Rated 4 out of 5 by Triton Great But Not Perfect
Just like most other Sony receiver models past and present, this one is very customizable in regards to pretty much everything i.e. sound quality/distribution, digital graphics, etc. The Blue Tooth function has the fastest connection time with a cell phone I've ever seen, and the Blue Tooth Streaming audio has excellent quality. However, this model does have one flaw. Despite what Sony's website says, it is NOT fully compatible with iPhones. I've tried an iPhone 4 and and iPhone 5 via the USB port and neither are recognized as media devices, so you either have to have a playlist already set up on your iPhone, you have to choose your songs manually from your phone and not a directory that shows up on the receiver. So, to play the songs on your iPhone you have to use the Blue Tooth Audio function. Other than that, this is a great digital media receiver and well worth your money.
January 5, 2013
Rated 4 out of 5 by Phade Everything I needed!
Short story: Very nice receiver with excellent features: Internal USB connection through “tune tray” for USB thumb drive, iPod, Walkman, or other media player; external USB connection; wireless Bluetooth Pandora connection for not-iPhone; SensMe is nice; and the sound of the unit is great with lots of options to tweak up the audio to fit your car/preferences. A few physical user interface problems do exist but don’t detract from the overall quality of the unit.
Long Story: I wanted to add Bluetooth to my car (2007 VW GTI) for hands-free phone calls, but the OEM add-on module was just as expensive as a new radio with Bluetooth built in. Even though I have a double-din slot, I chose this unit mainly because of the internal USB “tune tray”, Pandora integration, and price vs. double-din units.
Going in reverse order of awesomeness, SensMe is actually a perdy cool feature when used with a standard USB stick. To use it, just download a small program from Sony.com and copy your MP3s to your thumb drive using that program. During the copy, the program will analyze the music for tone, speed, rhythm, etc. and make “channels” with your music which are roughly equivalent to Pandora stations or an iTunes Genius mix. This nice thing is that it actually works!
Speaking of USB sticks, the internal “tune tray” is very nice. Basically it is an internal USB adapter just behind the radio faceplate. You can use either an iPod, Sony Walkman, or a plain USB thumb drive. I did the latter with an el-cheapo 32GB thumb drive. I was able to fill it with about 5000 tracks and the receiver was able to access them nicely without much delay. I just keep the thumb drive in the car all the time and everything is fine.
To me, the most awesome feature is the Pandora integration through Bluetooth while using a not-iPhone. Lots of receivers out there have Pandora integration, but it is limited to work with just iPhones. If you are like me and use Pandora but don’t have (or want) an iPhone, this feature is really great and, as of this writing, this is the ONLY unit on the market that has Pandora with not-iPhone! All you need to do is pair your phone (I’m using an HTC EVO 4G), start Pandora, and off it goes! The song information is displayed on the receiver. If you want to skip the song, just click the receiver control knob to the right. If you want to thumbs up/down a song, you can do it right on the receiver without touching the phone. If you want to switch Pandora stations, a few clicks on the receiver and you can scroll through all your stations to choose the one you want with no problem!
The overall sound of the receiver is great. There are lots of audio options, presets, and tweaks including a 7-band equalizer to set the sound to your liking. The goals of my setup were sound quality and cheap music capacity (not looking for DVD/video or navigation or booming loudness or flash or things like that). This receiver has definitely helped me meet my goals by allowing me to put a few hundred albums on a $35 32GB thumb drive and have them sound great. My setup is light-years better than the stock setup as far as audio quality, capacity, and convenience.
Receiver Issues: Not everything is smelling like roses in the land of this top-end Sony receiver. My biggest complaint with the unit is the main receiver knob. The knob’s normal actions are rotate, click up, click down, click left, click right, and click center. This works just fine if you are sitting in your driveway or garage. However, if you are driving down the road, “click center” can become a challenge even on smooth interstate roads. If the car bumps even just a tiny little bit, you will find it difficult to click center and not click up, down, left or right instead. This is a major frustration when trying to select an album, track, or anything else requiring center click while driving.
The second issue deals with the button layout. The largest button on the face is the “Bluetooth” button. I’m sure it had to have been some marketing person that said, “Make sure the biggest button on the face is the Bluetooth button. We want it to say ‘Bluetooth’ in big letters!” In reality, once you pair your device to the receiver, there should be few reasons to ever hit this button again. I use the “source”, “search”, and “pause” buttons very frequently, but they are much more difficult to use than the big, but mostly useless, Bluetooth button. If there is going to be one really big button, it would be nice if it said “Pandora”.
The third issue is with the access to the “tune tray” behind the receiver face. I’m not sure if this is an issue with just this unit’s design or if it affects most or all other manufacturers detachable face units, but when I try to open the “tune tray”, the big center knob hits the car kit bezel causing the face to not fully open. This forces me to remove the face while it is half way open in order to access the internal “tune tray”. Having a redesigned hinge that would lift the face upwards slightly when opened would fix the problem but may be cost or design prohibitive.
Lastly, the user interface leaves something to be desired. To me, this unit should be the most awesome car-mounted Walkman you can buy where you add your own amount of storage to it. However, the user interface seems to have been made with a checklist rather than user experience in mind. Little things like when searching for an album on a USB stick, the albums are in alphabetical order, but so are the tracks; it’s great that I was able to easily find the album, but would be nice if I could listen to it in the proper natural order instead of alphabetically. When browsing the USB stick, folders are listed in the order they were added to the stick rather than in alphabetical order; this means that when new music an added to the thumb drive, I have to pull everything off and the put it back on all at once if I want to view them alphabetically. Perhaps a future firmware update will fix these and other minor but annoying issues.
