I hope you'll agree with me when I say:
Driving is so much better with music on.
And so much easier with GPS! Luckily for us, we can get them both (and much more) if we install the best double din head unit on our car.
The only problem is to find it! Definitely not an easy job.
Thats why we've created this list of Best Car Double Din Head Units.
|IMAGE||PRODUCT||Power Output||Preamp Output / Sub Preamp|
|1. Kenwood Excelon DNX994S||Power Output: 22 watts||Preamp Output/ Sub Preamp: 6-channel||VIEW ON AMAZON|
|2. Alpine Electronics X108U||Power Output: 50 Watts x4||Preamp Output/ Sub Preamp: Six Channels||VIEW ON AMAZON|
|3. Pioneer AVH-W4400NEX||Power Output: 22 watts x 4, 50 watts||Preamp Output/ Sub Preamp: 6-channel/ Yes||VIEW ON AMAZON|
|4. Alpine iLX-207||Power Output: 50 Watts x4||Preamp Output/ Sub Preamp: 6-channel/ Yes||VIEW ON AMAZON|
|5. Pioneer AVIC-8200NEX||Power Output: 14w RMS 50w Peak||Preamp Output/ Sub Preamp: 6-channel/ Yes||VIEW ON AMAZON|
|6. Kenwood DDX9703S||Power Output: 50 watts x 4 channels Peak||Preamp Output/ Sub Preamp: 3 Sets of 4V||VIEW ON AMAZON|
|7. Pioneer AVH-4200NEX||Power Output: 14 watts RMS cea-2006/50 peak x 4 channels||Preamp Output/ Sub Preamp: -||VIEW ON AMAZON|
|8. Sony XAV-AX100||Power Output: 20W - 55W peak||Preamp Output/ Sub Preamp: 5-channel/Yes||VIEW ON AMAZON|
|9. Clarion NX706||Power Output: 45w Peak||Preamp Output/ Sub Preamp: 6-channel/ Yes||VIEW ON AMAZON|
|10. JVC KW-V850BT||Power Output: 200 watts max||Preamp Output/ Sub Preamp: 6-channel/ Yes||VIEW ON AMAZON|
Top 10 Double Din Head Unit of 2019 - our Reviews
The following five units I'll review here are the very best you can find on the market this year.
If you still feel you haven't found something that checks all your boxes after reading this section, please refer to the navigation bar on the right hand side where you'll find more recommendations based on the particular needs you may have (like built-in navigator, best pairing with Apple products, best pairing with Android or best options for the money).
Below is a list of the best double din stereos that include features such as navigation, reversing cameras and much more.
This all-in one car electronics system has everything to offer. If you are looking for an in-car stereo system that is versatile, the Kenwood Excelon DNX994S needs your consideration.
The system gives you not only the AM/FM tuner but a DVD/CD player, a built-in HD radio tuner and a 13 band equalizer. On top of all the options in car entertainment, the system includes a built-in navigation system with maps for the US, Canada and Mexico.
The Kenwood Excelon DNX994S in-dash car entertainment system provides you with everything you could need while traveling.
Having the option to listen to the radio, CD, SiriusXM satellite radio or even a DVD is a great combination.
Then the system adds the built-in GPS navigation with Garmin to make sure you can find wherever you need to go.
Overview of Specifications and Features:
Weight of Unit - The Kenwood DNX994S weighs a total of 6.61 pounds but the shipping weight comes in at 8.4 pounds.
Sizing - The double DIN DNX994S system fits dash openings four inches tall.
Touchscreen - The Excelon DNX994S has a 6.95” touchscreen with varying illumination.
Bluetooth - Built-in hands-free calling and audio streaming is included in the system.
Power output - The power output totals 22 watts for the system.
Preamp output - how many channels - The Excelon DNX994S system is equipped with six channel preamp outputs.
Android Auto - Compatible with Android Auto.
Apple CarPlay - Compatible with Apple CarPlay
Smartphone integration - The DNX994S also comes with a built-in iPod, iPhone and iPad control. The system allows you to use your Pandora and Spotify apps by connecting through the Bluetooth. For Android users, there is also a built-in Android control.
Navigation system - The Kenwood Excelon DNX994 comes with the Garmin navigation system built-in. The navigation system includes maps for the US, Mexico, Canada, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
AV capabilities - The DNX994S not only supports CD’s and DVD’s but also SD cards and flash drives. If you decide that a rear-view camera, the system is capable of handling it too but it would require the optional camera. Another great feature is the auto adjustment for the sound due to road noises.
Expandability - The Excelon allows you to take advantage of the system with its expandability. Since the system is compatible with SiriusXM satellite, you can add XM radio to your car entertainment. The multiple input devices really open the possibilities. The system inputs include two rear USB inputs, an SD card slot, two camera inputs, an A/V input and an input for a drive recorder.
