We spent over 38 hours researching and testing 14 different kinds of car stereos and found that warranty, power output, and features were most important. The Pioneer Car Stereo scored high marks in all categories and is our top pick. We loved all the features this car stereo offered including a USB direct control for your iPhone or iPod, Pandora, built-in Bluetooth and much more. The Pioneer MIXTRAX technology provided excellent sound quality. The detachable faceplate was a terrific security measure that we also liked a lot and was easy to use. This car stereo comes with a 1 years parts and 1 year labor warranty.
That’s where we can help you. If you take the time to educate yourself on the different stereo options that are out there, you can be confident that you are making an informed decision about the best car audio system for your needs and preferences.
We have chosen three top rated car stereos that have lots of capabilities and features that car owners everywhere enjoy when it comes to the audio systems they have in their vehicles. Within these reviews you will learn about features as well as what it is about them that customers love.
We have researched numerous car stereo models and talked to leaders in the industry and have brought you the top rated stereos that we have discovered in our extensive research. We’re certain that one of these three top rated stereo systems will be exactly what you’re looking for.
Top 10 Car Stereos
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All three of these top rated car stereos will provide users with lots of features that enable them to listen to music, talk on the phone and listen to the radio without having to even use their hands. All three are of great quality and have great sound as well.
When it comes to being ready to purchase a car stereo there are a few things that you need to look at. First of all, you want to look at what is out there. Learn about the features they offer and which ones have the best reviews and happiest customers. Brand name is always a good thing to look at but not the ONLY thing to focus on.
Below we have included a buyer’s guide that will give you some detailed information on car stereos and how to compare one to the other so you choose the one that best suits you. Once you have this information, you will be confident in the choice you make and know that it is the best choice for what you want from a car stereo.
Car Stereo Comparison Chart
|6.50 x 7.00 x 2.00||6.10 x 7.20 x 4.40||11.10 x 8.70 x 3.70||8.20 x 3.30 x 6.30||4.90 x 7.00 x 2.00||9.00 x 10.00 x 4.50||5.00 x 2.00 x 7.00||3.80 x 7.00 x 2.00||10.00 x 4.10 x 8.90||10.00 x 4.10 x 8.90|
Car Stereo Buying Guide
At the start of the 20th century, the radio was invented, but it wasn’t until the 20s that technology really began to take off. The very first car radio listed was the Airtone 3D in 1925. They weren’t mass produced though until 1927. By the 30s they were a common in car option that car buyers could choose. The 30s is also when AM radio was introduced. In the 70s, the FM radio gained popularity which made car stereos even more popular.
Although Cassette Players and 8 tracks dominated the 60s and 70s in car stereos it wasn’t until the 80s that CD players hit the scene and made both cassettes and 8 tracks obsolete. Every decade there has been advancement in the world of car stereos. They come with more features than ever and have different quality levels as well.
Now car stereos include ports to plug your iPod and cell phone into, you can get MP3 players to play music through the stereo and then there’s satellite radio that has grown in popularity over the last few years as well. There are car stereos now that even play DVDs in them.
Another word for the car stereo that is installed in your vehicles dashboard is the audio receiver. This piece of equipment is the heart of your car stereo system. The purpose of the receiver is to connect all the different parts your stereo has to its speakers and it also helps the sound get transmitted through the car’s electrical system.
There are a lot of features that are available with a car stereo. That will change according to the type of car stereo it is. Sometimes car stereos will include special features like CD players, radio tuners, DVD players or even a multi-disk CD changer.
With today’s technology and advancement, some car stereos have made it a regular practice to add interfaces for digital music players and connectors for satellite radio and car video systems too. There are car stereos that will offer the options and features you want that will fit every budget. Read below to learn about the different components of a great car stereo so you know what you need to look for when you go shopping.
Car Stereo Size – DIN is the size of the car stereos in-dash capability. There are two ratings: Single Din AND double Din. Both singe and double DIN stereos typically measure about 7” wide with single DINs being about 2” inches high and Double DINs being 4” high. Stereo depths will vary from model to model so measure the car stereo cavity before you purchase your new car stereo.
Car Radio – A basic part of a car stereo is to offer AM/FM radio. One common new offering that has been around for a few years is satellite radio. You will need a satellite receiver and a subscription unless it is included in the purchase of your car stereo. Satellite radio offers listeners the opportunity to have commercial free radio.
CD Player – Another common offering on a car stereo is a CD player. It is usually standard equipment in many car stereos and in many cases comes from the factory with it. Some car stereos even have CD changers which allow you to change disks and have uninterrupted music without having to stop and change disks. Load several into your changer and you’re good to go. Another common addition to car stereos that have CD players is for it to be an MP3 CD player that also plays custom CDs that you create.
Bluetooth Hands-Free Calling – A very convenient and popular feature of most car stereos is for it to have hands free Bluetooth capability. Aside from increasing the safety of your passengers and yourself while driving, it makes things a lot easier and more convenient for you. The majority of Bluetooth applications will require the user to purchase add-on blue tooth receiver modules. With these receiver modules you will be able to have calls routed from your cell phone through your car stereo where you can hear right through the stereo speakers. You can also get add-on Bluetooth kits that mount on the dashboard or visor.
