Best Single DIN Head Units & Car Stereos (2023)

Best Single DIN Head Unit and car stereo - featured image

Most cars, both old and new, only make room for a single DIN stereo in their dashboards. If your car has a single DIN slot, worry not because I’ve curated a selection of some of the best single DIN car stereos on the market.

The Pioneer DEH-S1000UB is the overall best single DIN head unit because it has excellent sound quality without breaking the bank. A great budget pick is the BOSS Audio Systems 616UAB, as it has Bluetooth. If you’re looking for a touchscreen, get the Pyle PLTS78DUB.

Best Overall

Pioneer

  • LCD display with LED backlight
  • CEA-2006 Compliant amplifier
  • Power output: peak: 50 watts x 4 channels/ RMS: 14 watts x 4 channels
  • Wireless remote control included
  • AUX & USB
Best Budget Pick

BOSS Audio Systems

  • Dimmable Illumination for Buttons and LCD Display,
  • Bluetooth
  • USB & AUX
  • Power –  50 watts x 4 Max power 
  • Warranty – 3-year platinum online dealer warranty
Large Screen Pick

Pyle

  • 7” Touch Screen Monitor
  • Hands-Free Use
  • Smart Phone compatible
  • Bluetooth, Aux & USB
  • Remote included 

The rest of this article will explain everything you need to know about single DIN head units, how to get the right one, and how to make sure it fits. Let’s get started!

About Single DIN Head Units

Ford KA with a Single DIN stereo
 Ford KA with a Single DIN stereo – One I Installed myself

Single DIN refers to the standard size measurements of car stereos, which are 2″ tall by 7″ wide (50 mm x 180 mm). “DIN” refers to the Deutsches Institut für Normung, which established the standard size in 1917. It was later adapted by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) in 1984 under ISO 7736.

The standardized DIN sizes allow manufacturers to make widely compatible stereo systems. Nearly all car and car stereo manufacturers have been following the standards since its adaptation in 1984.

There are also double DIN and one-and-a-half DIN sizes. Most double-DIN cars can fit a single DIN head unit with the help of a single DIN storage pocket. 

If you’re still not sure, see my full article, which discusses head unit sizes, as this is crucial in picking the right size stereo for your vehicle.

Note that the size only refers to the height and not width, and a larger DIN size isn’t necessarily better. Floating screen units allow for a large touchscreen regardless of the DIN size.

However, since single DIN head units don’t have a standardized depth, there may still be some compatibility problems.

The following is a list of some of the best single-DIN car stereos on the market:

Best Budget Pick: BOSS Audio Systems 616UAB

Boss is a well-established brand when it comes to cheap but good-quality car audio equipment, and the 616UAB stereo is the prime example. It doesn’t have any fancy features like Android Auto or CarPlay, but you wouldn’t expect it at this price point anyway.

It still features 3 convenient ways to hook up your music to the stereo — Bluetooth, USB, and AUX. We’ve come a long way in the world of car stereos, and it’s truly amazing that you can hook up your smartphone or even smartwatch wirelessly to play music.

If you don’t want to use Bluetooth because of potential interference or loss of audio quality, simply use the AUX or USB port. USB should work with any smartphone as long as you use the correct cable. Or you can use the good old AM/FM radio.

The stereo has all the other features you’d expect in a budget unit, such as a dimmable LCD screen with dimmable clicky buttons, a satisfying volume knob, and an instant mute button.

It’s great value and does what it says on the tin. If you’re looking for a cheap, traditional stereo with Bluetooth, this is the one to get.

Of course, you won’t get a touchscreen or navigation at this price point, which is to be expected. Surprisingly, it doesn’t have a CD slot, which would’ve been an excellent addition for the millennial crowd with large CD collections. You’ll have to resort to MP3 or WMA files loaded onto a USB dongle if playing music from your phone isn’t for you.

The audio quality from the preamp is great, and if your speakers can handle 50 W of power, they won’t distort, no matter how loud you turn it up.

Believe it or not, it even has an IR remote that allows you to effortlessly control it from the backseat.

It’s a standard single DIN unit, so it should fit almost any car with the provided bracket. So, this is the best single DIN radio value-wise.

