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I just finished a full stereo system replacement in my ’04 Pilot (no NAV, no RES). I thought I’d post my results to help other prospective upgraders.

My first plan was to replace the door speakers and the sub in its factory location, using an external amp with speaker-level inputs for the sub.
I started out using the stock head unit and replacing just the 4 door speakers with Alpine SPS-17C2 6-1/2" Coaxial 2-Way Speakers. I selected these for their high sensitivity and low minimum power requirement (and because I haven’t been disappointed in any Alpine product over the last 25 years). I also suspected that I would be adding a head unit and external amplifier(s) at some point.

Door speaker installation was simple using the Crutchfield Master Install sheet. What I found was the response around 2 KHz was so pronounced that it was ear piercing at any appreciable volume. (This effect is probably compounded by my abused, 40-something hearing system. Seriously, it felt like my eyes wanted to cross when I turned it up.) I suspect the factory head unit has a boost in that range to compensate for the factory speakers’ lack of response.

So, I started to look at the next level of system upgrade, a new head unit. It was clear to me that I needed some form of equalization, so I went to Crutchfield’s site and started filtering. I thought I’d use the head unit’s built-in power for the doors and continue with my plan for a line-level amp for the sub. I didn’t really want to tear into the interior, beyond replacing the head unit.

Of course, as I was looking at the newest head unit features, my requirements slowly increased as the research went on. I added USB and AUX (for sat. radio) inputs to the list. The Pioneer DEH-P6000UB quickly rose to the top. This would be my third DEH head unit from Pioneer and they’ve been solid. The unit has 7-band EQ, high-pass filter for the doors and low-pass filter for the sub. All filters are frequency and level adjustable.

After a couple of days agonizing over adding a 4-channel amp for the doors, I talked myself into doing just that. So now, it’s become a full system replacement. Here’s the list of components to be installed:
Doors: 4x - Alpine SPS-17C2 6-1/2" Coaxial 2-Way Speakers (2-50WRMS)
Doors amp: Alpine MRP-F300 4x50WPC
Sub: Infinity Kappa 102.7w (chosen for its free-air installation compatibility)
Sub amp: Alpine MRP-M450 mono subwoofer amp (220W @ 4Ohms)
Streetwires twisted pair preamp cables
8Ga power wiring, with 70A fuse.
Crutchfield single DIN dash mount and wiring harness kits

Installation:
I decided to run preamp level signals to both of the amps, to take full advantage of the head unit’s adjustability. This means I would not use any of the band-pass filtering on the amps. I also decided that I did not want to run new speaker level wiring from the door amp to the 4 door speakers. So, the plan was to run preamp leads down to the amps (located under the driver and passenger seats), and then run the speaker-level amp outputs back up to the head unit area, to tie back into the factory speaker wiring for distribution to the door speakers.

I started by removing the factory head unit, both front seats, the right side 3rd row seat, the rear sub-woofer panel and the lower panels from the center console. I used this site, the Crutchfield Master Install sheet, as well as a 3-day subscription to techinfo.honda.com for guidance and this was pretty easy, but time consuming.

I pre-soldered the Crutchfield wiring harness to the Pioneer head unit harness at the kitchen table. I mounted the system fuse to the plastic battery box under the hood and ran the power cable into the cabin by cutting a small slit in the firewall grommet located near the glove box.

I located the 4-ch door amp under the driver seat and the mono sub amp under the passenger seat. I routed the 3 stereo preamp cables from the head unit down the left side of the center console, and the 4 speaker-level outputs for the doors back up the right side of the console. I wanted to separate as much as possible the line-level cables from the power and speaker output cables to avoid induced noise. I soldered the 8 amp door amp output cables to the Crutchfield wiring harness in the dash.

For the sub install, I ran a separate output cable from the sub amp directly to the subwoofer (bypassing the Pilot’s wiring in this case). I made a 1” spacer for the speaker, stuffed some poly-fill into the cavity and completely removed the 1.5” molded rim from the interior panel that covers the sub.

I modded the Crutchfield single-DIN dash adapter to run the cables for the USB and AUX inputs to the newly available storage pocket, located below the head unit. I also popped the covers off of the factory tweeters and disconnected them.

Finally, I reassembled the Pilot. Total installation was around 8 hours, over 2 days (much less than the time invested researching everything).

Results:
I ended-up setting the high and low pass filters to 80Hz and using the amp gain levels to balance the system, with flat level settings on the head unit. The system still had too much response in the 2 KHz range, but that was easily tuned out using the head unit’s 7-band EQ function. After tuning the crossover points and levels via the head unit, I’m definitely pleased with the results. The sub is not as controlled as a sealed or ported unit, but is not bad at all (and a huge leap beyond stock).

There is absolutely no induced noise in this system that I can detect. I was concerned about running the preamp cables by the blower motor in the center console, but this was not an issue.

The Crutchfield single-DIN dash mount kit looks good with this head unit and provides an additional storage pocket below the unit. This is where I ran the USB and AUX input cables. They’re pretty well hidden in there.

I’m really impressed with the USB functionality of this head unit. I originally thought I’d be buying an iPod for the AUX input, but this unit will navigate any external storage (up to 250GB). I have an 8GB SD thumb drive plugged into the USB cable that will store around 60 CDs ripped at 320Kbps. I’m looking at a 250GB USB powered WD passport drive for around $100, that would store my entire 350 CD collection. It would fit nicely into the new pocket under the head unit.

I’m also going to be adding an XM radio, using the AUX input cable.

