Who wouldn’t love some good background music from Spotify or Pandora as they drive to work, on an errand run, or when out on a road trip? Double DIN head units are a great way to upgrade your existing car’s audio system while also benefiting from other technology-packed features including satellite navigation, communication, entertainment and much more.
While single DIN options exist, double DIN head units offer much larger screens enhancing visibility and uphauling the aesthetics of your car’s center console.
Quite often, a standard car’s in-built head unit lacks many features and generally most are antiquated. The modern double DIN head units provide capacitive touch-screen, Bluetooth connectivity and the ability to connect to a multiple host of media sources (smartphone, MP3, CD/DVD player etc).
Played right, the double DIN can not only provide great sound at your fingertips but can also enhance the convenience of your car journeys.
It can be confusing, however, when there are quite a few options out there in the market. Here, we aim it easier by highlighting the best double DIN head units currently available.
|Model||Peak Power Output/RMS||Android Auto||Apple Car Play||Price|
|Atoto A6 Pro||Peak – 4 * 45W RMS – 4*24W||Yes||Yes||$169|
|Planet Audio P9640B||Peak – 4 * 80W||Yes||Yes||$139|
|Boss Audio Systems BV9364B||Peak – 4*80W||No||No||$144|
|Pioneer AVH-X390BS||Peak – 4*50W RMS – 4*RMS||AppRadio One||AppRadio One||$339|
|Hikity 10.1-inch Android Car Stereo||Peak – 4*45W||Yes||Yes||$130|
|Pioneer AVH-W4500NEX||Peak – 4*50W RMS – 4*14W||Yes||Yes||$695|
Atoto A6 Pro
The Atoto A6 is designed to offer the best performance for a double DIN head unit. For starters, it features a distinctive 7-inch Full-HD touchscreen that gives you access to the features it has to offer and also acts as the video-player.
At the front, there’s the USB port, SD card port, AUX port, reset button, home option, volume control, mute/power button, and forward/rewind buttons. The manufacturer has also included a GPS antenna, 2 extra USB ports, and you can also install Google Maps for navigation.
The Atoto A6’s system, ATOTO AICE OS 9.x, is built within the Android 6 Marshmallow, making it compatible with most Google Play and smartphone features. It also features Dual Bluetooth that allows you to connect two devices simultaneously and its compatibility extends to Apple CarPlay for iPhone and iPad users.
The inbuilt pre-amp and RMS (4*49W and 4*29W, respectively) provide an above average quality sound, works with most door speakers, and allows you to equalize and adjust the frequency.
Using the GPS on the phone can be pretty distracting. But this double DIN system has an inbuilt GPS navigation system, where you are able to download other navigation apps. Another cool feature is the ability to mirror your phone on the screen using the Easy-connect app.
You can make calls, access music, or access other compatible features. This app works with both iOS and Android systems.
And if that’s not all, the ATOTO also comes with a WiFi antenna and a microphone. This microphone improves the voice quality as you speak over the phone.
ATOTO A6 has the following inputs and outputs
- Rear Camera
- Aux Audio/Video
- MicroSD slot
- 4 USB interfaces
- 4-CH RCA
- Separate Sub-Woofer
The manufacturer also provides 5 different front panel sizes to accommodate different cars.
- It loads in seconds.
- It has an inbuilt GPS
- It’s highly compatible with phones, subwoofers, and cameras, thanks to the numerous inputs.
- Easy to install and use.
- The sound and video quality are not the best.
- It lacks a DVD player.
- It lacks steering wheel controls.
Planet Audio P9640B
This head unit features a 6.3-inch display and touchscreen, a DVD player, FM tuner, AUX ports, and USB connections all in one place. Once you get to the purchasing page, the seller allows you to select the year and car model to make sure you choose the size that fits your car.
You don’t have to hold your phone as you drive. You can connect it to the head unit and answer the calls from there. The inbuilt microphone and excellent speakers ensure flawless communication between and the caller. And when you want to use Spotify, Pandora, or other supported music systems, you can do so from the screen.
Several Media Options to Choose From
Being a double-DIN system, you’re not just limited to listening to the radio. You can play your favorite DVDs or CDs, connect an MP3 or any other audio player to the system, or stream music directly from Pandora or Spotify, as mentioned earlier, and you can listen to media from your flash drive or your SD card.
The preset EQ allows you to control the frequency response based n the type of media you’re listening to.
You can be rest assured that this head unit will work with most vehicle techs. A good example is the steering wheel control buttons which allow you to control the system without using the screen.