Key Features

  •  4 x 50W speakers
  • Bluetooth, USB, and AUX
  • Dimmable LCD and buttons
  • Built-in microphone for calls
  • Dedicated mute button
  • IR remote

Pros

  • Bluetooth at a low price point
  • Decent sound quality
  • Great drop-in replacement for older cars
  • Multiple connectivity options
  • Great value

Cons

  • No CD port or SD reader
  • Non-detachable front panel
  • Screen not bright enough in daylight
  • Occasionally glitches out
  • Cheap build quality

Customer Feedback

Several customers have reported that their brand-new Boss stereo glitched out, but they got replacement units quickly, and their customer service is great overall. The included EQ settings are decent but nothing special. Most buyers use this unit to replace old stereos in aging cars to get Bluetooth and USB connectivity. Overall, the features and quality of this unit show an excellent bang for your buck.

Mid-tier & Best Overall: Pioneer DEH-S1000UB

Pioneer is renowned for its excellent quality in the car audio industry. In my article Boss vs Pioneer, I explain why you should go with Pioneer if you appreciate great build and sound quality.

The DEH-S1000UB is an older model, so it doesn’t have Bluetooth, but on the flip side, it does have a CD player. If you never plan to use Bluetooth because it doesn’t sound as good, then this is the best single DIN head unit for you.

The main selling point of this head unit is that it supports Android Music MTP over USB, and it works in conjunction with MITRAX. MITRAX is Pioneer’s proprietary technology that allows you to get a DJ listening experience. Songs fade and crossover into the next as they play, and there are even random sound effects sprinkled throughout. 

And Android MTP allows the stereo to fetch metadata about the music, displaying the name of the artist, the track, and the album. It allows you to fully control music from your phone.

The 24-bit DAC (digital-to-analog converter) ensures perfect lossless audio quality, and the preamp won’t distort, no matter how loud you crank it up.

The sound quality of this unit is some of the best at this price point. If you’re an audiophile, you’ll appreciate the 5-band EQ that’ll allow you to set up a sound profile that fits your music genres.

The volume knob is super satisfying to use and really shows how good Pioneer’s build quality is.

There’s also an auto shut-off feature, which is excellent in case you forget to turn it off, as it won’t drain your battery.

Also, the unit is notoriously tricky to install, but this depends on your car and wiring harness.

Key Features

  • 4 x 50W speakers
  • CD player
  • USB port that supports Android MTP, AUX
  • MITRAX support for DJ-style mixing
  • 24-bit DA converter
  • Detachable faceplate
  • Remote control

Pros

  • Excellent build quality
  • Great sound quality
  • Works well with Android over USB
  • 5-band custom EQ
  • Detachable faceplate
  • Unique listening experience with MITRAX

Cons

  • Difficult to install
  • Lacks Bluetooth and SD reader
  • Doesn’t work well with iPhones
  • Only 1 CD at a time
  • Antenna adapter not included

Customer Feedback

Several buyers have complained that it’s hard to install, and you may need to purchase additional adaptors to make it work as intended. It’s far from a drop-in replacement. You’ll also need to buy an antenna adapter if you want to, well, use it as a radio. Some of the wires may need soldering or be taped off, depending on your model. It also lacks some modern features.

However, users have praised it for its great sound and build quality.

High-end With Screen: Pyle PLTS78DUB 7″ Touchscreen


Here’s a relatively cheap stereo with a cool party trick — it has a folding 7″ touchscreen. Don’t get confused by the fact that it’s a single DIN unit because the screen folds down and can still fit within the 2″ (50 mm) slot. As a matter of fact, it’s the best single DIN head unit you can buy if you want a touchscreen without breaking the bank.

Admittedly, the sound and build quality aren’t as good as that of the Pioneer or Kenwood models from the list, but it’s on par with the Boss stereo.

The 7″ screen has a resolution of 1440x234p with a peak brightness of 400 nits. It’s arguably not bright enough in direct sunlight, but it works really well on cloudy days and at night. The coolest thing about the display is that you can use it to stream movies or YouTube from your phone. It goes without saying that you can play music from your library as well.

And you can do that over Bluetooth, USB, or the AUX plug. Despite the modern features, it also has an SD card reader and a CD player. The only major option this device doesn’t support is CarPlay or Android Auto, as it’s an aging model.

The 7″ screen also means that you can hook up a backup camera to it (sold separately), one of the most useful features a car interface can have. I use a backup camera every day when I park, and it’s much easier than relying on rear-view mirrors alone and more visual than just parking sensors.

