Pioneer MVH-300EX Review [Expert Guide]

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Pioneer MVH-300EX Double Din Digital Multimedia Video Receiver with 7" WVGA Touchscreen Display Built-in Bluetooth
  • Features: digital multimedia receiver, 7" Touchscreen display with variable color illumination, built-in Bluetooth for hands-free calling and audio streaming, and fits double-din dash openings
  • Smartphone features: built-in iPod, iPhone, and iPad control via USB, built-in Android music control via USB
  • Audio/video features: video playback from an external source or USB drive, High- and low-pass filters, 13-band Graphic equalizer, and time alignment (cd-mc20 mic required)
  • Expandability: inputs: rear aux input, rear USB input, rear-view camera input, outputs: video output, 6-channel preamp outputs (2-volt front, rear, sub)
  • Other information: compatible with most factory steering wheel audio controls (adapter required), built-in MOSFET amplifier (14 watts RMS CTA-2006/50 peak x 4 channels), CTA-2006 compliant, and optional Remote control

If you’re looking for something that’s easy to use, this is one of the best products I’ve found. The MVH-300EX is a part of Pioneer’s Mvh series, which also includes the Mvh-205 and the smaller brother to this one, the MVH-204. It has 2 pre-outs (one for subwoofer), an illumination bar, and supports Bluetooth audio streaming. It can be installed either in a 2 DIN chassis or as a single DIN unit.

In most cars with a 2 DIN chassis, the MVH-300EX is too large to fit. This model has been out for a long time but still manages to hold its own in terms of sound quality and features compared to current models from Pioneer and other manufacturers. I have been using this model for 2 years and it has not given me any problems. Pioneer claims that the built-in Bluetooth supports the A2DP profile, but I haven’t tried to connect anything other than my phone with it because it hasn’t failed yet playing music from my HTC Desire S through A2DP.

I purchased this deck along with a subwoofer box, subwoofer, and speakers so I wasn’t too worried about the sound quality of the unit itself. My last head unit was an Alpine IDA-X100 which really blew away all expectations for sound quality coming out of an aftermarket unit at that time (2007). The MVH-300EX however, doesn’t disappoint either. It has clear highs and mids and really shines when it comes to the lows. The unit has a 33 watt RMS MOSFET amplifier and delivers quite a punch in terms of power, especially if you compare it to other units with similar wattage output.

This deck doesn’t create false frequencies so what you hear is exactly what is on your MP3/CD etc. Pioneer also claims that this unit supports 24-bit DACs but again I haven’t really noticed any difference between this deck’s sound quality compared to its competitors who use Burr-Brown or Wolfson DACs which are usually more expensive than Cirrus Logic ones – my previous Alpine deck used a Burr-Brown 24 bit DAC and it was by far the best sounding head unit I have had the pleasure of hearing (output power was about the same as this Pioneer though).

I like the illumination bar on this unit. It is not as bright as other units and doesn’t take too much of a toll on your battery (when compared to power-hungry displays from Alpine, Kenwood, etc.). However, I have been able to notice that it can be a little annoying when driving at night – if you’re going fast enough, the reflection of the windshield gets stuck between various color schemes making it hard to see what’s ahead.

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The actual appearance of this deck looks great but due to its size, it will most likely not fit correctly in any standard 2 DIN opening unless you have a special dashboard. It also doesn’t have a detachable faceplate so you risk damaging the buttons irreversibly if you try to force it into a 2 DIN opening that is actually too small for it.

Sound Quality

The MVH-300EX offers an overall pleasant sound. The amplifier offers great headroom for those looking to make more power by installing an additional amp or simply adding a subwoofer later on. It is clean, detailed, and offers a strong dynamic range as well as crisp highs even at high volumes. In many ways, it sounds similar to the Clarion DRX-5 which can be considered Pioneer’s competitor in this price range. Like a really old car or a very spacious dash area. If you want a budget deck with06 that wasn’t even released by Pioneer but by a third party back in 2009, probably due to lack of interest or demand from Pioneer to develop newer versions.

This does make me wonder why they continue selling a product with outdated software when there’s bound to be someone who will try to install it and will probably run into problems with finding the right adapter (which I would like to point out is available on eBay for about $10-20). And you should also note that this model does not support direct iPod control.

This unit sounds great and offers a bunch of useful features such as Pandora and iPhone/iPod support (requires Pioneer CD-IU51V cable, sold separately) and Aux input which can be used when Pioneer’s proprietary WMA file playback isn’t desired.

The installation was very easy but the buttons are too small in my opinion, especially with gloves on. It’s got an attractive appearance but doesn’t fit perfectly in standard 2 DIN openings due to its larger size. However, it comes with a removable faceplate which helps somewhat when installing it in such an opening. It has great sound quality and like the MVH-200EX, I have not been able to notice any difference between this unit’s DAC and other units that use more expensive Burr-Brown or Wolfson DACs.