This comes as a plus considering the ATOTO A6Y lacks these controls. However, you need to install the ASWC or any other appropriate interface to use this function.
And if your car is outdated and may not support technology such as Bluetooth, or a rear camera, then you can replace your head unit with Planet Audio P9640B.
This head unit allows you to connect your pre-amp to your car’s front and rear speakers for a better music experience. It has an 80W*4 Max power which is enough to power your speakers. But it’s advisable to get an extra amplifier.
Better yet, you can connect an additional video-display device to enhance your watching experience.
You can also control this head unit with a remote. This allows those sitting at the back seat to control the volume, EQ, or other levels.
- It’s compatible with a wide range of media devices.
- Easy to use.
- 3-year warranty
- 3 control methods -touchscreen, remote, and steering wheel buttons.
- The unit has to be installed by a professional for you to be eligible for the warranty.
- Some users reported a lag when switching between functions.
Boss Audio Systems BV9364B
If you’re looking for a budget double DIN head unit to replace your existing one or upgrade a vehicle that doesn’t have one, you’ll love the Boss Audio BV9364B. It offers most of the basic features at a relatively lower price.
This head unit comes in a basic DIN design, featuring a 6.2-inch LCD touchscreen. At the front, there’s a Power/Volume/Mute button, an SD slot, Mute Key, USB slot and AUX jack. The other inputs and outputs are placed at the rear, which includes;
- Rear camera
- Pre-amp output
- Subwoofer output
The front section is made of plastic which isn’t the most durable of materials. Care must be taken too as the section is prone to scratches.
With the Bluetooth connection, you get to make calls, answer calls, play music, and access other features hands-free. The manufacturer also includes an external microphone that improves your voice’s quality and makes sure the caller on the other end hears you. The pre-amp on this device also provides a clear voice from the caller.
Whether you have some music or audios on your USB or SD card, you can play them on this head unit. The same case applies to your CDs and DVDs. Want to connect an MP3 device? You can do so through the AUX jack. You also have the ability to switch on the radio – it supports frequencies in the US and Europe.
For a cheap device, this device indeed exceeds expectations. The manufacturer managed to squeeze all of these features into a small space. The wire harnesses at the rear also make it easy to connect it to any type of vehicle.
However, some users noted that you might have to press firmly before the touchscreen responds. So if you’re looking for a highly sensitive system that responds to the slightest touch, you may have to spend more.
But you don’t have to rely on the touch screen; you can also use the steering wheel controls to accomplish some functions.
And those in the backseat can adjust the audio levels with the remote. When in the driver’s seat, the remote control may not be the best option since it hosts a lot of buttons which could potentially distract you.
You can connect the pre-amp to other speakers in your car. And this head unit also features a video output that allows you to connect to another video output device. The 80W*4 Max power is enough to power your speakers, but you’d be better off with an extra amplifier.
- Great value for money
- In-built equalizer
- 3-year warranty.
- It’s easy to install.
- It looks flimsy and gets scratched easily.
- Disorganized remote.
- The touchscreen is not always responsive.
Pioneer is a very recognizable brand – from turntables, subwoofers, and other hi-tech systems. Even though they are slightly more expensive than the other units mentioned in this guide, it’s the perfect double DIN head unit for those who adhere to the minimalistic approach. Let’s see what it has to offer.
The Pioneer AVH-X390BS is well-built. Featuring a 6.2-inch touchscreen and classic finish, it feels good just clicking and swiping through the features. The screen is also a clear resistive, which is one of the most common types of screens. And it’s also the easiest to use regardless of the environmental conditions. The background lighting gives it an even more luxurious look.
Pioneer offers a connection to your smartphones through the AppRadio One. All you have to do is connect your smartphone to the head unit/receiver with a cable and access all your digital functionalities in one place.
There’s a cable for Android smartphones and a cable for IOS devices. AppRadio is also compatible with a wide range of apps, including AppRadioLIVE, which allows you to access the maps on your smartphone, play music, check events, or use the calendar.
What’s more? You can even control various features on this unit through voice control and the Siri Eyes free feature. Imagine sitting back and speaking to your unit as you drive.
Spotify and Pandora
Spotify and Pandora allow you to access music in the easiest way possible. That’s why every Double DIN manufacturer tries to incorporate them into their systems. For Spotify, there’s an AV input dedicated to Spotify.
So just launch the app on your phone and listen through the unit. For Pandora, just download the app, and connect to your unit through YouTube.
