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Lightning Audio LA-1000

Digital media receiver

26 Reviews | 6 questions - 16 answers

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Item # 495LA1000

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Our take on the Lightning Audio LA-1000

You'd like to replace your old radio with a new car stereo that'll play all the music you've stored in your portable player, but you're on a budget. Lightning Audio's LA-1000 digital media receiver offers plenty of connections for your media, along with an easy-to-read display. On its front panel, you'll find a USB port for plugging in a thumb drive full of music, along with a mini-jack plug for most other audio sources. You can also slide an SD card loaded with music into the slot located behind the face.

Keep it simple

You'd like to replace your old radio with a new car stereo that'll play all the music you've stored in your portable player, but you're on a budget. Lightning Audio's LA-1000 digital media receiver offers plenty of connections for your media, along with an easy-to-read display. On its front panel, you'll find a USB port for plugging in a thumb drive full of music, along with a mini-jack plug for most other audio sources. You can also slide an SD card loaded with music into the slot located behind the face.

Old school

If you listen to AM/FM radio, you'll appreciate the six preset buttons on the driver's side of the control panel. The big volume knob comes in handy when you're trying to keep your eyes on the road, and Lightning Audio includes a wireless remote for your passengers. The 3-band equalizer is helpful when you're trying to make quick adjustments from one artist to the next. You can detach the front panel for a little extra peace of mind when you park on the wrong side of town.

This digital media receiver will not play CDs. If you want to play CDs in your vehicle, we offer a wide selection of CD receivers.

Product Highlights:

    General features:
    • digital media receiver with AM/FM tuner (does not play CDs)
    • detachable face with single-line display and blue button illumination
    • plays MP3 and WMA music files
    • built-in amplifier (22 watts RMS/50 peak x 4 channels)
    • remote control
    Audio features:
    • 3-band equalizer with 4 presets curves (1 user-adjustable curve)
    • inputs: front USB port (no iPod control), front auxiliary input, SD card slot
    • outputs: 3-channel preamp outputs (rear, mono sub)
    Other features and specs:

    What's in the Box:

    • Digital media receiver (10A fuse installed)
    • Detachable face (attached)
    • Trim ring (installed)
    • Sleeve (installed)
    • Power harness
    • Speaker harness
    • Remote control
    • CR2025 3V battery
    • 2 ISO-screws
    • 2 Removal keys
    • Mounting backstrap
    • Mounting screw
    • Flat washer
    • Lock washer
    • Hex-nut
    • Cloth carrying pouch
    • Owner's Manual

    Low cost, easy install (Crutchfield is way awesome about this), takes an SD card which is better than a CD changer.

    Mister Boo, Iowa


    Lightning Audio LA-1000 Reviews

    Average Customer Review(s):

    (26 Reviews)

    Great Budget Unit

    Mister Boo from Iowa on 7/1/2015

    1996 Chevrolet K Series
    Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

    Low cost, easy install (Crutchfield is way awesome about this), takes an SD card which is better than a CD changer.

    Pros: SD card, USB slot, Aux input, very good price.

    Cons: None yet.


    John from Nevada on 6/23/2015

    1991 Nissan Hardbody
    Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

    Works great for the cheapest option. USB drive is amazing. The blue lights are way too bright though!! and no way to dim them and hard to cover up with electrical tape.

    Pros: USB

    Cons: Too bright, kinda a lot of steps to turn "Loud" on and off.

    Lighting Audio Radio

    Anonymous from Lincoln, Al on 6/3/2015

    1988 Chevrolet Cheyenne
    Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

    This is a solid radio that anyone can buy and use. I was really impressed with the way Crutchfield packaged the radio and accessories. This is a well put together radio and the instructions to install the radio were great. Really good radio, sound quality was more heard through this radio then my factor radio. Great deal too.




    wkj from Beaufort, SC on 5/19/2015

    1996 Geo Tracker
    Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

    For the money, the best car radio I have ever purchased. Toting CD's is a thing of the past. I now carry all the music I love on a thumb drive or SD card.

    Pros: Easy to install, looks and sounds great!

    Cons: None

    Pretty decent for the $

    Catmomma from Michigan on 4/27/2015

    1991 Ford Escort LX
    Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

    Good sound



    Great price & service

    JR from Texas on 4/25/2015

    2004 Mazda Tribute
    Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

    i was replacing the factory radio/CD/Cassette that gave up the ghost. Had to make one tech call on a Sunday that was quickly resolved. This unit had a USB, AUX and for me a bonus SD Slot. My only regret was I should have spent a few bucks more and got one that would play iTunes music files. Now I have to convert my iTunes play lists to MP3 to play in the unit.

