Last year, on Black Friday, Fry’s Electronics was featuring this digital media receiver amongst their other media receivers for their blowout sale. Amongst the line of products, which included video media receivers from name brands like Alpine and Kenwood, this little dinky media receiver occupied a much smaller ad space within their Black Friday ad. Nevertheless, the distinctive Pioneer name brand was unmistakable.
Now, having said that, Pioneer, as a name brand is very well known. They’ve been known to have made those superior Plasma TV’s that dominated the TV industry many eons ago. They are well known in the audio electronics industry who has set the standard for home audio entertainment and they’ve dabbled with computer electronics and optical devices, which, to be honest, is where I first discovered Pioneer as a name brand. Pioneer is clearly one of the top brands when it comes to electronics so when I saw this brand pop up on Fry’s Black Friday sale, I had to have it. Within minutes of finding it, I jumped on Fry’s website and ordered it.
I didn’t receive it until late into the second week of December. After which, I had it installed about a week later before the new year had begun. I wanted to give it least a couple of weeks to get an idea of how the media receiver actually performed. I must say that Pioneer made a pretty solid digital media receiver. It surpassed my expectations so far as sound quality is concerned. Bear in mind now that I was running this receiver on my stock front speakers (made by Pioneer, apparently) for my 97 Honda Accord and a new pair of DP Audio DS699 speakers. The unit handled the lower frequencies pretty well without much distortions until the knob was turned well beyond 40. (Apparently, this unit allows you go much higher on the volume knob and around 50+ was when my speakers started sounding really distorted and not very pleasant to the ears). The mid-range sounds were adequate but not terribly clear when it came to guitar thrashing like those found in heavy metal, grunge rock, or post grunge rock type of music. Vocals were clear across the board though. Otherwise, piano music, classical, basic guitar thrumming, and regular pop music all sounded very natural and real. Even the hip hop and rap music genre sounded very pleasant with the speaker set up that I had. It performed really well when it came to trance, techno, and electronic type of music. Plus, Pioneer has this feature called “Bass Boost,” which really gives it that extra ‘oomph’ if you want really deep bass.
Even though I’m giving this media receiver glowing remarks, unfortunately, I don’t have much of a base mark to base it on except what my car originally carried as the head unit previously. That happened to have been an aftermarket radio by Pyle, model number PLCD42M. Now, me personally? This radio unit pales in comparison on all marks. It had a fairly limited range of settings and customizations quite unlike the Pioneer unit which allows to you customize so much more. On the Pioneer unit, you can basically set it to sound however you like and it can be a pain in the ass to fine tune to just right frequencies that you desire but if you’re an audiophile to some degree, I think you’ll appreciate the freedom that Pioneer allows you to modify on this unit.
There are also other little knick knacks that are just tacky so far as features are concerned in the Pioneer unit like “MixTrax,” which basically takes pieces of a song and mash them together with other audio clips on your phone or media player. To me, I have no real use for this function in the receiver. It’s really rather stupid. There’s a dedicated Pandora App option that you can set on the unit, which allows you to skip tracks, create stations, delete stations, and other functions using the head unit’s control knob and buttons that you would normally be able to just do on your Android phone. There’s a dedicated App option, which apparently allows you to use other third party apps right on the unit as well. This function too, I find pretty useless. I would rather just use my phone to do what I need rather than use the head unit to do what my phone already does. Plus, my phone can’t seem to pair up with this head unit using Bluetooth when set to either. (I’m using a Huawei Union by Virgin Mobile). I would imagine that this head unit works best if you have a more mainstream Android phone or an iPhone (as opposed to an off brand phone). Instead, I find that the BT Audio option works best with my phone, which basically allows my phone to connect to the head unit and treat it as if it was a regular external speaker.
Set up is fairly straight forward. I don’t think you really need to read the instructions manual to set up the head unit but if you want to know what each of many, many functions allow you to do on this unit, I would recommend keeping that manual with you, in case you have no idea what “fader,” “balance” and other words mean. This unit also lets you set the brightness of the LED backlight in case if it was too bright for you at night time. I find that it was fine at night even at its highest brightness settings. The faceplate is definitely detachable, which was one of the things I was looking for when I was shopping for a media receiver.
My only gripe with this head unit is when it is an especially sunny day and there is glare in your car, it can be pretty hard to read what’s displayed on the LCD screen. It is a two year old media receiver but despite it being an older receiver, I find that the features are more than enough for what I use it for, which is to primarily listen Pandora and Spotify using the Bluetooth and occasionally listening to AM1430 (a Cantonese radio station for the Los Angeles and SGV area). This unit picks up AM frequencies well. It’s quite clear, where as my previous Pyle head unit couldn’t even pick up any of the AM frequencies very clearly. As a result of that, I never used my old Pyle head unit to listen to AM radio stations. And, the Pioneer head unit picked up FM frequencies much more easily than the Pyle head unit. Almost no distortion from most of the popular radio stations: 89.3 NPR, 89.9 KCRW, 96.3 KXOL-FM, 102.7 KIIS FM, 103.5 KOST FM, etc.
So if you’re looking for an upgrade from your older aftermarket head unit (or stock head unit that lacks Bluetooth), I would totally recommend this head unit. Just be sure to pair it with a better set of speakers for your front and rear deck. I’d imagine that this unit would really shine if there was an actual amp installed in your car but for my needs, which were fairly basic, the Pioneer MVH-X370BT was more than enough even with a basic speaker set up. While Fry’s Electronics no longer has this unit at the price as advertised on Black Friday, Amazon sometimes sells this at under $70 depending on which seller that you buy it from. This Amazon Seller, for instance, is currently pricing this unit at $82 but that price can and does fluctuate so I would advise checking back with them often. Or if that’s not your cup of tea, you can certainly get it here at Bestbuy for $88.99 if you prefer to the convenience of a brick-and-mortar store.