Best Car Stereo Reviews & Ultimate Buying Guide

Car Electronics

Car audio technology moves quickly, and when you’re buying a car stereo it can be hard to know what stereo is going to work best for you. One stereo may look great but might not have all the features you want. Another may have all the features you currently use but isn’t capable of playing the emerging technology.

You need help to find the car stereo that suits you best, and you can find that right here.

Pioneer MVH-X380BT Digital Media Receiver with Short Chassis Design and Bluetooth

The Pioneer MVH-X380BT isn’t what you’d typically expect in a car stereo. This unit is classified as a digital media receiver, meaning it focuses on the ability to play files from your audio device. It is capable of pairing with your Bluetooth phone, iPod, tablet, or other Bluetooth source to play audio files through your car stereo. You can use USB or auxiliary input to connect your device if you don’t have a Bluetooth capable audio source but be aware you’ll need to have your own cable to do so.

Our Pick
4.6 Stars (4.6 / 5)
Pioneer MVH-X380BT is capable of pairing with your Bluetooth phone, iPod, tablet, or other Bluetooth source to play audio files through your car stereo.

The Pioneer MVH-X380BT is specifically designed to work seamlessly with iPhone or iPod device, providing direct control of sources through the receiver. You can scroll through playlists, artists, songs by title, or albums to find exactly the song you are looking for. You can also control the basic functions of your Android device through the head unit if you don’t use Apple devices.

The Pioneer MVH-X380BT also does quite well for a radio receiver. It provides local radio connectivity so you can listen to your favorite local broadcasts in FM or AM frequency. The receiver is also capable of playing Pandora internet radio if you choose to purchase the separate module, or if you play it with your paired Bluetooth device.

Bluetooth functionality isn’t just for audio on the Pioneer MVH-X380BT. You can place and receive calls on your Bluetooth device with voice commands so you can keep your hands on the steering wheel. This receiver also supports Apple’s SIRI Eyes-Free system to read back your emails, text messages, find directions, and take notes while you are driving.

The MVH-X380BT is a single-din receiver and looks rudimentary in design. There aren’t many buttons, but you can be assured the receiver is quite versatile. There are 4 channels of 50 watts each, one set of RCA preouts to add more components to your car audio later, a wireless remote, and a five-band graphic equalizer built in.

Review

The MVH-X380BT is an excellent device to take care of your digital music needs and your local radio options. If you are a SiriusXM subscriber, this receiver will not be for you – it doesn’t support the most common satellite radio system in the world. As well, if you have a CD collection, big or small, that you still use for audio entertainment, you will not be satisfied with this unit.


Pioneer DEH-X4800BT Single DIN In-Dash CD/AM/FM Bluetooth Receiver

The Pioneer DEH-X4800BT is a step up in car audio that includes in-dash CD operation as well as digital media control. The receiver looks virtually the same as the MVH-X380BT with the exception of the CD slot on the face of the unit. It includes the same simple controls with the volume and selection knob on the left side of the display, the preset buttons on the bottom and the additional controls in between.

Also Great
4.4 Stars (4.4 / 5)
The DEH-X4800BT is dynamic, incorporating simple control of your digital music device with your radio unit right on the display.

The DEH-X4800BT is dynamic, incorporating simple control of your digital music device with your radio unit right on the display. Pioneer is known for its exceptional integration with Apple devices and this unit is no different. You can control your iPhone or iPod through direct USB connection on the front of the radio display or you can operate its functions through voice command using SIRI Eyes-Free.

Mixtrax is a DJ-like service for your digital music, incorporating DJ-style transitions and detail to your music and creating a non-stop playlist from your own sources. Pandora internet radio is possible as well, controlled either through your Bluetooth enabled Pandora device or with a wired module added on. Android is supported at a basic level, though nothing like Apple connectivity.

