Automotive head unit

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A Panasonic head unit, combining radio, CD and MP3
A factory integrated in-dash head unit equipped with anti-theft system, since the sixth generation Toyota Camry.
A facelifted Toyota Vios, the local dealer used the head unit includes disc player, Bluetooth, auxilary cable, USB and radio

An automotive head unit, sometimes referred to as a deck, is a component of an automotive infotainment, which provides a unified hardware interface (mainly, the screen and buttons) for the entire system.

Antiquated names for head unit are receiver, in-dash stereo or dash stereo.


Installing a head unit
Activated head unit, playing Bluetooth audio

The head unit is the centerpiece of the car's sound and information system. Typically located in the center of the dashboard, modern head units are densely integrated electronic packages housed in detachable face plates. As high-end head units are common targets for theft, many head units are typically integrated into the vehicle's alarm system.

Head units give the user control over the vehicle's information and entertainment media: AM/FM radio, satellite radio, DVDs/CDs, cassette tapes (although these are now uncommon), USB MP3, Dashcams, GPS navi, Bluetooth, WiFi etc. Many audio-only head units afford the user precise control over detailed audio functions such as volume, band, frequency, speaker balance, speaker fade, bass, treble, EQ and so on.[1]

Several OEMs such as General Motors are integrating more advanced systems into vehicle's head units[citation needed] such that they can offer vehicle data such as trouble warnings; such a head unit thus serves as a secondary instrument panel.

In as much as head units are a central part of a car's decor, they vary as widely in aesthetics as they do in functionality.


Android Auto in usage.jpg

With the advent of dashcams, GPS navi and DVDs, head units with video screens are on the market.

Voice control and gesture recognition are used for them.

Size standards[edit]

The most standard sizes for car audio head units and enclosures is ISO 7736:

  • Single (180x50 mm) in Europe, South America and Australasia
  • Single Din Features: More compact and easily fits in the dashboard, DVD player with no video access, no option for a rearview camera.
  • and Double (180x100 mm) in Japan, the UK and North America. Double DIN is also written as 2 DIN and double din.
  • Double Din Features: Requires more space to fit, DVD player capable of playing videos, cell phone can be accessed via large screen.[2]

ISO 10487 is the standard for connectors for the head unit to the car's electrical system.

Steering and aftermarket brands[edit]

Most manufactures offer DIN headunits and standard connectors (called universal headunits), including Pioneer, Sony, Alpine, Kenwood, Eclipse, JVC,[3] Boyo, Dual, Visteon, Advent and Blaupunkt.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "How important is your car stereo to you". Head unit. Car stereo reviews. Retrieved 2012-01-03.[permanent dead link]
  2. ^ "Single Din vs Double Din- Din Size Chart 2019 by Stereo Authority". Stereo Authority. 2018-11-02. Retrieved 2018-12-02.
  3. ^ OEM Steering Wheel Control for aftermarket radios
  4. ^ Archived 2014-03-06 at the Wayback Machine

External links[edit]