The 10 Best Car Stereos to Buy 2019

Reviews

Choosing the best car stereos is no longer just a matter of audio quality. Modern car stereos are now compatible with mobile devices such as smartphones. They can take calls and they can even offer included navigation apps. It can be said that the classic car stereo has become a multimedia device. For most users, it is as much about the right fit in the dash as it is about the extra options of a car stereo.

Types of Car Stereos – The Basics

There are many types of car stereos. Form those with small digital displays to those with large integrated touchscreens, there are plenty of options to consider. But without the right size, a car stereo will not be fitted into any car. Here’s what most users need to know.

Single DIN
Stereo formats have been adopted internationally and categorized in single and double DIN. Originating in Germany, the single DIN format refers to the 7 X 2 inches size at 180 X 50mm.

Double DIN
The double DIN with its 7 X 4 inches has a size of 180 X 100 mm and it is easy to recognize. It normally comes with an oversized screen. The fit of each of these formats depends on the space available in the dash for the car stereo.

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1. Boss Audio BV9358B Car DVD Player

Why we like it
With a large screen featuring an equalizer, Bluetooth and USB charging, the car stereo is well-equipped for all types of music

Editor’s rating

Design features
With a large 6.2” display, the double DIN car stereo looks distinct. It combines a few physical controls with touch screen capability which gives it all the versatility really needed on the road. As expected, it comes with a CD insert on top of the screen. On the left side of the car stereo, users find its controls and direct buttons to switch over to the input source to the US, SD cards, CD and auxiliary players.

These shortcuts can come handy, especially since drivers should spend less time looking at the car stereo and more time actually focusing on the road. There’s a remote control which is shipped with the stereo as well. While it is not indicated for drivers to use it while on the road, backseat passengers can use the remote control for their own comfortable music-listening experience. Simply browsing through various AM and FM radio stations as possible from the remote control.

Convenient features
In terms of actual sound quality, the car stereo offers a maximum power of 80W with 4 speakers. In order to push the volume even further, users will need to purchase a car amplifier. However, the volume level is more than enough for the average user.

Connecting to smartphones via Bluetooth, the car stereo can quickly open up a new world of songs from the web, which means drivers will not get bored even when driving the distance. Of course, all of the favorite tracks can be downloaded and saved to a flash drive, which can then be connected to the car stereo.

A number of rare features are worth mentioning on their own. The car stereo is compatible with steering wheel controls. Cars which come with such buttons as volume control on the steering wheel can be fully connected to the car stereo. An equalizer function is also available for optimum sound quality. Users can choose from custom presets according to the type of music there are listening to.

Verdict
This capable car stereo combines some of the latest technologies in its class without sacrificing CD compatibility, which is still important for top sound quality lovers.

Pros
  • Made with a large 6.2” display
  • Suitable for smartphone connectivity
  • Can be synchronized with steering wheel controls
  • Compatible with the car’s parking cameras
Cons
  • Double DIN dash support kit not included

2. Boss Audio 616UAB Multimedia Car Stereo

Why we like it
With included Spotify and Pandora control as well as a dim light function, the car stereo is suitable for some of the most dedicated music lovers.

Editor’s rating

Design features
The design of the car stereo is at least as good as its functionality. The car stereo is among the most interesting in its class as it already said goodbye to CDs in favor of digital music. The single-DIN car stereo looks very low profile, which means it will suit all-black car dashes perfectly. At the same time, the added LED illumination makes it one of the attractive designs in low light.

But as all drivers know, too many lights on the dash can be distracting when driving during the night. This is why it’s important to know that, unlike cheap stereos, the Boss Audio design actually allows users to change the illumination intensity. For most drivers, this can be a matter of preference and can even be changed from drive to drive.

