Best Double-DIN Head Units: Improve Your Sound and Visual Experience
Upgrade your car stereo with these top-quality double-DIN head units
The Review Team
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PUBLISHED ON April 23, 2019
A DIN head unit is the multimedia device fitted into the dashboard of your car to control the infotainment system. In contrast to a single-DIN head unit, a double-DIN head unit is twice the size with the ability to give you better control options and extra input capacity. If you're looking for the best double-DIN head unit, check out our in-depth reviews and recommendations.
- Best OverallPioneer AVH-1300NEX Multimedia ReceiverSummarySummaryThis product features a 6.2-inch touchscreen with an installation manual that is easy to follow. It is designed to support all types of audio and video file formats.ProsProsIt comes with Apple CarPlay compatibility and a disc slot that can play both CDs and DVDs. The connectivity can support a USB device, Bluetooth and AUX input. It can connect to satellite radio and AM/FM frequency.ConsConsThe USB port is located at the back of the stereo. Also, it doesn’t support Android Auto.
- Best ValuePioneer MVH-S600BS Double-Din Digital Media ReceiverSummarySummaryA budget car stereo that incorporates both traditional and modern design. The display illuminates and can change color to match the interior of your car.ProsProsIt can assist in making hands-free calls via Bluetooth connectivity. The interface allows it to be controlled remotely through a smartphone application, and you can access music via a USB device.ConsConsIt doesn’t feature Apple Carplay or Android Auto. There is no disc slot for CDs or DVDs.
- Honorable MentionBoss Audio BVCP9675A Car Multimedia PlayerSummarySummaryA versatile double-DIN head unit that can be connected to backup cameras and steering wheel controls. The 6.75-inch touchscreen is convenient to use.ProsProsIt is compatible with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. There are Bluetooth, USB port, and AUX connectivity options available. The radio is an AM/FM frequency.ConsConsThe manual installation details are sketchy. The USB port is located at the back.
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Why Buy A Double-DIN Head Unit?
- Bluetooth connectivity. A double-DIN head unit allows you to connect it to your smartphone, tablet, and other Bluetooth-compatible devices for extensive file sharing. That means if you have a library of songs or audiobooks, you could stream it on the double-DIN head unit.
- Hands-free control. Since you can connect your double-DIN head unit via Bluetooth, you can receive and initiate calls without physically touching the head unit. Also, a passenger seated in the back seat can change the playlist through a phone or tablet.
- Enhanced sound quality. It takes more than just upgrading the speakers to improve the sound quality. In fact, a double-DIN head unit features advanced software that integrates different sound variations.
- Easy screen control. Compared to a single-DIN head unit, a double-DIN head unit comes with a bigger screen that makes it convenient to touch and select the options. Furthermore, the graphics interface is enhanced for better user experience.
- Multiple media connections. A double-DIN head unit gives you the option to access multiple media sources such as a USB port, SD card, radio, mp3 player, smartphone, and a CD/DVD player. It is even possible to charge your phone on double-DIN car stereos.
Smartphone Integration Display
Modern technology has made it possible for double-DIN head units to include software that can integrate your smartphone’s operating system. The integration system comes with a touchscreen monitor that enables you to operate your smartphone apps on the head unit interface. In this category, you will either find Apple CarPlay compatibility or Android Auto compatibility.
Non-Integration Double-DIN Head Unit
This type of double-DIN head unit isn’t designed to mirror the apps on your smartphone. In fact, some of them don’t even have a graphic touchscreen display. However, they can still connect to a USB port, SD, Bluetooth, AUX, radio, and even play CDs or DVDs. The main objective of non-integration head units is to keep it simple and avoid distracting the driver.
JVC Kenwood is a Japanese company headquartered in Yokohama. Prior to the merger that created the JVC Kenwood brand in 2008, both JVC and Kenwood were reputable for designing and manufacturing consumer electronics for more than 50 years. One of its most popular double-DIN head units is the Kenwood DDX9903S AV Receiver Apple CarPlay.
