If you’re thinking about upgrading your stereo receiver this year, you’ve got a lot of options. Whether you’re a minimalist on a budget, or you’ve got a taste for the extravagant, there’s a car stereo out there to fit your needs.
How to choose a car stereo
Nowadays, car stereos are more than just radios. They’re also communications systems, navigation systems, and comprehensive entertainment systems. So when it comes to buying a car stereo, “best” is a relative term. The best choice for you depends on what features you’re looking for. Before you open your wallet, take a second to ask yourself the following questions:
What purpose do you want your stereo to serve? Will you be using it strictly for audio playback, or do you want it to be your phone and GPS as well?
Do you want something simple, or with lots of bells and whistles?
What kind of inputs do you need? Do you want it to connect to your smartphone? Will you be playing CDs?
How much are you willing and able to spend?
Once you’ve figured out what your priorities are, then it’s time to start shopping. To help give you a sense of what’s out there, we’ve compiled some of the best car stereos on the market, broken down by their finest features.
Best touchscreen: Kenwood DDX372BT
Touchscreen interfaces for car stereos need to be easy to navigate without looking at them, and the Kenwood DDX372BT gets it right. Designed for double-DIN dash openings, the bright 6.2” screen features simple, intuitive controls – time and again, reviewers say it’s so easy to figure out, you don’t even need to read the manual. You can browse your music library, play your favorite tunes, and make phone calls all while keeping your eyes on the road. It also features built-in Bluetooth support, USB input, and a CD/DVD player.
Best smartphone integration: Pioneer SPH-DA120 AppRadio 4
The ultimate in smartphone functionality, the AppRadio platform from Pioneer knocks its competitors out of the park. Compatible with most modern iOS and Android phones, this model features integrated support for calendars, maps, and contacts, as well as specialty apps designed specifically to enhance your driving experience. It also supports Apple CarPlay, so if you’ve got an iPhone, you can recreate your phone’s home screen right in your dashboard. And, yep, it’s even compatible with Siri.
Best HD radio: Alpine Single-Din Bluetooth Car Stereo
With the advent of smartphones and satellites, it’s easy to forget that your local radio stations are still alive and well. Whether you’re listening to the Top 40 or catching up on news and traffic reports, you’ll want a receiver that picks up your favorite stations without the static. HD Radio technology allows you to listen to high-quality digital signals without paying for subscription fees, but you’ll need to purchase a compatible tuner – like the Alpine Single-Din Bluetooth Car Stereo. With a clear, bright display, user-friendly interface, and Bluetooth functionality, this is one of your best all-around options for an HD Radio receiver.
Best budget-friendly car stereo: JVC KD-R970BTS
A limited budget doesn’t have to mean you’re stuck with a factory stereo. If you’re looking for an affordable yet effective upgrade for your car, the JVC KD-R970BTS is your best bet. This driver-friendly unit has lots of options –including AM/FM radio, hands-free mic, CD player, Bluetooth compatibility, and USB and auxiliary inputs. The receiver even has a 3-zone variable color display to customize your look. You won’t get a better bang for your buck than this.
Let Audio Shack install your car stereo
These are some of our favorite car stereos on the market right now, but there’s so much more out there to choose from. If you need help deciding which one’s right for you, come into our El Cajon shop, and one of our audio specialists will talk you through it. We’re also available for same-day car stereo system installation in San Diego – even if you purchase your stereo from another provider. Any questions? Give us a call at (619) 749-5750.