Top 5 Car Stereos

Parrot-Asteroid-

It’s a rite of passage for any first-time driver to upgrade their car stereo, and with the proliferation of mp3s, streaming services and smartphones there’s never been a better time to buy a new car stereo to use with your new smart device.

Whilst car stereos haven’t changed all that much over the past 10 years, it’s safe to say the way we consumer music has. With this in mind it’s now really easy to stream music from your phone onto your car’s stereo, and with our top 5 car stereos you can all do of that and so much more.

Pioneer-Car-Radio

Pioneer MVH-350BT

The long-time car stereo experts Pioneer have recently released the MVH-350BT, which is specifically designed to play music stored on your portable devices for under £150. On the front there’s an illuminated USB and Aux-in gives your iPod, iPhone, or Android smartphone direct connection to your car speakers.

The system is fully Bluetooth-enabled so you can easily make hands-free calls and stream Bluetooth audio from your device, whether it’s iOS or Android.

The MVH-350B’s built-in amplifier is capable of a solid 50-watts across four channels. There are also 2 RCA pre-outs so you can hook up another stereo component, like a subwoofer for some extra kick. The only downside for the Pioneer is the lack of CD playback, which might be a deal breaker for some.

Pure-Car-Radio

Pure Highway H240Di

In-car entertainment manufacturer Pure has joined forces with Halfords to develop and manufacture a range of car stereos that will get you streaming music from your iPod or iPhone in no time at all.

The mid-range Highway H240Di costs £129, but for that you do get quite a lot of bang for your buck; it comes with digital DAB radio, traditional FM and AM tuners, and there’s connectivity for iOS devices via USB.

If you’re still using CDs as your main source of music, the head unit is compatible with a range of mediums including CD/CD-R/RW, CD/CD-ROM and MP3 CD/ USB playback. There’s also a clever bookmarking feature, which is perfect for listening to audio books on the commute to work. There’s an AUX input, and enough power to run four 45-watt speakers.

Pure-Highway-260dbi

Pure Highway H260DBi

Pure’s has also released Highway H260DBi, which costs a little bit more, coming in at £149. But for the extra £20 you get full wireless Bluetooth streaming and hands-free calling via Bluetooth, and an extra 5-watts across all four channels.

Drivers are able to safely make and receive phone calls via the Bluetooth receiver using the Highway’s controls and an external microphone to ensure the best call quality possible. Finally, you can also customise the button lighting to better suit your dashboard’s internal lighting.

Parrot-Asteroid

Parrot Asteroid

Newcomers to the in-car entertainment market Parrot offer the world’s first Android powered car stereo but for the added functionality you should expect to pay around £240.

The Asteroid is capable of running Internet applications and can access geo-location information via 3G and GPS. You can also listen to Internet radio stations and music streaming services too. Basically it’s like a fully-fledged Android tablet but for your car.

The Android-powered system comes with a decent sized 3.2-inch colour screen, which displays your phonebook, menus, music, playlists, album covers and Internet applications.

The Parrot Asteroid is compatible with an array of music sources whether it’s an iPod, iPhone, USB, SD card or Bluetooth wireless streaming. You can also access to your music via voice command; just say the name of the artist and the music will be launched automatically.

The Asteroid comes equipped with an impressive 55-watt MOSFET amplifier, spread across 4 channels. And there are subwoofer and 6xRCA preamp-outputs, too.

Thanks to a new technology called MirrorLink, it is now possible to bring smartphone apps directly to the screen of our car’s stereo. And, the new Sony XAV-601BT is one of the first systems to offer MirrorLink connectivity.

Sony-XAV

Sony XAV-601BT

The Sony XAV-601BT is a double-DIN audio-video center for your dashboard, so it’s quite a bit bigger than you standard head unit. There are a number of ways to enjoy music on the system whether it is via Sirius XM or Pandora, via the app control feature. There’s iPod compatibility, as well as Bluetooth, dual USB inputs and CD and DVD playback. The XAV-601BT comes standard with everything you could possibly want – except perhaps GPS navigation, but there is an added option for that too.

