Sony XAV-AX150 Review

Sony XAV-AX150

Is the Sony XAV-AX150 the best value Apple CarPlay and Android Auto radio for 2022?

Now more than ever, consumers can appreciate the great value of the Sony XAV-AX150. As we hurtle towards a dystopian new normal, consumers are waking up to the greater effects of high gas prices, limited resources compounded by the weakening dollar. Inflation has entangled its tentacles into nearly every facet of our lives. Car stereo is in no way immune to this ugly beast. In 2019, the best value Apple CarPlay and Android Auto stereo that I sold was the Alpine iLX-W650. Just 3 years ago, you got a lot for your money with the iLX-W650: 4 Volt pre-amp, glass capacitive touch screen, 9 band parametric EQ and more. That deck is a work horse and is still a staple product at our shop. Yet, in the past few years, we have seen the price of that model climb from $299.99 to $349.99 and then to $399.99. Next week it will be $449.99. Yikes!

Sony XAV AX150
Sony XAV-AX150 – Best value Apple CarPlay Android Auto 2022

In this day and age, deals are harder and harder to come by which is why I love the Sony XAV-AX150. When consumers are getting hammered by inflation everywhere in their lives, I love seeing a quality brand like Sony hang in there and continue to offer consumers an awesome value.

This deck is perfect for someone who has purchased an older vehicle and looking to upgrade the tech features. It’s extremely difficult to buy a new vehicle right now. So many of our clients are buying used (and paying dearly for it I might add). On top of the inflated used car price, they are spending additional cash up-fitting to add Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The Sony XAV-AX150 won’t be right for everyone, but it’s a perfect fit for anyone with a basic used vehicle simply looking to add modern features.

Why the Sony XAV-AX150 is awesome

This deck has a ton of great features for the money. It’s super easy to use and super reliable. What you see is what you get. You’re not paying extra for features you don’t want or need.

  • AM/FM Radio (NO SiriusXM compatibility)
  • Resistive touch screen
  • Bluetooth
  • Wired connection for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (rear USB)
  • Reverse camera compatible
  • Steering wheel control compatible
  • 10 Band EQ
  • Front, rear and subwoofer pre-amp (2 Volt – not the cleanest on the sub channel though)
  • Built in crossovers – adjustable HPF and LPF

This unit is mechless so no CD player. Although it is meant for double DIN ISO mount installation, the rear chassis is only single DIN which leaves you some room to work with in the dash in case your installation involves a large module to retain things like Onstar/Bose or steering wheel controls.

Sony XAV-AX150 - buttons on the lower lip.
Sony XAV-AX150 – mostly touch screen but with hard buttons on the lower lip

In addition to the 6.95″ touch screen, this unit also has a small lower lip with hard buttons. Here you find functions like Volume up/down, Track up/down, Home screen and an Option button which doubles up as a shortcut to source/audio settings OR as a voice activation button (press and hold to prompt Siri or Google Voice). You cannot rearrange the icons on the home screen, but I don’t see a need to – they are laid out in a nice logical, easy to see manner.

Sony XAV-AX150 background color options.
Sony XAV-AX150 different wallpaper options.

The bottom lip buttons will always illuminate in a neutral white tone. The background color can be changed, but you cannot upload your own. I don’t think the background color will matter for most clients as they are purchasing this unit for Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. These interfaces appear exactly the same regardless of what model radio you are using.

Sony XAV AX150 - Apple CarPlay Android Auto
Sony XAV AX150 – Apple CarPlay Android Auto

Who this deck is for

The Sony XAV-AX150 is perfect for anyone looking to upgrade an older basic vehicle with a name brand Apple CarPlay/Android Auto stereo that won’t break the bank. Examples of vehicles this would work well with include 2012 Honda Civic, 2013 Toyota Corolla, 2011 Subaru Legacy or a 2014 Chevy Express Van. Mostly older Japanese vehicles without integrated electronics or basic GM or Ford models without things like a rear seat entertainment system.

Sony XAV AX150 EQ section
Sony XAV AX150 EQ section

Who this deck is NOT for

I wouldn’t recommend the Sony XAV-AX150 for anyone looking to build a full aftermarket audio system with amplifiers. It does have a front, rear and subwoofer pre-amp, but it’s low voltage. Plus the signal on the sub channel is not clean. I measured it with an oscilloscope which you can see in the video. Regardless of volume level or sub level, the signal was not a uniform wave. There is definitely some distortion there, perhaps just harmonic distortion. Either way, between the low voltage pre-amp and funky sub level signal, it’s not an ideal deck to build a system with. It’s perfect for clients looking for a great value, easy to use, Apple CarPlay or Android Auto head unit for their older, used vehicle.

Additionally, I would not use this in any vehicle that would benefit from an iDatalink Maestro compatible radio. For example, I wouldn’t use it in a 2015 Silverado or 2016 Ford Edge or 2018 Ram Promaster. All of these vehicles have data flowing through the factory radio. In other words, the radio is part of the operating network in the car. In situations like that you’re best off using an ADS-MRR and iDatalink Maestro compatible radio to retain vehicle features, access to vehicle settings and in general keep information flowing through the network in the car. To check iDatalink Maestro compatibility, check out this product feature look up page where you can plug in your vehicle info and radio info to see what features would be lost or retained.

My only complaint

The only thing that is a bit quirky about the Sony XAV-AX150 is the way that Sony maps their steering wheel control functions. They sort of lump functions together. Although there is an option in the radio to remap these functions, I’ve had hit or miss results with that.

Best Apple CarPlay Stereo 2019 - Sony XAV-AX1000 Steering Wheel Control Functions
Example of Sony steering wheel control functions mapped out for a 2014 Wrangler

The default option for the “Source” button is a double function. Tap “Source” (or “Mode” on your steering wheel) to cycle between sources like Bluetooth, AM/FM Radio or CarPlay/Android Auto. If a call comes in, pressing “Source” rejects the call. If you have a “Phone” button that button does 3 functions: Voice activation or if a call is coming in it will be “Answer call” and when you want to end the call, you press the same button again. This means if your vehicle has a separate “Phone”, “Answer” and “Hang up” button, they will not function that way anymore. The “Phone” button, would do everything. Which is not a big deal, but it’s just something to keep in mind for finicky type A people like myself.

Sony XAV-AX150 Best Value CarPlay Android Auto stereo 2022

Current pricing on the XAV-AX150 ranges between $248.99 – $299.99 which is a great deal IF you can get your hands on one. No telling how long Sony will keep this model at that price. If you can find one and you’ve got an older, basic vehicle, this is a great option for anyone looking to upgrade their vehicle with modern technology at an uninflated price. Do you have the Sony XAV-AX150 in your vehicle? Let us know what you think of it in the comments below.

