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post #31 of 45 (permalink) Old 08-03-2018, 03:39 PM
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Originally Posted by mstrjon32 View Post
No one on here believes me (except Robo) but you don't need to rip the car apart or change speakers to get the Monsoon to sound good. Buy a Pioneer 80PRS and get the Axxess Basix integration kit to connect it to the car and keep your chime without getting in between the HU and the system, do a little bit of tuning, and you'll be amazed. I can send you the settings I'm using in my car if you like! Though, if you're using the Infinity drivers you'll definitely need to dial it in for your setup.

OK, I'm interested in this as a project. I read the installation instructions for the AX-GMLAN11-SWC. Does this interface only use high-power outputs from head units for input, or does it take pre-amp level output as input as well?

I'd like to get away from CD's and use a thumb drive or SD card for source. Bluetooth to my phone is a distant second as a source as I don't like "phone dependency". I want the car to play music from its own loaded source. I tried to find such a HU on Pioneer's website but don't see one. Can you recommend a head unit?

Also, please send me your settings!
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post #32 of 45 (permalink) Old 08-03-2018, 04:04 PM
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Originally Posted by jshines View Post
I have been eagerly watching this thread since it started and I have to say that at this point I’m just as confused as when I started reading it! With all the technical stuff aside if I could be assured that if I just changed the door speakers I would hear an improvement I would be happy with that. I agree with a previous posting that if I did change the head unit it’s more apt to be stolen and the thieves would go right through the convertible top to get it!
I've been doing this since the 80's and it used to be known that you changed speakers first. My Sky is the first car where I did that and the improvement a so mild that I thought "huh?" I'm no audiophile, I'm a boom-boom party car guy who's only ever used industrial grade connectors. So, all I can say is that my Sky, with the quality speakers, just doesn't sound "crisp" like my Vue (with a Pioneer HU). If the Sky Monsoon amp is OK then it comes down to the head unit. I'm willing to give it a try to see what happens. So, in time, maybe I can come back with a definite answer for everyone.

As for the theft aspect, I'm just glad I don't live in L.A. anymore!
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post #33 of 45 (permalink) Old 08-03-2018, 05:16 PM
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ZPM, this is the one to get (from a USA reseller): Pioneer DEH-80PRS There are newer units on the market, but if your primary concern is sound quality, stop searching because this is the one. (Take a look at the reviews on that site if you don't believe me.)

The 80PRS has an SD card slot, though typically I use the Bluetooth connection to the phone for convenience of loading new music, building playlists, etc.

For the integration kit, I have an Axxess BX-GM3 which provides the connectors and handles the chimes with its own internal speaker. I'm not using the amplifier in the 80PRS (in fact you can disable it completely to reduce signal noise) and I soldered RCA connectors onto the "speaker" connections on the harness and then connected them to the 5V preamp outputs on the Pioneer for a direct preamp connection all the way through. You'll need to get the RCA pigtails separately. The interface box doesn't get in between the HU and the amplifier at all.

I just took a quick look at the Axxess site and it looks like the BX-GM3 has been discontinued and replaced with the AX-GMLAN11...which seems to be functionally the same thing. You basically need it to keep your chimes, your retained accessory power, and to give you a handy wiring harness and connector to make installation easy. You'll also need the ASWC-1 if you want your steering wheel controls to work.

I will get some photos of the settings on my 80PRS next time I'm in the car. I don't have mine setup for mega bass, but it's easy to dial it in to the point where it's unbearable if that's what you're into.

Looking forward to hearing how it goes for you...you won't be disappointed!

Last edited by mstrjon32; 08-03-2018 at 05:19 PM.
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post #34 of 45 (permalink) Old 08-03-2018, 09:46 PM
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Thanks for the pre-amp advice. I'd hoped that was possible. No worries, I've got several soldering irons, miles of shrink wrap, and a heat gun. I keep telling my female friends "that's not a hair dryer" so they don't get balded.

The install instructions for the AX-GMLAN11-SWC go over connecting and programming the interface to work with the steering wheel buttons. They must have brought the ASWC-1 functionality into the interface.

Can you give me some advice on what mounting kit to use? I used to go with Schosche but that was last century, literally!

Also, thanks for the pictures of the settings.

Last edited by ZPM; 08-03-2018 at 09:49 PM.
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post #35 of 45 (permalink) Old 08-04-2018, 02:05 AM
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Looking at the Axxess web site it looks like the AX-GMLAN11-SWC is for retaining OnStar, and must be getting in between the HU signal and the amplifier to provide that--I'd definitely avoid it. The non "-SWC" model just does the basic functions like the chimes and the RAP, but you're right, it will require you to buy the steering interface separately.

