Skip Navigation


CD receiver with MP3/WMA/AAC playback

16 Reviews

Find what fits your vehicle

Can't find your exact vehicle?

Item # 158GT81UW

This item is no longer available.

Shop all Car Stereos


Our take on the Sony CDX-GT81UW

Give your portable tunes the benefit of killer sound from Sony's CDX-GT81UW CD receiver. Just plug your portable audio player into the auxiliary or USB inputs on the motorized faceplate, and pipe the music straight into the stereo. You'll enjoy fast audio and text transfer when using a USB-capable music player, and your portable stays charged while it's connected to the stereo. Just add Sony's iPod adapter to control and charge your iPod®.

Give your portable tunes the benefit of killer sound from Sony's CDX-GT81UW CD receiver. Just plug your portable audio player into the auxiliary or USB inputs on the motorized faceplate, and pipe the music straight into the stereo. You'll enjoy fast audio and text transfer when using a USB-capable music player, and your portable stays charged while it's connected to the stereo. Just add Sony's iPod adapter to control and charge your iPod®.

Sony's top-of-the-line CD deck brings out the best possible performance from your CDs. It'll play MP3, WMA, AAC, and Sony's ATRAC3 music formats, so load up a single disc for days of entertainment. Spin the volume knob, and listen to the impressive built-in amplifier bring new life and power to your speaker system.

Are your speakers down near the floor in your ride? The "Dynamic Soundstage Organizer" feature "raises" the soundstage so that the music sounds like it's coming from ear level. The 3-band parametric EQ allows you to select which high, midrange, and low frequencies you want to adjust, giving you optimal flexibility. The BBE® MP feature gives your compressed music files more body and depth, so they sound more like the original uncompressed songs.

When you need to change discs, the motorized faceplate slides down to reveal the CD slot, then glides effortlessly back into place after you insert a CD. The fluorescent display creates text that's vibrant and clear, so you'll be able read song titles with a quick glance.


christopher, camp pendleton CA

What's in the Box:

  • AM/FM/CD receiver
  • 10-amp fuse (installed)
  • Face
  • Protective face case
  • Sleeve
  • Trim ring
  • Wiring harness
  • Wireless remote control (RM-X152)
  • CR2025 Lithium battery (installed in remote)
  • 2 Radio removal tools
  • 4 Flathead ISO-mount screws
  • Face security screw
  • USB port cap
  • Operating Instructions (English/Spanish)
  • Installation/Connections sheet (English/Spanish)
  • Warranty information
  • Note on installing face security screw
  • Note on USB cap
  • Contact number for installation assistance
  • Note about removing rear cover before installation

Product Highlights:

    General features:
    • CD player with built-in amplifier (17 watts RMS/52 peak x 4 channels)
    • plays CDs, CD-Rs, and CD-RW discs, including discs loaded with MP3, WMA, AAC, and ATRAC3plus music files (except Digital Rights-protected files)
    • motorized, detachable face with a fluorescent display
    • switchable blue or red button lighting
    • remote control
    Audio features:
    • Dynamic Soundstage Organizer
    • EQ3 (seven preset tone curves and a 3-band parametric equalizer)
    • compatible with Sony's iPod adapter, HD Radio™ tuner, and satellite radio (tuner, subscription, and antenna required)
    • inputs: front-panel auxiliary and USB inputs
    • outputs: three sets of 4-volt preamp outputs
    Other features and specs:

    Sony CDX-GT81UW Reviews

    Average Customer Review(s):

    (16 Reviews)
    rewards card

    Submit a review and enter to win a $350 rewards card

    Review this product

    Thanks for submitting your review

    Most reviews are processed and published within 5 business days. You will receive a confirmation email once your review has been published.

    Your Review

    Use the stars below to rate the overall product on a scale of 1-5
    Upload your photos

    Not visible. Email associated with order.
    (e.g., Charlottesville, VA)

    Additional Fields (optional)


    By submitting this review, you agree to our terms and review guidelines.

