Jul 07

Pioneer DEH-P7050BT review.

After a long time of running a custom PC in the car for my audio, navigation, and data needs, I finally decided to convert the car back into running a standard head unit. After much searching of web sites, I found a stereo that did exactly what I wanted. It was the Pioneer DEH-P7050BT.


The DEH-P7050BT

This unit offered just about everything I wanted on my wishlist.

  • MP3/AAC/WMA playback
  • Direct playback from CD or USB storage (ie memory key, portable HDD)
  • Bluetooth hands free car kit
  • RCA outputs for a sub woofer amplifier

About the only thing that the stereo was missing was the support for playback of MP3s from DVD-R media.

I made the inquiries, and found that the stereo would go on sale at the end of March. March came and went with the stereo nowhere to be seen. April came and went. June came and I happened to see a single DEH-P7050BT in a JB Hi-fi store. After 30 seconds of contemplation, I snapped it up.

I wish I hadn’t.

To say I have a gripes list about this stereo is an understatement. I wrote to my contact at Pioneer and spelt out a number of my concerns, and I’ll include them below for public record.

Issue 1:
When switching between a song playing from USB source to a different source (ie TUNER) and with the song title scrolling on the display, the unchanged part of the screen will continue to scroll until the last character being scrolled meets the new text from the new source.

This issue seems to be caused my sloppy code in either the scrolling or section for printing text to the display, as only characters to the right of the updated display text will continue to scroll until they scroll up to the new text.

Issue 2:
Randomly when dialling a phone number via the voice dial feature on the stereo, the call will proceed, the display will say DIALLING, then when the call is answered, the audio will not switch to the handsfree kit on the stereo. This has only happened to me twice in the last 24 hours, but this never happened when using my previous BT car kit – hence I believe it to be a compatibility issue with the head unit.

Issue 3:
I’m not sure if this is designed behaviour or not, but if you are currently playing audio from a USB stick and the USB stick is removed, then the unit turns off. It may be nicer to fall back to the tuner or last selected source.

Issue 4:
There are many grammatical and spelling errors in the PDF file being the manual. This looks very unprofessional and also makes things very hard to follow. There is also no mention of menu structure – for example, in the section regarding pairing a BT phone (page 25), there is no mention of the requirement to press the phone button to switch to TELEPHONE mode before using the multifunction button to obtain a menu.

I seriously doubt that the manual or documentation was written by someone who had English as their first language. We would expect better from people just leaving high school…

Issue 5:
The BT AUDIO source should have a function to always be active. This allows all audio to be piped from the phone to the head unit – even when the tuner is currently active. For extra style points, this should allow either a MUTE or ATTENUATION option to affect the volume of the current source while the BT AUDIO source is active. This would make things perfect for use of GPS navigation on phones.

While not a bug, this is a major design issue in my book – as you effectively still accept audio output from the phone without outputting it anywhere – effectively muting audio on your phone until you manually disconnect it.

Issue 6:
When navigating folders on the USB stick (would probably also apply to an MP3/DATA CD), even though the track numbers are named 01xxxx.mp3 02xxxx.mp3 etc etc, they are not always loaded or played in that order… Also when changing folders, if you select a folder, the first MP3 file shown should be the lowest number- ie 01xxxx.mp3. This is not the case at present.

Issue 7:
When pairing from the phone to the DEH-P7050BT. To duplicate this, put the stereo in pairing mode (CONNECTION -> STANDARD -> PAIR FROM PHONE). Then search for bluetooth devices on a PDA. When the device is connection, use the stock ‘0000’ pin code. If you select BOTH the ‘Wireless Stereo’ and ‘Hands free’ profile in the pairing mode, the pairing will fail.

To work around this, on the STEREO, switch to “BT AUDIO” mode, then pair with your phone device. When you select services to pair, ONLY select WIRELESS STEREO. Then switch the stereo mode to “TELEPHONE”, repeat the pairing steps and ONLY select the “Hands Free” service. This will succeed. On the PDA/phone device, edit the bluetooth properties for “PIONEER FLAP BT” and make sure BOTH the services are selected (only one will be).

This is just sloppy coding.

Issue 8:
I sat in my car tonight and called myself from a different phone and was shocked at the poor quality of audio the other party hears on this Bluetooth kit. The audio quality was weak, and full of crackle – with many times during the call having the car kit audio completely replaced with static for a second or so… The best I can describe it was like on an old cordless phone when it’s starting to get out of range of its base station.

The quality of audio of the hands free kit is just – well – pathetic. If I get calls while I am on the road, it usually means I need to pull over or call back when I am no longer using my car kit as most of the time the other person just cannot hear me.

While I applaud Pioneer for putting together a stereo with all these features, I seriously have to question their QA processes – as these basic errors should have been fixed up well before any units were shipped.

