In-car entertainment and communications have come a long way since the Motorola company launched its first consumer efforts. They weren’t the first to have in-car radio, though. That accolade went to Kelly Motors in New South Wales, Australia, in 1924. The Motorola was the first to become a consumer item, though.
It cost at the time, $130. A brand new Ford at the same time was $540. The radio cost was ¼ of the price of the car! Work that out in today’s money. Needless to say, not many people had them.
The Germans, through Blaupunkt, gave us the first AM/FM in-car radio in the 50s, and there then followed some quick innovations. Cassette players, 8-tracks, and then finally the first CD player from Pioneer. Amongst all the innovations and creations, the unit stayed the same ‘Single-DIN’ design. There was often a multitude of buttons, and sometimes a flashing LED.
The ‘Single-DIN’ was a standard size. Introduced in Germany, the idea was that with a regular set size, units would just be able to be clipped in. Upgrades and changes in equipment would then become easier. With a few exceptions, most fitted and didn’t need any adapters. This standard measurement was 7⅛ inches wide and 2⅛ inches high.
Satellite Navigation became a consumer product. It would be great for cars – when it worked. We needed a screen to see the maps and quite a big screen. ‘Double-DIN’ was born.
BMW was first with its Series 7 in 1994. Europe was up and running. Oldsmobile followed in the US a year later. Now we have a big color screen as standard in some cars with touch screen facilities.
Let’s have a look at what is on offer as we try to find the best double din head units currently on the market.
Top 10 Best Double Din Head Units To Buy 2020 Reviews
1 Kenwood Excelon DNX994S In-Dash Navigation System
Kenwood needs little introduction to the audio world. This Japanese company has been manufacturing quality products for years. This is a standard sized Double-Din screen at 6.95 inches wide with a full-color screen and a glossy touch panel. The design allows you to tilt the display through five different angles to get the perfect picture and position.
It has some useful built-in sound features through its four channels with 50 watts per channel output. It has its own 13-band EQ and a loudness/bass boost control. RCA video inputs are included for front and rear cameras.
It has a built-in navigation system from Garmin Navigation. This is a robust system that gives various visualizations on your route and present status. It also offers on-screen parking options if required.
It plays DVD and CD and includes the full operational features you will need as well as playing MP3s. It has a built-in AM/FM HD radio. The radio contains twenty presets—fifteen for FM and five for AM. The radio is also Sirius ready.
Other features included are two USB interfaces and wired connections for iPod and iPhone. Apple car play facilities are built-in, and it is Bluetooth compatible. It will automatically pair up to your iPhone for hands-free calling, but it has its own microphone, and there is a voice control feature.
It seems to have most of the options covered and ticks most of the boxes in the features column. The SatNav is especially good with a vivid and clear display. You will have to purchase any updates, though, if you need them. This might occur under typical situations every few years.
There are not many features they haven’t included. You could only point at there not being a remote control or a mute music button. A lot of people wouldn’t consider that a dealbreaker, though.
Overall, it’s a good system at a competitive price point and one of our choices as a worthy contender for the winning double din head unit.
- Good visuals.
- Extra connections.
- Decent sound.
- Some sound management options.
- Nothing really unless you need remote control or a mute button.
2 Pioneer AVH-W4500NEX Double DIN
Another Japanese company that has been around a while and has a reputation for manufacturing quality products. The Pioneer AVH-W4500NEX is sure to be considered as an ideal double din head unit.
The screen is clear and sharp and has a WVGA touchscreen. It has a CD and DVD player with simple to use controls and Bluetooth connectivity. You can, therefore, play your own playlists from your devices.
If you wish, you can simply use the onboard AM/FM radio. It has connections to traffic, weather, and sports news flashes, which can be set up. Through Bluetooth, you can make and receive calls hands-free and even listen to any messages by text that you may receive. You can use Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, and it is capable of using Sirius XM too.
Providing you have a reasonably decent set of speakers, you are going to be impressed. The amp is a 4-channel system giving you 50 watts RMS per channel.
You have some excellent editing facilities, including the ability to be able to use your own photos as the home screen default.
Built-in are two camera options, one for the dashboard and one for reverse views. An important feature and one that sadly, is becoming more important.
It is an excellent Double-DIN screen as you can see plenty of useful features. The screen is very bright, and the colors vivid. Some of the control buttons on the front fascia are a little small, but we don’t see that as too much of a problem. As far we can see, an excellent unit from Pioneer, though it is not a cheap option.
- Good screen visuals.
- Excellent SatNav performance.
- Good sound options.
- Editing facilities.
