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Thread: Double DIN radio that fits with native CarPlay (Android Auto)

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Lincoln, NE

    Double DIN radio that fits with native CarPlay (Android Auto)

    Soon after getting my wife’s car back in 2014, I added a Bluetooth audio connection. It was cheap and reliable. Details here:

    Fast forward 5 years and I decided to upgrade the stock radio to an aftermarket head unit that supported CarPlay. My budget for the project was $400-500. I really wanted to retain the OEM look but could not find a suitable radio from any of the major brands. Matter of fact I couldn’t find any CarPlay head units from the major companies like Alpine, Pioneer or Sony that fit without cutting up the factory HVAC airbox. Or at least that is what every major retailer said. So I took a chance with an Eonon unit with a CarPlay dongle. The Eonon units have mixed reviews and the same holds true for all the other Chinese brands regardless of price.

    Well, my Eonon experience was terrible. The unit’s behavior was not consistent. It was buggy. The steering wheels controls did not work. The display cut of the top few pixels of the screen which was really annoying. Plus, it sounded horrible. I’m also an audio nerd and while I don’t generally upgrade my car stereos for sound quality (the car is too noise to really appreciate high quality audio), I know what a good system should sound like. I also have the tools to measure it. The Eonon was a joke. Way worse than stock. Not just to my ears but I took measurements to verify I wasn’t being biased because of overall experience. The built in EQ was a gimmick. No need to bash on the Eonon any further. It simply didn’t mee my needs and expecations. My short time with the Eonon highlighted the OEM look was purely aesthetic. The buttons and knobs on those Chinese brands are redundant and don’t have a German feel to them at all. Plus, all the functionality should be available via the steering wheel or on the touchscreen display. While Eonon’s support team was responsive, they couldn’t solve my issues, not even simple ones like why don’t the steering wheels controls work all the time. They suggested I return it. I was unwilling to try another unit as I only had a week left in the return window. So back it went. All of it. And back to researching options. I had a little over $400 into the radio and accessories.

    Since this was for my wife’s car priority number 1 was it just needed to work all the time. I resigned myself to the fact that I may need to up my budget considerably to find a radio that fit from a major brand. However, with a lot more research I found there are some shallow double din radios from Alpine and Sony that do fit an E46 without cutting the HVAC airbox. However, none of the major websites, including the manufacturers themselves state that the radios fit in an E46. I decided to go with the Alpine iLX-W650. Once I chose a radio that fit, I looked for the supporting accessories. I wanted a dash kit that looked OE or as close as possible. And finally, steering wheel controls that works. This solution I identified is about $400. About the same price as most Chinese branded radios and accessories, assuming you can live with an aftermarket HVAC relocation panel. I found I didn’t like the aftermarket panels and decided to go for the BMW part. I had tried the Dynavin relocation panel that has 2 USB port. Good idea. Poor execution. This took my total to a little over $500. Part list and vendors below.

    The install is pretty straight forward but there are a couple items that can cause some headaches. I worked through these by trial and error plus one call to Crutchfield on the Alpine. The wiring directions below will help you avoided the issues. I estimate a novice can do this install in under 3 hours. If you’re experienced, it is probably half that time. It took me less than 3 hours and I installed and removed the radio a couple times while working through the wiring hurdles.

    OK, let’s get on with it.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Lincoln, NE
    Car details:
    2004 BMW ZHP sedan
    Harmon Kardon
    No Navigation
    *** Radio harness is 17 pin connection. *** If you have navigation your harness may be different. It is important to determine which harness adaptor is needed. Removing the radio takes less than 5 min. Remove passenger cube trim. Remove cube trim above radio. Remove 2 screws and the radio is out. Disconnect the radio and determine your harness type. Reattach and reinstall. I do not have information for the 40 pin adaptor. However, the wiring should be similar. Just the pin type and layout is different. If you have a 40 pin harness you may need to make different modifications for the steering wheel CAN signal and parking brake.

