Best Double-DIN Head Units: Upgrade From OEM

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

byAndra DelMonico| UPDATED Jun 13, 2022 4:25 AM
Best Double-DIN Head Units: Upgrade From OEM
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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.

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Our reviews are driven by a combination of hands-on testing, expert input, “wisdom of the crowd” assessments from actual buyers, and our own expertise. We always aim to offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.

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Summary List 

Best Overall: Pioneer DMH-W4660NEX

Best Budget: Boss 480BRGB

Honorable Mention: Kenwood DMX9707S

Best with Backup Camera: Boss BV775BLC Package

Best with Apple Carplay: Sony XAV-AX7000

Best for Android: Pioneer DMH-W4660NEX

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 Unit Reviews & Recommendations

Specs

  • Smartphone Compatible: Apple CarPlay, Android Auto
  • Bluetooth: Yes
  • Screen Size: 6.8 inches

Pros

  • Capacitive WVGA touchscreen Display
  • Built-in HD Radio tuner
  • iDatalink Maestro RR and RR2
  • Two camera inputs

Cons

  • Slow to recognize switched inputs
  • Some screen usability issues

This double-DIN unit makes a smart addition to your vehicle with its sleek looks and desirable mix of features. It comes with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for smartphone compatibility. It also has an HD radio tuner and is ready for SiriusXM radio. You can use this unit with a larger system, including two camera inputs, three sets of preamp outputs, and a three-way mode for clear highs, mids, and lows. You can then use the 13-band graphic equalizer to achieve a customized sound. However, this unit stands out because it is compatible with iDatalink Maestro, which lets you keep the factory extras you would typically lose when installing an aftermarket stereo unit. This will require you to purchase a vehicle model-specific wire harness for this feature.
Best Value
Boss 480BRGB

Specs

  • Smartphone Compatible: No
  • Bluetooth: Yes
  • Screen Size: 4 inches

Pros

  • Front auxiliary input and USB port inputs
  • Four-channel preamp outputs
  • Built-in MOSFET amplifier
  • User-friendly design

Cons

  • Single-line display
  • Colors other than white are not very bright

This budget double-DIN is perfect for someone who isn't looking for anything fancy. There's no touchscreen or user interface to learn. Instead, you have a simple display and button layout with nicely sized buttons. You will have an AM/FM radio, USB port, and auxiliary input for listening to your favorite music. Thankfully, this unit also comes with Bluetooth, so you can use it for hands-free calling and music streaming. When it comes to music quality, there's a built-in MOSFET amplifier and four EG presets. While this can't compete with the more expensive units on this list, it will be a step up from the older stock stereo. The display is a bit dated-looking, but the multiple color illumination does give you some customization ability.
Honorable Mention
Kenwood DMX9707S

Specs

  • Smartphone Compatible: Apple CarPlay, Android Auto
  • Bluetooth: Yes
  • Screen Size: 7 inches

Pros

  • Versatile listening options
  • 13-band digital graphic equalizer
  • Two-way active crossover
  • SiriusXM Ready

Cons

  • Resistive touchscreen
  • Screen resolution could be better

There are an impressive number of features included in this double-DIN unit. It has both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for wired and wireless connections. When connected with the wire, this unit will charge your phone. Having Bluetooth is standard these days, but this unit has Bluetooth Party, letting you simultaneously connect multiple phones and easily switch between them. It also has four camera inputs, allowing you to surround your vehicle with cameras. You also don't have to give up your vehicle's OEM features like steering wheel controls, thanks to its iDatalink Maestro compatibility. My biggest complaint about this double DIN is its resistive touchscreen. For the price point, I would have expected a capacitive screen. Unfortunately, the resistive screen means you sacrifice display quality and responsiveness.

