Head units are one of the more simple electronic items you might buy these days, but they can still be very sophisticated and smart. Also known as a deck or radio, this all-important piece of equipment will be the basis for every sound that comes out of your car’s stereo system, so it is important to get this decision right the first time.
In this article, we will look at factory head units vs aftermarket units.
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What is a Head Unit?
There are several components of a car’s audio system, but the head unit is arguably the most important component. It is also sometimes referred to as the receiver, deck, or radio. Functionally, this unit both receives input from your media player and provides output through vehicle speakers.
Notice that I said through “speakers”, not speakers. The actual unit may only contain two channels (the minimum for any stereo), but additional channels will be routed through your car’s 8-channel amplifier. That amp then channels those separate signals to different speaker locations throughout your vehicle via one or more sets of preamp outputs.
Factory Head Unit Vs Aftermarket Comparison – Which should I choose?
Generally speaking, there are two options available; factory-fitted (OE) head units or aftermarket units. The main difference between OE and aftermarket is that OE head units are designed specifically for your make and model vehicle whereas aftermarket head units work with multiple vehicles/models without issue. Both types of head units can be fitted in any car regardless of make, model, or age.
Consider the following points before making your final decision:
- Fitting an aftermarket head unit may invalidate your vehicle’s warranty – check with your dealer first.
- An OE head unit will integrate better with the rest of your vehicle’s electrics, but there are ways to overcome this problem using CAN-BUS adaptors available if required. The same effect can be achieved by fitting specialist plugs into the wiring harness which are also available from various outlets. This may have to be installed by a professional so again it is best to ask around first. Also, take extra care when installing cables to ensure proper connectivity and avoid causing damage while looking for short circuits.
- Aftermarket head units are easily identifiable as they do not have the manufacturer logo on them, but most will come with a removable fascia to suit your vehicle’s styling if required. Also, some companies offer custom-fit units with the perfect fit for your car, so there really is no problem there either.
- Prices of OE head units are high due to their brand name and quality making them popular choices, whereas aftermarket prices are generally lower for higher specification models so you get more bang for your buck. Again this is down to personal preference as each individual has his/her own reasons for installing an OE or aftermarket unit. The only rule here is that price does not always represent value and it is important to know this when making your final decision.
- If you are looking for a certain feature in your new head unit then it would be best to ask around first before purchasing one, but it is easy to get lost in the technical jargon that manufacturers may use so try not to get confused with all the specifications. It is always best to have an idea of what you want from your new head unit before shopping around for one. A trip down to our showroom will give you a better understanding of which product might suit your needs the best, or alternatively take a look at our website forums where there are lots of knowledgeable members willing to help if they can so don’t hesitate.
Factory Head Unit Vs Aftermarket Comparison – Which is best?
An OE head unit will fit in with your car’s original interior design and offer a higher level of sound quality because they are designed specifically for your make and model vehicle, but an aftermarket unit allows you to choose the features you want. It really is your personal choice as there are positives and negatives to both types of units, so it’s best to shop around first before making the final decision.
There are so many factors to consider when you want to add a new head unit to your car such as how it will look, the features and specs, and whether or not it can be made to integrate with other parts of your vehicle’s electrics. If in doubt about anything then don’t hesitate in asking around because we’re always happy to help where we can.
If you visit our showroom then one of our sales staff will be more than happy to discuss head units in detail and provide advice on what might work best for you depending on what kind of music you would like to listen to while driving. We also have demo units that can be hooked up straight away if required so there really is no problem there either.
Aftermarket head units are generally cheaper than the factory fitted because they do not have the manufacturer logo on them, but OE head units offer higher levels of sound quality and better integration with your vehicle’s electronics. It really is your personal choice as both types will perform the same function which is to provide entertainment while you drive so it is best to shop around first before making a final decision.
Hope this article helps those who want to know the differences and similarities between the two and helps them decide what head unit is best for their application. Thanks for reading!