8 Best Car Stereos | March 2017

We spent 29 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. Take your music on the road with one of these car stereos that offer powerful output and high fidelity sound. Of course, today's models not only let you play the radio and CDs, but will link to any device for MP3 playback and are available with all kinds of other features, such as GPS systems, backup camera connectivity and app functionality. Skip to the best car stereo on Amazon.
8 Best Car Stereos | March 2017


Overall Rank: 6
Best Mid-Range
★★★
Overall Rank: 1
Best High-End
★★★★★
Overall Rank: 5
Best Inexpensive
★★★
8
The XO Vision XD105 Stereo is not the Cadillac of aftermarket car stereo systems, but it is a low-cost and reliable unit that can play multiple audio formats, from MP3 to FM to anything you send through its USB port.
7
The BlueFire Bluetooth Car Stereo single DIN in-dash system has a maximum output power of sixty watts, which is enough to get the full potential out of almost any car speaker system you could have installed.
6
The Kenwood Marine Stereo Receiver is a great choice for vehicles ranging from a boat to a convertible to a cruising-style motorcycle. It is reliably rugged and waterproof, and it produces high-quality audio.
5
The Masione Bluetooth Car Audio Stereo can synch up with many types of Wi-Fi enabled devices, or you can leave it to the unit's digital high-quality FM stereo radio receiver to see what music or talk programs are being broadcast.
  • 18 station memory capability
  • automatic volume equalization
  • very low price point
Brand Masione
Model pending
Weight 1.4 pounds
4
The Pupug 7-Inch Touch Screen will appeal to anyone used to using an iPhone or iPad, as its operating system is designed in much the same way as an Apple OS. Its GPS system features spoken directions that get you there safely.
  • mutes audio for incoming calls
  • sd slot for data uploads
  • 256 mb internal memory
Brand Pupug
Model PYH.2W.201GN+FCAM
Weight 7.7 pounds
3
The JVC KDR660 Car Stereo comes ready to integrate with either your iPhone or your smartphone using an Android platform. It will single-handedly turn your vehicle into a "smart" system ready for extensive hands-free tech operations.
  • good low and high frequency clarity
  • 50 watt peak power output
  • easily fits into most vehicles
Brand JVC
Model KDR660
Weight 3.1 pounds
2
You'll be pleasantly surprised at the quality and reliability of the Pioneer DEH-150MP Single DIN car stereo system given its low price tag. It has an in-dash AM/FM radio, CD player, and MP3 receiver all in one.
  • wireless remote control included
  • anti-theft detachable faceplate
  • auxiliary 3.5 mm input jack
Brand Pioneer
Model DEH150MP
Weight 2.9 pounds
1
The Pumpkin Quad Core Universal is more of a miniature super computer than a mere car stereo, though, of course, it can help play your music with ease. It can also be synched with a backup camera, GPS system, phones, and more.
  • high resolution screen
  • supports multiple apps
  • backed by 18 month warranty
Brand PUMPKIN
Model C0248
Weight 6.5 pounds

Make Friends With Your Stereo

You might have that one person in your group of friends who, when you're all leaving the movie theater, won't shut up about all their favorite parts of the movie, even if it spoils the film for the people waiting outside.

Your CD, MP3, or any sound file sent through your stereo is like that movie, and most of the stereos that come installed as part of your car's standard package are like that friend. All the information goes in, but what comes out is a shell of the original intention.

A good stereo, then, is like a brilliant film critic, whose insights into what you've just experienced actually make the film stronger and stronger with each viewing.

It takes the signal from a given source and reinterprets it into digital information that's relayed to the magnets in your speakers and comes out as specific sounds.

The best critics not only give you new eyes through which to see a film, they usually also point you in the direction of other films, book, experiences, even other critics, that they admire. You can even think of that as a good touch screen stereo's navigation and menu system.

The cheap touch screen systems, like that same shallow, loquacious friend, are hard to be around. They don't seem to know what they want and they never react to you the way you expect them to. They're downright annoying.

But a quality touch screen friend seems to know what you want to do before you even do it, and the menu systems of the touch screens in our top five make for some of the most streamlined user experiences out there.

A Wall Worth Wanting

Let's paint a picture: You walk into a little shop that sells car stereos. The AC is turned up just a bit too high, and the room smells vaguely of metal and old carpeting.

There's a stereo system throughout the store that's playing Hall & Oats, but it's a deep album cut that you can't quite recognize.

Suddenly a salesman appears in a cheap button down shirt with the store's name embroidered over his heart. And he's sweating. He's sweating a lot, especially considering how cold it is in the store. He greets you, and you respond in kind.

"What are you looking for today?" he asks, full of hope.

"Well, I'd like to upgrade my car stereo," you reply with some hesitation.

A slow, knowing grin stretches his face into something almost sinister, and behind him a wall begins to open, revealing at least 100 different car stereos, most of which land in the same price range, with few discernible differences from one to the next.

Laughing maniacally, the salesman hits a button that causes all of the stereos on the wall to play a different Hall & Oats song all at the same time. Not one of them plays any of the hits.

You run out of the store, no closer to your goal.

The salesman knew you weren't ready to make a specific decision, so he sent you packing. What you needed to do before going in was to ask yourself what you wanted in a new stereo, and how much room you have in your car for it.

If you have one small, standard slot–or din–your options are more limited. If, however, you have the space to install a nav screen and its related components, your options increase significantly.

And, as the price point increases, just make sure that the reasons for which the price is going up are features you actually want.

Then you can go back into the store, demand that the salesman apologize for subjecting you to so much obscure Hall & Oats, and tell him exactly what it is you need.

Driven By Demand: How Audio Met The Auto

Cars weren't around for very long before they got themselves some form of audio component added to them. The first of these was an enormous unit created by the Galvin brothers (who became the Motorola brand).

It was so big that it couldn't even be placed in the driver's vicinity, and so was operated by remote control. This was in 1930, and the radio cost nearly a quarter the value of the car itself.

FM radio hit the scene in the 50s, along with a single car radio that could switch from FM to AM. The biggest development in the 50s, however, was ambitious but ultimately pretty stupid: an in-car vinyl record player. You think CD skipping was a problem? Wait till you try playing Chubby Checker while doing 50 MPH on a county road. The Twist quickly becomes The Seizure.

Eight-Track showed up in the 60s, cassette tapes in the 70s, and CD players in the 80s, though each took time for its prices to come down enough that everybody could have them. Currently, CDs are in their dying days of a fight against portable music.

If wearables do what they want to do to the market, it could mean the end of the car stereo as we know it, especially if sight and sound become integrated into wearable entertainment systems.

For now, we have our car stereos, and we should cherish them while they last.



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Last updated: 03/30/2017 | Authorship Information

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