In addition to SACD discs, the MEX-DV2000 also plays regular Red Book CDs as well as MP3- and WMA-encoded discs. For the latter two, ID3 tag information is shown on the monochrome display. For those wanting to plug in portable audio players such as iPods or Zunes, the MEX-DV2000 has a generic auxiliary input jack on the front of its faceplate enabling line-in playback via a patch cord. When playing an audio source other than SACD, drivers can tweak the stereo's equalizer output by either selecting one of the six preset configurations, or by programming their own EQ levels using a very useful 7-band mixer. The system also allows users to adjust their own high- and low-pass filter settings and has a wealth of customization settings for everything from auxiliary source and DVD volume to SACD playback mode (multichannel or two-channel) and surround-sound settings. There are an equally impressive number of options for tweaking video output from DVD videos or video CDs playing on an external in-car display.
For browsing disc-based digital audio folders and tracks, the MEX-DV2000 has a List Up feature, which enables drivers to scroll through lists of the folders and tracks on an album. While we like the idea of being able to browse large lists of digital audio tracks on MP3 and WMA discs, the search interface on the MEX-DV2000 leaves something to be desired. Pressing the List button to the left of the volume knob stops the current track and results in a delay of a few seconds before the dot matrix LCD screen shows tag information for the current album. As there is only one line of text displayed at a time, users must scroll through the tags using the knob.
The stereo beeps each time the knob is turned, and it takes a second or so for each tag to show up, resulting in a significant amount of lost time when searching through long lists. When you have selected the album you want to hear, the stereo displays all the tracks in that album in a similar way. Having selected their desired track, drivers have to wait for another couple of seconds while the system prepares to play it. Sony could make this system better by having a more instant response to inputs, and by allowing drivers to listen to the current track while making their selections.
The unique feature of the MEX-DV2000 is its karaoke function, which (in theory) enables car occupants to attach an external microphone to the system and sing along with their favorite tunes. The karaoke function can be activated only with the car stationary and only then with certain Red Book CDs. With a compatible disc inserted, drivers press the microphone button on the stereo's faceplate to select one of two karaoke modes: Mic on, which actives the microphone and echo effects; and Mic on+VC, which activates the microphone but turns off the vocal effects of the original track to give in-car divas free reign over their tracks.
The problem that we found with the MEX-DV2000's karaoke function was that it didn't work. Despite trying multiple discs and two different microphones we were still unable to make ourselves heard through the car speakers. We called Sony tech support to see if they could help, but their advice only ran to ensuring that all the cables were correctly plugged in, and resetting the system, both of which we had already tried. While it would have been nice to get the karaoke function working on the MEX-DV2000, the requirement that the car's parking brake be engaged for the system to be used means that, unless you are interested in belting out your favorite anthems either before you set out or after you have arrived at your destination, the feature is of questionable value.
The MEX-DV2000 has a number of features that differentiate it from much of the single-DIN car stereo competition. Some of its capabilities, such as its Dolby ProLogic II processing and support for DVD video playback are very useful; its SACD support is nice to have, but it will appeal to a smaller customer segment; while its karaoke function is little more than a gimmick--even if users can get it to work.