How should I setup satellite radio in my car?
December 26, 2007 6:04 PM   Subscribe

Any satellite radio users able to offer some insight on the best method of installation?

My lovely girlfriend surprised me with Sirius satellite radio for Christmas and I am thrilled no end. However, I’m wondering if I could pick the brains of my fellow AskMeFites as to the best way to set it up.

The unit she ended up getting me was a Stratus, which seems like a good fit, however given my current setup, I’m wondering if I should go another route. I currently have the Alpine CDA-9851 in my car along with the KCA-420i interface adaptor for my iPod. I love my setup, and I’m thrilled to be adding satellite radio to the mix but I’m wondering whether I should keep the Stratus and use it as essentially a 2nd unit to control the satellite radio, or whether I should return it and get the necessary components to have the service controlled directly through the Alpine.

The pros to the Stratus as I see them are more presets, the ability to see more than one line of text so you can see artist/song/channel info, and can (relatively) easily see what’s on the other channels with less scrolling through the display. The downside however is the fact that it’s a 2nd head unit, and that it would plug into my cigarette lighter (or whatever they’re called these days) thereby ensuring that I wouldn’t be able to use my GPS at the same time. Also, there seems to be a queston regarding the sound quality unless I have a direct connection.

The pros to the control through the Alpine are that it’s all one unit, which means less wiring all over and power is coming from a source other than the cigarette lighter. The downside however would seem to be that it only displays one line of text so that I’d have to hit a button each time I wanted to scroll through artist name/song/category, etc. Also, I’m worried that the scroll will be interminably slow. Currently, I control my iPod through the head unit and it is suh-low as molasses. It’s great to be able to do that, but I find I have to set everything up in playlists to actually find music efficiently. I’m worried that the scroll through the Sirius channels would be just as slow. Of course, I could upgrade my current Alpine head unit to one that displayed two/three lines of text (and I haven’t yet ruled that out) but that might be quite cost prohibitive.

Anyway, any MeFites have a similar setup to those described above and are there any major (or minor) pros/cons you’d be willing to share? Thanks in advance.
posted by Rewind to Technology (3 answers total)
Best answer: I have an Alpine deck of similar vintage (CDA-9855 I think), and the iPod adapter and a Sirius unit hooked to it. I agree with your assessment of the iPod interface. The SAT interface is much better. You can scroll through categories and also scroll through channels with the jog wheel. Setting presets is easy, just like a regular radio station, so I just programmed a few in there and use those to jump around.

If the external unit is one that has a recording capability that's something that the Alpine accessory didnt do.
posted by kableh at 6:21 PM on December 26, 2007

Just FYI, you can use your Stratus and GPS at the same time quite easily; I do this with my Sportster (which I love!) and my GPS. They have cigarette-lighter splitters. I picked mine up in my local RadioShack. Here's the first link I was able to find on amazon here.
posted by cgg at 8:25 PM on December 26, 2007

Best answer: Mr. Irishkitten here:

As a mobile installer and avid vehicle tinkerer I can tell you that you'll be extremely pleased with getting the stratus installed professionally should you choose to go that route. If the Alpine model that you own is the one I'm thinking of then you'll definately want to consider that option as the display will be significanty better on the seperate unit than it would be on your alpine. The only real downside is having the extra unit to reach/fiddle with as you're trying to drive but this usually isn't a problem after a few days.

The advantages of getting it done by a professional is that you won't have many visible wires (or if you do it will only be an inch or two), you'll be able to retain your power outlet/lighter for other accessories, and with the use of a FM Direct Adapter you won't notice a difference in sound quality over using the Alpine adapter.

A good professional installation should cost between $50 and $100 depending on where you go. That may seem like a lot compared to the cost of your Sirius unit but it's well worth the price. Bear in mind though that some vehicles will need additional adapters and whatnot so yours may be on the high-side depending on what you drive.
posted by irishkitten at 5:09 PM on December 27, 2007

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