Customer’s felt the best feature for the Kenwood Excelon DNX994S was the sound quality with 4.8 stars. The touch screen feature was a close second with 4.6 stars. The Excelon offers customers several entertainment options in one system.
When it comes to car audio, one of the most well-known and respected brands out there is Alpine. Although the company made a name for itself with high-quality speakers and controls, the X108U is a class above the rest.
If you’re looking for a double din head unit, you will like most of the features and functionality of this model. With one of the most massive screens we’ve seen, you can do a lot more with this device than you may assume.
So, with that in mind, let’s take a look at what makes the Alpine X108U so unique and why it may be the best fit for your truck or SUV.
With an eight-inch touchscreen, you can do more with this double-din head unit than you could with other models. We like that it comes with navigation built-in and that it can connect to any device through Bluetooth.
The sound coming out of this unit is spectacular for its size, making it the perfect addition for both techies and audiophiles alike. We like that it has six different preamp channels, including a subwoofer so that you can get the deep bass you want while cruising down the road.
If you so desire, you can upgrade the X108U to control more of your truck or SUV’s components, such as the rear camera, side mirrors, and other accessories.
Although watching DVDs from the dashboard isn’t ideal while driving, you can also install a combination DVD/CD player so that you have even more entertainment options. Overall, this is an entertainment station that also comes with GPS.
Speaking of GPS, one thing we like about this system is that it comes with free lifetime traffic updates. Although the navigation isn’t quite as high-tech as some other programs we’ve seen, it’s more than capable of getting you from point A to point B, assuming that you have a clear connection to any satellites above you.
Connecting to your smartphone is only as good as the music app you use already. Unfortunately, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are not compatible with this system, but that shouldn’t be a dealbreaker in our book.
The primary downside of this model is that you can’t install it right out of the gate. Instead, you have to either get a custom installation with the right dash kit, which has to be compatible with your ride.
Simply put, you need to make sure that you can put this double-din head unit into your vehicle before buying it. Otherwise, you may be out of luck and have to find a different model to suit your needs.
The other significant issue is the software. While it works most of the time, it can drop your Bluetooth connection at random intervals, as well as calls if you use it for that. Also, the navigation isn’t as precise as other programs (i.e., Google Maps), so don’t rely on it 100%.
Assuming that you have a rig big enough to house the X108U, we highly recommend it. Anyone who wants to get the most entertainment out of their double din head unit will love the capabilities of this device. Although it’s not quite the most comprehensive one we’ve seen, it’s better than most of the other options out there, particularly if you have a large truck or SUV.Really, the only downside is that the software needs a few patches, but it’s mostly reliable, and you most likely won’t notice it happen too often. Also, the navigation leaves a little to be desired, but it won’t misdirect you, so don’t think that you’re going to get lost with this machine.
For any driver seeking to install the ultimate entertainment center in their vehicle, the Pioneer AVH-W4400NEX is the head unit that has it all.
A large touch screen display with HD resolution, a motorized display arm for inserting DVDs, full smartphone integration, HD audio and HD Radio with Sirius XM satellite radio readiness, this double-DIN head unit is so much more than a simple custom car stereo.
Want to upgrade your sound system in the future?
The AVH-W4400NEX has preamp outs for use with a subwoofer or surround sound external amplifier.
Installing a rear display for the whole family to enjoy on road trips?
This head unit has AV in and out connectors, HDMI in and out, and a whole slew of other AV options that allow you to have a home theater experience in the comfort of your sedan, SUV or minivan.
Here’s my complete review of the AVH-W4400NEX, as well as why I think it’s a great fit for families, long haul drivers and power commuters.
There is no integrated navigation solution, but you can use Google Maps or Apple Maps to navigate on the touch screen with a connected smartphone.
Okay, with this many features it’s tough to narrow it down but here goes anyway.
Dual Zone Audio
The ability to control what plays in the front seat of the car versus what plays in the back seat is the ultimate road trip feature. Kids can get their movie audio on the rear display and the rear car speakers while parents can enjoy their lame “old people” music up front. You can also keep GPS directions playing on front audio, so they don’t interrupt rear audio output and movies. This keeps kids happy and backseat drivers quiet, both of which are requisite for long road trips. Dual Zone Audio is definitely my favorite feature on the AVH-4400NEX.
Android Auto/Apple CarPlay Functionality
I’m all about safety on the road, and both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are a great way to operate your smartphone and smartphone media playback safely while driving. Using Google Assistant, you can respond to text messages using your voice, call people back, make outgoing calls and even ask different apps to play specific content or playlists without taking your eyes off the road or your hands off the wheel.
