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Tech Terms Demystified: DIN and Double-DIN

DIN and double-DIN are  terms you hear thrown about all the time by car installers. They're used to describe what size radio will fit into a particular dashboard opening, but I've never heard an expanation of what DIN actually stood for. I decided to look it up.

Here's an interesting bit of trivia to whip out at the office Christmas party: your car's radio size is controlled by the Germans. More specifically, it's controlled by the Deutsches Institut fur Normung (DIN), A.K.A. the German Institute for Standardization. It's a non-profit organization that goes way back: they've been developing the norms and standards commonly used in all sorts of industries since 1917.

ISO 7736 is the international standard that defines car audio head units, also known as DIN 75490, or "DIN car radio size". It measures the panel length x the panel height (head unit depth can vary). These measurements were adopted as the international standard in 1984, and continue to this day.

A single DIN head unit measures  7"W x 2"H. A double DIN head unit measures 7"W x 4"H. In other words, a double-DIN head unit is twice as tall as a standard-size aftermarket head unit. Most aftermarket head units will be either single or double DIN. There's a third type - the DIN-and-a-half - which is commonly seen in some factory head units. It's simply a 3" high receiver.

Single DIN head units typically contain a radio tuner and a CD player or DVD player with a slide out screen, while double DIN headunits, with their built-in viewing screens,  commonly include DVD players and navigation.

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