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Aftermarket Radio: Everything You Need to Know About it

If you’re thinking about upgrading your car’s audio system, you may have heard the term “aftermarket radio.” But what is it, exactly?

What is Aftermarket Radio?

What is Aftermarket Radio?

In short, aftermarket radio refers to any radio that you can buy and install yourself, as opposed to the factory-installed radio that came with your car. 

These radios can provide superior sound quality and additional features over the factory radio. They are typically more expensive than the factory radio, but offer better value for the money.

Factory Head Unit Vs Aftermarket Comparison

If you’re looking to upgrade your car audio system, you may be wondering whether to go for a factory head unit or an aftermarket option. Both have their pros and cons, so it’s important to weigh up your options before making a decision.

Factory head units are usually more expensive than aftermarket units, but they often offer better sound quality and features. Aftermarket units, on the other hand, are generally more affordable and easier to install.

So, which is the right option for you? To help you make a decision, we’ve put together a comparison of factory head units and aftermarket units, looking at the pros and cons of each.

Factory Head Unit Pros:

  • Usually higher display quality than aftermarket units
  • It May be easier to install in some cases
  • Factory Head Unit Cons:
  • More expensive than aftermarket units
  • Can be difficult to find replacement parts
  • Limited Features

Factory Head Unit Cons:

  • Generally more expensive than aftermarket units
  • Can be difficult to replace if damaged

Aftermarket Unit Pros:

  • More affordable than factory head units
  • Great Sound Quality with tons of features to customize the audio such as EQ, time alignment and more
  • Wide range of options to choose from
  • May come with features that aftermarket units don’t have
  • Can be integrated with the old car

Aftermarket Radio Cons:

  • Most of the aftermarket touch screen stereos don’t provide higher display resolution, most companies like Pioneer, Alpine offer 800 x 480px at mid range segment ($400 -$600). And In case if you want HD display then you need to go with their higher end models which are usually available above $750.

So, there you have it – a comparison of factory head units and aftermarket units. Both have their pros and cons, so it’s important to weigh up your options before making a decision. If you’re looking for the best sound quality, then a factory head unit is usually the way to go. However, if you’re on a budget or you’re looking for more features and flexibility, then an aftermarket unit may be the better option.

How to select the best aftermarket radio: A Buyer’s Guide

Now that you know what an aftermarket radio is, you may be wondering how to choose the best one for your car. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

1.Sound quality: One of the main reasons to upgrade to an aftermarket radio is for better sound quality. Make sure to read reviews to see what other people are saying about the sound quality of the radio you’re considering.

2.Features: Aftermarket radios often come with a variety of features that can make your driving experience more enjoyable. Consider what features are important to you and make sure the radio you choose has them.

3.Price: As with anything, you’ll get what you pay for with aftermarket radios. That being said, you don’t need to spend a fortune to get a good quality radio. Do your research and compare prices to find the best value for your money.

4.Installation: Depending on your level of expertise, you may or may not be able to install the radio yourself. If you’re not confident in your ability to install the radio, it’s best to leave it to the professionals.

5.Warranty: Most aftermarket radios come with a warranty, but it’s always a good idea to check before you buy. This will give you peace of mind in knowing that you’re covered if anything goes wrong with the radio.

Now that you know what to look for, you’re ready to start shopping for the best aftermarket radio for your car. Be sure to compare prices and features to find the perfect radio for your needs.

Our top Pick for the Best Aftermarket Car Stereo for 2022

In our top 5 Best Double Din Head Unit for Sound Quality list we have Placed the Pioneer DMH-W4660NEX at #1 spot. And there are certain reasons for doing that.

Pioneer-DMH-W4660NEX-Review

The Pioneer DMH-W4660NEX is the perfect head unit for those who want a versatile and powerful entertainment experience. With wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth connectivity, and an HD Radio tuner, this head unit provides all sorts of options for keeping you entertained on your drive.

This receiver features a sleek touchscreen display, as well as built-in parking guides and the ability to add a front-view camera. But it’s not just about good looks – the DMH-W4660NEX is also packed with features that make your driving experience better. With iDatalink Maestro compatibility, you can keep all your factory extras in select vehicles. And if you’re looking to add a rear-view camera, this receiver makes it easy. 

This unit features Bluetooth connectivity, allowing you to wirelessly stream music, make hands-free calls, and more. Plus, with Pioneer’s included external microphone, you can be assured of clear calling quality.

In addition to outstanding Bluetooth functionality, the DMH-W4660NEX also delivers exceptional audio quality. With its built-in 4 x 50 watt amplifier, this head unit is sure to give your music the boost it needs. Additionally, the unit comes with a wide variety of EQ presets and sound adjustment options, so you can tailor the sound to your liking.

 This unit features a built-in HD Radio tuner, which allows you to enjoy crisper, clearer sound quality from your favorite radio stations. You’ll also be able to take advantage of extra local FM channels that many stations offer, so you can enjoy even more music, news, and sports. And best of all, it’s 100% subscription free! In addition to enjoying better sound quality from your radio stations, you’ll also be able to see song titles, album art, and station information on the display. Plus, you can tag new discoveries so you can easily find them again later. 

This incredible unit also allows you to load your high-res FLAC and DSD music files onto a thumb drive for easy access. 

