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Discussion Starter #1
I’ve always been interested in building a moderate SQ system ever since I heard a competition vehicle back in the 90’s, but never got around to dedicating the time/money to do so. Recent years have been dedicated to home improvements/repairs and I still have some more, uh, a lot more of that to do… actually I know now that will never end with owning a house. So I decided that I just have to do it. I sold my classic motorcycle to fund the project… it’s safer, and I’m safer, with it sitting in the private museum it resides at now anyway.

This is my first true full on car audio build. I’ve installed a few “deck ‘n four” in previous vehicles but never got past that. So if any of you see me doing something that doesn’t make sense or you feel there would be an easier way to accomplish it, please feel free to comment / criticize. It will take me awhile to complete (if it ever gets completed!) but I’ll update this thread as I make headway.

When it was time to buy a new vehicle; the ability to replace the head-unit without much hassle was toward the top of the list of “needs”. I know a lot of people have some great sounding systems using the stock unit but I wanted to have the option. I ended up with a 2015 Toyota Camry XLE V6. A dealer down in NC made me an offer I could not refuse which sealed the deal.

 

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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
The stock Entune Premium Audio w/ Navigation really leaves a lot to be desired. I can not hear a difference between playing 128k WMA file and the same track on the CD player. I can clearly tell the difference on my home system playing the same tracks. It’s almost like the DAC down converts the CD audio. Even the FM radio seams to introduce all sorts of digital artifacts to the signal that I never hear on the stock system in the wife’s car (2011 CR-V). And after reading about, and confirming it for myself, the noise floor issue people are having with the newer factory Toyota head units as a source to feed aftermarket equipment, I decided I would rather just start fresh with a clean source. I've researched quite a bit on what DSPs can fix (FR, TA, phase) and what they can't (poor SNR, Poor Dynamic Range, and Poor stereo separation from the source). I just can't see spending all the cash on downstream equipment and feeding it a poor signal.



Since the XLE V6 comes standard with Navigation, many vehicle options are controlled through the stereo, and it displays information on an aux screen in the gauge cluster; I had to choose an aftermarket Nav with Idatalink Maestro support. I spent many months reading & researching the differences between the Big Three’s offerings (Pioneer, Kenwood, Alpine). Luckily a shop about an hour from me (Sounds Incredible Mobile Audio in Brookfield, CT) had each of the flagship ddin models on thier sound board. I spent several hours getting familiar with each one. I finally decided on the Alpine unit for the following reasons: I could care less about carplay or android auto, to me the UI is more intuitive than the others, it has more of a stock look and feel, the hard buttons are larger and feel more substantial, 9 band parametric eq AND bass/treble controls, and it comes in an 8” screen version that I will try to make fit. I actually chose to buy a previous gen X008U sound board demo instead of the new X108U because I'm not sure I'll like how it looks installed... if it don't work out I could sell it and not be out as much as if I bought the new one.

Here’s a photo of all the equipment I plan to install minus the subs which I haven’t decided on yet.

 

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Discussion Starter #3
Unfortunately, Alpine does not make a perfect fit kit for the 2015+ Camry like they do for the 2012-2014 model years. That leaves me no choice but to get a dash install kit and modify it so the 8” Screen will fit. There are two companies that make a dash kit: Metra and American International (AMPP also sold under the BEST name). Sounds Incredible ordered both kits so that I could inspect them and see which one would be more suitable to fit an 8” screen in it. I chose the Metra kit in this case. Overall it felt much more substantial, using thicker plastic and the shape of the face provided for a flat surface to work with unlike the AMPP kit which would require cutting into compound curves.

I disassembled the dash kits main piece and masked it up for protection.



Then I cut a piece of ⅛” hdpe sheet the exact size of the face bezel on the Alpine. I used this piece to center and trace out the hole that will need be cut out.

 

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Discussion Starter #4
A scroll saw was used for the rough cut

 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
The rough cuts were refined with a combination of a tile cutting bit on a rotary tool (Thanks @Theslaking for the tip), a file, and an mdf board covered in 120 grit sandpaper.

 

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Discussion Starter #6
I found the bracket mounting holes and alignment tabs on the backside had to be removed also to get the Alpine to fit properly

 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thought it came out pretty good for my first go at it.



 

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9 band parametric eq AND bass/treble controls,
"Bass" is #2 (of 9) parametric EQ adjustment, "Treble" is #8 (of 9).
I actually chose to buy a previous gen X008U sound board demo instead of the new X108U because I'm not sure I'll like how it looks installed.
The X108U is much faster but no disc. Menu takes a little getting used to though. I have the X008 and it is great.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
"Bass" is #2 (of 9) parametric EQ adjustment, "Treble" is #8 (of 9).
The X108U is much faster but no disc. Menu takes a little getting used to though. I have the X008 and it is great.
Glad to hear your happy with the X008U. Yes, I compared the two side by side and the X108U was about twice as fast, had a nicer display, plays flac, and gives the option of running separate 9 band PEQs on the front and back channels... basically 18 band PEQ built in! So damn expensive though for no cd player :mad:
I got the demo X008U for a killer price with a full authorized Alpine dealer warrenty thanks to a member here.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Nice evening on the deck connecting the Alpine’s harnesses to the Maestro and TO2 Harnesses.

