Whether it be blasting music to match that Friday feeling on a road trip, or listening to traffic updates for your morning commute to work, the radio is an essential part of any trip in the car.
With cars constantly being updated and upgraded, it’s no surprise that radio systems have improved enormously over the years, and it has meant that older cars can get left behind. But not anymore.
In recent years digital media receivers have become increasingly easier to fit and more readily available on the market, allowing you to upgrade your car at a fraction of the cost of buying a new one.
But with so many different brands manufacturing digital media receivers, it can be confusing to identify which one is perfect for you.
That’s where we can help, with this useful guide to the best car digital media receivers on the market, complete with a buyer’s guide to help you in your purchase, with an FAQ section to answer any questions you may have.
In a hurry?
If your car is in desperate need of an upgrade, why not consider the Pioneer DMH-1500NEX digital media receiver.
This device has so many excellent features that are sure to improve your driving experience, including:
- It is compatible with Apple Carplay and Android Auto allowing you to easily connect your phone and control it via the media receiver.
- It is satellite navigation ready allowing you to use the touchscreen to direct you to your destination on any journey you make.
- It works with all major radio and music playback stations including Pandora, Spotify, and SiriusXM.
- Additionally, this device is Bluetooth compatible and has an AUX cord to allow you to connect your phone and stream music.
OUR TOP PICK
OUR TOP PICK
Our favorite digital media receiver on the market is the Pioneer DMH-1500NEX. We’ve rated this amazing device the best on the market for so many reasons but mainly because of the wide variety of features it has which makes it an excellent addition to your dashboard.
This receiver is compatible with both Apple Carplay and Android Auto which allows you to easily connect your phone and access your applications, contacts, messages, etc. The device’s 7-inch touchscreen is also satellite navigation ready meaning you never have to worry about getting lost on a trip again and removing the need to buy an additional sat-nav for your car.
Another great thing about this media receiver is that it also has Bluetooth and an AUX cord allowing you to connect other devices than your phone, and is also compatible with Pandora, Spotify, and also SiriusXM.
With all these excellent features on offer, there’s no doubt that it is one of the best on the market.
- Apple Carplay and Android Auto compatible
- Satellite Navigation ready
- 7-inch touchscreen for easy control
- Works with Pandora, Spotify, and SiriusXM
- Bluetooth compatible with an additional AUX input
- Highly responsive and customizable
- No notable drawbacks
We also really love the Alpine UTE-73BT media receiver. This device might appear more basic than the last one simply because it doesn’t feature a touchscreen, but that really isn’t the case. The UTE-73BT is packed full of a variety of great features, with a variety of ways to input your audio.
The device is compatible with both Apple and Android devices allowing you to connect your cell via Bluetooth or through the AUX cable, while additionally being compatible with Pandora music.
If this isn’t for you, you also have the option to play your audio via the device’s USB input which is compatible with MP3, FLAK, and WMA audio files.
If that doesn’t sell you, then surely it’s customizable display with a choice of color to match your car will, so there is no doubt this is one of the best media receivers available to buy.
- USB input for compatibility with MP3/FLAK/WMA audio
- Compatible with both Apple and Android devices
- Works with Pandora music
- Customizable display: choose your color
- AUX input
- Connect your cell via Bluetooth
- Bluetooth connection can be temperamental
Another excellent digital media receiver is the Sony DSXA415BT. This Sony device differs from the last as it does not feature a touchscreen, but it is still an excellent option.
This amazing audio receiver allows you to control your car’s radio without touching a button as it is all fully compatible with your voice.
If you wish to connect your phone this can be easily completed via the device’s Bluetooth function which will allow you to make and receive calls and stream your playlists, while also accessing your phone’s applications such as Siri and Android voice control.
With so many excellent features on offer, it could be difficult to say no to this amazing device.
- Control it with your voice
- Tap to connect wirelessly via Bluetooth
- Powerful sound with lots of volume
- Compatible with Siri and Siri Eyes Free
- Voice control feature also compatible with android
- Doesn’t allow you to alter the bass
You should also consider the Pioneer MVH-S310BT. This device has a stylish LCD design that will easily complement any car’s interior and a variety of other amazing features.
You can easily connect your cell via the device’s built-in Bluetooth feature to make and receive phone calls handsfree and access your playlists. It is also compatible with Pandora and Spotify, or if you would prefer to play your music via MP3 files you can do this with the USB input.
This device is extremely user-friendly, and super easy to both fit and control once it is connected, making it an excellent option if you are looking for an upgrade but do not want a touchscreen.