This head unit includes a rear USB input so you can easily access your music library, and a rear aux input for playing music from an older portable player. You can also tweak your sound using the 13-band graphic equalizer and other sound tools, and the three sets of preamp outputs make it easy to add additional amps for even more power. Plus, the switchable 3-way mode lets you customize the sound output to your liking. 

Top Aftermarket Car Stereo Brands

There are many different types of aftermarket radios on the market today. Some are better than others, and there are a few that stand out above the rest. Here is a list of the best aftermarket radio brands, based on quality, features, and price.

Sony

Sony is a Japanese multinational corporation and it’s one of the leading brands when it comes to car stereos. Besides car stereos, they also manufacture home theater systems, headphones, gaming consoles, and many other electronics.

The company was founded in May 1946 by Masaru Ibuka and Akio Morita. The current CEO of Sony is Kenichiro Yoshida.

Sony Car Stereo Models

  • Sony XAV-AX100 – Single Din multimedia receiver with 6.4″ display 
  • XAV-AX5000 – Double DIN multimedia receiver with a 7″ display
  • XAV-AX7000 – Double DIN multimedia receiver with an 8″ display

Pricing

  • Single Din Stereo: Starting from 200$ to 350$
  • Double Din Stereo: Starting from 400$ to 700$

Support

Sony offers great customer support to their customers. Besides physical stores, they offer call support from Monday to Friday ( 8 AM – 8 PM EST).

Customer Support Number: 800-538-7550

Short History

Sony is a Japanese multinational corporation and it was founded on May 7, 1946, by Nihonbashi, in Tokyo, Japan.  The current CEO of Sony is Kenichiro Yoshida. The company has more than 116,300 employees worldwide.

Official website: sony.com

Pros

  • Sony car stereos offer great value for the money
  • The build quality and design of these stereos are really good

Cons

  • The screen resolution of Sony car stereos is not that good as compared to other competitors in this price range
  • Some of the features are hard to use

Kenwood

Kenwood is a Japanese Electronics company which was founded in 1946 as Kasuga Radio Co. Ltd. Kenwood’s headquarter is located in Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture, and Japan.

Besides car stereos, they also manufacture two-way radios, mobile radios, marine radios, AM/FM radios, and home theater systems. 

Kenwood Car Stereo Models

  • Kenwood DNX994S – Double DIN multimedia receiver with a 6.8″ display 
  • Kenwood DDX9904S – Double DIN multimedia receiver with a 7″ display
  • Kenwood DDX6906S – Double DIN multimedia receiver with a 6.8″ display

Pricing

  • Single Din Stereo: Starting from 130$ to 500$
  • Double Din Stereo: Starting from 400$ to 700$

Support

Kenwood offers great customer support to their customers. Besides physical stores, they offer call support from Monday to Friday ( 8 AM – 5 PM CST).

Customer Support Number: (310) 639-9000

Short History

 Kenwood is a Japanese Electronics company which was founded in 1946 as Kasuga Radio Co. Ltd. Kenwood’s headquarter is located in Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture, and Japan. The current CEO of Kenwood is Shoichiro Eguchi

.

Company Revenue

Kenwood has an annual revenue of US$$1.71 billion (2014). More than 17,801 employees are working for one of the best car audio manufacturing companies.

Official website: https://www.kenwood.com/usa/car/

Pros

  • Kenwood stereos offer great value for the money
  • The build quality and design of these stereos are really good
  • Cons
  • The screen resolution of Kenwood car stereos is not that good as compared to other competitors in this price range
  • Some of the features are hard to use

Click here to read our full article on  Top 10 Best Car Stereo Brand In The World 

FAQ’s

Does an aftermarket stereo sound better?

The Pioneer DMH-W4660NEX is our top pick for the best aftermarket car stereo. It’s a double-DIN unit that supports both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, so you can get the best of both worlds in terms of smartphone integration. If you’re looking for something with a little more oomph, the Kenwood Excelon DMX907S is our top pick for the best car stereo with built-in navigation. It’s a pricey unit, but it’s packed with features including support for both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as built-in Garmin navigation.

Can I put any aftermarket radio in my car?

Yes, you can put an aftermarket radio in your car. There are a few things you’ll need to do to make sure it fits properly and works correctly, but it’s generally a fairly straightforward process. You’ll need to consult your car’s owners manual or a professional installer to figure out the specific details for your particular vehicle, but

Why are aftermarket radios so expensive?

There are several reasons why aftermarket radios can be more expensive than factory radios. First, aftermarket radios are often made with higher quality materials and components than factory radios. This means that they can last longer and provide better sound quality. Additionally, aftermarket radios often offer more features than factory radios, such as Bluetooth connectivity, hands-free calling, and MP3 playback. Finally, aftermarket radios are usually installed by professional car stereo installers, which can add to the overall cost.

How much does it cost to install an aftermarket radio?

The average cost to install an aftermarket radio is anywhere from $100 to $150. This price can vary depending on the make and model of your vehicle, as well as the complexity of the installation. If you’re looking to save money, you could always try to install the radio yourself. However, unless you’re confident in your abilities, it’s probably best to leave this task to a professional.

I am Miles Walker, founder of HeadunitAdvisor.com. I'm a car audio enthusiast and have been since I was a kid. I created the website to help people make the best decision when it comes to choosing and installing the new car stereo head unit. I have a degree in electrical engineering from UC Berkeley, and I love working on cars and audio equipment.

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