Sony XAV-AX150 - Best value Apple CarPlay Android Auto stereo 2022
Sony XAV-AX150 – Best value Apple CarPlay Android Auto stereo 2022

Alpine i509-WRA-JL and i509-WRA-JK

Alpine i509-WRA-JL
New Alpine Jeep Stereo Models for 2022

Alpine recently announced two new Jeep Wrangler specific models for 2022: the i509-WRA-JL and the i509-WRA-JK. These two models are very similar to their predecessors, the X409-WRA-JL and X409-WRA-JK, but with some key differences.

Alpine i509-WRA-JL revealed – includes pretty much everything that was missing from the X409-WRA-JL

Although I’ve always been a fan of the X409-WRA-JL, there were several features missing and others that could have been executed better. Thankfully, Alpine appears to have listened to the community and addressed a lot of the pet peeves many users and dealers had with their X409 series. I’m eagerly awaiting arrival of these two new models. Once received, an i509-WRA-JL will promptly be installed in our 2019 Wrangler (currently has a Stinger HEIGH10 which I’ve discovered through testing is not truly 4 volt as advertised – see here).

Optional GPS navigation

I’m always the first to tell clients not to pay for features they won’t use or need. Put that money towards better quality speakers, amps, subs, sound dampening, etc. That’s why I’m super stoked about is the OPTIONAL GPS navigation with off road maps. This helps to cut down on costs for features that may be of no benefit to some and allow those that see the value in sat based GPS to go ahead and pay for it.

Two USB ports because two is better than one

Both the i509-WRA-JL and i509-WRA-JK feature dual USB ports. When you’re spending over $2k on a head unit you kind of expect more than one USB. This was a major complaint of ours with the X409-WRA-JL. Some of us like to use Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, but some of us are in areas without consistent or reliable cell service and we don’t always store music on our phone.

Alpine i509-WRA-JK – new for 2022 – replacing the X409-WRA-JK

We have a USB stick loaded up with music for those times that we’re out of range. With two USB ports you can have both devices connected and easily switch sources on the radio rather than fumbling around while driving as you attempt to disconnect one device and connect another. Having said, that there is one important thing to note – if you do go for the optional GPS (KTX-NS01) it will occupy that secondary USB port. But that might be resolved with the next feature.

Wireless CarPlay and Android Auto – finally

The other expectation many of our clients had with their X409-WRA-JK and X409-WRA-JL is that these models should have been equipped with a wireless option for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Most were shocked it wasn’t a standard feature, again, when considering the price – and that shock was before the inflation and shrinkflation of 2021 descended upon our nation. We’re happy to see this sought after feature is included with the i509-WRA-JL and i509-WRA-JK.

High-res Display

The 9″ capacitive screen found on the X409-WRA-JL and the X409-WRA-JK was definitely a great screen. We had no complaints. We never had any trouble seeing it in bright glare and we drive exclusively with the top off as long as it’s not raining from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

Yet, there is always room for improvement, right? The i509-WRA-JL and i509-WRA-JK are equipped with a higher resolution touch screen with 4x the resolution of the previous models. The new models feature a WXGA High-Resolution, Anti-Glare Display (1280 x 720).

Improved DAC and a LOT more audio control features

The i509-WRA-JL and i509-WRA-JK are loaded up with two types of EQ control. Users can select from a basic 5-band EQ – similar to what we see in the iLX-407 – OR you can really sink your teeth into the details using the glorious 13-band parametric EQ – and check this out, that’s per channel!!!

No need for a separate DSP with that kind of control. In addition to the 13 band parametric EQ, there are also all the standard audio features one would expect such as digital time alignment and built in crossovers for front, rear and subwoofer. Plus with the improved DAC, these new Alpine Jeep models for 2022 are capable of high resolution audio playback at 96 kHz/24 bit.

What’s not to love?

Edited – 4-9-22

My only complaint based on features/specs thus far is the camera situation. The i509-WRA-JL and i509-WRA-JK still only have two composite camera inputs. One of these inputs is going to be used to retain the OEM camera in the JL or to add a reverse camera in the JK. If you’re looking to add a front camera as well, you’re good, but if you want side cameras too, then you’ll need some type of external video switcher. This could be either something that is turn signal activated or something with a separate activation button kind of like the what you see with Alpine’s HDR cameras in the video below.

If you’re considering adding cameras to this kit, it’s a good idea to consider HDR cameras due to the screen size and resolution. When you take a basic reverse camera and connect it to a large, high resolution screen, the reverse camera image can get kind of washed out. This product design kind of forces you to go big or go home which I can appreciate, but sometimes it’s difficult explaining that to clients. I find seeing it in action, makes it easier to understand why. Just look at this comparison between a Kenwood HD camera and the OEM reverse camera in this 2018 CRV. It’s easy to see why the HD cameras are most costly, they’re much higher quality.

How much and when?

Pricing is always subject to change lately, but as of publishing time, the i509-WRA-JL will set you back $2,399.95 and the i509-WRA-JK set you back $2,199.95 – plus installation of course. Both models are considered a March 2022 release. When will they actually begin to ship? Only time will tell. I’ve got mine on order and once installed, I will make a follow up post and video. What do you Wrangler owners think of these new Alpine Jeep models for 2022? Are they worth the splurge?

Kenwood CMOS 740HD Comparison

Kenwood CMOS 740HD

How does the CMOS 740HD high definition camera compare to your typical reverse camera?

This week in the shop we installed a Kenwood CMOS 740HD camera into a client’s 2018 Honda CRV. We actually installed two of these bad boys. We added one as a dedicated front park assist camera and the other as a high definition reverse camera. The vehicle was already fitted with a Kenwood DMX1037s which we had previously installed.

Kenwood DMX1037s installed with CMOS 740HD front and rear park cameras - 2018 Honda CRV.
Kenwood DMX1037s with CMOS 740HD front and rear park assist cameras – 2018 Honda CRV.

In addition to the two cameras, we also added front and rear park assist sensors. With the new and used car market totally out of whack, upgrades like this are becoming more and more common. Although this vehicle was already equipped with a factory reverse camera, the picture quality just wasn’t up to par with todays standards. As you can see, when compared to the Kenwood CMOS 740HD, the picture quality difference is pretty remarkable.

Kenwood CMOS740HD vs Standard OEM Reverse Camera

Here is the Kenwood high definition reverse camera. This picture was taken at about 4:30 PM in late January, sun beginning to set. Note – I had not set up park guidance lines yet.

