Reviews

Best Double-DIN Head Units: Upgrade Your Infotainment System

Make room in your dash for a head unit with better audio and video clarity.  

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BY Norah Tarichia / LAST UPDATED ON April 12, 2021

If your vehicle came with a double-DIN head unit, chances are that it’s seriously lacking features and the touchscreen (if it even has one) is poor and almost non-responsive. Well, this calls for an upgrade. While you can get a modern single-din stereo that rivals your previous double-DIN head unit, we recommend upgrading to a double din head unit for a technology-packed and classy upgrade of your car’s audio system.

While most modern aftermarket double-DIN units may be slightly expensive, the benefits offered are guaranteed to give you value for your money. Besides the obvious audio and visual upgrade, they can also be used for navigation, communication, entertainment, and more. So if you’re looking for the ultimate double-DIN head unit to make your rides more enjoyable, we have got you covered with some of the best options the market has to offer.

Best Overall
Atoto A6 Double-DIN Car Stereo
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Summary
Summary

This is a 7-inch, multimedia car stereo that has a capacitive touchscreen interface and runs on a stable Android Marshmallow operating system.

Pros
Pros
  • Includes an external Wi-Fi antenna for better connectivity 
  • Includes a built-in amplifier for optimal speaker performance 
  • Includes a built-in GPS receiver with pre-installed Google Map app
  • Can be used to make hands-free calls
Cons
Cons
  • Doesn’t have a DVD/CD player 
  • Doesn’t come with a headrest video output option
Best Overall
Atoto A6 Double-DIN Car Stereo
Best Value
Boss Audio Systems BVB9358RC Car Stereo
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Summary
Summary

This head unit features a 6.2-inch display with a capacitive touchscreen. It also includes built-in Bluetooth and a microphone so you can make hands-free calls.

Pros
Pros
  • Lets you connect wirelessly to apps like Spotify and Pandora 
  • Includes a CD/DVD player
  • Includes media playback so you can watch videos 
  • Includes AUX, USB, SD card, and  rearview camera inputs
Cons
Cons
  • Might be low on the bass despite having an equalizer
  • Steering wheel control interface is sold separately
Best Value
Boss Audio Systems BVB9358RC Car Stereo
Honorable Mention
Kenwood Excelon DMX706S Multimedia Receiver
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Summary
Summary

This 6.95-inch double-DIN unit boasts both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It also includes built-in Bluetooth that can connect up to five devices at the same time. 

Pros
Pros
  • Responsive touchscreen
  • Compatible with both Android and iOS devices
  • 13-band equalizer provides a customized listening experience
  • Plays a plethora of media files, including MP3, WAV, WMA, AAC, and FLAC files
Cons
Cons
  • On the expensive side 
  • Doesn’t have a CD/DVD player
Honorable Mention
Kenwood Excelon DMX706S Multimedia Receiver

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All of our reviews are based on market research, expert input, or practical experience with most products we include. This way, we offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.

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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.

Types

Smartphone Integrated 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-Integrated Display

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.

Top Brands

JVC Kenwood

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 Excelon DMX706S Multimedia Receiver.

Pioneer

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 AVH-X390BS Car Stereo

Boss Audio

Boss Audio is an American company headquartered in Oxnard, Calif. 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 BVB9358RC Car Stereo

Sony

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 XAV-AX5000 7-inch Media Receiver.

Alpine

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 iLX-W650

Double-DIN Head Unit Pricing

  • 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 to $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.
  • $300 and up: 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.

Key Features

Power

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. However, you should avoid looking at head units with peak wattage since they’re often unreliable.

Pre-Amp Outputs

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.

Display Size and Type 

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.

Ease of 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.

Other Considerations

  • Accessibility. 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.
  • Connectivity. The best double-DIN units are the ones that 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
  • 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 Units Reviews & Recommendations 2021

Best Overall
Atoto A6 Double-DIN Car Stereo

Standing at the top of our review is the Atoto A6 Double-DIN Stereo that features a large seven-inch LCD with a capacitive touchscreen. The unit runs on the Android Marshmallow operating system and features quick-booting technology so it only starts seconds after you start the car. It comes with a plethora of built-in features, including a built-in dual Bluetooth connection so you can connect to a smartphone and a mouse or gamepad. A built-in microphone lets you make clear, hands-free calls while a built-in GPS receiver with Google Maps as the default navigation app lets you keep your eyes on the road as you navigate. For improved connectivity, it’s fitted with an external Wi-Fi antenna.


