The car stereo is perhaps the most overlooked of all the car accessories. It’s also the last to be updated, which makes sense because cars are manufactured rapidly and their cycles for ownership are fairly long, so stereos don’t stay up-to-date.
If you find yourself with an outdated car radio, what are your options? Are you stuck with it forever? Can you do something about it?
Fortunately, there’s a solution – double din stereos. These are basically like smartphones for your car. They have apps, bluetooth, wireless capabilities and are connected to your smartphone.
Whether you’re looking for the best double din stereo or the best double din head unit with navigation, we’ve found the best 7 on the market.
Before we get into the list, let’s take a look at exactly what a double din car stereo is and it’s functionality.
What is a Double Din stereo?
First of all, din is an acronym for a German – Deutsches Institiut für Normung. This is the German standards organization. Din is a measurement, specifically, the standard size for a car radio.
So, we have the Germans to thank for standardizing the size of car radios despite hundreds of different cars and manufacturers. Interestingly, while the width and height of the radios are well established, there’s some leeway for depth.
A double din radio is fairly recognizable by its features. The touchscreen is the easiest one to spot, as most double din radios will have a digital screen.
Double Din Stereo Features
Double Din stereos are a long way from the dial-turning, static-laden car stereos of decades past. They have several advanced features to choose from. The number of features depends on how much money you’re willing to spend.
Features include internet access, apps, games, DVD Players, Apple CarPlay or Android compatibility.
Here are some of the most important features to look for:
- Music file compatibility. This is important for people who have their own music collections. Most stereos will be able to accommodate common files like MP3 or MP4A, but maybe not other file formats like WAV or FLAC.
- GPS. It’s much easier to use GPS in the car’s double din stereo screen rather than the phone. Most newer cars have built-in navigation capability, but it usually costs a bit more to install and activate it.
- Android Auto or Apple CarPlay. We mentioned these before, but having access to these systems is an easy way to solve both your music and navigation issues, while also allowing you to talk on the phone and keep track of text messages during transit.
- Bluetooth for both audio and calls. Bluetooth is an absolute essential part of a double din stereo. You’re going to want to make sure that it works for both phone audio and music. Some older cars only have Bluetooth for phone calls.
Should You Install a Double Din Stereo by Yourself or Hire a Professional?
Should you try to put in a new double din stereo yourself? Or, should you just bite the bullet and hire a professional to complete the task? There are pros and cons to both options.
Hiring A Professional
This option will definitely cost more, but you’ll have peace of mind knowing that the job’s going to be done right. You’ll also get a warranty or a guarantee for a fix if something goes wrong.
A professional installer will also know exactly how to install a stereo in a specific car, and whether any idiosyncrasies are involved with a specific vehicle. The new stereo usually needs to be connected to the car’s existing hardware, which can be difficult to figure out.
Installing the Stereo Yourself
The main benefit of installing a double din by yourself is the amount of money you’re going to save. The units can already be expensive, and a professional will charge for labor by the hour.
There’s always more work to do than meets the eye, even with so-called plug-and-play installations. However, if you know how to work with a car’s interior, and are comfortable and knowledgeable about wiring and mechanics, by all means, give it a go.
How Much Does a Double Din Car Stereo Cost?
The amount you spend on a double din stereo will determine its number of features as well as its quality. Budget stereos can run anywhere from $100 to $300. Generally, these are not going to last as long, and they won’t have all of the fancy features, but they’ll get the job done. Keep your expectations reasonable with more budget-friendly options.
The middle range of double din stereos run anywhere from $300 to $800. On the higher end, double din stereos have GPS, smartphone compatibility, and USB inputs. On the lower end of the price spectrum, you may get one or two of these options but rarely all three.
The most expensive options will run up to $1,500. These have everything you could ever need in a stereo, and then some. They’ll have sleek menus and every app that’s ever been created with a car in mind.
The 7 Best Double Din Stereos
Now that we’ve gone over the basics, let’s take a look at some of the best double din stereos on the market.
Pioneer AVH-1400NEX 6.2″ Double-Din in-Dash Receiver with Bluetooth
- 800 X 480 Resolution
- Compatible With Apple Carplay, Appradio Mode +, Flac Audio, Spotify & Pandora Internet Radio
- Siri Eyes Free With Compatible IPhone
Pioneer is a legacy brand with a good history of quality behind it. This double din stereo with carplay model is one of the most affordable yet high-quality options out there. Some quick features:
- 5a USB Port
- Hands-free calling and compatible with Bluetooth devices
- Apple Carplay
- Internet Radio
- 800 x 480 Resolution
- Sirius XM ready
This model is designed to be intuitive. Both Apple and Android phones can connect to the stereo using NEX. The stereo uses the latest Hands-Free Profile with Wideband Speech capability.
You can browse smartphone media using NEX even while music is streaming.
