Head units, also known as stereo receivers, are one of the most important components of any stereo system. It’s the only piece of your system that you are going to interact with directly. If your head unit is poorly designed or doesn’t have the exact features you need, you’re going to have trouble. So, to help you find the right receiver for your needs, we’re reviewing the 12 best double DIN head units on the market now.
What are double DIN head units?
Before we get too far in, it’s helpful to understand exactly what we’re talking about. You may not have heard the term DIN head unit before, but you’ve probably heard stereo receiver. These are in reference to the same thing.
The term DIN is actually German in origin. It stands for Deutsches Institut für Normung. This is the organization responsible for the standardization of measurements in Germany. DIN 75490 was the original standard for head unit sizes in early model Volkswagens and BMWs. This standard was adopted by the International Organization for Standardization in 1984 as ISO 7736.
There are two standard sizes for head units:
First is the single DIN head unit, which measures 7.09in. x 1.97in. (180mm x 50mm). Before video screens became popular this was the standard for car audio.
Second is the double DIN head unit, sometimes referred to as 2 DIN head unit. The double DIN measures 7.09in. x 3.94in. (180mm x 100mm).
For this guide, we’re going to be focusing on the double DIN head unit. This is what is being installed at the factory in newer cars as well as in aftermarket installs. The double DIN has features such as navigation and Bluetooth which make it more appealing than it’s predecessor.
So, now that we’re all on the same page, let’s get into what you want to look for in the best double DIN head unit.
What To Look For In A Double DIN Head Unit
This is the very first thing you will notice when using your double DIN head unit. If your screen isn’t on point then you aren’t going to have a very good experience using your head unit.
The very best double DIN head units all have great screens that are easy to read. You want to make sure that your view isn’t obstructed by glare. The screen should also be bright enough that you can see it any time of day regardless of how bright or dark it is outside. If you can only see the screen when things are pitch black, you will get frustrated easily.
Power and Sound Capabilities
We’re bassheads here at On Track. So, while it’s important that a double DIN has solid capabilities and a great screen, there’s really only one main concern we have. How loud can we get and how hard can we bang?
Power in a head unit is measured in Watts. In order to get a lot of power and good sound quality out of your head unit, you want to look for a higher watt unit. Typically, you will look at the peak wattage output.
We think that the better way to measure a head unit’s power is by RMS, which measures the wattage delivered directly to the speaker units. For this, we recommend an RMS Wattage of at least 20 or above.
Second to power and sound quality, you want to get a double DIN head unit that is feature-rich. Modern head units are in essence an extension of your phone. You can make hands free calls, use navigation, watch videos, and much more.
But, not all double DIN head units are made equally. There are flagship units, which are the top of the line and have the most cutting edge features and technologies. On the other end of the spectrum, there are head units that have just enough to get by.
Some of the most common extra features include:
- Android Auto or Apple Car Play capabilities
- Theft protection
- Added remote control
- Wi-Fi capabilities
There is no right or wrong answer for which features you want to look for. At the end of the day, you want to make sure to get the head unit that has the right features for your needs.
Do you have a rear-facing camera to help you when backing up?
If so, or if you are planning to install one at some point, your double DIN head unit needs the right connections. You need to be able to connect the camera to the head unit so you can see what’s happening on the screen. For this to work, you need the right inputs.
You can also purchase a head unit that has rear and front camera inputs. This will allow you to have a backup camera as well as a forward-facing camera recording you as you drive.
Smart Phone Compatibility
This one is extremely important. The whole point in having a double DIN head unit is for the added features over a single DIN. Make sure that the head unit you get is capable of accepting input from your phone. This can mean either Apple Car Play or Android Auto.
It may also mean that you can connect via Bluetooth for hands-free and streaming music. Either way, make sure that you can connect your smartphone to receive maximum benefits from the head unit.
This goes along with what we discussed above. You need to make sure that you can connect your phone and use it hands-free. This will be possible either via Bluetooth or a cable connection.
