The car stereo is the centerpiece of any car audio system. They look great in the dash as they offer a more striking visual appearance and are loaded with a ton of useful features. Also known as a radio, headunit, or receiver, today’s car stereo performs a wide variety of functions so that you can better enjoy your drive time.
If you’re in the market for a new single din head unit in 2018, then you’ve come to the right place – as we here at CrystalStereo have compiled a list of the best single din head units from the top performers to those which won’t break the bank.
Undoubtedly, picking the best single DIN head unit is no easy task and finding the balance between features and a fair price can make for a daunting search for even experienced buyers.
With so much choice just a few clicks away, we’ve broken down some of the main questions you should be asking when making a purchase. Answering theses questions will help you narrow down your choices to get the best single din car stereo for your money.
Best Single DIN Head Units Reviews
If you’re looking for a do-it-all car stereo, and you don’t mind shelling out some serious cash, look no further than Alpine’s CDE-HD149BT CD receiver. It’s one of the best single DIN head units that Alpine has to offer.
Alpine CDE-HD149BT features a multi-line LCD display with four different base colors to choose from: blue, red, green and amber.
This unit packs a serious sonic punch and it’s featured with a ton of bells and whistles such as HD Radio® tuner, built-in Bluetooth for hands-free calling and audio streaming, Pandora® Internet radio control and various other sonic goodies. This headunit is Alpine TuneIt App ready, which means that you can download the free app onto your iPhone or Android and fine-tune your sound by creating a user profile with information specific to you, your vehicle, and your car audio system.
Additionally, the CDE-HD149BT has a CD/DVD drive, an AM/FM tuner, and is SiriusXM satellite radio ready with the addition of an optional tuner.
Alpine CDE-HD149BT has a rear USB port that can be accessed via an extension cable, as well as a rear-mounted auxiliary input. It also has 6-channel preamp outputs, as well as a built-in 18 watts RMS x 4 MOSFET amp.
To tweak the sound, you get a 9-band parametric equalizer with 10 preset tone curves (Flat/Pops/Rock/News/Jazz/Elec Dance/Hip Hop/Easy Lis/Country/Classical), subwoofer level control, time corrections, and more.
All in all, the Alpine CDE-HD149BT is a great sounding single din head unit that you can not go wrong with. It’s very well put-together and it’s not over-the-top flashy.
The only downfall to this headunit that we can reasonably think of is the fact that there is no front usb port.
Pioneer is one of the best car stereo brands out there. They’ve been around for a very long time and have mastered the art of providing top-notch products.
Pioneer offers an extensive lineup of great car stereos of different types including single DIN headunits, double DIN headunits, touch screen car stereos, digital media receivers, you name it.
The DEH-X6800BS is one of Pioneer’s best single din head units. It’s very well-desgined and it’s comes with a great array of features.
This unit sports a multi-line display and variable color illumination with separate control of display and buttons, as well as 10-level illumination dimmer. It also comes with Pioneer’s exclusive MIXTRAX technology to bring a DJ-inspired audio/visual experience to your car.
Pioneer DEH-X6800BS is a smartphone friendly headunit. It features Bluetooth connectivity for hands-free calling and audio streaming. It supports dual phone connections, so you can stream or talk with either one when you’re in the car. The unit is also compatible with Siri Eyes Free for iPhones.
Along with Bluetooth, the DEH-X6800BS has a CD drive, an AM/FM tuner, and is SiriusXM satellite radio ready with the addition of an optional tuner. This unit also features controls for Pandora, and Spotify.
The DEH-X6800BS has a front panel auxiliary and USB inputs. It also has 6-channel preamp outputs for expanding your car audio system with an external amplifier, as well as a built-in 14 watts RMS x 4 channel amp.
To further tweak the sound, you get a 13-band equalizer with seven preset tone settings, 3-level loudness, Advanced Sound Retriever, and subwoofer level control.
If you’d like to add a touch screen car stereo to your dash, but your vehicle has only a single-DIN (7-by-2-inch) dash opening for the stereo, then Pioneer AVH-3300NEX is for you. It’s one of the best single din touchscreen head unit in the market.
This unit features a 7″ retractable display designed to fold out of the headunit and flip up to be viewed with a single push of a button. This display has plenty of customization options including, a customizable touchscreen interface, multi-color illumination, as well as MIXTRAX technology for a DJ-inspired audio/visual experience.
We’ve come across a ton of single DIN car stereos which promise smartphone friendliness and compatibility, but the AVH-3300NEX smokes the competition first with it’s retractable display and second with its support for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
In addition to Android Auto and CarPlay, the AVH-3300NEX features controls for Apple Music, Pandora, and Spotify. It also features Pioneer’s AppRadio Mode. Furthermore, the unit is also compatible with Siri Eyes Free for iPhones.
And as with most new aftermarket headunits, this flip out car stereo features Bluetooth connectivity for hands-free calling and wireless audio streaming. The best thing about this headunit is its ability to wirelessly stream and control music from up to five different phone.
Along with streaming, Pioneer AVH-3300NEX has a CD/DVD drive, an AM/FM tuner, and is SiriusXM satellite radio ready. It has a rear-mounted USB port that can be accessed via a supplied cable, as well as a rear-mounted aux-in jack.
