Best Cheap Car Stereos – Budget Head Units

Best Cheap Car Stereos – Budget Head Units [UPDATED 2021]

Since you landed on this page you must be looking for some budget car stereo options – wow how psychic are we!

No worry – SINGLE or DOUBLE DINWith a CD player or Disc-player-free units (also called – digital media receivers) – we got you covered on all fronts.

First, we’ll start with the most basic head units – around $50. Then we’ll get to the better ones – and still stay within a budget of around $100 or maybe a bit more.

Check the table of content for a full products review or see our list of best car radio units.

ImageCheap Car StereoBottom lineProsConsSpecsBluetoothUSB InputAUX Input
Alpine UTE-73BT Advanced...
1-Din Pick
Under $100

$99.95 at Amazon
If you want the latest Alpine digital media receiver that cost less than a $100 bucks - here it is!

Great reviews, bright screen, good soundNo CD (although there is a CD version but at extra cost)Bluetooth, Siri Control, Android Control, Multi-Device Pairing + Dual Phone Connection, Voice Dialing, Siri Eyes Free ControlYesFrontFront
JVC KD-X270BT Digital Media...
Runner Up

$79.95 at Amazon
Basically, for a couple of bucks less you get almost all the specs like Our Pick.There is nothing like it on the market for this price.Connectivity issues, relatively small controls, No CDbuilt-in Bluetooth for audio streaming and hands-free calling (mic included), voice recognition dialing, wirelessly control PANDORA and Spotify from your Android deviceYesFrontFront
BOSS Audio Systems 611UAB...
1-Din
Really Cheap

$21.99 at Amazon
If you are looking for a no-frill cheap stereo replacement for your car, then this Boss device is definitely an option worth considering. It offers all the basic features for the price that can't be matched.Best selling replacement stereo under $50Can't detach front panel, no SD Port, underpoweredBluetooth/USB, MP3, WMA, FM/AM, Digital Media from Smart Phones, PandoraYesFrontFront
PIONEER...
2-Din Pick

$110.00 at Amazon
So, you're on a budget and got around $100 bucks for a double-DIN receiver - don't worry we got you covered with Pioneer MVH-S420BT!

For this price it can't get better! For this price none!Alexa Built-in When Paired with Pioneer, Smart Sync App, Android™ Compatibility,
iPhone® Compatibility, Works with Pandora® and Spotify®, Built-in Bluetooth®
YesFrontFront
JVC KW-X840BTS Bluetooth Car...
Runner Up

$119.95 at Amazon
If Our pick isn't available this is the unit you should go after!Quick and easy installation, illumination options to match your car lightningsBuilt-in amp is underpowered, JVC AppBluetooth, Built-in Amazon Alexa, compatible with iPhone® or Android™, Pandora® and Spotify®, Siri Eyes-Free-Mode for iPhoneYesFrontFront
BOSS Audio Systems 850BRGB Car...
2-Din
Really Cheap

$42.49 at Amazon
Here's the deal; even for less than a $50, Boss Audio will have you throwing parties right from the confine of your car. I say this with good reasons; one such reason is the 850BRGB head unit.Pocket-friendly, Easy install (all wires come labeled)No way to disable Bluetooth autoplay once on, Equalizer may prove difficult to find for some people.Bluetooth/CD/USB, MP3, WMA, FM/AM, Digital Media from Smart PhonesYesFrontFront

Cheap Car Stereo – Under $100 – SINGLE DIN

Our Pick Under $100

Alpine UTE-73BT (Latest Edition)

Other Options:

Looking at the face of this digital media receiver says it all; stylish, simple…yet somewhat sophisticated! After all, it’s the latest Alpine and it comes for less than a $100 bucks!

Alpine is a Japanese electronic company particularly known for making top-quality car audio devices and navigation systems. Its mech-less UTE-73BT tops our list among the best budget car stereos for single Din fitting. The stereo is designed in line with the demand of a contemporary user.

