1997 Plymouth Voyager upgrading factory stereo


Krazy Jeff
11-21-2007, 06:34 AM
Preparation:
I recently purchased this van (used) and it still had the original factory stock stereo and speakers. I like a good sound, so it didn't take too long to convince myself of replacing the sound system.

Before I did, I got a copy of a Haynes Repair Manual for my vehicle, to be sure to learn how to get to the stereo without breaking anything or missing some important hidden screws.

I then started to see what kind of good deals I can find in my local area. I usually read the local Reader and Penny-saver on a daily basis, and I do recall there are always ads on good deals going on. And even though I can install any stereo on my own without any effort--as long I have a good idea how to remove and install something--I am good to go, some of these deals sounded to good to be true.

My Story:
But I then looked at the Penny-saver and other newspapers on some free installation deals. Found a few place near my home. Went to visit them early a Monday morning and was disappointed on the fact that what they were advertising wasn't exactly what I was gonna get. Talking about false advertisement and bait and switch scams!!

The issue is that I am knowledgeable about audio systems--not necessarily auto audio, but have installed night-club sound systems and provided sound reinforcement for some live venues and I am also a mobile DJ for many years.

The funniest scam is that in the paper ad, it said it was gonna be a Sony XPlod 2200watt Heart Pounding System (all 2007 Models) for only $89 dollars (free installation) extra for parts. Here is the list on the ad:

[1] Sony Xplod AM/FM CD Player 200 watts (no model shown on ad),
[1] Sony Xplod XM-504Z Built in Crossover Amp,
[1] Sony Xplod 10-inch Subwoofer with Box,
[2] Sony Xplod two-way 5 1/4 speakers

Picture of ad:

http://img9.imageshack.us/img9/6743/sonyxplodad.jpg
I am not sure if it's permissible here to attach the entire paper ad that shows the details of the store's address and contact information, but I though it might be permissible if I just include the system that was on sale and I was focusing on. If can attach the entire ad to prevent others from this scam in my city, please let me know.

But after reviewing the amp model on the Internet I discovered it might just barely put out 500 watts. And by following what they say in the ad, the receiver unit 200 watts, so I asked myself, where is the rest of the missing 1500 watts to make 2200 watts total? I did ask them that question in one of the stores and they said that they were including the watts that the speakers could take--LOL!!

Plus here is the kick of the story, when it came down to actually seeing what they were planning on giving me for the ad deal, it was units that were all off-brand! Not one Sony component!! I mean where was the Sony Xplod stuff?

Plus even though in their ads it would say Free Installation, they were gonna stiff me with the installation, because the mumbo jumbo the harnesses, plus the parts, like cables and extra junk.

I really feel sorry for those naive customers. I bet they are in business because they catch a lot of suckers.

Well the total of the supposedly $89 off-brand system was gonna cost me $375 with installation fee and with all the extras included. Jesus! What happened to the ad price? They were saying $89, free installation, and only extra on parts. Where did they get the extra $286??

I am not racist, but the three stores I went to were Armenian (or Arab) salespeople, plus their English wasn't that good, so it was hard to understand what all the mumbo jumbo they were adding to the fee.

I am no idiot when it comes to audio devices, so I left, they did try to get me to buy anything when they saw me walk out the door.. but I walked away, smiling and happier that I had learned a thing or two about "If the deal sounds too good to be true, BEWARE!"


Conclusion:
Well, I then decided to go to BestBuy, get myself the best CD/MP3 player receiver that I could afford under $200 [Kenwood KDC-MP235 $99.99] (see picture below), bought the car stereo installation kit (since I will be replacing quite a large hole when I pull out the original stereo the mini-van comes with), got the wire harness.

http://img63.imageshack.us/img63/6184/kenwoodradio.jpg
Kenwood KDC-MP235

Installation went quite easy, it probably took me about maybe 20 minutes tops to complete the work. Here is a quick rundown: (I wish I would have taken snap shots of this installation, but didn't think of it at the moment--sorry.)

