Replacing the crappy Head unit

Discussion in 'Subaru Levorg Modifcations' started by ozkan bicer, Dec 13, 2015.

  1. ozkan bicer

    ozkan bicer Active Member

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    What do you mean? Was it not the Clarion HU ?
     
  2. Peter Harrison

    Peter Harrison New Member

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    No a Apline was installed in Japan.
     
  3. anakinsky

    anakinsky New Member

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    I have a question: does this head unit work with iPod via USB?
     
  4. LevorgBlackOut

    LevorgBlackOut Member

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    I never changed the head unit. It’s a pioneer. All I did was add a fusion 4 channel amp, replace the existence speakers with upgraded morel’s, add 2 x 12” subs and a pioneer 700rms per channel amp to run those. The existing head until works with iPod and usb, just need to use the front usb and not the one in the arm rest.
     
  5. anakinsky

    anakinsky New Member

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    Can you post pics?
     
  6. LevorgBlackOut

    LevorgBlackOut Member

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    Sorry mate I sold it about 4 weeks ago.
     
  7. SkyBeam

    SkyBeam Member

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    Honestly I have no clue as I am keeping some safe distance to apple lock-in hardware. So I don't own any of these.

    The HU supports Bluetooth with A2DP though and not everybody seems to be happy with the audio quality on A2DP. I personally use it with local music stored on SD card or internal (32GB) storage or listening to DAB+ radio (my preference). Alternatively I can use any internet radio app or streaming app like spotify or google music on the device. Quite sufficient for me. No need to attach either my phone or any audio player to it for my usage profile.
     
  8. anakinsky

    anakinsky New Member

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  9. SkyBeam

    SkyBeam Member

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    Well, I didn't buy from Subispeed. They seem to offer this package for STI and WRX models but those models seem to use Subaru 20-Pin connector while my Levorg seems to have a 28-Pin main connector and the 6-pin speaker connector as well as the 10-pin speaker/power connector.

    Also with my Unit I got the WRX-style harness which maps the head unit output to the 20-Pin connector. To hook it up to the Levorg without cutting the OEM cables on the car I have ordered a Subaru 28-Pin cable. This is a bit hard to get but you can get one for example here.
    In addition I needed some Metra 70-1761 6-pin and 10-pin connectors (male) which are easy to get as they are used by Toyota too. Just search ebay for Metra 70-1761.

    Then you need to wire everything together. Here I used this forum post mainly which shows the full pinout for all connectors (note, there is no 16-pin connector in the Levorg). Also reverse-engineering the cable pinouts of the shipped 20-pin harness helps. Here's a pinout of the 20-pin Subaru connector.

    But this is basically all you need to wire up the head unit:
    • front speakers and power is on 10-pin harness
    • rear speakers are on 6-pin harness
    • Everything else is on 28-pin harness: SWC, Illumination, Reverse, MIC, MIC power etc.
    Note: Those head units come with some adapters for standard USB A-Type connectors. The Subaru bracket does feature a very special 4-pin header on the OEM head unit. If you want to connect this to standard A-Type connectors you need an adapter like the AXXESS AX-SUBUSB2. Alternatively get yourself a new bracket (this is what I did) with 2 USB and HDMI (unused for me) connectors like this here. Unfortunately it's quite expensive and quality is not great from my point of view.
    CAUTION: If you hook up your rear view camera you need a 6V supply for the analog camera on the back. So don't hook it up accidentally to your 12V supply without installing a step-down converter in between. If you want to buy something you can go for the AXXESS AX-SUB28SWC-6V. It also comes with a 28-pin male connector but unfortunately not all pins are equipped so you will have to order another 28-pin harness as described above.

    AXXESS also offers a steering wheel control box, but you don't need it for those Chinese HCT/MTCD units as they directly work with the resistor-based button array of my Levorg. NOTE: I got a levort without factory navigation, it just got standard audio with NO navigation. I heard that in the version featuring OEM navigation the steering wheel controls are cabled differently (eventually even CAN?) which makes it more difficult to re-use them. But I cannot confirm this as I got myself one without factory navigation.

    If you want to use the Levorg built-in microphone which is mounted inside the map light compartment then you need to be aware that it features a built-in mic amplifier which needs to be powered (5V!). The power is on Pin 4 of the 28-pin harness. The head unit usually comes with an external microphone too for easy installation. I didn't want to use it and powered the 5V pin from a self-soldered cable tapping of 5V from one of the USB ports of the head unit. Android audio recorders provide a decent audio quality like this. Bluetooth calling however is another issue with these device but this is more related to Bluetooth stack software bugs.

    Also the factory harness did not come with the parking brake wire which I connected as well. It allows me to disable multimedia/video-playback features in the head unit when parking brake is not applied which is a legal requirement in my country. But this is strictly speaking entirely optional of course.

