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Old 10-03-2017, 12:52 PM   #1
Mach V Dan
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Default Mach V Dan's 2015 WRX audio install - Pioneer AppRadio 4

I thought I had made a thread about this previously, but I guess I never did. So here it is a couple of years late.

I found the stock head unit in my 2015 WRX (non-nav) to be adequate but very basic. The sound quality of the whole system was pretty terrible, with no bass and muddy clarity. Even at higher volume levels it was hard to hear over the noise of the car. Plus the hands-free phone functions were terrible.

I decided I didn't want head unit-based navigation. Phone-based nav is constantly updating and advancing, and I have been frustrated before by nav systems in head units that quickly went out of date. I also thought I could live without a CD player. I mostly listen to an iPod Classic, or to streaming music from the phone. That led me to Pioneer's AppRadio 4 (SPH-DA120), which is basically a double-DIN screen that is meant to be a radio and a front-end for your phone, and that's it. There's no optical disc slot at all.

I had my local car audio place, Kartunes, do the install. They sold me the head unit and speakers. I supplied a couple of JL Audio amps that I had leftover from another project, plus the sub enclosure. (More on that below.)

In talking with the Kartunes guys, I set out goals of high sound quality, decent bass, complete OEM control integration (I wanted the steering wheel controls to work intuitively, and for the center console aux and USB ports to work properly), and enough sound level so I could hear my music clearly at freeway speeds. (Or damage my hearing, whichever way you want to look at it.) I also wanted to retain the spare tire.

We talked about a custom trunk-mounted subwoofer, but the cost of building a custom box was a lot. I found an unused OEM Subaru Kicker accessory sub on ebay for cheap, bought it, and pulled the Kicker driver out of it. A JL Audio driver went in there instead. The Subaru box is kind of cheap -- it's basically just a clamshell of thermoformed plastic. The Kartunes installers papered the inside with dense foam to try to make it less ring-y.




Sub in place

The sub stays in the car using a sort of rinky-dink fastener that Subaru supplies -- you can see that above, in the upper left of the photo. It works, but it's not my favorite part of it.

For speakers I used Focal separates (PS 165 FX) in front, and coax drivers (165 AC) in the rear doors. I supplied some speakers spacers but Kartunes didn't like 'em and made their own.




Front door speakers in place


Tweeters with custom adapters


Rear speakers in place

The two amps are on a small rack that sits under the rear trunk floor in the tire well. It has a little bracket under it that hooks into the spare tire retainer; that plus friction keeps it in place nicely.



The head unit mounted very neatly. I'm a tiny bit sad that the head unit is smaller than the actual hole in the dash, meaning I missed out on a little bit of potential screen real estate. At the time, the Kenwood DDX916WS (which is as wide as that Subaru/Toyota stereo mounting hole) hadn't come out yet. The Pioneer screen is plenty bright and easy to use, though.


Head unit in Apple CarPlay mode


Spotify


Nav using Apple Maps

After a couple of days at the install place, it was all done and it works great. The stock steering wheel controls all work -- that means I can switch between radio/aux/CarPlay using the mode button, control volume, and switch stations or tracks, all from the steering wheel. The aux port and USB port under the armrest work. There's a hands-free mic up in the headliner that's far better than the OEM one.

The CarPlay features are about 90% satisfying. It's a little frustrating that you cannot enter any text data through the head unit. That is, if you want to enter a new nav destination or choose a new artist on Spotify or anything like that, that's a no go. You have to do that on the phone itself (while you are not driving, obviously), then plug in to implement the new destination or channel.

Another issue with CarPlay (and Android Auto too) at this time is that the phone has to be physically wired up to the head unit. For whatever reason, you can't run it wirelessly, at least not yet. It's not like it's a huge hassle to plug in the phone, but it's just one more thing to keep track of.

There are sometimes glitches with the head unit. Used with my trusty iPod Classic (in direct connect mode, where the head unit is controlling the iPod through the USB port), the iPod will crash about once every few hours of use. Used with a USB thumb drive full of music, the head unit has occasionally crashed and rebooted itself. Oh, and one more thing about using a thumb drive -- the head unit has to index all the music on the drive every time you power it up. If it's a big drive (128GB) that can take 5-10 minutes.

Another user interface thing that bugs me is there's no rotary volume knob. I realize this is a challenge with flat-screen head units, and some of the units that DO have a rotary knob have a little teeny one that's difficult to use anyway.

