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Best Double Din Head Unit Under 200

Just like other tech things, like phones and computers, head units are evolving as well. It’s great that we now have head units that can surf the internet and do this and that while I’m in the car. The problem is that the prices are also going up with it. A double din head unit can easily cost $4-500 today, which is not something most of us want to pay.

So, I went on a mission to find the best double din head unit under 200 which was still decent and would feature the most important things. I am happy to say, that I found the Pioneer AVH-590BT to be just that.

Introducing the Pioneer AVH-290BT

Pioneer AVH-290BTBefore we talk about all the features and technical stuff that makes the Pioneer AVH-290BT such a good choice, let’s talk about the head unit itself and its specifications. On the front, it houses a 6.2” touchscreen monitor where you control the head unit. There are also a few buttons on the side to make it easier for you while driving. This is much more apprenticed then you would think as having to fiddle with a touchscreen while driving is insanely hard without losing focus on the road.

Because it’s an AVH-model, it has room for a DVD or CD if you prefer those old things. For those of you who are more modern, it also has Bluetooth and it doesn’t matter which phone you have since it supports both iPhone and Android. Of course, it also has the standard USB and AUX, both on the back.

Something else that you can find on the back is a rear view camera input. This is not something that I did expect to find on a head unit at this price and it’s great for those of you who are looking to get a rear-view camera now or in the future.

When it comes to audio, the built-in amplifier produces a max wattage of 50W over 4 channels, like most other head units. The RMS is standard at 14W per channel as well. There are 2 2V RCA Preouts to be used for external amplifiers such as for your subwoofer or for an external monitor.

What Makes the Pioneer AVH-290BT the Best Double Din Head Unit Under 200?

The Pioneer AVH-290BT is sharing many of its specifications with other double din head units, so what is it exactly that make the 290BT better than others? Well, first off, it’s the brand. Pioneer has been in the game for so long, that almost anyone knows who it is. In other words, it’s a recognizable brand. It doesn’t mean that they are better than others, but they are doing something good to be in that position. Also, support is usually better with big companies than smaller ones.

The user interface in Pioneer’s head units is very intuitive and easy to navigate. It’s clear where things are and what they do. The head unit comes with a microphone that you can attach close to your face, making phone calls without losing focus from the round much easier. The microphone is generally good, much better than expected. It did catch my voice to the other person and left out most of the background noise.

While the power output and RMS output are not the greatest (which it never seems to be on Pioneer head units), it provides enough power for most people. If you are an audiophile, my guess is that you are willing to spend much more than 200 on a head unit, thus, this head unit is not for you. However, for someone that is looking to get some new features in their car and get a slightly better sound but at a reasonable cost, the Pioneer AVH-290BT is the best bet.

Alternatives

If the AVH-290BT is not for you, there are of course other double din head units priced under 200. One of those is the Kenwood DDX25BT. It has a 6.2” touchscreen and it is very similar to the AVH-290BT but comes in a bit cheaper than the Pioneer one. The Kenwood features CD/DVD, Bluetooth and AUX or USB. Where it lacks in comparison to the AVH-290BT is the screen, in my option. The Pioneer one feels sharper and more the touchscreen more responsive than the Kenwood. On the other hand, Kenwood supports dual phone for handsfree calling, making it great for people like me, who has one private phone and one work phone.

Another alternative is the JVC KW-V130BT. Just as Kenwood, this one comes in a bit cheaper than the Pioneer. This is a double din head unit with a 6.2” touchscreen, just as the others. But JVC is standing out with their RMS output, which is 22W x 4 channels. This is about 8 watts more per channel than Pioneer. At this price point, that was not expected.

Where it falls short is in the little things. For example, it takes a very long time for the head unit to load when you start the car. It’s usually not uncommon for a head unit to take 20-30 seconds, but over a minute is not acceptable. The overall head unit also feels slow, like it’s trying to do more than it can handle.

Wrapping Up

All in all, these three head units mentioned above are very similar. However, only one can be the best and Pioneer AVH-290BT is the one that gives the best overall impression. It does what it should, and it does it great. It has a responsive touchscreen and is quick to react. The sound is not amazing, but it is not bad, and it is most likely better than your stock head unit.

