One of the most common debates in the automotive head-unit market is between the single din vs double din models.
It raises the question of whether the small model is better than the larger one or vice-versa. And it is often a difficult subject to resolve.
DIN refers to a space of 7-inches wide and 2-inches tall. It came from the Deutsches institute Fur Normung, then it started to be used everywhere in the world. It became the standard measurement for a vehicle’s head-units.
Nowadays, you can find single-DIN head-units, so they have the same measurement as a DIN. But you can also find double-DIN, which are twice as tall at 4-inches.
So, which one is better? Here we’re going over all the different factors that will let you know which one is worth considering. Take a look at this video for a video version of this article:
Single Din vs Double Din
What is a Single DIN?
As explained in the introduction, the DIN refers to the size of a head-unit that has 7-inches in length (or width) and 2-inches in height.
This is the oldest size of head-unit available, so you’re most likely to find it on old cars as well as simpler ones.
Yet, many modern versions come with several unique features. They often offer superior compatibility with most audio sources.
As a single-din tends to be the smallest type of head-unit, it is also space-saving. That means you can install it almost anywhere.
But this comes with a downside: you can’t have as many features as you would in a larger model like the double-din.
Next, we talk about some of the most critical facts about single-DIN models:
Features of Single DIN
Among the characteristics of a single-DIN you can find:
- Media playback from USB, MicroSD Bluetooth, and radio
- CD/DVD Player
- Synchronization with smartphone
- Audio tuner
- Audio recording (optional)
- Small design
- Easy-to-use system with straightforward controls
All these features described what you can get from a single-DIN head unit.
Benefits of Single DIN
When it comes to the benefits, you’ll find many that are worth mentioning:
First, you will find the capacity to play all kinds of files. It doesn’t have the chance to reproduce video files, but you can always play most audio formats without problems.
And if the head-unit accepts DVD, then you may be able to play audio from it – even if the DVD contains video as well.
Then you’ll find the small yet practical design. You won’t need a vast dashboard space to make it work. Instead, you can farewell with the small opening of most cars – and that’s pretty helpful if you want to save some time and effort.
This also offers the chance to install them in just a few minutes. You won’t have to hook up video cables or pair up with reliable electricity sources and the like.
And if you want to install an amplifier or something similar, then this type of unit makes it way easier.
Another excellent feature is the ease of use. Most single-DIN head units come with simple designs that make operation a piece of cake.
The controls are usually straightforward, and you won’t have many things to consider apart from the volume, track, source, and the audio tuner.
Finally, you can find single-DIN models to be more reliable. Having fewer features and simpler designs allows them to last longer and not break too often. That’s something that will save you time and effort over time, but also tons of money.
Problems of Single DIN
Now, single-DIN head-units are pretty exciting for sure. But they also have a few drawbacks that set them back a few steps. Here are some of them:
- Don’t play video files which can be a drawback
- Lack the touchscreen (some models have flip-screens)
- Don’t have navigation systems
- Can’t play DVDs (the majority)
- Can’t browse through files
- Are easy to steal in most cases
You may find additional problems with single-DIN receivers, yet these are the most common.
Cost of single-DIN for your vehicle
A 1-DIN model is the most affordable type of receiver or head-unit that you can get for your car. Prices can go from around $20 to $200 in some cases.
The $200+ models usually have flip touchscreens that make them work like double-DIN units (more on that later), without needing the extra installation space.
Taking into consideration the price of a regular single-DIN receiver plus the installation effort & costs, you may be looking at about $150 – which makes it decently affordable. If you prefer something cheaper, then you may find them at around $50.
What is Double DIN?
While a single-DIN model has a height of 2-inches, a double-DIN model offers 4-inches. That’s the main difference between the two – and that’s why a double-DIN model usually looks bigger.
But it is not only the size, but there are also many other things to consider.
For example, most double-DIN head units come with the same features as any single-DIN but also add things like LCD screens, larger buttons, and more.
They are not necessarily better, but they’re clearly more functional. That means they have more features and usually go on newer vehicles instead of old ones.
Some double-DIN head units may even come with unique features like WiFi, cameras, modern security systems, GPS, and more.
Features of Double DIN
Here are some of the features you may find on a double-DIN receiver:
- Playback of audio and video files including MP3, AVI, WMA, MPEG4, WAV, and more
- Compatibility with CD and DVDs
- File browsing and navigation through internal memory or external devices
- Bluetooth and WiFi compatibility
- MicroSD and USB connections as well as 3.5mm jack inputs
- Internal processor & memory usually from 1GB to 32GB in some cases
- Built-in LCD screens with touch capacity
- GPS navigation
- Entertainment & useful applications
- Steering wheel controls
- Alarms and timers
- Safety features such as reversing and dash camera
These are just some of the most common features, but you may still find several more on double-DIN models.
Benefits of Double DIN
So, if a double-DIN receiver comes with those features – what advantages does it offer? Well, here are some of them:
First, you may find them more entertaining in the short and long run. Thanks to the capacity to play video, they make traveling in your car way more enjoyable.
