There is a radio in every car nowadays. This small but very useful device while driving helps to avoid the boredom on the way to listen to music and news. It helps not to fall asleep during continuous driving. This is how you try to acquire the qualitative modern radio equipment.In recent years, there is a tendency in Europe to use the digital car radio instead of FM radio. Germany is no exception. It is clear as digital technologies offer the new opportunities to radio users. Actually, you get a number of the advantages with digital radio. The sound gets better. The broadcast quality is higher than FM radio. The device works constantly and without interference regardless of landscape. All this is possible thanks to standard DAB+. With this, you can replace the old-fashioned FM.
If you want to buy a modern digital car radio, you should pay attention to the models presented in this overview. Each of them has its own advantages.
Kenwood KDC-X7200DAB: Digital car radio with Bluetooth hands-free kit
A radio with hands-free function. Thanks to Bluetooth technology, the owner of this device can safely and without interference, make hands-free calls. Among businessmen and truck drivers this radio function is most welcome. Voice quality is improved with external microphone.
In addition, the suppression of background noise is ensured.
The biggest advantage of this digital car radio is that a DAB tuner offers a variety of radio programs. These are broadcast at high car speeds, without hiss, buzz, crackle and level fluctuations.
The device is made with a technology “Seamless Blending”. It is necessary when there is no good DAB broadcast signal. Thus, the tuner automatically changes the radio to appropriate FM frequency without noticeable sound interruption.
- hands free calling
- digital technology
- advanced functions of steering and search
- wireless music streaming
- wide range of radio programs
- 5 Bluetooth audio sources
- CD player
- 2 USB ports
- Spotify control
- no speed-dependent volume control
- small station buttons
JVC KD-X472DBT: USB car radio with DAB+ technology
This radio is suitable for all active people who spend the whole day in the car. The manufacturers of the device offer the advanced capabilities to the people who like to listen to music and wanted to stay hands-free while making calls in the car. It is possible thanks to Bluetooth hands-free in JVK radio.
Another profit for the owners of this model. This is Alexa app. With it you can not only listen to the most popular songs and tunes, but also make shopping list and get acquainted with current traffic situation. This app has a memory effect, therefore it can adapt to the voice of its owner and his wishes.
Thanks to DAB+ tuner, the digital radio receives more than 200 radio programs in Germany and other European countries where technology DAB+ is extended.
- digital sound processor
- Radio delay correction
- Seamless Blending function
- USB pairing for iPhone
- pairing for 2 cell phones
- volume amplifier
- optional adapter
- without using manual
- without DAB+ antenna
Radio device from Alpine CDE-193BT
This device is equipped with some professional sound tuning functions. First of all you mean 3-way crossover. with it you can regulate high pass filter and low pass filter as well as their changes.
Other tuning features also include a professional equalizer, digital time correction, as well as the patented MediaXpander technology of “Alpine”, which ensures the excellent sound of the compressed media slides.
If the car is equipped with start-stop technology, this radio can work even after the engine is turned off.
One of the advantages of this device is steering wheel remote control. It is convenient when driving without stay. Bluetooth function also allows to make hands-free phone calls and broadcast popular tunes from cell phone.
- professional equalizer
- time correction
- LCD screen with 13 segments
- 3-way crossover
- Steering wheel remote control
- simple design
- narrow screen
Kenwood KMM-BT306: USB car radio with Spotify control
This is a new radio device that offers many German radio programs. It is equipped with Alexa app, which still ensures the additional intellectual functions. Here you can also find advanced music browsing profile AVRCP1.6.
This allows you to easily search for individual music tracks on your phone from the car radio. In parallel, the car owner is allowed to pair two cell phones to the radio.
The cell phone with Spotify app can be connected with radio and get some functions. The car owner selects the individual songs and melodies as well as the music list to listen to.
The device is suitable for MP3 and WMA as well as FLAC slides. Thanks to special app, smartphones can serve as the remote control for radio. These apps for Kenwood devices are available for free in Google Play and App Store.
