Not sure if this has been done before. Certainly not many write ups online if it has...
I've spent the last couple weeks researching how to do it and found some really useful information. A lot of it is for the Gen 4 Legacy though.
What I start with is this:
I have a 2013 BR Legacy. Its a 2.5L NA. Top of the line package with full leather, McIntosh/GPS, 5.1 speakers, eyesight.
My first Subaru and first legacy I've owned.
Every Legacy on the lot had the standard version stereo with the touch-to-open pouch under it. Me wanting to have something different got this one.
Straight away, I realised the stereo and GPS system was technology from the mid 90s. (I know cause I was driving back then)
Its good to see Subaru finally realised this and have put a new system into the 2020 Legacy!!
After some checking around I found that there was no easy way to replace the head unit.
I could get a fascia package that would allow to put in a standard ol' single din head unit like these:
I wasn't keen on that. Also it wouldn't change the screens GPS. That's all in Japanese. For the life of me, couldn't work out how to change the language.
I did however work out how to change the dashboard language thanks to Aussie, James HEAL on YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MfhdusquVKY. Awesome mate.!
Then I found these on Ali Express.
It promises A LOT....Radio, USB, Bluetooth, Reverse Camera, OBD, Video (playstation/Go-Pro etc), GPS, Internet access.
ALL WITH PLUG AND PLAY. COMES WITH ALL THE CONNECTIONS TO RETAIN FACTORY OPTIONS......mmm, yeah right..
This one is a CUSP brand. But there's several different brands. All of a much the same except different resolution and memory card size etc.
Its of course from China. You might have your own ideas on Ali Express/Chinese products so lets leave those out and move on....
The first company I contacted was actually CARBAR, who, when I asked about a RHD version said.."No, we suggest you find something else."
My options were pretty limited. I also asked on this forum for ideas. It came down to:
1: Put up with the radio (needing a band expander). The GPS will never work.
2: Find a NZ new version of the McIntosh. $$$$$$$
3: Try and work something out with this android version.
4: Covert everything over to the standard spec car version with the stereo/no GPS. There are lots of options for an android head unit for these versions cars...Just not the premium version.!
Still a fair of $$ to get one out of a wreck, and the GPS will still be crap/nothing.
I then contacted CUSP and asked if they have a RHD version. They said, "yes. sure".
Being wary of the price ($750 NZ) and my previous experiences of such retail agencies, I offered to send a photo. I sent them a photo of my dash.
They reconfirmed, "yes this will fit your car perfectly."
So, I took the chance and sent the money, along with a "thanks. And to confirm, I want a black version...Right hand drive".
It arrived quick, like 5 days. Black. And LEFT HAND DRIVE. I knew this was too good to be true.
I emailed them straight back. She told me that this is the only version they have and they sell them all over the world. They suit any model car.
Anyone can see that its not symmetrical. I relayed again that she was wrong. I understand I'm in the minority here in NZ having a RHD car, but these do NOT suit every model.
She reconfirmed that I was worried about nothing and just needed to send it to an expert for installation. She had spoken to her experts and again told me that these were interchangeable between left and right hand drive. I'm not sure if their intellect is low or they believe mine is?. Either way, I wasn't going to get far.
If I wanted to, I could send it back at my cost. Maybe $100 or so. Then I'm stuck back at stage 1, hating my 90's stereo.
Having done several ICE installs before, and a typical kiwi that refuses to believe things can't be done, I decided to just have a go.
I started to do some digging on the internet on how to remove the McIntosh and install this android one.
Removing the McIntosh was easy enough. Finding info on what the plugs were on the back was near impossible!. How many different versions of the McIntosh do they need??
To remove the fascia. Just stick your fingers, or a small hooked tool into the air vent on the passenger side. Start giving it a little tug and it will pop loose. Then use your hands to continue around the fascia. It will all come free. No screws.
*Hint number 1: The plastic in these cars is EXTREMELY soft. It will scratch at the slightest touch. I strongly suggest tucking rags/cloth all over the console where things will touch.
