When you’re tinkering and upgrading your car’s sound system, there are plenty of areas of improvement to consider. You’ve probably already upgraded your speakers and your cables. You’ve perhaps even installed a subwoofer, along with all the necessary amplifier equipment.
However, it doesn’t matter what you upgrade or invest in around these areas; if you forget to take a look at your head unit, you’ll be limited to the experience you can create from the start. The head unit of your car is responsible for producing and managing your audio source, so if it’s not right here, it’s not going to be right in any other area of your sound system.
There are plenty of things you’ll want to be thinking about when it comes to purchasing a head unit. For example, you’ll want to make sure it has all the connections you’re going to want to be using, and that these connections are compatible with the hardware you’re going to be using.
Once connected, the second consideration you’ll have is making sure you can play the music you want to play; whether this is through a built-in music player or streaming service, a USB or AUX connection, or even classic CDs. Whatever you want to play, you’ll need to make sure it’s possible.
Today, we’re going help you take a load off your shoulders when it comes to finding the best head unit for your car. We’ve searched far and wide across the market at everything that’s out there, finally narrowing down our selection to just four of the best.
We’ve taken everything you’ll want to consider into account, including the connectivity and playback functions, as well as quality, durability and, perhaps most importantly, price. So, without further ado, let’s jump straight into it!
Kenwood DMX110BT 6.8-Inch Double-Din Touchscreen Car Stereo Receiver
Starting off our list, we’ve chosen one of the most popular and renowned car audio brands in the industry; Kenwood. Whether you’re buying head units or speaker systems, Kenwood will continue to appear over and over again with their extensive range of products.
In this case, we’ve singled out the DMX110BT. This model is one of the highest rated Kenwood products on the market, sporting a 6.8” touchscreen and blue back-lit keys around the outside and bottom of the screen.
You’ll find all the connectivity options you’ll ever need here, including USB, MP3 Aux, a dedicated iPhone/iPad connection port, AM/FM radio and Bluetooth.
Regarding the specs of this head unit, it runs on Android AOA, which is a dedicated Android firmware especially for car units such as this. The interface is easy to use with large keys, although there’s no mute button, and everything is clearly labeled, so you’ll be able to find the exact feature and function you’re looking for with ease.
You’ll also love that this unit also has the ability to connect to a rear-view reversing camera. This means you can link this head unit up to provide you with reverse parking assist so you can see where you’re going; which is a nice touch. However, note that there are only ports for one front camera and one rear camera, although this should be an ample amount for most vehicles.
All in all, we know you’ll really love the simplistic yet feature-rich design of this head unit. It’s got all the features you could want in a head unit, plus all the extras, and all for a fantastic price.
- Easy to install
- The great user interface on the screen
- Comes with a ton of connectivity options, including for two camera ports
- Highly responsive 6.8-inch touchscreen and physical buttons
- No dedicated mute button
Pioneer Double-Din In-Dash Car Stereo Receiver
Pioneer is another fantastic manufacturer of all things audio; the experience of which is evident in this double-din car stereo receiver. This particular model is incredibly affordable, and although it doesn’t come with a touchscreen, the user interface is easy to learn and simple to navigate.
This is all thanks to their high-visibility back-lit button interface that’s designed with a stunning green aesthetic glow. That ensures this head unit is still easy to use if you’re driving in low-light or nighttime conditions.
Regarding connectivity, you’ll be able to use the Bluetooth features for music and in-car calls (hands-free), as well as taking advantage of the three RCA pre-outs, each one measuring in at 2-volts. While the only thing missing here is a connection for reversing camera, this is primarily a device you’ll use for entertainment purposes, a purpose it excels in.
If you want to stream your music from the internet, you can do so using the integrated Spotify and Pandora streaming services; but these are the only two supported services on the head unit. If you’re connecting a device using the USB, AUX or MP3 ports, you can support all file formats up to and including FLAC.
