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Old 11-04-2013, 12:07 PM   #1
phenryiv1
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Default Updated 2011 WRX Install (AVH-X3600BHS, Focal 165 CA1, PBR300X1, Polk DXi104)

(Mirror write-up at http://www.subaruaudio.net/my-wrx/au...m-version-1-5/ )

After nearly 3 years with my Clarion HU (which has served me quite well, I might add) I decided to upgrade to something with HD Radio for my 100-mile commute. I considered models form several companies, but knowing how much I have liked Pioneer in the past, I went with the new AVH-X3500BHS.



I considered the 5500BHS for the 4V pre-outs but did not need the larger screen or motorized face, and since I don't know if item #2 (below) is going to allow my 100% steering wheel functionality I did not want to spend any more money on a HU that might not be staying in place.

Drumroll, please...



HUGE thanks to warpdwhim on here, who sourced the Pioneer of Canada harness with the PAC unit that (supposedly) has the custom programming to integrate into the Subaru steering wheel controls.

The HU arrived a few weeks ago and I was waiting on the harness to do the install. It finally cleared customs last week and arrived at the end of the week, but I did not get a chance to install it over the weekend.

I will have to run the front speakers off of the HU for the trial period, as my current front stage pathway runs the speaker wire form the amp and is connected to the Metra "20-pin" wiring harness that I got from svxDC. Before I go hacking into the Pioneer harness to make that amp to speaker connection, I want to be 100% sure that I like the HU and its function- $130 (shipped) for the harness is a lot to waste if I don't like the HU.

Thanks to JSchell1309 for his guidance (http://forums.nasioc.com/forums/show....php?t=2526532), as well as evilspoons for the dissection of the SportTech option that features the PAC PSUBFSTI unit.

In other news, I sent money for a new (to me) sub enclosure and 12" subwoofer. I liked the in-spare sub enclosure that I got from JSEnclosures, but I wanted to make a change, so I snagged a customs 12" enclosure (similar to the AI option) that holds a Memphis 12" sub. It should arrive this week.

Lastly, I have started discussions with Don from http://www.sounddeadenershowdown.com/ about a whole new deadening project for the WRX doors. It won't be anything mind-blowing, but I will document it on www.subaruaudio.net alongside the existing deadening info.
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Last edited by phenryiv1; 12-19-2014 at 12:03 PM.
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Old 11-04-2013, 12:10 PM   #2
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Ballin'! That's a great HU, one of my faves these days.
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Old 11-04-2013, 01:20 PM   #3
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I like the foam tape wrapped parts. I've got some rattling noise that is intermittent behind my Kenwood navi deck that I installed and am about to pull it and wrap something around the parts back there to keep it quiet.
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Old 11-04-2013, 01:25 PM   #4
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Old 11-05-2013, 10:25 AM   #5
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WOo, glad I could help.

Also, I'm not sure if I ever said thanks for the speaker spacers I bought off you earlier in the year (~May?). They worked excellently.
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Old 11-05-2013, 10:26 AM   #6
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good luck!
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Old 11-05-2013, 12:11 PM   #7
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Did the Pac unit allow you to use the steering wheel controls to change radio presets and next song for bluetooth etc?
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Old 11-05-2013, 12:36 PM   #8
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Did the Pac unit allow you to use the steering wheel controls to change radio presets and next song for bluetooth etc?
Stay tuned (no pun intended). I have not yet installed it. The wiring came in late last week but I did not get the chance this past weekend to do the install. My enclosure arrives tonight but that probably won't go in until after the HU, but I still have to find the time to do the HU install.
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Old 11-18-2013, 11:56 AM   #9
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So I finally got the basic install done on the HU. Long story short...not terribly impressed. Not terribly happy. Not sure whether I will keep it.

I installed the AVH-X3500BHS last night using the Pioneer harness and while it functions pretty well with the SWCs, it is not perfect. I knew that it would not be, but it is really somewhat irksome.

My 2 main operability issues:

1. You cannot "power off" with a long-hold on the "Mode" button, as could be done with the Clarion aftermarket HU. It will turn on the unit and will switch modes, but it won't turn it off. I got really used to this when I got an incoming phone call (I use an in-ear BT because I have 2 phones and 4 cars and all of the synching would be a pain) so today when I went to answer a call and had to do a 2-step process on the screen to turn it off it was a bit cumbersome.

