Guide to Purchasing a Car Stereo
How to Select the Best Car Stereo for You?
Any automobile music system is incomplete without a car stereo. With so many options, how can you choose the best one? This article will assist you in narrowing down your options for the best audio for you and your car or truck.
How do you acquire a new vehicle stereo? A new vehicle stereo (also known as a car receiver or head unit) will provide you with greater sound, more connection, and more playback choices than a stock stereo. We'll talk about these subjects and more while asking you some basic questions about how you use your audio.
And if you have any questions, you can always contact one of our advisers (such as Ivy, seen above). They're kind, patient, knowledgable, and willing to assist.
Why are you looking to upgrade your present stereo?
When you phone us, one of our consultants will ask you this question. Whether you just want to replace a broken radio or enhance features you don't presently have, addressing this question might help you focus on what you're missing and what you hope to gain from a new stereo.
Improved audio quality
Superior built-in power and superior circuit design ensure that an aftermarket automobile radio provides cleaner, richer, more-detailed sound than a conventional factory audio. With improved tone settings, you'll be able to fine-tune the music exactly as you want it.
If sound quality is important to you, search for a stereo that includes precise sound settings like as digital time correction and parametric equalization. They are often found on higher-end vehicles, although even lower-priced aftermarket stereos will provide greater audio control than the standard factory radio.
New music sources and functionality have been added.
One of the most popular reasons for purchasing a new stereo system is to increase your listening options and additional features, such as:
Digital media playback, including high-res music files
Android™ and iPhone® support, including Android Auto® and Apple CarPlay®
SiriusXM satellite radio
Support for Pandora®, Spotify®, and other app-related sources (such audiobooks, podcasts, etc.)
What fits your car?
It's important to make sure you choose a new stereo that fits in your dash. Checking fit is easy using our vehicle selector tool. Enter your specific vehicle information, and we'll filter out the options that won't work in your vehicle and display the ones that will. Plus, we'll let you know about the installation kits, special adapters, and instructions that you'll need — which we offer at a discount when you buy your new stereo from us.
Need a stereo for your classic car?
Retrosound stereo in a classic car
Looking for a stereo for your classic car that won't ruin the classic looks? We carry gear from Retrosound that will do just that. Check out the this '63 Cadillac Eldorado. We installed a new audio system and kept the original factory look.
How do you listen to your music?
Answering this question is the next step in selecting the right car receiver. Knowing which options are "must-haves" will help you narrow your search and focus on the features that are important to you, so that you can listen in your preferred ways:
Android Auto™ and Apple CarPlay®: We carry a wide selection of receivers that offer this smartphone functionality. They provide access to a huge array of music apps (and more) right from the touchscreen or voice control. Check out our guides to car stereos with Apple CarPlay and car stereos with Android Auto for more details.
Music from your phone: Look for a stereo that will control your phone or that has Bluetooth® streaming capability.
Thumb drives or music players: Most in-dash receivers feature USB inputs, so you can have a ready-to-go library of music in your car all of the time, loaded onto a thumb drive or other type of mass storage device. An auxiliary input lets you connect non-USB devices or portable music players. Some receivers feature SD™ card slots, too.
CDs: If you still listen to those shiny discs (many of us here still do), make sure your new stereo can play them. A CD or DVD receiver is what you need. If you don't need disc playback, then a digital media or multimedia receiver might be best for you. Read our digital media receiver buying guide for more info.
If you want to add satellite radio to your new car stereo, make sure the stereo you choose is "satellite radio-ready." That means it can control an optional hideaway satellite radio tuner. If you already listen via the phone app or have a portable satellite radio, then your new stereo just needs an auxiliary input or Bluetooth.
FM radio: Radios with a low FM sensitivity do a better job of pulling in radio signals. An FM sensitivity of 8 to 12 dBf is considered very good. Be sure to look for this detail in the stereo's description if a better-than-most AM/FM radio is high on your list.
HD Radio™ broadcasts: Radio stations broadcasting digital signals are becoming more and more prevalent. To gain the benefits of static-free reception and better sound quality, your stereo must have an HD Radio tuner.
- Qiang Ling