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Mod #17: Radio Replacement

Posted By Mark Corgan On June 21, 2008 @ 6:24 am In electrical, entertainment | 13 Comments

Don’t you just love the great sound quality you get from your factory-installed RV stereo? Most think the junky stock speakers are the culprit. This may be true in some cases but the stereo has a lot to do with sound quality as well. Not only is the sound quality questionable, reliability also rates high on the aggravation list. Things like poor reception and skipping CDs seem to be quite common with the factory units. And some just fail altogether. This mod will not only help you improve the reliability and sound quality of your stereo, but will also help you spend more money on other components of the total sound system, just so you don’t have to worry about those things either.

Mod Difficulty:

Car stereos are typically used to replace the RV unit. Since car stereos do not have the same dimensions as an RV stereo, mounting a car stereo in the same location is going to require some modification. You will have to create a new face plate to cover the original hole left by the RV stereo, and then mount the new stereo to the faceplate. You can sometimes find wood to match the cabinetry at most home improvement stores, like Lowes or Home Depot. It might not match perfectly, but you can stain it to get close. What fun is a mod if you can’t get creative?

You can also install the new stereo in another location. This might be easier in terms of mounting since you only have to make a hole the size of the new unit. A cabinet or storage compartment is a good choice as these areas tend to have more reinforcement near their mounting points. Just be sure you have enough clearance behind the unit for both fitment and ventilation. Higher power stereos do put out more heat and a little breathing room will help prevent overheating.

Wiring is straightforward if you’re just replacing the RV stereo with a car stereo/CD combo. Some units have provisions for auxiliary inputs for satellite radio, external CD changers, game players, iPods, etc., and outputs for DVD video signals and subwoofers. You will need to do a little more planning if you decide to use a head unit to control all of these wonderful gadgets, especially if the gadgets are not located near the location of the head unit.

Wiring adapters are available for connecting the new head unit to the RV wiring but are dependent on the manufacturer. If you cannot find an adapter, splicing in to the RV wiring is pretty simple. Look in the RV stereo manual to determine which wires go to which speakers and where the stereo is connected to power. Then compare with the wiring diagram for the new head unit, match them up, splice, and go.

Worth mentioning is a head unit that is perfect for the RVer. It’s an all-in-one package which includes, among other things, a weather band tuner, CD/DVD, remote, and is Sirius satellite ready. The weather band tuner is especially nice if bad weather is expected where you’re camping. It can give you enough warning so that you can retract the awning and put away the chairs.

ModMyRV recommends these parts for this mod:
Sony CDX-GT630UI MP3/WMA/AAC Compliant CD Receiver with iPod Direct Control via USB
Under cabinet mount radio housing
Universal and Custom Harness with Amp Connectors

General Reference
RV Stereo and Entertainment System

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