Last updated on November 23rd, 2020 at 10:34 pm

We’ve tested and reviewed the most popular and best performing in-dash digital media receivers to compile an overall best digital media receiver list. A digital media receiver is essentially a car stereo head unit that allows you to listen to your favorite music in your car via Bluetooth, USB or Auxiliary. CD players and cassettes are no longer must-haves in vehicles. Today, it’s all about downloading your music on the device of your choice so that you can play it on any device, anywhere.

The main feature that separates the digital media receiver from your traditional car stereo is the lack of a CD player. Instead, they offer alternate connectivity options like the USB port, auxiliary input, iPod connection, and SD card slots to play your music from almost any device. There are 2 kinds of digital media receivers: single DIN and double DIN. DIN refers to the height of your receiver. In this digital

How We Tested

Our reviews take many criteria into consideration when researching and ultimately compiling our lists of best products. This includes features, controls, appearance, inputs, connectivity, available apps, audio quality, price, value for money, services, and support. We also take user reviews from online retailers like Amazon, other reviewers like TheWireCutterTopTenReviews and other 3rd party reviews.

And, be sure to take a look through our Easy Guide to Installing a Car Stereo if you do decide to purchase a Digital Media Receiver and install yourself!

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Unsure what size head unit will fit your dash? Search for your year, make and model using our Dash Size Search Tool to find out if the head units on this list match the dash opening of your car!

Best Digital Media Receiver Head Unit List

1. Best Overall Pick: Alpine UTE-62BT

Key Features

  • Built-in 24-bit digital-to-analog converter
  • Built-in MOSFET 50W x 4 High Power Amplifier
  • Accepts MP3, AAC, FLAC, and WMA audio files
  • Detachable faceplate

Latest Prices

Buy on $129.89
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Last Amazon price update was: November 25, 2020 6:13 am

Alpine UTE-62BT Quick Review

The Alpine UTE-62BT is definitely a great buy. It works with both Android and iPhone models. It also accepts Pandora and several other apps, like the free Alpine Tuneit app. It’s slightly more expensive than the KMM108U but it has more to offer such as the intuitive Bluetooth, BT Plus, BT audio streaming, high-speed USB connection, Electronic Shock Protection, and Siri Eyes Free Mode.

You’ll also love the simple, fuss-free design that isn’t distracting especially if you prefer the conservative look. The LCD display has the Alpine signature design like the fixed red illumination and the rotary control knob.

Other key features of this receiver include:

  • Sirius SX 300 Ready
  • Front USB (mini jack), front auxiliary input
  • 3-Way Crossover
  • AM/FM, clock, wired microphone
  • 9-Band Parametric Equalizer
  • Remote control ready, hands-free microphone
  • 3 Preouts at 4V
  • Advanced Bluetooth technology
  • 1-year warranty

The UTE 62BT will go as far as the features of your smartphone’s Bluetooth. We’ve seen users encounter issues with the initial installation of your account and apps. However, once installed, the receiver will automatically recognize your device unless you remove it from your list.
Overall, the sound is clean, with excellent power and range even without an amplifier. It also has an extra feature that informs you if your smartphone is running below 50% power. The best way to enjoy this receiver is to fully customize it with apps you use regularly like Navigation, music apps, or even Google Translate.

  • Easy to set up and use
  • A wide range of features and lots of options for expansion
  • Quality construction
  • Simple, sleek and stylish design
  • More expensive than other options
  • FLAC files not supported

Key Features

  • Built-in MOSFET 14 watt amplifier/50 peak x 4 channels
  • 13-band graphic equalizer
  • MIXTRAX virtual DJ technology
  • Detachable faceplate

Pioneer MVH-X580BS Quick Review

Pioneer MVH-X580BS is an excellent choice for a receiver for several reasons. It is iPod and smartphone-friendly (iPhone and Android) with Bluetooth connectivity. It also allows you to listen to your music using a USB stick, radio, and the Sirius XM tuner. Like most Pioneer units, a sophisticated helps boost the appeal of this receiver. And with a price tag under $100 dollars, it won’t empty the wallet either.

The CEA-2006 compliant Pioneer MVH-X580BS is expandable with front auxiliary input and front USB, AOA 2.0, SiriusXM compatible, and 6 channel preamp outputs. It has a dimmer and illumination timer and you can customize it with steering wheel audio controls although you will have to invest in an adapter.