- BT hands-free function
- BT audio streaming
- Spotify function
- Alexa app built-in
- Remote control
- inconvenient menu navigation
- sometimes muffled sound
Pioneer DEH-X9600BT: CD tuner with RDS, Bluetooth, Mixtrax EZ
A compact device for those who like to listen to music while driving. Pioneer model has simple and laconic design. You can control the button illumination and choose illumination color by yourself. Compared to the other units, this radio has a graphic equalizer with 5 bands.
The functionality of the radio can be improved by the special apps. It is possible through the hassle-free pairing of the cell phone to the device.
You can’t hold the cell phone in your hand while driving. Phone calls are possible through Bluetooth function of the radio.
The radio is equipped with Mixtrax system. It allows you to listen to music in a non-stop automatic mix.
- CD, USB connection
- Front aux input
- Mixtrax function
- ISO cables in a set
- RGB lighting model
- Weight – 1,6 kg
- No volume function
Choosing a replacement or upgrade car radio for your vehicle is not an easy task. There are hundreds of models in different sizes, with different features, and at widely varying prices. Navigating these options is not an easy project; it’s easy to get confused and even easier to forget the purpose of the upgrade. We’ve put together this guide to tell you everything you need to know about car radios to make sure you buy the right one. We’ll explain all the features, style and size options to make it easier for you to get to your local mobile upgrade dealer. Are you ready? Then let’s go.
Car radio buying advice: sizes options
Car radios come in two basic sizes: DIN and double DIN. DIN size (or single DIN size) is based on a 7-inch wide by 2-inch high standard. Most radios that would be called CD players fall into this class. The second standard is double DIN. It should come as no surprise that these radios are 4 inches tall, with the same 7-inch width. Multimedia receivers with touchscreen displays are usually double DIN in size. Some radios have a dual DIN display with a single DIN enclosure. Installation requirements are the same, but these units give your installer more space behind the radio to mount interfaces and make electrical connections.
Although they are becoming less common, there are still single DIN radios with flip-out displays. These radios have a screen that protrudes from the case and then flips up to become visible. If you’re interested in a flip-out multimedia receiver, have your installer check that your vehicle has enough room around the radio’s mounting location for them to fit – screens don’t always stick out far enough.
In 2018, Alpina introduced a multimedia receiver with what it calls a floating face design. This class of car radio uses a conventional single or double DIN enclosure with an oversized monitor mounted in front of the radio. The design allows larger screens than a conventional device to fit in the dashboard.
Alpine is also responsible for developing many vehicle-specific radio options. Using its 9- and 10-inch screen multimedia receivers with a custom dash kit and integrated controls, Alpine offered vehicle-specific solutions for Jeep, Toyota, Chevrolet, GMC, Ram, Honda and Ford trucks and SUVs.
Car radio buying advice: mechless and digital media options
We’ve come a long way since under-dash 8-track players and slide-out cassette decks. Modern radios now come in two classes: with and without optical disc transport. For a single-DIN, you can opt for a receiver with a CD player, or save a few bucks and forgo the CD part in favor of a “digital media” or “mechless” solution. The same goes for dual DIN radios, as you can forgo the DVD mechanism if you play your media from a smartphone or USB storage device. If the radio has a color display and no optical transport, it’s sometimes called a digital multimedia receiver.
Car radio buying guide: screen and display options
For single-DIN radios, almost all units on the market use a multi-segment liquid crystal display. The popularity of single-DIN receivers has declined dramatically, and almost none of the top brands include dot-matrix displays anymore. When shopping, look for units with multi-line displays that can show artist and song title information simultaneously.
Dual-DIN multimedia receivers offer a choice of medium or large full-color LCD screens. The smaller screens are usually a little over 6 inches (measured diagonally from opposite corners). Larger options are about 7 inches in size. Radios with floating screens typically measure about 8 inches.