Siri offers similar capabilities for your iOS device users via Apple CarPlay, and if you prefer to use your iPad instead of your iPhone for media playback (or your navigator/shotgun passenger wants to control tunes on the go), you can pair any iOS device to work with CarPlay. It doesn’t get more convenient than these smartphone integration apps.
A/V & Control Connections
A/V, integrated camera connections, retained steering wheel controls, HDMI in and out ports, USB, and so many more connectivity features make this an exceptionally useful head unit that can connect to virtually any media device you want. It even has Wi-Fi capability to use MiraCast for UPNP streaming from a Windows 10 Pro or similar device, allowing you to screen share right on the car’s multimedia display. If it can be hooked up to a TV, it can be hooked up to the AVH-4400NEX, and earns this unit huge point in its favor.
I don’t have a many complaints about this unit, aside from the direct speaker outputs being a bit on the wimpy side (22 RMS doesn’t offer much boom for the buck).
There is also the consideration that if you want a standalone navigation module or Sirius XM Satellite Radio tuner, you will be paying a significant additional cost if you want these features fully built-in and hardwired to your car’s entertainment system.
Moreover, most vehicles require a more expensive connectivity kit to retain vehicle media control (steering wheel controls) and other factory features that came standard on your car.
Trying to upgrade your car’s sound system can feel like an overwhelming chore, but thanks to Alpine’s new iLX-207, your search just got a lot easier.
Alpine is already well-known for making high-quality speakers and control units, but this model takes things to the next level by syncing with all of your devices.
Compared to other double din head units, the iLX-207 is cutting edge. Whether you have Android or iPhone, this device will make your life much easier, as well as make driving that much safer.
So, with that in mind, let’s take a look at all that the iLX-207 has to offer, and whether it’s the right choice for your car or truck.
When talking about connectivity and high-tech features, the iLX-207 pretty much has it all.
If you’re looking to be ahead of the curve when talking about making your car or truck state-of-the-art, this is one of the better double din head units to buy.
That being said, early adoption is not without its setbacks, and while this machine has a lot of benefits, it is lacking in a few key areas (notably software issues).
However, as long as a random glitch doesn’t drive you crazy, the iLX-207 will be more than sufficient for your needs.
These days, cars are becoming extensions of our entertainment habits. Before, the only entertainment you could draw from your vehicle was the radio. However, once you install the iLX-207, you will have access to so much more.
First and foremost, this model is compatible with both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Although you could simply connect to your favorite music apps and other programs via Bluetooth, these apps ensure that you won’t cause an accident in the process.
The seven-inch screen on the iLX-207 is a dream, with capacitive touch capabilities that are both highly responsive and super reliable. Not only that, but you can program a variety of functions, including shortcuts to get to your favorite programs and apps.
Speaking of apps, Alpine has developed a mobile app that connects your maps to the device. Although the iLX doesn’t have navigation built-in, you can sync it to your phone, which is just as good (if not better). Thus, rather than having to enter an address or search for it through the system, you can sync instantly and be ready to go as soon as you turn the key.
Although the touchscreen is a fantastic feature, Alpine is renowned for its audio capabilities, and this model doesn’t disappoint. Here is where technology adds to the experience yet again, meaning that you get better sound without having to pay extra for the privilege.
When looking at the iLX, you may think that you have to adjust the screen, but the fact is that the resolution is only 480p. While this shouldn’t necessarily be a dealbreaker, it does leave a little to be desired, particularly when spending money on a top-of-the-line machine.
As with other Alpine double din head units, the software can also be a little glitchy at times. Alpine is not known for making high-quality programs, so they aren’t exactly making waves with this system.
Typically, the issues that people experience are related to syncing to Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. In some cases, the maps may not transfer well (or at all), and they can disconnect at random times, which can be more than a little frustrating when it happens.Overall, when you’re paying this much money for a double din head unit, you expect a little more quality. While we aren’t saying that Alpine was being cheap with this model, they could have done better with the final product. Realistically, the price tag could probably be a little lower, and it would be okay.
5. Pioneer AVIC-8200NEX
AVIC Pioneer headunits are Pioneer’s flagship line of car stereo head units with built-in navigation GPS modules and full smartphone integration.
They pulled out all the stops for this model, including and HD radio tuner, HDMI in/out, speaker and subwoofer pre-amp outs, and a gorgeous 7” capacitive touch screen interface for watching DVDs or USB storage HD video.
In terms of built-in features and expandability for a fully loaded car audio/video system, it simply doesn’t get much better than the AVIC-8200NEX. This is in my opinion the best double din head unit with built-in navigator you can buy in 2018.
Let’s take a look at what is so great about this double-DIN headunit, as well as one or two minor issues that may require particular attention should you decide to invest in this excellent car stereo.
