Do you want to know what the best car stereo is? There are a lot of very good stereos on the market, which will either offer you an upgrade on the stereo you’ve already got inside your car or replace your current aftermarket car stereo.
The best car stereo system will offer you the ability to connect your smartphone or media player through Bluetooth, USB, or AUX. It will have an excellent, clear display screen, that will be visible in daylight, as well as at night. It will also be very easy to use too. A remote control is a handy extra too, and the best car radios will usually come with one.
To make sure that you choose the best car stereo, check out this list of the ten best stereos, as well as the buyer’s guide and breakdown that follows, and then you’ll be sure to be investing in the best car stereo for the money.
BOSS is renowned for producing some of the best car stereos on the market. This is a good car stereo for people wanting to hook up their smartphone or media player, as it offers Bluetooth connectivity, as well as having a USB port and an AUX input.
It also has a lot of built-in equalizer presets, so it can adapt to the genre of music you want to listen to. It comes with a wireless remote, which is very user-friendly. The LCD display is clear and ID3 Tag means that your song titles will be shown on the display too.
+ Bluetooth, USB, and AUX connectivity
+ ID3 Tag
+ In-built EQ presets
+ 50-watts of max power from four channels
+ Instant mute button
Why We Liked It - It's a very good car stereo, which you can connect almost any external device to, and then make the most of the big power it offers, while listening to your favorite music.
Subwoofers - Not all car stereos come with subwoofers built in and those that do might vary in their capacities to deliver that booming bass. Check on each car stereo's subwoofer and its versatility in customizable settings such as EQ phasing, balance control, and compatibility with a crossover amplifier for a well-rendered sound.
This is a top car stereo, which doesn’t just offer you the chance to connect an external device via Bluetooth, AUX, and USB, but you can also play CDs through it too. It has Electronic Skip Protection, meaning you won’t get any interruption to your audio experience.
You can connect your front and rear speakers, thanks to the pre-amp outputs, and while you get an excellent 50-watts of power from each of the four channels, you can enhance this sound even more by connecting an amplifier to this single din car stereo. It also comes with a handy wireless remote.
+ Electronic Skip Protection for CDs
+ Wireless remote
+ Tuner can be switched for US and European broadcasts
+ Pre-amp outputs
+ Bluetooth for hands-free calls
Why We Liked It - If you’ve still got a big CD collection, then this might be the best car stereo for you because it offers perfect CD playback, and the Electronic Skip Protection means your favorite tunes won’t ever get interrupted or skip.
Pioneer always produce good stereos for the car, and this is no exception. The Pioneer Smart Sync technology allows you to use your smartphone’s apps and features while you’re driving your car, meaning you can use Apple Carplay and Android Auto. You can also control your phone through the receiver, meaning that you can change songs or select podcasts without needing to use your phone.
The sound quality is excellent, but this car stereo looks great too, and you can customize the color scheme to make it suit your car. If you’re a fan of bass, then the Bass Boost button will trigger a dynamic bass effect, giving you more thunderous bass.
+ Bass Boost button
+ Pioneer Smart Sync technology
+ Customizable color
+ Compatible with all smartphones and radio apps
+ MIXTRAX technology
Why We Liked It - If you’re looking for the best Bluetooth car stereo that truly allows you to utilize the features of your smartphone and digital media, then this could be a good car stereo for you, as the Pioneer Smart Sync technology creates a perfect synthesis between your smartphone and the car stereo. This also makes Pioneer compatible with Apple Carplay and Android Auto.
Smartphone Compatibility - Though many car stereos include features that allow for interfacing with and through smart phones, many older models do not have these features built in. If you plan on using Apple CarPlay in order to interface with your stereo through your phone, which allows for optimal integration with your existing applications, make sure that your stereo can accommodate that service.
This double din car stereo takes digital media to the next level. It has a huge 6.2” screen with a resolution of 800 x 480. You have thirteen choices for the background on the display screen. But a top car stereo has to have more than just a great screen. Fortunately, the sound is also exceptional, and it has a peak output of 50w.
The MIXTRAX technology is great too, as it blends together the songs, so there are no awkward silences between tracks. If you use Pandora or Spotify, then you’ll like how easily they’re integrated with this car stereo.
+ Huge, clear display screen
+ Pandora and Spotify compatible
+ MIXTRAX technology
+ A lot of power, even with stock speakers
+ Easy to fit
Why We Liked It - This is the best Pioneer car stereo for you if you want a double din car stereo that has a huge screen and offers excellent, powerful sound.