As for the user interface, the cheaper options use a so-called resistive touch screen. These units have a thin plastic film over the display that has a satin, anti-reflective finish. For higher-end units, manufacturers may opt for a capacitive touch interface. Your smartphone uses a capacitive touch surface. You touch the glass directly on the front of the unit. It’s worth noting that capacitive touch surfaces don’t work with gloves or a non-conductive stylus. The advantage is that the picture is much clearer and often brighter as well. Capacitive displays can detect multiple touch points at once, while resistive devices can only detect a single location.
Most multimedia radios have a display resolution called Wide VGA (WVGA). This standard is 800 pixels wide and 480 pixels high. A few high-end devices use a high-definition display with 1280 by 720 pixels.
Many CD receivers have a multi-color display backlight that you can adjust. You can set these colors to match or contrast with your vehicle’s interior to add some style. Multimedia radios sometimes allow you to upload new wallpapers to personalize the system.
Car stereo buying advice: Bluetooth hands-free and music streaming
Bluetooth is now standard on all car stereos except the cheapest ones. Bluetooth is a low-power, short-range digital communications protocol. In and of itself, it does not prescribe any special functions. If you want to make hands-free calls, make sure that the radio you choose has the Hands-Free Profile (HFP). If you want to be able to navigate your phone’s contact list, look for the Phone Book Access Profile (PBAP). The inclusion of an external microphone greatly improves the sound quality of the outgoing call compared to radios with built-in microphones.
To stream music, the radio must include the Advanced Audio Distribution Profile (A2DP). If you want to be able to change tracks on the Bluetooth device from the phone, the Audio Video Remote Control Profile (AVRCP) is required.
Radios that support multiple Bluetooth connections usually have one for hands-free calling and the other for streaming audio. Check functionality on the display device in the store to make sure it works the way you want it to.
Car radio buying guide: smartphone connectivity
Years ago, the ability to play music from your iPhone was the biggest issue with car stereos. Today, we take this connectivity for granted. If you have an older iPod or iPhone, check the specifications for connectivity options. Apple often discontinues support for older devices. “Made for iPod” does not mean “for all iPods.”. As always, test connectivity with your media player or phone before you buy it.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity solutions include a hands-free interface that lets you use frequently used features on your phone while keeping your eyes on the road. Making phone calls, sending text messages, getting navigation directions and selecting the music you want can all be done with voice commands.
Many premium source radios feature wireless CarPlay and Android Auto. These radios communicate with your smartphone via a Wi-Fi connection to transfer information and data at impressive speeds. Remember that your smartphone does not charge when it is in your pocket or purse. Ask your dealer about installing a wireless charging station for your new radio.
Car radio buying advice: digital media support
Most of us buy our music from online sources like iTunes or convert store-bought CDs to digital formats like MP3 or FLAC. If you have a large digital media collection, make sure the radio you’re considering can play it. Support for MP3, WMA and AAC files is pretty much standard on low to mid-range models. The next step up is support for WAV and FLAC files. If the radio has sufficient processing power, it may also integrate support for DSD files.
The ability to play FLAC files does not automatically mean that the source device is capable of playing all files. High-resolution files with sample rates above 48 kHz are not inherently compatible unless specified. There are also limits to the number of tracks that can be stored in a single folder on a device, and limits to the total number of tracks that the radio can access. Test the USB flash drive, SD card, micro SD card, CD or DVD you use to store music in the store before you buy it to confirm compatibility. File limits often vary by storage device and format.
Video playback standards vary widely from format to format. Check your owner’s manual to see which containers are supported (AVI, FLV, MPG, or MKV) and which audio (MP3, AAC, FLAC, or PCM) and video files (MPEG1,2, MPEG4, or H.264). Test the video files you want to play back. Some may need to be re-encoded with other audio or video formats.