    Pros: Price, install kit and tech support

    Cons: wife says her AM station comes in shaky....

    Great Audio System!

    Brian from Kennesaw, Georgia on 4/11/2015

    1997 Ford Expedition
    Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

    This is a great audio system for anyone looking for a tight budget stereo. I installed this to my 1997 Ford Expedition and it fit great! It came with everything you need to install and the features are goo . Idk why some people complain about the Dim lighting? Its not to bright nor to lo . Recommended for anyone on a tight budget that doesn't want to over spend on a stereo

    Pros: Sounds like a new car system. Good looking style

    Cons: Non

    Lightning Audio LA-1000

    LuckP from Florida on 4/9/2015

    2005 Honda Accord LX
    Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

    Has a variety of features which make customizing it awesome but doesn't really provide any technology to blow you away but is very dependable and great appearance.



    Good radio for the price

    dale from California on 3/24/2015

    2001 Porsche Boxster
    Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

    This radio fit my car with a little modification to the mounting area. The radio sounds way better than the OEM head that came in the car. It is very easy to operate and pretty intuitive as far as setting it up and using it.

    Pros: Price, USB slot, SD card slot, good reception.

    Cons: I did need to grind away about 1/8 inch around the mounting area to have it fit, but that is not the radio's fault. Also the installation instructions are way too brief and non specific to my car. Crutchfield sent adapters I didn't need and some I had to modify to use with my car.


    Grizzly from Florida on 3/8/2015

    1995 Chevrolet Tahoe
    Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

    Works awesome, sounds awesome. I used to have lightning audio 12's way back and they were awesome. Love this product!!!!!!!!



    Okay so far

    JC from Minnesota on 3/4/2015

    2001 Ford F-150
    Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

    I've only had the stereo installed for a week so I can't get to in depth yet. Installation was a little frustrating. The unit came with a wiring harness adapter that hooked up to one of the harnesses in my F150. The trouble is that there was only one adapter but my old stereo had two wiring harnesses connected to it so I was confused about the instructions that were emailed to me. They were supposed to be vehicle specific but didn't mention that I could just ignore the second harness. If they had said this up front, it would have saved me a little frustration. Once I figured that out, the install was relatively straight forward. So far the stereo sounds pretty good even though I still have my original speakers installed. I really just bought this so I could hook up my cell phone and listen to audio books and it does that pretty well.

    Pros: 1. Great stereo for the price 2. Relatively easy install 3. More features than my old OEM stereo.

    Cons: 1. The plastic that covers the screen is overly reflective so it makes it hard to see the display. 2. The display could be brighter or have a brightness control. 3. The display doesn't stay on the clock or return to the clock automatically once you adjust the channel or the volume. 4. There's an annoying buzzing/hum when you try to charge your phone and listen to music or audiobooks at the same time.

    Good quality

    Michael from Massachusetts on 1/20/2015

    2008 Pontiac Grand Prix
    Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

    Good sound qualityy could use some better instructions



    great deal

    doug from mn on 12/24/2014

    1998 Chevrolet S10
    Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

    great unit for the price,sounds great ,looks great

    Pros: the price

    Cons: none


    Thomas from Ash Flat AR on 7/11/2014

    2006 Chevrolet Silverado 1500
    Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

    Great stereo. Got the wiring kit and 20 min later was rocking out.

    Pros: Easy to operate, no complaints


    Great value!

    John G. from Montgomery AL on 5/25/2014

    1992 Plymouth Voyager
    Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

    Surprising sound and features in an economical package. Bought it for my oldest beater car but ended up putting it into my (slightly) newer daily driver. Makes even the old speakers in that car sound good. May be not up to an audiophile's highest expectations, but has the volume and the adjustability that I was hoping for. I did learn one lesson, as I have to now go buy an antenna extension cable to listen to the radio. That little hiccup aside, the SD card and the USB thumbdrive inputs provide all kinds of sources for tunes! I notice some reviewers talk about the clock. I don't care, a quick look at my left wrist shows the correct time each and every time - not a problem!



    Not if you need a clock!

