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7 Best Alpine Head Units in 2022 – Reviews and Buying Guide

Alpine is a trusted brand in the car stereo industry, and it’s no surprise the many quality car stereos produced by this manufacturer.

Since 1978, Alpine has continued to rise to the challenge, using premium materials for manufacturing head units that are sleek, sophisticated, durable, and reliable.

You can’t deny this manufacturer sits at the top of the food chain for car stereos and vehicle components.

The Electronics giant has been in the business for more than four decades producing high-quality aftermarket products that put stock products to shame. It’s no shame, however, to feel overwhelmed by the many Alpine Head unit choices on the market.

This article takes a deep dive into all head units Alpine. And lest we forget, there’s a buyers guide at the end of this article if you require more information.

The Best Alpine Head Units in 2022

From Bluetooth connectivity to smartphone compatibility, we take an extensive look into the Alpine head unit features below to meet your car stereo needs.

Best of the Best
Alpine ILX-W650
Alpine ILX-W650
  • Next-gen product
  • Effortless integration of Apple Carplay and Android Auto
  • Also supports third-party apps, including Spotify, Pandora, and Sirius XM
  • 9-band EQ to regulate the audio output
View on Amazon →
Best Single DIN
Alpine CDE-172BT
Alpine CDE-172BT
  • Quick and seamless integration without missing a beat
  • Decent call clarity and crisp, clear sound
  • Supports SiriusXM and is compatible with Pandora
View on Amazon →
Best Affordable
Alpine UTE-73BT
Alpine UTE-73BT
  • 3-band EQ to adjusts and deliver top quality listening experience
  • Bluetooth connectivity to easily control your smartphone audio
  • Easily installation and expandable with sub/amp
View on Amazon →
Best Secure
Alpine CDE-HD149BT
Alpine CDE-HD149BT
  • Extremely powerful and clear quality sound
  • Easily bluetooth pairing with smartphone
  • Only compatible with Android smartphones
View on Amazon →
Best Value for Money
Alpine CDE-175BT
Alpine CDE-175BT
  • Exceptional quality audio
  • Detachable face for added security
  • Supports SiriusXM and Pandora
  • Compatible with Android and iOS
View on Amazon →
Best Double-DIN
Alpine CDE-W265BT
Alpine CDE-W265BT
  • One of the highest 9-band EQ
  • Clear quality mic/audio
  • Pandora also works amazingly
View on Amazon →
Best for Smartphone Connectivity
Alpine CDE-172BT
Alpine CDE-172BT
  • Expandable with q subwoofer
  • Built-in CD player
  • Solid Bluetooth integration
  • Supports SiriusXM and Pandora
View on Amazon →

Here’s the list of best of the best Alpine head units in 2022:

1. Alpine ILX-W650 – Best Overall

Just like Zeus sitting at the summit of Mount Olympus, the ILX-W650 sits at the top of what’s an incredibly stacked list of premium Alpine head units.

Alpine ILX-W650
Pros
  • Finger-swipe control is the next level
  • Apple Carplay and Android Auto support
  • Simple installation
  • Responsive capacitive display
Cons
  • It doesn’t support HVAC controls

This Alpine head unit is an exquisite 7″ touchscreen unit for starters. And unlike many flagship competitors, it sports a capacitive display which is way more responsive than the resistive products around.

The two-finger swipe motion almost makes you feel as though you were swiping through your smartphone. Alpine continues to out-develop its rivals, which is clear to see with the ease of navigating the controls through two-finger swipe movements.

Whether changing the volume or skipping a song, this feature has you covered. But that’s not all. You enjoy the best of both worlds with the seamless integration of Apple Carplay and Android Auto that puts the power of your smartphone on your car stereo.

It doesn’t matter if you’re an iOS or Android user. Your in-car life just became more convenient with the ability to play music, make phone calls, GPS navigation, or receive texts on the go.

Apple users can enjoy Carplay by swiping the touchscreen to activate Siri’s voice control or pressing the microphone button if they use an Android. The ILX-W650 supports audio streaming of third-party apps, including Spotify, Pandora, and Sirius XM for Satellite Radio.

This Alpine head unit also sports an AUX/IN to expand your entertainment choices with external mp3 and CD players.

Audiophiles will love the 9-band EQ to regulate the audio output, and there’s also a subwoofer level regulator built-in. However, the sound quality is average at best and lacks a bit of bass in the delivery.

There’s still a chink in the armor as impressive as this head unit is. You’ll need to check out other head units if you enjoy fiddling with the customization and playing with the screen animations. You won’t find flashy button colors and changeable graphics on this big boy.

