Review of the Dual XML8100/XML8110 ipod stereo

I have been in search of something very specific for my car audio needs. I dont want a cd player, Cd's are dead, I have everything I want to listen to in my ipod. Problem is most car stereos really stink at ipod control. JVC has horrible navigation for ipod use, you will crash your car trying to find a favorite podcast with most car stereos. I want to control my ipod from the ipod in an easy to see location. I also require bluetooth integration. not only for answering the phone but for streaming audio from my cellphone. I found a few candidates that fit the bill, but after buying all the parts needed, I would have over $600.00 in car stereo excluding amps, speakers, etc... I also work in the city so a nice shiny fancy stereo is a sure fire way to lose a window and have the dash ripped apart because a scumbag stole your stereo.

So I wanted clandestine, with blue tooth, and good ipod control. The Dual XML8100 is what I settled on. It's a ugly beast, but it does the job, kinda....

First of all, no other stereo out there can beat this radio for ipod control. it cradles your ipod right there on the stereo. the ipod touch makes it super easy and safe to select what you want to listen to and does not require deep though to select a playlist or podcast. Super easy, very little attention draw away from the cars outside or the roadway.. I'm happy as a clam! well kind-of. to mount this in the car required me to build a custom mount that held it out an additional 1/2 inch to clear the trim plate on the van. the flip down needs to not touch anything and it tends to get in the way. I cant have a super big coffee cup in the cup-holders anymore and I cant see the top slider of the heater controls.

Sound quality is good, surprisingly good considering the brand. line in works cleanly and then you also have AM/FM.... this one is disappointing. The receiver in the XML8100 (the XML8110 is the same item, just a different model so walmart wont have to meet someone Else's price) is crappy at best. It sounds good but it cant reject strong adjacent channel interference to save it's life. the sensitivity is also horrid. a station that my tired old JVC cheapo could pull in clear in my driveway was static on the XML8100. If you don't care about FM radio, then this is not a big issue to you.

On to blue-tooth. you have to buy an additional module that you can find most places for $50.00 This is a good thing as you can mount it up by your mouth on the headliner to get great audio. it syncs easily and works great. when a call comes in you know it no matter how loud the stereo is, and it's simple to answer and hang up. and even voice dial from my nokia while it's buried in my pockets if I can time an exact 2.5 second push and not accidentally get to 3 seconds that start a pairing function.. another problem is that the display that shows the calling number is not visible... It's on the front of the flip down. so if your phone does not have voice caller id you have no idea who is calling.... epic fail Dual.

Fora total of $150.00 plus 2 install kits I was able to cobble into a mount I needed for my van, I have an easy to use Ipod stereo that will play music from my blue-tooth a2dp phone and kinda answer a call once. It's a great concept that fails miserably(see update below). It's ugly so no thief will steal it is also a bonus.

Dual simply rushed it a bit. the display should be the same inside and out, also the flip down is a big problem for installers, slide out would have been better. they promise a iphone app for the stereo to make up for some of the control issues, but I highly doubt we will see it, or it will cost $29.95 to further suck money out of their customers...

UPDATE: Fast Forward 1 month. Bluetooth functionality is crappy at best, un-useable at worst. On a call it's great, caller is clear, they can hear me well and they dont hear any road noise. problem is I need to reboot my phone after EVERY call. No this is not a problem with my phone, as it does this to 3 different nokia phones and 2 different Motorola phones. The stereo does NOT disconnect from the phone for end of call, so the phone is stuck in a audio connection that will not release without shutting the phone off or the car stereo off. Plus the controls for bluetooth are completely screwed up. to do a voice dial I need to hold the call button down for 2.5 seconds. Problem is Dual thinks that nobody does this so they programmed the stereo to enter pairing mode if you press it for 3 seconds. Plus to hang up you dont press the hand up button, that will only mute the call. you have to press and hold the end button for 2 seconds, but you better let go fast because if you hold it for 3 seconds it disconnects completely from the phone. Dual did not even test this when they were designing it.

Honestly you can buy a higher end stereo with a real blue-tooth interface for only $100.00 more in price. I strongly suggest NOT buying any Dual car stereo for bluetooth calling. save a little more money and buy a real stereo where they actually test things for saleability before they start selling it. Oh, the iPhone app is still non existent and from what I have been able to get from some of the forums, it probably will never arrive.

If you have to buy a stereo for a car you are selling, or park in a place where it get's broken into nightly, then buy a Dual car stereo. Otherwise, if you really want to have a stereo that works, look somewhere else.

Cant receive FM clearly, does not display the caller number on the inside display, no play pause button on the face, and bluetooth is borderline un-usable.


  1. It may not be the best radio around but Best Buy has them on closeout for $10.99!!! Yes that is under eleven dollars. I bought 3, I can't beat it for the price. I have much better radios, but for what I paid for these I can't complain. Also, that price includes the bluetooth module! They are listed as a model CP8160. It is a combo pack with the XML8100 and bluetooth module.


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