Disconnect the cable from the negative terminal of the battery.
Remove the dashboard radio/heater and A/C bezel screw access cover. Then remove the attaching screws holding the bottom and top of the bezel. Pull the bezel out part way.
Disconnect the wire connector from the heater and A/C control (funny thing that I noticed is that the turn signals of the van won't work if these cables stay disconnected).
Remove the mounting screws, pull the radio out of the instrument panel, disconnect the antenna and electrical connectors and also unscrew the ground cable behind the radio.
I then connected the wire harness (I purchased) to the new radio's supplied wire harness. (I didn't have crimp on butt connectors, so I used small wire nuts I had in my tool chest). Once I followed the connection sequence (pretty easy, all cables are color coded--so even a non-electrical person could easily do this).
Mounted the Installation Kit I also bought--followed it's very good illustrated instructions.
Once this one done, I connected briefly the car battery to check that the radio is working--perfect!! (This is when I discovered that the turn signals and lamps will not function if the wires of the heater and A/C controls are not connected to the control panel--very weird!)
disconnected the battery once again
Go through the installation in the reverse of removal.
Done!

I must say, that the new stereo really improved the overall audio inside the mini-van. There is bass and good mids and high definition. Can't wait to upgrade the stock speakers 5 1/4 dash speakers and 6x9 rear speakers and then get myself a good subwoofer in a box and a dedicated amp for it. I have read the sticky thread where you guys have listed some good recommendations.. I will probably look into those models. And I am also happy that at the end I didn't get stuck with a Sony system since you guys have it listed in the NOT RECOMMENDED LIST (http://www.automotiveforums.com/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=382679).

I know that with the help and support of this great and informative forum, I will get lots of good advice and suggestions. So please don't hesitate to give me your advice at anytime. Hopefully I can also help when I can. :grinyes:

Here are a few before and after pictures. (The before picture was taken during the day at another time, and the after pictures were taken during night time after a few hours that the installation was completed--was just proud of my new Kenwood look!)

http://img694.imageshack.us/img694/7418/beforeradio.jpg
Before (Factory Radio)

http://img301.imageshack.us/img301/979/afterradio.jpg
After (Kenwood Upgrade)

http://img9.imageshack.us/img9/1516/afternoflash.jpg
After (Dark No Flash)

http://img519.imageshack.us/img519/9691/afterflash.jpg
After (Dark with Flash)

PaulD
11-21-2007, 07:33 PM
if the stock stereo is more than like 4 years old, then I am sure a new CD player will sound a lot better.

Krazy Jeff
11-27-2007, 09:43 PM
New Update:

I've been having issues with this head unit. It seems to skip or stall when playing a CD and it seems to react to the very last tracks on a CD. Now I have tried both CD-R's and Original CDs and it seems to do the same thing.

Today I went to BestBuy and exchanged it for a new one (same brand/model). Well, that one also had the same issue. So I went there again and replaced it with the same one (same brand/model), and same thing! But not as bad as the two predecessors. I don't know why they are behaving this way? I mean, I do burn my own CD-Rs with Nero and also tried original CDs that are in mint/new condition. These CDs play fine in all my other CD player units around the house and also a stock CD player on another car I own.

Can anyone suggest a troubleshoot? Or does anyone know if Kenwood provide a firmware upgrade to their units? Or is that even possible with these types of electronics for autos?

I do have up to 30 days to exchange it or get a full refund. If I keep getting this issue with this third replacement I will have to go back and probably get a another brand and/or higher model number. I might look into an Alpine unit.

I swear, I am upset. You would think that Kenwood would at least have mastered playing back CD-Rs or regular CDs. I mean CDs is an old technology now.. I am sure most companies must have already fixed all the bugs by now.

AWP9521
11-27-2007, 10:30 PM
Take it back, 3 strikes your out with the Kenwoods. I'd get the refund or try a different deck from another name brand manufacturer comparable in price. If it is skipping at the end of the CD now it will just get worse later, then your stuck with it.