Bottom Line The ILX-W650 may not be as flashy as its rivals, but its understated quality and expandability are hard to deny. View Latest Price on Amazon →

2. Alpine CDE-172BT – Best Single DIN

If you miss the Alpine CDE-143BT, worry not because the CDE-172BT is the same Alpine head unit, only better. This unit is the best in its class because of the number of features you get for the price.

Alpine CDE-172BT
Pros
  • The Alpine head unit has a CD Player for old-school music lovers.
  • Satellite radio-ready
  • Easy installation
  • Text and color customization
Cons
  • Bluetooth cuts out in some units

Let’s start with Bluetooth. The connection is quick and seamless, sensing your phone before taking it out of your pocket. Your music continues uninterrupted from your smartphone to the stereo without missing a beat.

Say goodbye to tangled AUX cables because you can now charge your smartphone and play your music simultaneously. You also get a USB port for thumb drives to import your music library into the stereo.

And if that’s not your thing, you can turn it into a charging port for your smartphone.

And guess what? The stereo back is dotted with outputs and inputs if you prefer expanding your Alpine head unit with subwoofers and amps. And unlike the iLX-W650, you can play with the customization and fiddle with the display color and text.

The blackout feature is a big-brain idea that allows you to dim the stereo lighting, so it doesn’t blind you in low light conditions. While the call clarity is decent, it will heavily depend on your traveling speed and your vehicle’s road noise.

You’d be happy this unit installs quickly, and you can watch a YouTube video or two to get things fixed up in no time. The 172-BT doesn’t disappoint except for some minor gripes.

The latest flagship phones have slight difficulty connecting with a USB cable. It will also help if the display shows the track name when changing songs on Show Clock Mode. Bluetooth also cuts for a brief second before playing without issues.

Nonetheless, the audio quality is crisp and clear without noticeable distortion, courtesy of the 45-watt outage that gives you decent power.

The Alpine CDE-172BT also supports SiriusXM and is compatible with Pandora. You’ll need to buy the SiriusXM kit separately, including a subscription to enjoy satellite radio.

Bottom Line The functions on the Alpine CDE-172BT may take some time to master, but there are a lot of features packed into this 3lb head unit. View Latest Price on Amazon →

3. Alpine UTE-73BT – Most Affordable

Buyer beware. If you want a media receiver that plays CDs, we recommend looking elsewhere. But if a mech-less unit is what you need, you’d struggle to do better than the Alpine UTE-73BT.

Alpine UTE-73BT
Pros
  • Amazing sound
  • Expandable with subwoofer and amp
  • Easy installation
  • Affordable pricing
Cons
  • It doesn’t play CDs
  • Only 3-band EQ

The audio features may not be as impressive as many, but the sound quality is where this unit shines best. For starters, installation won’t cost you an arm and a leg. You can install this Alpine head unit yourself with the right tools.

Besides, it ships with harness accessories ensuring you don’t spend extra funds. The unmistakable sound emanating from this stereo is excellent. The bass functions have a fantastic output even with underpowered factory speakers.

You’ll also love the 3-band EQ to adjust the audio, including the high and low-pass crossover to optimize your subwoofer. And unlike other models and brands, this Alpine head unit has two USB ports for charging your smart device and playing your tunes on the road!

Another ergonomic feature is the large knob on the unit. Alpine understands that it’s easy to hit this jutting knob by mistake and ensures the knob doesn’t respond until you press another button to navigate the menu.

This feature alone provides a world of convenience, especially when trying to multitask in your vehicle. The RGB color controller helps you customize the color and improve your vehicle lighting.

Bluetooth connectivity allows you to control your smartphone audio. You can listen to music or receive calls without installing extra components. On top of that, your music gets muted whenever you have an incoming call.

And courtesy of the Waiting Mode feature, you can put your first call on hold while receiving a second phone call.

Pandora lovers will enjoy the stereo’s support, including SiriusXM compatibility when buying a separate tuner kit.

While the UTE-73BT is as close to perfection, it does have minor issues. The screen can be challenging to see for people with poor eyesight. Some units also have Bluetooth issues which reduce the functionality of this Alpine head unit.

Bottom Line The sound quality is good enough to make you forgive whatever failings the Alpine UTE-73BT might have. View Latest Price on Amazon →

4. Alpine CDE-HD149BT – Most Secure

Single Din units may not pack as many features as their double-DIN cousins, but the Alpine CDE-HD149BT is an exception. The standout feature is the detachable front plate that makes this head unit secure and prevents theft.

Alpine CDE-HD149BT
Pros
  • Powerful sound
  • Bluetooth pairs well with smartphone
  • Bluetooth pairs with a single device at a time
  • Ergonomic volume knob control
Cons
  • Feels cheap
  • The screen is bright even with the dimness settings

As far as connectivity goes, the Bluetooth syncs without any issues. The Alpine head unit can’t work without the frontal plate, reducing its value to potential burglars.

