Best Single Din Car Stereo Review

Overview

More and more people are switching to digital forms of music. Combined with the never ending improvement in audio technology, you may find yourself wanting or needing a new car stereo receiver. A stereo that can integrate seamlessly with your latest smartphone or audio device, while improving the quality of sound.
There are hundreds of head units on the market today, and even more reviews. This makes the search for the best car stereos incredibly difficult. We’ve assembled a list of top rated car stereos to help you find the best with ease.

Who Is This Review For?

There are many cases that can warrant upgrading your car stereo’s head unit. You may need to find a way of integrating Bluetooth calling and music streaming. Or you might want to be able to use Pandora or Spotify easily in your car to give you more control over your music. You might have just purchased a used car that doesn’t offer any integration with your smartphone at all, and needs an updated unit. Or you might just not like the features and functions of your car stereo’s current unit. In any case, upgrading your receiver can give you the latest technology and integrate with the most popular and user-friendly applications, improving your in-car experience. But just because you’d like upgrade your car’s stereo with a new and improved receiver doesn’t mean you can.
There are two types of head units on the market today: single-DIN and double-DIN. If your car’s dash has a double-DIN opening, you can fit both a single-DIN and double-DIN. However, if it is a single-DIN you can only fit a single-DIN receiver. You’ll need to find out which size your car can fit in order to choose the right one.
Also, for people who have cars that are newer than about 10 years, your car may have multiple screens in different places on your dash that are controlled by different systems (and not just your audio). This will complicate your installation and you might even lose functionality of the screens that are reliant on the head unit you’re looking to replace. But for those who have cars that are older than about 10 years that don’t have multiple screens with different systems powering them, your installation and upgrade is pretty straight forward.

How We Tested

In order to find the best car stereo receiver, CarAudioNow has combined several reviews across the industry with first-hand tests. There are many criteria that we take into consideration when rating and reviewing each car stereo, including:

  • Style (Looks, Design)
  • Display Type (LCD, Dotted, LCD Text, etc.)
  • Features (Bluetooth, Smartphone Compatibility, Equalizer, etc)
  • Power Ratings (Peak, RMS)
  • Price
  • Expandability (# of RCAs, XM/Sirius Read, Steering Wheel Control Ready, etc)
  • Quality (Materials used, manufacturer, etc)
  • Online Reviews (From multiple vendors such as Sonic Electronix, Crutchfield, Amazon and more)

The result from our combination of sources and testing is a list of the top rated and reviewed head units. And in addition to our compilation of best rated products, CarAudioNow also provides multiple comparisons of prices from vendors to try to get you the best price for all of your products. But in the end, the best car stereo is one that meets your specific needs and is compatible with your car.
If you’re looking for a Head Unit with even more features, check out CarAudioNow’s Best In-Dash Car DVD Players for units that you can watch your favorite movies on, and our Best In-Dash GPS Navigation Players to add GPS Navigation and movie watching capability to your dash!

The Best Car Stereos 2015 List

# 1.

Pioneer DEH-X9600BHS Best Car Stereo
Features:
5 Stars
Design:
5 Stars
Quality:
5 Stars
Usability:
5 Stars
Value:
4.5 Stars
Average:
4.9 Stars

# 2.

Kenwood Excelon KDC-X697 Best Car Stereo
Features:
4 Stars
Design:
5 Stars
Quality:
5 Stars
Usability:
4 Stars
Value:
5 Stars
Average:
4.6 Stars

# 3.

Pioneer DEH-80PRS Best Car Stereo
Features:
5 Stars
Design:
4 Stars
Quality:
5 Stars
Usability:
5 Stars
Value:
4 Stars
Average:
4.6 Stars

# 4.

JVC KD-X80BT Best Car Stereo
Features:
4 Stars
Design:
5 Stars
Quality:
5 Stars
Usability:
4 Stars
Value:
4.5 Stars
Average:
4.5 Stars

# 5.

Alpine CDE-HD149BT Car Stereo
Features:
5 Stars
Design:
5 Stars
Quality:
5 Stars
Usability:
5 Stars
Value:
3 Stars
Average:
4.6 Stars