If you are looking for the best double din head unit under 200, I would highly suggest the Pioneer AVH-290BT. You will be happy with it, I’m sure of it.

Pioneer AVH-290BT Multimedia DVD Receiver with 6.2" WVGA Display and Built-in Bluetooth
  • Built-in Bluetooth for hands-free calling and audio streaming
  • Back-Up Camera input
  • USB direct control for iPod/iPhone
  • 6.2" WVGA touch panel display with LED backlight
  • Multimedia DVD receiver

How to Connect Phone to Car Speakers Without AUX

Getting new speakers for your car that sounds is great and all but the problem is that many cars doesn’t offer a way to connect your phone. That means that your new speakers will not play anything other than the normal radio and how fun is that? For this article, we are going to take a look at the different options you have if your car doesn’t support any kind of connection to your phone.

Getting new speakers for your car is fun and all. But these speakers will not be utilized as they should until you have solved the problem with listening to your own music. In 2018, most of us use Apple Music or Spotify but the problem is with older cars, who doesn’t feature Bluetooth connectivity. Some of them are offering AUX but with more phones dropping that, this is an increasing problem even there. So, let’s solve that problem once and for all today. Here are some of the best solutions for connecting your phone to car speakers without AUX.

Using an FM Transmitter

The cheapest option is to get an FM transmitter. The way it works is that the transmit signals to the car stereo using radio frequencies. You set the same frequency on both the transmitter and the car radio and once you connect the transmitter to your phone, you play music this way. It’s simple and easy to use.

The transmitters themselves come in different variations. You can get cheaper transmitters that you hook up to the headphone jack, but since we no longer have headphone jacks on our phones, that is out of the question. Instead, we have to use wireless technology, Bluetooth.

Nulaxy Wireless In-Car Transmitter

Nulaxy Wireless In-Car Bluetooth FM Transmitter

The Nulaxy Wireless In-Car Transmitter is a Bluetooth-device. You connect it to the 12V output in your car and then connect it to your phone using Bluetooth. This way, your phone will play its music to the transmitter and the transmitter will then forward this to the radio in your car. The Nulaxy device is also great in that it has buttons on it that you can use to control the music with, like switching songs back and forth.

Going with a solution like this will be the simplest way to connect your phone to your car stereo. It’s easy and it’s cheap. You don’t have to mix around with the cables in the back of the head unit.

Disadvantages

But there are disadvantages to this solution as well. Since you will need a free frequency on the radio, it can be a problem during longer travels. A frequency that is free in your city might not be free in the other. It’s also common with disturbances from other electrical things and it also tend to break a lot in signal. I would say that Add choosing an FM transmitter should be temporary or for a one-time use. If it should be permanent, I would recommend another solution.

Getting a Car Adapter

A third option is to get a car adapter. This adapter will be connected to the CD-changer output on the back of the of the original head unit and will then trick the head unit that it’s a CD-changer while being something else. For this solution to work, you will need to know if you have a CD-changer output on the back of the head unit, I’d recommend checking the manual for your car.

There are many different models of adapters, all with different functions. Some of these adapters have only AUX and USB while others will also support SD-Cards and Bluetooth. To give you an example of an adapter, you can check this Yatour Bluetooth Car Adapter. This specific one is for Honda but you can find many others models specific for your car. This is something that is really important since there is no standard for CD-changer outputs so all connections will look different, make sure you get one for your specific car.

Disadvantages

There are very few disadvantages to this solution. One would of course be if you don’t have a CD-Changer output on the back of your head unit, then you will have to go with any of the other solutions. Once again, you should feel comfortable to dismount the original head unit since the connector will be on the back of it. You will also have to store the adapter somewhere and route the cables to where it should be. Other than that, there isn’t that much.

Changing Head Unit

Changing head unit in the car is the best option, as it would integrate the connection in your car, it will look nicer and you will most likely get other benefits as well. However, it’s a bit more complicated and more expensive than other solutions. Today, most head units will come with both Bluetooth and USB port(s). Both of these can be used for listening to your own music and using USB will also charge your phone at the same time, which is nice.

