Audio Retrofit

Audio (1)

As many of the B5 crowd know, our cars are a bit dated in the audio section. Most factory radios only support limited CD formats, and often even these are faulty at best. The result is a sound system with subpar connectivity in regards to Ipods and smart phones. There are a few solutions to this problem, however a lot of them leave something to be desired in terms of quality of sound and or clean installation. You could use a radio transmitter, but that has problems with wires everywhere, and it phases in and out. Or a tape deck player, but again, wires and sound quality are problems. On the other end of the spectrum, an aftermarket radio can solve a lot of these problems, but it never appealed to us, as it always seemed out of place with the car. (And the Metra face plates are cheap as shit) On top of all this, the factory headunit is actually a great one. It is powerful and clear, while matching the interior of the car. We struggled with this for a while, because although we wanted to stream music, we hated the clutter and mess wires and half assed fixes created. So we set out to find a better solution to our problem. The answer? Bluetooth. The idea was simple, by using the factory headunit and hijacking the CD changer input, we would be able to get our music streaming over the stereo. So to do this we opted to use a Blitzsafe converter cable, which basically took the CD changer input and replaced it with a RCA stereo input. We then paired this with a generic Bluetooth adapter and hard wired that into the radio power supply. The result was fantastic, a factory input and headunit which could see and play Pandora, or any other music service via Bluetooth connection. The system also allows fellow passengers to play music as well. On top of this we also opted to replace the factory speakers with higher quality Pioneer units as well as an aftermarket subwoofer. (We used a line level converter for the sub/amp combo) The install was relatively straight forward once we had identified the pinout for the factory wire harness. The Blitzsafe cable was plug and play, but you can easily wire a homemade version as well. The BT adapter was already setup with RCA outputs, however it did need a constant power supply source. We used the power for the headunit, which was 12v and would turn the adapter on and off with the radio. (This allowed us to use the radio even when the car was off) We also had to wire in the line level converter for the bass, as there are no factory RCA inputs. Below are a few pictures of the action, for general reference only. They offer some insight into the process, which is simple if you are comfortable with wiring. (Please do not attempt if you are not competent to do so)

– CA Staff

We used two types of electrical tape as well as a set of VAG radio keys. Other required items were a razor blade for splitting wire shield, a good set of wire strippers and cutters and a flat head screw driver for removing tabs. We also used gloves, a small phillips head screwdriver and a 10mm wrench for disconnecting the battery. (A must when working with electronics)

Audio (14) Audio (15)The first step was removing the radio, which was easy with the wire keys, although the key can be sharp so use gloves. After that we disconnected the power from the car battery using a 10mm wrench. Next we unplugged the radio wire harness and plugged in the Blitzsafe cable. The cable had to be grounded, so using a small phillips head screwdriver, we attached to radio ground located on the back of the radio.

Audio (3) Audio (13) Audio (9)Audio (8)  Audio (1)The next step was wiring in the power supply for the BT adapter. We picked up a small local unit that had many positive reviews and it works well. The adapter required a constant 12v feed, so we tapped into the radio harness for its power cable, using the pin-out on the back of the radio. With this we stripped away the wire shielding while leaving the copper intact and then wrapped the new feeds around the exposed copper. This makes for a better connection and the old harness remains in one piece. Next we plugged in the new RCA lines and wrapped them for a better connection. You can see where we tapped into the power plug and wrapped it up in red and white tape. Below are a few pictures of that process:

Audio (5) Audio (6) Audio (4)Next we needed to install the line level adapter for the after market sub and amp combo. To do this, we ran our sub power cable and control wire (remote on) as well as the RCA inputs. Then we followed the same tapping process like earlier and wired in the BOSS adapter to the right and left speaker output lines. You can see what that looks like below. We taped all of that up and then found the com pin for the amp and attached our blue control wire. (Note: the Audi factory wire was purple for us, but it may vary, so be sure to double check the pin-out) After wrapping all that up we carefully plugged everything back in and tested it. After reattaching the battery and re installing the radio we checked it again and that’s it. No more wires!

Audio (11)   Audio (18)Audio (2)Audio (12)Audio (16) Audio (17)   Audio (20) Audio (19)Audio (21)

This system has been working very well and although it does not pick up phone calls, it does stream all sound through the speakers, and it sounds so much better. Best of all the phone doesn’t have to leave our pockets. The range on the adapter is also very good, and worked 30 feet away from the car. So there you have it, wireless music streaming using the factory B5 radio. Perfect.

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