stream tunes you've loaded on any other Bluetooth-compatible device.

Music controls

To play music from your iPod or iPhone, just connect your device to the front USB slot. Most double din headunits allow you to control your music from the receiver’s controls, and the KW-NT30HD is no exception to the rule. Using the controls, you’ll browse your tunes and playlists in no time, while the song’s details are displayed on the receiver (don’t expect outstanding album cover images). And if the other car passengers want to change the music, JVC’s 2-Way Controls lets them do so using the iPod itself, while it’s connected to the radio.

You can also load your music through a CD, USB drive (front port) or SD card – The KW-NT30HD will play them all.

One minor flaw that we noted is the inability to fast forward or rewind MP3 files. But then again, why would you want to fast forward or rewind your songs while driving?

DVD playback

Thanks to the Double-DIN display screen, you can watch your favorite DVDs on the receiver. What’s more, you can also connect a screen in the back so your passengers can watch while you drive. The cherry on the cake: iPhone users can stream movies through the Netflix app, which makes this receiver a true multimedia center.

Though the playback functionality on the receiver only works when you park, you can solve that problem by installing the $10 MicroBypass Parking Brake Override Bypass for JVC car stereos at the back of your receiver.

Sound-wise, a powerful amplifier belts out your music and movies, while a 7-band EQ adjusts the sound for your vehicle. And for the audiophiles out there, three sets of gold-plated preamp outputs let you add amps and subs for a complete car entertainment system.

HD Radio

HD Radio is a true boon for music lovers; it pumps up the sound quality of local stations that use this technology so that FM approaches CD quality. If you have subwoofers, you’ll definitely notice the difference in the bass. How does HD Radio work? 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 – for example, your local NPR station might broadcast the BBC news feed on their “HD-2” channel. As an added bonus, you can connect your iPod or iPhone and tune into an HD Radio station to “tag” the songs you like for later purchasing.

1,900 stations are broadcasting with this technology, with 1,000 HD2 & HD3 multicast channels, covering approximately 84% of the United States.

Other features

The KW-NT30HD features a detachable face — great security if you park on a city street. To that purpose, JVC includes a really nice soft case so you can keep it free from scratches.

You can also install a rear camera above your license plate, and it will display on the receiver’s screen when you are in reverse.

Bottom line

When you look at a stereo, you need to know which items are important to you. If you want good sound, Bluetooth music streaming and hands-free calling, a subwoofer connection, not having to worry about overly-complex menus, and DVD playback, this headunit wins handily. The Bluetooth integration, bright display, audio quality and user interface are all top-notch.

However, if you pay a premium for integrated navigation, you should not have to buy a $139 upgrade, rely on your portable GPS or need a printout to see your route.

Beside that weakness, everything else is great with the unit. At $470, with all the features you’re getting, it’s definitely worth it!

JVC KW-NT30HD double din car stereo

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