The main selling points of the CDX-GT920U are its digital audio features and the "Quick BrowZer" mode, which allows easy navigation of digital audio folders. The unit supports MP3, WMA, and AAC burned to CD or stored on a USB-compatible device (such as a USB stick or MP3 player). The unit also has an aux input on the faceplate, which is good if you own an iPod, because the CDX-GT920U doesn't natively support the iPod's proprietary file system. An external iPod adapter is available as a $50 add-on. Add-on modules are available for HD and satellite radio, as well.
Tapping on the List toggle puts the unit into "Quick BrowZer" mode. You navigate file folders by rotating the dial and pushing it like a button to select. Despite the silly name, the browser is actually quite easy to use and even works when selecting tracks on standard Redbook audio CDs or choosing radio stations.
Where sound processing is concerned, the CDX-GT920U has a few tricks up its sleeve to make your music sound better, such as a three-band EQ with seven presets. Digital Music Plus (DM+) improves the sound quality of digitally compressed sound, such as MP3. We tested the DM+ by listening to a song on audio CD and 128Kbps MP3. Predictably, the CD sounded better than the MP3, both with DM+ off and on, but DM+ did add clarity to the high end of the audio spectrum.
Dynamic Soundstage Organizer (DSO) creates a more ambient sound field and enhances the sound of the speakers. DSO creates a most dramatic improvement, lifting the sound up from the floorboards and making the high end of the sound spectrum clearer. Near top volume, DSO does contribute to low-end distortion, but at moderate levels it makes even OEM speakers sound good.
With 52 watts (max) pushing through four channels, the CDX-GT920U can get plenty loud. Sound quality is pretty clear at moderate volumes, but some distortion is introduced near the max. If that's not enough power for you, the Sony sports three 4-volt preamp outputs, one of which is a dedicated subwoofer out that has a built-in, adjustable low-pass filter.
Ultimately, while satisfactory in almost every way, the Sony Xplod CDX-GT920U doesn't really do much to wow us. There are no Bluetooth or multimedia options. Simply put, the CDX-GT920U does what it's supposed to do and does it well. Whether it's the single upgrade to an OEM audio system or the starting point for a larger setup, the Sony CDX-GT920U is a solid head unit. The good looking display and intuitive interface earn the CDX-GT920U a high design score. Sound quality was on par with what is to be expected at this price level, with little distortion at reasonable listening levels. Flexible input options, ample power, and multiple preamp outputs earn this head unit a moderate features score and make the unit an excellent value for the money spent.
That is, unless you're specifically looking to hook up an iPod. In that case, the Sony CDX-GT820IP is an even better deal. Designed specifically with the iPod in mind, this step down in Sony's Xplod lineup jettisons the motorized faceplate and USB input, but gains an iPod dock connector while maintaining many of the same features of the GT920U.