Kenwood CMOS-740HD reverse camera with DMX1037s
Kenwood CMOS 740HD connected to Kenwood DMX1037s – 2018 Honda CRV

And here is the original Honda reverse camera. Yikes! We retained it as a secondary camera and labeled it “Left” because you are only alotted one “Rear” camera label in the head unit. Technically the factory camera is to the left of the CMOS 740HD so it kind of makes sense.

Factory camera compared to Kenwood CMOS 740HD
Standard factory reverse camera connected to Kenwood DMX1037s – 2018 Honda CRV

The image quality difference is tremendous. Granted part of that could be due to that fact that the Honda reverse camera was designed to operate with the original 5″ radio display. It easily gets washed out in the DMX1037S’s big, beautiful, 10.1″ high defintion display. Having said that, I can tell you from experience that the Honda camera is pretty darn close to what you get with any entry level aftermarket reverse camera. Sure – you can see if there is a person, car or object in your path, but not in very high definition. It works, but it could be much better and the Kenwood CMOS 740HD is that much better.

Kenwood CMOS 740HD reverse camera compared to factory camera 2018 Honda CRV.
Kenwood CMOS 740HD Front Park Assist Camera – 2018 Honda CRV

CMOS 740HD Front Camera Activation

The other added perk in this install is the front camera is activated automatically when you shift from reverse to drive. This feature is typically supported when used with any iDatalink Maestro compatible vehicle and iDatalink Maestro RR or R2. Alternatively, there is also an easy camera shortcut button on the face of the radio. Simply tap that and select which view you want to see.

Forgive any camera shakes – I was definitely shivering while recording – it was only 6 degrees out when I woke up that day!

CMOS 740HD – Compatible with Select Kenwood Models

The only snag about this high definition park assist camera is it only works with a few select Kenwood models. Before you go out and buy one, make sure you have one of these compatible models:

  • DMX957XR – eXcelon series mechless 7″ double din
  • DDX9907XR – eXcelon series with CD 7″ double din
  • DNX997XR – eXcelon series with CD/Garmin GPS double din
  • DMX1037s – Regular Kenwood series 10.1″ floating screen
  • DMX1057XR – eXcelon series 10.1″ floating screen
  • DNR1007XR – eXcelon series 10.1″ floating screen with Garmin GPS

Each one of these head units features a high resolution capacitive touch screen with 1280 x 720 display. That translates to a 2,764,800 total pixel count. Compare that to your typical aftermarket head unit which is usally equipped with a 1,152,000 pixel count and 800 x 480 display. That’s a lot more saturation and clarity if you put it to good use. Like anything else – garbage in equals garbage out. So why not use a high definition camera with your high definition display?

Kenwood CMOS740HD front park assist camera.
Kenwood CMOS740HD used as a front park assist camera in a 2018 CRV.

After seeing the difference in quality, I don’t think I can use any other type of camera. It’s a shame it’s only compatible with a few select models. It may finally be time to upgrade my old DMX7704s just to get the Kenwood CMOS 740HD camera. If you’re interested in a high definition reverse or front park assist camera for your vehicle, contact us today to learn more.

Renault Sport Clio V6

Renault Clio Sport V6

This week in the shop

When you have clients that are car collectors, you get to see and work on the occasional unicorn like this Renault Sport Clio V6. This particular Renault made its way to America from Japan. At the moment, this is the only one here legally in the country. It was marketed and sold as the Lutecia due to Honda owning the rights to the name Clio in Japan.

Renault Sport Clio V6

Jeremy Clarkson famously once stated, “In my perfect ten car garage I would definitely have one of these – no question.” Yet, there were only 1,309 production vehicles made between 2003-2005. Finding one, especially in such great condition, is incredibly rare.

Rear Mid Engine – Renault Sport Clio V6

This rear mid engine, rear wheel drive hatchback boasts 255 horsepower with an impressive 0-60 second time: a mere 5.9 seconds. Which doesn’t sound like a lot in todays world of electric vehicles capable of launching to 60 mph in under 3 seconds, but for a 6-speed manual made 20 years ago, that’s exceptionally fast.

Renault Sport Clio V6 – Freshly installed Sony Bluetooth receiver

This Renault Sport Lutecia V6 made its way to our shop as it arrived stateside with a hole in the dash where the radio should have been. For some unimaginable reason, whoever removed the previous radio felt it necessary to hack off the harness rather than simply disconnecting it from the radio (why????). Identifying wiring and installing a new radio was no problem for our skilled technician.

Hot Hatchback – Renault Sport Lutecia V6

This particular client has an impressive car collection with many rare and exotic models. He could drive any number of vehicles from Lamborghini, Porsche, Acura, Mercedes etc. Yet more often than not, he stated this is the car he prefers to take out and I totally get why.

Renault Sport Lutecia V6

As the owner of a 2013 BMW 135i M Sport 6-speed manual, I understand exactly what this client means. I know my old BMW isn’t the fastest and it would surely lose in any race against the Clio Sport and any number of newer cars out there, but I would still choose to drive it any day over a newer BMW model. Some cars simply have the power to stir up a special kind of nostalgic and simple joy. The kind of joy you used to get as a kid in your friends go kart tearing it up and down and around the cul-de-sac on your neighborhood street. Sometimes what makes a car great isn’t how fast it is or how attractive its styling, but simply how it makes you feel when you’re driving it. The Renault Sport Clio V6 definitely falls into that category.

Alpine UTE73BT Bluetooth Pairing

UTE73BT Bluetooth Pairing - demonstrated on CDE-172BT

Phone says connected, but there’s no audio streaming

Are you having a hard time figuring out your Alpine UTE73BT Bluetooth pairing? Whether you’ve got the Alpine UTE-73BT, CDE-172BT or the CDE-175BT this post covers how to set up a new phone, clear out an old phone and resolve most Bluetooth connectivity issues.

Out of all the stereos I sell – single din, double din, touch screen, CarPlay, Android Auto, Alpine, Kenwood, Sony, Pioneer, Boss, Jensen, Stinger, Grundig, etc. – these 3 Alpine models are the ones that seem to trip up the most clients when it comes to resolving Bluetooth connection issues. Unlike most head unit models on the market, the UTE73BT, CDE172BT and the CDE175BT have just 2 banks for Bluetooth devices.

Alpine UTE73BT Bluetooth Pairing - Demonstrated on Alpine CDE172BT
Alpine UTE73BT Bluetooth Pairing – Demonstrated on Alpine CDE172BT

Device 1 is for your main phone. This profile covers handsfree and audio streaming functions. The Device 2 bank is strictly for handsfree functions only. Additionally, unlike many Bluetooth devices on the market, this unit is not always ready to be paired with a new device.

Pairing a new device – first time powering up

If you’ve just powered your UTE-73BT up and this is the first time anyone has tried to pair a device to it, follow these instructions.

