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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
At long last, I have completed my stereo integration project and the results have been what I expected. My '04 Spyder has the NIT with the Auditorium upgrade and Blaupunkt CD changer. My goal was to add satellite radio and an iPod input with as little cosmetic modification as possible and without spending a whole lot. Based on the number of threads about expanding the stock stereo system, I hope this information will be useful to others.

I initially looked into a Kenwood hardwired FM modulator unit that has an external control panel and screen. I'm a fan of Kenwood gear and we use one of those modulators for Sirius in the Range Rover, with the controller tucked away in the sunglasses holder, so everything looks tip-top. Unfortunately, in the Maserati, there just wasn't a good place to stick the controller.

That's when I really got to researching Kenwood's other offerings. As some have already mentioned on here, they make two models of external "brains" designed to integrate with a stock stereo, but both require an external monitor. What you'd have to do is replace the NIT screen with a Kenwood touchscreen and make the Maserati video feed an additional input on the Kenwood. That way you can switch over to that input to use HVAC controls, navigation, etc.

Since that involved too much money, effort, and customization for my tastes, I ended up getting a Kenwood KOS-A200. It is a hideaway box that accepts a 5L bus connection from other Kenwood accessories like Sirius, iPod, HD radio, bluetooth, etc., and has a USB input and two sets of RCAs. It connects to the factory stereo through a hardwired FM modulator. That means it's spliced into the FM antenna wire. When you turn the unit on, it kills all other radio reception and you get no static like you would with a regular FM modulator. Turn it off and your radio is back to normal.

There is no question that the audio quality is not as good as a digital connection would be--it sounds like really clear and strong FM radio. However, the beauty of this setup is that the A200 sends text to the head unit over RDS, just like an FM station. As a result, you can see track information, menus, etc., right on the NIT screen.

The only external component of the entire setup is a little IR receiver, which also houses the on/off switch for the A200. After playing around with it, I decided to stick it just to the right of the steering wheel column, as you can see in the picture. It's not very noticeable there, plus the wire goes right into the opening, rather than use a seam or drill a hole somewhere. The unit comes with a standard Kenwood handheld remote control, which is how the entire shebang is operated. The remote is great because it's easy to find the right button and the system has different-sounding beeps for various commands, so you don't need to take your eyes off the road.

So far, I'm very happy with the outcome. Between the A200, the Sirius tuner, and the iPod interface, the parts cost less than $250 (using a combination of Crutchfield, Amazon, and eBay). I used a reputable stereo shop that charged me for four hours' worth of labor to install everything, including the satellite antenna on the trunk lid and the iPod cable, which is routed into the center console (you don't need access to the iPod because everything is controlled through the remote/screen). In the future, I might even try adding Kenwood's bluetooth unit, which will require an external mic.
 

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Pls post more pics, trunk also and maybe some higher resolution will be more satisfying.
In the one you've posted I can tell there is a ripped pair of jeans you're wearing but I'm sure there are not part of that stereo upgrade:D
Thanks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Pls post more pics, trunk also and maybe some higher resolution will be more satisfying.
In the one you've posted I can tell there is a ripped pair of jeans you're wearing but I'm sure there are not part of that stereo upgrade:D
Thanks.
I like to show off my pasty knees. :D

All that picture was meant to show is the little IR receiver mounted next to the steering column. Nothing else is visible on the outside. The A200 "brain" is mounted on top of the CD changer; the Sirius tuner and iPod interface are hidden in the center console.

I've added a closer shot of the IR unit, sans knee.
 

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Fantastic

This is great. I have the same conundrum and I love your solution. Not being a stereophile and also wanting to keep the stock look as much as possible, I think you've come upon a great solution. I'm curious about how much info comes up on the screen for both the ipod and sirius. Can you describe or post pix of both.
Also perhaps you can answer my question: who makes the head unit on your car?
Congrats on a great job and thanks for sharing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
This is great. I have the same conundrum and I love your solution. Not being a stereophile and also wanting to keep the stock look as much as possible, I think you've come upon a great solution. I'm curious about how much info comes up on the screen for both the ipod and sirius. Can you describe or post pix of both.
Also perhaps you can answer my question: who makes the head unit on your car?
Congrats on a great job and thanks for sharing.
I've read elswhere on this board that the head unit is a Becker.

As for the on-screen info, you get one automatically scrolling line of text. During playback, you can choose whether you want to see track information, artist name, etc. For some reason these things have never been able to display more than one category of data at a time, except for HD radio. When you push "menu" on the remote, the text changes to the menu selections.

There is sometimes a slight lag in the RDS process, which is why they made the system beep to acknowledge commands. For example, if I want to punch in channel 100 on Sirius, each digit would take a couple seconds to show up on the screen, but I know from the beeps that it's working and, once the channel changes, the new info comes up.
 

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This could be the solution I was hoping for. No desire to spend 1000's on new screens etc, just want a clean way to get Sirius and iPod into the head unit.

Pics, pics pics of install please! Also, which Sirius unit did you use?
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Pics, pics pics of install please! Also, which Sirius unit did you use?
I'll try to take some pictures of the hidden components, but you should be able to find a qualified custom stereo installer who will know exactly how to mount and run everything.

As far as the Sirius tuner, I used the older SIR-KEN1 because it has a pass-through port, so the iPod controller can be daisy-chained. The current Sirius model is the generic SC-C1, which requires you to buy a separate Kenwood adapter box. However, that does not have a pass-through, and neither does the iPod unit. In order to hook up both, you'd need yet another accessory, a 5L splitter box. The only reason to do all that would be if you want the newer Sirius tuner to be able to get XM channels, for example. I didn't care so much about that, plus I got a refurbished SIR-KEN1 on the cheap.

Oh, another note for anyone seriously considering this: you'll need a European antenna adapter, which should cost $25 or so. Otherwise you'll have to splice the wires together.
 

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Is the Ipod interface the KCA-IP500?
 

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Do you know what the model number of the adapter you had to get to allow it to plug into your factory screen? I found a piece from kenwood (KOS-V500), but it says that I need another piece to actually integrate it with my factory screen.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Do you know what the model number of the adapter you had to get to allow it to plug into your factory screen? I found a piece from kenwood (KOS-V500), but it says that I need another piece to actually integrate it with my factory screen.
If you read my original post, you'll see that I'm talking about the KOS-A200, which does not really connect to the factory screen, except to send text through RDS. The only point of connection to the factory equipment is through the FM antenna.

The KOS-V series units hook up to external screens, but I don't know if it's possible to use one with the factory NIT. If you use a V500, the only option I'm aware of is to replace the screen and make the NIT video feed an extra input.
 

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Lionel - couple of quick questions:

Did the SIR-KEN1 come with a remote? I've seen some with and without, and assume you need it in order to control channel etc

Does the A200 show song/artist info from the KEN1? What does is show in the RDS when the Sirius is selected?

thanks
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Lionel - couple of quick questions:

Did the SIR-KEN1 come with a remote? I've seen some with and without, and assume you need it in order to control channel etc

Does the A200 show song/artist info from the KEN1? What does is show in the RDS when the Sirius is selected?

thanks
The SIR-KEN1 does not come with a remote. Everything is controlled usng the A200's remote. When you select Sirius as the source, the RDS shows "SIRIUS," then the preset bank and channel number. After that, you can select whether you want artist or song name on the RDS.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I usually just listen to the Stern replay in the afternoon, since I only get a half-hour's worth on my way to work in the morning.

Ferrall's good too, though.
 
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