There is SO much info out there on the Gen 4. But not so much on the Gen 5. Then, when I did find info on the Gen 5, it was the Non GPS/Premium version.
There was just nothing out there. Slowly, over the course of about a week, I found the information I needed.
Here's a pic of the back of the McIntosh GPS version.
(If I've made a mistake here, please let me know...I'll amend it)
So...plug and play right? umm,...nope.
- B-CAS...Not needed in NZ.
- Hands free mic. Not needed. HU comes with its own. Leave in the dash or strip it out.
- Sirius input. Not needed.
- GPS signal/antenna. HU comes with a new one. Just leave the lead in the dash.
The kit from China came with a harness for a forester and a harness for a legacy. The main harness fits right in. Sweet!.
It also came with the fitting plates for the side of the head unit. These attached fine and fit the mounting points well. Good!!
First thing I tried to hook up was the aerial. Well that isn't the same.
My version has a twin aerial.
You can find it by pulling the plastic at the passengers right knee. Again, no screws. It will just pull off.
*Hint number 2: Only pull it off as far as the gearstick area. I think from memory that means pulling out 3 lugs? Don't pull beyond that, as it IS screwed on after that.
It is more than enough space to work in there for the aerial.
The one sent to me has a single aerial input, like below..
So, right away. That's not going to work 100% is it? I did a whole lot of checking and found that my legacy does have a twin aerial, which apparently switches connection based on whether the Head unit is getting a weak signal. Further checks showed that most aftermarket places around NZ were selling legacy attachments with only one aerial. This made me wonder if I simply didn't really need them both? It was worth a go. I was given the harness for free right? Next issue, is that the Chinese one has 3 ridges (seen in the pic). The male version I have on the car only has one groove.
I decided to try shaving them off. Done with a Stanley knife. The plastic is soft and came off easy. Next, is that the Chinese one comes with a power antenna lead. I pulled this out as my car doesn't have a power antenna, just the window imprinted ones.
Once this was all done, the plug (kinda) clicked on OK. I was able to search on the head unit and it found 2 stations.
2 stations. Not exactly amazing. I was thinking that I really needed the whole twin aerial thing. Secondly, the Chinese plug and play aerial harness is only about 150mm long and doesn't even reach the head unit. The logic behind this baffles me....
So, plan B...
PLAN B: Cut off the Chinese adapter at the female socket. Giving me nice new aerial pin to go into the back of the H.U. (head unit).
Then cut off the female off my McIntosh. This way, I know it fits right. I have 2 aerials and heaps of length on the cord.
Here you can see I've cut both the aerial cords. (cut off the McIntosh unit). Twist the two lots of negative together and twist the two lots of positive (centre core wire) together.
Do the same on the Chinese single lead. You now have two leads reducing into one. Slide a length of heat shrink onto one of them. Twist the positives together. Twist the negatives together. Solder each of them a little to get a good solid join. Slide the heat shrink over the join and mould it with your lighter/whatever.
You can see on my picture, I used insulation tape. Its OK, but heat shrink is better and wont come off over time. I had to go get some more heat shrink after doing this, cause I realised I would need more later.
Being the stock plug. It fit back onto the male end perfectly. It clicks in with the lock (instead of just sliding on with the Chinese one) and it also retains the pin which clicks into the body of the car.
I plugged the screen back onto the H.U to see if that was better. It would still only search and find 2 stations!. I could manually stop the search onto a known band and it would find the station now though. Just not on auto search. Positive but why's it doing this?.
Having a fiddle with it, brings me to hint number 3:
* Look back at the picture of the screen. (3rd pic up). See the red radio icon at the top of the screen.? Under that is a circular icon that looks like a radar. Tap that. Its changes the settings from "Local Stereo" to "DX Stereo"
Boom...every station you could want. Mint reception. I don't know if the whole single aerial or twin aerial matters here, cause me changing the settings made it work. What I do know, is the stock one clicks together better.
