Many cars today feature head units that meet the standards of the Deutsches Institut für Normung (DIN). Put in place by German manufacturers, these standards outline the size and shape a head unit needs to conform to if it is to fit in a car hosting a DIN head unit.
I’ve created this guide to help you to find the right double DIN head unit. I’m going to look at some of the best double DIN head units available so that you can distinguish between the good and the bad.
I’ll also break the guide into four sections, with each focusing on a specific aspect of double DIN units. This will help you to pick the unit that best fits your needs. Let’s get to it.
Table of Contents
- 1 Best Double Din Head Units 2017
- 2 Best Double Dins With Touchscreen
- 3 Best Double Dins With Navigation
- 4 Best Double Dins With Apple CarPlay
- 5 Best Double Dins With Android Auto
- 6 Best Double Din Head Units 2017 Buying Guide
- 7 Double DIN vs Single DIN?
- 8 How Many Watts Should Your Head Unit Be?
- 9 Other Features
- 10 The Problem with Newer Cars
- 11 Your Future Plans
- 12 The Final Word
Best Double Din Head Units 2017
The head unit is the crown jewel in your car sound system. Without a powerful head unit, your speakers won’t sound as amazing as they can. But it comes down to more than that. Today, more head units has many different features to interact with you and your smartphone. It is essentially an easy way to bring your car up to 2017. For this guide, we are covering the most popular features for double din head units that people want today. Let’s take a look at this simple comparison chart and then cover each and every one of these double din head units.
|Name||Screen Size||RMS Output||Peak Output||Navigation||Apple Carplay||Android Auto|
|Pioneer AVH-X2800BS||6.2"||14W x 4||50W x 4||With Add-on||No||No|
|Boss Audio BV9364B||6.2"||30W x 4||80W x 4||No||No||No|
|Pioneer MVH-AV290BT||6.2"||14W x 4||50W x 4||With phone||No||No|
|Jensen VX7020||6.2"||13W x 4||40W x 4||Built-In||No||No|
|Boss Audio BV9386NV||6.2"||17W x 4||50W x 4||Built-In||No||No|
|Atoto M4171||7"||24W x 4||45W x 4||Built-In||No||No|
|Kenwood DDX9703S||6.95"||22W x 4||50W x 4||With phone||Yes||Yes|
|JVC KW-V820BT||6.8"||22W x 4||50W x 4||With phone||Yes||No|
|Pioneer SPH-DA120||6.2"||14W x 4||50W x 4||With phone||Yes||No|
|Pioneer AVIC-8200NEX||7"||17W x 4||50W x 4||Built-In||Yes||Yes|
|Pioneer AVH-4100NEX||7"||14W x 4||50W x 4||With phone||Yes||Yes|
|Sony XAV-AX100||6.4"||17W x 4||55W x 4||With phone||Yes||Yes|
Best Double Dins With Touchscreen
Most double DIN head units come with touchscreen these days. The quality varies between units. Some have responsive screens, whereas others need you to put a bit of pressure on them to get them to work. The latter units can get annoying when you’re trying to navigate quickly. That’s why this section of the guide highlights some of the best double DIN head units for those who want a great touchscreen.
I bet you expected to see Pioneer pop up. The Pioneer AVH-X2800BS is one of the least expensive double DIM head units around, but you get an awful lot for very little money. The 6.2-inch screen offers great responsiveness. It only takes a light touch to access anything you need from the unit.
You get a CD/DVD player for the money, which complements the unit’s Bluetooth capabilities nicely. Speaking of the Bluetooth, I found it was practically flawless. It connected every time I told it to, so I didn’t have to fiddle around to get things working.
It’s also a simple head unit in other ways. Installation is quick, so you’ll have it mounted in your car in moments. Given the cost of the unit, this quick installation surprised me, and it was nice not to have to drop another chunk of change on a professional installer.
The Pioneer AVH-X2800BS also boasts nice sound, which you can put down to the four-channel internal amp built into the unit. Of course, you can also connect an external amp, but the built-in amp will work just fine for most people.
