UNBOXED: Reviewing the Pioneer Car Audio Package
As much as we want this to be a normal UNBOXED review, it’s a little difficult, given the whole scope of what was involved. There are a few different angles we could approach this from, starting with the Pioneer upgrade program, the product itself, and the experience of getting it installed by a local car retailer. (It should also be noted that Pioneer graciously covered all aspects of this install, so apologies if this glowing review comes across a little promotionally—it’s not intended to be that way.)
The backstory here is pretty straightforward, so let’s start there. Last year, Pioneer introduced a campaign that encouraged drives to not break up with their cars. Rather, Pioneer said, they should upgrade them. Older cars on the road have a really tough time competing with the technology that you’d find in a new car rolling off of today’s manufacturing line. There’s still some work to be done in the factory speaker market, but that’s a different story for a different day. The cost of upgrading to a new vehicle, though, is far greater than what it’d be to simply upgrade the entertainment system within your older ride—if that’s the main complaint you have regarding your older vehicle.
Enter Rob’s car. My 2002 Saturn L100 perfectly fit the bill of a car in desperate need of an upgrade. I was on the verge of breaking up with it, but Pioneer stepped in and offered to put their campaign to the test.
The Upgrade Package
Which brings us to the products. Pioneer hooked us up with their brand new D Series speakers, which started shipping in October to retailers. Specifically, they sent four of their TS-D65Cs (one for each door), the TS-D10D4 subwoofer, the GM-D9605 Class D 5-channel amp, and the MVH 2300NEX head unit (which won a Best in Show award at CE Week over the summer).
The package itself is an impressive display of in-car aftermarket audio technology.
The 2300NEX is the most notable upgrade to the car from a pure aesthetic standpoint. I mean, going from a nobs-and-buttons head unit with a CD player to a 7-inch touch screen panel brings an entirely new feel to the car. My phone can now sync up via Bluetooth or while plugged in via a USB port that was added to my vehicle. I have Apple CarPlay now—the system is also compatible with Android Auto. I can talk to Siri through a microphone that was added right above the rear view mirror. My car is officially a product of the 21st Century. The interface is simple to use and fun to navigate. There are more customizable options than I know what to do with. The only struggle I have with the head unit is the noticeable lag between changing tracks when my phone is connected via Bluetooth. There’s a second-or-two gap between a command and the function executing. That’s more of a knock on Bluetooth than Pioneer though.
Moving on to the speakers, sub, and amplifier, there’s almost too much to say. Pulling out of the Sound of Tristate lot, the difference between the speakers that had been in there for 15-plus years and what I have now is light years apart. The D65Cs can handle a frequency range between 32Hz and 49kHz, which absolutely crushes what I’d been used to. I didn’t know what lows and highs were from a car audio perspective until I heard them on that first ride home. They came through so crisp and powerful that it almost outshined the midrange, but over time as they’ve been broken in, the sound is more balanced.
The D10D4 simply booms. I don’t miss the trunk space that the subwoofer takes up. Experiencing sound that ranges down to 20Hz is just powerful. It makes me feel like I’m literally sitting inside of a sub as I’m driving down the road.
All of this is anchored by the Class D 5-channel amplifier, which packs a punch. The product is rated at 2,000 watts max, and has variable high pass and low pass filters.
Everything combined, I feel like I’m rolling around in a home theater on wheels. Sure, there’s not much of a visual element to this, but the end result is the same here. I have an audio experience that transports me to another level every time I sit in that driver’s seat. It truly feels like a new car.
We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the installation process. Sound of Tri-state was an absolutely exceptional host from the time we walked in the door, throughout the installation process—explaining everything they had to do to my poor Saturn—all the way through set up, customer tutorials, and getting us out the door.
The car install experience can be a stressful one, especially when you’re sitting there watching your pride and joy get torn to pieces—no matter how cool the tech is that’s getting put inside. They were truly professional from start to finish. It’s a testament to their store and employees, but also to the relationship that Pioneer has with their local retailers/installers. All of those things go hand in hand.
So, again, a major thanks to all parties involved that helped make this review happen.