3 Types of Car Stereos - Jalopy Talk (2023)

3 Types of Car Stereos - Jalopy Talk (1)

If you’re like me, then you love the vibe that surround sound systems bring.

Since the car is where many of us get to unwind after a long day, sometimes in very long traffic, soothing music from a great stereo and powerful subwoofer makes the trip less tedious.

Also, do you want it with Bluetooth, navigation, video built-in for the kids, etc? Will you be using a CD, your smartphone, satellite radio, etc for your music? A lot to think about, right?

That’s why I’ve gone ahead and researched the types of car stereos out there to help you make an informed decision when purchasing your car, or one for the vehicle you already have. Now, let’s rock ‘n roll, or rap or classic, whichever suits you 🙂!

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Types of Car Stereos

When you start looking for a car stereo system, you’ll notice that there are four primary types to choose from: DVD receivers, digital media receivers, CD receivers, and GPS receivers.

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Yes, it sounds simple, but here is where it gets a bit technical. There are different sizes for the stereo systems as well as universal.

The great thing is that the type your automobile has will be indicated in your vehicle’s manual. It could also be a universal size.

What are the Different Car Stereo Sizes?

1. Single Din

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When it comes to automobile stereos, the single-DIN size is the most prevalent. The dimensions of these stereos are around 7′′W x 2′′H, and they will fit in virtually any vehicle.

2. Double Din

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Double DIN stereos are approximately 7′′W x 4′′H in height, which is double the height of a single DIN stereo.

The additional height allows for greater real estate on the front portion of the stereo, which is frequently occupied by a huge touchscreen display.

3. OEM Parts

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You can use a single or double DIN stereo to replace the original equipment audio in some vehicles, while others need an aftermarket stereo contoured to the same dimensions and layout as the original equipment stereo.

That’s called an OEM replacement when referring to this type of stereo.

Features Of Car Stereos

1. Bluetooth

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Car stereos equipped with Bluetooth technology are intended to allow for hands-free communication. This means that a user can connect their Bluetooth-enabled devices to the vehicle’s audio to make or take calls while driving.

The stereos are equipped with an external microphone, which is attached during the installation process, and they output audio through the car’s speakers.

It’s the most useful method of communicating while driving. Additionally, A2DP audio streaming is supported by some Bluetooth stereos, which allows the Bluetooth device’s audio signal to play through the vehicle’s speaker system.

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2. DVD or CD Playback

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You will find a CD player in almost every aftermarket automobile radio system (except for digital media receivers). Many other stereos have DVD playback capabilities, that you can use to both watch movies and for listening to music if the DVD has been created with MP3 files on it.

Generally, only touchscreen receivers that double-DIN comes equipped with DVD playback because they include a display that is capable of supporting DVD playback.

3. Ports For USB Inputs

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Newer stereos are equipped with USB ports, which allow for a more reliable digital device connection. In this situation, a smart device, USB flash drive, and in some instances, a portable hard drive can be plugged into the computer.

Those digital gadgets have higher audio storage capacity than most CDs, allowing listeners to make more music with them when they are on the road or traveling.

For extended road journeys or when you need to promptly share some tunes with someone, this is a wonderful choice of device.

4. GPS Navigation

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If you travel frequently and want to be certain that you know how to arrive at your destination, a GPS receiver installed in your vehicle might be considered.

These receivers are equipped with a GPS antenna as well as all of the software necessary for navigating from one location to another.

To ensure that their customers receive the most up-to-date map information, several of the major stereo manufacturers have formed partnerships with enterprise authorities in GPS technology, like Garmin.

They are commonly single DIN or double DIN push-out stereos since the greater diameter allows it to easily read the maps on the screen.

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5. Compatibility With Android and iPhone

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Through the use of a USB connection, many of the most recent car stereos come with iPhones and Android device compatibility.

In other words, a user can simply connect their smart device to the car stereo using the same cord that came with the phone. Based on the car stereo, a variety of extra functionalities become available once the phone has been linked.

These capabilities may include the audio playing of music stored on the smart device, video playback, management of the Pandora app as well as the Siri assistant, MirrorLink compatibility, Apple Carplay, and a slew of other cutting-edge innovations.

These stereos are ideal for people who listen to music on their phones through streaming services.

6. Car Stereos With Mirrorlink

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Perhaps the most recent trend in car stereos is a technology known as MirrorLink, which lets an Android smartphone display that is linked to the vehicle stereo get mirrored on the vehicle stereo’s display as well.

If the phone is controlled by stereo controls, you might or might not be able to do that, depending on the equipment. The advantage of this is that smartphone applications like Waze, Spotify, and others) you may access it from the car’s audio touchscreen.

Today, the most popular application of MirrorLink is connecting an Android smartphone through USB and placing it in the glove box of a compatible vehicle.

The user may still access the apps that they want without being distracted by text messages, emails, or any other potentially dangerous diversions that the phone may cause them to be distracted.

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Understanding DIN

DIN is a German automotive audio standard that was developed by the German standards organization Deutsches Institut für Normung. It stipulates the height and width of head units for automobiles.