Features

  • Display: Back lit, white LED (16×9 display)
  • Faceplate: Detachable, metal
  • Button Illumination: Back lit, blue and orange LEDs
  • Remote Control: Ready (AAC)
  • Built-in Amplifier: MOSFET 50 W x 4 (Max.) (4 ohms/1 kHz at 1% THD)
  • Preout Level/Impedance: 2.0 V / 10 k ohms
  • Subwoofer Output Level/Impedance: 200 mV / 3.3 k ohms (2 V) (Bass control -50 dB/+10 dB, Subwoofer level can be adjusted from -6 to +6 dB in 4 steps.)
  • Port: Front mounted, 1/8″ (3.5 mm)
  • Audio: Input: 1 V (p-p), 47 k ohms, RCA Jacks Output: 2 V (Preout), 10 k ohms Speaker Impedance: 4 – 8 ohms
  • Speakers: High power 5 cm x 2 (4Ω at 100 Hz)
  • Preout Level/Impedance: 1 V / 10 k ohms
  • External devices: iPod Digital interface for iPod and iPhone via Pioneer CD-IU51V cable , sold separately AUX input on front panel, adjustable from +10 to -12 dbu. USB Direct recording and charging via USB connection to the USB port located on the faceplate. CHARGE lamp turns off when USB device is connected and charging.
  • MIXTRAX: For more information about the good old line in, please read the article called “Line In Accessories” .

Audio Features (Mvh-300Ex)

  • 3-band Parametric iEQ (2/4/6 dB): Frequencies: 50 Hz / 100 Hz / 200 Hz; Slope: -12dB, 18dB).
  • Fader: Adjustable front panel (-6 dB to +6 dB).
  • DSP: Yes with 13 presets including a driver preset EQ with Flat & 8 User Memory settings.  Green EQ.  Connections for Tweeter Level Control (+/-3 dB adjustment), Subwoofer Level Control (+/- 3 dB adjustment).
  • MIXTRAX: Provides non-stop music entertainment. Simply connect your USB compatible device to the USB port on the front panel and enjoy continuous sound that’s similar to audio being played from a CD or MD player.
Pioneer MVH-300EX Review
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FAQ`s

Can I Install An Auxiliary Input To My Car Stereo?

Yes, you can do that by purchasing a Line converter which will take your line-level signal from RCA Jacks and turn it into a 2 V signal which you need to connect to the radio’s AUX input using a 3.5 mm patch cable or wires.

Is There An Alternative Way Of Playing Music Through The Tape Deck?

There are many ways of getting sound through cassette tapes but generally speaking if your head unit has RCA outputs, you can install all kinds of aux systems that have inputs for the phone.

Can You Put Cassette Tape Adapters On An Mp3 Player?

No, it’s not possible. The adapter has to have the same signal voltage as your stereo so it can read the magnetic copy of music which is ordered in a long series of bits that are read by the head unit while playing music.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • CD-quality sound.
  • 3-band parametric eq with 13 presets and adjustable front panel controls.
  • Detachable faceplate that helps in installation

Cons

  • The buttons are too small for my taste (especially with gloves on). 
  • It does not perfectly fit standard 2 DIN openings due to its size.
  • The price is a bit high especially when you can find similar features in other stereos for less money.
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Design and Appearance

  • Built and designed well. The metal face plate helps a bit with installation and the overall feeling is almost as solid as Pioneer head units which cost twice as much.
  • Size: Two DIN (180 x 100 mm)
  • Color: Black or Silver
  • Sound Engine: Advanced MOSFET 20 W x 4, 14 W RMS x 4 at 4 ohms/ CD-ROM drive type high power 24 bit processing sound engine.
  • Supported Audio Formats: MP3, WMA, AAC, AVI, WMV @192 kbps / MPEG 1 Layer II.    Also supports video playback from USB devices such this unit does not contain a TV tuner.
  • Radio: AM/FM tuner built in and fully supported by the head unit. Maximum frequency: 9 000000 Hz or 327 000 kHz with RDS
  • USB Port: 1 USB for iPod and iPhone via Pioneer CD-IU51 cable. Also supports USB direct recording from any MP3 player, a USB flash drive can contain up to 500 folders and 500 files per folder.
  • AUX In: Front mounted 3.5 mm input jack for Auxiliary devices.
  • iPod Cable: Sold separately from Apple . Composite Video Output with MIXTRAX technology through optional MVH-AV100 cable. Plays video on your mobile phone screen via the front AUX input when connected to an appropriate adapter (sold separately).
  • Bluetooth Support is not available in this model but there is a more expensive version of this head unit MVH-X360BT which has Bluetooth connectivity.

Installation Notes

It’s quite easy to install, you connect the blue cord coming from the back of the unit to your car battery then connect all other wires, and done. After that just adjust it to fit your dashboard and mount it where ever you like.  I would recommend using the metal faceplate instead of replacing it with your standard one as it makes a big difference in terms of installation and looks.

If you want a good-looking and reliable stereo without spending too much money, but this one or its more expensive brother MVH-X360BT with GPS capabilities. Here are some of the most common questions about car stereos with auxiliary inputs.

Conclusion

It is a great head unit for its price. You get a lot of options considering the low price and it’s almost as good as some Pioneer models which cost twice as much. It also has a very nice design and solid feel so you don’t have to worry about it falling apart on your next car ride. CD Quality sound AUX input Flexibility with RCA Jacks Detachable faceplate Decent power Display is not too flashy.

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The MVH-X360BT is Pioneer’s best value single DIN GPS equipped head unit money can buy. It has everything you might need, a Bluetooth connection with your phone so you don’t have to pick it up every time it’s ringing, a built-in FM transmitter for listening to music on your car radio, a USB input for any flash drive, and even 3G/4G dongles. Enough talk let’s take a look at what you get with this relatively cheap head unit. The most important part of any head unit regardless of price or performance is how it looks.

This unit has a very sleek design with a new shape and angles which makes it look more expensive than its price tag would suggest. The color is matte black so fingerprint smudges don’t stand out all over the place like they might on one of those shiny head units you see on some cars these days.  It won’t distract you from driving at night because there are no flashy blue or red lights, just basic white.

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