Who's the leader in car audio head units?

paperfist

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Nov 30, 2000
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I need a new double DIN head unit for my Prius and there doesn't seem to be a definitive source for car audio reviews. I tried looking up top 5 head units and everyone's list is different.

So what brands should I stick with?

I'm looking for navigation, Apple play and blue tooth for the calls. Seems like standard stuff.
 

Yuriman

Diamond Member
Jun 25, 2004
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None? Pretty sure most new cars can't take aftermarket hadh units anymore, so there's not a lot new. The ones I saw on Amazon a few weeks ago were basically the same products that were there 5 years ago.

For what it's worth, JVC seems to have more powerful amps - usually 22w RMS rather than 15-20w. Sony seems to have significantly different design layouts. I personally would avoid "Walmart brands" like Boss and Pyle, but they really might be fine - what turned me off to the brand initially is how disingenuous they are about power ratings.
 

NutBucket

Lifer
Aug 30, 2000
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Meh, using a built-in amp is waste of time.

At any rate, I agree you need to check just how feasible it is because lots of cars are so integrated it just isn't possible.
 

paperfist

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Nov 30, 2000
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None? Pretty sure most new cars can't take aftermarket hadh units anymore, so there's not a lot new. The ones I saw on Amazon a few weeks ago were basically the same products that were there 5 years ago.

For what it's worth, JVC seems to have more powerful amps - usually 22w RMS rather than 15-20w. Sony seems to have significantly different design layouts. I personally would avoid "Walmart brands" like Boss and Pyle, but they really might be fine - what turned me off to the brand initially is how disingenuous they are about power ratings.

Is 2010 new? :D

I can't remember if it was a Clarion or JVC that I had a shop install but it worked great with the factory JBL speakers and even worked with the steering wheel controls.

But for whatever reason it keeps saying GPS signal lost, speakers are getting a lot of weird feedback sounds and it's making me nuts.
 

Chaotic42

Lifer
Jun 15, 2001
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Alpine. Just be sure to remove the front plate and lock it in your glove compartment when you park :p
 

NutBucket

Lifer
Aug 30, 2000
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If you want android auto support then read reviews VERY carefully. From what I gather it seems pretty hit or miss.
 

Svnla

Lifer
Nov 10, 2003
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Not sure now but I did have good experience with Alpine for years but it was a while back and not recently.
 

Yuriman

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Jun 25, 2004
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Is 2010 new? :D

I can't remember if it was a Clarion or JVC that I had a shop install but it worked great with the factory JBL speakers and even worked with the steering wheel controls.

But for whatever reason it keeps saying GPS signal lost, speakers are getting a lot of weird feedback sounds and it's making me nuts.

I assume you're referring to your car not being new, rather than the head units on the market not being new. :p I don't think I'd want to run a head unit with a 10 year old screen and UI in my car. Give me a dumb head unit in that case.

I think pretty highly of JBL, for what it's worth. Alpine was highly regarded in the 90's when everyone was buying head units and everyone was stealing them.

Meh, using a built-in amp is waste of time.

At any rate, I agree you need to check just how feasible it is because lots of cars are so integrated it just isn't possible.

I recently pulled my Kenwood amp out and sold it. After I upgraded my speakers (Infinity Kappas) I found they sounded better when amplified by the head unit. I still have my sub on an amp, mind you.
 

Midwayman

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Jan 28, 2000
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Alpine probably. They have some of the best double din nav units. Though Sony makes one of the cheaper well reviewed ones.

Really depends on what is important to you. Do you want a capacitive screen or is resistive okay? Do you care about built in-nav or is doing it through your phone okay? Do you want apple carplay, android auto, or both? Do you care if it plays CDs?

Trouble with most of them is HU sales are so slow that they are years old now. Most cars can't use DIN units without a ton of work so there isn't nearly as much development. I might look into seeing if you can fit a newer honda HU. Watch out for whatever integration you're going to lose.
 

DaTT

Garage Moderator
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Feb 13, 2003
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I feel Kenwood (Excelon) makes the best double DIN's. Plus they use Garmin GPS, traffic, etc. Usually very integrate-able with steering wheel controls and such.
 

paperfist

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Nov 30, 2000
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I assume you're referring to your car not being new, rather than the head units on the market not being new. :p I don't think I'd want to run a head unit with a 10 year old screen and UI in my car. Give me a dumb head unit in that case.