Here is a breakdown of all the positive attributes based on the specs and built-in features of the AVIC-8200NEX
- First of all, the overall interface for the touch screen is absolutely top notch in terms of design and ease of use.
Even better, with an additional adapter for your make and model car, you can even integrate your existing steering wheel volume and navigation controls so that you can operate both your audio track controls and voice command features without taking your hands off the 10 and 2. I know for myself that’s an exceptionally important feature to have on long road trips and during the busy daily commute while navigating through traffic.
The hand held remote control is also a nice feature for when you want to show off your car stereo setup at shows or if you just want to be able to change tracks quickly and easily when working in or around your car.
- iPhone user? Android lover? No problem for this head unit. Both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are fully compatible with this device.
Apps like Spotify, Pandora, and similar music streaming or audio capabilities are fully integrated and ready to use from the moment you connect your device via USB or Bluetooth.
Additionally the built in iPod, iPhone, and iPad controls allow you to operate your device safely while on the road, and Siri Eyes-Free control is available with all models of iPhone 4s and newere.
- Turn-by-turn voice prompt navigation with preinstalled US, Canada, and Puerto Rico maps can be updated via USB flash drive, and the accuracy and ease of use for the GPS system is unparallelled.
Add to that free traffic updates in major cities, lane guidance, enhanced junction views (my personal favorite if I am travelling somewhere I’ve never been before), speed limit warnings, and 3D representations of select buildings and major landmarks all make this a standout performing GPS navigation system in every way.
- If you’re looking for a premium audio and video experience, the AVIC-8200NEX has you covered. CDs, DVDs and USB drives are all ready for video and audio playback right out of the box, and a 13-band graphic EQ makes tuning in your perfect setup fast and easy. You can even install an optional mic-adapter and use the automatic EQ system that adapts your sound to the acoustics and speakers of your car.
Furthermore, Pioneer’s Advanced Sound Retriever provides the best audio quality possible from your compressed digital files, and audio playback of lossless FLAC files (up to 192kHz/24-bit) from a USB source allows you to experience the highest possible audio quality on the go. Finally, Pioneer MIXTRAX technology is pre-integrated into this head unit, allowing for continuous mixes and automated digital effects on the fly.
Also, Dual Zone A/V out lets you send video and audio signal to headrest TFT LED/LCD displays should you have a desire to install them.
- Big fan of SiriusXM radio? Add the SXV300 Tuner for TuneMix, Traffic & Weather Now, and Sports Flash wherever you go. The AVIC-8200NEX also features an HDMI input, dual rear USB inputs, 2 rear A/V inputs, and two camera inputs for reverse camera and dash cam integration.
Most important of all though, this unit features a 6-channel preamp out for use with subwoofer and speaker amplifiers, making it an ideal choice for being the brains of your weapons of mass audio destruction should that be your endgame scenario for this head unit
While the AVIC-8200NEX has quite a lot to love about it, there are also a few caveats that are worth noting about a few aspects of this head unit.
- The internal amplification of this model is fairly weak, and installing a speaker amplifier is highly recommended if you intend to get the most out of your investment.
- You will need to use a 2GB or higher capacity USB flash drive to update the firmware on this model as soon as you get it since there have been numerous updates and bug fixes affecting both CarPlay and Android Auto since this unit was initially launched.
All necessary files are available for free via the Support page of Pioneer’s website, and the update process is largely automated. Just make sure you update that firmware right away after installation to avoid any frustration or connectivity issues when you first start using your AVIC-8200NEX.
- Some users are, shall we say, less than fond of the integrated GPS voice directions? Also, you will want to update the maps modules ASAP after installation in order to give yourself the best possible turn-by-turn navigation experience possible.
- We keep coming back to firmware and software updates, and one of the reasons this is so important is that USB file reading and smartphone USB audio streaming have been vastly improved with the newest 1.14 version of the head unit’s firmware that launched in January of 2017. Make sure you update right away to prevent issues with your new stereo head unit.
- There are a wide array of expandable modules you can connect to this head unit to improve its overall functionality.
The problem is they are somewhat costly to add, and they require you to pull, plug, and run cables extensively, especially for the reverse and dashcam connections.
If you are an experienced car audio hobbyist, these kinds of installations will probably leave you unphased, but if you are a novice and aren’t sure what you’re doing you may find that you have bitten off more than you can chew.
- Top of the line car A/V experience
- Full smartphone integration with CarPlay and Android Auto
- Preamp outputs for subwoofer and speaker amplification
- Expandable features for satellite radio and factory car steering wheel controls
- Internal amplifier is less than robust, so separate speaker and subwoofer amp installations are highly recommended.