    I personally also changed the setup slightly. I have put a small Class-D Amplifier (Pioneer GM-D1004) right behind the climate controls in the dash. So my speaker harness is quite custom as I tap off the head unit audio out and route them to the amplifier and the amplifier is connected to 10/6-pin connectors routed to the standard speakers. You can however also use the built-in 4x45W amplifier of the Android Head unit.
    The subwoofer can be directly connected to an RCA jack of the head unit (green sub pre-out connector) if you have one. I got myself the Kenwood KSC-SW11 underneath the passenger seat.

    I also got myself the DAB+ package. Including a receiver for the head unit. The one I ordered never worked properly (connected with proprietary cable). So I got another one from Joying which connects via USB and works fine.
    Note: Don't waste your time on antenna splitters and amplifiers on the Levorg. The stock antenna does not amplify the DAB+ frequency range and therefore it's a waste of money to try using it. I ended up installing a Bad Blankenburg 3785.01 AM/FM/GPS/DAB antenna on the rooftop. This required me to run in additional cables (DAB, GPS) from the back of the car to the head unit but it's worth it. Before DAB was basically unusable and now it's just brilliant. But I made the usual mistake being afraid of changing the antenna and wasting more money on splitters and amplifiers than I actually spent later on installing a proper antenna. So if you're looking for DAB+, replace the stock OEM antenna.

    So strictly speaking you can get off with ordering a 28-pin and Metra 70-1761 kit and wire everything together. Everything else is optional and will just enable a couple of "special features".


    Some notes about Android Head Units however: If you're looking for something which works out of the box then DON'T GO FOR AN ANDROID HU. If you're looking for installation support or long-term vendor support then DON'T GO FOR AN ANDROID HU.
    If you're willing to play with the system, willing to apply a hack here and there and live with some limitations or even develop your own solutions, then you will get a very flexible base platform for your projects.

    Note that the hardware is built pretty cheap. The outside look is quite OK and looks classy. But my unit also got some major design flaws. For example it's using a combined WiFi/Bluetooth chip RTL8723bu/MD725. My manufacturer only soldered a "cable" to the back of the device instead of a real antenna. My WiFi reception was bad even if the car was literally parked underneath the access point.
    Then I got myself some +6dBi antennas from e-bay, soldered some decent RP-SMA plugs to the back of the unit and to the Realtek chip and run in some high quality cables to the dash. Now my antennas are installed under the center leather hood right on top of my Subaru center display on top of my dash. You might of course also use a replacement rooftop antenna with built-in WiFi and hook it up there. Note: This mod requires you to open the device and solder the antenna to the board.

    Also consider consulting XDA-Developers forum for MTCD head units. Yes, those are MTCD units with either PX3 (Android 5 or 7) or PX5 (Android 6, soon Android 8) processor boards (SoM, System on Module). There are many developers which work on fixing limitations of those devices and helping in case of problems. Also custom ROMs are available there as well as firmware upgrades.

    Some limitations I run into (only for some there are work-arounds):
    • Google Maps crashes (you can use Here WeGo maps or similar or root your device to work-around the problem)
    • A2DP audio quality sometimes sucks
    • Bluetooth calling causing echo (software issue)
    • SWC does not work reliably on all cars (mine worked with some slight soldering modifications)
    • DAB+ application stutters if not in foreground (bug, patched app available)
    ... maybe more.

    Also consider that there is an option to get some generic 2-DIN units and a mounting bracket for your Levorg. The unit we are talking about here does not perfectly work with the Levorg dash mounting kit. The OEM unit is screwed in from the front by removing the vents on the top. As the vents are not removable on this unit you cannot put the front-side screws in any more. It fits perfectly though and in my case I didn't even put some screws from the side any more as the unit sits firmly in place by just pressing it into the slot and snapping it with the plastic clips on top and bottom.

    Overall I am a developer and I am quite happy with what the device offers me. I don't like closed systems like those branded head units are. It's definitely an upgrade to the stock unit for me but it was also lots of work to get it working. Now I am having an open unit where I can listen to all possible audio formats. Most of the time I am using it for DAB+ on the road and using Here WeGo offline maps or Google Maps (with WiFi tethering on my mobile as I don't have a 3G dongle and don't want to get one).
     
  10. Outbackmack

    Outbackmack New Member

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    Hi
    I’ve got a 2018 Levorg STI. Head unit radio reception especially FM is very poor. Daughters 1990 Laser has better reception. Any one found what the issue is? Don’t want to change the head unit.
    Rest of the car is good.
     
  11. ozkan bicer

    ozkan bicer Active Member

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    the problem is with the antenna. The ones sold in the US( WRX) have an amplified antenna but Levorg does not come with that. I suggest you get on with an aftermarket antenna which has an amplifier.
     