As one of the best head unit models in this list, the Pioneer has a hands-free mode, voice recognition, outstanding audio quality, and great customization options. You might be a little frustrated though with slightly complex installation especially if your vehicle requires the use of an adapter but the set-up blues will soon dissipate once you hear its clear and solid audio performance.

Among its key features are:

  • Hand-free calling and audio streaming with Wide Band Speech technology
  • Bluetooth Guest Mode and Dual Phone Pairing
  • Siri Eyes Free
  • MP3, FLAC, WMA, and WAV audio files
  • USB auto switch so you can also charge your phone
  • Compatible with Spotify, Pandora, iHeart Radio and Aupeo (using Media App Control)
  • External microphone
  • Remote control
  • 1-year warranty
  • Detachable faceplate for extra security
  • Very Smartphone-friendly
  • Plenty of expandability options
  • Great interface, audio quality, and customization capabilities
  • Slightly difficult installation when an adapters is required

Key Features

  • Detachable face plate
  • Built-in MOSFET amplifier maximum of 50 watt amps/50 peak x 4 channels
  • AM/FM Radio
  • 13-band graphic equalizer, volume link equalizer

Latest Prices

Buy on $74.00
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Last Amazon price update was: November 22, 2020 8:13 am

JVC KD-X330BTS Quick Review

The JVC KDR-330 is more than a few notches better than your basic head unit but still comes at a budget price.  We love the fact that you can use your smartphone’s touchscreen as the main control if you have the JVC Smart Music Control app. Just make sure your Android phone is set on a stable mount.

The same Smart Music Control app which lets you use your smartphone to control the music can also help you create your own unique playlist and decide on a personalized mood-based equalizer setting. Plus, it lets you operate the digital receiver using simple voice commands in different languages or hand gestures. This feature allows you to do much more like post on your Twitter or Facebook accounts, read SMS, or shift display mode.

The overwhelming impression you will get with this KDR 330 is its easy access and user-friendliness of the design.

The features of this digital media receiver include:

  • 24-bit digital-to-analog converter
  • Bluetooth for audio streaming and hands-free with microphone
  • MP3, FLAC, WAV, and WMA files
  • iPod, iPhone 2-way control with built-in iPod control
  • iHeart Radio, Pandora, Apple Music
  • Siri Eyes Free
  • Sound Respond sound-shaping tool
  • Space Enhancement
  • Sirius XM compatible
  • Drive Change to connect to a USB Hub that can hold up to 5 memory cards or flash drives
  • AOA 2.0 for 4.1 or higher Android
  • USB 1.5 A connection and high current charging
  • Menu in Spanish and English
  • Remote control
  • Plenty of features to look out of as you can see in our review
  • Possible to control with your Smartphone
  • Dual language menu – English and Spanish
  • User-friendly interface making it easy to use
  • Quite affordable
  • It might take some time to adjust the smaller-than-usual control buttons and menu settings

Key Features

  • AM/FM Radio
  • Quick Browser to locate your music quickly and easily
  • Front auxiliary input, USB port

Latest Prices

Buy on $81.99
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Last Amazon price update was: November 22, 2020 6:11 pm

Sony DSX-A400BT Quick Review

As expected, Sony has also landed on our list. Their flagship media head unit is the DSX-A4000BT. The features of the DSX are quite impressive. First of all, the DSX-A4000BT has a very sleek and stylish design.  Second, it has several options to accessing your music, and third, it is compatible with either Apple and Android phones or music pods alike. It also features one-touch Bluetooth connectivity for your smartphone.

A quick list of what makes this best head unit stand out include:

  • iOS or Android Pandora, Siri Control
  • Built-in amplifier, 18 watts/55 peak x 4 channels
  • MP3 and WMA
  • 3 band equalizer
  • 2 channel preamp outputs
  • Remote control
  • 1-year warranty

Like most of the receivers on this list, the DSX-A400BT will work with steering wheel audio control but you will have to buy the adapter. You can also add an amplifier with its pre-outs, and have a ton of fun playing with the 3-band equalizer to tune the sound to your liking. It takes less than a minute to link your device to the DSX-A4000BT, which means minimal to zero connectivity inconvenience.

In terms of value for money, this is a great choice even if it is compatible with a limited range of audio file formats compared to other digital receivers.

