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S2000.org Mods - Installing an Aftermarket Head Unit

Author: Todd Marcucci

The factory S2000 head unit isn't bad, but it certainly doesn't fall into the "spectacular" category. It certainly does not befit a $32k pricetag. The factory speakers are hardly worthy of a Civic, also, and if you are looking for much more power, an aftermarket head unit will simplify expansion greatly. If you are looking for a lot more power, or possibly MP3 capability, a new head unit might be for you. You can visit on-line vendors like Crutchfield for a myriad of different options.

This install will be for a Sony ES CDX-C860 CD head unit. Not only am I partial to Sony, I'm partial to this particular head. It has built-in DSP as well as sub-out and adjustable treble/bass/crossover points. It has changer controls, as well, which will come in handy if I ever get that outboard MP3 project done that I've been thinking of. The installation will be similar, though, whatever deck you get, as long as it is DIN-sized. DIN-and-a-half and double-DIN head units will NOT fit in the S2000, period.

What You Need
- Phillips head screwdriver
- Scosche or similar factory wiring adapter (see below)
- Quick disconnect/bullet connectors (to match your head unit/adapter)
- Wire cutters/strippers

A Note on Wiring
Several different manufacturers make wiring adapters or harnesses that adapt factory wiring such that you do not need to cut or alter the factory wiring. The Honda wiring has one plug to connect to the factory radio- you will either need to cut it or buy an adapter to get it to work with your new radio.

Schosche is one such company and Crutchfield, Radio Shack, and Fry's commonly carry these kinds of adapters. If you can't find one for the S2000 specifically, one designed for '98 and up Accords or '99 and up Preludes will work fine. Harnesses prior to these years for any Honda will NOT work.

When using adapters like these, the best method of connection is to cut, solder, and heat shrink your new head unit's wiring directly to it. You can still swap over to the factory radio easily and are insured the best possible connection. Most head units come with "bullet" quick-disconnect connectors already on them. You can purchase this style of connector at Radio Shack and other electronics stores locally or on the internet. Just be sure to buy enough, Radio Shack likes to sell them in small packages of only 4-8 pairs. If you decide to use this style of connector, purchase a good crimp tool and use the proper gauge or colored dot crimp section for the connector- this will help insure a good, clean contact and ultimately a better signal.

Removing the Factory Radio
Put the shifter in 4th gear to give yourself a little more room to work. Open the radio door and pull gently on it. doing so should give you room to get your fingers down around the inside lip of the trim:

Once you get your fingers in there, you can pull straight out towards you. The bottom clips should give first, then the top ones. Try to pull straight out and not bend it upwards, otherwise you might damage the trim clips. It should come out without very much force.

You should now see 4 scews. Using the phillips driver, remove all 4:

Pull the radio out and towards you so you can get to the back. There will be one large plug (the main harness) and a small round one (the antenna). Press down on the clip on top of the large plug, then pull it out. The antenna connection just pulls right out.


Finally, remove the mounting ears on the stock radio using the phillips driver. Hang on to them, you will be transferring them to the new head unit.

Installing the New Head Unit
You can see my harness below:

I made this by cutting the Sony harness down quite a bit, as well as the Schosche, and soldering, heat shrinking, and taping them together. The result is a factory-looking harness that doesn't take up very much space. This is relatively important as there is precious little room behind the factory head unit. It would be a good idea to trim as much of the additional wiring you have, though be sure to leave enough to work with!

If you are using the bullet connectors similar to what came with your new head unit, now is the time to connect them up. The adapter you purchased should have come with a wiring diagram or color chart, and the colors should match with that of your new head unit. If you are shortening your harness or hard-wiring the harness to your head unit, do so now. Plug the adapter into the factory wiring, then into the back of your new head unit. Now is a good time to test out that wiring, before you put the head unit back into the dash! While you are doing that, don't forget to connect the antenna connector, as well.

Once you are satisfied with the electrical connections, you can mount the ears onto the new head unit:

It might be easier to do disconnect the harness to the radio first (so you can maneuver it). Most head units will come with instructions for mounting the radio, and where to put the factory screws. On the Sony shown here, there were no "Honda" markings- only Toyota and Nissan. A mix of holes, though, worked just fine. Try lining up the head unit next to the factory one (with the ears still on it) and finding a hole pattern that matches. You should not have to drill new holes, most head units will come with a matching hole pattern.

Once you finish that, reconnect the head unit to the main harness and the antenna, then slide it back into the dash. The shortened harness helped out in the installation here, as there is very little room behind the radio. With the full amount of Sony/Schosche wiring, the installation in the dash would have been a VERY tight fit. Make sure none of the wires are pinched between the deck and any metalwork in the dash (zip-tying or taping works great here) and that the deck fits nicely back into the dash (like stock). Once it is lined up properly, screw it back into place:

Replace the trim panel/door, and you're done! Enjoy your new head unit!

As always, feel free to email the author with comments, critiques, etc.

This page last updated 12/21/01.
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