Originally Posted by yellowlab
Thanks for the information. Can you share what unit you replaced the Soundstream with and why you picked it?
I installed a Kenwood DDX9704S with Apple CarPlay & Android Auto (no built in navigation though - that is done through CarPlay or Android Auto). I chose this unit because I installed the same one in my '97 4-Runner about a year ago and am very pleased with it. I also looked at the DDX9703S back then but found the display was much improved on the DDX9704S and worth the extra cost. Kenwood just released the newest model which is the DDX9705S. Not sure what all the differences are with the DDX9705S but it appears they added "Wireless Android Auto" capability. I have an iPhone and use CarPlay so this would not benefit me in any way. I also added a subwoofer and subwoofer amp to shore up the bass frequencies (more on this later). The key features I like about the Kenwood DDX9704S (and dislike about the Soundstream) are:
1) Excellent display (clarity, touch responsiveness, adjustability). Regarding adjustability, this was super important in the 4-Runner as the unit sits very low in the dash. The DDX970xS series head units have a mechanically positioned (motorized) display so it can be angled upward when mounted low in the dash. This is not used in the Greyhawk as it sits much higher in the dash. However, in the Greyhawk it is quite a distance to the drivers right so the viewing angle left to right is quite severe while driving. This was one of the biggest problems with the Soundstream unit. The Kenwood is much easier to see from the drivers seat. The touch responsiveness on the Kenwood is also far superior to the Soundstream.
2) CarPlay and navigation. For a couple of years now I've found navigation on my iPhone to be superior in many ways to dedicated GPS navigation devices. And with CarPlay it's even better (much more tightly integrated into the overall stereo experience while driving). And with the last two major releases of iOS on the iPhone you can use maps other than Apple with CarPlay. Regarding maps, I find Apple Maps works for most locations and is most tightly integrated with the iPhone and CarPlay (for obvious reasons). My "go-to" map for everything else is Google Maps. I used to use Waze but found the more recent versions to be so buggy they've become unusable for me. I've not used Waze now for about 6 months so maybe it has improved again but I still find Google Maps to be the best of the three and Apple Maps a suitable alternative for most simple navigation. There's another cool feature with the iPhone/CarPlay integration, while navigating to somewhere you can see the map display in CarPlay on the Kenwood and the turn-by-turn directions on the iPhone so you can see what turns are coming up. Lastly, when I'm in the middle of nowhere and don't have cellular service (required for the most part for any of the aforementioned maps), I have an app on my phone called CoPilot that has internally stored maps. I also carry an old Garmin unit as a final backup. I do have to remember to manually update the maps on the Garmin once or twice a year and on CoPilot every 1-3 months though. This is especially important with CoPilot as the app won't work with outdated maps and they are very large so you definitely want to update them on WiFi and not cellular.
3) CarPlay and audio control. I listen mostly to Pandora, Spotify, and Radio Time while traveling and the integration between CarPlay and the iPhone is pretty good. For instance, with Pandora there are far less options than with Spotify so I typically control it 100% through CarPlay. With Spotify and TuneIn Radio, there are extensive search options that are better left to the iPhone interface so while the iPhone is connected to the Kenwood and CarPlay is active, I can pop into the Spotify app on my iPhone to search for an artist, album, song, etc and start it playing. I can then pause and skip songs from CarPlay while driving. Lastly, the audio/navigation integration is very nice. When the navigation side is speaking it attenuates the sound (lowers the volume) in just the front speakers so you can hear the navigation directions without completely muting the music. As soon as the spoken navigation directions are completed, the volume in the front speakers raises back to the previous level. Very nice.
4) Dedicated hardware controls. On the Kenwood, there are dedicated hardware buttons (that click when pushed) along the bottom of the unit for volume up/down, camera, home, and CarPlay. This is far superior to the non-tactile buttons on the left side of the Soundstream. And regarding the camera, I love the fact that I can just hit the camera (CAM) button on the Kenwood at any time to see what I'm towing and then hit it again to go back to the previous display. It seemed I was always searching for the camera control on the Soundstream. The physical volume control on the Kenwood is also far superior to the Soundstream. It always seemed the Soundstream volume control was very slow to respond where the Kenwood is "right now" when pressed. Even turning the Kenwood on or [completely] off is way easier than on the Soundstream (important because the head unit is always powered as long as the main coach battery disconnect is on). On the Kenwood you just press and hold the Home button for 1 second to completely turn the unit off. On the Soundstream the only way I could ever get that to work reliably was to press and hold the red power button on the remote.
5) Sound quality. Kenwood is known among car audio enthusiasts for providing excellent audio quality and control. This unit is no exception. Most people will either not use most of these controls or set it up to their liking in the beginning and then not use them much afterward. I'm in the latter camp. I put a great amount of effort into fine tuning the audio quality in the beginning and then generally don't touch the audio controls anymore after that. Another point worth mentioning here is that the DDX9704S saves all settings even if power is completely removed from the head unit. A lesson I learned with the last head units I install in various vehicles. Very frustrating spending days tuning the sound to my liking and then losing all the settings after the battery is disconnected.
