Music consumption has changed enormously over the last decade, with digital song files now coming in umpteen different formats and on numerous types of media. Ambitiously, Pioneer’s DEH-P4100SD aims to cover all the bases.
Alongside the traditional CD drive, this is Pioneer’s first car stereo head unit to include an SD card slot. On top of this it also accepts devices via USB, with support for both portable audio players and simple storage drives.
Whether on SD, USB or CD, most mainstream file types can be played, including MP3s and AACs. The only lossless format available is 16-bit, 48kHz WAV, and none of the more esoteric options such as FLAC or Ogg Vorbis are supported, but the system does have the most common options covered.
The SD card slot will also read SDHC memory, allowing for capacities of up to 32GB for a truly jukebox-sized music collection. It has, however, positioned the slot rather annoyingly behind the faceplate, forcing you to remove it to swap cards.
Control focuses on the rotary commander, which works rather like a joystick, except that you can rotate it as well. Conveniently, the unit can also operate certain types of iPod devices directly with the addition of an appropriate USB dock. Pioneer also offers its own cables for many iPods – the list of those compatible is extensive, but fairly selective about which software versions will work.
This model doesn’t just rely on its next-gen digital sound file support – it’s a serious audiophile car hi-fi as well. The amplifier offers four 50W outputs, with Delta Sigma 24-bit D/A converters and Advanced Sound Retriever (ASR) technology. The latter is particularly handy for compressed audio, as it automatically restores the harmonics lost during compression, particularly the high and low frequencies.
You do pay a small premium for the plethora of connections though. The P4100SD’s USB-only sister product, the DEH-P3100UB, is a tenner cheaper, and other USB-equipped head units can be snapped up for under £100.
However, a large SD card will give you much greater storage than any CD changer, without the need for an extra unit in your car boot, and it’s simpler than having to attach an iPod. So the Pioneer DEH-P4100SD may be a little on the pricey side, but it wins hands down for convenience