Product Reviews

Sony XAV-AX5500 Review – The New Sony King in 2021?

Sony XAV-AX5500 Review - The New Sony King in 2021?


Sony has handed the torch to the Sony XAV-AX5500 for 2021. First going on sale in early 2018, the Sony XAV-AX range has been an international superstar selling strongly and consistently in all corners of the world.

Headed by the flagship unit, the Sony XAV-AX5000, Sony has firmly placed itself as a strong, reliable force within the In-Car Entertainment segment. As time goes on, new technologies emerge, feature lists have new things added and models must advance.  Was this a good move? Can this unit fill the shoes of its older brother? Follow on and we’ll find out.

To fully understand if we’re advancing here with the Sony XAV-AX5500, we first need to become comfortable with the outgoing unit, the Sony XAV-AX5000. The Japanese electronic giant has always been about combining cutting edge design with feature-packed devices that “just work.” This is maybe the main ingredient to their worldwide success?

Racking up points with Bluetooth 5.0, tight and complete Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, super-fast bootup times, 5-Channel Amp Pre-Outs, Subwoofer control, and their own flavour of digital sound processing dubbed Dynamic Stage Organiser (DSO). It’s only made better by their class-beating budget price-tag. A flagship under $800!

What’s In The Box?

The big question with this is, what do you get for your dollars? What is needed that’s not here and what cool little presents do Sony surprise you with?

Inside your compact box, you’re going to find the usual inclusions for AV. Make sure that your box contains everything it’s supposed to, otherwise, the installation will end badly… or funnily, depending on your sense of humour.

  • The Sony XAV-AX5500 chassis
  • Primary wiring harness
  • Steering Wheel Control adaptor harness
  • Remote control (because they won’t stop making them)
  • External Boom microphone
  • USB (Type-A) extension cord
  • Owners Manual

First Impressions Matter.

After taking the Sony XAV-AX5500 out of the box, the most notable aspects are the screen 🤤 and the chassis size/layout. Keeping with their recent trend, it’s a super-sleek, delectable 7-inch (actually 6.95-inch, but close enough) double-din screen with a single-din chassis.

Because this, and all of the XAV-AX range, is a mech-less device it doesn’t have a mechanical drive. Meaning no CD and no DVD. This means that the rear of the chassis can be smaller, measuring at a slim 137mm (5.4-inch) depth. Making installing it in cars with not a lot of room, like Audi’s and Mercedes, a literal breeze. You’ve got a bunch of room to loop and hide your cables and wires after installation.

It’s hard to pin-point why it does, but it just looks good

Potentially the best thing about the XAV-AX5500 over the outgoing XAV-AX5000 is that screen update. It’s delicious. Measuring 6.95-inches, its capacitive touch-screen performance is on par with the latest smartphones. The overall look and feel of the XAV-AX5500 is premium.

Oh, That Booty!

Plugs, connections and bits. The Sony XAV-AX5500 has every connection you’d want. Flip the unit around and have a look at the rear panel and you’ll find some fun.

Sony XAV-AX5500 Review

Dual USB Input

Dual USB inputs allow a phone to be connected via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto as well as another device. Charge two phones or have your phone and a USB thumb drive connected to your unit.

Primary Harness

This harness connects to your car’s power, speakers, remote, and amplifier (if present). Pair an Aerpro APP9SP4 or APP8SP4 for a completely plug-n-play experience.

External Microphone Input

Input for the external Boom microphone providing high-quality voice performance for voice commands and Bluetooth calls.

Reverse Camera RCA Input

Connect any RCA Reverse camera to lift your parking game, or to keep things a little safer.

5V Pre-Outs

Enough pre-outs to fill-out a full system upgrade. Front, Rear and Sub 5V pre-outs provide superpower for your forever system.

Power On!

Once this thing kicks on and gets going you can really tell that the Sony XAV-AX5500 has been designed to look at home in even the most exotic luxury models. A well-matched fascia kit will deliver a sleek, snug installation that showcases the bezel-less design of the display.

With one of the fastest boot times in the industry, you’re closer to grooving to your tunes. The design of the Sony UI feels similar to an iOS product. It’s simple, clean and direct. There are no menus inside menus to get to the base features you’re going to want easy access to. Just clean, simple and large icons.

What’s WebLink®?

One of the biggest changes to this new King from Sony is WebLink®. Devices that don’t fit in the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto lane, WebLink® comes to the rescue. Allowing mirroring of certain applications and features that aren’t traditionally available through wired or wireless Apple CarPlay Android Auto.

In a stationary vehicle, watching YouTube videos is possible and a real treat

Better Sound? Okay DSO Is Actually Good!

It seems that every manufacturer has their software powered sound processing that creates amazing from nothing. Often, this whole idea is a collection of the Marketing Department’s vomit and buzzwords.

With Sony’s 10-band graphic equalizer and Dynamic Stage Organizer (DSO), it’s actually a thing. It works by creating a teeny-tiny delay in the physical speakers leading to a virtual speaker being created in front of your face improving the sound stage making everything sound nicer and more natural.

Filling out Sony’s sound processing flex is what they call their Dynamic Reality Amp 2. At the end of the day, it’s the internal amp that they use to give the speakers a little jump over the factory and 55W (or around 22WRMS) per channel.

Yeah But, All-Day Every-Day?

We’ve gone over the screen, the bits, the ports and the software and electrical wizardry, but… how does it go as an everyday driver? Would you be happy with it in your dash? Could you run it on the work commute as well as joy rides on the weekend?

In a word – hell yes

The screen is of a quality that rivals the big -two (Kenwood and Pioneer), the features, although they’re not going to leave anyone speechless, they’re what you’d use and nothing wasted. The speed of the unit is something that you’ll write home about.

The boot time being the quickest in the market and there being little to no lag whilst using the UI and flicking between options and menus make this a seriously speedy unit. Tie this with the ease of installation and the price and you’ve got a unit that can go from the shelf to your car, real quick!


About Shaun

Heading up the Digital and Marketing team, Shaun is a bass-head from way back. Starting with a 1991 Ford KH Laser that, at one point, was cranking 117dB! Getting around now in the Bankstown Sound & Marine Colorado Z71, you can bet, there's a savage passion for sound!

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