You can use the stereo to play your music directly from a smartphone or a flash drive. This budget Alpine stereo is compatible with both Apple and Android devices.

On regular stereos, you get to play your cellphone music either through Bluetooth or Aux port. Alpine offers more than these stock options in UTE-73BT.

For instance, you can also play your playlist from an Android smartphone through a USB port via AOA (Android Open Accessory) 2.0 connection. Moreover, you can connect and play your iPhone and iPod to the stereo to the USB port via the KCU-445i adapter.

Alpine UTE-73BT Display and Controls Demo

The benefit of playing from your device via a USB connection instead of Bluetooth is you get better sound control and quality.

Another thing we like about Alpine UTE-73BT is its call handling. While using the phone as the music input device, we all have experienced how an incoming call disrupts everything. Alpine has ensured that you can use its stereo for hassle-free call handling.

First, UTE-73BT comes with a microphone with a built-in noise cancellation feature. Second, you can set up the head unit to automatically answer your call. Moreover, you can see the caller ID, missed, dialed, and received calls on the unit’s display so that you don’t have to open your phone while driving.

With all its attributes that support digital media and connections, Alpine UTE-73BT doesn’t support the function of a classic stereo system.

It’s a mech-less stereo with no moving parts and can’t play cassettes, CDs, and DVDs. In short, this stereo is not for those who like to get retro once in a while on their rides.

But don’t despair Alpine also made the CD version (Alpine CDE-172BT) of this unit.

Runner-Up

JVC KD-X270BT

CD playing version: JVC KD-R690S ($79.95)

JVC is another Japanese company known for making audio equipment. Its KD-X270BT is another great budget car stereo you can get without spending over $100.

The most impressive bit about  JVC KD-X270BT is its multidevice Bluetooth connectivity. You can connect five Bluetooth devices to the stereo at the same time. In other words, everyone in the car can take turns and blast their favorite music without fighting.

Moreover, you can connect two phones to the stereo at the same time for both audio streaming and hands-free calling. JVC KD-X270BT offers simple and secure pairing and lets you receive calls on either of the phones with one touch.

Another noteworthy feature of this budget one Din stereo is its K2 Technology. It is JVC’s patented technology designed to reproduce the original master sound by the frequency range expansion. For instance, if the digital file of a song has been recorded at 66 kHz, KD-X270BT can expand it to, say, 144 kHz to offer a better sonic experience.

JVC KD-X270BT Display and Controls Demo

We have also shortlisted this stereo because of two other features you will mostly find in high-end car systems only, i.e., space enhancement and time alignment. The space enhancement option of KD-X270BT lets you adjust the output of the two connected speakers in line with the size of the vehicle/space of the cabin.

Moreover, the time alignment feature lets you set a delay between the output of speakers installed at different locations inside the car. By using this feature, you can ensure that the collective sound coming from all the speakers reaches the listening position at the same instance.

JVC KD-X270BT also boasts a Sound Response function that amplifies the low frequencies that vanish in AAC or mp3 files due to compression. You can also fully control your stereo from your phone through the app called JVC Remote.

One thing to watch out for in JVC KD-X270BT is it keeps track of your connected cell phone and don’t stream from it if its battery is less than 40%.

Also Great

Pioneer MVH-S320BT

Pioneer is also a Japanese enterprise specialized in making top-quality digital entertainment products. Its MVH-S320BT is another single Din stereo that you can buy for around $100.The stereo has all the features that you would like to see in any digital receiver.

It features wireless audio streaming and hands-free call handling with its powerful built-in Bluetooth. You can also connect your Android devices through the USB port to get a better listening experience.

However, the highlight of this Pioneer car stereo is its propriety Smart Sync App. It is a next-generation app designed by Pioneer, particularly for its stereo systems so that you can seamlessly connect your smartphones to your car’s sound system.

Besides giving you full control of the receiver, the Smart Sync also lets you use Amazon’s Alexa. Whether it’s news, songs, or weather forecast, you can “ask” Alexa, and your demand will be fulfilled through Pioneer MVH-S320BT without needing you to use a single button.

