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The following is a bit of a diary of my head unit installation. Hopefully this will help out another member, as the forums helped me!

If you plan to do a similar build, please read the whole thing before you begin! Plus I’m sure there are some tidbits here which will apply to any head unit installation.

I drive a 2014 Wrangler JK Sahara with the uConnect 730N. Let me start off by saying that the 730N is a dud. It's a bad design even when it works and I've had numerous problems with it, including:
  • SLOW: Responses to touch screen are very slow, and changing tracks through Bluetooth is slow. Loading music from an external drive extremely slow - in 20 minutes I only moved about 2 GB of MP3s.
  • Default State needs to be changed for navigation to search in another state. When you live near the border of three states, this is a hassle.
  • Nav voice: Volume setting for voice guidance resets down to lower level randomly, and I need to set it again.
  • Bluetooth doesn't auto-reconnect for playing music when getting in the car. Connects for phone always though. Sometimes have to completely remove my phone and re-pair to get music to work.
  • 40GB Hard Drive, 14 GB usable? There’s a 2.5” IDE drive in the unit. I don’t know why they wouldn't just put an SD card in the unit which would be cheaper, bigger, faster, and creates less heat.
  • Shuffle sometimes un-selects itself when in HDD mode, so you have to re-select.
  • Phone Book claims to be syncing from phone but results do not show.
  • Sometimes, audio drops out completely a few minutes after starting to drive. Changing the volume does not show volume level indicator, so problem is likely software related.
The dealership reset the radio and upgraded to latest firmware, but no difference. Knowing that Chrysler was not likely to do anything more than keep replacing the radio under warranty but not assume accountability for improving the design, I decided to just go aftermarket from that point. I was planning to go aftermarket eventually anyway, but not this soon. In fact the only reason why I got the upgraded uConnect package is so the infrastructure (cabling, sub box, sound bar, steering wheel controls, etc.) would already be present for a future upgrade.

I shopped around for a new head unit and ended up picking the Pioneer AVIC-8000NEX. Almost went with the 7000 but the big difference there is the 8000 has a capacitive touch screen which is much nicer looking, allows pinch/zoom, and therefore will work better with AppRadio Unchained. I almost went with Kenwood and then read that it only has a 3-channel EQ. (What year is it Kenwood?) One of the other selling points about the Pioneer is the SD card slot. I can put all of my music on a 32 GB card (at least as much as I would want to listen to while driving) and don’t need to fumble with my phone. Faster response too.

The next part would be reaching out to professionals to find out what harnesses and adapters I'd need. Stereo shops used to be on every corner 15 years ago in my area (NYC/LI metro), and now it's down to nothing. No shops that I visited had serious interest in the audio field or were familiar with higher-end products. Most sold tires and bedliner on the side. So, I turned to the Internet (And of course WranglerForum.com!) for research on what I needed.

My build sheet ended up as:
  • Pioneer AVIC-8000NEX
  • Pioneer AppRadio Android Kit (CDAH200C)
  • PAC 04-up Jeep Interface (Rp4ch11)
  • SiriusXM Vehicle Tuner (SXV200v1)
  • Audiovox Cmos2 5-In-1 Back-Up Camera
  • Metra Jeep DDIN 2007 Dash Kit (95-6511)
  • Metra Antenna Adapter (40-EU10)
  • SanDisk 32GB SDHC Card
  • USB 2.0 A Male to Mini-5 Female USB Adapter/Converter
  • 6-foot male to male RCA cable
  • 4-foot 3.5mm male to male stereo audio cable
  • AutoEQ Mic
  • Poly fill
Make sure to get the right harness for your vehicle - the Rp4ch11 is for Jeep JKs with the Alpine system and steering wheel controls. Everything was purchased on Amazon.com for a great price and everything showed up on time (or early) and undamaged. I grabbed a buddy, a few beers, and scheduled installation day.

