If you drive a base model car, you could probably benefit from a few in-car tech upgrades, mainly your car stereo. Installing a digital multimedia player can enhance your driving experience, with plenty of features to make your journeys more efficient and entertaining.
With so many car audio options now available, it can be a challenge to know what to look out for. In this blog, we’ll cover the key features of modern car stereos as well as the different audio terms you may come across in your searches.
What is a mechless player?
Car stereos are now often listed as mechless players, mechless stereos, digital media players, digital receivers, or digital multimedia players. The various names can be confusing, but they are all essentially the same thing. The word ‘mechless’ means that the player has no moving parts i.e. you can’t insert CDs like traditional stereos.
Mechless players now come with a variety of features from smart phone connectivity to reversing camera compatibility that can help revolutionise life on the road.
What is double DIN?
Single DIN or double DIN simply refers to the measurement of a car stereo. The term DIN is an acronym short for Deutsches Institut für Normung, which translates to German Institute for Standardisation. The purpose of this is to create standard stereo measurements that will fit in most vehicles:
Single-DIN – two inches tall and seven inches wide
Double-DIN – four inches tall and seven inches wide
Most digital multimedia players have large touchscreens so are double DIN. You may also see the term ‘short chassis’ included alongside this, which means that the stereo is designed to make installation more flexible.
What car stereo features should I look out for?
Car stereos have advanced significantly from the days of CDs and FM radio! There are now a variety of useful features that will help add ease and efficiency to your drives.
Most mechless players now come with built-in WiFi and Bluetooth to allow you access the likes of maps and other applications such as Spotify and Waze.
Apple CarPlay/Android Auto
Smart phone connectivity is an invaluable feature of modern car stereos. Many now allow wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to allow for hands-free calls, map usage, and safe control over music.
FLAC compatible (Free Lossless Audio Codec)
You may come across the term ‘FLAC’ during your car stereo research, which stands for Free Lossless Audio Codec. This means there is no loss of data on the audio file, so you know the sound will be of the highest quality. So, if you love listening to your tunes on the road, choosing a FLAC compatible car stereo is a wise choice!
13 band graphic equaliser
This will often be listed simply as ’13 band EQ’ which allows you to fine-tune the audio quality to suit your preference.
You may not realise, but there can be a slight delay between the car speakers and when the audio hits your ears. This can impact your listening experience if not altered correctly. Time alignment allows you to adjust the speakers closest to you so the sound from each speaker hits your ears at the same time.
In addition to DAB, many mechless stereos now come with DAB+, which allows for more radio stations on a single frequency, as well as higher quality audio. In car stereo product descriptions, it may also mention ‘hybrid radio’, which simply means the combination of internet and broadcast radio such AM/FM.
Dual camera output
A dual camera output allows for both front and rear facing cameras, allowing you to park with ease. Choosing a device with a large screen will also provide a clear image, offering further assistance.
Use of apps
Most digital multimedia players now allow you to use a variety of apps such as Waze and Spotify, allowing you to easily navigate on long journeys while playing your favourite tunes.
The thought of installing a new car stereo may seem like a daunting task, but most mechless players today are easy to install. You can even buy modular players that you can take apart to store in separate compartments – ideal for smaller cars with limited interior space.
Choosing a digital multimedia player with a large, high-quality touchscreen will make usage much easier. Most new touchscreens are highly responsive, allowing you to press, scroll and swipe with ease. Many also feature a simple interface to provide a better user experience.
What are the best car stereos?
At Halfords, we stock a variety of stereos from renowned audio brands such as Sony, Pioneer, JVC, and Kenwood. We also offer car audio fitting and installation, so if you don’t fancy fitting things yourself, you can always rely on our experts. Discover more about the process with our dedicated guide.
Explore our full range of car stereos on halfords.com or speak to one of our experts in-store if you have further questions.