It seems that in the catchphrase about Russians and fast driving, one important element is missing … music. “What Russian doesn’t like to drive fast to good music?” — so it would be worth adapting the famous rhetorical question from “Dead Souls” for modern realities. But how will you listen to music in the car? Certainly not from a mobile phone. And modern radio tape recorders can also suggest the way, which is also important for our country. In this compilation, we have collected for you the top best radio tape recorders in the car.
The main characteristics of radio tape recorders for cars
Car radios (also called “head” or “head unit”) have several important characteristics, but first of all, you need to pay attention to the size, which determines whether the selected model will fit your car.
Conventionally, all types of radio tape recorders can be divided into several main types according to size and form factor:
- 1DIN radio without additional monitor;
- 1DIN radio with retractable screen;
- 2DIN radios.
There are radios with and without a sound processor, radios on Android and their own operating systems.
We understand what technical characteristics affect what.
1DIN and 2DIN
1DIN or 2DIN — the basic characteristic of the radio, which you need to know about when buying. It indicates the standard mounting hole size for a car radio.
- 1DIN refers to radios with a size of 180 x 50 mm.
- 2DIN for radios with a size of 180 x 100 mm.
The seating depth is not standardized, approximately all 1DIN and 2DIN radios have a seating depth of around 160 mm. However, your vehicle is compatible with either one or both sizes.
The size is difficult to determine by eye, especially in modern cars. It is best to find the necessary parameters on the Internet in advance by entering the query “radio recorder standard size (car model)” into the search engine.
If the car uses a 1DIN car radio socket, then only a 1DIN radio will suit you, but with a 2DIN socket, you can choose any option. However, not all manufacturers use DIN sizes — an adapter frame may also be required to install universal radio tape recorders. Non-standard sizes are found in BMW, Honda, Toyota and other brands.
What size is better? It all depends on your needs. In terms of basic sound control functions, there is no difference. 2DIN radios have more space for the user interface and are therefore easier to use. For obvious reasons, 2DIN models are more often equipped with a touch screen, but there are also options for 1DIN radio tape recorders — more on that below. A good car radio can be of any size.
The display plays a huge role in the functionality, usability and appearance of your stereo system. More advanced models have high resolution and customizable backlight.
Almost all 1DIN radio models on the market today use a multi-character and multi-segment LCD display. Old-school dot-matrix displays have practically gone into oblivion and are already of interest to collectors rather than ordinary motorists. If you’re looking for a 1DIN radio, look for devices with multi-line displays that can display artist and song title information at the same time.
There are also 1DIN radios with a retractable screen, although their popularity is gradually declining due to the technical vulnerability of the retractable mechanism. For these models, the screen leaves the case and turns over. It is these radios that can be equipped with a touch screen, which allows you to use the touchscreen, even if the car only has a 1DIN socket.
2DIN models are equipped with full color displays of various sizes. More compact radios usually have a screen with a diagonal of about 6 inches, larger ones — from 7 and above. Most radio tape recorders have a resolution of 800x600 pixels, high-end devices can have an HD screen with a resolution of 1280x720 or more.
Less expensive options use a so-called resistive touch screen. The display of these devices is covered with a thin plastic film with a matte anti-reflective coating. More advanced models use a capacitive touch screen, like smartphones — you directly press the glass on the front of the device. The advantage of capacitive screens is that they are much sharper and brighter, and can read multiple pressure points at the same time. This is necessary to control gestures — for example, to swipe or zoom with two fingers.
The touch interface offers a range of benefits:
- easier to adjust the sound and click on the menu;
- convenient integration with a smartphone, especially with models equipped with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto;
- easier to control the GPS navigator.
Such radios are often more difficult to install — you have to connect a few additional wires.
Many modern car radios can please with additional RGB backlighting. It is controlled by adjusting colors and brightness. You can choose combinations that fit the interior of the car.
Power is an important characteristic when choosing a radio. Without an external amplifier, the power output of a car stereo is what ultimately determines the loudness of the sound.