There’s also an IR remote, so you can let the people in the back easily stream and control media.

The only major downside is the sound quality. It’s not horrible, but it’s not great, either. The EQ only allows you to boost or cut bass and treble, so forget about adjusting the midrange for vocal clarity. It’s a dealbreaker if you’re an audiophile, so you should go with the Kenwood unit below instead. 

Key Features

  • Up to 320W for speakers and subwoofer
  • 7″ motorized fold-out touchscreen
  • Supports both audio and video
  • Bluetooth, AUX, CD player, SD card reader
  • IR remote control
  • Backup camera support (sold separately)
  • Built-in microphone for hands-free calls

Pros

  • Screen is sharp, bright, and responsive
  • Many different connectivity options
  • Separate receiver display with dedicated buttons
  • Excellent value

Cons

  • Mediocre sound quality
  • Subpar EQ
  • Cheap build quality
  • No CarPlay or Android Auto
  • Software is glitchy
  • Hard to install into car
  • Not compatible with all dashboards

Customer Feedback

The instructions to mount the unit are decent but not perfect; you need a separate wiring harness and bezel. Some cars don’t have space for the screen, or you’ll have to keep it folded if the AC is on. The floating screen design looks cool and works well, but it’s somewhat flimsy and can break. Build quality is really cheap, and it sounds the way it looks.

The connectivity features are great, but CarPlay and Android Auto are missing because it’s an aging model. It works great for calls and wireless streaming via Bluetooth. The software is mediocre and glitchy, and quality control is not the best.

Honorable Mention: Kenwood KMMBT325


Here’s another great AM/FM radio from a brand with excellent pedigree. The Kenwood KMMBT325 is a Bluetooth-equipped unit that allows you to use your phone for remote control and hands-free calling.

The simple but intuitive design combined with a sleek volume knob is all that minimalists want or need from a car stereo. If you know Kenwood, then you know how good these stereos sound when combined with the right speakers. 

You can safely connect speakers much pricier than the unit itself, knowing that you can utilize them to their maximum potential. Why?

Because there’s a 13-band EQ!

It’ll allow you to fine-tune your custom preset exactly how you want it to sound. You can stream music from your phone via Bluetooth, and because you can connect 2 phones simultaneously, it makes for easy switching. This is perfect if you agree with your partner to take turns playing songs.

There are some drawbacks to this unit, though. It doesn’t have a CD player or SD card reader, and it doesn’t support Android Auto and CarPlay. And because it doesn’t have a CD player, it’s very short, so it should easily fit into any single DIN slot with the right mounting kit. You may need an extension cable if your cable is too short, though.

Key Features

  • 4 x 50W speakers
  • Bluetooth, auxiliary, USB
  • 13-band EQ with 6 presets
  • Free Alphasonik earbuds
  • Subwoofer controller
  • Excellent sound quality and preamplifier
  • Variable color LCD
  • Minimalist design

Pros

  • Excellent sound quality
  • Can get to maximum volume without distortion
  • Easy to use
  • Allows 2 simultaneous Bluetooth connections
  • Slim DIN depth allows for easy installation

Cons

  • Overpriced
  • May require extension cable to install
  • Lacks modern features like CarPlay and Android Auto
  • No CD player or SD card reader

Customer Feedback

Some buyers found it extremely easy to install, but others found it rather challenging; it ultimately depends on your make and model. The DIN head unit is rather short, so you may need an extension cable or wiring harness. But this allows for easier cable management. Also, the included documentation isn’t easy to follow.

The model has an incredible sound and build quality, even at high volumes.

What To Look For in a Single DIN Head Unit

All 4 stereos on the list are great options, so it largely depends on what you expect to get. So, how to know which one to pick?

Compatibility

There are several features you want to look for in a single DIN head unit, but the most important thing is to first ensure that it fits your car, no matter which model it is. Try to look for videos or posts by people with the same car and stereo you want to buy. 

In most cases, you won’t have to cut up your dashboard to make a stereo fit, as you can easily buy an installation kit for your particular car. Still, it’s best to make sure your stereo is compatible with both your car and your speakers.

Bluetooth

Bluetooth is one of the features to have on a single DIN unit. Due to the limited space available, most units don’t feature a touchscreen, which means no internet connection. 

This is where a smartphone can come in handy, as it easily allows you to stream music or podcasts in your car. Plus, Bluetooth makes it easy for the people in the back to connect.