There’s a large volume button on the left side of the car stereo which means drivers can access it with shorthand movements. Over to the right side of the car stereo, users can find the USB and AUX inputs. A single remote control can also replace some of these buttons, especially for the car passengers which can’t really reach the controls. Most importantly, the car stereo is compatible with smartphone apps such as Spotify. With plenty of songs to be streamed through the app, there are endless tracks to listen to on every driver.

Convenient features
Bluetooth connectivity is enabled on the car stereo. Saying goodbye to long cables is already a recommended practice in today’s world. Those who still want to connect other devices via cable can consider the AUX input option. A USB option is also available.

The volume level of the car stereo reaches 50W with 4 standard speakers. While it is not the loudest system, it is still enough for clear sound. Options for amplifier connectivity are included, as with most Boss Audio systems.

Equalizer presets are also included with the car stereo. Users and car passengers can adjust bass, treble, and balance with the built-in presets. However, a few limitations might not be liked by old-school stereo users. For example, there’s no added CD reader to the stereo. At the same time, unlike other products from the manufacturer, USB charging is not enabled on the car stereo. There will be no smartphone charging as a result. But for the pure sound quality and for the illumination adjustability, the car stereo is still worth a high place on the recommended products list.

Verdict
With a simplicity which does not show the true functions and capabilities of the car stereo, the Boss Audio design is suitable for virtually any modern car.

Pros
  • Made with adjustable illumination
  • Bluetooth stream and app control enabled
  • Pre-amp outputs compatibility
  • Included remote control
Cons
  • NO SD card reader

3. Atoto A6 Double DIN Android Car Navigation Stereo

Why we like it
Atoto proves that Android navigation and car stereos are still going strong

Editor’s rating

Design features
With a very bright display, the double DIN car stereo encompasses everything these Android devices have to offer. With a long list of features, it seems there’s nothing they can’t do. Of course, they are mainly compatible with other Android devices, such as smartphones.

Since the car stereo is dominated by a large digital display, its physical controls are very small. However, they are made with quality materials and they can be pushed alternatively, instead of using the digital touchscreen controls. There are a few physical outputs for the USB, AUX and SD card. Volume controls are also added at the bottom of the car stereo. Those who have SWC steering wheel controls can also connect them to the car stereo.

Convenient features
When it comes to convenience, the manufacturer pushes the GPS function of the car stereo the most. It is good to know that there’s no need to invest in another separate navigation solution for guidance. However, the convenience of the large digital display is what allows users to simply navigate various apps and settings.

Reverse camera input is also possible with the car stereo. When it comes to its audio quality, users can expect up to 45W for 4 speakers. The manufacturer acknowledges that the audio volume by itself does not mean everything, as sound quality needs to remain good.
An internal microphone has been added as well. It can be used to take calls, which means users can enjoy a new meaning to hands-free use. Furthermore, it’s also important to know that the latest version of the car stereo has an updated microphone as well as updated Bluetooth chips.

Verdict
Packed with features, the car stereo is really one of the best Android-based devices.

Pros
  • Suitable for most double DIN dashes
  • Based on updatable Android OS
  • Allows taking calls
  • Included navigation function via Google Maps
Cons
  • Not suitable for tablet-only apps

4. Pioneer DEH-S5100BT stereo

Why we like it
For the fans of physical controls, the car stereo is really one of the best choices of the moment.

Editor’s rating

Design features
With true audio quality, the Pioneer car stereo is a top single-DIN design. Made with physical controls, it features a large old-school volume button. Navigation buttons are also included. With changing LED lights, the car stereo can also look a bit more disco.

With a detachable interface, the car stereo also has minimum anti-theft protection. But most importantly, it manages to bring old-school durability to modern times with smartphone compatibility.

Convenient features
There are plenty of reasons to consider the car stereo apart from its physical controls. For one, it comes with Android and iPhone compatibility. In the real world, this means that it can work with a number of apps which are known for their music variation, such as Spotify.

This connectivity is made via Bluetooth. As a result, all other audio apps of a smartphone can work with the car stereo very well. One of the best solutions for Youtube audio listening or Soundcloud compatibility is represented by the Pioneer car stereo as a result.