The main selling point of this is system is obviously 6.1-inch WVGA TFT touch screen, which is running a pin-sharp 800×480 resolution. The system is also Navigation ready – so you can add an optional TomTom satnav module and external GPS antenna for fast, accurate route planning. Passengers are also able to control the system with the Control App. For all this space-aged functionality expect to pay a not unreasonable £270.

Pioneer’s new Airplay-enabled Network Audio Players

Earlier this week, Pioneer announced two lovely new Network Audio Players. The N-30 and N-50 both support Apple’s AirPlay function and offer the ability to play music files from a variety of sources and formats, including high resolution 192 kHz/24-bit audio files. Awesome.

Pioneer-N50

Why should you be excited, then? Well gadgeteers, both players feature high quality playback of music files, including FLAC and WAV, up to 192 kHz/24 bit. Sweet. But oh, that’s not all.

We’ll get you started with the N-50 which has dual transformers and USB/Optical/Coaxial digital inputs to work alongside the RCA and Optical/Coaxial outputs. Additionally, (and quite fantastically) it can support internet radio and iPod files, so, whatever format it’s in, and no matter how far it’s embedded within the deepest, dankest and darkest corners of your computer’s musical collection, then it’s likely to play for you. It is very good like that. Is there a catch at all? Unfortunately, yes; you do need an additional adapter for wi-fi compatibility… wait… wait… it’ll be okay. Read on and feel comforted by the horse’s mouth… no wait, that’s really not right. Ah yes, feel reassured by some info straight from the source… better.

Technology and Product Information Manager at Pioneer Europe, Philippe Coppens says: “Audiophiles now want to enjoy audio playback from their whole music library as well as online media, in the best possible sound quality. Keeping that in mind, Pioneer’s network audio players were developed to offer a new listening experience, giving access to music files wherever they are stored —PC, NAS, HDD, iPod/iPhone/iPad, or USB— as well as internet radio programmes from around the world.

“For the N-50, we have further integrated asynchronous USB DAC functionality and DSP processing, along with the parts and construction to make sure the requirements of even the most demanding audiophile are met.”

What about the N-30 then? Well, err, dear audiophiles, it’s not quite as good as the slick N-50, but it still does a top-notch job. Yeah, it lacks the dual transformers and digital inputs (excluding AirPlay and DLNA, of course), and the iPod compatibility, but otherwise carries out the same functions as its “big brother” model.

These luscious new Pioneers are available in black now, priced at £349.99 for the N-30 and £499.99 for the N-50.

Pioneer AppRadio’s new apps: Now there’s no excuse to run out of petrol!

Customising gadgets based on users’ preferences and habits really does seem to be the technological stonker finale of 2011. Pioneer’s innovative AppRadio was the first car stereo to develop a driver’s smartphone experience by bringing apps compatible to the iPhone 4/4S to their dashboard, a strength that led to the AppRadio being awarded a ‘European Imaging and Sound Association (EIMSA) award. Intent on upgraded its award-winning device, Pioneer has unveiled a collection of new recommended apps to work alongside the AppRadio in-car head unit.

Pioneer-in-App-Radio

StreamS HiFi Radio

Download the StreamS HiFi Radio app and you will have access to Internet radio in the car. High quality digital audio is guaranteed with this app and, in using pioneering buffer controls, a strong quality signal will be maintained even in areas where signal strength is not always consistent. Favourite internet radio stations can also be selected and stored via the user-preference dedicated AppRadio interface.

Dash Command

Sounds exciting! The Dash Command app enables users to see all key performance specifications in real time. The live data that is displayed on the screen of the AppRadio head-unit includes fuel consumption, fuel level, engine speed, engine temperature, diagnostics, braking and acceleration, all the things that are displayed on a dash board anyway only a lot more accurately, meaning you’ll never have to guess how much fuel’s left in the tank and be on tenterhooks to whether you’ll make it home or not! Although be warned, this app does require the use of an optical cable that is sold separately.

AUPEO!

Again based on personal tastes, the AUPEO! App enables drivers to customise their music playlists constructed on personal preferences. Based on a list of attributes, such as favourite artists, favourite genre of music, and AUPEO! will provide you with a playlist centred around such preferences.