Pioneer went ahead to include Mixtrax, which is a functionality that plays music like a DJ. Better yet, you can even set up themed lighting to go along with the music you’re playing.
Navigation through GPS is possible thanks to the AVIC U280 add-on. And the good thing with this add-on is that you can use it even with older Pioneer head units that lack GPS navigation.
With a built-in amp with a 50W*4 channels max power, this head unit has enough power to power up the speakers. Here are just some of the media playbacks this head unit offers: MP3, WMA, AAC, WAV & FLAC
- Convenient hands-free voice control
- Excellent audio quality
- Versatile and highly compatible with other features.
- Separate volume control for the subwoofer
- The Bluetooth cuts out sometimes.
- It’s impossible to use the Map without the app, which comes at an extra cost.
- It’s challenging to use Bluetooth or radio when you’re connecting your phone to the unit with a cable.
Hikity 10.1 Inch Android Car Stereo
If you’re looking for an affordable Android double DIN unit that’s also GPS-enabled, you’ll love the Hikity car stereo.
If you’re also a fan of bigger screens, you’ll love that this unit has a 10.1-inch screen and a 1024*600 resolution. That’s a huge plus considering the other units here have a smaller screen. A downside though is that the buttons have been squeezed to the side to save space.
However, the screen is very durable and features a 2.5D radian screen protection which prevents scratches and designed to withstand high temperatures.
This unit comes in one size, 7.01″ x 3.94″ x 1.89″ (L*W*H). As you can see, it will fit in most DIN compartments. But make sure you measure your car DIN compartment before purchasing this unit. Featuring the latest Android version, you can rest assured that it will be compatible with the latest devices and the latest apps. There are 3 memory sizes to choose from;
- 1GB RAM/ 16GB
- 2GB RAM/ 16 GB
- 2GB RAM/ 32 GB
WiFi and GPS
If you have a portable WiFi router or a home WiFi, you can access the internet through this head unit. It also supports a smartphone’s hotspot. Once you’re online, you can download compatible apps, such as Google maps and use the DI system to navigate traffic and unknown areas.
And since you may not always be connected to the internet, you can download an offline map from the HERE WeGo app.
Bluetooth Hands-free and Steering Wheel Control
Thanks to Bluetooth functionality, you can make calls and stream music. And when you’re not streaming, you can listen to the high-quality radio, which is also enabled to search channels automatically. The steering wheel controls allow you to control the music and other features as you drive.
The manufacturer also includes a rearview camera which has night vision. Driving in reverse has never been easier with such an option. Once you switch to the reverse gear, the display automatically switches to the rearview camera.
Lastly, it supports the Mirrorlink, which allows you to view the phone’s dashboard on the unit’s screen and utilize the car’s speakers for the audio.
- Excellent customer support
- Great value for money
- The controls are well-placed and easy to use.
- Excellent sound quality
- It’s not that easy to install, and you may need a technician to do it for you.
- It doesn’t fit into some cars. Make sure you measure yours before purchasing.
If you want to upgrade your current double DIN system to a more expensive and more advanced one, the Pioneer AVH-W4500NEX is worth checking out.
Pioneer maintained the same double DIN unit system they’ve been using for the last couple of years. This design allows them to fit in a wide range of features while maintaining a compact size.
At the front, there’s a 6.94-inch resistive screen. While not as responsive as capacitive touchscreens, resistive touchscreens are still versatile and can respond to nails, fingers, or stylus. The screen is also customizable, allowing you to change the background to any other image you’d like.
This unit also comes with a convenient wiring harness that allows you to connect it to a wide variety of vehicles. And all the necessary accessories for installation are included in the package.
For starters, the Pioneer AVH-W4500NEX is powered by Android. It supports Android Auto and Android Auto wireless, allowing you to either connect your smartphone through USB cables, WiFi, or Bluetooth. Android Auto brings media, navigation, messaging, calling, and other functions in an easy to use interface.
For those with iOS devices, this device also supports Apple CarPlay. Thanks to the Pioneer App, you get the best sound quality compared to the other head units.
Bluetooth, GPS and Mirroring
With Bluetooth, you can call or stream music. You can also mirror your phone on the screen or mirror your laptop through the HDMI port. Unfortunately, this unit doesn’t support the AppRadio One app, but you can still access the Map and other media by mirroring your smartphone.
You can get things done on your double DIN head unit through voice control, thanks to Siri. The external microphone makes your commands clearer to the system and enhances flawless communication during calls.