6) The Kenwood audio does not turn on like the Soundstream when you use the directionals or reverse (assuming the audio was off to begin with). This always annoyed me with the Soundstream.
7) Regarding the remote, this is where the Soundstream is actually a bit better. First, the Soundstream comes with a remote. With the Kenwood you have to purchase it separately. I purchased two remotes (for the Greyhawk and 4-Runner) for about $10/ea from eBay that appeared to be original Kenwood but are apparently cheap knockoffs from China. They work but quality is suspect. All I really use the remote for is volume and pause/skip functions while at the dinette or listening outside. For anything else I just go directly to the Kenwood head unit or iPhone for control. An actual Kenwood remote can be purchased from a reputable source (like Crutchfield) for about $29. If the cheapo ones I bought break I'll order real ones then.
8) Something I never thought I'd use was the speech to text function. In CarPlay it's dead simple to use. When you get an incoming text message Siri offers to read it for you and then offers to respond. Couldn't be simpler. I find I use it a lot because it seems everybody I know under the age of 50 prefers texting to phone calls.
I mentioned in the beginning that I also added a subwoofer and subwoofer amp. This could have been done with the Soundstream as well so this isn't necessarily an improvement with the Kenwood over the Soundstream. However, the Kenwood provides significant control over the low and high frequency crossover points and curves so fine tuning a system after adding a subwoofer is much better with the Kenwood. Regarding which subwoofer and amp I added, I purchased the JL Audio CP108LG-W3v3 8" ported MicroSub and the Alpine S-A60M amp (330W RMS into 4 ohms with <1% THD). The amp is installed under the drivers seat and is powered directly from the chassis battery via 16.5' of high quality 4GA all copper wire. Probably could have gotten away with 8GA wire here but wanted to future proof myself. If you decide to do this be aware that there are amp hookup kits out there that use wire other than all copper (aluminum or aluminum/copper blends I believe). Not that there's anything inherently wrong with aluminum wire but it requires a heavier gage to carry the same current as copper and space is at a premium when running this big of wire under the drivers step panel, kick panel, and through the firewall to the chassis battery. The audio side of the amp is connected via 12' of high quality twisted pair audio cable (with RCA ends). I placed the sub directly behind and to the left of the driver's seat. It sounds best when sitting upright on its end opposite the speaker connections and port and facing forward (firing directly into the wood wall just to the left of the back of the drivers seat). To summarize, port facing up, speaker pointed forward. This sub enclosure is also very shallow front to back (6-5/8") so it fits neatly between the wall and slide out on my 2019 Greyhawk 29MV (which has about 7-1/2" of clearance). This space was not used for anything else and provides for excellent bass response with the slide in or out. It is especially sweet in the drivers seat with the slide in while driving (quite important since I do most of the driving).
The last two hurdles I had to get over were the USB and aux audio inputs.
For USB the Soundstream has one USB input but the Kenwood has two. I found a decent quality dual USB 3.0 adapter that fit in the dash panel where the single USB adapter from Jayco was installed. It works well with my iPhone 7, CarPlay, and charging. I found it on Amazon:
For the aux input from the TV up in the bunk area, the Soundstream aux input is RCA left and right. The Kenwood is 1/8" stereo input so I ordered an adapter from Amazon that worked well:
One last bit of advice, the dashboard is a major PIA to remove (almost impossible to get it over the shift lever) so if you plan to make any other modifications behind the dash try to do it all at once. I learned this the hard way. I also needed to add an electronic brake controller to the motorhome and assumed the factory wiring would be under the dash by your left knee while seated in the drivers seat (where it is in most any other modern truck). WRONG!
In my unit the factory wiring is behind the coin tray at the top almost center of the dash just above the head unit. Had to pop the dash apart again to install the Tekonsha adapter (still waiting on that part so the dash sits there partially opened until later this week. Hopefully I'll be able to snake the cable down to the gap between the lower driver side dash panel and the engine cowling without completely removing the main dash panel again. I saw a picture somewhere on the Interwebs showing a Ford factory brake controller in the dash where the coin pocket is but I didn't do any further research as I already have and love the Tekonsha P3 controller that I use in multiple vehicles.
Sorry for the super long winded response but as you can see, I put a significant amount of effort into sorting all this out and making it look like a factory install. I tend to keep my toys for a significant number of years (19 years for the first motorhome, 23 years and counting for the speedboat, 22 years and counting for the 4-Runner) and I don't like doing these projects more than once. Ok, in the interest of full disclosure
, I'm on stereo #2 in the boat and #3 in the 4-Runner. Who would have known CDs would replace cassettes and then digital media would replace CDs! And that Smartphones would become the center of our entertainment universe!