Friday, October 11, 2013

Upgrading the Radio

We have had a love/hate relationship with our Magnadyne CD player/radio that came with our Allegro Bus.  Unlike a car radio/CD system that is pretty user friendly, we got on the wrong side of this machine and pretty much stayed there for the last few years.

We had a few weeks of bliss here and there and the radio worked fine…but in many cases we would push a button on what we thought was the FM radio, but quickly got lost into the dark caverns of la la land with no way of getting out.  We didn't know which buttons to push so we pushed them all and made it even worse!  (The weather channel seemed to always be there but we seldom listen to it on purpose.)

So -- last time we were in Red Bay we asked about upgrading the radio and changing it out.  We learned the Magnadyne is apparently a pretty good one, but we have not had much luck with it.  And then it died…  It got locked into one mode and it would not move at all.  Time to replace it.

The time came yesterday.  After many months of talking about it and not really taking action, we wandered over to the car radio section of Best Buy.  The techs back at Red Bay had mentioned Tiffin was starting to install Kenwood models, so we started there.  And I remembered about needing a 'double din' model.  The techs said we'd also would need to order a new dash face plate for the double din size radio.  I figured we would do that after we got the radio.  Maybe we could get it installed without a dash face plate and install it later...

After looking at a lot of radios in the store display area, we went back to the Geek Squad install shop.
Turns out, John, the lead installer has been in the business for 35 years and has installed many in RV's.  He helped us pick out a Kenwood model we liked and we made an appointment for yesterday.

We were there a little before our 10:00 AM appointment.
John took look at the old radio and pulled it out.  The double din sized Kenwood model we picked out would not fit.  But they had a JVC din 1/2 model (same size as the old Magnadyne), so we selected that model.
It came with a CD player and has a iPod/iPhone connection and Bluetooth technology, so it was fine with us.  And it was significantly cheaper than the $400+ model we were looking at.

John took out the old radio, got a adapter harness and looked at the wires.
Then he took the new radio back to the shop and put connectors on all the wires so they would attach to those in the dash.
 And he mounted the microphone on the dash face plate and bundled the wires to put back in behind the radio.
Wow did it look good!
Now to try it out. We put it through its paces and tried out everything and got to the Bluetooth stuff.  Ugh oh….
Major problem here.  It would not synch with my iPhone.  We tried Pam's iPhone.  It searched and searched and would not pair with hers either.  We tried John's Samsung (I didn't ask, but assume it was a Galaxy).  No problem, worked fine.  We tried again to get my iPhone working with it.  No dice.

Well…we decided to go back out on the floor and see if my iPhone would pair with any of the display models.  Yep! There were lots of ones the iPhone was trying to pair with.  But not the JVC models.  There was a little more expensive model ($139) that was a Kenwood that worked-- so we chose it.

Then John went back to the Roadrunner and pulled out the JVC model, got connectors ready on the Kenwood model and hooked it up inside the RV.  It worked fine!  We were back (almost) to where we started.  I thought we wanted a double din size Kenwood.  

Turns out the din and 1/2 size worked fine and had a CD player.  And the Bluetooth worked too!  Pam called from her phone and since mine was paired with the radio, I answered and talked with her with out touching the iPhone.  It all went through the radio ala 'hands free'.
This stuff is amazing when it works.  And we can play music from our iPhone or iPod.

The biggest thing about it is that is straight forward, pretty user-friendly.  No more mystery on how to get to FM and AM and the CD player like the old one.  (And it has some fancy multi colored lights…)
We are pretty thrilled.  All for $216.56.  I don't remember what the quote was back at Red Bay to get a Kenwood radio installed, but I think it was more in the $400-$500 range.  We don't care about a GPS and big screen since we use our iPhone for GPS when we need it.  And there is need to get a larger dash face plate.

It took about three hours to pack up and drive into town to the Best Buy store, go through a few iterations and models and get it installed, and drive back and set up at our campground 10 miles away -- but it was well worth it.

Now we have a great radio we will be using whether we are parked or cruising down the road.

That's all this time on the Roadrunner Chronicles!  And thanks for joining us!  Until next time...


  1. Congrats on the new stereo system, we love our bluetooth and use it all the time! Safe travels.

  2. We also have an Allegro Bus and aren't that pleased with our radio. Do you know if your model will play MP3 audio on Discs? We download audio books and convert them into MP3 format and listen to them that way. I can get a book onto one CD and if it is a long book, then 2 CDs. Sure beat carrying 10-14 CD to listen to the books.

    Looks like a trip to Best Buy might be in our future.

  3. Wow! I need to go to the Best Buy you went to. I want to replace our crappy Magnadine, too but the Best Buy I went to quoted me an $1100 install. I passed.

  4. We also need to replace the one in our Bus. And since you have done all the ground work, this will be a simple task! Ahhhh, blogs, I love them.