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on June 3, 2011
I bought this for a 2005 Chevy Colorado. I used a Metra 95-2009 Double DIN Installation Multi-Kit for Select 1995-2008 GM/Honda/Isuzu/Suzuki Vehicles installation kit and an Axxess GMRC-01 Class II GM Chime Retention Interface to keep my chimes - my truck doesn't have On-Star or a separate factory amp. I also got the Scosche Mda-1B 1988 - Up Gm Micro/Delco Antenna Adapter because GM uses a small antenna plug. All parts were exactly what I needed. The radio fit perfectly WITHOUT cutting the truck's metal rear support bracket inside the dash. The truck has Boston Acoustic speakers in the front doors and factory speakers in the rear. As a result I keep the fader set to the front speakers only. This truck has no dimmer wire or illumination wire so the dimming feature will not work. I did not need navigation because I use my Droid and I don't need DVD or movies in the truck. I had that feature in my last head unit for three years and never did watch a movie in the truck.

I like that it's compatible with my existing Sirius SCC1 receiver - I didn't want to have to buy a proprietary Sirius receiver. That kind of thing just rankles me and it's a BIG reason I chose this unit. I just plugged it in and it simply worked. The unit will hold 18 Sirius presets and I can choose to display Artist and Track at the same time.

Also, the ability to read USB MP3 files is great - I like to throw audio books on a USB stick for long drives. The Clarion will remember the track position even after the truck is turned off and the USB stick removed so when I put the USB stick in again the unit will shift to the USB source and start playing where it left off. This is a great feature for audio books. Fastforward/rewind is accomplished by holding the Next Track/Previous Track buttons.

Good bluetooth connection with my Droid X - The unit connects automatically with both BT phone and BT audio at the same time. (My wife's much-more-expensive Pioneer AVIC will not connect both phone and audio to her Incredible at the same time; she has to choose one or the other and go through the cumbersome process to do it.) I can play music on my phone and sound comes out of the Clarion instead of the phone and I can pause, skip tracks, control volume, etc with the Clarion. The BT Telephone part also works great and the sound is fine. The microphone is built into the unit. The Clarion easily accepted my Droid X phone book although it wouldn't transfer the contacts in my favorites but I think that is a problem with the phone and not the Clarion - I'm still working on it. It is not possible to add single numbers to the phone book. The Clarion phone book stores all the names in Last Name | First Name order which I don't like. Calls are not that easy to start from the Clarion unless it is redialing a recent call. Trying to direct dial from the radio while driving would be crazy because its way too complicated. However, incoming calls work perfectly (and mute the radio during the call) and I can make outgoing calls from the phone while it sits in the dock and then it's hands free speaker-phone over the Clarion. Overall I'm extremely happy with the bluetooth and this is another BIG reason I am happy with this unit.

Aux-In jack on the front - haven't used this yet but its good to have.

Double Din - Big two-line text thats easy to read while driving. The buttons are not all mashed together and the volume knob is big. It's easy to control the unit quickly and safely. I appreciate this after driving another vehicle with a single-din unit that had dozens of tiny buttons and practically unreadable text and button labels. However, I can't see the clock at the same time as anything else which is a negative - in other words I can see Artist and Track, or Station or whatever but if I want to see the clock it will be all I see. They should have left a spot where the clock can always be visible.

The FM sounds pretty good - better than the Sirius music stations I think. I can't compare the FM sensitivity to the factory radio because I took out the factory radio long ago...

Music sounds good enough with my BA speakers. Not outstanding, but good enough for me. In my younger days when I was more into music I would have demanded more and probably used an external amp and sub-woofer, etc (and also bought a more expensive brand just because of the name!) but nowadays I mostly listen to talk radio on Sirius. However, like I said, music sounds very acceptable if I don't crank it up way too loud. I actually removed my external Alpine amp at the same time I installed the Clarion. I don't feel like I need it.

The ability to change colors is very cool. Right now I have it on a custom yellow which looks real good.

The remote, which I don't use, has a mute button but the head unit does not. However it's easy to turn down quickly due to the huge volume knob.