PaulD
11-28-2007, 09:09 AM
CD's are not constant velocity, they vary the speed in relation to where te laser is, iirc it spins more than twice as fast on the outside of the disc (near the end). If that's right then motor is not spinning fast enough to keep up.

Does it skip when you are just parked somewhere (not moving) and does it skip when you play it at low volumes ?

Krazy Jeff
11-28-2007, 07:23 PM
Does it skip when you are just parked somewhere (not moving) and does it skip when you play it at low volumes ?
Actually that is how I discovered it was skipping. It was parked. I was playing a full CD and noticed that it started to glitch or skip or stutter or even repeat when it was trying to play the last three or four tracks on the CD. So I then started to pop in a few more CDs and noticed it was behaving the same way. When it gets to the end of almost any CD, it starts to skip whether I am driving or just in park.

When it starts to skip, I do lower the volume--because it's unbearable and it's embarrassing.. and it keeps on skipping. The only way I can stop it from doing it is that I turn off the head unit. Then turn it on, and remembers the last place it was playing and it doesn't skip anymore.. it plays the CD throughout. It is quite weird.

I would have never of noticed it, since I do hook up my iPod to it and also have an old Kenwood CD changer. The CD changer never skips. Nor the iPod. The head unit plays good nonstop with those two devices playing. Just that the internal CD mechanism doesn't seem to work 100%.

I am planning of just returning it and replacing it with a different brand. I think I will try an Alpine around the same price range $99 - $150 (the Kenwood was on sale for $99.99 it normally at $149).

What has me puzzled is that the BestBuy salesperson said that he has sold this unit before to other customers, and none of them have returned yet. I am wondering if those people are using the internal CD player?

On a side note: Since I was able to hear three identical head units on my car system. I noticed that the 2nd head unit has a weaker bass response. The 1st head unit I returned and this 3rd one I still have, I just barely go up to +4 on the Bass frequency and my speakers are pumping up some nice bass. But on the 2nd head unit, I was up to max (+8) and sounded still very weak in the bass signal. I wonder why they would put out a head unit without testing to make sure it's 100%? Can you imagine someone not knowing any better would get stuck with the 2nd unit?

PaulD
11-28-2007, 08:05 PM
the 2nd unit may have had a bass eq or crossover misadjusted and you didn't know it.

A true story about Kenwood (home audio) ...... they KNEW they had a problem with a certain CD player model skipping. They sent out a tech bulletin telling the techs to attach a fishing line wire to opposing corners to stiffen the chassis a little. In their own words from the tech brief (as best as I can remeber), it said at the end ...... "this should be enough to get you over the warranty period." All I could say is wow.

aww1
11-28-2007, 08:06 PM
people who dont know any better get jobbed all the time. best buy quoted me at 140 dollars JSUT TO INSTALL AA HEAD Unit. seriously they told me i needed 80 dollars worth of parts (in actually they total 10-15) and 60 dollars in labor. i called a local auto accessory/stereo store and they will install it for 60 dollars including parts

Krazy Jeff
11-28-2007, 08:49 PM
the 2nd unit may have had a bass eq or crossover misadjusted and you didn't know it.
No, I set it to the same settings as the previous one. And used the same Hip-Hop CD that had the best bass sound. Since I am good of learning user manuals of audio electronics, I am quite fast in being able to learn my ways around all the menus and functions. Trust me, the bass response on the 2nd unit was dimmed compared to the other two.

aww1, in case you read the start of this thread and assumed originally I was referring to BestBuy, I would like to clear that it wasn't BestBuy who tried that nasty shenanigan. I did purchase that head unit at BestBuy after not getting what I was promised in those other shady stores. But I didn't get them to install it for me. I am pretty handy myself in installing a radio--as long I have good instructions in front of me and know a blueplan of how to disassemble the area where the radio goes inside a vehicle.

