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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hello, fellow FJ enthusiasts.

I thought I'd share my experience with a recent audio system upgrade for my FJ Cruiser. I spent some time lurking on this forum, getting some great information on other member experiences with doing this.

This is the second Toyota I have owned. My first was a 2002 Sequoia that was bulletproof. As with the Sequoia, my only gripe with the FJ was the weak factory audio system. My FJ came with the "upgraded" system. I added a third-party "bluefusion" bluetooth adapter (used a SAT input) that worked well for streaming music and hands-free telephone. That said, I was really wanting to improve the audio experience and modernize the capabilities of the head unit.

I spend a good amount of time on fjcruiserforum.com, Crutchfield, Amazon, eBay, and audio enthusiast forums, trying to narrow down my options. The 2-din height of the factory unit provides a large array of options. That said, I tend to be very picky about the fit/finish of things and maintaining a clean look with any modification. I didn't want to install an upgrade that looked out of place.

My budget for the upgrade was to stay under $2,000. My goal was to replace the head unit, speakers, add subwoofer, and add amplifier. Installation costs are not included in that number. I did have it professionally installed, but I think this could be a DIY for most.

The minimum features I was interested in were: audio quality, integrated GPS, bluetooth, hands-free calling, snappy performance when using the interface, and ease of use.

One of the first things I realized is that although the factory unit is 2-din in height, it is about 1" wider than a standard 2-din aftermarket unit. Of course, one can get a mounting kit to accommodate this, but the end result is an installation that doesn't look clean. That narrowed things down, quite a bit.

Over the past year, I've purchased a number of items from aliexpress.com. This is the Chinese version of Amazon.com. Although I haven't purchased any electronics, customer service has been responsive, shipping times reasonable, and return policy satisfactory. There is a large selection of 2-din head units available, most of them either Android or Windows/CE based. I narrowed it down to Android, primarily based on the ecosystem of applications and likely availability of software updates. My sense is that most of these units come out of a handful of factories in China. It is also likely that thee factories build/develop most of the audio head units you find in the factory systems (just my guess).

Here's the head-unit I went with. From time of order, it shipped within 5 days and arrived within 15 days via DHL.

http://www.aliexpress.com/item/Capa...-RAV4-Prado-dvd-gps-2002-2003/1349881832.html

I opted to go with JL Audio Speakers for the front doors, rear passenger area, and subwoofers.

Front Speakers: JL Audio C2-650 6.5-Inch 2-Way Component Speaker System

Rear Speakers: JL Audio C2-650X Evolution™ Series 6-1/2" 2-way car speakers

Rear Headliner: PowerBass S-275CH 2.75-Inch Full Range OEM Speaker for Chrysler/Jeep (Black)

Subwoofer Box: Wicked CAS

Amplifier: Polk Audio PA D5000.5 900W RMS, 5-Channel Class D PA Series Car Amplifier (PAD5000.5),100 Watts x4; 400 Watts x1

It's all installed and I am very happy with it. After about 2 months of moderate use, here are my impressions.

The good:

1. Chinese head unit is of very good build quality. Tactile feel of buttons, interface layout, and sound quality is excellent.

2. The versatility of having an Android operating system, WiFi capability, etc. makes the average system very boring.

3. Capacitive touch screen is very sharp, easy to read, and visible even in in direct sunlight.

4. ODB II connectivity is a nice feature (note: need to buy $10 adapter)

5. It's all about the APPS! I run WAZE (gps navigation), Spotify (streaming music), GAIA (topo maps), etc.

6. Full plug-n-play. No wiring harness adapter or wire cutting required. Steering wheel controls work and are programmable.

7. iPhone/iPod compatibility

8. Rear & Front Camera Capability


The not so good:

1. Boot up time is about 20 seconds. This has been a non-issue for me. FM Radio come on instantly if the car is shut off with radio playing.

2. Unlike many of these units that have adjustable illumination color, this one only does green.

Hopefully, this is helpful.

Cheers!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Very nice. Thanks for taking the time to educate us on all your research. Does it sound amazing? Did you put any insulation or sound deadening in side panels or headliner?

Yes... I had my installer sound deaden front and rear.