The only real gripe I have is with some of the unit’s apps. Spotify, in particular, didn’t always load up when I tried it, displaying a message about connectivity issues instead. I got around this with Bluetooth, as the app runs fine on the unit when you stream it from another device.
For the price, this is one of the best double DIN head units with touchscreen that you will find anywhere. I love it for what it is, though there are many head units out there with more features.
Boss Audio BV9364B
Another great head unit with touchscreen, the Boss Audio BV9364B really stands out when it comes to audio quality. The 30W RMS will play over four channels, so you’ll feel the bass thumping without compromising the rest of the song. The pre-set EQ channels let you tinker with the settings until you find the perfect balance for your music.
So, what else can you expect? The Bluetooth connectivity allows you to stream media and make hands-free calls, so you don’t have to use the touchscreen if you don’t want to. It also has an auxiliary input and a CD/DVD player, so you can still get a lot out of it even if you don’t have a modern device.
The screen is what really stands out, though. DVD playback is stunning. The high-resolution screen looks impressive, and you’ll find the touchscreen features match that quality. There’s no pressing down on the screen needed. A light touch will do, though you will find the screen doesn’t work well if you’re wearing gloves.
I did find that it’s not the best double DIN head unit with touchscreen if you listen to the radio a lot. It seems to have a weak antenna that can struggle to pick up a signal, even when you’re in the city. That’s not a huge flaw if you spend most of your time streaming music from your phone, but it’s something to keep in mind.
Now, it’s time to go back to Pioneer (they will also be back later). I told you they were good. The Pioneer MVH-AV290BT has a 6.2-inch clear-resistive touchscreen. On one hand, this means you do have to apply some pressure. On the other hand, the screen stands up to wear and tear, so it’s unlikely you’ll leave any scratches or smudges behind. I think that makes it one of the best double DIN head units with a touchscreen.
There’s more. It comes with Bluetooth, like most of the units on this list. You can stream your music and make hands-free calls. The Pioneer MVH-AV290BT also caters for older devices with its auxiliary and USB ports. You don’t get a CD/DVD player, but the connectivity options make up for that.
It’s another cost-effective unit, too. You shouldn’t expect to pay anything above $200 for it, making it a great choice if you want a good head unit without breaking the bank. Having said that, installation can be a bit tricky. It depends on your car. Some will find it easy to install, whereas others may have to do some modifying to get the unit working properly.
You won’t get a lot from it if you’re looking for EQ settings, but it still sounds pretty good. My only quibble here is that the unit will sometimes cut out for a couple of seconds. It’s really noticeable when you’re playing a great tune, and it suddenly stops. But, it comes back on again pretty quickly.
I’d say this is a great choice if you’re looking for a basic double DIN head unit. I prefer something with a few more features, but it does its job well.
Satellite navigation has become crucial in modern driving. A good navigation system can get you from point A to point B without hiccups. This section of my guide will look at some of the best double DIN units with navigation and I’ll offer my opinion on each one, alongside any other information that you need.
A leading DIN head unit manufacturer, Jensen has become a top name in the industry due to the quality of its products. The Jensen VX7020 head unit features the iGO Primo Navigation system, which has roadmaps featuring an enormous 11 million points of interest.
You’ll find that the maps really jump off the screen thanks to the 6.2-inch LCD screen, making them easy to read. The unit also connects to the internet via Naviextras Web Support, which keeps the maps updated.
It’s not all about navigation, though. The Jensen VX7020 comes with Bluetooth support. I found it really easy to connect my devices and enjoyed being able to take calls via the unit. You can use the unit to play the music or movies you have on an Apple or Android phone. The screen offers High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) support, too.
The Jensen VX7020 also comes with several apps built into the unit. You can stream music from Spotify or access radio apps, such as Sirius XM and Pandora. There’s also a handy CD player at the top of the unit if streaming isn’t your thing.
It’s not a perfect head unit, though. I found myself getting impatient with it as it can take about 15 seconds to load up once you’ve turned the key in your ignition. The speakers also let out a slight buzz, so this may not be the best choice if you’re looking for top-end sound quality.