2. As suspected, the radio preset skip function on the HU was not compatible. It tunes with the ^V buttons, though if you hold them down, it will skip presets. You have to be super fast in the release or it jumps 2-3 presets. I can probably live with that, but it is a PITA.

Aside from that, the sound quality is pretty good so far. I have not re-connected the amp, thus I have no subwoofer and the front stage is driven off of just the HU power and it still sounds pretty good. Not great ,but pretty good.

The real deal-killer issue, however, is the tuner sensitivity. Stations that used to come in with the Clarion (and the OEM HU) are very static-y with the Pioneer and the HD Radio function is nearly useless due to the poor signal strength. 5 of my 6 presets are HD Radio-capable but they won't lock due to the poor reception. It may be a case of the antenna amplifier wire not being connected, but as this is a Subaru-specific harness made to work with a Pioneer head unit, I don't have high hopes.
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Old 11-18-2013, 11:56 AM   #10
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Double Post.

Last edited by phenryiv1; 11-18-2013 at 11:58 AM. Reason: Double Post
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Old 11-18-2013, 12:45 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by phenryiv1 View Post
2. As suspected, the radio preset skip function on the HU was not compatible. It tunes with the ^V buttons, though if you hold them down, it will skip presets. You have to be super fast in the release or it jumps 2-3 presets. I can probably live with that, but it is a PITA.
Yeah, that's exactly how my car behaves with the Subaru-of-Canada-installed X930BT. Kinda cheesy.

My apologies if I've posted this in this thread already, haha.
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Old 11-18-2013, 10:05 PM   #12
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Sorry to hear that PH... man that stinks. I was hoping for some good news.

As for the reception... I have the same issue with mine. When it locks in HD, it sounds great. When it doesn't, it's static-y and it fights between channels. It doesn't sound good at all.

I have no idea when they plan on expanding the digital radio waves, but until they do it looks like Pandora or my iPod is the best option for consistent SQ.

I hope your commute is towards Virginia/DC. I would think HD radio would expand more so from there, as opposed to the PA side. I could be wrong though.
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Old 11-18-2013, 10:52 PM   #13
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The SWC functions (radio tune vs. preset) are the standard way Pioneers work. You should not have been surprised.

Until Pioneer decides to change that, future models will be the same. It would probably take 1000s of people writing them politely and asking that future models have that (don't even think about them updating existing or older models -- it's not gonna happen).

That situation is completely independent of the steering wheel module you use. All of them will have that same issue, because the problem is entirely inside the HU.

A recent firmware update for the ASWC added the dual-assign feature. The Maestro module has that too. That allows you to have a short press do tune up/down and a long press is do preset up/down. That's now the default way the ASWC assigns the functions.

You could manually program the ASWC or Maestro to work the other way (short press = preset up/down, long press = tune up/down). But keep in mind that will impact the other modes (you would need to use a long press to do next/previous track when you're in CD or USB modes).

[ADDED:] I didn't know that Pioneers did two different things for short vs. long presses. I don't know how long or which models have had that feature. I think some aftermarket Clarions do roughly the reverse -- short press does preset up/down, long press does seek up/down.

As for HD radio, it requires a strong, clear signal. If your analog signal is spotty or has any noticeable static or dropouts, the HD will drop in and out (or simply not 'lock' to begin with).

HD works best when you are relatively close to the station's antenna tower, with minimal obstructions (such as mountains and tall buildings). Even here in metro Atlanta, there are spots where HD "hiccups" and flips back and forth to analog. When you turn off HD, you'll hear that the analog signal was getting noise or multipath distortion.

All you can do is make sure your car's antenna booster amplifier is working 100% (make sure it's getting a full 12V for power). And some radio brands have more sensitive tuners than others.

Last edited by SVXdc; 11-18-2013 at 11:03 PM.
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Old 11-19-2013, 10:14 AM   #14
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Do Kenwood or Alpine headunits handle the SWC better?
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Old 11-19-2013, 10:17 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SVXdc View Post
The SWC functions (radio tune vs. preset) are the standard way Pioneers work. You should not have been surprised.

Until Pioneer decides to change that, future models will be the same. It would probably take 1000s of people writing them politely and asking that future models have that (don't even think about them updating existing or older models -- it's not gonna happen).

