As a car audio enthusiast, I’ve spent countless hours researching and testing various head units to find the best of the best for 2023.
After weeks of trying out different models, I have compiled my list of the very best single DIN head unit available this year.
Each one offers amazing sound quality, user-friendly controls, and stylish designs. Whether you’re looking for the ultimate audio experience or just want an upgrade to your current system, these head units are sure to satisfy.
Top 5 Best Single DIN Head Units of 2023
- Pioneer MVH-S310BT – Most Powerful Single DIN Stereo
- Kenwood KMM-BT325 – Best Single DIN Car Stereo for Sound Quality
- BOSS Audio Systems 616UAB (Best Cheap Single Din Head Unit 2023)
- Pioneer SPH10BT (Best Pioneer Single Din Radio 2023)
- JENSEN J1CA9 (Best Single Din Stereo with Apple CarPlay 2023)
Pioneer MVH-S310BT— Most Powerful Single DIN Radio
With the Pioneer MVH-S310BT, you can enjoy superior sound quality and full control of the Pandora experience in your car. The display of the receiver lets you easily thumbs up or down songs, bookmark tracks to purchase later, switch between stations, and view full track data and album art.
Mixtrax – With MIXTRAX, Pioneer has created a unique DJ-inspired listening experience for your car. This innovative technology remixes your music library with transitions and effects, giving you a virtual DJ inside your receiver. MIXTRAX is quick and easy to use, making automatic remixing of tracks a breeze. Experience your music in a whole new way with Pioneer’s MVH-S310BT Single Din Stereo. Plus, there are multiple patterns of lighting to choose from, making your drive an even more exciting experience.
Compatible with iPhones and Android – With support for Apple iOS and Android devices, this stereo lets you enjoy your favorite music apps like Pandora Radio with enhanced sound quality. This single din stereo also supports Spotify, so you can access all of your favorite music with just a few clicks. Whether you’re listening to classic tracks or the latest hits, the MVH-S310BT will deliver unbeatable sound quality.
Versatile and user-friendly, When you’re driving, it can be hard to focus on both the road ahead and your phone. That’s where Pioneer’s MVH-S310BT Single Din Stereo comes in! This handy device offers hands free calling as well as audio streaming.
Android Music Support – Pioneer MVH-S310BT Single Din Stereo is perfect for Android users looking to play music stored on their device. The receiver recognizes Android smartphones as music storage devices using Media Transfer Protocol (MTP), allowing users to access music via USB and operate basic operations like FF, REW, Play, Pause, Random Play, and Repeat. Metadata information like track, artist, and album name is displayed.
Support High Resolution FLAC files – This stereo has amazing sound reproduction, allowing you to play FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec) files which are 50-60% smaller than WAV files, but still retain the integrity of the original sound sources. With its ability to playback FLAC files at up to 44.1khz sampling frequency and 16-bit bitrate, you’ll be able to enjoy your music like never before. Also, the built-in USB Auto Switch feature is perfect for anyone who likes to keep their devices charged.
- Easy to use and simple installation
- Automatic dimmer settings
- Sound Quality is clear and loud
- Built-in EQ, subwoofer control, bass boost, loudness
- Bluetooth Connection is rock solid
- Physical Volume Knob and button quality is quite good
- No built-in CD player
- Little laggy
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Related Posts – Best Double DIN Head Unit of 2023
Kenwood KMM-BT325 – Best Single DIN Head Unit for Sound Quality
The KMM-BT325 is Kenwood’s latest addition to their line of Bluetooth car receivers. This stereo has two physical buttons on the front, making it easy to access hands-free calling and music streaming. If you’re looking for a receiver with convenience in mind, look no further. The KMM-BT325 also comes with the Kenwood Remote app, which gives you control over your music and receiver settings from your smartphone.
Spotify and Pandora Compatible – With the ability to control Spotify and Pandora directly from the head unit, as well as access saved music on devices plugged into the USB input, this product gives you complete control over your listening experience.
Quick Connects with Bluetooth- The Kenwood KMM-BT325U gives you the power to share your music with multiple friends. With Music Mix, you can pair five Bluetooth-enabled devices and take turns picking your favorite tunes. And for hands-free calling, this stereo lets you switch between two phones in seconds. Plus, the included Remote app lets you control all of the stereo’s features from your iPhone or Android phone.
Great Audio Quality – Kenwood KMM-BT325U is perfect for sound quality enthusiasts. It offers playback support of various types of music formats, including compatibility with FLAC files. Additionally, it has a built-in 13-Band EQ and Digital Time Alignment to allow for simple sound customization.
Short Chassis Design – The Kenwood KMM-BT325U is a short but spacious car audio receiver. The installation process has been made easier because of its wide range compatibility, which means you can fit this powerful unit in more cars than ever before.
Support High Resolution Files – The Kenwood KMM-BT325U is the perfect choice for those looking to upgrade their car audio system with high quality tunes. The interface makes navigation easy too – just choose where in my library I want to go next based on songs played most often or artists that interest me most at present time.
