I have said this before, and I reiterate what I said before. Suppose your vehicle is only two or three years old and equipped with a touch screen head unit that has features like Apple Play, Android Auto, USB, and or auxiliary input. In that case, there is a good chance you can build a high-performance sound system around it by simply upgrading your front and rear speakers adding an amp and a sub.
Too often, people change their factory head unit for all the wrong reasons. Some of the most popular are power and aesthetics, so let’s talk about that. If you want a louder, more powerful sound system, you should consider adding an amplifier. Yes, aftermarket head units have more power than OEM units in some cases, but this is not clean power. It is not rare for the power rating spec to be given at 10% THD. That is nothing but distortion. As far as aesthetics, blinking dancing lights will not make your sound system sound any better! You give up features like system status and steering wheel controls in many cases. While companies like METRA make interphases for some applications overall, and nine times out of ten, changing the head unit of a late model vehicle with an information system ends up being a downgrade rather than an upgrade.
Your money is better invested in upgrading the front and rear speakers, adding an amplifier and a subwoofer. That will improve the sound quality of your car stereo system a lot more than changing the radio.
You should upgrade your car stereo head unit if you drive an older vehicle or when the radio on your new car does not have the features you are seeking. But before you do that, you need to figure out if you want to play CDs stream music wirelessly via Bluetooth from your phone, tablet, or music player. You also have to consider if you need satellite or HD Radio. You may want GPS capability or rear-camera connectivity. In large SUVs and Minivans, many people are interested in the capability of playing DVDs for your passengers to keep the kids entertained during long trips.
Many of today’s car stereo receivers offer features like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which allow you to connect your smartphone or tablet to your receiver and control and see everything from your mobile device on your head unit’s display. This feature lets you keep your eyes on the road while you listen to your favorite music, podcasts, hear text messages, use Google or Wave maps, and more.
To do this, you want to choose a car stereo with Bluetooth. Other options you have are USB or AUX ports to connect your MP3 player, iPod, or smartphone. Despite its lackluster popularity, there is a strong following and demand for Satellite and HD Radio. This is particularly true with those who commute or travel across the state line. If Satellite and HD Radio is important to you consider a receiver equipped with built-in satellite radio, HD Radio, or both. If you travel or commute across stet line, a car stereo head unit with in-dash GPS receivers may also be attractive. These head units double as in-dash GPS and receivers. The advance of a receiver with If GPS is built-in is that you’ll have navigation and driving benefits in rural areas where cell phone coverage is questionable or unreliable.