Best Single Din Head Unit Review: What To Look For When Buying One?

We spend an inordinate amount of time in our cars these days especially around city areas, traveling in traffic. Road trips are still a strong option for most people who prefer to travel in groups. The tried and tested go to entertainment during these in-car hours is your car stereo. Most car stereos come standard with the vehicle, but most of them only possess a few good features. Some vehicles don't have a stereo at all, and some are just too old and obsolete (e.g., Tape deck). If you fall into any of these categories, then you should consider a new single din head unit for your vehicle.

Product Name

Quality

Price

Out Rating

Reviews

Kenwood eXcelon KDC-X799

A

$$

GO

Alpine CDE-164BT

A

$$$

GO

JVC KDRD87BT

A+

$$

GO

Pioneer DEH-X6900BT

A

$$$

GO

Pioneer DEH-150MP

A-

$$$

GO

** Below, you'll find our more detailed reviews by click in "Reviews" column, but you can also click the links above to see current prices or read customer reviews on Amazon.com.

What are Single Din Head Units

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Single Din Head Units are car stereo systems that can be purchased and installed into the dash of your vehicle. The dimensions are roughly 180 x 50 mm for a single din and 180 x 100 for a double din.

A single din is compact and allows for another small storage compartment to fit under it while a double din is a more complete and neat look (usually much more expensive). They vary in features and price and most models do fit most vehicles.

What to Look For

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Single din head units have evolved quite a bit since the days of just plain radio. The latest models have an array of features and can communicate with your smartphone. This may be seen as a must for those you regard their smartphone or device as the center of their daily life.

CD and Radio aren't as important as it used to be but is still featured in all the units below. Some of the new standard features you can expect on the latest generation of models are USB and AUX inputs, Bluetooth Connectivity, and Smartphone Functionality (being able to control your smartphone).

See more: FAQs Subwoofer

Best Single Din Head Units To Buy

Kenwood eXcelon KDC-X799 


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(Image source: www.amazon.com)

The Excelon KDC-X799 is among the best units that Kenwood has to offer. It comes designed with the latest technology that goes into the making of these superb car radio head units. A good looking and a well-designed unit which also has a nice cd lid which protects the unit and your CDs from dust or scratches. A great looking car radio which has Variable Color Illumination. This gives you the option to change the color of the radio to suit the interior of your car.

You most likely won't have to choose CDs as your main source for music. The KDC-X799 has a wide range of media offerings available. Apart from its USB and AUX ports, it offers Bluetooth connectivity which gives you the option to stream music and take calls cable and hands-free. A really awesome feature is being able to charge and control an Android phone (Android version 4.1 and higher). iOS users can connect their iPhone or iPod directly with a purchase of an optional cable. Using SIRI hands and eyes free to select your music is possible (this is awesome!). There is also support for Pandora and iHeart Radio apps.


Pros

  • Looks Awesome
  • Android and iOS Smartphone compatible
  • Variable Color Illumination
  • Power Output 50W x 4
  • 5 Bank Equalizer

Cons

  • Display not as bright as expected
  • Steep Learning Curve

Alpine CDE-164BT


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(Image source: www.amazon.com)

The Amazing Alpine CDE-164BT is a high-end single din unit which comes out of Alpine's "Tune" range. Alpine also has a Tuneit App which uses your smartphone to communicate with the radio. This allows you to adjust the quality of your cars sounds within the app. It also will display Facebook notifications on the screen of the unit while playing a notification sound out of the speakers. This is very cool if you are a Facebook power user. You can also control your iPhone wirelessly with basic music controls, and you can take phone calls with the included microphone.

The CDE-164BT has all the great features of a high-end model single din head unit, just like the Kenwood eXcelon KDC-X799. The only downfall is the very high price. But that is expected if you wish to purchase a premium Alpine product. The unit doesn't just come with the looks and all the great features, but with the pedigree and performance, you would come to expect from Alpine. Lucky enough there are some great deals available online, and it is possible to get this unit at a good price similar to the Kenwood unit.