Audio level can reach up to 50W at 4 speakers, which is about the average of what the market has to offer. However, users typically prefer the brand for its sound quality first. For the moment when the entire family is traveling, the driver can also connect a pair of headphones to the stereo, allowing the other passengers to rest. Pioneer also includes a pair of headphones in the pack for this situation.

Verdict
With great physical controls and smartphone compatibility, the car stereo is among the quality options to consider for various music genres.

Pros
  • Compatible with Pandora and Spotify
  • Connects to smartphones via Bluetooth
  • Made with a large volume control button
  • Color customization options included
Cons
  • No real OFF switch

5. Boss Audio BV9351B Double DIN car stereo

Why we like it
As one of the loudest car stereos of its class, the Boss Audio player is made for those seeking the loudest bass with not added amplifiers.

Editor’s rating

Design features
There’s a familiar look offered by the car stereo. In fact, it looks very similar to other Boss audio double DIN designs. However, the main difference is in the characteristics of the car stereo. On the other hand, users can expect the same simplicity based on touchscreen controls and a large volume button which makes life so much easier for drivers. It’s simply impractical and unsafe to take the eyes off the road to adjust the music volume.

There are a few ports seen on the front of the car stereo. The SD card reader is one of them. Some of the longest tracks can be saved and played form an SD memory card with good audio quality. An AUX port is also seen on the car stereo’s left side. But the car stereo also comes with CD compatibility. To this day, CDs remain some of the best options for top audio quality.

Convenient features
There are various files which play on the car stereo. These files include (but are not limited to) MP3, WMA, and digital media from smartphones. A built-in equalizer is also added to the car stereo. It only works with presets, but it may offer a better audio quality depending on the type of music to listen.

But one of the most distinct advantages to choosing the car stereo comes with the 80 Watt maximum power. This is where it comes to offer nearly double the volume of its competitors. Of course, in the real world, this might mean nothing as music is usually listened to at a low volume anyway. But those who want to pump up the bass can rest assured they can do so freely. Another distinct advantage comes with the class-leading 3-year warranty. The manufacturer stands behind its product like no other.

Verdict
With serious volume levels, the car stereo offers a pure experience and an uncluttered functionality, unlike many other affordable Android alternatives.

Pros
  • Suitable for 80W sound level
  • Compatible with popular audio files
  • Enhanced by a built-in equalizer
  • Covered by a 3-year warranty
Cons
  • Not the best built-in microphone

6. Pioneer AVH-210EX in-Dash 2-DIN car stereo

Why we like it
Suitable for audio and video entertainment, the car stereo is one of the successful Pioneer designs to rely on.

Editor’s rating

Design features
With an attractive design based on a large 6.2” display, the car stereo is among the most interesting designs of its class. It comes to meet the needs of those seeking Pioneer audio quality but who would also like to move towards a touchscreen solution. For this to happen, all drivers need to ensure their vehicle can actually take in a double DIN car stereo. For this reason, the car stereo can actually fit in all types of vehicles, from small city cars, to sedans or to SUVs.

With touch controls, there are no more physical buttons to handle. Users are directly responsible for their safety on the road and they will have to look at the on-screen controls when taking any actions. This being said, the car stereo is one of the most capable designs of its class. It even includes a CD reader which means it is still connected to a few methods of preferred music-listening.

Convenient features
There are 5 display colors users can count on. They can come in handy, especially for those aiming to keep kids occupied. On the topic of kids, it’s great to know parents can also connect and stream videos from their phones to the car stereo.

With a 13-band equalizer, the car stereo is among the most interesting choices for audio quality. When the parking brake is engaged, users can also play their favorite DVDs. Kids can enjoy their favorite cartoons while on the road. Parents can enjoy their favorite movies while traveling as well. Connecting an amplifier to the cart stereo is also possible. Users can have their very own high bass if their car’s speakers support the extra power.

