Single DIN Head Units – Reviewed

Single DIN Head Units – Reviewed

Replacing your old factory car stereo is always a good idea. As with everything else in the audio industry, however, asking what the best single DIN head unit is and you’ll get a different answer from pretty much everyone you ask.

The head unit is the piece de resistance of your car audio stereo, and knowing what to get before you get one is important. Classic car radios are single DIN sizes, but you don’t just have to get a radio/CD player when you’re tied to getting a single DIN head unit.

Sure, if it’s just a music player you want, then the classic size is perfect, but many single DIN chassis come with retractable, high resolution displays that offer all the features a Double DIN head unit boasts.

So, what is the best single DIN head unit? What should you look for? Again, that depends on you, but in this review I’ve taken what I think are the best single DIN car stereos for music reproduction, multimedia players, mechless car radios, those with a CD/DVD option, and of course budget head units.

As with most things in life, you get what you pay for, so don’t expect a cheap car stereo to perform as well as something x10 more expensive, even if it boasts many of the same features.

Whatever it is you’re looking for, the single DIN head units below are 10 of the best for different features and price ranges. I hope you find what you’re looking for, and if you do and you’re satisfied or not with your purchase, please come back and leave a review…

*As an eBay and Amazon Associate, I may earn commission from qualifying purchases of any reviewed product.

The Best Single DIN Head Units

Pioneer MVH-S315BT – Single DIN Car Stereo


The first car radio on our review is from one of the audio industry’s most established brands, Pioneer, and the MVH-S315BT is one of the best single DIN head units for the money.

The Pioneer head unit boasts a detachable faceplate with an LCD display and LED backlight, and audio components that make a noticeable difference to your soundscape even with no other audio upgrades.

The head unit can connect to external devices via an auxiliary port, USB, and in-built dual Bluetooth. Both USB and Bluetooth allows you to stream music from apps such as Spotify and Pandora, as well as your library on your external device.

A great feature of this Pioneer car stereo is the dual Bluetooth connection. This allows you to connect two smartphones at any time, which means both you and your passenger can stream music and make hands free calls.

The MVH-S315BT receiver connects with the Pioneer Smart Sync app, which can be downloaded from the App Store and Google Play Store. And this takes your streaming features a step further than Bluetooth or USB as you can connect up to 5 devices at any time, and all 5 can stream music, make calls, and listen to messages.

Pioneer Smart Sync

Even better, the Pioneer Smart Sync app enables satellite navigation capability. This allows any device connected to it to connect its GPS app, and will lead you directly to your destination.

If that’s not enough, the app enables voice recognition and with this you can tune your audio by voice control.

There’s no CD, but for most people that’s no issue. The audio features on this single DIN head unit are to a high standard, and it’s clear to see the receiver is built for people who demand the crispest high fidelity.

The built-in amplifiers can power 4 x 50W power handling, which is good for a head unit. Anyone wanting to go a step further, and who doesn’t, the unit boasts a pair of preamp RCA outputs, so you can build on your car stereo system. That said, more speaker outputs would be better.

And with 5-band Graphic equalizer you have more control to sculpt the sounds you really want. And finally, the Pioneer car stereo boasts FLAC file support, which means you’ll be able to reproduce some crisp high fidelity on your drives.


There are better (and more expensive) car radios on the market, but with all the cool audio features the Pioneer MVH-S315BT is probably the best single DIN radio for the money, bar none.

  • Dual Bluetooth
  • Pioneer Smart Sync App gives you many options
  • Supports FLAC
  • No CD
  • Limited audio outputs

Sony RSXGS9 Hi-Res Audio Media Receiver

Sony RSXGS9 Hi-Res Audio Media Receiver

If you want the best single DIN head unit for sound quality, look no further. It’s expensive, but if you’re serious about crisp and clear audio reproduction this car stereo is one of the best piece of car audio.