Popularly known for introducing the world’s first automotive CD player in 1984, Pioneer is a leading innovator of head units. The company is based in Tokyo, Japan. One of its highest selling double-DIN head units is the Pioneer AVH-1300NEX Multimedia Receiver.
Boss Audio is an American company headquartered in Oxnard, California. It has been innovating audio products for the past 30 years and exporting its products to 130 countries across the world. Its top double-DIN unit is the BOSS Audio BVCP9675A Car Multimedia Player.
A household name among electronic consumers worldwide, the Sony brand has been designing and manufacturing electronic products for more than half a century. It’s headquartered in Tokyo, Japan. Currently, one of its most popular double-DIN stereos is the Sony XAV-AX200 Receiver.
A subsidiary of Alps Electrics, the Alpine brand has been dedicated to introducing the best car audio and navigation systems since 1967. The company headquarters is based in Tokyo, Japan. One of its well-renowned double-DIN head units is the Alpine ILX-107.
- Under $100: Any double-DIN head unit car stereo in this price range will likely have an internal system that doesn’t integrate with smartphone applications.
- $100 - $300: Most double-DIN stereos sold in this price category feature a graphic touchscreen and an interface that can integrate with your smartphone’s functionality.
- Over $300: There are very few double-DIN head units that are sold for more than $300. However, you can find a couple of top-range products with extra features such as dual OS compatibility, a backup camera, and an advanced navigation system.
A quality double-DIN stereo should send a signal to any upgraded speaker system in your car. Hence, you should carefully scrutinize the pre-amp outputs since they determine the signals which affect the sound system. As a general rule, the best double-DIN head unit for sound quality should have multiple pre-amp outputs with high signal voltage to make it possible to expand your sound system.
It’s the streaming era. The best double-DIN units are the ones which can integrate with your smartphone apps through Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. It’s even better if you can connect to the internet and access Spotify, iTunes, or Netflix via the graphic touchscreen of the car stereo.
Most drivers need a double-DIN stereo with Bluetooth connectivity that allows them to answer or make phone calls or to stream music without requiring a cable. Keep in mind that the best double-DIN head unit should be able to connect multiple devices at the same time via Bluetooth.
A powerful car stereo ought to play loud or soft music without distorting the sound. How do you make a judgment call to know if the power of a head unit is satisfactory? You simply check the RMS Wattage; the higher the RMS wattage, the more the car stereo can maintain its sound quality and composure for a longer period of time. However, you should avoid looking at head units with peak wattage since they’re often unreliable.
- Anti-Theft Protection: Most automobile thieves target car stereos since they’re easier to sell and less risky to steal compared to your vehicle. Nevertheless, if you’re living in a high-theft-prone area, you can buy a head unit with a face that can be easily detached and locked up in the glove compartment or the trunk.
- Easy Installation: Most double-DIN head units are sold with an instruction manual to guide you through the installation process. Usually, the easiest car stereos to install are the ones with a properly-labeled wiring harness that can be easily distinguished. Also, a wiring loom adapter may be needed to connect with steering wheel controls.
- High-Quality Display: A big display twice the size of a single-DIN head unit will make your user experience better, but there are other factors to consider. For instance, a touchscreen with an automatic brightness display that adjusts to day and night will be less distracting. Additionally, a good display should be easy to read and select the options.
- Navigation: Nowadays, there are double-DIN head units that are sold with an internal GPS navigation system. This is a great feature, especially for those who are driving cars without inbuilt GPS systems. However, a head unit that can mirror a smartphone touchscreen can simulate GPS applications on its touchscreen.
Best Double-DIN Head Unit Reviews & Recommendations 2019
Best Overall: Pioneer AVH-1300NEX Multimedia Receiver
The Pioneer AVH-1300NEX includes all the features that you would expect from a top-quality car stereo. Even though the 6.2-inch touchscreen is slightly smaller compared to other double-DIN head units, it is very responsive and easy to operate. Also, the installation is straight-forward since the instruction manual is very detailed to the extent of adding diagrams to make it simple to understand.