Most new double DIN headsets offer hands-free calling and voice commands. If you are buying an older unit, make sure you can make hands-free calls at the very list.
Navigation is super important. You want a head unit that offers either built-in navigation or the ability to work with your phone’s navigation. Built-in navigation is preferred as this will allow you to navigate even in areas where your phone does not receive a signal.
Also, check to see if the head unit can work with traffic apps such as Waze. This can help make your daily commute easier if you are in a high traffic city.
Ease of Use
As with most other technology, the best double DIN head units are all easy to use. This means having a graphical user interface that is intuitive and easy to customize.
The last thing you want is to spend a lot of money on an awesome new headset only to be completely lost and confused when trying to use it. The interface should be simple and easy to set up and all of the main features should be easy to find.
Having a high number of output channels will give you plenty of options for customization. The more speakers and subwoofers you add to your system, the more output channels you need on your head unit.
Factory head units, also known as an original equipment manufacturer, or OEM, usually won’t have many output channels. The best double DIN head units will give you room to grow in the future no matter how many speakers and subs you decide to add.
You want to buy a head unit with a well designed operating system. This is going to save you from a lot of frustration later on from having to deal with glitches and bugs within the system. It will also make the head unit easier to work with.
In general, the cheaper the head unit, the higher the odds of a poorly designed operating system. This isn’t always true. But, operating systems are expensive to plan out and program. Larger companies can usually afford more skilled programmers and throw more money into the design process.
Ease of Installation
The best double DIN head units are going to be the easiest to install. This is regardless of the price. If you buy a super expensive head unit that takes an electrical engineering degree to wire, it’s going to suck.
Also, as a side note, make sure you don’t damage your dash trying to remove and replace your current head unit. There are proper tools that are needed for the process and if you don’t do things right then you risk damaging your car’s interior.
This one is a bit harder to pin down. Everyone is going to have a different idea of what a good budget is. Generally speaking, you can go by the old adage you get what you pay for. Most of the best double DIN head units, the flagship models for each company, are going to be in the price range of $250 to $500.
You can certainly find cheaper double DINs that are of good quality, but you will be sacrificing some features. If you want a quality and feature-rich head unit that will last a long time, prepare to drop some decent money.
The 12 Best Double DIN Head Units In 2020
1) Kenwood eXcelon DNX995S
Since 1946, Kenwood has been one of the dominant forces in the audio industry. The eXcelon DNX995S builds upon their already solid reputation for innovative designs and cutting edge technology. This double DIN comes with everything from navigation to rear and forward cameras. You can easily pair this with your smartphone, both IOS, and Android.
- Equipped with both Wireless Android Auto and Apple Car Play
- Front and rear camera so you can easily see obstacles in your way
- Waze ready to ensure your driving time is optimized
- The unit was noticeably slow when it came to booting time
- The user interface can be a bit confusing in the beginning
- Hard to keep clean as dust and fingerprints stick quite easily
2) JVC Double DIN Bluetooth
JVC is a behemoth in the car audio industry. The company was founded in 1923 and has produced quality audio technology ever since. They are the parent company of Kenwood and consistently a leader in innovative audio technology. The double DIN is everything you could need and can be hooked up to your phone as well as multiple different streaming and entertainment apps.
- Apple Car Play and Android Auto equipped for use with your smartphone
- Able to use Spotify, Sirius XM, and Pandora Internet Radio
- Front and rear camera capable
- Occasional issues with Bluetooth not recognizing previously connected devices
- The screen can sometimes be difficult to see due to glare
- Uses phones navigation as opposed to built-in
3) Sony XAV-AX5000
The third Japanese company on this list, Sony is a powerhouse for electronics. They are better known for their TVs and Playstation. But, they are also a major player in the car audio industry. The XAV-Ax5000 is a good medium-range double DIN head unit. This can be good for a first time upgrade from the factory stereo.
