DO's & DON'Ts – Picking a Car Audio Radio Head Unit

DO's & DON'Ts – Picking a Car Audio Radio Head Unit

When choosing a car audio head unit (aka stereo or radio) in 2020 what are some “Do’s” and some “Don’ts” to make sure we make the best choice and get the best unit for our application? Let’s talk my opinions on what I feel you should and shouldn’t do when it comes to picking a car audio head unit in 2020.

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50 Comments

  1. Reyn Adsett on October 1, 2021 at 6:45 am

    Many new head units will block USB & Bluetooth setup functions if the handbrake switch is not detected. I found this out after days of thinking my new Sony AX3000 was broken.
    Turns out my previous cheapie Chinese unit didn’t use one and it hadn’t been wired up.
    Also lots of Chinese knock offs advertise "Android Auto" when they mean mirror link.

  2. Wyatt Hanshue on October 1, 2021 at 6:45 am

    Knobs are a must and I lowkey like just plug in w/o Bluetooth

  3. AltrixFCTV on October 1, 2021 at 6:47 am

    Im trying to buy a Head Unit with my 2006 Dodge Stratus. Any Advice?

  4. Antony Oden on October 1, 2021 at 6:49 am

    What are the digital out (toslink /spdif) out nowadays?

  5. Dave Watts on October 1, 2021 at 6:52 am

    What if Crutchfield don’t list any compatible head units for your car? Does that mean an aftermarket head unit can’t be fitted? I have a 2015 Land Rover Discovery Sport (10 speakers, no sub). The factory unit does control the climate control etc. Would be great if you could do a video for this scenario.

  6. Michael1212 on October 1, 2021 at 6:53 am

    I’m looking for a head unit that has OBD READ OUT FOR MY TRUCK

  7. X REVIEWS on October 1, 2021 at 6:55 am

    I’m using an older pioneer and the bass for the amp output only goes down to 50hz. Is there one that goes lower? Putting in skar audio 4500.1 amp and zvx 3200 subs

  8. Freddy Kings on October 1, 2021 at 6:58 am

    No name android units have pathetic sound quality..

  9. michael mills on October 1, 2021 at 6:58 am

    So I just got the pioneer PIONEER DMH-WT76NEX and it tend to cause music to skip when it is hot outside what can u recommend to cool it obviously my ac except it causes my vehicle to run hotter which intern causes the deck to raise temperature too please do a video on this if u can or at least respond thank u

  10. Peter Lawrence on October 1, 2021 at 7:00 am

    CD player, that’s new. My car is a 2002 Toyota Yaris and it has a tape player. Upgrade? I can’t be bothered.

  11. sketchur on October 1, 2021 at 7:02 am

    How do I find an aftermarket head unit that still has cassette player features??? Did those ever exist? (Also a CD player on the same unit would be nice, plus radio & clock of course.)

  12. Keilyn Botacio on October 1, 2021 at 7:02 am

    Suzuki Ciaz 2017, help, thank you

  13. Rontus Joseph on October 1, 2021 at 7:04 am

    need a car stereo that’s compatible for the Toyota 2011 mark x

  14. Jorge Bardales on October 1, 2021 at 7:04 am

    Does changing a head unit of a 2012 lexus glx with jbl stereo change the sound signature??

  15. Barry Inn on October 1, 2021 at 7:05 am

    Stay away from PIONEER radios, they are junk. We spent 2400.00 for 2 units 1 for each vehicle. Had nothing but trouble with them and PIONEER has NO support, not even the dealer could get help. NEX 8200.

  16. Wesley on October 1, 2021 at 7:05 am

    He’s right stay from Chinese android units.

  17. Dearan Mcconnell on October 1, 2021 at 7:05 am

    I still have my phoenix gold amplifier I forget what my crossover is but still have that from probably 1990. And jl subs mb quartz went with car. Really miss them.but want to do something again.

  18. 𝐝𝐫𝐚𝐠𝐨𝐧𝐟π₯𝐲 on October 1, 2021 at 7:06 am

    Please provide technical information for the Nakamichi NA3100i head unit.

    Β How to outsmart the head unit so that it doesn’t auto on when the ignition key is in the ACC position.

