The car stereo might be the single most important component in your vehicle. Well okay, after the engine and the brakes.
We’re increasingly relying on our car stereos for a lot more than a few tunes: from GPS navigation to hands-free calling, the best car stereos turn our car’s cab into a productive hub.
Single DIN head units are the most compact of all car stereos: measuring just 2×7 inches (compared to the standard 4×7 inches of a double DIN) they’ll fit into just about every dashboard out there, including older vehicles and classic cars.
Single DIN head units are easy to install but don’t think that size means a compromise on power. Single DIN units can be just as powerful as their bigger brothers (double DINs) and sound just as good.
The main difference? Screen size – and the range of features that entails. But single din head units’ smaller screen is also less of a distraction when you’re on the road.
That’s why this article focuses on one DIN head units. For an affordable upgrade for any dashboard, we’ve singled out the best single DIN head units on the market.
Let’s take a look!
The Best Single DIN Head Units in 2022
After the hours of research, we carefully shortlisted the top rated units offering the most value and quality for you. Here are our top picks:
- Has built-in control features for Android, iPhone or iPods
- Include CDs, smartphones, and USB drives
- Supports Pandora, Spotify, SoundCloud, and more
- Ten presets and a 3-band equalizer (also allows tuning audio settings)
- One-year solid warranty
- Bluetooth connectivity for hand-free calling and music streaming
- Supports CD/DVD, MP3, AUX, AM/FM
- Includes USB/SD ports
- Built-in equalizer and RDS tuner produce great quality listening experience
- CD Player stereo with USB/AUX inputs
- Smartphone (Android) compatible
- Detachable face plate
- Includes a wireless remote
- CEA-2006 compliant yet affordable
- AUX and USB input capabilities
- AM/FM tuner and Bluetooth connectivity
- Supports, SiriusXM, Pandora and Internet Radio
- Multiple colors to suite your taste
- Ten user-presets for desired listening experience
- CD Receiver
- Dual USB ports and Bluetooth connectivity
- Supports Spotify, Pandora and Sirius Radio
- 13-band EQ lets you customize your sound
- NFC and Bluetooth connectivity options (audio streaming and hand-free calling)
- CD receiver with AM/FM tuner
- Plays CDs, CD-Rs, and CD-RWs
- Detachable face plate
- Built-in bluetooth for hand-free calling and audio streaming
- Digital media receiver via AM/FM tuner (Not a CD Player)
- Supports Pandora
- USB and Bluetooth connectivity options
- Easily connects to Spotify, Pandora and SiriusXM
- Affordable price tag
Here are the top eight single DIN head units with plenty of features and universal compatibility with most vehicles.
1. Alpine CDE-175BT – Best Of The Best
Alpine is going to feature a couple of times on this list and it’s no surprise: they’re amongst the top manufacturers for quality car stereo systems that are also aesthetically pleasing.
This single DIN head unit with the FM/AM tuner built into the console gives you the choice to listen to the radio when you’re not streaming music through your device. It also supports the FLAC music format adored by audiophiles: that’s more versatility in ways that you can listen to your favorite songs.
You can also receive and make phone calls without putting the phone to your ear by using the bluetooth connectivity option. With the Alpine CDE-175BT, you can connect up to two devices at once.
Alpine has gone all-in on hands-free functionality here. If you have the voice assistant function on your phone, you can also use this feature through the DIN unit. Additionally, the DIN head has built-in controls for using an android smartphone, iPod, or iPhone.
The playback features include CDs, smartphones, and USB drives while you’re on the road. Do you enjoy radio streaming services such as Pandora? Well, you’re in luck! This model allows you to directly stream from various music apps like Pandora, Spotify, SoundCloud, and more.
The Alpine CDE-175BT model comes with ten presets and a 3-band equalizer. You’ll have to familiarize yourself with the terms, but the equalizer lets you adjust the sound at different frequencies from low to medium to high.
3 bands are fewer than other models out there but you can still adjust the audio to your liking depending on the song.
This single DIN unit also comes with a short one-year warranty after your purchase – but Alpine is well known for building robust head units so we’re not worried.
2. BOSS Audio BV9986BI – Best Single-Din DVD Player
When it comes to versatility, the BOSS BV9986BI single DIN unit excels the best. It has USB, AUX, and AV inputs, you can connect your Bluetooth, and it’s compatible with both Android and iOS devices. It’s a little over 5 lbs, and it fits most dashboards as well.
