Tip Improving your dash audio

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Jul 27, 2019
Midlothian, VA
RV Year
RV Make
RV Model
Ventana 4037
RV Length
40' 10"
2017 Chevy Colorado
Do you like to listen to music while driving? How about podcasts or audio books? For those with the dash radio that also have speakers in the bedroom, want to improve the whole house audio from the dash radio?

We spend a lot of time on the road as RVers so I spare no opportunity (within reason) to improve my audio while driving as well as in the coach with both front and bedroom speakers on. I took several steps in improving my audio, some simple, some needing more attention such as a dash radio installer.

I drive a Newmar Ventana and was surprised of the hype over JBL "sound system" in my coach. I think the decal on the window cost more than the JBL components themselves. Come to find out the only thing that was JBL and I have no idea how it warranted such hype was the pair of speakers in the cockpit area and the wall mounted sub-woofer in the televator bay. Those JBL speakers are extremely cheap, I can't remember the cost as I replaced them almost immediately when taking delivery in June of 2017. They were extremely inefficient making them hard to drive (get any quality sound out of them) so I tried a few different 5-1/4" speakers. They are easy to swap. I think I went with Polk first and then ended up with Alpine. I tried several, the Alpine SPR-50's killed it! I liked them so much that I bought a pair for the bedroom to replace those small square speakers Newmar installed. I painted the grills white for ceiling mounting in the bedroom over the bed. I had to cut a larger hole for them. Be sure any time you cut the thin ceiling panel (it's about 1/8" plywood with the sound dampening material glued) that you check for wires in the path of your cut as Newmar has wires going every which way above those panels. There are also metal cross braces so you must be sure you have the clearance PRIOR to making any cuts.


The speakers made a huge difference and if you stop here you will be very pleased. Thankfully for Amazon's easy return policy you can find the speakers that work for you. Do you think I would stop here? Me neither, I hated (understated) the Clarion dash radio Newmar so gratefully gave me with my coach. I commend Newmar to be able to find and source such an outdated dash radio for their coaches. The space is a standard double-din so finding a replacement was no big deal. I decided on the Pioneer AVIC-8201 as I wanted something that would allow RV size/weight profiles and also offer Apple CarPlay as I'm an iPhone user. I had hoped I could figure out the wiring but knew my limits. I was lucky to find an audio place in town that does RV's too so I took it to them. I was fortunate that since I bought the dash radio from Amazon instead of them I was able to pay premium labor rates :( So if you're considering a dash radio ma'franz if you are not going to install this yourself then find the dash radio you want and find a company that will install it and buy it through them. It may save you money in the end. Even the installer was confused by some of the wiring as in the case of Newmar they have to install these differently as they don't turn off with the ignition like cars. This is also why later I had to install a custom rocker switch for the dash radio as they are just not designed to be "always on" - the designers seem to plan on the radio reboots on car start to clear their sloppy programming and causing memory leaks (freeze ups, slow displays, etc.). I have really enjoyed the Pioneer AVIC-8200 (the 8201 just adds a rear view camera I never used so I got to pay more!). The installer added a better amp than the crap one Newmar provided, it's just above the accelerator, and also the sub-woofer behind the dash drawers was improved. Now I just need a fake rear view mirror with fuzzy dice and make my HWH Active Air bounce the front up and down and I'm the star attraction and concert provider at the stop lights! I like that the Pioneer has built in nav/traffic and also voice speed limit warnings to remind me to come out of after-diesel.


There have been mods by Newmar owners to get the dash radio output improved to the external TV soundbar. As I have Amazonia Disease, I too bought those suggested components but never installed them. I gave up on the dash radio to the exterior, maybe someone else can offer those tips and discuss what worked and what didn't. I have an Amazon Echo Dot in the external TV bay which connects to my Samsung Soundbar that installed instead of the Bose I despise over bluetooth and plays any music from the Internet I want via Spotify, SiriusXM etc.

Moral of the story is, as those that know me, make your coach your own. Make it enjoyable in all aspects and in this post it's about the audio from the dash radio. It can sound great but you need to do a few upgrades that don't have to break your weekly RV Amazon budget.