It may appear basic compared to the other Pioneer console on this list, but there is no doubt that this is one of the best media receivers on the market.
- Compatible with Android
- Works with Pandora and Spotify
- Built-in Bluetooth to easily connect your phone
- LCD display
- USB input to play MP3 files
- Hands-Free calls can be patchy
Finally, we have the Dual Electronics Digital Media Receiver. This device features a 7-inch touchscreen with excellent resolution and display which is extremely easy to control.
It is compatible with Android Auto and Apple Carplay allowing you to easily access your phone while you’re on the go. It is also compatible with most steering wheel controls so if you would rather not use the touchscreen that is easily an option.
If connecting your phone via these applications is not what you want, you can still easily access your music via the AUX input or the USB input which will also allow you to charge your cell simultaneously.
This device might be manufactured by a lesser-known brand than some of the others on this list, but it is an amazing device that you should definitely consider when buying a digital media receiver.
- 7-inch display with excellent resolution
- Compatible with Android Auto and Apple Carplay
- USB input to charge and stream music from your phone
- AUX input for streaming
- Compatible with most steering wheel controls
- From a lesser-known brand
Best Car Digital Media Receivers Buying Guide
The radio system in your car is a definite staple, and an easy way to give your older car an upgrade. Digital Media Receivers are a great alternative to the traditional radio because they have so many modern features that are guaranteed to improve your experience and make your friends jealous simultaneously.
But with so many digital media receivers on the market, it can be really difficult to know which one is the best for your car. That’s why we’ve put together this handy buyer’s guide packed full of all the information you need to buy the perfect upgrade for your motor.
The first thing you should consider when buying a digital media receiver is the design of the device. One major difference in designs that you might notice is that some have a touchscreen, and some do not.
A device with a touchscreen is not necessarily better than one without, however, they do come with the possibility of additional features such as satellite navigation, and video playback.
When shopping for a digital media receiver you might notice that there is a slight difference in the terminology of the touchscreen devices to those without a touchscreen, those with a touchscreen may be referred to as a digital multimedia receiver instead.
Additionally, when considering the design, you should think about the physical design of the device and whether or not you want one that will match the interior of your car.
There are a variety of design features available with these devices, including flashing LED lights or different color choices, most people will choose a device which compliments their car’s interior, but the choice is entirely yours.
You should also consider how the device can be controlled when making a purchase. The controls are very important as you don’t want to be distracted while driving by complex controls or because you don’t know where the volume button is.
Digital Media Receivers come available with a huge variety of different ways to control them, from being steering wheel control compatible to being compatible with voice control, with some even coming with an external remote control included.
Different styles of controls will be better suited to you personally, and also to the passengers you often take in your car, so you should consider all your options before making a purchase.
Another extremely important thing to consider when buying a digital media receiver is the connections it is compatible with, both internal and external. As this device’s main function is to receive media, it is common for them to be compatible with a variety of different inputs.
These commonly include Bluetooth compatibility, USB or AUX connection, and sometimes even SD input for access to MP3, WMA, and FLAK files. If you are also interested in the quality of music that comes from your device, you should additionally consider the output connections available, such as subwoofer compatibility.
The connections are vitally important as they dictate what files you can play through the device and so you should definitely consider the device’s compatibility in terms of in/outputs before making a purchase.
Finally, you should consider the additional features that the media receiver offers. Different manufacturers will offer alternative features to make their device stand out from the rest that are available on the market.
These will often include Bluetooth or compatibility with Android Auto or Apple Carplay, DVD compatibility or connection with an additional screen, and the inclusion of an additional remote control or even a rearview camera to help you reverse.
Different additional features will be more or less important to you depending on your situation, so you should definitely consider what you value the most out of the device before making a purchase.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a digital media receiver for a car?
A digital media receiver is an alternative for a radio system within your car, they tend to look and operate very similarly to your traditional car radio with the main difference being that they usually do not accept CDs.
Digital Media receivers come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and designs, giving you a wide variety of options to choose from.
What can I use a digital media receiver for?
Digital media receivers are a great addition to your car as they have so many great features. These include but are not limited to, Bluetooth connection to connect your phone: make calls and stream music, USB and Aux input to connect your music, and even satellite navigation to help you reach your destinations safely.
Can I connect my phone to my digital media receiver?
It is very common for you to be able to connect your cell to the digital media receiver in your car, however, you should check the technical specifications for your specific device to see if this is possible.
You can usually connect your phone to your digital media receiver via Bluetooth, Apple Carplay/Android Auto, or via an AUX cord.