Pros / It earned an A for audio quality.
Cons / The display looks outdated.
Verdict / The Clarion CX505 is serviceable for a double-din car stereo. Its audio performance is excellent, but the stereo is missing some key features and the display is outdated.
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The Clarion CX505 is a relatively simple double-din car stereo with average power and excellent audio quality. It isn’t flashy and doesn’t have a lot of audio control features, but it'll satiate most of your music format and streaming needs with its Bluetooth, USB and AUX ports, Pandora compatibility, CD player, and HD radio. However, it isn’t compatible with some lossless audio formats, and the display is boring.
The CX505 received an A in our audio quality tests, making it one of the best, most balanced stereos. The only downsides to this stereo’s audio performance are its EQ bands and lack of a time alignment tool. This stereo only has four EQ settings, and you can't customize them. By comparison, high-end stereos like the Pioneer AVH-501EX and the Pioneer DEH-80PRS have 13 and 16 EQ bands, respectively. And you can adjust each one to fit your car's acoustic landscape and your personal preferences. If you want to control how your music sounds, then the CX505 may not be the best option. Still, it sounds great with its basic four settings.
As with every stereo I reviewed, the CX505 is Bluetooth compatible, which means you can stream music and integrate it with Pandora. It also comes with a microphone for hands-free calling. In addition, you can play music via the USB port and the AUX port, which are conveniently on the front display.
However, the CX505 isn't compatible with FLAC or WAV files, which are lossless formats preferred by audiophiles. It's a minor drawback but worth considering if you have discerning audio preferences.
The stereo’s interface received an A- for ease of use. The controls are clearly labeled and well illuminated, but they're centralized and spread out across the entire display rather than located on the driver’s side. This isn't a big problem, but the controls aren’t quite as easy to access as those on interfaces that received higher grades.
The display is the most disappointing part of the Clarion CX505. Sure, it has up to 728 color variations to illuminate your car’s interior, but that was considered cool in the 1990s. Also, it uses digital clockwork text, which is outdated and more difficult to read than the digital text on displays with pixels. It's certainly not going to impress any of your passengers with its style.
The CX505’s power output is what you would expect for a double-din car stereo. The max power output is 50 watts per channel, or 200 watts overall. The continuous power output is 21 RMS watts per channel, which average. Even though its power output is average, it's still plenty capable of reaching volumes over 100 dB, which is loud enough to damage your hearing if you listen to it for long.
Overall, the Clarion CX505 is an average car stereo. It's not the most affordable option, but it's also not the most expensive. It sounds great, but it doesn't have many control options to optimize the sound to your preferences. It has Bluetooth and USB and AUX ports, but it's not compatible with lossless formats. If you're fine with having a boring display, it's a good option for an upgrade that won’t drain your bank account.