Single DIN vs Double DIN – What are the Differences Between Head Units?

When replacing your car stereo head unit, there are many different factors to consider. You don’t want to make the wrong choice regarding sound quality, features, specifications, and size.

Regarding size, you may often see stereos labeled as single DIN vs double DIN. But you may not be sure exactly what that means.

Single DIN vs Double DIN - The Essential Difference Between Head Units is Size

Choosing between a single and double DIN head unit is not as complicated as you might think.

DIN originally stood for Deutsches Institut für Normung, a German regulatory body.

DIN first determined the standard stereo head size, but now the acronym is used universally to refer to one of two most common stereo head sizes – single DIN and double DIN. The standard has since been adopted by the International Organization for Standardization and is followed by automakers around the world.

A single DIN head unit, sometimes simply called a DIN head unit, measures about 7 x 2 inches at the faceplate.

A double DIN head unit is the same width, but double the height. It’s like if you stacked two single DIN head units on top of each other.

Considering this, a double DIN head unit is still 7 inches wide but is roughly four inches tall.

Most vehicles come with a specific standard head unit size in mind. But you need to consider a lot of factors if you want to purchase an aftermarket stereo system.

Aftermarket Stereos Have Many Benefits Over Stock Systems - But Be Sure You Buy the Right Head Size

The market for car stereos is expansive. When buying a new stereo, you have lots of options, especially for head units. It’s easy enough to buy a new head unit only to find out it isn’t compatible with your vehicle.

The original equipment that came with the vehicle play a considerable role in your options.

If your vehicle came with a single DIN head unit, your only option is to replace it with another single DIN head unit. The harness for the head unit cannot be expanded to accommodate a taller faceplate.

However, if your vehicle came equipped with a double DIN head unit initially, you can take your pick between replacing it with another double-DIN head unit - or make accommodation for a single DIN head unit.

Pros and Cons for Both Single DIN and Double DIN Head Units

Replacing a double DIN head unit with a single often leaves you with extra space. You can use this space for storage or other small car accessories. A lot of the time, that storage space is used to hold a cell phone. This is especially true if the phone is connected to the stereo to play music or turn-by-turn navigation.

Single DIN head units usually don’t have as many extra features as a double DIN because of their smaller display, but they typically have all the features you’d expect from a car stereo.

Pioneer Single Din In Dash CD AM/FM Receiver with MIXTRAX, Bluetooth...
  • Power output: peak: 50 watts x 4 channels/ RMS: 14 watts x 4 channels
  • Theft-deterrent, detachable face plate
  • Compatible with Apple iPhone 6/6+ and iOS 8 software
Pioneer AVH-X490BS Double Din Bluetooth In-Dash DVD/CD/Am/FM Car...
  • Pioneer AVH-X490BS in-dash receiver
  • Power output: peak: 50 watts x 4 channels/ RMS: 14 watts x 4 channels
  • Mixtrax blends songs together dj-style

If your vehicle has space for a double DIN head unit, there is lots of room for extra features.

Generally, double DIN head units are typically comprised of a large, multimedia display. But occasionally, double DIN head units are just larger versions of their single DIN counterparts.

If equipped with a multimedia display, double DIN head units can feature rear cameras capability, on-screen GPS navigation, music info display, weather conditions, and much more. The possibilities of in-car features are really limitless when it comes to double DIN head units.

You’ll Need to Decide for Yourself if Less is Truly More

For many, the pros of a simple yet powerful car stereo outweigh the need for impressive extra features.

best alpine double din

Think about Alpine's CDE-143BT CD Receiver. You can't beat the price of only $130. It may surprise you that the receiver has a built-in 18-watt amp. And that it supports hands-free music streaming and phone calls. The CDE-143BT is a great example of a single DIN head unit that will not leave you disappointed.

Kenwood DPX500BT Double DIN Stereo Head

The Kenwood Excelon DNX994S is absolutely packed with features. The unit has a sensor to detect and compensate for white noise inside the vehicle while driving. It also has a nearly 7-inch touchscreen display, in-dash GPD navigation, and parking assist. These are all in addition to the standard features you would expect from your car stereo – a CD player, an AM/FM radio, as well as a line in and USB port.

Single DIN vs. Double DIN – It all Depends on Your Needs

Your current vehicle, as well as your expectations, will determine what is best for you. If you aren’t sure, reach out to a professional for advisement on your new car stereo head unit.

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