This stereo is suitable for users who prefer easy-to-find features, unlike many brands that hide commands in multiple menus making navigation a nightmare. The 200-watt output will blow your stock unit out of the water, and you get preamp outputs to connect with a subwoofer.

Moreover, the 9-band parametric EQ provides additional audio customization. The volume knob allows you to make adjustments while driving, and it controls everything, including your subwoofer volume.

The Alpine head unit also comes with the TuneIn App, and we recommend setting it up before you pair it with your smart device. The app gives you many audio customization options elevating your audio quality further.

Although this car stereo supports Pandora, the app is compatible only with Android smartphones. You can enjoy Pandora on iPhone through Bluetooth connectivity, but all the navigation controls will only work through your phone.

However, Android users get the added convenience of controlling Pandora from the unit. This flaw is a minor annoyance for what the CDE-HD149BT offers, and it’s easy to see in any light condition.

Another flaw is the overly bright screen that tends to blind at night. Otherwise, this is an exceptional product.

Bottom Line It works as it’s meant to, but the finishing on this head unit could be more premium. View Latest Price on Amazon →

5. Alpine CDE-175BT – Best Value

If you’re a single DIN car owner and need a capable head unit that gives you more bang for your buck, you need to put the Alpine CDE-175BT at the top of your list. This Alpine head unit has the core features you’d want in a premium car stereo.

Alpine CDE-175BT
Pros
  • Exceptional audio quality
  • Detachable face for additional security
  • Satellite radio support
  • Front-facing USB port
  • Android and iOS compatibility
  • 5V preamp output
Cons
  • 3-band EQ isn’t enough
  • Can’t connect more than two Bluetooth devices

Firstly, the highest voltage preamp output you can ever find on a head unit is 5V, and this unit checks that box. This feature is crucial if you want to expand and upgrade the functionality of any Alpine head unit you buy.

Because you might throw a lot of cash on the best amps and speakers, but all you’ll get is the sloppiness sound if your head unit isn’t feeding your hardware the cleanest signal. CD players are fast becoming an endangered species, so it’s nice to see it on this car stereo.

Moreover, Bluetooth connectivity is flawless when you hook it up with your smartphone’s NFC. You’ll still need to stream at the highest bit rate to get the best sound on Bluetooth. Bluetooth connectivity also gives you access to voice dialing and hands-free calling.

And unlike other models that locate the USB at the back, the thumb drive port is at the front for more convenience. You should know at its price range the Alpine CDE-175BT ought to ship with remote control, but this model doesn’t.

Also, it’s a slight challenge to see the display in the daytime and with shades on. But that’s clutching at straws to find a flaw.

The installation manual provides all the necessary steps for a DIY install, saving you additional expenses. The textured buttons are easy to press and don’t feel clunky.

You also get to enjoy FLAC files via the USB, and you can secure your head unit by detaching the frontal plate. There’s software support for Android and iOS, and you can enjoy expandable web services like Pandora and SiriusXM.

Bottom Line In truth, the Alpine CDE-175BT ought to be the best for audio quality, but it has so much value in every other department and is way better than its competitors in the same price range. View Latest Price on Amazon →

6. Alpine CDE-W265BT – Best Without Screen

The Alpine CDE-W265BT is suitable for car owners who need a double-DIN unit without a screen display. This unit has a front-facing USB port that makes it more convenient to plug in your thumb drive.

Alpine CDE-W265BT
Pros
  • Fantastic audio quality
  • Expandable with amp and subwoofer
  • Easy crossover settings
  • TuneIn App more than 100 audio settings
  • Strong Bluetooth connectivity
Cons
  • It doesn’t pick many radio stations
  • Reflects sunlight

You’ll love the 4V preamp outputs to expand this unit with a subwoofer. We also recommend downloading the TuneIn app to give you audio customization options. You’d notice the unpretentiousness of this Alpine head unit: no bells and whistles or excess frills.

The 9-band EQ is one of the highest you can find, and you can adjust the audio output on the fly with your iPhone or Android smartphone. The subwoofer control is a thoughtful touch and the only thing you might need to change once you set the EQ.

The eye-catching feature of this unit is the phone/mic audio. The experience is like talking right into your phone, which is hard to see on many Alpine head units in this price range. The sound output is underrated on this Alpine CDE-W265BT, making your FM radio sound like you’re playing a CD.

However, there are some obvious limitations. The shine on the deck reflects a lot of light which can distract or blind in the daytime. We recommend a brushed aluminum finish to reduce the glare and make it easier to see.

Another thing is the USB, which tends to select thumb drives. On top of that, Mix Mode doesn’t let you play back a track and will skip forward.