Review

The Pioneer DEH-X4800BT is a straightforward, easy-to-use car radio that is great for virtually any user as an inexpensive replacement option. While you can expand on your audio system with the single RCA preouts, this unit won’t be your competition radio, and you probably won’t put it in a luxury car either. It gets the job done but without satellite radio, navigation or DVD playback like you’ll find on high-end units.


Pioneer DEH-X6800BT Single DIN Bluetooth In-Dash CD/AM/FM Receiver

Pioneer’s DEH-X6800BT is a step up in class for Pioneer’s in-car audio receivers. It combines the common audio sources for most users and integrates options for more advanced car audio buyers in one cost-effective unit.

Also Great
4.8 Stars (4.8 / 5)
Pioneer DEH-X6800BT combines the common audio sources for most users and integrates options for more advanced car audio buyers in one cost-effective unit.

The DEH-X6800BT is, like the MVH-X380BT, a digital media receiver. It is quite adept at playing your digital music from a USB drive, your phone, iPod, or other digital music source. There is a USB and auxiliary port on the front of the display for easy wired connection of virtually any music device or storage stick.

Most importantly, the DEH-X6800BT is Bluetooth compatible. Its connection process is simple and easy to use, connecting to Apple or Android devices alike for music streaming or phone calls. The DEH-X6800BT receiver is built for seamless operation of Apple iPhone or iPod, controlling your device right from the radio display for extremely simple, safe operation especially in areas where cell phone use is illegal while you are driving. Android devices aren’t as integrated but simple playback is supported along with basic controls on the unit.

Its Bluetooth control extends to phone usage too. This receiver makes it easy to place and receive calls with the touch of a button and voice command. As it is specifically designed for integration with Apple devices, you can use SIRI Eyes-Free to take notes, search for local fuel stations or restaurants, or read back your recent messages to you.

A couple features set the DEH-X6800BT apart from similar units. This single-din receiver has a single CD slot on its faceplate, specifically for the music connoisseur who has a massive CD collection they haven’t converted to digital music as of yet. As well, the DEH-X6800BT has two RCA preouts, making the entry-level receiver bridge the gap between bargain car audio receivers and professional-grade receivers. Your car stereo can be significantly expanded while using a cost-effective in-dash receiver.

The DEH-6800BT has a few neat features including MIXTRAX, a DJ-like option that uses your digital audio to create a never-ending playlist complete with DJ sound features. Its display is crisp and sophisticated in appearance with an option to change the color display in two sections to suit your taste.

Review

While the Pioneer DEH-X6800BT is a fantastic device for the price, it still doesn’t bring you satellite radio like SiriusXM. You can get Pandora internet radio through either streaming it on your Bluetooth device or by purchasing an additional wired module but it still falls short because of the widespread use of satellite radio.

If you aren’t concerned about satellite radio and just want a great-sounding radio for your CDs and digital music, this radio is for you.


Pioneer FH-X720BT 2-DIN CD Receiver with Mixtrax and Bluetooth

Most modern vehicles have gone to a larger radio display in their vehicles known as double din. The Pioneer FH-X720BT receiver is the unit to fill that space in your dash when you are installing a replacement radio. The classy controls and simple display make it an excellent choice for looks, backed with high-quality options for entry-level users and car audio enthusiasts alike.

Also Great
4.5 Stars (4.5 / 5)
The Pioneer FH-X720BT receiver is specifically designed with iPhone and iPod in mind. The receiver pairs wirelessly with your Apple device or through USB Direct Control

The Pioneer FH-X720BT uses a clean, sharp design with the top half of the unit being the display and the bottom half possessing the knob and buttons. The symmetrical design enhances the high-end look and the color palate can shift to a user-selected color to match your interior’s other lighting.

Bluetooth connectivity is standard for radios of this nature, not only placing and receiving cell phone calls through the audio system but streaming audio as well. It has advanced voice recognition and wideband speech handsfree profile 1.6 for the best call quality reception.