I do have some hope however – as the stereo is software upgradeable, it may well be possible for Pioneer to update the software on the device and fix 99% of these issues. In the meantime though, steer clear of this unit – and hold off until either the issues are fixed, or the next model comes along.

31 comments

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    • AndrewG on July 27, 2008 at 12:01 pm
    • Reply

    I agree. I bought this device about 2 weeks ago (12 July)thinking it would be just the ticket for what I needed. The manual is badly written with a structure that is difficult to follow and grammar so bad in some cases that understanding the meaning can be challenging even for a person who has English as a first language, let alone as second!

    As for bluetooth connection with my Nokia E51, it would be a joke if it wasn’t so frustrating. I have spent literally HOURS tring to get a seamless connection with the phone set-up. Your tip about connection via BT Audio has helped somewhat, although the device will still not allow me to upload my phone contacts, as it claims to be able to. My old Ericsson T620 works better than my newer Nokia – go figure!!

    Anyway, thanks for the tip. I look forward to a software upgrade for this unit, but I’ll still keep breathing while I wait!

    • JohnD on August 12, 2008 at 4:43 pm
    • Reply

    I too have an E51 an am struggling to get it to connect to the deck properly. I have had it working, but then it just disconnects and seems to constantly try to reconnect.

    So basically you’re driving along, and the phone keeps makin a beep noise with a message saying disconnected…

    When it works it’s ok.. haven’t had any problems with the quality myself, but it seems like it would be a manual process to get it to connect everytime you get in the car.

    Has anyone had any decent luck with the E51 and this deck? If so, please let us know how you got it to talk properly.

    • JohnD on August 12, 2008 at 7:24 pm
    • Reply

    Just thought I’d add that I tried a friends E51 with same firmware etc, and it works fine… Maybe it is the phone with the issue… I have no other problems with the phone though.

    Has anyone else had any success or failure with the E51?

    • JohnD on August 14, 2008 at 5:48 pm
    • Reply

    Yay! I got it working!

    To be honest I think this deck is pretty good. Apart from bluetooth connectivity, everything else was ok at the start.

    Looks like pioneer recently released an update even though its not on the pioneer australia website. You can get it from:

    http://www.pioneer.eu/eur/content/support/support/update/deh_bt_update.html

    This works for the DEH-P7050BT as well, even though it doesn’t say it.

    Weird how they do an update in a jpg file, but it works 😀

    Basically it adds another “group” called Nokia-A… This let’s both the headset and the car kit connect at the same time.

    The contacts sync too… this worked for me before all this madness btw.

    You have to click yes to transfer contacts, then the phone “disconnects”. On the phone you then go to your contacts menu, and select the contacts you want across. Then send these via bluetooth to the head unit.

    Once done it didn’t really have an obvious way out of the menu, so I just turned the car off, but you can probably just press source or something.

    When I turned it back on after syncing, it didn’t sync up automatically, so obviously on the phone I just told it the head unit was an authorised device.

    Bingo I am happy.

    I hope this helps someone else who was about to throw both the deck and the E51 out the friggen window… FYI this apparently fixes all the latest Nokia N and E series phones too.

    • David on August 25, 2008 at 11:39 am
    • Reply

    So guys, what do you recommend to buy?

  1. At the moment, I say save your money want wait patiently. Someone has got to get all this stuff right sooner or later 🙂

    • Shen Long on September 14, 2008 at 9:50 am
    • Reply

    I tried what you done John however my phone keeps on having pairing issues. will pair up fine the 1st time round however when i switch the power off the car & turn it back on again all i get is connect/disconnects. I am using the N95-2 8GB. This is the 1st black 8GB model from the N95 series. Anyhow i have given up 🙁 What looked good on paper & via specifications – i Must admit it doesnt like my phone for some reason. Apart from that the rest works fine from what i have been able to tell this includes iPod functionality 😉

    • ThePhil on October 18, 2008 at 6:52 am
    • Reply

    I tried the same thing John but alas my N82does not want to play. My wife’s phone which is older but still a nokia(non N or E series) will connect from the next room! I have asked Pioneer about this and will let you all know if they get back to me! Otherwise i think the headunit rocks.

    • Adam on October 30, 2008 at 6:53 pm
    • Reply

    Hi just to let you know. Was hating the fact that my mp3 albums wouldn’t play in order (had songs that are meant to be joined). Anyway to get to the point I converted the mp3’s to Ipod format m4a using itunes and, great the songs on my usb now play in order.

    • evan on November 26, 2008 at 10:04 pm
    • Reply

    Just bought the Pioneer head unit mentioned. Works a treat with my iPhone! iPod and BT functionality fine, downloaded the phone directory and the phone appears to be clear both ends. Early days yet. Will keep u posted.

    • justin on December 8, 2008 at 7:45 am
    • Reply

    I just picked up one of these from JB HiFi in Canberra for $380.

