Sony XAV-601BT Double DIN Head Unit
Distributor: CEL Trade
Typical Selling price: £400.00
What It Is
The XAV-601BT is a double DIN head unit with an upper disc slot to take DVD and CD discs, which will play a lot of formats, (MP3, WMA, AAC, WAV, WMA, AVC, MPEG4, VideoCD, DVD-V CD, Xvid) as well as a front USB socket behind a small panel and a long USB cable from the rear panel. The unit features Bluetooth connectivity and the new MirrorLink system for wired marriage to Android smartphones. There are three sets of 5V RCA preouts on the XAV-601BT: two dedicated AV out arrays and an included single microphone for phone use with a 37 button remote control called RM-X271 to complete the package The unit is equipped with what is termed ‘virtual 5.1Ch’ to make it sound more like a live concert.
In A Nutshell
A superb unit with some real smarts and even a slice of high VFM as it does so very much for the money. A lovely unit to look at, with the ZxZ dual zone feature making XAV-601BT ideal for playing a DVD in the back for the kids, while you listen to music from iPod, USB stick or even by Bluetooth streaming from your phone of any kind in the front. And the MirrorLink function is glacially cool. I know it is an industry-wide system and I have seen it work on an Alpine but alas, I needed a fancier newer Android phone than my son’s HTC Wildfire. It’ll be something I’ll get at in the near future. But overall, an easily recommended tour de force that includes iPod video play from BOTH USBs without any J-link wire needed and a remote control in the box for the lower price, which the big Kenwood recently tested, did not. Sony's XAV-601BT easily earns a Talk Audio Recommended flag.
Only down check is no digital radio but there are TWO dedicated extra AV inputs, so you can choose from a few sorts of top end adapters and still have room to connect that camcorder for the view back of your video clips at shows.
Sound Quality 9
Ease Of Use/HMI 9
Value For Money 10
Editor Review : Sony XAV-601BT Double DIN MirrorLink Head Unit
How Is It Made?
A sexily weighty item, XAV-601BT is one of the breed of mighty double DINs that needs a tiny fan built-in the back to cool its ardour. It comes as a main unit, large detachable front panel touch screen and two sets of plug looms. One goes from the back to the speaker and power ISO plugs, with wires flinging off for the handbrake, reverse and speed pulse. The other bears a cluster of RCA cords. While other sockets for AV use are found on the rear panel, as is a socket for the supplied microphone and ‘remote’ although it is hard to get any evidence of what this blue-surrounded socket actually connects to. There is also a connection for adding a TomTom based navigation unit.
The XAV-601BT feels solid and there is no wobbly evidence of the front panel’s removeability. If you only park in nice places, (as well as for demo use at dealers’) they also supply a small screw so you can fix the panel of the XAV-601BT on the front permanently. The USB from the rear is on a solid feeling cable and there’s a reassuring cylindrical lump around its end. You do not need a J-Link cable to connect the iPod for video, unlike the Kenwood that was recently reviewed, which needed its very own J-Link and wouldn’t work with a JVC one. You can use either or both USBs for video; I checked.
The knob feels solid, for all it being a rotary controller, of course and the USB front slot has a nice feel to the little door that opens. The XAV-601BT has a remote of at least the same quality you would get for a thousand pound camcorder. I know, ‘cos I have one! It’s very well made and the Graphic User Interfaces look cool. A well made slim blow-moulded case for the big old front panel would be nice but you do get protection from the foamed Neoprene one supplied.
How Well Does It Work?
I stuffed the Verbatim 8GB USB bean into the front USB and the iPod Touch 4th Gen into the rear USB. I was massively impressed that the unit could use and display video from the iPod without needing the so-called J-Link lead. This wire has an iPod plug on one end and a USB as well as 3.5mm tip-ring-ring-sleeve AV jack plug to go into an AV in socket on other machines. On the Sony XAV-601BT, you don’t need to use one.
I was impressed how after a shorter delay than the Parrot Asteroid took, it had read my stuffed 8GB USB stick-bean yet was only too happy to switch to iPod and boss that instead. The unit has no SD slot as Sony have their own Memory Stick® which has got to the Pro-Duo level and also features support for SD and SDHC. It is a more costly socket for Sony to use and on this device, unlike some others, you can have two USB items plugged in at once. I also tried the MirrorLink system with my son’s HTC as I am a BlackBerry and iPod Touch user!
Tragically, as this was the prime reason for the XAV-601BT’s cool, I was unable to test this feature as the HTC Wildfire was not young enough to know about such new fangledness. However, I am on a promise to drive over to Sony HQ and do an in-car video of it doing its stuff for a future TATV clip. Meanwhile, check out how damn clever it is in the clip below. I am just as impressed that I did that changing the camera from hand to hand! The Steadicam-like shot steadying system on the thing is awesome!
The Sony XAV-601BT on the TATV test bench:
It does take a moment to read a full music storage on a biggun’ and the progress bar seems to look stuck, before suddenly going whoosh and reading 100%. But changing between formats and inputs is a doddle, although I was struggling a little as a beginner, to work out how to use the FFwd and Track buttons to navigate within albums. Fact is, it maybe the way I have listed and loaded folders onto the Verbatim USB bean but I also had a struggle with doing so on iPod. Sounds like an operator error…..