The 13-band equalizer means that you get a lot of control over sound with this top car stereo. The power isn’t bad either, with a peak output of 50 watts x four channels. It's compatible with most smartphones, Apple Carplay and Android Auto, and allows you the ability for hands-free calling.
To make this easier, then you can access your contacts through the car stereo, and the display will also show you the name of any incoming callers. It comes with a wired, external microphone, which you can use for any calls. The Bluetooth connection is really quick and functions very well too.
+ Built-in crossover
+ Excellent equalizer
+ Quick Bluetooth connection
+ Includes wired microphone
+ Great value-for-money
Why We Liked It - This is simply a good car stereo, that gives you excellent sound, which is adjustable thanks to the great equalizer. The hands-free calling works very well too.
This car stereo might not have Bluetooth connectivity like every other digital media, but you can easily connect your phone to it through AUX or USB. It does the simple things right, offering great sound, which you can enhance thanks to the Bass Boost button.
It has a detachable faceplate, which means you don’t have to worry about it getting stolen. It also comes with Alphasonik earbuds, which you can use to make phone calls. You don’t just have the option of hooking up your phone, as you can also play CDs with this car stereo.
+ CD player
+ Includes Alphasonik earbuds
+ Bass Boost button
+ AUX and USB connectivity
+ Detachable faceplate
Why We Liked It - This single din head unit from Pioneer is proof that the best stereos don’t have to break the bank, as you get everything you could want from this car stereo at an affordable price.
This double din head unit offers users the choice between CD playback, simple FM/AM radio playback, or by hooking up your smartphone or MP3 player through the AUX connection or via Bluetooth. It has a multi-color backlighting system which is customizable. It also comes with a wireless remote control.
It offers 80 watts x four channels peak power, and with the right speakers, you’ll be blown away by how loud it gets. It has a preset equalizer so that you can also adjust the sound to suit your music or needs. You can also control hands-free calling through the unit too.
+ Customizable backlighting
+ Comes with a wireless remote
+ 80 watts x four channels of power
+ Preset equalizer
+ Bluetooth connectivity
Why We Liked It - It is the best double din stereo in this price range, and it has everything you require from your car audio system, including a lot of potential power.
With USB and AUX inputs at the front of this single din car stereo unit, then you can easily connect your media player or smartphone. The display is very clear and is readable during daylight. The whole unit is very simple to control.
It offers you 50 watts x four channels of peak power, as well as 22 watts x four channels of RMS. It has a three-band graphic equalizer, which allows you more control over the sound you get from it too. You can play MP3 discs in the CD player too. And the faceplate is removable.
+ Clear display
+ MP3 CD player
+ Easy to use
+ Removable faceplate
+ Very good radio reception
Why We Liked It - If you’re looking for the best car radio in terms of reception, then this one is up there, and not only is the FM and AM reception great, but you can also easily hook up your phone or media player to it, so you can listen to podcasts, audiobooks, or music too.
This is another good car stereo from BOSS. One of the best features of this car stereo is the ability to hook up a rear camera to it, and then to use the display to watch the footage. It also has a wealth of opportunities when it comes to connectivity, with Bluetooth, AUX, USB, and AV inputs, as well as a port for slotting in an SD memory card.
You can play both DVDs, as well as CDs, through this car stereo too. The 3.2” monitor is very clear, with vivid colors too. It also comes with remote control.
+ Compatible with rear camera
+ 3.2” outstanding monitor
+ Includes a remote
+ SD memory card port
+ Amazing value for money
Why We Liked It - The display, as well as the ability to connect a rear camera, as well as the multitude of connection options, make this one of the best stereos for your car on the market.
This single din car stereo offers you the ability to connect two phones to it at the same time via Bluetooth. That means that calls to either phone can be put through the head unit.
You are offered a huge amount of control over the sound, as it has a thirteen-band equalizer, and comes with eleven presets, which will maximize the performance of this top car stereo, as well as produce a more dynamic sound.
To get the most out of this car stereo, then JVC offers you the chance to download the JVC Remote app, which will allow you more possibilities to customize your sound settings.
+ Can connect two phones at a time
+ 13-band equalizer
+ 11 presets
+ Bluetooth automatic pairing
+ Bluetooth AVRCP1.5
Why We Liked It - With amazing features like voice recognition dialing and the ability to connect two phones at the same time, this truly has to be the best car stereo for the money.
Volume - If you like to listen to your music loud, you should know what the maximum volume on your prospective car stereo is and how it correlates with your preference. Installing an amplifier as a supplemental device to your car stereo can enable more versatility in volume options, though you should experiment before making that investment.