All things aside, I am happy with this receiver and would recommend it to friends and family. It does everything I wanted out of a receiver and would buy it again in the current market.
Vehicle: 2007 Volkswagen GTI 2-door
Receiver: Sony Digital Media Receiver DSX-S310BTX
Front speakers: Focal Polyglass 165 VR3 3-way components
Rear speakers: Sony Xplōd GTX XS-GTX1621S 2-way components
Subwoofer: Sony Xplōd 10" DVC XS-LD106P5
Amplifier: Sony Slim Series XM-4S for front and rear speakers
Amplifier: Sony Slim Series XM-1S for subwoofer
Processor: Alpine Imprint PXE-H650
October 12, 2011
Rated 3 out of 5 by shrike071 Flaky. Not what I expected for this type of money
This is a LOT of money for a single-DIN unit. This is a lot of money for a Sony unit. Those two things being said, I had pretty high expectations for this thing. Overall, it's a solid stereo for your car. There are gobs of adjustments for the sound and the parametric EQ is great. I also like the rear bass enhancement functions, all of the I/O selections and the "feel" of the unit is top notch.
Unfortunately, there are some significant issues. I am pretty confident that they can be addressed via a firmware update, so let's hope Sony has their ears on.
1. The internal USB/iPod connection is VERY flaky. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. When I say "doesn't", I mean it will sit there and try to read from the iPod until it eventually throws in the towel and says "no data". Hooking the exact same iPod to the front USB works flawlessly, but that's not why I bought this receiver!
The fix? God knows, but it appears to either be a "remove the unit and disconnect the power" (losing all your settings) sort of thing, or the "will of the universe" fix. A power-cycle seems to do the trick, but there are other times when it just wakes up and decides to play nice for no apparent reason.
2. The Pandora app is really cool and useful - when it works. It too is a crapshoot. Sometimes the unit will link right up with my phone and we're streaming down the road, and sometimes it doesn't. Without fail, however, it takes at least 3 minutes to establish the connection and start streaming. Deakliller? No. Annoyance? Absolutely.
3. Having to push the "input" button repeatedly until your desired input comes up on the screen is the epitome of "designed by engineers". Few things are more infuriating than wasting my time (and attention from the road) to repeatedly mash a darn button to go from "USB" to "tuner".
Were this interface designed by someone that knows nothing about the unit, they'd quickly see the err of their ways. Here's a hint: push the button ONCE to access the selection menu. Then use the KNOB to scroll through your available choices until your desired input is selected. Push the KNOB OR THE BUTTON to confirm your selection.
4. The two colors - red and blue - are very bright, even when hooked up to the dimmer function of the car. It would be nice to be able to dim them even more. I have found that while I like the blue color more, the red is easier on my eyes at night.
February 20, 2012
Rated 5 out of 5 by damage Great Unit
I'm not quite sure why the one reviewer has so much trouble with Pandora. It performs flawlessly for me. Perhaps it's an issue with the phone bandwidth. Perhaps he needs to upgrade his Pandora App. But no matter, the screen is easily readable and choosing a new station only takes a second.
I'm kinda with the other reviewer on the buttons chosen for the front. However, other Sony units are 10x worse with even less useful functions assigned to them. So in that light, the button selection is fine. My main issue is with the floppy knob. Since it's actually a useful joystick, it's somewhat understandable. But the Center push function is a little stiff and therefore sometimes a source of frustration to me. Hanging up a call or making a selection can sometime lead to something else happening altogether. But that's the price we pay I guess. I'd rather have the joystick than not.
As far as performance is concerned, Sony really hit it out of the park. Pandora, MP3, and BT audio sounds top notch. Certainly better than any FM station. I don't miss CDs one bit with this unit.
Speaking of FM performance. For a Sony, it's definitely lacking.
The amplifier in this unit is sufficient. But don't expect to win any bass contest. It really falls off when it comes to playing lows with distortion reaching the heights set by, many old units from long ago. Fortunately it comes with F/R/S RCAs, a fully functional EQ, adjustable time delay, and descent crossover. The only thing that would have mad it better would have been auto EQ/delay function built it.
Bluetooth phone works well, but I don't really like or use the phonebook function. The other issue is getting into the car while on the phone. The stereo takes over and so there is a second where you'll hear nothing nor can you talk. It should not engage if the phone is already on. Of course you don't have to use the BT when you are on the phone.
If Sony would make a competition level unit like this, I'd be all over it.
June 22, 2012
Rated 5 out of 5 by MrAllen OUTSTANDING!!! Everything i have come to expect.
I love this receiver, just wish it didn't have that knob on it. I use slacker and not pandora, but works flawlessly on the bluetooth audio source. haven't figured out the sens, thing yet but i couldn't imagine buying any other brand stereo equipment. I have 4 sony p5 12's in a custom box with 2 sony 1400 class d mono blocks pushing them with two sony 6 1/2 component sets running on a sony 900 watt highs amp that i go to speaker competitions with and i pulled a 144.0 db in outlaw slp class, people can't beleive there eyes when they see those old red sonys from walmart lol i recently got four more 12's and two more 1400's i'll keep you posted on what i pull with all 8 12's
July 22, 2012
Rated 3 out of 5 by roundabout somewhat disappointed
As a trucker, bought unit so I could upgrade system and have more reliable satellite service. Shortly after, clear channel radio left xm. Bought an Android to get the iheartradio app but it will not connect to unit. Screen says USB no support. Any advice helpful.
October 23, 2013