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The Best Car Stereo Under $500: Our top 5 picks [2022]

Best Car Stereo Under $500
What’s the Best Car Stereo Under $500?

In 2022, buying the best Car Stereo Under $500 means looking for something that should last you at least 4 – 6 Years.

When you’re shopping for a car stereo, it can be hard to know what you’re looking for. Everyone has their own preferences, and the more money you have to spend, the more likely it is that you aren’t going to be satisfied with your choice at all.

An expensive head unit will last you several years, having a  responsive touchscreen, great audio quality, and all the latest features like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto you want to pack into a day.

Believe it or not,

It’s easier to find all these things in any expensive double din stereos — but selecting the best unit from tons of options can be subjective. That’s why we have we’ve done the work for you and have selected these top 5 best double din car stereos under $500.

1. Pioneer DMH-1500NEX

Pioneer-DMH-1500NEX

  • 7” Touchscreen Display
  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • 4 x 50 watts Power output AMP
  • Strong Bluetooth Connection
  • 13 Band Graphic Equalizer
  • Support iDataLink Maestro

Pioneer DMH-1500NEX is the best double din head unit from Pioneer which is available for under $500. There are lots of reasons, why we have put this head unit #1 on our list.

The highlighting feature of this head unit is its large and responsive touchscreen display which comes with 13 background colors with 5 display colo and 112 key color customization options. Overall, the display is quite bright and responsive however, it doesn’t offer full HD resolution.

The audio quality of Pioneer DMH-1500NEX is quite loud and clear due to its high-quality built-in amplifier. There are many customizable settings available in this radio such as its 13 Band EQ, with which you can change the music style such as Natural, Vocal, Flat, Bass, and Powerful, and more.

With Built-in Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support, you can use all the latest features like GPS Navigation, sending messages, using Siri Eyes Free, and Hands-Free Calling, and many more.

While driving, the Pioneer DMH-1500NEX does not play videos due to restrictions but you use this parking brake bypass to play video while driving, and it works perfectly with this stereo.

In the box of Pioneer DMH-1500NEX, everything is included for the installation such as wiring harness, USB extension cable, mounting brackets, screws, warranty, car user manual.

Specifications

  • 7-inch Touchscreen Display 
  • Resolution: (800 x 480)
  • Power Peak: 200 Watts
  • RMS: 4 x 14 Watts
  • 13 Band Graphic EQ
  • Input: HDMI, AUX, and USB
  • Subwoofer Control
  • Dual Bluetooth Connection
  • 6 Channel preamp Output
  • Built-in radio having 18 FM and 6 AM prested
  • 1-Year Warranty
Features:
  • Apple CarPlay Compatible
  • Android Auto Compatible
  • WebLink Compatible
  • Navigation Ready
  • Works with Pandora, SiriusXM Ready
  • supported internet services: PandoraSiriusXMSpotify
  • display size: 7.0
  • connectivity technology: BluetoothAuxillary

 
Pros
  • Bright and clear resistive display
  • Excellent audio quality with built-in equalizer settings
  • Apple CarPlay launches quickly and works smoothly
Cons
  • No HD radio or screen mirroring feature
  • Android Auto works only with few devices

We highly recommend you to buy this head unit if your budget is under $500. We, also recommend you to buy this Microbypass with this head unit for watching videos in motion.


2. Alpine iLX-W650

ilx-w650

  • 7-inch Capacitive Touchscreen Display
  • Wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • Hands-Free Calling via Bluetooth
  • Built-in 9-Band Equalizer
  • Dual Backup Camera Input

The second best head unit under $500 is from Alpine’s latest touchscreen stereo which is iLX-W650. The 7” Display of this head unit is quite responsive and can support multi-touch.

At bottom of the display, volume, menu, and call buttons are given, however, there is no volume knob which is super useful while driving.

In the box, you will get a 2-Din receiver, wiring harness, backup camera harness, microphone with 3.5 mm connector ends, brackets, screws, and a 12-month warranty card.

The Alpine ILX-W650 is compatible with many car accessories such as steering wheel control, SiriusXM satellite radio, dual back camera. Alpine’s KTA-450 power pack amplifier is recommended with this head unit to improve its audio quality.

