Single din head unit or stereo is the bread and butter of a car audio system. They allow you to play music, sync up your phone with the car audio system, stream and download videos for the car TV and most modern units come with features such as customizable backlighting, high-quality touch-screen displays, as well as Bluetooth, WIFI, NFC, etc. Some carry enthusiast grade EQ modules that let you add special effects to your favorite tracks, and you may even find mixers on a lot of single din head units these days.
CD receiver with AM/FM tuner
built-in MOSFET amplifier (14 watts RMS CEA-2006/50 peak x 4 channels)
built-in Bluetooth for hands-free calling and audio streaming
MIXTRAX for a DJ-inspired audio/visual experience with compatible devices
10-level illumination dimmer
built in iPod, iPhone, and iPad controls
Pandora and Spotify control
Plays CDs, CD-Rs, and CD-RWs
6-channel preamp outputs (2-volt front, rear, subwoofer)
50 Watts x 4
3 Pre-Outs (4V)
Three-line Full Rich LCD display, Alpine TuneIt App Ready, BT Plus; Advanced Bluetooth® wireless technology with Audio Streaming
Works with Pandora® internet radio for iPhone® and Android™
Built-In HD Radio™ receiver, SiriusXM Satellite Radio Ready, 24-Bit DAC, Quad-Illumination, Made for iPod and iPhone, App Direct Mode, Rear USB Input, 9 Band Parametric EQ
DVD/CD receiver with internal amp (14 watts RMS CEA-2006/50 peak x 4 channels)
motorized 7" touchscreen display with NEX user interface
built-in Bluetooth for hands-free calling and audio streaming; supports two phones at once
Siri Eyes Free with compatible iPhones
multi-color illumination with MIXTRAX audio and visual effects
for single-DIN (2" tall) openings
built-in iPod, iPhone, and iPad control
FLAC file playback via USB
6-channel preamp outputs (4-volt front, rear, subwoofer)
We also did a review of best double-DIN radios.
Table of contents
So what are the things that you should look for while buying single din radio? We have divided this list into two sections- one for single din head units with Bluetooth, and the other for single din head units with touch screen displays and DVD. Take a look at each section to get a better understanding of what you shout look for in each type of stereo.
Best Single Din Head Units with Bluetooth
Look for units with at least 4 channels of audio output, and a minimum power output of 35 W per channel. Also, pay attention to the signal to noise ratio and make sure that you’re getting a decent multi-band EQ built-in along with a dedicated subwoofer RCA output. FM/AM radios are a plus, and customizable backlighting is a great feature to have. Make sure that it has 3.5mm jacks as well as USB inputs for syncing with your phone. Check its compatibility with both the Android and iOS systems.
Our Pick: Alpine CDE-HD149BT Single-Din Bluetooth Car Stereo
If you wish to have a no-compromises, top notch single din stereo unit complete with a DVD player, Bluetooth, USB, and multi-band EQ, then this is the best model on the market in terms of price to performance. There are of coursed significantly costlier single din units out there, but they don’t offer any substantial improvements over this Alpine Stereo even though they might cost twice as much. After all, you’re getting 18 W of RMS power across 4 channels, and you can use the preamp output to hook up that mono amp with your woofer in the trunk.
And yes, there is sub woofer control right on the menu of this stereo head, and you also get a super awesome 9-band parametric EQ control along with the full suite of bass, treble, volume, and fader controls. SNR is an impressive 105 dB which is bordering on audiophile grade quality, and the Bluetooth, as well as hands-free call support, is extremely smooth and reliable.
There are a few issues, though, like the bugged Pandora interface which tends to malfunction when you connect certain smartphone models on the USB hub, although Bluetooth connectivity should still work fine. Also, the FM reception is not very good and the phone book feels a little lag when you first sync your phone with the stereo unit after you boot up the unit. But even with all these flaws, this Alpine Stereo gets our vote for the “Best Single-Din Bluetooth Car Stereo” currently available on the market due to its incredibly smooth EQ control, conveniently positioned RCA preamp and USB ports, high quality interface, solid build quality, and great sound quality (thanks to that 105 dB SNR and 18 W of RMS output per channel).
Runner Up: Pioneer DEH-X6900BT Vehicle CD Digital Music Player/ Receiver
This Pioneer single din radio is going to impress you with its superb build quality, solid interface, reliable Bluetooth and FM connectivity, and the plethora of I/O options. It includes an RCA preamp output for connecting amps to car speakers and supports hands-free calling as well as audio streaming. You can also use Spotify, Pandora, SiriusXM, etc. on this device, and its interface can easily shift colors and brightness in order to match the ambient lighting as well as the interior design of your car. USB quick charge allows you to fully recharge your smartphone within a span of a couple of hours.
But of all this goodness does not come without any cons, and there are quite a few significant ones over here which are why the Pioneer DEH-X6900BT had to occupy the runners up the seat. First of all, you cannot access or create lists in Spotify. Also, the file exploration options seem pretty limited whenever you connect your smartphone to this device via USB, as songs and videos saved in certain formats don’t even show up on the explorer. Manual audio enhancement does not seem to affect audio quality by a lot, although you do get a bunch of presets to play around with if you wish to tinker with the way your songs sound (bass, treble, fade, etc.).
