Skip to Content

Types of Car Stereos : [ 2022 Updated Guide ]

Types of Car Stereos : [ 2022 Updated Guide ]

One cannot argue that a fantastic car stereo system is one of the essential pieces of equipment for any trip, especially one that involves long distances. Whether you enjoy driving with family/friends or alone, having your favorite music in the background makes for an enjoyable experience.

Almost all cars today are equipped with factory-installed music systems, and while most of these systems are functional, they are fundamental and do not offer many features. One of the best aftermarket head units you can install in your vehicle is upgrading your in-car entertainment system. The media receivers in this category are not only equipped with advanced features, such as Bluetooth compatibility and subwoofer connectivity, but they also work with satellite radio as well as turn-by-turn navigation.

Car Stereo Features

iPhone/Android Compatibility

Many of the most recent car stereos feature a USB connection to interact with iPhones and Android phones. Therefore, users can connect their phone to their car stereo using the same cable they received with their smartphone. Depending on the car stereo, many new features are available after the phone is connected. It may include audio playback of music on the phone, video playback, Pandora app control, Siri control, Apple CarPlay compatibility, MirrorLink compatibility, and several other features. These stereo systems are ideal for streaming music from their mobile devices.

Gps Navigation

Make sure you consider an in-dash GPS receiver if you are planning on traveling frequently and you would like to know how to get to your destination. All receivers within this category come with a GPS antenna and the software necessary to facilitate navigation.

Several stereo manufacturers have partnered with industry leaders and providers of GPS technology (such as GarminTM) to offer the most up-to-date map information available. These stereos are double DIN or single-DIN flip-out models due to the larger display makes it easier to view the map.


Choosing a customized stereo is the best thing you can do for your vehicle’s interior if you wish to make a striking statement. The screens and buttons of some portable devices have lighting features that you can customize according to your preferences. Depending on your choice, you may even have the option to customize the screen’s background image. With high-end stereo systems, the pictures on the screen will move in conjunction with the music.


Hands-free talking is possible with stereos that have Bluetooth features. The stereo comes with an external microphone that outputs audio through the car’s speakers during installation. The user will then be able to connect their Bluetooth-enabled phone (such as a smartphone) to the car stereo for making and receiving phone calls.2

Using such a system allows drivers and passengers to converse while driving. Some Bluetooth stereos have A2DP audio streaming capabilities, which enable an audio signal from an external Bluetooth device (such as Pandora on an iPhone) to broadcast through the speakers in the car.

Power Output

When purchasing a car stereo, you should check the unit’s specifications and pay special attention to the watts per channel. The higher the watt per channel number, the more power your head unit will be able to provide to your speakers, and you will thus not require an amplifier.

Cd/Dvd Playback

You should note that most aftermarket car stereos come with a CD player (exceptions are digital media receivers). Additionally, certain stereos enable the playback of DVDs, allowing you to watch movies or listen to music if you create the DVD with MP3 files. DVD playback is typically only possible with double DIN touchscreen receivers since these receivers possess displays explicitly designed for DVD playback.

USB Inputs

A more recent generation of stereos now come equipped with USB ports, which facilitate the connection of digital devices. It allows users to connect a USB flash drive, a smartphone, or in some instances, a portable hard drive to the system. The storage capacity of these digital media devices is higher than that of most CD players, which means a listener can carry more music with them. I highly recommend it for long road trips or when you need to share some music quickly with a friend.

Mirrorlink Car Stereos

A motor vehicle stereo’s latest feature is MirrorLink, which allows the display of an Android smartphone connected to it to be on the stereo’s screen. Depending on the model, it may or may not be possible to utilize the stereo controls to operate the telephone.

For now, MirrorLink is using in conjunction with a compatible Android smartphone connected to the car’s USB port and set in the vehicle’s glove compartment. The advantage of this is the ability to access smartphone applications (such as Waze, Spotify, etc.) from the radio’s touchscreen display. Regardless of what apps the user wants to use, they can still do so while being distracted from text messages, emails, or other distractions that may arise from using the phone.

Types Of Car Stereos

1. Single-din

In terms of size, single-DIN stereos are the smallest because they are no more than 7 inches in width and 2 inches in height, making them a direct replacement for older models. Usually, the engine won’t require additional parts, such as a new frame for the dash. The easiest method of replacing the engine is a direct replacement. The downside is that they lack a display, so even though they have built-in Bluetooth, you cannot use every feature found on your smartphone.

2. Double-din

Standard double-DIN stereos measure approximately seven inches in width and four inches in height. The size of these devices varies more so than that of their single-DIN counterparts. You will need to take more care to ensure that the vehicle is compatible with the product, and you may even need to purchase a new dash.

This type of installation offers the advantage of resembling the appearance of new vehicles equipped with touch screen entertainment systems. If you choose your model carefully, you will need to pay attention to its specific features since all of them are not equal.