Verdict
The capable touchscreen car stereo is among the most distinctive designs of its class for video and audio playback.

Pros
  • Suitable for all audio files
  • Plays DVDs
  • Compatible with parking cameras
  • Suitable for car amplifier improvements
Cons
  • No physical volume button

7. HSheng TPK Double DIN Car Stereo

Why we like it
With a 7” HD screen, the car stereo is among the largest of its class. It is suitable for enhanced video and graphics.

Editor’s rating

Design features
When it comes to large display double-DIN car stereos, many users expect to enjoy even better graphics. This becomes a reality with the HSheng car stereo, which is one of the largest in its class. Furthermore, the car stereo allows the utilization of this large screen mainly due to the fact that it comes with no CD and no DVD. At the same time, it doesn’t have a navigation function.

The car stereo has mainly been designed to play music and to connect to parking cameras or video streaming services via Bluetooth. With touchscreen controls, using the car stereo is not complicated. However, a physical on/off button is available, which is increasingly rare. Next, to it, a physical volume button is also added by the manufacturer. Physical options also include a TF card reader and the AUX jack. For these added physical buttons, the car stereo sits in a rare segment of total control car stereos.

Convenient features
An output of power of 60W is seen on the car stereo. It allows all users to enjoy quality audio but it doesn’t limit the stereo’s access to a local amplifier if needed. A built-in microphone can also prove useful. It works great for taking phone calls while at the wheel.
A single remote control has also been paired with the car stereo. It allows the ultimate comfort control and it can even be handled by passengers, which would not have access to the stereo without asking the driver to change the music.

The AUX wired function can be useful as well. It comes to show that the car stereo can connect to various devices such as smartphones, tablets and gaming consoles. Even more, with the help of the 7 LED backlights, the car stereo can be further customized to the users’ preference. In the end, its added USB port allows for music playback without any monitor display, which can be handy on nighttime drives.

Verdict
With such a large display and a few essential physical control buttons, the cars stereo is a modern choice, especially when users don’t need navigation functionality.

Pros
  • Made with a 7” display
  • Supports 7 LED backlights
  • Compatible with steering wheel controls
  • Built-in equalizer
Cons
  • Doesn’t support navigation

8. Pioneer AVH-1300NEX Multimedia DVD Receiver

Why we like it
Compatible with Pioneer’s NEX technology, the multimedia player is more than a simple car stereo.

Editor’s rating

Design features
Pioneer has joined the smartphone revolution and it has integrated its multimedia system into a modern solution which can be used seamlessly. There’s no doubt the multimedia player has a certain appeal for those who are looking for aesthetically-pleasing car stereos in a world where many of them can look quite similar.

Volume and navigation rockers have been added to the car stereo. But at the same time, the capacitive screen makes the life of the user easier. However, the multimedia system can also make hands-free calls. With a 6.2” screen, it is at the same level as some of the leading options in its class for graphics quality.

Convenient features
Spotify, Pandora, and other apps can be controlled through the car stereo. All users have the freedom to stream the audio files they like the most, directly to the car’s stereo. Of course, online libraries have the most and the latest tunes to enjoy. But other more-specific apps such as Soundcloud can also be used to listen to various music while on the road.

With an 800 X 400 pixels resolution, the multimedia player has the distinct advantage of playing various DVDs. Users can enjoy movies and documentaries or any other type of HD video while on the road. With integrated Apple and Android compatibility, the multimedia player combines online music and videos with high-quality offline DVDs to offer a complex multimedia experience.

Verdict
Valuable for its DVD and Apple can play compatibility, the Pioneer multimedia player is valuable and it enjoys an upgrade every year.

Pros
  • High-quality 800 X 400 display
  • Compatible with Apple car play
  • Works with Spotify and Pandora
  • Connects with Bluetooth via NEX
Cons
  • Remote control not included

9. Pioneer Single DIN Car Stereo

Why we like it
The classic car stereo is among the simple solution to boots a car’s multimedia capacity.

