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Video: Tips to avoid glare on your car stereo display

Bright glare on the stereo display has plagued us for as long as we've had the sun and car stereos. Sometimes there's just nothing you can do about it. But sometimes there is. At Crutchfield, we've found that there are some stereo features that can definitely help, like being able to change the display color, increasing the brightness and contrast, and best of all, being able to tilt the display to remove the glare. Check out our examination of the "glare problem" in this video, and keep these things in mind when shopping for a new car receiver.

  • Bill from Sarasota

    Posted on 3/22/2021

    Kenwood dmx9707s, worst consumer product I've ever purchased. I was fixated on wireless car play and was advised to install this unit. Totally useless in daylight, found myself choosing to drive with convertible top up in nice weather here in Florida to attempt by shading screen with hand to see incoming calls maps ways etc. I'm against more gov. Controls but this should be investigated (did all stereo manufactures get together and decide they could all save a buck in aftermarket?) Need recall like other auto safety problems with autos.

  • David Messing from Nebraska City

    Posted on 2/25/2021

    Pioneer DEH-S4220BT is an awesome sounding radio. The display is set to full brightness, but is not bright enough for sunlight in the car.

  • John Farrell

    Posted on 1/3/2021

    Same issue with my Kenwood. Would not recommend.

  • Curt from Napa, CA

    Posted on 4/28/2020

    Amazing! Same problem with my Pioneer AVH-2400NEX receiver. Total junk in the sunlight.... from ANY angle. It has a very adjustable screen. It also has a back-up camera that becomes useless in the daylight; and it doesn't take much. I find it it incredible that an entire industry has gone down this same rabbit hole with their displays. Incredibly nice unit otherwise; but no good in the daylight!

  • Jim from Loveland CO

    Posted on 1/15/2020

    Just added a Alpine HALO type radio to my new Acadia. And yes, it looked great in the showroom but when I drove it home in daylight after the install I could barley see the display from the drivers side. The 9" display was too washed out. It does have tilt and vertical adjustments but you can't stop the light from all angles. Ha, you may have to go spend $$$ to get your window tinted. It's not a very good display!

  • Joel from Denver

    Posted on 1/7/2020

    To me, the problem is that all head units that don't have an LCD display, have a glossy clear plastic cover over the display that is highly reflective. This was not the case with units from the 80's which were more readable in sunlight. Until this 'fashion' goes away, we are stuck with poor visibility in sunlight. Seems like another example of 'form over function'.

  • Rick A from San Antonio

    Posted on 12/5/2019

    will glare guard visors work? Does crutchfield sell them?

    Commenter image

    Ken Nail from Crutchfield

    on 12/6/2019

    Thanks for your question Rick. I'm afraid we don't sell glare guard visors, and I don't have any experience with them. You may want to check the reviews for any of the products you're interested in and see if they address that issue.
  • Pablo from QB

    Posted on 9/23/2019

    Pure BS. You're not going to see jack in daylight conditions. The factory display in my 2014 Civic is way, way better. What about a glare-reducing film.

  • Jason W. from Fergus Falls

    Posted on 5/28/2019

    I also have recently installed a Kenwood DMX7705S and it is not bright enough nor are there any controls for changing the overall brightness. The OEM unit it replaced was 100 times brighter and adjustable. Given it seems to be a common issue I can't fathom why they have not figure this out by now.

    Commenter image

    Ken Nail from Crutchfield

    on 5/29/2019

    Hi Jason, There are controls available on your Kenwood for adjusting the brightness, contrast, black level, backlight, color, and tint of your Kenwood's display. I won't guarantee you'll get the brightness level you're looking for, but hopefully you can get it closer to where you'd like it. You can find the directions for adjusting the display at this link:
  • Ronnie from Salinas

    Posted on 3/12/2019

    First day with my Kenwood DMX7705S, and I have to say the glare is horrible! I've even thought about returning the unit, but after reading some of these comments I guess it's every headunit. I'm going to mess around with the angle, but I already tried this yesterday. It's a shame the manufacturers have not come up to an answer for this.

  • Rodney from Apache Junction, AZ

    Posted on 3/2/2019

    Sad thing is stereo's from 10 to 15 years ago you could easily read the display in the sunlight. I have an old Sony CDX-GT300 that was released in 2005 that I can easily read in my convertible on any day in any direction of traffic, and I live in Arizona. You don't get much more or brighter sun than we get. The old displays had a backlight display, on mine it's kind of a blue color with white text. I have tried various other new decks in our other convertible and none of the new decks you can see as clearly as something from 14 years ago, how sad is that. If you have a convertible you can check out the marine decks which typically have a white backlight and black text because guess what the marine engineers must realize there is this thing call sunshine and glare. Granted you pay more for less features with a marine deck but at least you should be able to read it. So sad the crew at Crutchfield can't figure this out and take the time to test some decks in an outdoor type setting instead of the store.

