A car’s sound system is not something most of us will not take for granted. Quality car stereo head units give you the most control over your music including, how crisp it sounds, how deep it sounds, how loud it sounds, and so on. In 95% of the cases an OEM factory car radio head unit sound mediocre at best, this is where it gets a bit fun. There’s a wide range of different types of head units to get, first starting from 2 main categories.
#1 Single din car radios (typically 2″ inches high and 7″ inches long)
#2 Double din car radio (typically 4″ inches high and 7″ inches long)
You’ll be most familiar with single din head units due to their size. There’s no big fancy LCD screen to look at with the single din, a nice classic and simple function head unit is what’s appreciated the most with this style. The last style being “Double Din” head units, these are essentially 2x the height of a regular single din head unit. You’ll usually see them with 7″ or so LCD screens built-in, with a more customized interface (video player, backup camera hookup, navigation etc).
Whether you’re looking for a cheap car stereo head unit or, a top of the line model featuring crisp graphics and sound, the 10 car stereo reviews below should help!
Top 10 Best Car Radio Head Units With Comprehensive Reviews
Clarion CZ305 Built-in Bluetooth aptX In-Dash iPod/iPhone/Android CD MP3 AM FM USB AUX Input EQ Car Stereo Player Pandora Control iHeart Radio compatibility Receiver (Certified Refurbished)
10. Kenwood DDX372BT Double Din Bluetooth Car Radio Receiver
Kenwood DDX372BT Bluetooth radio receiver
Coming in as our #10 spot is Kenwood DDX372BT Bluetooth radio receiver. This model in particular is a double din stereo unit, featuring a beautifully lit 6.2″ inch LCD touch screen. The keys are able to light up, along with various background customization options (available under setup). Maximum power output is 50 watt amps per speaker and 22 watt amps RMS per speaker. With
There’s no AUX port on the front, instead it’s located on the back of this unit (along with AV and microphone inputs). When it comes to using the USB, CD’s, DVD’s and regular component radio, you can access all of that front the front facing section. Lastly, it’s fully compatible with iPhones enabling voice commands, calling, Bluetooth, and Pandora.
9. JVC KDR-330 Car Stereo Receiver
JVC KDR-330 Car Stereo Receiver
One of the most common and basic head units you can get, the JVC KDR-330 Car Stereo Receiver steps it up a few notches above factory OEM. Being a single-din design, what you get is extremely easy to access. With a detachable face plate, you can drastically reduce motorized theft. This unit puts out 50 watt amps MAX and 20 watt amps RMS for each of the 4 channels you can hook it up to.
EQ and an AUX input are right at your fingertips, giving you the ability to take control of your sound system (great for when you’re running subwoofers). Use a CD to play any MP3 or WMA formatted track, or hook up your MP3 player and directly run your music through the single din radio unit using the AUX input. One of the best car stereo receivers on the budget you can get right now and very easy to install.
8. Clarion CZ302 Bluetooth CD/USB/MPS/WMA Radio Receiver
Clarion CZ302 Single Din head unit
Moving up in style and cost, its Clarion CZ302 Single Din head unit. Styling wise it looks much better that the JVC mentioned above, along with the white and black LCD track screen giving it a crisp yet subtle look. Built-in Parrot Bluetooth enables you to pair up your wireless device for hands-free communication and audio streaming + you can even hook-up Pandora and control it from the head unit itself.
If Pandora isn’t your thing, you can use the SerriesXM satellite radio function built-in (requires a subscription to SeriesXM for it to work). Connect a device using the USB port located on the front, use the EQ to tune sound, and the AUX input for playing your MP3 music tracks. For right around 100 dollars, it’s about what we’d be comfortable paying, a BIG step-up from OEM but not overly expensive.
7. Pioneer AVH270BT Double Din Bluetooth Car Radio Receiver
Pioneer AVH270BT Double Din Bluetooth Car Radio Receiver
Our #7 spot goes to a well know brand called Pioneer, their AVG270 Double Din head unit is considerably cheaper than some of Kenwoods double din stereo models. This one in particular offers a flat face with no knobs at all, all buttons for settings and volume. Its touch screen is by no means the clearest in resolution, but it gets the job done quite well allowing you to customize a wide array of settings.
Bluetooth Hands-Free calling and audio streaming allows you to communicate, without physically touching your telephone. Along with a wide array of different settings accessible from the touch screen, you can also access USB, AV and AUX inputs located on the back of this receiver. Sound outputs are rated at 50 watt amps MAX for each of the 4 channels, and 20-25 watt amps RMS. If you though all this is costly, you’d be wrong. 180 dollars gets you the whole package, not a bad value proposition at all.
6. Sony DSXA40UI Digital Car Radio Receiver
Sony DSXA40Ui Single Din digital head unit
You probably already know Sony makes some exceptional products, from HDTV’s, Video Game Consoles, Windows Computers, and let’s not forget, audio equipment. #6 goes to the Sony DSXA40Ui Single Din digital head unit. The sleek styling, fitted with a nice black-on-black color scheme giving it a very stealthy look. What you’ll find here isn’t anything extraordinary, except for the fact that you can access the AUX and USB port right at the flip of the cover. What’s nice here, is that those ports can stay hidden with the flip of the cover.
As always, the front panel is 100% detachable to reduce vehicle theft. Power output from this head unit is around 55-watt amps MAX and 20-25 watt amps RMS. RCA outputs for external amplifiers are present, allowing you to expand your sound system. Lastly, the typical things like EQ adjustments and FM/AM radio are all present. A wireless remote control lets you be away from the system, without really being “away”. An excellent way to start your custom sound system, check this Sony model out.