Not all source devices have powered USB ports that can charge a smartphone or digital media player. Similarly, newer devices that use USB-C or require more than 1.0 amps of charging current may not charge quickly or at all. Again, it is best to test your device with the cable before buying the radio.
Some source devices have two USB ports. Functionality and features can vary widely between ports. Don’t assume they can do the same thing.
Car radio buying advice: options for rearview and surveillance cameras
Most multimedia receivers have an input for a rearview camera on the back of the radio. In some vehicles, the signal from a factory-installed camera works with the radio. If you don’t have a camera, your dealer can install one for you. Some premium radios have multiple camera inputs or feature optional multi-camera input and switching modules. You should check with your dealer to make sure the existing camera is working and that the picture is displayed automatically. If you’re interested in adding blind spot, cargo, and forward-facing cameras, additional hardware may be required.
Kenwood offers several dashcam systems that can be integrated with their multimedia receivers. Cameras can display alerts on their radio’s screen to make driving safer.
Many multimedia receivers take a while to start up. They are, after all, small computers (they typically run versions of Windows CE, Linux, and Android). If you have an application that includes a rearview camera, make sure the camera image is available when you need it. Sony currently sets the bar with a fully functional wake-up within five seconds. Most high-quality multimedia devices can display a camera image within a second or two of being turned on and are fully functional within six or seven seconds. Much longer, and you may find using these source devices frustrating.
Car radio buying advice: preamplifier and power specifications
Almost all radios have some sort of amplifier IC built in to drive the speakers. Since the radio is limited to 12 V, most radios produce between 15 and 22 watts of power per channel. Check the manual to confirm the CTA-2006 specification for the model you want to use. More power means the radio will play louder without distorting.
If you plan to upgrade your audio system with external amplifiers, you will need a radio that has preamplifier outputs. To make sure your audio system sounds as good as possible, look for preamps with a voltage of 4 or 5 volts. This extra voltage (compared to 1.8- or 2-volt devices) allows your installer to turn down the sensitivity controls on the amplifiers while maintaining the same output level. The result is less hiss and background noise. Speaking of noise, you’ll want a radio with a good signal-to-noise ratio. Values around 80 dB are good for the built-in power amplifier; for preamp outputs, look for a value above 90 dB.
Car radio buying guide: signal processing features
Today, most radios have tone controls ranging from simple bass and treble adjustments to multi-band graphic equalizers with presets. Since matching the output of your speakers to the acoustics of your vehicle is critical to good sound, more adjustability is better. Your installer can use a real-time analyzer (RTA) to adjust the system to ensure consistent playback.
If you plan to add a subwoofer, you should use a radio with electronic high-pass and low-pass crossovers. These filters remove bass from the signal going to the small speakers in the vehicle and prevent high-frequency information from reaching the subwoofer amplifier. High-quality radios have more crossovers and adjustable edges so your technician can fine-tune the system’s performance.
Signal delay (often incorrectly called time delay) is a great way to further enhance the realism of an audio system. When properly configured, the signal going to the speakers closest to the listener is delayed so that their output signal arrives at the same time as that of the speakers on the other side of the vehicle. This alignment of signals helps to create an impressive and detailed focus on the so-called sound stage. Listening to music in a system configured with signal delay, proper level adjustment, and appropriate equalization is like sitting in the front row at a concert and having all the performers in front of you.
Many radios include bass and treble restoration systems. This processing is intended for radio broadcasts or highly compressed digital audio sources to add information that has been lost. You can experiment with the settings to find a solution that sounds good to you.
Car radio buying advice: user interface
The last topic we’ll touch on is the user interface. Whether you’ve opted for an affordable single-DIN radio or a state-of-the-art multimedia receiver with CarPlay and navigation, make sure the user interface is intuitive and easy to use. While looking at the product in the store, try changing the source, adjusting the sound controls and making a call. If you can figure out these features without needing the owner’s manual, chances are you’ll enjoy using the radio.
When it comes to multimedia radios, many units with a 6.2-inch display have a rotary volume knob. Many people find this type of volume control much easier and more intuitive. Keep this in mind while shopping.