The company produces marine and automobile audio equipment, which has been around for decades. Essentially, you can trust that you’re getting a reliable product when you choose BOSS audio systems.
The seven-inch touchscreen has an innovative and trendy graphic design with excellent functionality. It doesn’t have the anti-glare feature, which protects your eyes in case it’s excessively bright out, but it’s easy to navigate outside of those extreme moments of glare!
It’s fully equipped with Bluetooth connectivity so you can enjoy hands-free calling while keeping your eyes on the road..
You’ll be able to enjoy songs in various formats with the WMA and MP3 features, including directly from an SD card.
Even some of the most popular brands and models on the market don’t have this capability. And by being able to listen to songs from the SD card, you take away the necessity for a strong phone signal to stream music.
The BOSS audio system also has four channels, with an output of close to 85 watts – pretty powerful for a single DIN head unit. This feature, coupled with the built-in graphics equalizer and the RDS tuner, enhances your overall listening experience. You can fine-tune the bass and tempo the way you like, seamlessly.
You can also remove the front panel and store it away to prevent cases of theft when your vehicle is unattended.
3. Pioneer DEH-S1100UB + ALPHA – Best On A Budget
The Pioneer DEH-S1100UB + ALPHA is a basic unit that’s excellent for those that want to upgrade their car’s stereo system without breaking their banks.
This unit doesn’t support Bluetooth, allow wireless music streaming, or offer smartphone app control. So, what makes it so special? Well, it more than makes up for the lack of certain features with the versatility and the quality of others.
It can enhance your audio reproduction for frequencies up to 20 kHz, and it has an advanced sound receiver. This optimizes file storage to prevent them from getting lost during compression. The interface is easy to use, and it also has WMA and MP3 playback, allowing you to listen to your music in various formats.
The Pioneer DEH-S1100UB + ALPHA has an AUX output built into the stereo, so you can enjoy all your favorite songs from any portable device. As long as you can connect it to a 3.5mm cable, you’re good to go.
Additionally, this single DIN head unit has a 5-band graphic EQ, perfect for customizing sound. You also get subwoofer controls as well as low and high-pass filter settings.
The design is simple and matches most car interiors, and the price is surprisingly low.
The faceplate is also detachable, and you get a wireless remote control with your purchase.
4. Alpine CDE-172BT (replacement of CDE-143BT) – Best Value for Money
Weighing in at a little over 3 lbs, with AUX and USB input capabilities, Bluetooth connectivity, and more. It has a CD receiver as well as an AM/FM tuner, and the face is detachable with multiple colors such as red, blue, can, and green to choose from.
What we love most about this unit is that you can customize it in so many ways. Changing the backlight or the display according to your preference gives you versatility and style that fits your vehicle.
The Alpine single DIN unit has an easy-to-read digital display that shows the time, date, and the name of the song you’re listening to. There are five basic sound settings to choose from – but the EQ gives you even more customizable control.
With the EQ, you can make the bass louder or choose the low pass filter for a smoother and soothing experience.
And the subwoofer controls are easy to use so you can tailor your lows how you like ‘em. It’s a great sounding system and the six rear jacks also give you the possibility to connect to external amplifiers whenever you choose.
The Bluetooth features include audio streaming and hands-free calling, and you can connect it to both an Android and an iPhone. It also has built-in controls for using an iPhone, iPad, or iPod, and it can control your Pandora app directly through the unit.
And of course, you can play CDs, CD-RWS, CD-RS, and even USB devices from the Alpine head DIN unit.
The stereo has playback and fast-forward features that can be voice-activated for your convenience. Also, thanks to the microphone integration, you can easily answer calls and hold a conversation with excellent sound quality.
5. Pioneer DEH-X8800BHS – Best for Pioneer Fans
Pioneer is one of the leading brands in the car stereo game and the DEH-X8800BHS has a CD receiver, as well as an FM/AM radio built-in. It comes with a whopping 13-band EQ, six-channel preamp outputs, including rear, 4-volt front, and subwoofer, and a built-in Bluetooth as well.
- The sound quality is excellent
- 13-band EQ lets you customize your sound
- The user interface is easy to follow
- It comes with a vast array of color customization options
- It has the most extra features for a car stereo system upgrade on the list
- This unit doesn’t work with some of the newer phone models from Android and iOS
If you need power, a full range of features, and a beautiful design, the Pioneer DEH-X8800BHS is the platform to choose from.
