Pros / The HD Radio uses a digital signal, which provides higher-quality audio.
Cons / The USB ports are in the rear, which makes them more difficult to access.
Verdict / The Pioneer DEH-X9600BHS is one of the best car stereos because it offers high-quality audio with comprehensive playback options and smartphone integration.
Editor's Note: The Pioneer DEH-X9600BHS has been discontinued by the manufacturer. If you click on the buy button, you'll be redirected to a link for the Pioneer DEH-80PRS, which is an updated version of the DEH-X9600BHS. Both stereos have the same specifications, features and performance.
The Pioneer DEH-X9600BHS is the best car stereo from the DEH series. It combines high-quality audio reproduction with comprehensive playback options, smartphone integration and display features. Even the more affordable models in the DEH series offer impressive sound, which means you can have a Pioneer's high-quality car audio no matter your budget. For these reasons, it clear that the Pioneer DEH series is among the best car stereos available.
- Max Power Output
- Continuous Power Output
- Signal-to-Noise Ratio
- Pre-Out Voltage
- Equalizer Band Presets
Similar to the Kenwood eXcelon, the DEH-X9600BHS has a maximum power output of 200 watts and a continuous power output of 88 RMS watts. While the maximum power output is average, the continuous power output ranks among the highest we reviewed, which means that you can turn it up for longer periods. The built-in amplifier is the same across the DEH series, which means you get a good power output with more affordable options like the DEH-X6700BS.
The audio quality is very good. The signal-to-noise ratio of the CD player is 94 dB, which means that the desired signal is 94 dB greater than any unwanted signals. This means the audio is crisp and clear. The S/N ratio isn't as high as that of the best car stereo, the Sony MEX, which is 120 dB, but it's unlikely that you'll be able to hear a difference. We compared the audio quality with a wide range of musical styles and didn't find reason to complain.
The only issue with the DEH series is the minimal amount of control you have over the sound. Car stereos have a lot to contend with – engine sounds and vibrations, the layout of your car, and the tires on the road can all affect the sound. With only five equalizer bands, you don't have as much control over shaping the audio as you would with the other best car audio systems, which have 10 to 13 EQ bands.
The DEH-X9600BHS has comprehensive playback options. It plays CDs and all the digital formats, including WAV and AAC. You can stream audio from your phone via Bluetooth and use internet radio apps like Pandora. You can connect music players to the USB port and stream any analog signal through the AUX-in port. It's also compatible with SiriusXM satellite radio.
The one feature that separates the DEH-X9600BHS from the other car stereos in the DEH series is the built-in HD Radio. HD Radio is like your regular AM/FM radio stations, except the audio signals are in a digital format. The biggest advantage of a digital format is audio quality. You won't have the hiss and static that's common with analog radio frequencies. The artist name, song title and album info displays on your stereo when a DJ plays a song. If you hear a song you like, you can tag it so that you can purchase the song on iTunes. Unlike SiriusXM satellite radio, HD Radio is free.
A unique feature in all the DEH car stereos is the Mixtrax mode. When you play music from the USB ports, whether it's with an iPod or a flash drive, the Mixtrax creates DJ-inspired effects and transitions so that there's never a break in the music. The lights of the display also pulse to the music to mimic a club atmosphere. It's a fun feature but doesn't really improve the audio experience.
The one downside to the playback options is the USB ports are in the rear, which means that you have to install a USB cord and string it to the front of the dash where you can use it. In some vehicles, this isn't a big deal, but in other vehicles, it can be difficult to install and often costs extra with a professional installer.
The Pioneer DEH series has comprehensive smartphone integration. It features the A2DP and AVRCP Bluetooth profiles. This allows you to stream audio from your phone and control your playlist from the faceplate so that you don't have to access your phone when you want to change a song. It has specific features for Pandora, which is an internet radio app that allows you to customize your radio stations. You can like or reject songs from the faceplate controls.
The DEH-X9600BHS is also fully functional with voice recognition features like Siri and Google Now. This allows you to access your phone with voice commands. You can hear and dictate text messages, make calls, check your calendar and other similar functions – all without looking at your phone. It comes with a noise-canceling microphone that picks up your voice without picking up the road noise, which is valuable for phone calls.
The DEH-X9600BHS has one of the easiest displays to read. It has up to three lines of text to display artist, song and album information. You can customize the colors of the buttons and the display separately, with up to 210,000 available colors. The faceplate also detaches as a theft deterrent, allowing you to take it with you when you leave the vehicle. The CD player is protected against dust and even comes with a remote control.
Help & Support
Pioneer provides excellent support for its car sound systems. The support includes phone and email contacts in addition to social media contacts for Facebook and Twitter. There's a database of service centers and custom installers. You can download manuals, access FAQs page and review tutorials on the YouTube channel. The DEH series comes with a one-year warranty, which is the most common warranty for car audio receivers. However, the best car stereo has a three-year warranty.
The Pioneer DEH-X9600BHS is one of the best car stereos because it has good power output, excellent high-fidelity audio, and comprehensive playback options and smartphone integration. It comes with an HD Radio receiver and is SiriusXM ready. You can use voice commands to communicate with Siri or Google Now on your phone. Every car audio receiver in the DEH series is a considerable upgrade from your factory-installed car stereo.