Editor’s rating

Design features
Designed with a removable front panel, the car stereo encompasses some of the characteristics which made Pioneer famous. These characteristics include durable squishy buttons, a large volume rocker, a simple digital display, and adjustable illumination.

With plenty of physical buttons, the car stereo can be hard to match for its simplicity on single DIN installation. It comes to meet the needs of the drivers who do not want to deal with digital displays and who still prefer physical controls as well as impressive audio quality.

Convenient features
With 50 W for up to 4 speakers, the car stereo offers great audio quality. Bass levels are actually hard to match as well. With an RDS tuner and bass boost capabilities, the car stereo is among the simplest and most efficient designs for the quality without amplification. Of course, Pioneer products are often used with car amplifiers. But without doubt, the car stereo offers a pleasant audio experience in a small space such as in a car, van or SUV.

Compatible with Android devices, the car stereo offers good audio quality. It represents a viable option for direct audio streaming. Additionally, the AUX jack also allows the car stereo to work well with any other type of multimedia device.

Verdict
Known for its high audio quality, the car stereo has high audio quality for various music genres, from hip hop to classical music.

Pros
  • High audio quality with adjustable bass
  • Removable front panel design
  • Based on durable physical controls
  • Compatible with Android devices
Cons
  • The user manual needs to be improved

10. Blaupunkt Toronto AM/FM Media Receiver

Why we like it
With high affordability, the car stereo is one of the straightforward options for those looking for a multimedia upgrade on a budget.

Editor’s rating

Design features
As an affordable design, there are not too many expectations placed on the Blaupunkt car stereo. However, it comes to show that even an affordable car stereo can offer good compatibility and the capacity to listen to music from different sources.

With a simple design, the single DIN car stereo even comes with call buttons, which can remove the need for holding and handling a smartphone. There are dedicated volume rockers and track changing rockers on the car stereo as well. With a small digital display, users can see information such as song name, album name and release year. USB compatibility is possible alongside the SD card compatibility. The car stereo offers a complete list of media input solutions as a result.

Convenient features
Users can save up to 30 radio stations on the car stereo. Alongside listening to music from their smartphone or other mobile devices, vehicle passengers can also enjoy the local AM and FM radio stations, with preset stations.

Since the multimedia player comes with enabled Bluetooth, it means that it is ready to handle most modern smartphones. From audio streaming to taking calls, there’s no need to keep a hand on the wheel and another on the smartphone while on the road.

Verdict
The simple single DIN media player offers a compatible solution for seamless audio streaming.

Pros
  • Made by a respected brand
  • Suitable for smartphone connectivity
  • Allows users to take calls
  • Suitable for 30 preset radio stations
Cons
  • Doesn’t display time continuously

FAQ

What is a DIN?
A DIN is an acronym for the Deutsche Institut fur Normung, the institution responsible for the international standards in size for car stereos. Single and double DIN measurements were first used by this institute.

Is Bluetooth a standard characteristic?
Bluetooth is not standard with new car stereos. However, the best car stereos use Bluetooth as a means of communication with other devices such as portable music speakers.

What is SiriusXM?
SiriusXM is a web-based application with a monthly subscription which allows live radio stations streaming. It is usually a choice for those seeking a bit more variety to their limited number of local radio stations.

What is an Android car stereo?
An Android car stereo is compatible with other devices powered by an Android operating system such as a smartphone. Most smartphone-specific apps can be synchronized with such a car stereo.

Are voice commands enabled on my car stereo?
Voice commands are typically not enabled by default on devices with a built-in microphone. Dedicated apps need to be installed for this function to work.

Does the stereo fit my car?
The car stereo can fit a single or a double DIN standard. Those unsure of the size of their current car stereo can check the user’s manual for further clarification.