USB

If a stereo doesn’t have Bluetooth or your smartphone’s battery dies, you must have USB. In addition to allowing you to very slowly charge your phone while playing music from it, it allows you to connect a USB dongle.

I didn’t want to include the 3.5 mm AUX on the list of features to look for, as it can be almost entirely replaced by USB, and most phones don’t have a 3.5mm jack anymore, anyway.

Touchscreen

Apple CarPlay Home Screen With iPhone
 

Touchscreens aren’t common in single DIN units because of their limited size. However, they’re not non-existent, as you saw above with the Pyle unit.

The only caveat is that the touchscreen is typically motorized, which looks really cool and futuristic, but it’s one more thing that can break. Still, the fact that you can watch a movie on it makes it almost irreplaceable.

And a touchscreen often means you can hook up a backup camera!

CD Player

If you’re old-school, you’ll want a CD player. Or even a cassette player! This isn’t a “hot” feature, and many manufacturers have abandoned it in recent years. However, there’s just something about the nostalgic charm of owning a catalog of albums and random CD compilations that appeals to so many people. 

Of course, most people looking for a stereo with a CD player already have a large collection of CDs, so you shouldn’t go out of your way to get one if you don’t plan to use it.

Sound Quality

Sound quality is an often overlooked “feature” in car stereos, which is ironic if you really think about it. However, it’s paramount to get a good-sounding stereo if you have great speakers. Unfortunately, there aren’t any hard and fast rules that would allow you to easily identify an audiophile-level stereo. But more often than not, stereos from established brands like Pioneer and Kenwood will sound better than Chinese clones.

How To Know a Single DIN Head Will Fit In Your Vehicle

The first step is to identify whether your car has a single DIN slot or something else. You can check your car’s manual, do a quick online search, or break out the ruler to ensure your current stereo is roughly 2″ tall by 7″ wide (50 mm x 180 mm). If it’s taller, that’s okay, but you’ll need to purchase an installation kit for your specific car model.

Ford KA Stereo Removed detail

Thankfully, almost all single DIN heads will fit in your vehicle. If you’re buying a model with a touchscreen, it goes without saying that you must ensure that there is enough space above the slot in your dashboard. If you’re not sure and can’t find any information online, my best advice is not to get one.

The last parameter you must check is depth. Check how deep the slot in your car is, and then make sure that the stereo isn’t longer than your slot.

For cars that don’t have a standard DIN slot, such as GM cars made before the 80s, your best bet is to buy an installation kit with a universal DIN pocket and a bracket. Note that this may involve cutting up your dashboard with a saw and/or filing it down to get a tight fit.

Frequently Asked Questions

Best Single Din Head Unit Brands?

The best single Din head unit brands are well-established audio brands like Kenwood, Pioneer, Alpine, JVC, and Clarion. These brands produce excellent stereos with outstanding build quality and sound. A great value brand is Boss, which isn’t as high-end as the other brands on the list, but it’s good enough. Similar to Blaupunkt car stereos, a well-known German car stereo brand.

Which Single DIN Car Stereo?

The Pioneer DEH-S1000UB is the best single DIN car stereo you can buy in terms of quality and price. It works well over USB and is easy to install in most cars.

Are Boss Car Stereos Any Good?

Boss car stereos are great, especially for people on a tight budget. They’re easy to install, have acceptable sound and build quality, and they’re packed with cutting-edge features. Some of their car stereos have Bluetooth for under $50.

Final Thoughts on the Best Single Din Head Unit

Getting a new single DIN car stereo doesn’t have to be stressful or expensive. To make for an easy drop-in upgrade, do some research on your particular car model to see if it’ll fit the stereo you like the most from this list. Have a great time listening to some of your favorite tracks when you’re done!

Other retailers:

All of the links throughout this article were liked to Amazon.com, as this is convenient for most people around the globe. However, please see each product listed below the other retailers:

BOSS Audio Systems 616UAB
Pioneer DEH-S1000UB
Pyle PLTS78DUB 7″ Touchscreen
Kenwood KMMBT325
Picture of Alex
Alex
I loved my car but was frustrated with my media system. So I upgraded my stereo, making silly wires and precarious phone mounts a thing of the past. The Apple Car Play stereo was so good I wanted to show more people how this could be done and truly upgrade their cars multimedia system! Founder StereoUpgrade.com
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