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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
HOW TO GUIDE -- Adding Aux-In Audio Port to Stock Radio
Models Tested: Forester 2006 X (though this would work with other models/stereos with a little investigative work)

Mods might want to sticky this since it tends to be a big complaint with some Subaru owners.

So I spent a few hours today getting this thing nailed down. I couldn't find any guides on how to do this in a way in which I felt was ideal (i.e., without a kit), so I thought I would just rip that sucker out, take it apart, and figure it out from there. Now I am by no means an expert with electronics -- this was the first time I used the soldering iron in a couple years, but it worked beautifully nonetheless. All the audio processing effects work fine (fade, balance, bass, treble), and all the CD and Radio functionality is left in check.

Tooles of Ye Trade

  • Soldering Iron and solder - a fine tip is ideal.
  • 3 wires - any color, I chose red, white, black to keep in convention
  • Any sort of audio plug(s) you desire for 2 channels -- I chose a female 3.5mm jack.
  • Screw Driver
  • Some tape -- electrical is ideal, duct should work.
  • Some time - around 4 hours for me, less with a guide.
  • A CD with silence -- a silent .wav file can be generated with Audacity, this is explained later.

Hearing the Magic
  1. Get the radio out. There are plenty of guides on how to do this, so I won't rehash it here. It's sort of a pain in the ol' burro, but it's worth it in the end. One thing that took me a while to figure out is that the air temperature and vent selection twisty-knobs are connected by mechanical linkages that must be disconnected under the driver side and passenger side. I sort of messed up my air temp linkage, (still works, just have to really shove it to get some heat), so be a little careful with those.
  2. Take apart the radio to expose the PCB (printed circuit board) under the CD player component. Just keep taking screws off until it comes apart, but use common sense and remember where they go. To separate the CD player from the audio processing board, remove the ribbon cable from the CD component by pulling back gently, wiggling it back and forth until it pops loose. Remember to re-install the ribbon cable with the metal contacts facing down towards the CD player's PCB. Set aside the CD player and take a good, hard look at the audio processing board. (See Image 1 Below)
  3. Look for a small-ish chip with around 28-36 pins. This will probably be the audio mixing chip, before it reaches the power amp. The power amp is the big chip that is screwed vertically into the big aluminum heat-sink in the back of the CD player/Radio. But ignore that, just look for the smaller chip placed flush with the PCB. In my case (and probably your case) the mixing chip was a M62490FP. (See Image 2 Below)
  4. If your chip is not a M62490FP, look for the datasheet pdf online. Chances are you will find it. I have attached the PDF for the M62490FP below. Look for the left and right mixing amplifier input pins, and the ground pin in the example usage schematic or the pin-out diagram (they are configured as differential amplifiers on the audio processing board, though). In this case with M62490FP, the right channel is pin 4, ground is 16, and the left channel is pin 33. (See Image 3 Below). The left channel will then have a white wire soldered to it (or any color, just remember), the right a red, and the ground a black. The way pins are numbered is based on where the small circle in the corner of the surface of the chip is placed. This is where pin 1 starts. The pins are numbered consecutively as they wrap around the chip. The numbering does not jump from the bottom edge of one side to the top edge of the other, it wraps around clock-wise or counter-clockwise.
  5. Solder the wires to the pins. See image three below. Be exceptionally careful not to use a lot of solder, or you will spread solder over multiple pins and short out the circuit. This happened to me on pin 33, and you can see the mess it caused. It takes forever to clean up. Tape down any slack in the wires and makes sure there are no loose strands or short circuits.
  6. Connect these wires to wire leads that connect to the audio plugs. Be sure to thread these through the right side of the back of the heat sink. See image 4 below for an example.
  7. Mount the audio connector any way you want. I drilled a hole in the the little compartment that sits below the CD/Radio and stuck it in there (see image 5 below). You could also just drill a hole through the back of that plastic compartment and just pull the audio plugs through there.
  8. Reconnect everything and reassemble. You're almost done!
  9. Put a CD of silence into the CD player to keep the chip engaged. Turn down the volume so it doesn't "kaPLUNK" noise when you plug in your audio device. Plug in your device and turn up the volume as high as it goes (on the device). I used an iPod. The volume will be less than the radio itself, but with the device turned up as high as it goes, the power amp in the CD player will have enough oomph. Volume level 40 on my cd player model provides plenty of loudness. Alternatively, get a pre-amp and plug it in between the audio device and the new aux-input to the CD player.
  10. Do Note: You do not need a CD of silence. When a device is plugged into the M62490FP as I wired it, the radio/CD noise is cut down dramatically while the audio device input grain is increased over it. I suspect this is due to the differential amplification configuration the chip is used in. There is still some faint mixing of the two inputs, but this is remedied by the cd of silence.
  11. You're done!

Have fun! I hope I helped a few people out there. I thought I'd share my experience since I had such a hard time finding a good guide to doing this without that after-market mod kit, which is priced excessively high, and just as complicated to install (minus the soldering).