Installation isn’t as easy as many on this list, and it won’t be a bad idea to call a professional. Pandora works amazingly well, or trouble is getting it to connect in the first place.

Bottom Line The Alpine CDE-W265BT has a few setbacks, but it’s still a great buy you can’t regret. View Latest Price on Amazon →

7. Alpine CDE-172BT – Best for Smartphone Connectivity

If you’re feeling a sense of déjà vu, you need to understand this Alpine head unit is a different product from the Best Single DIN Head Unit on this list. Firstly, this head unit weighs 4lbs+ while the latter weighs 3 lbs.

Alpine CDE-172BT
Pros
  • SiriusXM and Pandora support
  • Expandable with q subwoofer
  • Free Alphasonik Earbuds
  • CD Player built-in
  • Solid Bluetooth integration
  • The USB port also serves as a charging port
Cons
  • Menu navigation is tricky
  • Pandora doesn’t connect seamlessly

Unlike the latter, you also get free Alphasonik Earbuds with this head unit. While the model numbers read the same, they are different Alpine head units.

This Alpine CDE-172BT makes it easy to control music on your iOS device with the car stereo. The USB lighting cable also enhances the music playback for iPod. Interestingly, Android users also get Android Open Accessory (AOA).

This feature also provides better music quality and more intuitive sound control than streaming your music via regular Bluetooth connectivity. While the installation is doable, you’ll need to buy an adapter harness specific for your vehicle to simplify the process.

Additionally, you get HD Radio which improves the radio sound output. The overall sound quality is terrific and is better than your stock unit stereo.

On the flip side, the HD reception isn’t the strongest on this list, and the audio quality won’t wow you. That said, it’s still a fantastic unit that works great with many features for everyone.

Bottom Line There are so many features on this Alpine CDE-172BT it’d be best you download the manual from Alpine to keep abreast of them all. View Latest Price on Amazon →

Before You Buy: The Buyer’s Guide to Choosing The Right Alpine Head Unit

It’s unsurprising how popular Alpine head units are globally among car stereo enthusiasts. These head units come with a range of features designed to satisfy every car owner type.

If you intend to replace your current vehicle receiver with an Alpine head unit, below are some things to keep in mind:

Price

Alpine head units are on the more premium side of the car stereo market. Subsequently, these units may cost more than other brands for similar features.

However, Alpine car stereos tend to have a higher quality build and last longer than most competition. Once you figure out your budget, research to make sure the Alpine head unit you can afford has the features you need.

Size

It makes little sense to buy a double-DIN Alpine head unit when your vehicle has a single DIN dash and vice versa. If you buy the wrong Alpine head unit for your car, you might pay more than two times the cost of the car stereo as installation costs.

Head units come in single and double-DIN measurements, and it’s essential to know your vehicle dash size before purchasing an Alpine car stereo.

Features

It’s wrong to assume all Alpine head units ship with the same features. Alpine has different models of head units with various features to meet the needs of every car owner under the sun.

Some units work best for Satellite radio, while others are designed for specific smartphone devices. If you need a feature, make sure the Alpine head unit you buy can meet your expectations.

Installation

We always recommend buying a car stereo you can install yourself. However, some Alpine head units require professional installation to ensure you get the best out of your equipment.

Warranty

Car stereos can break down without warning, which is valid for premium brands like Alpine. However, Alpine head units often ship with a standard three-year warranty which speaks volumes for the quality of head units they produce.

If your Alpine head unit fails within that period, you can expect a refund or replacement, depending on your situation.

Sound Quality

A significant benefit to buying an aftermarket car stereo is to obtain more power. Premium aftermarket head units like pine produce a higher overall volume and better bass from your factory speakers.

The head unit often has preamp outputs to expand your sound system with a subwoofer or amplifier. Alpine has dedicated models for audiophiles. These head units feature comprehensive EQ settings and crossover adjusters to fine-tune your audio output.

Wrapping Up…

Alpine head units offer superior in-vehicle experience factory options cannot hope to match. Interestingly, many luxury car manufacturers like Dodge, Jeep, BMW, Audi, Mercedes, and Jaguar have partnered with Alpine to equip flagship head units on their vehicles.

In addition, Alpine digital receivers aren’t only designed for cars. You can install these Alpine head units on your truck, minivan, boat, and any other type of vehicle.

The Alpine head units on this list are at the top of their respective classes and some of the best units Alpine offers.


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Robert Muñoz

I’m Robert, a US-based auto electrician, auto mechanic, trained engineer and fanatic about all things motor vehicle. After studying engineering in college I returned to my original passion - car mechanics - and I ran a garage for a number of years serving my local community. Through my garage, I got involved in numerous road safety campaigns in my local area until eventually, I decided to share what I've learned with the world. Know more about me... You can follow me on LinkedIn.

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