3. Fold-out

A slide or fold-out option may be the solution for those who desire touchscreen functionality but do not possess the dash space. An amalgam of the last two options may be desirable. The stereo is of plastic approximately the same size as a single-DIN unit. Installing the stereo is therefore simplified.

The touch screen is then either slid out of the way or folded. Therefore, the device can function as a double-DIN unit. It is convenient to have these in case you wish to simplify installation. Despite this, they tend to break more frequently because they consist of more moving parts.

Stereo systems in automobiles are capable of more than just playing music. You can listen to your favorite radio station, play a CD or DVD, use applications on your smartphone, or even integrate the system with the car’s factory infotainment and vehicle information, such as the HVAC controls and engine performance information.

To choose the most appropriate type of car stereo, you should consider what kind of control you require.

CD (Only) Receiver: If you wish to be able to play CDs, this feature will be required. Most of these products are Bluetooth/wireless or USB-equipped, so you can connect your smartphone to provide the user with additional entertainment and convenience.

CD/DVD Receiver: It functions similarly to the CD Receiver, although it can also play DVDs. If your automobile has rear entertainment, you will need a receiver of this type.

GPS/Navigation Receiver: A receiver enhances this capability. This type of Car Stereo provides a large coverage area of satellite navigation instead of cellular tower navigation, such as that found in smartphones. It is also convenient to operate as it is powered by satellite GPS rather than cellular tower navigation. These models are variable in their feature sets, such as the ability to play CDs and DVDs and the lack of a Mech.

Digital Media Player (Mech-less) Receiver: CDs and DVDs cannot be played on these decks as they do not contain a disc mechanism. They still include a radio receiver and are connected to an intelligent device, USB, or SD Card inputs. Most of your entertainment and information will be available on your smartphone or digital media storage device.

Benefits of Car Stereos

More technological advancements. You can access the latest entertainment features with an upgrade to your vehicle’s stereo system. Bluetooth technology, smartphone syncing, digital streaming, and navigation technologies are examples of these components.

  • Convenience. If your car stereo features wireless capabilities, you can take advantage of the full potential of your smartphone. It also offers various features, including Bluetooth hands-free calling, navigation through your phone’s screen, texting, and voice-recognition volume control.
  • Better sound quality. The average power output of stereos for cars is 50 watts per channel. The sound produced by such a system is quite clean, detailed, and free of distortion, and you need not upgrade your speakers to accomplish this.
  • Personalize your interior. If you wish to have a constant theme throughout your vehicle, you could choose a stereo with the same color as the interior. You might also consider a car stereo equipped with a touchscreen to set background colors by your preferences.
  • Safer driving. As you are well aware, it is not advisable to use a mobile device while driving. You can upgrade your stereo system to sync with your smartphone for improved functionality and safety while driving. This feature allows you to maintain both hands on the wheel while speaking commands.

FAQ on Car Stereos

What’s the difference between single DIN and double DIN car stereos?

In the automotive industry, single-DIN refers to the specific height and width (not the length) of head units. Due to the use of this standard by auto and stereo manufacturers worldwide, most single DIN head units are interchangeable based on their dimensions. Those head units that are twice as tall as single DIN units constitute double-DIN units. A radio with a dimension of approximately 2 inches tall is probably a single DIN, or a radio with around 4 inches tall is perhaps a double DIN. It is not uncommon for 1.5 DIN to occur, but most cases will be either singles or doubles.

Why should you replace your car stereo?

There are several ways to upgrade your current stereo system’s sound quality and functionality. Vehicles come equipped with basic sound systems, but there are several ways to upgrade them. To give your car stereo the optimum upgrade, are several ways. Whether you have an older car and want to play music from your phone, if you want features such as media playback, or if you want more bass, there are several ways to do so. Stereo receivers or head units (what most people refer to as the radio or stereo in the car) are the three key components of your car’s audio system. Speakers and amplifiers round out the system. If you need to replace the stereo or head unit, this will usually be the best place to begin.

Can you install a new car stereo yourself?

An individual can technically install a new stereo or head unit in their vehicle. However, the task’s difficulty will differ depending on several factors, including the condition of the trim and dash components, how the new device fits, and whether it has the correct wiring. Our installation guide gives you detailed instructions for DIY installation. Still, for most people – especially those who are not highly skilled at this type of installation – we recommend factoring in the cost of professional installation when determining the overall cost of your new system.


You can expect a long and complicated procedure to assemble a car audio system. As you can see, you should consider which components to buy, but you should also bear in mind the capabilities of those components. Additionally, there are financial concerns to consider.

You could easily spend thousands of dollars on outfitting your automobile with new audio equipment. If you can afford several thousand dollars for components and professional installation, we advise going all out, consulting with an audio professional, buying a receiver amplifier, speakers, subwoofers, etc.