    Filter by rating

    Customer photos

    << >>

    Hands-on research

    Features and Specs

    AUX Input Front and Optional Rear
    Audio/video Input ---
    USB Input Front
    CarPlay No
    Android Auto No
    Siri Control No
    Android Control No
    Memory Card Slot No
    Bluetooth Compatible No
    Satellite Radio Ready Both
    HD Radio Optional
    Navigation ---
    iPod Compatibility
    Full size ---
    Nano ---
    Touch ---
    iPhone ---
    CEA-2006 Compliant Yes
    RMS Power Output 17 watts
    Peak Output 52 watts
    RMS Power Bandwidth 20-20kHz
    Preamp Outputs 6-channel
    Sub Preamp Outputs Yes
    Switchable Rear Preamp Outputs No
    Video Screen No
    Preamp Voltage 4 volts
    Display Color Blue
    Key Button Color Blue or Red
    EQ Bands 3
    Wireless Remote Yes
    Steering Wheel Control Compatible ---
    Parts Warranty 1 Year
    Labor Warranty 1 Year
    FM Sensitivity 9 dBf
    European Tuning No
    Seek/Scan Seek
    Radio Data System No

    Product Research

    External Device Controls


    Drive S: The CDX-GT81UW features the Drive S chassis platform. Drive S includes the CD mechanism, audio stages, 12 volt power supply, and tuner section. The CD mechanism includes a suspension to resist shocks, a motor that draws less power, and a fast low-current pickup that improves durability and CD playback accuracy. The 52W Peak x 4-channel S-MOSFET Power IC produces clearer, more accurate sound, less distortion, and a higher signal-to-noise ratio than previous designs.

    Motorized Detachable Face: The CDX-GT81UW features a motorized detachable face for theft prevention. The front panel can be set to 3 angled positions or flat. If you turn off the ignition without removing the face (and you're using the built-in amplifier), a caution alarm will beep for a few seconds.

    3D Fluorescent Display: The receiver has a 3-dimensional fluorescent motion display with selectable images. Choose between 3 motion displays, 5 spectrum analyzer patterns, or 3 wallpaper backgrounds. The display will also rotate among all the patterns in any of those three categories automatically, or rotate among the patterns in all categories. You can also turn the background display off, so just the numbers and text are displayed.

    Compressed Audio File Capability: In addition to audio CDs, CD-Rs and CD-RWs, the receiver will play MP3, WMA, AAC, and ATRAC (ATRAC3 and ATRAC3plus) compressed audio files stored on a CD-R or CD-RW. Below are the requirements and features for compressed audio file playback:

    • ISO: compatible with the ISO 9660 level 1 / level 2 format, Joliet/Romeo in the expansion format, and Multi Session
    • The Maximum number of:
      • folders or albums is 150 including root and empty folders
      • files or tracks and folders contained in a disc: 300 (or less if a folder/file names contain many characters)
      • displayable characters for a folder/file name is 32 (Joliet) or 64 (Romeo)
    • Playback Functions:
      • Track Skip
      • Folder Skip
      • Track Repeat
      • Album/Folder Repeat
      • Album/Folder Shuffle
      • Disc Shuffle

    Compressed Audio Display Information: The CD receiver's display can display the following information: Track number/Elapsed playing time, Disc/Artist Name, Album/Group Number, Album/Group Name, Track Name, Text Information and Clock.

    Radio Tuning: The CDX-GT81UW allows you to manual tune or seek tune AM/FM stations. In the Local Seek Mode, the unit will only tune in stations with very strong signals during Seek tuning. The Mono Mode allows you improve poor FM reception by selecting a monaural signal instead of a stereo signal. The radio features 5 memory bands to store and receive AM/FM stations. You can store up to 6 presets each in FM1, FM2, FM3, AM1 and AM2. Other tuner features include:

    • Best Tuning Memory (BTM): This feature selects stations with the best signals within the selected band and stores them in order of their frequency. You can select from FM1, FM2, FM3, AM1, and AM2.
    • Manual Tuning: You can manually tune and find your favorite radio stations one by one for FM1, FM2, FM3, AM1, and AM2.
    • Auto Tuning: You can use the seek button to help you search quickly through the available stations and then choose your own presets from these available stations.
    • IF (Intermediate Frequency): You can choose "Auto" to narrow automatically the reception frequency to eliminate noise, or "Wide" to always hear FM stereo broadcasts in stereo and with full frequency signal reception.