I was impressed that while all the yellow RCA composite video sockets are gathered together in one panel cluster on the back near the meaty heatsink, there is provision for two separate Auxiliary AV inputs as well as the USB sockets and there is a separate AV-out cluster as well as the RCAs at five fat Volts for fore, aft and boom. In addition, the ZxZ zone has its own fixed level output for feeding films, say to a rear seat cluster of screens/headphones, to marry to its own yellow RCA feed. This commandeers the rear RCA outs when in use
I tried it all, DVD pumping into the rear screen while we played with USB and iPod and set the intro-scan ‘Zappin’ function running while then phoning myself up via Bluetooth and my Blackberry. It was intense.
I was impressed by the sound quality as well. This level of 5V preout was once seen as mad end audiophile stuff but Sony can do this without breaking sweat as they have been all the way out to outer-space audiophile land and know their stuff. Even MP3 sounded good.
XAV-601BT features some damn clever software to do with playing music that I feel you might have to live with for a while to fully grasp. Called SensMe™ Channels it’s all about matching BPM and tune and so forth, to that of the track you select to kick it off. Dead clever and maybe something for another clip…
I fed the sound through a Genesis SM100 into some B&W LM1 speakers via Esoteric Audio speaker cables and a fat Vibe RCA cord. The power supply was a laboratory grade Diawa PS-304MkII.
A very clever unit that can do a hell of a lot and sounds very clean and sweet. Amazing value for money but if you were to add a digital radio adapter as well as the TomTom navigation module, you are looking at similar money to the recently tested Kenwood unit. Powerful grasp of iPoddery and USB music, a hell of a deck, easily recommended by Talk Audio.
Output Power: 4 x52 W
High Voltage 4.1 ch. Pre Out: (5V)
Zone x Zone
Aux-In: (Rear A/V x2)
Rear View Camera in
USB x2 one front, one rear on a cable
Smartphone Control (MirrorLink)
Navigation Ready (TomTom Upgradeable)
Firmware upgradeability (from USB, data supplied from website)
Video out (Rear x1)
Centre Speaker Organiser (creates virtual centre for 5.1ch sound)
Rear Bass Enhancer
High Pass Filter
Low Pass Filter
Zappin’ (available on USB playback)
Album artwork Indication
Auto Memory BTM
RDS Memory: 32
CD/DVD Control Features
CD-DA, CD-R, CD-RW, DVD-R/-RW, DVD+R/+RW playback
MP3: ID3 Tag Indication (Version, Title/Artist/Album) (ID3 ver2.4)
Dolby Digital, Linear PCM playback (Main Unit)
DVD-Video, DVD-VR, VCD playback (Main Unit)
Audio Codec: MP3, WMA, AAC
Audio Playable File Extension: .mp3/.wma/.m4a
Video Codec: Xvid/MPEG4 (Simple Profile)
Video Playable File Extension: .xvid/.mp4
Video Out Format: Composite
Bluetooth Profiles: HFP 1.5, A2DP, OPP, SPP, AVRCP (1.3), PBAP
Bluetooth Feature: Speed dial (6x1=6 memories), Recent calls (#of) (20 numbers), Last dialled call select from the dialled call history
Built in Phonebook: 1,000contacts
Phonebook Access via PBAP
Alphabetical Phonebook Sorting
Auto Answer (off/short/long)
Ring volume level control
Call volume level control
Voice Dial Activation
Battery remainder indication
Signal strength indication
Bluetooth Audio Feature
Audio Codec SBC/MP3
Group (Folder) +/-
Audio Level Adjustment (-8dB to +18dB)
Repeat Control (Audio Device side)
Shuffle Control (Audio Device side)
Meta Data Indication
Panel Surface Finish Colour: Black
Key illumination Variable
Display type: WVGA
LCD Type: TFT Active Matrix
Screen Aspect Ratio: 17:09
Screen Diagonal (inch/mm): 6.1 inch
Screen Size (WxH mm) 136.20 x 72.00
Resolution (DOT) 800 x 480
Contrast Ratio: 750:1
Brightness: 420 cd/m2
Soft carry case included with Velcro closure
Key Illumination initial: ON
Visualiser: (USB for 7 patterns/the others for 6 patterns), Random and Off)
Dimmer Adjust: AUTO/ON/OFF
Gesture Command (L/R, Up/Down direction)
Optional Rotary Commander: RM-X4S
Optional Remote Commander: RM-X271
Wallpaper customisation (from USB)
Aspect Ratio Select
Rear View Camera-In Marker Setting
USB Mass Storage Device Control Features
Repeat OFF/a song/ALL
Audio Codec: MP3/AAC/WMA/WAV
Audio Playable File Extension: .mp3/.m4a/.wma/.wav
Video Codec: Xvid/MPEG-4(Simple Profile)/JPEG/WMV/AVC(H.264 Baseline)
Video Playable File Extension: .dvi/.mp4/.jpeg/.wmv
iPod Control Feature
Passenger App Control: (w/o ID3tag/album artwork indication)
Multi Language Menu: English/French/Spanish/Portuguese/German/Italian/Dutch/Russian
Character Alphabets supported: Latin, Cyrillic, Korean, Simplified Chinese, Complicated Chinese or Thai
ID3 Tag languages: European language(ISO8859-1), Cyrillic, Korean, Simplified/Complicated Chinese, Thai