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  Kenwood KDC-MP538U CD Receiver
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CD receiver

50 people say

Product Code: 113MP538U

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Overview Features Details Accessories

External Device Controls


Overview: The Kenwood KDC-MP538U AM/FM CD receiver features a detachable face, rear auxiliary and USB input, three pairs of 2.5-volt preamp outputs, CD changer and Satellite radio controls and built-in iPod operation, as well as MP3/WMA/ACC playback. The unit also supports Bluetooth via an optional adapter sold separately. In addition, the CD player comes with an IR wireless remote control. The unit's amplifier is rated at 22 watts x 4 channel RMS and 50 watts x 4 channel peak.

Detachable Face: The unit features a single front loading CD face that detaches from the chassis to deter theft. The CD player comes supplied with a soft black fabric, draw string face case to protect the detachable face when you have it off the chassis.

AAC/MP3/WMA Playback: The KDC-MP538U can play MP3, WMA and AAC files with ID3 tag information recorded on CD-R and CD-RW discs in ISO9660 Level 1/Level 2, Joliet, Romeo and Long file name formats. Each disc should have a maximum of 8 directory levels, 50 folders, and 255 files per folder with a maximum of 512 files and folders. During MP3/WMA/AAC playback, the unit displays any recorded ID3 Tag (Ver.1 or 2) information. The headunit will display up to 30 characters.

Supreme Setting: When MP3, WMA or AAC files encoded at a low bit rate (less than 96 kbps, 44.1k, 48kHz) are played, the Supreme Setting function restores their high frequencies so the sound quality is closer to files encoded at a high bit rate. The processing is optimized for the compression format and the bit rate used. When the Supreme Setting is Off, the unit plays the original sound stored in the audio file.

AUX Input: The KDC-MP538U is equipped with a rear panel 3.5mm minijack auxiliary input for connecting external portable audio devices such as an MP3 player or Tape walkman.

Auxiliary Display: The KDC-MP538U allows you to select the source type displayed when using the auxiliary input. You can choose from AUX, DVD, Portable, Game, Video or TV.

Dual Zone: The Dual Zone mode allows you to output the Main source and the Auxiliary input separately for the front and rear channels. You can select whether the auxiliary input will play in the front or the rear.

3-Sets of Preamp Outputs: The KDC-MP538U features front, rear and subwoofer preamp outputs. The Subwoofer preamp output can be turned On or Off and adjusted independently. The front and rear speaker preamp outputs are balance and fade adjustable. The subwoofer preamp output is non-fading. The front, rear and subwoofer preamp outputs are all fixed to the rear chassis of the headunit.

Built-In Amp Setting: If you are using external amplifiers to power all of your vehicle's speakers you can turn the unit's built-in amplifier off to enhance the player's preamp output quality.

Front and Rear High-Pass Filter: The KDC-MP538U features an independent High-Pass Crossover for the front and rear channels when using either the unit's speaker outputs or preamp outputs. You can adjust the high-pass crossover from through, 80, 100, 120, 150, or 180Hz. The "Through" selection is a full-range setting. This feature is very helpful when you have smaller-type speakers in the front and larger-type speakers installed in the rear of the vehicle.

Low-Pass Filter:The receiver features a built-in Low Pass Filter control for the preamp-output when the Subwoofer Output is "on". You can select from 60, 80, 120Hz or Through. The "Through" setting allows your external amplifier's crossover network to do all the filtering for your subwoofer.

Subwoofer Level: Once you have switched the Subwoofer Output to "on" you can independently control the subwoofer preamp output level from the CD receiver. You select levels between -15 to +15.

Subwoofer Phase: You can adjust the phase of the subwoofer output between 180-degrees (Reverse) or 0-degrees (Normal).

Rotary Volume Control: The CD receiver uses a 3-way rotary volume control that increases and decreases the volume of the stereo from 0 to 35. The rotary knob also controls other audio settings such as Balance, Fader, Bass, Mid, Treble and preset EQ settings.

Speaker Settings: The Speaker Setting function tailors the System Q Sound Control settings according to the type of speakers in your vehicle. You may select a Speaker Setting of "SP Off" (flat), "SP OEM" (for OEM factory speaker systems), "SP 6x9/6" (for systems with 6" and 6"x9" speakers), or "SP 5/4" (for systems with 4" and 5" speakers).

Note: The Speaker Setting affects the bass, midrange, and treble values of the System Q presets. The speaker setting should be selected first.