    I got home, and found this review and now I’m pretty nervous (haven’t had it installed yet).

    I have a Nokia E71 and really want this headset to work well with the hands free.

    Ah well, guess I will have to wait and find out …

  2. Hi Justin,

    I’d honestly recommend that you take the Pioneer unit back and get the Kenwood KDC-BT7539U. Not only is it a better car kit, it has better features, a better display and best of all, is cheaper! I got mine for $270 from JB!

    Check my review of that head unit.

    • oTTo1512 on December 16, 2008 at 12:13 pm
    • Reply

    This unit is great, pairs with my Sony Ericsson P1i like hand and glove, I paired both the phone hands free and music player with no trouble at all. The only problem I am having is the USB file arrangment and linking music files with numerical values. The unit seems to put files beginning with numerical values at the end. Besides that the unit is awsome. And yes, the PDF manual sucks. It is terrible even for someone who has English as a 3rd language!

    • justin on December 18, 2008 at 2:03 pm
    • Reply

    Hi Steve,

    I just read your reply (a little too late mind you!).

    I had the Pioneer installed this morning. I had to do the firmware update to allow my E71 to connect and I tested a phone call (for about 5 minutes). It appeared to work okay, but I wasn’t actually driving at the time … so we’ll see how it handles the cabin noise.

    I will kick up a fuss if it doesn’t suit my needs. I am about to drive 11-14 hours to Adelaide and back after Christmas, and I spend most of my days in the car for work.

    If I do make the swap, I’ll definitely check out the Kenwood deck.

  3. I asked JB for the best bluetooth handsfree deck and they sold me this pile of crap, I hate it! They failed to mention that a lot of phones have problems pairing, something I’ve found out the hard way. The nokia 6600 pairs ok but inexplicably mutes itself halfway through a conversation. The samsung g810 pairs ok but after that tries to connect then disconnects straight away – EVERYTIME. Oh and just for a laugh it randomly switches itself to ipod source when listening to tuner. All pioneer could say was check their euro website for a list of compatible phones, and look for the deck most similar to this one.

    • oTTo1512 on December 30, 2008 at 8:52 am
    • Reply

    Paired it with a Nokia N95, the non 8GB one. Works fine. I will try a samsung U900 soon and I will keep you guys posted. Not being able to play music files in order is still annoying! Any news about a fix?

    • rodney on January 12, 2009 at 9:17 pm
    • Reply

    bought this pioneer unit DEH-P7050BT, was told by JB hifi that it was the best going around at this time leading up to christmas, i got it cheaper than JB hifi was going to sell it to me and im starting to wish i didn’t,(1)I installed it in my car myself,I found out the connecting plugs that you can buy from the local auto shop was the wrong ones and had to buy it still and had to cut and solder together the wires because this unit has a different connection than the over the counter you can buy.(2)As everyone has also been saying, only now that i read and found out that the operation manual is also hard to read, even when i photo copied it,put it in a folder to read, while i was setting the stereo up, while it was in front of me in the car.(3)my wife phone is a N95, mine N73 both connect only one at a time, was told that i can have 2 or more phone connected but to no luck. and every minute the phones disconnect aswell, have tried to talk while phone was connected (N95) but i could hear them,but they couldn’t hear me.(4)found it easier to use the remote to use the features on setting up as in storing radio stations (lot easier than going thru the stereo deck).(5) i have found out aswell using the itunes media player to burn music from a disc then going into the computer settings and coppying the music folders into a new folder then burning onto a dics worked ok for me and in the order that i burnt them.(6)dont like the pause button cause theres not one, the mute button only mutes not pause so where is that one gone.(go figure.)(7) all this technology and why does the stereo not have a dimmer for the lights when they come on at night, (very bright).

    • Sam on January 19, 2009 at 11:56 am
    • Reply

    Steve, when you rang yourself from inside your car it was crackly because of all the interference. If you ring someone else inside your car the sound quality is fine.

  4. Hi Sam,

    Sadly this wasn’t the case – as just about any call would be noisy – even if the other person was 100km away.

  5. The pioneer euro website list of compatible phones is sadly dated. None of the newer release phones I like are on there. I figure all I can do is wait until I bump into a friend with one of these phones then borrow it to see if it pairs properly. If I have success I’ll post my result.

    • cjmurph on April 13, 2009 at 6:29 pm
    • Reply

    I’ve had this unit for 6 months, without any hassle. everything works as expected. however…
    the user interface is the worst I have ever experienced. I am coming from years of happy Blaupunkt usage. everything works perfectly and is easy to get to and use (no need to read the manual, wish I could say the same for this piece of crap).
    This pioneer unit is beyond bad. my biggest gripes are to have to hit one button to scroll through sources, the mute button doesn’t pause and the UI is completely counter intuitive to use. if only I could have all these features in a Blau.
    oh, and no RDS, I never thought to ask before I bought it, because I assumed (ugghhh) that even if I paid $50 for a head unit these days, it would have RDS. I was wrong.