Unique in almost every way the head unit’s front panel is made of a 14mm, machine-cut solid piece of aluminum, which is fixed to the chassis with a black anodized coating.

At almost $1500 the Sony RSXGS9 Hi-Res head unit out of most people’s price range, but it really does take your audio to the next level. The clarity of music, especially if you have a full aftermarket car audio system, will be way, way beyond anything you have heard from a car audio set up.

The Sony car stereo boasts wide codec support and is the world’s first head unit with native DSD. This allows you to stream the original recorded DSD data directly from labels that recorded in the format, meaning you get to enjoy music in pure detail and exactly how it was meant to be heard.

Most receivers offer compatibility with one or two codecs, but the Sony head unit is compatible with several, including PCM, FLAC, ALAC, WAV, WMA, AIFF, AAC & MP3. These can be played via USB or Bluetooth, although a USB connection will offer better sound quality.

If you aren’t satisfied with the clarity of your media file, the RSXGS9 will improve it thanks to an ESS DAC chip. This is available with USB and it converts your digital files and reproduces the audio to a much higher standard and better clarity.

There are even more audio features to make your head unit sound even better. The Sony car radio boasts DSEE HX technology, which restores any quality lost from compressed files. In doing so it injects more life into your music, bringing any compressed file back to its original state.

The device is compatible with SongPal app, which is available on both iOS and Android. The SongPal app turns your smartphone or tablet into a convenient system remote, and also stream your music all through your smartphone display.

Single DIN head units key features Sony dual chassis

The RSX-GS9 also boasts a dual-layer chassis that’s four times the rigidity of conventional head units, making sure external vibrations do not cause any distortion. The digital and analog circuits are mounted in separate layers, which helps prevent any noise that can result from electromagnetic interference.

For any serious audiophile, the Sony RSXGS9 boasts 3 pairs of 5-volt gold-plated RCA preamp outputs for your external amplifiers, while also offering processor connection through an optical output, that will improve your entire car stereo system.

If all the above aren’t enough features for even the most selective audiophile, the RSXGS9 boasts Advanced Sound Engine, which includes adjustable EQ10 equalizer, selectable slope LPF/HPF crossovers, Listener Position calibration (Time Alignment) and Clear Audio+.

For a car stereo that is built for sound quality, the Sony car stereo’s dynamic range is an unbelievable 135 dB and its THD+N -120dB. The difference just this head unit makes to your soundscape is unreal, and if paired with aftermarket amplifier and high performance speakers the crisp and clear reproduction of music will be immaculate. Quality that’s typically reserved for home audio systems only.


The Sony RSXGS9 is definitely the best single DIN head unit for sound quality. It’s also the most expensive by far, so it will rule out most people. If you’re serious about crisp audio reproduction, however, it delivers an amazing listening experience and you should definitely consider it.

  • Unbelievably crisp and clean
  • Looks amazing
  • Supports FLAC
  • Many features improve sound quality
  • Expensive

JVC KD-R792BT Single DIN Receiver

JVC KD-R792BT – The Best Single DIN CD Player For The Money

JVC is one of the leading brands in the audio space. The legacy brand is well known for producing some of the best car stereos, and this KD-R792BT single DIN maintains the image.

The JVC car stereo boasts CD compatibility for anyone who is sticking with discs. You can also stream music via the built in Bluetooth and a 1.5A USB connection, which also allows you to charge an external device faster than standard USB ports.

As well as CD and USB, it boasts MP3, AM/FM radio, and an AUX Input. These are pretty standard for most head units in this price range, but not all receivers will offer all the features.

You can connect 2 smartphones via the Dual Phone Connection feature, which is a great feature. This allows both users to stream music, take hands free calls and other functions of your smartphone, such as music apps Pandora, Spotify, and iHeart Radio.