Specification

  • 7” Large Capacitive Display
  • 9-band parametric equalizer
  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • Hands-Free Calling/ Bluetooth
  • Built-in iPhone control
  • Power Output: 40 peak x 4 channels
  • RMS: 16 x 4 channels
  • Compatible with SiriusXM satellite radio
  • Compatible with Backup Camera
  • 6 Channel Preamp Output
  • 4-volt front and rare subwoofer
  • Compatible with KTA-450 power pack amplifier
  • 12-Months Warranty 
Features:
  • digital media receiver with AM/FM tuner (does not play CDs)
  • shallow-mount chassis design (2-7/16″ deep)
  • touchscreen swipe controls
  • designed to work with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • hands-free control lets you access apps using your voice

 
Pros
  • Bright and responsive touchscreen
  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto works flawlessly
  • Bluetooth connects easily
  • Good audio quality with many audio customization options
Cons
  • Low Power amplifier
  • No wallpaper customization
  • The USB input is given at the back of the receiver

3. Kenwood Excelon DMX7706S 

DMX7706S review

  • 6.8″ Capacitive Display
  • 5 Bluetooth devices supported
  • 13-band Graphic EQ
  • Built-in iPad, iPhone/ iPod Control
  • Apple CarPlay & Android Auto
  • Fast Android Charging
  • Spotify and Pandora Supported

The other best head unit under $500 is the Kenwood DMX7706S. The design of this head unit is quite impressive due to its large and stylish touchscreen display.

The Apple CarPlay and Android Auto both works via USB connection where you can use Apple Maps, Google Maps, Waze for navigation, and pretty much things you can use on your phone.

kenwood DMX7706S Review

The Bluetooth supports up to 5 devices at one time which is the super unique feature of this stereo. With its good quality built-in mic, the hands-free calling quality comes clear and loud even when runs your car at high speed.

The overall sound quality of this stereo is great also, you will get a 13 Band equalizer for customizing different audio styles according to your taste. You can play high-resolution audio files like FLAC on this radio, which only connects a phone with the receiver. 

Voice recognition via Siri also works great in this unit for picking calls, or navigation, and other commands. You can also use the Parking Guide Lines feature however, it does not include a backup camera.

With its Short Chassis, the installation of Kenwood Excelon DMX706S becomes very easy in any car which has a double din dashboard.

Specification

  • 6.8-inch Capacitive Display
  • Built-in 13 Band Graphic EQ
  • 5 Bluetooth Connection
  • Wired CarPlay and Android Auto Support
  • RMS: 4 x 22 watts/channel
  • Power Output: 4 x 50 watts/channel
  • (2-volt) 5 Channel RCA preamp output
  • Latest iOS 13.0 CarPlay 
  • Compatible with iDatalink Maestro
  • Backup Camera input
  • Support SiriusXM Satellite Radio
  • Support Phone Mirroring
  •  Support Parking Guide Lines
  • Steering Wheel Contol input
  • 2-Year Warranty
Features:
  • Apple CarPlay is a safer way to use your iPhone in the car. Simply talk to Siri or touch the receiver’s display to get directions from Apple Maps, make phone calls, listen to voicemail, send and receive texts, and listen to music, all in a way that allows you to stay focused on the road. With the latest iOS version (iOS 12.0 and higher), 3rd party navigation apps like Google Maps and Waze are also supported.
  • Android Auto was designed with safety in mind, helping you to minimize distractions and stay focused on the road. KENWOOD’s multimedia receivers combine an intuitive voice controlled interface with a large touch screen and superior sound quality, making it the perfect complement for your in-car life. With the latest ANDROID OS version (PIE and higher), Google Maps and Waze are also supported.
  • High-Resolution Audio is high-quality sound that exceeds CD standard. High-resolution audio captures and beautifully expresses all the details of your favorite music. Through ultra-high and low frequencies, immerse yourself in a rich and high-quality sonic experience.
  • Two camera inputs provide users the ability to add both a front and rear camera for enhanced driver safety and convenience. Buit-in, adjustable parking guidelines further add to its effectiveness.
  • The Kenwood DMX7706S features a 6.95″ widescreen (16:9) clear resistive touchscreen LCD with LED backlighting. The clear resistive touchscreen LCD provides a high contrast ratio, crystal clear display, and vivid text. The LCD touchscreen has a resolution of 800 (H) x 480 (V) x RGB with 1,152,000 total pixels. Touchscreen operations include tap, touch & hold, flick left or right, and swipe up or down.