I think pretty highly of JBL, for what it's worth. Alpine was highly regarded in the 90's when everyone was buying head units and everyone was stealing them.



I recently pulled my Kenwood amp out and sold it. After I upgraded my speakers (Infinity Kappas) I found they sounded better when amplified by the head unit. I still have my sub on an amp, mind you.

Yeah my car isn't exactly new :) I had just replaced the unit about 2 years ago and it's already on the fritz. I guess I'll just replace the whole radio. Not really sure how many watts the factory JBLs are, but they've been the best sounding speakers I've ever had in a car.

Alpine probably. They have some of the best double din nav units. Though Sony makes one of the cheaper well reviewed ones.

Really depends on what is important to you. Do you want a capacitive screen or is resistive okay? Do you care about built in-nav or is doing it through your phone okay? Do you want apple carplay, android auto, or both? Do you care if it plays CDs?

Trouble with most of them is HU sales are so slow that they are years old now. Most cars can't use DIN units without a ton of work so there isn't nearly as much development. I might look into seeing if you can fit a newer honda HU. Watch out for whatever integration you're going to lose.

I'm not really sure I want to spend $700 so not sure if that cuts me out of the Alpine market.

I don't even know what a capacitive screen is :D I don't exactly need NAV, but it's an option I'd like. My phone is an Apple and pretty much all my music or their music app in on there so I'll need Apple carplay.

I don't need CDs, but I see a lot still come with the ability to play them.

Yeah I'm noticing a lot of the models I've looked at have been out for a while.
 
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Midwayman

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Jan 28, 2000
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I'm not really sure I want to spend $700 so not sure if that cuts me out of the Alpine market.

I don't even know what a capacitive screen is :D I don't exactly need NAV, but it's an option I'd like. My phone is an Apple and pretty much all my music or their music app in on there so I'll need Apple carplay.

I don't need CDs, but I see a lot still come with the ability to play them.

Yeah I'm noticing a lot of the models I've looked at have been out for a while.

Well when I got my wife one a year or so ago this was one of the best reviewed ones and fairly cheap for a name-brand double din.
https://www.crutchfield.com/p_158XAV200/Sony-XAV-AX200SXM.html?tp=20217 (Don't buy it here, just easy to search there)

Ended up with a different one for her since wireless carplay was a must have. Most of the carplay units you have to plug in to.
the alpine ilx-107 is what she has. 2 new pioneers have come out with it https://www.crutchfield.com/S-wKWRJ0LrZ9j/p_1304400NEX/Pioneer-AVH-W4400NEX.html is the one you'd probably be interested in.

BTW capacitive is the style of touch screen phones have today. Doesn't work with gloves. Resistive is the the older style that felt like it had a thin film on it and works with all gloves (Its pressure sensitive). If you live in a cold climate there are pro and cons to them.
 
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paperfist

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Well when I got my wife one a year or so ago this was one of the best reviewed ones and fairly cheap for a name-brand double din.
https://www.crutchfield.com/p_158XAV200/Sony-XAV-AX200SXM.html?tp=20217 (Don't buy it here, just easy to search there)

Ended up with a different one for her since wireless carplay was a must have. Most of the carplay units you have to plug in to.
the alpine ilx-107 is what she has. 2 new pioneers have come out with it https://www.crutchfield.com/S-wKWRJ0LrZ9j/p_1304400NEX/Pioneer-AVH-W4400NEX.html is the one you'd probably be interested in.

BTW capacitive is the style of touch screen phones have today. Doesn't work with gloves. Resistive is the the older style that felt like it had a thin film on it and works with all gloves (Its pressure sensitive). If you live in a cold climate there are pro and cons to them.

Thanks for the suggestions. I didn't know you could wirelessly integrate with your phone like that as with the Pioneers. That's really a nice touch!
 

boomhower

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Sep 13, 2007
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I've always been partial to Kenwood Excelon (sp) but Pioneer seems to also hit the mark with carplay/android integration.
 

Zorba

Lifer
Oct 22, 1999
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Everyone that thinks they are completely locked into stock, should look here: http://maestro.idatalink.com/ Not sure if it could handle the cars that are fully integrated, but it does get a lot of crap into the HU.