JVC Streaming DJ application

The thing that makes this JVC car stereo stand out, however, is the JVC Streaming DJ application It’s great! It allows up to 5 devices to connect to your JVC head unit, and each person can take it in turns to stream a tune. This is great fun for those long journeys away with family or friends and means everyone gets to show off their favorite music.

Any audiophile will appreciate the audio features of this car radio. There’s a 13-Band Equalizer – 11 presets, which are varied and cover pretty much any melodies. The 2 others allow you to manually adjust the sound to your specific taste, and when paired with a good quality external amplifier and speakers, the fidelity reproduced is pristine and exquisite.

The JVC car stereo is also compatible with  FLAC files, which ensures you can play crisp files with extreme clarity. And if you really want to manipulate the high fidelity further the receiver boasts JVC’s K2 technology.

K2 basically reproduces the original master sound by expanding the bit rate and frequency range, and is compatible with all sources including CD, which along with most other digital files loses many frequencies from original recordings.

If this isn’t enough, the JVC head unit’s Sound Response and Sound Lift features allows you to sculpt the soundstage even further. With these you can boost low frequencies, and by adjusting the sound frequencies it virtually manipulates the height of your car speakers, ensuring you get the ultimate fidelity.


There are better (and more expensive) car radios out there, but for any audiophile the JVC KD-R792BT is arguably the best single DIN Radio CD player for the money. It gives you everything you need to manipulate the sonority to your liking at a fraction of the price you will pay for top of the range receivers.

  • Crisp and clean fidelity
  • Looks amazing
  • Supports FLAC
  • JVC Streaming DJ application
  • Not much to dislike at this price

Alpine UTE-73BT Single DIN Mechless Head Unit

Alpine UTE-73BT Single DIN Head Unit – The Best Mechless Car Stereo

If you want a mechless car stereo the Alpine UTE-73BT digital receiver is both great value for money and boasting 24-Bit DAC the sound quality is very impressive even without other aftermarket components.

Obviously, there’s no CD, but the Alpine head unit is compatible with several files, including FLAC, MP3 and WMA via the USB or the auxiliary ports.

Using either Bluetooth or a wired connection, you can connect your iPhone or Android smartphone, giving you in dash control to stream music from your stored library, or if you use Pandora it’s also compatible with that.

The advanced Bluetooth wireless technology, allows you to send and receive hands free phone calls on loudspeaker, allowing you to take that all-important phone call without putting anyone at risk.

If you have an Android smartphone, the Android Open Accessory protocol (AOA 2.0) delivers better sound and control over your stored music, and really boosts the sound quality of your files.

The LCD display boasts RGB illumination in a choice of colors, and the clarity of the digital display is 5x that of conventional screens, making it always clear and easy to read, while looking cool too.

What I really like about this car radio, however, is the music components that allows you to set the soundstage for your drives.

The receiver boasts 24-Bit DAC sound quality. DAC is a dedicated conversion hardware for converting digital signals into the analogue signal. It improves the sound quality of any audio output, and if paired with a high-performance amplifier and other components, your car stereo system will be unrivalled in sound quality.

Alpine car stereo is compatible with FLAC files

The Alpine car stereo also boasts a 3-band parametric EQ and high pass/low pass crossover that gives you more control of the fine tuning of your sound system. There’s also 6-channel preamp outputs: 2-volt front, rear, and subs, giving you plenty of choice if you intend to build a full car audio system.

And as already mentioned, the mechless car stereo is compatible with FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec) files, which possess significantly higher sound quality than MP3, AAC, WMA. Ultimately, FLAC files will reproduce music as close to it was possibly recorded and meant to sound, giving you the best listening experience.


For the money you get everything you need to conduct exquisite high fidelity. Being a mechless car stereo it has no CD option, but they are quickly becoming obsolete now anyway. If you want something that’s easy to use, looks cool and gives you plenty of options for creating a full surround sound, you will like this car radio.