This single din flip out headunit also has AV and rearview camera inputs. It comes with 6 channel preamp outputs for use with a separate amplifier, as well as a built-in 14 watts RMS X 4 MOSFET amp. There’s high-pass/low-pass electronic crossover, subwoofer control, and loudness/low-frequency boost.
When it comes sound shaping controls, this headunit is incorporated with a preset equalizer and a customizable graphic equalizer, a listening-position selector, speaker output adjustment, speaker time alignment, and more.
Pioneer is one of the best single din head unit with touch screen that you can buy. It’s featured with most, if not all the features you’d need as a serious audiophile.
As for cons, it’s really difficult to think of any. If anything, I’d say that this headunit is a bit pricey.
Kenwood is another great car stereo brand that offers one of the best and most diverse car stereo lineups on the market. Kenwood has a well-deserved reputation for building great car stereo at reasonable prices.
The KDC-BT562U is one of the best single DIN car stereos under $100 that Kenwood has to offer. It features a detachable face with 13-digit LCD display and variable-color illumination.
This Kenwood headunit features Bluetooth connectivity for hands-free calling and wireless audio streaming. It also features controls for Apple Music, Pandora and iHeartRadio.
Additionally, this headunit has a CD/DVD drive, an AM/FM tuner, and is SiriusXM satellite radio ready with the addition of SiriusXM satellite radio tuner.
The KDC-BT562U has a front-panel USB, and a front aux input for connecting a portable music player. It also has 6-channel preamp outputs for use with an outboard amplifier.
To further tweak sound, you get eight preset EQ settings with Drive EQ, 3-band parametric equalizer, adjustable subwoofer level, bass boost and loudness controls.
#1- Why would you want or need a new car stereo?
There are many reasons why you would want to replace your car stereo. Obviously, a new aftermarket headunit will give you better sound quality and more playback options and other sonic goodies than the typical factory stereo.
- Better sound quality : Because most aftermarket headunit are very well-built and are incorporated with better circuit design, they are not just louder than stock headunits, but they also produce cleaner, richer and more-detailed sound. Additionally, aftermarket headunits are featured with a various sound shaping controls which means that you can do a better job fine-tuning the music.
- New sources for music and added functions : One of most common reasons to upgrade your car headunit is to expand your system’s music playback and features. New aftermarket receivers are designed for today’s smartphone driven lifestyle. They offer advanced features, such as:
- MP3/WMA/AAC playback
- iPod® and iPhone® support
- Support for Android™ phones
- HD Radio
- Satellite radio
- Pandora® Internet radio and other app-related sources
Knowing which of these options are “must-haves” will help you narrow down your search and focus on the features that are important to you.
#2- What are the non-music functions that you want?
Today’s aftermarket car stereos – especially the flagships – can do much more than just play music. So, you might want to consider other options such as:
- GPS Navigation to prevent you from getting lost.
- DVD playback for playing your DVDs when you’re parked.
- Bluetooth connectivity for hands-free calling and wireless audio streaming.
#3- What other things should you consider in a CD receiver?
- Discs or no discs? : If you no longer use discs, you can opt for a receiver with no CD player. These are called digital media receivers (also referred to as “mechless”). They tend to offer more connectivity options than regular CD receivers at a similar price.
- Sound controls : sound shaping controls let you tailor the music to your car’s acoustics. If you liking tuning and experimenting with the sound adjustments, consider a model with an advanced equalizer (such as a parametric EQ), with digital signal processing (DSP), or with digital time correction — these sound tuning controls will give you almost total control over the effect of the acoustics in your vehicle. However, if you’re “set it and forget it” guy, look for a headunit with at least treble, bass, and mids controls — the ability to adjust these will substantially improve the sound of your music.
- Power: There’s no need to worry about your receiver’s power rating if you’re keeping your stock speakers as it’ll drive them just fine. However, if you’re planning to upgrade your stock speakers, look for a highe-powered car receiver.
- Preamp outputs: Preamp output let you add an outboard amplififer(s) to drive your speakers or a subwoofer. Most car stereos are featured with two sets of preamp outputs. The higher the output voltage rating, the cleaner the signal. If you’re planning on adding a subwoofer down the road, consider a car receiver with a dedicated subwoofer output — this will allow you to adjust the sub volume independently, instead of using the bass control in your receiver.
- Display and controls: Consider a model with 2 or 3-line display so that you can easily see what’s on the display without squinting. Some receivers let you select their color, for a better match to your dash lighting.
#4- Why would you buy a higher-priced model?
If you want to go balls-to-the-wall and actually buy one of the higher-priced stereos, you’ll be looking at a $200-$400 price tag – it all boils down to a simple fact: the more features you want, the more money you’ll have to shell out. More expensive stereos will offer:
- Better sound : flagship headunits often feature improved buil-in processors and more flexible sound tuning controls. This means more tweaking and experimenting for you especially if you’re a serious audiophile and you’re upgrading the rest of your vehicle’s audio system.
- Easier to use : Advanced tuning controls and a larger display make it easier to operate the stereo. Touchscreen controls are very easy to use and give your stereo a futuristic feel.
- “Wow” factor : Because these flagship units are very well put together, they offer a more striking visual appearance, thereby they’ll add a nice stylish look for your car’s dash.