Swapping the head unit in a 2001 slk320 - Mercedes Benz SLK Forum

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#1 Old 10-27-2017
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Swapping the head unit in a 2001 slk320

After having an SL for 10 years, I will soon be the owner of a 2001 SLK 320. I am going to be swapping out the audio head unit, but this is NOT due to any need of upgrading the audio experience (even though I imagine that will happen by default). My two needs are (1) seamless bluetooth connectivity for phone calls and (2) Sirius/XM radio capability. This car will mostly be used locally, not for long-distance travel, so we are not talking about a system that I'm going to put a lot of money into.

It looks so easy on sites like Crutchfield, but I'm not a real handyman, especially if it involves car electronics wiring. Not to mention, I'm now living in an apartment community, so I have no "garage" to speak of. I'm probably going to go to a local shop (Jacksonville FL) and pay someone to put this in for me.

What I am looking for are recommendations for head units that you have experience with, AND suggestions/tips on what to beware of specifically to our SLK's, things that a local guy who has never seen one would not know.

Any and all help/advice is welcome!

Thanks.

t
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#2 Old 10-27-2017
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The SLK320 and the Chrysler Crossfire are nearly identical. Is a lot of discussion about upgrading the head unit to a modern BT unit. Mainly comes down to "do you need a CD ?". If so I like a Clarion (have an M303 in my Crossfire. If not I have a Pioneer MVH-X380BT in my SLK320. Did make a jumper cable to mate the Merc connector to the head unit so no cables were cut. Also need an antenna adapter. Is A Lot easier than on a 171.

Is a good write up on the Crossfire forum.

ps with BT cell phone link get four things: handsfree phone, immediate GPS with notification of road problems and rerouting, engine diagnostics/parameters, and access to the 500+ albums I have on my phone (sounds a lot better than satellite).
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#3 Old 10-28-2017
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I upgraded mine to a Kenwood Excelon KDC-X898, when I did the install I posted info/pictures here: https://www.slkworld.com/3754210-post4423.html

I'm really happy with it still, and it'll do everything you're looking for and more, plus match the dashboard illumination perfectly to boot! It's also infinitely adjustable in every way... just how much? Well, the instruction book is over 100 pages long!
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#5 Old 10-28-2017
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I upgraded mine to a Kenwood Excelon KDC-X898, when I did the install I posted info/pictures here: https://www.slkworld.com/3754210-post4423.html

I'm really happy with it still, and it'll do everything you're looking for and more, plus match the dashboard illumination perfectly to boot! It's also infinitely adjustable in every way... just how much? Well, the instruction book is over 100 pages long!
That look is indeed another consideration, one that I do care about but didn't mention. This deck looks like it will do the job. How does the Bluetooth phone perform? Can the people you are talking to hear you adequately, even with the top down?
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I put in a very simple (in relative terms) unit, a Pioneer 390BT. No CD, but USB, line in and BT as input. It has an Android interface (an remote control app, among some other stuff), but I have not explored that. It says Iphone as well. USB is powerful enough for charging phones and even Ipads, they claim.

The BT (as hinted by the designation) works pretty well and isn't too counterintuitive to use, The microphone is on the steering wheel cover top, with Cable neatly tucked away. I guess that it's possible to put it in the dome lamp assembly, if "OEM location" is preferred. The unit mutes the radio/stereo when there is a incoming call. It was 80 bucks or so (only a liitle more expensive than lo-cost, off brand units) - but YMMV here.

The Siris/XM feature is not applicable in my habitat, so I pass on that.

Sound is decent enough (i lost me golden ears over the years) but may not be for the real sound connoiseurs.

Illumination is red, BTW.
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Originally Posted by tsberkey View Post
That look is indeed another consideration, one that I do care about but didn't mention. This deck looks like it will do the job. How does the Bluetooth phone perform? Can the people you are talking to hear you adequately, even with the top down?
The Bluetooth functions very well, at least in my experiences with it, which include limited phone call usage and iHeartRadio. I have not actually made a call while driving with the top down, but all the calls I have made have been very clear coming in/going out sound-wise, so the microphone is a good one. I did place the microphone in the top left corner of the windshield to account for the wind buffeting, but I have still yet to actually try it.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tsberkey View Post
After having an SL for 10 years, I will soon be the owner of a 2001 SLK 320. I am going to be swapping out the audio head unit, but this is NOT due to any need of upgrading the audio experience (even though I imagine that will happen by default). My two needs are (1) seamless bluetooth connectivity for phone calls and (2) Sirius/XM radio capability. This car will mostly be used locally, not for long-distance travel, so we are not talking about a system that I'm going to put a lot of money into.

