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Best Budget Car Stereos Reviews

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.

While some of these affordable car stereos may not be the latest and greatest models available right now, they still deliver the goods.

Finding the right car stereo can be a tricksy task. You’ve no shortage of options, with every consumer electronics manufacturer from Pioneer to Alpine vying for a bite of the car receiver cherry. Fret not, we’ve rounded-up our pick of the best budget car stereos in the market to ensure you discover a product you’ll be over the moon with.

P.S: Only Cheap Single DIN receivers are listed here. If you need a cheap double DIN stereo check this article.

 

Best Budget Car Stereos Reviews

1. Pioneer DEH-S5100BT

Pioneer DEH-S5100BT

  • 2-Line LCD display
  • Built-in Bluetooth
  • 13-band graphic equalizer with 7 selectable tone curves
  • Front USB Input & Aux input
  • 3 Sets of 2V preamp outputs

Last update on 2020-12-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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 single DIN car stereos range from $70 to $200 depending on which model you choose. Some of their top-notch double din stereo models cost upwards of $800.

Pioneer DEH-S5100BT is one of the best budget friendly car stereos in its category. This single DIN CD receiver is priced under $100. That said, it should 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 months ago may now have fallen to the $100 price point.

On its own, the DEH-S5100BT 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 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-S5100BT 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-S5100BT 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.

2. Kenwood KMM-BT322

Kenwood KMM-BT322

  • Built-in Bluetooth
  • Bright 1.5 line LCD display with variable-color illumination
  • Siri Eyes Free control with select iPhones
  • 8 EQ curves and 13-band equalizer
  • Compatible with SiriusXM satellite radio tuner
  • Front USB and AUX inputs
  • 6-channel preamp outputs

Last update on 2020-12-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Kenwood is one of the top contenders in the car audio world. They’ve been in business for decades and have mastered the art of making quality car audio components for reasonable prices.

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.

 

3. JVC KD-T900BTS

JVC KD-T900BTS

  • CD receiver with AM/FM tune
  • Built-in Bluetooth
  • Detachable face with white 13-digit 2-line LCD display
  • 2-zone variable-color button and accent illumination
  • 13-band graphic equalizer with digital time alignment
  • Compatible with optional SiriusXM tuner
  • 4-channel preamp outputs
  • Front-panel USB port and aux input

Last update on 2020-12-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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 they 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-T900BTS 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 2 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 headunit.

If you want to use individual apps, the KD-T900BTS 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-T900BTS has a front-mounted 1.5-volt USB and Aux ports. It comes with 2 pairs 4-volt preamp outputs for use with a separate amplifier. It’s also has 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.

4. Sony DSX-A415BT

Sony DSX-A415BT

  • Digital media receiver with AM/FM tuner
  • Built-in Bluetooth
  • Siri Eyes Free with compatible iPhones
  • 10-band equalizer
  • Front panel auxiliary and USB inputs
  • Compatible with SiriusXM satellite radio tuner
  • 2-volt rear and subwoofer preamp outputs

Last update on 2020-12-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Of course this list of the best budget car stereo wouldn’t be complete without Sony in it. Founded shortly after the World War II, Sony is one of the most recognized names in the electronics industry.

If any company has been able to get its hands into nearly every space of media and entertainment industry successfully, its Sony. From GPS units and PSP™ handheld consoles to PlayStation and 4K TVs, Sony has been able to offer a myriad of products that can be used in every aspect of daily life. And the same quality is found in Sony’s selection of car stereos as well.

The digital media receiver at hand is one of Sony’s budget friendly units. It offers loads of options for those who have moved on from CDs.

First things first, this headunit has front-mounted USB and Auxiliary inputs. It’s featured with built-in Bluetooth for hands free calls and wireless audio streaming. Thanks to its dual phone connection, you can connect two smartphones simultaneously for making and taking hands-free calls.

Further, this headunit is fitted with NFC (Near Field Communication) technology for easy pairing. Speaking of which, you can pair things up simply by touching the Android device’s NFC tag to the head unit’s NFC tag on its rotary-knob, and Voila!

Sound sculpting wise, this unit sports a 10-band equalizer with smartphone app control so you can fine-tune the sound settings to suit your car’s acoustics and your personal musical preferences. It also has an adjustable subwoofer level control, and high- and low-pass crossover network

If you’re a basshead, Sony’s ExtraBass™ really brings the beat. It’s designed to minimize distortion at all volume levels by automatically adjusting frequency and gain to their optimal positions.

In terms of expandability options, this headunit comes with two sets of preamp outputs for when you want expand your sound system down the line. You can also add a SiriusXM satellite radio tuner to this stereo for even more radio fun.

5. Pioneer SPH-10BT

Pioneer SPH-10BT

  • Digital media receiver with AM/FM tuner
  • Variable-color display
  • Wide-angle 1-line LCD display
  • 13-band graphic equalizer
  • Built-in Bluetooth
  • Front USB port; rear parking sensor input
  • 4-channel preamp outputs

Last update on 2020-12-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

If you’re looking to scale up from the DEH-S5100BT (linked to above) but don’t need anything massive, Pioneer has plenty of other choices available. One of the more popular options available is the SPH-10BT.

