Whether you’re looking for a replacement unit and are hoping to avoid cutting your car’s interior up or want something more streamlined, a single din car stereo is probably the answer.
These are the standard-sized head units that are compatible with a range of vehicles and offer plenty of modern features—meaning it’s time to get rid of the old CD player from the 2000s.
Here are our thoughts on the best single din head unit out there.
Editor’s Choice Single Din Stereo
1. Alpine CDE-HD 149BT :
The sound quality with Alpine’s 149BT is excellent, the range of functions is stellar, and it’s an affordable way to get Bluetooth connectivity in older vehicles. One drawback, however, is connectivity issues depending on device type and features.
Overall, for users with Android devices, Alpine’s unit is solid. For iPhone users, there are some bugs to work out, making this a solid choice for some customers and a bit of a gamble for others.
While Bluetooth is a more common feature on most stereos these days, SiriusXM compatibility is somewhat rare. Which means Alpine’s compatible unit checks the box on one of the most sought-after specs. Plus, it has HD radio capabilities, though what channels you get depends on your local radio stations’ offerings.
Bluetooth functionality is a must these days, but unlike other models, this Alpine model doesn’t allow dual connectivity. A minor flaw, but worth noting.
The menus are easily navigable and clear, but if you want a remote control, you’ll have to buy it separately, a somewhat surprising revelation when you consider everything else this unit offers.
Decent Bluetooth call quality is helpful, but it’s also lacking in comparison with other units at this level. And while it works with both Android and Apple devices, many users with iPhones noted some connectivity challenges with certain apps. Plus, Alpine seems to lack patience with Siri: customers indicate she often gets cut off when her replies aren’t concise enough.
Also, certain devices will charge via the USB plug while others won’t, a minor flaw but an irritating one at that. Of course, for many users, that’s not an issue, particularly if they have an alternative device charging setup in the vehicle.
The display is one of the highlights, as you can customize the colors and dim the backlit glow, but it might still be too bright for some users. And although the screen quality is great and the menu functional, some of the icons are distracting and even nonsensical, something Alpine may consider nixing from future versions.
After all, rotating graphics shouldn’t take up more space than say, song titles or other icons from the menu.
2. Pioneer Single Din In-Dash Stereo
Back to basics is a reasonable way to describe Pioneer’s single din stereo receiver, and that’s a good thing. It’s an affordable model that delivers crisp sound without compromising on convenience. 4
Sure, there is no Bluetooth, but we’re focusing on affordability and basic features here, and to that end, Pioneer’s unit fits the bill.
While Pioneer’s unit lacks the Bluetooth option many modern stereos have, it delivers quality audio and multiple modes of connectivity. There are both USB and AUX inputs on the front of the unit, so it’s easy to swap out an Android, Apple, or another device for music.
Installation is simple thanks to the basic features, so this is one DIY job that won’t cause a lot of stress. At the same time, Pioneer is a reputable brand with plenty of industry experience (and accolades). So in terms of a functional single din stereo that won’t break the bank, this is a strong contender.
All the essential functions are here: radio presets, customizable equalizer settings, an included wireless remote, plus a detachable faceplate for security. It may not rock your socks off, but you can enjoy a strong audio performance on stock and even upgraded speakers.
The dimmable backlight is a handy feature, and daytime viewing is bright and crisp. One minor inconvenience is there is no “off” switch, so you’ll need to wire the stereo to shut off with the vehicle or you’ll be in low battery trouble in no time.
It doesn’t have much in the way of looks, but if you need to replace a factory unit, you can’t go wrong with this option. And the sizing is standard, so it’s unlikely customers will need additional equipment to install.
Of course, if you don’t want your stereo to switch off when the vehicle does, you’ll need to invest in other equipment to ensure you can turn it off—a minor inconvenience but one that’s worth noting.
3. BOSS Audio BV9986BI In Dash Receiver
Hands-free calls, remote audio streaming, and a motorized touchscreen are the highlights of BOSS Audio’s single din unit. Sound quality is superior to other similarly classed stereos, and the ability to connect additional equipment is a definite perk.
The only add-on you’ll need is an interface module to connect the steering wheel buttons to the stereo—otherwise, everything is already on-board.
For single-DIN setups where customers want full-screen features, BOSS Audio’s unit packs a punch. It has a trim profile, but the unit holds a motorized touchscreen that can play DVDs, connect to your on-board backup camera, and stream music.
