I purchased my business partner's 1998 ML320 yesterday. It has the OEM Bose Premium Audio System with remote 6-diskCD changer in the rear and what I assume is a subwoofer under the driver's seat.
I am very happy with the vehicle. However, I have used an iPod for my music and podcasts for years. I had my prior car's head unit replaced with one that would provide a wired audio input for better sound quality than tape deck or FM modulator inputs.
I am impressed with the sound quality of the OEM system using the CD's audio, surprisingly so. I have not been satisfied with the sound from a stock system in other vehicles I have owned. It images nicely, has adequate treble without turning it up, and very nice bass. It actually sounds best with the tone controls set flat.
I am considering a wired iPod input as I am unsatisfied with the sound from an FM modulator and would like a clean cabin without wires. I found this AUX input specifically for Mercedes audio systems 1994-1998 for iPod (MERCEDES BENZ AUX INTERFACE 1994-1998 (IPOD ONLY)*::*IPOD DIRECT COMPATIBLE AUX ADAPTERS*::*AUX AND IPOD ADAPTERS*::*OEM Factory Aux Ipod Adapters & Changers*::*AUTOTOYS
). One unplugs the CD input on the back of the head unit and plugs this in. One no loner has use of the CD changer, but I never used my old car's, either, after installing the iPod. I was thinking I could drill a small hole in the black plastic tray under the head unit and allow the iPod wire and iPod to reside there.
The other option I was considering was to get a new head unit making use of the "double DIN" space. I could install a unit with GPS, a wired iPod input with interface so I could leave my iPod in the glove compartment, and Bluetooth for my iPhone. But because I have the Bose system, I don't know if the current speakers, which sound very nice and have been tuned for the vehicle, are compatible with aftermarket headunits. I have seen differing reports of whether these Bose speakers are powered at the speaker.
Can I determine, without buying the tools to remove the headunit, if my CD input system is analog or optical in based on year of manufacture? There are no details in the audio system's operation guide.
Are the amplifiers for the speakers at the speakers themselves in my model and year? Can I change the headunit without changing the speakers?
I highly doubt within the area I live in whether the car audio people have the knowledge/experience/interest to answer these questions.