Single Vs. Double DIN Head Units - Is Bigger Better?
Unless you’re the type of person that switches cars every six months, it’s almost certain you’ll be upgrading your car’s entertainment system at some point in the future. And once you do, you’ll be presented with two options - a single or double DIN unit.
In this article, you’ll learn all about single DIN and double DIN head units - what are the major differences between the two, is one better than the other, and which one will work best for you.
On top of that, we’ve also prepared a couple of reviews of some of the best head units you can find on the market.
Let’s start with understanding the differences between a single DIN and a double DIN unit.
Single DIN Vs. Double DIN Comparison Table
What Does Single/Double DIN Mean?
The organization that's in charge of setting standards for creating car stereos is named Deutsches Institut fur Normung - or DIN for short.
The International Standards Organization adopted the DIN standard as ISO 7736, and car stereo manufacturers have used this standard for virtually every brand of vehicle on the market.
How To Find Out Which DIN Type Your Car Supports
Determining which type of DIN head unit is compatible with your car is pretty straightforward.
If the front face in your car measures 7x2 inches (180x50 millimeters), it means your vehicle is compatible with single DIN stereo units. And if the front face measures 7x4 inches (or 180x100 millimeters), that means your car is compatible with double DIN units.
As you can see, the only difference between these two sizes is the height.
If you own a car with a 2-DIN stereo unit, you can easily upgrade it with a more modern 2-DIN head unit. But you could also go for a 1-DIN head unit if you think that’s a better option for you.
Single DIN Vs. Double DIN: Which Is Better
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of which DIN unit is better, we first have to discuss the notable differences between the two.
They go far beyond just the width and height of the faceplate.
Although ISO 7736 is the recognized standard for nearly all car stereos worldwide, there are differences between the two types - mainly the differences in fit.
You see, the DIN standard only refers to the width and height of the faceplate and not the depth of the unit itself. That means that car stereo manufacturers produce head units with varying depths. And unfortunately, not all cars have the same depth of stereo receptacle.
That’s why it’s critical that you refer to a fit guide or measure the depth of the receptacle yourself before purchasing a new head unit for your car.
Besides the depth, the two units also differ a lot when it comes to features.
2-DIN units have more features than 1-DIN units. 2-DIN head units generally come with a touch screen, making them easier to use. What’s more, they have more storage space. On top of that, 2-DIN units usually come with a DVD player with a digital display and support more connectivity options.
With that said, there are a few 1-DIN units with quite a few valuable features like smartphone integration - and even large touchscreens.
The main difference between these two head unit types is their usability.
Double DIN units come with a wider range of smart features - such as a camera, smartphone integration, GPS, and much more. It’s important to remember that although 2-DIN units offer a better user experience, some single DIN units have nearly the same features as their larger counterpart.
Single DIN Or Double DIN Head Unit? Which One Should You Choose?
If you’re worried about sacrificing audio quality by going for a single DIN head unit, don’t be:
Aside from usability and features, both DIN head units deliver the same audio quality. Most car stereos come with an in-built preamp that allows the car’s amplifier to improve the audio quality.
So, unless your current head unit doesn’t come with an amp that rivals most car amps, there’s practically no difference between a 1-DIN and 2-DIN unit.
The only advantage 2-DIN units have over their smaller counterparts is the display. While there are quite a few 1-DIN head units that come with a flip-out screen, in many cases, they’re still in lower resolution than those found in 2-DIN units.
As you can see, the choice between 1-DIN or 2-DIN head unit depends on personal preference.
Here’s our advice:
If you have a 2-DIN receptacle in your car, we’d recommend you go for a 2-DIN unit. Otherwise, you can always get a 1-DIN unit with a display.
Best Single And Double DIN Head Units Reviewed
Now that you know all that there is to know about the differences between the single and double DIN units, it’s time you check out what options you have.
We’ve reviewed some of the best head units you can find on the current market - and we made sure to include both high-end and low-end options, so there’s something for everyone’s budget.
1. ATOTO A6 - Best Double-DIN Head Unit
Our Rating: 92/100
ATOTO A6 comes with the bells and whistles of a high-end 2-DIN unit - but at half the price. And to top it all off, the company offers 24/7 support if you encounter any hiccups.
