Tag: car stereos

Apple CarPlay Car Stereos

Apple CarPlay Installed by Sonic Electronix

Apple CarPlay is the latest in iPhone integration and offers a powerful way to interface your iPhone device with your car stereo. No more trying to fumble around with controlling your iPhone on an confusing interface. Apple CarPlay is designed for the car to make your life easier, create a safer driving experience, basically just be awesome.

What is Apple CarPlay?

Apple CarPlay is a smarter, safer way to use your iPhone in the car. It allows your iPhone (iPhone 5 or later) to completely integrate with your compatible car stereo and bring your iOS experience into the car with ease. CarPlay features Siri Eyes Free mode which allows you to navigate through your phone and apps by voice command, keeping your eyes on the road and hands on the wheel. With CarPlay, you can get directions, make calls, send and receive messages and listen to your favorite music without ever reaching for your phone.

How does Apple CarPlay work?

CarPlay works by plugging your iPhone in to your car stereo via USB. It is important to note that CarPlay is on your iOS device and not your stereo. Once connected, a customized version of iOS, designed by Apple, will display on your stereo complete with icons and Siri support. Once connected and running, you’ll be able to control your iPhone through the touchscreen controls of your stereo or through voice commands.

  1. Connect Your iPhone to the Stereo Through USB
  2. Open Your Favorite Apps
  3. Control Via Voice Control or Touchscreen
  4. Keep Your Eyes on the Road and off Your Phone

Apple CarPlay is all about being safe while driving. Controlling your phone through voice commands and your stereo stops you from having to reach for your phone to answer a call, check your directions or see what song is playing and leaves your hands and eyes free to concentrate on the road.

Car Stereos with Apple CarPlay

View our current selection of car stereos that support Apple CarPlay



Android Auto Car Stereos


Android Auto is the latest in Android integration and offers a powerful way to interface your Android device with your car stereo. No more trying to fumble around with controlling your Android smartphone on an confusing interface. Android Auto is designed for the car to make your life easier, create a safer driving experience, basically just be awesome.

What is Android Auto?

To put it simply, Android Auto is Android in your car. Android Auto was created by Google to bring the Android operating system into your car. An Android Auto compatible car stereo allows you to completely integrate your Android device (running the Android Lollipop or newer OS) with your vehicle’s sound system. It is optimized for voice commands for both apps like Google Maps and Google Play Music and convenience features like phone calls and messaging so that you never have to take your hands off the wheel. Android Auto also works with many third party apps like Pandora, Spotify, iHeartRadio and MLB At Bat.

How does Android Auto work?

Android Auto is on your phone, not built-in to the stereo. It projects a customized version of your compatible Android device onto the screen of the stereo (devices need to be connected via USB).The interface projected is very simple and intuitive and can be controlled from the touchscreen display or by voice commands.

  1. Connect Your Android Device Through USB
  2. Open Your Favorite App
  3. Control Via Voice Control or Touchscreen
  4. Keep Your Eyes on the Road, Not Your Phone

When you drill it down to its core, Android Auto is really about driver safety. The ability to control your phone through voice commands and touch screen controls on your stereo means you won’t be reaching for your phone to answer a call, check your GPS or skip to the next song. Concentrate on what’s important, the road, with Android Auto.



Car Audio 101: Car Stereos

The first step to upgrading your car audio system is generally installing an aftermarket stereo. Your stereo is the center point of your sound system and a low quality receiver will leave the rest of your system lacking, no matter how great it is. The stereo’s job in your sound system is to send signal to your speakers (or amplifier if you have one). A low quality factory receiver will send dirty, distorted signals to your speakers which will result in poor sound quality. A new stereo by itself can make even basic factory setups sound significantly better.

A huge improvement in sound quality won’t be the only upgrade you’ll get from an aftermarket stereo. You will also be able to add a ton of new and improved features over your old factory stereo like an improved equalizer, smartphone integration, built-in GPS navigation and more. While your factory radio may support features like this, they are often much more limited than what an aftermarket radio is capable of. For newer vehicles that come with factory steering wheel controls and backup cameras, you will be able to find an adapter to integrate them into an aftermarket stereo.

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More Car Audio 101


Car Audio 101

Welcome to Car Audio 101 with Sonic Electronix! This series will cover everything you need to know about car audio, from the absolute basics for beginners to the more technical aspects of car audio. From your basic aspects of a car stereo, your amplifiers, speakers, headunits and subwoofers, to digging deep into things like tuning frequencies and battery isolators. Follow our Car Audio 101 videos and you’ll be an expert in no time!