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- Bluetooth automatically connect with the phone
- Three PreAmp outs which might helps to get better sound quality
- Front USB port helps easily connect phone with receiver
- Display is pretty bright and each color can be customized.
- No remote controls, No case for face,
- No auto dimming function, which may cause some irritation while driving
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BOSS Audio Systems 616UAB – Best Budget Single Din Head Unit
The first head unit we’ll discuss is the BOSS Audio System’s 616UA – a basic but solid replacement for your factory stereo.
It features a simple design with a small LCD in the middle and control buttons on either side. Yes, this basic LCD feels inferior to the touchscreens found in high-end head units, it puts much less strain on your car battery.
On the left side, there’s a multi-purpose knob located between four buttons. You can use this knob for volume control, EQ presets, and turning the head unit off.
Out of those four, the SRC button is main and located at the bottom right corner. It can be used to select between different inputs as the music source, such as Radio, Bluetooth (only if you’ve already paired your phone), USB (only when a USB is connected), SD card, and AUX.
There’s no option for CDs/DVDs, however.
The right side of the display has an AUX-in jack, USB port, SD card slot, and six other buttons for functions like intro scan, play/pause, repeat, etc.
Lastly, the backside has front and rear output controls, a fuse, and harness connectors.
If you’ve ever tested a factory head unit, you’ll know that you get distortion when you go slightly beyond half of the top volume level. But fortunately, that’s not the case here. I turned the volume knob to three-quarters, and there were still no signs of distortion.
The other features I liked here are hands-free calling and Spotify/pandora wireless streaming.
The same can’t be said about the RCA preamp voltage as I got only 2V at full volume. It means your amp will have to work harder to fully power the speakers. But that’s kind of expected in all budget head units.
The other thing I didn’t like is the very low brightness of the LCD. Even at a ‘High’ level, you only get decent brightness level. And at the ‘Low’ level makes the screen almost blank. It means you’ll have some difficulty using the screen during daylight.
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Pioneer SPH10BT – Best Pioneer Single Din Head Unit
Our next best single DIN stereo is the Pioneer SPH10BT.
It was released in 2019, and the minimalist design sort of indicates that. Yes, there are three buttons on each side of a small-sized display; but the color scheme and the finishing give it a pretty modern look.
From left to right, these buttons are used to select the music source, Siri/Google Voice, Navigation, messaging, make/receive calls, and application launch.
Like the BOSS 616UAB, the SPH10BT is a digital media receiver and does not play CDs and DVDs. Instead, it relies on Bluetooth, FM, and USB (USB drive + phone connected via USB port) connectivity. One big advantage it has over the 616UAB is the support for lossless file formats like FLAC and WMA.
But the flagship feature of SPH10BT is its smartphone integration. To use this feature, you’ll have to download the Pioneer Smart Sync app first. In the meantime, connect your phone to the pioneer head unit via Bluetooth.
After opening the app and giving it the necessary permissions, press and hold the telephone button on the head unit for a couple of seconds. This will start the integration process.
You can also use a USB connection for this purpose, but there will be some additional steps involved. First, you’ll need to go to the system menu by pressing and holding the ‘home’ button for some seconds.
Now press the arrow to the right until you see ‘SYSTEM’ on the LCD screen. Click on the home button again and continue to press the right arrow until you see ‘APP CTL’ on display. Click the home button again and change its value from ‘BT’ to ‘WIRED’.
One big advantage of a wired connection is the USB charging at 1.5A power you’ll get during that whole time.
Whatever route you took, now remove the front faceplate of the head unit after making the connection. It allows you to pull the ‘cradle’ out and use it as the base for your phone.
The cradle is flexible enough to accommodate phones with different screen sizes, and its clamps hold a phone with enough force to not let it fall off.
That’s it. Now you can use your smartphone screen for things like navigation (it supports Apple Maps, Google maps, and Waze), have the hands-free calling, and reply to messages through your voice.
Other features of this app include a 31-band EQ, Easy sound fit (set up time alignment), and message reading. You can think of a basic version of Carplay or Android Auto.
If we talk about downsides, the biggest ones are the lack of an AUX port and volume knob. Yes, you do get volume control buttons, but they’re annoying and adjusting volume through them is slower when compared to a knob.
JENSEN J1CA9 – Best Single Din Head Unit with Apple CarPlay
The head units we have discussed so far belong to the lower/middle tier of the head unit hierarchy.
But what if you have more budget?
Well, in that case, you can check out the Jensen J1CA9.
It’s way more expensive than any other model in this roundup. But considering the extra features and high performance level, this price tag is more or less justified.
The first thing that sets it apart is the 9-inch LCD screen – something you usually get in double-DIN models. This screen has a 1024×600 resolution and adjustable depth for better compatibility with different vehicles. Moreover, you can tilt it up to 12° in the left/right direction and up to 25° upward/downward for better viewing angles.