Still, it’s one of the best double DIN head units with navigation, and Jensen offers a full one-year warranty on every unit.
Boss Audio BV9386NV
Boss may be better known for its audio, but the Boss Audio BV9386NV has plenty in store for you if you want to use your head unit for navigation. You’ll find detailed roadmaps for every state, plus one for Puerto Rico. I found it really easy to pick out points of interest and get accurate guidance.
The maps also have a few useful features. You can toggle the voice on and off and switch between 2D and 3D interfaces. I found the latter feature really useful as I prefer a flat roadmap to a 3D one.
Of course, you can expect great sound quality from a Boss unit. The Boss Audio BV9386NV has Bluetooth support, so you can make wireless calls or stream music directly from your device. You can also use it to play CDs and DVDs, in addition to using the Universal Serial Bus (USB) port to charge your phone or tablet.
The speakers set this apart, making it one of the best double DIN head unit with navigation. They can handle up to 50W with 14W RMS. The unit also has a bunch of preset equalizers (EQ). Plus, you can change things up to suit your music choices. I loved the sound quality.
There are a few things that annoyed me. For one, you have to buy map updates, which means the maps become outdated if you don’t shell out more money. I also found it slow to load, and the software sometimes froze up.
Still, it’s a great choice if you’re looking for a double DIN head unit that features both navigation and quality sound. You’ll also benefit from a three-year warranty that should cover any problems.
ATOTO may not be a leading name in head unit manufacturer, but the ATOTO M4171 is a great choice if you’re looking for a double DIN unit with navigation. On purchase, the unit comes with Google Maps. You can even upload map data for use offline if you’re heading to an area with sketchy online connectivity.
Beyond that, the ATOTO M4171 also supports major map makers, like Tomtom and iGo. It has a better microphone than previous ATOTO units, and you can boot the unit up in about two seconds.
The unit supports the Android interface. This means you can use Google Voice Command to find anything you need. I found the microphone sometimes struggled to pick up what I was saying on loud roads, but it generally worked well.
I also found that the unit was really easy to install, which I can’t say for a lot of other head units. It comes with detailed instructions that cover everything you might want to know. The only thing is that you’ll need to understand the basics of soldering. But it’s nice to know you can get the unit working without paying a big installation fee.
There are a few things that may prevent this from being the best double-DIN head unit with navigation for you. It doesn’t come with a CD player, so you’ll have to rely on your devices and the in-built radio tuner for music. I found the tuner was also hit and miss, as it has a habit of skipping stations so it can keep scanning. Still, at this price, this is one of the better head units out there, especially if you spend a lot of time driving in areas with bad internet connectivity.
Best Double Dins With Apple CarPlay
Apple has sold over one billion iPhones since they released the first iPhone back in 2007. That’s a lot of people, and I know there are plenty of you who want to stream from your iPhone to your double-DIN head unit. Apple CarPlay lets you do just that. These are the units that I think use Apple CarPlay best.
Kenwood has made audio equipment for a long time, so I knew the Kenwood DDX9703S would have great sound quality. You get 50-watt speakers that play over four channels, so your music will always be crystal clear.
It comes with the same Apple CarPlay capabilities as the Pioneer AVIC-8200NEX, plus you can control it using Siri Voice Control. You need never touch the unit, which is great for distraction-free driving. You will need an iPhone 6 or above running iOS 8, as the unit doesn’t support older versions.
Android users aren’t left out in the cold either, as the Kenwood DDX9703S also supports Android Auto, making it another versatile head unit. Beyond that, the Kenwood DDX9703S features Bluetooth connectivity up to a range of 32.8 feet, as long as you maintain a line of sight between the unit and your device. That’s plenty of range for in-car connectivity though, so you shouldn’t run into any problems there.
I also loved the audio and video input options. You can plug a video games console or camera into the unit so your passengers have some entertainment on long drives. It’s one of the best double DIN head units with Apple CarPlay when it comes to features.
