Kenwood vs Pioneer Double DIN Head Unit Car Stereos – Which One Should You Buy?

Kenwood vs Pioneer double din

Kenwood vs Pioneer – Do you know enough about either one to make a choice? You should. Especially if you want the best sound system for your car.

But first, let’s talk about what a double DIN head unit is. The generic term double DIN refers to the standard opening where your radio fits into the dashboard of your car.

The term head unit refers to an automotive infotainment component. Or, in plain terms, a radio. But these days, radios do a lot more than just play music.

So if you want to customize your ride, you’ll want a sound system tailor-made to suit your tastes.

But is it Kenwood or Pioneer? Let’s weigh both the options.

First, we’ll look at the Kenwood DIN head unit.


Kenwood vs Pioneer – Know The Difference Between Kenwood and Pioneer

The Kenwood Head Unit Overview

If you are looking at any Kenwood head unit, you have to decide what is most important to you. So let’s look at its features.

Just to let you know there are many different models from each company. But to do our comparison today, we will look at two comparable double DIN head units.

How to tell if your speaker is blown out check the article.

This information will give you an idea of where to start.

We’ll begin with the Kenwood DDX9903S. Then we are going to look at the Pioneer avh-4200nex double din receiver. Then we’ll compare the two.

This will help you decide which is right for you. There is another factor here though. You will have to consider this one on your own. It’s the make and model of your car.

Is Pioneer or Kenwood the better fit for your car? It depends on what features you can take advantage of. This is another question you will have to ask yourself when you choose Pioneer or Kenwood.

That said, here are the main highlights of the Kenwood Excelon DDX9903s:

Product Features

  • DVD/CD player with AM/FM tuner
  • HD Radio
  • 2 USB Ports
  • Connects to iPhone and iPad
  • Connects to Android Auto and Apple Car Play
  • Connects to rear cam and front cam
  • Capacitive touch panel display
  • Customizable display
  • Motorized tilt for display adjustment

A/V Features

  • Rear A/V output will feed additional displays
  • 13-band graphic EQ with drive EQ
  • Parking gridlines for a rear-view camera
  • Bass boost with volume controls
  • Digital Signal Processing with digital time alignment
  • High and low pass filters
  • The USB port can play MP3, AAC, and WMA music
  • Built-in Amplifier

Other Features

  • Built-in Bluetooth for music streaming and hands-free calling
  • Access to HD Radio, iHeart Radio, Pandora, and satellite radio
  • Access to Google maps and your text messages
  • Siri Eyes Free Control
  • Phone Swapping between Android and iPhone
  • Android and iPhone Mirroring
  • Works with many steering wheel audio controls
  • Built-in compass

Now, onto the pros of the Kenwood Excelon DDX9903s and other Kenwood radio receivers.

  1.  It may seem like a small thing, but a customizable display is important. Whether it’s your phone or computer, we all get in a routine when it comes to accessing information. The Kenwood DDX9903s has a customizable display that is very user-friendly.
  2. Here’s another thing that’s important when it comes to purchasing aftermarket radios. The Kenwood DDX9903s lets you keep all of your car settings. So you’ll be able to keep your car’s media interface. Like the voice-controlled features.

These are features like OnStar, safety warning chimes, and steering wheel audio controls. You will need to purchase the iDatalink Maestro module separately to do this. But the convenience of keeping your voice commands and getting a much better music system is worth it.

  1. Now, what about the sound? The Kenwood DDX9903s has a built-in amplifier that delivers a clear, crisp signal to the speakers. It also boasts a 13-ban graphic equalizer that boosts frequencies according to road noise. Finally, with three sets of 5-volt preamp outputs, you get a really clean signal for better sound quality.
  2. It also boots up quickly.

But what about the cons of the Kenwood DDX9903s?

  1. The Kenwood DDX9903s doesn’t work with all models of Androids or iPhones. Check your model before you purchase this radio receiver to make sure your phone is compatible. Also, you can only use one phone at a time. The other USB port is for the flash drive.
  2. As well, the interface of the Kenwood DDX9903s is outdated. You can’t jump to the place in a song or video you might like to hear. The music/video files aren’t able to be named so you just have to scroll until you find the right one.
  3. The Android Auto does not start automatically and must be turned on manually every time.
  4. Sometimes you cannot see the screen in bright sunlight, no matter how you tilt it.

Now, how much does the average Kenwood cost?

The average Kenwood, depending on the model you buy, will set you back about $300 to $400. The least expensive car receiver from Kenwood is $89.00.

But it doesn’t play CDs or DVDs. The most expensive car radio from Kenwood is about $1,500. Chances are though, you’ll be looking at the models in the $300 to $400 range.

But what about Pioneer Double DIN head units? Let’s look at them now.

The Pioneer Head Unit Overview

Again, there are quite a few models that Pioneer makes. So let’s look at their double din head units first.

Then we can talk about the Pioneer avh-4200nex. Because this model was engineered to directly compete with the Kenwood Excelon DDX9903s.

Both of these Japanese innovators try to come up with advanced technology for car sound systems.

The difference is that Kenwood goes for more expensive technology. While Pioneer is a little more consumer-friendly and aims for the more average person.

Pioneer has more modern-looking and easier to use screens. And their car stereos are priced more affordably and are more user-friendly.

This means they cater to more budget-conscious consumers who still want a quality sound from their radio receiver. Their stereos also integrate better with other technology. This results in a more satisfying experience.

