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What to look for when purchasing car head units

Modern car entertainment systems can be baffling. Car amplifiers, Bluetooth, speakers, stereo audio equipment, all these terms can serve to confuse a potential buyer. Do not let these put you off in your search for a new head unit. Read this simple guide and get the most out of your stereo.

What do you need?

Before you start dreaming of £2000 installations and 1000 watt speakers, give a little thought to exactly what you need your kit to do. If all your music is on CD, there is no point in buying a mini-disc player. Likewise, if you do not have a DVD collection, this function will serve little purpose. It may seem like common sense but a shortlist will vastly reduce the selection of head units you need to consider. Do make sure that you give thought to what you may need in the future, however, as your purchase will not be cheap and replacing it in a year or two will be a painful experience.

What are the options?

Most of us still use car CD players but more and more are turning over to USB and MP3 car stereos. These give you the option of plugging in your iPod or a USB drive and sourcing your music collection in this way. The benefit of this type of format is that you have access to a huge library instead of just half a dozen CDS. You also save space in the car by no longer needing a multi-changer or a CD carry case. Audio stereo systems these days do far more than play music. In-car DVD units are becoming very popular and prices are falling. Many head units have integrated these into their design but look out for models with larger (seven inch and above) screens as smaller units are difficult to watch. Sufficient outputs If you think you may want to extend your in-car stereo to include subwoofers or amps, then ensure that the head unit has sufficient outputs on the back to allow you to do this. Whilst there, check the number of speaker outputs (four is the minimum you want) and the power of the internal amp. You really want to be aiming for a least 20 watts per channel over four channels. You can supplement lower outputs with a cheap amplifier but buying a more powerful head in the first place is easier. A fully digital radio Last, but not least, make absolutely sure that the radio is a fully digital one and not analogue this broadcasting method will cease being used shortly and this will render your radio useless.

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