Pros

  • Premium Look
  • Full Feature set
  • Display can be set to 3 colors
  • Rating - 4.5
  • Power Output 50W x 4
  • 9 Band Parametric Equalizer

Cons

  • Tuneit app feels Underdeveloped
  • Interface and Display not Ergonomic

JVC KDRD87BT


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(Image source: www.amazon.com)

The JVC KDRD87BT is a solid addition to the world of single din head units. This particular unit is sleek, simple and heavy on features. This mid-range car radio comes ready with the usual USB and AUX input features and also as good support for smartphones. You will be able to connect your Android or iOS phone to the radio via USB and jam to the beats on your phone while it charges up.

JVC car stereos are a fan favorite, but they have seen some very unfavorable reviews from fans in recent years especially with their budget range of head units. One of the main complaints from customers is the build quality and lack of features. It seems that JVC has worked very hard at expelling those problems with this model. And the result is a delightful device that not only looks great but has a great build quality and feature set.


Pros

  • Lots of features for the price
  • Amazing Bluetooth Music Playback
  • Smartphone charging and compatibility
  • Rating: 4.8 stars
  • Built-in Microphone works great
  • Works perfectly via Bluetooth with Android/iPhones

Cons

  • Connecting phones to the unit can be buggy at times

Pioneer DEH-X6900BT


best-single-din-head-unit

(Image source: www.amazon.com)

An Amazing single din head unit at an amazing price! Yes, the Pioneer DEH-X6900BT comes with great features at a great price, just like its JVC rival. The difference being, however, is seen in Pioneer's Sleek looking ARC App for smartphones. The app connects your phone to the unit and offers advanced sound controls and also allows you to browse and play music from your device's library. Another revolutionary feature is Pioneer's MIXTRAX which mixes your music from your playlist like a DJ with professional effects from Pioneer's DJ Division.

The previous model (DEH-X6900BT) was a huge fan favorite. It is liked by both car audio enthusiasts and your average consumer for its style, apps, and features. The new DEH-X6900BT is a genuine upgrade in style (with no major upgrade in price) and now has support for the Spotify app.


Pros

  • Great Price
  • MIXTRAX which mixes your music
  • Premium design
  • Rating - 4.5
  • Power Output 50W x 4
  • 13 Band Equalizer

Cons

  • Partial Spotify Support and needs Premium account
  • USB Browser is confusing at times

Pioneer DEH-150MP


best-single-din-head-unit

(Image source: www.amazon.com)

The Pioneer DEH-150MP Single din head unit is one of the best picks of budget units on the market. You get a good build and sound quality at a very reasonable price. It does exhibit some of Pioneer's premium quality finishes, but the aluminum trim and bright illumination are a bit flashy and a small step in a different direction to Pioneer in terms of their usual design.

What this car stereo lacks are features as it only comes with a handful of features like MP3/WMA playback Via CD and AUX input. There's no USB or Bluetooth or smartphone integration. Yes the features are sufficient given the price, but the unit could have benefited greatly having USB as an additional feature. On the upside, it does come with a nifty little remote control.

This is a good, if not best budget car head unit out there. It only just provides the basics and is perfect for those who are not looking to draw too much of attention to their car.


Pros

  • Really low price
  • Good performance for the price
  • Remote Control
  • Rating - 4.5
  • Power Output 50W x 4
  • 5 Band Equalizer

Cons

  • No USB
  • Controls feel cheap

Verdict

A great list of great car stereos. All of the manufacturers above have been producing quality car stereos and sound for decades. Although this segment is saturated with high-quality units boasting the same features, If you really know your needs, then you will be able to find a stereo that suits you and your lifestyle.

The Alpine CDE-164BT is a good choice for users looking for a premium car stereo to suit their premium needs. It has all the high-end features and looks amazing. This will be a good replacement unit for an old luxury vehicle. The Pioneer DEH-150MP is the cheapest on the list and is ideal for those who just need something decent for a business vehicle. It is also for those who travel through dangerous areas and don't need something too expensive.

The best all rounder single din head unit on this list has to be the Pioneer DEH-X6900BT. It is absolutely well priced and offers similar features to that of it much more expensive rivals. The MIXTRAX is an innovative feature and Pioneer's experience in the DJ field will ensure that the algorithm put into the internal software will be spot on. It also has a premium finish and design which will make it look the part in almost any vehicle.

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