It supports Apple CarPlay, making it convenient to integrate with Apple products. Besides that, it can still play CDs and DVDs. When it comes to connectivity, it can be linked to Bluetooth, a USB port, and an extra AUX input. The radio option offers both AM/FM and Sirius XM connectivity. Apart from the diverse music streaming alternatives, it can also support almost every video file format.
The biggest downside of the Pioneer AVH-1300NEX Multimedia Receiver is that it isn’t compatible with Android Auto. Regardless, Android users can still connect their phones to the native interface and use the touchscreen to access their favorite Android apps. Another slight disadvantage is the USB port is positioned on the backside, which will require an extension cable.
The MVH-S600BS Double-Din Digital Media Receiver is pocket-friendly with a minimalist approach in its design. Since we’re no longer in the era of CDs, the designers of this product forgot about the disc slot altogether. On the face, it features a rotary dial and a unique illuminating display that blends both traditional and modern car stereos.
Since the Pioneer MVH-S600BS Double-Din Digital Media Receiver doesn’t have CarPlay or Android Auto compatibility, it is modified to be remotely controlled by an iPhone or Android phone through the ARC app. Alternatively, you can still make or receive your calls hands-free through a Bluetooth connection and stream music via a USB cable using your smartphone. The stereo can support MP3, FLAC, WMA, WAV, and AAC audio files.
The most noticeable shortcoming of this car stereo is that it doesn’t feature a graphics touchscreen that plays videos. Beyond that, you can’t access your favorite smartphone applications on this double-DIN head unit.
Honorable Mention: BOSS Audio BVCP9675A Car Multimedia Player
If you’re looking for the best double-DIN head unit for Android and iOS compatibility, the Boss Audio BVCP9675A Car Multimedia Player is a top contender. The device can also be integrated with steering wheel controls and backup cameras.
The touchscreen is precisely 6.75 inches, making it an ideal size that is not too big and not too small. If you want to stream music, there are plenty of connectivity options from Bluetooth, USB port to Aux connector. Of course, you can also listen to AM/FM radio and answer those hands-free phone calls.
The major drawback of this car stereo is the lack of a well-detailed instruction manual. Other than that, you will need an extension cable to connect to the USB port since it is located in the back. The missing CD/DVD slot isn’t much of a disappointment considering other types of data storage are now more prevalent in everyday use.
Tips & Advice
- When removing or installing a double-DIN head unit, make sure you disconnect the car battery to avoid exposing yourself to a live wire or popping a fuse. If the car battery is activated during installation, you risk damaging the car stereo.
- Most car stereos with only Apple CarPlay compatibility can still be connected to an Android device via the USB port. Even though such head units can’t fully integrate Android Auto, they can open files from an Android device.
- If your car has steering wheel controls, you will need an extra wiring harness to connect it with a double-DIN stereo. Most head unit manufacturers sell spare wiring loom separately.
- If your double-DIN head unit features a graphic touchscreen with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto compatibility, you don't really need to pay extra for a stereo with built-in GPS navigation. Instead, you can access your location straight from Google or Apple Maps.
Q: Will a double-DIN head unit fit in my dashboard?
A: Most modern cars being sold today have an extra space in the dash for a double-DIN car stereo. If you're having trouble trying to fit in a double-DIN head unit, you can buy a faceplate that can accommodate it.
Q: Can my double-DIN stereo work without an antenna?
A: The radio reception will be weaker without the antenna. However, if you’re connecting to the radio through the internet, your car stereo will still stream radio. Alternatively, you can switch on your smartphone radio and connect it to the car stereo via Bluetooth.
Q: What is the difference between a single-DIN and a double-DIN head unit?
A: In the automotive industry, the single-DIN is a standard opening measuring at least 7 x 2 inches where a typical car stereo can fit. On the other hand, the measurement for a double-DIN size opening is 7 x 4 inches.
Our top pick for the best double-DIN head unit is the Pioneer AVH-1300NEX Multimedia Receiver. It is user-friendly and, whether you want to stream music or watch videos from a CD/DVD, USB flash disk, or a smartphone, you can still utilize the same device.
For a close second pick if you are on a tight budget, consider the Pioneer MVH-S600BS Double-Din Digital Media Receiver.