Single DIN vs double DIN: Which do you actually need for your car? Today, we’re going to explain the difference between single DIN and double DIN, and provide you with tips and advice to help you make the right choice for your motor.
Most vehicles today will automatically come with a stereo system already in place. However, since your music tech can become outdated a lot faster than your vehicle, there’s a good chance you might want to update within a few years.
This is where concepts like “DIN” come in handy.
Removing your old stereo and installing a new device in its place is surprisingly easy. You can even find videos online to guide you through some of the more complicated steps.
Before you start jamming your screwdriver into consoles and messing around with wires, however, you’ll first need to know what kind of stereo you need.
Today, we’re going to introduce the concept of single DIN vs double DIN, and why it’s so important to get the sizing and shape right when you install your new radio.
What is the difference between a single and double Din car stereo?
So, is there a major difference between single DIN and double DIN, or does one just cost a lot more than the other?
Single and double DIN stereos are two very different products, intended for specific kinds of cars. To understand whether you need a double DIN vs a single DIN radio, you’ll first need to know what “DIN” actually means.
The term DIN was created in Germany in 1984, when car manufacturers decided they needed a universal system for measuring the space for stereo equipment in a car. DIN is an acronym meaning Deutsches Institut für Normung, which is the name of the group which created the DIN standard.
Although it might sound complicated, DIN is really just a reference to the measurements of a car stereo, and the amount of space they take up in your car’s dashboard.
So, what’s the difference between single DIN and double DIN?
Single DIN is the term used to refer to a car stereo 7 inches wide and 2 inches high. Most older cars used this standard, and it was the only sizing option to exist for a while, until vehicles began to become more complex.
Double DIN, as you might guess, is the term referring to the larger of the DIN radio sizes. Devices measured as being “Double DIN” are double the height of the single DIN radio (4 inches), but they’re still 7 inches wide.
Single DIN vs double DIN radio: Benefits of single DIN
As mentioned above, there wasn’t always a battle between double DIN vs single DIN devices. Rather, all companies used the single DIN standard. This made it easier for after-market companies to sell alternative radio systems for customers who wanted to access additional features in their dashboard.
The single DIN radio is still popular today, though it’s less compelling than it used to be, due to the restrictions of the size. Though single DIN devices are easy to install, and often quite affordable, they don’t have a lot of space for advanced features.
You might be able to access Bluetooth and USB charging ports within a single DIN radio, but you won’t have touch screens, and phone casting.
Because single DIN units are small, there isn’t a lot of room for controls. This can make it harder to access the features you need in some cases. Some units will come with things like voice control to help you keep your eyes on the road, but touch screens are harder to access.
There’s always the option of looking for a device with a fold-out touch screen, but this can be quite expensive.
Double DIN vs single DIN radio: Double DIN benefits
Today, the double DIN radio is usually the top choice for most customers and car manufacturers. As mentioned above, the biggest difference between single DIN and double DIN radio devices is the size.
With a double DIN radio, you’ll have a lot more real estate to work with, which means it’s easier to access things like touch screen controls.
Most of the double DIN systems available on the market today come with a range of touch apps to access so you can easily find things like GPS and radio streaming services.
There’s access to things like camera connections, so you can link your device to a rearview camera and get help with things like parking in tighter spaces.
Many touchscreen radios can also feature extra components like access to Bluetooth and Wi-Fi on demand, or the option to upload and play your favorite albums. Double DIN radios having more real-estate means they can include a lot of newer, more exciting features.
The biggest downside of a double DIN radio is the cost. You’ll usually need to pay a lot more for this kind of radio, particularly if you want extra features. Because there are various components to implement too, you may need to get help with installation.
Interestingly, you can usually still install a single DIN radio in a car with a double DIN slot if you really want to – but the same isn’t true the other way around. This means you’ll need to take the time to figure out what kind of radio system fits in your car before you go shopping.
Vehicles built for single DIN units generally won’t have enough room on board for a double DIN radio, though you can consider speaking to a garage or mechanic for information on how you can make adaptations to your vehicle.
Any significant changes will probably cost you a lot of money, unfortunately.
Your best bet for making sure you get the sizing right is to measure your radio. If you have a large screen that’s up to 4 inches in height, it’s probably a double DIN radio. If you’ve only got a smaller device with a 2-inch face, it’s a single DIN.
There are also some other radio designs out there which don’t follow the single or double DIN measurements. Though rare, these designs can make it difficult to find new radios to install in your vehicle.
If you’re not sure about your radio system, or you’re concerned it may not be a “standard size”, it’s best to talk to the company you bought the car from.
Choosing your new car stereo
Once you’ve got a good idea of the size of your radio, you’ll be able to start shopping for an alternative stereo. There are plenty of great options out there for both double DIN and single DIN vehicles.
Remember to take your time sorting through your options and look for something you know is easy enough to install.
Other points to consider include:
Aside from access to AM and FM radio, you may also want to be able to stream internet radio, access Bluetooth connections from your smartphone, or even insert an SD card or USB for albums.
Having access to your smartphone within your car can make life a lot easier. With this in mind, look for a radio you can connect to your smartphone for hands-free calling and conversations. Smartphone integration will also allow you to play music from your phone in some cases.
Most stereo systems come with various great features these days, like the option to charge your phone, use voice assistant control, and even plug in an aux cable for private headphone-based listening.
If you need more help choosing the ultimate car stereo, you can find more information on some of the top sellers here on Radio Fidelity.