System Q Sound Control: Six EQ curves are preset into memory, allowing you to recall the best preset EQ curve for different types of music. Each preset has its own level settings for bass (100Hz), midrange (1kHz), and treble (10kHz). The 6 preset curves with their respective bass, mid, and treble levels are as follows:

  • Rock: Bass +6, Mid +1, Treble +2
  • Pops: Bass +3, Mid +2, Treble +6
  • Easy: Bass +6, Mid 0, Treble -2
  • Top 40:Bass +3, Mid +1, Treble +8
  • Jazz: Bass +5, Mid +2, Treble +2
  • Natural (Flat): Bass 0, Mid 0, Treble 0

Note: The above values reflect the System Q settings when the Speaker Setting function is turned off. When the Speaker Settings are selected, the System Q level settings are different.

Bass/Treble/Mid Control: The KDC-MP538U features independent Bass, Treble and Midrange control. You can adjust each one from -8 to +8db. The bass frequency is adjusted at 100 Hz, the treble frequency is adjusted at 10 kHz and the midrange frequency is adjusted at 1 kHz.

Loudness: The Loudness feature compensates for low and high tones during low volume. You can turn this feature either on or off. Only the low tone is compensated for when the tuner is selected as a source.

Source Tone Memory: This feature allows you to store System Q bass, middle and treble tone settings for each source (CD, FM, AM, and Aux).

Volume Offset: The level of each source may be independently adjusted to prevent radical leaps in output volume when switching from one source to another. The available settings range from -8 to 0.

Text/Title Scroll: The KDC-MP538U will display CD text, Audio file text and Satellite radio text. You can turn the scrolling feature "on" to scroll longer titles across the screen.

Last Position Memory: If the unit is shut off or switched to the tuner mode while a CD is playing, the next time CD is selected as the source, playback will resume from the point where it left off.

Off Eject: The KDC-MP538U allows you to eject your disc for 10 minutes after switching off the vehicles engine.

CD Force: When there is a problem with playing a CD with a special format, this setting plays the CD by force. Some CDs still may not play in the CD Force mode.

CR-2 Advanced Tuner: This unit uses Kenwood's CR-2 Advanced tuner for clear radio reception. You can choose one of three tuning modes: Auto 1 (seek tuning), Auto 2 (cycles through and tunes the selected band's preset stations only with each button press), or Manual.

Auto Memory Tuning: Not only does the CD receiver's tuner allow you manually enter your desired presets you can choose to have the unit automatically put stations with good reception in the memory banks automatically; this is a handy feature when travelling. The tuner features 3 FM banks (1, 2, 3) and 1 AM bank. You can store 6 presets for each AM/FM bank giving you a total of 18 FM presets and 6 AM presets.

Clean Reception System Circuit (CRSC): This circuit controls multi-path distortion by reducing stereo separation. As stereo separation is reduced, multi-path has less effect on the radio signal, improving reception in areas with tall buildings and mountains. The CRSC circuit can be turned on or off.

Tel Mute: The KDC-MP538U features a cell-phone mute wire (brown) in its harness that when hooked up to your car's phone system mute wire will automatically mute the receiver's audio signal when a call comes in.

Security Code: You can enter a 4-digit security code which must be used when the unit is removed from the vehicle, or the constant power source is disconnected from the unit. When constant power is restored to the unit, the security code must be entered before the unit becomes operational.

FL Display: The unit features a large black and white Fluorescent full-dot display with spectrum analyzer.

Display Illumination/Clock Display: When the unit is in Standby mode, the face/button illumination is "keyed." In addition, while the unit is in Standby mode, you can turn the clock display on or off. When the Clock Display is turned on and the unit is in Standby mode, the Clock Display is also "keyed." Pressing and holding the source button turns the unit off completely.

Dimmer: The dimmer function will dim this unit's display automatically when the vehicle light switch is turned On when you connect orange/white Illumination wire of this player.

Remote Control: The KDC-MP538U comes with the RC-547 IR wireless remote control with a full numeric keypad. The remote will control Audio, CD, Tuner, Satellite Radio and Dual Zone functions. It is powered by 2 "AA" batteries (supplied). The dimensions of the remote are: L = 5.362", W = 1.962", D = 1.115".

Attenuator: The CD receiver features an Attenuator button on the headunit as well as the supplied remote control that turns the volume down very quickly with one touch of the button.

