Pioneer FH S500BT

Double DIN Bluetooth In-Dash CD/AM/FM Car Stereo Receiver w/ Pandora and Spotify Control

Pioneer FH S500BT Review

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It’s not difficult to imagine that the engineers at Kenwood wanted to do one thing and one thing only with the DDX375BT digital media receiver – and that’s to make sure that you had access to all of your media no matter where it might be sourced from.

The Kenwood DDX375BT has a 6.2 inch touchscreen display that is a little bit on the smaller side of things compared to other options but it has an unparalleled amount of media source capabilities you won’t find elsewhere on the market.

Obviously you are going to be able to play the radio over the HD integrated into the DDX375BT but you’re also going to be able to stream media (movies and music) from your mobile device wirelessly or via USB, will be able to plug USB flash drives with media into the digital media receiver directly, but can also play physical CDs and DVDs with this unit as well.

This is a real “one-size-fits-all” kind of approach to making sure that all of your media is available on the move and at your fingertips.

Let’s get deeper into what makes the Kenwood DDX375BT so special in the rest of this quick review.

Pioneer is one of the industry leaders in the world of automobile entertainment and audio equipment, and for good reason.

Consistently making some of the best options available when vehicle owners want to upgrade their OEM system with aftermarket components, Pioneer continues to innovate, to improve, and to drive the industry forward – in large part thanks to options like the Pioneer FH S500BT.

Designed from the ground up to offer a top-notch audio experience inside of your vehicle without you having to spend a mountain of money, there’s a lot to fall in love with when it comes to this particular automobile audio receiver.

Throughout this quick Pioneer FH S500BT review we are going to highlight everything we like about this hardware while shining a light on its few shortcomings. You’ll have a good idea of whether or not this is the right equipment for your vehicle by the time you’re done with the inside information below.

Let’s jump right in!

  • Full support for terrestrial, HD, and satellite radio right out of the box
  • High definition audio file playback (including FLAC playback) capable
  • Total support for Android and iPhone devices
  • Total support for both Spotify and Pandora
  • Takes advantage of next generation Bluetooth wireless connectivity and the ARC Bluetooth From Pioneer
  • Built-in amplifier and 13 band equalizer
  • Dedicated subwoofer control and listening position selector features
  • Highly advanced sound retriever
  • Two preamplifier outputs

… And that’s just the tip of the iceberg!

  • Availability can be a little hit or miss
  • Does not have a touchscreen
  • Does not have support for reverse cameras or GPS navigation modules
  • Installation process is a little involved
  • Lack of complete support for Apple Car Play and Android Auto is a little disappointing

Pioneer FH S500BT Design

Let’s start with the design that this automobile multimedia receiver.

Built around the traditional Double DIN form factor (making this receiver a perfect “drop right in” replacement for most OEM media centers in modern vehicles), all of the components on the Pioneer FH S500BT are exactly what you would expect from this company – high-end, well-made, and very well put together.

The look and finish of this particular digital receiver is fantastic, with a super clean interface, physical buttons that you are going to be able to manipulate easily without taking your eyes off of the road, and a central volume knob that does double (sometimes triple) duty when you are running through different menus and settings.

You have a whole host of customization options to tinker and toy with when you want to get the Pioneer FH S500BT to look just the way you want, too.

Every aspect of the color scheme can be modified and manipulated (with more than 20,000 unique color options to pick and choose from), really helping you to personalize part of your audio experience.

The user interface and the physical buttons control scheme is a joy to use, too. The fact that you can easily connect to your mobile device (Android or iOS) via Bluetooth or use the included remote – or your steering wheel controls wherever applicable – only increases the amount of control you have over this media hardware.

Media Features

Most of all digital media receivers today have full support for both FM and AM radio stations as well as HD radio signals, but the Pioneer FH S500BT also includes support for satellite radio and the most popular streaming services out there – Spotify and Pandora.

The coolest thing about the media features built into the Pioneer FH S500BT is that they work so well with the applications you already have downloaded on your mobile device. Connect via Bluetooth, through the Pioneer ARC application, or plug directly into the USB port on this receiver and you’ll open up a world of control features and media playback options that traditional automobile media receivers just don’t include.