 

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Discussion Starter #11
Used Tesa OEM fleece harnessing tape to clean it all up.
Notice the GPS antennae adapter in the upper right corner - Idatalink just released this adapter (sTO2) in Sept ‘16 and as far as I know is the only mfr that offers it for Toyotas. It plugs directly into the back of the Alpine and then into the Toyota GPS antennae connector in the dash. No need to build your own adapter or add an additional aftermarket antennae on top of the car.

 

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Wow, that's a lot of wires. I am thinking of adding the maestro in my wife's 2012 and using the Clarion NX605.

Once you get the maestro installed, I would be interested to know how difficult you thought it was to install/wire and if it retains all functions as advertised. The functions I am really curious about are the cars diagnostics like tire pressure, oil life remaining etc.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Wow, that's a lot of wires. I am thinking of adding the maestro in my wife's 2012 and using the Clarion NX605.

Once you get the maestro installed, I would be interested to know how difficult you thought it was to install/wire and if it retains all functions as advertised. The functions I am really curious about are the cars diagnostics like tire pressure, oil life remaining etc.
I made a list of all the cars functions / options that the stock head displayed/controlled so that I can compare after it's installed. I plan on install tomorrow but you know how that goes ;)

On my vehicle, the oil life and tire pressures are on the auxillary screen between the gauges but from what I understand they will also be available on the Alpine's screen. And the maestro is supposed do display CEL codes too.

Wiring was pretty straight forward referencing the Maestro install guide, that you can download thier website, and the aftermarket head-unit's wiring diagram. I think if you have ever replaced a head-unit in the past then it shouldn't be all that difficult for you... just more wires. The only issue I had was I forgot to include the PAC TR1 bypass so I had to redo a few wires but that was my fault.

Now the only thing you may have an issue with is that I don't believe Maestro supports use on Clarion decks, at least they didn't the last time I looked on their website. I do believe the Clarion decks are supported by the Axxess brand though (Metra). Just go on Maestro's website and choose your vehicle and you will see which aftermarket brands/models are supported: iDatalink - Maestro - Maestro RR
 

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"My Favorites" (the star on the bottom left) button is the most important button on the deck IMO. Once you set a few buttons up in there, many functions become a 2 button press operation instead of 15.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
"My Favorites" (the star on the bottom left) button is the most important button on the deck IMO. Once you set a few buttons up in there, many functions become a 2 button press operation instead of 15.
Yes, I like that feature, along with having the source buttons, which can be rearranged, right on the home audio screen. And a major feature that is important to me is that it has a dedicated mute hard button which the other brands did not have. The Kenwood DNX893S did not even have a mute button, hard or soft, anywhere. A steering wheel button had to be assigned or buy the wireless remote and use it to mute.
 

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Discussion Starter #16 (Edited)
Just a quick update: I successfully installed the Alpine - I was really afraid I wouldn't be satisfied with how it looked / fit / felt. But I can say now that the fear was unwarranted as I'm very pleased with the results.

Right now it's powering the stock speakers with it's internal amp and there is quite an improvement in clarity, detail, dynamics, and stereo seperation that I immediately could detect over the stock head unit. I'm hearing instruments/details that I could not hear with the stock head unit no matter how I fiddled with it. I'm hearing sounds coming from only one side or the other that were just kind of all muddled together with the stock head unit.

When I get time, I will update this thread on all the steps I had to take in order to get it to fit right and on the Maestro's functionality.



 

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Discussion Starter #18
Wow, that's a lot of wires. I am thinking of adding the maestro in my wife's 2012 and using the Clarion NX605.

Once you get the maestro installed, I would be interested to know how difficult you thought it was to install/wire and if it retains all functions as advertised. The functions I am really curious about are the cars diagnostics like tire pressure, oil life remaining etc.
On my vehicle, tire pressure and oil life remaining information is displayed in the auxiliary screen between the main gauges. This has not changed. What has changed is now there is additional information available on the Alpine.

I made a short video showing the vehicle status & gauge screens. Notice the vehicle status screen TPMS shows both pressure and temperature. It also displays battery voltage, if any doors or the trunk is open, and display CEL codes if your vehicle is producing any.


^^^ Not sure how to have the Youtube video show right in this thread like I can on other forums?
 

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Discussion Starter #19 (Edited)
Now that I've found some time to get working on this again, I wanted to update this on some other mods necessary to get this headunit in this car.

I had to use the factory steel head unit brackets as the bends in Metra brackets would not allow for the right mounting angle. I had to grind off a locating bump on each bracket and drill 2 additional holes in order to properly align the Alpine's face plate with the dash bezel.





 

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Discussion Starter #20 (Edited)
Had to figure out where to stuff the wiring & Maestro without it interfering with anything

 
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