Steering Wheel Remote Compatibility: The KDC-MP538U has a "steering remote control" lead on the back panel. When used with the optional SWI-JACK interface (item number 127SWIJACK), you can retain the use of your steering wheel and/or rear seat radio controls when replacing the factory head unit in select vehicles. The SWI-JACK is compatible with over 95% of the vehicles made from 1986 to the present. Compatible vehicles include many Acura, Audi, BMW, Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Dodge, Ford, GMC, Honda, Hummer, Infiniti, Isuzu, Jaguar, Jeep, Kia, Land Rover, Lexus, Lincoln, Mazda, Mercury, Mini, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Oldsmobile, Plymouth, Pontiac, Saab, Saturn, Suzuki, Toyota, and Volkswagen vehicles and Harley Davidson motorcycles. Please consult "What Fits My Car" to see if your vehicle is compatible.

External Device Controls

USB Port: The Kenwood KDC-MP538U features a rear panel 2.0 USB type-A port that is attached to the headunit's chassis by a 39" pigtail. The USB port enables connection and control of a portable USB mass-storage class device. The USB port is compatible with all USB mass storage class devices that support the FAT16 or FAT32 file system. Your USB device should only have a maximum of 8 directory levels, 255 folders, and 255 files per folder with a maximum of 65,025 files and folders. When your USB device is connected to this unit, it can be charged up provided that the KDC-MP538U is powered on. The headunit comes supplied with a USB cap to place over the USB when not in use.

Note: You cannot connect a USB device via a USB hub or Multi-Card Reader to this unit.

iPod High-Speed Connection: The KDC-MP538U's rear-panel USB port also acts as an iPod high-speed direct connection when used with the optional Kenwood USB Direct Connection Cable (113iP101, sold separately) or the USB/iPod cable that came with your iPod. Using either cable allows you to connect, control, and charge the following iPod models with the KDC-MP538U: iPod nano (1st/2nd/3rd/4th generation), iPod video (5th generation), iPod classic (80/120/160GB), iPod touch (1st/2nd generation), and iPhone/iPhone3G. You should update your iPod with the latest software version from Apple's website before connecting it to the KDC-MP538U. When your iPod is connected to the KDC-MP538U, the iPod's controls will be disabled and you will need to operate your iPod through the KDC-MP538U's controls.

Note: All other iPod models not mentioned above are not compatible with this unit.

Satellite Radio Ready: There are several options for connecting an optional XM or SIRIUS Satellite Radio receiver to this receiver:

  • XM Satellite Radio: To receive XM Satellite Radio, you can connect the optional CNP2000UC XM Mini Tuner and the CNP-KEN1 Kenwood adapter cable (package item number 700XMKEN1).
    • Note: You must download firmware from Audiovox's website to make the CNP2000UC compatible with this receiver and CNP-KEN1 Kenwood adapter.
  • SIRIUS Satellite Radio: To receive SIRIUS Satellite Radio, you can connect the optional SIRIUS Universal Vehicle Tuner (607SCC1) and the optional Kenwood Sirius Satellite Radio Interface (113KCASR50).
  • Auxiliary Input: A portable satellite radio receiver, such as the Delphi SkyFi3 or SIRIUS Sportster, can be connected to the head unit via the auxiliary input or a Kenwood Auxiliary Input Adapter, such as the CA-C1AX, CA-C2AX, or KCA-S220A.

    Note: A subscription is also required to receive satellite radio programming from SIRIUS or XM.

HD Radio Ready: With an optional Kenwood HD Radio tuner (item # 113KTCHR20), you will be able to receive digital AM/FM broadcasts from local stations where available. This new technology will significantly improve audio quality and reception, as well as include information such as artist name and song titles or traffic news, viewable on the receiver's display.

Bluetooth Ready: The unit is also Bluetooth compatible using the optional Kenwood KCA-BT200 Bluetooth adapter. Using this adapter you can make and answer phone calls from the Kenwood headunit. You can even download your Phonebook information from your compatible mobile phone into the headunit. You are able to register up to five compatible Bluetooth cell phones when using the KCA-BT200 adapter. Visit for a complete list of compatible Bluetooth enabled phones.

Changer Controls: This unit is directly compatible with Kenwood changers manufactured in 1998 or later. If the changer has an O-N switch, the switch will need to be set to the "N" position. In addition to basic disc navigation features, this unit has the following changer controls: direct disc access (using the remote), direct track access (using the remote), track intro scan, track repeat, disc repeat, disc random, and magazine disc random. When connected to a CD Text capable CD changer or an MD changer, this unit can display disc and track titles for discs encoded with disc and track title information. The text information can be scrolled manually or automatically.

