single din vs. double din head unit

It’s a well-known fact that car manufacturers don’t care much about the quality of sound their vehicle’s stereo system will produce.

It means that unless you own a luxury car, you’ll get mediocre sound at best.

The head unit is one of the main components of a car sound system. And like OEM speakers, OEM head units suck from the performance point of view.

The good thing is that there are many aftermarket head units you can upgrade to for a better experience. But if you’ve ever researched about such head units, you’ll know that all of them are not equal. Many factors differentiate one model from another, with one of the biggest being ‘DIN size”.

DIN refers to the standard developed by a German organization called Deutsches Institut fur Normung (DIN) for car head units and is adopted by ISO (International Standards Organization) as ISO 7736.

And which one you should go for depends on what DIN slot your vehicle has.

Single DIN Head Units

The head units that come with 2 inches height and 7 inches width are called single DIN head units.

These units are known for their simplicity and relatively cheaper price. Having a compact design means they can easily fit into a variety of car models.

Double DIN Head Units

On the other hand, double din head units are the ones that come with 4 inches in height and 7 inches in width. These head units are twice as bigger their single DIN counterparts but have the same width.

It also implies that while you can install a single DIN head unit in double-DIN slot of your car, the opposite is not physically possible.

Single vs Double DIN Head Units

Since DIN standard is all about size, it has nothing to do with the sound quality. A single DIN stereo from a well-known brand is far better than a double-DIN model from a 2nd-grade manufacturer.

That being said, double DIN head units usually come with extra advanced features such as HD Touchscreen, DVD player, and easy controls (due to bigger size).

The touchscreen is a big factor here as it allows better smartphone integration (especially if it has Apple carplay or Android auto), on-screen GPS navigation, and a big display.

But this is not a hard and fast rule, as many single DIN head units come with a fold-out screen.

Also, touchscreen stereos take more time and skill to install, as you’ll have more cables to manage with them.

In my opinion, you should check your DIN slot and the functionality you want, rather than obsessing over any of these head units.

Installing Single-DIN Head unit in a 2 DIN Slot

A factory single-DIN head unit can be only be replaced by another single DIN aftermarket head unit.

But things get a little easier if your factory head unit is double DIN -meaning you can replace it as a single DIN as well as a double DIN head unit.

The tools you need during this entire process are wire strippers, wire crimper, pry tools, a standard screwdriver, and a flat-head screwdriver

Every vehicle and the head unit is different, so you may have to check out the manual(s) first. But this is how it usually goes:

Switch off your Vehicle and Disconnect the Battery

Replacing your car stereo means you’ll have to deal with a lot of wires and there’s a risk of short circuit that can cause damage to the car stereo as well as you. That’s why you should disconnect the battery before anything else.

Open up the Dash Panel

Up next, you’ll have to remove the dash panel. This can be done by unscrewing the dash panel first and then prying it off to have access to the head unit itself.

Replace the Head Unit

In this step, we’ll unscrew the already-plugged double DIN head unit and (after pulling it out) disconnect all of its wires.

After this, we’ll put the new single DIN head unit into its mounting bracket and then connect the wiring harness with it.

Screw Everything Back

Then we’ll screw it, put the dash panel back, reconnect the battery, and start the vehicle again.

Although such DIY projects are a big part of the car audio culture, you can always seek out professional help.

For more info, you can watch the video below as well.

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