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Top 5 Best Car Stereo Under $500 (2024) – Reviews & Buying Guide

Best Car Stereo Under $500
What’s the Best Car Stereo Under $500?

In 2024, buying the best Car Stereo Under $500 means looking for something that should last you at least 4 – 6 Years.

When you’re shopping for a car stereo, it can be hard to know what you’re looking for. Everyone has their own preferences, and the more money you have to spend, the more likely it is that you aren’t going to be satisfied with your choice at all.

An expensive head unit will last you several years, having a  responsive touchscreen, great audio quality, and all the latest features like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto you want to pack into a day.

Believe it or not,

It’s easier to find all these things in any expensive double din stereos — but selecting the best unit from tons of options can be subjective. That’s why we have we’ve done the work for you and have selected these top 5 best double din car stereos under $500.

Top 5 Best Car Stereo under $500 – Reviews

1. Pioneer AVH-1500NEX – Overall Best

Editor's Choice
Pioneer AVH-1500NEX
9.8

This head unit offers 7-inch responsive touchscreen, with apple CarPlay compatibility, and 200 watts built-in amplifier and a 13 band Graphic Equalizer which provide excellent sound quality.

Pioneer AVH-1500NEX is the best double din head unit from Pioneer which is available for under $500. There are lots of reasons, why we have put this head unit at #1 position on our list.

The highlighting feature of this head unit is its large and responsive touchscreen display which comes with 13 background colors with 5 display color and 112 key color customization options. Overall, the display is quite bright and responsive however, it doesn’t offer full HD resolution.

The audio quality of Pioneer AVH-1500NEX is quite loud and clear due to its high-quality built-in amplifier. There are many customizable settings available in this radio such as its 13 Band EQ, with which you can change the music style such as Natural, Vocal, Flat, Bass, and Powerful, and more.

With Built-in Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support, you can use all the latest features like GPS Navigation, sending messages, using Siri Eyes Free, and Hands-Free Calling, and many more.

While driving, the Pioneer AMH-1500NEX does not play videos due to restrictions but you use this parking brake bypass to play video while driving, and it works perfectly with this stereo.

In the box of Pioneer AVH-1500NEX, everything is included for the installation such as wiring harness, USB extension cable, mounting brackets, screws, warranty, car user manual.

FeatureSpecification
Display Size7-inch Touchscreen Display
Resolution800 x 480
Built-in amp Peak Power 50 watts x 4 channel (4 ohm)
Continuous Power Output22 Watts x 4 channel (4 ohm)
Graphic EQ13 Band Graphic EQ
InputHDMI, AUX, USB
Subwoofer ControlSubwoofer Control
Bluetooth ConnectionDual Bluetooth Connection
Preamp Output6 Channel Preamp Output
RCA Pre-out4 volt
Built-in Radio18 FM and 6 AM preset stations
Warranty1-Year Warranty

Pros

  • Bright and clear Display.
  • Sensitive Touchscreen.
  • Excellent audio quality with built-in 13 band equalizer settings.
  • Both Apple CarPlay, Android Auto launches quickly and works flawless.
  • The strong Bluetooth Connection helps to do wireless calling smoothly.

Cons

  • No HD radio or screen mirroring feature.
  • Android Auto does not work old phones.

This stereo has everything you need such responsive touchscreen, high power built-in amplifier, to all the latest features like CarPlay compatibility. We highly recommend you to buy this head unit if your budget is under $500.

2. Alpine iLX-W650 – Another Great Option

The second best head unit under $500 is from Alpine’s latest touchscreen stereo which is iLX-W650.

Budget Pick
Alpine iLX-W650 Digital Multimedia Receiver
9.5

This stereo offers 7-inch Large Capacitive touchscreen, built-in CarPlay, Android Auto, 9-Band Equalizer, and a decent power built-in amplifier. The price of this stereo is lower than Pioneer and it does not have CD/DVD player.

The 7” Display of this head unit is quite responsive and can support multi-touch. At bottom of the display, (volume, mute, menu, mic, and call) touch buttons are provided.