    KEFL from Indian Head, MD on 4/30/2014

    2005 Chevrolet Equinox
    Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

    The stereo has a good sound, good look, and installation was pretty easy (even for this mom of 4!). The problem I had with it was the clock. I know a clock isn't a big deal for some people, but as a mom, I need to be able to glance and see the time to help keep my day on schedule. Every other memory function worked (ie: presets, volume control, eq,) except the clock. I triple checked my wiring and there was nothing wrong with that, and even used the reset to make sure I had a "clean slate" when I tried again. Crutchfield was great and sent me out a replacement LA-1000, but that one had the same problem. Both will be going back and I will be trying another brand.

    Pros: Good sound, nice basic radio, easy install

    Cons: Something weird with the clock! I need a functional clock on my stereo. If you don't care about the time being shown on the stereo, then this could be a good option.

    Great Unit

    Lou from Waco, GA on 4/7/2014

    2005 Chevrolet Silverado 1500
    Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

    This is a great head unit. I install it quickly with the help of your team instructions. It has a great sound with many features. Other reviews said the radio reception was weak but my reception was fantastic. I love the ability to install a SDHC card internally. My complete install was around $100 where as a Shop wanted over $300 for the same job. Crutchfield is the only way to go.

    Pros: Sound, Value, Hidden SDHC card, Easy Install.

    Cons: The clock is hard to set.

    Exceptional factory replacement

    Bob from Omerha, ne on 4/1/2014

    1995 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera
    Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

    Exceptional value

    Pros: Easy to install

    Cons: Looking back, could have used bluetooth

    Lightning Audio LA-1000

    Anonymous from Bellefonte, PA on 3/22/2014

    1994 Honda Accord EX
    Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

    I was looking to "go digital" with my music rather than carry stacks and stacks of CDs around in my visors, and this unit was the perfect solution for me.

    Pros: Excellent bang for your buck. Sound quality is quite acceptable, even through factory speakers.

    Cons: Removable face plate can be tricky to remove...I stopped taking it off after two days.


    Ed from Tx on 3/18/2014

    2007 Toyota Corolla
    Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

    This is a barely OK player. Reception is not great but that possibly is an antenna issue. There seems to be small skips when playing from a USB. Difficult to select songs from USB. Next time I'll spend a little more for better quality.



    Great for what it is.

    Jay from Houston, TX on 3/14/2014

    2005 Mazda Tribute
    Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

    This little unit sounds great and does what its supposed to. I bought it for my fiance, her car doesnt have auxiliary input, easy to install, instructions were dead on. I also got 4 new speakers for her and her car sounds awesome. Cant beat the price here.

    Pros: Easy to install and cheap.

    Cons: Hard to set clock

    Lightning Audio LA-1000

    Cory Y from Westville, IN on 12/8/2013

    1997 GMC Sonoma
    Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

    Installed in a 97 GMC Sonoma, first time messing with any kind of car audio. Was packaged in an organized fashion with good instructions, wires were already stripped which was nice. The entire installation, from taking it out of the box to listening to it in my truck took maybe 2 hours; the time it took to learn to take my dash apart, wire crimping, and installing with the kit I ordered with it. Everything fits nicely and it sounds great with my iPod Touch.

    Pros: Looks Nice Easy Install Standard Sound Tuning Options Just What I Needed - Simple and Works Great

    Cons: The Knob is a little bit sensitive, when tuning bass/treb/volume etc. I found myself having to be a bit more careful then I would have liked, but alas it's nothing to worry about.

    Lighting Audio LA-1000

    RobertR from Tucson AZ on 12/6/2013

    1993 Jeep Wrangler
    Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

    Over all not a bad receiver the only thing that really bring it down is the receivers sensitivity, the reception is horrible it says 40db in the specs and I frankly thought that was a typo, but it does suck. consider that lower is better with most other receivers in the 9db range and you will understand how poor the reception is.

    Pros: SD card ability is handy for off road vehicles where the constant jarring and dust eats optical drives

    Cons: Receivers AM/FM reception is horrible

    Lightning Audio LA-1000

    Anonymous from hesperia ca on 10/19/2013

    2006 Ford F-150
    Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

    Good for the price



    Not enough Info

    Joe from Charleston, SC on 9/27/2013

    2004 Ford Explorer
    Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

    Good radio.

    Pros: Better sound quality than the stock radio.

    Cons: For a clueless radio buyer this item looks great until you want to plug your ipod into it. It needs to be made clear that the radio does NOT support Apple product via USB. Very disappointed!

    Lightning Audio LA-1000

    david from West Yellowstone, MT on 9/25/2013

    1992 Toyota Pickup
    Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

    Products were good. I was disappointed you didn't send me any info of how to install it. I had to search online for info of taking the dash apart in my truck.