Car Stereos

When you’re ready to start upgrading your car audio system, one of your first steps should be upgrading your factory stereo. Upgrading your car stereo can drastically improve the sound quality of your system while also adding a ton of new features (better EQ, extra outputs, Bluetooth etc.). Your stereo is responsible for sending signals to your speakers (or amplifier if you have one), and a low quality stereo is going to send a bad signal to your speakers, resulting in poor sound quality.

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Car Speakers

After upgrading your factory stereo to an aftermarket unit, your next step is typically upgrading your factory speakers. For starters, factory speakers are made from very cheap, flimsy material and usually don’t come with tweeters. Aftermarket speakers are made from significantly higher quality materials and also come with tweeters (either mounted to the speaker or as a separate unit). A set of aftermarket speakers will handle more power, last a lot longer and sound better than your cheap factory speakers.

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Car Subwoofers

Adding a subwoofer to your car can completely transform your sound system. Depending on your listening preferences, you can add a lot of bass or something a little more subtle. Without a subwoofer integrated with your system, you will actually be missing out a big chunk of the sound frequencies recorded into your music. Your basic car audio setup without a subwoofer simply isn’t able to reach those low notes in your music. Adding a subwoofer to your system isn’t as simple as buying a subwoofer and plugging it in, subwoofers also require an enclosure (usually either ported or sealed) and an amplifier.

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Car Amplifiers

What does an amplifier do? Well, it basically takes the signal from your car stereo and amplifies it to a much greater signal before it gets to your speakers. An amplifier will bring out the full potential in your speakers. If you’re looking to add a subwoofer you’ll have to add an amplifier because your stereo doesn’t have enough juice to power one. You’ll also need an amplifier installation kit to get your amplifier up and running.

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Car Stereo Buying Guide

Pioneer AVH-P4100DVD

Double DIN HeaduntBuying a new head unit for your car sound system can be an overwhelming undertaking. If you’re new to car audio, it can be easy to get lost in all the features and design differences and maybe miss the perfect head unit for your car. A quality car stereo is the central point of your car sound system, and it can make or break your entire system.

Aftermarket stereos come with any number of upgraded features over factory units, including better AM/FM radio reception, digital media capabilities, Bluetooth, integrated navigation and most importantly, they can make your whole system sound better. They feature far better circuit design and more built-in power than factory stereos to get the most out of your speakers, woofers and amps.

Aftermarket head units come with a number of additional features that most stock factory units do not include. To get comparable features, you would have to spend several thousand dollars with a car dealer. Your needs for your new head unit depend entirely on what you listen to and what your intended use is.

Aftermarket head units can come with every bell and whistle you can imagine, including built-in navigation, HD radio, SiriusXM satellite radio, DVD player for the rest of your car, total smartphone integration and much more.

Click the links below to view a specific section or scroll through and read it all!

  1. What Design Fits Your Car?
  2. What Kind of Unit Do You Want?
  3. Options and Features
  4. Benefits of Buying from Sonic

What Design Fits Your Car?

Aftermarket head units come in double DIN and single DIN configurations, and the way the dash in your car is set up will determine which configuration you need. It is important to know how much room you have available in your dash to install a new head unit. If your car only has space available for a single DIN unit, a double DIN size receiver simply won’t fit. Vehicle’s with room available for a double DIN head unit provide much more flexibility for your purchase as you can install a single or double DIN head unit.In many cases, if you are looking to install a single DIN stereo into a double DIN space, all you need is the proper dash kit (select dash kits come free with the purchase of your head unit). Installing your own car stereo is simple with our Sonic Electronix Car Stereo Installation Guide. Vehicle specific stereos are also available.

Sony MEX-GS810BH Single DIN Stereo

Single DIN head units are stereo units designed for vehicles with less dash space and require a physical opening of 2” high and 7” wide. Single DIN units installed in a double DIN opening will have a pocket underneath the head unit which can be used for storage. Being restricted to a single DIN unit doesn’t mean forfeiting the functionality of a large touchscreen display. Select single DIN units include a motorized pop-up display that is not restricted by your dash opening.

Kenwood DDX5901HD Double DIN Car Stereo

Double DIN head units are for vehicles with a little more room and require a physical dash opening of 4” high and 7” wide. These stereos tend to have a cleaner and more OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) feel to them because they do not come with a pocket like most single DIN installations.

As a result of the larger overall chassis size of double DIN head units, they are able to have larger, easier to read displays. Many double DIN units feature intuitive touch screen controls to navigate through the system and access your favorite features.