I did test the CD part which was fine, but I probably won't be using that either.

There are three ipods in my house so I could test that feature but I just don't care enough to do it. I can use my Droid over bluetooth if I want to play portable music.

Bottom line is that I am very happy with the Clarion considering it's price and would certainly buy again if I needed another head unit.
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on June 21, 2011
I picked this up this weekend and replaced an older non-amplified Alpine.

This unit is very light. It fit my WRX well after tucking the cabling behind the center vent ducts; and only needing a small custom made trim ring to fill the gaps. The unit went in easily and cleanly. The sound is VERY clean (no EQ setting used). I'm running all channels though older Blue Thunder amplifiers and the imaging is good, bass is clean punchy and the unit looks clean in the dash. The illumination lets you match the car's color very well.

The USB port is the main reason I got this unit. I have a microSD keychain USB adapter that I can toss 8GB of music on, and it plays with no problem. It seeks and changes track incredibly fast. Faster than an iPod.

The bluetooth paired easily with the MyTouch 1.2. I've tested calls and it worked great. Had to adjust the mic gain up some, but thats all.

BONUS: The deck controlled winamp on my android phone. This was a complete surprise to me and I actually giggled when I discovered it.

Radio reception seems fine, I'm not a huge fan of local radio but what it picks up comes in clear. I haven't spun through the entire 'dial' but my main stations are loud & clear. You haven't heard NPR/PRI until the background sub-bass from on-location interviews shakes your seat. ;)

My only gripe is the display. While installing it I thought I had (inexplicably) gotten the dimmer wire screwed up as I could not see the display *at all* while looking directly at it (leaning over the center console installing it). Looking at it off-axis from either front seat helped but it was still pretty dim. I had to crank up the contrast to full to comfortably read the display and I'll likely have to get my windows tinted to have it be bright enough to be readable at a glance on the road. Granted, this is not helped by the high installation point and slight upward angle of the WRX radio location. I may try a non-glare phone screen protector to see if this helps.

I'm still fidgeting with settings but so far this is a keeper. I was looking at its predecessor deciding on this level of head unit or going with a full-blown Nav system that was literally 10x the price. I'm glad I went this route. It was inexpensive, works great and was super-simple to install. As far as nav, Google maps using the blutetooth audio can tell me where to go.

Bottom line: feature rich - great sound - looks good - HOWEVER, display is NOT daylight friendly. BUT if you have a car with window tint, this is your double DIN head unit.
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on July 24, 2011
I own a Verizon iPhone 4 with unlimited internet 3G plan. I wanted to replace my factory original double-DIN CD player radio on a 2006 Ford Escape XLT. The criteria used to select this unit was that it must SIMUTANEOUSLY connect via Bluetooth to my phone to stream Pandora music (much better than subscribing to Sirius radio), listen to audio commands from my GPS Navigator app (Navigon and Waze), and take incoming phone calls. The built in microphone for calls was a big plus. I like the previous reviewer's statement that a double DIN unit looks similar to factory original to fend off car thieves. Although the unit is designed with a USB port to accept a iPhone sync cord and has features to direct iTunes and at the same time charge the unit, this standard USB charger port delivers only 0.5 amps. iPhone requires a 1 AMP charger to charge while streaming. iPhones are notorious for draining the battery if all features are turned on. This would be important when going on long trips.

I had the unit professionally installed. The installer said it was easy with a bracket unit and necessary adapter plugs which were purchased separately. Below is a preliminary review of my experience so far:

1) Bluetooth connectivity is excellent. The initial pairing of the device was abit difficult because the instructional manual was not very clear. With the help of the installer I was able to initially pair the stereo to my iPhone in 2 minutes. After the initial pairing, you just need to go into the iPhone settings and connect to the device each time. Your phone ID will appear on the unit display upon connection.
2) Stereo streaming from Pandora via Bluetooth. Excellent sound! The A2DP Bluetooth audio processing allows full range of sound to come out beautifully from the factory speakers. The 50W amp (per channel) built in amplifier gave my factory original speakers clear crisp sound which were far superior from what the OEM stereo could deliver. I was considering to buy the CX501 singer DIN unit, but read that it only delivers 17 watts RMS per channel versus a full 50W per channel with this double-DIN unit. The display is also easier to read. It also works very well with audio while watching Netflix streaming video and Podcasts on the road. There is 4 preset equalizer settings and a custom setting. I find that the "Excite" setting is best suited for my type of music (old school that is heavy on the bass).
3) GPS navigation audio directions via Bluetooth. Whenever a voice command to turn emits from the GPS app in the iPhone, it automatically lowers the volume to the steaming music. It then returns to the music back to normal volume. This feature is indicative of the phone, but it nice to know that the Bluetooth connectivity remains solid between the iPhone and the stereo. One disadvantage is that I like to crank up the music while on the road, this causes the GPS voice to also come out loud. This is a problem with the software app on the iPhone and not the stereo unit.
4) Phone Calls: pressing the play button allows me to answer calls. When in the phone mode, you can control the volume easily on the stereo. The person on the other line can hear my voice very well. The microphone is located on the left top corner of the unit so you may need to lower the fan speed of the air conditioner if a vent is located next to the unit and it is noisy. After the call has ended, the music and GPS commands return back to normal without loosing Bluetooth connectivity.
5) I like the option of also plugging via USB port a flash drive with MP3 files, or plugging in via 3.5mm jack any other audio device.
6) Display. I like the large 2 line display. However, I was disappointed to see that when playing the radio, I lost the ability to see the name of the radio station I was listening to as well as the song. This feature was included in the factory original display. Also the clock was always displayed on the factory unit (my car does not come with a separate clock on the dash board). This stereo has a clock but it displays on a separate screen. You press the "DISP" button on the unit to cycle through the display features.
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on July 3, 2011
After a frustrating visit to CarToys (they insisted that I needed to spend $600 to $700 for a new stereo and speakers), I took my stock radio out of my 2004 Ford Explorer to find a jumble of 49 wires and thought, oh no, what have I gotten myself into!

After much research starting here on Amazon (Catamount's advice was invaluable), to Metra (Justin at Metra went above and beyond), and ending on Ford Explorer forum sites (where I located a PDF on removing the door panels to replace the stock speakers), I found my way through the wire jumbles and soldered Metra's wiring harness to the CX501's and then connected it all into the stock Ford harnesses. After which, I was happily astonished at the Bluetooth phone connectivity and great sound (coupled with my iPod) of the CX501. All for about $280 you can install an excellent new stereo along with new speakers. The CX501 paired without any issues to my Droid and controls my iPod just as easily as on the device itself. The sound, coupled with new speakers, blows away the factory radio. It begs the question, why didn't I do it sooner?

If anyone, like me, is new to head unit/speakers replacement, and needs help removing the Ford door panels, let me know and I'll get you the link to the PDF (I've found that Amazon strips URLs out of reviews).

The other pieces include:
Metra Harness (for Ford's with stock Amp and Sub-woofer): Metra 70-5521 Radio Wiring Harness for Ford 03-Up Amp

Nice sounding easy to install Kenwood Speakers: Kenwood KFC-P680C 6-Inch x 8-Inch Easy Fit Ford/Mazda Speaker System

Notes: I had to install a RadioShack 5V voltage regulator between the Amp turn-on in the new radio to the stock Amp turn-on since the new radio is 12V while the stock Ford Amp is 5V. Metra told me if I didn't the sub-woofer would probably "pop" when you turned the radio on. Also, the pin-outs for the Ford harness can be found on the Metra package and also on sites such as InstallDoctor and Cruthfield.

I'm very satisfied; it was well worth the time. Good luck!
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on September 24, 2011
I've had Clarion products dating back almost 20 years, and I've always liked Clarion aesthetics, ease of use and intuitive design. With one glaring exception, this stereo is fantastic.

It was easy to install, and has some really cool features. Once paired with my iPhone, I set it to pick up incoming calls after three rings and it works as advertised. Sound quality is great and it's easy to use. The large center knob works great and the display is easy to see in all kinds of light.