The biggest thing with the Pioneer SPH-10BT is its stylish, futuristic design. I mean look at it. This thing looks like something from the future! It feels like a striking leap forward in DIN radio design.

Pioneer SPH-10BT is a mechless radio (aka digital media receiver) with a wide-angle 1-line LCD display. It’s designed to deliver an outstanding experience for today’s smartphone driven lifestyle. It sports a well-laid out design with simple display, big buttons, and a pop-out smartphone cradle for touchscreen control.

Speaking of smartphones, with Pioneer’s Smart Sync app downloaded on your phone, you use your phone’s touchscreen as an easy interface to make calls, use navigation, play music, and even fine-tune the sound using the 31-Band EQ. Alternatively, use the receiver’s physical buttons to access navigation on your phone, calling, music, and messaging.

Best of all, is that you can do all of those things using Siri® or Google Assistant, depending on your smartphone.

Pioneer SPH-10BT is featured with a front-mounted USB input, and rear parking sensor input. It also comes with Two sets of preamp outputs for adding amps and subs to your system down the road.

6. Alpine CDE-172BT

Alpine CDE-172BT

  • CD receiver with AM/FM tuner
  • 1-line high-contrast LCD display with variable color illumination
  • Bluetooth hands-free calling and audio streaming
  • Siri Eyes Free Control
  • 3-band parametric equalizer
  • Compatible with SiriusXM satellite radio tuner
  • Front USB port, front auxiliary input
  • 6-channel preamp outputs

Last update on 2020-12-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

From video games, to TVs, to cameras, the Japanese are well-known for their ingenuity where technology is concerned. Alpine products are no exception.

Alpine has been in business for over five decades now and it’s considered one of the largest manufacturers of car audio products and automotive navigation systems.

The CDE-172BT is one of Alpine’s cheapest car stereos. It’s very well-designed and it sports a wide variety of features.

The unit at hand sports a 1-line high-contrast LCD display with variable color illumination to add the perfect accent to its easy-to-read display.

As with all modern car stereos, the Alpine CDE-172BT is featured with built-in Bluetooth for for hands-free calling and wireless music streaming. It has dual phone connection, so you can pair up to two Bluetooth-enabled devices with it and make and receive calls from either phone through the headunit.

In addition to AM/FM tuner, CD player, the Alpine CDE-172BT receiver is satellite radio ready with the addition of an optional SiriusXM tuner for even more radio fun that doesn’t fade away and most importantly follows you wherever you drive coast to coast.

Furthermore, this unit features App Direct mode for iPhone. You also use its controls to choose from your favorite Pandora stations from your smartphone.

As far as expandability options are concerned, this unit has a front-mounted USB and Aux inputs. There’s also 6-channel preamp outputs, so you can add amplifiers.

In terms of sound tweaking, the Alpine CDE-172BT has 3-band parametric equalizer, and high- and low-pass filters with subwoofer level control.

7. JENSEN MPR319

JENSEN MPR319

  • Bluetooth Technology for Hands Free Calling & Audio Streaming
  • Front-mounted USB & AUX input
  • 7 Character High Definition LCD
  • 2 Pairs of RCA preamp outputs
  • 2 Band Tone Control (Bass/Treble)
  • 4 Preset EQ Curves (Pop, Jazz, Rock & Flat)
  • AM/FM Receiver with 30 station presets (18FM/12AM)

Last update on 2020-12-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

For the money, the Jensen MPR319 is a definite no-brainer. For less than $30, you get a decent and well-functioning headunit that can get the job done no muss no fuss,

This headunit is going to be cheapest pick of the lot by far. It comes with all the basic features you really need. For the price, this things looks good and sounds better. Its controls are easy to navigate as well.

Jensen MPR319 comes with a high resolution 7 character LCD display. It’s not the best but it’s not the worst either. The downside, however, is that there’s no display settings for brightness, so at night, the receiver can be blindingly bright.

In addition to its front-mounted Auxiliary and USB inputs, this receiver has built-in Bluetooth connection for hands-free calls and wireless audio streaming.

Sound tuning wise, this super cheap car stereo comes with only the basic sound features like 2 band tone Control (Bass/treble). The equalizer has a couple preset sounds and that’s it.

Yes, this receiver is lacking many features compared to the rivals. However, while most brand-name receivers out there are priced at over $60 easily, this Jensen costs far less than that, making it one of the best cheap bluetooth car stereos.

While we weren’t entirely impressed with the Jensen MPR319, we couldn’t be too mad since it is so really affordable.

8. Kenwood KDC-MP375BT

Kenwood KDC-MP375BT

  • CD receiver with AM/FM tuner
  • Detachable face with 1.5-line LCD display
  • Variable-color display and button illumination
  • Built-in Bluetooth
  • 13-band graphic equalizer with digital time alignment
  • Compatible with SiriusXM tuner
  • Front-panel USB port and aux input
  • 6-channel preamp outputs

Last update on 2020-12-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

If you haven’t moved on from CDs yet, then this Kenwood could a great option for you as it comes with a CD slot. Additionally, this unit will get you connected quickly to the most-used multimedia source these days — your smartphone.