Typically, car radios have two power outputs:
- The maximum (peak) output power is the maximum power that the car stereo can deliver for short periods of time. It will be transmitted to your speakers (no external amplifier).
- RMS (Root Mean Squared) output power is the power at which the system can operate continuously or for an extended period of time. This is a closer approximation to reality.
Often, manufacturers indicate exactly the peak power (for example, 4x50 watts), but this is only a nominal value. More realistic RMS power is always less (for example, 4x15 watts). It is important that the power of your sound system (speakers and/or subwoofer) exceeds the power of the car radio.
Interfaces and formats
Modern “heads” are real media combines that can reproduce sound from a variety of media. Which interfaces you need will depend on how (or rather, from which device) you listen to music.
Here are the most popular options:
- FM radio. With the FM radio, everything is more or less clear — it is present in almost every radio.
- CD/DVD player. If you still have a collection of your favorite CDs, it’s a sin not to listen to them during the trip. These players play music in various formats, including CD and DVD, CD‑R/RW, MP3, AAC, WAV and WMA.
- 3.5 mm audio jack (AUX). This is a standard headphone jack, through which you can connect a variety of devices — players, smartphones, etc.
- bluetooth. You connect your smartphone via Bluetooth like a portable speaker — a popular and easy way.
- USB port. You can listen to music from your smartphone and charge it at the same time. Or connect a flash drive or external hard drive with recorded tracks.
- SD card. A choice for special connoisseurs, but why not. In addition, in some models, it is the SD card that is used for the database of the navigator.
Most radios can easily handle standard digital formats — MP3 and WAV. If you want to listen to music in a lossless format without losing quality, please note that the radio must support FLAC or APE.
- CarPlay and Android Auto. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto systems allow you to use your smartphone in the car without taking your eyes off the road. With their help, you can use the satellite navigation system, make calls, send and receive messages, listen to music, etc. Everything is customized for use in the car. Naturally, to work with applications, the radio must have a touch screen. Apple promises that this year will begin production of car models that can be opened and started using the iPhone.
- bluetooth. Even if your radio does not support CarPlay and Android Auto, but it has Bluetooth, you can make calls and listen to music from your smartphone.
- GPS navigation. Models with a built-in GPS-navigator have their advantages. For example, the screen of any 2DIN radio is much larger than that of a smartphone or DVR, so using such a navigator is much more convenient. Often built-in navigators are equipped with additional features.
- Equalizer. In addition to power, it is important to be able to control the shape of the output sound. With the equalizer, you can boost or cut specific frequencies to best optimize the sound for your car. The more bands the equalizer has, the more precisely you will be able to adjust the sound. Almost always there is a set of presets for different styles of music.
- Video viewing. Of course, watching videos while driving is not the best idea. But sometimes you need to wait for someone in the car — this is where you will have time for your favorite series or a couple of YouTube videos. The advantages over a smartphone are the same — a large screen. And you won’t have to worry about the battery.
- sound processor. If you need a truly high-quality sound, pay attention that the built-in processor is present in the model. The sound processor allows you to properly adjust the acoustics in the car with the desired time correction for each speaker and subwoofer. At the same time, setting up the processor is not an easy task, and sometimes an external amplifier is also needed to obtain the desired effect.
The best car radios
In the top of the best radio tape recorders, we will consider only models that can be purchased in Russia. For your convenience, we divided them by size, form factor and important additional features.
The best 1DIN car radios without additional display
If the sound is the most important thing for you, and for everything else there is a smartphone, then a high-quality 1DIN radio tape recorder without an additional screen will suit you.
Cost: 15,000 rubles
- great sound;
- high quality FM radio reception;
- the ability to connect regular buttons on the steering wheel.
- small screen;
- inconvenient operation with some Android smartphones.
