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.
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 touchscreen 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: Pioneer MVH-X390BT
The Pioneer MVH-X390BT vehicle receiver is probably one of the most user friendly singele din head units in the market today.
It is also one of the best options around. Right down from installation, this gadget has been designed to ease a driver’s efforts; and all this comes at a relatively affordable price tag.
It is true that Pioneer hardly ever disappoints when it comes to car radios; this model proves that beyond any doubt. The following palpably proves why.
Notably, the Pioneer MVH-X390BT features a bunch well-thought capabilities that try to incorporate ease of use and convenient technological additions.
On top of this list of these incredible features is the radios compact, easy to fit body. Its chassis is made for quick and simple installation and an easy to navigate user interface.
Its simplicity gives it an upper hand as most drivers prefer little distraction when in action. It comes with a detachable faceplate making it theft deterrent.
The receiver is fitted with an MP3 ID3 Tag Display that allows a single-line 13 character display. Its AM/FM tuner comes with 18 FM AND 6 AM preset that allows you a range of radio stations to pick from.
When it comes to modern-day technology, the Pioneer MVH-X390BT manufactures clearly had no intention of letting it rag behind.
First and foremost, this receiver is Bluetooth enabled can easily pair with other Bluetooth enabled devices. Other than making it possible for you to connect your phone to your favorite playlist, this feature makes receiving calls super convenient eliminating unnecessary distractions.
It is compatible with both Apple and iOS software phones; it even comes with a built-in iPod, iPhone, and iPad control panel. Additionally, you can control music apps such as Spotify and Pandora from this device.
More technological inclusions include the Siri Eyes Free functionality, compatibility with the Pioneer ARC App, dual and guest mode Bluetooth pairing and an Advanced Sound Receiver that restores high-quality sound from compressed files.
Lastly, the devices come with a remote control (enables hands-off control), 5-band graphic equalizer. MP3/WMA/WAV playback feature, an external microphone and finally 4 channels preamp output.
The Pioneer MVH-390BT vehicle receivers prove that there’s more than one way to enjoy music even in your own car. Despite lacking a CD player, this device offers up many other features that more than make up for the deficiency. Its simple design makes it easy to work; it’s clear to see why this particular model was our preferred pick.
With CD Player: Pioneer DEH-X6900BT
This Pioneer DEH-X6900BT 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.).
Top Notch: Alpine CDE-HD149BT
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 Alpine CDE-HD149BT 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 subwoofer 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 to 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).
On The Budget: Pyle PLR27MPBU
Finally, we have the Pyle PLR27MPBU, a radio that stand out in the short list of relatively cheap single din radios.
This buddy unit successfully offers the best of features at a very low price tag. Although it may not be able to out do its more expensive counterparts, it holds the promise of complete satisfaction to anyone who buys it.
First and foremost, this radio allows for Bluetooth connectivity. This ultimately means hands off control and audio streaming achievable with the Pyle PLR27MPBU. It comes with USB and SD memory card readers, an Aux input connector jack and rear panel output connector jacks.
Its LCD digital display comes with ID3 Tag readout that shows information such as artist names and song titles. It also includes a blue back-lit button control illumination.
The radio features a wireless remote control and a removable front panel (theft deterrent).
More specs include its 4 x 80 watt power output, 30 preset radio station memory, treble/bass control, playback modes (intro/repeat/random) and digital audio file compatibility.
Last but not least, its select-able sound mode allows you to pick between the stereo and mono modes.
Simplicity is all one needs sometimes. The Pyle PLR27MPBU car stereo is all about getting the job done as easily as possible. Although it only offers up a handful of impressive features, it works well and serves its users for a significantly long time. As it turns out, cheap is not always expensive.
On The Budget: BOSS AUDIO 616UAB
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: Pioneer DEH-X6800BS
Most people may assume that the Pioneer DEH-X68008BS car is an average car stereo with nothing much to offer; that couldn’t be further from the truth.
This device is an HD Radio; this typically means it uses digital signals which in turn give off high-quality audio output. With this radio, you can forget about the nuisance that is hissing analog static sounds.
That and a combination of other impressive features make this model a popular choice in the market. It covers its users in several ways; here’s how.
Like many of its counterparts, the Pioneer DEH-X6800BS comes with a built-in Bluetooth for wireless audio streaming. This gives its users the chance to listen to the favorite playlists from any Bluetooth enabled device.
It also makes it possible to pick and make phone calls without having to actually reach out for your phone. It also comes with both the Spotify and Pandora App control for both iPhone and Android gadgets.
In addition to that, it also features the Pioneer ARC App Control that makes working the device a walk in the park.
