The Pioneer DEH-X8800BHS’s quality doesn’t quite match that of the other Pioneer stereos we reviewed, the AVH501EX and the DEH-80PRS. Still, it's a good option if you like Pioneer but don't want to shell out over $300 for a high-end stereo.
In our audio quality tests, the DEH-X8800BHS received a C+, which was the lowest grade I gave out. When I compared its audio performance with that of the best car stereos, it was clear that the DEH-X8800BHS didn't sound as clean.
With a flat EQ, where no frequencies are boosted or minimized, the audio lacks a lot of body in the low-end frequencies. However, it comes with 13 EQ bands, and you can enhance the bass. To get the low-end frequencies to fill out so the DEH-X8800BHS sounded similar to most of the stereos we reviewed, I had to significantly boost the bass EQ.
It does have a time alignment tool, which is an excellent way to optimize the sound for your car’s unique acoustics. Using this feature, the stereo adjusts the timing of the audio signals to each speaker to ensure the different frequencies arrive at the spot you want the best sound, such as the driver’s seat, at the same time.
As with the other Pioneer stereos we tested, the DEH-X8800BHS is compatible with all types of audio formats, even lossless formats like WAV and FLAC. You can stream audio via Bluetooth, as well as integrate the stereo with your Pandora account. It also has a USB port and an AUX port on the front for easy access.
The interface earned a B+ for ease of use, which is good but not great. All car stereos are relatively easy to navigate, but you should be extra picky because you need something you can operate without taking your eyes off the road. To test this, I tried to pause, skip and repeat songs, as well as answer calls, while not looking at the interface. This stereo is easy to get the hang of, but I had to look at it several times. That said, the buttons are illuminated well enough and labeled clearly, so you can see them in a dark car.
The display is boring and received a B- for quality. You can choose from over 210,000 colors and it is bright, but both are old hat for a car stereo. The best stereos now have pixel displays that look and feel more like smartphones than digital clock faces, which aren’t easy to read no matter how bright they are. Modern displays can show the album cover as a song plays.
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This Pioneer stereo’s power output is average, with a maximum output of 200 watts, or 50 watts per channel. The continuous power handling is 22 RMS watts, which is also standard. It's nowhere near as much power as an external amplifier, but it's still plenty capable of getting really loud – I recorded volumes over 101 dB with this stereo.
The Pioneer DEH-X8800BHS didn't perform as well as the other Pioneer stereos we tested. Its audio performance has some issues, but its control and playback options are excellent. As a style piece, the display has impressive color options, but it's a disappointment overall.