    Add Apple CarPlay (Android Auto would be bonus)
    Bluetooth connectivity if not connected by cable.
    100% functioning steering wheel controls, including ability to activate Siri, make or answer calls and change track via the steering wheel. Volume, track and answer call buttons must work for Bluetooth also.
    Reliable functionality that works over 95% of the time.
    Audio quality that is as good as or better than Harmon Kardon system.
    Min 2 camera support.
    No cutting factory HVAC airbox. This requirement eliminates most double din radios.
    Clean install that can be reversed and return the car to stock easily.

    Alpine iL-W650 (head unit) $294

    Metra 70-8590 (radio to BMW 17 pin harness) $0.01
    Add the Alpine head unit to your cart and Crutchfield will offer you some installation items for a penny. Accept them, but this is the only one you will use. The rest are not compatible or needed. If Crutchfield doesn’t offer this connector or wants more than $9 for it, skip it and order from Amazon with the other needed items. Amazon price is currently $8.

    Axxess ASWC-1 (steering wheel controls adapter) $44.99

    Metra 40-EU10 (antenna to radio adapter) $6.02
    The Crutchfield supplied adaptor is wrong and won’t work.

    MicroBypass Parking Brake Override. $14.99
    This part is important because the new headunits like the Alpine limit access to some functions while the car is moving. Since they aren’t really integrated they try to determine if the car is moving in different ways. The iLX-W650 does it via the parking brake. You can not simply ground out the wire. That will not work. Other radios use the parking brake and the brake pedal. Read the warnings that come with the ByPass device and don’t be stupid and try to adjust your settings while driving. If you want to skip this part, then connect the radio’s yellow/blue wire to the parking brake wire. But you may need to set and release your parking brake every time for the radio to function 100%.

    Metra 95-9313B (Dash kit) *** includes HVAC relocation panel which I didn’t use $74
    The cleanest dash kit I could find. The dash has a factory look when installed correctly. I didn’t use the HVAC relocation panel but it should work fine. Don’t buy the Metra kits without the airbox modification. While we won’t need the airbox modification those other kits have a different dash trim piece and it doesn’t match the car as well.

    BMW 51-16-7-001-408 (HVAC relocation panel) *** I wanted OE look with flip up door. $100
    After trying the Dynavin relocation panel with the Eonon radio I knew I wanted the BMW part. I don’t like the flat surface on the aftermarket panels. It is useless space. Too small for your phone and because it is flat if you place something there it will fly off soon after you start driving.
    *** NOTE *** This is for the cars with one large opening for center switches. Some cars have multiple smaller openings. If your car has individual center switches, you need a different part.

    Other head units confirmed to fit without cutting HVAC airbox:
    Alpine iLX-007
    Sony XAV-AV100
    Sony XAV-AV5000
    Note wiring may be different. And different adaptors may be needed.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Lincoln, NE
    Installation prep. Do this before on a workbench or table before attempting to install into the car.

    Program the Axxess ASWC-1
    This can be done via an Android phone or Windows PC. I did it on a PC. Download the Software Updater here.
    Update the firmware via a USB connection.
    Manually configure the ASWC-1. Set radio to Alpine. Remap the Vehicle’s Mute function to PTT. Be sure to write the changes to the ASWC-1.

    A helpful Installation document is here.

    Make all connections by solder or crimp. Do not use wire taps. Don’t just twist the wires together. If you don’t know what you are doing get help or watch some YouTube videos. Solder or crimp. Terminate unused connection with tape.

    **** IMPORTANT **** Modify the Metra 70-8590. This is the harness connection. The Alpine radio does not support the illumination dimmer connection (harness pin 8). The Metra 70-8590 does not have a steering wheel control wire installed. So, move pin 8 (orange wire) to pin location 7. Use a depinning tool or if you are careful you can push the pin out with a small tool. I knocked it out using a small torx driver.

