Best Car Stereo in 2018
Is there anything better than driving in your car and listening to music?
Of course, you can’t do that if you don’t have a car stereo. And, if you’re in the market for one, you’ll be pleased to find that you have a ton of different options to choose from.
Obviously, though, you’ll want the very best car stereo that money can buy. To help you with that, we’ve compiled a list of what we consider to be the best car stereo options on the market today.
How We Chose Our Ratings
Before we start giving you our opinion on the greatest car stereo options, you’re probably wondering just where our opinion came from!
Well, rest assured that we didn’t just pull it out of thin air. We also don’t have any ulterior motives in mind. Our goal isn’t to sell you any particular product or to make you think a certain way.
Instead, we simply want to provide you with all of the information you need to make an informed choice about how to spend your money.
So, with that in mind, we did tons of research on different car stereo options. We looked at prices, features, brand name, customer reviews and complaints, and anything else we could find. We then compiled all of our information to choose the very best car stereos, all so that we could share what we found with you.
So, with that in mind, we present to you our top picks for the best car stereo options of 2018.
Best Car Stereo #5: The JVC 6.8 inch Android Auto/Apple CarPlay Digital Media Receiver
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If you’re looking for a stereo that was designed to be as modern and “high tech” as possible, this offering from JVC should be right up your alley.
One thing we really like about it is that it plays loud and clear through any speakers that we tested it on, even lower quality or older ones. Plus, it can connect to any Apple or Android device with ease.
We love the touch interface too, which is beautifully designed and fun to look at. Even more importantly, it’s easy to use. With just a few flicks, you can easily move from navigation settings to using your phone to playing music.
Other great features include the high-resolution playback, the enhanced digital sound quality, and the Bass Boost feature. All of these things work together to deliver precise sound, so you’ll never miss a word of that favorite song of yours, no matter how loud you blast it.
We did find the price tag on this stereo to be a little on the steep side, which is the main thing that kept it from ranking higher on our list. If you don’t mind the cost, though, this really is a great little stereo for your car.
Best Car Stereo #4: The Pioneer AVH 201EX
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If you’re looking for a simple, awesome, and reasonably affordable car stereo, this model from Pioneer is an excellent choice.
It features a 6.2-inch touchscreen display that is super easy to use. However, you don’t have to use the touchscreen. You can also make use of the built-in Bluetooth in order to make hands-free calls and to control your audio levels. This is a nice feature since driving while trying to manipulate a touchscreen is definitely not safe or advisable.
You can use this stereo with a variety of Android devices too, so, no matter what phone or other media you have, it will probably work just fine with this stereo.
Best Car Stereo #3: The Pioneer AVIC Z130BT
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We couldn’t help ourselves. We had to include another offering from Pioneer on our list.
One thing we really like about this particular stereo is the fact that it has so many audio source options. There’s Bluetooth audio streaming, HD radio, USB connectivity, and even iPhone app control.
In addition to working with a wide range of audio sources, we found the navigation system that comes with this stereo to be very accurate and easy to use.
We also love that everything can be voice-controlled for safer driving.
The only issue we really had with this stereo is that we found it annoying to have to buy the iPod interface cable separately. While including that would have been a nice gesture, we’re still, overall, pretty happy with this stereo.
Best Car Stereo #2: The Pioneer DEH X69OOBT
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We know we keep coming back to Pioneer, but what can we say? They make a lot of awesome stereos.
This particular option isn’t as high-tech as some of the other models out there, but it’s one of the most affordable stereos we found. Plus, it still works great, even with the low price tag, and you really can’t beat that.
The stereo has an LCD display with a nice backlight, so it’s great if you want a stereo that’s attractive to look at and not just to listen to. And, speaking of attractiveness, you can even customize the on-screen colors and the button colors, which is a great way to control how your stereo looks.
This stereo does come with Bluetooth connectivity, making it easy to stream music and answer the phone all without using your hands. Plus, you can hook up your iPhone or even old-school music players to it.
This may be a simple little stereo, but it works very well. And, honestly, for the price, it’s probably the best deal on our entire list.
