Not so long ago, head units were used only to play music from phones and CDs.
Those days are gone, and modern head units (especially double din units) come with many extra features such as GPS, touchscreen, backup camera, better equalization options, and Android auto/Apple CarPlay support.
However, many people still hesitate to upgrade to 3rd-party car stereos due to their price and lengthy installation process.
While it is true that car stereos are getting difficult to replace these days (you’ll probably need a mechanic’s assistance), not all of them are expensive.
To prove my point, we’ll discuss the best budget double din head units available in 2022.
- Bluetooth - Answer / make calls and be hands-free with no distractions. The built-in...
- Media Playback - Watch your choice of videos through the DVD player, play music through...
- Auxiliary - Compatible with the audio output from smartphones as well as MP3 Players
The first head unit is the BV9358B by BOSS Audio. It has a 6.2-inch TFT display with 800×480 screen resolution, a 4:3 aspect ratio, and 460 cd/㎡ brightness. The contrast ratio is 500:1.
On the right side of the display, you can find different buttons for functions like power/mute, band, menu, eject, etc. The internal microphone is located in the top-right corner. And the front, rear, and subwoofer pre-amp RCA outputs are on the backside.
Since this is a relatively older head unit, it still supports CDs/DVDs. You’ll have to press the EJECT button on the right side, and the tray will eject from the above side of the display.
The other input options include AUX input, USB, AM/FM radio, Bluetooth, and SD card.
What I Liked
The equalization and fade/balance controls are top-notch. Using these, you can adjust the sound frequencies according to your taste and have them centered around you (driver’s seat).
The Bluetooth connectivity allows you to make hands-free calls and stream music through your phone via apps like Spotify and Pandora.
The BV9358B also supports steering wheel controls through which you can control the head unit from your steering wheel control buttons. However, it requires an additional interface sold separately.
You also get a wireless remote control that you can use to adjust these settings from the backseat. Or even from the outside of your vehicle.
What I Didn’t
The microphone quality is not good. During calls, people do not properly hear your voice in many cases. There’s no way to increase the sensitivity either. Therefore, I won’t recommend this head unit for extensive hands-free calling.
There’s no navigation and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto support, too.
Another thing I noticed is that the volume level gets reset or goes to level 1 every time you restart the radio. Some users have also reported that occasionally the radio turns itself off and restarts with factory settings. And there is some delay when you switch to/from the backup camera.
The BOSS BV9358B is arguably the cheapest double din head unit you can have right now. That’s why it has a fair share of issues – just like any budget product.
So, if those issues are a deal-breaker for you (CarPlay, for example), you should spend some extra money and go with other options in this roundup.
But if you’re on extra tight and using a factory audio system, this head unit can be a nice upgrade.
ATOTO A6 PF – Best Budget Double Din Head Unit with Android Auto
- 【High Performance】As the upgraded and enhanced successor to the popular A6 Y & A6...
- 【3 Internet Accesses & Dual Bluetooth】Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and USB (typically, Android car...
- 【CarPlay, Android Auto & MirrorLink】Wired and WIRELESS CarPlay/Android Auto. Run...
The ATOTO A6 PF is a great entry-level head unit if you want the Android Auto or Apple CarPlay in your vehicle.
The first thing you’ll notice is how slim it is. It looks more like a tablet than a double din head unit. It’s based on Android 10.0 and powered by 8-Core ARM Cortex A55 with 2GB RAM.
It has a 7-inch IPS touchscreen display (up to 5 touches) with 1024×600 screen resolution, 178° viewing angles, and 600 cd/m2 brightness.
It has physical buttons below the display. While these buttons may feel a little old-fashioned, they’re preferred by many because of their tactile feedback.
On the left-side corners, you’ll find the built-in mic and reset button. On the backside, we have the usual inputs and the heatsink.
There are no RCA pre-outs which is surprising for an aftermarket head unit. Instead, you get two speak-level to RCA-level converters.