    Connect Radio, Steering wheel controls and Parking Brake ByPass to the Metra 70-8590.
    Match the Alpine wires to the Metra 70-8590.
    Black to Black
    Yellow to Yellow
    Red to Red
    White to White (left front +)
    White/Black to White/Black (left front -)
    Grey to Grey (right front +)
    Grey/Black to Grey/Black (right front -)
    Green to Green (right rear +)
    Green/Black to Green/Black (right rear -)
    Violet to Violet (left rear +)
    Violet/Black to Violet/Black (left rear -)

    Alpine Blue/White (Amp On) wire goes to the solid Blue wire on the harness.
    The Metra harness assumes the Blue wire (power antenna connection) is always on when the radio is on. However, the Alpine only powers their Blue wire when the radio source is selected. So when you switch to Bluetooth or CarPlay there is no power on Blue and therefore the car turns off the stock amp and you will not get any sound. By using the Alpine Blue/White wire, the stock amp will turn on whenever the radio it on. So remember Alpine Blue/White to harness Blue.
    The Alpine solid Blue wire is not needed and should be terminated.
    Do not connect the parking brake (Yellow/Blue) wire to the car. We will connect it to the ByPass.
    If you are installing a camera, connect the reverse wire (Orange/White) to the reverse light. If not terminate. While I tested the functionality, I did not install cameras. I simply terminated the wire.

    Connect the ByPass as follows to the Metra.
    Blue/White to Blue
    Black to Black

    Connect the ByPass as follows to the Alpine
    Yellow/Blue to Yellow/Blue
    Terminate the Yellow/Black wire

    Connect the Axxess ASWC-1 as follows to the Metra
    Black to Black
    Red to Red
    Pink to Orange (confirm you have moved the Orange wire to the pin 7 location)
    Terminate all other wires.

    Radio Prep
    Read the Metra 95-9313B dash kit instructions. They are really good. Just skip the airbox modification section as it is not relevant.
    Attach the radio brackets to the radio
    Test fit the radio to the backup housing provided in the kit.
    Test fit the radio trim panel. You will see the Alpine display is slightly too wide. This is normal. I took a razor blade and marked the back side of the trim panel. Next take a flat file and remove material from the trim panel. Take your time. It took me less than 5 min to remove enough material so the display fit. It sits perfectly flush and doesn’t look modified. I would NOT attempt using a Dremel or other power tool.
    Do not attach the radio to the backup housing with the screws yet.
    Last edited by tkundhi; 09-12-2019 at 08:36 AM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Lincoln, NE
    Installation overview. There are plenty of videos available if you don’t understand these steps.
    Remove passenger dash cube trim
    Remove cube trim above radio
    Remove 2 screws for radio.
    Remove radio. Be careful when disconnecting the harness. The locking mechanism slides up. Then the harness separates from the radio.
    Disconnect and remove HVAC controls.
    Remove screws (4) and remove stock radio and HVAC carrier.
    Remove ashtray.
    Pop the sunglass/storage compartment out
    Pop off the gear shift boot.
    Remove 2 screws holding cube trim in place.
    Remove 4 screws hold the ashtray panel in place.
    Disconnect the wires to the switches.
    Disconnect the wires to the lighter.
    Remove the lower panel.
    Move the switches and lighter to the HVAC relocation panel you purchased.
    Reattach wires
    Install the lower panel.
    Reconnect the HVAC controls and install in the lower panel.
    Do no reinstall the shifter cube trim yet.

    Connect the Metra 40-EU10 to the car’s antenna wire. Connect the other end to the radio.
    Connect the ASWC-1 mini jack to the back of the radio. Be sure to use the right connection.
    Connect the supplied microphone to the radio. I ran the microphone across above the glove compartment and up A pillar to the stock mic location near the sunroof controls.
    Connect the USB cable supplied with the Alpine. I ran this cable to the shifter area. That way I can access it in case I need to update the radio firmware in the future. Connect your lighting cable to the USB cable. This also gives me easy access to replace the lighting cable should it go bad. I simple ran the lighting cable out on the passenger side of the center console between the seat and the transmission tunnel. It is accessible from all 4 seats. When folded and tucked away it is not visible at all as it is between the passenger seat and the center console.

    Connect the radio to the car harness.

    Let’s test the radio and update it. You want to be able to see the ASWC-1 because you have to program it. This is really easy if you did the prep work above. Turn the car to the ACC position. Keep tapping the Volume Up button on the steering wheel until the ASWC-1 light turns a solid red. Once red the programming is complete. Test the radio. Make sure the fader works and you didn’t mis-wire the speakers.

