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Best Car Stereo

9 of the best car stereo options for your daily commute

Radio is one of the most popular forms of entertainment in the world. 

Every day, we rely on our favorite broadcasts when we’re working out at the gym, relaxing on a lunch break, or performing our morning routines. One of the most common places to listen to radio is in the car. 

After all, what better way to ease the stress of your daily commute than by tuning into a hilarious talk show, or listening to some of your favorite tunes?

Today, the car radio is something that we often take for granted. 

We didn’t, however, even have car stereos until the 1930s, when Joseph and Paul Galvin worked with William Lear to add the “Motorola” radio to a classic Studebaker. 

Back then, even the best car radio could only get AM broadcasts, and audio quality was extremely limited. 

Now, we’re decades beyond the often unpredictable car stereos that first graced our dashboards. 

We don’t have to make do with the stereos that come built into our cars anymore. 

If you’re not happy with your car radio performance, you can upgrade it in an instant with some of the best car stereo brands. 

To celebrate the evolution of in-car listening, we’ve put together a list of the best buy car stereos on the market today. 

Let’s take a closer look. 

Best Car Stereo 2

1. BOSS Audio Systems multimedia (best with mic)

Today, the best car stereos come with a range of features to make your daily drive more convenient. 

Aside from the option to choose between AM/FM radio stations at the touch of a button, the best car stereo brands also give you access to things like Bluetooth and built-in microphones. 

We kick off our car stereo reviews with the BOSS Audio Systems, one of the top-rated products on the market. 

The next-gen 616UAB technology comes with dimmable illumination for your LCD display, designed to reduce distractions on your dashboard. 

There’s also a mute button, and Bluetooth for streaming content straight from your smartphone. 

You can even add your own media to the device through the USB pot included with the car stereo. 

For a very affordable price of around $30, features include:

  • 50 watts of power
  • Aux-in
  • USB port for hooking up devices
  • Bluetooth streaming
  • Media playback for MP3 and WMA
  • AM/FM radio connectivity
  • Microphone input
  • Dimmable display

An ideal option for anyone who wants to combine digital music and radio access into one solution, the 616UAB from BOSS Audio Systems is effective, easy-to-use, and versatile. 

Unfortunately, there isn’t a CD player included, so you can’t play your music that way. 

Although there’s a remote control included, it’s not exceptionally reliable. The microphone isn’t as clear as it could be either. 

Pros:

  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • AM/FM radio
  • Bluetooth streaming
  • USB port and aux-in
  • Dimmable display

Cons:

  • No CD player
  • Remote control doesn’t always work
  • Not the best microphone
Best Car Stereo 3

2. JVC KW-SX83BTS (best illumination)

While the last thing you want from the best car stereo, is something that’s going to distract you and pull your attention away from the road, you do need a device that’s easy to read. 

When you’re driving at night, a well-illuminated device can ensure that you don’t have to squint at your dashboard. This KW-SX83BTS gives you stress-free access to your music with a large 2-line display. 

Thanks to integrated Bluetooth technology, you can stream your music or answer calls with the touch of a button. 

There’s also a USB and aux-in, so you can choose to access your own music in a wide selection of ways. 

The USB connection in this car stereo can also charge your devices, so you don’t have to worry about running out of juice on the go. 

For a price of around $90, features include:

  • Digital media receiver
  • AM/FM access
  • Built-in iPod control
  • Smart illumination
  • Sound-shaping EQ tools
  • Digital time alignment

The multi-colored lighting effects on this device are more of a novelty than anything else, but we liked how easy it was to see the dashboard in the dark. 

The futuristic aesthetic of the car stereo also helps with upgrading the overall appearance of your car. 

One downside is that it can be difficult for your device to read your content at times. Also, the EQ functionality can take some getting used to. 

Pros:

  • Excellent lighting features
  • AM/FM radio
  • Built-in easy iPod control
  • EQ tools included
  • Digital time that automatically updates

Cons:

  • No CD player 
  • Complicated EQ functionality
  • Hard to read USB sticks and aux connections
Best Car Stereo 4

3. JVC KD-X260BT (best with advanced audio)

Another contender on our list of the best car stereos available right now is the JVC KD-X260BT. 

This digital media receiver doesn’t come with a CD player, like many of the stereos around today. Fortunately, it does offer various excellent ways to listen to music and radio channels. 