  • LCD Display has a variety of colors
  • Plenty of audio outputs to build a car stereo system
  • Supports FLAC
  • No CD
  • 3-band EQ is a bit limited

Kenwood KMR-D772BT Single DIN CD Receiver – Marine Grade Stereo

Kenwood Single DIn marine grade head unit

If you’re after a stereo that will withstand the marine environment, the Kenwood KMR-D772BT marine grade stereo offers everything you expect from a high-quality receiver.

The Kenwood CD receiver is built to withstand natural elements that come with life on the open sea by utilizing Conformal Coating technology.

This improves moisture resistance of the circuit boards to prevent corrosion, while the external openings are all designed to keep salt and spray out of any opening port.

However, as with every piece of audio equipment, nothing is 100% waterproof, so it’s a good idea to mount it out of the way of heavy splashes, or even keep it in a water-resistant enclosure.

The Kenwood marine stereo is compatible with both Android and iOS, and allows you to connect your smartphone and stream music via Bluetooth or USB.

Once connected, the marine grade head unit connects with music apps, such as Pandora, iHeartRadio, and Spotify so you can stream music from the platform of your choice, as well as using your own library.

A great feature of the Kenwood receiver is the Dual Phone Connection. As you might imagine, this allows you to connect two smartphones and will allow both devices hands-free operation for making calls, or streaming music.

Even better, the Music Mix feature allows connection for up to 5 Bluetooth devices at any one time, allowing you and your passengers to take it in turn to stream music.

Kenwood car stereo - marine grade

For radio there’s FM/AM, and if you like satellite radio, add a SiriusXM tuner to enjoy all your favorite music, sports, and talk, even when you’re many miles offshore.

For audio reproduction, the Kenwood marine stereo is hard to beat. As well as being a CD player, the receiver is compatible with several audio files, including FLAC.

As well as FLAC, any other compressed files can be restored thanks to the Sound Reconstruction feature, which restores fullness to compressed digital files, enabling you to reproduce the high fidelity that was originally intended.

The Kenwood CD player boasts a 13-band Graphic EQ, which allows you to tailor the sound quality to your liking. As well, as this, additional sound staging is available with the Time Alignment feature, which gives you the power to produce optimal sound performance.

Life can get noisy on in a boat, so the Drive EQ features helps this by improving sound to compensate for any exterior noise.

Other key audio features include speaker settings for different types of speakers, LPF/HPF, Subwoofer Level Adjustment, Bass Boost, and 3 5-volt Pre-amp outputs for anyone wanting to build an entire audio system.


The Kenwood marine grade head unit is perfect for anyone who wants a receiver that won’t wither after a few months exposure to the harsh elements of nature. It’s a perfect stereo for constructing a full audio set up, and whether you want it for your boat or the car, it’s the perfect receiver to build a high quality stereo system.

  • Built to last
  • Music Mix is a fun app
  • Supports FLAC
  • Plenty of audio outputs
  • Not much to dislike at the price entry

The Best Single DIN Touchscreen Head Units

BOSS Audio Systems BCPA10 – Single DIN Android Touchscreen Head Unit

BOSS Audio Systems BCPA10 – The Best Single DIN Android Multimedia Receiver

The first single DIN multimedia receiver on our review is the BOSS Audio Systems BCPA10, which offers pretty much everything you get with a double DIN without the hassle of tearing into your dash.

The head unit boasts a 10-inch detachable touchscreen display (also available in 9-inch), which allows you to stream videos by connecting your smartphone or playing videos through the USB port.

Compatible with Apple Car Play and Android Auto the multimedia display gives you many options of running your smartphone with the large touchscreen display.

With Car Play, all your available apps will be accessible with Siri, so you won’t need to use your hands to control. This includes taking and making calls, controlling your music, GPS navigation, dictating text messages, and listening to music and podcasts.

While using the Sat Nav feature, you’ll also be able to ask Siri for redirections, if you need an urgent call for the nearest gas station, or in need of some food, etc. It’s great for those immediate emergencies, and instead of getting flustered with your hands, just tell Siri and it’ll find you a new route.