Better yet, you can also access Amazon Alexa, which is a better, more accurate and more flexible voice control system. All you have to do is install the Vozsis app, and you’ll have access to weather, news, traffic, music, and many more capabilities. And since Amazon Alexa is a cloud-based system, it’s constantly getting updated with helpful features.
- Stable Bluetooth connection
- Excellent sound quality thanks to the 13-band equalizer.
- Easy to use User Interface.
- It lacks in-built GPS functionality.
- It’s pretty expensive.
- The rear camera is sold separately.
Double Din Head Unit Buying Guide
Now let’s review some background about double DIN systems and how to choose the best one.
What’s a DIN?
DIN is the abbreviation of Deutsch Industri Normen, a 2-inch by 8-inch section. The Germans coined this name when they started standardizing the radios in various car models in the 1980s. This original system is what’s known as the Single DIN.
Unlike the single DIN, double DINs are notably larger and they offer more features in a compact setting. They can handle Android and other complex operating systems which are not usually found in single DIN models.
It’s possible to find cars with single DINs today. And even though single DINs have been improved, they still can’t beat the functionality offered by double DINs.
Factors to consider when choosing a Double DIN Head Unit
Besides offering you more functionality, the ideal double DIN should also look good. The display should look presentable, and if possible, allow you to customize the lighting and the background.
You’ll realize that the front section has the display and the buttons, while the other ports are on the rear. A good-looking double Din should also have strategically placed buttons that are accessible as you drive.
The sound output and quality of the speakers is determined by the power of the unit. You need to make sure that the unit you purchase has enough power to support the speakers. But you can always purchase an amplifier to meet the power requirements. Power is measured in Watts.
Some may have 50W, while others may have 200W. Another factor to consider is the Root Mean Square (RMS), which refers to the amount of power that reaches the speakers. A unit with 50W and 20 RMS is suitable for most vehicles.
Ease of Use
The ideal User Interface should be one you can access when you’re busy driving. Otherwise, it will become another distraction, and it won’t serve the intended purpose. Familiarize yourself with the features, and make sure you can swipe through the features without shifting your eyes off the road for too long.
The major selling point of Double DIN systems is the ability to connect to other devices. Make sure the system you want to purchase holds connects to your devices – be it a camera, smartphone, or laptop.
You should also check if it works with the latest apps, such as navigation apps, check the Bluetooth’s strength, and make sure you can move from one feature to another without any glitches.
Ease of Installation
If you’re tech-savvy, you can install a DIN system. But I still think it’s best to have a professional help you out. Besides, professional installation may be a requirement for warranty eligibility. Either way, make sure the head unit has a wiring harness which will make it easier to install.
Connecting Double DIN Head Unit to Car Speakers & Subwoofers
We recommend that only qualified professionals should tamper around and connect wires from head units to the internal wires of the car’s speakers. Most head units generally have speaker level outputs designed to drive 4 speakers which is limited by the voltage available (usually 14.4 volt DC).
Higher power units do exist which use their IC to boost voltage but these are generally few and far between. For many people, the internal amplifier will suffice but for those looking for that extra power – external amplifiers may be necessary.
Some head units feature pre-amplifier outputs which can be connected to external amplifiers that are able to drive your car speakers or subwoofer.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Can Any Car Have A Double DIN Head Unit?
For the most part, yes. Cars manufactured after 2002 will most likely have a designated section for the double DIN. If yours doesn’t, you can still install one by using adapters and wiring harnesses.
Can You Make Hands-free Calls With DIN Units?
Yes. As long as it’s Bluetooth-enabled, you can answer calls through the unit. Bluetooth also allows you to stream music from your smartphone.
Is A Parking Brake Safety Switch Necessary?
To prevent drivers from watching videos as they drive, manufacturers are required by law to install a parking brake safety switch. This way, unless the vehicle is stationary, the driver can’t play videos. But this may lock out other features while on the go.
That’s why these systems also allow you to bypass the parking brake safety mechanism.
Double DINs are an easy way to upgrade the audio & visual capabilities of your car without breaking the bank. With the growth of streaming apps, Bluetooth applications and podcasts, more people are seeking ways to improve access to multimedia.
There are a lot of options out there and everyone places emphasis on different factors which this guide hopes to help you with. Each of these options bear their own strengths and you should consider which you value most wisely.
From long car journeys to trips to your local supermarket, your experience will only get better with a double DIN to help you along the way.
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