Then you’ll find the internal storage. That’s something you don’t get much of in single-DIN models.
Here, you usually have enough to store music, videos, movies, and more. And if you have external storage, then it gets even better.
The controls are also a piece of cake. Despite being slightly more complicated in functionality when compared to single-DIN models – these are actually easy to operate as well.
Especially when you consider the large and intuitive buttons, then you understand why.
Double-DIN models are also more compatible with audio & video files. You may find some of them capable of playing any kind of audio file but also additional video files that are not supported in most single-DIN units.
Lastly, we can’t leave the video screens outside, either. These are probably the best benefit you get with most double-DIN head units.
They offer the chance to enjoy videos from the display, as well as many other things such as games, GPS, movies, and more.
Problems of Double DIN
Sure, it should probably feel amazing to use a double-DIN model. But does it come with any drawbacks to consider? Yes – here are some of them:
- Lag is a common issue as it needs to process more info than single-DIN units
- Some features rely on the touchscreen which can be dangerous to use while driving
- Video capacity can be distracting for the driver
- It requires a lot more space in the dashboard
- It uses more electricity
- A little harder to install due to additional features
- More expensive than single-DIN models
These are most of the disadvantages of owning a double-DIN, but you may find a few more depending on the model, brand, and quality of the product instead of general features.
Cost of Double DIN for your vehicle
A double-DIN receiver may cost anywhere from $100 to $200 or a little more. Of course, it all depends on the features and brand.
In some cases, some models may reach the $300 or even $500 mark. But these usually come with extra features like high-end navigation systems and the like.
Overall, however, you may be looking at a total expenditure of about $250 if you go for a standard model and add manual labor plus time spent installing the head unit.
Which Head Unit Is Better For Your Vehicle?
It all comes down to your personal preferences, but also about your car requirements.
For example, installing a 2-DIN head unit on a 1-DIN space won’t be possible no matter what you try.
But fixing a 1-DIN model in a 2-DIN area is totally possible – and sometimes offers the chance to add extra features to your vehicle.
Apart from that, it also comes down to what you want the receiver to offer. If you only want to play audio, music, and radio – then you can go for a 1-DIN stereo system.
But if you prefer something with a touchscreen that plays video and your favorite movies – then choose a 2-DIN model.
Which one should go for then? Go for the one that best matches your demands and needs.
Why Is Double Din Head Unit Better Than Single Head Unit?
There’s no clearer reason to say that a double-DIN model is better than a single-DIN that its display.
This display comes with the built-in ability to play video as well as additional files that most single-DIN models can’t.
Apart from that, a 2-DIN head unit is often easier to use thanks to its touchscreen display, which adds tons of convenience.
And with the extra features such as file browsing, GPS, weather apps, games apps, and many others – they are clearly more functional.
So, double-DIN models are not necessarily better, but they often are due to what we just mentioned.
What Brands Are Best For Double Din Head Unit?
Several manufacturers produce exceptional head units. In fact, you will find these manufacturers creating the best receivers for both single and double-DIN models. Here are some of them:
These are all high-end brands that you will also find for modest costs – yet they offer a wide array of options to go for.
Here’s a comprehensive video with more info about these brands:
Can You Put A Single Din Stereo In A Double Din?
Yes, you can install a single-DIN head unit into a double-DIN space with ease. Yet, it is not the easiest of things and may come with a few drawbacks.
Here’s how you can make this possible:
- Look for a mounting bracket. It is usually marketed as a mounting kit for single-DIN models that helps to mount the small receiver in an ample space. This kit is often pretty cheap.
- Find a wrench, a flat-head screwdriver, and make sure to have the single-DIN unit handy.
- Then start with the installation. The first thing is to disconnect the car battery before doing anything. This will prevent short-circuits and other electrical problems.
- Keep going by accessing the dashboard or internal head-unit. You will have to remove the central panel using the screwdriver. Read the car’s manual to make this easy.
- Once you’ve removed the dashboard’s panel, you can continue to place the single-DIN unit on the space (or first uninstall the old double-DIN unit if there’s any).
- If you had to uninstall the old unit, make sure to leave the cables handy, so you can reach them later. Otherwise, you should place the new 1-DIN receiver on the place and connect accordingly.
- Here, you will need to use the mounting bracket, make sure you use the screws as well as the mounting aids from the old unit if any.
- Once you’ve connected everything and placed the head unit in place, then you can proceed to try it out.
- Reconnect the battery, start the car, and test the head-unit. If it doesn’t work, then you can repeat steps 5 to 8.
Here’s a quick video that may help you with this:
So, what model should you pick between the single din vs double din?
Easy – you should go for the model that best matches your demand. That would be the perfect model.
But overall, we can say that the double-DIN model tends to be better, but more expensive. Meanwhile, a single-DIN unit can be pretty affordable, but with fewer features.
That’s all you need to know before making your last choice.
So, what are you finally picking? Be wise and take your time –then you won’t regret having one of these.