That situation is completely independent of the steering wheel module you use. All of them will have that same issue, because the problem is entirely inside the HU.
David-

After playing with the PAC unit that I bought through Pioneer of Canada, I swapped out the Pioneer harness configuration for the harness and ASWC that I bought from you a few years ago. Once wired up, its default functions were MUCH more in line with what I wanted than was the Pioneer unit. The Pioneer harness was built for the AVIC units and I have an AVH unit. Apparently the controls are not the same.

The only reason that I thought that my AVH unit might have preset skip by default is the fact that on the 3500 the track skip and the preset skip functions are the same buttons on the face of the unit.

On the lower left corner of the unit (http://www.crutchfield.com/p_130X350...-X3500BHS.html) there are track forward/back buttons. They also control preset skip (up/down) and the tune and seek functions are part of the touch screen. For that reason, I was hopeful that maybe the track skip and preset skip functions through the SWCs would be translated in the same manner.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SVXdc View Post
A recent firmware update for the ASWC added the dual-assign feature. The Maestro module has that too. That allows you to have a short press do tune up/down and a long press is do preset up/down. That's now the default way the ASWC assigns the functions.

You could manually program the ASWC or Maestro to work the other way (short press = preset up/down, long press = tune up/down). But keep in mind that will impact the other modes (you would need to use a long press to do next/previous track when you're in CD or USB modes).
So back to the Metra unit (the one from you, 2-3 years old), the default programming was much more like it was with the Clarion. The Mode button still powered-up the unit and cycled modes, but a long hold shut down the unit, just as it did with the Clarion. And the default ^V did track skip in CD/MP3 but launched the tuner into tune with a short press and seek with a long press. By default, the phone answer/hang up buttons now do preset skip. Interesting, useful, and better than the Pioneer default functions, since I don't use my headunit for BT calling.

Leaning now toward keeping it, custom-programming the ASWC functions (I will swap the preset skip functions for the track skip functions, since I use tuner more often than CD/MP3), and I think that this will all work itself out.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SVXdc View Post
As for HD radio, it requires a strong, clear signal. If your analog signal is spotty or has any noticeable static or dropouts, the HD will drop in and out (or simply not 'lock' to begin with).

HD works best when you are relatively close to the station's antenna tower, with minimal obstructions (such as mountains and tall buildings). Even here in metro Atlanta, there are spots where HD "hiccups" and flips back and forth to analog. When you turn off HD, you'll hear that the analog signal was getting noise or multipath distortion.

All you can do is make sure your car's antenna booster amplifier is working 100% (make sure it's getting a full 12V for power). And some radio brands have more sensitive tuners than others.
I don't know that I notice a huge difference in the tuner sensitivity now that I can be 100% sure that the antenna booster is connected and powered up (I have no idea if the Pioneer harness connected that wire or not), but I think that the tuner strength is tolerable. Yesterday was a really bad day for reception due to atmospheric conditions, and today it was much better. These fluctuations happen, so I will give it a few more days of trial before making a final decision.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SVXdc View Post
[ADDED:] I didn't know that Pioneers did two different things for short vs. long presses. I don't know how long or which models have had that feature. I think some aftermarket Clarions do roughly the reverse -- short press does preset up/down, long press does seek up/down.
The new function was a 2013 feature, I believe. You know how relentlessly I have tracked Pioneer operability with the ASWC since back when I first bought my 2011 (I practically pounce on any new Pioneer/ASWC install thread) and the change in function was for the new 2013 models, as far as I can tell. I know it changed for the AVH units- still not sure about the AVIC units.

And your recollection of the Clarion units is correct. That is how mine functioned.

Last edited by phenryiv1; 11-19-2013 at 10:24 AM.
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Old 11-19-2013, 10:18 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by max6spd View Post
Do Kenwood or Alpine headunits handle the SWC better?
Different, not necessarily better.
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Old 11-21-2013, 11:27 AM   #17
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More new toys...



Focal coaxials to go in the rear doors. Just because I wanted a change.
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Old 11-22-2013, 10:26 AM   #18
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More progress on the Focal install...



