Best Single-DIN Car Stereo: Give Your Vehicle an Acoustic Upgrade
Upgrade your car’s sounds and technology with a single-DIN car stereo
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Technology advances rapidly, which means that unless you have a newer model car, your audio system is likely outdated. Older decks lack Bluetooth connectivity, meaning you can’t sync your smartphone to stream music or talk hands-free. To remedy this inconvenience, we’ve sorted out the crowded field to help you choose the best single-DIN car stereo for your vehicle.
This car stereo receiver not only has CD playback capabilities, but also has AUX and USB inputs that make it compatible with handheld devices. It features bass boost and an RDS tuner for fuller sound.
The single-DIN head unit comes with a wireless remote control and Alphasonik earbuds, giving you different options for enjoying your music. Its detachable faceplate acts as a theft-deterrent.
It is very hard to see the display clearly in daylight. After a few months of use, the receiver may begin to heat up and smoke internally. The controls are quite difficult to use because the volume knob also controls the settings.
One of the cheapest but feature-rich decks anywhere. Bluetooth, EQ tuner, AUX, and USB are all here.
Solid max power output specs, an EQ tuner, and wireless remote control are included. The three-year manufacturer’s warranty is also a very affirming feature.
A small LCD screen, flimsy build, and unreliable performance are among the weaknesses of this single-DIN Bluetooth stereo.
High-quality construction, affordable price, and a slew of features (including CD player) are among this unit’s highlights.
A robust equalizer helps produce top-notch sound quality, while the 13-digit LCD display can be customized with multiple colors.
This deck’s shortcomings include a complicated menu to adjust sound settings and the need for a separate cable for Android playback.
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Why Buy a Single-DIN Car Stereo?
- Add Bluetooth. Bluetooth wireless technology became standard in cars only several years ago, which means older cars, and their factory stereo decks, simply don’t have it. If you install a single-DIN Bluetooth car stereo, you can sync your iPhone or Android smartphone to stream music, play audio files, and talk hands-free.
- Upgrade the aesthetics in your car. Think about installing a new stereo deck as a facelift: It significantly increases the visual appeal for you and your passengers. Top car stereos are sleek and technologically advanced, so you’ll be able to customize various settings, including colors on the display.
- Replace a broken deck. If your car stereo has worn out due to normal wear and tear, or just stopped working out of the blue, it’s time to get a new one. With an upgrade, you can resume listening to the radio, streaming music, and talking on the phone.
- Create more room. Most new cars come with display screens that take up the entire double-DIN in the car’s dashboard. By installing a single-DIN car Bluetooth stereo, you can effectively create a small storage bin under the unit with the right console plate.
Types of Single-DIN Car Stereos
Detachable Faceplate Stereos
For a modest price, the best single-DIN head unit you can choose is one with a detachable face. This is a feature that’s a throwback to the past when aftermarket stereo decks were expensive and prone to attract burglars. Today, it may still be convenient to remove the faceplate when you leave the car for security.
Motorized Display Stereos
The drawback of a single-DIN car stereo is its smaller than the double-DIN kind, which can have an embedded 6-inch-or-larger display (touchscreen or not). However, some single-DIN decks are equipped with motorized displays that can pop out with the push of a button, and then retract back. These stereos effectively give you an infotainment system without taking up extra console space.
Top Brands of Single-DIN Car Stereos
Alpine is a well-established brand in the car audio industry, known for its high-quality receivers and speakers. In business since 1967, it’s a subsidiary of Japanese electronics manufacturer Alps Electric and operates factories across the globe. Among its popular products is the Alpine CDE-175BT CD/USB Receiver with Advanced Bluetooth.
JVC & Kenwood
Headquartered in Tokyo, Kenwood Corporation was founded in Japan in 1946. Through a merger with JVC, the company (JVC & Kenwood) became a consumer electronics juggernaut that offers car audio and home audio products. Its bestsellers include the JVC KD-X350BTS 1-Din Car Digital Media Bluetooth Receiver.
