Design and featuresAlpine makes some of the most attractive car stereos on the market (see the iDA-X001), and the CDA-9885 is no exception. Its colorful bank of backlit buttons on the right side of the volume dial can be set to either red or blue, depending on your mood or the car’s interior.
For other buttons, such as the six presets and the navigation buttons to the left of the dial, a muted red backlighting gives the system a uniform color scheme and makes it easy to use at night. With the choice of four background visual (BGV) animations, the system’s green-on-black monochrome LCD screen can be as busy as your tastes desire. Personally, we preferred to turn the graphics off to get a clearer view of the screen’s text information for HD Radio programming and disc-based digital-audio tracks.
In contrast to some stereos with a similar amount of screen real estate, the CDA-9885’s display shows a relatively large number of text characters, making it easy to navigate radio stations and audio libraries at a glance. For HD Radio stations, the display shows artist and song information (where available) and other details on station frequency, time, and date, which can be cycled through by pressing the Title button to the right of the display.
With an MP3/ WMA/AAC disc inserted in the single slot behind the stereo’s mechanical drop-down faceplate, the display can be set to show information for artist and track names, or folder and file names. For text tags that are longer than the allocated 15 characters, the display can be set to scroll information automatically, which is a useful feature.
In sumWith its $200 HD Radio tuner and a base price of about $250, the Alpine CDA-9885 is by no means a cheap option for bringing HD Radio on the road. If you have room to hide the enormous external module, however, it is a stylish and easy-to-use device with a great sound and one of the most intuitive audio navigation interfaces we’ve seen in this class.