Small yet perfectly formed – Pioneer’s new range of Slim AV Micro Systems

Just announced by Pioneer is a new range of multifunctional AV systems. Small in size but big in functionality, the range can cater for most flavours of media, including Apple iPod and iPhone connectors, DVD, CD, AUX input, along with FM radio channels. In fact, everything you could dream of from an AV system.

Pioneer-AV-Micro

In total there are three models released as part of the range, the X-SMC5, X-SMC3 and X-SMC1. Each model boosts sleek looks with an all-in-one body and Apple’s AirPlay technology, allowing it to be used as a docking station for your i-device. The docking station itself is nicely integrated into the main body of the system, and smartly pops out at the touch of a button.

Taking up the minimum of space on your worktop, desk or bookshelf, the systems feature a small stand and speakers which grant surprisingly sharp performance. The 2x20w speakers are loud enough to be heard from across the busiest office or awaken you from the deepest sleep. For those who wish to keep their musical habits a more private affair, there are also ports to plug your headphones into.

Along with the docking station and speaker set-up, the AV systems include a number of technically-pleasing features. The AirPlay application allows users to stream music from their iTunes library held on any Apple device, PC or Mac through a WiFi connection. The Air Jam app (which is available for free in the iTunes store www.itunes.com/appstore/) allows up to four Bluetooth connected devices to create a collective playlist that can be played back through the AV system. Very clever, although be prepared for a few arguments when it comes to choices of song.

Oh, and did we mention the AV systems can also be used as an alarm clock? Indeed, the only worry you will have is deciding what format of media you will be woken up to…

For further information, visit http://www.pioneer.co.uk .

Pioneer’s Blu-Ray 3D Players have universal appeal

Hot on the heels of Pioneer’s four new Blu Ray home theatre systems comes a brace of blu ray disc players that completes a powerful new line-up for the autumn.

Pioneer-advance-Blu-Ray

The BDP- 440 and BDP- LX55 Blu Ray players combine 3D playback at a 1080p full cinema-like 24 frames per second (fps)with some outstanding hi def audio courtesy of HDMI uncompressed multi-channel linear pulse code modulation. In other words you get some truly hard core sonic sounds from DVD audio that could potentially handle your home music output just as well as a dedicated hifi system.

Their local network and internet connectivity adds another dimension to the possibilities through a smart phone app that will let you communicate with the players through your iPad  iPhone, iPod and Android devices turning them into remote controllers. Now that is pretty cool.

Of the two players, the LX55 is the higher end audio edition with gold plated HDMI terminals, a 32 bit / 192 kHz digital to analogue audio converter, acoustic capacitors and an anti vibration construction design.

Both models showcase image versatility with compatibility for MKV, DivX Plus HD, WMV, WMA and MP3 playback, plus a JPEG viewer for photo slideshows. They are to all intents and purposes intended to be a ‘universal’ solution for home digital.

As Philippe Coppens, Technology and Product Information Manager at Pioneer Europe comments: “The fact that Pioneer again has so-called “universal” disc playback capability – supporting both Super Audio CD and DVD-Audio – will surely be appreciated by many audiophiles who invested in these high-resolution formats in the past and today.”

The BDP-440 retails at £249.99 and the BDP-LX55  £349.95 available from November.

Pioneer BDP-140: Networking and 3D Blu-ray media powerhouse

The Pioneer BDP-140 is the first model from Pioneer’s new 3D Blu-ray player range. With the high level of competition, it’s a difficult market to enter, so Pioneer have picked a unique selling point: it’s all about the networking.

BDP140

The BDP-140 has an Ethernet port (for wired integration), as well as wifi (via the Pioneer AS-WL300 wireless LAN converter) to connect the 3D Blu-ray player to your home network. This’ll unleash a wealth of content options.

By hooking up 3D Blu-ray with the internet, users will be able to use BD-Live to stream web-based extras onto the system.

An internet-connected BDP-140 also brings YouTube videos and Picasa photo albums to your TV, utilising the same interface used for all the other types of playback. Other developers, take note: a unified interface is key to internet TV.