It has a mid-range price when compared to other head units with Apple CarPlay. That does mean it’s not perfect, though. I found the screen struggled when the sun shone directly on it. The glare makes the screen hard to read, and you may also find it’s too dim when there’s no sunlight at all. The disclaimer that shows up whenever you boot the unit up is also annoying.
Those are minor issues. I’m sure most of you will love this head unit and its huge range of features.
The price is one of the first things you will notice about the JVC KW-V820BT. It costs a lot less than most head units that feature Apply CarPlay but don’t let that put you off. This is one of the best double DIN head units with Apple CarPlay.
The 6.2-inch screen features a touch panel, and you’ll find navigation simple too. The screen splits into four sections for CarPlay, Bluetooth, the tuner, and your phone. I could access what I wanted without having to take my eyes off the road and stare at the screen.
The unit sounds great, which you should expect from a company like JVC. They’ve been making electronics since the 1920s, so that’s a lot of expertise brought to the table. I also found the 1.5A USB port useful, especially as many head units still use 1.0A ports.
Unfortunately, the budget-nature of the unit does show up in some other areas. It doesn’t have an inbuilt navigation system. But, you can get around that using Apple CarPlay, so it’s not a big deal. The screen, while nice, does not do well under the sun’s glare. You may find it difficult to see what’s happening on the screen on bright days.
Even so, this is a quality unit for the price, and you won’t find many head units with Apple CarPlay for less than $400. It even has a DVD player, which is something missing from even some of the more expensive head units.
It’s the return of Pioneer with another great head unit that supports Android Auto. The Pioneer SPH-DA120 comes with a nice, responsive 6.2-inch touchscreen with a capacity display. You only need the lightest of touches to get around the unit.
The unit also has built-in Bluetooth for streaming music and taking calls on the go. I found that the Pioneer SPH-DA120 had some of the best built-in amplifiers at this price range. Every noise sounds as clear as a bell, which was a big surprise given the relatively low cost of the unit.
You’ll also find the unit works just as well with Apple phones as it does Android devices thanks to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The Pioneer SPH-DA120 works with any Apple phone from iPhone 5 onwards, making it a good choice for anybody who has an old device.
I did find a few bugbears during my time with the unit, though. The microphone isn’t the greatest, so you may find yourself frustrated when making hands-free calls or using Google Voice Command to get directions. The Bluetooth sometimes freezes up as well. You may have to go into the settings to clear the Bluetooth memory before you can use it properly again.
If you can look past those issues, the Pioneer SPH-DA120 is one of the best double DIN head units with Android Auto. It’s responsive and has amazing sound quality, which I loved, given how much music I play on long car rides.
Best Double Dins With Android Auto
I don’t want Android users to feel left out. There are plenty of head units that feature Android Auto, which is Google’s version of Apple CarPlay. I’m going to look at some of the best double DIN head units with Android Auto here, so you can pick the one that works best for you.
Pioneer is one of the leading brands in car accessories for a reason. They create quality products every time, whether it’s a subwoofer or a head unit. The Pioneer AVIC-8200NEX is no different. It comes with Apple CarPlay, so you can use it to make calls and check your messages, using the touchscreen or voice commands. You can also stream music directly from Apple Music to the unit.
That’s not all. The Pioneer AVIC-8200NEX is nothing if not versatile. It also comes with Android Auto, so you don’t need to feel left out if you don’t have an Apple phone.
The unit features an inbuilt navigation system that includes maps for all of North America and Puerto Rico. You’ll find almost eight million points of interest, plus, you can always pull maps from your Apple device. You won’t find yourself getting lost with this unit.
I loved the touchscreen, too. It’s one of the most responsive out there. The screen feels just like the one on your phone, so you’ll find it easy to navigate through your apps. You can pinch and zoom just like you do on your iPhone.
Unfortunately, it’s doesn’t come cheap. But, you really get one of the best double DIN head units with Apple CarPlay for your money. I did find it a bit slow to load at times, plus, there are a couple of software glitches. In the end, this is a top head unit for a reason, and it should suit all of your needs.