With this issue solved, it was time to move onto the next. I needed to get some volume to this thing. Cause right now, the android HU has RCA's for amp inputs. And there are NO RCA's in the front of this car!. Next pic shows the 4 speaker RCA's and 1 Sub RCA.
After 2 hours searching on the internet, I discovered that:
A) my McIntosh amp is under the drivers seat and B) sends the signal to the HU via a 20 pin plug. Not a 13 like previous Legacy's. (citation needed)
(Remember, there is SO little info on gen 5s being modified yet).
If I peer deep down into the dash, (space where the H.U goes) I can spot where the Amp lead goes to:
You will find this the same way you found the aerial plug. But on the drivers side this time. Again just pull on the plastic cover where the drivers left knee is. Pulling it off, I found 2 of these leads! WTF right? Which one is for Amp? and what's the second one for?
Again, a couple hours searching on the internet....I cant find anyone saying they have 2 of these leads here. The black one definitely ended up leading to the amp under the drivers seat. I couldn't trace the other grey one as it ends up wrapped in the loom and disappears in the passengers glove box area.
Then I found a post on ClubSub where Guitar_Guy had decided to have a go at combining his McIntosh amp in his 2004 Subaru with an aftermarket HU. It showed that, on the circuit board inside the HU were the wire colours and speaker indication. (RR, LR, FL, FR, SUB etc). While his comments on which colour was which, were slightly incorrect, I could make out what he'd done.
This helped heaps. Cheers for that.
I could see that both these 20 pin leads went into my McIntosh HU and I now accepted that I needed to pull the whole McIntosh HU apart to see what this grey 20 pin does, hoping it would have similar descriptions as Guitar-Guy's one showed.
I found that BOTH these leads were amplifier feeds. The black one did the 2 rear speakers and the sub. The Grey did the front speakers and the centre dash speaker.
So, that confirmed both leads were needed. Why does the grey lead not follow the black one to the amp?. Well, there's a second amp under the passengers seat.
No where could I find info that suggested this. I don't know if its standard on gen 5's? Or if its only on the GPS version?.
Anyway that's what I was working with.
A little searching online revealed there was NO way I was going to get a patch lead that would go from 20 pin to RCA. Each lead is custom designed for the number of wires/pins needed in that particular setup.
I honestly spent a fair bit of time here thinking I should just buy a new AMP. Then I realised that the speaker wiring went from both sides of the car. I would have to rip out both amps, find one that fits under the seat, then run new speaker cabling to all the speakers. Do-able if you REALLY want a new amp, but all online were saying these McIntosh ones, that are made by Clarion are actually pretty good. And it was going to be costly setting that up. What if I couldn't find one that would fit under the seat properly? I went with Plan B:
Plan B: Cut off the 20 pin leads attached to the HU. Before doing so, I photographed and wrote down which lead/wire does what.
Black lead (drivers seat)
SUB: green-, blue+
Rear Right: purple-, pink+
Rear Left: red-, yellow+
Grey lead (passengers seat)
Centre: brown-, grey+
Front right: green-, orange+
Front left: black-, white+
Both leads have a light blue which is going to "amp switch on" and also both have a wire going to "ground"
The outer sheathing on both the leads is going to an earth point as well.
So, here's where you have some options. You HAVE to do some soldering/connecting no matter what.
Option 1: If you're like me and have a bunch of RCA leads lying around. Find 5 and cut the ends off giving yourself about 100mm of cord. You can strip the sheathing and solder positive to positive and negative to negative. The wiring is tiny. Requires a good eye and a fine point soldering iron.
Option 2: Buy a set of 5 new RCA plugs. The solder on ones are best for these tiny wires. The "push on" RCA plugs are for larger gauge.
I went with the latter and bought some new RCA plugs. Only $5 each at Jaycar. If you want to get some online, you can get them as cheap as 50c each, if you're prepared to wait for them to arrive.
So, with your 20 pin leads, gently strip the rubber outing coating, you'll find a bunch of protective wire sheathing.