What I Liked
There are three methods to connect ATOTO A6 PF to internet. You can do it via your phone’s WiFi (with 2.4/5GHz Bands), Bluetooth tethering, or USB tethering. The USB option is my favorite as it charges the phone battery while you’re utilizing the internet.
For sound processing, you get a 36-band EQ, bass boost, and DSP functionalities such as time correction and speed compensation volume. It provides 4x45W to your speakers and has 4x24W pre-outs.
It supports both Android Auto and Apple Carplay, but I prefer the former as AOTO has said to have tested 1000 PlayStore apps with this head unit.
According to ATOTO, the boot time is 2 seconds. In my testing, I managed to do it in a more or less similar time. The app loading time is also pretty good for its price.
Lastly, you get many additional wirings and accessories. It includes a GPS antenna, external microphone, reverse camera input, amp trigger wire, front camera input, and multiple ISO connectors.
What I Didn’t
The first thing I didn’t like was speaker-level outputs. While you get two hi-lo converters, they make the installation process a little lengthy and potentially add more points of failure.
There’s no anti-glare coating on the screen to make it more visible under direct sunlight.
Another annoying ‘feature’ is the bleep sound everytime you touch the display. I later found that this is common in all ATOTO head units. But it’s not a big issue, and you can simply turn it off by going to Settings > Device > Touch Sound.
Honestly, it’s not common to get so many features in a head unit at this price. Sure, there are some minor drawbacks, but ATOTO A6 PF is a great bang for its buck as a whole. And I’d particularly recommend it for Android Auto.
JVC KW-M560BT – Best Budget Double Din Head Unit with Apple Carplay
- GENERAL FEATURES: Digital receiver with AM/FM tuner with 6.75" capacitive touch screen...
- BLUETOOTH and SMARTPHONE FEATURES: Built-in Bluetooth for hands-free calling and audio...
- AUDIO/VIDEO FEATURES: 13-band equalizer with digital time alignment and subwoofer level,...
The last budget double din stereo of this roundup is the JVC KW-M560BT.
Based on a 6.8-inch touchscreen, it has no physical buttons. But you get some touch buttons (volume up/down, fnc, home, etc.) on the right side of the display.
It has a shallow depth which makes it more compatible with newer vehicles.
On the backside, there are ISO connectors, FM antenna, camera input, RCA inputs, etc. These ISO connectors are plug-n-play in nature, so you don’t waste any time matching the wires harnesses.
What I Liked
The M560BT supports a decent number of file formats, such as MP3, WMA, WAV, AAC, and ALAC. For video files, you get MPEG-4, H.264, AVI, MKV, etc.
The sound equalization features are also extensive. Not only do you get a 13-band graphical EQ, but other controls such as volume offset, bass boost, fader/balance controls, and crossover settings also come in handy.
In each of these settings, you get further options for customization. For example, you can change high-pass filter frequency, cut-off slop, and gain in the crossover settings.
The UI is beginner-friendly. There are six main options on the home screen. The AM/FM radio tuner, Carplay, and App buttons on the left, and Phone, Settings, and USB Mirroring buttons on the right.
For extra apps, the M560BT supports both Carplay and Android Auto. But if you don’t want to use any of them, you can still mirror your Android device through the ‘Mirroring OA for JVC’ app available on Playstore.
Of course, this app is limited compared to Carplay/Auto, but you still get the likes of Waze, Youtube, and Instagram.
What I Didn’t
While’s no major problem in JVC-M560BT, I noted some minor issues.
First, there can be some screen glare at particular angles or in the sunlight. Then, there’s only a single RCA input for the subwoofer, and there’s a slight system lag when switching to/from the backup camera.
There’s no volume knob and tactile buttons which may or may not be an issue depending on your preference.
Lastly, some users have reported that you cannot play music from any other Bluetooth source if you’re using Apple Carplay. And that you must disconnect your phone first.
At almost 350 bucks, this head unit roughly stretches the idea of a ‘budget’ head unit.
But still, it’s great for its price- especially when you consider things like ease of installation, good radio reception, user-friendly UI, a no-lag CarPlay connectivity, and different EQ options.