GROM Audio USB/iPod/AUX and Bluetooth interface install and review for 7th gen Accord - Drive Accord Honda Forums | radio-pro.ru
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post #1 of 60 Old 05-20-2011, 11:04 AM Thread Starter
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GROM Audio USB/iPod/AUX and Bluetooth interface install and review for 7th gen Accord

Hello everyone,

So like a lot of you, it wasn't long before I picked up my new-to-me accord that I started to look into interfaces that allowed USB devices and AUX input for my car. The 6-disc stock head unit was great, but I was tired of constantly burning CD's and I did not want to purchase an aftermarket headunit. After some research, I came across the Grom Audio USB/AUX and iPod interface. At the time I ordered the Grom unit in August of last year I did not own an iPod/iPhone, so most iPod interfaces were of no use to me. 2 months later I ended up with an iPhone 4 and decided to order the iPod cable to go along with my Grom unit.

You may be wondering why I'm posting this now when I ordered the interface several months ago, so here is some background with my experience. There were some problems I ran into after I had purchased the iPod connection cable. While the USB and AUX inputs worked flawlessly and with no static or distortion, the iPod connection wasn't so smooth. I contacted Grom Audio about the issue, and after some diagnosing, they sent me a replacement iPod connection. At this time it was too cold here in the Greater Toronto Area to be fidgeting in the car so I waited until spring to do it. I installed the new cable but the distortion was still present. I contacted Grom Audio again and they determined that the interface box itself was faulty, issued me an RMA number, and I sent out the box for replacement. They sent me a replacement box as soon as they received it, along with another vehicle specific harness to make sure the problem was eradicated once and for all.

Oh and as a bonus, they sent me one of their newer interface boxes. At the time I first ordered the interface, Grom did not have a bluetooth add-on as an option, and when they did come out with it, the boxes only had one port, making you choose between iPod or bluetooth connections. The newer boxes now have separate connections for iPod and bluetooth. The USB connection remains unchanged, but a direct connection for AUX has been taken out. This can be easily fixed by purchasing either a mini-DIN to AUX adapter, or an iPod female to 3.5mm male cable, both available on their website.

So without further delay, here is brief write-up for how to get this interface installed and some pictures:

You will need:
1. Grom Honda / Acura 2003+ GROM USB/iPod/AUX interface car kit(GROM-USB2-HON1)
- OPTIONAL iPod/iPhone cable for charging and control
- OPTIONAL Grom bluetooth dongle
- OPTIONAL AUX MiniDin to 3.5mm cable OR iPod female to 3.5mm male cable
2. Flat head screw driver (wrap it with electrical tape to prevent scratching the trim pieces)
3. Phillips head screw driver
4. A drill and a spade drill bit to make a hole in the center cubby or anywhere else you will be feeding the wires through
5. 3/4" rubber grommet to cover the hole and provide a nicer finish

Let's start with a picture of the only thing I needed to buy extra for this project, the rubber grommet. I picked this up from Canadian Tire for about 30 cents. The size of the hole and the thickness of the grommet turned out to be perfect for the cubby and to feed the biggest cable through, which was the USB connection.



Ok so I figured out there are much better guides to taking apart the necessary trims and cubby to get to the back of the head unit after I had opened it up myself. But I took pictures while doing this, so might as well post them up now.

1. To begin the installation, I pried open the gear shift trim like so:

Do this all the way around the gear shift trim, being careful not to break any clips or damage the trim.

2. Once the gear trim is off, disconnect the seat heater switches. There is a small locking mechanism you will need to press. This is easy to do, so you can't really go wrong in this step.

Oh and some people may choose to unscrew the shift knob and remove the trim entirely, but I elected to just pull the trim over the knob and leave it there. I didn't really get in the way.

3. Next, remove the "Not an ashtray" rubber lining and then pry open the small compartment. I figured out later you can also push it upwards a bit from the inside to make it easier. Honda had replaced the entire head unit under warranty before I bought the car and their mechanics must not have known this as well since this piece is pretty scuffed up as you can see.


4. You should now have access to the following two screws. Remove them and set them aside (cup holders to make it easier)


5. Disconnect the 12v power socket from the piece you just took off:


6. Next, remove the two screws holding the cubby in


7. You should now be able to pull the cubby out easily. If you can't get a good grip on it, use one hand to pull from the bottom, and put the flathead screw driver in from the top and pull outwards. Once it is out enough, you can use both hands to pull. I was expecting some trouble in this step but it was fairly simple!



