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 15, 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.
This is a 7-inch, multimedia car stereo that has a capacitive touchscreen interface and runs on a stable Android Marshmallow operating system.
- 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
- Doesn’t have a DVD/CD player
- Doesn’t come with a headrest video output option
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.
- 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
- Might be low on the bass despite having an equalizer
- Steering wheel control interface is sold separately
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.
- 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
- On the expensive side
- Doesn’t have a CD/DVD player
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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 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.
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 Excelon DMX706S Multimedia Receiver.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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
- 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.
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.
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