Are double DIN radios worth it?

What is a double DIN radio?

A double DIN radio refers to a car stereo that is twice the size of a standard DIN radio. The DIN standard was created in the 1980s by the German national standards body Deutsches Institut für Normung to standardize the size of car stereo head units. A single DIN stereo measures 2 inches high by 7 inches wide. In contrast, a double DIN stereo is twice as tall, measuring 4 inches high by 7 inches wide.

The main difference between single and double DIN radios is the size and layout of the screen and controls. Single DIN radios have a smaller, usually non-touch display and fewer buttons. Double DIN radios have a larger, usually touch screen display and more room for advanced features and controls. The larger size also allows for displays that can show more information and be easier to read at a glance while driving.

Double DIN head units typically offer more features like onboard navigation, DVD playback, Bluetooth hands-free calling, smartphone integration, and multimedia playback. They accommodate larger touchscreens, better graphics, and an overall more modern, sleek aesthetic. For car owners looking for the latest technology and connectivity, double DIN radios provide more flexibility and capability in a center console radio.

Benefits of double DIN radios

The main benefit of double DIN radios is their larger screen size compared to single DIN models. Double DIN radios have a height of 4 inches, allowing for a screen size of up to 9 inches or more. This increased display area makes them better suited for touch screens and displays with more information like GPS navigation maps (Crutchfield). The larger screens can also display video from backup cameras, which isn’t really feasible with a single DIN radio.

In addition to larger screens, double DIN radios tend to have better sound quality and louder output than single DIN models. They have more internal space for larger and better amplifiers and speaker wiring connections. Many audiophile-grade receivers like the Alpine Halo series are designed in double DIN format to take advantage of the extra size and power (Dual AV).

With their increased size, double DIN radios can accommodate more physical buttons and controls compared to single DIN models. This allows for easier access and use of features like switching between sources, adjusting volume and sound settings, and configuring navigation. The controls are also backlit for visibility at night. Overall, the larger double DIN size enables more advanced features and functionality.

Downsides of double DIN radios

Though double DIN radios have many benefits, there are some potential downsides to consider as well. One of the main disadvantages is that double DIN units tend to be more expensive than single DIN models. The larger size and added features of double DIN radios means they usually carry a higher price tag

Another downside is that double DIN radios may not fit well in some older vehicles that were designed for traditional single DIN units. The larger footprint of a double DIN stereo requires more dash space, so you may need to modify your dash kit if upgrading to a double DIN system (

Finally, double DIN radios can be more complicated to install than single DIN units. You’ll likely need special installation kits and harnesses, and may need to do some custom work to get a good fit. So be prepared for a more involved installation process when upgrading to a double DIN system.

Top brands for double DIN radios

When it comes to top brands for double DIN radios, there are a few key players to consider. According to experts at Best Buy, the main brands to look at are:

  • Pioneer – A leading brand known for high-quality audio and innovative features like wireless Android Auto/Apple CarPlay. Their double DIN models range from $300 to $1400.
  • Kenwood – Popular for built-in navigation and entertainment options. Kenwood double DIN radios cost $300-$1300.
  • Alpine – Focuses on premium sound and acoustic tuning. Alpine double DIN stereos are priced $400-$1500.
  • Sony – Emphasizes audio power, usually 45W RMS or higher. Sony double DIN units run $250-$1000.
  • JVC – Known for affordable prices, between $200-$600 for double DIN. Great bang for your buck.

When comparing top brands, factors to consider include sound quality, interface, smartphone connectivity, navigation, price, and features like HD Radio, satellite radio, or DVD playback. Do your research to find the best double DIN radio to match your budget and needs.

Average Cost of Double DIN Radios

The average cost of a double DIN radio can range quite a bit depending on the model and features. Entry-level double DIN radios typically start around $100-150. These affordable models will provide basic functionality like AM/FM radio, CD player, Bluetooth connectivity, and touchscreen interface. However, they lack more advanced features like navigation, wireless Android Auto/Apple CarPlay, HD Radio, and premium audio components.

For mid-range double DIN radios expect to pay $200-400. These models add nicer touchscreens, built-in navigation, better Bluetooth audio streaming, and compatibility with smartphone mirroring. Some include DVD players, SiriusXM readiness, and improved audio quality. Brands like Pioneer, Kenwood, Alpine, Sony, and JVC have good options in this price range.

High-end and luxury double DIN radios run from $500 up to over $1000. They boast large high-resolution touchscreens, integrated navigation with traffic updates, wireless CarPlay/Android Auto, HD Radio, multizone audio, HD video playback, and high-fidelity audio components. Top brands like Pioneer and Kenwood offer premium models with all the bells and whistles.

In comparison, single DIN radios are simpler and less expensive, ranging from around $50-200. While they take up less space, they have smaller screens and fewer features. So double DIN radios provide more functionality and expandability, albeit at a higher upfront cost.