Does a stereo come with wiring?
All wiring is shipped with a car stereo. Most of these stereos can be installed without extra help. A detailed guide on how to install it should be available for generic or popular cars.

I only have space for a single DIN, can I install a double DIN stereo?
No. A double-DIN car stereo needs twice as much room to fit the dashboard of a car.

Guide to Buying the Best Car Stereos

Those new to car stereos need to look at the directions outlined below to get a better perspective on what makes a great purchase. Some of the most complex car stereos prove to be also the ones packed with features. They can also represent futureproof purchases. Here’s what buyers need to have in mind when shopping for such a car stereo.

Physical controls vs touch controls
The choice between physical controls and touch controls is a matter of personal preferences. For most users, it is actually a choice between various designs. Of course, most car stereos are now leaning towards fewer physical buttons to make room for larger screens, especially on double DIN displays. But even in these conditions, physical buttons are not completely gone.

In many situations, having a choice between various designs means looking at how a car stereo is controlled. Added remote controls can play their part as well. Having the ability to control essential features such as volume as quickly as possible is crucial. This is also why some of the car stereos with large screens still offer a physical volume rocker.

Audio and video playback
Modern car stereos now come with video playback next to audio playback. This function can be integrated for parking cameras but it can also easily be integrated with DVD playback or Youtube video streaming.

There are plenty of car stereos which offer good video quality as well. HD video or even good resolution with clear images can be enough while on the road. Comparing various car stereos in price alone can be determined by the video playback implementation, which can drive the cost up for most stereos.

Watts and power
The audio level of a car stereo is measured in watts and it can be amplified up to 4 speakers. Most users are more than happy with standard watts. From 40 to 60 watts, users can find their own interesting choices to work with. However, some of the best car stereos of the moment support car amplifiers, which can come with that hard bass so many people are after. Others still prefer sharp audio quality over high volume.

Equalizer profile presets and audio quality
Having the ability to tweak the audio profile can be important. It is not a feature to deal with while at the wheel, as driving requires the user’s attention. But for the car’s passengers, changing profiles to rock or hip hop can come with an improvement of the audio quality.

The equalizer is usually saved in a number of presets. The best part about this function is that it allows quick changes to be made to the audio profiles. Certain apps can do this from the smartphone before the sound travels to the car stereo in the first place.

iTunes tagging, Spotify, Soundcloud, and more goodies
Certain functions allow a great user experience and are not to be found on all car stereos. One of them is the iTunes tagging. It allows users to automatically match and find the song played on a radio station. However, certain car stereos are compatible with only music libraries such as Spotify. Most Android car stereos will also work with other apps such as the Soundcloud app.

This is where users can find the latest songs, large numbers of artists and even information on albums and release dates. For most users, this compatibility is strictly based on the Bluetooth connectivity with a smartphone. However, simple audio streaming from these apps and to these apps is possible via an AUX input.

Final words

Choosing the best car stereos is not a matter of simple designs. It is actually a matter of audio quality first. Most users are upgrading their standard car stereos for sound quality, extra compatibility and even for improved graphics or added features such as navigation. But for most drivers, clear sound and good music can change the way a driver feels.

From making a drive to work and a daily commute to driving long distances on a holiday, a car stereo has become a staple of driving. It allows users to reconcile and disconnect while being on the road. It also keeps many drivers awake while driving through the night.

There are many other reasons to consider the best car stereos. But the best part is most of these stereos are incredibly affordable.
Gone are the days where massive budgets were needed for such an upgrade. For a low fee and with simple installation, car stereos can now easily be upgraded. Even more, users have the freedom to find the best solutions when it comes to controls, features and even app integration. Many of these devices can even replace a dedicated GPS solution.

The benefits are considerable and they go far beyond music. It is also recommended to choose a solution which is compatible with various devices. From SD memory cards to USB or to wireless connectivity, there’s no doubt audio streaming can be made via various channels. The best part is this means more songs can reach the car stereo in the end.