Want to buy a decent car stereo, but don’t want to break the bank? The good news is that today’s car receivers are so advanced that you really don’t need to spend as much as you once did. The best cheap car stereos are well-designed and are loaded with all the essential features you’ll ever need – and all without breaking the bank.
There are many cracking car stereos out there if you’re on a tight budget, including some great entry-level single DIN headunits, sleek-looking double DIN headunits, advanced flip out car stereos, double DIN headunits with large touchscreen, not to mention digital media receivers.
And while some of these budget car stereos may not be the latest and greatest models available right now, they still deliver the goods.
To help you make an informed buying decision, we’ve compiled a selection of the best budget car stereos going, so whether you want something simple to replace your stock receiver, or an advaned receiver loaded with a ton of bells and whistles, you’ll find it here.
Best Budget Car Stereos Reviews
When it comes to car receivers, Pioneer is one of the most legendary. They’ve been around for a very long time. and they’re offering a wide range of car stereos of different types. So, whether you’re looking for a basic, entry level model, or an advanced model that’s loaded with a ton of bells and whistles, Pioneer has got you covered. Their car stereos range from $70 to $400 depending on which model you choose. Some of their top-notch models cost upwards of $800.
Pioneer DEH-S5000BT is one of the best budget friendly car stereos in its category. This single DIN CD receiver is priced under $100. That said, it must be noted that the best cheap car stereos under $100 are not going to be feature-rich. They aren’t going to be very powerful either.
The best budget car stereo can, however, provide you with the essential features such CD receiver, Bluetooth connectivity, some smartphone features, and a couple of sound tuning controls.
So, Before you automatically dismiss a sub-$100 car stereo because of its lack of cutting-edge features and power, keep in mind that car stereos with very similar specs to these ones costs hundreds of dollar a couple of years ago.
That’s the great thing about the $100 price point. I mean, think about it: the number of features and technologies that drop down into this price point occur continuously, so a good car receiver that was considered pretty powerful just a few years ago may now have fallen to the $100 price point.
On its own, the DEH-S5000BT is a pretty good car stereo for the money. It comes with a microphone for voice commands and hands-free calling, as well as a physical remote control. For theft protection, the headunit features a partially detachable faceplate with 2-line LCD display.
This unit offers thousands of colors for the display and the buttons — topped off with a sweet illuminated rotary knob. It also comes with MIXTRAX technology which adds to the fun by adding transitions between songs along with a light show that pulses and changes color with the beat of the music.
As with most nowadays aftermarket headunits, the DEH-S5000BT features Bluetooth connectivity for hands-free calling and wireless audio streaming. It can store up to 10 phones in its memory, so it’ll accommodate all the members of your family.
Along with Bluetooth connectivity, the DEH-S5000BT has a CD/DVD drive, an AM/FM tuner, and a front panel auxiliary and USB inputs. It features three pair of 2.0-volt preamp outputs (Front/Rear/Subwoofer), as well as a built-in 50-watt-by-4 MOSFET amp. There’s low-pass and high-pass filters, subwoofer level control, and Advanced Sound Retriever (ASR) for improved sound quality from compressed music files.
As far as sound shaping controls are concerned, this receiver sports 13-band equalizer with seven preset tone settings, and 3-level loudness.
The FH-S700BS is one of Pioneer’s best selling double DIN headunits. This unit is very well-designed and budget-friendly. At around $100, it’s not outrageous – and if you’re looking for a cheap double DIN head unit that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, the FH-S700BS could be a great buy. It’s one of the best budget double din car stereos at this price point.
Undoubtedly, most factory radios are boring. This Pioneer car stereo, however, definitely is not. It’s featured with variable color illumination with separate control of display and buttons, as well as 10-level dimmer, so you can match its display to your vehicle’s dash illumination. It also has MIXTRAX technology for a DJ-inspired audio/visual experience. Beneath the surface there’s even more to like, with built-in Bluetooth®, SiriusXM capabilities, various audio shaping controls, and smooth smartphone integration.
Speaking of smartphone intergration, Pioneer FH-S700BS features controls for Apple Music, Pandora, and Spotify. These apps can be used with the FH-S700BS via a Bluetooth connection. The unit is also compatible with Siri Eyes Free for iPhones.
Along with streaming, the FH-S700BS has a CD/DVD drive, an AM/FM tuner, and is SiriusXM satellite radio ready with the addition of an extra-cost tuner. This unit can also play a wide variety of digital audio files either burned to disc or on a USB drive. Furthermore, it offers playback of high-res FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec) files via USB; These files are 50-60% smaller than WAV files, yet, they retain the integrity of the original sound sources.
The FH-S700BS has a front panel auxiliary and USB inputs. It comes with 6-channel preamp outputs for use with a separate amplifier, as well as a built-in 50-watt-by-4 amp.
There’s high-pass/low-pass electronic crossover, subwoofer control, 3-level loudness control, and Advanced Sound Retriever. To further tweak sound, you get a 13-band equalizer with seven preset tone settings, and a listening-position selector.