In the box, you will get a 2-Din receiver, wiring harness, backup camera harness, microphone with 3.5 mm connector ends, brackets, screws, and a 12-month warranty card.

The Alpine ILX-W650 is compatible with many car accessories such as steering wheel control, SiriusXM satellite radio, dual back camera.

We recommend you to buy Alpine’s KTA-450 power pack amplifier with this head unit for better sound quality.

FeatureSpecification
Display Size7″ Large Capacitive Display
Parametric Equalizer9-band parametric equalizer
Apple CarPlayApple CarPlay support
Android AutoAndroid Auto support
Hands-Free CallingHands-Free Calling/Bluetooth
Built-in iPhone ControlBuilt-in iPhone control
Power Output40 Watts peak x 4 channels
RMS16 Watts x 4 channels
SiriusXM CompatibilityCompatible with SiriusXM satellite radio
Backup Camera CompatibilityCompatible with Backup Camera
Preamp Output6 Channel Preamp Output
Subwoofer Output4-volt front and rear subwoofer output
Amplifier CompatibilityCompatible with KTA-450 power pack amplifier
Warranty12 Months Warranty

Pros

  • Capacitive Touchscreen
  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto work great with USB connection only.
  • Good audio quality with many audio customization options

Cons

  • Average Power built-in amplifier, Alpine’s KTA-450 is must with this unit.
  • No wallpaper customization option.
  • The USB input is given at the back of the receiver.

3. Sony XAVAX5600

Also Great
Sony XAVAX5500
9.4
  • 6.98-inch Capacitive touchscreen Display 
  • Built-in 10-band equalizer
  • Dual USB Input
  • Compatible with Apple CarPlay & Android Auto
  • 5-Volt preamp Outs (5 channel)
  • Built-in AMP ( 80 watts RMS max)

This head unit from Sony is best for those who want a 7-inch size touchscreen display, in single DIN size.

The stereo comes with a built-in powerful amplifier which offers a power output of 220 watts with which you can enjoy high-quality music even at full volume. The chassis size of this unit is quite smaller which helps to fit this receiver in any car and with the least effort.

This head unit comes dual USB port, front and rare, so that you can easily connect your phone with the stereo for Apple CarPlay, Android Auto or file transfer.

You use Maps via Apple Maps or Waze. You can play stream music wirelessly via Bluetooth or use hands-free calling due to its built-in microphone available with this unit.

You can also use Siri Eyes Free for voice commands which work quite well. This double din is also compatible with SiriusXM satellite radio however if you want to use it, you need to buy it separately.

FeatureSpecification
Display Size6.8″ Multi-touch Capacitive Display
Power PeakTwo hundred twenty watts
RMSEighty watts RMS per channel
BluetoothBuilt-in Bluetooth for hands-free calling
Preamp OutputFive Channel Preamp Out, 5 volt
SiriusXM CompatibilitySiriusXM satellite radio Ready
Siri Eyes FreeCompatible with Siri Eyes Free
USB TypeMSC (Mass Storage Class)
InputSingle USB, Aux, Dual Backup Camera
Subwoofer ControlsSubwoofer controls
WarrantyTwelve Months Warranty

Pros

  • Simple and easy to use interface
  • Useful Volume Knob provided
  • Full Installation kit is given with the receiver
  • The USB and Aux input is given at the front side of the receiver which makes it easy to use for day to day use.
  • The Apple CarPlay works Seamlessly

Cons

  • The display has glaring issue
  • No Android Auto Support

4. Kenwood eXcelon DMX709S

Kenwood eXcelon DMX709S

  • 6.8″ Capacitive Display
  • 5 Bluetooth devices supported
  • 13-band Graphic EQ
  • Built-in iPad, iPhone/ iPod Control
  • Apple CarPlay & Android Auto
  • Fast Android Charging
  • Spotify and Pandora Supported

The other best head unit under $500 is the Kenwood DMX7709S. The design of this head unit is quite impressive due to its large and stylish touchscreen display.

The Apple CarPlay and Android Auto both works via USB connection where you can use Apple Maps, Google Maps, Waze for navigation, and pretty much things you can use on your phone.

