Tip Improving your dash audio

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Neal

Staff member
RVF Administrator
Joined
Jul 27, 2019
Messages
6,373
Location
Midlothian, VA
RV Year
2017
RV Make
Newmar
RV Model
Ventana 4037
RV Length
40' 10"
TOW/TOAD
2017 Chevy Colorado
Fulltimer
No
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.

alpine-spr50.png

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.

pioneer.png

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.
 

Neal

Staff member
RVF Administrator
Joined
Jul 27, 2019
Messages
6,373
Location
Midlothian, VA
RV Year
2017
RV Make
Newmar
RV Model
Ventana 4037
RV Length
40' 10"
TOW/TOAD
2017 Chevy Colorado
Fulltimer
No
Leaving my last CG my GPS and SiriusXM went kaput. Getting an error message "Positioning is not possible due to the hardware". Per a google, it's a circuit board issue and has to be sent back. Second problem is units bought on Amazon are not bought from "dealers" and Pioneer won't warranty that, not sure if they will even fix it. I have a new Pioneer AVIC-W8600NEX on the way from Crutchfield and also bought the 4 year add-on warranty. $850 spent on original unit (8200) and if I get it fixed I'll sell it. There are some improvements in the new unit and it's a simple swap as the wiring harnesses are the same. In speaking with the Crutchfield rep the alternative suggestion was a Kenwood but it doesn't have a remote like the Pioneer does which I use to change settings from my office desk.

Moral is, be very careful where you buy stuff from. Amazon, as you know I love them, and they are convenient, Prime free shipping, but it's unknowns listing and selling units not much different than what goes on at eBay. I didn't realize I'd face this with the unit coming from Amazon as not being a Pioneer dealer. I have NOT heard back from Pioneer support yet but I don't have time to deal with this, I have 20 hours of driving back to AZ starting Friday so the unit is getting an upgrade, at $1500...ouch! The old unit will still work to play music via bluetooth, HD radio, etc. but I'm not wasting time here. Moving forward.
 

Joe Goodxrvn

RVF Supporter
Joined
Nov 3, 2019
Messages
1,231
Location
Florida
RV Year
2018
RV Make
Newmar
RV Model
CanyonStar
RV Length
39' 11"
TOW/TOAD
Demco KarKaddy 460SS and VW Passat
Fulltimer
No
That is a hard lesson to learn about Amazon. I had read that about some of the other products like tools as well. Thank you for sharing.
Recently I try to buy directly from the MFG store or an online store the MFG promotes, for this and other reasons.
 

CaptainGizmo

RVF Supporter
Joined
Nov 3, 2019
Messages
540
Location
SoCal...relax, we're one of the good ones! ;-)
RV Year
2015
RV Make
Newell
RV Model
2020P
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45
TOW/TOAD
2017 Ford F-150 Raptor w/AF1 Braking
Fulltimer
No
Neal. I have the 4660. It’s a good unit.
But...once again...ya gotta get the Micro hack to bypass the speed circuit. Ugh.

I didn’t get one for mine, figuring I’d try the “secret” touch sequence; but alas, it doesn’t stick and has to be redone periodically.

Sure wish we could get away from this stupid “safety” feature. On the Pioneer, so far it only disables video, so that’s fine. At least it’s not as LAME as the Alpine, which disables virtually ALL of the radio’s settings unless the bypass is used!! ?
 
Last edited:

AbdRahim

RVF Supporter
Joined
Dec 25, 2019
Messages
1,459
Thanks for the details, Neal. I never buy stuff like iPads etc from Amazon. A friend bought one from Amazon - unbeatable price. I warned her. When she got it, the supposedly new ipad was obviously used and came with a non-Apple charger, which did not work.

Weekly Amazon budget? Man I need to go back to work. :coffee:

The sound was one of the first things I noticed missing from the BayStar. My Forrester even had a good subwoofer. and the dash radio played through the subwoofer. I do miss the subwoofer. Also, I was surprised that there were no speakers in the living area. I am not handy enough to wire such, so it is bluetooth for me. I will definitely look into the speaker swap. JBL's are usually good quality - at least they were in years gone by. Perhaps their radio speakers are not in the same class as their stage speakers.

Perhaps I could add a compact stereo system for the bedroom. Well that is waaayy down on the priority list.
 

Neal

Staff member
RVF Administrator
Joined
Jul 27, 2019
Messages
6,373
Location
Midlothian, VA
RV Year
2017
RV Make
Newmar
RV Model
Ventana 4037
RV Length
40' 10"
TOW/TOAD
2017 Chevy Colorado
Fulltimer
No
I sent off the AVIC-8201 for repair per Pioneer (to United Radio) and they wanted 650+ for repair. The unit cost around 850 so that's a NO. They shipped it back to me so I'll look for someone else that may be able to repair it. I did find that I DID buy Amazon's warranty protection with this unit (Assurion or whoever it is) (yaye me). Get this, that expired ONE MONTH prior to the unit going bad. I bought a 3 year plan that expired Dec 2, 2020.

I've been very pleased with the new unit I installed: Pioneer AVIC-W8600NEX. There are some changes from the 8201 I don't like such as I can't put my exact RV dimensions in like I could with the 8201, they just have presets so I have truck selected. Other issues I had with the 8201 were fixed in the 8600 which is good. I dare say it has more power or something just sounds better, they did change how the subwoofer connects and that seems to have made a nice improvement in the overall sound (dedicated RCA connection).
 
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