  • Press and hold the sleep button, which looks like a back arrow, below the volume knob. This puts the radio into a Standby mode.
  • Next you want to press and hold the music note which is also labeled “Setup”
  • The first option that pops up says “General” – turn the knob until you see “Bluetooth”
  • Select “Bluetooth” by pushing the knob in
  • Scroll the knob to “Pairing” then push the knob in to select “Pairing”
  • The first option that pops up should say “Device 1” – push the knob in again to select “Device 1”
  • Now the Bluetooth icon on the radio should start blinking and the radio model number should become visible in your list of devices on your phone.
  • Simply tap the radio model number on your phone and follow the prompts
  • Pairing should complete

When clients usually run into trouble

Usually I see clients run into trouble when they’ve already had a device paired to the radio and they’ve gotten a new phone or perhaps they’ve done a software update on their phone and now their Bluetooth connection is intermittent. When this occurs it’s important to clear the memory from both devices. In your phone, you want to forget the device and in the radio we need to clear Bluetooth memory.

Alpine UTE73BT Bluetooth Pairing - Clearing Bluetooth Memory demonstrated on Alpine CDE172BT
Alpine UTE73BT Bluetooth Pairing – Clearing Bluetooth Memory demonstrated on Alpine CDE172BT

To clear Bluetooth memory from the radio, we have to go back into that same menu. So again you’ll put the radio in Standby.

  • Press and hold the sleep button, which looks like a back arrow, below the volume knob to put the radio in Standy or “Sleep” mode.
  • Press and hold the music note icon labeled “Setup”
  • Next, scroll the knob until you see “Bluetooth” and then push the knob in to select “Bluetooth”
  • Scroll the knob until you see “BT Initial”
  • Push the knob into select “BT Initial”
  • The default option that pops up says “No” – turn the knob until you see “Yes” then push the knob in
  • The radio will now clear Bluetooth memory and you can go back to pairing and set Device 1

What if you’re still experiencing streaming or connection issues after clearing memory?

If you’re still having trouble with your UTE73BT Bluetooth pairing, it’s possible you may need to do a software update on the radio or a software update on your phone. Make sure the operating system and all of your apps are up to date in your phone. Also, if you haven’t restarted your phone in a while, it’s a good idea to simply restart your phone. Lastly, if you’re having trouble with one particular app where it crashes whenever you try to stream it, try deleting the app and reinstalling it. This usually resolves any app specific streaming issues that pop up.

Pairing a new phone to your Alpine radio shouldn’t be too difficult, but sometimes the instructions you find in the owner’s manual leave a bit to be desired. Hopefully these instructions fill in any gaps and help you with your UTE73BT Bluetooth pairing.

Kenwood vs Kenwood eXcelon

Kenwood vs Kenwood eXcelon Sub Pre-amp Voltage Distortion Test - Max Volume - Sub Level at Max

When I was 17 years old I started working in this business and it was at that time I was introduced to the Kenwood eXcelon line. It always bothered me that the X was capitilized. To this day, I don’t know why that is. What I do know, is I’ve always been partial to the Kenwood eXcelon line up because of its strong focus on sound quality. My KDC-X890 and subsequent KDC-X991 were incredibly difficult for most of our clients to use. While navigating the maze of menu’s, inevitably you would tap the multi-directional knob the wrong way and have to start all over again. But it sure sounded great.

Kenwood eXcelon KDC-X991 – image courtesy of Crutchfield

I would spend hours in my car setting up all of my settings like digital time alignment, the multi-band EQ and testing the various audio effects like “TruBass” or “Focus”. Not only did my Kenwood eXcelon stereo sound great, it looked pretty sharp. I can recall one of the earlier models I owned featuring awesome graphics such as dancing dolphins on the display. It would even wish me a happy birthday. Or maybe that was an older Alpine model? Either way, I have very fond memories of these older single din units. To someone just getting into the car stereo scene, eXcelon was the stuff of legends.

Oddly enough, I think my original attraction to Kenwood had to do with their single din radio esthetics. The blue and red illumination matched my 6-speed VW Jetta GLI dash lights perfectly and it also sounded pretty freaking awesome with my Rockford Punch 360.2. Thus began my love affair with Kenwood eXcelon products.

Historically speaking, Kenwood eXcelon models were reserved for select dealers and select clients that could be viewed as car audio connoisseurs These premium models came with a few added features that you couldn’t get in the mainstream Kenwood line up available at the big box stores. Probably the most popular of features was their gold plated 5 volt pre-amp available exclusively in the Kenwood eXcelon series only. This is still true to this day, although the gold plating is now gone – perhaps due to shrinkflation.

Is there really a difference between the 5 volt and 4 volt pre-amp?

Years ago, I recall an industry rep telling me, very matter of factly, that the pre-amp was the same between Kenwood and Kenwood eXcelon. He told me that they were both 4.5 volts, it was simply all just a marketing ploy. This stuck with me. I had never tested a 5 volt model against a 4 volt model, but I did know my 4 volt Kenwood models on my display board always had more kick than my 4 volt Alpine models so I just always assumed this was probably the case. I had never actually measured it!

Well, I recently invested in a Fluke Scopemeter 123B and have been measuring a lot of stuff lately and decided to find out once and for all. I decided to test the Kenwood DMX7706s against the Kenwood eXcelon DDX9907XR. This would be a battle between a classic Kenwood 4 volt model and a Kenwood eXcelon 5 volt model. I was also curious to find out at what point the pre-amp distorted and at one point the internal amp distorted. I learned a lot.

Testing a Kenwood DMX7706s against a Kenwood eXcelon DDX9907XR using a Fluke 123B Scopemeter

For those unfamiliar with this tool, a Scopemeter – also known as an Oscilloscope – is a tool that is used to test a wide variety of electronic and industrial equipment. It has its uses in a variety of fields such as automotive diagnosis and troubleshooting plus testing and diagnosing all kinds of electronic equipment used in the technology and healthcare industry.

My use for this tool is pretty straightforward. And I’m still learning how to use it so this is like the blind leading the blind here, so bare with me. By attaching the positve and negative probes to the RCA pre-amp output and playing a test tone through each radio – 1 kHz and 40 Hz – we can see at what point the signal begins to distort. We can also measure the voltage. Additionally, we can attach the probes to the speaker wire output of the radio and measure at what point the amplifier in the radio begins to distort.

First up – Kenwood DMX7706s – Is it really 4 Volt?

I connected the Scopemeter to the front pre-amp output of the Kenwood DMX7706s. This is basically a newer version of the Kenwood I have in my own vehicle, a DMX7704s (which I think sounds flipping fantastic). I played the 1kHz test tone through my iPhone connected through the USB and cranked the volume all the way up and this is what I saw.