- Apple car play and Android Auto capable
- Easy to use interface and a well laid out quick access menu
- Hands-free voice control for navigation, music changing, and more
- Rear camera input and screen display
- Sometimes acts glitchy with Android Auto and can freeze-up
- The screen is a bit dim and with an added glare difficult to read
4) Alpine ILX-W650
Compared to JVC and Sony, Alpine is relatively late to the car audio game. They’ve been producing electronics since 1967 and have developed a reputation as one of the leading car audio technology manufacturers in the industry. The ILX-W650 is one of their mid-level double DIN head units.
- Works with both Apple Car Play as well as Android Auto
- Easy and straight forward installation with a shallow mount design
- Simple design and straight forward menu
- This is designed almost too simply so much so that it is lacking features common in many other systems
- Can be temperamental with certain Android devices
5) Pioneer AVH-2400NEX
Pioneer is another leading Japanese electronics manufacturer and one of the oldest audio brands on the market. They’ve been at it since 1938 and originally produced radios and other similar electronic products. The 2400NEX is their flagship model and one of the more feature-rich double DIN head units on the market.
- Android Auto and Apple Car Play compatible
- Works with Spotify, Pandora and Sirius XM with the proper subscription
- Easy to use interface that can be completely customized
- Hands-free interface through the use of Siri for IOS users
- Some issues have been noted when using Android Auto
- The touch screen would be better with a bit more sensitivity
6) ATOTO A6 Android Car Navigation Stereo
You’ve probably never heard of Atoto. They are a Chinese audio manufacturer founded in 2008. They excel at producing Android double DIN head units at a much cheaper price than many of their Japanese counterparts. The A6 model comes with everything you would expect including navigation and camera inputs.
- Utilizes the Marshmallow Operating System for a greater degree of stability and usability
- Steering wheel compatible for use with manual controls on the steering wheel
- Hands-free Bluetooth compatibility
- Not widely used and potentially more difficult to service
- Wi-Fi connectivity isn’t the best with this unit
7) BOSS Audio BVCP9685A
BOSS Audio, not to be confused with Bose, is an American based company in business for over 30 years. They may be newer to the market than the Japanese titans of the industry, but that by no means makes them less capable. The company is known for its earth-shaking speakers and high-tech head units. The BVCP9685A is the newest in a long line of killer double DIN head units the company has put out.
- Supports both Apple Car Play as well as Android Auto
- Steering wheel control ready allowing you to use the buttons on your steering
- Bluetooth hands-free capabilities making it easier to watch the road
- Fully customizable front end menu for complete control over the interface
- Can be slow to boot up compared to some other double DIN head units
- Apple Car Play occasionally disconnects when used for long periods of time
8) Pioneer AVH-X390BS
If you’re like many people, you probably still have a back catalog of CDs that haven’t yet been converted into digital files. If so, the AVH-390BS can be a great option as it has a CD player as well as all of the other features you would expect in a double DIN head unit. This is made by Pioneer and has the same level of quality you would expect from the company.
- Compatible and ready to use with Sirius XM as an added option for listening
- Bluetooth connectivity for hands-free functionality with phones
- Compatible with backup camera
- Music can be slow to start up again after using Bluetooth and hands-free calling
- Needs extra equipment for use with steering wheel controls
9) Jensen VX7020N
Jensen is another American brand and one of the oldest audio manufacturers on this list. The company began in 1915 with their founder’s invention of the loudspeaker. From there, it was a natural progression into audio equipment for various outlets. They produce a wide range of equipment for marine, car audio, and other types of vehicles. The VX7020N is feature-rich and a good option for the price.
- Built-in Bluetooth for hands-free use with mobile phones
- Compatible with Sirius XM, Pandora Internet Radio, iHeartRadio, and Spotify
- Awesome built-in navigation with detailed display to help you better navigate the roads
- The touch screen can be a bit slow at times and reacts sluggishly
- The buttons are a bit cheap in quality which can lead to them being damaged more easily
10) JVC KWV140BT
This is a great system if you’re looking for good quality on a budget. It isn’t at the same level as some of the higher end systems on the list, but it packs a lot of punch at a fraction of the price. The KMV140BT has all of the main features you would expect from a CD player to Bluetooth and is steering button capable. Overall, this has a solid quality to price ratio.
