Best Car Stereo with Built-in Amplifier of 2024, Tested and Reviewed

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Best Car Stereo with Built-in Amplifier

As technology continues to advance, car stereos have become an integral part of our driving experience. Yet with so many options on the market, it can be overwhelming to find the perfect one for your needs.

That’s where we come in – with over 10 years of experience in the car audio industry, we have tested and researched numerous car stereos to bring you the top 5 best car stereo with built-in amplifiers.

Our expertise and thorough testing ensure that you will find the perfect car stereo to elevate your driving experience. So let’s dive in and explore our recommendations! So, here we go:

Top 5 Best Car Stereo with Built-in Amp (2024)

Kenwood Excelon KDC-X305

Kenwood Excelon KDC-X305

If you’re in the market for a car stereo that enhances your audio experience and keeps you connected, the Kenwood Excelon KDC-X305 is a solid pick.


  • Superior sound customization with a 13-Band equalizer
  • Convenient multitasking with dual Bluetooth connection
  • Quick charging feature for Android devices


  • Display visibility can decrease in cold weather
  • Volume range might be limited for some users’ preference
  • Requires some time to familiarize with all features

Let me tell you about this nifty little gadget I’ve been tinkering with lately – the Kenwood Excelon KDC-X305. The moment I fired it up, the difference in sound quality was clear as day; it was like someone had lifted a veil off my speakers. With its built-in 13-band equalizer, I got to play around and fine-tune the sound to my precise liking. Whether you’re rolling through upbeat tracks or chilling with some laid-back tunes, this stereo will deliver the vibes you’re after.

Now, I’ve got friends who just can’t settle on a playlist, so the ability to pair up to 5 Bluetooth devices simultaneously with this head unit is a godsend. We switched from one device to another without any hiccups – talk about road trip essentials. And if you’re the type to have two phones on you, perhaps for work and personal use, this car stereo lets you switch between them with just a touch of a button. It’s all about staying connected without getting in a tangle of cables.

Onto powering up my devices – keeping my phone juiced up on long drives is usually a hassle, but the rapid charge feature for Android on this Kenwood head unit has changed the game. It’s quite the treat to leave your car with a battery life that’s ready to keep up with you, no extra charging accessories required.

As much as I’m singing praises here, it’s only fair to mention a couple of speed bumps I encountered. For starters, when temperatures dropped, the LCD display started to get fussy and not as smooth as I’d like, but nothing too worrisome. Additionally, while the sound quality is stellar, some might find the overall volume range to be on the conservative side. And a little heads-up – there’s a wealth of features packed into this unit, so it took me a moment to wrap my head around everything. Once I did, though, it was like second nature.

In summary, balancing out its pros and cons, the Kenwood Excelon KDC-X305 car stereo offers a mix of sound customization, connectivity, and user-friendly aspects that make it a valuable upgrade over your standard factory system. Considering the sea of options out there, this one’s a catch that’s hard to overlook – especially if your daily commute or long drives are begging for that extra oomph in sound quality.

JVC KD-T920BTS Car Stereo

JVC KD-T920BTS Car Stereo

In my time using this stereo, I was thoroughly satisfied with its performance and would recommend it to those seeking a noteworthy audio upgrade.


  • The built-in amplifier delivers robust sound that’s a real treat for the ears.
  • Seamless Bluetooth connectivity makes streaming music and hands-free calls a breeze.
  • Integration with Amazon Alexa adds convenience for on-the-go voice commands.


  • Initial setup can be a bit complex, especially for someone who’s not tech-savvy.
  • The app features tend to be a bit clunky and could use some refinement.
  • For trucks or custom setups, additional harnesses or adapters might be required.

When I fired up this JVC Car Stereo, the first thing that struck me was the sound quality. The highs were crisp and the lows had just the right amount of punch – all thanks to its hi-power amplifier. Long drives are now a treat, and I’m telling you, this stereo can handle anything from classic rock to the more bass-heavy hip-hop tracks without breaking a sweat.

It’s not just about the music, though. The Bluetooth feature is a game-changer. I paired my smartphone in seconds, and being able to switch between calls and music without touching my phone is something I didn’t know I needed. And with the ability to connect multiple phones, my partner and I never have to argue about whose playlist is on.

I’ve dabbled with voice command devices before, so being able to tell Alexa to play my favorite song while keeping my eyes on the road felt like living in the future. Mind you, it took me a little while to figure out all the settings. But once I did, tweaking the 13-band equalizer to get the perfect sound felt pretty rewarding.

