Pros / The Sony Xplod CDX-GT540UI easily connects to your iPod or MP3 player.
Cons / The front panel does not detach from the receiver and it is not Bluetooth ready.
Verdict / We expected more from this Sony car audio head unit.
Editor’s Note: This product has been removed from viewing as part of this site because it is no longer available. You can still read our original review below, but TopTenREVIEWS is no longer updating this product’s information.
We were very excited to review this car stereo receiver from Sony. After all, Sony is a leader in electronic innovation and the Sony Xplod CDX-GT540UI looked to be on the cutting edge. However, it is missing some elements that seem to be common among the other car stereos that we reviewed. This head unit may only be average when compared to the others we found, but it is still one of the top ten best car audio receivers.
In addition to playing CDs, your iPod can connect to this Sony car stereo through the front auxiliary input or through the USB. If you use the "USB 1-Wire for iPod" connector (sold separately), you can control your iPod through the in-dash receiver. This connection will also charge your iPod and song information will show up on the display. The Quick-BrowZer feature lets you search your music library on your car audio head unit like you would on an iPod. And the Zappin feature scans through each song on your iPod in second-long increments until you find the one you're looking for.
While this in-dash receiver has impressive features when it comes to playing MP3s and CDs, it is not compatible with Bluetooth technology. This was surprising, considering most of the newer car stereos are at least Bluetooth ready. In addition to this, the front panel is not detachable. A detachable front plate is an excellent deterrent for would-be car audio thieves.
The Sony Xplod CDX-GT540UI does have a built-in AM/FM tuner. You can set 30 different preset radio stations, which is impressive. If you want to listen to HD Radio, however, you'll have to purchase the XT-100HD adapter in addition to the car audio head unit. If you prefer satellite radio, you will still need an additional satellite radio tuner adapter.
Two pairs of preamp outputs, or preouts, can be found on the CDX-GT540UI car audio receiver. A preout enables the head unit to be connected to an external amplifier. Most in-dash receivers have built-in amplifiers, but an external amplifier gives you more power and better sound. This single DIN head unit measures two inches high, seven inches wide and seven inches deep.
Sony offers the best customer support of the products we reviewed. There is a very thorough knowledgebase where you can learn more about car audio in general. After entering the model number of your product, you'll be taken to a page where you can see the "Hot Topics" section, which is like a car audio FAQs page, as well as a manual, specifications and warranty information. You can also contact customer support by email, telephone or by live chat. Sony is the only manufacturer in our review that offers online chat for customer support.
This Sony Xplod CDX-GT540UI receiver has almost everything you want in a car stereo. If you're just looking for an in-dash receiver that plays CDs, MP3s and AM/FM radio, then this head unit will work just fine. However, if you want a little more from your car stereo, like Bluetooth connectivity or HD radio, then you may want to try another one of our reviewed car audio receivers.