Kenwood is one of the best car stereo brands out there. It offers everything from speakers and subwoofers to amplifiers and aftermarket headunits of different types.
The KMM-BT322U is one of the best budget car stereos that Kenwood has to offer. This digital media receiver a super-bright 1.5 line LCD display with variable-color illumination to match any color dash lighting. Its large volume knob and buttons are intuitively placed, reducing distraction and promoting safety.
This unit features Bluetooth connectivity with aptX for superior sound quality. You can pair up to two phones to this receiver, and that pairing will happen fast, thanks to near-field communication (NFC) technology.
Kenwood KMM-BT322U is a digital media receiver. This means that it doesn’t play CDs. However, it’s featured with controls for Apple Music, Pandora and iHeartRadio Internet radio. These and other apps can be used with this unit via a Bluetooth connection. The unit is SiriusXM satellite radio ready with the addition of an extra-cost tuner. It’s also also compatible with Siri Eyes Free for iPhones.
The KMM-BT322U has a front-mounted 1.5-volt USB port, and aux-in jack. It comes with four 3 sets of 2.5V preamp outputs for use with a separate amplifier, as well as a built-in 50-watt-by-4 amp. Additionally, this receiver comes with built-in high-pass/low-pass filters, subwoofer control, and loudness/bass boost.
As far as sound tuning controls are concerned, this budget-friendly headunit has 13 Band Graphic Equalizer, drive EQ, and speaker time alignment to ensure that all that sound reaches your ears at the same time.
P.S : You can download the Kenwood Remote app from the App Store or Google Play, and use you phone to adjust receiver settings and play music.
JVC is a brand we haven’t come across very much on our site. That’s not to say that there products aren’t anything to write home about. Quite honestly, JVC makes some great car audio components including speakers, subwoofers, amplifiers, and in-dash receivers of different types.
JVC offers a wide range of modestly-priced car stereos, which is why the made this list, since we’re assuming most people reading it are looking for cheap car stereos. And with most of their JVC receivers under $100, you can get a really decent car stereo for your buck.
The JVC KD-RD98BTS in one of the best budge-friendly, yet features rich car receiver in the JVC lineup of car stereos. This unit is featured with everything the music-loving smartphone user could want in a reasonably priced CD receiver. It comes with a detachable face with 13-digit LCD dual-line display with variable-color illumination.
Additionally, this unit has built-in Bluetooth with dual-phone connectivity, which allows you to connect up to 5 Bluetooth-equipped phones and quickly switch between them for hands-free calling and audio streaming. Calls to each phone can be received by a push of a key on the head uniti.
If you want to use individual apps, the KD-RD98BTS features controls for Apple Music, Pandora, and iHeartRadio. The unit is SiriusXM satellite radio ready with the addition of an extra-cost tuner.
The KD-RD98BTS has a front-mounted 1.5-volt USB port, as well as a rear-mounted aux-in jack. It comes with 2 pairs 4-volt preamp outputs for use with a separate amplifier, as well as a built-in 50-watt-by-4 amp. It also comes with high-pass/low-pass electronic crossover, subwoofer control, and loudness/low-frequency boost.
As far as sound optimization is concerned, you get 13-band equalizer, K2 Technology for Enhanced Digital Sound Quality, a listening-position selector, speaker time alignment, and more.
This unit sports a 6.2″ touchscreen display with variable color illumination. The screen has a relatively sharp resolution of 800 by 480 pixels, a variety of preset background (wallpaper) images for the Menu screen and AV operation screen, automatic dimming, and multiple widescreen modes.
While the touch screen is perfectly responsive, this headunit isn’t featured with a volume/source knob. However, it has easy-to-use volume buttons on the left side of the screen. The buttons are on the small side.
The MVH-200EX is a digital media receiver, which means that it doesn’t play CDs. However, it comes with built-in Bluetooth for hands-free calling and wireless audio streaming.
This receiver has a rear-mounted 1.5-volt USB port that can be accessed via an extension cable, as well as a rear-mounted aux-in jack. It also has a rear-view camera inputs, which is a great solution if you have a big SUV or any vehicle with complicated sightlines.
Pioneer MVH-200EX comes with 6-channel preamp outputs for use with a separate amplifier, as well as a built-in 50-watt-by-4 amp. This unit also comes with high- and low-pass filters, subwoofer control, and loudness/bass boost. To further tweak sound, you get a 13-band graphic EQ, a listening-position selector, digital time alignment, and more.
For the price you can’t really beat it. The MVH-200EX has everything you would need in a head unit. Its screen is responsive and the menu are easy to access and figure out. Bluetooth connects quickly and works well.
If I had to pick some criticisms for this headunit, I’s say that its lack of volume knob could be a drawback to some of you who are used to it. Furthermore, Its Aux and USB inputs are located on the rear, which makes them a bit hard to access.