Issues:
FM reception was poor and AM reception was nada. After doing some research on this site, I discovered that the Pilot’s antenna system requires a remote turn-on signal from the head unit. I had originally run a discreet remote wire from the head unit to the amps, bypassing the pilot wiring harness. After I spliced that wire back into the pilot via the Crutchfield harness, reception was great.

The definition of DIN seems to vary between Pioneer and the company that makes the dash adapter for Crutchfield. I had to Dremel some plastic tabs to get the final surround trim piece to fit around the head unit face (this mod was to the adapter kit piece, not the Pilot trim). This was not a big deal, but it’s the first time I’ve seen this kind of problem with these kits.

My air bag indicator lit on the dash, probably because I turned on the ignition while the seats were removed. A quick search of this site turned-up the procedure for resetting the light, which worked like a charm.
The head unit display is very cool with VU animations and all, but it’s blue.

Finally, I need another non-slip pad for the new pocket below the head unit.

Hope this helps anyone contemplating an upgrade. Wow, this is long.

Dan S.
 

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Nice write up. Where are the pics? :)
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I have a few shots of the head unit. The rest of the installation is pretty much stealth. Besides, the dash, door panels and sub panel removal have been well documented on this site. Hope this works...





 

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Discussion Starter #6
And the drawing for the subwoofer spacer. I used 2 layers of 1/2" plywood (really 15/32"), so the final thickness was 7/8". I used a bead of acrylic caulk between the spacer layers, and between the spacer and the Pilot sheet metal to minimize buzzing.

 

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Wow... thanks for sharing.

I'm also looking for a new radio.

I'm looking at the Sony CXD-GT820IP (not sure I want to get the HD Radio).

Probably I'll see how that goes before I add the speakers to the mix of upgrades.

Not sure if anyone tried HD Radio or even worth the price???
 

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netman88 said:
Not sure if anyone tried HD Radio or even worth the price??? [/B]
That's a pretty open question. There is a good list of HD channels in my area, but I’m not interested in spending the $120 to get the add-on Pioneer HD tuner. I would consider one at around $50, though. They look easy enough to install. HD was not a priority for my search.

Currently, I spend my driving time switching between 5 talk stations on AM and FM, looking for the _one_ that isn't playing commercials. I play CDs (now replaced with high-bitrate MP3s, via USB). I don’t listen to FM music at all because of the awful compression applied by the broadcasters. I’ve already decided to go with XM for those reasons. I’ll be getting a portable XM radio using the AUX input, so I can also use it the house. They also have a good list of high-quality web streamed stations for subscribers.

I think I had the Sony unit you’re looking at on my comparison list at Crutchfield, but the 7-band EQ of the Pioneer was among the top requirements for me. I do like the availability of the green display on the Sony, though.
 

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I'm looking at the Sony CX-GT820IP on Crutchfield's site.

http://www.crutchfield.com/App/Product/Item/Main.aspx?g=300&i=158GT820IP&tp=5684

I'll try search more this site on feedback and reviews on Sony head units also.

Thinking about HD Radio. $99 add on though. Not sure if you get a better reception with HD also. The mention of it sounds good but we only have around 10 channels to listen to.

Initially I was looking at the Sony CDX-GT620IP but it has limted feature if I go forward with new speakers and amps.

Your setup maybe a lot more complicated that I can handle right now. :)

The most electronic stuff that I have done was setup the fog lights (Honda OEM) and day/night mirrors.

But setting up sub and amp looks that it will take some time.

Read too many horrible stories even with the stereo shops messed up one's car (shorting out the battery) if not done right.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Sorry, no pic's during my sub install, and there's not much to see now that it's in. I found plenty of pic's and advice on this site for subs, though.

Here's a link to the product page at Crutchfield: (I think I got it quite a bit cheaper somewhere else.)

Infinity Kappa 102 7w
 

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Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that I added an XM XPRESSRC sat radio a few weeks ago, using the Pioneer AUX input. I used the vent clip mount that came with the kit and wired the power cable directly into the cig lighter circuit in the console. I could snap a coupla pic's, if anyone's interested.

Still evaluating the use case for the Western Digital 250GB passport drive. I'm currently happy with the 8GB SD card in a cheap USB adaptor.

One issue I don't think I mentioned with this Pioneer HU and navigating USB: The folder structure seems to be sorted by folder date/time on the display, instead of folder name. For the life of me, I can't think of a reason why someone would make this design decision. Granted, I haven't looked for any firmware updates for the HU. I'm learning some .NET programming with C#, so my first application is one that accepts a top-level folder and updates the date/time of all sub-folders in alphabetical order. It's always nice to have a real problem to solve when learning.
 

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netman88 said:
I'm looking at the Sony CX-GT820IP on Crutchfield's site.

Just fyi for anyone looking at this unit (SONY). It's sound quality isn't as good as the others even though the specs looks good.

I had to return it due to poor Base and sound quality (no loudness button) and their is no Base, Treble controls.

Very Happy Crutchfield took it back. :)

I now got the Alpine 9886 instead.

http://www.crutchfield.com/App/Product/Item/Main.aspx?search=alpine+9886&i=500CDA9886

The sounds and base is like Day and Night compared to the SONY.

My only grip is that faceplate is harder to put on and they didn't throw in a free USB cable.

Easy to replace old HU out on this Pilot, I learn to make sure your antenna cable needs to 100% pulled in to get the best radio reception.

I looked at the Pioneer also but didn't like the layout.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
netman, I'm a big fan of Alpine car audio. In this case, I think the Alpines required an additional $150 module to be installed along with the HU in order to make the graphic EQ function available.
 
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