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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Mine is a 91 Sable LS wagon, just over 90K miles, which we factory ordered, with the premium sound system. After 20 years, the stereo head unit is expiring. The radio left channel is fading and the right channel is dead. The cassette player is out of adjustment so that in pgm 2 the right channel is nearly inaudible. The amp (wherever it is) and speakers seem to be ok though.

So now I'm shopping around for a new head unit, presumably a cd unit which handles mp3 disks (I compile and burn my own jukebox cd's). One that handled the NOAA Weather Band would be a nice bonus but I haven't found any such. I do want to hook it up to the existing amp.

My main question is whether the mounting bay is single or double DIN. It looks bigger than single.

The lesser 2nd question is that I looking at Sony CDXGT250MP with a Geek Squad installation at Best Buy. Is this a mistake? I am not very "handy" with this sort of thing.:confused:
 

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If ur not handy, don't mess with it. Just pay and get it done. I had a Sony deck for a while it was nice, id say that one its pretty good for what ur looking for. And u won't need the stock "amp" cuz the deck bypasses that and uses its own, and probably better preamp. The stock space is neither single or double din, its custom size, and u need a radio install dash kit. Best buy should offer u that and tell u about it.
 

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If ur not handy, don't mess with it. Just pay and get it done.
I completely disagree. Installing a head unit in a Gen 1 is not a hard task, and even if you have no skills you're not too far behind most of the installers at a big-box store.

I would check out Crutchfield. If you buy the head unit from them, they will include all of the installation hardware and step-by-step instructions. They're going to be cheaper than Best Buy and have a much larger selection as well. They aren't the cheapest place on the net, but their customer service is second to none. Give them a call and tell them what you need/want. They will help you find a solution and will even help you with questions on the install. I ordered my first head unit from their catalog when I was 16 and still buy equipment from them because of their service.

As mentioned already, the install kit will bypass the factory amp. This is a good thing. The internal amp in a modern head unit is going to sound a lot better than the 20 year old "Premium" system your car came with.
 

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just a warning.... the new head unit might just blow the old speakers. im not a big fan of sony head units. i prefer eclipse but i run amps and subs. if you are just using the head unit sony will work nicely. if you have to replace the speakers sony has those as well. just remember the head unit will run the speakers so dont get the 250 watt speakers.
 

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I had my first head unit installed at a local best buy before I knew better, and I'll give them credit, they did ok job.

In terms of mp3 capability, I prefer head units that have a USB connector on a cable that's sticking from the back of head unit (so you can route the cable anywhere in the car instead of having USB connections sticking from the face plate). Having mp3s on USB thumb drive is better than mp3 CDs IMO. If you use 320kbps mp3 files, which is the best quality you can get with mp3, you will fit on average about five mp3 albums on one CDR disc. If you buy a 16 or 32GB USB thumb drive, you can fit your entire music library on it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I want to thank all of you for the quick replies, especially the Crutchfield site, which I had not considered.

My motivation for continuing to use the old amp is mainly to simplify the replacement installation. According to this INSTALL DOCTORx webpage bypassing the old amp requires disconnecting the ins & outs of the amp and jumpering them, and I don't even know where the amp is located in my wagon. If it's up under the dash I'm not agile enough to get to it. Speaker replacement (there are 6) is a whole 'nuther accessibility issue - removing whole panels, etc.

Behind all this is the fact that we don't drive this car a whole lot anymore - it's our backup and "freight" vehicle so I am trying to be discreet in what I spend on repairs. I do want to spend a modest amount on the sound system to get it working (it does not have to be "great"), and last summer I coughed up over $1100 to get the acc up and working again, using R12. But I do not plan to fix the burnt out grill lights.

(BTW, I'm partial to jukebox cd's instead of thumb drives because I can "Lightscribe" label the cd's and print an indexed insert for the jewel case; plus ~13 hrs/cd seems about right for us.)
 

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My motivation for continuing to use the old amp is mainly to simplify the replacement installation. According to this INSTALL DOCTORx webpage bypassing the old amp requires disconnecting the ins & outs of the amp and jumpering them, and I don't even know where the amp is located in my wagon. If it's up under the dash I'm not agile enough to get to it.
You're going to have to run wires to the amp either way, so nothing is really different whichever way you go in terms of difficulty. It will be a little cheaper to bypass the factory amp, but if you want to keep it it's not a big deal. It's behind the driver's side rear quarter panel BTW. I wouldn't worry about your speakers. As long as you don't like to crank it really loud, you'll be fine. More power is a lot less likely to blow a speaker than distortion, and compared to the factory amp an aftermarket head unit will have much less distortion.

