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2006 R350
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5 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I thought I would share my experience in replacing my head-unit with an aftermarket (Android) unit in my 2006 Mercedes Benz R350 with Harmon/Kardon (optical) sound system. This because the unit died (all controls stopped working) - and despite trying for several weeks - a local repair shop could not fix it. So rather than spending north of $650 to replace the unit with a used MB unit - I opted for a modern replacement. After looking at various options from aftermarket fitters (including online vendors like Crutchfield) - I opted to do it myself - basically to save money. The lowest quote I got to have one fitted (and they won't fit anything other than Jensen/Pioneer/ etc.) was $1100!

I started by doing some research months in advance - and considered both a 2xDIN fitting kit and a generic radio and some of the aftermarket units from China that fit into the dash as a custom replacement. Alongside were the considerations for how to keep the Harmon/Kardon system working, not losing navigation and aux input..

I settled on an Android unit - which although available locally - is considerably less expensive when you order it directly from China. There are a number of manufacturers/sellers (Seicane, Kunfine, etc.) that sell aftermarket units for a wide variety of vehicles - including Mercedes A, B, C, E, G, M, R and Vaneo ranges (across multiple model years too). When I discussed this option with fitters - they all warned me off - but my experience has been pretty positive. I fitted the unit in January 2018, and 8 months later I am perfectly satisfied.

I settled on a unit from Kunfine (although it appears to be identical to the Seicane units - even the instruction manuals are exactly the same).

I also bought an optical converter from Seicane.

The radio comes with all the connections required (for cars without the Optical connections), and was pretty easy to fit.
The only time I needed to get a soldering iron out was to provide power to the Optical converter - which I simply spliced into the power lines between the car and the radio (+/-/ground).

The optical converter takes 2 speaker outputs and turns the audio into a MOST (bus) compatible signal for the amplifier to understand. Sound quality is undiminished except as listed in the caveats below.

Improvements:
1. Up-to-date maps
2. Integrated Bluetooth (phone and audio)
2. DVD/TV player
3. Wifi on the unit to support Airplay/MirrorLink
4. Expandable with additional apps.

So what are the downsides?
1. I would have preferred an Microsoft CE unit - simply because you typically get full Apple iPod/iPhone music integration over USB with those (which I do not have).
2. The integration into the electronics (CANBUS) means that you get the radio station/track information on the instrument cluster - but you do not get Compass/Navigation info, and you cannot change the time on the dash.
3. You cannot change any of the settings for the speakers. Because you take 2 outputs and turn them into 7 - you essentially get uniform distribution of the 2 channels left and right - no fancy 'audio modes'.
4. Figuring out which antenna lead to use is a 50/50 affair (I got it wrong first time - and got VERY poor radio reception off the GPS antenna!).
5. Cosmetically it looks good (I can post a photo if you would like) - but you do lose the wood strip across the top of the radio.
 

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W221 & Audio Moderator
2013 S550
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11,146 Posts
Thank you for your comments.
 

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Registered
2001 E320 4matic wagon
Joined
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129 Posts
5. Cosmetically it looks good (I can post a photo if you would like) - but you do lose the wood strip across the top of the radio.
Please do! And thanks for the install report.
 

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Registered
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2 Posts
I thought I would share my experience in replacing my head-unit with an aftermarket (Android) unit in my 2006 Mercedes Benz R350 with Harmon/Kardon (optical) sound system. This because the unit died (all controls stopped working) - and despite trying for several weeks - a local repair shop could not fix it. So rather than spending north of $650 to replace the unit with a used MB unit - I opted for a modern replacement. After looking at various options from aftermarket fitters (including online vendors like Crutchfield) - I opted to do it myself - basically to save money. The lowest quote I got to have one fitted (and they won't fit anything other than Jensen/Pioneer/ etc.) was $1100!

I started by doing some research months in advance - and considered both a 2xDIN fitting kit and a generic radio and some of the aftermarket units from China that fit into the dash as a custom replacement. Alongside were the considerations for how to keep the Harmon/Kardon system working, not losing navigation and aux input..

I settled on an Android unit - which although available locally - is considerably less expensive when you order it directly from China. There are a number of manufacturers/sellers (Seicane, Kunfine, etc.) that sell aftermarket units for a wide variety of vehicles - including Mercedes A, B, C, E, G, M, R and Vaneo ranges (across multiple model years too). When I discussed this option with fitters - they all warned me off - but my experience has been pretty positive. I fitted the unit in January 2018, and 8 months later I am perfectly satisfied.

I settled on a unit from Kunfine (although it appears to be identical to the Seicane units - even the instruction manuals are exactly the same).

I also bought an optical converter from Seicane.

The radio comes with all the connections required (for cars without the Optical connections), and was pretty easy to fit.
The only time I needed to get a soldering iron out was to provide power to the Optical converter - which I simply spliced into the power lines between the car and the radio (+/-/ground).

The optical converter takes 2 speaker outputs and turns the audio into a MOST (bus) compatible signal for the amplifier to understand. Sound quality is undiminished except as listed in the caveats below.

Improvements:
1. Up-to-date maps
2. Integrated Bluetooth (phone and audio)
2. DVD/TV player
3. Wifi on the unit to support Airplay/MirrorLink
4. Expandable with additional apps.

So what are the downsides?
1. I would have preferred an Microsoft CE unit - simply because you typically get full Apple iPod/iPhone music integration over USB with those (which I do not have).
2. The integration into the electronics (CANBUS) means that you get the radio station/track information on the instrument cluster - but you do not get Compass/Navigation info, and you cannot change the time on the dash.
3. You cannot change any of the settings for the speakers. Because you take 2 outputs and turn them into 7 - you essentially get uniform distribution of the 2 channels left and right - no fancy 'audio modes'.
4. Figuring out which antenna lead to use is a 50/50 affair (I got it wrong first time - and got VERY poor radio reception off the GPS antenna!).
5. Cosmetically it looks good (I can post a photo if you would like) - but you do lose the wood strip across the top of the radio.
Hello and thanks a lot for your post.

Do you think the set up would be the same for a Harmon Kardon Premium System in a 2011 R350?
 
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