There are two downsides I've experienced. First (this is nit picking and pretty minor) when in USB mode and hooked to an iPod or iPhone, I find it difficult to navigate to a song, artist or playlist I like. I wish I could use the controls on the accessory. The major downside is the bluetooth operation. Often, when playing podcasts or listening to music, the bluetooth connection will cut in and out, and the only way to fix it is to make a phone call or otherwise sever and reconnect the bluetooth connection between my iPhone and the stereo. This is highly annoying, and a friend of mine said this issue is an issue with bluetooth architecture and not the stereo. Otherwise the sound quality is very good.

For the price, this stereo has all the features to make it a great value.

***update 9/28/12***

The bluetooth in this unit is actually pretty horrible. I have a Sony stereo in my normal commuter car, and I never have bluetooth issues with it, however the bluetooth in this Clarion unit fails a couple times every half hour or so whenever I drive it. It's very, VERY frustrating. I've lowered my rating by a star because the bluetooth in the stereo sucks.
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on January 8, 2014
One thing I can give Clarion is that their sound quality is unmatched. They beat all the other brands I've tried including Pioneer, Sony & JVC. The last one I owned was a Clarion CZ500. It was solid and worked really well. This one is a backward step in many ways.

The bluetooth on this is REALLY HORRIBLE. It constantly cuts out and I have to pause it, wait 2 seconds and play again for it to stop. Although it auto connects to my phone when I get in the car, it does not automatically start playing. My CZ500 did. I searched the options & manual thoroughly and did not see an option to do so.

The operating of this unit is not intuitive or simple at all. Even the labels themselves are misleading. I shouldn't have to read the manual to find out that the band button is where I can see the call log. Even in that menu, it's not intuitive on how to make the calls.

Now I understand why none of the audio stores stocked it, it's a dud.
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on November 14, 2012
I bought this because it had so many good reviews and was the right price. The functional design of the buttons on this stereo is poor. There is one button that you use to switch between the six inputs (i.e. tuner, mp3, CD, etc) and so in order for me to go from listening to the radio to listening to my mp3 player, I have to press the button 4 times. If I press the button one too many times, I have to then press it 4 more times to circle back around. Bleh. Also, the display is difficult to see unless you're right in front of it, and since it's in the center console of a car and neither the driver or front passenger are looking directly at the display, that's super lame. Also, there is not a quick way to turn the stereo off. The same button that you use to track through the various inputs is also the on/off button and you have to hold it down for 3 sec or so to shut off the stereo. Often I do not hold it down long enough and just switch inputs instead. ALSO, there does not seem to be a quick and easy way to adjust the treble and bass, etc. I would NOT recommend this stereo to anyone and am baffled by all the good reviews.
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on January 5, 2012
I bought this for my wife for Christmas and installed it myself in our 2008 4Runner.

The installation was very easy with the Metra 95-8202 dash kit and Metra 70-1761 wiring harness. The phone support from Metra was good when I called with several questions - the Toyota wiring harness was not a color match (which does not matter) and had a 3rd plug that would go to steering wheel controls if the vehicle had them.

Once installed the deck was easy to dial in colorwise to the other dash lights by following the instructions and some trial and error.

The set up with the iPhone was easy and the deck recognizes the phone as soon as my wife gets in. Calls are clear through the speaker system, though the mic does seem to better pick up the drivers voice than the passengers - which is preferable for most situations, unless you want a conference call in your vehicle.

The bluetooth integration with the iPhone does not allow the deck to control the menus like it does if it is connected via USB. This would be nice, but is not a big deal for us.

Volume and sound quality for the music is good, but I imagine that if you really wanted to rock out in your car, you would pair this with an amp. Might do that later, but this is my wife's car, so maybe then again, I won't.

The one thing that I wish the deck did better was radio reception - the OEM deck seemed to pull in local stations better.
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on August 23, 2012
After nearly 1 year using, I am quite disappointed on this unit. The display is very of bad quality. First of all under sun, it's really hard to read.
Secondly, I started to see display problems...missing letter.
Clarion really has to improve the display...compared to Pionneer, it is way too far.