Car radio buying advice: warranty and support
Ask your dealer about the warranty on your new radio. Most devices come with a one- to three-year warranty against manufacturing defects. In some cases, this warranty is reduced to 90 days if the product was not installed by an authorized dealer. These warranties do not cover future functionality. If a new phone comes out that uses different technology, the manufacturer is not responsible for making the system compatible. Also, if you damage the device due to improper care (scratches on the screen or damage from improper cleaning), this may not be covered.
If the radio you buy has GPS navigation, find out how you can get map updates and how much they will cost.
Final tips and considerations when choosing Bluetooth car radios
If you want to upgrade your car with a Bluetooth stereo, there are two main ways to do it:
Universal Bluetooth adapter
If your current car stereo has an aux input, the easiest and least expensive option is to purchase a universal Bluetooth adapter. It doesn’t offer any bells and whistles, but it gets the job done. And it can be easily carried from one vehicle to another if needed.
Retrofit Bluetooth stereo system
With an aftermarket Bluetooth car radio, you can choose exactly the features you want. If budget is a concern, you can buy a simple model with few features. However, if you prefer a full-featured unit, you can get a Bluetooth stereo with everything from built-in GPS to a rearview camera.
There are a variety of features that a Bluetooth stereo device can provide. Below is a list of the most desirable options.
Streaming playlists from your smartphone may be the reason you want to buy a Bluetooth car stereo, but the best models can also play CDs and DVDs, have a USB input for media or charging, accept MicroSDs and more.
If you want to communicate with someone while driving, you’ll need a hands-free device. The right Bluetooth stereo system can make this possible.
Controls on the steering wheel
In some models, the most frequently used controls can be accessed via buttons on the steering wheel. If this sounds appealing, look for a model with this feature.
Since most people don’t think about how to get to their destination until they get into a vehicle, having a reliable GPS to guide you is a must.
Rear view camera
At best, it can be difficult to see what’s behind your vehicle, especially if you have a van. A rearview camera gives you a clear and detailed picture of what’s behind you, even when it’s dark outside.
For about $10 to $30, you can get a universal Bluetooth adapter that plugs into the aux input of your existing car stereo. An aftermarket Bluetooth car stereo, on the other hand, can cost anywhere from $50 to over $300, depending on how many of the above features you want.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Which version of Bluetooth do I need?
Bluetooth is backward compatible, d. h. a Bluetooth 5 cell phone works with a Bluetooth 4.2-car radio. However, to get the best performance, both components (phone and car radio) must have the latest Bluetooth version. Otherwise, the connection is only as advanced as the oldest Bluetooth version – in the example above, that would be Bluetooth 4.2.
What is double DIN?
DIN stands for German Institute for Standardization, which develops internationally recognized standards for a variety of products. A simple DIN car radio means that the opening in your dashboard (where you will place your car radio) is 2 inches high. A double DIN means that the opening is 4 inches high.
Non-stop music with super radio!
The digital car radios are top of the line devices for any driver, as they can already perform many functions. On the one hand, they perfectly receive the radio signals and offer the best sounding. On the other hand, they can ensure hands-free phone calls while driving.
Thanks to digital sound processor you can make the sound in the car clearer. The 13-band equalizer controls the frequency response. Digital delay correction allows to regulate the acoustic characteristics in the car interior.
It is known that a digital radio obligation is in place in Germany for new cars since December 2020. Newly manufactured staff cars must be equipped with DAB+ devices only. It only remains to choose a suitable model and brand and enjoy the best technology DAB+.
As you can see, there are dozens of options to choose from. Make a list of which options are most important to you, and that will help narrow down your search to a manageable size. Using the filters within our car stereo pages will help you choose exactly the car stereo that is just for you.
Hello all! My name is Paul Meyer auto mechanic. In this blog, I give advice on car care. I would appreciate your comments.