The difference from the stock system is significantly improved.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I've seen a number of the hardcore 4x4 rigs have some elaborate undercarriage camera setups. Think of what you could do with a few dropcams and the dropcam android app. This would be way easier and more versatile than some of them. Plus, it could auto-record ton the cloud.
 

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So, I'm curious, is the main reason for going to the Asian site for the HU price, or just availability? Is there comparable available in the US for "reasonable" price on the head unit? I see this unit has its own 3G capability, but assume you are sharing internet/using your phone as a wifi hotspot for data connectivity? Do these android head units get software updates via easy download or do you have to download android versions from various sites and load it through a manual process to the system.

Apologies for all the questions, but I haven't really looked much into these types of head units.
 

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Fanatic work and great write up. ?
 

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So, I just ordered an Android head unit myself, this guy:

Pumpkin Best In Dash Android 4.4 kitkat Car DVD Player universal stereo gps navigation at www.autopumpkin.com @ AutoPumpkin

(They also have 10% coupon codes available if you Google them!)

So, this stereo has an 'ISO' connector at the back. Does anyone know if I can get an easy adapter to connect my existing Toyota plugs to this without splicing? Searching Google, etc is a little confusing - I want to make sure I get the right thing.

I've done several stereo installs via splicing, etc, but if I can get a $8 adapter and have the install done in 20 minutes instead of 2 hours, that would be amazing!

I also have a backup camera on the way:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00B2ZD7OS/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

I have decided to install it in my hitch. I will install this hitch plug and make a hole for the camera:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000P437WE/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o01_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

If I have to tow something, I guess I'll have to re-think it :) But this seems to be the easiest way to get a camera installed quickly. The license plate mounted ones aren't ideal because of the location of the spare. I could try figuring out how to wire it to the spare, but I'm going to be designing a storage box to mount in place of the spare and move the spare to a roof rack once I get one installed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
So, I'm curious, is the main reason for going to the Asian site for the HU price, or just availability? Is there comparable available in the US for "reasonable" price on the head unit? I see this unit has its own 3G capability, but assume you are sharing internet/using your phone as a wifi hotspot for data connectivity? Do these android head units get software updates via easy download or do you have to download android versions from various sites and load it through a manual process to the system.

Apologies for all the questions, but I haven't really looked much into these types of head units.

I'm sure you can find this unit or similar on eBay, although it may still be sourced from China. In general, I think you may save a few bucks by getting it direct from China.

I have a Verizon hot-spot that plugs into one of the USB connections off the back of the unit. I had my installer run extensions for both this and the wifi dongle into the center console compartment.

I haven't updated the software, yet. The supplier stated that they release updates approximately every 3 months.

ImageUploadedByAutoGuide1419970170.948098.jpg
 

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So, I just ordered an Android head unit myself, this guy:

Pumpkin Best In Dash Android 4.4 kitkat Car DVD Player universal stereo gps navigation at www.autopumpkin.com @ AutoPumpkin

(They also have 10% coupon codes available if you Google them!)

So, this stereo has an 'ISO' connector at the back. Does anyone know if I can get an easy adapter to connect my existing Toyota plugs to this without splicing? Searching Google, etc is a little confusing - I want to make sure I get the right thing.

I've done several stereo installs via splicing, etc, but if I can get a $8 adapter and have the install done in 20 minutes instead of 2 hours, that would be amazing!

I also have a backup camera on the way:

Amazon.com : 1/4" CCD Flush Mount Waterproof Truck Car Reverse Backup Rear View Camera : Vehicle Backup Cameras : Car Electronics

I have decided to install it in my hitch. I will install this hitch plug and make a hole for the camera:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000P437WE/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o01_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

If I have to tow something, I guess I'll have to re-think it :) But this seems to be the easiest way to get a camera installed quickly. The license plate mounted ones aren't ideal because of the location of the spare. I could try figuring out how to wire it to the spare, but I'm going to be designing a storage box to mount in place of the spare and move the spare to a roof rack once I get one installed.
Keep us updated on how the Android unit works out. I am also looking at it.
Thanks
 

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Keep us updated on how the Android unit works out. I am also looking at it.
Thanks
I actually received it today. I'm waiting for my backup camera and hitch plug to arrive (and I guess I need to go pick up a double-DIN bezel). At that point I will have to figure out how to wire it up. I was hoping that I could find some easy connector adapter so it would be plug and play, but I can't find a Toyota -> 'ISO' adapter, at least one that I know would work - every search I do for ISO adapters gives me sites from the UK, AU, NZ, etc.