Pioneer boasts a rich history of making top-drawer DJ equipment. You can find a glimpse of Pioneer’s brilliance in that area by the MIXTRAX feature present in the MVH-S320BT car stereo.

It won’t be wrong to call this feature a “virtual DJ,” When MIXTRAX mode is on, the stereo automatically adds suitable jumps, effects, and transitions to your playlists to provide you an ambiance of a club inside your car cabin. The stereo also starts blaring dynamic, pulsating lights in MIXTRAX mode to make your experience more wholesome.

With all these propriety features, we would like to clarify that Pioneer MVH-S320BT might not be the best Pioneer sound device on the block. Some audiophiles may find its sound quality a bit underwhelming. Nonetheless, with its reasonable price tag and all those attractive features, it’s a good deal overall.

Also Great

Sony DSXA415BT

The Sony DSXA415BT is a nicely molded single DIN unit with nothing but the world to offer.

Packed with an array of impressive features, few others can match this unit’s level of competence. And let’s not forget it falls within the under $100 mark making it pleasantly affordable.

As you would expect, the Sony DSXA415BT is a pretty versatile head unit. Starting off with the most impressive of its features, let’s talk about its voice control faculty. This unit allows you to change through your playlist, send messages and make phone calls handsfree.

Voice control is a tremendous lifesaver especially for those who prefer to keep their eyes on the road at all times.

NFC technology makes Bluetooth connectivity snappy and hassle-free. The unit is also iOS and Android compatible. In other words, your smartphone will undoubtedly link up with the unit when the need arises.

With an FM/AM tuner with 30 preset channels, you get the chance to shuffle through your favorite radio stations. A 10 bands graphic equalizer lets you customize the sound to your preferred timbre.

Its detachable faceplate makes it easy to keep off prying hands. Synchronized illumination gives it an aesthetic appeal that’s impossible to miss. Unfortunately, the LED lights are limited to black and white; you don’t get much funk off this one in terms of looks.

Also Great

Kenwood KMM-BT728HD

This is the last best budget single Din digital media receiver under/around $100 on our list, and yet another Japanese make. Kenwood KMM-BT728HD also has all the features you would like to see in your stock stereo system replacement.

Like other contemporary car stereos, this one is also a digital media receiver. This stereo can also simultaneously pair five phones for music streaming and two for hands-free calling like the JVC one we have discussed above.

Like Pioneer stereo, Kenwood KMM-BT728HD also supports Alexa. However, here you don’t even need to install any app. If you have Alexa on your phone, the stereo will automatically sync with it when connecting your phone to the system.

Besides Bluetooth control for Android, KMM-BT728HD has USB connectivity for Apple devices (iPhone, iPad, iPod, etc.). It also boasts iAP2 support for Apple Music.

Then, Spotify and Pandora control for Android and iPhones are also available. In short, you won’t fall short of options for streaming music from your phone when your car sports Kenwood KMM-BT728HD.

If there is no phone and internet in the car, you can explore and enjoy new music— thanks to the HD radio tuner of the KMM-BT728HD. Unlike other stereos, the audio quality of this Kenwood receiver’s radio streaming is pretty amazing.

If you drive in the signal coverage of a particular radio station, you can listen to its stream without distortions. You can also use KMM-BT728HD to listen to SiriusXM, which is satellite radio.

The audio features of Kenwood KMM-BT728HD are also at par with any top-of-the-line stereo. It supports all the audio formats, even the FLAC music files that many stereo systems are not compatible with.

Moreover, you get the 13-band equalizer to manually adjust every component of the audio blaring from the speakers. You can also set the equalizer in Kenwood KMM-BT728HD on the Drive mode to cancel out the exterior noise.

Cheap Car Stereo – around and under $100 – DOUBLE DIN

Double Din Pick

Pioneer MVH-S420BT

As mentioned earlier, Pioneer is one of the best companies for audio entertainment devices. It also offers double Din stereo systems at reasonable price points. Case in point: Pioneer MVH-S420BT Digital Media Receiver.