That said, here are the main highlights of the Pioneer avh-4200nex:

Product Features

  • DVD/CD player with AM/FM tuner
  • HD Radio
  • Detachable display
  • Connects to rear cam and front cam
  • 2 USB ports
  • Connects to iPhone and iPad
  • Connects to Android Auto and Apple Car Play
  • Dedicated SD card
  • Clear resistive touch screen
  • Customizable display
  • Wireless remote control
  • Additional external blue tooth microphone

A/V Features

  • Rear A/V output will feed additional displays
  • Equalizer with presets
  • Vivid and easy-to-see display

Other Features

  • Built-in Bluetooth for music streaming and hands-free calling
  • Access to Pandora, Spotify, and satellite radio
  • Access to Google maps – from your car’s native GPS
  • Android and iPhone Mirroring
  • Works with many steering wheel audio controls
  • Works with parking assist
  • Works with on-board diagnostics
  • Will give you your texts

Here are some of the other pros of the Pioneer avh-4200nex and other Pioneer car radios:

  1. Pioneer car receivers like the Pioneer avh-4200nex have a brighter and sharper screen than Kenwood models. This means that you can see them much better in bright sunlight than the Kenwood radios. This also means a much better picture if you want to play DVDs.
  2. Another great thing about the Pioneer avh-4200nex is that the unit pops out of the dashboard holder. What this means is you can take it with you. That way, you don’t have to worry about someone breaking into your car and stealing it.
  3. The Pioneer avh-4200nex also seems to work well with Android Auto and Apple car play. No complaints there.
  4. The two USB ports mean that you can use two phones at the same time. You can also switch back and forth easily from Bluetooth to your phone.

Now let’s talk about the cons of the Pioneer avh-4200nex and other Pioneer radios.

  1. One of the biggest complaints about Pioneer car radios is that they have a slow boot-up time. If you are starting your car and hooking up your phone, you really don’t want to have to wait around while your receiver powers up. It can really get annoying.
  2. The Pioneer avh-4200nex also has no built-in navigation system. You will still have to use your own navigation system. This is as opposed to using Google maps. (Which the Kenwood models have.) This seemed to be another major sticking point for Pioneer owners.
  3. There is also no built-in compass. And once you install any car radio, you can lose your car’s built-in compass when you install it.
  4. The factory-installed antenna on most cars will also need an antenna adapter for this radio to work.

So what’s the average cost of a Pioneer car radio?

Pioneer car radios like we are talking about here range in price from $200 to $500. So the top of the line from Pioneer is a little bit less than Kenwood.

Although, if you buy a similar model it will cost about the same. But, for the same price, you are getting a more basic model than if you bought a similar model from Kenwood.

The Kenwood vs Pioneer double DIN head unit. Which brand is better for your vehicle?

Again it depends on your car. There are many models of both the company’s car stereos and they all have different features. So it is good to read the reviews.

Most people will say what model of a car they have and how the receiver worked with it.

You will also have to measure the stereo opening in your dashboard. You will then have to check the measurements of the car radio to make sure it fits.

Lastly, you will have to make sure that the receiver doesn’t interfere with any of your onboard systems. For example, your onboard compass may disappear when you install the radio.

Now, what are the basic differences between these two brands?

There are only subtle differences between these two brands. This is because they are in stiff completion with each other. So Pioneer will often make a similar product to Kenwood and vice versa.

So the only real difference is that while Kenwood has better sound for your music, Pioneer has a sharper picture on the screen.

Although, they also have two different menu structures. So you should watch some demonstration videos to see which interface you like the best.

Our recommendation among Kenwood and Pioneer is definitely Kenwood.

The reason why we chose the Kenwood brand for your vehicle is simple. It has so many more features for about the same price as comparable Pioneer models.

WH questions For The Best Audio System For Your Car

Are Kenwood and Pioneer the same company?

It’s actually JVC and Kenwood who have owned the same company. This is Matsushita. It’s the Onkyo Corporation that owns Pioneer, but both companies are based in Japan. Besides Kenwood and Pioneer, the headquarters for Alpine is also located in Japan.

What is the best Kenwood radio?

Here are the 5 top Kenwood radios for your car:

  • Kenwood DPX593BT Double Din Receiver
  • Kenwood DNX994S Touchscreen Navigation
  • Kenwood KDC-X998 Bluetooth Receiver
  • Kenwood KDC-X302 Car Stereo
  • Kenwood KVT-7012BT Touchscreen DVD Player

Are Pioneer speakers any good?

The Pioneer A-TS-A6996R was reviewed by tech gurus and did not live up to its reputation.

According to professional reviewers, the Pioneer A-series, considered to be the best in-car speakers, is not what it is cracked up to be. It is now considered to be average. It has failed to live up to its past achievements in audio performance.

In addition, here is some more expert information from YouTube. These videos will help you make your final decision:

What is the difference between the Pioneer AVH 4200NEX and the Kenwood Excelon DDX9903s?

Kenwood DMX7706S Best Car Stereo for 2019?

Kenwood 6160 vs Pioneer 920BT

Pioneer AVH-4200NEX – Apple Car Play & Android Auto – Double DIN Review

The Verdict

When you buy a Kenwood car stereo – you can’t go wrong. Their models have more features for the same amount of money as Pioneer. The Kenwood models also access many more apps than Pioneer.

Like access to a lot more music and Google maps. What this means is that if you have a more basic model car, you will get much more out of your radio.

As well, remember, this is really a radio. The Kenwood models get much better reviews for sound than Pioneer. There are also more control features to adjust the quality of sound. Pioneer just doesn’t have them. And that’s the main point of having a radio of this quality.


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