Similar features can be done with Android Auto. Just say ‘Ok Google’ to talk to the Google Assistant for help, and you will be able to control your smartphone and duties via the voice control feature.

Although there’s no CD/DVD option, you can watch moves with a USB connection, or the AV Input which allows you to connect to the video and/or audio output of an external device.

As well as the USB and AV inputs, there’s front and rear camera input. The camera is sold separately, but when connected your Boss Audio car stereo automatically powers on a rear view camera and switches the display to show what the camera sees, making reverse parking difficulties a thing of the past.

There’s a built in pre-set EQ, which ensures you get plenty of options for reproducing the soundstage you desire. And boasting Pre-Amp outputs you’ll be able to expand your system by adding up to 3 amps and/or signal processors for your front, rear and subwoofer channels.


Anyone wanting all the visual features of a 2-DIN head unit with their single DIN should look at this BOSS Audio car stereo. It’s not only video either, for a single DIN multimedia receiver this head unit is surprisingly good for audio features and the sound reproduction is impressive.

  • Sensitive touchscreen display
  • Apple Car Play & Android Auto
  • Voice control
  • FLAC compatible
  • No CD/DVD

EinCar FBA-TT Multimedia Receiver – Single Din Flip Out Screen

EinCar FBA-TT Multimedia Receiver – The Best Single Din Car Stereo With WiFi

The next head unit on our review is the EinCar FBA-TT. The Single DIN flip out screen Android car stereo brings the 2-DIN multimedia world to those that need a universal single DIN size, making installation relatively easy and will fit in pretty much every car

With a 7” flip-out capacitive screen, built in wifi support, Bluetooth, and Android 10, the receiver brings the world of multimedia to your daily drives.

The unique, sensitive touchscreen design boasts 1024×600 high-definition picture and has 1080P stereo support for video, and multi-media parameters.

You can watch movies via the USB and SD card channels, which is ideal for your passengers or for yourself if you get away for weekend trips or maybe you’re a truck driver and live life on the road.

The Android car stereo boasts T3 Cortext A7 Quad Cores 1.2GHz, 1GB RAM 16GB ROM, which makes for seamless streaming without interruption, something you tend to get with cheaper multimedia receivers.

Although there’s no Car Play or Android Auto, the head unit does utilize Mirror Link, which you connect with USB and is compatible with any Android phone. This will mirror your smartphone and allow you to control specific apps on your 7-inch head unit display.

The head unit also offers more options of connecting to the Internet with it being WiFi ready. To do so, simply connect to your WiFi Hotspot and start using a stronger signal, while easing up any data that you might be using from your mobile cellular plan.

eincar offline gps navigation

With a built in microphone, the head unit allows you to take hands free calls instead of reaching for your smartphone. And for further safety, the device supports SWC (steering wheel control) although this must be purchased separately.

The single DIN head unit also boasts in-built GPS navigation and comes with a GPS antenna. It’s compatible with Google Maps, Waze and Navfree, and all three apps are available offline too, so you can use the GPS navigation tool without using up your data. Ideal for long trips!

The EinCar head unit package also comes with a back-up camera. The waterproof rear view camera with night vision turns your display into reverse parking display and no matter what time it is you can see your back view clearly.


The EinCar multimedia head unit is an excellent receiver that offers many features other single DIN head units don’t. It’s not the best for audiophiles, although its audio features aren’t bad, but really this car stereo is for those who want a good quality multimedia car radio with a single DIN fitting.

  • Sensitive touchscreen display
  • Mirror Link
  • GPS built in
  • No CD/DVD
  • Audio outputs are limited

Camecho Multimedia Car Radio – Single DIN Touchscreen Head Unit

Camecho Multimedia Car Radio – The Best Budget Single DIN Touchscreen Receiver

If you want a cheap multimedia single DIN car radio without breaking the bank, this 4.1” touchscreen head unit from Camecho is a good option. And it looks great, too!