Like any other Pioneer device, this stereo also boasts many of the exclusive propriety features. To begin with, you can use the stereo through Pioneer’s Smart Sync with built-in Alexa. This app enables you to get a seamless experience of controlling the stereo from your Apple and Android smartphones.

Moreover, you get MIXTRAX— the virtual DJ — in your stereo. This built-in function lets you make your own hours-long audio mixes to transform your vehicle into a club.

The sound-coordinated LED display increases the club-like effect of the MIXTRAX manifold. The Pandora compatibility of this double Din stereo is also worth mentioning.

When synced with Pandora, you can bookmark songs and give them like or disklike directly from the stereo’s front panel.

Video of Pioneer MVH-S420BT

Pioneer MVH-S420BT also boasts great compatibility for Android devices— thanks to its AOA 2.0 support. You can use the control buttons of this stereo system to use any of the music streaming app on your Android phone.

The two keys on the front panel of MVH-S420BT are also worth discussing. The BASS Boost Key lets you activate the dynamic bass enhancing effect with a single touch. Then there is Navi Key that you can press to launch the navigation app.

Pioneer MVH-S420BT is also quite great with its call quality due to its state-of-the-art Wideband Speech Handsfree Profile 1.6. Unlike regular stereo Bluetooth configuration, Wideband Speech increases the bandwidth of call audio two times to provide a crystal-clear listening experience.

Runner-Up

JVC KW-X840BTS

JVC also offers a double Din stereo option for all those people looking for a quality sound system in the car but don’t want to break their bank either.

The first thing that catches our eye is the stunning display of this stereo. JVC has used a 1.5-line display with 2-zone variable color button illumination that creates a great ambiance of one color seamlessly bleeding into the other.

Besides an impressive display, JVC KW-X840BTS also boasts great functional features. It is compatible with Alexa, so you can play music, ask for news and weather and get navigation on without using your phone or fiddling with the front panel of the stereo.

JVC KW-X840BT Display and Controls Demo

When there is a group of friends in the car, playing songs that all agree upon becomes a challenge. JVC KW-X840BTS has devised a solution for this problem with its Streaming DJ feature. This feature allows you to connect five phones to the stereo at the same time so that everyone can play their favorite track from their own device on their turn. Moreover, the stereo can simultaneously handle calls from two phones.

The other impressive feature of this JVC double Din stereo is its intuitive volume-linked equalizer that amplifies certain frequencies to offset/neutralize the ambient noise.

Then there is a digital time alignment feature that you can use to synchronize the output of all the physically distant speakers by using a delay. For bonafide audiophiles, JVC KW-X840BTS also features the 13-band equalizer so they can customize their experience as per their aural preferences.

Also Great

Sony Dsx-B700

This budget double Din stereo option is another sleekly-designed device that quickly grabs your attention with its illumination. Sony has introduced Dynamic Color Illuminator in this stereo.

This feature allows you to choose a host of colors and patterns on the stereo display to match with the rest of your car’s interior. You can also synchronize this illumination with the music being played.

Sony Dsx-B700 also offers dual Bluetooth connectivity. You can connect one phone to play music, use navigation, etc., and simultaneously connect another phone to make/receive calls.

The stereo also features an AOA 2.0-compatible USB port from which you can play songs directly from your charging Android phone without using Bluetooth.

Sony Dsx-B700 also features a 10-band equalizer. If you like to fine-tune your songs with perfect audio ingredients, you can use the 10 virtual sliders of the equalizer on the stereo’s wide display.

You will love Dsx-B700f if you like to sing along to songs, particularly during long drives. Sony has also introduced a karaoke mode in this stereo. The stereo fades the vocal tracks away as you activate the karaoke mode.

Regular MP3 files of any song have missing track details. Therefore, the MP3 quality bothers those who are used to enjoy the studio versions/master files of a track. The lossless master audio files come in FLAC files that many digital stereos can’t play.