- Not the cheapest you will find.
3 Alpine iLX-107 – 7” Mech-less In-Dash Receiver
Alpine arrived on the scene in the late 60s. Another of the seemingly endless number of quality Japanese audio manufacturers. They built a significant reputation very quickly. It started as a joint venture between Alps Electric and Motorola. But the Japanese Alps company bought out Motorola and took sole control.
This is a seven-inch touch screen with a VGA display. It is a 4-channel unit with a peak power range of 50 watts per channel. It has a 9-band EQ and has its own Alpine TuneIt App for iPhone. Through the app, you can set the unit to work with the steering controls you may have.
And, it’s compatible with all iPhones, generation 5 and later. With CarPlay, you can use the phone’s features, view messages, etc., and even connect to Apple Maps. Wireless connection to your phone is seamless via the touchscreen, as no cables are required. Apple CarPlay uses Siri to voice control instructions and requests.
There is an input for a rearview camera on the rear of the unit, which is always a useful addition.
The screen itself is clear, and the colors expressive without being too bright—the graphics work exceptionally well with the SatNav. The navigation system gives you interactive views as well as other information like time to destination. You also get the usual spoken instructions if you want them.
This is a decent system with excellent visuals and some nice features and sounds. It has an operative radio but no CD player. Some will see that as a disadvantage despite being able to use playlists from your phone. But, it has a reasonable price point, which may make up for that.
- Good visuals and SatNav system.
- Nice sound with plenty of power.
- EQ controls.
- No CD player.
4 JVC Double DIN Bluetooth in-Dash
JVC was already a big player in the audio market before 2008. But in that year, they merged with Kenwood to form a formidable new operation, JVC Kenwood. They operate the same markets, but JVC as a brand has always been cheaper than Kenwood. The same applies today with most equivalent products.
Their products are the equal of most of the big Japanese conglomerates. This JVC Double DIN is a good example of an excellent product that will be considered as one of the better double din head units.
This is a four channel unit that has a decent output of 50 watts per channel, or 22 watts RMS. It has a built-in AM/FM stereo. There is a 13-band EQ with 4-volt preamp outputs for the rear, front, and a subwoofer.
There is the standard 6.8 inch VGA display that displays CD information and music tags for MP3. It has connectivity to Apple Carplay and Android Auto. It will play CDs and DVDs as well as having connectivity via Bluetooth to let you play your own playlists.
It will, of course, allow hands-free speaking via the external word microphone. There are other connections on the rear using RCA for connecting game consoles or wired devices. It does not have built-in navigation, though, and you will have to use the maps on your device.
There are some options to expand the features, including Sirius XM and the use of steering wheel controls. These are sold separately, as is the reversing camera if it is required.
This is a good unit with lots of outstanding features. It is set at a decent price point and includes everything you need.
- Good clear display.
- Easy to use controls.
- Good sound features and controls.
- No built-in navigation.
5 Sony XAV-AX100
When it comes to giving people what they want in a variety of situations, there aren’t much better at it than Sony. They can do the clever high-tech stuff if you want, but they also recognize, where so many others don’t, that we don’t all want that.
We are not all looking to orbit the earth or impress friends. We just want to hear some music. This is one of those basic models. It doesn’t even have a CD player, although it does have an AM/FM radio, and is basically a media receiver.
It has a 6.4-inch touchscreen and is a four channel unit with 55 watts for each channel. But oh joy, this has a dial volume control on the front of the unit. You don’t often get such simplicity these days. You don’t need to connect to this, that or anything else, or call up this or that to turn it down.
The idea of this unit is to connect up to your own devices for music and play it. It has Bluetooth and USB connections (and a volume knob). It is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and you can view and control everything with your touch screen. Where the volume knob is. You can create exactly the sound you want to listen to by using the 10-band EQ.
If you want to employ an optional extra, it is Sirius XM ready. This unit doesn’t have a GPS system built-in, but of course, you can use your phone’s options.
As we said, this is a basic system for connecting to your phone. All the services you need will be available there. If you are looking for all the bells and whistles of a next-generation unit and are willing to pay, time to move on.
Given its basic features, it is set at a reasonable price point.
- Good connections and options for music.
- Easy to use controls.
- 10-band EQ.
- Volume knob on the front.
- It won’t suit those who want everything built-in to one unit
6 Pioneer AVH-310EX Double-DIN
Back to Pioneer again for what looks like an exciting unit. If you are looking for an all-action, nearly all functioning system for the car, this could be it. It has a 6.8-inch WVGA touchscreen with great visuals. It plays CD and DVD, and you can connect an MP3.
