Best Double-DIN Head Units: Upgrade From OEM

Enjoy modern stereo features without having to buy a new car.

Best Overall

Pioneer DMH-W4660NEX

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Best Budget

Boss 480BRGB

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Honorable Mention

Kenwood DMX9707S

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There’s no replacing my Toyota X-Runner, as the last production year was 2013. Despite my fan girl attitude, I do have some complaints. My particular truck is a 2007, which means it came with an old-school radio and CD player. No Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, navigation, fancy sound customization, backup camera, or USB ports. I decided to fix this by upgrading the head unit, speakers, and adding a backup camera. I knew the features I wanted and only wanted to do this project once. So I’m now going to make your stereo upgrade project easier by sharing what I’ve learned and the best double-DIN head units on the market.

Summary List 

Our Methodology

Shopping for a head unit is like wading through a sea of conflicting information. One person loves the bright and responsive screen, while someone else complains about the same unit being dark and lagging. Knowing what features to look for takes the confusion out. When creating this list, I only considered reputable brands to minimize unreliable performance. 

From there, I looked for features in three categories, smartphone compatibility, sound quality, and vehicle features. I picked head units with a mix of features in each category. I referred to reputable specialty websites that focused on technology and music to ensure I chose products that included the latest desirable features. This ensured I stayed true to The Drive’s methodology

Best Double-Din Head Units: Reviews & Recommendations

Best Overall

Pioneer DMH-W4660NEX

See It

Best Budget

Boss 480BRGB

See It

Honorable Mention

Kenwood DMX9707S

See It

Best with Navigation

BOSS Audio BV9386NV Built-in Navigation

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Best with Backup Camera

Boss BV775BLC Package

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Best with Apple Carplay

Sony XAV-AX7000

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Best for Android

Pioneer DMH-W4660NEX

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Our Verdict on the Best Double-DIN Head Units

My top pick for the best double-DIN head unit is the Pioneer DMH-W4660NEX because it offers the best mix of smartphone, music quality, and vehicle features. In addition, this gives you reliable and functional usability for most drivers. 

For a more affordable option, the Boss 480BRGB will give you a basic upgrade from your worn-out OEM stock stereo. While it won’t have all the features that more expensive units have, it is still an upgrade.  

Things to Consider Before Buying a Double-DIN Head Unit

Resistive vs. Capacitive Touchscreen

Double-DIN units with a touch screen will have a resistive or capacitive touchscreen. Resistive is an older technology and is often used on budget models. Higher-end and newer models tend to have capacitive screens. Resistive screens have two layers with a gap in between. They work well at different angles, have a reduced chance of accidental touches, and can sense any object that touches them with adequate pressure. Their drawback is that they require more pressure to work, the screens are easily damaged, will not work when damaged, and have more issues with visibility. 

Capacitive screens use your body’s natural conductivity to operate. They tend to have a crisper display and are more responsive and durable. Their drawback is that they look best when viewed straight on, which can be an issue if your dash is angled. They are also more expensive. 

Sound Control Features 

You could have the highest quality speakers on the market, but without a suitable stereo head unit, you will never get the full performance out of them. Replacing a stock unit means you can improve the built-in power and circuit design for richer, detailed, and cleaner sound. They also have enhanced controls for increased customization ability. Basic controls include bass and treble and a few preset sound options. Higher-quality units have multi-band equalizers that allow you to customize the sound and get the full potential out of your aftermarket system. 

Smartphone Compatibility

Let’s face it, we all have a smartphone that we depend on. Having your smartphone communicate with your car’s stereo unit is necessary for full functionality. This is a staple in new vehicles, so adding a stereo with these features helps modernize your vehicle. First, it should have Bluetooth. This lets you use any smartphone-enabled device with your stereo. Second, consider what type of phone you have. If you have an iPhone, then Apple CarPlay is excellent because it lets you have complete functionality of your phone through your stereo. If you have an Android phone, then the stereo you choose should have Android Auto. 

Double-DIN Head Unit Pricing 

Double-DIN units are available for less than $100, but they have limited features and no touchscreen. Pricing for double-DIN units with a touchscreen range in price from $200 to $800. The more expensive the price, the more features and the better functionality and sound you will get. Instead of focusing on price, look for a unit with the features you need, such as smartphone compatibility, Bluetooth, and sound customization. 

In addition to the cost of the double-DIN unit, you should also consider installation costs. These could be free if you plan to install the unit yourself. However, if you pay for installation, it could be as little as $75 for a simple installation or as high as $2,000 for a customized complete system installation. 

FAQs 

You’ve got questions. The Drive has answers.

Q: What connectivity options should we look for in a double-DIN head unit?

A: Look for a unit with multiple connectivity options for the greatest functional flexibility. Bluetooth, USB port, and SD card are excellent features.

Q: How do the backup cameras work with double-DIN head units?

A: If you have a stock backup camera, you might need an adapter harness if your new double-DIN unit isn’t compatible. If you don’t have one, you can install an aftermarket one. Typically, this requires you to mount the camera on your vehicle and then run a wire to your stereo unit.

Q: What is the most powerful double-DIN head unit?

A: Look at peak and RMS power to determine the most powerful double-DIN unit. If you are serious about sound, check out the Alpine iLX-407 and 4-channel Amp Package. It has everything you need to add some serious power to your stereo system without committing to a ton of bulky equipment.

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

A: If your OEM stereo unit was two inches tall, you could only do a direct replacement with another single-DIN unit. To install a double-DIN unit, you will need to cut the dash or replace it with an aftermarket trim piece designed to accommodate a larger unit. You also need to consider the unit’s depth because some are too deep for the shallow space available.

Q: What is the difference between a single-DIN and a double-DIN head unit?

A: The difference between these two units is their size. A single-DIN unit is two inches tall and seven inches wide. A double-DIN unit is four inches tall and seven inches wide. However, you will find modern touchscreen options that are up to six to seven inches tall.

Q: Can my double-DIN stereo work without an antenna?

A: Yes, you can still use your double-DIN stereo through Bluetooth, USB, or another music source. If you want to listen to the radio, you will need to do some modifications. The simplest method is to connect the ground wire and coax wire to turn the vehicle’s metal chassis into the antenna.

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Andra DelMonico has dedicated her writing career to sharing her passion for cars and motorcycles. She has 15 years of experience owning, riding, and working on both sportbikes and cruisers, at one point rebuilding her Kawasaki ZX14. She also has a fully modified Toyota XRunner. As a young girl, she would routinely attend classic and high-end car shows with her father, who she credits with instilling her passion for automobiles. As a writer, Andra has utilized her knowledge and passion to write compelling and detailed content for a wide variety of automotive and motorcycle industry clients.