    Hands-on research

    Features and Specs

    AUX Input Front
    Audio/video Input ---
    USB Input Front
    CarPlay No
    Android Auto No
    Siri Control No
    Android Control Yes
    Memory Card Slot USB, SD/SDHC
    Bluetooth Compatible No
    Satellite Radio Ready No
    HD Radio No
    Navigation ---
    iPod Compatibility
    Full size N/A
    Nano N/A
    Touch N/A
    iPhone N/A
    RMS Power (CTA-2006) N/A
    RMS Power (Manufacturer) ---
    Peak Output 50 watts
    RMS Power Bandwidth 20-20kHz
    Preamp Outputs 3-channel
    Sub Preamp Outputs Yes
    Switchable Rear Preamp Outputs No
    Video Screen No
    Preamp Voltage 1.2 volts
    Display Color White/Black
    Key Button Color Blue
    EQ Bands 3
    Wireless Remote Yes
    Steering Wheel Control Compatible No
    Parts Warranty 1 Year
    Labor Warranty 1 Year
    FM Sensitivity 40 dBf
    European Tuning Yes
    Seek/Scan Seek
    Radio Data System Yes

    Product Research

    Digital Media + AUX Input
    Audio Section
    Tuner Functions
    Display Features
    Remote Control

    Digital Media + AUX Input

    Front-Panel USB Port: The Lightning Audio LA-1000 digital media receiver features a front-panel USB (type-A) port for connection of USB mass-storage class device; such as your Android smartphone, portable digital audio player, or USB thumbdrive. The USB port enables audio playback and control of MP3/WMA audio files (formatted in FAT 8/16/32) stored on a portable USB mass-storage class device. The head unit's USB connection provides 500mA of current to power and charge your connected USB mass storage class device when your vehicle's ignition switch is set to the 'ACC' or 'On' position.

    Note: You cannot connect a USB device via a USB hub or Multi-Card Reader to this unit. The front-panel USB port does not support Apple iPod/iPhone/iPad.

    Front-Panel SD-Card Slot: The LA-1000 digital media receiver is equipped with a front-panel SD-card slot which is hidden behind the unit's detachable face plate. The receiver's SD-card slot supports playback of MP3/WMA music (formatted in FAT 8/16/32) files loaded onto a SD/SDHC memory card (up to 32GB).

    Information Display: The LA-1000 will display your MP3/WMA's music file information (ID-3/WMA-tags); such as Track number, Elapsed playing time, Artist name, Song title, and Album label.

    Search Modes: The Lightning Audio LA-1000 digital media receiver offers Track Search, Character Search, and Directory Search modes to help you locate music files on your USB device or SD/SDHC card.

    • Track Search: You can enter the track number ("000") of a music file contained on a USB device or SD/SDHC memory card for direct access.
    • Character Search: You can search for your MP3/WMA music tracks alphabetically (A-Z) or numerically (0-9) by entering in a single character.
    • Directory Search: Directory Search displays a list of MP3/WMA folders and tracks on a connected USB memory device or SD/SDHC memory card, so you can scroll through your music.

    Playback Modes: In addition to Normal playback, you can select from Repeat and Random playback modes.

    • Repeat: Track Repeat (plays the current track repeatedly), Folder Repeat (plays all tracks of the current folder repeatedly), Off (cancels repeat function)
    • Random: All Random (plays all tracks at random), Off (cancels random function)

    Front-Panel Aux Input: A front-panel stereo minijack is provided to allow the connection of almost any portable audio source with a 3.5mm headphone output. Simply connect your portable digital music player to the unit's front-panel auxiliary input, and you can listen to the audio from the portable player through the speakers in your mobile audio system.

    Audio Section

    22W x 4CH Amplifier: The Lightning Audio LA-1000 digital media receiver employs a 22W x 4Ch RMS amplifier (50W x 4Ch Peak).

    3CH/1.2V RCA Outputs: The Lightning Audio LA-1000 is equipped with a pair of 1.2V front-channel RCA outputs and a single 1.2V mono-sub RCA output for connection of external amplifiers.

    3-Band EQ w/ 4 Presets: The LA-1000 offers 4 preset EQ modes (Flat/Classic/Rock/Pop), plus a User EQ mode. The User EQ mode lets you manually adjust the receiver's 3-band equalizer (bass/mid/treble).