  12. SkyBeam

    SkyBeam Member

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    Are you sure? I have replaced my rooftop antenna with one supporting DAB+ amplification. The stock antenna definitely has an amplifier built-in and is powered via dedicated 12V line. Many antennas are phantom-powered, meaning they are powered by the antenna line directly. But my OEM Levorg antenna came with separate 12V amplifier power line which I re-used for my DAB+ antenna.

    The stock antenna amplifier however does only amplify the FM frequency range, so it's not suitable for DAB+, but it's amplified. So if you install an aftermarkt head unit you should get a proper adapter to power the antenna.

    Actually my car is an import car from Turkey, so it should be the same model as yours (MY2016).
     
  13. ozkan bicer

    ozkan bicer Active Member

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    An import from Turkey? That is a first . Would you mind showing us the 12V line on your car? Or you can just tell where it is located. I havent seen anything like that on the antenna cord.
     
  14. SkyBeam

    SkyBeam Member

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    Yes it is, also the service manual and some warnings (eg. on cooler cap) are in turkish.

    Hmm. I searched and unfortunately it looks like I didn't take pictures when replacing the roof antenna. But here's a description...
    When you release the ceiling at the back of the car where the roof antenna is mounted you will find a cable connector connecting the FM antenna with the cable routed to the head unit. This plug connects 2 cables:
    • One cable is the coax FM antenna cable
    • The second cable connects 12V to the antenna

    If you remove the head unit the OEM connector on the OEM head unit seems to be a "Metra 40-LX11" if I remember correctly. The connector looks like this: [​IMG].

    The connector also features the antenna plug as well as a 1-pin 12V line which is used to power the antenna. So if you replace the head unit and you want to re-use the built-in amplifier you need an adapter cable (Metra 40-LX11 to DIN usually) and you can connect the blue 12V cable to the amplifier trigger line of the head unit.

    Connected this way my FM reception was quite good (similar to OEM) but DAB+ was not usable as the amplifier in the antenna seems to either block or at least not amplify the DAB+ frequency range. So you need to replace the antenna. Don't even bother trying the various splitters (active/passive ones). It does not work properly with the Subaru antenna. Also Glass-mount antennas didn't work well for me, despite their uglyness. Using a Glass-mount antenna kind of worked, but I lost reception every now and then and DAB+ was a pain then. Since I have replaced my antenna DAB+ is working very well. So don't waste your time and money on other solutions, just get the antenna replaced.
    Btw. I was re-using the dedicated antenna power line of my Levorg to power the replacement antenna. No need to run in another power cable. I could also have injected the power into the antenna line as my antenna supports either dedicated power line or phantom power on any of the FM, DAB or GPS lines. But I prefer dedicated power lines and my Levorg already has this line. So I just cut the OEM connector of the stock antenna, mounted a fakra plug to the levorg connector. Then connected power and FM lines via OEM connector like this. Then I did simply run in 2 more antenna wires for GPS and DAB with fakra plugs under the dash and at the antenna.
     
  15. ozkan bicer

    ozkan bicer Active Member

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    I have installed a similar HU to a friends car and the Bluetooth reception is as you described. The range is about 30 CMs. Pretty funny but probably it is because of the antenna being just a wire. SWCs are an issue as well. The HU sometimes forgets them and he needs to reprogram it every once in a while. I would not go with these HUs as I love my music. I dont think you can enjoy Hi-Res music on a cheaply built Chinese HU. Kenwood, Pioneer, Sony, Alpine, etc is the way to go.
    Well, I am familiar with the Metra adapter and similar products but there is no corresponding 12V line on the car side. I have seen quite many of them in Turkey and none of them had a power line going to FM or DAB antenna. In fact the DAB antenna is using a different plug, a blue sumitomo connector. You say your car is a Turkish import but Turkish Levorgs dont have any 12V power line for the FM and use a different DAB antenna plug. I agree that the antenna should be replaced. Can you share with us what you are using now?
     
  16. SkyBeam

    SkyBeam Member

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    It probably depends on the model. Mine didn't come with the factory navigation system. As of my knowledge the navigation radio is different, also the steering wheel buttons are different then. Mine is just resistor-based SWC, so I can directly hook it up to my chinese android head unit without any canbus decoder.
    I also had some issues with the resiststor-based SWC in my car. Sometimes the buttons simply won't work any more and when you go into the app to re-programm them it seems to recognize different keycodes (ie resistor values). ALso the head unit seems to have a hard time distinguishing between some buttons like mute and source button. This might be due to lack of precision in the analog-digital-converter (ADC) circuit of the head unit and the small difference in resistance of those buttons.
    The Levorg comes with two blocks of SWC, one is the upper part with the 4-way buttons, mute and such and the lower part with the phone, source and speech recognition buttons. These chinese units come with 2 ADC inputs (SWC1/SWC2). Initially I hooked them up 1:1 and it didn't work very well. Then I did actually try something different. I hooked up SWC1 from the car directly to SWC1 of the head unit and connected SWC2 from the car via 680 Ohm resistor to SWC1 too. Effectively shifting the resistor values of SWC2 but feeding them to the same input. This seems to work quite fine for me now. The head unit is able to distinguish between all buttons.