The Bluetooth supports up to 5 devices at one time which is the super unique feature of this stereo. With its good quality built-in mic, the hands-free calling quality comes clear and loud even when runs your car at high speed.

The overall sound quality of this stereo is great also, you will get a 13 Band equalizer for customizing different audio styles according to your taste. You can play high-resolution audio files like FLAC on this radio, which only connects a phone with the receiver. 

Voice recognition via Siri also works great in this unit for picking calls, or navigation, and other commands. You can also use the Parking Guide Lines feature however, it does not include a backup camera.

With its Short Chassis, the installation of Kenwood Excelon DMX709S becomes very easy in any car which has a double din dashboard.

FeatureSpecification
Display Size6.8-inch Capacitive Display
Graphic EQBuilt-in 13 Band Graphic EQ
Bluetooth Connection5 Bluetooth Connection
CarPlay SupportWired CarPlay and Android Auto Support
RMS4 x 22 watts/channel
Power Output4 x 50 watts/channel
Preamp Output(2-volt) 5 Channel RCA preamp output
CarPlay VersionLatest iOS 13.0 CarPlay
iDatalink Maestro SupportCompatible with iDatalink Maestro
Backup Camera CompatibilityBackup Camera input
SiriusXM CompatibilitySupport SiriusXM Satellite Radio
Phone Mirroring SupportSupport Phone Mirroring
Parking Guide LinesSupport Parking Guide Lines
Steering Wheel Control CompatibilitySteering Wheel Control input
Warranty2-Year Warranty

Pros

  • Capacitive Touchscreen Display, better than Alpine or Pionner
    Short Chassis size makes it easy to fit
    Lot of feature to customize the display and sound quality
    Both Android Auto and CarPlay works fine
    Backup camera works great in this unit due to its parking guide line support

Cons

  • UI is not that good, most of the customer complaints about the unit that it got stuck and sometime restarts automatically.

5. ATOTO S8 Premium

Best Car Stereo Under $500

  • 7″ HD Capacitive Touchscreen Display
  • Wireless Apple CarPlay and Wired Android Auto
  • Power Output: 4 x 49 watts, RMS: 4 x 29 watts
  • HD Backup Camera Videos

If you’re looking for a great car stereo that won’t break the bank, the ATOTO S8 is a great option. Priced at under $500, this stereo has some impressive features that will make your drive more enjoyable. 

With a built-in navigation system and Bluetooth connectivity, you can easily keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road. Plus, the S8 offers superior sound quality with its powerful speakers and Dolby Digital surround sound. 

This premium head unit is perfect for anyone who wants to stay connected while on the road. With both wired and wireless CarPlay support, you can easily connect your iPhone or Android smartphone and enjoy all your music, messages, and directions with ease.

And with a built-in aux input, you can easily connect your smartphone or MP3 player and rock out to your favorite tunes. 

This incredible unit comes with a built-in GPS receiver module and external GPS antenna for pinpoint accuracy. Plus, the default GPS map is Google Maps, so you’ll always know where you’re going! You can even download offline map data for specific areas and use other maps/navigation apps from the Google Play Store.

FeatureSpecification
Display Size7-inch Capacitive OLED Touch Screen
Resolution1024×600
GPSBuilt-in GPS receiver module and external GPS antenna
Digital Signal ProcessorBuilt-in Digital Signal Processor
EQ Modes9 EQ Modes
Frequency Bands32 adjustable frequency bands
Aux InputAux input
USB Interfaces2 USB interfaces
Micro SD SlotUp to 512GB storage card
Bluetooth ConnectivityWireless Bluetooth Calling connectivity
Surround SoundDolby Digital surround sound
Front Camera InputFCAM front camera video input
Rearview Camera Input720P HD video supported, rearview camera input
Audio Outputs4-CH RCA Audio Out (2v), Separate Subwoofer Out (0.8v)

Pros

  • Compatible with Wireless Apple CarPlay
  • Responsive and HD touchscreen display
  • Support Mirror Link for both iPhone, Android
  • Impressive Sound Quality due to high quality built-in amp and tons of sound customizable features like EQ signal delay, bass boost, bass filter
  • Great Customer Support

Cons

  • No Physical Button or Volume Knob
  • No CD/DVD Player
  • No Settings to adjust the subwoofer

Buyer’s Guide: Things to Keep in Mind While Buying a Double Din Head Unit

As you can understand from the reviews above, there are many things to look at when selecting the best double din stereo for your car. Below, we have discussed the most important things while buying an expensive car radio or head unit.