For those who want to avoid the aftermarket look and want a seamless look, vehicle specific head units are available. Vehicle specific head units are designed for a direct fit with a particular vehicle make and model. These units require no dash kit or wiring harness and provide a true plug-n-play solution along with an authentic OEM look.


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What Kind of Unit Do You Want?


Once you have determined what size head unit your vehicle has room for, you need to figure out what you plan to use your head unit for. If you plan on using your stereo strictly for enjoying your music while you drive, chances are you’re going to want a simpler CD/MP3 player head unit. However, for those who want to get a little more out of their head unit, you have several options to choose from including DVD players and fully loaded GPS navigation systems.

Digital Media Car Stereos

These head units do not come with a CD drive and rely solely on MP3 or digital audio playback. Digital media stereos include SD card slots, USB ports for use with iPods, smartphones, MP3 players or USB thumb drives. Auxiliary inputs allow for use with most other audio output devices.

Car CD/MP3 Players

Single DIN CP/MP3 Player

In-dash CD/MP3 players are the classic aftermarket head unit. These head units are compatible with MP3 and WMA formats, allowing you to play both regular and burned CDs. Basic CD/MP3 player units are the most common type of head unit. These head units are available in both single and double DIN configurations, although they are most commonly available as a single DIN design.

Select CD/MP3 player units include features like Pandora playback, complete smartphone integration and more. They can also have a built-in USB ports for digital music playback and smartphone/MP3 player connections.

In-Dash Car DVD Players

Adding home entertainment functionality into your vehicle with an in-dash DVD player is a great option for long road trips. Most of these units come as a single DIN with a pop-out screen or as a regular double DIN. They generally feature dual zone, which enables the unit to play multiple audio or video sources in two separate locations. This allows you to listen to the radio up front while your back seat passengers enjoy a movie. To play your DVDs on headrest monitors, dropdown screens or any other in car monitor, connect them through the built-in A/V outputs in the head unit.

In-Dash Car GPS Navigation

Power Acoustik PNX-721 Navigation System

Another solution for those who spend long periods of time in the car is an in-dash car GPS navigation system. These navigation systems are powered by map databases such as Garmin, iGo Primo, Navitel, NAVTEQ, Tele Atlas and TomTom. In many models, the maps can be displayed in both 2D and 3D and include both preset and customizable points of interest, live traffic tuners and lane guidance.These head units can play music and, if capable, videos while providing directions to your destination without a problem. The map databases that power these head units can cover anywhere from the United States lower 48 to Europe and Canada. Select navigation units are also capable of audible directions in multiple languages.

While smartphones have largely taken over in-car navigating, having a nav capable head unit is still incredibly useful for areas with limited cell phone coverage and for times when your phone is dead or left at home.

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Options and Features

In addition to the size and type of head unit you want to purchase, you also can choose from a wide range of additional features to add to your vehicle. Many aftermarket head units come with built-in Bluetooth which allows for complete smartphone integration with your vehicle’s sound system as well as hands-free conversation. Taking smartphone integration a step further, units with the MirrorLink allow you to control your phone from the head unit’s display. In addition to your standard AM/FM receiver, you can also purchase an aftermarket headunit that is HD radio and/or SiriusXM (subscription required) ready.

Aftermarket stereo’s are also capable of boosting the overall quality of your vehicle’s sound system. Adjustable graphic and parametric equalizer bands allow you to customize your music settings to meet your tastes and your music’s style. You can also purchase a head unit with Digital Time Alignment which synchronizes the timing of your speakers to provide an optimized sound stage. Preamp RCA Outputs allow for stronger signals which clean up distortion and unwanted sound.

Depending on the configuration of the head unit you purchase, display type could also be a factor. The screen size will vary depending on what type of unit you purchase. Double DIN units typically have between 6.2″ and 7″ displays whereas single DIN units can have a built-in motorized pop up screen not limited by the size of your dash opening. Installing a new head unit also doesn’t mean you have to give up your steering wheel controls. Select receivers come with built-in steering wheel integration, but most require an additional adapter. Many aftermarket head units also include an input for both stock and aftermarket backup cameras.

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Benefits of Buying from Sonic

Sonic Electronix offers free installation accessories with in-dash head unit purchases*. For local customers we have onsite installation with one of our expert installers. Our easy to use vehicle fit guide ensures your head unit will fit the make and model of your vehicle.

