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2014 Forester
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3 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
So my Harman/Kardon amp in my '14 Forester XT blew up. I'm trying to fix it on the cheap by just replacing the amp and retaining the factory head unit until budget allows for a head unit upgrade. At first glance I thought I could just plug a pigtail into the amp signal under the seat, pipe the signal to an aftermarket amp then use another pigtail to wire the output through the factory speaker harness. Further research indicates that the head unit sends a full volume signal to the H/K amp and the volume is controlled on the amp itself. If that is the case, then just wiring in an aftermarket amp in place of the H/K unit seems like it would be REALLY LOUD, which my wife will not appreciate.
All of this leads to my actual question for the group: Has anyone figured out a way to simply replace the H/K amplifier while retaining the factory head unit and speakers? My secretary of finance is resisting signing off on the budget for upgrading the head unit along with replacing the amplifier. I would rather not buy another factory H/K amp, as it appears that they blow up with some regularity when exposed to the moisture and salt that pervades my region for 5-6 months out of the year.

Thanks in advance for any advice
 

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2017 Forester XT
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184 Posts
How did you ascertain that moisture and salt were the reasons your original amp blew up?

Will it be better to resolve the moisture and salt issue? Or else any other aftermarket amp will face the same issue unless you place the amp at a different location (eg. trunk area) with re-wiring.
 

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2014 Forester
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3 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
@James06

Thanks for the feedback. The cause of death is really just a best guess, but by the look of it the terminals corroded, built up too much resistance and blew the amp. There was some telltale discoloration on the connectors. Now that you mention it, I suppose there is the possibility that the head unit was the victim. I hope that's not the case, but if it is I suppose I'll have to go ahead and replace it as well. To be honest, I would prefer to replace both the head unit and amplifier, but I have been advised to keep things cheap if I want to preserve domestic harmony.

As far as resolving the moisture and salt issue, it doesn't seem possible given the location of the amp and my city's love for salting the road during the winter. Having had some experience with marine amplifiers on my sailboat, I'm thinking I'll just install a marine amp in the factory location and hope for the best. If that doesn't work, I'll have to figure out a new home for the amplifier and either extend or replace the factory wiring.
I don't think Subaru was thinking of east coast winters when they decided to put the amp in such a vulnerable location. I found a few posts from other Subaru owners complaining of the same issue, including some who had blown more than one amp. Based on their experience, I am reluctant to shell out the $$$ Subaru demands for a factory replacement even if that is the simple and obvious solution.

Cheers
 

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2015 Forester XT Touring
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653 Posts
Ebay a used one from the same model year. The amps changed year to year so stick with '14s that match the identifiers on yours.
 

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2017 Forester XT
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184 Posts
@James06

Thanks for the feedback. The cause of death is really just a best guess, but by the look of it the terminals corroded, built up too much resistance and blew the amp. There was some telltale discoloration on the connectors. Now that you mention it, I suppose there is the possibility that the head unit was the victim. I hope that's not the case, but if it is I suppose I'll have to go ahead and replace it as well. To be honest, I would prefer to replace both the head unit and amplifier, but I have been advised to keep things cheap if I want to preserve domestic harmony.

As far as resolving the moisture and salt issue, it doesn't seem possible given the location of the amp and my city's love for salting the road during the winter. Having had some experience with marine amplifiers on my sailboat, I'm thinking I'll just install a marine amp in the factory location and hope for the best. If that doesn't work, I'll have to figure out a new home for the amplifier and either extend or replace the factory wiring.
I don't think Subaru was thinking of east coast winters when they decided to put the amp in such a vulnerable location. I found a few posts from other Subaru owners complaining of the same issue, including some who had blown more than one amp. Based on their experience, I am reluctant to shell out the $$$ Subaru demands for a factory replacement even if that is the simple and obvious solution.

Cheers
You may want to consider getting weatherproof mats which are molded with curved vertical walls. This will help to prevent water/salt from reaching the amp area underneath the seat.

Hope you find a replacement amp soon!
 

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2014 Forester
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3 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for the advice. I was afraid it might come down to either having to choose between replacing the amp with factory, or replacing both the head unit and amp. Sounds like that is the case. I'll consult with the minister of finance to see if I can go with the latter option.
I wish these 'premium' sound systems would stick to standards instead of always doing things differently. Maybe they have their reasons, but it sure makes upgrading things a pain.
 
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