Rear Auxiliary Input "Ready":  The unit already features a rear panel auxiliary input, but if you need a second auxiliary input, one can be added to the rear of the unit. When used with an optional adapter, this unit can accept a rear input from an auxiliary source. When the CA-C1AUX adapter (item 113CAC1AX) is used, you cannot connect a CD changer to the head unit because the adapter plugs into the DIN changer control connection on the head unit. When the KCA-S220A 2-changer switch (item 113KCAS220) is used, you can connect a CD changer and an auxiliary audio source at the same time. When an auxiliary audio source is connected, you can choose from one of six names for the source: Aux Ext, TV, DVD, Video, Game, or Portable.


Supplied Software: The KDC-MP538U comes supplied with the Kenwood Music Editor Version 2.0.0 CD-ROM. Kenwood Music Editor is a desktop software that helps organize, manage and transfer music files to your USB devices from your PC.

System Requirements:

  • Operating System:
    • Microsoft Windows XP Professional/Home Edition SP2 or later (32-bit version)
    • Microsoft Windows Vista (32-bit version)
      • Operation on Windows XP/Vista (64-bit version) is not guaranteed.
  • Other Programs:
    • Microsoft .Net Framework 2.0
    • QuickTime 7 or later (when using AAC file)
    • Windows Media Player 10/11
  • Hardware:
    • Hard disk with at leas 100MB free space
    • CD-ROM drive (CD-R/RW drive when writing to CD-R/RW)
    • USB interface (2.0/1.1)

Kenwood KDC-MP538U Reviews

50 people say

Reviewer: scottly from Holliston, MA  
Controls are very sensitive, remote control is neccesary to use because they are so overly senitive and touchy. Menus are not intuitive and difficult to follow, even with the direction manual.

My biggest dislike of the unit is that when connecting a USB Flash Drive it is unable to randomly play the device. It can only randomly play tracks per folder. And of course the USB connection was my biggest want.

I'd return the unit if i could, but was unable to find the time to install it within the 30 day window.

Corrections to other reviews March-03-09
Reviewer: Robert from Rochester, NY  
1. You can access preset radio stations without navigating menus. You can  direct access via remote, or shift knob left or right when in one of three  tuning modes. Other two modes are manual tuning and next available  station.  

2. The USB song selction interface works very well. You can search for  songs on a flash drive just like a MP3 player (i.e., playlists, genre, artist,  album). While it is true than you can only shuffle within a folder, the folder  definitions change instantly based upon how you select a song. For  example, if you select a song from a specific album, than sorting is within  that album. Folders have nothing to do with how songs are stored on the  drive. Unlike the few MP3 players I have seen, you can cue up one song  while the current song is still playing.  

I use a simple 4GB flash drive. It is 7/8 full and music is immediately  accessible upon connection. I have read where the Alpine units, conversely, can take several minutes.  

1. Entering and exiting shuffle mode does require navigating menus. There  should be a direct button at least on the remote.
2. You cannot enter the (USB) song selection menu when in shuffle mode.
3. Bumping the left knob when you are simply trying to adjust the volume  enters the audio menus. You have to toggle through the remaining menus  or press the function (escape) to exit the menus.

Great In-Dash February-24-09
Reviewer: Brayler from Richmond, Va  
I bought this product cause it was just time for a new one. I was also thinking about changing my factory speakers. Didn't have to because this kenwood in-dash gave my speakers their full capacity of sound. Thanks to it's High (front and rear) and Low Pass Frequency I could divide the high and low notes how I wanted. Having an Alpine plt-5 powered sub woofer definitely helps since I can send anything below 120Hz to that and anything above 120Hz to all the speakers. Great Product and great balance of sound and that's a lot coming from me cause I'm very critical of things.

Perfectly fine, easy Kenwood replacement install. February-21-09
Reviewer: D from San Francisco, CA  
Experience after about two weeks:

Bought as a replacement for an older Kenwood HU in a 98 Civic Hatchback. Swapping the unit was simple; the most difficult part was removing the old unit. Both the wiring and the cage from the older hookup were compatible, just a matter of plugging the wires and sliding it in.

Have not explored all the options as I have an older model iPod which isn't compatible with the USB connection. I have to run it through the CD changer plug (using a cable bought separately). No complaints on sound.

It seems the biggest issue for most people is in getting used to the control knob. While it's a little different from what I was used to it didn't take me long to get accustomed to it, and once I did it seemed like a pretty intuitive design.

All in all, am satisfied with the purchase.

Reviewer: Brian from Hamilton Square, NJ  
So it reads MP3s off a thumbdrive, allows for Aux input and has decent sound. Startup times are good and loading times are ok. The only gripe I have is that the menus have some graphics that slow down the navigation. The menus I found rather intuitive. Very good value for money.

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Kenwood KDC-MP538U CAD $199.99