Best Car Stereo #1: The Alpine CDE 172BT
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For our number one choice, we had to go with this stereo from Alpine. While not a lot of people are familiar with the Alpine brand, it still delivers some pretty great products.
We like how simple and straightforward this stereo is. It even includes an old-fashioned CD receiver and an AM/FM tuner. This definitely makes it the best car stereo for anyone who hasn’t quite “gotten with the time.”
And, if you have gotten with the times, don’t worry. This stereo can still play from USB drives and other devices. And, yes, it will work with your Smartphone
All in all, we found this stereo to be the perfect mix of classic meets modern, and we couldn’t love it more!
As you can see, there are a lot of good stereos that you can choose from. And, while you’re welcome to pick one from the above list, you definitely don’t have to. If you’d rather go out and choose one for yourself, that’s totally fine. Just make sure you know what to look for.
First of all, you want to always make sure that you know the “source” or “sources” that the stereo offers. This is just a fancy way of referring to the types of media that you can play via your stereo.
Most modern car stereos can be used with multiple sources. However, some stereos only work with one or two sources. Common sources include:
Obviously, in order to get the best car stereo for your needs, you’re going to want to ensure it is compatible with all of your desired sources.
In addition to ensuring that the stereo you choose is compatible with your chosen source, you also want to make sure it works with your car itself. The stereo should fit securely and neatly into the vehicle, so check those physical dimensions before you buy.
Also, make sure you understand the difference between Single DIN and Double DIN receivers. Just in case you’re a little foggy on that detail, single DIN receivers are smaller, occupy less space, and are less noticeable, which also makes them less likely to get stolen. Double DIN receivers, on the other hand, are larger. However, they also tend to have more features and to be more expensive, so it’s really a tossup. Just think about what you want as you make your choice.
If you’re someone who likes to have a lot of control over the music you listen to and its quality, then you’ll probably want a car stereo with a good preamp section. This is the section where you can customize and make sound adjustments. Some cars have just a couple of control options while others have everything, like balance, fade, and tone options. Think about how likely you are to manipulate those controls as you check out different stereo options.
Something else you should think about as you choose a stereo is the RMS rating. Many people don’t even notice or pay attention to this rating, but it’s definitely important, especially if you are someone who likes to play your music loud. The RMS rating tells you the amount of power the amplifier can make, as well as how many channels the amp can output. The higher this rating, the better… especially if you like your music loud.
If you can think about all of these things as you shop, you’re sure to find the best car stereo to meet your needs.
Tips for Great Sound Quality in Your Vehicle
Once you have purchased your car stereo, obviously the goal is to get the best sound quality possible. Of course, that’s easier if you start with a great stereo. But, with any stereo, there are many things you can do to ensure superior sound quality in your car.
For one thing, you may want to think about switching out the speakers in your vehicle. The speakers that come standard on even the nicest car typically aren’t all that great. That’s why, even with a stellar stereo, you might not get the sound quality and clarity you want. Making the switch to aftermarket speakers, however, can make all the difference.
Something else you can do to improve sound quality is to avoid compressing your music. If that’s not possible, then try to compress it as little as possible. Overly compressed files will never sound that great. But, files with a higher bit rate will sound better. Sure, these files might take up a little bit more space, but if quality is worth it to you, go ahead and de-compress, literally.
If you’re really serious about sound quality, then you can consider installing a sound deadener in your vehicle. Getting rid of road noise, vibration, and other distractions that can reduce your sound quality and your enjoyment of your favorite music can make a world of difference. You’ll be able to hear every lyric loud and clear if you effectively block out sound.
Obviously, there is a lot you can do. These are just a few examples to make your sound quality better. If good sound is important to you, one or more of these tips should help you achieve your desired sound quality.
Hopefully, after reading our list, you know everything you need to know to choose a great stereo for your car. You also have lots of information on how to make that stereo work to its full potential.
So, all that’s left to do is to put your new knowledge to good use. Get out there (or online) and start shopping. We encourage you to look at the stereos we’ve suggested, as well as others. With a little research and looking, you should easily be able to find just the right stereo for your vehicle.