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Groundbreaking Pioneer car stereos

Get around typical dash openings with modular receivers

Crutchfield International Advisor Lex often gets calls from customers trying to find stereos for vehicles with challenging dashes. We gave him a chance to get hands-on with two new digital media receivers, the Pioneer DMH-C2550NEX and Pioneer DMH-C5500NEX, both of which feature modular designs so their screens can be mounted separately from their chassis units. He tried the stereos out at his desk, so he was able to evaluate their user interfaces, displays, and phone integration.

Lex holding Pioneer DMH-C5500NEX digital media receiver

Out-of-the-box impressions

"There's no easy way to describe the feeling you’ll get as you unbox Pioneer's new DMH-C5500NEX media receiver — that sense of awe as you gawk at the sheer size of the screen, even before you pull off the plastic sleeve. The 8" screen, a bit heavier than expected, slides onto your hands and immediately makes its presence known. Instinct immediately draws your fingers to the tablet-like receiver. But how different is this from the 6.8" Pioneer DMH-C2550NEX receiver, and how do they stack up to other receivers out there?"

Pioneer DMH modular receivers

You can choose to mount PIoneer's modular display unit directly to its chassis or mount the chassis nearby if your dash opening is challenging.

Two separate units working together

"Each receiver is connected to its chassis by a 12-inch cord (longer extensions are available if you need more distance), which allows for optimum screen placement on the dash. Custom installers now have even more creative options available to put the screen higher or lower, even in areas with limited mounting depth. The DMH-C5500NEX will likely require some customization for most installations, but vehicle-specific dash kits should be available soon."

Side view of Pioneer DMH-C2500NEX

The DMH-C2550NEX's display unit’s shallow depth of just one inch lets it go nearly anywhere, as long as it can connect to the separate control unit.


Stacked with features

The DMH-C2550NEX and DMH-C5500NEX are essentially the same receiver, with the main differences being the screen size and the lack of hard buttons on the larger stereo. "Regardless of which you choose, you will have all the latest bells and whistles you’d want in a car receiver.  Apple CarPlay® and Android Auto™ are both supported, which is perfect for platform-divided homes such as mine. I personally like the built-in HD Radio® tuner and easy access to streaming apps like Spotify and Pandora. I also enjoy the Radio Data System (RDS) support. With that, I no longer need to scramble with third-party apps to find the name of a new song I like when it plays on my radio."

Pioneer DMH-C2550NEX digital media receiver

The DMH-C2550NEX features hard buttons on the side and a 6.8" touchscreen

Amazing displays that are sensitive and fast

One other key difference between the two stereos is that the DMH-C5500NEX's capacitive touchscreen offers pinch-to-zoom control, while the DMH-C2550NEX employs a traditional resistive touch display. In both cases, Lex was mighty impressed: "But the real beauty didn’t reveal itself until I turned them on. I had the chance to have them both side-by-side, and the response time on both was incredible. They have among the fastest response times I’ve seen on any touchscreen receiver. Once my fingers were in place, I could access any feature with the lightest touch."

Save time with simple and accessible interfaces

"Display icons are clear, sharp, crisp, and just the right size to populate the screen without it feeling cluttered. And for those like me who enjoy having the album art for each song on display, just click on the home button while listening to your song and the art will fall front and center! Menus are simple and accessible, even with all the EQ options provided for those who want to perfect their soundstage. There’s no digging in sub-menus to find what you need; everything is accessed quickly and easily within the same list under the 'Audio' tab."

Pioneer DMH-C5500NEX digital media receiver

The DMH-C5500NEX has an 8" capacitive touchscreen

Easy Bluetooth® pairing

"Connecting my phone via Bluetooth is just as effortless. In fact, it was so seamless that my phone was already connected to the receiver before I realized it was done! There’s no tedious searching in the menu to connect the phone, no juggling back-and-forth between phone and receiver, and no passwords or codes. I just tap on the Bluetooth icon (while the phone is disconnected from CarPlay or Android Auto), select my device from the list, and that’s it!"

Final recommendations

Although Lex didn't get to evaluate these receivers in terms of sound quality, he got enough hands-on experience to share these thoughts: "Both the DMH-C2550NEX and the DMH-C5500NEX are among the best receivers out there. Both are easy to navigate and stocked with must-have features. The most difficult aspect of either receiver is choosing which one to go with!"

"On one hand, the C5500NEX's 8" display is a sight to behold, but it unfortunately won’t fit most dash setups. It’ll be perfect for anyone who owns a RAM, Silverado, or a similar truck with a larger dash, especially if you’re willing to modify your vehicle and fabricate your own dash kit."

"But for the average driver like me, who cannot count on much dash space, the C2550NEX is a perfect fit. All of the same features are there, it’s easier to install, and the still-impressive 6.8" screen is nothing to frown at. You really can't go wrong with either option!"