It's probably still cheaper too--when I bought the BX-GM4, IIRC, it was about 40€, and another 40€ for the steering interface, which is less than the ~200€ OnStar kits, which are useless to me and only introduce signal noise, anyway. If you look way back in my post history you'll find me complaining about how they introduced noise and were running my battery down in under a week of being parked.

For the mounting kit it looks like I used the Metra 99-3302.
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post #36 of 45 (permalink) Old 08-04-2018, 12:01 PM
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Originally Posted by mstrjon32 View Post
Looking at the Axxess web site it looks like the AX-GMLAN11-SWC is for retaining OnStar, and must be getting in between the HU signal and the amplifier to provide that--I'd definitely avoid it. The non "-SWC" model just does the basic functions like the chimes and the RAP, but you're right, it will require you to buy the steering interface separately.

It's probably still cheaper too--when I bought the BX-GM4, IIRC, it was about 40€, and another 40€ for the steering interface, which is less than the ~200€ OnStar kits, which are useless to me and only introduce signal noise, anyway. If you look way back in my post history you'll find me complaining about how they introduced noise and were running my battery down in under a week of being parked.

For the mounting kit it looks like I used the Metra 99-3302.
Thanks for all the input. Part of what held me off on this was having to do all the research and guessing on unclear items. I'd like to maintain Onstar functionality so I plan to go with the SWC unit. Partly out of nostalgia because I was one of the original nine software engineers at Motorola Telematics that developed the system (Gen F1) in the late 90's, and part to keep the car as functionally as original as possible. Even though I may never actually subscribe to the service. However, I'll carefully research its getting between the HU and the amp, read your old posts, and talk to Axxess about it first. My impression is they would have corrected the faults you mentioned in the new unit.

Thanks again!
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post #37 of 45 (permalink) Old 08-04-2018, 01:09 PM
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Originally Posted by ZPM View Post
Thanks for all the input. Part of what held me off on this was having to do all the research and guessing on unclear items. I'd like to maintain Onstar functionality so I plan to go with the SWC unit. Partly out of nostalgia because I was one of the original nine software engineers at Motorola Telematics that developed the system (Gen F1) in the late 90's, and part to keep the car as functionally as original as possible. Even though I may never actually subscribe to the service. However, I'll carefully research its getting between the HU and the amp, read your old posts, and talk to Axxess about it first. My impression is they would have corrected the faults you mentioned in the new unit.

Thanks again!
Since I imported the car to Germany it was never even a second thought about preserving OnStar since it would never work here anyway, but I would seriously consider how important it is to you before going with the more expensive (and likely signal noise-introducing) integration kit. If you ever really want to go back to stock you're not modifying the electronics in the car in any way, so you could just plug the original head unit back in. Does OnStar still even work for these cars? I feel like the cellular networks have really moved on since the mid 2000's...

You'll probably find it in my old posts, but back when I first started this whole effort I bought the Axxess integration kit that allowed you to use the pre-amp level outputs, but that kit would drain the battery. They later replaced that item with a newer version that claimed to fix the problem, but it needed a speaker-level input, I wanted to run the 80PRS with the internal amplifier disabled, and it just seemed ridiculous to amplify the signal, convert it back to line level, and then amplify it again. If I recall correctly that one ended up as more money in the trash. Around that time they released the "Basix" series which had it's own dedicated speaker for the chimes and turn signals and left my audio signal alone, and that was really the golden ticket for me.

Also, there is one last detail I just remembered--you will need to "make some space" behind the radio by means of removing some of the plastic behind the dash. I used a ~30mm wood drill bit to make a hole to allow the connectors to fit far enough back and the radio to fit flush in the dash. It's behind the radio and wont affect your ability to reinstall the stock radio at all.

Let us know how it goes.
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post #38 of 45 (permalink) Old 08-04-2018, 02:49 PM
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Good points. I guess I can do without Onstar. It works but I'm never going to subscribe. Definitely, I want the preamp aspect. Thanks for the heads up on making more space. I'll get to work and report back!
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post #39 of 45 (permalink) Old 08-04-2018, 06:06 PM
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For what worit's worth, I was never able to get the SWC module to work in mine. The onstar and chime module wasn't bad though, only a few wires. I must have the old system, my setup definitely has a parasitic draw when the car is not on...been through several batteries now.
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post #40 of 45 (permalink) Old 08-05-2018, 01:44 AM
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Originally Posted by Rockchops View Post
For what worit's worth, I was never able to get the SWC module to work in mine. The onstar and chime module wasn't bad though, only a few wires. I must have the old system, my setup definitely has a parasitic draw when the car is not on...been through several batteries now.
The very first Axxess integration adapter I put in this car would flatten the battery in about a week--as in, totally dead, no crank, no lights, nothing. If you're still using that and you don't need OnStar, I'd highly recommend you get the updated non-OnStar model. It's cheaper than a replacement battery, anyway.

