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Published Apr. 20, 2018

A new Double DIN Stereo Head Unit can really help to make your car that little bit more user friendly. This is the 21st century after all, who wants to be fiddling around with little knobs and dials to change a radio station, huh? In fact, who wants to touch buttons at all – it’s so analogue!

A Double DIN unit has you covered. It brings a high degree of multi-functionality, incorporating the controls, and use, of several different tools and devices into one friendly screen. As more and more cars are produced with the space to handle a Double DIN installation, so more companies are producing different models, each with slightly different pros and cons, some with more features and some with less – and of course spanning a whole range of prices. Here are 6 of the best out there on the market right now.

The Best Double Din Car Stereos

Upgrade the stereo in your vehicle’s dash with this double-DIN stereo receiver. It comes with built-in Bluetooth and is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Amazon Alexa is also built-in when you pair it with the Pioneer Vozsis App. You can easily use this stereo with Pandora and SiriusXM. You can also wire this stereo to work with a rearview camera and other parking assist features.
You’ll appreciate the superior sound quality ability that Pioneer has built into this unit. You can play MP3 files and CDs with this stereo.

Unfortunately, this stereo doesn’t come with a remote control. This can limit how you interact and use your stereo. It also easily shows fingerprints on the touchscreen. This can make it difficult to keep it looking nice.

Key Features
  • Pioneer
  • AVH-2500NEX
  • 4.1 pounds
Specification
  • Brand Pioneer
  • Model AVH-2500NEX
  • Weight 4.1 pounds
PROS

Superior AV performance

Parking assistance

Amazon Alexa Built-in

CONS

No remote control

Screen easily shows fingerprints

This double-DIN stereo will wire directly into your existing system. It can play music, DVDs, and the radio. Easily navigate the LCD touchscreen to use the built-in Bluetooth. One standout feature of this stereo is the number of ports and plugs it has — USB, SD, auxiliary, audio/video, and rear and front camera for inputs. You’ll like the sound performance that this stereo can achieve with a maximum power of 80 watts x 4. Other nice features are the built-in microphone, auxiliary sound output, and steering wheel control integration.

Unfortunately, the music you have playing will stop while the backup camera is engaged. You will then have to turn it back on when you’re done backing up. You may also find the owner’s manual hard to read due to some translation issues. You also can’t connect an external microphone, although there is one built-in.

Key Features
  • 50 Watt RMS Output
  • Multiple Inputs (Including CD)
  • Easy Install
Specification
  • Brand Pioneer
  • Model AVH-X390BS
  • Weight 5 lbs
PROS

Built-in microphone

Auxiliary audio output

Steering wheel interface

CONS

Stops playing music when the backup camera is engaged

Hard to read manual

Cannot add an external microphone

This extra-large double-DIN stereo unit mounts into a single-DIN space and has a nine-inch VGA display screen. This gives you a bright, nine-inch touchscreen without having to cut into your dash. It comes with built-in Bluetooth and ports for USB and HDMI. The stereo is ready for streaming SiriusXM and has a built-in HD radio tuner. You’ll appreciate that it displays song titles, album art, and station information while it plays music. A standout feature is the iDatalink connectivity, enabling the screen to show vehicle information and parking assist cameras. The sound quality also stands out thanks to the nine-band parametric Dual HD EQ, six-channel time correction, and MediaXpander HD.

One drawback of this double-DIN unit is that the screen display has a low resolution. You may also find that the user interface requires several steps to navigate through the screens. There are also a limited number of colors and customization options.

Key Features
  • Bluetooth wireless technology
  • HD Radio tuner
  • Uses a single-DIN chassis
  • Nine-inch wide VGA display
Specification
  • Brand Alpine
  • Model ILX-F309
  • Weight 9 pounds
PROS

Halo9 style display

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto

One HDMI input

CONS

Hard to integrate with technology

User interface requires many steps

Low screen resolution

This beautiful double-DIN stereo is perfect for vehicles that don’t have a lot of extra room in the dash. It has a short chassis, so it needs less space than other stereos. It has a standard size 6.8-inch display. It’s WVGA for a crisp and dynamic display. It comes with built-in Bluetooth and a USB mirror for Android smartphones. There are two 2V pre-outs and a seven-band equalizer. These features let you create a custom sound for your stereo system.

The drawback of this stereo is that it doesn’t perfectly screen mirror your Android smartphone. Depending on the phone you have, it can also have a thick black border around the display on the screen. You may also find that the microphone isn’t very powerful.