Kenwood DMX7706s Pre-amp Voltage and Distortion Test

Two things happening here – the signal is clean. But the voltage is only 3.25. Pay no mind the mV~, I still haven’t figured out how to change that part of the display, but what it’s telling us is we’re getting 3.25 volts – I checked it against my Fluke MD-88 to verify. So the bad news is it’s not quite 4 volts on the front pre-amp, but the good news is that signal is clean at max volume on the pre-amp. Next, I decided to check the sub pre-amp voltage with the sub level all the way up.

Kenwood DMX7706s Pre-amp Voltage and Distortion Test – Sub level all the way up

Additionally I will add that I made sure the EQ was set flat and crossovers were turned off for front, rear and subwoofer. The reason I tested it with the sub level all the way up is it’s pretty much guaranteed this is exactly what my clients will do. I don’t like clients coming back with busted up gear that is a direct result of distortion. For those that aren’t aware, it’s a distorted or clipped signal that will damage your speakers. When you hear the signal breaking up and getting distorted, that’s a bad thing. Distortion is like kryptonite for speakers and subs, avoid it at all costs.

What I found on the sub pre-amp surprised me a bit. With the volume all the way up, the sub level all the way up, and all audio enhancement features turned off like Supreme, Bass Boost, etc., the signal was totally distorted. Yet, we were getting 5.1 volts! But what good was it if the signal was clipping?

Kenwood DMX7706s Pre-amp Voltage and Distortion Test – Clean at 30 with sub level at 10 (max)

I started to lower the volume to figure out at what point it started to distort. Finally at volume 30, the signal was clean. Bummer! Why would the signal be clean up to 40 on the front pre-amp, but distort at 31 on the sub pre-amp? Also, we were only getting 3.54 volts at that volume level. For comparison, with the Alpine iLX-407, I had to turn the sub level all the way up to get any kind of reading and it was clean even at max volume so I was perplexed. Maybe Kenwood did things differently. I decided to test it again, but this time with the sub level at 0 and with 40 Hz. Here’s what I found.

Kenwood DMX7706s Pre-amp Voltage and Distortion Test – Clean at 40 with sub level at zero

With the sub level at zero, volume all the way up, we got a clean signal. No distortion there and not quite 4 volts, but close to it at 3.75. The below 4 volt reading was definitely a bit of a disappointment, but I did find it interesting that the sub pre-amp definitely has more kick than the front or rear pre-amp. Typically, this is where you really notice the extra voltage, in the bass, so it kind of makes sense that’s where they put the emphasis, but it’s also a bit misleading in the labeling of the product. Consumers see “4 volt” and they assume you mean all three pre-amps are 4 volt not just one out of three. Feeling a bit deflated, I was more anxious than ever to test the Kenwood eXcelon model. Was the DDX9907XR really 5 volt? Or would we see similar results?

Kenwood eXcelon DDX9907XR – Is it really 5 Volt?

I wired up the Kenwood eXcelon DDX9907XR to my test bench power supply and got the Scopemeter probes secured. I opened the test tone on my phone, pressed play and cranked it up. Once again, I started with the front pre-amp and here’s what I found.

Kenwood eXcelon DDX9907XR Pre-amp Voltage and Distortion Test – Clean at 40

Would you look at that? We’re getting 5.29 volts out of the front pre-amp with the volume all the way up and no distortion. Awesome! It really is 5 volts. I guess it’s not just a marketing ploy, there really is a measurable difference. How about on the sub pre-amp? Would we see similar results to the DMX7706s? I switched the probes to the sub pre-amp and turned the sub level all the way up to find out.

Kenwood eXcelon DDX9907XR Pre-amp Voltage and Distortion Test – Sub level max, volume all the way up

Holy cow! We’re getting 8.32 volts out of this thing! But just like the DMX7706s, the signal is totally distorted so it’s not really usable voltage. I lowered the volume to see at what point it would be clean while keeping the sub level at max.

Kenwood eXcelon DDX9907XR Sub Pre-amp Distortion Test – Supreme off – Pretty clean still at 32

With the Supreme audio setting turned off, the signal started looking clean at 32 and we were getting a whopping 6.36 volts! However, Supreme is a feature I really like using on all Kenwood models because it truly does enhance the sound in every vehicle. I decided to turn on Supreme and found it immediately distorted at volume 32. Stepping it down one notch to 31 cleaned it right up. Plus we were still getting 5.7 volts which is not too shabby.

Kenwood eXcelon DDX9907XR Sub Pre-amp Test – Supreme on – Clean at 31

Now I wanted to see with the sub level at zero, would we still get 5 volts and would the signal be clean at max volume? I adjusted the sub level down, selected the 40 Hz test tone and cranked it up. Here’s what I found.

Kenwood eXcelon DDX9907XR Sub Pre-amp Voltage and Distortion Test – Max volume, sub level at zero

With the sub level turned to zero and volume maxed, we finally had a clean signal through the sub pre-amp. However, it wasn’t quite 5 volts, but close at 4.78.

Kenwood vs Kenwood eXcelon Pre-amp Voltage Distortion Test Results

We can take away some important information from this testing.

  • Kenwood’s regular products featuring “4 volt” Pre-amp are not quite 4 volt unless you only count the sub which was 3.78 volts with clean signal. Front pre-amp only measured at 3.25 with fluctuations up to 3.54.
  • Kenwood’s eXcelon products definitely have a higher voltage pre-amp – truly 5 volt on the front/rear and almost 5 volt on the sub. This is with the sub level set to zero so the signal stayed clean all the way up to max volume.
  • With both head units, the signal stayed clean on the pre-amp at max volume with EQ flat, audio enhancements turned off and sub level set to zero.
  • With both head units, we got a ton of voltage out of the sub pre-amp when we turned sub level to the max, but signal started to distort on both around volume 30.

What about their internal amplifiers? When do those start to distort?

A lot of my clients like to build their audio system in phases often starting with the head unit, then maybe adding an amp/sub. For a while they may be powering the stock speakers off the radio with the crossovers turned on before they go ahead and upgrade speakers along with an aftermarket amplifier. Because of that, I wanted to know at what point the amp in each radio started to distort. This allows me to show and tell my clients don’t go past this volume level or you risk damaging your speakers.

Kenwood DMX7706s Internal Amp Distortion Test – with Supreme off

With Supreme turned off, I could turn the head unit up to 29 before the signal started to get a bit jagged. Distortion was clearly visible on the scopemeter at volume 30. With Supreme on, 28 was the max I could go and still have clean signal. This was still pretty good when compared against the Alpine iLX-407 which started to distort at 21 out of 35 or 3/5 the volume.