For instance, you can connect through Bluetooth 3.0, or use the aux-in cable or USB connection. 

There’s a 13-band graphic equalizer included, and a microphone, so you can take hands-free calls when you’re in your car. 

There’s also the option to link a Bluetooth headset for easier private conversations too. 

One of the more advanced features in this JVC car stereo is the A2DP technology. With advanced audio distribution, you get a better quality of sound from any device or radio station. 

For a price of $70, features include:

  • Music syncing effect
  • 1-year manufacturer’s warranty
  • MP3 playback through aux-in and USB
  • Bluetooth version 3.0
  • Hands-free phone connections
  • A2DP for better audio quality
  • Phone book access

Sleek and convenient, the JVC is one of the better car stereo options on the market. 

On the other hand, for its price tag, it’s a surprise that it doesn’t include some more common features, like a CD player or smart assistant access. This device doesn’t work with the latest Apple phones.

Pros:

  • Good range of listening options
  • 1-year warranty
  • USB and aux-in
  • A2DP for sound quality
  • Hands-free calling supported

Cons:

  • No CD player
  • Doesn’t work with some of the latest phones
Best Car Stereo 5

4. Pioneer DEH-S5100BT (best with cd player)

The best car stereo is often the one that allows you to listen to all of your favorite music and shows without any unnecessary hassle. 

For today’s modern listeners, that often means choosing something that offers AM/FM radio, as well as Bluetooth streaming, and CD playing functionality. 

Pioneer is one of the best car stereo brands out there, offering reliability and versatility. 

The DEH-S5100BT is an all-in-one car stereo, that includes FLAC file playback functionality for USB devices, and built-in Bluetooth for streaming and hands-free calling. 

There’s AM/FM tuning, and a CD player included, so you can still enjoy all of your CD collection. 

Another fun feature of the Pioneer is that you can customize the colors of the backlit panel. 

For a price of around $100, capabilities include:

  • CD receiver
  • AM/FM tuner
  • Bluetooth streaming
  • Works with Spotify and Pandora
  • Color customization
  • Bass boost 
  • Smart app with navigation support
  • Earbuds included

Although the Pioneer DEH-S5100BT isn’t the cheapest car stereo we’ve seen, it has a lot to offer with the price, including excellent Bluetooth, and an easy-to-use app. The app allows you to bring your messages, maps, and music into your car at the touch of a button. 

Unfortunately, there’s no memory for the Bluetooth connection, which means you need to pair every time. 

It also comes with quite a cluttered interface. 

Pros:

  • Music EQ control
  • Dashboard color customization
  • Excellent app access
  • Bass boost

Cons:

  • No Bluetooth memory
  • Cluttered interface
Best Car Stereo 6

5. SARCCH double car stereo (best for rear view camera)

Depending on how advanced your car is, there’s always an option to take functionality to the next level in our next car stereo review.

This SARCCH car stereo comes with backup rear view camera support, as well as hands-free calling, FM radio, and USB connectivity. 

The 1080p car radio can help you to get more out of your driving experience, by ensuring that you always have a good view of what’s around you. 

Although this product doesn’t come with a CD player, it does feature a ton of other functions that will remind you of what you love most about being behind the wheel. 

There’s a phone link connection for taking calls hands-free. 

What’s more, the large-screen display means that you’ll also have access to navigation maps at the touch of a button. 

For a low price of around $50, features include:

  • Support for a rear-view camera 
  • Hands-free calling
  • GPS and map navigation
  • MP3 player supported
  • USB and aux-in connection
  • Large LED touch-screen

Unfortunately, there are a few things missing from this device, perhaps to make up for the extra feature of the review camera. 

You don’t get AM radio, or HD radio, and there’s no access to Bluetooth streaming. Fortunately, you can still connect your devices through the USB or aux-in components. 

This car stereo can be quite difficult to install. 

Pros:

  • Good FM radio connectivity
  • Hands-free calling
  • Reversing camera included
  • USB and aux-in
  • Easy map viewing

Cons:

  • Difficult to install
  • No Bluetooth access 
  • No AM radio
Best Car Stereo 7

6. Dasaita 10-inch (best with navigation)

The Dasaita 10-inch might be one of the best car radios on the market, but it’s also one of the more expensive options we’ve seen so far. 