The best part is that it’s designed with gesture control so you can interact with the system without direct physical contact. It can recognize seven types of hand gestures, including move up, down, forward, and backward, and you can program up to 23 more hand gestures.  


Unfortunately, it doesn’t come with a CD/DVD player, so your entertainment options are limited to the AM /FM stereo, AUX, USB, and Micro SD connections.

Best Value
Boss Audio Systems BVB9358RC Car Stereo

Enjoy a significant car audio upgrade without having to spend a lot of cash with Boss Audio Systems BVB9358RC Car Stereo. It’s designed with a 6.2-inch LCD with a responsive touchscreen interface. Built-in Bluetooth coupled with an internal microphone lets you connect to your phone so you can make clear hands-free calls. Bluetooth also lets you control apps on your phone, including Spotify and Pandora. Built-in GPS navigation with coverage for all 50 states utilizes a text-to-speech system so you can get audible directions to your destination. Plus, it comes preloaded with multiple points of interest. 


Also included is a CD/DVD player with a video playback option so you can watch videos on it. AM/FM radio, USB, AUX, and SD card ports help to diversify your entertainment options. Outputs on the system include pre-amp outputs so you can boost your speakers and video outputs so you can connect it to a headrest screen to increase your viewing options. 


While it may have a built-in preset equalizer, the preset equalizer curves might not offer a deep, punchy bass on your factory speakers so you may want to supplement it with an aftermarket subwoofer.

Honorable Mention
Kenwood Excelon DMX706S Multimedia Receiver

Kenwood’s Excelon DMX706S Multimedia Receiver provides a safer way to use your smartphone when in the car. It comes with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Apple CarPlay lets you connect your iPhone so you can enable apps like Apple Music, Apple Maps, messages, and more. Android Auto lets Android users connect their phone to the media receiver so they can use Google Assistant to get driving directions, send a text, or make hands-free calls. It also supports Google Map and Waze. Built-in Bluetooth lets you connect up to five devices so you and your passengers can take turns controlling the music in the car. 


Besides the AM/FM tuner, this receiver also lets you enjoy satellite radio stations or you can play music from USB devices. A high-resolution audio playback, 13-band graphic equalizer, and a three-way crossover let you get the best of all the frequencies in the music you listen to. To top it off, it features a large 6.95-inch customizable touchscreen with a vivid display.   


However, the unit utilizes a resistive display, and while this is a common feature with most modern touchscreens, they tend to experience lag. This means that you have to hold down your finger a little longer than usual for the device to take action.

Honorable Mention
Sound Storm Multimedia Player

This 6.75-inch multimedia player from Sound Storm has an LCD touchscreen. It comes with both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay functionality. Both operate through voice command, so you can have a full hands-free operation of your phone while driving. This includes maps and navigation, Bluetooth calling, and media playback. 


The unit also supports several built-in apps, including iHeartRadio, Google play music, WhatsApp, podcasts, and Radio Disney. A nice feature with this unit is the ability to customize the display. You can choose from a variety of colors for the illumination of the controls. You can also rearrange the apps, so they display in the order that’s most useful for you. 


Unfortunately, the sound quality is lacking in this unit. You also can’t improve it because there are fewer audio input and output ports on the back. Of the ports that are located on the unit, none are labeled, so you’ll need to decipher the owner’s manual diagram if you want to connect anything.

Honorable Mention
Pioneer AVH-X390BS Car Stereo

One of the biggest brands in the audio industry, Pioneer, brings you the AVH-X390BS that sports a 6.2-inch screen with an LED-backlit display. What’s admirable about the display is that it’s customizable and you can choose from 13 backgrounds and five display colors. It also includes a brightness control setting so the glare doesn’t distract you as you drive. Built-in dual Bluetooth connections let you maintain a full-time connection with two smartphones so you can make hands-free calls from either device. 