    EQ3 Parametric: EQ3 Parametric offers 7 EQ presets, each of which has a preset value for 3 bands: Low, Middle, and High. You can choose from two center frequencies for each band: Low (60Hz or 100Hz), Mid (500Hz or 1kHz), and High (10kHz or 12.5kHz). The EQ presets and the band values are as follows:

    • Xplod: Low: +10, Middle: +4, High: +4
    • Vocal: Low: +4, Middle: +8, High: +2
    • Edge: Low: +6, Middle: -2, High: +7
    • Cruise: Low: +3, Middle: +4, High: +2
    • Space: Low: +4, Middle: +5, High: +8
    • Gravity: Low: +8, Middle: 0, High: +2
    • Custom: Adjustable -10dB to +10dB for each band

    Dynamic Soundstage Organizer (DSO): Sony's Dynamic Soundstage Organizer uses proprietary circuitry to induce subtle phase shifts, simulating a sound source that is placed higher than the actual speakers in the vehicle. For example, when the DSO function is used in a vehicle equipped with speakers mounted low in the front doors, it creates virtual speakers in the dash to raise the soundstage. This unit offers three levels of DSO, each with a larger and higher soundstage. You can store the DSO setting for each source.

    BBE MP: The BBE MP process improves digitally compressed sound, such as MP3, by restoring and enhancing the harmonics lost through compression. BBE MP works by re-generating harmonics from the source material, effectively recovering warmth, details, and nuance.

    Amplifier Section: The head unit's amplifier is CEA-2006 compliant and rated at 17 watts RMS x 4 channels at 4 Ohms and 1% THD. The unit is also rated at 23.2 watts per channel minimum continuous average power into 4 ohms, 4 channels driven from 20 Hz to 20 kHz with no more than 5% THD. Peak power is rated at 52 watts per channel.

    Preamp Outputs: The CDX-GT81UW has three pair of RCA preamp outputs for the front, rear, and subwoofer channels. The subwoofer output is non-fading and has a low pass filter with a selectable cut-off frequency of 125Hz, 78Hz, or Off (full range). The subwoofer volume is adjustable from -10 to +10 (relative to the main volume).

    Front Panel Auxiliary Input: A front panel stereo 3.5mm mini-jack is provided to allow the connection of a portable audio source. Just connect your portable cassette, MD or MP3 player to this unit, and you can listen to the audio from the portable player through the speakers in your mobile audio system. The level for the auxiliary source can be set in the menu to more closely match the head unit's other sources. The level is adjustable from -8dB to 0dB to +18dB.

    USB Input: The receiver is equipped with a Type A USB input for plugging in USB devices such as flash drives or Sony Walkman portable MP3 players. The head unit can play music files stored on the USB device in MP3, WMA, AAC, or ATRAC formats. When playing a USB device, the display can indicate track/album/group number, disc/artist/album/group/track name, elapsed playing time, text information, or clock. A USB cap is supplied to place in the USB input when it is not in use.

    Note: Compatible USB devices include Sony Flash Memory and Hard Drive Walkman MP3 players, and select flash drives from Dikom, Hama, Memorex, Integral, Philips, PNY Electronics, and SanDisk.

    Mounting Angle: For flexibility of installation, this unit can be mounted between 0 (horizontal) and 45 degrees.

    Display Illumination/Clock Display: Pressing the Off button once will turn off audio output, but the clock display and face/button illumination remain on. This makes the clock display and face/button illumination "Keyed" instead of "Unit On" only. To turn the unit off completely, you must press the Off button for two seconds.

    Auto Off: When installing in a vehicle without an accessory power wire at the radio location, you can set the unit to turn off all lighting a set amount of time after you turn the power off. The Auto Off feature can be set to 30 seconds, 30 minutes, 60 minutes, or No.