I stripped each one back about 100mm. I started with the Grey 20 pin lead.
You will now find 3 sets of wires inside. GENTLY strip back the plastic coating of one and you'll find the wires you want.
The first one I happened to strip back was the white and black wires. I knew this was a left speaker so used a white RCA plug.
Cut a piece of heat shrink about 60mm long. (This gives you 40mm of wire to play with at the end)
Then put the RCA cover over the heat shrink.
Then GENTLY strip the coloured sheathing to expose the wire core. Take off about 20mm.
Hit number 3:
* You MUST be careful stripping them. They are VERY small wires and will break off super easy.
Solder the positive wire. In this case the white to the tip of the RCA. This is the male tip. Solder the negative, in this case black wire, through the little hole on the outer part of the RCA plug.
It goes without saying that the wiring/soldering cant touch each other.
I'm not going to call this an "easy job". It requires a bit of steadiness and some soldering practice will do you good. Having said that, I'm no expert, and I can do it...so yeah..
Once soldered, push the heat shrink as far to the solder/RCA end as it will go. You want it far enough that when you press the little claws down, it will be across the heat shrink, not across the wires themselves. As I said, they are delicate. Heat that first 20mm or so of the heat shrink. Then clamp the claws down. Then screw the RCA plug up together. Then heat up the rest of the heat shrink (other 40mm of it).
You might find it easier to use a vice (gently) or a proper soldering holder. The RCA metal will heat up REAL QUICK.
As you can see, my soldering was real average on this one, but you get the idea. And my soldering got better as I went.
Continue this process until you've done all the RCA's needed. (5).
Note: if you want the centre speaker to work, wire it in to one of the front speaker ones. So you'll have 4 wires going into one of the RCAs. two positives and tow negatives. You just cant get it to work independently. The HU only allows for 4.1, not 5.1 audio. I didn't bother and it just sits there un-used now.
I then took the two "amp switch on" wires and soldered them together. These two wires then solder to the Chinese loom "amp switch on".
Remember all that silver sheathing we first came across?. I gave it a cut, twisted it up and stuck it into a lego brick each. If you have some straight crimping connectors, go for it.
I then got a length of left over wire out of my garage. Connected that to a hoop connector. The other end of it, stuck into the lego brick too. This is sending that sheathing wire to an earth. Attach it wherever you can get a reasonable earth. I attached it to the side of the HU with the screw of the install bracket.
You'll end up with something like this:
Each of those RCAs I bought will now connect to the Chinese ones of the HU. Remember, Black amp lead was rear and sub. Grey lead was front. I made white left and red right. Done.
WE HAVE SOUND..MAGIC!! Keep in mind, this all amplifier stuff took me about 3 days. 2 days researching and 1 day soldering/installing.
Hint number 4:
* After all this, I discovered my interior lights weren't going? weird...did I trigger something? Or was it cause I left the doors open for hours? I don't know..
The interior lights didn't go. The puddle lights in the doors didn't go, and the keyless entry/hand sensor on the door didn't go.
If this happens to you. Its the fuse. It is by the drivers knee. A little plastic cover pulls open revealing the fuses. Its marked "backup". Is number 14 fuse and is a micro 10amp.
When replacing it, make sure the doors are closed, or get someone to push the door button in (rubber button that the door hits and turns off the interior lights). If you don't, the circuit is still trying to be active while you put the fuse in and will probably keep blowing. The circuit needs to be off while you replace it.
Moving on..install the OBD harness into the new HU. The other end goes onto the cars OBD plug. You will find it just above the accelerator pedal. You need to remove a couple of the plastic covers up under the footwell and run the wiring up under the dash to the plug. After that, its all good. Plug and play.
Next set-up....USB leads.
The Chinese H.U. comes with 2 USB leads. Female leads like this.
Now, the leads are quite long. If you felt so inclined, you could have them stick out the dash somewhere, or the footwell and just plug stuff in as you want. That works. I plugged my USB stick (has all my music on it) into the lead and the H.U picks it up fine. This however, will NOT make the stock USB point in the centre console go.