- Firmware needs to be upgraded immediately after installation
6. Kenwood DDX9703S
In terms of the best possible Android Auto integration, Kenwood definitely comes out miles ahead of the competition with the the DDX9703S. Let’s take a look at what makes this such a great double-DIN headunit for Android mobile device users.
- The large 6.95” clear resistive touchscreen display makes DVD and CD playback crystal clear, and with a motorized 7-step tilt angle display adjustment capability you can enjoy onboard A/V entertainment comfortably regardless of where you are seated. It also allows for playback of most multimedia file formats including lossless FLAC files.
- In addition to Bluetooth connectivity, this head unit supports both Apple CarPlay (with Siri Eyes Free control) and Android Auto; however, Kenwood’s integration for Google Maps and Navigation is far superior to Apple Maps integration and features
One feature that really sets this model apart though is the ability to mirror your smartphone display right on the head unit for select iPhone and Android devices.
- A 13 band EQ with Drive EQ to improve your sound while your car is at speed is included right out of the box, and DSP self-configures with its own digital time alignment. High and low pass filters also allow for selective crossover point configuration, and there are features pre installed for a reverse camera such as parking grid lines.
- Unit comes ready to integrate a satellite radio tuner and reverse camera, but both are sold separately. Additionally, there is a rear USB input, and HDMI/MHL digital A/V in, rear analog A/V input,and both front and rear-view camera ports. Furthermore, this unit has RCA video and audio outputs as well was its 6-channel preamp out connections for connections to speaker and subwoofer amplifiers.
- Reflexive touchscreens never seem to work as well as their captive counterparts, and if you are used to using a capacitive screen this may present something of a learning curve.
- This head unit's design heavily favors Android Auto over Apple Carplay capabilities.
- Internal amplification is weak. Get a speaker amp and possibly add a subwoofer kit to kick your sound up a notch.
- Satellite radio and reverse camera kits sold separate.
- Excellent Android Auto integration
- Lots of AV input and output options.
- Screen mirroring for select smartphones
- Apple Carplay integration could be better
- Weak internal amplification
- Single USB port
- No built in navigation system
7. Pioneer AVH-4200NEX
While most Double DIN Units have a 6.2-inch screen, this particular model has a full seven-inch display. What this means is that everything is much easier to read and the menu navigation is second to none.
Also, this stereo comes with a remote control so your passengers can make selections without having to get in the way of the driver.
As far as functionality goes, this stereo has it all. First, you have a DVD/CD system that allows you to play movies for your passengers during long trips. If you still have any CDs, you can listen to them with crystal clarity with this stereo.
In our opinion, this is the best head unit for Android users, as others lean more towards iPhone functions.
Additionally, the AVH has phone sync capabilities, which means that if you have an iPhone or Android device you can connect it and use your apps without having to hold your phone.
What makes it even more amazing is the fact that it has screen mirroring.
This means that you can read texts and see images from your phone on a larger display, thus making it safer for use while driving.
Along with the sync feature, you can connect to your phone through traditional Bluetooth, which is ideal for hands-free calling.
Finally, the other thing that makes this stereo so incredible is that it comes with three preamps, so if you’re in the market for a full sound system upgrade, you can make it happen with this device. It counts with a pre-amp signal for a subwoofer (that you can connect to a monoblock amp) and two RCA outputs to power your other amplifiers, be it a four channel or a five channel amp.
The video below (courtesy of 5Star Car Stereo) will walk you through every single connector, input, output, controller and overall configurations you can do on the AVH-4200NEX. Check it out if you're interested on this model!
- Extra large seven-inch LCD screen
- Wireless remote included
- 800x480 pixel resolution
- Bluetooth connectivity
- Sirius/XM compatible
- Syncs with most smartphones
- USB connection for charging
- Aux inputDVD compatible
- Backup camera compatible
- Three preamp outputs
- One-year limited warranty
- Touch screen response time may lag sometimes
- To play DVDs, you need to buy a separate attachment
- Bluetooth connection may cut out at times
- Ideal for iPhones, but not for Android devices
I love Sony products, and I’ve been a fan of their headphones and personal audio products since I was a kid. They make great A/V equipment, and the XAV-AX200SXM is no exception to this rule.
Anyone looking to give their car audio and entertainment system a boost should definitely check this double-DIN head unit out before making a buying decision.
If you spend a significant amount of time in the car or on the road, you’ll love the integrated Sirius-XM tuner so your music can stay with you even beyond the reach of mobile phone networks.
Travel with family and friends? You can play video over the 6.4” TFT touch screen, and it already comes pre configured for running secondary displays in the back of your vehicle thanks to dual A/V outputs.
I think the Sony XAV-AX200SXM is an ideal car A/V solution, and I think after reading my review you’ll agree. Check out what I’ve got for you.