The ASWC-1 is a pain to get working the first time, but mine is working fully and hasn't lost its programming or given me any issues since I installed it. I even disconnect the battery during the winter months now and as soon as I reconnect it everything is as normal.
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post #41 of 45 (permalink) Old 08-05-2018, 03:14 PM
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This thread has intrigued me so much I sent the following question to Crutchfield:

QUESTION: "Looking for a speakers just for the doors that would improve the overall sound. Keeping the stock head unit. Is there something specific about looking for speakers that will play nice with the factory head unit?"

ANSWER: "Thanks for the email. So there are a number of things to look for when pairing a speaker with a stock radio, but the main thing is the speakers sensitivity. This is how low a speaker can get given a specific amount of power and is measured in db. The higher the better and anything over 90db is what you would be looking for to run well on a stock radio.

That's not a guarantee though, there are plenty of very high end speakers with high sensitivity that would sound awful on a stock radio. So you would also want to look at the speakers minimum listed power. If its 5 watts or more it will struggle on a stock radio. Problem is many companies don't list minimum wattage since none one wants to print a low wattage on their box as the common misconception is more power the better.

Kickers are a good example of speakers that run well on stock power, the 43CSC654 would fit your front doors and sound great. They don't list the minimum wattage so its a bad example there but we have used these on countless stock radios and always had good luck with them."
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post #42 of 45 (permalink) Old 08-05-2018, 03:15 PM
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Originally Posted by mstrjon32 View Post
The very first Axxess integration adapter I put in this car would flatten the battery in about a week--as in, totally dead, no crank, no lights, nothing. If you're still using that and you don't need OnStar, I'd highly recommend you get the updated non-OnStar model. It's cheaper than a replacement battery, anyway.

The ASWC-1 is a pain to get working the first time, but mine is working fully and hasn't lost its programming or given me any issues since I installed it. I even disconnect the battery during the winter months now and as soon as I reconnect it everything is as normal.
I'm getting the AGM type battery next time. I understand it can be deep cycled without damage. I used to put deep cycle marines in all my cars but the AGM has more sizes available.

I live in Texas. What's this "winter" thing? Is it coming?
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post #43 of 45 (permalink) Old 08-05-2018, 03:48 PM
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Originally Posted by snkhill55 View Post
Looking for a sound system and all I saw was old news. Wondering if there was a newer solution, thanks.
I know you have gotten a huge amount of opinions. This is just my opinion and mine only and let me preface it with "I'm not an expert". I replaced my head unit with a Kenwood unit (certainly not the best or the most expensive one) and I was very pleasantly surprised by the increased quality of the sound and the increased volume without distortion I got. My unit has Bluetooth, Pandora, I Heart Radio, Sirius and others. It plays music from a USB stick and most of all looks good IMO.


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2008 Midnight Blue Saturn Sky
2.4L, DDM Short Shifter, 18" Chrome Wheels, Limited Slip Differential, Sirius Radio/Onstar, Power Seat,
Spoiler, Power Windows, Power Door Locks, Kenwood Stereo, Leather, Windrestrictor, Opel GT Antenna
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post #44 of 45 (permalink) Old 08-05-2018, 03:53 PM
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Originally Posted by ZPM View Post
What's this "winter" thing? Is it coming?
I wish we didn't have winter...…….. I would love to drive my car year round.

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2008 Midnight Blue Saturn Sky
2.4L, DDM Short Shifter, 18" Chrome Wheels, Limited Slip Differential, Sirius Radio/Onstar, Power Seat,
Spoiler, Power Windows, Power Door Locks, Kenwood Stereo, Leather, Windrestrictor, Opel GT Antenna
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post #45 of 45 (permalink) Old 08-06-2018, 02:57 PM
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I just replaced the radio in mine and used the aswc-1 module. It was a pita to get working and it ended up being because for some kenwood radios they recommend unplugging the 3.5mm during programming and then plugging it in. Did that no problems since.

To agree with many replacing the head unit has been a huge upgrade with the monsoon system. Sounds better and can hear it with top down doing 80 on the highway.
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