8. You should now have a clear view to the interior and the treasures behind the cubby. This is where you will find the external CD changer port. If your car doesn't already have an external CD changer or XM, there should be nothing connected to the port. Go ahead and plug in the vehicle specific harness that comes with the Grom interface


9. You should take this time to test out how everything is working and familiarize yourself with how the Grom interface works. Once you are satisfied, continue on to drilling a hole into the cubby (or anywhere else you may want to feed the wires to).

10. Find a good place in the cubby to drill a hole, making sure it does not interfere with the movement of the door or the mechanisms on the side. I chose to drill towards the back of the box on the top. Towards the back around the bottom or sides would also have been good choices in retrospect.

11. Drill a hole as big as you need for the wires. I chose a 1 inch spade drill piece, with a thick grommet that had a 3/4" opening. This was big enough to feed the USB cable, AUX cable, iPod cable, and the cable for the mic from the bluetooth kit, without the grommet actually installed on the cubby. Once it is installed in the cubby, the grommet was tight enough to not let any of the wires go back through. To remove or add wires again, you will need to take the grommet out of place again so that it is flexible enough to work with. Unfortunately I did not take a picture of the hole actually being drilled, but here is a picture of the grommet installed on the cubby, with 1 wire passing through:


12. Find a good place to mount the Grom interface, and use zip ties if necessary to secure the extra wires around the spaces behind and around the cubby. You can be creative with the placement of the wires, but make sure to temporarily reinstall the cubby periodically to make sure nothing is interfering with the door opening mechanism of the cubby. I installed interface to the left of the cubby, away from sharp objects or metal as you can see in the following picture. I had the previous unit zip tied but it doesn't really move from that position, so I decided not to do it this time. You can also see the new bluetooth dongle to the left (more on that later).


13. You can reinstall everything in reverse order once you have rechecked all connections, secured all extra wires (leave a bit extra loose in case you ever need more), and made sure nothing is interfering with anything else.

14. Enjoy hassle-free music and convenience!

Alright, so as I said, I ordered the bluetooth dongle and received a replacement interface box from Grom and I will give some thoughts on its use.

The sound quality on the Grom unit is very good. It's not as good as the direct sound from CDs (I have tested this with the same songs burned on a CD vs. using one of the connections of the Grom unit). It isn't that much of a difference and I did not even notice it at first and wouldn't have realized at all without the testing. It is still miles ahead of quality you can achieve with FM transmitters and the like.

I was also extremely impressed with the quality of the AUX in on the older unit (I'm assuming it's the same with the newer units, but I have not personally tested it). It was almost as good as the USB connection.

The USB connection provided excellent audio as well, and the system was easy to setup and use. Folders on the USB drive imitate discs. You could also set the order in which they play by simply putting a 1,2,3 etc in front of the file name, but I preferred random anyway. I was using a 4gb stick, but you can use portable hard drives as well.

The iPod connection is the one I've used the most. There are 2 modes you can use here. One locks the iPod and you can go through playlists using the head unit. The other mode allows direct control of the iPod. I found it to be much more useful and I think it is what most people will be using with iPods or iPhones. I use my iPhone for GPS frequently, and the iPod connection is extremely useful for this. I can be using voice guided GPS and listening to music at the same time. When directions are being given, the iPhone will turn the music down, and the instructions can be heard clearly. Hearing this from the car stereo makes it almost like having factory navigation or an in-dash navigation system. Of course, the iPod connection also charges your iPod/iPhone so you never have to worry about your battery dying from all that use.

The bluetooth connection is the one that is newest to me. I've only had it for about a week now, and it has been working as expected so far. I will update the thread if there are any problems or developments in the future, but I will write about my experience with it so far.

The handsfree law was passed only recently in my province, so everyone is going bluetooth crazy around here. I've always used a headset while driving, but not having to carry around a headset is a big plus for me. The bluetooth dongle from Grom allows you to receive calls using the head unit and steering wheel controls. I've tested the call quality a few times now and I can hear received calls perfectly loud and clear. Callers on the other end also said my outgoing voice quality was really good. Most said they couldn't even tell I was using bluetooth. I did receive a few complaints of an echo though. I'm not sure if there is a way to correct this. I've never had the pleasure of owning a vehicle with built in bluetooth, so I'm not sure if this is common.

The bluetooth dongle even has A2DP and AVRCP so you can stream your music wirelessly from your mobile phone, and control it through the HU and steering wheel controls. The bluetooth streaming music quality is also great. It isn't as good as the iPod connection, but it is great nonetheless. If you have a mobile phone other than an iPhone or one that can work in USB mass storage device mode and wish to stream your music through bluetooth, this is an excellent option.

As a side note, I can also vouch for the level of service from Grom Audio. I've been in contact with them on and off since August of last year due to the problems I was experiencing and they have been great in responding promptly and providing answers to all my questions.