The Pioneer FH-X720BT receiver is specifically designed with iPhone and iPod in mind. The receiver pairs wirelessly with your Apple device or through USB Direct Control, a wired interface system that enables the easiest control of your device while charging it simultaneously. Android devices are also controlled through the head unit though on a more basic level.

Mixtrax is standard on the Pioneer FH-X720BT, a feature that continuously plays your music while adding DJ effects and transitions for an incredibly personal music experience. You can also choose Pandora internet radio, a personalized music source streamed from your Bluetooth device or by using an extra wired module.

Review

The FH-X720BT is an incredibly capable receiver, controlling your music source in your way but ideally connected to your Apple product. It plays CDs and is expandable with two powerful RCA preouts, all packaged in a sleek, sexy unit.

The downside with this unit is in its media offering. It’s not capable of satellite radio connectivity and, while Pandora is great to have, satellite radio is a more versatile option.  This unit is a fantastic choice for nearly everyone still, except those who need professional-grade audio or SiriusXM capability.


Pioneer AVH-X2800BS In-Dash DVD Receiver with 6.2″ Display, Bluetooth, SiriusXM-Ready

Stepping up your car audio game to the enthusiast or professional level involves going to touchscreen display. The AVH-X2800BS does that, and does it well.

Also Great
4.2 Stars (4.2 / 5)
The AVH-X2800BS integrates all the same functions as the previous units including Bluetooth, Mixtrax, and the iOS connectivity that Pioneer is known for. This unit also contains some special features including AppRadioOne…

The fully color display of the AVH-X2800BS is 6.2-inches and means you’ve integrated most of your buttons into one simple control pad. There are still the basic buttons on the left side of the radio including your home and select buttons and volume control, but in large part the touch screen does it all.

The AVH-X2800BS integrates all the same functions as the previous units including Bluetooth, Mixtrax, and the iOS connectivity that Pioneer is known for. This unit also contains some special features including AppRadioOne, an app controller that works for both Apple devices and select Android devices through a special USB cable. You can access specific apps including maps, events, media, and calendar directly on your radio display without skipping a beat listening to your music.

You can also enjoy Spotify playback on your Pioneer AVH-X2800BS, operated with its own function or you can use FLAC playback for the highest quality sound and even video playback on your screen.

Other standout features are this unit’s expandable options. If you decide in the future you’d like to add navigation or Sirius XM satellite radio, this unit is upgradable to integrate either – or both. With a simple plug-in module for navigation, you can access maps directly on your screen with point-of-interest options or turn-by-turn directions. Satellite radio is plug-and-play with the purchase of the separate module, and a subscription is required. You can also add a rearview camera if you so choose.

Review

This unit, though fairly intuitive to use, is quite involved. There are many different options, controls, and settings which make it ideal for someone with car audio experience of a higher level, but is not well-suited for the basic car user. You wouldn’t install this unit in your grandmother’s car, for example.

Comparison

Each of these units includes a one-year manufacturer’s warranty from Pioneer, so the basis of your decision is on each unit’s merits.

If you’re in need of a basic car radio to replace what you’ve currently got, the MVH-X380BT or the DEH-X4800BT are great choices from Pioneer. They will get the job done without all the extra frills while still incorporating helpful options like Bluetooth calling and streaming audio and Pandora radio.

If what you need is a unit that will play your massive CD collection and provide high-quality sound for a music enthusiast, look to the DEH-X6800BT or the FH-X720BT. Either one will provide crystal clear sound with plentiful options and the ability to expand your car audio system.

For double-din installations, you can choose from either the FH-X720BT or the AVH-X2800BS for a professional look with top-tier options and expandability.

If you’re looking for the best in control, technology, and professional features, choose the AVH-X2800BS that can be upgraded to include navigation and satellite radio.

I'm Ray Kevin, a member of Zentiz team, who thoroughly enjoys researching about automotive products. I hope my reviews can help you to choose the right products fit with your needs.

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