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How to Choose a DVD Player for Your Car

Boss BV8962

If you want to create a first class vehicle entertainment system, DVD movie playback is a must-have. You need a DVD player in your car. There are two main types of car DVD players: DVD players with built-in monitors, and those that require external monitors. Even if your DVD head unit includes a built-in monitor, you can always hook up additional monitors throughout the vehicle. You can also use your built-in monitor with a rearview backup camera to allow you to see behind you when you are backing in reverse or parallel parking.

When selecting a DVD player for your vehicle, first you must figure out if the stereo will fit. Most in-dash DVD receivers are DIN-sized models, ready to fit in regular DIN dash slots. However, some are specifically designed as DOUBLE DIN models, ready to fit in vehicles with DOUBLE DIN dash holes. Check our DOUBLE DIN application guide to figure out your vehicle’s dash slot size.

Most DVD players feature touchscreen controls for convenient playlist control. When you aren’t playing a video, just use the screen to navigate through your favorite music. You will see the song and artist information on the screen. Some DVD players feature motorized screens that you can detract with the press of a button. This is a great security feature, as it hides the screen from potential criminals.

Besides playing CDs, MP3s, and DVDs, some DVD receivers also have all of the best expandability options. Some receivers include Bluetooth compatibility, iPod controls, and are ready for Sirius or XM satellite radio. Certain DVD players also offer GPS navigation functions. Enjoy the convenience of on-screens maps and a computer generated voice giving you directions over the speakers.

When choosing a DVD player, look for great features such as dual-zone capability, built-in wireless FM modulators and infrared transmitters. Dual-zone systems enable front seat passengers to listen to their music or station of choice while the rear passengers watch a movie or listen to an alternative musical choice. Systems with built-in FM modulators and infrared transmitters allow your passengers to use wireless headphones, affording you peaceful silence on the road while they enjoy their entertainment.

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How To Choose a Car Stereo

Make Sure You Find the Right Stereo for You

After-market car stereos provide superior options and more features than factory head units. When selecting a car stereo for your vehicle, first you must figure out if the stereo will fit. Most in-dash receivers are DIN-sized models, ready to fit in regular DIN dash slots. However, some stereos are specifically designed as DOUBLE DIN models, ready to fit in vehicles with DOUBLE DIN dash holes. Check our DOUBLE DIN application guide to figure out your vehicle’s dash slot size.

Besides standard controls for an AM/FM radio tuner, aftermarket stereos can have CD, MP3, WMA and AAC playback capability. Aftermarket car stereos allow you to play burned or copied CDs in your vehicle. Since most in-dash head units now play both MP3s and CDs, consider a stereo’s expandability options when making your selection.

Most car stereos include options for further expansion possibilities. You can use your car stereo’s auxiliary inputs and audio/video outputs to connect portable media players, TV monitors, amplifiers, and subwoofers. Some head units allow you to control your iPod via the stereo faceplate using an adapter. Others have front aux inputs that allow you to play music on your iPod through your car stereo speakers. The latest stereos feature front USB inputs and SD card inputs that allow you to carry a disc-less music library.

If you want DVD playback, check our in-dash DVD player head units. Some have built-in monitors but if not, you can easily add headrest, sunvisor, flipdown and more monitors by browsing through our Car Video section.

Don’t forget about Satellite Radio and HD radio. If you plan on adding XM or Sirius Satellite radio down the line, make sure the car stereo you choose is “satellite radio ready.” If you want to have the option of adding HD radio, the car stereo must be “HD radio ready.” Some stereos have built-in adapters, tuners and antennas, so all you need to do is purchase a subscription.

Aftermarket car stereos give you greater control over your sound system. You can adjust the treble, bass, balance and fader controls. Many after-market car stereos include built-in equalizers and digital sound processing for total sound control. High-end car receivers have sound processors that are Dolby Digital and DTS surround sound compatible.

If you want to connect an amplifier to your car stereo, pick a receiver with at least one pair of preamp outputs. The higher the preamp output voltage rating, the crisper the signal to your speakers and subwoofers. If you plan on running a subwoofer, choose a car stereo with a separate subwoofer preamp output. This enables you to adjust the subwoofer volume separately.

Car stereo designs are always getting flashier. Browse our photos and specs to find car stereos with animated displays that will suit your tastes. Note that most in-dash car stereos have customizable color schemes to match your dash and interior.

Most car stereos now come with enhanced security features to prevent your head unit from being stolen. For the ultimate security features, look for head units with detachable face plates and stealth modes.

One final key to consider when choosing a car stereo are their signal-to-noise ratings. The higher the signal-to-noise ratio, the louder and more defined the sound output. This is a key spec often overlooked by newbies, but comparing this rating this will help you compare the quality of radios across the board without actually having listened to them.

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