Pioneer AVH-501EX Review Pros, Cons & Recommendations

UPDATE: The last time I’ve checked this head unit was out of stock. The best alternative would be the Pioneer MVH-300EX. If you want a stereo that has a fresher look, better sound quality and an awesome display this is the winner you’ve been looking for.

Pioneer MVH-300EX
Pioneer MVH-300EX head unit



An intuitive stereo, you don’t need to study the manual for a weekend…

I love simple things. This head unit is one of them. There aren’t dozens of menus and sub-menus. What you see is what you get.

This makes it easy and safe to use while driving. Everything can be learned on the fly.

That’s the reason why I’ve decided to do this Pioneer AVH-501EX review.

Do you remember the first aftermarket car stereos with fast Bluetooth? The Pioneer AVH-501EX is one of them. You turn the car on, and the phone is instantly connected.

And this is just half the story. When I’ve changed my stock car stereo, the sound quality difference was bigger by magnitudes.

I don’t know what they did on the radio, but I like it. I’m picking up stations that are 100 miles away. It beats my stock head unit hands down.

Let’s get this Pioneer AVH-501EX review started.

First, here’s the bird’s eye view.

  • Better sound quality by a magnitude
  • You can pick up radio stations 100 miles away
  • Finally a fast Bluetooth stereo
  • It’s mostly for iPhone users NO Android Auto
  • EQ can’t be changed while driving

Does it fit in my car? Click Here to Check
Click Here to Check

Who is the Pioneer AVH-501EX for?

The short answer would be for people who love a quality sound system. That’s not all you can get a good car stereo without breaking the bank.

There’s a bit of a problem with this digital receiver. I will go more into detail in the shortcomings chapter. For now, the Pioneer AVH-501EX is more iPhone friendly than Android.

The sound quality is amazing. Even without configuring the EQ, I heard my favorite songs differently. Wait until it gets to the customization part.

If you are on the road and you love to listen to music or the radio this car stereos might be ideal. With the built-in stereo, you can take hands-free calls. The head unit has a video input so you can mount a backup camera. All these features make driving safer.

It comes with HD radio for CD sound quality. And it’s SiriusXM ready. All you need is an account, and you can enjoy your favorite shows.

Finally, you can customize your car stereo to match your interior. Thanks to personalization settings, your head unit won’t stick out like a sore thumb.

Pioneer AVH-501EX 6.2 Inch DVD Receiver with HD Radio and Bluetooth

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What can the Pioneer AVH-501EX do for you?

Funny thing I just recently learned about a family who bought a Pioneer AVH-501EX and 600EX. Now both of them sneak out in the car to learn more about the features. They are paying for takeout because nobody is making meals.

Apple Carplay is present. So with the help of Siri Eyes Free, you can take and make calls. Also Siri Eyes Free can read text messages. And we shouldn’t forget that you can dictate to Siri replies.

All this can be accomplished with the Pioneer AVH-501EX without taking your eyes off the road.

The thing is there’s no backup camera in the package. You need to buy that separately. Once you have installed it, you can park safely. Many consumers reported that with the help of this camera, they could park in tighter spots. It beats driving around the block to find a decent parking space.

The touch screen size is 6.2 inches wide, 800X480 pixels and it’s easy to read. The response time is good. The resolution is decent 800×480.

It comes with a CD/DVD player. You can listen to HD music or watch movies. Here’s the glitch. As a safety feature, you can’t watch movies while on the go. What do you do when you’re on a long road with kids? Well, you hack the system.

The thing is it’s quite hard to bypass the emergency brake system. It’s possible, but it takes some creativity.

I’ve written an article about a similar product, take a look at the unbiased Pioneer AVH-2550NEX review.

Pioneer AVH-501EX shortcomings

As you have probably guessed, this stereo has some flaws. To my knowledge, there isn’t a perfect car stereo out there. Let’s check out if it’s a deal-breaker for you.

It only has Apple Carplay, so if you have an Android phone, you might have to check another head unit. With an iPhone, life is easy. Once it was paired, it connects faster. Once connected, you can enjoy all the great features that Apple Carplay has, including Siri Eyes Free.

If you have a different phone, you have basic Bluetooth functions. You can take calls and stream music. And that’s about it.

They went a bit overboard with the safety features. You basically can’t do anything while driving. For example, you can’t change the EQ settings. The only way to change them is by setting the emergency brake.

Now to be fair, you can bypass this system. There are kits on the market that will help you do that. Still, the manufacturer made it difficult to do it.