***OLD REVIEW*****
OK, I now tested the product. The quality of the sound is great, lot of options on the equalizers.
However, to setup the bluetooth for the cellphone is nearly impossible if you do not read the instructions. This is not intuitive enough...Another issue you will find in this product is you can hardly read the display if setup on a Toyota Sienna. As the audio systeme is inclined, with sunlight, the screen is very weak. You'll have to put on max contrast and on a color that can be readable on direct sunlight. This is too bad, as display is very an easy issue to solve...and not that expensive to manufacture.
Other problem, when you connect your iPhone through USB, you can't read anything on the iPhone anymore.
If you write a CD with musics classified as different folders, it won't be able to read it !
Overall, the product is good in sound quality.
Seller is serious.
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on May 23, 2011
Bought this for my 2001 Pontiac Grand Am GT as a replacement for the factory headunit. My car originally had the premium Monsoon stereo, but I was told while it had an external amplifier, it was held back by the not so great Delco head unit. I popped this radio in via a Scosche GM wiring harness from Walmart for $30 and it worked nearly perfectly. Sound is crisp and clear and a vast improvement over the old headunit.

I chose a double din radio because I want to preserve the "stock" look to act as a deterrent against stereo thieves (my 95 Suburban recently had its single din radio stolen). With this radio it's kind of a "have to look twice" to realize it's not the factory radio. And most radio thieves don't give a rip about factory radios. The only problem is that Clarion is on the front of the radio in large enough print. Perhaps I'll have to get a sticker that says Dual or Jensen.lol

Overall sound quality over all the inputs I've used has been very good. The bass is very good, almost too good in fact as my rear deck speakers are probably being pushed to their limits now. Radio reception is pretty good, not quite as good as factory, but good. And that may be due to the fact that I have to use an antenna wire adapter.

I love the customizable face colors. I have a Pontiac and they have red interior, at night the radio totally looks like it's the factory unit.

I picked this unit over it's older sibling the Clarion CX609 because of the way the Bluetooth is implemented. In the CX609 you have to run a microphone and a wire up your A-pillar or wherever you want it (I don't have the patience to do that) with the CX501 it's integrated into the unit itself and with adjustable gain/sensitivity it works very well. It's so convenient.

A weakness is the interface, it's not the most complicated radio I've used but the ease of use from a factory radio is definitely missed. Sometimes when in iPod mode if I'm in a playlist and want to select another song in the playlist, I have to go back out to the top iPod menu then >music>playlists>playlist I want>song I want. Other time it allows me to browse within the playlist without going through the menus again. And I can't figure out why it does that sometimes.

Also installation was kind of a pain. Both do to engineering choices by Clarion and by GM/Pontiac. The space behind the radio is very tight. I originally learned about this unit at crutchfield.com and they said I might have to modify the space to fit the radio. I didn't have to do that, but it's very close fit, and probably would benefit from cutting the rear support bracket. That said, the clearance issue wasn't due to the radio itself, but the RCA jacks coming out of the rear of the unit. Most radios I've seen have female RCA jack ports in the back for adding on an amplifier. This radio has female RCA jack wires in the back meaning that even if you don't use an amplifier, you still have the RCA jacks coming out of the back of the radio. And they go right up against the rear mounting bracket in my car. Had these just been empty ports, my installation would have been relatively easy. But it does work and it does fit in a 2001 Pontiac Grand Am. It's not the prettiest install, but it is doable.

Also, the illumination/dimming feature doesn't seem to be working on my unit. I have the setting on, but when my headlights come on everything dims to the night setting except the radio. Now this could be a defect in my unit or a defect in my data harness (the one from Walmart). It's not a big issue though, at least not for me. I'm going to give Clarion the benefit of the doubt and say it's a problem with the data harness by Scosche, since I bought it from Walmart.

Overall, I'm loving this radio and am glad I decided to go with it. I recommend it, but if you have a 2001 Pontiac Grand Am, I'd keep a radio shop on speed dial, I came really close to giving up and having my local shop install it.lol

Oh, and the price here on Amazon is a really really good price. It's $50 less than Crutchfield and the few radio shops that carry it.
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