It looks so easy on sites like Crutchfield, but I'm not a real handyman, especially if it involves car electronics wiring. Not to mention, I'm now living in an apartment community, so I have no "garage" to speak of. I'm probably going to go to a local shop (Jacksonville FL) and pay someone to put this in for me.

What I am looking for are recommendations for head units that you have experience with, AND suggestions/tips on what to beware of specifically to our SLK's, things that a local guy who has never seen one would not know.

Any and all help/advice is welcome!

Thanks.

t
First thing to check is if the car you get has the Bose system fitted. If it has, the upgrade may be a little harder than first thought. How do you tell? Ask @jbanks15 or one of the other mods for your free VIN datacard. Alternatively look behind your seats. If you have two speakers low down then chances are you have Bose.

If you're not Bose then the head unit swap is simple. The only thing to check is how your head unit manages two wires - the permanent +12V feed and the Accessory +12V feed. Once you sort that the swap of head unit takes 15 to 30 minutes tops.

If you have Bose you need to look at how your new head unit can be connected to the Bose amplifier in the passenger footwell. We can help you here but let's not clog the post with too much in one go.

Regarding audibility during phone calls the best advice I can give is to make sure the mic that comes with the head unit is a noise-cancelling mic and to be sure to fix the mike so that it is away from roof-down draughts in the cockpit. I have mine on the drivers' A-pillar inside, but I want to have that moved to near the mirror. It's worth spending time with the manual and settings of the head unit and seeing if there are levels you can adjust to make best use of the mic in an open top car.

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Originally Posted by savcom View Post
First thing to check is if the car you get has the Bose system fitted. If it has, the upgrade may be a little harder than first thought. How do you tell? Ask @jbanks15 or one of the other mods for your free VIN datacard. Alternatively look behind your seats. If you have two speakers low down then chances are you have Bose.

If you're not Bose then the head unit swap is simple. The only thing to check is how your head unit manages two wires - the permanent +12V feed and the Accessory +12V feed. Once you sort that the swap of head unit takes 15 to 30 minutes tops.

If you have Bose you need to look at how your new head unit can be connected to the Bose amplifier in the passenger footwell. We can help you here but let's not clog the post with too much in one go.

Regarding audibility during phone calls the best advice I can give is to make sure the mic that comes with the head unit is a noise-cancelling mic and to be sure to fix the mike so that it is away from roof-down draughts in the cockpit. I have mine on the drivers' A-pillar inside, but I want to have that moved to near the mirror. It's worth spending time with the manual and settings of the head unit and seeing if there are levels you can adjust to make best use of the mic in an open top car.
I have the data card. It shows "RADIO MB AUDIO 30 - USA". I am assuming this means NOT the Bose system. (?)
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I have the data card. It shows "RADIO MB AUDIO 30 - USA". I am assuming this means NOT the Bose system. (?)
Not the Bose system, but the standard radio/CD unit. This means that the wires go straight to the door speakers, probably via connectors where the Bose Amplifier otherwise would be located.
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Not the Bose system, but the standard radio/CD unit. This means that the wires go straight to the door speakers, probably via connectors where the Bose Amplifier otherwise would be located.
Not quite @Anders S SLK02. The front (i.e. door speakers) are directly wired to the ISO connector that plugs into the back of the Audio 30 on a non-Bose system Also there is only cabling for the front speakers. There are no rear speakers and no cables to connect the rear speakers to the head unit in a non-Bose equipped R170.

It's all a simple swap this time - just release the Audio 30 (assuming you have the two radio keys to do this) pull it out, unplug the power, speaker and antennae lead then re-plug each lead into your new head unit and off you go. You'll need to route the cable for the microphone to probably near the mirror and then plug it into the back of the head unit - and you will probably need an adapter to get the ISO cable in the SLK to connect to the DIN antenna socket on the new head unit.

The only caveat is you will need to understand how to wire the Permanent 12V feed and the Accessory 12V feed - but your radio installation guide will help you there.

Good luck!