One final annoyance is that if you want to run your iOS nav through CarPlay, you are stuck using Apple Maps. Which is, in my opinion, much inferior to Google Maps. Oh well -- it still gets me where I need to go, and it's still being updated and improved all the time.

Those are small gripes. The overall implementation of CarPlay is great and really brings both the functions and the user experience of the iOS to the car.

Overall, this setup fills most of my requirements for getting music/phone/podcast/map data in my car. It sounds great and the install is almost totally stealth.

Thanks for reading.

--Dan
Mach V
FastWRX.com
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Last edited by Mach V Dan; 10-03-2017 at 06:32 PM.
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Old 10-03-2017, 01:41 PM   #2
Midnite8
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Nice post, but I didn't notice any sound deadening...?
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Old 10-03-2017, 03:04 PM   #3
Mach V Dan
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Originally Posted by Midnite8 View Post
Nice post, but I didn't notice any sound deadening...?
OMGthecarisgoingtoexplode!

Do you have a question?

--Dan
Mach V
FastWRX.com
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Old 10-03-2017, 03:56 PM   #4
gaugeof12
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Does the stock back up cam still work? If it does do you have really bad fisheye? Looks like a great upgrade. I would like to do something similar if i could keep everything working.
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Old 10-03-2017, 04:02 PM   #5
Mach V Dan
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Originally Posted by gaugeof12 View Post
Does the stock back up cam still work?
The stock backup camera still works, displaying on the stock multi-function display as it always did. I guess I could have plumbed the camera into the new head unit, but I didn't think of it.

Quote:
If it does do you have really bad fisheye?
Uh...no more fisheye than it ever did?

--Dan
Mach V
FastWRX.com
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Old 10-03-2017, 05:07 PM   #6
Midnite8
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Originally Posted by Mach V Dan View Post
OMGthecarisgoingtoexplode!

Do you have a question?

--Dan
Mach V
FastWRX.com
Haha! Did you just decide not to do any deadening?
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Old 10-03-2017, 05:46 PM   #7
Mach V Dan
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Originally Posted by Midnite8 View Post
Haha! Did you just decide not to do any deadening?
Yes. The labor is a lot, and the benefit not worth it me on this particular car. Plus, I wanted to keep the weight down. That was another reason for that plastic sub enclosure, instead of the custom MDF or fiberglas/plywood boxes I've done in previous cars.

--Dan
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Old 10-03-2017, 09:34 PM   #8
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Thanks for sharing and you chosen nice gear.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Midnite8 View Post
Nice post, but I didn't notice any sound deadening...?
And nothing to guide the sound inside the car as well.
Front speakers drilled directly in the door, glued with silicon and apparently tap on factory speakers wires... (when it's really easy to run new wire)

Rien pour écrire à sa mère
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Old 10-04-2017, 08:46 AM   #9
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Very cool. The day is gonna come when the stock unit in my car is getting replaced.

For me, head unit NAV is dead. Not only does Google Maps tend to be up to date, the traffic function can save you many hours by diverting you around traffic jams. I want a setup like yours where it can display on that big screen.
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Old 10-04-2017, 11:35 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by tmcquinn View Post
Very cool. The day is gonna come when the stock unit in my car is getting replaced.

For me, head unit NAV is dead. Not only does Google Maps tend to be up to date, the traffic function can save you many hours by diverting you around traffic jams. I want a setup like yours where it can display on that big screen.
Pioneer, Sony and Kenwood offer great HU.

If you don't want DVD/CD reader, Sony has a very good model as well.
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Old 10-04-2017, 12:04 PM   #11
Mach V Dan
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BHOD View Post
Thanks for sharing and you chosen nice gear.
Thanks.

Quote:
And nothing to guide the sound inside the car as well.
Uh, what?

Quote:
Front speakers drilled directly in the door, glued with silicon and apparently tap on factory speakers wires... (when it's really easy to run new wire)
The wire is all new. The speaker spacers are sealed to the door with silicone; they are fastened with screws. The front speakers also required spacers, so they are not "drilled directly in the door." How do you prefer to attach speakers to doors?



Quote:
Rien pour écrire à sa mère
"Nothing to write Mom about"? Sorry it does not meet your Bureau of French-Speaking Car Stereo Snobs standards. My goal in posting this was to share what I did, and maybe help some other people in making decisions on similar installs. (Here's another thread with questions about just this kind of thing.) I don't by any means represent this system as the best-sounding system in the universe. It was a straightforward install that meets my personal needs.

