A repeat client from High Ridge, Missouri, came to JML Audio with her 2003 Mercedes. The client wanted to upgrade her SL500 audio system and technology. We scheduled a time for the client to come by with her vehicle so we could look it over together and discuss his goals for the upgrades. What we realized early on in the conversation was the client was looking for what we call our Modern Connectivity Package. Essentially, this takes a vehicle with a little bit of age and gives it connectivity to smartphones, digital media, satellite radio and HD radio. After we finished our consultation with the client, we reviewed all of the information we had gathered and worked up a proposal that we felt best met her needs. She liked our ideas, and we set an installation appointment.
Kenwood Excelon Navigation Unit is the Hub For this SL500 Technology Upgrade
The hub of the upgrades for this vehicle was a Kenwood Excelon navigation unit. We chose this unit because it gave the customer all of the modern connectivity functions he would normally have in a new vehicle. He gained Bluetooth for both hands-free calling and music streaming. He owned an iPod with an extensive music collection, so we gave him control over that as well. Adding SiriusXM Radio and HD radio gave him a much larger selection of radio stations that now sound noticeably better than traditional, analog FM radio. Turn-by-turn navigation with real-time traffic rerouting is an integral part of the Excelon unit, so now the client sees a vastly superior upgrade over the existing navigation unit in the dash. And last, but not least, it gave him a beautiful touchscreen display with an easy-to-use interface to access all of her music.
Choosing the unit to use in the dash was the easy part in this build. The challenges began with getting it to look factory-installed and integrating it with the Mercedes controls. In many vehicles, there are interface adapters to allow you to change the radio in a vehicle and work with the factory-installed amplifier. That is not the case in this particular Mercedes. It came with the Bose Audio system and used a fiber optic network known as a MOST system, and there is no interface made for this system. But here at JML Audio, we love challenges!
Audison Processor And Hertz Amplifier Replace OEM Bose Amplifier
Our team chose an Audison Bit10 processor and a Hertz HDP5 amplifier to replace the factory Bose amp in the vehicle. As you can see in the pictures, we removed the existing CD changer behind the driver’s seat and made a concealed, custom metal rack to hold those two pieces of equipment in the same location. By our doing this, the client lost none of the already-precious cargo space. It also makes servicing the equipment easier, should the need ever arise.
The Audison Bit10 processor is a unique device in that it gives you the ability to fine-tune every speaker with individual equalizers, crossovers and time delay for every channel. In the hands of a skilled tuner, the results can be amazing. For this build, we chose to keep the factory-installed Bose speakers; by adding the Audison processor, we were able to extract every last ounce of sound quality possible out of these speakers. Should the client ever decide he wants to change out the factory speakers with some better-quality aftermarket ones from us, we will simply go back in and re-tune the Bit10 for the new speakers.
Custom Fabricated Radio Bezel Retains Cup Holders
When it came time to mount the Kenwood navigation system in the dash, the install became even more challenging. No one makes a quality installation kit for this vehicle that would make the new stereo system look good in the dash, so the team at JML Audio got to work on custom-fabricating a dash panel. In some vehicles, we can make a custom dash panel in a matter of a few hours. Not in this one. If you look closely at the pictures, you will see that the dash is rounded from left to right. To look factory, our dash plate had to match that curvature. We spent hours and hours on hand-forming the dash panel until we got everything to flow perfectly.
To make things even more interesting, the cup holders in the vehicle were below the original navigation unit. Since this is not a minivan with a dozen cup holders, we knew the client wanted to keep them. If you look at the pictures, you will see where we have the cup holders open with the new navigation unit installed in the dash. While this may seem like a minor thing to some people, here at JML Audio, we do our best to keep all the convenience items working for our clients.
Steering Wheel Controls Retained And Convenient iPod Cable Added
The Mercedes also came equipped with steering wheel-mounted audio controls, and we were able to get them to work with the Kenwood unit, making the client very happy.
Our technicians placed the iPod cable in a convenient spot in the center console so the client can install and remove it easily at will.
Satisfied Client Gives SL500 Technology Upgrade A Nod Of Approval
When the client came to pick up her vehicle, he was thrilled with the look of our work. He marveled at how everything looked like Mercedes shipped it that way. When we showed him all of his modern connectivity, he just nodded his head in approval. And when we turned it on, he loved the improvement in sound made by the better amplifier and the properly tuned Audison Bit10 processor.
When you are in the market to upgrade and modernize the connectivity in your vehicle, we invite you to contact us HERE at JML Audio. We would welcome the opportunity to set up a consultation appointment with you and your vehicle, and explore how we can help make your vehicle more enjoyable for you.