    Illumination Mode: The CDX-GT81UW features an automatic illumination mode to dim the brightness of the display. You can choose between "Auto" (display dims automatically when vehicle lights are turned on), "On" (display dimmed) or "Off" (display at full brightness). Note: In order for the "Auto" dimmer to work, the orange/white wire in the head unit's wiring harness must be connected to the vehicle light circuit.

    Auto Scroll: This feature allows long names to scroll automatically across the display when the track is changed on a disc.

    Eject: The CD disc can be ejected with the power off. The CD player will automatically reinsert the disc if it's ejected but not removed for 15 seconds or more.

    Remote Control: This unit comes with a card-style remote commander, RM-X152. In addition to common commands, the remote also allows you to mute the audio, and select and store radio presets. The unit also has a 3.5mm minijack input for the optional RM-X4S wired rotary commander. In addition, the PAC SWI-PS steering wheel remote interface is compatible with this head unit.

    External Device Controls

    iPod Ready: You can connect an iPod to this unit and control it via the front panel controls and remote. The optional XA-110IP iPod Control Interface (item number 158XA110IP) is required.

    Satellite Radio Ready: There are several options for connecting an optional XM or SIRIUS Satellite Radio receiver to this receiver:

    • XM Satellite Radio: To receive XM Satellite Radio, you can connect the optional CNP2000UC XM Mini Tuner (220CNP20UC) and the Sony CNP-SON1 adapter cable (package item number 700XMSON1).
    • SIRIUS Satellite Radio: To receive SIRIUS Satellite Radio, you can connect the optional SIRIUS SIR-SNY1 Satellite Tuner for Sony (item # 607SIRSNY1).
    • Auxiliary Input: A portable satellite radio receiver, such as the Delphi SkyFi3 or SIRIUS Sportster, can be connected to the head unit via the auxiliary input or the Sony XA-300 UniLink Auxiliary Input Adapter--158XA300.

      Note: A subscription is also required to receive satellite radio programming from SIRIUS or XM.

    HD Radio Ready: The CDX-GT81UW is compatible with Sony's optional XT-100HD add-on HD Tuner (sold separately) through its UniLink Bus connection. HD Radio technology, where available, offers higher quality sound than conventional analog broadcasts and receives text data. HD Radio provides FM broadcasts that are equal to CD sound quality and AM broadcasts that are as good as analog FM stereo broadcasts. HD Radio also provides a variety of data, including station name, song title, artist name, album name, etc. Once connected, all AM and FM broadcasts are received by the XT-100HD. HD appears as an additional source, with five preset banks; HD1 (FM1), HD2 (FM2), HD3 (FM3), HD4 (AM1), and HD5 (AM2). In addition to conventional broadcasts, with HD Radio broadcasting it is possible to choose from up to 8 multicast programs (HD1 to HD8 and analog). There are also data programs for each program.

    Changer Controls: This unit is compatible with Sony UniLink CD/MP3 and MD changers.

    Multiple Changer Control: A maximum of 5 CD changers, 5 CD/MP3 changers, or 5 MD changers may be connected to this receiver. When connecting CD, CD/MP3 and MD changers, you may connect up to a total of 7 changers (but there must not be more than 5 of one type of changer). When connecting more than one changer to this receiver, you must use the Sony XA-C40 (item number 158XAC40) source selectors (up to three).

    Optional Auxiliary Input: In addition to the front panel aux input, you can connect another auxiliary audio device (such as a portable digital memory player, cassette, MiniDisc, or VCR) when used with the optional XA-300 UniLink Auxiliary Input Adapter (item number 158XA300). The XA-300 uses the UniLink and Bus Audio inputs on the back of the receiver, and allows you to connect an optional CD/MD changer in addition to the auxiliary audio source.


    Our Product Research Team

    At Crutchfield, you'll get detailed, accurate information that's hard to find elsewhere. That's because we have our own in-house Product Research team. They verify what’s in the box, check the owner's manual, and record dimensions, features and specs. We stay on top of new products and technologies to help people make informed choices.