What is a single DIN radio, and how do you know if you need one? The terms “Single DIN” and “Double DIN” seem to appear constantly when you’re searching for a new car stereo.
Unfortunately, if you don’t have a lot of experience updating your car’s audio, it can be difficult to figure out which type of radio you actually need.
You might know single DIN radios are the most common option for the majority of cars. Or you might have a general idea a single DIN car stereo is usually a little smaller than a double DIN alternative.
Don’t worry if you’re completely oblivious though.
The majority of people couldn’t give a very comprehensive description of what “DIN” means and how it applies to their car accessories either.
Fortunately, we’re here to help.
Today, we’re going to be answering the question “What does single DIN mean?” so you can make better purchasing choices for your car (and impress your friends).
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What does single DIN mean?
Let’s start with the basics, if you’re confused by the term “DIN”, it might help to know it actually comes from Germany. As you might have guessed, DIN is an acronym, but it doesn’t stand for any English words. Rather “DIN” means Deutsches Institut für Normung.
Confused? Deutsches Institut für Normung is a car audio standard created in Germany which specifies a standard width and height for your car’s head unit.
It all comes down to sizing.
The single DIN car stereo is the smaller version of the vehicle head unit, measuring at 2 inches by 7 inches. Alternatively, a double DIN is double the height, but the same width: 4 x 7”.
Essentially, if you have a single DIN car head unit, you’ll only be able to fit a single DIN car radio into it. Attempting to implement a double DIN unit would be impossible.
The good news? There’s plenty of great single DIN radio systems out there. You can even find fold-away single DIN radios which give you a larger screen when needed.
You can check out some of the best single DIN radios here.
Why do we need the DIN standard?
So why did the Germans have to create the “DIN” standard in the first place? And why are there two different sizes of “DIN” to choose from?
Simply put, standardizing things like the size of car stereos makes it much easier for companies to allow their customers to “customize” their car.
If your car continues to run perfectly for several years in a row, you’re not going to want to replace the entire vehicle just because your radio or stereo system is a little out of date.
Fortunately, when you know you have a single DIN radio, you also know you can replace your unit whenever you need to with something else using the same sizing.
Initially, the single DIN was the only option available for radio head units. Over time, new manufacturers decided to double the height of the single DIN to pave the way for new functionality.
These days, double DIN units are a lot more popular than their single DIN counterparts. They open additional space in the head unit so you can add things like touchscreens and video displays.
It’s also worth noting double DIN head units are a little more versatile. While you can sometimes put a single DIN unit in a double DIN slot, the alternative isn’t as easy.
How do you know if you need a single DIN radio?
Usually, you’ll be able to find information about all the components of your vehicle in your manufacturer’s information. Check the documents you got from the company that sold you the car if you need a little extra help.
Even if you don’t have any documents, it’s relatively easy to determine whether you have a single DIN car stereo.
The easiest way to figure it out is to just measure your unit space. If the full radio system in your car is only about 2 inches tall, it’s probably a single DIN. If it’s closer to four inches tall, then you’ve got a double DIN unit.
There is such thing as a 1.5 DIN radio – although it’s not as common.
If you have a 1.5 DIN radio, you’ll probably have a radio measuring at around 3 inches – and you’ll have a tougher time finding a replacement.
Some vehicles can be a bit tougher to measure than others. For instance, if a dash has three slots stacked vertically, and they’re all about two inches high, it’s difficult to tell how much of the space belongs to your radio head unit.
If your console has a gap above or below the single DIN unit, this dash was probably designed to house another piece of audio equipment like a CD player.
Can you replace a single DIN stereo?
Once you know the answer to “What is a single DIN car stereo?” you can start researching available stereos and figuring out whether you need a new one.
The standardization of the DIN sizing means you can easily and quickly swap a single DIN radio with another device of the same size. There are a lot of different products out there, and some even come with bonus features like Bluetooth.
If you are planning on replacing your single DIN unit, do your research first. Some units are much easier to install than others, so it’s best to read through some reviews where you can get an insight into the work you’ll need to do.
The last thing you want to do is end up damaging something important in the dash of your car.
If you’re concerned about replacing a single DIN radio and you’re having a hard time removing the original unit from your vehicle, don’t force it.
Though there are videos like this one to walk you through the process of installing your new single DIN stereo, you don’t have to go the DIY route. Most garages and car companies won’t charge you a fortune to fit a new DIN radio.
Is double DIN better than single DIN?
As mentioned above, many car companies tend to install double DIN car stereos as standard these days. That’s because double DIN units allow more space for things like video screens and touchscreens.
Since many cars have tools like backup cameras and Bluetooth to connect to your smartphone, having a screen can be a huge advantage.
You can still get a screen for your single DIN car stereo, but it often requires a workaround. For instance, you might need to find a screen that slides away when not in use or extends outwards from the DIN space.
If you choose one of those radios, you’ll have to determine if there’s enough space on your dash to really allow for a touchscreen.
Single DINs aren’t as versatile as double DIN radios, but this doesn’t mean they’re no good. If all you want is a simple radio where you can skip through channels and connect to your phone via Bluetooth, you can still get all this from a single DIN.
Radio Fidelity: For the love of radio.