- Bluetooth capabilities for hands-free calling and music playback
- Built in CD player provides greater options for listening to music
- Customizable user interface to make using the unit more convenient
- Can be used with the provided buttons on your steering wheel
- The screen can be hard to see under bright light
- The software is occasionally glitchy
11) Corehan 7 inch Touch Screen
Corehan is a direct to consumer car electronics brand based in Hong Kong. They haven’t been on the market very long, but they have started to gain some traction in the US and Australian markets. Their double DIN head units have all of the features you can get in high-end brands. But, you will pay significantly less as they are an up and comer and their direct to consumer model helps cut down on middle man expenses.
- Supports rear camera as well as steering wheel controls
- Bluetooth capabilities for hands-free calling and music playback
- Built in navigation capable of being used with Android navigation apps for offline use
- Installation on this unit can be a bit more difficult than some others
- The Bluetooth can occasionally drop out requiring repairing
12) H*Sheng TPK 7 Inch Double DIN Car Stereo
We couldn’t find anything about this company beyond the fact they are a Chinese based electronics manufacturer. The reason we decided to try it is because of the low price and great rating on Amazon. The results were good. This isn’t the most technologically advanced double DIN head unit but it is constant and cheap. If you’re on a tight budget this can be a good option.
- Lowest priced double DIN head unit on our list
- Bluetooth capable for use with hands-free calling and music playback
- Works with Android navigation apps and phonelink
- Does not work with IOS devices so do not get if you use an iPhone
- A bit larger than average double DIN head units and may require dash modification for proper installation
Frequently Asked Questions
Most frequent questions and answers
Which double DIN head unit fits my car?
You need to take stock of your current set up before deciding which double DIN head unit you want to buy. If your car is currently set up for a double DIN, then it will be a lot easier. If not, you will need to do some modifications. Make sure to look at the link and width as well as the depth.
What are the benefits of a double DIN head unit?
Double DIN head units offer so many more features than their single DIN counterparts. Traditional single DIN head units only play radio and CD or mp3. With a double DIN head unit, you can play videos, use hands-free calling via Bluetooth, and navigate using the car or phone GPS.
Will my steering wheel controls still work?
If the double DIN head unit you purchase works with iDatalink maestro, talked about above, then yes. You need to make sure that the head unit can work with this or your factory steering wheel controls will not work.
What is iDatalink Maestro and why is it important?
The iDatalink Maestro is what allows you to hook your aftermarket stereo system into your current steering wheel interface and security and convenience control units. Make sure that any double DIN head unit you purchase can support this.
What are flagship model double DIN head units?
A flagship model means that a product is the best of the best that the specific manufacturer has to offer. This usually means that it has the most up-to-date features and new technology. Flagship models will give you the most options for things like supported file formats, connectivity, and more.
Should I get a big brand or a budget brand?
This is really up to personal preference. There are plenty of lesser-known budget brands that work great. The main thing to take into consideration is how stable the software is and how easy the unit will be to service. The upside of a big brand double DIN headset is that they are more widely sold and easier to service.
Our Final Verdict
The Pioneer AVH-2400NEX gets our vote for the best double DIN head unit on the market today. It sells at a competitive price for being one of Pioneer’s flagship brands. All of the features necessary for most car audio enthusiasts, including solid wattage and plenty of output channels, are present.
For non-bassheads, it’s got everything you could want for a comfortable ride. We also like that Pioneer is a major brand. This means servicing the unit in the event of a malfunction is going to be much easier as most car audio and electronics shops sell them. Overall, this is the best unit we reviewed in terms of price to features and quality.
Sidney U. Harman has over 10 years of experience working in the AVL industry. He originally cut his teeth as a stagehand in the OKC area before moving to Denton for university. After learning to run the boards, he developed a solid passion for sound. His obsession with car audio developed 5 years ago as a natural progression from commercial AVL.