Bluetooth is on-board, which is always a plus, but there are also USB, AUX, and SD inputs available. So in addition to music app accessibility, you can also plug and play from multiple memory sources. USB flash drives up to 32GB are compatible, and that includes playing both music and video thanks to the 7-inch screen.
And if audio performance is your game, this unit has pre-amp outputs that let you connect up to three amps or signal processors for subwoofer channels. Of course, there are also preset equalizer settings and electronic skip protection for CD playback, too.
The design is sleek, which is something most consumers expect with a single din unit—nothing flashy here, especially when the screen is stowed. Of course, depending on the layout of your vehicle’s interior, the screen might bump other accessories as it’s moving in or out.
Although the compatibility with USB and SD memory is great, there’s a bit of a learning curve when it comes to finding the tracks you want. There is no organization in the menu, so you’ll be stuck with numbers one through thousands rather than being able to search for specific titles.
4. Pioneer AVH-3300NEX
If video and Bluetooth features are on the top of your car audio wish list, Pioneer’s AVH-3300NEX unit will fulfill those needs. Audio quality is great, video quality is superb, and you can access all your music whether it’s via the cloud or plug-in media.
The only drawback we can find is that the USB port is in the back of the stereo, so accessibility is a challenge.
Another single DIN unit with a motorized touchscreen, Pioneer’s AVH-3300NEX has just about everything you need for music, video, and smartphone functions. The touchscreen interface is customizable, and you have both DVD and CD capabilities.
And with both CarPlay and Android Auto, you can play tunes with either Apple or Android devices. The caveat, however, is that those functions don’t work via Bluetooth; you’ll need to plug the smartphone in via the USB port instead. The USB port is on the back of the unit, likely to keep it streamlined, so accessibility can prove challenging.
If your vehicle has a backup camera (or you’ve installed an after-market option), you’ll be able to connect that as well, and the video quality is superb. And, the screen tilt can be customized (and the settings stick), so you can alter the way the screen pops out and at what angle.
And although the touchscreen display shows the names of songs and radio stations, you can’t view those details entirely on the smaller, basic display screen. Instead, the songs scroll across the screen, meaning you’ll be taking your eyes off the road to check what song is playing.
In some vehicles, the unit will stick out a bit, but that depends on how you install plus which make and model vehicle you have, so results can vary. Fortunately, the customizable screen tilt helps with positioning once the touchscreen pops out.
5. Kenwood KDC-168U
Plenty of audio adjustment controls make this unit a satisfactory choice for music lovers and those with aftermarket stereo systems. However, the lack of Bluetooth will make this one a no-go for some users.
Those who are content with AUX, USB, and CD music, however, will appreciate the equalizer adjustments and sound quality features.
Another entry-level stereo that is a great replacement for factory units is Kenwood’s KDC-168U. It plays CDs with MP3 and WMA files and accepts media via USB input and an AUX cable. All inputs are on the front panel, so accessibility is a highlight.
And while input is limited since there’s no Bluetooth, there are plenty of audio settings that upgrade the user listening experience. From the EQ curves and 3-band equalizer settings to the Kenwood sound reconstruction for low bit rate encoded files, you can expect excellent sound from this basic pick.
There’s also a low-pass filter and subwoofer level control, things you won’t often find on the more affordable stereos, if at all. Plus, iPhones and select Android devices enjoy music control support, such as Pandora and iHeartRadio with iPhones.
Installation is straightforward, though there are some performance challenges with certain models of GM (and potentially other) vehicles. Knowing what you’re doing is important, so some DIYers might need additional support in those cases.
One awkward feature is that when connecting a phone or other device, you can’t use the stereo’s play and skip controls on the display unless you connect via USB. With the AUX input, you must change the music from your device’s screen, which is standard, but it can also be cumbersome since drivers need to keep their eyes on the road.
Whether you need a stock radio replacement or something with a bit more kick, these are the best single din head units available at a range of price points. For some of us, a basic radio kit is all we need, but others want full touchscreen capabilities and Bluetooth functionality.
Either way, there’s a straightforward solution to your listening needs, and it doesn’t have to be complicated. Taking a look at the basic features will tell you whether a unit will meet your specifications, but when budget is also a factor, you may find that the lower-end offerings can also deliver surprising performance levels.
See More Content :