# 6.

Kenwood KDC-BT758HD Best Car Stereo
Features:
5 Stars
Design:
5 Stars
Quality:
5 Stars
Usability:
5 Stars
Value:
2 Stars
Average:
4.4 Stars

Best Car Stereos & Head Units: What To Look For

Every car requires a unique combination of car stereo components to sound great. A car stereo may sound excellent in one car, but sound terrible in another. Additionally, the limitations in size and wiring configuration make selecting the best car stereo even more difficult for you.
The best car stereos will give you the features you love while conforming to the environment of your car and create an excellent reproduction of the music that you love. With the right car stereo, you’ll be able to custom tailor frequencies to your car, integrate your favorite music/media device, connect to your smartphone via Bluetooth and much more.
At CarAudioNow, we use multiple key criteria when rating products in our top lists, including our Best Car Stereos and Head Units. Below is a list of criteria that we take into consideration while choosing the best car stereos for your vehicle.

Power Ratings

Power ratings are extremely important feature to consider while choosing a car stereo. Without an external amplifier, the power output of the car stereo is what dictates the power of your speakers and ultimately the power of sound. There are typically two power output ratings that are given with car stereos:

  • Max Power Output: Max power rating is the maximum amount of power that the car stereo can emit for short periods of time. It is the maximum amount of power that will be sent to your speakers (without an external amplifier)
  • RMS (Continuous) Power Output: RMS power rating is the amount of power that the car stereo can emit at a constant or continuous rate. This is the most important power output rating.

Along with power handling and output, the level of control of the output sound’s shape is also very important. This control is typically made through a built-in equalizer (EQ). It will allow you to tailor the shape of sound, raising or lowering the level of certain frequencies in order to best optimize the output sound for the environment of your car. The higher the number of bands that the car stereo’s equalizer has, the more you will be able to customize the frequencies and shape of your music and sound.

Display

Display features play a huge role in how stylish and user-friendly car stereos are. High end car stereos will have a high LED pixel count, and give customizable features like color and brightness in order to match the color of your interior.

Playback

Playback can be defined as the methods that your car stereo is capable of playing back audio. CD, DVD, MP3, HD Radio, Pandora, Auxiliary (Aux) Ports, Bluetooth; these are all examples of playback types that the best car stereos will typically have.
You will want to make sure that the playback methods that you intend on using is consistent with the playback features of the car stereo. Otherwise, you may be stuck with a head unit that doesn’t play your music in the format that you have it. Here is a breakdown of the most popular playback features in the best car stereos:

  • HD Radio: HD Radio is the same radio stations that you listen to, but with a higher audio quality and more metadata than tradition radio. Metadata includes titles, artists, albums and more.
  • CD Player: CD players will play your favorite CDs in multiple formats, including CD,CD-R/RW, MP3, AAC, WAV and WMA.
  • Auxiliary (Aux) Port: Auxiliary ports allow you to connect any music device that you may have using a headphone connector. Typically, the best car stereos will have an auxiliary port on the front of the unit.
  • Bluetooth: Bluetooth music allows you to connect to your music on a smartphone or other bluetooth enabled device, playing all of your music wirelessly from your device via a Bluetooth connection.
  • USB Port: A USB port will allow you to connect your music devices via a USB connection. It will allow you to listen to your favorite music from your device, while charging it for endless listen time.
  • XM Radio: XM radio is satellite radio such as SiriusXM, that allows you to connect and listen to thousands of channels of radio via a satellite connection. This increases the coverage of radio that you have, however requires a paid subscription.

Smartphone Integration

All of the best car stereos allow you to fully integrate with your smartphone, enabling the best features such as Pandora and Spotify while allowing you to answer phone calls without touching your smartphone. With recent legislation prohibiting you from using your phones while driving, it is becoming increasingly important for the best car stereos to fully integrate with your smartphone. Additionally, they will come with microphones with noise-canceling technology that will hone in on your voice and eliminate road noise.

Expandability

Expandability is what allows you to connect external components to your car stereo. The best car stereos will have at least three 4volt RCA outputs (Front, Rear, Subwoofer), Audio/Video (AV) input/outputs, rear view camera inputs (with compatible displays) and a microphone input.

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