Making the subaruaudio.net adapters for the rear doors, as detailed below:

Layout:



Drilled mounting holes:



Cutout made:



And now cut into the 2 adapters:



Test-fit (like a glove):





Hoping to get them installed this weekend.
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Old 11-23-2013, 09:21 AM   #19
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I'm really happy with my Focal front speakers (P 165 V15 components). You made the spacers I'm using for them When I installed them, I put a little gasket of B-Quiet sound dampener between the door and the spacer, and then again between the spacer and the speaker.

I probably would have picked up those same Access coaxials if I didn't have the Pioneer coaxials from my Sport-Tech package. Considering hardly anyone is ever in the back seats, they're certainly adequate enough for the job.

Don't the Focal speakers just FEEL so much nicer than the stock Subaru ones?
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Old 11-23-2013, 12:09 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by evilspoons View Post
I'm really happy with my Focal front speakers (P 165 V15 components). You made the spacers I'm using for them When I installed them, I put a little gasket of B-Quiet sound dampener between the door and the spacer, and then again between the spacer and the speaker.

I probably would have picked up those same Access coaxials if I didn't have the Pioneer coaxials from my Sport-Tech package. Considering hardly anyone is ever in the back seats, they're certainly adequate enough for the job.

Don't the Focal speakers just FEEL so much nicer than the stock Subaru ones?
They do feel much nicer. I plan to to a full deadener install soon but some of the materials that I need are on backorder.
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Old 12-05-2013, 12:25 PM   #21
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New (to me) toy:



The fiberglass in-spare sub enclosure is being sold in place of a custom enclosure that fits in the hatch side panel. I decided on a 12w1 because of the integrated grille and low power requirements.
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Old 01-14-2014, 03:01 PM   #22
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Took a while, but I finally have an update...

Installed the Focals in the adapters:



Align with top screw hole:



Now add the bottom 2 and tighten down:



For those who don't want to break the rear sail panel covers, I recommend using a screwdriver to hold the door panel away from the inner door skin then use a stubby #2 Philips screwdriver to attach the speakers. Not easy if you are not used to working in tight spaces or without good visibility but most "car" or "audio" guys/girls can work without good access or visibility so it should not be too tough.



Next up I finally re-installed the JDM panel, routed my USB cable down to the cubby and buttoned things up. I somehow un-set the ASWC but it took all of 5 minutes to remedy that.







More later on my impressions.
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Old 04-23-2014, 02:16 PM   #23
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It has been a while, but a little update.

I sold the hatch enclosure that I had been using for a while. My daughter got into snowboarding and we were piling up the hatch with gear so we kept caving in the grille that covered the 10" in-spare sub. I bought a custom 12" enclosure that nested on the left side but after fit-testing I decided it was too big and that I needed the space for other stuff. I still wanted some bass so I went with an NVX QBUS8. Supposedly this is (was) a re-badged Focal BUS 20 and in looking at photos, that appears to be the case ( http://www.sonicelectronix.com/pictu...ure_id=1022564 ). The QBUS8 is now discontinued, however, so who knows whether there will be a version 2 like there is with the BUS 20.









Anyway, for now the front and rear speakers are running off of the HU until I decide what I want to do for a main amp. I still have my Boston amp but I might go with an Alpine PowerPack and call it a day. With the increase in bass (as compared to no sub) the QBUS8 has enough to allow me to have some bass with the windows down. I still need to fiddle with the gains and boost to get it right but the improvement is worth the time and cost for the install.

I will be updating my install log on www.subaruaudio.net ( http://www.subaruaudio.net/my-wrx/audio-system/ ) later with more impressions.
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Old 06-15-2014, 09:08 PM   #24
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How is the NVX working out for you?
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Old 06-16-2014, 10:17 AM   #25
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How is the NVX working out for you?
Ironically enough, while I liked it it is actually being un-installed today. I have car ADD and decided to install a Polk 10" subwoofer that I bought about 2 years ago and never used, so I bought an amp (RF PBR300x1, http://www.rockfordfosgate.com/produ...tails/pbr300x1 ) and small box to put in the hatch. If I like the sub may swing for a better enclosure down the road but I just wanted to change things up. I also bought an Alpine universal PowerPack (KTP-445U, http://www.alpine-usa.com/product/view/ktp-445u ) that I need to install.

If you would be interested in buying the NVX, let me know ASAP. I am returning it this week. Nothing wrong with it- I just changed my mind. $125 shipped.
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