Single DIN vs. Double DIN

Single DIN vs Double DIN car head units

Johann a TV mounting Technician and Editor
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Last Updated on June 7, 2022 by Johann Holsinger

In short, DIN is the size reference to a stereos enclosure size. DIN itself is part of the German Institute for Standardization as an automotive measurement system that applies to many electronic components in vehicles and other technology [1].

Single DIN and double DIN are extremely common in the automotive audio world but can be confusing to determine which will work for you since you can’t always tell just by looking at the stereo in your vehicle.

Now that you know what single and double DIN mean let’s start comparing them.

Removing a car stereo

Sizes

Let’s find out the differences between double DIN vs single DIN when the time in your car comes down to size measurement.

Single DIN

Almost always measures 2 by 7 inches, in a rectangle shape and usually without a touchscreen panel.

If your stereo measures 2 x 7 but has a touchscreen, there is still a single DIN unit as external touchscreens can be found.

Double DIN

 Almost always measures 4 x 7 inches, in a rectangle shape, and often has a touchscreen panel.

It’s possible to find a double-DIN that does not have a touchscreen, but the majority of them will have a touch screen built into the unit.

Control

Here’s how single vs double DIN goes when it comes to the control functionally of a head unit.

Single DIN

Due to the smaller size measurement, there will not be much room for controls on a single DIN unit.

The controls can be more limited and be more difficult to use when needed beyond basic functions.

An old single DIN car stereo

Double DIN

Larger in size with more room for conveniently located controls.

You’ll not usually have an issue accessing any controls you need on a double-DIN unit.

A double DIN car stereo with multiple controls

Sound quality?

Expect little to no sound quality difference between a Single DIN or Double DIN stereo unit.

While the difference between the two is not distinguishable, your output connections such as a modified or upgraded subwoofer box can improve sound quality.

When paired with high-quality speakers and a solid amplifier, even audiophiles will have difficulty distinguishing between the two DIN types when cruising in your car and listening for the best sound quality.

Turn up the volume of a car stereo

Screen size and potential

Here are the screen size differences between single vs double din stereo:

Single DIN

The majority of single-DIN systems will not have a touch screen which limits the amount of space and the number of additional features on offer.

A touch screen single DIN car stereo

Double DIN

These systems usually have a touchscreen, or can easily have one added.

This provides plenty of room for additional features to be installed and used on the head unit.

Touchscreen of a double DIN car stereo

Other features

Single DIN

Due to the smaller size, a single DIN stereo will have more versatility when you start to install one, as most cars take a single din size as a standard. I think your vehicle will look more slimline with a single din in small cars.

Double DIN

Somewhat more difficult and expensive to install, however, Double D’s can offer additional features such as better device and phone integration, GPS navigation, and more.

Double DIN is really good for having an LCD screen for a  reversing camera.

Is a double-DIN compatible with your car?

Measuring your car stereo is easier than getting the right size of car speakers.

In some cases, simply looking at your current car stereo can tell you if you have a single DIN or a double-DIN by the size of the head unit.

If you see a two-inch stereo, it’s a single DIN. When you discover four inches in height, it’s a double DIN head unit. 

If looking at the stereo does not give you a good idea of the DIN type, you should use an online tool to verify.

Simply add your vehicle’s information such as make and model to an online tool and discover which DIN model is compatible with your vehicle.

However, you have to factor in any aftermarket changes to your car that might have changed the DIN size to suit a GPS for example or a reversing camera for the safety of pedestrians.

A new model double DIN stereo for the car

Can you change from a single DIN to a double DIN?

Usually, if a vehicle is set up for a single DIN stereo, the space will be too small to accommodate a double-DIN unit.

However, in some cases, you may find the space behind the dash paneling is large enough to accommodate a double-DIN.

You may need to install a different dash panel, however, since the pre-molded opening on the factory dash will be custom fit for a single DIN stereo it might also have molding to adjust to a double DIN.

Have a look at your car, or get a specialist to access the capabilities of what can fit and be mounted on the dash of your car.

It is common for people to want a bigger screen for a reversing camera you can do a lot more for the safety of others, and a GPS on your dash can save you time and gas consumption from driving the wrong way. But is oftentimes a GPS is better on your mobile device if mounted correctly in your vehicle for a good viewing position.

Should you put a touch screen stereo on an older car model?

Depending on the age of the older car, adding a touch screen stereo will not cause any power draw issues.

If you find that the power draw is too much, adding an adaptive power converter can help when going from single DIN to double DIN with a touchscreen.

Old-style car stereo

Do all double DIN stereos come in the same size?

While the standard measurement for a double DIN stereo head unit is 4 inches by 7 inches rectangle [2], they can be found in a range of unique and custom sizes and shapes.

So check the dimensions of your existing unit before purchasing a new one.

It is very easy and safe to pop off the face molding and see the exact dimensions underneath the car stereo unit.

You will also see how easy the brackets are to unscrew and too replace the unit with a new one by just matching up the wires in the same place.

Touchscreen function for car stereo

Would switching to a different DIN affect a car stereo’s sound quality?

In general, no. Both a single and double DIN head unit will produce the same sound quality.

In order to improve the stereo sound quality, you want to take a closer look at your amplifier and speaker quality and configuration.

A small car stereo

What factors can help you choose a car stereo?

When searching for a new car stereo, there are a few things you should consider before making your purchase.

1. Audio sources

Not all stereos are compatible with all audio sources.

To determine which sources you prefer and whether or not your stereo can play them.

This includes MP3, WAV, ALAC, AAC, FLAC, and more.

2. Speaker and amp compatibility

Not all speakers will pair well with every amplifier or speaker configuration.

If you want the best sound quality, ensure your chosen stereo and existing amp and speaker setup can pair well together.

Basically, the watts of the speaker should be higher than the output of the amplifier or head unit to avoid overpowering and damaging speakers and to reduce distortion at higher volumes.

FM radio shown on a single DIN stereo

3. Smartphone integration

When choosing a car stereo that has a touchscreen, determine whether or not the head unit has app and smartphone integration through Bluetooth.

This can be extremely useful when searching for internet-based radio channels.

4. GPS navigation

Another useful feature with touchscreen stereo systems, determine whether or not GPS navigation is important to you and how this can be used with your double DIN stereo and touchscreen setup.

5. Compatibility with a reversing camera

Double din stereos with LCD screens can be compatible with a reversing camera.

Depending on your area and driveway, a reversing camera is convenient and a simple but effective safety feature.

Smart app phone integration for car stereos

No need to get confused again

If you’ve ever asked “what is a single din and double din” in regards to a car stereo, the answer may sound confusing. If your current factory stereo is 2 inches tall, you have a single DIN car stereo. If you have 4 inches in height, you have a double-DIN head unit.

But what on earth do single and double DIN mean? This is the easiest way to determine whether or not a stereo is compatible with your vehicle. Not only the space you have in your dash but also the power requirements and additional features you want in your car’s entertainment system.

Whether you are installing an aftermarket single DIN or double DIN stereo, both units can be quick and easy to install and can help take your vehicle’s audio system to a new level.

More information:

  1. .What is a single DIN car stereo? a blog from https://www.lifewire.com/what-is-a-1-din-car-stereo-534607
  2. Single DIN vs Double DIN: Which car stereo is right for you? published in https://knowhow.napaonline.com/single-din-vs-double-din-which-car-stereo-is-right-for-you/

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Johann Holsinger portrait

Hi, my name is Johann Holsinger, here at mountyourbox.com I share all of the tips and tricks I have professionally learned to help you set up your ultimate home entertainment system.