The Sony DSX-A510BD is a single-DIN car stereo with DAB/DAB+, FM, Bluetooth, USB playback and aux-in.
Sony has been making car stereos for decades and the DSX-A510BD is one of their recent mech-less models. This means that the stereo doesn’t have a CD player, instead relying on digital media (and aux-in).
In the Sony DSX-A510BD box
The car stereo comes with a mounting bracket, removal keys, protection trim, power adapter lead and instruction manual. A DAB windscreen antenna was also included with our unit.
Before installing the radio the mounting cage gets removed with the included removal keys.
The manual is comprehensive and has 37 pages of English operating instructions. As we would expect from a Sony car stereo the instructions are well written and easy to follow. The menu options are documented and there are plenty of troubleshooting steps should they be needed.
We won’t be using the included DAB antenna as we already have one installed, but it’s good to see one doesn’t need to be bought separately.
Installation and Setup
To install the radio we removed the factory fitted radio with the appropriate removal keys. The mounting bracket was then slid into the single-DIN aperture. The claws on the cage were then folded out to secure it in the radio slot.
The car we’re installing the radio in has standard ISO connectors which plug into the supplied wiring adapter. This is then plugged into the back of the radio with the separate FM/AM and DAB antennas. After pushing the radio into the cage and we switched it on for the first time and it scanned for DAB stations.
All the DAB digital radio stations we would expect to receive were found by the radio. The demo mode and beep sound on button presses were both easy to switch off in the menu. Something we would normally do when setting up a car radio is change the illumination colour to match the car. We were surprised to see this feature isn’t included in the DSX-A510BD. The result is the radio is lit in blue in contrast to the orange behind the rest of the car’s dials and switches.
Controls for the volume, changing the source and choosing radio stations or music are sensibly laid out. Volume is controlled with a rotary knob which makes adjusting the volume easier while driving. Aux-in and the USB port are found on the front of the radio.
Radio modes with the Sony DSX-A510BD
Digital radio stations are received in the DAB/DAB+ mode while FM, AM and LW stations are found in the tuner mode.
The most noticeable feature of the DAB/DAB+ mode is the alphabetical sorting of stations. Unlike portable digital radios, many car stereos organise stations by ensemble. This means that the BBC’s national stations are separate from other national stations. These are again separate from local services.
Digital radio stations received by the Sony DSX-A510BD can be browsed by station name, in a ‘Quick-BrowZer™’ mode by pressing the search button and using the rotary control, or in the station group (ensemble) mode.
This is very useful, especially with the ongoing launch of small-scale DAB multiplexes. The number of DAB stations available in these areas can exceed one hundred.
Reception of DAB/DAB+ and analogue radio stations was very good in our experience. We paired the radio with a Celsus windscreen antenna and the factory FM/AM antenna. We were able to listen to all the digital stations that should be available.
Bluetooth and USB
Playback of music, podcasts and audio books is possible with the Bluetooth mode. We connected the Sony stereo to a Google Pixel phone with no problems. Playback of music, podcasts from Pocketcasts and Internet radio stations all worked fine.
Pressing and holding the volume knob for 2 seconds launches voice recognition (with Android) or Siri Eyes Free (with an iPhone). Being able to use voice commands without touching the phone is very useful.
Music and other audio files on a USB stick play in the USB mode. According to the specifications the radio will play MP3, WMA, AAC and FLAC file formats. Support for these formats is useful as you don’t need to re-encode your FLAC or AAC files as is the case with devices that only support MP3 and WMA.
As well as USB sticks the stereo supports playback from iPods and iPhones.
In our experience playback from USB and Bluetooth worked well. As a mech-less device the stereo doesn’t play CDs.
Handsfree phone calls are made and received over Bluetooth. After establishing the connection it’s possible to accept calls with the CALL button. Phone calls are also started through the CALL button from the phone book, call history or by inputting a phone number.
The stereo uses a microphone that’s built-in to the front panel. This makes the radio easier to install but we would prefer to have a dedicated microphone positioned near the driver.
The Sony DSX-A510BD is a good entry-level DAB car stereo. If your priorities are listening to DAB radio stations and your own music this Sony would be a good option.
There are some common features which are missing from this stereo. Most car stereos which can make and receive calls come with an external microphone, but this radio opts for a built-in mic in the front panel. It’s a shame that changing the illumination colour isn’t possible. We would also have liked to see auto-dimming with the car lights which has been common on stereos for years.
The Sony DSX-A510BD is easy to use, received all the radio stations we would expect and looks pretty smart. It’s difficult to make the case for the £160 price tag on the Sony website, but it’s worth considering if on sale for less.