Review of Blaupunkt MP41 vs Kenwood KDC-MP8017 CD/MP3 Players


In short, I purchased two, Blaupunkt MP41 San Jose, in dash, CD mp3 players and each unit skipped too much for my liking, some discs were worse than others. I ended up buying a Kenwood KDC-MP8017 CD/mp3 player, which worked far better than the Blaupunkt, ever did, and have yet to hear a skip on any of the six homemade discs that I recorded.

I bought the first Blaupunkt MP41 during mid December of 2001. Occasionally when I would first insert a CD this unit would not read the disc reporting "FILE ERROR" and the disc wouldn't play. Sometimes I could eject the disc and then reinsert it and all would be well again, other times this wouldn't be the case. Once, I was on a long trip, driving down the highway and became a bit annoyed with my player skipping so often so I decided to try ejecting the CD and reinserting it with the hopes that this would clear things up, but was met with the damn "FILE ERROR" message instead and for the rest of that trip that particular CD wouldn't read at all (other mp3 CD's still worked during that trip). The weird thing was that the next day the "bad" CD was working again. This peculiar cycle happened more than once and led me to wonder if there was some sort of heat problem causing mechanical tolerances to go out of spec during longer plays -- who knows. Very frustrating.

In the beginning I thought the problem lay within a badly recorded CD, however the moment of realization came when the problematic CD (the one that stopped working on my road trip) seemed to play perfectly on my laptop. Granted, the laptop has far more computer related facilities enabling it to do an outstanding job as so far as error correction goes, but this did clue me into the idea that we have the technology to build a good mp3 player and that car stereo mp3 players may not have come to full maturity. But, just to rule out any sort of mechanical/electrical problem with the first Blaupunkt unit I did buy a second unit and evaluated it only to find that during the first 30 minutes of use the same problems seemed to be at hand. Not good!

Next, I decided that there really wasn't any point in having an mp3 player if one must fuss so much with hearing music. I drive a lot during the weekends and I need a good collection of reliable music. Generally, the convenience of having twelve albums on one CD outweighs the burden of listening to somewhat lesser audio quality of an mp3, but the skipping and glitching (loud scratches and pops) just doesn't work for me -- at ALL! And knowing that these problems don't exist when playing these CDs on my laptop pushed me to understanding that some optical drive systems are better than others when dealing with error correction.

At first glance it seems that the Kenwood had a better optical drive system from the end user point of view. I've just purchased the Kenwood KDC-MP8017 and have had it only for a day now. I have managed to drive about 120 miles listening to this player and already I am very pleased. Out of six homemade CDs that I recorded I purposely chose the CD that skipped the most (on the Blaupunkt) and never heard one skip with this CD. By comparison the Blaupunkt would skip well over 20 times on this same CD.

At last! The technology is here! One-hundred-and-twenty albums now sit under my sun visor awaiting my listening pleasure!

Since it seems that I've gone from being a simple consumer to car stereo reviewer during the month of December and since I was unable to find anything more than sparse informational reviews on in-dash mp3 players I will now type out my summary of both the Blaupunkt and the Kenwood for all to read. Take note that I've only bothered looking that the mp3 player and nothing else.


The display is large, simple and doesn't look like the face of a slot machine in Vegas (for those that enjoy modest looking stereos). ID3 tag display is good -- shows complete file titles which can long. Layout of the buttons are good and easy to use. Changing from folder to folder or song to song works well and FAST. There is an LED located where the CD inserts making it easier to see where the CD goes at night (especially handy while driving). It can play *.mp3 and *.wma files which might come in handy from time to time. Upon starting up the car the volume would be set at an initial setting (so, if you had your stereo blasting, shut off your car, and then restarted your car the volume would be at the preset value -- a lower volume). This is nice if you forget to turn down the volume and shut off your car. The Kenwood doesn't have the power-up initial volume feature.

The display is rather bright and there isn't a way (that I know of) to dim the display which can be an annoyance while driving at night (although this can be solved by flipping the face forward). Sadly, this unit skips far too much for me to use with comfort, otherwise I would have kept it.


It seems to be much better at reading and playing CDs. The display is not glowing nearly as much as the Blaupunkt and dims when the car headlights are turned on. One thing I really like about the mp3 player is that when you turn off the ignition in the middle of an mp3 and the retstart the car the song continues from exactly where it was (the Blaupunkt returned to be very beginning of the mp3 song you were listing to). It comes with a carrying case for the face plate. You can activate a security code for theft protection (when unit is completely powered down one must enter a four digit code to make it work again). If you are using the CD player the antenna stays down (if you have an automatically retracting antenna), the Blaupunkt kept the antenna up whenever the unit was in use. Looks better in my dash because its black (the Blaupunkt, being a silverfish color, was more conspicuous against my black dashboard).

There is a long delay between tracks and folders which can be a bit annoying if you're searching for a song, however the benefits (no skipping) definitely outweigh this inconvenience. I don't like the layout of the buttons much, but I find that I have gotten used to it. This unit truncates the names of folders and files, for example if the mp3 that I'm playing is named "01 - Fugazi -- Waiting Room.mp3" the display will only show the first eight characters showing something like this "01-Fug~1.MP3". So, from the looks of this it seems that eight characters are the maximum allowed. Since the unit only works with mp3 files I really don't know why they bothered with displaying the mp3 extension. With only eight characters to work with I sure would like to use the extra three that the extension takes up for file naming purposes! There is no LED just under the slit where the CD goes. When fast-forwarding or rewinding through an mp3 you could not see the minutes and seconds displayed (the Blaupunkt would show this information) -- neither units had audible file search.


I think that the Blaupunkt units I received were the very first mp3 units ever built by Blaupunkt and therefore it is possible that they will fix and/or update their units over time and ultimately come up with something that is more robust than what is currently available. However if you were to ask my opinion for the time being I'd say don't buy the Blaupunkt unless you don't mind the skipping, the Kenwood (so far) seems to be working out for me.


Software used to generate mp3
Audiograbber version 1.80 with "LameEnc DLL Version 1.22 (5/7/2001) Engine 3.89" Audiograbber will "rip" CD's and write *.wav files but requires a DLL to generate an mp3.

I made all CDs at 128kbits/sec using ID3v2.3 tags and my CD writer used Joliet format (recorded all at once). I slowed down the speed during the recording process to 4x using a very nice Dell Workstation, PIII, 933MHz.

My car is a 1995 Acura Integra GSR.

The manufacturing date of the Blaupunkt units evaluated where July, 2001 and August, 2001.

David Straight

Have you tried using ISO 9660 file format instead of Joliet. That should avoid the 8 char limit

On the Kenwood MP3 players, if you were to make a CDR that has MP3s with ID3 tag versions 1 or 1.1, the entire ID3 tag will be displayed. If versions 2 or 3 are used, it displays the file name.
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