This deck comes with Android support, which means the possibilities are endless. Whether you need quick access to navigation, Netflix, Youtube, or phone calls, A6 has you covered.
It also boots quite quickly, which isn’t the case with many Android double-DIN units.
When it comes to sound quality, the A6 is on par with high-end units. It comes with a 4 x 45 Watt pre-amp that will make your listening experience superb even with stock car speakers.
The A6 is straightforward to navigate, comes with a microphone you can use for phone calls or speech to text, and has a phone mirroring option.
ATOTO also sells a rear-view camera separately. So, for a couple of extra bucks, you can make you’re reversing much easier and safer.
The only drawback to this 2-DIN head unit is the lack of support for SiriusXM and HD radio. The support is also a bit slow when replying because the company is based outside the US.
2. P.L.Z MP-800 - Best Affordable Double-DIN Head Unit
Our Rating: 93/100
If you’re looking to upgrade your current 2-DIN head unit but don’t want to spend a fortune, P.L.Z MP-800 might be the best choice for you.
The MP-800 is simple and convenient. The 7-inch display is responsive and in a decent enough resolution for most use cases - including watching videos.
Although this deck uses a proprietary operating system, it can easily connect with Android and iOS devices. You can pair either via Bluetooth or USB cable and, once connected, you’ll be able to mirror your phone’s screen.
That’s great news because the MP-800 has very few features on its own.
When it comes to audio, the MP-800 supports FM and AM radio as well as MP3 audio. You can also connect your existing steering wheel controls with this unit and use it for easier navigation while keeping your eye on the road.
The best thing about this 2-DIN head unit is that it comes with a wide-angle rear-view camera. The camera is pretty simple to install and will make parking and reversing more effortless than ever.
3. Boss BV9986BI - Best Single-DIN Head Unit
Our Rating: 96/100
If you’re looking for a 1-DIN head but want all the features of a 2-DIN unit, Boss BV9986BI will be right up your alley.
This Boss head unit comes with a retractable 7-inch digital LCD that you can use for rear-view camera playback or watching videos mirrored from your phone.
Unfortunately, this unit doesn’t come with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. Then again, when you factor in the price, the lack of this feature is quite understandable.
Thankfully, the unit does come with an in-built microphone, meaning you can make hands-free calls with ease.
The BV9986BI comes with a built-in DVD/CD player, which makes it highly versatile when it comes to audio playback. It can also play MP3 audio, has USB and microSD ports, and AUX input.
On top of all that, it’s also very customizable. You can customize the colors for the interface and the backlight.
The only drawback to this 1-DIN head unit is its relatively low power:
If you have aftermarket speakers, you will have to get an amplifier in order for the Boss to work properly.
4. JVC KD-X260BT - Best Affordable Single-DIN Head Unit
Our Rating: 90/100
If you’re not that interested in the additional features a double DIN head unit provides and just want a solid car stereo, JVC KD-X260BT might be the right choice for you.
This head unit comes with a 4 x 40 Watt amplifier that and a 5V preamp output. That means you’ll be able to enjoy top-quality audio even with stock speakers - without having to purchase an aftermarket amplifier.
As for music playback, this head unit doesn’t come with an optical drive.
Thankfully, it comes with a USB port and can play all the most popular audio formats - such as MP3, WAV, and FLAC. On top of that, you'll have access to multiple EQ options to tweak the sound to your heart’s content.
Moreover, you can use this head unit to make hands-free calls. However, it doesn’t feature a built-in microphone. JVC tried to remedy this by including a free headset along with the main unit - but that makes driving unsafe because you won’t be fully aware of your surroundings.
Single Vs. Double DIN Head Units: Conclusion
Before we part ways, let’s do a quick recap:
The main difference between a 1-DIN and a 2-DIN unit is the size. The 2-DIN unit is twice as high as a 1-DIN unit. Besides that, 2-DIN units typically come with built-in displays and have more features than their smaller counterparts.
As for which unit is better, it all comes to personal preference and your car’s receptacle. Both types are capable of delivering high-quality audio - but 2-DIN units come with lots more extra features.