• May 28, 2024, 5:00 pm

The best double DIN head units of 2023 SoftAIT

Reporter Name 44 Time View
Update : Thursday, December 7, 2023

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Adding an aftermarket double DIN head unit to your car is one of the quickest ways to upgrade your audio quality, media playback options, and overall user experience with relatively little effort. Because a wide majority of these stereos come standard with touchscreen interfaces, Bluetooth connectivity, and smartphone control capability, they’re an especially appealing option for aging vehicles with stereos from an earlier era. If your current head unit plays CDs or cassettes, swapping in a new double DIN one is also a great way to purge your collection and free up storage space in your vehicle in favor of newer media playback options like wireless, USB, and even HDMI. Here’s a quick rundown of our picks of the best double DIN head units for refreshing your car’s look, feel, and most of all sound.

The best double DIN head units: Reviews & Recommendations

Best overall: Alpine iLX-W650

Specs

  • Sources: AM/FM tuner, Bluetooth, USB, SiriusXM (not included)
  • Screen: 7-inch capacitive touchscreen, 800 x 480 resolution
  • Smartphone features: Apple CarPlay, Android Auto
  • Power: RMS: 16 watts x 4 channels / Peak: 40 watts x 4 channels
  • Expandability: Rear USB, two camera inputs, subwoofer compatible, microphone included
  • Equalizer: 9-band parametric with time alignment

Pros

  • Shallow chassis less than 3 inches deep
  • Dual-camera compatibility for front and rear views
  • Swipe controls for volume and navigation

Cons

  • Parking brake must be engaged to access settings

The Alpine iLX-W650 features all the best of what modern double DIN head units offer in a balanced and affordable design, making it one of our favorite aftermarket options overall. For starters, it’s less than 3 inches deep, allowing it to be installed in shallow dashboards or mounted with an optional Alpine KTA-450 amplifier for even greater dynamic range and up to 45 watts RMS per channel. The unit also features a 7-inch anti-glare capacitive touchscreen with at-a-glance swipe controls and plug-and-play compatibility with up to two cameras for monitoring front or rear views. Like many of the best double DIN head units, the Alpine iLX-W650 comes standard with an AM/FM radio tuner, Bluetooth connectivity, smartphone car controls, and SiriusXM satellite radio compatibility. While it sounds great out of the box, the iLX-W650 offers users further sound customization options through its built-in 9-band equalizer, complete with delay compensation for synchronizing your front and rear speakers. Some users may find the iLX-W650 frustrating to use because it requires the parking brake to be engaged for access to some settings. However, this is a very common feature found in aftermarket touchscreen systems designed to keep users’ eyes on the road whenever in motion.

Best splurge: Sony XAV-AX6000

Sony XAV-AX6000

Specs

  • Sources: AM/FM tuner, Bluetooth, USB, SiriusXM (not included)
  • Screen: 6.95-inch capacitive touchscreen, 800 x 480 resolution
  • Smartphone features: Apple CarPlay, Android Auto
  • Power: RMS: 20 watts x 4 channels / Peak: 55 watts x 4 channels
  • Expandability: Rear micro-HDMI, rear USB-C, camera input, subwoofer compatible, microphone included
  • Equalizer: 14-band with time alignment

Pros

  • Ultra-fast 3-amp USB-C port for charging
  • micro-HDMI port for playing external audio and video
  • Compatible with iDatalink Maestro for enhancing OEM features

Cons

  • Requires parking brake to be engaged for access to settings

Sony’s XAV-AX6000 is a stylish double DIN unit packed with the latest tech in a user-friendly design, making it a worthwhile upgrade if you’re looking for one of the best aftermarket car multimedia experiences available. In addition to including a single input for connecting a rear-view camera, the XAV-AX6000 comes with a micro-HDMI port for streaming movies and other content from a device of your choice and a USB-C port that delivers three amps of power for super-fast charging. Like our best overall pick, the XAV-AX6000 also features all the basics like an AM/FM radio tuner, Bluetooth, backup camera connectivity, and satellite radio compatibility. If you have a compatible vehicle, this double DIN head unit can also display and perform vehicle-specific functions via iDatalink Maestro.