On The Budget: BOSS AUDIO 616UAB Single-DIN MECH-LESS Multimedia Player
If you’re on a budget, then don’t go without taking a look at the BOSS Audio 616UAB. It is by far the most “bang for the buck” single din stereo unit we have ever tested and come in at under 50 bucks. What does it offer then at this price? Well, here you go- Bluetooth with hands-free calling and audio streaming support, USB, SD, and AUX inputs for hooking up your memory card, smartphone, headphone, etc. and full RCA preamp connectivity right on the front panel. And yes, it also has a built-in EQ tuner with bass, treble, and fader controls.
So you might be asking yourself “what does it not have?” Well, there is a reason it costs less than half as much as some of the more premium units. Compromises have been made on the diversity of controls that you’ll get in the EQ menu, and there are no subwoofer controls. Also, worth noting is the lack of iPod control, and the seemingly flimsy build quality (shouldn’t matter as long as it stays mounted in your car’s dash, right?).
Also Great: Kenwood KMMBT315U Digital Media Receiver
The Kenwood KMMBT315U is an excellent single din radio unit with some minor design flaws that most people won’t even notice during daily usage. It supports Android AOA 2.0 and allows you to rapidly charge your smartphone using the USB port located on the front panel. AUX input also comes in pretty handy as you can connect your headphones and listen to your favorite tracks without disturbing the others. FLAC 48K/16-bit is supported via USB, and the entire unit is solidly built and will easily fit most cars.
The main cons of this device have to be the bugged phone synchronization and clunky interface. Both of these issues affect the overall user experience as your phone books don’t load as quickly, certain devices take ages to connect, and the entire menu lags at times after you start up the unit from sleep. However all of these issues can be conveniently fixed through a software update, and we have just one final complaint- the LCD just seems too dim for usage during a bright, sunny day.
Best Single Din Head Units with Touch Screen and DVD
Obviously, you should check for a DVD player and touch screen in these. But, the quality of the touch screen can make a lot of difference in your overall experience. In these cases, always go for a minimum resolution of 640 x 320, although if you have the screen that is 6” or bigger, you need at least 800 x 480. In short, the more resolution your display carries, the better it will look. Capacitive touch screens are expensive, and rarely found on car head units, however, they are much better than resistive touch panels.
The UI is also very important. It needs to be simple yet intuitive, while also feeling snappy and responsive. The hands-free operation, Bluetooth, Pandora, SiriusXM, are all noteworthy features that you must have, along with iPhone and Android compatibility. Also, look for USB and AUX ports, along with a remote control.
Check out more flip out head units for your car!
Our Pick: PIONEER AVH-X7800BT 7″ 1Din DVD Receiver
If you want a single din stereo unit with a motorized touch screen, then this one right here will fulfill your needs nicely. It is made by PIONEER and features a sturdy overall construction for both the motorized hinge as well as the touch panel. The display itself is quite sharp and touch sensitivity is pretty good considering the fact that this is a car stereo unit, so don’t expect it to perform like a smartphone touch display. The resolution of its 6-1/8” x 3-3/8” WVGA screen is 800 x 400, which should be good enough for watching low-quality videos or navigating through basic GPS maps. Both Google Voice and Siri Eyes Free are supported, and it allows you to sync up your Android or iOS device via Bluetooth/ USB.
We would have really liked to see a cleaner back design because the overcrowded I/O panel on the rear makes this unit near impossible to fit into tight spaces on certain European car models, especially the ones from the 80’s and 90’s. Also, certain video/song formats are not detected when you use the USB to sync up a smartphone or mp3/mp4 player.
Runner Up: Pyle PLBT73G Bluetooth 7-Inch GPS Navigation Headunit Receiver, Touch Screen, CD/DVD
Pyle makes some great car stereo units, and their PLBT73G is no exception. It is what you should go for if you just want a good old flip-out single din touchscreen head unit without any unnecessary fancy features. It supports Bluetooth hands-free voice calling and audio streaming and is fully compatible with all Apple mobile devices and Android smartphones. This particular stereo unit right here showed no compatibility issues whatsoever while connecting to any phone, and it supports most well-known mp3 players too.
The interface is simple and does not offer a lot of functions, but feels really snappy and it never lagged once during testing. Phonebooks and messages load up instantly, and the 7” HD touch screen feels amazing to use. One of the features that really caught our attention was the built-in GPS. Seriously, it outperforms most low-medium grade standalone GPS devices in terms of map detail, turn-by-turn audio instructions, and overall interface quality.
Is there anything that could have been improved? Well, at this price we don’t have much to complain about since this stereo unit is already offering so much. It doesn’t have a lot of fancy features but does exactly what it says it will do, and without any glitches or delays. Keep in mind the fact that the installation process is not the easiest, and you might the assistance of some Youtube videos to get through with it. Also, some units might ship with old GPS maps, although you can conveniently update those by connecting your smartphone to the stereo head and downloading the latest map files.