For those of you that just leased a brand new 2017 model with all the bells and whistles, this article will not interest you simply because it does not apply to you. But if you’ve had a car so long it has become a part of your family, this is the article for you. I am here to educate you with five facts about your car stereo to enhance your car audio experience.

Head Unit

Head units come in two standardized sizes; Single DIN and Double DIN. As many of us know, a Single DIN radio is roughly 7” x 2”. Typically this design comes with volume control, customizable preset stations, CD, auxiliary input, USB port, BT and a small digital screen. Depending on the model; wattage and channel outputs vary. Right around the year 2000, Double DIN stereos became popular. The dimensions for this size is roughly 7” x 4”. A wide range of features not found on Single DIN Stereos are offered on Double DIN head units. Navigation, back-up camera, and even DVD compatibility are amongst some of the biggest upgrades.

Android Auto

This next fact is for all of you Android users. The intuitive design of Android Auto enables the user to run their Android device through their vehicle’s head unit. Released in the summer of 2014 this technology allows drivers to focus on the road rather than their phone. Music compatibility, text message, web use, and phone apps all can be controlled via voice. Android Auto has taken your cell phone, synced it to your dashboard, and enabled voice control so you never have to take your eyes off the road. It is truly a remarkable technology that should be utilized by all Android users.

Bypass Safety Features

Earlier I mentioned Double DIN radios are DVD compatible but we all know there is a safety feature disabling DVD use while driving. Luckily Sonic Electronix, your leading car audio expert, has a whole category dedicated to overriding safety features on your vehicle.  This install will allow you to watch a DVD on your head unit while the vehicle is in motion. But I must advise you to never watch a movie while driving, this is foolish and dangerous. Sonic is not endorsing such behavior nor will we sell a part to any individual with this intention. We are simply giving you the freedom to chose what features your car is capable of. Also other advanced features are blocked on your vehicle such as; using your phones keypad while driving, inputting address into GPS, or even messing with audio settings but this install will allow you to do all of these things.

Pre-out Voltage and EQ

Pre-amp voltage is  the level of volts provided to the RCA signal from your system’s head unit which is connected to your car’s amp. The higher the pre-out voltage the better power capabilities which is desired for higher sound quality. It is important to keep in mind most amps will saturate above 7 volts. In addition better control over your equalizer can be a beneficial caveat, ultimately this makes your sound highly customizable. But if not properly set, your sound will be substantially worse. Our head technician recommends that if you don’t know what it is don’t play with it. Furthermore, if you don’t have any sound engineering background, just use the preset EQ functions instead. Manufacturers sets these up with experts in the field.


Lastly as we all know the market has an array of aftermarket stereos to choose from. And let’s be real; leave the research and the manufacturing to the experts. All the consumer is responsible for is educating themselves on what features they want their new head unit to come with. All brands are not created equal and it would be foolish to say otherwise. Sonic has a large variety of head units that can overwhelm the customer so I have decided to break this down for you:

  1. Arguably the best brand and a fan favorite is Pioneer. This company has been manufacturing quality electronics since 1938. They don’t cut corners and when it comes to head units they provide the consumer with an HD screen followed by powerful wattage to ensure only top audio quality.
  2. A close runner up is Alpine for obvious reasons. Specializing in both automotive and marine audio, Alpine’s focus has led them to find success within such a competitive market. Their strict product list ensures everything they manufacture is only of top quality.
  3. Next we have Sony, a conglomerate with a wide variety of electronic products. Naturally they grew into automotive electronics because of their dominating hand within the consumer electronic market. Despite the fact their niche is not car audio, they have a prominent product line of aftermarket head units that will not disappoint.
  4. Although found last on my list, Kenwood is certainly not a brand to avoid. Specializing in all types of audio, this manufacturer has roots embedded deep within the car audio world. Chances are if you are a car audio fanatic you have owned a set of Kenwood speakers, subs or even a head unit. They provide a lot of bang for not a lot of buck. They are highly sought out when it comes to updating stock parts. Next time you are considering a new head unit, don’t shy away from Kenwood you will be pleasantly surprised.

Wrap Up

The first car stereo was introduced in 1930 and only played AM radio. Back then you were only able to receive signals from local stations and had to constantly tune the unit to stay connected to the station. Some 90 years later the car stereo has evolved into what we love today. From a DVD player to a navigation system, to a backup camera  there is no doubt this technology has surpassed every expectation set forth. Just be careful when investing in a head unit, brands matter!