Alpine CDE-193BT is more expensive than most representatives of its class, but it boasts excellent sound, a bunch of settings and almost complete omnivorousness. You will find a CD drive, USB, AUX and Bluetooth interfaces. You can play FLAC, but only via USB. The “head” has a full-fledged processor, so you can fine-tune the sound to suit your acoustics.
Most user complaints relate to the small screen and software. Of course, a small screen is a problem for many single-din radios, but in such an advanced model from such a respected manufacturer, one could try to optimize some parameters better — for example, the font size, due to which words often do not fit entirely on the screen. Also, some users criticize the Android application and the quality of the Bluetooth connection with Android smartphones, but most likely it depends on the phone model.
Sony DSX-A212UI. Budget Alternative
Cost: 4,000 rubles
- user-friendly interface;
- nice branded design Sony.
- lack of Bluetooth.
An inexpensive but high-quality radio tape recorder from Sony, which invariably collects good reviews from car owners and is included in the tops of budget radio tape recorders.
The smartphone can be connected via USB, but there is no Bluetooth, although given the price range, this is not surprising. You can connect the device through the jack, while you will not find a CD player. The FM receiver works flawlessly.
In general, despite the very affordable price, the Sony DSX-A212UI produces a very good sound with enough power. There is a nine-band equalizer to adjust it, and the sound of the “head” is quite “bass” with a lot of bottoms. The model reads FLAC — for lovers of lossless formats.
Best 1DIN Retractable Screen Car Radios
If only a single-din radio will fit into your car, but you still want a large screen, “heads” with a retractable screen are a completely logical option. The main vulnerability of such devices is the retractable mechanism and the train, which are subjected to additional load when the machine moves.
Cost: 30,000 rubles.
- many functions;
- good compatibility with large external drives;
- omnivorous in terms of audio and video formats;
- equalizer with fine tuning.
- may not reach the power for lovers of “louder” — you will need an external amplifier;
- no GPS navigation system.
Perhaps the best 1DIN radio with a retractable screen available now in Russia. You can connect Android and iOS devices via USB (for listening to music and charging, but without CarPlay and Android Auto support). There is Bluetooth for hands-free calls, you can connect two devices at once. Also, a rear view camera is connected to the Pioneer AVH-A7100BT.
The retractable 7‑inch touch screen didn’t force Pioneer to ditch the CD/DVD drive, to the delight of all conservatives. “Head” quietly reproduces almost all formats of audio and video, including MKV.
One of the main features is a very high-quality sound with the ability to fine-tune. There is a 13-band equalizer and FLAC support up to 192kHz/24bit. In general, everything for music lovers in the car. Of course, someone may not have enough built-in amplifier (5% THD at a nominal power of 22 watts per channel), but supporters of the “louder” can always install an external amplifier.
Mystery MMTD-9122S. Budget Alternative
Cost: 11,000 rubles
- good functionality at a low price;
- choice of color and brightness of the backlight;
- full function remote control.
- slowly reads external drives;
- unstable connection on FM radio;
- quiet enough.
Of course, in today’s conditions, even budget devices sometimes look not so cheap, but we tried to find the best options for you in terms of price and quality ratio. The Mystery radio has a large 7‑inch screen, which, as with Pioneer, did not interfere with the installation of a CD drive. Music and movies can also be played via USB, although many users complain about “thoughtful” reading from flash drives.
Despite the relatively affordable price, the build quality and materials are at a high level, and the screen is firmly fixed. You can connect a rear view camera — this option is not always available for budget models. Mystery MMTD-9122S can be controlled with a remote control. Adjusting the color and brightness of the backlight is a nice bonus.
The radio has a good sound, but, as in the previous case, not too loud. Unlike the previous radio, fine-tuning the sound for yourself and the car will no longer work. This model is a compromise, but given the low cost, the compromise is very beneficial.
Best 1DIN car radio with powerful sound processor
Let’s finish our rating of 1DIN radio “head” with a cool sound and a powerful processor. Budget models with powerful processors are still an oxymoron, although among the more budget options we recommend taking a closer look at the Pioneer DEH-S5000BT. In the meantime, our winner:
Cost: 34,000 rubles
- great sound;
- powerful processor;
- quality materials and body assembly.
