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· Super Moderator
2014 2.5i Limited CVT
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5,986 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
So I know that everybody has their favorite stereo - Sony, Alpine, Pioneer, Kenwood and on and on and on.... But I'm looking for the best to update my stock system AND keep what I'm used to....

Vehicle specifics - 2014 Foz 2.5 Limited with the stock non-nav Clarion head unit. If you play the numbers game is the CF625UM. See below.

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My phones are both Android based - A Samsung Galaxy and an LG G8 ThinQ. I do NOT use them for music. I'm a bit old-school - I use my Apple iPods for music - mostly an iPod Nano (Gen IV I think) with 8GB and linking through the USB in the console. I also have the iPod Touch Gen 3 (32 G) that also would be used through the USB in the console.

I like the way that the iPod integrates with the current system, populating both the head unit and the MFD with the music information (title, artist, album, whatever). I like using my iTunes and iPods to create certain moods - playlists - to suit my musical desires of the day... I want all old-school Disco? I can do that... 80s alterno and electronica? Sure. Beltable ballads? a MUST for Carpool Karaoke....! Quiet classical and new age instrumentals for quiet rides along the shade dappled Rim of the World...? Sure thing... a mega-mix of upbeat dance and disco to get me into the mood for a night as dj? Right there.

So the iPod control and interface is majorly important for me. When I've had a loaner, I've often found that (from 2016 to 2020) the touch screen display units would often "lock up" the iPod, requiring a hard reboot of the iPod and then - bam - back to playing until the next day.... On a recent 2020 Ascent 2 day loaner, the iPod was recognized but NONE of the music was found...

EDIT - added a "want to have" - I use the steering wheel controls all the time to skip to the next file, change the volume, whatever. So I want to keep that functionality...

I'm OK with the rear back up camera in the MFD. Sure it could be nice to have it on the head unit, too, but I'm used to it "up there"... When I've had a loaner for a few days with the camera in the head unit - it takes me a bit to get used to looking down to see where I'm going.

Bluetooth for calls is important. I don't really care about SMS messaging ability and find that the current Bluetooth lady is a twit if I try to place a voice call by saying "call mom"... her reply is "Calling Don" or "Calling Tom" or some other misheard mash up. And it's worse with a name... Ugh! So the hands free is YAY, the voice dialer, eh, not so much.

Don't need it to play DVDs or anything. Don't care about satellite radio - it's like cable TV; you pay through the nose for 3 channels you watch (listen to) and 148 that you couldn't care less about .... I mean, really... How many hip-hop channels or sports talk/espn channels does one need? Yikes!

Same for streaming audio... I've got Tidal on one of my phones, I've looked at Pandora and the others... meh. Same thing as above - not really wanting an extra bill each month just to listen to music I probably already own a version of... As a side note, mu current music library is well over 40,000 files taking up over 210 gb of space..... Sure, there are some duplicates and some dedicated sound effects files, but still... that's a lot of music.

Nav would be nice, but I've got Waze on both phones and Waze seems more than adequate for the job and I like that it updates for roadside issues or police alerts and the like. And no map updates to perform from time to time. So maybe instead of nav, a nice bit of Waze integration... I guess that means I need some Android Auto functionality to get that working...

One other thing - price is important. I'm not about to go shell out over 500 bucks for a head unit. And brand name is not so important, but then again, I don't want to buy some "how to you pronounce that name" bit that's going to crap out in a year, constantly lock up or freeze just to save 50 bucks...

I've done a stereo install or two in my day so I'm not too worried about the connections - beyond needing a decent wiring kit. I'd prefer not to cut off the factory harness so I can revert back to the basic clarion at any time.

So - you have the requirements and the nice to have... what do YOU have that fits the bill? And GO!
 

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2014 Forester 6MT
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13 Posts
Hi Craig!
I have a 2014 Forester as well, but one trim level below yours.
I installed a Seicane Android headunit ($250), which is one of those numerous Chinese-made Android headunits. It's not the same as Android Auto, but it's a full Android operating system.
As such, I was aware that if I had problems, there is limited support, considering these units are shipped directly from China.
It's just like having an android tablet with speaker-outputs, and almost all the necessary harnesses. The one missing harness is for the armrest console USB and Audio-input, so I had to get used to not using those
Land vehicle Vehicle Car Center console Multimedia
Vehicle Car Center console Gauge Technology
. The backup camera is still connected to the small upper display; I didn't look into connecting it to the headunit, but there is a backup cam input on the headunit.
Having said all that, I admit that these android headunits are not for everyone. I was hesitant, knowing that if I got a crap unit, I would probably be stuck with it! But having looked at prices of Kenwood and Alpine nav-units, I decided it was worth the gamble.
 

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· Super Moderator
2014 2.5i Limited CVT
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5,986 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for that reply... It looks like it sticks out of the hole in the dash and meets up the bottom of the vents? Huh...

Does that have nav or are you using waze and tethering your phone to provide the data connection to the unit? And how did you get the gauge displays? Is that through an aftermarket OBDII reader mated to the unit via bluetooth?
 

· Registered
2014 Forester 6MT
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13 Posts
The display does jut-out half an inch, which concerned me, but there are no holes. Here’s a top-down pic:
Car Vehicle Vehicle audio Compact car Multimedia

The unit came with pre-installed navigation from iGo, but I use Google Maps. Waze works, but strangely, it stops background music playback so I stopped using it. I have a quad-core unit so an octa-core might handle Waze and music playback simultaneously.
You are right about tethering to phone for any data-dependent apps like Waze, Tidal, or YouTube.
These days, I find that I don’t use data-dependent apps as much, with the exception of Amazon audio books. Most times, I’d rather get-in-and-drive.
You’re also right about the OBDII Bluetooth reader for the Torque app. Kinda fun to play with, but I took that reader off.
I don’t regret getting this headunit, but in all honesty, it was basically just another toy to mess around with and freshen up the Forester experience!
 

· Registered
2018 Forester MT
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84 Posts
If you go the name brand head-unit route, look for iDatalink Maestro RR compatibility to retain the MFD audio section and output the rear camera in addition to steering controls. While the 17-18 MFDs no longer have an audio track info section, I previously owned an XV Crosstrek and transplanted the 14-16 Forester MFD into it, and found that the Maestro RR was able to send audio track info to it when connected. The MFD has an 8-pin connector for the rear-camera plus audio track info and the iDatalink SU1 harness includes an in-line adapter that duplicates the camera feed to an RCA output and also routes the audio track info from the Maestro to the MFD. The Maestro RR + SU1 adapter isn't cheap (~$150), but does everything you want to retain as most harness adapters only will keep steering controls
 
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