What you’ll love the most about this Pioneer head unit is the fact that it’s so affordable and comes with all the features and functions you would expect from a professional premium unit. It’s easy to install, reliable and comes with all the features and connection ports you could ask for in an in-car entertainment device.
- FLAC audio files supported
- An incredibly affordable head unit
- Integrated Spotify and Pandora streaming services
- Easy to use navigational buttons
- No touchscreen controls
- No reverse camera compatibility
Sony XAV-AX100 6.4” Car Play/Android Auto Media Receiver
While this unit might be pricey than some of the others on this list, we’ve chosen the Sony XAV-AX100 for some very good reasons. Most importantly, this is easily one of the best audio and entertainment experiences you’ll be able to get from an in-car head unit, and easily one of our favorites available today.
With this media center, you’ll be able to connect up to your phone (both Android and iOS) and then you can use your phone to voice control what features and functions you want to use on the head unit. Otherwise, you can stick with using the touchscreen controls, which are equally as easy to use.
You’ll also adore the fact that this head unit comes with four integrated 55-watt Dynamic Reality amps for connecting up your speakers. These come complete with their own audio level adjustment settings, which give you control within -8dB and +18dB.
Since this head unit runs on Android software, you’ll have access to many of your favorite apps, including Google Map navigation (GPS), phone and message services, audiobooks and music and even the ability to download, stream and listen to podcasts. The unit even comes with Apple CarPlay, so you can connect up your iPhone just as easily as an Android device. However, do note that there’s no AUX lead connection, but this shouldn’t cause any problems since every modern device has Bluetooth built-in.
One of the best features of this unit is that it comes built ready for rear camera integration, and even comes with a 10-band equalizer, so you can sculpt your music the way you want to listen to it. As you can see, this is true in-car entertainment like you’ve never seen it before, and it really doesn’t get much better than it.
- Rear camera port integration and reverse assist ready
- Built-in graphical 10-band equalizer
- Comes with built-in software for running Android and iOS devices
- Comes with Google Maps GPS navigation software
- No 3.5mm Aux input
- No ability to change color or interface theme
Eonon Double-Din Car Radio Stereo Head Unit
To conclude our list, we’ve chosen this beautifully sleek Eonon head unit which is both affordable and comes with all the features and functions you’d expect on a leading head unit. If you’re looking for a premium entertainment experience for an affordable price, you’re going to love this one!
Built into this head unit, you’ll find an incredible 4GB RAM (which is more than a lot of laptops have), and a 32GB ROM which means you’ll have access to all your favorite apps and entertainment features. Even Netflix and Amazon Prime Video are available as a streaming service, making this one of the most connected entertainment systems around!
However, our favorite feature on this device was the split-screen feature. This means you can have two apps open at once, like music and GPS navigation, making it easy for you to maintain what you’re doing while you’re driving. This then helps you access everything you want, all while maximizing the levels of safety while you’re driving.
You’ll even find all the connection options you’d be looking for, including USB, AM/FM radio signals, Aux lead, and dedicated iOS connection. There’s also Bluetooth, and the ability to connect a 3G/4G dongle to provide the internet connection you need for many of the apps.
All in all, this is the most feature-packed device, and the fact you can download and run apps from the Play Store means the possibilities are practically limitless. When you first receive your unit, you’re going to need to update the firmware so it’s running the current version, but this means simply connecting it to your dongle or Wi-Fi at home. In short, for a complete entertainment head unit, it doesn’t get much better than this.
- Millions of possible apps to download through the Google Play Store
- Supports 3/4G dongles for internet connectivity
- A ton of connectivity options including AUX, USB, and MP3 iOS
- Split-screen mode to run two apps at the same time
- Will need a large firmware update before doing anything
- Many apps require an internet connection
If you’re looking for a head unit to provide you with an awesome audio experience in your car, it’s safe to say there’s plenty of options out there for you to choose from. Any of the four head units we’ve listed above will provide you with an ultimate experience, so simply pick the one that’s best for you!