Saturday, July 23, 2011

Sound System

This isn't about the GTI, but instead the after market Pioneer AVIC X930BT head unit I had installed. Yesterday we visited Downtown Disney, drove back into LA for some food and took the long way back around to Orange County. Overall I used half a tank of gas and had some time to put the Pioneer through its paces.

The navigation in the Pioneer is the best I've seen. After some initial frustration of learning to enter addresses, it's now a snap. The system errors on the side of not getting you lost, much to the annoyance of my wife. It will tell you to take the I5 when it's time to get on the on-ramp. It will then tell you to continue on the I5 whenever there's any doubt, which means every major interchange. "Continue on the I5 in two tenths of a mile and then .... continue on the I5." That can get tiresome, but you certainly won't get lost.

It also won't do offramp names, instead using the various designations. Culver Drive becomes 3A. Whenever it designates an "A" off-ramp it sounds like a lost Canadian. "In three tenths of a mile, take exit three, eh?" I wish Pioneer had a way to use actual street names, eh?

The maps and interface are fairly intuitive and just about idiot proof. There are a ton of options and views I haven't explored yet, but they don't get in the way of basic operation of the system. When you've clearly missed where you were going, it silently recalculates and starts again. There was only one time where the map was wrong, over a newer area in Orange County. It just got me to where I was going with the new route. The point of interest menu was especially helpful with finding a train station (and learning there was one 15 miles closer) as well as finding the closest Chevron.

As for music, I am not an audiophile, but I've been impressed so far. It will play music on my iPhone, if I had any. My installer was perplexed that I only had ringtones. The satellite radio has been giving me some problems with cutting out in traffic. I think it's because the antenna is on the dash board in the corner. I never had problems with my last unit with the antenna mounted on the roof. I think that's the next thing to do, plus it removes one more piece of dash clutter. Trying to replicate the satellite problem didn't work under normal circumstances (the original reason for heading towards LA).

Annoyed with the satellite reception in heavy traffic, I was pleasantly surprised when I switched over to Pandora. The Pioneer requires the iPhone for this and a physical connection to the phone as well. This has locked me into the iPhone and AT&T more heavily than anything Apple could have done. Pandora streamed flawlessly and with the quality of satellite radio. In fact, although I haven't tweaked Pandora to its fullest yet, it may just replace my satellite radio as most listened to. It lacks news programming, what I listen to mostly, but for music it's great.

So how about that interface? The navigation system has a brilliant interface but the audio portion of the Pioneer is a travesty. It uses tiny, unlabeled virtual buttons on the touchscreen to change channels or add selections to memory. It's unclear what's happening at any given time. In other words, I may have to read the manual (on CD only). The "off" button seems to work with the music but not the nav. As I told me wife, it's as if someone had a patent on an easy to use radio interface and Pioneer was afraid of violating it. So an A for the navigation and a B- for the audio, F if I can't get the satellite problem resolved. We'll be taking I5 back to the Bay Area today, so I'll see if the satellite radio works better out in the wide open.  Eh?

Miles: 1333


  1. hi there,

    i am a jetta 2011 owner, recently just bought the Pioneer AVIC X930BT head unit, was wondering if you did the install yourself? or do you have a place that you recommend in Irvine area. (from your sharing, you said culver drive) ^_^
    any inputs are appreciated... thank yoU!

  2. I had it installed, rather than doing it myself.

    My big savings was in buying the head unit from a wholesaler in LA. Their installation, however, was pretty poor and it took two returns to get it all working right. I would go with a local Best Buy or a stereo installer you trust. I don't know of one offhand in Orange County (although Irvine is my home town).

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