To be sure, this isn’t a universal Single DIN fitting, so make sure the installation size: 7.01”(L) x 1.97”(H) is compatible with your vehicle.

The 4.1 Inch LCD touch screen isn’t the biggest of course, and isn’t ideal for those long drives with the family. That said, the slick look is great for those who want a display without having the large unnecessary (for some) display taking over your dash.

The display boasts a sensitive touchscreen, and allows you to watch movies using one of the two USB or the AUX inputs. And with Bluetooth support, you can easily control your music on the display, and take handsfree calls thanks to the built in microphone.

There’s an option to connect SWC (steering wheel control), although this will have to be purchased separately. If you do, it will make controlling your system much easier and safer, and dare I say it legal.

 camecho rear view camera

There’s no WiFi, or any other smartphone app connectivity, but for around $50 you can’t expect the works. That said, the package includes a backup camera, which will display your rear view when you go into reverse mode, making reverse parking difficulties a thing of the past.

The car radio supports AM/FM/RDS radio bands, and it also supports. several audio files including FLAC, which reproduces the best audio sounds.

The display is as cool as any other car stereo in my review, and to make things even better you can set the mood with 7 different backlights for the display, and looks good with any car interior.

If you’re interested in building a full car audio set up, the outputs offer everything you need, including RCA connectors for audio/video ins and out, subwoofer terminal, and rear camera, microphone, and antenna.


If you’re budgeting and you want a good cheap single DIN head unit, that you can watch videos on, this Camecho car radio receiver is decent. For just over $50 you’re not going to get all the bells and whistles, but it looks cool and has all the options for controlling a full car stereo set up.

  • Looks smart
  • Cheap
  • Supports FLAC files
  • Display is small for watching movies
  • No Mirror Link, Car play or Android Auto

Planet Audio P100CPAC – Single DIN Multimedia Receiver

Planet Audio P100CPAC – The Best Single DIN Multimedia Receiver For iOS and Android

If you want everything a Double DIN Head Unit offers, the Planet Audio P100CPAC 10.1” capacitive touchscreen brings the world of 2-DIN multimedia features to your car.

Boasting Apple Car Play and Android Auto compatibility, the mechless single DIN chassis enables you to control your smartphone apps on the large touch screen display.

With Car Play you can activate Siri, and with Android Auto you can activate Google Assistant. Both voice control applications will allow you to control everything through voice command enabling you to keep your concentration on the road.

This includes searching for music, making hands free calls, dictating and sending emails and text messages, which is ideal for those busy mornings when you’re rushing to get to the office.

There’s no in-built GPS, but you can easily use Google Maps, WAZE or other SatNav applications and display your route on the display, and of course if you ask Siri or Google Assistant to find a gas station it will automatically redirect you without moving your hands.

There’s a backup camera included (optional for $20 extra) with the Planet Audio car stereo package, and this will automatically switch the display to show what the camera sees, when you shift into reverse mode.

planet audio

RBDS (Radio Broadcast Data System) is another excellent feature that you don’t get in many other head units. RBDS works with your radio to display standard data such as the Radio Station name, and also allows you to receive up to 64-character messages from the broadcaster.  This allows you to scroll things like sports scores, song titles, artist or album names, traffic and news across your car radio’s display.

Audio-wise, the Planet Audio car radio is a powerful beast. Although I would never buy any audio equipment because of the max power handling at 80W x 4 channels, it is much higher than most other head units. And with a built in EQ, you have several options for creating the perfect sound for every occasion.

It’s also compatible with FLAC files, the 24 BIT High Res Audio ensures the listener can play the crispest files and reproduce music how it was meant to be heard. Something that is partially lost with most other audio formats.