    At this point I updated the Alpine’s firmware because I read that some people had issues with steering wheel controls in CarPlay. The firmware update is a simple process. Get details here. Be sure your car battery has a good charge before doing the firmware update or better yet, start the car. You don’t want to lose power while the firmware is updating. The update only takes about 3 min.
    After the firmware is updated. Connect a phone and test CarPlay. It should work flawlessly. I also tested Bluetooth at this point.

    Remove all the connections.

    Attached the radio to the backup housing with the 2 screws provided in the Metra kit.

    Reconnect the antenna, ASWC-1, USB, and mic.
    Now tuck all the wiring into the dash.
    Slide the backup housing into place.
    Note the top 2 screws go under the center dash vent. You do not need to remove the dash vent. Simply pull it forward and up slightly and you can slide the backup housing behind the screw holes. Install the 4 BMW screws to hold the housing and radio in place.

    Snap the dash trim into place and secure it with the 2 screws from the Metra kit. Don’t use the original BMW screws. They won’t hold it in place.

    Reinstall the shifter cube trim and any remaining items.

    Enjoy your new radio.
    The only downside to this radio is it takes about 30 sec to start up. But once up it works flawlessly. The radio has a decent tuner. Bluetooth and CarPlay work as expected. Steering wheel controls are 100% and using Siri you can interact with the unit with voice commands.

    I don’t visit this forum regularly. If you have questions it is best to hit me up on the Facebook ZHP group.
    Last edited by tkundhi; 09-12-2019 at 08:37 AM.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Lincoln, NE
    I've tried to upload pictures numerous times but they always end up rotated to the side. Here is a link to a Facebook post with pictures.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    San Francisco, CA
    Quote Originally Posted by tkundhi View Post
    I've tried to upload pictures numerous times but they always end up rotated to the side. Here is a link to a Facebook post with pictures.
    I found using Imgur private images is useful. Not the best quality like Flckr but good enough for forum. Come on Mr. Engineer! I think I would've done this alongside you if I had my ZHP still.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    San Francisco, CA

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Lincoln, NE
    Thx Derek!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 1970
    Southern California
    This is awesome... great info!

    Sent from my SM-G955U using Tapatalk
    Randeaux/Rando/John/jr - '06 Cic ZHP; Southern California
    "ZHP or not, I still like you"

    ZHP Performance Package, Cold Weather Package, Leather, Jet Black/Black/BlackCube, NAV
    ESS Stage 1 Twin Screw Supercharger, Sprint Booster, BMW Perf Intake, Magnaflow Exhaust, Dinan TB & STEP S/W, Ground Control Coilovers, UCC Sway Bars, Apex EC-7 18x8.5 ET38
    Dynavin D99+, Hardwire V1 (w/V1 Connection), BSW Stage 1 Speakers, Kicker Amp/Subwoofer
    BMW Performance Strut Brace, Orion V2 Angel Eyes, No-holes License Plate, SMG Paddle Shift Mod, Besian VANOS, Gold DISA, Fan Delete, M3 Side Mirrors
    Note: Actual car no longer resembles signature picture

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    San Diego, Las Vegas
    Quote Originally Posted by derbo View Post

    Derek...Is this still for Alpine iLX-W650?
    "But Mama....That's where the fun is!"
    BMW CCA #192742
    San Diego & Sin City Chapter
    NRA Lifetime Member

    '90 M3 AWII - Garage Queen (The Crown Jewel)
    '92 325i M Technic AWII 5 spd. - Mothballs
    '99 540i M Sport Touring Grey Metallic 5 spd. - #3 Son DD
    '03 530i Silver Grey Metallic - ED 5 spd - S.O.'s Cruiser
    '05 330i ZHP Mystic Blue Metallic 6 spd - My Ride
    '03 Nissan Frontier XE Crew Cab - Hauler & Down Range vehicle
    '11 Honda Pilot - Daughter & Grandkids Hauler

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