The McIntosh uses an old school CD changer style plug like this: (told you it was 90's tech right?)
So, an hour of searching online, I find that this plug is called IP-BUS lead. Finding a female socket for this is REAL hard. When you do find a female end, its only an extension lead and has the male version on the other end. No way IP-BUS is going to match up to a USB lead!.
Option 2: What's at the other end of this lead? Pulling apart the centre console leads me to this one:
Another hour searching around online, I discover this plug is called a AI-NET. This AI-NET plugs directly into the back of the USB input in the console.
So, lets wrap our head around this...………..
Subaru designs a USB input, which has an AI-NET coming out the back of it. The AI-NET goes to an IP-BUS plug, which plugs into the H.U. WTF Subaru!...
This is making the whole "stick the USB out the underside of the footwell" thing REALLY appealing about now isn't it?
The only thing for it, is to replace the AI-NET--IP-BUS lead with something actually available this century.
Online, I can find heaps of AI-NET stuff as its used by Alpine. The best is probably this one from Ali Express. (stuff in NZ is real expensive for this kind of thing)
AI-NET to a male 3.5mm jack.
This will in turn connect to a 3.5mm female to USB male. SWEET!!.
I haven't ordered these just yet. But that will work a treat. AND retain the stock USB port for the car, which I like.
As you noticed, there is a second USB socket on the CUSP H.U. This would be ideal for the 3.5mm jack (next to the USB in the console).
What's behind the 3.5mm jack?. A seriously un-necessary 6 pin automotive plug:
At the other end is an even more un-necessary 24 pin plug!!!
I haven't come up with a solution for this yet...its probably going to involve cutting off the 24pin plug and soldering the wires up to a custom USB male port.
I'll see how that goes, but its not going to bother me too much not using it at this point.
Next issue. The reverse camera.
Here's the plug for the camera which normally goes into the back of the McIntosh.
And, here's what the H.U gives me to insert it into...
Yup....An RCA lead that's designed for an aftermarket camera. NOT the stock camera. ("plug and play" they said...)
It comes with 2 RCAs so you can hook up 2 cameras. The second one is supposed to be a front mount camera for the bumper OR a side mount camera for assisting with parallel parking.
I guess you could hook up a Go-Pro to it, BUT there's actually another set of RCA's again which you could attach a Go-PRO/playstation/DVD player for the kids.
I've been doing some more research online but cant seem to quite work it out.
The plug has 5 wires. My guess is:
1 for power, which (should be around 6 volt) which would connect to the purple "camera power" wire on the Chinese harness.
1 for earth.
2 for the signal to camera which would connect to the yellow RCA here.
1 for the "I'm in reverse" activation wire. This one isn't needed, as the H.U automatically switches to camera mode already when I chuck it into reverse. It just shows no signal at the moment.
My first guess is:
White/Light blue is the power. But it doesn't show 6 volt? I actually cant find 6 volts in any of them...
Light blue/yellow and Light blue orange are the signal to go to the RCA.
Black is earth.
Leaving the Grey one not needed.
But I'm not getting a signal....need more work on this one.
The next issue was the very obvious fact that the dash fascia is actually for a left hand drive.
After a fair bit of shaping and filing, the right hand side (by the gauges) fits pretty good. There's a small triangle hole, but isn't really bothering me. I can live with that.
On the passenger side is a very obvious gap, and the last lug (top left corner) doesn't connect into the body, as its not long enough.
To get around this, I'm thinking I will take my good fascia. (Right hand drive version) down to the plastic welders. Get them to cut both fascia's and weld the corner vent area of my good one onto the Chinese one. This will of course make the weld stand out. I'll get around this by either painting or vinyl wrapping the whole fascia.
Option 2: Get an acquaintance of mine who owns a 3D printing company to make up a whole new fascia that the CUSP will screw up to. It would be the first available RHD version for these android units. Not sure on the cost of this yet.