According to this source, expect to pay $150-1000 for professional installation of a double DIN unit, depending on the complexity and customization involved. So factor in labor costs in addition to the head unit price itself.

Installation tips

Installing a double DIN stereo on your own can save money compared to having it professionally installed, but does require some technical know-how. The main components needed are:

  • Dash kit – This mounts the new stereo to the existing dashboard opening. Dashboard openings come in different sizes so you’ll need one made specifically for your vehicle make and model. Popular options are the Metra and Scosche dash kits (
  • Wiring harness – This connects the new stereo to your vehicle’s electrical system. Using a harness specific to your vehicle makes installation much easier than manually splicing wires. Brands like Metra and Scosche have stereo wiring harnesses for most vehicle makes and models.
  • Basic tools – You’ll need trim removal tools, wire strippers, crimpers, etc. Many installation kits include the basic tools required.

When installing yourself, be sure to disconnect the battery first and follow all instructions closely. Using vehicle-specific components like the dash kit and wiring harness greatly simplifies the installation. Professional installation may be the better option if you’re not technically inclined or want to preserve your vehicle’s warranty.

Latest Features

The most cutting-edge double DIN radios now come equipped with large, high-resolution touchscreens, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth connectivity, and satellite radio capabilities. Touchscreens have gotten bigger over the years, with many now 7 inches or larger, like the Pioneer DMH-WT8600NEX 10.1-inch model. These oversized screens make them easier to control and view while driving.

Smartphone integration through Apple CarPlay and Android Auto allows you to access many apps from your phone directly on the head unit’s touchscreen. You can pull up navigation, music streaming, phone calls, texts and more. This convenience and hands-free access is a major benefit. Bluetooth technology also allows you to wirelessly stream music and take hands-free calls.

Satellite radio through services like SiriusXM give you access to hundreds of radio stations covering every genre, which is handy for longer drives. Many double DIN units today come SiriusXM-ready.

Are They Worth the Upgrade?

Whether a double DIN radio is worth it depends on your specific needs and preferences as a driver. Here are some pros and cons to consider:


  • Larger screen size allows for more advanced graphics and visual displays (1)
  • More physical space for buttons/knobs for easier use while driving (1)
  • Can accommodate larger LCD panels and touchscreens (2)
  • More room for additional features like built-in navigation, DVD playback, etc. (2)
  • Certain high-tech safety features like Apple CarPlay only available on double DIN units (1)


  • More expensive on average than single DIN radios (2)
  • Installation often requires custom mounting brackets and trim pieces (1)
  • May not fit properly or require dash modifications in vehicles with limited space (1)
  • Advanced features may be unnecessary for basic stereo needs (2)

Double DIN radios make the most sense for drivers who want a radio with advanced multimedia capabilities and larger screen real estate. For those seeking a more budget-friendly option with basic functionality, a single DIN stereo may be the better choice.



Future outlook

The future of double DIN car stereos looks bright, with new technologies on the horizon that will enhance the user experience. According to discussions on Reddit, manufacturers are working on integrating more smart features into double DIN units [1]. We can expect to see things like improved voice control, personalized user profiles, and deeper integration with smartphones and mobile apps. Brands are also working on higher resolution screens, better sound quality, and more customizable EQ settings and audio tuning capabilities.

In terms of design, bezels around the screen are getting thinner and screens are getting larger on many new double DIN models. Capacitive touchscreens are also becoming more common, replacing resistive touchscreens. This allows for a more responsive user interface similar to a smartphone. Integrated navigation and mapping is advancing as well, with some high end units offering 3D map views. Back up cameras are now standard on most double DIN stereos.

Connectivity to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is now mainstream, with most double DIN units offering one or both interfaces. This is expected to continue as CarPlay and Auto evolve. Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity will also keep improving. Overall, the goal seems to be deeper integration of the stereo into the car’s systems and the driver’s digital lifestyle.


When deciding whether a double DIN radio is worth it, consider your in-vehicle entertainment needs and budget. Double DIN radios offer larger screens, more features, and superior sound quality compared to single DIN models. However, they also come at a higher price point and often require custom installation.

For music lovers, audiophiles, and tech enthusiasts, the ability to add high-end stereo components, large touchscreens, navigation, and smartphone integration makes the upgrade worthwhile. You’ll enjoy a richer audiovisual experience. But if you simply want basic radio functionality and aren’t as concerned with sound quality or extra capabilities, a standard radio should suffice.

Additionally, carefully research the best double DIN models for your vehicle before purchasing, as dash and trim compatibility differs between car makes and models. Installation can range from $100-300 depending on the complexity. While more expensive upfront, a double DIN radio can greatly enhance your driving entertainment for years to come.

In summary, double DIN radios provide premium features and audio quality but require a higher budget. Consider how much you’ll use the upgrades versus sticking with a standard stereo. And take time to have it professionally installed to maximize the improved audiovisual abilities.

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