"Alpine TUA-HD550 Not Ready For Prime Time"1.0 starson by War-Pig
Pros: Pretty metal box that says Alpine
Not much else
Cons: Horrific Reception using Standard FM and HD FM
Tricky To Get Working With Multiple AI-Net Boxes In Your System
Summary: I put a complete Alpine system in my car. From HU through Signal Processor Then over to JL Audio D Class Amp & Speakers. I pulled out all the stops, I got it ALL. CDA-9886 Head Unit. KCE-400BT Blue Tooth, TUA-T550HD HD Receiver, PXA-H100 Imprint Processor, and an AI-Net XM Radio Module with the signals routed into a JL Audio HD900/5 D class amp hooked to 2 sets of JL Audio Separates. 1 set C5-650 (Rear Fill) and one set of ZR-650CSi (Front Doors) The amp's 5th channel drives a pair of JL Audio 12W3 Subs. This review will focus on the TUA-550HD HD Receiver.
I was really looking forward to being capable of receiving HD radio in the car. When I installed everything I was having a VERY rough time getting any music from the HD Radio. With all the AI-Net boxes I have in my AI-Net daisy chain it took me nearly 2 hours of trial and error hooking the equipment all up in different combo's before I got radio source and all my other AI-Net box sources to work. The manual only shows how to hook it up to a AI-Net head unit by itself. No mention of what to do if you are also using an Imprint processor or other AI-Net sources or a combo of the above. So I finally am getting Radio White Noise with everything hooked up. I search for FM stations in the Analog FM band and I get only a few stations to lock in. Hmm the 9886 Head unit FM receiver received a ton more stations than the HD Radio. So I go to my favorite radio station who supposedly has 2 HD sub channels. I'm waiting for some kind of confirmation that I am receiving HD... Nothing... Turns out the reception is so horrible on the receiver that I was not getting a strong enough antenna signal to receive the HD sub channels. I live about 17 Miles from Downtown Chicago and have NEVER in any car I have ever owned had bad reception even when I was 35+ miles from the city. So reception was awful. Now I have to admit my car's antenna is inside my windshield glass and is not a standard whip antenna. Still I had no problems receiving many many stations from the CDA-9886's internal receiver. So I decided to buy an amplified antenna and give it a try. I hook up the amplified antenna and mount it where the instructions say I will have best results. I run the power wire for the amp to the back of the 9886 and hook it up to the power antenna lead on the 9886 so when the radio is on the antenna/amp is also, when the radio is off like while listening to a CD the antenna/amp will also be off. I turn everything on and have no reception at all. Turns out the TUA-T550HD does not cause the 9886's power antenna lead to go hot. So The antenna/amp was off. I pulled the HU and moved the power antenna's power lead over to the amp turn on wire. So now whenever the 9886 is on so is the antenna/amp. So now I have some reception in normal FM. Better than my car's antenna but still not enough signal to receive most HD sub channels. an nowhere NEAR as good as the internal receiver in the 9886 on it's own. So this thing not only cost ~$150 it gives me horrible reception. i cannot even listen to some of my favorite Analog legacy FM stations with this receiver with a better antenna than the 9886's built in receiver. Turns out the only HD sub channel stations I receive are from near by spanish stations. Nothing else. and only half of the normal legacy FM stations I get with the 9886's tuner. This is the First Alpine product I would have to tell people to steer clear of. You may have better luck if you live IN the big city, but this HD Receiver is NOT ready for the Burbs. Save your money unless you live in the City.