Bear in mind, installation wasn’t a walk in the park. I consider myself pretty good with electronics, but I had to take a second glance at the manual. And while we’re on the subject, the mobile app, which is supposed to be a cool add-on, was sometimes more frustrating than functional. I stuck to the basics after a few tries.

Now, for the uninitiated, installing a car stereo like this might lead to an extra trip to the store for a special harness, especially if you’re rocking a less common make or model. But let me tell you, once everything’s in place, it’s like you’ve given your car a mini concert hall makeover.

In conclusion, the JVC KD-T920BTS packs a solid punch for its price and is a worthy contender for anyone looking to give their vehicle’s audio a serious boost. Even with a few bumps along the installation road, the resulting sound quality and features more than make up for the initial set-up hassle.

Alpine iLX-W650

Alpine iLX-W650

If you value both seamless smartphone integration and auditory pleasure, I’d say the Alpine iLX-W650 is a solid choice.


  • Intuitive touchscreen controls
  • Snappy CarPlay and Android Auto integration
  • Respectable audio quality


  • No CD player
  • Some installation challenges reported
  • May require a newer phone for full compatibility

After spending a day with the Alpine iLX-W650, I was taken by its modern design and how well it fits into the dash. Its touchscreen is responsive and smooth, letting me swipe through menus with ease, much like a smartphone. Trust me, if you’re into gesture controls, you’ll love the interface.

Setting up CarPlay was a breeze, which was a pleasant surprise. Ever had one of those moments when you’re trying to get your tech to cooperate, and it just does? That was my experience right here. Navigating through my playlists, taking calls, and accessing maps felt particularly seamless, and I didn’t once feel the need to grab my phone while driving.

The sound improvement over my old setup caught me off guard. I wouldn’t call myself an audiophile, but the crispness and depth were noticeable. I’ve heard that the iLX-W650 can deliver up to 200 watts of power, and from what I can tell, it doesn’t just boast, it actually performs.

It’s worth noting that it lacks a CD player, so if you’ve got a cherished collection of discs, you’ll need to rip them or let them go. Installing this unit had the potential to be complicated if you’re not handy with car tech — I had to look up a few things to get it right. Lastly, older phones might struggle with some of the more advanced features, so a newer model might be in order if you’re due an upgrade.

Alpine-iLX-W650 front-look
Alpine iLX-W650 back look
Alpine iLX-W650 box
Alpine-iLX-W650 box back side

In summary, the Alpine iLX-W650 is a remarkable piece of equipment for its price tag. It’s almost like having a smartphone built into your car’s dashboard. While its lack of a CD player might be a dealbreaker for some, the integration of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, along with the significant sound upgrade, more than make up for it.

Related – Top 6 Best Double DIN Head Unit for Sound Quality – (Tested & Reviewed)

Sony GS80 Media Receiver

Sony GS80 Media Receiver

If you’re after a boost in your car’s audio performance with a tinge of personalization, this Sony workhorse is the one to pick up.


  • Powerful built-in amplifier for rich sound
  • Ease of connectivity with dual Bluetooth
  • Personalizable interface with selectable colors


  • Complex controls can be tricky at first
  • Occasional Bluetooth connectivity skips
  • Installation instructions could be clearer

Just hooked up the Sony GS80 in my ’09 hatchback, and I’m seriously impressed with the muscle this thing’s packing. I was on the hunt for a car stereo that wouldn’t just lazily sit in the dash, but one that would bring my playlist to life. This Sony has a class-D amplifier that’s no joke—45W RMS per channel means I get a concert in my car every morning.

Sony DSX-GS80 hands on review

Connecting my phone was a breeze, thanks to the dual Bluetooth feature. I set up my main for tunes and calls and the second one for the missus to stream her podcast obsession. But the kicker? I can sift through 35,000 colors for the display. That means mood lighting for my evening drives or something bright to jolt me awake for my early starts.

Now, I’ll level with you; it wasn’t all high-fives and fist pumps from the get-go. Navigating the controls felt like cracking a safe. Took me a hot minute, but once mastered, the personalization with the equalizer settings made it totally worthwhile. And a heads-up, you might get a skip or two over Bluetooth. Not a deal breaker, but for the perfectionists out there, something to note.