The inputs allow for a SWC (steering wheel control) although this has to be purchased separately, SD, AUX, AV and the aforementioned USB and USB charging. For the outputs, there are front and rear  subwoofer pre-amp outs, so anyone building a full stereo system in your vehicle, this is the ideal conductor.


I really like the Planet Audio head unit. With smartphone compatibility and a sensitive touchscreen, it boasts everything you need in a multimedia receiver. It’s not the cheapest head unit, but get what you pay for, and for the money, it’s well worth it.

  • Nice, large display
  • Apple Car Play and Android Auto
  • Voice Control
  • Supports FLAC files
  • Pricey

Blaupunkt AUS440 Austin 440

Blaupunkt AUS440 Austin 440 – The Best Single DIN DVD Car Stereo

The next car radio comes from German car audio manufacturer Blaupunkt. Another Single DIN flip out screen gives you many of the 2-DIN features including a DVD player this car stereo should peak your interest.

The Austin 440 DVD car stereo boasts a 7″ flip-out screen, that retracts neatly to your in-dash receiver. The high-resolution display allows you to watch movies via the DVD player, or using the USB, SD card slots.

For security, the faceplate is detachable, making it pointless for thieves to steal it, as long as you detach and carry the faceplate with you when you lock your car up.

With a built in Bluetooth, you can stream music from your smartphone, while also taking hands free calls. Bluetooth also enables Internet radio stations, podcasts and other audio apps that you have stored on your smartphone.

If you’re on a long journey and you want to keep your family entertained, the kids can watch movies from the back seats and control everything with the wireless remote control that comes with the car stereo system.

Blaupunkt car stereo

The Blaupunkt car stereo also includes a camera input, which gives you the option of installing a rear-view camera for easy viewing right from the receiver’s screen, while also helping with reverse parking.

For audio, the car radio boasts CD, and MP3 and WMA file compatibility. Files can be played via the USB, SD card, or using the auxiliary input if you want to play music from your external device.

For refining the soundscape, the Austin 440 includes an 8-band equalizer with seven EQ presets, with each preset adding impact to different genres. And with front and sub preamp outputs, you can easily add external components to build a full car audio system to your liking.


To be honest, this isn’t the best single DIN radio receiver on my review, but if you want a reasonably priced 1-DIN DVD car stereo, the Blaupunkt Austin 440 is decent. It lacks in certain features, but if it’s a CD/DVD player you’re after, take a closer look.

  • Retractable display
  • Detachable faceplate
  • CD/DVD player
  • No Car Play, Android Auto or Mirror Link

Single DIN Car Stereo Buyer’s Guide

A new head unit isn’t usually the first component when people start to upgrade their factory car audio system. Speakers, amplifiers and subwoofers are the most common upgrades, and that’s understandable as they make the biggest impact.

That said, the car stereo is the centerpiece of your system, and a good quality product makes a big difference to your overall sound quality. The best head units offer compatibility with the best file formats such as FLAC, and have audio setting features that will make a huge difference to the soundstage you want to set.

And of course, we now have more than just a car radio. Modern single DIN head units offer almost as much as our smartphones, meaning we can take our home and office into the car with us now.

But as with everything, not all head units are created equal, and what’s best for one person, might not be for the next.

So, you have to decide exactly what it is you want from your car stereo, and get the best piece of equipment in your budget. But for some general advice, read on for a buyer’s guide to getting the best single DIN head unit for your car.

What To Consider Before Buying

Physical Dimensions and Controls

Before buying make sure your new head unit fits your dash. Not all single DIN car stereos are universal, and some of them with bigger displays won’t fit in all dashboards.

Make sure the controls are good enough. This is whether it has good quality dials and buttons that are easy to press, or if it’s a touchscreen – it has to be sensitive. There’s nothing more frustrating than a touchscreen display that does nothing when you press it. They all claim to be sensitive, but the truth is you get what you pay for.