Pioneer Corporation started as a radio and speaker repair shop in Japan in 1938. Today, it’s a multinational corporation producing many lines of digital entertainment products, from car audio to DJ equipment. One of its most popular products is the Pioneer AVH-3400NEX 7" Display Single-Din In-Dash NEX DVD Receiver.
Single-DIN Car Stereo Pricing
- $25-$100: The bargain range features mostly single-DIN receivers with one- or two-line displays. These budget decks may lack one or more of the sought-after features found in the mid-range, particularly a CD or DVD player and Bluetooth connectivity.
- $100-$200: There’s no shortage of value and quality among the picks within this range. In fact, you’ll probably find the best car deck for the money here. In addition to staples such as USB and Bluetooth connectivity, these receivers may also feature a CD player and a detachable faceplate. Add-ons, such as headphones, a remote or a Bluetooth speaker, could be included as a sales incentive.
- $200 and up: At this premium range, you can expect to find top car radios that include a DVD receiver, along with larger, multi-color displays, including touchscreens. These decks also include multiple preamp outputs and video input to accommodate a rear-view camera.
It seems everything is streaming these days, but a compelling case can be made that the best car stereo receiver must also accommodate media from the past. Most budget decks no longer feature a CD player, but a few CD-capable models still exist.
One way to assess if you have the best car receiver is to look up the number of bands in its built-in equalizer. With more EQ bands, the deck can customize the frequencies to your ears. Most car stereos come with preset frequencies that you can choose based on the genre of music that you’re listening to (jazz, hip-hop, rock, etc.)
The lower-priced single-DIN stereos are 7 inches by 2 inches and usually feature a black, plastic face, the brand’s logo, and some color accents. If you’re looking for something closer to an iPad-sized display, possibly with a DVD player and maps, there are more than a few contenders for the best single-DIN touchscreen head unit.
You don’t have to be an audiophile to be on the hunt for the most powerful car stereo head unit. The max power output of a given deck essentially tells you its sound limit, which means that unless you plan to add an external amplifier, your audio power will be limited. The more important rating is the RMS, or continuous power output, which quantifies the amount of power the car stereo can reach at a constant rate.
- HD and XM Radio: Some, but not all, decks are XM-ready and have HD radio capability. SiriusXM is a paid subscription, and you can always install an adapter later. With HD radio, you get the higher-quality radio transmission with metadata, which allows you to view artist names and song titles on your deck.
- Apple CarPlay and Android Auto: It’s one thing to ‘pair’ your iPhone or Android-based phone with your car stereo and another to have Apple CarPlay or Android Auto integration. Decks that offer these state-of-the-art features allow you to experience a familiar interface right on your dashboard. These decks do come at a premium price.
Best Single-DIN Car Stereos: Reviews & Recommendations 2020
Tips & Advice for Single-DIN Car Stereos
- A distinguishing feature when choosing the best car head unit should include the LED pixel count. The higher the count, the more you’ll be able to control the deck’s brightness and color.
- Some vehicles have multiple screens that interlink with the factory stereo. Do some research to find out whether installing a new head unit will affect how these function. There are many adapters that can allow you to add features such as an AUX input or Bluetooth without replacing the stereo.
- Various playback modes make it easier and seamless to stream music from your Pandora, Spotify, iHeartRadio, and other music and radio apps.
Q: Will I lose any features or functions in my vehicle if I install an aftermarket single-DIN Bluetooth head unit?
A: The factory head unit may control a number of functions in your car, from the horn to the automatic locks. There’s always a risk that you will disable a function when you upgrade your deck. Consult your driver’s manual and do some research before you proceed with a new stereo deck installation.
Q: What is the downside of buying a single-DIN stereo with a CD player?
A: Most single-DIN Bluetooth stereos skip the CD player because it’s simply a redundant feature. The complicated and sensitive technology involved may also contribute to the poor performance of the unit.
Our top pick for the best single-DIN car stereo is the Pioneer Single Din Car Stereo Receiver. It’s affordable and packs all of the desirable features, like Bluetooth and AUX input. This aftermarket deck is an all-in-one solution.
For an ultra-cheap deck that offers many of the same features, consider the BOSS Audio 616UAB Multimedia Car Stereo. It’s more than a serviceable alternative to higher-priced stereos.