Automotive head unit

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.

Other names for automotive head units include car stereo, car receiver, in-dash stereo, and dash stereo.


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 [2] 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.


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

Voice control and gesture recognition are used for them.

Size standards

The most standard sizes for car audio head units and enclosures is ISO 7736, originally developed by the Deutsches Institut für Normung (DIN):

Single DIN (180 mm × 50 mm or 7.09 in × 1.97 in) in Europe, South America and Australasia

  • A compact size that easily fits into a dashboard, but the unit is not tall enough to accommodate a video display.

Double DIN (180 mm × 100 mm or 7.09 in × 3.94 in) in Japan, the UK and North America. Double DIN is also written as 2 DIN and double din.

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

Steering and aftermarket brands

Most manufactures offer DIN headunits and standard connectors (called universal headunits), including Pioneer, Sony, Alpine, Kenwood, Eclipse, JVC,[4] Boyo, Dual, Visteon, Advent and Blaupunkt.[5]

See also


  1. "How important is your car stereo to you". Head unit. dbm automotive. Aug 2019. Retrieved 2012-01-03.
  2. "Head Unit". AudiodiQualità.com. PanzerSound. Retrieved 2019-08-10.
  3. "Single Din vs Double Din- Din Size Chart 2019 by Stereo Authority". Stereo Authority. 2018-11-02. Retrieved 2018-12-02.
  4. OEM Steering Wheel Control for aftermarket radios
  5. Archived 2014-03-06 at the Wayback Machine
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