If you have extra space in your dash, then you might consider adding a double din head unit. Unlike the single din, this model will provide you with more advanced features and upgrade your whole music experience.
Like any other market, the double din head unit market has two respected manufacturers—Kenwood and Pioneer. You’ll come across these two names when looking for the perfect 2 din head unit for your car audio system.
BEFORE you choose any of these brands, read our extensive guide below to gain some insights on how their products compare and contrast and whether they’ll suit your requirements and expectations.
PS: To enable you to easily see how the two brands compare, we’ll focus on the KEY factors that define a double din head unit…
When looking for a double din car stereo system, you expect it to come with a larger display screen, probably twice the size of a single din head unit.
Luckily, both pioneer and Kenwood provide you with impressively large screens, with sizes up to 7 inches. The displays are also a touchscreen and can be capacitive or resistive in both cases.
The smallest screen size you’ll get is around 6.2”, which is still a large size.
What we really like about these screens is that they help make head units from both manufacturers more user-friendly and easier for you to operate. They’re easy to read in all light conditions and display content in bright, clear detail.
Both Kenwood and pioneer will also offer you ways to customize these displays as per your preferences. For instance, you can change the background colors, move icons of your favorite to home for easy access.
Smart compatibility is another important feature you’d want to look for in a new double din head unit. It enables you to enjoy hands-free calls, messaging, and even stream music files from your phone on your car’s stereo system.
With that said, we discovered that Pioneer and Kenwood offer you double din units with smartphone compatibility.
Though not all of them have this function, we can assure you that you’ll get a Pioneer or a Kenwood that has CarPlay or Android Auto platforms to enable you to seamlessly connect your iOS or Android mobile devices to the unit.
Pioneer, in particular, has a line of double din car stereos (known as NEX) designed specially to give you the ultimate smartphone connectivity experience.
If you prefer a double din wit Bluetooth connectivity, then you’ll be pleased to note that both brands manufacture head units with built-in Bluetooth connectivity.
These connectivity options simply mean that you can connect your Bluetooth-enabled smartphone to your car head unit and enjoy makings hands-free calls, stream your favorite tracks without using any cables.
What do you expect the sound quality from products of manufacturers who have been in the audio equipment industry for decades?
You expect the BEST sound experience, right?
Pioneer and Kenwood bring their experience in the speaker and entertainment industry into their double dins. And it’s for this reason that their units have earned high ratings for excellent audio qualities from satisfied customers.
Both manufacturers boast of 2 dins that can play FLAC file formats with lossless quality. They also support any other file format you might have for the tracks you have saved in your CD, USB disk, SD card slot, DVDs, and more.
Note that the two manufacturers also let you customize the sound to match your preferences.
Both sides have receivers spotting a 13-band equalizer as well as a digital signal processor to help you fine-tune your tracks to suit your preferences.
They also offer you varying numbers of preamp outputs for an ultra-clean signal when you power up your system with an amplifier.
If you travel a lot and your car doesn’t have an inbuilt GPS, then you’d want to get a double din with an integrated GPS to help you quickly navigate any region with ease.
Let’s look at what the Pioneer AVIC-8200NEX double din navigation receiver (the flagship model) has in store for you…
This unit presents you with complete maps of the United States, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. On top of this, it provides you with up to 7.9 million points of interest.
Other handy navigation-related features you’ll get from this unit include free traffic updates in all the major metropolitan areas, lane guidance, a text-to-speech announcement for street names, speed limit warnings, manual map zoom, enhanced street signs, and junction view.
Now let’s look at Kenwood’s flagship navigation receiver, the Kenwood Excelon DNX994S. The unit comes built-in Garmin navigation system. It presents you with complete maps of the united states, Mexico, Canada U.S Virgin Islands, and Puerto Ricco. Moreover, it offers you up to 6 million points of interest.
Additional features to aid in your navigation include optional traffic reports (subscription needed), lane assistance, realistic views of complex intersections, and text-to-speech prompts for road names at turns.
See, there are no significant differences in the flagship navigation receivers from the two brands.
iDatalink Maestro compatibility
If you’re afraid that you might lose your factory extras when you change your OEM head unit with a new double din unit, Pioneer and Kenwood have a solution for you.
Their double din stereo systems are 100% compatible with the iDatalink Maestro module, which helps you retain all the factory settings specific to your car model.
However, keep in mind that the manufacturers don’t include this module in the package, so you’ll have to buy it separately (it costs around $150).
Some of the factory features you’ll be able to keep with this module include factory Bluetooth, steering wheel audio controls, factory audio functions, rear-view camera, factory amplifier, and more.
The module will also let you check your engine performance data and other crucial vehicle info—all displayed on the large Pioneer and Kenwood display screens.
Before we even get into the price details of these two brands, we need to acknowledge the fact that Pioneer has a more extended line of double dins compared to the Kenwood.
This is good news as the wider the variety, the higher your chances are of getting a unit specially tailored to meet your unique needs and preferences.
In the Kenwood vs pioneer double din head unit battle, we’re dealing with reputable brands with top-quality products. And so, you don’t expect their products to feature the lowest price tags on the market.
Nevertheless, their products are well distributed across the price spectrum to cater to car owners with different budgets.
We can categorize the products from both brands into two main price categories:
A manufacturer who offers you a warranty shows that they have confidence in the quality and reliability of their products, and are ready to take responsibility should you experience any malfunctions with your product.
The longer the warranty, the better.
It’d be a letdown for respected brands like Kenwood and Pioneer not to back their products with a warranty.
Pioneer backs all their double din head units with a 1-year warranty while Kenwood offers you a 2-year warranty.
If you go with Kenwood, you’ll have a longer warranty than what Pioneer offers.
All in all, you’ll have a peace of mind investing in products from the two manufacturers, thanks to their warranty policies.
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It’s hard to draw a line between the Pioneer and Kenwood double din head units. Both manufacturers offer you top-quality double dins with solid build quality and impressive features and functions. The pricing for receivers from the two brands vary with a few bucks, making it insignificant.
Though there might be a few divergences between the two units, they’re quite insignificant.
This is quite understandable, given that both manufacturers are leaders in the car stereo system industry. They’re highly competitive and are always on the race to outshine each other. Both have decades of experience and expertise in the production of quality products.
Both brands are always updating their lines of products to ensure they keep up with changing trends in the car stereo world.
In conclusion, the Kenwood vs Pioneer double din head unit battle is far from over.
Which brand to settle for usually boils down to personal preferences.