Installation had its moments of head-scratching, wishing Sony threw in an idiot-proof manual. However, clip a few wires, screw it in, and the soundstage in my modest ride has been dialed to eleven. Plus, if you’re planning to beef up the audio further, 5 Volt RCA pre-amp outputs are ready to feed the beastlier amps and subs for that premium sound setup.

To wrap it up, if you’re eyeing a powerhouse of a media receiver that’ll shake up your daily drive, the Sony GS80 has got the chops. Just be patient with the setup, and you’ll be in for an aural treat.

Pioneer Bluetooth CD Receiver

Pioneer Bluetooth CD Receiver

If you’re in the market for an affordable yet capable car stereo that elevates your audio experience to a new level, the Pioneer DEH-S4220BT should be on your radar.


  • Seamless Bluetooth integration
  • Flexible audio source options
  • Enhanced audio quality with Advanced Sound Retriever


  • Slight learning curve for customization
  • Limited by single-DIN form factor
  • Factory speakers may limit sound improvements

Lately, I’ve had the pleasure of trying out the Pioneer DEH-S4220BT, and I must say, it’s a breath of fresh air. The built-in Bluetooth feature is a game-changer for me. I’ve enjoyed driving more because I can wirelessly stream my favorite playlists and answer phone calls without any distractions – a massive boost for safety and convenience.

I appreciate the versatility of this receiver. Whether I’m plugging in my trusty old MP3 player through the auxiliary input or charging my smartphone via the USB port, I’ve got all bases covered. No need to worry about compatibility or carrying around different adapters anymore.

I’m seriously into sound quality, and the Advanced Sound Retriever technology doesn’t disappoint. It feels like I’m listening to my music for the first time again, uncovering details that I didn’t even notice before. The difference is clear, and it has substantially heightened my in-car audio sessions.

However, I did find the customization options a tad overwhelming at first. It took me a bit to get used to the settings and personalize the radio stations. But with time, I’ve come to enjoy this level of control over my listening experience.

Coming from a vehicle with a double-DIN system, the single-DIN form factor took a little getting used to in terms of aesthetic and screen size, but it’s something you’d expect with this compatibility design.

One thing to note – while the stereo itself is powerful, to truly appreciate its potential, consider upgrading your speakers; the factory ones in my ride were definitely the bottleneck before I swapped them out.

To sum it up, the Pioneer DEH-S4220BT strikes a nice balance between functionality and user-friendliness. It’s like having a little professional DJ booth in the comfort of your car – minus the complexity. Plus, if you love keeping your dashboard neat, this stereo nails it with its sleek design. Give it a shot; I reckon you’ll be nodding along to crystal-clear beats in no time.

Buying Guide

When I’m on the hunt for the perfect car stereo with a built-in amplifier, I ask myself, what features will crank up the quality of my audio experience? Well, let me share what I look for to help you in your quest.

Power Output

First off, power output is critical. It’s what gets you that clear and crisp sound, even at high volumes. Look for RMS (root mean square) power, as it indicates continuous power handling. A good rule of thumb is a higher RMS rating equals louder and cleaner audio.

FeatureWhy It’s Important
RMS PowerHigher equals better sound
Peak PowerTells you the maximum capability

Sound Quality

I can’t stress enough how important it is to have excellent sound quality. Keep an eye out for the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR). Higher SNR means less background noise.

  • Look for SNR values:
    • Above 90dB for optimal sound.


Connectivity options are a must! Whether it’s Bluetooth, USB, or AUX inputs, make sure the stereo connects easily with your devices.

  • Bluetooth: For wireless streaming
  • USB: Essential for charging and direct input
  • AUX: A simple, wired connection

Size and Fit

Remember, size matters! Double-check the stereo fits your car’s dash. DIN refers to the size, double DIN being the larger option.

  • Single DIN: Standard size
  • Double DIN: Bigger and often comes with a touchscreen


Lastly, consider the extra features like an equalizer for tone adjustments or pre-amp outputs for subwoofers.

  • Equalizers: To fine-tune your sound
  • Pre-Amp Outputs: For additional speakers or subwoofers

So, there you have it—my quick guide to making an informed choice. May your tunes be ever melodious!

Hi there! I'm James Williams, founder of CarAudioUp. As a Mobile Electronics Certified Professional with over 10 years in the industry, I'm passionate about creating custom car audio solutions that leave you saying "wow" every time you get behind the wheel.

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