"Surround Yes! Karaoke (@*#&$(@*&#$(&"4.0 starson by serious.fun
Pros: SA-CD in-car ten-years too-late
Cons: No DVD-A, Karaoke (@*#&$(@*&#$(&
Summary: I've had the Sony MEX-DV2000 installed in my 2007 Toyota Yaris Liftback for a few months. MB Quart QSC 615 speakers, Kenwood KSC-SW1 powered subwoofer.
The SA-CD format, and its competitor DVD-Audio, is years late coming to car stereo (DVD-A is found in a few cars like the Acura ELS, which doesn't support SA-CD). There have been about 10,000 titles released in both formats combined, they both can deliver stunning sound (SA-CD uses Sony's proprietary - surprise - 1-bit DSD recording system, and DVD-A has high-bitrate PCM, up to 24-bit 192 kHz, depending on number of channels). Both were intended to replace CD, neither succeded, and both survive in niche high-end markets to deliver audiophile-quality sound and/or 5.1 surround. If Sony would have been serious about making SA-CD the most-popular format, they would have had their first SA-CD-capable car unit ten years ago.
This unit benefits from new audio chip designs which can decode multiple digital formats on one chip, from DSD to DTS, Dolby Digital, and Dolby Pro Logic II. DSD has to be dumbed-down by being converted to PCM to use the system's internal digital crossovers, but I considered this compromise worthy and this sounds fine to me (appropriate external crossovers cost more than the Sony MEX-DV2000 itself).
DPLII is not included specifically to enhance SA-CD playback - it's there to make any two-channel music or movie an immersive experience. It actually sounds quite good on plain-vanilla CDs and radio, and I prefer it to two-speaker stereo with any 2-channel source.
The MEX-DV2000 has a well-implemented Center Channel mode. A Center Channel speaker would be ideal in a car (which probably already has four speakers, ideal for surround), but my Yaris gives me few options for installing one of equal quality to the other speakers (Center Channel is actually the most important in many 5.1 mixes). Sony's CSO mode works well for now, with options to focus the center image for one listener (driver or passenger), two front-seat listeners, or four listeners.
I have over 100 surround discs (either SA-CD, DVD-A, or DTS music) and this is the first car player that made sense to me. I would have preferred to have full support for DVD-Audio's MLP lossless encoding, but all DVD-A discs have either DTS or Dolby Digital versions of the same surround content and the MEX-DV2000 plays those. Sony, as usual, is too proud and stupid and short-sighted to do the correct thing here.
Even with my phantom Center Channel and not-so-quiet Yaris, SA-CD almost always sounds much better than an equivalent CD. You don't have to be an audiophile to enjoy this.
The Karaoke feature and the fact that Sony didn't issue a simpler but higher-quality version (ES series) unit tells me that this and its video-screen-equipped brother may be Sony's Last Exit Before Toll in the SA-CD car stereo world.