[Philkotse tips] How to choose the right head unit for your car

Nov 08, 2019 | Same topic: Best advice for car buyers
Handy tips on how to choose the right head unit for your vehicle and the things you need to consider to get the best head unit suitable for your vehicle.

Looking for the perfect and suitable head unit is considered to be one of the most daunting tasks a car owner might experience. If you make a wrong choice, it could cost you a hefty amount of money, time, and effort. 

This is the main reason why you need to make sure you’re getting the most suitable head unit for your vehicle before you decide to spend your hard-earned money on a car stereo.

No worries. Philkotse.com is here to help you. We will guide you in picking the best head unit for your vehicle. Read this article to know more!

1. What is the head unit?

Before we head straight to the tips on buying a head unit, we should first understand what it is and its purpose in your vehicle. The head unit is the base where the rest of the audio system of the car is built.

More often, it is also called a car radio because lots of them include a radio. The car radio can significantly affect the sound of your car's audio system. Additionally, the head unit also impacts the looks of your dashboard and the way you can do things with it while driving; one example is switching inputs.

Head unit

The head unit is the base where the rest of the audio system of the car is built

>>> Check out: Troubleshooting your car head unit.

2. Essential factors to consider when choosing the best head unit for your car

Primarily, four factors affect the head unit’s suitability for use in any given audio system of a vehicle. It all depends on the particular situation. There will be instances where some of the given factors will be more crucial than the rest.

The following are the four most important factors that every car owner should consider when picking a head unit for their vehicle:

Budget

You need to be realistic. It is one of the most important things to keep in mind when you decide to upgrade your car audio system.  If you have the money to spend on a killer sound system, then you can do so. However, not all car owners have the same option.

This is the main reason why it’s essential to have a solid idea of what you want in a head unit. You should also keep in mind that there will be other components you need to buy. So, make sure you are purchasing a head unit that doesn’t take its toll on your budget.

Calculator and reading glasses

Budget is one of the most important things to keep in mind when you decide to upgrade your car audio system

Power

The power we are talking about is the audio output that is sent by the head units to the speakers. The logic here is simple; if there is more power, there will be a louder sound. There will also be less distortion at high or medium volume levels.

You have to remember that if you have a powerful head unit and you connect it in weak speakers, the provided results won’t be pleasing.

Head unit

The power we are talking about is the audio output that is sent by the head units to the speakers

Aesthetics

Most of the time, the look of the head unit is more important than the rest of the four main factors. For most people, the head unit is considered to be the centerpiece of the dashboard.

It is the main reason why it's crucial to pick a head unit that is pleasing to the eye. If the car owner prioritizes the aesthetics of the head unit, it often leads to you choosing an OE (original equipment) head unit.

car head unit

The head unit is considered to be the centerpiece of the dashboard

Features

The term head unit is used more often instead of 'car radio' because the head unit handles more than what the basic radio can provide. If you want a particular feature like MP3 compatibility or Bluetooth connectivity, then make sure you focus on looking for a head unit that has your desired features.

Head unit

Focus on looking for a head unit that has your desired features

If you’re working on a particular budget, you will want to have a head unit that exceeds or at least meets your needs without making a hole in your pocket. However, some car owners want to build a perfect car sound system.

It means they have different priorities other than just finding a head unit suitable for their budget. In that case, you need to take a look at other qualities you should consider when looking for the best head unit for you.

>>> Grab your attention: Must-know tips to choose the best aftermarket car head units.

3. Size categories of the head unit

Before you start looking for a head unit for your vehicle, the first thing you need to do is identify the type of head unit required in your dashboard. There are two types of head unit; the Single DIN and Double DIN.

You need to check your dashboard to know the dedicated type of head unit for it. Identifying the type of head unit is pretty easy.

Single DIN head unit

For vehicles having a Single DIN head unit, the measurement of the faceplate is about 7 inches long by 2 inches tall or 180x50 mm. This type of head unit occupies less space than the Double DIN head unit. It is also less prone to thieves because it is not as obvious as their counterparts (especially models having detachable faceplates).

best double din head unit

This type of head unit occupies less space than the Double DIN head unit

Double DIN head unit

The front faceplate of Double DIN head unit measures about 7 inches long by 2 inches tall or 180x100mm. This type of head unit consumes more dashboard space and offers a large and colorful touchscreen displays. Double DIN head unit is an excellent choice if you want features like GPS navigation, app mirroring, and DVD playback.

4. Audio sources of the head unit

Another essential bit that you should look for when searching for a head unit is the audio sources. The audio source of the head unit depends on the car owner’s preference since all cars have a media library composed of various amounts of CDs, cassettes, MP3s and many other digital music files.

>>> You might want to know: What you need to know about car audio and amplifiers.

It depends on what collection you have. Here are some of the audio sources you might want to have in your head unit:

  • Compact discs
  • Cassette tapes
  • Blu-Ray Discs
  • DVDs

Most OE head units already phased out cassettes. If you want a head unit that can play both CDs and cassettes, then you can opt for the aftermarket Double DIN head unit. Some aftermarket market models also have CD charger controls.

head unit

Another essential bit that you should look for when searching for a head unit is the audio sources

Source: Hanna Miel Sanchez