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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
First, I just became aware of this solution; I have no association, dealings, or business interest with anyone connected to what follows.

Adding a 3rd party head unit to replace COMAND in a Mercedes MOST fiber optics system has been impossible without replacing the amp and virtually everything connected to the fiber optic loop. That problem has been resolved. There is a new device called the OPTI-1 that will convert the analog output from a 3rd party head unit (usually a nav system/DVD player/integrated Bluetooth/A2DP/iPod and Android connections and control of their respective apps), to fiber optic signals that can plug into the Bose amp in the Mercedes MOST fiber optics system (I am not certain about compatibility with HK systems). One can therefore replace an older COMAND unit with a more modern one without replacing the rest of the audio system components. The cost savings is tremendous. The unit retails for around $550, and of course, that does not include the cost of the new head unit; but it does save on amps, sound processors, and speakers, as well as a lot of labor.

I am not able to provide any user experience or feedback on how well the system works, whether steering wheel buttons still work, or audio quality (Edit, Jan 30 2013 - see post 78 at http://mbworld.org/forums/audio-electronics/466505-replacing-comand-just-got-easier-4.html regarding audio quality). Much of that would depend on the particular 3rd party head unit chosen. I'm sure many of our members will be happy for any feedback.

If you're interested, see Mercedes-Benz COMAND Radio Replacement Interface generally, and Radio Replacement for Mercedes-specific applications. The unit will also be marketed by NAV-TV, with vehicle-specific kits that will be available soon. http://www.collectionautosports.com/blog-top/389-nav-tv-announces-m-o-s-t-fiber-optic-head-unit-replacement-module-for-mercedes-benz

You can see jbondox' post that brought this to my attention at Replacing the COMAND just got easier - MBWorld.org Forums

According to jbondox' post, the unit is compatible with the following models; testing continues.

2005-2008 CLS
2003-2008 E
2004-2006 S
2004-2006 CL
2005-2008 SL
2005-2008 SLK (with Bose amp and COMAND)

There is no unit mentioned for D2B systems.
 

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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
The developer of the OPTI-1 was kind enough to answer several questions I had about the device. It provides an excellent path to upgrade our limited COMANDs and head units to much more modern technology, for far less than the cost of replacing the entire system. It is helpful to understand the following points:

1) The OPTI-1 does not itself provide steering wheel control. One would have to use interfaces such as the Metra Axxess ASWC or the Pac SWI series to maintain steering wheel controls.

2) There is no information from the HU displayed on the Multifunction Display in the instrument cluster. That information, which would include phone, navigation and audio information will be shown on the head unit screen.

3) OE Mercedes voice control would be nonfunctional after installation of a 3rd party head unit.

4) A 3rd party head unit will not access the MB CDC, so you lose it. However, most 3rd party units would have nav, phone, A2DP, iPod or other music player compatibility, DVD, and other capabilities (My note: Some units I have seen offer the ability to run some of the software found on smartphones, such as Pandora and others - it depends on what unit you buy. Some can have a CDC added, if you wanted one - it would depend on the particular HU. However an iPod or other music player pretty well does away with the need for a CDC anyway).

5) The Bose system active EQ is in the amp, which remains. Results have been good (better than factory, according to the developer) keeping the Bose EQ active and using sound adjustments in the new head unit; however, if the Bose active EQ is a problem, it can be deactivated by unplugging a microphone from the amp; it is a separate plug with 4 wires. (My note: I do not know the exact location of the plug, so please don't PM me and ask).

Those are pretty small sacrifices to overcome some of the limitations of our older COMANDs; the first four would apply to ANY 3rd party COMAND replacement. The ability to retain the Bose active EQ is an attractive option that is not available with other HU replacements. Without active EQ, Bose speakers can sound "dead." Other 3rd party options can require expensive audio processors that are not needed with the OPTI-1.
 

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Hi Skylaw...thank you for your input on this. I did see this topic over on the other forum. I was wondering, if you did go the whole way and replaced the stereo and the stock amp, are there any draw backs? What happens to the MOST FB network?

Thank you for any help
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I have not replaced my COMAND, but if I do, I will use the OPTI-1. The person best equipped to answer is jbondox, in the links at post #1. He is in fact the developer of the OPTI-1.
 

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I am planning to acquire the OPTI-1 next month to use in conjuction with the chinese analog COMAND unit replacement I already have in stock. The unit has a CAN bus connector for the steering controls. We'll see how it works out. Planning to take pictures and do a comprehensive write-up. Stay tuned.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Knowing the way you go about things, Stef, we look forward to your writeup!
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)

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Gents,

I did replace my COMAND-APS NTG1 with a Kenwood DNX7190HD using OPTI-1 and AXXESS ASWC and all working seamlessly. Also, I have drafted a write-up with pictures for the process. See the attached

Regards

raed
 

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Is this OPTI-1 compatible with the 2006 ML350 (with MCS with NAV and HK sound system)?
I'm thinking of doing the same retrofit I did on my 2002 ML320 and on my 2004 E320.

With the previous (2002) ML things were straight forward just because the MB HU was connected to the amp and speakers via copper wires.

With the 2004 E I had to bypass the FO and the AGW in the trunk (I rewired the new HU, therefore I was able to use the original speakers). On the instr. cluster the Audio screen shows --/--, and the same is shown for Tel. I retained all the steering wheel controls using an Axxess SWC.

With the 2006 ML I see added challenges:
- FO
- NAV (the info is also shown in the instr. cluster in one of the screens as COMPASS; a second screen displays the navigation/map info); after the retrofit are these two going to display --/-- ? More likely yes, I think.
- the clock/time info displayed on the instr. panel is currently managed via the MCS. What will happen after the retrofit. Is the OPTI-1 capable of converting the info back so that the clock will work?
- HK sound system !!!

Anybody any experience with similar set-up ... ?
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Links in earlier posts provide the contact information for the developer of theOPTI-1. I suggest you contact him with this question.
 

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OK, after reading many threads on this topic, I have completed my shopping list.
Please let me know if I need anything else.

For a 2006 E-320 CDI w/ navigation and dash CDC:
$
521.98 Kenwood DNX7190HD (because that's what jbondox used)
549.99 Nav-TV M.O.S.T HUR MB “OPTI-1”
80.00 Kenwood CMOS-210 Universal Rear view camera
6.00 40-EU10 antenna adapter
44.99 Axxess ASWC-1 Steering Wheel Control Universal

and I've contacted Connects 2 regarding a double din facia kit

Does that sound good or do I need more stuff?
Antennae extension? RCA cables?

Please let me know, and thanks for all of the advice so far!
 

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Ended up getting the Dash kit from Nav-TV as well. 200 bucks.

Yikes, this project is adding up!:crybaby2:

We also get a 10% discount from Nav-TV by mentioning the forum.:thumbsup:
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Not ignoring you - but unless others have installed this, we probably don't know. I'm sure jbondox could answer if you PM - and then, we'd appreciate your documenting your installation experience.

Note that despite the cost, your cost is between ½ to ⅓ of the cost of options before the OPTI-1 (MOST-HUR). (BTW - I presume, without knowing, that the cryptic "HUR" means "Head Unit Replacement").
 
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