Car Stereo & Head Unit Buying Guides

When was the last time you used a CD player in your car? If you’re a music downloader, chances are you’ll never use it again so isn’t it time to upgrade? Maybe you just want Bluetooth, but why not go all-in by installing a big touch screen car stereo. Or maybe even a wireless Apple CarPlay head unit, or iDataLink compatible. There’s a number of good reasons for upgrading. And of course there’s the obvious: you’ve picked a pair of speakers from one of our lists of best car speakers and want a higher quality car stereo to serve them.

Alternatively, how about installing one of the best digital media receivers? These are available in DIN and double DIN height to fit the space in your car’s center stack and they really let you enjoy music you’ve downloaded. (As with head units, remember to check what outputs are provided.) Just connect via Bluetooth, USB or an AUX input and your entire music library is available for your listening pleasure. Our guide takes you through what’s available.

A large screen is a great way to enjoy video along with music, and you needn’t buy a new car to get one. Our guide to the best DVD and video car stereo head units takes you through the features available and what to look for. How about one of those cool, flip-out screens to really impress your passengers?

Some of these larger head units even provide in-dash GPS navigation. Curious why an in-dash system might be better than your phone? Well, take a look at our guide to the best GPS navigation car stereos to find out.

If you just want better sound, and maybe the ability to connect over Bluetooth or via USB, take a look at our guide to the best car stereos and head units. This takes you through the functionality available from modern single DIN head units and helps you understand your options. As a new head unit deserves a good amplifier, we’ll provide all of the output specs to make sure you get the power you need. But if you’re thinking about amplifying your system, be sure to check out our best car amplifiers.

In this section, our editors compile their best pick in-dash car stereos of all kinds and walk you through the variety of options and features on the market to day. If you just want to connect your phone over Bluetooth we’ll explain which systems provide that capability. If you’re looking to sync with a tablet or games console, our guides will help you with that too. And if it’s FLAC-quality music you want to enjoy, we’ve got you covered here as well.

And don’t forget that there is a lot to consider when replacing the factory head unit. How big is your car’s dash opening should be the first question you ask yourself (Height is defined as DIN or Double DIN). Do you need the upgrade to work with steering wheel controls? Do you want to use your favorite apps, like Pandora, and how about Apple CarPlay? Our guides go through these points and more. Be sure to also check out the benefits to upgrading your car stereo.

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