I once worked for AudioFX, a company that rented out stuff for recording studios. If your over-stimulated client demanded a 1960’s retro style Pan-Scan for their session at 3am, we would deliver. All equipment was tested every hire and only put back into rental stock once checked. I was test bench boy and I also went on deliveries. Once, before they had a lift at the legendary Abbey Road, I helped deliver a 24 track tape deck. It was a 24Bit, 48kHz sampling rate, 2248 digital tape recorder, by Sony. It was state of the art then, yet this head unit I’m reviewing now processes files up to 24 bit, 96kHz sampling rate! That delivery was a mix of modern and stone age technology. Sweat-and-muscle and digital tape recording. And the KD-DB922BT is too. For CD, whilst being new back then, is now a heritage format. In cars though, many folks still love them, like how we kept our vinyl records. So I hope this JVC KD-DB922BT review will prove useful to those of you who want better sound, but aren’t ready to ditch the CDs just yet…

In 1986, the movie ‘Star Trek IV The Voyage Home’, made a joke about computers. Scotty tries to control a computer by saying, “COMPUTER” and it doesn’t work. Bones hands him the the mouse, so he speaks into it. “Hello Computer!” There was also a reference to transparent aluminum as gift to his back-in-time-travelled hosts. Not only have we surpassed their flip-phone communicators but we now have transparent ceramic aluminum. And now, Amazon Alexa has joined in the humor. You can program it to wake up when you say, “COMPUTER”.

The KD-DB922BT is a pukka CD tuner with a bunch of other clever capabilities but it does leave a couple of things out. There’s no SD slot under the beautiful flip-down face-off front piece and you don’t get a case for the faceplate. But what a cunning thing!

RRP: £149.99. Buy it here. (Not available in the US, try the the JVC KD-T915BTS instead, RRP: $147.98)


Setup and operation

While I had a white-box sample unit without printed matter, I think I had all the accessories, like removal keys. There was no face-case though, soft or hard. This seems to be a new norm whereas you always got one in the past. The Caliber RCD 120 we tested also lacked a face-case, as did the other full-posh packaging JVC deck.

Operation was slicker and faster and more intuitive than some. It was fast to load a disc and the Aux socket was sensitive. I could hear the voice recorder notes with perfect clarity. I like the two-line display and loved how the clock just set itself as soon as it tuned the DAB. FM was drawn in well and the RDS displays of the stations showed rapidly.

JVC KD-DB922BT playing a CD

The front USB slot read all my files and showed the track names as well as the artist. The on-board amp is good and strong and made good levels. It has AM too, although I really don’t even know what’s out there in crackle-land.

I installed the Amazon Alexa app and paired up the radio to the phone by Bluetooth. Had I any friends, I could have connected two phones and even played DJ with them, sigh…

The digital audio control, or DSP, is clever. You get Time Alignment by speaker type and distance, while ‘Sound Response’ is a small bass-lift to MP3 and WMA file playback. And the 20kHz to 44.1kHz super-highs zone is added-in by interpolation by the Digital Track Expander. It is fiercely clever and all adds up to good sound from all sources.

JVC KD-DB922BT running AUX

How well does it work?

I loved how pretty and shiny the face plate was, and yet was sad that once the clear sticky film was removed, you were on your own. Just the delicacy of the bridge-piece over the slot is a worry. It wouldn’t take much dropping or clumsy treatment to hurt it. It needs that case!

I had the customary play with all the formats and marvelled at the quality and looks. This is ‘retail’ at £150, (which may be why SD is left out…) but it’s top quality in every way.

Apps can be a pain. My phone told me that I had filled the app’s cache and needed to clear it. It kept starting different menus and asking me different stuff each time I fired it up during testing. I admit I was fretty enough, having read the (detailed and good) online manual, to message Mr. JVC. I asked him if the sample unit might have issues? It kept on prompting me to get the app and connect to Bluetooth. I rebooted both the phone and the unit twice. Then it burst into action.


I said “Alexa, Claire Rayner, Wikipedia” and right away Alexa was reading out the beginning of my mum’s Wiki page. That felt like being Montgomery Scott of the Enterprise.

But I couldn’t get a grip of Alexa after that when trying to video it. I am totally inexperienced with it, had never used Alexa properly before and admit I got vexed. But that was about apps and phones and permissions, all stuff outside the remit of my review. The underlying point is this – it works with Amazon Alexa!

Tech specs:

  • 1-DIN CD Tuner DAB+/FM/AM radio with 1.5A USB/Aux/Bluetooth (V4.2) streaming and calls
  • Onboard Power: 4x50W or 2x50W + 1x50W to 4 ohm subwoofer (4x22W RMS) CUTE FEATURE!
  • Has digital crossovers, (2-way/3-way), 13 band EQ with eight presets
  • Dual phone connection, with ability to DJ between both phones
  • Works with Amazon Alexa, also uses JVC Smartphone wifi remote app
  • iPod/iPhone music playback: iPod Touch Gen.6 to iPhones 5S to 12
  • Two-zone Variocolour (32,768 colours) illumination, with optional Music Sync. – pulses to the rhythm

To browse other options, check out our single-DIN car stereo group test.