All Information on this site is for entertainment purposes only. Always consult a professional before making any alterations, modifications or adjustments to your vehicle or equipment.

Headunit Basics

An automotive head unit, sometimes called the infotainment system, is a component providing a unified hardware interface for the system, including screens, buttons and system controls for numerous integrated information and entertainment functions.

***PLEASE NOTE*** All information on this site is for educational and informational processes.  Any guidelines, tips or recommendations are considered general knowledge and we strongly encourage you to consult with a professional before installing, adjusting, or altering a car audio system.

Other names for automotive head units include car stereo, car receiver, deck, in-dash stereo, and dash stereo.

Central to a vehicle’s sound and information systems, head units are located prominently in the center of the dashboard or console, and provide an integrated electronic package.

The head unit provides a user interface for the vehicle’s information and entertainment media components: AM/FM radio, satellite radio, DVDs/CDs, cassette tapes (although these are now uncommon), USB MP3, Dashcams, GPS navi, Bluetooth, WiFi, and sometimes vehicles systems status — and may provide control of audio functions including volume, band, frequency, speaker balance, speaker fade, bass, treble, EQ and so on.

With the advent of dashcams, GPS navigation and DVDs, head units with video screens are widely available, integrating voice control and gesture recognition.

Most cars fit a single din and some may or may not require a Dash Kit.  The choice between single or double din may come down to what you have room for.  As an SPL Competitor, a single din may be your choice due to the buttons being more prodominant versus a double din touch screen.

Single DIN (180 mm × 50 mm or 7.09 in × 1.97 in) in Europe, South America and Australasia

A compact size that easily fits into a dashboard, but the unit is not tall enough to accommodate a video display.

Double Dins may include additional features such as DVD players and GPS Navigation.  Usually the main advantage of a double din head unit is the display and graphics versus functionality.

Double DIN (180 mm × 100 mm or 7.09 in × 3.94 in) in Japan, the UK and North America. Double DIN is also written as 2 DIN and double din.

Doubling the height of the single DIN, a video display or touchscreen can be fitted to support manufacturer GUIs, Android Auto and/or Apple CarPlay.

Dont forget about specs when it comes to head unit purchases. Check to be sure the unit has the right number of rca outputs, check the built in amplifier and extra features for tuning and quality control. Also research the propering wiring diagrams for your vehicle in verify if a harness is required and how to install correctly.

For more on how to install a car head unit check out this video from Sonic Electronix


Find the right balance between quality and budget.  Buying products that are cheap and not quality could result in replacement and expenses in the future.  Best Practice is to start right and not have to do anything twice.


This article uses material from the Wikipedia article Automotive head unit which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License (view authors).