For the installation, you may also want to have:
  • Standard socket set
  • Standard hand tools
  • Torx set
  • Wire hanger or cable snake
  • Plastic panel pop tool
  • Dremel/Metal cutter
  • Zip ties
  • Electrical tape
  • Wire stripper
  • Poly fill
  • Magnetic screw tray
  • Beer
BEFORE you do the installation, make sure you:
  • Get the security code for the factory head unit, in case you want to sell it or need to put it back in. They will lock automatically when power is removed from them.
  • Remove any CD you may have in your current head unit.
  • Delete music, picture, addresses, Bluetooth associations, etc. from the stock head unit.
Putting the wiring harness together was a bit tedious but relatively easy. I recommend working on the wiring harness sometime before the installation, as it should be done at a desk with good lighting, takes about an hour, and can create a small pile of trash. Don’t do this part in your driver’s seat. If you have not done this before, just strip and match up the wires on the adapter harness with the wires on the head unit harness by color. The exceptions are that you should ground both black cables separately instead of to themselves, and there are three wires which won't match color: reverse signal, speed signal, and remote/amp turn-on. Everything else is 1:1. (But read the instructions anyway!) I recommend using small wire nuts for this job. They create a great connection without needing soldering, can be removed easily, and you can group more than one wire into one wire nut. (To be completely candid, I put all ground leads into one bigger wire nut with a pigtail which was grounded under a bolt behind the dash.) Any unused wires should be taped off as to not create an unwanted short behind the dash.

One thing I found out the hard way is that because of the way Chrysler wires the factory amp, you do lose fade control with an aftermarket head unit and the PAC harness. Chrysler uses the rear outputs – and what this means is any audio destined for only the front speakers, such as for Bluetooth phone calls or the navigation voice guidance, won’t be heard. I recommend either swapping the front and rear powered outputs in the harness, or turning “Rear Speakers” off in the head unit options. (For those in the know, this DOES use the powered outputs from the head unit, not the pre-outs. I was confused by this at first but this is how it works. The stock amp must be just for the sub.)

There are many videos online on how to remove the dash panel so I will spare you that write-up, but it’s really just four bolts and it comes right out. The factory head unit comes out easily from there.

One thing to prepare for is that you will need to cut some metal out of your dashboard for an aftermarket head unit to fit. There is a horizontal bar that goes under the factory head unit for support, which needs to be cut out. Use a hacksaw or Dremel tool. It’s a tough angle but you don’t need to cut it exactly in line with the vertical supports – it can be rough. Don’t worry about the weight of the head unit not being supported – it will rest on the vent tubes in the dash.

When removing your factory head unit, take note of which connector is for the FM antenna – the mini-BNC connector looks the same as the one for the factory Sirius antenna.

At this point, plan where to run your cables. I ran the GPS, Sirius, USB (x2), HDMI, and back-up camera cables down between the AC controls and the glove box. It’s tricky but bring a clothes hanger so you can snake everything down easily. In a pinch, the factory antenna works well for this also – I had already replaced mine with a stubby so it was available to use.

Keep your cables hidden and tidy. Use small zip ties to tie everything down or you will get rattles. I ran the GPS and Sirius cables under the dash on the passenger side, popped the panel on the side of the dash, ran them up behind the A-pillar trim panels, then under the padding on the roll bars towards the sound bar, and placed both antennas above the roll bar metal. (Not under the metal or it will block the signal!) I did remove the sound bar for this – there are six bolts and an electrical connector to disconnect. Extra hands helps here (thanks Danny!). There is enough space between the roll bar and the freedom top, and happily both antennas are magnetic, so no drilling is needed. Re-installing the sound bar should hide them and any wires, but zip tie them down anyway for when you have the top off.

While at it, I also filled up my sound bar with poly fill to tighten up the sound.

To retain the USB port in the console, you need a converter from female USB-A to male mini-USB-B, since happily it’s just a standard mini-USB-B cable coming from the dash. Can’t find this adapter at most stores – it should be ordered online. Alternatively, one of the USB cables can be run to the glove box for passenger use using the supplied extension.

For safety reasons, I don’t condone doing anything with the parking brake wire other than what the instructions say, but it is possible to bypass this indicator. Google is your friend.

The factory microphone can’t be used as far as I can tell, as it’s 3-wire (maybe a condenser mic?) and the head unit uses 2-wire. There is an extension cable in the dash for the factory mic which can come out to give a bit more space back there. I ran the Pioneer mic down in the driver’s side footwell, popped the side dash panel, up under the trim panels, and along the roll bar a bit. The mic can be placed between the roll bar padding and the plastic trim pieces. Be sure to zip-tie it down so it doesn't come off when the top is off, and hide the wire the best you can.

It doesn't make sense to use the 3.5mm audio extension cable (for aux input) that came with the head unit since this still leaves you with a female end, so I picked up a 4-foot male to male extension and ran this into the glove box for passenger access.