Kenwood eXcelon DDX9907XR Internal Amp Distortion Test – with Supreme on

I had the exact same result when testing the Kenwood eXcelon DDX9907XR’s internal amplifier. With Supreme and everything else in the audio menu turned off, the signal remained clean up to volume 29. With Supreme turned on, signal distorted at 29, but was clean at 28.

Kenwood eXcelon – is it worth it?

Clearly the Kenwood eXcelon model had the better performing pre-amp. It was truly higher voltage. In car audio, the higher the voltage on your pre-amp, the more sensitive it’s going to be to your amplifier. This means you don’t have to turn the gains up as high so your amp can work more efficiently and theoretically play cleaner because it’s being less taxed to perform. With a lower voltage pre-amp, you have to turn the gains up higher to get the same audio effect that you’d have when connected to a stereo with a higher voltage pre-amp. For the true audio connoisseurs out there, Kenwood eXcelon is the only choice there is.

Acura NSX Stereo Upgrade

1996 Acura NSX Stereo Upgrade

This week in the shop

It’s not every day a classic supercar arrives at our shop for a stereo upgrade, but it has definitely become a more regular occurrence. I guess this is what happens when you serve clients that are avid automotive enthusiasts with a seemingly endless rare vehicle collection. The owner of this 1996 Acura NSX is one such client. It’s always refreshing to work with this particular collector because we know whatever vehicle he brings in will prove to be rare, possibly quirky, always interesting and perhaps somewhat challenging.

1996 Acura NSX Stereo Upgrade

This Acura NSX stereo arrived equipped with an older style 30-pin iPod adapter, but no AUX Input and no Bluetooth. Additionally, there was an audio issue that needed to be dealt with. Buzzing and popping stock Bose speakers. The goal was to address the buzzing and popping speakers and add a way to stream music through the stereo.

Working on the Acura NSX Stereo Upgrade

The great thing about this supercar is when it comes to how it’s assembled, it’s basically a glorified Honda. Late model Honda’s and Acura’s are always easy to work on and pretty straightforward in their design. It’s not like trying to work on a hand built Ferrari where you want to strangle the designer of a door panel as you spend hours dissembling it due to its intricate and delicate assembly. The downside to working on this Acura NSX is this car is basically on the floor. It’s a bit of a back breaker just trying to get in and out of the driver’s seat so imagine what it’s like to actually work on it. Can I get some Advil please?

1996 Acura NSX Bose Stereo AM/FM Casette Player

The first thing John needed to do was figure out what was causing the audio issue – was it the speakers? The stereo? Or the stock Bose amplifiers (for which there are 3 of them)? After getting it all apart and testing the output, John confirmed the issue. It was both Driver and Passenger amplifiers plus both door speakers that were in need of repair or replacement. After 25 years, the components were a bit worn out.

Keeping the Stock Look in this Acura NSX Stereo Upgrade

In order to keep the interior esthetics as original as possible, we wanted to keep the stock stereo. Although the client was open to us modifying the dash to install an aftermarket stereo, we advised against this. We investigated sending the stock amplifiers out for repair. However, the cost to repair the amps exceeded the cost of an aftermarket amp.

1996 Acura NSX Bose Door Speaker Amplifiers

Using an aftermarket amp would open up more options for replacement speakers because we wouldn’t be limited to using a low impedance speaker. That would have been necessary if we wanted to retain the stock Bose amps. The other benefit of using aftermarket equipment is, theoretically, we’d have better sound quality. After testing the output of the factory radio, John found it had a 3 volt pre-amp level, left and right output. He simply attached RCA ends with Y adapters to that audio signal to go into our aftermarket 4 channel amp.

JL Audio MX280/4 – Compact 4-channel amplifier

The 1996 Acura NSX is only equipped with 4 speakers – a stock subwoofer in the passenger floor, an oversized tweeter between the two seats and 4″ speakers in the doors encased in Bose speaker enclosures. We used the JL Audio MX280/4 to power the new door speakers plus the stock tweeter and stock subwoofer which were still fully functional. We chose this JL Audio amp because of it’s super compact design. This car is tight – there is no room for a traditionally sized car audio amp inside the cabin. John was able to mount the new compact amp up behind the glove box where it is tucked away and out of sight.

JL Audio MBT-RX

To add Bluetooth audio, I planned for us to install an adapter to connect to the factory radio via the CD changer input. This would give us an analog AUX input. With that, we planned to use the JL Audio MBT-RX for high quality Bluetooth audio streaming.

USA Spec PA11-HON – Oldschool 30-pin iPod adapter PLUS AUX input

Alas, after taking it apart, John found the existing 30-pin USA Spec iPod adapter had exactly what we needed: an analog AUX input. Score!

What about the speakers?

The stock Bose enclosures are definitely a bit funky. Check it out.

1996 Acura NSX Bose Speaker Enclosure

I’m always anxious about upgrading speakers in a car with these types of enclosures. In terms of sound quality, they can make or break the stereo.

Acura NSX Stereo Bose Door Speaker

After trying a few different options, John found a set of Audison BMW specific speakers worked really well in the factory Bose enclosures. They had the same style mounting tabs and they performed well in the small ported enclosures. We’d finally found the right combination of products to upgrade this Acura NSX stereo and it sounded great!

Audison APBMW X4E 4″ coaxial speakers

The stock sub came to life with the new clean amplified signal plus the premium Audison speakers added a level of vibrancy and detail that had been missing previously. In addition, the client now had a super convenient way to listen to music using a high quality Bluetooth audio streaming interface.

1996 Acura NSX – Stereo has been upgraded, but looks all original.

The end result is a classic supercar car that looks stock by all appearances, but is equipped with modern day features and premium aftermarket sound. These are my favorite types of audio upgrades.

Never a Dull Moment at the Shop

Just when we thought we had this project all wrapped up, we quickly realized there was a problem. A seemingly big problem. As John tried to start the car to back it out of the garage, the car wouldn’t turn over. It wouldn’t even crank. It had been on the tender the whole time so we knew straight away it wasn’t a battery issue. We were perplexed, because the electrical and stereo wiring in this car is so straight forward. John quickly began retracing all of his steps and then he remembered the keyless entry module that fell out of the dash when he removed the stock subwoofer.

The factory keyless entry module had not been secured on a bracket like you’d expect in any modern day vehicle. It had flopped out of the dash when the stock subwoofer was removed. He double checked all the harnesses and connections going to it before tucking it back up under the dash. Apparently there had been one connector harness he didn’t see that had been lodged out of its place when the keyless module fell. That harness went directly from key and the clutch to the starter. Immediately upon reconnecting it, she fired right up. Nothing like a rare supercar in your garage failing to start up to get your adrenaline pumping. Never a dull moment, that’s for sure! As they say, all’s well that ends well and in the end, this client was super happy and so were we.