To help transform your vehicle into the best listening room, it comes with a pre-installed Mixtrax app so you can enjoy a DJ-like blend of your favorite music. Plus, it’s equipped with a CD/DVD player that displays tag information (title, artist, and album) on the screen. The unit is compatible with Android and iOS devices — you can link your smartphone and enjoy content from apps like Spotify and Pandora. 


Unfortunately, it may have issues with the Bluetooth connection. It may take a while to connect to your smartphone or it might drop out only a few minutes after connection.

Honorable Mention
Sony XAV-AX5000 Media Receiver

Boasting a large, 7-inch LCD, the Sony XAV-AX5000 integrates a plethora of features that make it easy to use and lets you drive safer. On top of having a touchscreen interface, it has quick-access buttons at the bottom of the receiver for instant access to basic features such as the volume. It comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, both of which give you access to your smartphone’s phone calls, texts, and support navigation apps. Built-in Bluetooth allows for wireless streaming of music, audiobooks, and podcasts. To help upgrade your audio, it’s designed with a Dynamic Stage Organizer (DSO) that makes up for poor speaker positioning and a 10-band graphic equalizer for a smooth sound. Plus, it’s equipped with pre-amp outputs for the front and rear speakers, including the subwoofer, so you can easily integrate an aftermarket amplifier in the sound system. 


Minor downsides of this unit are that it doesn’t play CDs, and you need to purchase additional adapters if you want to retain your vehicle’s steering wheel audio controls.

Honorable Mention
JVC 6.2

JVC is well-known in the electronic world for making high-quality equipment that produces a dependable sound quality. This unit won’t let you down with its 6.2-inch resistive touchscreen and audio features. 


It comes with Bluetooth, SiriusXM compatibility, smartphone syncing, CD, DVD, MP3, and USB playback. Take a look at the 13-band graphic equalizer. It lets you put those three sets of 5V preamp outlets to use for a complete sound system. This unit also comes with all of the wiring harnesses you need to completely install the unit. 


Unfortunately, the screen visibility is lacking. Even when you turn the brightness up all the way, it can be challenging to see the screen in real-world driving conditions. The user interface is hard to learn, and even the updates won’t help improve it.

Honorable Mention
Alpine Multimedia System Tuner

This in-dash receiver unit has a 6.1-inch touchscreen. It has built-in Bluetooth, AM/FM tuner, and CD/DVD playback. You can connect your Apple iPhone 6/6+ or newer. You can use the hands-free calling function, or use the buttons on the left side of the unit. There is a dedicated rear camera input port for rear HDMI audio and video input. 


A nice feature for this unit is the detachable faceplate. This helps deter theft as you can remove the face of the unit when you’re not with the car. This unit also comes with a SiriusXM Connect vehicle tuner. You can try out satellite radio for three months for free. Another nice touch are the wires and AV ports that are wiring harnesses. This gives you more functionality and freedom in how you hook your unit up to your car’s current system. 


Unfortunately, this unit has a tendency to freeze up, which requires you to do a hard reset to fix it. The display can also be hard to see. It can look dark and have low contrast when in real-world situations.

Tips

  • 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. 
  • 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.

FAQs

Q: Will a double-DIN head unit fit in my dashboard?

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?

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?

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.

Q: Is a double-DIN head unit better than a single-DIN?

The most obvious advantage of double-DIN head units is the larger size that leaves room for more advanced features such as a touchscreen display, backup camera inputs, and more. While some may not have CD/DVD players, which is a common feature with most single-DIN head units, it’s a small price to pay for more functionality. 

Q: Will any double-DIN head unit fit in my car?

If your vehicle had a factory-installed double-DIN unit, then there’s a good chance that a standard double-DIN head unit measuring 7 x 4 inches will fit in it. To be on the safe side, measure the dash mounting depth before buying the head unit to ensure that the aftermarket head unit is a perfect fit. 

Final Thoughts

After careful research, we found the Atoto A6 Double-DIN Car Stereo to be the best overall double-DIN head unit not only for its large display but also for its great choice of intuitive features that make it a great choice for drivers who are looking for a customizable gadget. If you are looking to save money but still enjoy most of the great features offered by double-DIN head units, then consider the Boss Audio Systems BVB9358RC Car Stereo