- display and menu items are not easy to read;
- difficulty navigating while driving;
- no FLAC support.
Perhaps this “head” is still one of the best sounding on the market. Despite its venerable age, it easily outplays most of the newest competitors. This is reflected in the price: more than 30 thousand for a single-din radio without an additional display is no joke.
Pioneer DEH-80PRS supports Android and iPhone smartphones via USB (2 connectors) and Bluetooth connection (there is a microphone included for calls), reads CDs, is equipped with two AUX inputs and an SD card slot.
Cool powerful sound can be adjusted with a 16-band equalizer, which also allows you to separately adjust the levels for the left and right channels. However, there are spots on the sun, the venerable age affects: the device does not support FLAC, so lossless files will have to be converted to WAV first.
Best 2DIN Touch Screen Car Radios
Today, many 2DIN radios are equipped with a touch screen, so this top will be common for 2DIN radios, and for models on Android and with a built-in GPS navigator, we have compiled a separate rating.
Cost: 37,000 rubles.
- capacitive touch display;
- cool processor and automatic sound tuning for the features of the cabin;
- Android Auto and Car Play.
If you already choose a top-end 2DIN “head”, then again you cannot do without expensive “Pioneers”. Below is a significantly more budget-friendly alternative, but for now let’s see what you get for your money.
And you get a full-fledged sound processor with delay settings (it would be quite possible to put the model in the top processor radios), a crossover (frequency divider for different car speakers) and automatic frequency response adjustment for interior features. And also very high-quality sound with fine tuning using a 13-band equalizer and convenient presets. “Head” understands any formats (including MKV for video and FLAC for audio) and connection methods. Android Auto or Apple CarPlay is automatically activated when a smartphone is connected.
The picture is displayed on a 6.8‑inch screen with a resolution of 2400×480 pixels. The capacitive touch display works like your tablet, so you get a versatile multimedia studio. As a result, this is the top model of the new generation, which will decorate any car.
ACV AVD-6600. Budget Alternative
Cost: 9000 rubles
- excellent feature set;
- built-in navigator;
- RGB backlight
- some users complain about the lack of high frequencies.
ACV turned out to be a well-equipped budget model. A good 6.2‑inch touchscreen display received a standard resolution of 800 by 480 pixels. Not to say that this is the best choice for watching videos, but it will be clearly more convenient than a smartphone.
The radio has a CD/DVD drive, Bluetooth, a USB interface and a microSD card slot.
The AVD-6600 also has a GPS navigator from Navitel. To activate, you need to buy and download a road map from the official Navitel website, burn it to microSD, and then install it in the radio.
The “head” gives out quite a decent sound, although on the network you can stumble upon the opinion that the device lacks the “tops” a little.
The best 2DIN car radio on Android
Many users are accustomed to the Android system on their smartphone, but Android also has its own radio. The most important advantage of such models is their versatility. You can install on it the same applications that you use on your smartphone. The disadvantages are appropriate — the system can fail and slow down, but a competent choice of model will save you from such problems.
Cost: 28,000 rubles
- top set of options;
- 24-band equalizer;
- GLONASS support.
- confusing interface.
This is a full-fledged advanced Android tablet in your car. Inside is an 8‑core 1.5 megahertz CPU (not to be confused with a sound processor) and 4 gigabytes of RAM. Although 4 GB of RAM may seem a little small compared to many modern smartphones, this is more than enough for a car stereo. Plus 64 GB of internal memory — for music, movies and maps. You can throw everything you need and no longer think about connecting a smartphone or flash drives. All this can be viewed on a 7‑inch display with a resolution of 1024 by 600 pixels. The device is running the tenth Android, which can be updated as new systems are released.
The sound is adjusted using a 24-band equalizer, which you will not find even in top-end “pioneer” devices. The system reads FLAC and MKV, so you won’t have any format restrictions.