5. Pioneer AVH-4100NEX Double Din 7″ inch Touchscreen Radio Receiver
Pioneer AVH-4100NEX Double Din 7″ inch Touchscreen Radio Receiver
By far the costliest head unit we have in this top 10 list, we have the Pioneer AVH-4100NEX Double Din 7″ inchhead unit. Right off the bat you’ll see it costs a pretty penny, but it looks like the features may be justifiable for just that. First clear sign of a premium product is the slightly larger LCD display at 7″ inches across (compared to the 6.2″ inch). The LED backlit display gives more vibrant colors under animation , as well as the backlit keys giving this unit a more defined look at night. It features Bluetooth hands-free calling and audio streaming, so AUX cords won’t be necessary. Still, if an AUX cord is needed you can have direct access from the back (as well as access to RCA outputs).
This touchscreen looks very crisp and clean, allowing you to make light touches (much like on smartphones) to perform any given command. To wrap up this particular review, we’re going to cover a very cool feature which iPhone owners will love. It’s called CarPlay, and it basically allows you to have access to the basic iPhone applications on the head unit itself. Make calls, listen to music, using Apple Maps, read text messages, listen to podcasts, and a few more cool features.
This review can go on for a while with the amount of features, but we’ll cut it short here. For the best double din head unit and Bluetooth car stereo, look no further than this Pioneer AVH-4100NEX.
4. Alpine CDE-143BT CR Radio Receiver
Alpine CDE-143BT CR Radio Receiver
Moving back down to the single din head units, we have the Alpine CDE-143BT Digital Audio Receiver. This head unit is not meant for cheap car stereos, but instead it’s meant for pairing up your existing Alpine equipment together. Giving you a classic look with the volume knob and black/white LCD display, this is the definition of quality made from Alpine. It boasts 50 watts of max power and 20-25 watts of RMS for each of the 4 channels. From the front you’ll be offered an AUX and USB ports for playing music and charging your device.
Use the Bluetooth integration to listen to music, take calls, and make outbound calls (directly from the head unit). Lastly, is the simple to use layout of this Alpine model. You can adjust volume, switch from different stations/songs, select preset favorite stations, and adjust your EQ for the kind of sound you really want hear.
3. BOSS AUDIO BV9976B 7″ inch Touchscreen Bluetooth Radio Receiver
BOSS AUDIO BV9973
BOSS is no Alpine or Pioneer when it comes down to credibility and quality, but that’s not to say all their products suck. A good example of a VERY popular double din car stereo head unit is BOSS AUDIO’s BV9976B 7″ inch Motorized Touchscreen unit. What’s great about it is the sheer cost savings that will happen when you purchase this particular unit. Look at comparable Pioneer and Kenwood units, they are 180-300 dollars vs this unit being at 120 dollars. First are the savings, next are the important features which make this head unit tick.
At 85 watts pushing at each of the 4 channels, RMS rating will be anywhere between 40-45 watts. Front face is simple to use, lit up with bright LED’s. When it opens up to the 7″ inch LCD screen, you can listen to the radio, listen to a disk, use handsfree Bluetooth, or stream music. The front features the typical controls you’d usually find on a single din head unit, what you’d ALSO find here are AUX, USB and SD Card ports for music. This is probably the best car stereo head unit that is double din, for budget oriented buyers.
2. Kenwood KDC-255U In-Dash CD Radio Receiver (USB + AUX)
Kenwood is their KDC-255U in-dash single din cd radio receiver
A very big seller from Kenwood is their KDC-255U in-dash single din cd radio receiver. Priced extremely reasonable at around 60 dollars, it brings out a classic head unit look while still looking modern and quite sleek. Front features a USB port along with an AUX port to stream music directly from your music device. One thing this head unit is compatible with is Pandora, allowing you to switch from song to song, and rate thumbs up or down directly from the head unit.
From all 4 channels available, you can run 22watt amps RMS. Use the included RCA cables to really crank up the juice by hooking up an aftermarket amplifier. Overall it’s an easy unit to install, undoubtedly one of the best cheap stereo receivers you can get right now from ANYWHERE. Over 270 individual user reviews and an average rating of 4.6 stars from 5 says its a worth contender.
1. Pioneer FH-X720BT Double Din Bluetooth Car Radio Receiver
Undoubtedly one of the most popular double din head units you can buy online right now. Pioneers FH-X720BT takes a double din approach while still being in “look” a single din. What we love about this unit the most is night time appeal, since it’s primarily black with LED accents all around. The controls on the front of this unit are very easy to access, especially the volume control located directly in the center of the unit.
Bluetooth for hands-free calling and wireless audio streaming is a very useful feature. Voice recognition supporting iPhones makes it easy to make outbound calls without touching your phone. With two RCA outputs in the back, you can connect an external amplifier to really boost up the sound output which from the factory is 50 watts max and 25 watts RMS per channel (4 in total).
It’s under 100 dollars, over 760 individual user reviews and 4.5 stars from 5 as an average rating.
To compliment your brand new head unit, you’re going to probably want to get a good pair of component car speakers. Also, to power your entire sound system you’ll need a good quality car battery. Especially when you’re looking to push a few sub woofers and sound sound aftermarket component speakers, a high cold cranking amp battery is the way to go.