Of course, no Pioneer FH S500BT review would be complete without letting you know that you can play physical media on this receiver as well. CD, CD-R, and CD-RW playback is enabled thanks to the dedicated CD player on the top of the receiver.

It’s nice to be able to throw a CD mix in (even if it’s something you haven’t listened to in quite a while) without having to worry about streaming media from your phone or listening to the radio.

Because this receiver has support for WMA audio playback, WAV audio playback, MP3 audio playback, AAC audio playback, as well as FLAC audio playback it’s hard to imagine you not being able to enjoy pretty much any music, audiobooks, podcasts, or media you’re interested in listening to through your car speakers when you’ve installed the Pioneer FH S500BT.

The only thing you won’t be able to playback with this receiver are video files of any kind, but that’s to be expected with this particular set up.

Pioneer FH S500BT Sound Quality

The quality of sound you get from the Pioneer FH S500BT is absolute tops – which is what you would expect from a company like this with a legendary reputation.

Not only do you have amazing sound coming from the receiver straight out of the box without any fiddling or fussing over the different features and controls available, but you also have access to a 13 band equalizer, built-in amplifier, three preset modes for loudness, dedicated subwoofer control, and that’s only the tip of the iceberg.

You are going to have more control over your automobile audio experience with this receiver than maybe any other option out there at this price point.

You will definitely have the chance to make the most of your audio hardware (the speakers and subwoofers already installed in your car), and there are a lot of people out there that have written their own Pioneer FH S500BT review mentioning just how much better this unit made their stock speakers sound.

The fine, most granular level of control you’ll have over your audio experience is second to none.


Connectivity options include wireless connectivity through your smart phone via the Bluetooth signal built into the receiver, as well as an optimized processor running “behind the scenes” to take full advantage of everything that your smart phone brings to the table.

You’ll also have the chance to connect your mobile devices to your new Pioneer receiver via the dedicated USB input. This is a powered USB input, too. You’ll be able to charge your device while you stream media from it with absolutely zero issues whatsoever.

A dedicated 3.5 mm input chat is available if you are looking to use that input for media, and of course we mentioned the standard terrestrial FM and AM radio signals as well as the HD and satellite radio signals you’ll be able to receive through this hardware.

Pioneer FH S500BT Ease of Install

Installation with Pioneer head units is always a little bit more involved compared to some of the other options out there, and that’s the case with the FH S500BT model as well.

This is something that you are going to want to expect and anticipate. There are a lot of videos out there online (really in-depth videos, at that) that can help you handle the heavy lifting of this project, but if you’re not completely comfortable with automobile accessory wiring jobs it might be a bad idea to have someone install your new Pioneer FH S500BT for you.

All in all, though, the process usually becomes a whole lot less intimidating after you run through it. It’s really hard to make a serious mistake as long as you follow directions well.

Final Verdict

At the end of the day, the Pioneer FH S500BT is easily one of the best digital media receivers available for sale right now – especially at this super affordable price point.

No, it does not have a gorgeous touchscreen the way that some of the high-end options include. And no, it does not offer support for GPS navigation or reverse cameras.

The fact that it lacks truly dedicated Apple Car Play and Android Auto capabilities is a little bit disappointing as well, but if you can get away without having to leverage all of those bells and whistles – while saving a lot of money at the same time – the chances are good that you are really going to enjoy the Pioneer FH S500BT.

Without a doubt your media experience in your vehicle will improve dramatically just as soon you get this receiver set up.

You’ll be able to stream all of your favorite songs, audiobooks, and podcasts from your mobile devices and from USB flash drives, you’ll be able to listen to all of your favorite radio stations with crystal-clear signals, and you’ll even be able to jump on your favorite streaming platforms or satellite radio without much effort thanks to the Pioneer FH S500BT.

This is definitely one of the better entry-level price point digital media receivers you will find out there, especially if you don’t need a touchscreen and are comfortable running GPS navigation from your phone or tablet!


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