    Programmable Turn-On Volume: You can set the head unit to turn-on to the last volume level adjustment when turned off, or turn-on to a pre-defined volume level (0-30) every time you power up the radio.

    Loudness: This function enhances low and high frequencies to make the sound clearer lower volumes.

    Key Beep: The in-dash head unit provides an audible beep to confirm button operation. This function can be turned On or Off.

    Tuner Functions

    AM/FM Tuner: The Lightning Audio LA-1000 features a built-in AM/FM tuner with manual, seek, and preset tuning.

    18 FM/12 AM Presets: You can store a total of 18 FM stations presets and 12 AM station presets, manually or automatically. 

    RDS: The Radio Data System (RDS) feature displays radio broadcast information such as artist, title, and album when listening to compatible AM/FM stations.

    Local Seek Mode: The unit's tuner also is equipped with a Seek mode that when used with the Local function, only allows radio stations with a strong local radio signals to be played.

    Mono Mode: If an analog FM stereo broadcast is hard to receive, you can manually switch the tuner to Mono operation. 

    US/European Tuning: You can set the built-in AM/FM tuner between US standard and European tuning spacing.

    Display Features

    Detachable Face: The Lightning Audio LA-1000 features a detachable face to deter theft (soft cloth pouch is included). An optional soft face case (142DFC1X, sold separately) can also be purchased for this unit.

    Single-Line LCD: The digital media receiver uses a single-line LCD with white text and black background.

    12/24 Hour Clock: You can set the unit to display a 12 or 24 hour clock.

    Remote Control

    IR Remote: The LA-1000 comes with an IR remote control for wireless operation of the digital media receiver.

    Our Product Research Team

    At Crutchfield, you'll get detailed, accurate information that's hard to find elsewhere. That's because we have our own in-house Product Research team. They verify what’s in the box, check the owner's manual, and record dimensions, features and specs. We stay on top of new products and technologies to help people make informed choices.

    Q & A

    Customer Q&A

    6 questions already asked

    You will want to contact an Advisor by phone (1-800-324-9695) or online chat to discuss compatibility with your factory system. They will be able to pull up your vehicle and see if this will integrate. If it does not, then they will also be able to discuss other options with you. [ Greg  Jun 20, 2015 ]  Staff
    yup....plug it in to the aux port and it would work. [ Robert  May 27, 2015 ]
    By using the aux input we have not been able to get the usb to work with a smartphone [ Hipolito  May 27, 2015 ]
    You would have to plug your smartphone into the LA 1000 with a cable. The unit does not have Blue Tooth [ JOSEPH P  May 27, 2015 ]
    Not that i know of, I never used pandora on this unit [ ARMANDO  May 27, 2015 ]
    You will want to contact an Advisor by phone (1-800-324-9695) or online chat to discuss compatibility with your factory system. They will be able to pull up your vehicle and see if this will integrate. If it does not, then they will also be able to discuss other options with you. [ Greg  Mar 26, 2015 ]  Staff
    Sorry i can't answer that, I returned this stereo for a different model before i received it [ ARMANDO  Mar 23, 2015 ]
    Yea it works fine. Not the fastest but it works if your playing music through your phone at the same time. It'll still charge fine either way. [ TYLER A  Mar 23, 2015 ]
    Honestly not really. And the mounting was a little difficult to figure out but for the price was a good little radio [ KYLE  Mar 23, 2015 ]
    NO it doesnt. [ PATRICK  Mar 23, 2015 ]
    It charges my Moto X (1st gen). The first time I plugged my phone in I was prompted to download an Kenwood app from the Google Play store. [ MICHAEL B  Mar 26, 2015 ]
    Hey Mark, I can't really say as that unit didn't last that long. I ended up buying something else...from Crutchfield of course. I bought 3 of the same for each of our vehicles and they work fine. They play cds, usb and connection for all the other stuffplus they aren't expensive. I'm at my computer and don't remember the model but if your interested let me know and i'll get the skinny. Hope this helps. Good luck. Dan [ Dan  Mar 23, 2015 ]
    Yes it does. [ REBECCA  Mar 23, 2015 ]
    I don't know, This is not the unit that i have. Thank you for asking [ ARMANDO  Aug 31, 2014 ]
    Yes, it has a dimmer. [ FRANCISCO A  Aug 31, 2014 ]
    No it does not. But it's not super bright. So not bad. A great radio for the price. [ KYLE  Aug 31, 2014 ]