Pioneer + iPod + My car

When I was thinking about getting a new car stereo with an iPod adapter, Google was surprisingly short on first-hand accounts from people using these devices. I want to help anyone who may be in the predicament I was in by posting my observations on using the Pioneer DEH-7800MP, CD-IB100II, and a 60 GB iPod with video.

When I got my ION, I went directly to Best Buy for a new car stereo. I'm a music addict and factory car radios just don't help me get my fix. I went with a Pioneer head unit along with an AUX input adapter that terminated into a mini-jack plug, suitable for connecting an iPod to. This was much more satisfying to listen to than FM transmitters. I also have all Rockford-Fosgate speakers and amps (including two 10" subs). It was a perfectly serviceable setup.

The thing was, it's a pain to reach down and adjust the iPod in whatever after market holder you use. You have to take your eyes away from the road for too long, and on longer trips you run the real possibility of draining the iPods battery. When Pioneer first launched iPod adapters for their head units I was really tempted, but in the end the partial support left me wanting more.

The current lineup promises "full control" of your iPod via the controls on your head unit. I've had the system installed for almost two weeks now.

The stereo is wonderful. The FM reception is much improved. The full color OEL screen is great. Once you get used to the interface paradigm (the scroll-wheel does everything on this unit) it's a very easy to use head unit. The EQ is more adjustable that what I'm used to in a car stereo and I like that. I'm able to see full Artist/Album/Song Title info on the built in display. I'm able to browse Playlists, Songs, Artists, and Albums in the same way I can on my iPod. The sound quality is fantastic.

Despite Pioneers claims that OEL screen are more readable in bright sunlight than ordinary car stereo displays, I found this is not an easy unit to use in full sun. The face of the stereo is every bit as shiny as a recent iPod. As such, glare is terrible.

In terms of actually using the iPod control functionality, the results are mixed. If you are a heavy playlist user, or if you don't have a lot of music on your iPod you'll love it. When you switch to the iPod as the source, you're only two click from playing the first playlist on your iPod and a short scroll from your others.

I rarely put my music in playlists. Even though I get most of my music on iTunes these days, I still buy music in albums and listen that way as well. I like to pick an album based on my mood, play it from start to finish and then select another one.

I have 4,972 (100% legal) songs on my iPod. I'm not sure how many artists that breaks down to, but it's a lot. I love that when you continuously "spin" the click wheel on an iPod it accelerates allowing you to quickly move through a long list.

The Pioneer implementation of iPod control, there is no acceleration. To play My Friend Steve's Hope & Wait, I have to turn that stupid little knob 75 times or more. It's completely maddening. I often just pull the iPod out of the glove box, unplug it, pick an album and then reconnect it. Sadly, that's a faster way of doing it.

I consulted the manuals of both Pioneer products and I don't see anyway to change this behavior. If someone out there has a fix, please leave a comment on this post.

Aside from that, it's really a nice setup.