BOSS Audio Systems BVB9364RC Car DVD Player
- Bluetooth - Answer / make calls and be hands-free with no distractions. The external microphone picks up your voice & your car speakers let you hear...
- Media Playback - Watch your choice of videos through the DVD player, play music through your Bluetooth device, pop in a CD or use the USB and SD ports...
- Auxiliary Input - Compatible with the audio output from smartphones as well as MP3 players. Just plug in and start playing
This system has a lot of options for an affordable price. It’s highly rated on Amazon. It features hands-free Bluetooth for not only phone calls, but also to control music and apps.
The BVB9364RC has a few different media options. Pop in a DVD to entertain the kids or even a CD. As far as outputs, there are front, rear and subwoofer preamp outputs that connect the speakers.
This particular double din stereo also has a really good warranty if things go wrong. There’s a USB port for charging, and as an added bonus, it comes with a backup camera.
P.L.Z MP-800 Car Entertainment Multimedia System
- DASH CAM - Driving recorder comes with a night vision , 170 degree ultra-wide viewing angle, And you can watch the recording directly on the AN-500...
- BUILT-IN WIFI & GPS RECEIVER - Built-in WiFi module: it's easy to connect with WiFi or hot spot on your phone. After connected wifi, you can enjoy...
- GORGEOUS IPS DISPLAY - Bigger and better. Giant 10.1 inch 2.5D tempered glass IPS display provides you true-to-life color from any angle, makes...
The P.LZ is the most affordable double din stereo on the list. It retails for under $100. However, it still has a multitude of features that most more expensive models also have.
It has a 7-inch LCD screen with an intuitive user interface. This model includes a rear camera and a wireless remote as well. It also has both a USB port and an Aux port to connect directly to the device.
JVC KW-M150BT Bluetooth Car Stereo Receiver with USB Port
- GENERAL FEATURES: 6.75" capacitive touchscreen display, AM/FM tuner, plays media loaded with MP3, WMA, FLAC, and AAC music files, fits double-DIN dash...
- BLUETOOTH and SMARTPHONE FEATURES: Built-in Bluetooth with dual phone connection for hands-free calling and music streaming, uilt-in iPhone control...
- AUDIO/VIDEO FEATURES: Plays USB memory devices, 13-band equalizer with digital time alignment, high- and low-pass filters, ---Does not play CDs---
The JVC KW is a sleek option reasonably priced at around $275. It has an output of 45 watts and a touchscreen that’s 6.75’’. It plays MP3, AAC, WMA and FLAC files. It fits standard double din dashboard openings and is Bluetooth compatible.
There is no CD player but it does have built-in iPhone control and screen-mirroring capabilities for Android devices. The KW-M150BT also features a small chassis (3’’), so it’s a better fit in harder to deal with dashboards.
Pioneer DMH-1500NEX Digital Media Receiver
- Apple CarPlay Compatible
- Android Auto Compatible
- WebLink Compatible
The Pioneer DMH-1500NEX is one of the middle-range models that retails for around $480. It’s a 7’’ display that supports internet radio, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and full Bluetooth connectivity.
It’s WebLink compatible and navigation ready too. This model is also one of the highest-rated on Amazon.
Pioneer AVH-2500NEX In-Dash 2-Din Touchscreen Stereo Receiver with Bluetooth
- Broad connectivity with your smartphone. Enhanced smartphone connectivity makes it possible to enjoy popular apps with your radio.
- Superior AV performance. Pioneer applies it's expertise in sound technology to deliver high quality audio and video performance.
- Features: works with Apple Car Play, Android Auto web link. Parking assistance. 24-Bit True color panel for smooth gradation and rich color.
At around $600, this is one of those models that throws everything and the kitchen sink at you. It has all of the standard smartphone connectivity apps for Android, but where this double din stereo really shines is in the AV department.
Pioneer spent a lot of time perfecting the sound to make sure you get high audio and video performance. Other features include Amazon Alexa built-in and Pioneer’s NEX line of receivers.
Alexa is available with Vozsis, a smartphone app that acts as an intermediary for the service from your smartphone.
This unit supports CDs and DVDs as well.
Musictrip 10″ 2DIN Universal Android 10 Car Stereo
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This double din head unit with android auto, made by Musictrip, has some exciting features. One of the best is the fairly large screen, which comes in at a whopping 10 inches. It has a sizable processor for speed and storage space to make room for all the latest apps.
It has a built in DSP and 18-band equalizer settings for customizable music. Because of its focus on high-quality audio, you won’t hear music distortion and the sound comes through clearly, even at high volumes.
The touchscreen supports 7K video, and it has built-in WiFi, Google Play, GPS, FM and AM radio support, and the ability to download numerous apps. A built-in microphone facilitates hands-free calling as well as voice controls.
This model retails for around $400 and weighs about 7 pounds.