And some finishing pictures:

Added bluetooth, fed the mic wire through the cubby as well (thought about putting it up on the headliner, but it seemed like too much work and I wanted to be able to hide everything out of sight easily by simply closing the cubby door).


Mic installed. Grom includes a small piece of double sided 3m tape which is very easy to overlook/lose. I lost it as well but found it later!

You can also see my Kensington car mount holding the iPod wire while the iPhone isn't in there (it was taking the picture of the setup!). It was quite a mission contorting the gooseneck of this mount to fit in to the small space in the cubby.


To end off this long post, I will say that I have taken apart the dash now multiple times, so feel free to ask any questions you may have and I'll do my best to answer them. Ditto for the Grom Audio stuff as I've had it for quite a while now. I will also try to keep this thread updated, and please let me know if I've missed anything or messed up somewhere!

Hope this helps anyone looking to install iPod/AUX, USB or bluetooth interfaces in their 2003-2007 Accords!


2004 SBP Accord Coupe EX-V6 6MT
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post #2 of 60 Old 05-20-2011, 11:53 PM
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You don't need a screwdriver to pull the trim plate around the transmission. Just use your fingers and pull it up. But at least you taped your screwdriver to prevent scratches. A coat hanger bent like a small hook works best for grabbing the top of the lower pocket while your hand grabs the bottom to pull straight out. Does your microphone work well, so low and far back in the pocket? Handsfree hasn't made anyone a safer driver. Better to stay off the phone while driving so you can be more attentive to the fools not paying attention while talking on their phone.

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post #3 of 60 Old 05-21-2011, 01:38 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hillstones View Post
You don't need a screwdriver to pull the trim plate around the transmission. Just use your fingers and pull it up. But at least you taped your screwdriver to prevent scratches. A coat hanger bent like a small hook works best for grabbing the top of the lower pocket while your hand grabs the bottom to pull straight out. Does your microphone work well, so low and far back in the pocket? Handsfree hasn't made anyone a safer driver. Better to stay off the phone while driving so you can be more attentive to the fools not paying attention while talking on their phone.
The trim plate around the transmission on my car was different from my friends auto coupe. On that, I could pull up the trim plate with my fingers easily close to the 12v socket and the small compartment next to it. However, I just can't get it to lift with my own trim. Strange...

The microphone does work extremely well inside the cubby. I never received a complaint about my outgoing voice quality from any callers. It's really not that far back. I tried to get it as close to the front as I could without it interfering with the cubby door.

I also agree that handsfree has not made anyone a better driver at all. It's best to stay off the phone, but for the odd occasion you do need to take the call, it's convenient to be able to answer it. It is kind of difficult to do without some sort of handsfree option when driving a MT

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post #4 of 60 Old 06-16-2011, 03:38 PM
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Hey man thanks for the post its exactly what I was looking for! Could you rank the quality of the cd, ipod, usb, aux in, and Bluetooth in order and rate the relative quality difference between them.
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post #5 of 60 Old 06-17-2011, 09:12 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by jordanstreet View Post
Hey man thanks for the post its exactly what I was looking for! Could you rank the quality of the cd, ipod, usb, aux in, and Bluetooth in order and rate the relative quality difference between them.
Hi jordanstreet,

I'm glad the thread was able to help.

As for the ranking of the quality of each audio source, I will rank them the best I can.

I'll start with the factory CD player quality as being 10/10 for reference.

iPod: I would say the quality is 8/10. This is only because I'm still getting some weird static noise from the audio. I have not heard of others having the same issue with the grom units, and I've had this issue with both grom units I have tried, so I'm beginning to think its a problem on my end only. I will try to isolate the problem and run a proper ground to it when I get a chance to see if it will fix the problem. Otherwise, I would give it a 9/10. The audio itself is very good if I ignore the small amount of static in quieter/slower songs. I can't quite figure out what the difference is between CD and iPod connection through the grom unit, but there is still a bit of a difference.

USB: I only tried the USB connection on the first unit I had, but I'm assuming it will be the same with this one. I would rank it as a 9/10. USB never had the static on my first unit and it played perfect. I'll try it on my current unit as soon as I get a chance. Let me know if this is the mode you are interested in and I will expedite the process

AUX in: 8.5/10. I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of music from the AUX in. If you have heard the quality of AUX from a car that comes with it stock, you will know how AUX sounds. It works almost exactly the same with the grom unit. Which means, it's not as crisp as CD quality, but you will be hard pressed to find the differences. If you are an audiophile though, you will notice a difference. I'll note again that I did not try the mini-DIN to AUX cable or the iPod female to 3.5mm male cable to test out AUX with in the new unit as it does not have a native AUX female connection.

