Tuesday, October 28, 2014

CX-5: AppRadio 3 Ep1


Look at CX-5 dashboard above. Now compare with my beloved 7 years old Civic FD2's below...


The CX-5 fails big time on the dashboard design, in particular, the head unit looks like a product of a decade ago. It does come with Tom-Tom navigation software, but heck, what is that piece of junk software on a pathetic 5" display compare to Waze with live traffic info on a full double-din display? 

Adding salt to the wound, the head unit is so handicapped that it can't play mp3 from USB properly. I have thousands songs of my CD collection and the head unit never ever plays from the last played song, it starts from first song all over again whenever CX-5 is started. Did I mention that the Bluetooth A2DP is so laggy that the head unit needs a second or more to act upon the commands from the steering wheel control? What a humiliation and insult to Bose speakers pairing with such a head unit, the speakers just sound like a piece of flapping cardboard to produce some recognizable voice noises.

Well, Mazda did not fail entirely, at least. The head unit is not an integrated head unit like other continental cars. It can be easily replaced with a better aftermarket head unit, and here is my sharing on my makeover project on CX-5, with a teaser below...


The Pioneer SPH-DA210 AppRadio 3. The rest of this post will be focused on this unit, but I believe some likely relevant if you plan to install other head units especially the Pioneer's local set like AVH-X8650BT. 

Ladies and gentlemen, start your engine!



That's not me in the photo, he is the branch manager cum technical lead. I sent my CX-5 to the ever trusted installer, KL Auto for a professional job. By the way, the head unit (for 2.5 CBU model) is a product from our motherland exported to the land of rising sun :) 


Why KL Auto? Disclaimer: I am not the owner / shareholder nor do I earn anything by marketing the shop. I am just a fussy butt and always look for the best service quality. KL Auto, or the boss and the manager cum technical lead believe in meeting customer's needs and doing the right thing at the first time for 100% customer satisfaction. Look at photo above with micro fiber cloth and steering cover all over the dashboard, your lovely car is being taken care of when professional work is in progress. Most importantly, ZERO Mazda cables were cut in the entire process!


Proper wire harnesses are used to reconnect all Mazda's original harnesses and wires.

I hate this idiotic question "will this void warranty?". If you silly butt insist to ask, I can safely tell you, drive back your car to KL Auto before heading to service center for warranty claim. Since all wires are in its factory state, the stock head unit is a matter of plug and play with all original wires without a single scar! This is what I called professional service!  

More complexity on the installation if you have factory Bose's 9 speakers with its closed proprietary processor. Other installers would probably tell that the system cannot be used with aftermarket head unit, and ask to change the speakers, add a subwoofer, sound processor, amplifier etc you name it. No worries if you go to KL Auto, unless you demand much better sound quality, the manager knows how to make it work without even knowing the location of the Bose processor. This is what I called professional expert service! :)

Here's the end result...


Does the dashboard now look more sophisticated and futuristic versus the stock dashboard? This should be the dashboard for a vehicle that is only 2 years old from it's first mass production!

With a little GPS antenna on the left front speaker mesh and I decided not to hide the microphone for optimum reception...


This project is not fully completed yet, 3 pending items:
  • To reactivate the stock rear camera.
  • To activate the Bose's center dash speaker (the CenterPilot feature in stock head unit) for all music sources. 
  • To reuse the stock USB (see next post, link at the end of this post).
The stock camera is operating on 6V and most of the aftermarket head units are operating on 12V. As a result, a DC-DC step down converter is required (the one KL Auto has was faulty).

The Bose's center dash speaker will only output sound when CD is played in stock head unit. This center dash speaker does not work with aftermarket head unit. We are looking for a way to make it work again, not limited to CD playing but all music sources.

I just found a solution to reuse the stock USB. Will update later once confirmed working which I will cover in the next post (see the links at the end of this post).

That's all about the "implementation". Much efforts were invested (jointly with KL Auto) to study the feasibility ensuring a perfect integrated solution. Click link below for other episodes on this AppRadio franchise:

CX-5: AppRadio 3 Ep2
CX-5: AppRadio 3 Ep3
CX-5: AppRadio 3 Ep4
CX-5: AppRadio 3 Ep5