Aftermarket stereos in GPs

The GP offers less in the way of audio entertainment than stock MINIs – unless you count the engine & exhaust noise 😉
One problem is that the luggage bar mounts where the rear speakers would normally fit, so there are only door speakers (a “woofer” and “tweeter” in each door).

It’s possible of course to rip out the rear of the GP and install amplifiers, speakers, subwoofers, etc – but I wanted a less “aggressive” install! I began by ordering a Panasonic 7703 kit from MikeyTheMINI in England – the great benefit of ordering from Mikey is that he supplies a simple “plug and play” kit, including that the steering wheel controls still work. I had Mikey include the iPod interface too:

The Panasonic 7703 offers two significant benefits for GP owners: an external power supply booster provides 50Wrms/channel (double that of most aftermarket stereos), and the display color can be tuned to match the GPs amber …

As always, I first do a test install to make sure everythings working OK … but this was as far as I got!

The problem I found was that iPod control, while it worked well, was very painful to use! The only way to select a particular artist/album/song is to select the category, then press “DOWN” repeatedly to get to your choice – this is VERY tedious when you start at “A” and you want to listen to “M” (or “Z”!)
You can’t turn the knob – that still controls volume – and you can hold the button to auto-repeat (no effect).

If you mostly want to listen to random iPod music, or if you need a stereo that matches the GP interior, I recommend the Panasonic (in fact I have one available at a good price!) but it’s not for me …

So instead I switched to my backup plan. I knew that many Alpine stereos have great iPod control due to their “iPod full-speed” feature, and I’d checked out MINI friend Rich’ install at MINIsOnTop … so I visited Tweeter and had very helpful service including connecting an iPod cable so I could check out the interface.
It worked much better than the Panasonic: firstly you can spin the (volume) knob to click through the list, and secondly the “1”…”6″ (preset) buttons jump you a varying distance into your collection (so if you’re looking for someone near the end, press “5” or “6” to get close in one click).
The Alpine CDA-9857 was discounted $50 (end-of-year) so I bought one!

Of course I didn’t have plug-and-play from Mikey this time, so I made myself a wiring harness adaptor and installed it in GPMINI:

What I didn’t expect was the amazing sound difference that the Alpine has given me – even with the GPs limited number of factory speakers! The Alpine offers a “BBE” feature that manipulates the sound (see here) … the Alpine offers three BBE modes, and basically the effect is to dramatically enhance clarity, and also to “install” subwoofers in the car! That’s what it sounds like anyway.

Sound clarity seems to be improved by certain sounds / instruments / etc being “pulled out” from the music and highlighted – I hear sounds I’ve not heard before! Rather like the H/K effects, and similarly nice!
Low frequency performance apparently forces the factory speakers to work really hard, and provides a good simulation of subwoofers – admittedly it’s not quite as good as the subwoofers in GBMINI#3 but it’s close, and I wonder how much better it will be if I replace the factory door speakers with some aftermarket ones, and some Dynamat …


One curiosity: MINI of Peabody today couldn’t access the customer preferences configuration because of the missing factory stereo – we had to temporarily re-install it!

11 thoughts on “Aftermarket stereos in GPs

  1. I haven’t done the steering wheel controls yet but I will. There are two options:
    PAC SWI-ALP but programming is complex and you have to CUT the wire from the steering wheel to connect it to the interface!
    MikeyTheMINIs interface which is plug-and-play … I plan to order this, it just means my handmade wiring harness will be replaced!

  2. Thanks – interesting read.
    The thing is, I *don’t* much like the iPod interface; I always “overshoot” when spinning round that wheel, and I’d much prefer to click up and down but up=menu and down=play.
    But sometimes down doesn’t equal play, it equals pause – for example if I’ve “wheeled” to an artist then to an album, I expect to click play to hear that album, but no – instead it pauses/un-pauses what you’re currently listening to!

    After the Panasonic, I loved the fact that the volume knob is “taken over” to navigate the iPod music … but then I still use MSDOS sometimes 😉

  3. Glad you like the Alpine. I didn’t even know about the 1-6 buttons leading you to different stages in the catalog. I’m going to try that out today.

    Now it’s time to get some subs!

  4. I tried it today and it didn’t work. It must be a new feature. How is the delay on the track skip? I would love to see them side-by-side or maybe time them.

  5. nice looking radio – I see that it is XM Ready, does that mean I could hook up my existing XM direct to this unit and get a decent XM display on the HU? Being able to have XM and the iPod (and decent sound for that matter) would be great.

    I don’t have the steering wheel controls so don’t have to worry about that.

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