  • Rick Holcombe from Atlanta

    Posted on 10/8/2018

    Is there a Double-din receiver with an IPS display versus TFT? My existing aftermarket stereo, a Kenwood ddx373BT, is unreadable with the convertible top down, unless the sun is directly ahead of me. I have heard that IPS displays are much brighter and have better viewing angles than an active matrix TFT display. (Mercedes- CLK550)

    Commenter image

    Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    on 10/12/2018

    Rick, IPS is currently not an option for the stereos we carry. I've passed your question along to our team of Advisors. Someone will contact you soon to help you find a stereo with improved brightness.
  • Charles Coogler from Thomaston

    Posted on 5/16/2018

    A great idea to be able to see the display in bright light is to be able to change the backlight to white.

  • Lee from Philadelphia

    Posted on 2/22/2018

    I have a DDX374BT purchased from crutchfield last spring and its useless in the sun. None of the brightness adjustments help and its a non-adjustable screen. It's absurd to me that I purchased a $250 radio that I can't see in daylight. Who only drives at night?

  • thomas Stezelberger from sacramento

    Posted on 2/10/2018

    I have a pioneer 5700 HD bought in 2015 very much like the deh-8800bhs, and all other single din pioneers still being sold. No offense, but the video is a joke. It is nothing like what you deal with in sunlight with a tan colored interior in real world sun. Why is the factory green digital display, on my stock 1993 and 1998 Bose head units, able to clearly be seen in 10x the sunlight that washes out the green display on current 2018 pioneer head unit? They shouldn't even sell a car radio with a display like that. The dumbest thing with many of the Pioneers, the buttons are brighter than the display! With the brightness turned up to 10, and the same shade green adjusted to match the factory Bose radio, the pioneer headunit can't be seen in anywhere near the intensity of sunlight as the 25 and 20 yr old Bose head units. We can put a man on the moon, but........ You guys at Cruchfield know exactly what I'm talking about. The video above is very misleading giving 90% of people false hope and should be removed. I had a top line Sony Explod with a full fold down face back in 2005/2006, the white display was retina searing and could be seen in most direct sunlight. Pioneer should recess the digital display into the unit more, and make a quality product that can handle the display being turned up brighter. The technology is out there. It is just that the manufacturers have to make this stuff cheap because the car stereo industry is not as profitable anymore.

  • Drew from Las Vegas

    Posted on 11/14/2017

    Don't purchase a Pioneer DEH-8800BHS if you want to avoid glare. Imposable to see during the day. Plus there has to be a way to disable the emergency alerts. I get them daily in Las Vegas. Sometimes several in a fifteen minute ride. My wife refuses to use the radio. I will never purchase a Pioneer again.

  • Commenter image

    Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 10/16/2017

    Michael, I contacted our Car Audio buyer for the best answer and he tells me that no vendor does this demonstrably better in this category. Kenwood has improved their displays but it's not perfect for everyone. Depending on the dash, angle, and install, results can vary. The only thing that is notably better are our Single Din receivers focused on ATV, Powersports, and Marine. They have a white background/black letter display which is easy to read. We haven't seen that design come to current Double Dins, however, and the only other option would be to go with a touchscreen which would be a different category and price point usually. Regarding a product that might help with glare: 3M has a universal rectangle that can be cut to fit a radio display with some success; however, we don't see any options from them to be custom made to our radio displays.

  • Michael from Knoxville

    Posted on 10/11/2017

    I have a Pioneer FH-X820BS, probably similar to Roberto's 730, and like him I cannot see the display in the sunlight. The brightness is all the way up, and I'm using the brightest color it has to offer, so I don't know what to do either. Spending money on a new head unit is not an option for me at this time. Alexander Hrabe, thanks for your replies on this topic. It's always good to know someones cares enough to listen and reply :). I was wondering if Crutchfiled does not carry an add-on product like Mark described because y'all have not looked, or have not found one that works to your standards of quality? Also, is there a brand or brands (or a certain subsection or series of a brand) that typically do better in sunlight? I have read on here that Kenwood seems to be one of the worst brands for this problem.

  • Commenter image

    Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 10/9/2017

    Roberto, if you haven't adjusted the brightness (1-10) of the head unit's display already, you may want to select a different color to see if that might make a difference. Unfortunately, this is a common complaint with this style of head unit (hence our tips in the video).

  • Commenter image

    Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 10/9/2017

    Mark, we don't carry an add-on product like you describe, but if you haven't already you may want to adjust the angle of the screen. The bottom of the touchscreen monitor can be tilted upward at six different positions to provide the best visibility in your vehicle (you can save any one of these positions to the head unit's memory).