But I do agree with you, they seem to double the price on the extra parts. I mean just the wire harness to match your vehicle is over priced. You can get the wire harness cheaper ($14) at a local Kragen Auto Parts.

aww1
11-28-2007, 09:44 PM
i realized you weren't referring to best buy in your first post but just wanted to share the experience. they quoted me at 20 dollars eatch for the harness dash kit antenna adapter and something else that i know isnt required to install a radio. i found the dash kit by scosh and antenna adapter and wiring harness also scosh for like 15 total. they dont even do a good job. my friend got a cd player installed there and it was wired incorrectly and wouldnt work right. i ended up having to fix it for him

PaulD
11-29-2007, 09:02 AM
it's hard to find good installers these days, and when you do - they cost

Krazy Jeff
12-04-2007, 11:18 PM
Update:

Well after dealing with the playback CD malfunctions that I reported a few posts above on this third replacement (same brand/model) from Kenwood. I decided today to treat myself and get (hopefully) a better unit.

Pioneer DEH-P6900UB
http://img9.imageshack.us/img9/7127/pioneerdehp69000ub.jpg


Seems that this Pioneer model has a bit more features than the Kenwood I had. Yes, it is a bit pricier than the Kenwood ($100 more), but thought I'd have better luck with Pioneer. (This will be the second time I own a Pioneer unit for an automobile--of what I recall, never had any issues with them before.) This was my first try at Kenwood and I was disappointed on the quality of the mechanism of playing back CDs on it, that I think I'll never look at another Kenwood again.

I did look for a moment at the Alpine brand, but what I got was their design still looks a bit old--like many years back when I used to see them during the cassette playing era. And I also noticed that it seems that only their very pricey units have all the latest technology that most other brands seem to offer even on their lower priced units. It seems hard to find a new Alpine unit under $200 that has advance features like their competitors. Or maybe I didn't look hard enough?

I ordered this unit at www.jr.com (http://www.jr.com) which I was the only online store (that I respect and trust--that means a lot to me) where it was priced less ($40 to $50 less--plus didn't have to pay any California State tax on it) than any of the local electronic stores around me (BestBuy, Circuit City, and etc.) I did pay the 2 day shipping ($15), so I am hopeful I will get this new unit by Thursday of this week.

I'll report back when I have installed it and played a bit with the functions to give you guys more feedback on it (including new pictures). Hopefully I don't find any malfunctions. (crossing fingers)

As soon as I install this new one, I plan to return the Kenwood to my local BestBuy store and hopefully get a full refund on it, or at the very least get store credit.

Krazy Jeff
12-11-2007, 10:17 PM
Apologies for my update, but I got busy during the weekend and then I've been "patiently" waiting for my sister to return the digital camera so I can take pics of the new stereo in the dash.

Last Thursday, the stereo arrived as promised by UPS (I really hate that the UPS driver just left the box on my steps, than trying to ring the doorbell, I was inside all day, I would have heard the doorbell.)

I then replaced the stereo. I noticed that this Pioneer unit had a few more wires to hook up than the Kenwood. After a few minutes, wow! What a difference! This CD unit plays all my CDs without any glitches or skips. The Pioneer has a lot more cool features than the Kenwood unit. The sound is 10 times better, and it has multiple band graphic EQ, has RCA outputs for front, rear, and sub amps. Has a cool built in crossover, that actually allows you to choose the cut off frequency for the non-external amp speakers so they don't bottom out.

I'll be providing pics as soon as I get the camera.

Krazy Jeff
01-22-2008, 02:40 PM
Ah, finally remembered to take the picture now with the Pioneer Deck (described above).

This deck has been flawless. Works great!! Many fun driving hours now! Works great with the 4th Generation iPod, flash drive, CD-Rs, MP3 Data CD-Rs and etc.

I still have to purchase the Blue Tooth adapter. Can't wait to have a conversation through the sound system.

http://img519.imageshack.us/img519/696/pioneer.jpg

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