Specs

  • Smartphone Compatible: Apple CarPlay, Android Auto
  • Bluetooth: Yes
  • Screen Size: 6.2 inches

Pros

  • Built-in GPS
  • Customizable EQ and EQ presets
  • 80W peak power x 4 channels
  • CD/DVD player

Cons

  • No built-in voice command capability
  • No dual functionality for music and GPS

If you are looking for an all-in-one unit, this stereo is nice because it has iGO 8 navigation abilities. With vocalized street names, lane guidance, and realistic road views, it will give you everything you need to get where you are going. You don't have to sacrifice smartphone and music features, though. Use the Bluetooth for streaming or use the CD player if you still use this type of music technology. While you can use Bluetooth for calling and music streaming, you don't have built-in voice command abilities, which is a slight drawback. And though it comes with a 10-band EQ with eight presets for sound customization, you can't enjoy the music while the unit's giving you navigational directions. This seems frustrating, considering that other technology has no problem doing both simultaneously.
Best with Backup Camera
Boss BV775BLC Package

Specs

  • Smartphone Compatible: No
  • Bluetooth: Yes
  • Screen Size: 6.95 inches

Pros

  • Includes rear-view camera with license plate bracket
  • Built-in internal amp (20 watts RMS/80 peak x 4 channels)
  • Eight-band equalizer
  • Plays CDs, DVDs, SD cards, and USB memory devices

Cons

  • No automatic backup camera function
  • No Apple CarPlay

If you are replacing the stereo in your vehicle with an upgraded model, why not add a backup camera while you are at it? This kit comes with everything you need for simple installation. The oversized screen comes in at just under seven inches, giving you plenty of real estate to view what's behind you. You will mount the backup camera to the back of your car with the license plate bracket. Thankfully, you don't sacrifice other features with this package. This double-DIN comes with Bluetooth for connecting your smartphone, AM/FM radio, and a built-in amplifier. However, while you can use the Bluetooth for calling and streaming music, this unit doesn't come with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, limiting your smartphone functionality. It's also frustrating that it comes as a backup camera package but doesn't automatically switch to the camera when you shift into reverse.
Best with Apple Carplay
Sony XAV-AX7000

Specs

  • Smartphone Compatible: Apple CarPlay, Android Auto
  • Bluetooth: Yes
  • Screen Size: 6.95 inches

Pros

  • Built-in internal amp (45 watts RMS/100 peak x 4 channels)
  • Anti-glare capacitive touchscreen display
  • Siri control
  • 10-band equalizer with extra bass

Cons

  • Very deep chassis
  • Can overheat

Sony has always been known as a market leader for delivering quality sound equipment, but this unit takes that a step further with impressive smartphone integration. Its screen wake-up time is 2.5-times faster than comparable models, making for a smoother and quicker operation. Then the user interface looks and acts just like your phone's screen, making for a minimal learning curve. The capacitive touchscreen is crisp and responsive, making it easy to see and operate. In true Sony tradition, sound quality is impressive, with a 10-band equalizer, Extra Bass, and Dynamic Stage Organizer for increased depth and complexity to the sound quality. The biggest problem with this unit is that it has a deeper than average chassis, which can make it incompatible with some vehicles. You will also want to ensure there's ventilation because the unit can overheat with all of its powerful operations.
Best for Android
Pioneer DMH-W4660NEX

Specs

  • Smartphone Compatible: Apple CarPlay, Android Auto
  • Bluetooth: Yes
  • Screen Size: 6.8 inches

Pros

  • Capacitive touchscreen display
  • Built-in HD radio tuner
  • 13-band graphic EQ
  • Built-in amplifier (14 watts RMS CTA-2006/50 peak x 4 channels)

Cons

  • Small buttons
  • Not powerful microphone

This unit will make a sleek addition, modernizing the design of your dashboard. It also comes with an impressive smartphone integration ability for your Android phone. You will like how it seamlessly integrates into your driving experience to give you voice control over Google Maps, music, weather, text messages, and other apps. It also automatically switches inputs when you connect different phone types. This unit is loaded with additional features, like dual camera inputs, iDatalink Maestro connectivity, and a capacitive touchscreen display. For sound quality, there's a built-in amplifier paired with a 13-band EQ, three preamp outputs, and an optional three-way mode for precise sound control. One drawback of this unit is its sleek design. While it looks cool, it does mean that the control buttons are tiny and hard to accurately push. Also, the included microphone is a bit of a letdown as it could be more sensitive.

Verdict

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.