    Β Thank you.

  19. Erik M. on October 1, 2021 at 7:08 am

    So best Android auto and Carplay for under 300? 2007 civic.

  20. HowiE on October 1, 2021 at 7:08 am

    Somebody know the diference between the pioneer avh-w4500nex vs avh-z9250bt? Wich one its better

  21. lobbyrobby on October 1, 2021 at 7:08 am

    Great video. I’m going to put a higher end receiver into my pickup. Interface is important to me. I want a physical button to control volume and also to turn on a backup camera. I’m leaning towards the newer Kenwood

  22. Matt 301 on October 1, 2021 at 7:10 am

    Thoughts on Alpine ILX-F309E?

  23. theseabass on October 1, 2021 at 7:11 am

    Everybody likes to dog pile on CDs until either their phone dies or they’re traveling through an area with no service. I’ve been looking for a head unit with CD, Aux, and USB support to have all my bases covered, but it’s actually hard to find high quality ones with everything these days.

  24. the names English on October 1, 2021 at 7:14 am

    What is the optical input/output for?

  25. esmokebaby on October 1, 2021 at 7:14 am

    Can a stock head unit limit the output frequency or signal of a dsp?

  26. NeverEnoughPyro40 on October 1, 2021 at 7:14 am

    I am going to have to disagree with some of the things that you have said! In 2009 I purchased a Kenwood DNX7100, I literally just removed that radio 4 months ago! It was in its third vehicle and I used the CD player constantly! Every other month I was driving from South Carolina to New Jersey, And the only reason that I removed it was because I just purchased a Kenwood DNX997XR! The 7100 works just as good as the day I bought it! If you take care of your equipment it will last!

  27. Michael Frog-Man Bourne - 803 Garage on October 1, 2021 at 7:15 am

    Always coming back to review with these videos. =] thanks man.

  28. Michael Grimm on October 1, 2021 at 7:18 am

    Are Boss head units as good as the Jensen, Alpine, Kenwood head units?

  29. Barry Albert on October 1, 2021 at 7:18 am

    Been following you for a while and have my system planned, can you tell me if Pre out voltage is important and why please Mark?

  30. RG on October 1, 2021 at 7:18 am

    Toyota decided in their infinite wisdom to use a non-standard size in the 2019 and on RAV4. Probably other models as well. It’s not single or double DIN. So I have literally about 4 choices and there’s only one single 10" available. It’s $1,200…

  31. Dan Ealey on October 1, 2021 at 7:22 am

    I went thru Crutchfield to try and find one, but I wonder if you know of any double-din stereos that play USB and use Sound Leveling? Put 10 albums on a USB drive and each plays at vastly different volumes. Know of any (anywhere?) that carry this feature and it actually works?

  32. α‹­αˆ… α‹“αˆˆαˆ α‰ αŒ£αˆ αŠ­α‰ αŠα‹ on October 1, 2021 at 7:23 am

    I got this shitty Fender system in this 2015 VW GTI Autobahn.. Crutchfield says it is not recommended to change the screen… So am I stuck with this garbage system for as long as I have this car?

    I wanna put a Pioneer DEH80PRS.. Will it fit? Best head unit I owned!

  33. KentuckyLucky on October 1, 2021 at 7:24 am

    Is the Boss be7acp a decent head unit for just a basic 6×9 system with no amp? Ive seen good reviews on crutchfield for it but ive also heard to stay away from the Boss brand

  34. Adrian Molloy on October 1, 2021 at 7:25 am

    At last an excellant review that explains all the options clearly

  35. inception69 on October 1, 2021 at 7:26 am

    You mention that we should look at brands like Sony, Alpine, Kenwood, JVC etc however NONE of these brands make an Android head unit.
    Android Auto and Car Play are rubbish. Nothing beats the full Android experience. If you want a real Android unit, then unfortunately you need to go with one of these new brands.
    You really do need to do a review some Android units. Not all brands like ATOTO. They are rubbish.

  36. jschrauwen on October 1, 2021 at 7:26 am

    Your thoughts on the 7" Vanku android double din?