For many years, factory car stereos were largely incompatible with iPhone and Android devices, but aftermarket stereos have made significant progress with controlling your mobile device and accessing its content safely while driving. Thanks to integrated Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, all you need to do is connect your phone via Bluetooth and you can hear text messages, send and receive calls, and even send text messages using Siri on your iPhone.
It is these features that make installing an aftermarket media center like the XAV-AX200SXM a smart decision from both a convenience perspective and a safety perspective.
The Sony XAV-AX200SXM does not have integrated GPS navigation, but it can display your device’s navigation application on the touch screen display, making navigation and changes to your route on the fly safer and far easier. Trying to adjust your destination or route on the phone while driving creates a significant risk to you, your passengers and other drivers on the road.
Play DVDs via the 6.4” touchscreen, or run the video to rear seat displays via the AV outputs on the rear of the head unit. You can also listen to Sirius-XM satellite radio anywhere you have open sky, meaning your music doesn’t have to end if you leave a mobile phone coverage area. Best of all, if you are a fan of audiophile quality digital audio, the Sony XAV-AX200SXM can play lossless FLAC audio files (maximum of 96kHz/24-bit) via USB port from flash memory.
Thanks to preamp outputs, this media center can be connected to virtually any external power amplifier and subwoofer kits, making it easy to upgrade to more powerful speakers and surround sound. Furthermore, this head unit is compatible with rear-view camera inputs for advanced reverse and parking systems, so you can still use your backup camera when parking.
I’ve always loved Sony TVs and PC displays, but I am extremely impressed with the resolution of the small 6.4” TFT screen on this unit. DVDs look great and sound even better. Audio has crisp highs and powerful lows, and you can easily tweak it to your preference with the 10-band EQ.
Apps designed for CarPlay and Android auto work flawlessly even over a wireless connection, and one should never underestimate the value of being able to use Waze hands free while navigating rush hour traffic.
Having satellite radio built in also makes this head unit great for travelers and commuters looking to keep their long miles interesting whether they are driving across town or across the country.
While the audio quality is excellent for a double-DIN aftermarket stereo, the power output for the basic four speaker channels isn’t particularly powerful.
You can get a lot more wattage at a lower purchasing price when compared to other units in this car stereo class. The DVD functionality is also disabled while the vehicle is in motion unless you install rear seating displays and connect them to the head unit, making it a less attractive option for traveling families.
Furthermore, if you have steering wheel controls and you want to keep using them, you will need to buy an additional wiring kit to continue using them.
Clarion has an exceptional reputation as a premium car audio manufacturers, and the NX706 is an excellent media center for your car, truck, SUV or minivan.
With features like multiple HDMI inputs and outputs, Dual Audio output zones, smartphone screen mirroring, and much more.
Why should you install a Clarion NX706?
Check out my complete review, along with why I think this receiver is perfect for traveling families, power commuters and long haul drivers.
Built-In iGo GPS
No matter where you go, you have maps and navigation ready to use without mobile data or wireless phone signal. This is a distinct advantage over most car media centers, as the majority require a smartphone for navigation purposes. You can also update the maps and points of interest on your maps using a microSD card, giving you even more useful years with your NX706 before you upgrade.
Optical Audio Out
This is the clearest, cleanest available audio out for any sound system for your car or home. Even if you don’t install a separate Clarion Digital Sound amplifier, you can run a direct fiber optic line for crystal clear digital audio sent to your power amplifier, subwoofer/subwoofers and premium customized car speakers.
WIth the prevalence of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, few car media centers offer the ability to display and operate your phone’s screen on your car stereo. The NX706 lets you screen mirror compatible Android and iPhones using an HDMI cable or Lightning-to-HDMI Adapter. This gives you the functionality of your phone right on your car’s media display, and allows you to play music and operate your device as though you were holding it in your hand.
No CarPlay or Android Auto
While the integrated GPS and Phone-to-HDMI connection eliminates most of the need for CarPlay and Android Auto, future phones may not be backward compatible with the video in connection on this receiver. It may not be a big deal if you upgrade your car’s head unit every few years anyway, but if you intend to keep this stereo for five or more years it may not offer full functionality for every phone upgrade.
This head unit is designed to be used with Clarion Digital Sound amps, and while you can use other aftermarket model amplifiers for subwoofers and custom door & dash speakers, this is first and foremost a Clarion device. Using it with another type of amplifier could deliver extremely positive results, but using any other type of amplifier may not give you the performance or clarity of sound you are seeking. Regardless, the direct speaker output is comparatively weak, and it’s an important consideration before installing this device in your car if you are looking for high performance audio.
In-dash entertainment has gone from being a customization to an expectation on modern cars and SUVs. Bluetooth, complete smartphone integration, navigation and much more are now coming standard on newer cars.