It is interesting that in the radio there is not only GPS, but also GLONASS — for fans of the domestic navigation system.
MRM-A788. Budget Alternative
Cost: 7,000 rubles
- Internet connection via SIM card;
- versatile slim body.
- 1 GB RAM;
- The OS is not updated.
An interesting low-cost alternative among Android devices is the MRM-A788, which is 20 thousand cheaper than our last nominee. The cheaper model has a simpler screen, processor, and only 1GB of RAM, but for $700 you get a device-independent network connection, as well as a super-slim body that will fit almost any car.
The radio has a pre-installed navigator, as well as 16 GB of internal memory for downloading maps and media files.
Users disagree on the sound quality, leaving conflicting comments. Before buying, we recommend listening to the sound and form your opinion on this matter.
The best car radio with GPS navigation
A GPS navigator can be found on most Android radios, but most often you will have to pay a little more for a popular operating system. In addition, not all Apple technology users will appreciate an Android device in their car. Therefore, we offer you an alternative “head” in the middle price segment with a GPS navigator.
Cost: 13,000 rubles.
- combination price-quality;
- support for steering wheel buttons;
- navigator from Navitel.
- not very user friendly interface.
The Prology MPN-D510 is a truly versatile machine with USB, Bluetooth, CD/DVD drive, 3.5mm audio jack, SD card slot, touch screen and rear view camera connection. The power of the “head” is standard, but there are no complaints about the sound quality. The model is practically “omnivorous”, with the exception of some video formats like MKV.
The car radio uses the well-known navigation system from Navitel with the ability to update maps and software.
In general, this is a strong middle peasant — without any particularly outstanding features, but also without jambs. This makes it an excellent choice for anyone looking for a car radio with integrated GPS.
So, when choosing a radio, first of all you need to decide which size is suitable for your car — either only 1DIN (small), or both 1DIN and 2DIN (large).
The next thing to consider is whether you need a large display and a touch interface. A large display can also be found in 1DIN models — in them it is installed using a retractable mechanism. If you buy a radio solely for the sake of music and radio, then, in general, you may not need a large screen.
If you plan to occasionally watch videos (just don’t do it while driving!), use maps or special applications, you can’t do without a large screen. And the presence of a touch interface greatly simplifies the setup of the radio and menu navigation.
For connoisseurs of sound, “heads” with a separate sound processor are better suited, which allows you to adjust the delay between the car’s speakers, thereby creating the correct sound picture.
Pay attention to the power of the car radio, the presence of the necessary interfaces (depending on what media you are listening to music from), decide whether you need a built-in GPS navigator.
We have included models of different sizes and form factors in our top radio tape recorders for car audio. Among 1DIN radios without a screen, we recommend paying attention to the Alpine CDE-193BT — you will get great sound and a full set of necessary functions for 15 thousand rubles. Sony’s more budget-friendly alternative, the DSX-A212UI, unfortunately lacks Bluetooth, but for the money it’s a very worthy option. Pioneer’s veteran DEH-80PRS boasts a powerful sound processor and excellent acoustics.
If you have a 1DIN footprint but need a touch screen, Pioneer offers their top-of-the-line AVH-A7100BT solution. The Mystery MMTD-9122S will cost almost three times less, but there are compromises in sound and performance in the model.
The top 2DIN head unit is led by Pioneer: the DMH-Z5350BT has almost no drawbacks, except for the high price. A cheaper model with a good touch screen is the ACV AVD-6600. Another 2DIN radio with a touch screen and a built-in navigator from Navitel is the Prology MPN-D510.
Among the two-din “heads” on Android, we singled out a model from the domestic brand INCAR — TSA-9110. For 28 thousand you get the tenth Android, a powerful processor, a lot of memory and a 24-band equalizer. If you are not ready to spend that much money, and the Android system looks like an attractive option, the MRM-A788 with its own Internet access will cost 7000 rubles.