 
Pros
  • Capacitive Touchscreen Display, better than Alpine or Pionner
  • Short Chassis size makes it easy to fit
  • Lot of feature to customize the display and sound quality
  • Both Android Auto and CarPlay works fine
  • Backup camera works great in this unit due to its parking guide line support
Cons
  • UI is not that good, most of the customer complaints about the unit that it got stuck and sometime restarts automatically.

4. Sony XAVAX5500

Sony-XAV-AX5500 Review

  • 6.98-inch Capacitive touchscreen Display 
  • Built-in 10-band equalizer
  • Dual USB Input
  • Compatible with Apple CarPlay & Android Auto
  • 5-Volt preamp Outs (5 channel)
  • Built-in AMP ( 80 watts RMS max)

This double din head unit is best for those who want a decent size touchscreen display, with a physical volume knob which is very useful while driving.

This head unit comes dual USB port, front and rare, so that you can easily connect your phone with the stereo for Apple CarPlay, Android Auto or file transfer.

You use Maps via Apple Maps or Waze. You can play stream music wirelessly via Bluetooth or use hands-free calling due to its built-in microphone available with this unit.

You can also use Siri Eyes Free for voice commands which work quite well. This double din is also compatible with SiriusXM satellite radio however if you want to use it, you need to buy it separately.

The built-in amplifier is very powerful and offers a power output of 220 watts with which you can enjoy high-quality music even at full volume. The chassis size of this unit is quite smaller which helps to fit this receiver in any car and with the least effort.

Specifications

  • 6.8″ Multi-touch Capacitive Display
  • Two hundred twenty watts Power Peak
  • Eighty watts RMS Per Channel
  • Built-in Bluetooth For hands free calling
  • Five Channel Preamp Out having 5 volt
  • SiriusXM satellite radio Ready
  • Siri Eyes Free Compatible
  • USB Type: MSC
  • Input: Single USB, Aux, Dual Backup Camera
  • Subwoofer controls
  • Twelve Months Warranty
Features:
  • Apple CarPlay2 and Android Auto 3 compatibility keep you connected on the road
  • Mirror and control selected smartphone appsMirror and control selected smartphone apps with Weblink Cast4
  • Ultra-Slim Bezel-less 6.95” capacitive touchscreen for aBezel-less 6.95” capacitive touchscreen for a seamless display
  • Dual USB ports let you connect a smartphone and USB device simultaneously
  • SiriusXM Ready
  • Reverse Camera Input
  • WebLink Compatible
  • Easy installation with a compact rear chassis
  • 5 volt Preout- 5 total pre outs with dedicated subchannel

 
Pros
  • Simple and easy to use interface
  • Useful Volume Knob provided
  • Full Installation kit is given with the reciever
  • The USB and Aux input is given at the front side of the receiver which makes it easy to use for day to day use.
  • The Apple CarPlay works Seamlessly
Cons
  • The display has glaring issue
  • No Android Auto Support

5. Pioneer MVH1400NEX

Pioneer-mvh-1400nex

  • 6.2-inch Clear Resistive Display
  • Built-in Apple CarPlay
  • 13 Band Equalizer
  • 200 watts Power Output
  • Pandora and Spotify control 

Pioneer MVH1400NEX is the best double din head unit which is available for under $500. The highlighting feature of this head unit is Apple CarPlay which can support every latest iPhone.

The 6.2-inch display does not have any glaring issue at all. It comes with 24-bit True color panel with which you can play videos at good resolution with many customizable settings.

The audio quality of this double din stereo is quite clear and loud due to its two hundred watts power output built-in amplifier.

There is also a 13 band built-in equalizer given in this head unit for changing the audio styles which is another useful feature.

The Pioneer MVH1400NEX is compatible with all car accessories such as iDataLink Maestro, Backup Camera, Steering Wheel Control, Sirius XM satellite radio, and many more.