I would call Crutchfield. One of their advisor's can help you figure out what will work best for you and can give you details about the installation. They have a bypass harness that is plug and play. There's an interface you have to use if you want to keep the amp. This is a Saturday afternoon job with some basic hand tools, nothing hard at all as long as you have some direction. Once you get it done you'll wonder why you worried about it so much :)

Right now Crutchfield has the Sony Xplod CDX-GT440U on sale for $70. It's MP3 capable and even has a USB input. No weather band, but about the only way to get that is to buy a marine head unit. Even with the dash kit and the bypass harness, you can get the whole package shipped for $105. They also include their "Master Sheets", which are vehicle specific, step-by-step instructions with pictures. For the price and a few hours of your time I don't think you could do much better.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
Thanks for the continued advice.

How do I get to the amp? Is it in the "donut" well?

As for the Sony Xplod CDX-GT440U, I've been reading all that I can conveniently find, including the Sony web site. The detachable faceplate is a nuisance, but I guess I can screw it down and turn off the warning beep. There is a caution about leaving it in a parked car, though, but carrying it around is a nuisance. Can it be damaged by heat build up in the summer sun? Normally it's in a garage, but sometimes parking in the sun is unavoidable. Can the clock be turned off? I really don't need two of them, especially when they (will inevitably) disagree.

I plan to call Crutchfield tomorrow, and I just might get the InstallCard.

Kent

:withstupid:
 

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I never take off my car's stereo face plate except for when leaving car for long periods of time in unfamiliar, possibly dangerous areas. There should be no problem with that.
 

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i like the motorized faces. no detach no fuss. i havent looked at head units in awhile so i cant tell you the cost.
the amp is behind the rear quarter panel on the drivers side
 

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As for the Sony Xplod CDX-GT440U, I've been reading all that I can conveniently find, including the Sony web site. The detachable faceplate is a nuisance, but I guess I can screw it down and turn off the warning beep. There is a caution about leaving it in a parked car, though, but carrying it around is a nuisance. Can it be damaged by heat build up in the summer sun? Normally it's in a garage, but sometimes parking in the sun is unavoidable. Can the clock be turned off? I really don't need two of them, especially when they (will inevitably) disagree.


Kent

:withstupid:
Almost any head unit these days is going to have a detachable face plate. Not a big deal. No harm in leaving it on. I haven't owned a Sony unit in 10 years, but the last one I had allow me to turn off the warning beep.
 

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Check around for a premuim sound bypass harness. With this, you unplug harnesses from the PS amp, hook the bypass plugs up to them, then install the head unit. The head unit's amp will drive the speakers directly. I got one off eBay, don't know if they're still generally available. Check Crutchfield or the usual install kit manufacturers (Scosche etc).
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thanks for steering me to Crutchfield. The phone rep, Elvis, led me to a couple of packages which are supposed to have the complete hookup, so all I'll have to do is connect the harness to the unit, slip the old unit out, unplug it and plug in the new, and slide it in. (I hope.) What I ordered was a JVC KD-HDR40 for $99.99. ...should arrive tomorrow.
 

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That JVC is a really nice unit for the price. You're going to love the HD Radio tuner. Besides the better sound quality, all the extra stations are a huge perk.

Crutchfield is a great company to deal with. Should you have any problems during your install just call them. Their phone techs are better than most of the techs you'll find in a car audio shop. They aren't the cheapest kids on the block, but with their service they'll always get my money.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
(> 6 years later...)

I did buy a clearance JVC unit from Crutchfield, half price. I decided to use the pre-amp outs so that I didn't need to get under the l r quarter panel, although I lost f-b fading that way. After I got the unit connected and stuffed back into the dash I discovered a noticeable audio pop when I turned the unit off. I called Crutchfield and they thought it was likely a ground fault problem and sent me a couple of audio isolation transformers - free! Let me tell you, stuffing all that wiring and the unit back into the dash was a real problem for me, but the pop was gone. I think it took me nearly an hour of false starts and retry's. But I did get it all done and it has worked fine ever since.

Since we don't drive it all that much I only keep one custom-burned cd in the unit, but I made sure that it included the contents of the original Ford-supplied audio cassette.
 
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