1996 Acura NSX – All set and ready to be picked up.

Maserati Apple CarPlay

2015 Maserati GranTurismo Sport – Apple CarPlay Installation

This week at the shop: Maserati Apple CarPlay installation. You might assume this Italian exotic would be appointed with all the modern luxuries one could find in any modern day vehicle. Well endowed with its Ferrari designed 454 horsepower V8, yet lacking in the standard features we’ve all grown accustomed to. Lest we forget, Apple CarPlay, reverse cameras and front park assists cameras were not standard features in 2015. For a low volume auto manufacturer like Maserati, it can take years to add such modern amenities to the production line. Although Apple CarPlay made its debut in 2014, Maserati didn’t start incorporating the feature into the GranTurismo model until 2018.

2015 Maserati GranTurismo Apple CarPlay
Maserati GranTurismo Apple CarPlay Added

Understandably, the client really enjoyed this vehicle, but desired a way to update the technology to make the ride even more enjoyable. So he sought us out to add Apple CarPlay to his 2015 Maserati GranTurismo Sport.

Adding Apple CarPlay is a great way to breathe new life into any used vehicle. With the new car shortage, this is becoming an increasingly more common upgrade request.

Reverse Camera and Front Park Camera

In addition to updating this vehicle’s in dash technology, we also installed a much needed reverse camera and front park assist camera. Convertibles are almost always tough for rear visibility when the top is up and this vehicle is no exception.

Maserati GranTurismo Reverse Camera Installation
Maserati GranTurismo Reverse Camera Installation

Exotic sports cars need help in the front end too. When you combine such a low stance with that signature proud and prominent Maserati front lip, it’s no wonder the client requested a front park assist camera. Drivers of the Maserati GranTurismo have to be extremely careful not to scrap the underside of their bumper just turning into a driveway.

Front Camera Installation Maserati GranTurismo Sport
Front Camera Installation Maserati GranTurismo Sport

Maserati Apple CarPlay – Parts Used

In order to upgrade this Maserati to Apple CarPlay, we needed a few parts. The main piece of hardware we used to accomplish this is from Naviks. This company specializes in these types of interfaces along with products for adding HDMI, reverse cameras and front cameras to various years, makes and models.

Naviks Interface - Maserati GranTurismo
Naviks Interface – Maserati GranTurismo

Naviks is an American based company that proudly manufactures 70% of their products in Brooklyn, NY. I tip my hat off to them. Not only is it incredibly difficult to manufacture any kind of electronics in the USA these days, but maintaining any kind of small business in Brooklyn right now is – how do I say it – an extremely tall order.

Maserati Apple CarPlay Installed
Maserati Apple CarPlay Installed

Not only do they produce reliable and desirable products, they have great customer service – both email and phone support. This is really important to me as a shop owner. No one has the time – client or technician alike – to sit around and wait on hold or hope you get an email reply back when you’re in the middle of an installation with a car apart.

New Touch Screen Overlay for Apple CarPlay - 2015 Maserati GranTurismo
New Touch Screen Overlay for Apple CarPlay – 2015 Maserati GranTurismo

Their kit consists of a couple modules plus a new touch screen overlay for the factory radio. This installation is not for the faint of heart. There is quite a bit that needs to be disassembled including the factory radio display. This install is for seasoned pros or the most fastidious and patient do-it-yourselfer.

Maserati Apple CarPlay – How it Works

The way this interface works is quite seamless. Like most Apple CarPlay add-on kits, you have to select the factory radio’s AUX input as your source. Once you are on the AUX input, you simply press and hold the telephone button on the steering wheel. That activates the factory screen to switch over to the new Apple CarPlay interface. The connection is wireless with optional charging.

USB flush mounted Maserati Apple CarPlay Installation
USB flush mounted Maserati Apple CarPlay Installation

The reverse camera is like most reverse cameras – it’s activated as soon as the vehicle is put into reverse. The front camera similarly is activated as soon as you shift from reverse to drive.

Maserati Reverse Camera Installed
Maserati Reverse Camera Installed

There is also a way to activate the front camera on the fly. Simply press and hold the button again to switch the front camera on. To exit Apple CarPlay and select another factory source like AM/FM radio? Simply press and hold that phone button again.

Maserati Front Camera Installation
Maserati Front Camera Installation

Adding Apple CarPlay to your vehicle is a great way to enhance your driving experience without the expense of trading up for a newer vehicle. The technology does have its limitations.

Limitations

You do have to be on the AUX input source to use any of the features of CarPlay. Audio for notifications, phone calls and GPS navigation directions are only available when you are actively using the CarPlay input. Additionally, unlike a factory CarPlay set up, there is just one volume control for music, text message notifications, phone calls and GPS directions. This means you will find yourself manually adjusting volume between calls to music to compensate.

To learn more about adding Apple CarPlay to your vehicle, contact our shop or find a local Naviks dealer in your area.

Maserati Apple CarPlay
Maserati Apple CarPlay

Porsche Taycan Radar Detector plus Dash Cam Install

Porsche Taycan Radar Detector Dash Cam Install

This week in the shop

Our crew tackled a 2021 Porsche Taycan radar detector installation plus a front and rear dash camera.

2021 Porsche Taycan 4s K40 plus Blackvue Installation
2021 Porsche Taycan 4s

The Porsche Taycan 4s is a fast car. A very fast car. Like scary fast as in 0-60 in 3.8 seconds with an impressive 472 lb-ft torque. It’s no surprise the owner of this vehicle wanted to invest in a radar detector.

2021 Porsche Taycan 4s – K40 Platinum 100 plus Blackvue Dash Cam Install

Unlike some other electric vehicles on the market, the Porsche Taycan does not come equipped with sentry mode or any type of camera surveillance set up. Thankfully, it’s easy enough to add a dash camera system aftermarket.

Gear Used

For this installation we used the K40 Platinum 100 dash mounted radar detector along with a BlendMount. As much as I would have loved to install laser shifters in this vehicle, that was not on the agenda. This Porsche Taycan 4s is not the client’s daily driver so they didn’t see the immediate need for it.

K40 Platinum 100 Radar Detector
K40 Platinum 100 Radar Detector

Although the K40 Platinum 100 is windshield mounted style detector, it’s completely expandable. Out of the box it will detect radar and laser – although with laser it may be too late. But if the client’s driving situation ever changes, they can always have us add the laser shifters later on.

Porsche Taycan 4s Radar Detector with Blendmount
Porsche Taycan 4s Radar Detector with BlendMount

Rather than use the standard included windshield mount, we opted to use a BlendMount. This bracket helps us provide a clean installation plus it frees up some of the real estate on the windshield for the BlackVue dash cam.