Key Features
  • Built-in Bluetooth
  • 6.8-inch WVGA display
  • Two preouts 2V
Specification
  • Brand Kenwood
  • Model DMX120BT
  • Weight 2 pounds
PROS

USB Mirroring for Android

Short Chassis

Seven-band equalizer

CONS

Hard to see the screen in bright light

Microphone not powerful

Thick black border when screen mirroring

This double-DIN stereo has a single-DIN mount. This makes it ideal for older vehicles that didn’t originally come with an in-dash infotainment system. It has a fold-out seven-inch display that’s high resolution. It has built-in Bluetooth and a microphone for hands-free calling and music. It can support media playback with a CD/DVD player, USB flash, micro SD memory readers, AM/FM radio with 30-station memory, AUX input, RCA input/output connector jacks, and subwoofer output. A standout feature is the included backup camera. The user-friendly interface makes it easy to navigate the different abilities.

Unfortunately, the music turns off when you put the car in reverse. The time can also reset every time you turn the car off. The sound settings are limited, so you can’t adjust the equalizer when in radio mode.

Key Features
  • Seven-inch display
  • Bluetooth compatible
  • Rear view camera included
  • Remote control included
Specification
  • Brand Pyle
  • Model PLT85BTCM
  • Weight 6.05 pounds
PROS

USB reader for digital audio

Single-DIN mount

Rear Panel Audio (RCA) Input/Output Connector Jacks

CONS

Music turns off when in reverse

Time can reset when the car turns off

Can’t adjust sound in radio mode

Replace the stock stereo in your car with this impressive double-DIN unit. It comes with built-in Bluetooth for hands-free calling and audio playing. It also has a built-in MOSFET amplifier for improved sound quality. It can deliver 22 watts RMS/50 peak x 4 channels. You’ll like the sleek and modern design that will help to update the interior of your car. A three-zone variable color display lets you choose from several different colors for the display illumination and controls. It can play audio files that are MP3, WMA, WAV, and FLAC.

The drawback of this stereo is that it doesn’t have great radio reception. This may not be an issue if you live closer to the city. The screen can be hard to read in the bright sun and may become foggy. If you have larger hands, you may find the buttons to be small and hard to push.

Key Features
  • Plays MP3, WMA, WAV, and FLAC files
  • Wireless remote control
  • Built-in Bluetooth
  • 22 watts RMS/50 peak x 4 channels
Specification
  • Brand Speedton
  • Model B06XS9M852
  • Weight 1.8 lbs
PROS

Built-in MOSFET amplifier

Three-zone variable color display

Sleek and modern design

CONS

Poor radio reception

Screen can become foggy

Buttons are small and hard to push

Best Double Din Buying Guide & FAQ

So there are the best Double Din stereo units on the market right now. Broadly speaking there are a lot of similar features across the whole range, but the more features a model packs in, generally the price is going to start creeping up.

So lets take a look at some of those features and help you to decide which ones you do need and which you may be able to live without. That is going to help you to not only select the right model that does exactly what you need it too, but also find the right model in your budget – and hey, maybe even save you a few bucks!

We’ll also take a quick look at why you should consider upgrading your Double Din unit, and more importantly how. Our installation guide is going to help you to save some extra money by taking care of the install yourself.

double din car stereo

Types of Double Din Head Units

So just what is a Double Din Stereo Head Unit (to give it it’s full name)? Well, Din just refers to the size, a single Din is the traditional car radio size, so a Double Din is twice as large.

No matter the brand, no matter the features a Double Din is a standardized measurement so they all the same external dimensions – 178mm by 100mm. that’s handy to know as it makes installing – and especially upgrading – that bit easier. If your car already has a Double Din unit it will accept an upgraded model, because it’s the same size.

As far as different types, they all broadly follow the same design. That extra space that larger Double Din provides is always used to utilize a nice big screen with touch screen control. They also play the radio and sync to cell phones to allow you make phone calls. That is the absolute basic level of functionality that you can expect.

In fact, just take a look at the model in the list above from Speedton. That is both the cheapest item on the list and also the most basic. So everything that this model does any other model will also do. But as the price goes up so too does the list of extras.

Whether you need all our extras or not, well that is up to you…

What to Look for When Buying a Double Din Head Unit Car Stereo

So as we’ve said, the list of features that come with each model will differ slightly. So this list is a very comprehensive one that discusses all the features and premium extras that everyone should consider. As you read it, feel free to filter out the things that you don’t need.