Kenwood KDC-MP375BT is equipped with a 13-digit, 1.5-line LCD display with variable-color display and button illumination.

Most new aftermarket car receivers are featured with built-in Bluetooth for hands-free calls and wireless audio streaming, the KDC-MP375BT is no exception. It offers dual phone connection for the times when you’re sharing the ride. It even offers up direct-access buttons for your Bluetooth®-equipped phone.

Additionally, this headunit has controls for Internet and satellite radio stations, as well as front-mounted USB and Aux port for digital music playback.

In terms of sound tuning, this Kenwood sports a 13-band graphic equalizer with digital time alignment. And because road noise cancels a wide range of the audio signal found in music, Kenwood fitted this receiver with their exclusive Drive EQ which is designed to boost some specific frequencies in the audio signal to compensate the negative impact of road noise.

When it comes to expandability options, you can add an optional satellite radio tuner to this unit and enjoy the myriad variety of programming that SiriusXM has to offer. And it you want to expand your car audio system, the Kenwood KDC-MP375BT is featured with 6-channel preamp outputs.

9. Alpine UTE-73BT

Alpine UTE-73BT

  • Digital media receiver with AM/FM tuner
  • Variable color illumination
  • Built-in Bluetooth
  • Pandora playback with iPhone and Android
  • 3-band parametric EQ
  • Front USB port & auxiliary input
  • 6-channel preamp outputs

Last update on 2020-12-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

If you have moved from CDs and want a cheap Alpine car stereo, then the UTE-73BT is decent choice to consider. This unit is the mechless (Digital Media Receiver) version of Alpine receiver mentioned above. It comes with (basically) the same features and technologies, except for the fact that it doesn’t play CDs.

The headunit at hand comes with a single line display with variable color display and button illumination. It’s compatible with both Android™ and iPhone®. And if streaming is your thing, built-in Pandora® control provide full control and playback of the Pandora app through a compatible iPhone or Android smartphone device. Further, With a wireless connection, you get to enjoy your tunes as well as hands-free calls.

Alpine UTE-73BT comes with front USB port and AUX port. And if you’re planning on adding an amp or two to your car audio system, this receiver features three sets of 2-volt preamp outputs,

Sound tweaking wise, this receiver is fitted with a 24-bit digital-to-analog audio converter, 3-band parametric EQ, and high- and low-pass filters.

10. Sony MEX-N5300BT

Sony MEX-N5300BT

  • CD receiver with AM/FM tuner
  • Detachable face with dual-zone variable color illumination
  • Built-in Bluetooth
  • EQ10 10-band equalizer
  • Compatible with SiriusXM satellite radio tuner
  • Front panel auxiliary and USB inputs
  • 6-channel preamp outputs

Last update on 2020-12-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Sony has a history of making excellent car audio stereos. While we were entirely impressed with the Sony DSX-A415BT (Linked to above), the lack of CD-playing capability might be a drawback for those of you who haven’t moved on from CDs yet.

That said, if you can stretch your budget a bit, you can get the Sony MEX-N5300BT, which combines all features of Sony digital media receiver mentioned above plus CDs player.

This Sony headunit is very well-designed. It comes with multi color display with carbon fiber controls. Thanks to the Dynamic Color Illuminator, you can set up thousands of color combinations across two separate illumination zones. The Sound Synchronization feature on the other hand pulses the lights to match your music.

Sony designed their MEX-N5300BT CD receiver to meet the needs of today’s smartphone driven lifestyle. Its built-in Bluetooth adds convenience and capability to your vehicle as it allows for hands-free talk when you get a call, plus you can stream the music stored on your smartphone wirelessly through the receiver. Furthermore, this Sony supports dual phone connection, so you and your significant other can both enjoy the advantages of Bluetooth.

In terms of sounding shaping features, this unit comes with a 10-band equalizer, Extra Bass low-frequency enhancement, and high- and low-pass filters.

As far as expandability options are concerned, this unit is compatible with SiriusXM satellite radio tuner for even more radio fun. It also has front panel auxiliary and USB inputs, as well as 6-channel preamp outputs.

Final Thoughts

This is not by any means a comprehensive list. There are hundreds of budget car stereos out there. Too much to cover in one post. However, we wanted to give you a few good options.

In this list, we included everything from super affordable car stereos all the way to some reasonably priced models and a few in-between to cater for different budgets and needs. With any luck, you’ll find something that meets your needs and fits within your budget.

Alex Brown

Hey There, my name is Alex Brown, I'm an LA-based sound engineer with over 10 years experience installing, troubleshooting, and repairing commercial, automotive, and household sound equipment. I've installed highly competitive car audio systems, and everything from navigation systems to full car stereo systems, remote starters, alarms and beyond. I enjoy creating solutions and simplifying everyday needs. I also love helping people get great sounding gear, thereby, saving the world from bad sound one customer at a time.

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