    In addition I recommend to update the MCU if you got an MTCD/MTCE based android head unit. The MCU is the software running on the microcontroller which is also decoding the SWC buttons. Mine was upgraded to MCU version 2.71 (remember, only for MTCD/MTCE units) where now the unit seems to handle the buttons better. Initially it came with MCU 2.41 which often seemed to "lose" the buttons due to the ADC "drift" sending different values to the head unit so android didn't know what to do with these.

    Regarding the antenna:
    Also here the difference might be in navigation/non-navigation model. I got one without nav. The Antenna plug (Metra 40-LX11) definitely contains the coax wire as well as one additional dedicated power line (see picture in my last post, this is exactly how the connector on my OEM unit looks like).
    On the back of the car the OEM antenna is connected using a 2-in-1 connection plug which I just cut off to feed the FM and power lines to my replacement antenna.

    I used an antenna from ABB (Antennentechnik Bad Blankenburg) 3785.01. See here. The plugs you're talking about are likely standard FAKRA plugs. Also my ABB antenna comes with fakra plugs. They are basically all the same, just the plastic frame (removable) is coded differently so you cannot plug them wrongly if installed properly. I actually like this plug very much. It's rigid and can be optionally coded. Typically GPS ones are blue (type C), FM is white (type B), DAB is grey (type G). As said they are internally all the same, so you can also remove the plastic coded connector or use fakra universal (usually marine blue, type z) housings which will connect to any other fakra plug. I personally used properly coded connectors on the wires I put into my Levorg so if I ever replace the antenna again I know which cable is used for what.
    And as my car had a dedicated power line towards the antenna I used the 12V antenna power wire on my ABB 3785.01 antenna to power it. But if you got another antenna (yes, perhaps the navi-equipped Levorg comes with a GPS-enabled antenna or so) your setup might look slightly different. As said you can also phantom-power many of those antennas. Also my ABB 8785.01 can be phantom-powered from any of the antenna lines. So the most simple installation would be to replace the antenna and use a phantom power injector to the FM line on the front of the car where the head unit is placed. So the power is actually "included" in the FM line. So it's not an issue if you don't have a dedicated power line to the antenna or not. I just decided to use mine as my Levorg had one.

    EDIT: I also just read that the MY2017 Levorgs seem to be equipped with DAB. So they for sure come with a different antenna (perhaps phantom-powered). So I guess there are a couple of different models (with/without DAB+, with/without NAV) out there which differ in antenna types as well as connectors and type of steering wheel controls. My one is a MY2016 model without factory navigation and no DAB+, just plain FM.

    And yes, the Android head unit is perhaps not exactly what you would call a hi-fi system but if you don't replace the speakers it likely does not matter at all. For me I replaced the head unit along with the kicker speaker replacement and a 4x45W pioneer class-d amplifier (GM-D1004) and a Kenwood KSC-SW11 woofer underneath the passanger seat. This combination proved to be way better than the OEM equipment and I am satisfied with the result. However I also do not recommend those chinese android units if you're not willing to hack a bit here and there. So if you look for something plug-and-play, then go for some well-known brand head unit.
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2018
  17. ozkan bicer

    ozkan bicer Active Member

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    The OEM speakers are nothing but junk. If one likes music, he must replace them with something better regardless. Kicker upgrade speakers for USDM Wrx fit Levorg but I dont think they are for Hi-fi but they are plug and play.
     
  18. Garry

    Garry New Member

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    I recently did an upgrade to Morel speakers and sound deaden the doors. Much better sound in the car on both aspects. Highly recommended it. The headunit will be later on, I’m happy for now.
     
  19. rick_poprkt

    rick_poprkt New Member

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    I'm very keen to start with the speakers and move on later. Would you mind sharing the Morel model or part numbers?
    Thanks
     
  20. Garry

    Garry New Member

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    My choice was part price (the speakers were on special), in the front a set of Morel Tempo 2-way and in the rear doors a set of Morel Maximo 2-way (the installer fitted the tweeter into the door next to the speaker).
    I plan to update to the Kenwood DDX9017DABS (or similar when I upgrade) and a under seat subwoofer, probably the Kenwood KSC-SW11.
     
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