The drawback to getting a factory car stereo and entertainment system is the quality is almost always of the “lowest bidder” variety, and a high quality in-dash entertainment system will come at a significant markup.
Aftermarket double-DIN car entertainment systems offer substantially better performance at a significantly lower cost, and even older vehicles can be upgraded to support the latest cutting edge technology and features for music, apps and movies on the go. The JVC KW-V850BT is one such double-DIN in-dash entertainment center, offering full integration with your mobile device to create a superb car audio and video experience.
Here’s why I recommend the KW-V850BT, as well as some caveats for buyers to consider before purchasing.
Got to have your phone connected and operational from your car’s dashboard?
The KW-V850-BT supports both Apple Car Play and Android Auto, so no matter what smartphone OS you prefer you are set. Change tracks, load playlists and adjust the volume quickly and easily on the 6.8” display, and even use compatible apps on the go to get more done safely as you drive.
You can make calls, see SMS and emails, and even respond to calls and texts via Siri or Google Assistant. You can also access popular traffic apps like Waze to keep tabs on how traffic is moving as you commute or travel.
Play DVDs or CDs via the integrated drive, and connect up your forward facing and rear facing camera directly to the back of the head unit. This receiver has it all.
This is pre-setup to work with Sirius XM satellite radio tuners, and it has rear USB ports so you can run a USB auxiliary line for superb audio fidelity and superior smartphone connectivity. Best of all, it has a 6-channel preamp out for use with custom audio solutions like powered amplifiers and subwoofer kits.
Lots to love with the KW-V850 BT. Car Play and Android Auto alone make this receiver well worth the investment, but the high resolution touch screen and amazing audio quality seal the deal.
Using your smartphone on the go has never been safer or easier, and keeping everyone entertained on long car rides is significantly easier.
The boost in audio quality from a factory stereo is nothing short of breathtaking, too. Not only does this stereo bring out the nuances of virtually every genre of music, but you can fully customize the sound with the onboard 13-band equalizer.
My favorite thing about this car stereo though is upgrade "future-proofing", mening you can easily mak an audio system upgrade thanks to the 6-channel preamp, so adding a subwoofer or custom speakers later doesn’t require a car stereo upgrade.
I am not a fan of reflexive touch screens, as they tend to wear out over time with extended use. They also lack the sensitivity and fine-tuning control of a capacitive touchscreen like those found on tablets and smartphones.
Additionally, while the DVD player is a nice there isn’t a Blu-ray option, and there isn’t a means to stream video on your device to the in-dash display. It may seem picky, but when you have movies loaded up on your smartphone for a family road trip, it would be nice to play them over your car’s entertainment system. to keep everyone happy when you have many miles to cover.
Finally, my last criticism is this unit only supports 22 watts RMS per channel. If you want to get serious boost even out of factory car speakers, you will need an amplifier or mono-block amps to pump up the volume on this model.
When it comes to listening to tunes in your car, you may or may not be thinking about the device you use: your stereo. Most of us fiddle with our car radios without ever paying attention to how it works or what we can do to replace it if we wanted to.
However, for those of us who do pay attention, there is an important distinction that you should know about. When looking at different stereos, there are two primary sizes from which you can choose.
You can have a single DIN or double DIN head unit. So what’s the difference? Is one better than the other? Are they interchangeable?
To get a better understanding of this issue, let’s break it down.
What are Double DIN Head Units?
The term DIN refers to the Deutsches Institut für Normung, which is a German based standards organization that made these distinctions originally. Since then, everyone uses the standard DIN sizing chart for car stereos.
But what difference is there between a single and a double unit?
It’s all a matter of size. A single (standard) DIN Head Unit measures exactly seven inches wide by two inches tall. A Double Unit is twice as tall, so it measures seven inches by four inches.
What’s important to note is that the size comparison means that you can always trade down from a Double Unit to a Single, but you cannot trade up to a Double as it won’t fit.
Thus, if your car comes with a Double DIN, you can choose to swap it out for another double or change to a single model.
Benefits of Upgrading your DIN Unit
So, if the Double DIN is bigger, does that mean that it’s better? Realistically, it doesn’t.
Size does matter, but it doesn’t necessarily make the sound better.
What it does provide, however, is more room for added features like a touch screen or a built-in amplifier. Single DIN Units can still crank out the best sound, but you do have more options with a Double model. Here are some of the top benefits of getting a Double DIN.
Simply put, having a Single DIN means that you cannot enjoy having a screen in your car. If you want any high-tech options such as GPS/Navigation, DVD playing capabilities, or just a menu screen that allows you to control everything in your car, a Double DIN gives you that ability.