You’ll see a lot of Pioneer products on this list, and with good reason. They make some of the best double DIN head units on the planet. The Pioneer AVH-4100NEX is one of their best units, as it supports both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. It also comes with Bluetooth, so you can make hands-free calls and stream music to your heart’s content.
I loved the 7-inch touchscreen. It’s huge compared to many of the screens you’ll find on other head units. It’s a resistive screen but I didn’t find any issues with responsiveness. The screen will do what you want when you want it to. The light-emitting diode (LED) backlight also ensures you can see the screen when driving in the dark.
You can customize the screen too, which is a novel fun feature. You can change button colors and mess around with wallpapers until you find what you want. You can never underestimate just how important a bit of personalization is with a product like this.
It’s not the perfect head unit, though. You do have to apply some pressure to the screen if you want to scroll. It also doesn’t come with a power button. That may not seem like a huge deal, but I did sometimes find that the unit didn’t turn on simultaneously with my car. It would come on eventually, but it’s an annoyance that some of you may not want to put up with.
Still, it’s versatile and cost-effective, making it a great choice if you need to connect different brands of phone to your head unit.
Sony is one of the world’s leading electronics retailers, so you knew their name would crop up on this list eventually. I’ve picked out the Sony XAV-AX100 because of its Android Auto integration, but this is a great head unit in its own right.
You get Apple CarPlay as well as Android Auto, and you can control both using voice commands. That makes it one of the best double DIN head units with Android Auto if you spend a lot of time on busy roads and can’t afford the distraction of touching a screen.
The Sony AX100 does also support 17W RMS over four channels which are more than the average head unit. You can even use the 6.4-inch screen to create virtual speakers for your dashboard using the Dynamic Stage Organizer (DSO). It was amazing to hear how well the DSO filled my car with sound the first time I used it.
There’s no clutter on the interface, and I loved the simple buttons and dial. You can tune into any radio station, and you’ll notice the build-quality every time you lay hands on the unit. You should expect that, given Sony’s reputation. Still, it’s always nice to see a company come through and live up to its name.
So, what’s bad about the Sony XAV-AX100? There’s not a lot I can point to. You can’t customize the illumination for the controls, so it may look out of place in some cars. You also have to dim the screen manually, as it doesn’t come with an auto-dim feature. Minor quibbles aside, this is the complete package and I think the Sony XAV-AX100 is one of the best double DIN head units available.
Best Double Din Head Units 2017 Buying Guide
So, those are the 12 best double DIN head units according to yours truly. You’ll notice a lot of common features among them, so it’s usually the little things that will stand out for you.
Now, I want to offer some more general advice. With so many double DIN units out there, you may want to look beyond the 12 I’ve picked out here. I’m going to round things up with a more general buyer’s guide that will answer some of the burning questions you may have about double DIN head units.
Double DIN vs Single DIN?
It’s all to do with the size. As I mentioned at the top of the article, DIN is a standard measurement for car radios and head units. Most cars have either a single or double DIN slot for the head unit. You can tell the difference when you look at your head unit’s faceplate. Both single and double-DIN units will be about 7 inches long. It’s the height that’s the key difference. Single DIN units are only 2 inches tall, whereas a double DIN unit is 4 inches tall. You tend to see a lot more touchscreens built into double DIN units because of this extra height.
Single DIN units are only 2 inches tall, whereas a double DIN unit is 4 inches tall. You tend to see a lot more touchscreens built into double DIN units because of this extra height. You can install a single DIN unit into a double DIN slot. But, you’ll need a special installation kit for the job, which is a hassle that I personally don’t want.
So, which is better? Double DIN units have a distinct advantage because of their size. You’ll find they have bigger screens and often have more powerful amps built into them. But, that doesn’t mean that a double DIN head unit is always better than a single DIN unit. A lot depends on the manufacturer. You’ll also find that many single DIN units still suit your needs if you’re looking to connect them to external amps.
As a final note, you may also see some 1.5 DIN head units. As the name suggests, these fall between the single and double-DIN units. They’re 3 inches tall, but you won’t see a lot of them around, as most cars use either single or double DIN.