    • oTTo1512 on May 3, 2009 at 6:09 am
    • Reply

    Samsung u900 works well with occasional problems with bluetooth audio

    • Will on July 23, 2009 at 4:33 pm
    • Reply

    I can only say I am absolutely pleased with this unit. I got installed about two weeks ago and everything is working just as I would expect. The main reason I bought this unti was for the bluetooth. I paired my phone without reading manual and calls are crystal clear with no echo. I would defintiely recommend this unit to anyone that asked. Because this is my first usb player I am still learning how that works but is another great feature to have.

    • Gaston on August 14, 2009 at 1:42 am
    • Reply

    Hi,
    I’ve heard similair problems with the bluetooth handsfree
    function on pioneers. I’ve got myself the FH-P80BT Double-Din Bluetooth Tuner met USB-in en iPod Direct Control a year ago, and while streaming music is okay from a htc phone -> pioneer, talking on the phone is crap for the person at the other side. They get some crakly sound.
    In the car the audio I receive from the other person is great. This little problem is a huge problem for me. That’s why I wouldn’t recommend pioneer anymore as I’m hearing a lot of crackly audio bluetooth problems with differrent pioneer headunits.

    • Tony on December 28, 2009 at 3:46 pm
    • Reply

    Nokia 6700 classic pairs OK, pretty good phone too if you don’t need an iphone

    • Scott on March 24, 2010 at 7:26 pm
    • Reply

    I’ve had this head deck for year with my nokia N95 the non 8gb one and loved it…. worked beautiful, everything i ever wanted. Then i smashed my phone just recently and now am having the same pairing problem…. i hope this update thing works or i’m gunna be pissed

    • Paul on April 12, 2010 at 11:31 am
    • Reply

    Wow….I was about to jump in my car and buy one of these!! To day!
    The man from repco told me it is a DEHT750ABT. If he isn’t mistaken whats the A mean?
    I don’t need all the fancy blue tooth stuff but want the rear usb to plug in my music from my PC and hide my HDD or I pod where it wont get stolen.
    I would like to stay with Pioneer because the amps and speakers are Pioneer. (Head unit got stolen!)
    I have been without sounds for ages and it looks like I will be holding off a bit longer.
    Any Idears on a model I should be looking at.
    THANK’S STEVE & EVERYONE THAT HAS CONTRIBUTED TO THIS SITE

    • Justin on April 15, 2010 at 3:49 pm
    • Reply

    Here I am, a year and a half later. Nokia E71 working well with the Pioneer … but now I’m looking to get a new phone (HTC Desire to be exact).

    I’ve tried a friends Nexus One (Same specs as the desire) and had no luck pairing it.

    Anyone else out there who has tried this with any luck?

    • Robbie on June 15, 2012 at 4:46 pm
    • Reply

    I have installed this myself and I bought the unit second hand. Since I have some experience with car stereo installs, I connnected this with external Precision Power amplifiers, feeding front Boston component speakers and a 15 inch Kicker subwoofer. I had to buy an external mic for it since the original owner did not take this out. I had it paired with my Nokia X6 and it works a treat. Only issue I have found is the signal to noise ratio and the low voltage (3volts) RCA outputs which means I have to adjust the amps gain higher but the “hissing” is present at low volumes so I have to turn the amps gain down. I did use the USB / CD feature and find it reasonable and acceptable for sound quality purposes. I would recommend this unit to potential buyers.

    1. Good to see these units going strong – some 4 years later. Mine still works a treat.

    • James Ferguson on February 24, 2013 at 9:57 am
    • Reply

    If anyone is still monitoring this blog, I have a question for you!

    Have been attempting to connect the DeH-7050BT to and iPhone 4. No problems pairing and using for hands-free telephone calling, however it is able to connect to the BT Audio streaming function through any simple mechanism- I need to go through the following steps to get it to connect EACH TIME;
    – on pioneer unit i go to BT Audio > connection > BT Audio Devices > Standard. Then it is “ready”
    – Then I need to go to the iPhone settings, into Bluetooth, look for “Pioneer FLap BT” (which is already paired) and select it again
    – only then will the audio connect. Then it works fine

    My issue is that I need to do this every time. Would love it if the connection were to happen automatically when I turn the pioneer unit on. Failing that, getting the unit and the iPhone to connect through selecting “paired devices” in BT Audio would be a reasonable fall-back position.

    Hs anyone experienced this issue before, and have they got a solution?

  1. […] a lot of you know, I’ve had lots of trouble with a Pioneer DEH-P7050BT car stereo with bluetooth handsfree. After 6 months of talking with […]

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