Strengths: Looks cool, bright (no problem viewing it in direct sunlight), with clean lines and orderly controls. Excellent CD SQ. Rotary-encoded volume/mode knob Controllable BBE 4V pre-outs Good wireless remote - many features
Weaknesses: The RDS features are just about useless over here (probably more useful in Europe). Microscopic preset buttons (1 to 6) that are almost impossible to locate without looking at the h/u Up/Down/Seek Rew/Seek FWD buttons are a bit hard to locate (but that would be nitpicking)
Summary: The 7842R is the same as the 7842, without the D.A.P. and probably one or two other features, but comes with an RDS tuner as replacement.
Let's concentrate on the weaknesses first...... the preset buttons (1-6) are extremely miniscule and it takes a lot of practice to access them without having to take your eyes off the road. The RDS features are practically useless where I live but I believe they are very informative and popular with the Europeans. Since I can't find the 7842 (without the RDS) model here, well, I guess I can't really complain much.
I love the rotary-encoded knob..... it's so much more responsive and easier to use than the usual Up/Down rocker buttons, and it feels great in your hands. But I'd wish the knob's sturdier and feels less fragile. The knob also controls the bass, treble, balance, fader and BBE (unlike the 7839e where it's either on or off, the BBE here is adjustable in 6 steps), apart from volume. The display's bright and colourful but not in a garish or "star-trek control panel" way..... kind off impart a classy look to it. The brightness can be set to either dim or bright, or auto (dependent on whether the vehicle headlights are on or off).
There are quite a number of features available, including a simple subwoofer x-over. It also comes with a powerful internal amp which is capable of driving most oem speakers. However, since I'm using it to feed signals to my amps, I don't require the internal amp. I also seldom make use of its many features, preferring to concentrate on its sonic abilities.
And sonically is where the unit shines..... FM-reception is above average and pretty good, even in urban areas with a lot of high-rise. However, I've seen and heard better in the old Alpine 7525. But I doubt you'd have to complain much.....
The CD sound quality is excellent, with a penchant for deep and wide soundstage..... the atmosphere and ambience of songs are generously imparted. It's very revealing and transparent as well..... musical instruments are realistic and detailed. It also imparts a lot of energy and excitement into its musical presentation, but without being fatiguing on the ears. Overall, it gives a very musical account of songs played through it.
However, the exciting and energetic charateristics can be a bit bright at times.... vocals can sound slightly hollow, especially female vocalists teamed up with the rest of a bright car audio system, but I would say this is pretty minor compared to the overall excellent sonic improvements the unit will bring should you upgrade from a less capable h/unit.
Is it worth the price I paid for it (which was quite a lot)?? You betcha.... it's worth every cent/dime, whatever. I upgraded from a fairly decent Kenwood CD-receiver, which I still think sounds great for its price. The improvement in sound quality was so significant that all the CDs I played through the 7842R sounded so much more revealing, exciting and musical. CDs which were previously dull and uninvolving were given a new breath of life..... some songs sound so good and involving now that I keep finding myself repeating them over and over again to extract every last bit of musical enjoyment.... guitars never sounded so crisp and detailed.
Another great Alpine deck.
Similar Products Used: Kenwood KDC-4010 Alpine 7525 (tape - high-end but very old) Some other head units As for features, faceplate controls and tuner reception, the 7525 was superior, but that's because the 7525 was the top cassette-player model in the Alpine line-up a couple of years back. But the 7842r definitely comes 2nd on my h/u list.