You can switch the text colors on the screen thanks to the dual-zone color illumination. What does that mean? It gives you the choice of many color combinations to suit your mood and taste for the day. And there are brightness settings that span ten levels, so you can adjust the console to look exactly how you want.
The Mixtrax function with this DIN unit means you can play songs the way a DJ would, with enhanced lighting and transitions. Combined with the 13-band EQ that lets you customize your sound this makes for a great listening experience.
It also has rear and front USB inputs. You can connect the rear USB cable to an iPod or a thumb drive packed with music and stick it in the glove compartment.
The front USB input can get connected to your smartphone – giving you charge on the go as well as streaming music, listening to podcasts, and more.
You’ll receive a wireless remote with your purchase, making it even easier to use while driving. It’s also compatible with numerous steering wheel controls, and you can use it with an external amplifier since it’s CEA-2006 compliant. Use two smartphones at once, with the option to connect a third phone with the Guest Mode option.
6. Sony MEX-N5300BT – Best For Sony Fans
The Sony MEX-N5300BT has USB and AUX inputs, is powerful at 40 watts of RMS output, allows for NFC and Bluetooth connectivity, and has four radio channels. All that and it clocks in at a little less than 4 lbs.
Sony is a huge name in the audio industry so you know you’re getting a high-quality electronic device. The sound quality with this DIN unit is amazing, and there haven’t been any reports of problems or glitches. This is for sure the best-looking single DIN head unit on the list, but again, do you expect any less from Sony?
The unique compatibility options through the Near Field Communication technology are perfect for controlling your music with no hands. By simply using touching gestures such as tapping your smartphone on the volume knob, you can instantly connect the devices.
You also get Android voice connectivity and Siri-eyes connection to make things even easier to manipulate as you drive. That means the built-in Bluetooth functions allow you to adjust the volume, make and receive calls using hands-free technology, and even change the song using voice commands.
The interface is a little complicated but once you learn all the controls and figure out how to connect all your devices, it’s a breeze. You can connect up to two devices at once and play from them both at the same time!
It should be noted that this stylish design has slightly bigger dimensions than the traditional 2×7 single DIN measurements, but it’s still a compact model that will fit into most dashboards. You can also use a 3.5mm cable to connect the DIN unit to an external amplifier to kick up the sound a few notches.
7. PIONEER SPH10BT – Best With Limited Options
Bringing an innovative approach to smartphone connection capabilities, the Pioneer SPH-10BT is the best match for those that want a multi-device unit with all the functions. This single DIN head unit has a cradle mounted on top specially designed for your smartphone.
Place your smartphone in this space, and you can connect, wired or wirelessly, to the Smart Sync App from Pioneer.
The SPH-10BT has specific controls that give you direct access to functions such as GPS navigation, messaging, hands-free calling, and more. You also have the option of using voice commands with your single DIN receiver.
By linking your smartphone to your car stereo system, you get full control over the entertainment system at your fingertips.
What makes this single DIN head unit so technologically advanced is that you can connect as many as ten phones to the receiver at once. It also utilizes an auto pair feature that instantly connects all of your devices from the moment that you enter your vehicle.
For Apple users, Siri-eyes function to send text messages, make calls, get directions, and play music by simply speaking to the receiver. The built-in microphone accepts the voice input without requiring special permission from your phone’s settings.
Connect your Pandora app, Spotify, and other music apps via Bluetooth and enjoy all your music in one place. This unit also has a subwoofer controller, a 13-band equalizer, and other audio quality features that let you fine-tune your listening experience.
8. Pioneer DEH-S6220BS – Best On A Tight Budget
The DEH-S6220BS has a similar feature profile to the Pioneer DEH-X8800BHS, with its vast color combination options, built on Bluetooth, CD receiver, and more. It easily accommodates Spotify, Pandora, SiriusXM, and other popular music apps.
You can use it with an Android or iPhone device. It comes with a detachable faceplate, and the Mixtrax DJ technology we mentioned before. You get inputs for AUX and USB, not to mention the MOSFET amplifier and subwoofer outputs.
What we love about their display is that you can see artist and album information on your screen for every song you select – so you’ll never be scrambling for your phone to find out the origin of a track you love. With the anti-glare feature and the brightness controls, it’s easy to see and navigate when in use.