  • Mark from North Babylon

    Posted on 10/7/2017

    I have a Kenwood DNX893S, the glare coming from the passenger window can blank out the screen completely on a sunny day. Window tint in NY is outlawed. Is there any product to put on the screen? Any suggestion would help.

  • Roberto Lopez from Miami

    Posted on 10/6/2017

    i got Pioneer FH-X730BS and i dont see the display at all during day light . My brightness is all the way to the max . I dont know what alse to do....

  • John Daugherty from Buffalo Grove

    Posted on 7/14/2017

    I can't believe you wasted the time on this video with generalizations and no recommendation for any particular brand or model that allows you to see clearly. I have a Pioneer DEH-X6900BT which is completely worthless.

  • Patrico

    Posted on 6/11/2017

    I hate my Kenwood DDX99035. The screen is to dull to see in daytime. Dealer says my. 2010 Honda Civic EX dash is too curved backwards for tilt to pull out far enough to stop reflection. My iphone placed beside that piece of crap Kenwood is 10 times brighter. I would tell all you guys to think twice before you buy any Kenwood junk.

  • Tommyz from Corning,NY

    Posted on 5/25/2017

    I have a JVC KW-V220BT in my convertible 350z. The bright setting is really bright, but with the top down in full sun I cant see a thing. Have you tried any anti-glare screens or anything?

  • Commenter image

    Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 5/15/2017

    Ron, valid point. In response to observations like yours, Kenwood has improved the display on current models of their single-DIN stereos to address this glare issue. Also, it's worth noting that how much glare you have to deal with depends on where your stereo is mounted in the dash. Higher on the dash means a much greater chance for glare. The best way to avoid it is a stereo that has multiple viewing angles for the display.

  • Ron

    Posted on 5/8/2017

    Waste of money!! If you drive at night it's fine but who does that. Paid good money to have it installed and can't see a thing. I guess Kenwood doesn't care!! I would try another brand.

  • gb from bangor

    Posted on 4/23/2017

    Your video was good for some applications, but the problem I am seeing is the display on a sunny day is just too dim to see. I have the KDC-BT765HD. It seems a little better than the KMM-BT515HD but still bad. I was scanning for channels and couldn't see the display to tell when I started over the same channels again. I returned a KMM-BT515HD I purchased and drove from NC to FL. I couldn't see the display no matter what angle, color or brightness. I have Kenwood ham radios with the LCD and have no problem seeing them. I would be extremely happy with the LED on the JVC HD single din you demonstrated, but I suspect it looked good more because on the light source you chose as opposed to the sun. You cannot use a bright light to simulate the sun. The frequencies that make up the light are different. Try looking at it in the car dash on a sunny day while driving 80mph on the interstate. Kenwood has made a product that is a danger to drivers on the road.

  • Sean Miceli from Palatine

    Posted on 4/17/2017

    That's the only thing that dissapointed me about the ddx794 is the glare, I was hoping since it was led back lit that it would eliminate it.. samsung needs to make screens for all these headunits

  • Denby Smith from Mansfield, Ohio

    Posted on 12/2/2016

    I am totally disgusted with my Kenwood Excelon KDC-x599. I can't see a thing in daylight. It started malfunctioning months ago. It stopped working today. (12/1/16). I purchased it and got it 8/15/2015 8/17/2015. I have had a ton of after market stereos from 1975 till now. Nothing has been as lousy as this. This stereo isn't worth having. The glare issue is annoying and appears to be in other brands too. I am disgusted that the makers know and don't give a darn. Tech support here was great with installation. Too bad the product is junk

  • Chris from Burbank

    Posted on 11/20/2016

    Why not aim the reflective surface of the plastic front window so your eyes see a reflection of the ceiling of the car? Instead of the sun bouncing off the passenger seat? I'm talking to YOU Kenwood. And make that reflective surface slightly concave instead of convex so it's not reflecting the ENTIRE PASSENGER SEAT INTO MY EYES.

  • freep from Bayfield CO

    Posted on 5/6/2016

    Why not a shade visor as is used on GPS units? How hard could it be? What could possilby go wrong?

  • AJ Jenkins from Richmond

    Posted on 4/28/2016

    I still do not understand why car stereo manufacturers do not recess the display on their head units and include a wired trackpad. It is a no brainer! Whoever decides to do that should patent it. Glare is the number 1 factor that makes high dollar stereos useless and manufacturers just continue to ignore it.

  • Arun singh from Simpsonville

    Posted on 4/26/2016

    My brightness is on max on my pioneer double din and it still has a big glare

  • jay from mobile

    Posted on 2/6/2016

    This helped my JVC kw-v51bt thanks a lot.

  • paul from ireland

    Posted on 1/14/2016

    your tips where great and solved my problem with my landcruiser sun glare on my kenwood unit ,thank you ,rgs paul