The main DSP functions are the same - both have 31 band eq's accross 8 channels, take high and low level inputs, aux input, etc.
MS8 has autotune, 5.1/7.1 surround, internal amp (great if you power speakers such as center channel). Its easier to setup initially due to the autotune function although manual tuning is done through the display which can be a little tedious compared to the Bit 1's PC interface.
The Bit 1 is tuned manually and offers allot more flexibility in that regard and the PC interface makes it much more friendly to tune. It has multiple filter options, digital and coax inputs and phone integration, 2 aux inputs. It has de-equalization (the JBL does as well) which is good for pre-tuned systems such as the Sony. You can also invert phase on any speaker with a click of the mouse, dynamic equalization which changes eq levels based on volume, eq for every source, and so on.
Both are great DSPs and it really depends on the level of tuning you want to get into. There are slight audio differences with the Bit 1 winning out but unless you have "golden ears" or are competing I dont think that should be a factor.
The MS8 will get you there fast with autotune.
The Bit 1 is for the person that doesn't mind spending the time to tune and wants the ability to adjust everything at their fingertips. You will learn allot about equalization and its fun to easily play with the various bands/xovers/speakers and instantly hear the results.
The question is how much tuning are you wanting/willing to do?
Honestly, not a lot. I just want an above average sounding system with quality components that just works. I think the factory ford system is cool with the sync and all, but the sound just isn't there. I want to keep the sync.
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If you plan on keeping the factory sync, I'm not sure I would go with the Bit-1. It's an amazing unit, but pricey, and without some tuning time(hours) I don't think it fits your application and use. Sure, it has the capability to make any car a competition SQ machine and is probably one of the best DSP's on the market, but for your purposes a mid-grade DSP should get you where you want to be at a fraction of the cost.
If you plan on keeping the factory sync, I'm not sure I would go with the Bit-1.
Sync works fine with either option. You will get the most of out DSP when running 2 or 3 way active or at a minimum a component set up front. There are cheaper options such as the Alpine PXE-H660, these are no longer in production but can still be readily found. There are used Fosgate 3.Sixty.2's that can also be found at good prices as well. If you've narrowed your choices to the Bit 1 or MS8 it sounds like the MS8 would be the better option.
I was under the assumption Patrick will not be "amp'ing" the components.
Anways, Joe is more experienced with both of these, than I. So, he can advise you in the right direction, I don't want to misinform anyone. I am fairly familiar with the Alpine family of PXA's though, so if you have questions about those I could be a little more helpful.