This state-of-the-art system comes with a 10-inch rotatable screen, so you can ensure it fits perfectly into a wide selection of vehicles. 

This product should fit any car with a double DIN slot. There’s a built-in DSP and 15-band equalizer to help enhance the quality of your music, no matter what you’re listening to.

Intended to make managing music, navigation, and more as easy as possible, the Dasaita comes with Android 9.0 and 4GB of Ram. Its quad-core processor means that the device operates with lightning speed and provides a crystal-clear display. 

Aside from FM radio and Bluetooth streaming, you’ll also have access to hands-free calling, and Bluetooth streaming. 

For a price of around $500 features include:

  • Steering wheel control
  • Reverse and front camera display support
  • Online map and navigation access
  • HD video output
  • Mirror link for airplay
  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • AM and FM radio
  • Aux-in and USB support
  • Wi-Fi hotspot creation
  • Social media apps

If you’re looking for the best car radios money can buy, then there’s nothing quite like this Dasaita. 

You can use your stereo to not only listen to radio, but also play videos for the kids, and access fantastic navigational and camera tools too. 

The biggest downside is that it’s an awfully expensive product. 

It can take a while to figure out how to use the item because there are so many features to explore. 

Pros:

  • Excellent camera support
  • HD video output
  • Navigation access
  • AM and FM radio
  • Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity

Cons:

  • Can be difficult to use at first
  • Very expensive
Best Car Stereo 8

7. Pioneer AVH-X490BS (best for ease of use)

Offering direct connectivity for external devices like iPods and phones, the Pioneer AVH-X490BS is great for staying connected in the car. 

Perhaps the best thing about this car stereo is how easy it is to control on the move. 

The large touch-screen display means that you can swipe through your apps quickly to find the FM station or Bluetooth audio you want. 

There’s also a one-tap function for taking hands-free calls. 

There’s a built-in amplifier included with this best buy car stereo, so you can get a higher quality of sound from your music. 

You can add album information and artwork to your playlists, which will scroll on your screen as you listen. 

Designed for double DIN car stereos, the Pioneer AVH-X490BS is a simple and effective way to upgrade your daily drive. 

For a price of around $270, features include:

  • In-dash receiver
  • 50 watts x 4 channels
  • Mixtrax tech for blending songs together
  • Time alignment to optimize your music
  • Album information
  • Large and clear touch-screen
  • AM/FM radio connectivity
  • Built-in amplifier

If you’re looking for the best car radio that will allow you to listen to your music quickly and conveniently without any complex learning curve, this could be the tool for you. 

The ability to place all of your favorite apps on your dashboard means that only takes seconds to switch from radio to Bluetooth and so on. 

The biggest downside with this device is that it can take a while to initially connect to your Bluetooth devices.

Pros:

  • Excellent sound quality
  • Easy to use with a touch-screen display
  • Hands-free calling support
  • AM/FM radio connectivity
  • Amp built-in

Cons:

  • Takes a while to connect to Bluetooth
  • No smart speaker access
  • No CD player
Best Car Stereo 9

8. Jensen JBR550 heavy duty (best heavy duty)

Sometimes, the best car stereos for your needs will be the models that have what it takes to stand the test of time. 

This fantastic radio from Jensen offers excellent durability, and fantastic performance. 

You can switch between AM/FM stations in seconds, with 30 pre-sets to make life a little easier. The Jensen also comes with a CD player, with electronic skip protection. 

Although this device might not seem as advanced as some of the complex touchscreen models on the market today, it’s excellent for offering consistently high-quality performance. 

The extensive and user-friendly controls are ideal when you’re in a hurry, and there’s even EQ control included for your bass, treble, volume, and more. 

For a price of around $180, features include:

  • AM/FM connectivity
  • 30 pre-sets to help find your music
  • Excellent power output
  • EQ control with bass and treble
  • Positive LCD display
  • Large and user-friendly controls
  • Aux-in
  • CD player included with skip protection
  • Built-in clock
  • Mute function

Convenient and easy to use, the Jensen transforms any driving experience in moments. 

There’s no touch-screen display functionality, but this can also mean fewer distractions. 

The JBR550 also eliminates all the complexity of other modern devices. The durable solution comes with easy-to-use buttons and a clear display. 

It would be ideal if it wasn’t missing out on things like smart assistant access and GPS maps. 