Yours truly,
Scott "Smudge"
 

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04 04 XT
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If you have an 04 XT you can hook it up in a matter of minutes. It's the same as what you did except that there is an extra CD changer port on the back. Instead of having to wire directly to the PCB. There is a list of the pin out on scoobiemods somewhere. I'll see if I can find the link. All you have to do it buy the plug and solder a few wires. You still have to run a blank CD in the player but the sound quality is great. Thanks for the post it took me forever to figure this out a few years ago.

I really dig how you mounted the jack. I was lazy and in a hurry so i just put a female end on the wire that hangs out of the ash tray. I've been meaning to do something like you did for years... time flies...

Cheers,
Brian
 

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2006 Subaru Forester
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THANK YOU VERY MUCH!!! Excellent explanation and it worked great!!!

My experience and recommendations:
It was a bit challenging to solder those wires to the tiny legs. I recommend a good magnifier and also you may want to test with a multimeter (don't burn the chip out) there is no leaks to the next legs. If you use a cable from headphones you may want to know the red is the right channel, the green is the left and the gold is the ground. To avoid modifications I run the wire with 3.5 jack from the back of the unit next to the antenna, then under the unit and entered the storage compartment at the door left hinge so the jack and the cable are concealed in the storage compartment. There is no issue with pinching the wire. It is good to protect the wire from being pulled out if you choose this method.

The only minor problem I experienced was a bit of distortion of the sound at some songs when the iPhone/MP3 player is at maximum volume; it simply needs to put the iPhone/MP3 player volume down a bit and it works fine. At the end of the day, this is a no-cost solution, you can always buy for about $120 a standard car radio with all new features integrated...
 

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Hi,

I don't have a Forester, but the factory unit in my 2003 Mazda Demio (known as Mazda 2 outside Japan) had the exact same chip (M62490FP). I wanted to thank you for your tutorial. I tried soldering my wires to the chip, but I ended up fusing two pins together (took about an hour to clean that mess!). Using my multimeter, I found points around the vicinity of the chip that I could use instead of the chip itself. This made soldering a ton easier. Well, it worked, but I too cannot put my mp3 player at full volume and must leave it at 80% or below. For casual listening, it's great. But there are times I love blasting my thumping beats, and I'll have to rely on my CD player for that I guess.
 

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2002 Forester
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WOW. That was Grr8. I just had my factory head unit removed and replaced with a pioneer. I am considering having it removed, returning it, and locating someone that can locally help me modify my factory radio like yours.
 

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WOW. That was Grr8. I just had my factory head unit removed and replaced with a pioneer. I am considering having it removed, returning it, and locating someone that can locally help me modify my factory radio like yours.
Hey S&K, I really think that this mod is doable even by a beginner. All you need to do is to buy a solder iron (with the finest tip you can get), solder flux (paste to clean the tip), some solder (as thin as you can find), a multimeter and maybe a desoldering solder wick if you make a mistake. All of this cost me about ~80 bucks, but I'm sure you can find it all cheaper in the US. Just use youtube (I love youtube) to find out how to solder. You really get a sense of accomplishment by doing it yourself... especially when it's doing work on your baby :biggrin:
 

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2015 OutBack Ltd
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You guys are brave.........testicles of steel.

I'm ONLY going to do this much-desired upgrade if Bruce, who lives near me, handles the soldering gun. Playing around with PCB and solid state components is NOT for the faint of heart or trembling of fingers.......

But, I admire your "can do" attitude.

Steve
 

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2003 Forester 2.5X Automatic
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WOW. That was Grr8. I just had my factory head unit removed and replaced with a pioneer. I am considering having it removed, returning it, and locating someone that can locally help me modify my factory radio like yours.
Just curious... why would you go back to your factory radio?
 

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2004 Forester XS
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That works GREAT if you have a cassette player.
I use on in my 2002 Forester BUT my 2004 Forester doesn't have a cassette player.
 

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2008 Forester XT Sport 4EAT
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Firing up the way back machine to resurrect this thread!

I did this yesterday on my 2002 Impreza. Wow, that was some tiny, pain in the rear soldering. Definitely not for the faint of heart and I was glad that I had a spare parts radio with a good board in it sitting nearby if I needed it.

I'm going to go to Radioshack this week and buy some components for a passive pre-amp to be put on there to help boost up levels some.
 

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2006 Forester 2.5XT
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Has anyone tried adding a pre-amp to this setup to boost the aux-in signal? I don't like the idea of having to use a "CD of silence"
 

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2008 Forester XT Sport 4EAT
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My passive pre-amp didn't work well, I'm just moving on, black Friday has plenty of feature filled decks for under $100.

Sent from my VS985 4G using Tapatalk
 

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2006 Forester 2.5XT
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Yeah I was gonna get a third party radio but then found out that we'd lose the sub in the trunk with the upgrade.
 

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2008 Forester XT Sport 4EAT
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I've got one of these to drive the rear amp with an aftermarket head unit.
Lepai LP-2020A+



Of all the cheap little chinese amplifiers, this one gets the best review by far. There's even some forums out there where some guys mod these into even better little units if you want to do another layer of mods.
 
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