As a car owner, at one time, you will have the option of upgrading your car stereo system. However, most users don’t understand the type your head units installed in their vehicles. Car stereo/head units come in two standard forms, ie, single din and double din head units.
Before choosing between these two types of car stereo units, it is important to learn what they are, which is the best for your car. In this article, I have summarised these two to help you make an informed decision now and in the future.
What is DIN?
Deutsches Institut für Normung short for DIN refers to the internationally accepted standards that specify the height and width of a car’s stereo head unit but not the length. There are two standard DIN configurations, namely single and double-DIN. The single DIN is also known as the 1DIN and is smaller in size compared to a double DIN, also called a 2 DIN stereo unit.
Automakers and car manufacturers around the world use the DIN standards to come up with new devices. This is why most car head units are integrable as far as the size is concerned. Apart from the standard head unit slots, there are also OEM non-standard designs. These designs dissuade car owners from upgrading to aftermarket units. However, with the help of adapter kits, one can upgrade to aftermarket systems. One such opening includes the 1.5 DIN slot, which is mostly found in Chrysler and GM vehicles.
Single DIN Head Units
A single-DIN head unit refers to the smallest type of head unit. The standard measurement of a single DIN head unit slot is 180mm in width by 50mm in height. The easiest and fastest way to know if your car features a single din head unit is to measure it. If the dimensions fall in what we have outlined above, then you are looking at a single DIN. Otherwise, it could be a double din head unit or the lesser-known 1.5 DIN.
Single DIN units come with a small screen, which in most cases will display the radio channel and frequency or the music you are listening to. Though they are small, some single DIN head units will also include USB, AUX, and several other inputs. Most also support Bluetooth pairing with your phone.
Double DIN Head Units
The double-DIN is another popular DIN standard. The double-DIN slots are twice as bigger as the single DIN head unit slots — the size of a double-DIN slot measure 180mm in width by 100mm in height. Unlike single DIN stereo units, double DIN units are characterized by a bigger screen, which improves the car infotainment system.
Unlike a single DIN which because of the size is limited in features and functionality, the double-DIN has seen technological advanced over the years. They have grown to support GPS mapping, HD video interface, and even gaming console compatibility when installed on the back of the front seats.
Single DIN vs. Double-DIN – The Differences
There are several features that you can use to differentiate between single and double-DIN units. Let’s take a quick at the differences.
Size is one of the distinct physical differences when comparing these two types of head units. Single DIN units are small, while double DIN head units are double the single DIN. Both sizes have their advantages and disadvantages. For single DIN units, the smaller size allows you to have more storage space because of the compact system. With the 2-DIN, the storage space is minimized, but you get a bigger screen that offers its advantages, as we’ll see below.
A double-DIN head unit, because of the size, comes with more features than its single DIN counterpart. A bigger screen allows more features to be included. Features such as Android Auto or Apple CarPlay are only compatible with double DIN head units. These two enable a user to customize the head unit better and add support for features like voice control, Google Maps and calling and messaging, and much more. Read about Android Auto vs. Apple CarPlay.
However, all is not lost if your car only supports a single DIN head unit. There are single-DIN head units with flip out screens that will allow you to have access to both Android Auto or Apple CarPlay. However, these will end up sometimes costing twice as much the amount you would pay for a single DIN head unit. The Pioneer AVH-3300NEX 7″ Flip Out DVD Receiver is a good head unit that supports both CarPlay and Android Auto. For a budget option, check out the Power Acoustik PTID-8920B.
Controls & Usability
With controls, we look at touchscreen, manual, and voice controls. Both Double DIN and single DIN head units support manual and voice control functions. However, with voice control, not many single DIN units offer this option. With touch controls, unless you get a flip-out head unit, the functionality is only limited to double DIN head units. This makes it a great option due to the vast controls you can choose as a user.
Based on I have discussed above, it is quite clear 2 DIN head units are going to cost you more than what you pay for a 1 DIN head unit. The difference in price might not be huge at first; however, as you climb up the ladder, the double DIN head unit is more expensive. This is because of the functionality and vast features that come with these devices. If you are low on budget, there are cheaper options available, but they will not be comparable to the high-end head units.
Yes. According to ISO 7736, Headunits come in two standards. The double-DIN which measures 180mm by 100mm or the single DIN that measures 180mm by 50mm. The German national organization for standardization initially made the standards, the DIN (Deutsches Institut für Normung). Thus they are identified as DIN size.
Most head units will have built-in amplifiers. However, head units do not have powerfull amplifiers, though they are sufficient for most people. To get the most out of your speakers, a car amplifier will offer more options and also improve your car audio.
Yes. The dimensions of a single DIN is 180mm by 50mm, while that of a double-DIN is 180mm by 100mm. Therefore, two single DIN head units can fit in a double DIN slot.
I believe these are standard FM radio RDS text buttons. They include RT, ST, and PT. RT is for the Radio Title and displays the station’s name, ST is for the song title, and PT is for the program type or genre.
A mechless head unit or a mechless receiver is a car stereo head unit without a built-in CD player. Another name for this type of head unit is a digital media receiver or DM receiver. Because mechless head units have no CD drive, they rely on digital audio playback via a storage device such as a smartphone, iPod, and other devices.
Choosing between a double DIN or single-DIN head unit depends on various factors. However, your choice should be influenced first by what your car can take. For a single DIN slot, you cannot choose a double DIN stereo head unit. However, there are Flipout stereos you can select. For a Double DIN slot, you can either choose a double-DIN stereo or get an adapter kit and use it with a single DIN head unit.
If You are unsure about your choice, reach out to a professional for advice. If you’ve got any pending questions drop a comment below and I’ll help out where I can. Thanks for reading.
Do I need a double DIN kit?
Absolutely, you would require a double DIN kit if your head unit measures 4 inches in height. A double DIN head unit would be an excellent choice for a direct-fit replacement. However, options like single DIN or 1.5 DIN head units are also available, which would require some sort of mounting kit. Now, if your head unit measures 3 inches in height, a 1.5 DIN head unit or a single DIN unit could be chosen, but you will need the right kit for installation. From my experience, these kits are very useful and help in securing the unit perfectly within the dashboard space.
What is the difference between double DIN and receiver?
In terms of sound quality, a simple comparison between a single DIN and a double DIN head unit reveals no significant difference. Contrarily, the divergence between the two primarily lies in the display dimensions and the extra features that can be incorporated into the stereo system, thanks to its size. It’s the extra space that the double DIN provides that allows for these additional, often luxurious, features to be fitted – something I’ve found to be a massive bonus in enhancing my audio experiences on the road.
What size is the head unit in a 2 DIN car?
Oftentimes, the size of the radio chassis in most cars corresponds to approximately 178 mm by 50 mm. However, when it comes to 2-DIN or double-DIN, the dimensions extend to about 180mm by 100 mm- roughly equivalent to 7 by 4 inches. This increased size allows for more comfortable viewing and operation, which, as someone with hands-on experience with both types, I can vouch for its convenience.
What is the difference between a head unit and a car stereo?
The term head unit typically refers to any in-dash car stereo controlling component. In contrast, a car stereo refers comprehensively to the entire audio system within a vehicle, which encompasses the head unit, speakers and all. The term receiver, on the other hand, relates to a specific variant of head unit that is equipped with an in-built amplifier. From a personal perspective, understanding these differences can greatly enhance how you view and interact with your car’s audio system.