Getting the head unit into the dash was a bit tight, but just gently move the cables aside as you work the head unit in, being careful not to crush any wires and break the insulation to create a short. Extra hands helps here too. The PAC module can be shoved behind where the instrument display is, and the Sirius module can be shoved behind where the passenger airbag is. Make sure nothing is in a spot where it may rattle. Be sure to keep everything clear of the cooling fan in the back of the head unit. The head unit did not sit as flush as I would have wanted with the dash mounting kit. It was a bit of a squeeze but we made it work. Turn on the ignition and make sure everything works before you put the dash back together.

For the backup camera, I ran the RCA extension cable under the console carpet, and under the rear seat and carpet. Take out all of the carpet and storage bucket in the rear area and unbolt the subwoofer enclosure. I chose my rear bumper as a spot for the camera and it works well. For this location you will need to remove your rear bumper which is 6 bolts. Extra hands helps here (thanks Joe!). Drill a pilot hole from the finished side of the bumper where you want the camera to go, then drill out a hole using a 15/16th hole cutting bit from the unfinished side, to make sure it’s a clean cut. You will need to remove excess plastic from the back of the bumper as well, so you can reach in to mount the camera on the outer surface. (See photos.) Use one of the supplied rings behind the bumper so the nut doesn't go all the way in. Don’t crank it down just yet – you will need to be sure it’s rotated correctly. I ran the wires through the holes in the frame and up under the weather seal on the right side of the tailgate. I had seen others go through the drain hole in the rear but this required cutting the drain plug and ran the wires along the hot exhaust shield, which I didn't want to do. The route I took seemed to work well and was shorter.

Find the wire for the reverse lights behind the sub enclosure (for me it was white/gray stripe) and use the supplied tap connector to connect it to the power lead (red wire from the camera). Then find a body bolt for the ground lead (black wire from the camera). From there it’s just a matter of connecting the RCA cable for the video signal and zip-tying the wires down. Be careful not to place the camera wire module directly behind the sub enclosure – it’s a tight fit and the enclosure won’t go back all the way. At this point, dry fit the rear bumper and test the camera in the head unit (put the transmission in reverse to send power to the camera) and turn it to be straight on the display. Once that’s done, tighten the nut on the camera and button everything back up.

Follow the PAC instructions on programming the steering wheel controls. I went with a custom layout. It never made sense to me that the volume buttons were on the right side of the steering wheel, since if I was going to use my right hand for that, I’d just turn the knob on the head unit three inches away. Using the custom layout option, I made the left side buttons control the volume, and the right side buttons control the tracks. The middle button on the left was set for attenuation, and the middle button on the right controls the source. The phone button on the steering wheel didn’t work for me to activate the head unit phone controls – but I didn’t care too much so didn’t look deeper into it.

This article made it seem easier than it was, but in reality this work was done over three separate days, so prepare for that.

So far I'm very happy with the Pioneer head unit. Tons of options and features. The audio quality is great. I thought I may have to swap out my factory speakers and sub eventually, but at this point I may not - it sounds much better than I expected only with the head unit replacement. Only gripe might be that the interface is more flashy than functional. Will take some getting used to. I would complain that the touch response is slow but no system will be as fast as a smartphone - it's still probably the fastest head unit on the market.

Because I’m an audio nut, I also picked up an SPL meter and audio test CD, and put a frequency generator app on my phone. This way I could test the frequency response of the system and my interior and adjust the EQ accordingly to attenuate any resonance or boost anything which may be getting absorbed. This worked well, and a frequency sweep was pleasantly flat amplitude. Only then did I find out that the Auto EQ mic is an optional add-on which can do this for me automatically, haha. I had put it on my shopping list for later, but, it really should have come with this high-end head unit.

UPDATE: I got the AutoEQ mic for Christmas and it works really well. After running the tuning process, you can turn this option on and off while playing music and the clarity difference is definitely noticeable. The instructions say that you should be outside of the vehicle during the test so you don’t influence the acoustics, but this never made sense to me since I’ll always be in the car while music is playing. But don’t do this without earplugs – the sounds that need to be made for the testing are harsh and damaging.

I will add photos to this post if I can figure out how, haha. Thanks for reading, and let me know if you have any questions! Happy Jeeping!
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Photos for article

Some photos to supplement the article:


The shipment.


AVIC box contents.


Unboxed. Drool commences.


Completed wire harness.


Disassembly phase.


Brain surgery phase.


Swapped front and rear speakers because of weird Chrysler wiring.


Head unit in place.


Installing phone mic.


Completed dash, nice and flush.


Camera install 1.


Camera install 2.


Camera install 3.
 

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This is a great write-up! I'm very unhappy with the stock navi as well and shopping a new one - this unit is on my list along with the raxiom.
 