Sound Quality

A file with the FLAC file extension is a Free Lossless Audio Codec file. It can be used to compress an audio file down to around half of its original size, and the sound quality is much better. FLAC files are up to six times larger than an MP3, and about half the size of a CD, and can have the same boost in audio quality. Unlike CDs, FLAC is not just restricted to 16-bit, because you can buy files up to 24-bit/192kHz for another potential boost in performance.

Sound quality is critical to anyone upgrading their car audio set up, and most people will upgrade their amplifier or loudspeakers without even thinking about the head unit.

The best aftermarket car radios will have a built in EQ, pre-amp and subwoofer outputs, and will be compatible with many audio files including FLAC, while also boasting other sound enhancing features.

These will allow you to manipulate the fidelity and make even high-performance speakers sound better.

Display Quality

Many people want multimedia car stereos today, and getting something with high resolution picture and sensitive touchscreen is important.

It’s not really about the size of the screen, because if you can only fit a small display in your car, don’t be put off. As long as the picture quality is good, and the touchscreen is sensitive, that’s the main thing

There’s nothing worse than a touchscreen that lacks in sensitivity, and it gets frustrating when you try to change a setting and nothing happens or your screen freezes. This is typical in the budget car stereos, to be honest, so always make sure you get as good as you can afford.

App and Smartphone Integration

Most people upgrade their new single DIN head unit so they have more audio options for a better sound. And while, the in-built audio sources are integral, how your receiver connects with your smartphone is critical. Getting a head unit that connects to Apple Car Play and Android Auto will give you many more options.

apple car play and android auto

If you can’t afford that, try and make sure it has Mirror Link, even if you don’t think you’ll need smartphone integration. You might want it next year, or anytime in the future. Believe me, once you have smartphone integration on your head unit, you won’t go back.

Buying a Single DIN Car Stereo

The head unit is the centerpiece of your car stereo system, and you should have one of good quality if you’re serious about building an aftermarket set up.

Many people ignore them and just go for aftermarket speakers, and amplifiers, but with today’s innovation, they can improve the soundstage impressively.

And of course, we all pretty much have a smartphone now, so getting a good head unit that allows us to use our smartphone handsfree saves us a lot of time and hassle.

Then there’s GPS navigation, rear parking camera, and of course a display to keep the family entertained by watching movies on those long journeys.

Whatever the reason you want an aftermarket head unit, you have made the right choice. It will improve your drive no end, so make sure you get the best single DIN car stereo in your budget.

Single DIN Head Units – FAQs

What is single DIN car stereo?

A single DIN car stereo is the standard size car stereo, but it doesn’t mean the size of the faceplate. DIN refers to the car stereo’s chassis, and single DIN are 2 inches x 7 inches – the classic size car stereos.

What is the difference between single and double din car stereo?

Single DIN has a 2” x 7” chassis, whereas a double DIN is 4” x 7”, and are usually multimedia players with large displays. That said, many single DIN head units also have a large display and will either be retractable or protrude from the dash.

How do I know if my factory car stereo is single or double DIN?

If you’re wanting to know whether your factory radio is single or double DIN before you buy an aftermarket car stereo measure your factory car radio for the size. If it’s 7 inches x 2 inches, it will be a single DIN. If it’s 7” x 4” it will likely be a double DIN. If you’re not confident, you can always look at the back of the stereo chassis to see what size it is, because this is the actual DIN size.

Is it easy to install a single DIN car stereo?

It’s not rocket science, but I wouldn’t attempt to install one without any direction and research. Basically, if you’re installing the same size head unit in place of the factory head unit, it’s pretty much straightforward. If you’re changing DIN size, it’s a bit more work, but as long as you have all the manufacturer’s guide, the right tools and correct dash panel, it can be done.

What is the best single DIN car stereo?

There is no best single DIN car stereo. Splashing out a lot of money might not get you everything you want in a car stereo. It’s important to know what features you want, and look for a head unit that has them all in the budget you can afford.

Leave a Comment