The player is also DLNA certified, so video, audio and photo from compatible computers (or tablets/phones) can be streamed straight to the device and onto the big screen.

The supported formats include MKV, DivX Plus HD, WMV and MP3, plus a JPEG viewer for photo slideshows – all playable via CD, DVD, USB or LAN.

A real killer-feature is the iPhone and Android remote control app. As long as the player is connected to the internet, Pioneer’s iControlAV2 app allows wireless control of playback and navigation functions.

It wouldn’t be much of Pioneer product without great sound – and so you’ll find support for a broad range of audio and video disc types, as well as a developed multi-channel audio experience.

High-definition audio formats like Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio are supported, outputted natively as bitstream or decoded internally and output as uncompressed multi-channel LPCM on HDMI. For non-audiophiles, the means sweet sound.

And – like all Pioneer products, it comes in a wonderful bachelor black – the industry standard for serious audio/visual hardware.

Pioneer’s new micro-stereo systems

Pioneer has launched four new micro-stereo systems into the European market, with enough variation between the models to help you find your ideal micro-music machine.

The range – X-HM10, X-HM20DAB, X-HM70DAB, XC-HM70DAB – was built on the back of the success of the X-HM50 micro-system that was introduced last September.

Pioneer-Micro-Stereo

Every system in the range caters for all of your CD playing needs, while also remembering those of us who live in the 21st century: each one has a front-mounted USB port.

The USB support isn’t great, however, allowing the playback of MP3 or WMA files. That’s not the widest format support we’ve ever seen. Still, most files come in MP3 anyway, so it’s probably not a deal-breaker.

For every model except the X-HM10, you’ll also find an iPhone/iPod docking slot integrated in the top of the cabinet, for both playback with charging.

All of the systems are extremely similar in size, with each device measuring 21.5cm wide. The two premium offerings are slightly taller (11.1cm to 9cm) and have a little more depth (32cm vs. 30cm).

There’s not much else to say about the entry-level X-HM10 (£129.99), other than its speakers output at 2x15W.

Things get more interesting with the X-HM20DAB (£199.99), however, which throws in DAB radio, higher-grade speakers (complete with a 5cm tweeter and 10cm woofer) and the iPhone/iPod docking capability, as well as support for the iPad via the USB port.

Topping Pioneer’s micro systems line-up is the X-HM70DAB (£449.99) – with premium features like internet radio and home network music playback. That means that not only are all the world’s internet stations at your fingertips, but also music from a PC or media server connected to the same LAN can be played via DLNA.

Speaker-wise, the X-HM70DAB’s speakers have a built-in 12cm woofer, and output at an impressive 50W (each). It’ll also be available without speakers, as model number XC-HM70DAB (£349.99).

Pioneer’s latest quartet backs blu-ray all the way

Since it called time on its television production, Pioneer has seemingly been going full throttle on the audio and home cinema markets which can’t be a bad thing if they can maintain the quality of their product range. The result is a seemingly never ending supply of bigger and better creations catering for all budgets and preferences.

Pioneer-Blu-Ray

In this latest batch, Pioneer is releasing no less than four blu-ray home cinema systems, two with tall speakers BCS- 717 and BCS -414 and two with compact satellites the BCS-313 and the BCS- 212; clearly an attempt to cater for all types of abodes.

The speaker set up aside, the only other differentiator between the two sets are a bundled cradle iPod/iPhone connector, WiFi and an ultra thin sub-woofer with the BCS-717 and BCS-313. These two are billed as the ‘regular’ line whilst the BCS-414 and BCS-212 being the poor relations by a short head, are billed as the ‘basics’ line.

Both sets of systems have combined 5.1 power output up to1100 watts, 3D Blu-ray Disc playback, HDMI with ARC and 1080p video, twin HDMI inputs web online video streaming, DLNA support for compatible digital media servers and mini jack audio and USB connectors .

The main system units are finished in a high gloss polished acrylic

Pioneer’s new home theatre systems are available on the high street now from £299 up to £499.

www.pioneer.com.uk