Display Quality

Well, most of the double din head units come at a price range of $500 comes with a screen size between 6.2″ – 10.1″. You need to make sure about three things while judging the display: resolution, responsiveness, and glaring issue. Today most of the expensive double din head units available in the market have good resolution, and responsive touch, however many of them have glaring issues which make it tough to see the display in sunlight.

Bluetooth Quality

One of the best features of the double din head units is hands-free calling. That’s why we have selected only those head units which come with a good quality microphone so that you can seamlessly do Bluetooth calling to your loved ones.

Apple CarPlay OR Android Auto

CarPlay and Android Auto are the two main features of any expensive head unit. There are two types available in the market that is wired CarPlay/Auto and Wireless CarPlay and Wireless Android Auto.

With Wireless CarPlay/Auto you can don’t need to directly connect your phone with the receiver via USB, it can work over Wi-fi, which can save your time and frustration of assembling the wires. However, the cons of the wireless CarPlay/Auto are its price.

The price of Apple CarPlay head units is starts from $300 and even go up to $1500. Where the most of the wired CarPlay head unit that you can see above is available for under $600 and offers the almost same audio and display quality.

Boot up time

Another important thing while buying a stereo is the bootup time which is the time taken by the stereo to full start. Most of the head unit takes 10-50 seconds boot-up.

User interface

UI plays an important role in any electronic device and that’s how in the head unit as well. Everyone hates lag. However, the head units we have do not come with a laggy UI or any kind of delay except for some Android Head units.

Bottom Line

We hope that we’ve helped you find the best stereo for your car for under $500. If you are still looking for some more options, be sure to take a look at our other blog posts on similar topics. What is the most important feature of your ideal car stereo? Is it sound quality or ease of use? Let us know in the comments below!

Related Post —

I'm Miles Walker and I'm the founder of AudioWiser.com I've been in the car audio industry for over 20 years and have a wealth of knowledge to offer on all things related to car audio. I graduated from UC Berkeley with an electrical engineering degree, so you can rely on me for top-notch expertise and advice when it comes to upgrading your sound system.

Why Trust AudioWiser?

At AudioWiser, our dedicated team of experts passionately researches, tests, and evaluates car audio equipment. Our reviews are crafted through hands-on testing, in-depth research, and meticulous analysis of customer feedback. We regularly update our reviews to provide you with the latest car audio recommendations reflecting changes in availability and new information. We're committed to providing reliable, unbiased insights to ensure you make informed decisions for the ultimate car audio experience.

5 thoughts on “Top 5 Best Car Stereo Under $500 (2024) – Reviews & Buying Guide”

  1. Hi Miles,I have a 2004 Dodge ram 1500. When I bought the truck, the last owner installed a big amp under the seat, along with 2 huge subwoofers behind both seats. I ordered the double din facia kit to accept my new stereo head. My question is because I have a huge amp and subwoofers, what unit should I buy ? Do I need one with built-in amps? looking to spend under 500.00 and I like Pioneer, from what I’m reading. I’m new to this stuff. Thanks, any advice would be appreciated.

    Reply
  2. Thanks, Miles,I haven’t pulled the trigger as of yet. Waiting to see the black Friday deals. Best buy has thee 1500 real cheap, around 325.00. I think I’m sold unless you know of anything better ? Good luck to you and Happy Thanksgiving!

    Reply
  3. Hi Miles, Apreciate your reviews. I am looking for the best bang for the buck double din with carplay and CD/DVD to put in my daughter’s old hyundai Veracruz before she heads back to college in the fall. Might you have a suggestion for us. Thank you

    Reply

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