SAN DIEGO –
Sony will bring control of
Pandora’s Internet radio app and Sirius-
XM’s universal satellite-radio tuner to
a wide range of aftermarket head units
in the coming weeks at opening price
points lower than competing suppliers’
Among eight new Sony single-DIN CD
receivers, four feature SiriusXM universaltuner
connector at suggested retails of
$90, $100, $130 and $150.
Four head units are the company’s first to control a
Pandora app on a USB-connected iPhone. They include
the $130 and $150 head units with universal connector
and two head units at $200 and $280 without universal
Among competing suppliers, control of Pandora on
a USB-connected iPhone starts at a suggested $150,
said Mike Kahn, director of Sony’s mobile business unit.
Head units with universal connector are available only
from Alpine at $199 and, for a CD receiver bundled with
universal SiriusXM tuner, $229, excluding a $30 mail-in
rebate available through the end of the year from SiriusXM
for its $69-suggested universal tuner.
Sony’s $280 DSX-S310BTX will be the aftermarket’s
first head unit to use Bluetooth’s AVRC profile to control
all functions, excluding custom channel creation, of
a Pandora app residing on smartphones other than the
iPhone. The app uses technology jointly developed by
Pandora and Sony, but the technology will be available to
other suppliers to build into their head units.
All of the new head units will be shown publicly for the
first time at The Mobile Electronics Retailers Association’s
(MERA) KnowledgeFest at the end of this month,
said Kahn. Some ship at the end of August to dealers,
and the remainder ship two weeks later. All will be on
display in stores by mid-September.
At a suggested $90, the CDX-GT360MP will be the
aftermarket’s least-expensive head unit with universal
connector to connect to the universal SiriusXM tuner,
Kahn said. The head unit will also be priced lower than
satellite-ready head units that require the installation
of a translator box and adapter cables
designed for specific head-unit brands, he
SiriusXM’s new $69-suggested universal
tuner connects directly to any brand
of head unit with a universal connector via
a single cable that also delivers power to
the tuner. The universal tuner and connector
are designed to drive down the cost of
buying and installing satellite radio and simplify
Satellite-ready heads requiring translator
boxes and adapter cables start at about a suggested $120, Kahn said, and the add-ons
themselves add another $150, excluding additional
installation costs of up to $75.
“I can see [the $90 CDX-GT360MP] being
very promotional and bundled with the tuner,”
Other features of the CDX-GT360MP include
slot-load CD, MP3/WMA-CD playback,
and analog aux-in to connect MP3 players.
At a suggested $100, the CDX-GT56UI features
SiriusXM universal connector and USB
control of a connected iPod and iPhone. iPod/
iPhone control previously started at $120 in
the company’s line.
At a suggested $130, the CDX-GT565UP
combines universal connector with control of Pandora’s app on a USB-connected iPhone. It also
adds user-selectable choice of 35,000 faceplate-illumination
At a suggested $150 in the Sony line, the CDX-GT-
660UP also features universal connector, Pandora control
via USB and choice of 35,000 illumination colors, but
it adds drop-down front panel concealing a CD slot. The
hidden CD slot opens up space on the front panel for a
two-line display to simultaneously display artist and track
metadata. The head unit also adds SensMe technology,
which lets users select songs for playback by any of 16
moods. SensMe works with music on USB drives, MP3
CDs, and all MP3 players but Apple-branded players.
At a suggested $200, the DSX-S210X lacks universal
connector but controls Pandora on a USB-connected
iPhone, and it adds drop-down front panel concealing a
Tune Tray slide-out tray that holds an iPhone, iPod, USB
drive, or other USB-connected MP3 player to control
and play back stored music.
The DSX-S210X also features four-line OEL-LED display
viewable in sunlight. It adds dual USBs and sevenband
digital EQ with time alignment. SensMe is also
At $280, the DSV-S310BTX is a Tune Tray model that
also lacks universal connector but features control of
the Pandora app on a USB-connected iPhone and
adds Bluetooth AVRCP control of Pandora on Android
and BlackBerry smartphones. It doesn’t offer
Pandora control on a Windows smartphone. Pandora
content will stream to the head unit via stereo Bluetooth.
It also features four-line display, SensMe, dual
USBs, and digital EQ and time alignment.
“We expect to be alone with this feature this year,”
Kahn said of Pandora control via Bluetooth. At January’s
International CES, Sony plans a second head
unit with Pandora control via Bluetooth as well as more
heads compatible with the universal tuner, Kahn said.
Two other head units among the company’s eight
new SKUs are the $70-suggested CDX-GT260MP
single-DIN slot-load CD receiver with MP3-CD playback
and analog aux-in. These features were previously
available at a suggested $90 in the Sony lineup.
The other head is the $95-suggested CDX-GT40U,
which adds USB port to connect and control music
selection on a USB drive or non-Apple MP3 player.
That feature was previously available at $110.
All heads feature improved DSP to clear up FM multipath
and a new IC amplifier chip to reduce distortion
and increase signal-to-noise ratio. All also feature
RDS-FM tuner. The models with iPod/USB input capture
an iPod’s digital PCM output.
Sony said it launches some of its car audio aftermarket
products in the fall to coincide with automakers’