We can help you choose the right receiver

Big thanks go out to Lex for taking the time to help us out. 

If you want to know more about the Pioneer DMH-C550NEX, DMH-C2550NEX, or other touchscreen digital media stereos, contact us by chat, phone, or email. Our friendly and knowledgeable advisors will be glad to help.

  • Rick Warwick from East Freetown

    Posted on 10/18/2019

    Are the screens interchangeable? I currently have the 6.8 in my Ferrari, but could fit the 8" with no issues. Also, is there a finished casing for the back of the screen? If surface mounted the side looks unfinished.

    Commenter image

    Dominic DeVito from Crutchfield

    on 11/27/2019

    Hi Rick - Thanks for your questions. Apologies for the delay in responding, but I wanted to reach out to Pioneer directly to get a response. They let me know that the screens are NOT interchangeable - to install the 8" screen, you'd also need to install a new control unit.
    Regarding your second question: Metra offers a mounting kit, the part number is 108-UN02. This creates a 1-DIN or 2-DIN mount for the 8 inch screen. Here is a YouTube video on the install kit for the 8" screen.
  • Dale from Dekalb

    Posted on 8/28/2019

    How would i install this in a 02 dodg dakota without cutting the dash up. I have a single din opening.

    Commenter image

    Dominic DeVito from Crutchfield

    on 8/29/2019

    Hi Dale - A question like this is better answered in conversation with a real live human about your different options. I've sent your inquiry along to our Advisors so someone should be getting back with you soon. If you would like an answer now, you can always reach out via email, chat, or phone.
  • dana hill from Boston, MA

    Posted on 7/15/2019

    For those cars with a separate rearview screen from the oem double din radio (being replaced with the pioneer 2550), can the factory rearview screen (14 odyssey lx) function be preserved?

    Commenter image

    Dominic DeVito from Crutchfield

    on 7/15/2019

    Hi Dana - It appears that you can keep your factory rear-view camera and screen with the DMH-C2550NEX receiver in your Odyssey, but I recommend reaching out to one of our Advisors via email, chat, or phone first just to double-check if you need any adapters or other gear. Just click that "Contact Us" icon at the top of this page and someone will give you a more definitive answer very quickly!
  • William Souther from Asheville

    Posted on 6/13/2019

    With both being such an awesome head unit and the nice larger screen sizes. Why does pioneer not offer these units with wifi capabilities? I've had the Ebay android tablet head units which are 10"or larger and probably a quarter of the price of this unit. Granted the sound quality was no where near the same as any pioneer I've ever owned. But the fact that I could hotspot my phone to the recievers wifi and have unlimited option available. If a generic Chinese head unit that cost couple hundred bucks can have that technology why cant a top of the line company like pioneer install that same technology?

    Commenter image

    Dominic DeVito from Crutchfield

    on 6/14/2019

    Hi William - Thanks for your comment. We do communicate with our vendors regarding customer inquiries like this so we'll pass your concerns along to Pioneer. In the meantime, you could let your feelings be known directly to Pioneer by using the Contact Us page on the Pioneer Electronics USA website. If you have further questions about head units that we carry, one of our Advisors will be happy to help via email, chat, or phone.
  • Commenter image

    Dominic DeVito from Crutchfield

    Posted on 6/3/2019

    Hi Danny - Looking at photos of the stock Ford stereos you're talking about, I would say the Pioneer receivers in this article have somewhat different physical dimensions. However, that doesn't mean the Pioneers won't fit those dash openings, either with or without some dash modification. Try using our vehicle guide as a starting point for the cars and stereos you're thinking of to see if they'll fit, or reach out to one of our advisors and discuss possible solutions which might work.

  • Greg from Ontario

    Posted on 5/20/2019

    Is the android auto and car play capability wired or wireless? Also what are the outputs and inputs for amps and cameras

    Commenter image

    Alexander H. from Crutchfield

    on 5/23/2019

    Greg, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are wired. As far as inputs/outputs go, you're looking at: inputs: rear USB input, two rear audio/video inputs, dual camera inputs (second input uses a rear A/V input) outputs: video output, 6-channel preamp outputs (4-volt front, rear, sub)
  • Jaime cervantes from Eagle Pass,TX

    Posted on 5/18/2019

    How do you hold it to the dashboard ? And how will be conected to factory car stereo

    Commenter image

    Alexander H. from Crutchfield

    on 5/20/2019

    Jamie, for the 8" version of the receiver vehicle-specific dash kits are coming soon. Currently, a Jeep Wrangler version is available as well as a universal trim ring for custom installations. You'll find links for those two kits on the DMH-C5500NEX item page.
  • Danny from Dalton, GA.

    Posted on 5/12/2019

    Could one of these heads replace the "L" shape radios that are found in select Ford/Lincoln/Mercury vehicles including late 90's to early 2000s Crown Victoria,Grand Markes and Town Car?

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