Once a unit has a single DIN car radio or car stereo reference, it relates to the fact that it has the height and width specifications stipulated by the DIN requirements.

What is the DIN Standard, and why is it essential?

This standard is used by automakers and automobile stereo manufacturers all over the world, which is why the majority of head units are convertible.

Even though there’s no standardized wiring, the DIN’s requirement is the reason you’re able to utilize aftermarket car stereos instead of original equipment.

A single height and width are specified by the DIN standard, yet head unit manufacturers create gadgets double the size of the specified height and breadth.

Because these double-tall units are double the height of the single-DIN standard, they are called double-DIN units. Only a few head units come bigger than the DIN standard, which invariably makes them 1.5 DIN. However, this is not the case in practice.

How to Determine Whether Your Car Radio Is Single DIN or Dual-DIN?

The quickest and most accurate way to determine your car radio’s DIN is through measuring it. If the radio is less than two inches in height, it is most likely a single DIN.

If it’s around four inches tall, it’s classified as a double-DIN. The quite uncommon 1.5 DIN radio falls in the middle of these two specifications. There are no additional DIN measures that are standardized.

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Some cars are more difficult to maneuver than others. For instance, if you have three vertically stacked spaces in your dash and they’re all approximately two inches high and only one of them is occupied by an OEM radio, the head unit is likely a standard single DIN.

It is impossible to know whether a bigger head unit will be able to get accommodated in such circumstances. A CD player or a different type of audio device was typically housed in the gaps above and below a single DIN head unit when the console was initially built.

In such a case, select vehicle dealerships and audio experts might have unused original factory gadgets on hand to sell to customers.

Replacing a Single DIN Car Radio with a Dual-DIN Car Radio

When it comes time to change the single DIN vehicle stereo, the quickest and most convenient alternative is to purchase a single DIN aftermarket radio.

While there may be subtle variances in fit and finish from one single DIN aftermarket unit to another, many single DIN aftermarket gadgets come constructed for placement in an adjustable collar that allows them to be installed in virtually any single DIN slot.

Changing a Double DIN radio to a Single DIN

Because double DIN head units are for me the size of single units, it is always possible to convert from double to single, but the converse may be more difficult.

Before undertaking that type of upgrade, it is critical to first measure the available slots and ensure that they’re compatible.

The extra slot must have a height of two inches. Some automobiles are equipped with false slots that appear to be designed to receive a device such as a CD player but are intended for storage. It is possible that such an opening will accommodate a 1.5 DIN unit, or that it will be too tiny.

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You may also discover that there’s not a removable cap, so even if you’re able to take off the housing, there might be tangled wires or ducting in the way, making the double DIN head unit installation impossible.

Difficulties with the Dash Space and Other Obstacles

The wiring will be the next issue you’ll have to deal with if your console has enough room. In most cases, even when replacing a single unit with a double, the connectors for the wiring harness won’t be identical between the two units.

You’ll have to locate an adapter or utilize a wiring schematic to splice a new connector into the old wiring harness, which will take some time and effort.

Next, even though there’s a blank slot in the console behind the head unit, it may have been molded into the dash, which is a frustrating situation.

Even if you can remove it, it’s unlikely to be able to accommodate anything other than a single DIN device such as a CD player. If you wish to swap out a single DIN head unit for a double-DIN device, you’ll possibly have to cut out the section of the dash that separates the two slots in the first place.

If the vehicle comes equipped with a double DIN head unit option, you could upgrade the present dash or center console bezel with one that is specifically built to accommodate a double-DIN unit.

Why Install a Double DIN Stereo?

Before putting in the time and effort to upgrade from a single DIN radio to a double unit, consider whether it is truly worth it to you.

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Even though double DIN head units have more surface area for features such as touch screens as well as interior space for details such as strong amplifiers and built-in CD changers, the costs of these additions can soon pile up.

If you’re looking for a large touchscreen, single-DIN equipped with slide-out panels are a good option.

As a bonus, you may install components such as an external amplifier or a CD changer without having to cut into the dashboard, and you could utilize that extra single DIN slot for a graphic equalizer or another helpful audio component.

When it comes to car stereos, universal car stereos will fit any vehicle as long as you understand the difference between double and single car stereos plus have the proper fascia panel installed.

Ensuring that your universal car radio is supplied with the appropriate fascia panel will enable you to integrate your universal car stereo into the interior of practically any vehicle.

Will all Universal Car Stereos be Compatible With my Vehicle?

Not all automobile stereos are designed to be universal. Many of them are specifically designed to fit a specific vehicle. Using a website’s super search feature will assist you in determining which car stereo is best suited for your vehicle.

This will allow you to establish the make, model, and year of your car, as well as whether or not they have a custom-fit car radio that will work with it!

What Universal Car Stereo Is Best for My Vehicle?

Make sure that all of the universal fit units are labeled with the terms “double DIN” or “single DIN,” rather than focusing on the name of a specific car manufacturer.

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It is these slots in your vehicle that have the same dimensions all across the world, making them universal in size, allowing us to create car stereos to fit them.

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