5 Best Car Stereos Under $500 [Updated 2021]
In 2021, 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.
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.
Pioneer MVH1400NEX — The Best Car Stereo under $500
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.
- 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
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.
In the box of this stereo, you will everything for installing it in your cars such as a wiring harness, mounting brackets, microphone for hands-free calling, screws, 58″ USB extension cable, user manual, and a warranty card.
Product #2 – Alpine iLX-W650
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.
- 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
Product #3 – Kenwood Excelon DMX7706S
- 6.95″ WVGA Touchscreen 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 DMX706S. 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.
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.
- 6.95-inch Resistive Display
- Built-in 13 Band Graphic EQ
- 4-volt gold-plated RCA preamp output
- 5 Bluetooth Connection
- RMS: 4 x 22 watts/channel
- Power Output: 4 x 50 watts/channel
- Latest iOS 13.0 CarPlay
- Compatible with iDatalink Maestro
- Backup Camera input
- Steering Wheel Contol input
- 2-Year Warranty
Product #4 – Sony XAV-AX1000
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.
To use Apple CarPlay in this stereo is quite easy due to its front-sided USB input. 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.
- 6.2″ Multi-touch Display
- Resolution: 800 x 480
- Two hundred twenty watts Power OutPut Per Channel
- Eighty watts RMS Per Channel
- Built-in Bluetooth For hands free calling
- Five Channel Preamp Out
- SiriusXM satellite radio Ready
- Siri Eyes Free
- Single USB, Aux and Backup Camera inputs
- Subwoofer controls
- Twelve Months Warranty
Product #5 – Pioneer DMH-1500NEX
Pioneer DMH-1500NEX is another 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 on the 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 feature, 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.
- 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
Buyer’s Guide: Things to Keep in Mind While Buying a Double Din Head Unit in 2021
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: In 2021, 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 these Apple CarPlay head units is $600 and even up to $1000. Where the wired CarPlay head unit that you can see above is available for under $500 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.
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!
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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).