Best budget: Pioneer MVH-S622BS

Pioneer MVH-S622BS

Specs

  • Sources: AM/FM tuner, Bluetooth, USB, SiriusXM (not included), AUX
  • Screen: LCD display
  • Smartphone features: iPhone and Android control
  • Power: RMS: 14 watts x 4 channels / Peak: 50 watts x 4 channels
  • Expandability: Subwoofer compatible
  • Equalizer: 13-band graphic

Pros

  • Knob-based controls are easy to use at a glance
  • Pioneer SmartSync companion app available for wireless control
  • Includes classic front-panel 3.5-millimeter AUX jack

Cons

  • Display may be difficult to read in bright environments

If you’re open to forgoing a double DIN head unit with a touchscreen or native Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support, the Pioneer MVH-S622BS offers fantastic compatibility with Bluetooth, SiriusXM, and wired audio sources at a bargain price point. In lieu of a screen, the MVH-S622BS features a classic LCD display for viewing track and source information at a glance and an intuitive suite of knobs and buttons that make the unit easy to operate while keeping your eyes on the road. Despite lacking fully integrative smartphone support, the MVH-S622BS can still be controlled wirelessly from any smartphone using Pioneer’s SmartSync companion app. In addition to supporting USB media playback like our other picks, this best value also features a classic 3.5-millimeter audio input on its front panel so you and your passengers can take turns “passing the AUX.”

Here are more double DIN units we think are, well, head and shoulders above the rest: 

FAQs

Q: How much do double DIN head units cost?

We built this list of the best double DIN head units with a heavy emphasis on connectivity and features, opting to include products with Bluetooth, satellite radio capability, and other modern amenities. So our picks start at a couple hundred dollars and go to over a grand. With that in mind, double DIN head units can cost anywhere from $60 to over $1,500.

Q: How do you install a double DIN head unit?

All true double DIN head units conform to an automotive industry standard size and measurement, but some units require proprietary mounting brackets or hardware to maximize their compatibility across a range of vehicles. Most installations require disconnecting the car’s battery power, removing the stock head unit, and connecting your vehicle’s power and speaker wiring to the new double DIN head unit’s harness. While this type of installation shouldn’t be too difficult for a beginning DIY-er, it’s important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully according to your specific vehicle’s needs.

Q: Are all double DIN head units the same size?

All double DIN head units are the same size, and even if a specified double DIN head unit is technically smaller than its mounting location, it will always include a frame or bezel to fill in the remaining space. Nearly all of these products take advantage of their size—four inches tall (and seven inches wide)—to allow for screen-based control panels and connecting at least one camera for increased safety and environmental visibility. But you need to make sure before purchasing a double DIN head unit that your car isn’t restricted to a single DIN head unit.

Final thoughts on the best double DIN head units

Double DIN head units can bring an aging vehicle into the modern age and elevate your car multimedia experience with satellite radio, Bluetooth, USB, and camera connectivity. While all double DIN head units are the same size, they offer a wide variety of user interfaces, connectivity, and power options. For the broad majority of users, a well-rounded double DIN head unit like the Alpine iLX-W650 constitutes a major upgrade over older stock stereos. If you want similar connectivity with a sleeker design, a boost in power, and OEM feature support, consider a premium unit like the Sony XAV-AX6000. Finally, if you’re more interested in audio connectivity options but don’t want Apple CarPlay or Android Auto support, you can save a few bucks by going with an LCD-based unit like the Pioneer MVH-S622BS.

Why trust us

Popular Science started writing about technology more than 150 years ago. There was no such thing as “gadget writing” when we published our first issue in 1872, but if there was, our mission to demystify the world of innovation for everyday readers means we would have been all over it. Here in the present, PopSci is fully committed to helping readers navigate the increasingly intimidating array of devices on the market right now.

Our writers and editors have combined decades of experience covering and reviewing consumer electronics. We each have our own obsessive specialties—from high-end audio to video games to cameras and beyond—but when we’re reviewing devices outside of our immediate wheelhouses, we do our best to seek out trustworthy voices and opinions to help guide people to the very best recommendations. We know we don’t know everything, but we’re excited to live through the analysis paralysis that internet shopping can spur so readers don’t have to.



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One response to “The best double DIN head units of 2023 SoftAIT”

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