So it’s time for you to put a new radio into your car so you can cruise along while enjoying your favourite music. But as you look for a new radio, you come across ones that are single din and others that are double din. But what’s the difference? In this article, we explain everything you need to know about single din vs double din stereos so you can get the one that’s right for you.
What Is DIN?
Before we get into what the differences are between single din vs double din car stereos, let’s understand what ‘DIN’ is. DIN is an acronym for the German term “Deutsches Institut für Normung”, which means the German Institute for Standardisation. This German institute created the standard measurements for car radios and related car audio equipment.
Through research and collaboration with key members of the automotive industry, audio equipment manufacturers and engineers, they determined the best standard size for car radios. Thorough testing was done with multiple prototypes of car stereos being experimented with. After the standard size was published for the industry, major manufacturers started adopting and adhering to it. And today, it has become the standard to follow amongst all industry manufacturers, including vehicle manufacturers.
This standardisation was done to ensure the universal compatibility and ease of installation of car head units and stereo equipment into all vehicles. It lets you swap out your car radio for something with extra features or functions without having to do extensive modification to your dash. The DIN standardisation also makes it easy for audio equipment manufacturers to make various accessories, including mounting kits and wiring harnesses.
Please do note that not all vehicles use the DIN sizing standards for their radios. In this case, changing to either a single DIN or Double DIN head unit requires modifications that are not normally needed. For popular vehicles that have a non standard DIN sized radio, custom installation kits are a great solution.
Single DIN vs Double DIN – Sizes
Single DIN Head Units
The standard measurement for a single DIN head unit was determined as having a 50mm (~2 inches) height and 180mm (~7 inches) width. Most vehicles made in the mid 2000s and earlier feature a single DIN sized head unit. Single DIN head units, whether standard or aftermarket, have the simplest levels of functionality. This is due to the small and compact size that limits the amounts of features they are able to have.
Double DIN Head Units
A double DIN head unit, as the name suggests, is twice the height of a single DIN unit – 100mm compared to 50mm. The extra size allows double DIN head units to feature bigger screens, including larger LCD screens and touchscreens. Most modern vehicles come as standard with a double DIN head unit. However, fitting a double DIN head unit into older cars with single DIN slot space requires extensive modifications.
Single DIN vs Double DIN – Features and Benefits
A single DIN vs Double DIN unit offers the basic functionalities you would expect from a car radio. Because of the compact size, these head units are the easiest and cheapest to install on most cars. Today, modern aftermarket single DIN stereos come with AM/FM radio and basic connectivity such as AUX in or Bluetooth audio connection. Other features that can be had with them include CD players, bluetooth calling, and digital radio, depending on the model.
There are also high end models that have a touchscreen at the front, similar in size as double DIN radios. These have a slim single DIN sized case that fits into a single DIN radio slot, with the screen sticking out slightly past the centre console. This lets you enjoy the functionality possible with a double DIN unit even when you only have a single DIN slot in your car.
The extra size that a Double DIN head unit has provides you with extra screen room and space to fit more components in the rear component case. Modern double DIN head units feature touchscreens, bluetooth connectivity for audio and calling, GPS navigation, reversing camera functionality, multimedia playback, and phone integration. Premium examples of these head units come with apps like Android Auto and Apple Carplay which mirror your phone’s screen.
This allows you to have almost another version of your phone in your dash, allowing you to enjoy using apps like Google Maps for navigation on a much bigger screen. Double DIN stereos also allow you to watch videos, whether through files or Youtube streaming in conjunction with Android Auto. The functionality even allows you to play your mobile games. It is however important to remember that these apps should not be used whilst driving as they are distracting.
When it comes to the installation of a single DIN vs double DIN head unit, single DIN units have an advantage. The smaller size makes them more versatile and easier to install on any car. The exception to this is when installation is on a car that comes with a double DIN as standard. In this case, an installation kit may be needed to get the correct fit.
For beginners new to stereo installation, single DIN units from reputable manufacturers are a great place to start. Many of these manufacturers create installation manuals and kits to make the process easy and convenient. However, many manufacturers have reduced their range of single DIN head units, so finding a suitable one for your needs may be more difficult.
With double DIN head units, the space required to fit them is larger. These units will need extensive modification to fit into single DIN slots, or into cars that do not follow the DIN sizing for their radios. In this case, we recommend speaking with professionals and leaving the installation up to them.
For those on a budget, a single DIN vs double DIN head unit will be a more affordable option. However, double DIN units have more features, and are a better investment for your car long term. Features like GPS and reversing camera integration in particular are big upgrades, and keep you safer whilst driving and parking. And these features are not available in single DIN head units.
Choose the Right Head Unit For You!
Getting the right head unit for your car doesn’t have to be a nightmare. Understanding how the sizing difference between a single DIN vs a Double DIN will help you make that decision. And for more information about car accessories, check our blog site today. From car wrapping to dash cams, we’ve got the scoop on everything you need to know.