CNET editors pick the products and services we write about. When you buy through our links, we may get a commission.

Sony MEX-DV2000 review: Sony MEX-DV2000

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.


Sony MEX-DV2000

The Good

The Sony MEX-DV2000 has a great range of media playback features for a single-DIN system, including support for SACD and DVD video. Its surround-sound encoding and breadth of audio-tweaking options can deliver great acoustic output with the right audio system.

The Bad

The MEX-DV2000's karaoke is a gimmick at best and useless at worst. Drivers will need a well-prepped car to make the most of the SACD sound quality if they can find their music in Sony's proprietary format.

The Bottom Line

The Sony MEX-DV2000 justifies its price premium over other single-disc car stereos with its support for DVD video and its excellent audio output. While its SACD support is nice to have, it is of questionable value when on the road.
Sony MEX-DV2000

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.

The MEX-DV2000's monochrome display shows tag information for SACDs and MP3 discs.

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.

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.

In theory, the MEX-DV2000's karaoke function enables car occupants to sing along to their music using an external mic.

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.

In sum
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.


Sony MEX-DV2000

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 8Performance 7