Car Stereo Buyers Guide
If you’re looking for the best car stereo, then you’ll be aware that there is quite a range of features and options when it comes to choosing a good one. In this buyer’s guide, you’ll learn what the key features of a good car radio are, and then you’ll be in a much better position to make sure that you invest in the best car stereo system.
One of the main reasons people tend to upgrade their car stereos is because they have an old-fashioned model in their cars. These antiquated models don’t allow you to connect your phone or media player. If you’re choosing a new car stereo, then make sure that it has the correct connections for the device you wish to connect it to. Are Apple Carplay and Android Auto important to you?
Usually, you will find Bluetooth, AUX, and USB connections on the best stereos for your car. If you’re choosing a car radio that has a large display screen, then an AV connection is also necessary, as this will allow you to connect a DVD player too.
The ability to play CDs through your car stereo is not standard. Of course, this means that you should choose a car stereo that allows for CD playback if that’s important to you. Another thing to check is whether you’re able to play an MP3 CD too. It isn’t always the case that a CD player will allow you to play an MP3 CD.
Hands-Free Calling/Smartphone Integration
If your car stereo has Bluetooth connectivity, then you will be able to connect your smartphone to it. Often, the best Bluetooth car stereo will also allow you to use the radio for hands-free calling. This means that you will hear the person on the other end of the line through the speakers, but there will be different ways for them to hear from you.
Usually, this will be either with an external, wired microphone, which will often come with the car radio, or you may need to connect a permanent microphone somewhere in your car. You can even connect through Apple Carplay or Android Auto if your stereo supports this.
Bluetooth car radios will also allow you to access certain elements of your phone through the radio itself. That means you can go through your address book via the radio display, rather than picking up your phone, which could be illegal where you live.
You will also be able to answer, and end calls through the controls on the stereo display. Another element of smartphone integration that you will find in top car stereos is the ability to use Spotify, Pandora, or other radio apps.
A single din car stereo will only have a small display screen, and this might actually be an LCD screen. It will usually have some sort of backlight system, which will be important for being able to see the screen at night.
This backlight system will usually be customizable so you can change the color screen. A display screen needs to be visible during the day too, so when you’re reading car stereo reviews, then keep an eye out for comments about the screen’s visibility during daylight.
A double din car stereo will have a bigger screen. You’ll find that these screens will be WVGA, which means they have an 800 x 600 resolution. These display screens will usually be touchscreens too, so this can be very user-friendly, and you might also be able to download GPS apps for them too.
The ability to have a video input is very useful for people who wish to connect a rear camera to the car. A rear camera allows you to see what's happening behind you on the car stereo display screen.
This makes reversing much easier, and can also help with parking. People who suffer from neck issues or back issues will also find this technology to be very useful, as it means that you don’t need to crane your neck each time you wish to look behind you.
Good car stereo systems will usually come with a wireless remote. This often gives you more options than you’ll find on the display screen, making it easier to adjust the equalizer levels, for example. You also might find a wireless remote more user-friendly while driving.
Do I need a mechanic to fit the car stereo in my car, or can I do this myself?
It doesn’t always require an expert to fit a car stereo system. If you're a handy person, then you’ll be able to fit your new car stereo without much difficulty, although perseverance might be required in some cases.
Generally, however, it's recommended that you find a professional to fit the radio for you. Usually, this service is available at an affordable price, and you’ll be certain then that you won’t have any issues going forward.
What is the difference between a single din car stereo and a double din car stereo?
The single biggest difference between a single din car stereo and a double din car stereo is simply the size. They are both 7 inches in width, but a single din is 2 inches in height, whereas a double din is double that height and is 4 inches. These are the two standard sizes of car radios.
If your car currently has a single din radio, then you will most likely only be able to replace it with another single din. If you have a double din radio, however, it's possible to fit a single din radio. The biggest benefit of a double din radio is the size of the screen.
Fancy color schemes and vivid backlights are great for driving at night but don’t forget that you need to see the display screen in the daytime too. Make sure to check if the display screen is visible in daylight, otherwise, your car stereo will just end up frustrating you.
Did you know?
The reason why the term DIN is used for defining the size of a car stereo head unit is that it is the initials of the German body that created these standard sizes. It's called Deutsches Institut für Normung.
There are some really good car stereos on the market, which will be a huge upgrade on the stock stereo that you’ve already got inside your car. You’ll have the ability to connect your smartphone or media player to the car stereo via either Bluetooth, AUX, or USB. Then you can get crystal clear, quality sound, which you can adjust thanks to a choice of EQ presets.
You can also remove the faceplate so that you can keep your car radio safe. The double din car stereos will also allow you to plug in a rear camera and watch the live footage as you reverse. And, don’t forget, the very best car stereo won’t break the bank either.
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