All of the buttons are located below this screen. On the left, there’s a voice activation button and a source/home button. On the right, there’s a ‘previous’ and a ‘next’ button for soundtracks. In the middle, there’s the volume button that can be ued for muting and turning the head unit on/off too.
The USB port is on the bottom of the left side of the display.
The most important feature of this head unit is the Apple carplay and Android auto compatibility. With these features, you can mirror your iPhone/Android phone’s screen on your car stereo screen and control it via voice commands or touchscreen. The most common features of these two technologies include turn-by-turn directions, hands-free calling, and streaming music/podcasts.
Some other things I liked in this head unit are the steering control inputs, three 4V pre-amp RCA outputs (for the front, rear, and subwoofer), 8-band EQ, time-alignment functionality, and a one-year warranty if things go wrong. You also get backup camera inputs, but the camera itself is sold separately.
The only potential downside I can think of here is the extra screen brightness, even at low levels. It doesn’t matter much during daylight, but it can be distracting if you drive frequently at night.
Related Post – Single DIN vs Double DIN Head Units
Top 6 Best Car Stereo Brands In The World
There are a lot of different car stereo brands in the world. Some are better than others. Here is a list of the best car stereo brands in the world.
1. Pioneer Car Stereo
When it comes to car stereos, there’s really no better brand than Pioneer. The company currently owns 51% market share and 32%. If you drive an Asian or European vehicle (even some American ones), then chances are good that they came with a stereo from the factory especially if it’s high end!
Alpine is the second best most popular car stereo brand in the world, but they are very different from Pioneer. In fact, most people would probably put them at number 2 on the list of worst car stereo brands because their stereos aren’t as reliable as some other brands out there. However, a lot of people buy Alpine car stereos because they offer a higher level of performance than most other brands.
Their sound quality is high and their features are unique. If you have heard one before, then you know exactly what we’re talking about. Even though these stereos do not last as long as the Pioneer ones, there is still a large market for Alpine car stereos.
Sony is a well-known car stereo brand that has been around for over 50 years. They make up the third best market share in terms of popularity, only behind Pioneer and Alpine who account themselves at 85% each! More than 55 percent (or all) OEM stereos come with one installed which means they’re an easy choice if you want something reliable without breaking your bank account alongside being able use them easily too – especially since there’s less hassle installing this type component compared others I’ve tried before
JVC is the fourth most popular car stereo brand in the world. They are also polar opposite of Pioneer and Alpine just like Sony. Like Sony, they are reliable, affordable, and easy to use (especially for OEM). More than 45% of all OEM car stereos come with a JVC which means that a large portion of cars come with a JVC from the factory.
Kenwood is the fifth most popular car stereo brand in the world. They are also polar opposite of Pioneer and Alpine just like Sony. However, their market share isn’t nearly as high as either Pioneer or Alpine. This is because they have only been around since 1973 when it was founded. Despite being newer than Pioneer or Alpine, they offer good solid products at good prices that are also easy to use (like Sony). About 40% of all factory installed car stereos come with a Kenwood.
6.BOSS Audio Systems
BOSS Audio Systems is the sixth best car stereo brand in the world. They offer a lot of features for low prices, but sound quality isn’t as great as most other brands out there. In fact, it’s so bad that even Sony offers better sound quality for equal or lower costs. Because they have poor sound quality, their market share is only at 9% of the entire aftermarket car stereo industry.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Head Unit Brand is the Best?
Pioneer, Kenwood, Alpine, Sony, and JVC are some of the most popular head unit brands.
Does a Better Head Unit Affect Sound Quality?
Yes, a high-quality head unit can give you a louder and detailed sound.
How Can I Make my Factory Head Unit Sound Better?
Even if you don’t want to replace your factory radio, there are a few steps you can follow to improve car audio sound. These includes upgrading your factory speakers, adding 3rd-party amp/sub, adding sound-deadening material, etc.
Are All Single DIN Radios the Same?
Not really. Some single-din radios come with a small LCD and a few basic features, while other premium models are equipped with features like touchscreen, map navigation, and CarPlay connectivity.
How Much Does it Cost to Install a Single DIN radio?
It depends on the total time consumed in the installation process and reputation of the mechanic you’ve hired. During my research, I found that the $100-$150 is the average cost these days.
Do I Need an Amp with my Head Unit?
While a 3rd-party amp is essential for a louder car sound, it’s not compulsory when you’re installing a new head unit.
Is it Worth Upgrading Head Unit?
Due to their connectivity options, better preamp voltage, and other high-end features, 3rd-party head units are totally worth it if you’ve already replaced the factory speakers and sub.
What is the Best Sound Setting for a Car Stereo?
It depends on the type of music you consume mostly. If you’ve prefer genres like hip-hop and EDM, you should boost your bass and mids. On the other hand, if you listen to a variety of different genres and some podcasts, a neutral setting would suit you better.
How do I Choose a New Head Unit?
The main factors you should look for in a new head unit are its compatibility with your vehicle, its size, its power consumption, and your budget.