However, that’s not the case with Sony Dsx-B700. Besides other formats, you can also play the FLAC files of your favorite music to enjoy every little detail.

Also Great

Kenwood DPX304MBT

Kenwood DPX304MBT is another double Din option to consider if you are planning to spend around $100 on the stereo replacement. The stereo features nearly all the options you would like to have in any contemporary double Din digital receiver.

First of all, there is a 3-line wide LCD screen that offers a display visible from every car seat. Moreover, you can pick 24 different colors for the screen display and the control button illumination.

Kenwood DPX304MBT also has a Music Mix feature where you can simultaneously connect five devices to the stereo and play everyone’s favorite track. Similarly, you can connect two phones at the same time and make/receive calls from either of them through the stereo.

To offer you a complete digital experience, Kenwood has also developed a remote app for this double Din stereo. You can access and use the controls of the DPX304MBT from this app on your phone.

The stereo also features a 13-band equalizer and digital time alignment. The latter feature comes in handy when your car cabin is large, and multiple speakers are fitted in different locations. The other great bit about Kenwood DPX304MBT double Din digital receiver is it plays all music file formats.

From standard MP3, AAC, and WMA to high-definition/fidelity FLAC and WAV, every audio file is playable on Kenwood DPX304MBT.

Really Cheap

BOSS Audio 850BRGB

Here’s the deal; even for less than $50, Boss Audio will have you throwing parties right from the confine of your car. I say this with good reasons; one such reason is the 850BRGB head unit.

When a product is cheap, we tend to shy away from it. However, with the BOSS Audio 850BRGB, we suggest a swift dash towards it. Despite being unbelievably cheap, the 850BRGB is king under this category. On top of an impressive array of assorted features, it functions smoothly with pretty much zero glitches.

While the 850BRGB functions may be considered basic by most, we stand by the fact that they are, in a sense, the best you can ever expect at its sort price tag.

For one, its Bluetooth connectivity allows for hands-free calling and audio streaming. This gives you direct access to apps such as Pandora and Spotify.

At full blast, the 850BRGB dishes out a neat 80Watts x 4 worth of power. This not only makes it one heck of a lone soldier, but it also makes it a puissant component in any sound system.

In addition to Bluetooth, it also plays files in the form of CD, MP3, WMA, AM/FM, and CD. It also features USB and AUX input slots. For the outputs, you get a fully packed panel featuring front, rear and sub-pre-amps outputs.

A built-in 3 band EQ lets users customize liking without much of a fuss. Multi-colored illumination lights up the unit in both broad daylight and in the dead of night. That guarantees display legibility at all times. It also comes with a wireless remote for eased operation.

Really Cheap

Sound Storm DDC28B

As its name suggests, this head unit model has stirred quite the storm in the market. I know Sound Storm to impress on more than occasions; it is, therefore, no shock that the DDML28B is as belligerent as it is.

Trust me when I tell you that nothing else sounds this good within this price class. It also presents its users with a well thought through feature list that only kicks up its game. It is a great pick for anyone working on a tight budget but still wants something that startles.

There may not be much going on for the DDML28B; however, the little it does has set it miles apart from other models. Its maximum power rating, for instance, is 800Watts x 4. Paired with a couple of powerful speakers, this head unit might just blow your cabin roof right off.

Its Bluetooth is efficient and is hardly a bother when in operation. Once connected, it allows for both hands-free calling and audio streaming. With that, you get access to an endless list of audio files. Its preset EQ helps adjust the sound ambiance to one that suits you most.

Fitted with USB and AUX inputs ports, you can access your phone’s audios as well charge it when the need arises. A detachable face-plate makes this head unit theft deterrent; an aspect that offers incredible owners relief whenever they leave their vehicle parked out in the open.

The DDML28B plays Bluetooth, CDs, USB, MP3, WMA, and AM/FM radio. This makes it extremely pliant in terms of what you can play. It also includes an MP3 ID3 tag display and a wireless remote for hassle-free navigation.