  • Simple and sleek design that is very easy to comprehend
  • Good sound quality
  • Easy to install
  • Bluetooth connectivity is easy and fast
  • Very affordable piece
  • One-line display
  • Not possible to change its color to match the rest of your interior backlighting

Key Features

  • AM/FM Radio
  • Built-in MOSFET amplifier, 14 watts, 45 peak x 4 channels
  • Bluetooth for streaming and hands-free calling with built-in microphone
  • Detachable faceplate

Clarion FZ105BT Quick Review

The Clarion FZ105BT falls under the category of best digital media receiver because it has all the features you need to enjoy your favorite tracks at an affordable price. If what you are looking for is something you can hook up and use immediately with your Android smartphone or iPhone, then the FZ105BT should definitely be on your shortlist.

Key features:

  • iPhone and Android compatible
  • 3-band equalizer, 11 presets
  • USB port, front SD card, front auxiliary input
  • 6-channel preamp output
  • MP3, WMA
  • Remote control
  • 1-year warranty

This stylish and clean-cut Clarion stands out as being extremely user-friendly with a large volume knob and easy-to-reach controls. It is CEA-2006 compliant and is compatible with almost all steering wheel audio controls but just like the rest of the receivers reviewed here, you will need to get an adapter. You can also customize your system with the built-in Beat EQ which lets you adjust the bass, treble and midrange using the intuitive controls.

One complaint we’ve come across with the FZ105BT is the microphone quality. You may have to speak louder or lower the background noise in order to be heard properly. All in all, yet another top rated car receiver.

  • Great features for the price
  • Easy to fit and operate
  • Good sound quality and fast Bluetooth connection
  • Microphone quality is not the best – you may have to speak louder to be heard properly

Key Features

  • Detachable faceplate with red key illumination and rotary encoder
  • Auxiliary input
  • AM/FM, digital clock
  • MP3/WMA/WAV/FLAC Files Audio Playback

Latest Prices

Kenwood KMM-108U Quick Review

Kenwood is a well known for quality car stereo and audio equipment since 1946. The KMM 108U is a single DIN mech-less receiver and comes packed with features, including:

  • Front USB
  • Built-in MOSFET amplifier
  • 2V preamp output in rear and subwoofer
  • 3 band equalizer with custom options and 8 presets
  • Dimmer and brightness controls
  • Wireless remote control
  • 1-year warranty

The KMM 108U stands out as an exemplary digital media receiver because it offers more compared to most single DIN receivers like the ability to decode FLAC files, sound reconstruction, and a shallow mounting depth for easy installation.  Additionally, the KMM 108U comes with a drive equalizer that minimizes road noise.

The KMM 108U’s audio quality is also impressive – it’s manual equalizer with bass and treble adjustments, subwoofer control, and 6 level boost bass and upper frequencies allow you to fully control and customize the sound to match the music of your choice.

You can use your iPod, iHeart Radio, or your Pandora Radio app but you will need to buy the cable that matches your device.  You can also launch a safe dedicated search on the receiver by using search options like Alphabet, Related Search, AppMode, or Percentage Skip.

On the downside, the control buttons can be a little clunky and old school. It also lacks Bluetooth connectivity.

  • Detachable faceplate for security
  • Front USB port for easy cable plug-in
  • Able to play FLAC files
  • Easy to install and use
  • Lacks Bluetooth connectivity
  • Red lighting only – no customization options
  • Menu is cranked up according to some

Key Features

  • AM/FM with 30 preset stations
  • USB port, SD card, front auxiliary input
  • Detachable faceplate
  • Built-in MOSFET amplifier, 16 watts, 60 peaks x 4 channels

Latest Prices

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Last Amazon price update was: November 22, 2020 9:12 am

Dual XR4120 Quick Review

Dual Electronics is not a household name compared to the other brands listed on this list of best head units but it has a great reputation for its audio equipment. One of the key reasons the XR4120 is on our list is because it’s a quality low-end affordable way to enjoy music using radio and selection of inputs like USB and SD card.

Some of its top features are:

  • iPod and iPhone compatible
  • 3 equalizer curves
  • Wireless remote control
  • 2 rear RCA preamp outputs
  • MP3 and WMA
  • 4 preset curves
  • 1-year warranty

Unfortunately, the Dual XR4120 has no Bluetooth capability. It also is not as DIY-friendly as other units on this list and you may need some assistance in installing it because of the semi-complex wiring set-up (or find a local installer).

On the upside, the sound is fantastic and the price even more so. It also gives you a lot of ways to customize your system even without the Bluetooth. It is important to note that at this price level (around $50), you get what you pay for. It is among the best at this price range as an entry level model but will not fare well when compared to digital receivers that are double its price.

  • Very affordable option
  • Good audio quality and performance for the price
  • Offers great customizability
  • No Bluetooth connectivity
  • Not DIY-friendly