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.
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
- Our Top 5 Picks
- Buyer’s Guide: Things to Keep in Mind While Buying a Double Din Head Unit
- Bottom Line
1. Pioneer AVH-1500NEX – Overall Best
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.
|7-inch Touchscreen Display
|800 x 480
|Built-in amp Peak Power
|50 watts x 4 channel (4 ohm)
|Continuous Power Output
|22 Watts x 4 channel (4 ohm)
|13 Band Graphic EQ
|HDMI, AUX, USB
|Dual Bluetooth Connection
|6 Channel Preamp Output
|18 FM and 6 AM preset stations
- 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.
- 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.
Related Post — Pioneer DMH-1500NEX review: Everything you need to know
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.
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.
|7″ Large Capacitive Display
|9-band parametric equalizer
|Apple CarPlay support
|Android Auto support
|Built-in iPhone Control
|Built-in iPhone control
|40 Watts peak x 4 channels
|16 Watts x 4 channels
|Compatible with SiriusXM satellite radio
|Backup Camera Compatibility
|Compatible with Backup Camera
|6 Channel Preamp Output
|4-volt front and rear subwoofer output
|Compatible with KTA-450 power pack amplifier
|12 Months Warranty
- Capacitive Touchscreen
- Apple CarPlay and Android Auto work great with USB connection only.
- Good audio quality with many audio customization options
- 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.
Related Post — Best Double Din Head Units for Sound Quality
- 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.
|6.8″ Multi-touch Capacitive Display
|Two hundred twenty watts
|Eighty watts RMS per channel
|Built-in Bluetooth for hands-free calling
|Five Channel Preamp Out, 5 volt
|SiriusXM satellite radio Ready
|Siri Eyes Free
|Compatible with Siri Eyes Free
|MSC (Mass Storage Class)
|Single USB, Aux, Dual Backup Camera
|Twelve Months Warranty
- 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
- The display has glaring issue
- No Android Auto Support
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.
|6.8-inch Capacitive Display
|Built-in 13 Band Graphic EQ
|5 Bluetooth Connection
|Wired CarPlay and Android Auto Support
|4 x 22 watts/channel
|4 x 50 watts/channel
|(2-volt) 5 Channel RCA preamp output
|Latest iOS 13.0 CarPlay
|iDatalink Maestro Support
|Compatible with iDatalink Maestro
|Backup Camera Compatibility
|Backup Camera input
|Support SiriusXM Satellite Radio
|Phone Mirroring Support
|Support Phone Mirroring
|Parking Guide Lines
|Support Parking Guide Lines
|Steering Wheel Control Compatibility
|Steering Wheel Control input
- 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
- 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
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.
|7-inch Capacitive OLED Touch Screen
|Built-in GPS receiver module and external GPS antenna
|Digital Signal Processor
|Built-in Digital Signal Processor
|9 EQ Modes
|32 adjustable frequency bands
|2 USB interfaces
|Micro SD Slot
|Up to 512GB storage card
|Wireless Bluetooth Calling connectivity
|Dolby Digital surround sound
|Front Camera Input
|FCAM front camera video input
|Rearview Camera Input
|720P HD video supported, rearview camera input
|4-CH RCA Audio Out (2v), Separate Subwoofer Out (0.8v)
- 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
- No Physical Button or Volume Knob
- No CD/DVD Player
- No Settings to adjust the subwoofer
Related Post — The Best Apple CarPlay Stereo: Our Top 5 Picks
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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