Additional features include Spectrum Analyzer, Siri Free Eyes functionality, MIXTRAX non stop music play, dual and guest mode Bluetooth connectivity, Advanced Sound Retriever and a 4 channel 50 watt power output.
As mentioned earlier, the Pioneer DEH-X6800BS comes with a remarkable audio performance. Other than the fact that its HD feature does nothing but better its output, it also includes an electric shock protection with an inbuilt buffer.
It goes on to feature a 5-band equalizer with 6 preset options. It plays CDs and also comes with both USB and Auxiliary input ports. Its also equipped with one rear steering wheel interface control input.
This receiver’s display is also quite remarkable with Dual Zone Color Customization Illumination that allows you to pick your desired color for both the text display and the button illuminated color. This way, even your car radio can match your personality.
Evidently, the Pioneer DEH-X6800BS is one of the best single din head units in the market today. At a reasonable price, its users area able to enjoy a combination of features that would make any journey worth the drive not to mention a seamless flow of good quality sounds.
Also Great: BOSS Audio BV7335B
When working on a budget, it may not always be possible to get what you want in particular; normally have to lower your standards just a tad bit.
However, the Boss Audio BV7335B car stereo proves that cheap isn’t always bad. This little gadget includes specs that would give most of its counterparts a run for their money.
With a well put together list of features, this little gadget has all it takes to be your best travel buddy. Let’s take a quick look at just how it does this.
The Boss Audio BV7335B comes with an 80 Watt, 4 max power output. It also includes a bass, treble balance, and fader controls and also includes a preset equalizer.
Another feature that’s undoubtedly worth a mention is its rear camera input which is paired with a video output feature. This enables this little device to display images.
It is Bluetooth enabled for easy audio streaming and for convenient hands-free control. Its compatibility with other Bluetooth devices makes it possible to stream music apps a such Pandora and Spotify from your smartphone.
When it comes to input and output features, the device comes with both a USB and SD memory card port. In addition to that, it is fitted with AUX and AV inputs that allow connection to external devices.
Its front panel chassis is detachable; this feature helps to keep it safe. It also comes with a wireless remote control and a switchable tuner (US or UK). The device comes with ID3 Tag display that shows any additional data about an audio.
The BOSS Audio BV7335B car stereo covers users who want an impressive head unit but are limited to a budget. The above features make this car radio competitively visible in the market today. This purchase is definitely worth every penny spent.
Also Great: Kenwood KMMBT315U
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 touchscreen 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.
Our Pick With Touchscreen: Pioneer AVH-3300NEX
Smartphones are taking over the world in a wave thanks to touchscreen technology; most people think it nothing short of genius.
The Pioneer AVH-3300NEX flip up car receiver brings this experience all the way to your dashboard. This receiver brings its users the privilege of a touchscreen digital interface which like your average smartphones, comes with tremendous convenience.
As you would expect, other than its touchscreen capabilities, this device comes with its own share of equally impressive features that make it a worthy option in a market flooded with many others.
Let us take look through the what the Pioneer AVH-3300NNEX car stereo has on its plate.
Undoubtedly worthy of the first mention, the 7″ slide out digital touchscreen display puts the Pioneer AVH-3300NEX on a different level from most other vehicle receivers.
Any smartphone oriented driver would definitely appreciate this customizable interface. The display comes with an 800*480 pixels resolution, is highly sensitive, responsive and has a range of display colors (5) and includes a few buttons for easier navigation.
This feature makes working featured apps a piece of cake. Such apps include Siri Eyes and Google Now.
Individual apps such as Pandora, Spotify and Apple music are also compatible with the device; it even features controls for such apps.
Additional apps include Android Auto, CarPlay and the Pioneer’s App Radio Mode.
This single din radio has the Bluetooth connectivity feature that enables connection to smartphones as well as other Bluetooth enabled devices. For hands-free control and calling, it is fitted with a microphone.
Equipped with both a CD/DVD drive and a USB port, this receiver makes it possible to play a different type of audio files with few limitations. More specs include a 4-volt preamp out, a separate amplifier and a 50 watt 4 amp (inbuilt) and a remote control.
For any stereo, the quality of its audio output matters the most. The Pioneer AVH-X4800BS includes a 13-band graphic equalizer, Advanced Sound Retriever and both high and low-pass filters to ensure that is well covered.
Having a receiver that allows you the smartphone experience on your car dashboard is rather exciting. Although some people prefer to keep their head units old school, trying out something different may prove to be more fulfilling
That is exactly what the Pioneer AVH-X2800BS brings to the table. Ease of use, a good number of impressive tech features and of course, a touch screen, are not things many drivers would want to miss out on.
Runner Up: Pyle PLBT73G
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 touchscreen 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.