The wiring documentation is faulty. So if you’re installing the unit by yourself, make sure you check out YouTube. There were probably many bad reviews of bad installs.

How To Get The Most Out Of Pioneer AVH-501EX?

Here are the first two steps that you have to take. First, install the unit. I like to keep my sanity, so I always advise to get it done by pros. Secondly, do a firmware update because that solves many would’ be issues.

After this, you need to start personalizing. You can change the display background. Also, you can match the illumination and the theme of your car. This will make the car stereo look stock.

The Pioneer AVH-501EX comes with a 13 band graphic equalizer. If you don’t want to invest hours into the perfect sound, you can pick one of 7 presets.

What about the outputs?

Well, there’s video output, 6-channel preamp outputs (4V front, rear subwoofer).

Of course, if you want to keep your steering wheel controls, you need to get iDatalink Maestro. It’s an additional purchase and well worth it. With just one button press, you can take or reject calls. Plus, you can give voice commands.

I listen to HD radio tuner wherever I go thanks to this car stereo.

Pioneer AVH-501EX Review Conclusion

The Pioneer AVH-501EX DVD receiver is a great stereo to have. It’s not expensive, and it delivers. The features it has are enough to be entertained on the long drive.

Bluetooth has a fast connection, so no more waiting for nothing. It’s easy to use and easy to learn.

This is the end of the Pioneer AVH-501EX review. I hope you have learned everything there’s about this car stereo.

Have you tried this satellite receiver?

What was your experience? Share with us. Do you want me to review a stereo? No biggie send me a message. If there’s enough interest, I, will take a look.

Catch you next time.
Pioneer AVH-501EX 6.2 Inch DVD Receiver with HD Radio and Bluetooth

Does it fit in my car? Click Here to Check
Click Here to Check

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):

Does this DVD receiver come with audio video input output?

Yes, it does.

Is the AVH-501EX DVD receiver navigation ready?

Yes with this HD radio tuner  you can connect any navigation app.

Does this Pioneer HD radio tuner unit has time alignment?

Yes, the AVH-501EX multimedia DVD receiver comes with the time alignment feature. If you don’t know what time alignment is, the setup of speakers so the sound hits you at different times.

Does the AVH-501EX DVD receiver audio video remote control profile?

Yes, the AVH-501EX satellite receiver has the audio video remote control profile feature. Thanks to the built-in Bluetooth you can remote control audio streaming and video playback. Also, you can play pause songs.

What is the advanced audio distribution profile?

The advanced audio distribution profile or A2DP for short determines what’s the maximum quality of audio that can be streamed through built-in Bluetooth devices. This works with compatible Android smartphones and iPod iPhone.

What can the display built-in Bluetooth do for this DVD receiver?

This satellite radio gives the following features: Bluetooth HD radio and Bluetooth hands-free.

Can I use Appradio mode with compatible iPhone Android devices?

Appradio is extremely buggy so no matter what phone you will use it will let you down.

Can I keep my steering wheel controls with this satellite radio?

Yes, you can keep your steering wheel controls with this DVD receiver. For this, you will need to buy the iDatalink Maestro which is sold separately. Don’t worry it won’t interfere with the audio playback and the video playback. The iDatalink Maestro is not included in the package and it’s sold separately.

Is the Pioneer AVH-1550NEX a good alternative instead of the AVH-501EX?

The Pioneer AVH-1550NEX is a great choice if you want to know more read the Pioneer AVH-1550NEX review.

With the AVH-501EX radio tuner is there a video output?

Yes with this DVD receiver you have video output. You can mount a backup camera that is sold separately. Besides the video output, there’s audio playback and video playback.

What’s hands-free profile HFP?

The hands-free profile HFP is a Bluetooth profile that keeps you safe and secure. This allows you to use voice controls and make phone calls privately.

Where is the USB input?

The USB is input rear. It’s next to the camera input.

Last Updated on November 3, 2023 by Brian Beasley

Written by Danny Reid

Hey, I'm Danny, and I know how hard it can be to find the perfect audio gear. Need a new stereo, amp, speakers, or subs? Don't worry – my blog is here to help you cut through the noise! My mission is to give you the best reviews, so you can make the right decision for your audio needs. And if you ever get stuck thinking, "Where does this blue wire go?" don't worry – I've got tons of cool tips to help you out of any jam. So come along with me on this fun, sound-filled adventure, and let's find the perfect audio setup to make your tunes really sing!