The Sony MEX-DV2000 is a single-DIN car stereo with three features that differentiate it from the competition: the ability to play discs in Sony's proprietary Super Audio CD (SACD) format; a karaoke function designed to allow car occupants to sing along to the music; and the ability to act as a DVD player for external in-car displays. The system also features some impressive audio credentials, with a Burr-Brown 24-bit digital-to-analog converter and Dolby Pro Logic II processing for surround-sound output, making for an immersive in-car acoustic output, particularly when playing SACD discs.
From a design perspective, the MEX-DV2000 shares many visual and functional characteristics with other Sony head units. A single rotary dial acts as a volume control and a means of making menu selections, and a group of white, backlit hard buttons give drivers an easy-to-use means of accessing the stereo's main features. Like most single-DIN stereos, the MEX-DV2000 has a single-line monochrome dot matrix LCD display, which we found adequately visible in direct sunlight. To insert discs in the system's single slot, drivers must open the mechanical faceplate with a push of the eject button to the right-hand side of the display.
If you can find your favorite music in Sony's SACD format (and it took us half an hour's searching at Virgin Megastore to find anything in SACD), the sound quality during playback through the MEX-DV2000 is stunning: when playing an SACD copy of Beethoven's violin concertos with the car stopped, the engine off, and the windows closed, we found the audio's acoustic separation to be startlingly clear in comparison with regular CD. In fact, the SACD disc delivered such high fidelity that we were able to turn the stereo up to maximum volume without the audio distorting, something that was not possible with either CDs or MP3 discs. Another positive feature of SACD playback on the MEX-DV2000 is the system's ability to show data tags for the album and track name in a similar way to ID3 tags for homemade MP3 CDs.
While the SACD sounds great with the car stopped, however, the improved sound quality is eroded by wind noise and road noise when driving. To make the most of the SACD functionality of the MEX-DV2000, you need a car with a good speaker system, preferably an external amp, a standalone subwoofer, and some very good cabin insulation. Even with all these components in place, it is still doubtful whether you will be able to get the true value of SACD while driving along on the freeway or in stop-and-go driving.
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.