The power rating is high with this unit, 50 watts over four channels. That’s going to sound great in any vehicle!
Feel free to add amplifiers to your system if the built-in gadget isn’t enough for you. The differences between the two units are that this one doesn’t have a front and rear USB input slot, only the front.
Unfortunately, this Pioneer model doesn’t have a built-in HD radio like the DEH-X8800BHS. Other than those two distinctions, you get essentially the same functions for a slightly lower price.
The Buyer’s Guide to Choosing Right Single DIN Head Unit
What are some of the things you should consider when shopping around for a new single DIN head unit? For starters, it’s helpful to understand what some of the terms mean and how it affects your listening experience.
This feature is crucial because the absence of an external amplifier means that the power output informs you of how powerful your sound and speakers will be. Car stereos usually have two types of power output ratings.
This rating is the highest amount of power that your stereo can generate for short spurts of time. It’s how much power goes to your speaker without an external device.
RMS Power (Continuous)
The RMS power output is the total power that your stereo can generate continuously. This rating is more important than the max power output.
A good quality built-in equalizer is vital because it allows you to control the shape of the sound’s output. You can make frequencies higher or lower to get the best sounding music in your car environment.
You have different band counts: 3, 5, and 13. And the more bands that the stereo has, the better customization options you’ll have at your disposal.
Versatility is key when you select your car stereo. You want to pick a unit that lets you connect to different external sources. Numerous models include video or audio outputs and inputs, which are cameras and microphones.
If you have expandable features, you can transform one stereo into a multifunctional device. Though they might cost a little more, the nest DIN head units have a minimum of three RCA outputs (Subwoofer, Rear, Front), AV outputs/inputs, microphone inputs, and camera inputs available.
Pick a design that matches the interior of your car. This should be fairly simple since most of them are black or chrome-colored, but there are some with colorful faceplates.
Additionally, pay attention to other details like the size of the writing and illumination. Some DIN head units have small writing, and it isn’t much you can do to change that. Others offer large text that’s easy to read, great for those that are older or have trouble seeing.
You may be able to find a single DIN head unit that has a lot of features beyond looking sleek, and you can change the font size, style, color, lighting, brightness, and more.
A solid single DIN head unit must be able to playback videos, audio, CD, MP3, Bluetooth, and XM/HD radio files. Make sure the playback methods are consistent and compatible so that you don’t end up missing out on some of your favorite jams because the unit doesn’t support the format.
Here’s why these playback features are essential:
USB: This port connects your music devices via a USB cord. It can also give you the option to charge your phone while listening to music.
Bluetooth: If you have a smartphone or other devices that have Bluetooth capability, you can connect it to the receiver and listen to the full list of songs on those devices as well.
CD player: If the single DIN head unit has a CD receiver, you can play multiple types of compact disks, further expanding your music choices while riding.
HD Radio: The HD radio is a higher quality option than the traditional radio, and the sound quality is better also.
XM Radio: Using the satellite connection, the XM radio lets you listen to several radio channels. You have to pay for the program (Sirius), but their catalog is quite extensive.
The buttons on the head unit must be in an optimal position that is easy to reach, large enough, and conducive for safe driving. You should be able to play songs and make calls without compromising your driving abilities.
The best single DIN head units are fully compatible with smartphone integration. Quick access to music apps, navigation apps, song lists, text messages, and answering your phone hands-free is what you’re searching for.
Plus, many have microphones equipped with noise-canceling technology to amplify your voice while reducing background noise from the road.
If you’re feeling bored with your dashboard, it’s time to replace your head unit. You can get that new car feel without the new car price tag.
A single DIN head unit is going to fit discretely into your dash and it doesn’t come with a huge, distracting screen. Say goodbye to fusty old FM radio and hello to versatile digital inputs, from Bluetooth to FLAC.
If you’re an all-time audiophile then you’ll love the Pioneer DEH-X8800BHS with its multiple inputs and 13-band EQ for sound customization.
And if you want a world of hands-free functionality, then try the Sony MEX-N5300BT – and keep your eyes on the road.
Or if you’re shopping on a budget, then Pioneer DEH-S1100UB + ALPHA is an affordable choice that offers premium features.
Single DIN head units give you a whole world of high-tech options. It’s time to update your dash.