It has an AM/FM tuner that offers six AM presets and 18 FM presets. There are four channels, each with 50 watts of peak power. Sound options are quite good with a graphic equalizer with 3-bands. It has seven preset tone curves you can choose from if you prefer.
There are some extra useful connections, including a 3.5mm Audio Aux input placed on the front and a single USB port at the rear. If you want to expand the sound and add some extras, there are three sets of preamp outputs.
Bluetooth is built-in and will support the A2DP and AVRCP profiles. This allows hands-free calling with a compatible, paired device and also music streaming. Included is a wired microphone. You can, of course, play your own playlists stored on your device. RCA inputs and outputs are placed on the rear panel to connect up to game consoles or extra monitors.
There is a facility for a reversing camera, but that requires an optional purchase…
Likewise, it is ready to connect for steering wheel controls use. This again requires an extra purchase.
Overall, lots of features and plenty of power and sound options make this a good all-in-one system. The visuals on the screen are particularly impressive. Controls that are most often used are placed conveniently and are easy to use.
An interesting little extra is the gravity magnet phone-holder…
We referred to this right at the outset as a ‘nearly’ all-functioning system. We said that because it has not got a GPS system built-in so you can argue that it doesn’t have everything. However, your phone will have its own system, and that can be streamed in without a problem. Set at a good price point, it is good value.
- Good visuals and sound.
- Very competitive price.
- Good connections to a variety of sources.
- No GPS built-in.
7 Power Acoustik PDN 626B Double Din
This is very much a budget range head unit but nevertheless, still includes some good features. It is a double-din unit, but the screen is a little smaller than usual at 6.2 inches. It is a touchscreen unit with easy to read functions and options and plays CDs and DVDs and also has a USB flash drive that supports a 64gb SD card. And it will play MP3 and MP4 files.
You can, therefore, take advantage of all the options Bluetooth offers. That includes hands-free calling and scrolling through contact lists from your phone. It has a built-in microphone, and you can also play your own playlists from your device.
It has four channels, a 75 watt per channel four-channel output, and an AM/FM radio that has FM frequency stepping. On the rear of the unit are other connections for a rearview camera and auxiliary devices.
The touchscreen has decent visuals, and the sound is acceptable. It is not going to win any prizes for its performance and cannot really compete with more expensive brands. But for the money, it represents outstanding value. If your expectation levels aren’t too high, it will do an excellent job at a much lower price than most of its competitors.
- Decent enough unit.
- Reasonable sound and visuals.
- Cost-effective price tag.
- Some will just require more and better features.
8 BOSS Audio Systems BVCP9675 Double Din
This is a double-din unit that is almost a copy of a Pioneer model. It has some decent features but has not been fitted with either a CD for DVD player, which is a little surprising.
It is Bluetooth compatible, so you can make and receive calls and take messages. You will, therefore, either be able to use your own playlists from your phone or connect to music streaming sites. It has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Navigation will show on the touchscreen when in Apple CarPlay mode if you choose to use it.
You can balance the speakers, and there is an EQ that has individual bass and treble controls, and some presets. Controls after some operations can be managed from the steering wheel if your vehicle has that function. In some cases, you might need an adapter.
A standard AM/FM radio is built-in and is fitted with RBDS, the Radio Data Broadcasting system. There are an MP3 aux input and a USB port. It also has the facility to hook up a reversing camera if you have one. There are also RCA connections on the rear to connect up extra speakers if you wish.
The 6.75-inch screen, as we have said, is a clone of the Pioneer screen and is easy and straightforward to use. It is a mech-less system, so some will be disappointed by that. It is a budget and cost-effective option if you want a very basic system.
- Acceptable sound.
- EQ and controls.
- Cost-effective price.
- No GPS, CD, or DVD built-in.
9 Jensen CMN86 6.8 inch LED Multimedia Touch Screen Double Din
Founded by a Danish engineer in 1915, Jensen audio has tended to specialize in certain kinds of audio. Now owned by Namsung, with bases in Germany and America, they are a respected manufacturer.
And, at its price point must be considered as one of the best double din head units.
It has a large 6.8-inch touch screen that is high resolution and gives excellent visuals on a larger than average size. It works exceptionally well with the built-in navigation system. Its LCD/LED format brings the maps to a high level of clarity and also includes various interesting landmarks along your route.
It has Bluetooth connectivity and will pair up with your devices that are also compatible. Hands-free calls and reading messages are, therefore, possible. You can summon up either Siri or Google Voice assistant, and the built-in mic allows you to speak your commands.