These days, because tech integration is so popular in cars, most new models come with a Double DIN Head Unit so as to provide touch screen features.
Most Double Din Head Units have more pre-amp lines than single din (a simple matter of space) so if you want to install an amplifier for your aftermarket speakers, these are great.
For true audiophiles, a Double DIN can provide the extra sound boost that you need to rock out to your favorite station or song.
One of the best reasons to get a Double DIN Head Unit is that you can customize it to have extra features that you want. Most notably, you can get:
- GPS/Navigation with maps shown on your digital display
- Climate Control buttons and functions in the unit
- Phone Sync so that you can have hands-free talking and music
How to Choose a Double DIN Head Unit
When looking at a new stereo, there are some important factors that you need to consider before making your purchase.
To the uninitiated, most car stereos are a lot alike.
However, some critical differences can affect how well it will perform in your vehicle. With that in mind, here is what you should be looking at.
When talking about usability, what we really mean is how well everything fits your preferences.
For example, some people like having physical buttons and knobs to control things like volume and bass, while others may want a more integrated touch screen system.
Play around with different stereo setups to find out which control layout is best for you.
For anyone who likes to pump up their jam, they will need to find a Head Unit that has a lot of power.
Simply put, the more power you have, the better your output will be overall.
When comparing different models, you will see two classifications: peak and RMS power.
Peak Power is how high the stereo can go in short bursts. If you try to sustain the system at a high level, however, it will eventually damage the speakers.
RMS power, on the other hand, is the measure of how much energy your stereo uses on a continual basis.
Therefore, don’t judge a Head Unit by its peak power, instead, compare the RMS numbers to figure out which one has more potential.
When you install aftermarket speakers, they usually have a higher RMS rating as factory stereos give, and even more than some aftermarket head units.
If your head unit RMS isn't too high, consider getting yourself a good 4 channel amp for your speakers and hook it using the pre-amp outputs, which is our next topic.
If you’re serious about getting a state-of-the-art speaker system installed into your vehicle, then you will want to pay attention to pre-amp outputs.
Pre-amp means the amount of signal you get before it’s been amplified, and the more outputs you have, the more you can customize your listening experience.
The way it works is that you can hook up multiple amplifiers (up to three) to your Head Unit, thereby enabling you to adjust the sound as you see fit with different control options.
If you’re looking for something simple, however, then you will need just one pre-amp.
Because car stereos are so easy to install, that makes them prime targets for thieves. Selling a stereo on the street is much easier than stealing a whole car, and the risk to reward ratio is relatively high.
The best tip I can give you around this is just to install a car alarm. We have a car alarm comparison that will come in handy 😉
To help minimize your risk of theft, DIN units can come with a partially detachable head.
Once you are ready to leave the car, just take the face of the head unit off and save it anywhere (under the seat, trunk, glovebox...) Thieves simply won't take the risk to break into your car to steal 1/2 a car stereo because it has no street value.
Since they've got no guaranties that they'll find the other half lying somewhere in the car, they'll pass.
Double DIN Head Units FAQs
Even though you’ve seen some examples of Double DIN Units, you may still have some questions about how they work or what you can expect from them.
With that in mind, we have compiled a list of many of the most commonly asked questions regarding Double DIN units, as well as general questions about installing a new stereo into your car.
Overall, this process should be quick and simple, and you should have a much better listening experience once you have a new DIN unit in your vehicle.
Can I install a Double DIN Unit on any car?
If the dashboard has the space for a double unit, then yes. However, if your vehicle had a single DIN unit, then you cannot install something bigger than the space provided.
If my steering wheel has audio controls built in, do I need to get a new wheel when I install this unit?
No, you do not have to get a new set of steering controls. All you need is an adapter so that your new stereo will connect automatically.
For syncing with my phone, what is the difference between an aux input and a USB connection?
With an auxiliary cord, you are playing music and audio from your phone’s headphone jack. The sound quality will rely on the phone itself. For USB connection, you can access your phone’s functions through the stereo, making it safer and easier to use.
Will a high-powered Double DIN unit be compatible with my current speakers?
Yes, it will. Factory speakers are usually really bad and have low RMS rating. Most likely, the new unit will push them to the max. Once you install some of the best car speakers we recommend here, you may need even more power, as most head units rarely produce anything over 25w RMS.
Will any Double DIN Head Unit fit into my car’s dashboard if I had one in there before?
Because the classification of Double DIN refers to a standard size, all Double DIN Head Units will fit into a space that has held one before. Make and model do not matter in this case.
How long can I play video with the engine off?
That depends entirely on your car battery. Bigger batteries with higher Ah rates will likely provide longer usage of video-audio features with the engine off (alternator not working). The best car battery for longer use is a deep cycle battery.
Last Updated on 08/12/2019