Specification

  • 6.2-inch Capacitive touchscreen Display
  • Resolution: 800 x 480
  • Fitting Size: 4-inch Tall Double Din dash opening
  • Power Output: 4 x 50 watts
  • RMS: 4 x 20 watts
  • Built-in 13 Band Equalizer with Auto EQ
  • Built-in Bluetooth for wireless streaming and hands free calling
  • Support high resolution FLAC files up to 192kHz/24-bit
  • Built-in Pandora and Spotify control
  •  6-channel preamp outputs (4 volt rear and subwoofers)
  • 12 Months Warranty
Features:
  • 800 x 400 resolution, clear-resistive touchscreen, 24-bit True color panel, display & color customization, dedicated Spotify app control A/V source control’s content from iPhone & Android devices
  • Multilanguage display (attention/SP/Fr/chi), hands-free calling & audio streaming, Dual phone connection, DVD/DVD-R/RW/did-video/MPEG-2/MPEG-1/MPEG-4/favorite/DivX/WMV video playback
  • Cd/CD-R/RW/WMA/WAV/MP3/AAC/FLAC audio playback, 1.5A USB port, aux input, composite A/V input, backup-camera input, wired remote input, composite video output
  • Mistral takes the music from iPhone/iPod, USB device or certain Android devices & plays it back with added transitions & effects to create a virtual DJ inside the PIONEER receiver
  • Includes wiring harness, USB extension cable, Bluetooth microphone and manual

 
Pros
  • Bright and crispy Display
  • Fast Boot up time
  • Rock Solid Bluetooth Connection
  • Apple CarPlay work flawlessly
  • Easy to install due to its compact size and easy to understand manual
Cons
  • No Android Auto Support
  • The UI is not too good

Buyer’s Guide: Things to Keep in Mind While Buying a Double Din Head Unit in 2022

As you can understand from the reviews above, there are many things to look at when selecting the best double din stereo for your car. Below, we have discussed the most important things while buying an expensive car radio or head unit.

Display Quality: Well, most of the double din head units come at a price range of $500 comes with a screen size between 6.2″ – 10.1″. You need to make sure about three things while judging the display: resolution, responsiveness, and glaring issue. Today most of the expensive double din head units available in the market have good resolution, and responsive touch, however many of them have glaring issues which make it tough to see the display in sunlight.

Bluetooth Quality: One of the best features of the double din head units is hands-free calling. That’s why we have selected only those head units which come with a good quality microphone so that you can seamlessly do Bluetooth calling to your loved ones.

Apple CarPlay OR Android Auto: CarPlay and Android Auto are the two main features of any expensive head unit. There are two types available in the market that is wired CarPlay/Auto and Wireless CarPlay and Wireless Android Auto.

With Wireless CarPlay/Auto you can don’t need to directly connect your phone with the receiver via USB, it can work over Wi-fi, which can save your time and frustration of assembling the wires. However, the cons of the wireless CarPlay/Auto are its price.

The price of Apple CarPlay head units is starts from $300 and even go up to $1500. Where the most of the wired CarPlay head unit that you can see above is available for under $600 and offers the almost same audio and display quality.

Boot up time: Another important thing while buying a stereo is the bootup time which is the time taken by the stereo to full start. Most of the head unit takes 10-50 seconds boot-up.

User interface: UI plays an important role in any electronic device and that’s how in the head unit as well. Everyone hates lag. However, the head units we have do not come with a laggy UI or any kind of delay except for some Android Head units.

Bottom Line

We hope that we’ve helped you find the best stereo for your car for under $500. If you are still looking for some more options, be sure to take a look at our other blog posts on similar topics. What is the most important feature of your ideal car stereo? Is it sound quality or ease of use? Let us know in the comments below!

Related Post —

I'm Miles Walker, founder of HeadUnitAdvisor.com I have worked in sound technology for 8 years now. Here I educate the audience about car audio and stereo stuff. I also do Unboxing and reviews of the latest Car Stereos (Head Units).

3 thoughts on “The Best Car Stereo Under $500: Our top 5 picks [2022]”

  1. Hi Miles,I have a 2004 Dodge ram 1500. When I bought the truck, the last owner installed a big amp under the seat, along with 2 huge subwoofers behind both seats. I ordered the double din facia kit to accept my new stereo head. My question is because I have a huge amp and subwoofers, what unit should I buy ? Do I need one with built-in amps? looking to spend under 500.00 and I like Pioneer, from what I’m reading. I’m new to this stuff. Thanks, any advice would be appreciated.

    Reply
  2. Thanks, Miles,I haven’t pulled the trigger as of yet. Waiting to see the black Friday deals. Best buy has thee 1500 real cheap, around 325.00. I think I’m sold unless you know of anything better ? Good luck to you and Happy Thanksgiving!

    Reply

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