Choosing the best head unit can be tricky, as it will depend on budget, features and what not. To help you out, we have created a double din head unit buying guide which you can use to find one that you like. If head unit is something that you would like to get, I highly suggest that you get a double din as it opens so many more doors. Ever wanted navigation in your car? You can get that with a double din.

Disadvantages

As mentioned, the big disadvantage with buying a new head unit is that it can be much more complicated to install. If you are unsure of how electric wires work or not willing to disassemble your car to mount a new head unit, this is out of the question for you.

It will also destroy that original feeling, as most old cars didn’t have a 6”-screen in the dash from the beginning. If you are the one who loves your original dash, this might not be for you. On top of that, it’s not to say that it will be more expensive to get a new head unit. On the other hand, you get much more than you would get from a transmitter.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are quite a few options to choose from when your phone or your car is missing an AUX port. While getting a transmitter is cheap, getting a new head unit is the best and most stable solution. In my old car, that didn’t have any connections, I bought myself a car adapter as I wanted to keep the original stereo in the car. It worked great for the time I had it, until I bought a car with built-in Bluetooth.

But buying a new car might be a bit over the top just to get your own music, don’t you think?

6 Answers to Your Most Asked Questions About Car Speakers

I guess it doesn’t come as a surprise to you that we are getting many questions about car speakers and car sound in general. Often, there are questions like “which car speaker should I buy?” or “Is that subwoofer better than this?”. These are questions that we have already answered in our buying guides, that’s why we make them. However, we also get some questions that we are tired of answering over and over… So, here they are!

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How Often Should You Replace Car Speakers?

Depending on your budget and requirements, changing or upgrading parts of your car audio system can fluctuate between an affordable expense to a bank-breaking endeavor. There is a massive difference between entry-grade and audiophile-grade speaker prices. Keeping this in mind, there are no hard and fast rules regarding when to replace or upgrade your car speakers. There is a raft of situations where a replacement or upgrade may be desirable, or even unavoidable. So here are a few answers to the question of how often to upgrade your car speakers

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The Difference Between Ported and Sealed Enclosures

There is a common perception that subwoofers are for people who listen to genres like dubstep, EDM, and hip-hop. But in reality, with the right kind of subs, you can enhance the performance of your audio system as a whole. The trick is in finding the right sort of subwoofer for your preferred genres in music.

And if you are planning to buy a component subwoofer, you have the freedom to choose a particular kind of enclosure that is in sync with your sound and music preferences. If you take a cursory look at some of the subwoofer enclosures (or boxes as they are also called) available on the market, you will notice that some have holes while others don’t. Ever wonder why? Read on to find out.

Why do subwoofers need enclosures?

Check out any car speaker, or any speaker for that matter. They usually come in a protective structure or housing enclosure. But in the case of subwoofers, the enclosure actually has a much more important function. You see, the level of bass effects produced by a subwoofer is mainly determined by the type and design of enclosure used on it. In fact, the driver inside the subwoofer only accounts for a little over a quarter of the effect; the rest is all from the enclosure.

How does that work?

The human ear can only catch frequencies as low as 20Hz. Anything below that is felt as vibrations if they are strong enough. The job of a subwoofer is to create low frequencies, including those thumping vibrations, an effect which we popularly call “bass.”

To do this, the speaker driver inside the subwoofer is designed to be larger, and capable of actually moving air to create those waves. It creates a back and forth movement of air. A subwoofer enclosure is specially designed to channelize the airflows and prevent them colliding efficiently. This helps prevent distortion, delivering a cleaner and more precise sound.

The Scosche SE12CC is a sealed enclosure for double 12-Inch subwoofers.

Why do some enclosures have holes while others don’t?

There are mainly two different types of subwoofer enclosures, along with a third which is a hybrid of the first two. The enclosures without holes are called sealed, while the ones with holes are called ported enclosures. The hybrid between the two is called bassband enclosures.

A subwoofer driver creates waves of air that travel in all directions. It is the enclosure’s job to reflect and channel it in an optimal manner, with minimal distortion. The addition of a hole in the enclosure creates subtle variations in the acoustics, which directly affects how the output of the subwoofer sounds, or “feels.”

