Vanagon – stereo head unit upgrade

For a few months now I’ve been using a Pioneer MHV-X560BT head unit in the van. It replaced a Pioneer DEH-P5000UB that had worked almost perfectly for 8 years. The older unit did develop a ground loop whine and I posted about that back in 2011, link here. But apart from that the unit worked well. It had USB input on back, and I led a dongle up thru the ashtray to connect to devices. Played CDs , various formats but I found myself using CDs less and less in the van.

The one thing that really bugged me about the old unit was its depth. With all the wiring coming out the back, including three pairs of RCA jacked cables, it barely fit into the dash. Fetched up hard against the heater box in back.

So back to the new unit, it has no CD player so it’s about half the depth of the old one and despite the inevitable rat’s nest of wires coming out of the back (again including three pairs of RCA jacked cables and an USB cable)  it fits delightfully easily into the van.

It has built in Bluetooth which pairs up quite quickly and consistently with my devices, external mike for hands free phone,  a remote control, wired USB input.

The controls are not bad but not great. I find them better than the old unit, especially for menu access and also for adjusting things when driving. Don’t get as many bump induced accidental choices.

Looking straight down thru ashtray hole.

Maybe this shot shows reduced depth better. Pic taken at an angle.

The old unit sitting on dash. Looks really huge now.

I stuck the mic here, not the best spot perhaps.

And same ashtray lurking dongle in case of wired USB need.

Btw, the head unit feeds an old Blaupunkt 2 channel amp mounted infront of the glovebox. One channel feeds a pair of BA crossovers that feeds tweeters behind stock grill in door, and 6.5″ units at bottom of the door. The other channel feeds a pair of 4″ speakers back on the overhead cupboard.

  1. #1 by Pete on July 18, 2016 - 8:41 pm

    Nice Job. I just replaced an aging pioneer tape deck/cd changer head unit that I have had in two Vans. Took the same pleasure in installing a digital only head unit with acres of space now under the ashtray. I went with a retro looking custom radio Corp model. All my music now resides on a USB drive. It was bittersweet to ditch the last of my cassettes……for about 10 seconds.

    Hamilton, Ontario
    ” Yes this is my daily driver. “

    • #2 by albell on July 18, 2016 - 9:09 pm

      Hi Pete,

      This head unit ain’t so bad for about 90% of the adjustments you commonly make, like radio frequency changes, track changes, volume. The old radios had that nailed.

      What surprises me is that the price of head units is so relatively low. Remember back in the day when a decent head unit cost what seemed like a fortune?



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