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Old 30th May 2005, 09:25 PM   #1
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Default Question regarding head unit & cd changer

Hi all, I am very new to all of this but I would like to learn as much as I can because I want to change the audio system in my car. I have a 2004 Nissan Pathfinder that has a stock Bose 7-speaker audio system with an in-dash 6 CD changer. My main priority is iPod connectivity and right now I'm looking at the Alpine CDA-9855 (is there anyone here who has seen/had experience with one of these and who wants to post some thoughts/tips/other info?). My question is basically how CD changers are related to the actual head unit. Are they tied completely or are they separate entities? I know I'd have to lose the stereo/radio head unit that came with my car, but is there anyway I can keep the CD changer and hook up the Alpine head unit to it so that I don't have to pay x hundred dollars for another changer? Also, considering the difficulty of this modification (you guys know how difficult is, i am clueless), would you guys reccommend I pay a profession $70 to have it installed or is this something that even a beginner (with substantial technical intuition) can do on their own? Thank you for your time. Please advise. - Dan
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Old 31st May 2005, 04:18 PM   #2
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I don't have experience with the 9855, but I've had the 9835 for the last year so I can speak about that. The features and sound are great, there are a few quirks that I don't like (lights dim excessively automatically with the headlights when the illum wire is connected (no way to bypass without cutting the illum wire), time is only available in 24hr format, etc) but they're very minor and easy to look past. The 9855 is basically the same thing but with an improved ipod interface and the glidestrip. While I've never played with one, I've heard a significant amount of complaints about the glidestrip. I'd recommend you go to the nearest local shop and play around with it to see if you like it.

About the changer, chances are you can't keep the stock one. AFAIK, most stock changers use a proprietary link that won't work with aftermarket decks, ESPECIALLY Bose changers. Bose likes to set up their stock systems so it's practically impossible to replace individual components and have it still work, I highly doubt you'll be able to get the changer to work with an Alpine, but who knows.

The changer is probably the least of your worries though, like I said, Bose likes to set up their systems so it's impossible to change pieces and have it still work. One of the big things that they like to do (they don't do this in all of the cars, just some) is use a bunch of little mono amplifiers for the speakers. They use the chassis as the - wire for the signal, and run ONE wire (the +, naturally) from the headunit to each of the four amps (which are mounted with the speaker in each of the 4 locations). It's stupid and I don't think you can swap out the headunit and still have it work without the risk of damaging the new headunit or the speakers. The easiest thing to do is to with a Bose system is just do a whole system swap at the same time, meaning headunit, all 4 speakers, changer if you want, and completely re-wiring the vehicle. While this sounds bad it's really not that hard, I've re-wired the audio in my car more times than I can count, after you get the interior panels off it's just a little bit of routing and connecting and you're done. Don't pay someone to do it for you unless you don't have the time, if the Bose system is set up like I just described then it won't cost the normal $70 to replace the headunit, they will charge you much much more after they take it apart and see what they're dealing with. And if you get the headunit and all 4 speakers, again they will charge you the $70 plus probably $50 for each pair of speakers, and even more for the re-wiring.

I would do a little searching to see how the Bose system is set up in your vehicle. It might be easy, in which case all you have to do to install a headunit is buy a wiring harness, splice maybe 13 wires (all you do is match up the colors), and you're done. If it's the hard one then you might have to replace the 4 speakers as well and do some re-wiring, which again is easy, just a little time consuming. With a headunit, there are a bunch of wires which make it a little intimidating at first, but when you get down to it it's very easy. You have the constant power and the ground, then you have the switched power which is what tells the unit to turn on and off when you turn the car on and off, then you have the + and - wires for each of the 4 speakers, then you have the illumination wire which tells the unit to dim or light up (depending on how it's set up) when you turn on the lights, the remote output which is run to an external amp if you're using one, and the antenna wire which is used to power up the antenna (if your antenna needs to be powered, most don't). That's it, and with a wiring harness all you need to do is match up the colors, red to red, yellow to yellow, etc. This is what the shop is charging you $70 to do, match up colors. If there is anything above and beyond this that needs to be done to get it to work, chances are they'll charge you a lot more to do it.
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