What does a sealed enclosure feel like?

In a sealed enclosure, the air doesn’t have an escape route as the box is airtight. This leads to an extra pressure inside on the cones of the driver. The net result is increased pressure on the speaker cones and an overall dampening effect on their movement. For car subwoofers, sealed enclosures are often very attractive because they are the smallest type of enclosures. Since space is at a premium in vehicles, they often provide the easiest fit.

Sealed enclosures give the bass from sub extra “clarity,” or rather, crispness. Volume is also on the lower side, which is understandable, as the speaker cones are completely covered or muffled. The smaller the enclosure used, the more pronounced the muffling effect.

For most music genres that do not require high thumping bass, sealed enclosures are more than adequate. Sealed are also better for movies and nonmusical audio playback.

A common subwoofer enclosure with the hole in the front.

How different are ported enclosures?

The effect from these holed enclosures is often dramatically different. The “hole” is called a “bass port,” and it is not there at random. The size and positioning of the hole decide the volume and bass output of the subwoofer. Improper positioning of the hole can result in crippling distortions.

The hole increases efficiency and reduces the pressure on the speakers. And since the airwaves have an outlet, with each movement of the cone, they travel out through the hole. When properly designed the result is more powerful waves directed towards the user.

In stark contrast to sealed enclosures, ported enclosures are much, much louder, and have more pronounced: “thump”, or bass. It can effectively double the sound output when compared to a sealed enclosure. This can also result in less clarity and crispness, which is not an issue for bass-heavy genres like hip hop or dubstep.

Another option is the bandpass, which has the speaker in a sealed enclosure, which is placed inside an enclosure with a hole. This combo increases the bass level while giving more crisp and clear output that a simple ported enclosure. Ported enclosures are typically larger than sealed types, and are often difficult to accommodate into cars.

5 Killer Quora Answers on Subwoofers

In the past, when you had doubts regarding stuff like cars or car audio, you asked a friend, a family member, or the local expert at the garage or hardware store. But times have changed, and everybody, including your friends, family, and those experts at the shop and garage are all online these days. And you can ask your questions regarding subwoofers online as well, on sites like Quora.

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The Difference Between 2-Way And 3-Way Car Speakers

If you have never upgraded your car audio system before, you are probably a bit lost regarding the best speaker system upgrade. Fear not, for the aftermarket car audio niche is pretty well developed, with numerous configuration and design options available. You can be forgiven for feeling a bit lost amidst all the din! One major issue that is constantly doing the rounds on car audio forums is whether you need a 2-way or 3-way speaker system. What is all the fuss about, and what is the difference between the two?

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Why A Double DIN Head Unit Is Better Than a Single DIN

Single DIN and Double DIN are the two main radio sizes which feature on modern automobiles. They are also popularly written as 1 DIN and 2 DIN. The system was standardized by the German Standards organization Deutsches Institut fur Normung, or DIN for short. Though both systems were popular in the past, in recent years, 2 DIN has far outstripped 1 DIN as the format of choice for car manufacturers. So it can be safely said that one size is indeed superior to the other, barring a few exceptions.

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6 Compelling Reasons Why You Need a New Head Unit

Unless you have a really fancy car, the factory head unit on your dash is probably worth a resounding “meh” at best. Auto manufacturers don’t usually bother about providing audiophile grade equipment on their basic cars out there. Exceptions are there, but throughout history, anemic audio systems have led to a thriving business for aftermarket car audio solutions.

Even then, only audiophiles and bassheads had good reason to change the head units. But that is no longer the case. CDs have all but disappeared, and head units with touch-screen, WiFi & smart connectivity have become the norm. Here are six reasons why you might really want to look at some of the modern aftermarket solutions available, especially if you have a car that is more than two years old.

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How Much Difference Does a Head Unit Make?

If you are new to audio systems for cars, it is important to have a proper understanding of car audio system units. The head unit is an essential component in a music system, it’s the brain of the system. On your head unit, you choose the radio station you want to play, you insert the CDs or DVDs, you connect your phone and so much more. I usually say that changing a head unit in an old car will take it to 2017.

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