GPS Navigation – A common offering with Double DIN car stereos is GPS navigation. Sometimes it is an optional add-on and other times it comes standard with the car stereo you purchase. You will find this offering as a standard with most touch screen in dash audio/video stereos.
HD Radio – If your stereo offers HD radio capabilities, you can expect and enjoy ultimate clarity in the sound of your stereo. Sometimes this is a very important feature for some car owners who want a very crystal clear, precise sound.
Auxiliary Input Jacks – If you have an iPod that you want to play through your car stereo you want to make sure that the car stereo you purchase has auxiliary input jacks.
Power Rating – When you are looking for a powerful system you want to look at the RMS rating that is measured in watts and is a measure of the continuous output power of the car stereo rather than the peak power rating which only indicates the maximum capability.
DVD Playback – DVD playback means that you can listen to your favorite movies through your stereo system. To have the visual aspect of the movie your system will need to have a monitor or pop out screen that is attached to it otherwise you will just be able to hear the movie.
USB Ports – Many car stereo systems have USB ports on the front of the car stereo. These USB ports can be used to transfer music, play music or can be used for any number of other functions.
Remote control– Some car stereo systems offer remote controls that work all of the features the stereo offers. You can change the radio station; switch from AM to FM, Play CDs and other functions.
Removable Faceplate – One feature that has been around for some time is the removable faceplate. This is a great feature that is designed to deter thieves from stealing your car stereo. When you turn off the vehicle and radio and intend on leaving the car, just take the faceplate off, put it in your purse or under the seat of the car and when people look into your vehicle they will not see a fancy car stereo dash.
Clock – Many car stereos have a clock that will show on the front. This is usually an option to shoe the time and can alternate with the radio station the stereo is tuned to not.
Amplifiers – When looking at the amplifier of the car stereo, you want to look at the RMS power which will tell you the steady level of power that the stereo will produce. There will also be a peak power rating which is the maximum power the amplifier will have in short bursts. To make sure that you don’t have your speakers damaged, make sure you match the power rating on the amplifier to the speakers. Amplifiers typically have 1-4 channels. In general low pass filters will give you better low-frequency bass sounds and high pass filters will give you better mid to high range treble sounds.
Illumination Lighting – Some car stereos have lighting kits that enable you to match the stereo with the dashboard or interior lighting. Not all stereos have lighting but it can be a real nice addition.
Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Stereo
Make sure of the fit – One of the most important factors in which stereo to choose is making sure you get the right size for the spot you have in your vehicle. Most vehicles are able to support the regular Single DIN size which typically measures 7” x 2” high. If your vehicle can support a double DIN it will have a space that measures 7” x 4” high.
Don’t over buy – Many people want a terrific car stereo and feel that the bigger they get the better it sounds but that is not always true. There is nothing wrong with talking to a professional before you buy to find what matches are in line with what you want from your car stereo. It will keep you from spending more money than you need to.
As dust and dirt build up on your vehicle’s dashboard, it will build up on your car stereo as well. There are many buttons and grooves that can appear like they are magnets for any dust or dirt in your vehicle. It is very easy to clean your car stereo and we’ve provided the tips for you below so you can prevent dust and dirt from building up on it and affecting its performance.
- Using a paper clip or toothpick, get into the grooves and crevices of your car stereo and very carefully scrape away the dirt and dust. Be careful not to scratch the surfaces.
- Take a cotton swab and go over the area you have just scraped. The cotton swap will rub the dirt off that the scraping might have left or missed. Cotton swabs are great for cleaning small crevices like that because they can get into those little crevices easier. For a deeper cleaning, spray all purpose cleaner on the end of the cotton swab and clean the areas with that.
- Wipe down the surface of the stereo with a window cleaner. Once it is wiped down, dry it with a dry rag. This will remove fingerprints, smudges and germs from the front of the stereo.
- If your stereo has a CD player in it that starts skipping, you can use the CD player cleaning disks they offer, or you can take it out and spray it with compressed air. This effectively gets all the dust out of the CD player and it should start to work like new again Cassette players, although very rare nowadays, can be cleaned with a cotton swab and alcohol to clean the tape head.
A car stereo is one of the features of a vehicle that people are interested in. If the factory installed stereo is really bad, it is simple to find a better replacement that is more in line with what you may be looking for. There are tons of car stereo options available on the market today. With some time invested and proper research, finding the one that will work for your needs can be much easier.
The three top rated car stereos in this review are all terrific choices for anyone who is looking for a great car stereo that provides great sound without breaking the wallet. You’ll have lots of features to choose from and utilize and the power is good with all three.
In our buyer’s guide you have learned about the common features that car stereos typically have and got tips on keeping your stereo clean once you have it installed. With this information you will be able to choose a car stereo that fits your vehicle, your needs and your preferences.