  37. CM 17 on October 1, 2021 at 7:29 am

    Is there a way to make cheap Chinese stereos sound better like xtrons brand ? I have fitted a amp which obviously helps but when I fit my old pure brand stereo it just sounds well better . And way I can get the same results using my xtrons ?

  38. sumeet duggal on October 1, 2021 at 7:29 am

    I feel that a big DO is buying head unit with multiple camera inputs for front and rear camera access.

  39. Ron on October 1, 2021 at 7:31 am

    I can fit 1000’s of songs on a thumb drive. No CD needed.

  40. William Penn jr. on October 1, 2021 at 7:31 am

    why is 90% of the units on Crutchfields sold out?

  41. William Penn jr. on October 1, 2021 at 7:32 am

    I’m trying to replace my old radio that stopped working. Why the hell cant I just get a new radio that plugs into my existing backup camera and steering wheel controls without having to do wiring? Why do they call it plug and play if I need a wiring harness, a soldering gun and 3 hours?

  42. sloth1992 on October 1, 2021 at 7:34 am

    Damn Stinger in the head unit market. Thats new!!!

  43. James Downs on October 1, 2021 at 7:35 am

    Not a fan with Bluetooth audio sorry

  44. Alex Fracyon on October 1, 2021 at 7:37 am

    Yes, the subject you touched on in the beginning is what I am concerned about. I used to install my own stuff a long time ago but now you don’t have standards like you did in the past. You used to be able to pull the head unit out and a new one in it’s place or bin
    What do you do with dashes where the stock system is not something you can pull out?
    I know you covered it partially
    Thanks for the information

  45. Aes Cyprium on October 1, 2021 at 7:38 am

    Good tips; glad I checked. I looked into it and there are $600 in extra boxes and harnesses for steering wheel buttons, cameras, xm stuff, eyesight, onstar, starlink, morningstar breakfast links, zelda links to the past, etc. All for a pair of rca outputs, the only thing I really needed. Nope. Automakers reeeeally want you to have a shitty radio.

  46. Rob Dixson on October 1, 2021 at 7:40 am

    Or just skip it entirely and patch your mp3 player or smartphone straight into the amp.

  47. Jason's Journeys on October 1, 2021 at 7:41 am

    You forgot to mention a flip out 7” DVD player head unit, for those that want the screen but their vehicle can only accept a single din unit.

  48. Zachary Herndon on October 1, 2021 at 7:42 am

    Do you recommend staying away from the Pumpkin android car steroes then???

  49. Patrik Ilea on October 1, 2021 at 7:42 am

    Crutchfield has not listed my car.. shame

  50. Ed Ymiah on October 1, 2021 at 7:44 am

    Thought I’d add this one for folks who just can’t easily change out from the factory head unit, especially if you have one of the factory amplified premium systems.

    Found out that my 2018 Ford Sync premium head unit is actually Sony-built inside and is totally 2-ohm stable though the speakers are wired at 4ohms. (BTW. The labelled Sony premium 11-speaker system for this model is all speakers running at 2-ohms while mine comes running 2-ohms only at the two rear 6×9’s)

    Here’s the deal. I put in 4-ohm Focal coaxials in the lower doors wiring in in parallel 4ohm Focal tweeters using an 8uf 100V film ie. non-polarized capacitor into the upper door. (Found out 4.7uf works great too) Everything looks totally factory and .. Viola! With the lower impedance load, more power. FAR MORE CLEAN CLEAN CLEAN VOLUME and COOL running as can be! (To be honest though, the amp in this unit ran VERY CLEAN SOUNDING to begin with. Its just seems even cleaner running at lower impedance all-round!)

    Used to be that my 2018 Ford Fusion head unit would get "confused hot and bothered" all the time. Had to do frequent resets. Been running this way for months now. GREAT!

    Took the system a few days ago to a local neighborhood stereo shop for a rattling rearview mirror problem. Manager listened wanted to what 4-channel amp and door speakers I was using. Said no way he would have known this was not a fully amplified system. No need for an aftermarket 4-channel amp! (At least till the harness becomes available and cheap .. smiles) With a JL LC2i Pro, JL XD600v2 and a sealed box 12W6 … replaced also the front dash speaker with a modified Infinity piece to "catch up". HAPPY DAYS!

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