The world of aftermarket car audio equipment has exploded in the last 20 years or so, but a handful of brands stand head and shoulders apart from the rest of the pack when it comes to offering top-tier technology at amazing prices.
Pioneer is certainly one of those companies.
Responsible for some of the most innovative and exciting car audio/multimedia hardware that’s been released over the last two or three decades, Pioneer also has a legendary reputation for ease of installation and reliability.
One of their newest offers, the Pioneer AVH 501EX, has been hailed as the best car stereo money can buy on the aftermarket scene today. People love the fact that it has high-quality audio and multimedia performance, that it includes a built-in DVD player, and that it has some of the most extensibility you’ll find in a Double DIN set up.
To learn a little more about everything the new Pioneer AVH 501EX brings to the table check out the rest of our quick review.
This Double DIN unit is all built on top of a relatively streamlined head unit system, complete with a 6.2-inch touchscreen VGA monitor that sits slightly above the DVD receiver itself.
In the box you’ll also get a prewired harness ready to go, cutting down on installation times significantly. This makes installation pretty straightforward even if you haven’t tackled this kind of project in the past.
A remote control is included as well, though the opportunity to control your Pioneer AVH 501EX from your steering wheel controls through dedicated wiring is available as well. It is nice of the folks at Pioneer to include lithium-ion batteries for the remote, though. That doesn’t always happen.
Another nice little bonus you’ll find in the box for the Pioneer AVH 501EX is a 58-inch USB extension cable. With almost 6 feet to play with you can run this cable to almost anywhere in your vehicle (including the backseat) and play media off of your phone or mobile device through a hardwired connection.
Voice controls are accessible through the built-in microphone. The microphone hardware itself also has a mounting bracket system so that you can find the perfect place to set it up for crystal-clear communications with the head unit or your smart phone through the receiver.
Double-sided tape, all the screws you need to get your new receiver locked into place, a Quick Start guide and installation manual around out everything you’ll find in the box of this unit.
As far as key features are concerned, the star of the show with the new Pioneer AVH 501EX has to be the 6.2-inch touchscreen display.
While it isn’t quite as bright, quite as brilliant, or quite as vibrant as the touchscreen you’ll find on flagship smart phones or the retina display on the new iPads it is a top-tier VGA touchscreen monitor all the same. Colors are warm, the display is pretty sharp, and the haptic feedback of the touchscreen itself is very accurate.
You’ll immediately be able to upgrade the radio audio experience in your vehicle with the Pioneer AVH 501EX, too. A built-in high definition radio tuner increases the fidelity of standard radio while also providing access to HD band stations as well.
USB and Bluetooth 4.0 wireless connectivity options allow you to make the most of this audio receiver, too. You’ll be able to stream music and media from your phone or your mobile device, but you’ll also be able to control your phone or your tablet through the Pioneer AVH 501EX as well (once the connection has been made).
It would have been nice to see the inclusion of Bluetooth 5.0 (the most cutting-edge technology available in this wireless protocol), but Bluetooth 4.0 is stable and consistent enough to communicate with modern devices in the tight confines of a vehicle all the same.
Native support for Pandora and Spotify applications on both iOS and Android devices is included right out of the box as well. You get to tap into Siri Eyes Free voice control and command as well as the Google Assistant voice control/voice assistant technologies on those devices, too.
Another neat little feature that the Pioneer AVH 501EX includes that other options to not is a built-in DVD player. Sure, other top-tier head units allow you to add a DVD player later down the line (as a separate purchase) but this includes those capabilities straightaway. You can also use the DVD player to fire up old CDs.
Of course, a USB 2.0 input lets you play audio and video content straight from a flash drive if you want to go in that direction. This is a great approach for those that want to add a full library of movies, TV shows or music to their vehicle without cluttering up their mobile device. A 512 GB flash drive won’t set you back very much and can really extend the media capabilities of your Pioneer AVH 501EX instantly.
Apple Car Play and Android Auto support and compatibility with the Pioneer AVH 501EX is a little bit lackluster right now, though the receiver does work well with these types of mobile devices.
You’ll be running the Pioneer operating system and, in the Pioneer, automotive multimedia environment when you connect to your iOS or Android device to this system. It does not automatically transition to Apple Car Play or Android Auto the way that other head units might. It will, however, allow you to easily control your device – and the media on your devices – through the receiver.
A little tighter integration between these two incredibly popular software options would have been a nice addition. All the same, the sound quality and capabilities of the Pioneer AVH 501EX make this a very minor issue.
You bet it is!
This is a Double DIN unit with a prewired harness included that allows you to essentially “drag and drop” this audio receiver into your car with no trouble at all. Expect to spend an hour or so taking out the old receiver and replacing it with this one from start to finish.
The Pioneer AVH 501EX includes an external microphone that you can use to control every aspect of your car’s entertainment system with. Best of all, you can choose where to place that microphone to get the best, clearest audio signal possible.
Not straight out of the box, but the wiring harness and the hardware itself supports backup cameras. You can connect the backup camera from the manufacturer direct to this unit with no trouble or add an aftermarket option later down the line, too.
All things considered, you just won’t find a better sounding head unit on the market today than this one from Pioneer.
Sleek, modern, easy to use, and well-engineered from top to bottom this is one of the more intuitive systems available as well. Everything just sort of works right out of the box and thanks to a simplified installation process you can really hit the ground running here.
The inclusion of support for physical media in the DVD/CD player really helps to put this head unit head and shoulders above most of the competition. The Pioneer AVH 501EX is something really special.