For example, Pre Amp outlets are perfect for the audio enthusiasts who have installed their own custom speaker and amp set up. They are less important however for the person who is just using the factory standard speaker set up that the car came with originally. So depending on that consideration, you can discount (or put a big tick net to) model with good Pre Amp outlets.

So what else should you look for as you consider which model is the right one for you?

  • Power – Simply put, if you want to crank your music then you need a stereo that can handle it. High power translates to the ability to play loud music that doesn’t distort, and sounds great at low levels too. The power of the unit is given in Watts, and of course the higher the wattage the more power is delivered and the smoother the sound. Some models provide peak Wattage, typically around 50 watts or so, however the better way to judge power is the RMS Wattage. This refers to the actual wattage delivered to the speaker units themselves, and anything over 20 RMS Watts is pretty good.
  • Pre-Amp – As we mentioned up top, Pre Amp outlets are the way the Stereo connects to upgraded speaker systems that have their own Amps. So if you’ve gone to the trouble of installing custom speakers you want a stereo unit that can take the best advantage of them. On the list above the best to o this is the product from Sony, which comes with no less that 3x Pre-Amp outlets, a very useful amount.
  • Control – No matter how much power the stereo pumps out or how many cool apps it can download, if it is a pain to use it is not going to a useful tool. First off, the unit should be easy to use purely to make it a pleasurable experience. After all, the whole point of these larger than normal stereo installations is that they are easy to use – that’s why they have nice big, bright screens. There is also the safety element. A car stereo must be intuitive so that it does not distract your attention too much whilst driving. Touch screens, remote control, voice control and syncing with steering wheel mounted buttons are all useful and you’ll know which one works best for you.
  • Connectivity – Another key feature of a Double Din stereo is its ability to connect with other devices. At it’s heart, the stereo is just a basic radio with a big screen – most other features come from attaching external devices like cell phones and tablets. As you’ll see in the list above, as the price goes down so to does that level of connectivity. Eventually you get to the stage when all you can do is Bluetooth connect your cell to make phone calls. If that’s all you need and want then maybe go for a budget model. If you want your cell phone to be an integral part of the driving experience – including utilizing bespoke Apps – it could be worth splashing the cash for better connectivity.
  • Looks – This refers both to the screen display, but also the overall appearance of the unit too. So, the screen first and that feature really is one of the key selling points of a Double Din stereo – so pick one with a nice big, bright screen and make the most of it! Other than that, the sheer size of a Double Din means that is can dominate the dashboard area of the car, and it is sure to draw the eye of most passengers. Again, choosing one with a good screen will help make it look good but also take in the overall appearance, including the frame and any buttons. You’re probably dropping a fair amount of money on this product, so make sure it actually looks good in your car!

Benefits of Upgrading a Head Unit

So considering the average model is going to set you back north of $200, why bother? Well, upgrading to a new (or better) Double Din brings a number of advantages such as:

  • Media Streaming – Listening to the radio is so 1895. There are just so many different forms of media these days, and a top quality stereo will allow you access them all. Radio, CD, DVD, Bluetooth connection to an Ipod with 10,000 songs on it, all of that can help to make a journey – especially a long one – that little bit easier.
  • Safety – Like we mentioned above, the size of a Double Din stereo – and it’s high capacity for connectivity to various devices – should make it an item that is both easy to use and that won’t district your attention too much. Hands free, voice activated models allow you to interact with your stereo, make calls and look up Sat Nav routes all whilst keeping your concentration on the road.
  • Superior Sound – A good stereo will make your favorite tracks really rock, and a Double Din has the size to incorporate the software, hardware and power outputs to make that happen.
  • They’re Cool – Hey, let’s not beat around the bush too much, these devices are pretty cool too. They look cool, they do cool stuff like voice activation and they are just fun to use!
double din car stereos

How To You Install Double Din Car Stereos

A great thing about these stereos is that they are relativity easy to install – especially if your car already has a Double Din sized stereo installed. That is because they are all of a universal size, and many manufacturers go out of their way to make install as simple as possible. You probably won’t even need too much in the way of tools.

Each model is going to have slightly different installation instructions so, just as with any product, make sure you read all the paperwork and the instructions before you start the install!

Sources:

  1. Radio Installation Guide – Popular Mechanics
  2. Radio Removal Guide – eHow

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