I have always done my own stereo installs in the past, but I may break down and have this one installed at a shop. Backup camera, subwoofer, steering wheel controls, etc... might be a bit much for me. I'll lay out all the parts when everything arrives and stare at some wiring diagrams a bit and make the call in a few days...
 

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I actually received it today. I'm waiting for my backup camera and hitch plug to arrive (and I guess I need to go pick up a double-DIN bezel). At that point I will have to figure out how to wire it up. I was hoping that I could find some easy connector adapter so it would be plug and play, but I can't find a Toyota -> 'ISO' adapter, at least one that I know would work - every search I do for ISO adapters gives me sites from the UK, AU, NZ, etc.

I have always done my own stereo installs in the past, but I may break down and have this one installed at a shop. Backup camera, subwoofer, steering wheel controls, etc... might be a bit much for me. I'll lay out all the parts when everything arrives and stare at some wiring diagrams a bit and make the call in a few days...

Did you have time to work on it ? :grin
 

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I just installed mine today and finishing the install with the reverse camera tomorrow.

Amazon.com : JOYING 6.2 inch Android 4.4 Kitkat In Dash Double Din 800*480 HD Touch Screen Car DVD Player AM/FM Radio GPS Navigation Navi Stereo Support 3G/Wifi Bluetooth AUX 1080P USB/SD DVR OBD2 Airplay External Microphone as Gift For Toyota RAV4/C

My initial view of the HU is that it's built well. and packaged well.

Shipping from China was super quick. Ordered and then 6 days later it shows up on my door step from DHL.

The wiring harness was plug-n-play and programing the HU for the steering wheel controls was straight forward. I have an 07 so there were very few buttons to program.

Turning it on, it takes about 15-30 seconds (I didn't count), but it doesn't bother me. I'm still waiting for my OBDII bluetooth connector to show up so I can use torque.

Connecting to my phone to use as a hotspot was pretty easy and navigating through the system is just like your Android phone: easy and straight forward!

I did notice that my radio doesn't get very good reception. This is either due to my new 13" antenna that I got, or a lot of the wires in the back are touching the antenna (I'll check on that shortly). I haven't figured out how to turn the radio off yet as going to the home screen doesn't turn it off, and if I'm streaming music through an app; di.fm, both the radio and app will play music at the same time. Kinda strange.

The main reason I got this over the panasonic app radio was that it was about $150 cheaper, plug-n-play, looks OEM, and had the ability to have WAZE while streaming di.fm. I may end up getting a wireless dongle for it as data is now starting to become cheap(ish) here in the US.

Calling... I haven't made, or received any calls yet with it. I haven't installed the external mic that came with it either as I want to see how the internal mic handles.

WAZE... it works. what more do you want to know? I love this app and it's saved me many times! I installed the gps up in the compass gauge pod so I can make sure I have a good signal and it's hidden so at not to attract any attention.

So far, I like it. The things I need to further inspect tomorrow when I install the rear view camera and my heated seats are:
OEM subwoofer and if it's working
radio antenna and if I get a better signal
will this support a usb hub? If it does, I can leave a wireless keyboard and mouse in it.
 

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OEM subwoofer and if it's working
You need to connect the pueple or purple/white wire for the OEM sub, if i remember correctly
 

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Did you have time to work on it ? :grin
I did the stereo install but have not yet installed the backup camera or the steering wheel controls (have to figure that out). I went out of town for a week so haven't had a chance to dive back in yet. The stereo worked great during the trip though - it was awesome having internet radio, podcasts, and navigation during the trip (14 hour drive each way).

Speaking of the trip, I discovered that the best way for me (at 6'4) to sleep in the FJ is not in the back, but just in the front seat, reclined all the way, with one leg in the driver's side footwell and the other leg in the passenger side footwell. :grin With pillow and blanket I was rather comfortable and was able to sleep for six hours at a stretch without waking up much.
 
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