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#12 Old 10-29-2017
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Not quite @Anders S SLK02. The front (i.e. door speakers) are directly wired to the ISO connector that plugs into the back of the Audio 30 on a non-Bose system Also there is only cabling for the front speakers. There are no rear speakers and no cables to connect the rear speakers to the head unit in a non-Bose equipped R170.

It's all a simple swap this time - just release the Audio 30 (assuming you have the two radio keys to do this) pull it out, unplug the power, speaker and antennae lead then re-plug each lead into your new head unit and off you go. You'll need to route the cable for the microphone to probably near the mirror and then plug it into the back of the head unit - and you will probably need an adapter to get the ISO cable in the SLK to connect to the DIN antenna socket on the new head unit.

The only caveat is you will need to understand how to wire the Permanent 12V feed and the Accessory 12V feed - but your radio installation guide will help you there.

Good luck!
Almost there, then. To compensate for my mistake with the connectors, I looked into the factory handbook I have. Here are the two relevant pages (and, as you said, no further connector pieces for the standard radio install.
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Interesting, my facelift SLK320 says: 254 Radio MB Audio 30 USA and 810 Sound system but has working speakers behind the seats that say "Bose". Is wired to two channels (Front) only. Also had CD changer in trunk (removed to add luggage space).

Was this standard in 320s ?

ps was already done in my 320 but my clone required a Metra 40-EU10 VW /BMW/Euro Car to Male Motorola Vehicle Antenna Adapter and a Scosche VW01B Power/Speaker Connector for 1986-Up Volkswagen. I didn't cut any cable but made a short adapter from the car harness to the new head unit.




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Interesting, my facelift SLK320 says: 254 Radio MB Audio 30 USA and 810 Sound system but has working speakers behind the seats that say "Bose". Is wired to two channels (Front) only. Also had CD changer in trunk (removed to add luggage space).

Was this standard in 320s ?

ps was already done in my 320 but my clone required a Metra 40-EU10 VW /BMW/Euro Car to Male Motorola Vehicle Antenna Adapter and a Scosche VW01B Power/Speaker Connector for 1986-Up Volkswagen. I didn't cut any cable but made a short adapter from the car harness to the new head unit.




Well, I'm in JAX and my car is in Lakeland. Maybe I'll just stop by and let you install it for me when I get it this week!
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Originally Posted by Padgett View Post
Interesting, my facelift SLK320 says: 254 Radio MB Audio 30 USA and 810 Sound system but has working speakers behind the seats that say "Bose". Is wired to two channels (Front) only. Also had CD changer in trunk (removed to add luggage space).

Was this standard in 320s ?

ps was already done in my 320 but my clone required a Metra 40-EU10 VW /BMW/Euro Car to Male Motorola Vehicle Antenna Adapter and a Scosche VW01B Power/Speaker Connector for 1986-Up Volkswagen. I didn't cut any cable but made a short adapter from the car harness to the new head unit.




And, I just rechecked my data card and I also have both lines (254 and 810). Unfortunately, I have no way to check where the speakers are. I do know that I also saw the cd changer in the trunk, which I will probably also remove for storage.
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speakers? check here search speaker on this list

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So, are these pics showing for ALL 320's, or just if you have certain options installed?
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Well I'll see your diagrams and raise a picture:

ps if you want to come by, I'll watch. What head unit are you planning on ? Parts are on Amazon and may need some keys.

BTW if picking up in Lakeland, suspect I know the car. Does it have a smart-top ?
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Well I'll see your diagrams and raise a picture:

ps if you want to come by, I'll watch. What head unit are you planning on ? Parts are on Amazon and may need some keys.

BTW if picking up in Lakeland, suspect I know the car. Does it have a smart-top ?
Yes, you know the car. Sadly (but, luckily it happened BEFORE we picked it up) the hydraulic pump went in the top two weeks ago. That is being repaired early this week. Something also is going wrong with the SmartTop, because her mechanic says it is putting out all kinds of error codes. He said when he disconnected it, the codes stopped. We'll have to see what happens after he fixes the pump.

Haven't selected a head unit, yet. Been looking at some on Crutchfield. They seem to give you everything that you need, and the people who do the reviews gush about how easy Crutchfield (and their free tools and instructions) make it. It is amazing what $100 will buy you nowadays!!! I'm an old guy. I remember putting $300 into my first replacement stereo in 1977!!! Yikes...
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