Porsche Taycan Dash Camera Installation
Porsche Taycan Dash Camera Installation

The dash camera used for this Porsche Taycan is the BlackVue DR750X-2CH Plus with 64 gig SD card. It features a front and rear HD camera with optional park mode functionality.

Dash Camera Settings and Park Mode Functionality

Whenever I have a client interested in a dash cam with park mode functionality, I encourage them to use a separate battery pack for consistent park mode recording. This is especially true for newer vehicles with proximity keys. For park mode to work consistently – where the camera wakes up and starts recording if it detects motion or impact – the camera needs to see 12.5 volts or higher.

Porsche Taycan Dash Camera Install - Rear Window
Porsche Taycan Dash Camera Install – Rear Window

In many newer vehicles we see that there can be wild voltage fluctuations simply when locking your car and walking away. The courtesy headlights may come on momentarily dropping voltage below 12 volts only to come right back up as soon as the headlights turn off. This isn’t the case for every vehicle.

Porsche Taycan Blackvue Dash Cam Settings
Porsche Taycan BlackVue Dash Cam Settings

Our Taycan 4s client was initially more focused on recording while driving vs while the car was parked. Most of the time it would be parked at a safe location so he opted out of the battery pack option. As luck would have it, right before the installation appointment there was an incident that piqued his interest in park mode.

K40 Platinum 100 Radar Detector with Dash Camera - 2021 Porsche Taycan
K40 Platinum 100 Radar Detector with Dash Camera – 2021 Porsche Taycan

After attending a Porsche meet, a group of club members went into a restaurant to dine. When they came back out they were horrified to see someone had backed into a member’s brand new Porsche and taken off. After this experience, park mode became a feature he was interested in after all. Since it will be used only periodically, I showed the client how to turn park mode on and off in the app.

12 Volt Accessories for Electric Vehicles

Although this is an electric vehicle, it still has a 12 volt battery and electronic system. This is how we can add aftermarket accessories such as a radar detector or dash camera to an electric vehicle like the Taycan. Skilled technicians like those at our shop use a multimeter and probe to investigate, test and find switched ignition power source.

2021 Porsche Taycan 4S
2021 Porsche Taycan 4S

With the installation complete, the client can drive with a little more piece of mind. If you’re interested in a radar detector or dash camera for your Porsche Taycan, contact our shop today for more information.

Porsche Macan Apple CarPlay

Porsche Macan Apple CarPlay

This week in the shop – 2016 Porsche Macan Apple CarPlay installation.

Recently a client reached out to us about a problematic radio in his Porsche Macan. He was experiencing issues with the factory PCM Bose radio. It was pretty much shot – continuously rebooting and shutting down. After being quoted an astronomical price from the dealer, he reached out to us to explore his options. We could have sent the PCM radio out to be repaired. However, he would still be stuck with dated technology. In this case the client preferred the option of fitting his Porsche Macan with a new Apple CarPlay/Android Auto radio.

Porsche Macan Apple CarPlay with aftermarket Alpine iLX-W650 radio.
Porsche Macan Apple CarPlay installed – Alpine iLX-W650

The radio in this vehicle is part of the whole operating system in the car. Even basic functions like warning chimes are on this data circuit. If you remove the radio, it’s like removing a computer in a network of computers. When the flow of information is broken features are often be lost. For that reason it’s important to use parts that can retain the flow of CAN information as well as various features on the MOST network.

Porsche Macan Alpine iLX-W650

Very specific parts required

In order to install Apple CarPlay in this Porsche Macan, we used the Metra 95-9616B. This installation kit included everything we needed to replace the radio in 2015-2016 Porsche Macan equipped with:

  • Bose amplifier
  • Park Sensors
  • Reverse Camera
  • Steering wheel controls
Porsche Macan Apple CarPlay installation kit Metra 95-9616B.
Porsche Macan Apple CarPlay radio upgrade – Metra 95-9616B installation kit

It is designed to retain the flow of data and various features that function through the factory radio. Yet, there is one component in this kit we don’t recommend using: the USB retention adapter.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto requires a massive data transfer between the radio and your phone. We have found in various installations that many OEM USB ports are not capable of high speed data transfer. Sometimes they get hung up transferring that data. When that happens Apple CarPlay and Android Auto can flake out. That is why we prefer to route a new high speed USB to the factory USB location.

In addition to the Metra 95-9606B installation kit, we also used:

What is lost – what is retained

Access to vehicle settings

Once the radio is replaced, you do lose access to any vehicle information that was previously accessible through the factory radio. In this particular installation, that didn’t really matter to the client because they had already lost that access due to a faulty radio.

Radio information in multifunction displayer

Some European vehicles have what is called a multifunction display which shows up in the instrument cluster. This MFD can display stereo information such as what source you are listening to. If your Macan is equipped with this feature and you install an aftermarket Apple CarPlay stereo, you will no longer see any type of stereo information displayed in this menu.

Porsche Macan Apple CarPlay - Bose amp retained, but fader control is lost.
Porsche Macan Apple CarPlay Installation – Bose amp retained, but fader control is lost.

Fader control

The stock Bose amplifier is digital. When that digital signal is retained it is converted to 2-channel analog. This means the aftermarket radio can support balance – left to right audio adjustment, but you will lose fader control – front to rear. All the speakers will play and the Bose amp and speakers are retained. You just lose the ability to fade between the front and rear speakers through the aftermarket head unit.

Porsche Macan aftermarket stereo installation - reverse camera retained.
Porsche Macan aftermarket stereo installation – reverse camera retained.

Reverse Camera

We were able to retain the stock reverse camera as well as the audio and visual from the park sensors. Both features are displayed through the aftermarket stereo reverse camera input. If an object is detected on the front sensors, the display will automatically switch over to the sensor display.

Porsche Macan - park sensors retained Alpine iLX-W650.
Park sensors retained – Porsche Macan Alpine iLX-W650 installed

Park sensors

If you are backing up and an object is detected on the rear sensors, you can switch the display on the radio from the reverse camera image to the park sensor display. Simply press and hold the scrolling steering wheel control button on the left of the steering wheel.

Fit and Finish

If we had laser etcher at the shop, I would have loved to have put the Porsche logo on the top panel of the kit. It seems like weird dead space. I imagine that would have added a significant cost for the manufacturer to an already quite costly installation kit. The matte black finish matches quite nicely. I’m glad this client chose the iLX-W650 out of the various options we provided. It has a very minimalistic, sleek look to it which closely compliments the interior vehicle esthetics.

Are you in the market to fit your Porsche Macan with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto? Contact our shop today to learn more.