Touchscreen Option

BOSS Audio BV9364B

You already know Boss Audio is not likely to let you down. From the look of things, the BOSS Audio BV9364B was engineered for ease of use and consistent yet splendid faculty.

It not only comes with a look to kill, but it also sounds and functions just as well. Its authentic flair makes it unique, a diamond in the rough to say the least.

I thought it fit to first highlight the BV9364B’s touch screen control feature. In a world where every gadget is pretty much touch screen controlled, this feature comes through with much relief for users.

Hands-free calling eliminates potential distractions while on the road. With 80 Watts x 4 worth of power, you can rest assured this baby will have every corner of your cabin covered when in operation. Its built-in DVD player lets you experience music or fills right there as you drive.

It features UBS and AUX inputs which make it possible to hook on and operate external players. Its outputs include front, rear, and subwoofer pre-amp outputs. It also comes with rear camera input, handy for reverse gearing.

You can easily switch between camera mode and the normal display at the push of a button. A prest EQ helps adjust tunes to a more customized sound. Finally, the BV9364B comes with wireless remote control for eased control.

Cheap Car Stereo – Under $50 – SINGLE DIN

Our Pick Under $50

Boss Audio Systems 611UAB

If you are looking for a no-frill cheap stereo replacement for your car, then this Boss device is definitely an option worth considering. It offers all the basic features that you need in any single din digital media receiver.

You can stream your music via phone through the Bluetooth or aux input. The auxiliary slot also lets you use simple MP3 players with the stereo. You can also tune the stereo on FM and AM frequencies to enjoy the radio transmission in the area of your commute.

A USB port has become the most in-demand option in modern stereo systems. It allows people to play thousands of tracks from a single source (a flash drive) and charge their devices on the go.

Boss has taken care of this demand in 611UAB and fitted it with a USB port with a built-in 1A charger. Another noteworthy feature of Boss 611UAB is its pre-amp outputs. They let you expand your car’s sound system by two amps or signal processors.

Despite being a low-priced stereo system, Boss 611UAB also features the ID3 Tag. This tag ensures that you don’t have to look into the phone to find out the song details. The stereo displays the additional details besides the song name as the artist, album, genre, track number, etc., of the audio file being played.

There are some shortcomings of Boss 611UAB you should be aware of. First of all, it only supports only two file formats: MP3 and WMA. If your soundtracks are in AAC or FLAC format, a 611UAB stereo will render useless.

If you like to play original master files with no cuts and condensations, Boss  611UAB Single Din Multimedia Car Stereo might not be the option you are looking for.

Runner-Up

Jensen MPR210 7

This is another cheap single Din option you can find under $50. In fact, it is the most budget-friendly car stereo option on our list.

Let’s start with the most distinctive feature of JENSEN MPR210: its Google/SIRI assist button. When connected with your smartphone, you can summon the respective virtual voice assistants with the touch of a button. In other words, you can play your favorite music, podcasts and get navigation without using your hands at all.

We also like the display of this budget car stereo. Unlike other low-priced single Din receivers with long but narrow displays, this one features a compact and wide 7-character LCD on one side. The screen width and few characters even make it easy for people sitting in the backseat to reading the display.

Jensen also offers some audio customization features in its budget car stereo system. You get a 2-band tone control from where you can adjust the bass and treble of your soundtracks. Moreover, you can choose from four EQ curves Rock, Jazz, Flat, and Pop to configure your stereo in line with the genre of music being played.

You can also control the B08464VRML stereo with Jensen’s J-link Smart Remote app. The app is free and lets you control volume, EQ curve, tone control, etc., directly from your smartphone.

Being a budget car stereo, Jensen B08464VRML might not be the best option to make/receive calls. Many consumers have complained about its poor Bluetooth connectivity for incoming calls.

Moreover, like any other low-priced option, it doesn’t support every music file format. You can only enjoy your MP3 and WMA tracks on this unit.

Vincent Talbot

Last update on 2021-03-06 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API