How Many Watts Should Your Head Unit Be?
You need to take wattage into consideration if you want a head unit with good sound. The higher the wattage, the louder you can play your music. Most double DIN head units fall somewhere in the 50 to 80-watt range.
But, the wattage isn’t the only thing you need to keep an eye on. As important is the Root Mean Square (RMS) power rating. This shows you the largest continuous output from an amp or the largest continuous input that a speaker can handle.
“How does that matter to me”? I hear you ask. Well, a high-watt amplifier isn’t worth much if it has a low RMS. The amp will struggle at high volumes if its RMS isn’t high enough to sustain the power required. The same goes for your speakers. Aligning low RMS speakers with a high RMS amp will lead to inconsistent sound quality.
So, while you should pay attention to watts, you should also look deeper and check the RMS for the amp and speakers in your head unit.
You might see some head units that come with a “peak power” rating. This shows the highest power level that the amp or speakers can handle. Do not let this rating fool you. While it will be accurate, it’s also misleading. The peak power is something that your amp or speaker can’t maintain for long periods of time. That’s why it’s often four or five times higher than the RMS.
If you want to learn more about max wattage and RMS, you can check out this article that explains it much better.
I’ve covered the key features a lot of people look for from their head units, namely device connectivity, touchscreens, and navigation. But, you’ll have noticed that a lot of the units I’ve looked at have plenty of other features as well. In fact, the best double DIN head units tend to come with an array of additional features for you to enjoy.
Let’s start with the basics. You’ll find some units have CD and DVD players. You might see these as relics of a bygone age, especially given how easy it is to stream music and movies these days. But, these players offer you another option. For example, your device may run out of charge or you might drive through an area with low signal. This will prevent you from streaming. That’s where a CD/DVD player comes into its own.
Most double DIN head units come with Bluetooth, allowing you to sync a device to the unit. How well this works depends on the unit. Check what others have said before you buy a unit, as bad Bluetooth connectivity can prevent you from using your devices as well as you’d like to.
A lot of head units come with additional slots for memory cards, auxiliary cables, and USB cables. They aren’t standard features, but you’ll find them useful. USB ports, in particular, will let you charge your device while you’re driving. Look for a unit that has a 1.5A USB port or higher, as these offer faster charging than older ports.
You’ll also find differences in touchscreen quality. Some use resistive technology, whereas others use capacitive technology. The latter can sense the electrical signals coming from your body. This means you don’t have to use a lot of pressure to get them working, but they’ll struggle if you’re wearing gloves.
Resistive screens do require more pressure, but they work better than capacitive screens if you’ve covered your skin. Only you can decide which works best for you, but I prefer capacitive screens.
The Problem with Newer Cars
You may have noticed that some new cars have strayed away from the DIN sizes. This is a recent development and can make it a hassle to replace an existing head unit. I guess some manufacturers want to keep you using the tech they create, rather than finding a better unit elsewhere.
Still, it’s not a huge issue. Most head units in modern cars have all of the features you’ll find in external units, plus a few more specific to the vehicle. More often than not, you’ll find these head units suit your requirements. You really only need to look for another one if you’re driving an older vehicle or your current head unit is broken.
Your Future Plans
You need to think about what your car can do now and what you might want it to do in the future. This is really important if you’re buying a new head unit so you can enjoy better sound. Even the best units will sound poor if your car’s speakers aren’t up to snuff.
You need to think ahead if you’re going to install external components. For example, you should look for a unit that has preamp outputs if you’re planning on hooking an external amp to the unit. The same goes if you want to use better speakers.
The less costly head units tend to skip these features, so make sure you know what you’re getting.
The Final Word
So, that’s my guide to the 12 best double DIN head units. I hope you’ve been able to find a unit that will suit your needs, no matter what they might be. For my part, I think every unit I’ve looked at here is a good piece of kit that will satisfy most of you.
Of course, you can always use my buyer’s guide if you’re looking for something else. With all the information I’ve packed into this guide, you’re sure to find the best double DIN head unit for you.
Last update on 2017-10-20 at 06:48 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API