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Thanks rrg0323. Keep me updated on which head unit you go with. What's unfortunate is that there's really no way to try them out before you buy, so you don't know what you're in for. I can answer any questions about the Pioneer you have.

Some minor issues I've noticed:
  • GPS early notifications aren't much earlier, if at all.
  • GPS keeps "recalculating" when just trying to find a parking spot at your destination. A bit annoying.
  • GPS sometimes continues giving directions for a little while after canceling route.
  • Would be nice to be able to select a full album to play, then return to shuffle mode with one button.
  • Previous button does not go back a track, only starts the current track over.
  • No security code/lock
Those issues are nothing in comparison to the stock radio.
 

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Nice write up.

Can you not just use the stock mic seeing as that is already built in and of reasonably good quality?

Is the PAC 04-up Jeep Interface the same as the idatalink?

I was thinking about buying that same unit. Or the 7100.
 

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Thanks. I would have liked to use the stock mic since it's in a good spot and good quality, however the connector was different and the cable had three wires, not two wires like the Pioneer mic and head unit had. This might mean it's a condenser mic or something more complex. May have had different impedance too, and I didn't have the patience at that point to look into it deeper. Plus, cutting wires means I could not reverse everything if I had to. With the process above, I could put the stock radio back in tomorrow.

I believe the PAC and the iDatalink are different. From what I remember, the iDatalink is for getting other information from your car (oil temp, voltage, etc.) which can be shown on the head unit. I think it pretty much taps into your CAN bus. But, don't quote me on that.

Let us know what you end up going with. :)
 

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Did you sell the factory unit? I would be interested in buying it from you.
 

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I actually did an avic-8000Nex in my '15 - I have 2 problems that maybe someone has an idea of how to fix

1) Unit makes a loud speaker pop when the car is turned on

2) Mic is mounted near the old one and everyone complains they can't hear me well
 

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bman46 - The pop may be a grounding issue. How do you have it grounded? If you only have the black lead on the PAC connected to the black lead from the head unit, this may be the issue. Both should be connected to the frame. Use a continuity tester to make sure your ground point is really grounded. Not sure how to help you with the mic issue though... Wranglers are noisy. You could try moving it to the top of your steering column.

murphypSU - No, not yet. I will PM you.
 

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I actually did an avic-8000Nex in my '15 - I have 2 problems that maybe someone has an idea of how to fix

1) Unit makes a loud speaker pop when the car is turned on

2) Mic is mounted near the old one and everyone complains they can't hear me well
Any luck with the popping sound? I have the same issue.
 

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Any luck with the popping sound? I have the same issue.
Yes actually. I took it to a car audio place and they put a resistor on the radio to slow down how long it takes for audio to come out when the car starts. The slowdown isn't noticeable at all and it has not popped once since.
 

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Where do you attach the USB adapter? I have a 2013 JK and didn't see this while I had the dash taken apart. The HU I removed didn't have a USB port either, so I assumed they were doing something really proprietary to make that work. Are you saying I can take my HU's USB out and attach it to something the dash which will then connect to the USB port in the center console?

Thanks
 

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Are you guys with the popping sound all using the pac4-ch11 module? I have been researching a HU upgrade for my JKU and see that there is a revision upgrade on the PAC specifically to stop the popping sound. It adds a delay to to the turn on of the factory amp.

Release Notes for RP firmware

2/13/2015 Rev 1.5.4.4:

Adds Fusion
Separates Sony & Pioneer
Adds Alpine VR command
Factory amp turn-on delay slightly longer to avoid turn-on pop
Fixes LED problem without proper radio selection
5/10/2013 Rev 1.2.3.3:

Adds short press long press dual command functionality for SWC
Fixes issues seen with SWC when used with new Alpine & JVC head units
Adds new Kenwood Bluetooth function support for SWC
Adds SWC support for Fusion radios
Fixes issues seen with reverse output on manual transmission vehicles
Fixes issues seen with turn on pop in vehicles with factory amplified systems
6/4/2012 Rev 1.1.2:

Fixes reverse output falsely triggering when vehicle is in RAP mode.
Fixes digital amplifier not turning on in pre 2010 vehicles
4-14-2012 Rev 1.1.1a:

The reverse trigger falsely triggering when in RAP mode
Digital amplifiers not turning on in 2009 and earlier LSFT vehicles
Adds SWC text to multifunction display in cluster
4-5-2012 Rev 1.1.1:

initial release
 
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