Pros:

  • Durable and reliable performance
  • Excellent AM/FM radio range
  • CD player with skip protection
  • Fantastic sound quality
  • Easy to use

Cons:

  • No advanced features, like smart assistant
  • No screen for GPS maps
Best Car Stereo 10

9. Pioneer FH-S520BT (best Alexa compatible)

Finally, if your idea of the best car stereo is one that delivers reliability, excellent performance, and intelligence, this is the product for you. 

Built with SMART sync access, the Pioneer FH-S520BT offers integration with smart assistants. 

This means that if you need to take a call or change your radio station when you’re driving, you don’t have to look away from the wheel. 

The in-built microphone in the dashboard will respond to your demands instead. Perfect for use with Pandora and Spotify, the Pioneer is digital-ready. 

There’s AM/FM radio connectivity, and a clean and simple interface. 

For a price of around $110, this double DIN car stereo includes:

  • Smart sync with assistants
  • Android and iPhone compatible
  • Support for Pandora and Spotify
  • Enhanced Bluetooth connectivity
  • USB access 
  • AM/FM radio
  • CD player included
  • Clear display

This Pioneer car stereo comes with the perfect blend of past and future functionality. 

You can listen to music from your favorite digital apps, or just grab your CDs. Everything is easy to use, and the Bluetooth boost means that connectivity is simple too. 

This product will only work with a double DIN stereo, so keep that in mind. What’s more, some of the reviews we read complained that no instructions were provided. 

Pros:

  • Smart assistant compatible
  • CD player included
  • AM/FM radio and Bluetooth
  • Excellent for digital music
  • Clear and simple display

Cons:

  • No instructions included
  • Won’t work with all car stereos

How to choose the best car stereo

So, how do you choose the best car stereo?

That all depends on you. 

It’s easy to get caught up focusing on things like budget and feature sets. After all, you want to get the most value for your money. Your budget, however, is just one factor to think about when buying something new for your car. 

Here are some of the other points we recommend looking at when you’re deciding which stereo might be right for you:

  • Music options: You know that you want AM/FM radio access, but what else would you like? Products like the Dasaita 10-inch come with HD video output, USB support, and Bluetooth streaming too. Other options could include looking for a stereo with a CD player built-in. Even if there’s no Bluetooth or streaming, you can still play your own music via aux cable with many devices.
  • Design: There are many different kinds of car stereo out there, from double DIN to more basic single options. It’s best to measure your car stereo and ensure that the device you’re buying is going to be compatible with your car. The last thing you want is to spend hundreds of dollars for something that doesn’t work.
  • Extra features: Bonus features on a car radio might include things like rear-view cameras for safer driving. That’s one of the extras that comes with the SARCCH radio. You might also want something like a built-in microphone and Alexa compatibility. A built-in mic means that you can make hands-free calls. Smart speaker functionality allows for easy control of your music without asking you to look away from the road. 
  • Sound quality: Sound quality is always an important concern when choosing a radio. Whether you’re investing in something for your car or your living room, you want it to sound great. Ensure that you’ve got a good power output from your stereo to begin with. This will give you more flexibility when it comes to volume. You can also check the audio drivers included with the stereo for an insight into sound. 
  • Simplicity: All radios should be easy to use. It’s particularly important to make sure that your radio isn’t complicated if you’re going to be using it mid-drive. You need something that you can change the volume or radio channel on in seconds. A robust design that’s easy for anyone to use is crucial.

Investing in the best car radio

The best car radios come in a variety of shapes and sizes.

For some people, the best car stereo will be something classical, like the Pioneer DEH-S5100BT. 

This device can play virtually any kind of music, including your CD collection. What’s more, the fantastic price means that this device will suit a wider range of budgets. 

If you’re looking for advanced audio, then the ADPT technology in the JVC KD-X260BT is a great choice. Although this device doesn’t have its own CD player, it does have a strong Bluetooth connection. 

You can also play your music through USB port or aux-in. 

If you really want the best stereo that money can buy, we’d recommend the Dasaita 10-inch. 

This state-of-the-art product fits in many different calls, and comes with HD video, as well as audio. 

There’s a fantastic multi-functional screen that supports front and reverse cameras. You’ll also have access to Bluetooth connectivity, and GPS too!

Good luck getting the best buy car stereo for your needs. Check out some of our other reviews here at Radio Fidelity for even more handy insights. 

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