It will connect seamlessly to your preferred music streaming service, or you can just connect your device via the USB port, which also charges it up. There is an AM/FM tuner that has 30 station-presets. The unit has RCA inputs in the rear for front and reversing cameras. The cameras, though, do not come with the unit and need to be purchased separately.
It is a four-channel unit with 50 watts peak per channel. You should note that this unit does not have a CD or DVD player. But, for the outlay, this is good value. The sound is good, as are the screen visuals, and there are plenty of connections.
- Nice sounding unit.
- Cost-effective price.
- Good visuals.
- Easy to use controls.
- It doesn’t have a CD or DVD built-in.
10 ATOTO A6 Double Din Android Car Navigation Stereo
Here is a unit that is certainly going to be considered as one of the best double din head units, since this unit has a lot going for it at an excellent price point.
It has dual Bluetooth connections, which give you access to most things. Bluetooth 1 is principally for calls and messages and Bluetooth 2 for music and other streaming services.
Music and movies will all be available and, of course, hands-free use for calls and messages. Besides the two Bluetooth connections, it also boasts WiFi access. It can access Apple CarPlay as well as Android Audio support.
It has an AM/FM radio, but it is not HD, and there is also no connection to SiriusXM. That is, of course, an extra purchase with any system. It has a very interesting feature for raising or lowering the volume. Just simply pass your hand in front of it, and the sensors pick up the movement and make the adjustment.
There are some good extra features with things like traffic status at any given place on your journey. It also has a connection with the Google Play Store. Here you can download any app you require.
Performance-wise it is astonishing with a big sound delivered by a Toshiba amp that has four channels. That generates 29 watts per channel RMS, which equates to about 250 watts peak power. The screen is also a talking point as it has a bright and very defined picture. One of the best visuals you will see which belied its price point. Google Maps is installed as your main navigation option.
In our view, this is one of the best units we have seen. It doesn’t have its own built-in CD and DVD player, but everything else is in place. It’s a very well-made unit with good sound and a great screen. It is made in China. Some will be surprised at that, because of the quality of the product.
- Good screen display.
- Easy to use controls.
- Good sound.
- Very cost-effective price.
- It doesn’t have a CD or DVD player.
Best Double Din Head Units Buyer’s Guide
That just about sums up the options for either upgrading or getting your first double-din unit. There are a lot of variables in just about every way in terms of what they provide.
So, let’s take a look at the critical factors…
Most screens are of similar sizes, but there are some minor variations. Even what seems to be small differences can alter the picture or the size of icons. Pixel size, though, is something else. The more pixels, the better the image usually. Also, some screens have bright coloration and are therefore better for watching movies.
If you can find screens with dimmers for late night use, that can be an advantage. Also, if the screen has a tilt option in case the sun is shining on it and makes it harder to read. Or you just want a better angle to see it. That is another useful feature for navigation use.
This is another critical issue but one where most units are very similar. They are all about the same power-wise, but some have better sound management controls. Some will include EQ; some will have presets, both of which can give you sound options. If the sound is essential, this is something worth having a close look at.
Do you even want a screen? Some won’t. Do you want a radio? Again, some won’t. These might not be the critical issues or the reason for buying. For some, the purpose will be navigation.
Connections are also important. Many will have Bluetooth, which opens up a whole new world of opportunity. If it works. We haven’t quite reached the stage where it is perfect. If navigation is essential, you might not want to rely on your phone and Bluetooth. You might feel more comfortable with GPS built-in.
You may need a 3.5mm aux input to connect up a non-Bluetooth phone or MP3 for the playlists. Do you want connections for a camera, either front or back? Some have them built-in. There are myriad choices.
The final decision. How much are you willing to spend? Fortunately, they are all reasonably similar. There are some budget items and also those by respected manufacturers that tend to come a bit more expensive. It will depend mainly on what features you want and which unit provides them.
Before We Choose Our Favorite
If you enjoyed this review, we recommend you check out our reviews of the Best Car Compasses, the Best Bluetooth Headsets for Drivers, the Best Remote Start Systems, and the Best HUD for Cars currently available.
Back to double din head units…
So, What Are The Best Double Din Head Units?
If we were to choose, we would be replacing what we already have.
We would be looking for better quality than the factory-supplied article. We will still want a CD and DVD, a decent radio and of course Navigation which is essential to us. But we also want good connections, hands-free is essential and the ability to stay in touch. We have therefore chosen the … Pioneer AVH-W4500NEX Double DIN.
Not the cheapest, but it has everything and is our favorite choice of the lot.
Enjoy your sound.