--Dan
Mach V
FastWRX.com

Last edited by Mach V Dan; 10-04-2017 at 12:10 PM.
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Old 10-04-2017, 01:29 PM   #12
gaugeof12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mach V Dan View Post
The stock backup camera still works, displaying on the stock multi-function display as it always did. I guess I could have plumbed the camera into the new head unit, but I didn't think of it.

Uh...no more fisheye than it ever did?

--Dan
Mach V
FastWRX.com
Thanks Dan. I though that some of the "processing" to remove the fisheye for the camera was done by the head unit. MAYBE that's ONLY an issue if you are rerouting it to go through the head unit display.
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Old 11-17-2017, 02:52 PM   #13
Mach V Dan
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Originally Posted by gaugeof12 View Post
Thanks Dan. I though that some of the "processing" to remove the fisheye for the camera was done by the head unit. MAYBE that's ONLY an issue if you are rerouting it to go through the head unit display.
Huh. I don't know. I didn't even look into running the backup camera into the Pioneer head unit.

--Dan
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Old 11-20-2017, 06:18 PM   #14
Drew18WRX
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BHOD View Post
Thanks for sharing and you chosen nice gear.

And nothing to guide the sound inside the car as well.
Front speakers drilled directly in the door, glued with silicon and apparently tap on factory speakers wires... (when it's really easy to run new wire)

Rien pour écrire à sa mère
Entry level sound system.

Should they have been riveted?

What is wrong with OEM wiring? It is copper. How much power is run through the wire? Unless you are running significantly higher power you are wasting money, time and energy. Even then... still not really necessary. The signal loss is going to be nearly non-existant.

Seems like a lot of trash talking for no reason in this thread.


The only issue I noted was you said it took the shop a few days to do this. Sounds excessive to me. Deck+SWC/4spk/2 amps/sub+wiring. Would likely have taken less than a day when I was working in a shop.

That being said glad your happy can't wait to get my WRX, I have a bunch of parts awaiting install once I receive it.
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Old 11-30-2017, 12:45 PM   #15
Mach V Dan
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Originally Posted by Drew18WRX View Post
Unless you are running significantly higher power you are wasting money, time and energy. Even then... still not really necessary.
In this case I am running significantly more power. We've gone from whatever the OEM head unit has -- 20 watts? -- to around 475 watts RMS. (The JL amps are 75x4 and 175x1 at 4 ohms.) So I think the larger gauge wire is justified.

Quote:
The only issue I noted was you said it took the shop a few days to do this. Sounds excessive to me. Deck+SWC/4spk/2 amps/sub+wiring. Would likely have taken less than a day when I was working in a shop.
I can't argue with that, but I wasn't really in a hurry, so the time to get it done didn't bother me.

--Dan
Mach V
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Old 12-01-2017, 12:31 PM   #16
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Thanks for posting!
Great looking install. I really wish there was a solution that included google maps for ios.
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Old 12-01-2017, 06:13 PM   #17
Six WRX
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Very nice install; curious, did you consider installing the amps under the front seats?
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Old 12-01-2017, 10:03 PM   #18
Mach V Dan
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Originally Posted by Six WRX View Post
Very nice install; curious, did you consider installing the amps under the front seats?
Yes. After measuring, I think we decided the largest one would not fit.

--Dan
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Old 12-02-2017, 12:38 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mach V Dan View Post
Thanks.


Uh, what?


The wire is all new. The speaker spacers are sealed to the door with silicone; they are fastened with screws. The front speakers also required spacers, so they are not "drilled directly in the door." How do you prefer to attach speakers to doors?




"Nothing to write Mom about"? Sorry it does not meet your Bureau of French-Speaking Car Stereo Snobs standards. My goal in posting this was to share what I did, and maybe help some other people in making decisions on similar installs. (Here's another thread with questions about just this kind of thing.) I don't by any means represent this system as the best-sounding system in the universe. It was a straightforward install that meets my personal needs.

--Dan
Mach V
FastWRX.com


Oh, hells yea
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Old 12-02-2017, 04:13 PM   #20
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Looks good Dan. I've followed your posts over the years but still haven't bought anything directly from you. I can never decide on a wheel setup so I've stayed stock all these years lol.

This inspires me to take apart my factory kicker sub box and line it with dynamat type material. I already spent 1000's on new speakers, wiring, multiple head units, cleansweep and just have never been happy with the audio from my 13 sti. Maybe lining the kicker box will give my bass a little more of a clean sound.
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