Bluetooth stereo: I've been trying out this mode more and more recently, and I would have to give it a 6/10. When I originally did the write-up, I had very little time with it so I could not tell much of a difference between bluetooth and the iPod connection. This mode actually sounds kind of echoey and distant. I have all equalizer functions turned off on my iPhone, but the sound still seems to be in sort of a stadium setting. The volume is also a bit lower in bluetooth mode. There is also a bit of a high pitched whine that you can hear if you turn up the volume a bit. I've heard similar things from others so I'm not the only one with this problem.

Hope that helps. If you have further questions, don't hesitate to ask

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post #6 of 60 Old 06-19-2011, 05:16 PM
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Great information. After some thinking I'm just going to go with the AUX in option so I can use the music player I have on my droid. Do you think the newer mini-DIN cable would be better or worse quality than yours? Also would you recommend any other brand other than Grom just an aux in interface?

Thank you again sir,
Jordan
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post #7 of 60 Old 06-19-2011, 05:27 PM
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Where did you order the GROM unit from?

IPOD connection is going to be my next mod. I really favor the factory, more stealthy look, so changing the radio is out of the question.

Last edited by kenny; 06-19-2011 at 05:29 PM. Reason: didn't post enough.
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post #8 of 60 Old 06-23-2011, 01:01 PM Thread Starter
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Hey guys,

Sorry for the late reply. I've been very busy lately but I'll answer the questions now.

Jordan,

I honestly have no idea how the AUX connection on the newer units will sound. I would guess it would be the same as the older ones, and if that is true, I think you will be very happy with the quality.

Also, if you are just looking for the AUX input, there are cheaper options available from GROM. They have the auxillary only adapter on clearance for $45.99. Alternatively, they also have a unit which is $69.99 which comes with AUX, but is also upgradeable to the ipod or bluetooth connections as well down the road if you want to keep your options open.

As for other options, I've heard of Blitzsafe which offers a cheap aux input as well, but I have read it can be unreliable, so I didn't look too much into it. My main concern at the time of purchase was USB as I did not own an iPod or iPhone at the time, which is why I went with grom in the first place. I did not really look at other brands which did not have USB input so you may have to do some research there.

Kenny,

I ordered directly from the Grom Audio website. Is there another place (). They also have an ebay store I believe. I don't think there are any other places selling them, but I'm not too sure.

Also, good choice on sticking with the factory, stealthy look. Replacing the head unit with something else was completely out of the question for me as well.

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post #9 of 60 Old 06-26-2011, 10:41 AM
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Has anyone done this on an '03 acccord EX with the Nav system? The GROM compatibility guide says it will work but I'd just like to hear some direct feedback from someone with my same model
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post #10 of 60 Old 07-29-2011, 03:35 PM
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I just installed my GROM! I ordered the auxillary only adapter and followed your tut and everything works like a charm!! Thanks!!

word. The NAV still works in my 04. I reckon it'll still work in your 03 as well.

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post #11 of 60 Old 07-29-2011, 03:45 PM Thread Starter
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I just installed my GROM! I ordered the auxillary only adapter and followed your tut and everything works like a charm!! Thanks!!

word. The NAV still works in my 04. I reckon it'll still work in your 03 as well.
gatorrich,

I'm glad the tutorial helped you! Also good to hear it works well with the NAV system. I don't have NAV so I couldn't chime in on that one.

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post #12 of 60 Old 07-29-2011, 06:25 PM
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gatorrich,

I'm glad the tutorial helped you! Also good to hear it works well with the NAV system. I don't have NAV so I couldn't chime in on that one.
Actually, I don't have NAV. For some reason I got NAV and XM confused (my wife was bothering me when I posted that). Anyways, it works with XM. Sorry for the confusion.

One thing I didn't do was drill a hole in the cubby. I haven't decided how I want to route the cable. So for now I just have it sticking out from in between the trim. I'm thinking it would be nice to put a female aux plug in the cubby or like in the 8th gen, in the console.


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post #13 of 60 Old 07-29-2011, 06:56 PM
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Maybe something like this....or better yet, finding the OEM plug for a 8th gen. Know where I can get one?





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post #14 of 60 Old 07-30-2011, 06:22 PM
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Are you able to retain steering wheel control with an iPod using this device?
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post #15 of 60 Old 07-31-2011, 10:40 AM
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Does the head unit display any song info such as title or artist when used with the USB or iPod, or does it just show track number?
I have the USASPEC unit now and I am happy with the sound quality but am looking to upgrage to one with USB and Bluetooth capibility.


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