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Highlander Hybrid Audio & Entertainment Questions

PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 5,960
edited April 27 in Toyota
Have a question or advice on ipods, DVDs, stereos, satellite radio or other fun add ons for your THH? This is the place to discuss them

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  • Other than the cassette, the other solutions available include the FM transmitter (Belkin, itrip, dPod, etc). These work for any car except you have to find the frequency that works for your area (which becomes a bit of a pain of you travel a lot!). The only other things to consider when purchasing these are wether you wish to charge (or keep it charged) while using the device (adds some $ to the cost) or simply drain over a day's usage and then recharge at home base.

    I still wish that with an add stereo OPTION available on the HH, it came WITH a simple single pin input jack on the console!

    Someone mentioned that there IS an option if one is not using the NAV....explain, please.

    pg
  • I have tried a few of the FM transmitters without much luck. Most of the frequencies around Boston are filled so it is very tough to find a clear station. It seems you lose a lot of sound quality with the FM transmitters.

    I have the Belkin auto kit to charge and take advantage of the sound out of the bottom of the iPod. I am still in search of a cleaner solution.

    I agree about adding an aux input for the sound system.

    What is it about the NAV that is not compatible? Is it more than not hearing the voice commands?
  • I just had an after market installation of XM that integrates fully with the display. It's working like a charm. I purchased it from PriusXM. They are branching out to other Vehicles and also do Sirius for the Highlander. It looks exactly as displayed on the site for PriusXM.com. I had it installed by them (they are located in NJ).
  • jbolltjbollt Posts: 734
    Sorry, I can't answer your question, but feel compeled to comment. You say it willbe almost impossible to go on long trips without chaos? LOL We had 3 kids within 4 years, oldest a girl, then 2 boys...and we took LOTS of road trips since they were younger than yours are now. Sometimes it was (ahem) "noisey" in the car, but we seemed to survive with playing games, and other road trips activities. Lots of quality time. We also limited their TV time while at home. Today, they have all turned into nice young adults...20, 23, and 24.

    Don't know how I would react now, with the availability of DVDs in cars.

    signed "old codger" ;-)
  • otis1otis1 Posts: 142
    There was a post some time ago that stated ANY modification to the electrical system could void the warrenty- including DVD players. I called Toyota about this and of course they gave me a VAGUE non-answer. So we went out to Walmart and picked up a portable DVD player ($240) that has 2 separate screens which attach to the front head rests. (this is in our current car and will eventually make it to our HH) This way we don't 'tap' into any electrical lines and absolutely no way toyota can deny a warrenty claim should it come up.

    I gotta think if a dealer installs a DVD system, there's no way they could void the warrenty. But personally I've heard estimates of $1500-2000 for the flip down screen (the kind I don't like anyway).

    Now I'm compelled to say that having a DVD system in a car is not necessarily a 'bad' thing (unless your trying to watch and drive at the same time). Just because our generation didn't have it available to us as kids, doesn't mean it interferes with family life today.
  • I was surprised about the comments on the sound system. One of the first things my husband (a guy who is into good sound) noticed was the quality of the sound system. Is it different in the Limited HH than the others?? I was really happy that it had a tape player as a lot of the newer cars have eliminated that feature and I'm big on books on tape on car trips.

    I also tend to think being way into "ear" is a guy thing. I think most women just want something they can play music on with decent speakers (house or vehicle) and most guys get really esoteric about it.

    There was an editorial in our paper the other day trashing people who bought hybrid SUVs and I sent the guy (he's in Seattle) a long e-mail. I got an automated response back that he is on vacation until Sept. 6th but I'lI be curious to see if I hear from him. . . .He sure painted an odd picture. . .like we are getting tons of money back from the government and that the hybrid SUVs get crummy mileage and we are all a bunch of gas guzzling yuppies sort of thing.

    mmreid
  • The stereo quality most likely depends on the type of music one plays.

    We played jazz, light oldie rock, marching band and some classical on our long trips and almost all sounded wonderful with tonally clear instruments and tight bass. For a car stereo, it is also very "quiet" with no noticeable background noise. The silky smooth silent ride made listening to music in this car a pleasure.

    We did notice the "mush boomy" bass when it plays pieces that demand really low bass or really wide dynamics so we just skipped them and played on. JBL is well known for good tight bass so it is most likely the HH's interior that is "mushing" the last few hz. This is no different than setting up home stereo to sound its best. Often, home acoustic also cannot provide that last few hz of sound.
  • aec1aec1 Posts: 21
    I called Vaistech in Colorado because they produce a fully integrated XM radio unit for the Navi in the Lexus and I think they did it in the 4 Runner. They told me if the HH Navi is XM ready that I could probably get a local high end audio installer to put it in for me. I called a local dealership and spoke to parts and service and they were clueless. I went online and got a number for Toyota and asked if the Navi unit in the HH is XM ready. They kept me on hold for about 5 or 6 minutes and came back to tell me that it is not XM ready, though the Avalon, 4 Runner and Camry are. I would hate to get a state of the art vehicle and have to put a $150 transmitter that is FM modulated and would lack any real sound quality. Not really a good reason to rule out a vehicle and I will test drive one and see what after-market additions are possible without ruining the interior aesthetics.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,090
    A few people have complained of no XM on the RX400h also. If it had not come on my new GMC PU truck with 3 months service I would have never tried it. Now I don't like driving any of our other vehicles that don't have XM. XM is great! It is strange that Toyota did not include it in their top of the line vehicles.
  • Prius XM in New Jersey just came out with a XM unit for the HH. It sells for 395 or 495 installed if you are close by. I know the kit they produced for the Prius was well received so I think the HH model will be up to par. I have never really listened to any XM. I am waiting for an integrated iPod solution to come out. The XM kit does list the track and artist and has no extra switches from what I can tell.

    http://www.factoryinteractive.com/HighlanderXM/

    Maybe I will put it on my Christmas list.
  • falcononefalconone Posts: 1,726
    My friend went to PriusXM and had it installed. Guy did a beatiful job. Glad to hear he has a kit for the HH. What is strange is that in the Prius there is a SAT choice when you press MODE. Maybe it will be in the 2006 model. If you want it for the HH, the person who runs PriusXM makes a DVD video showing how to install it. Once you have XM, you never go back to broadcast radio.
  • aec1aec1 Posts: 21
    Thanks. I called the company and spoke to John. They are about 30 miles outside NY and he says the system fits seamlessly w/the Navi unit. He has a Prius. If I end up w/the HH, I will spend a day outside of NY getting this system installed.
  • Jon did a fantastic job on the installation of XM on my Prius. I am going to have him do my HH later this year. The PriusXM system works seamlessly with the touchscreen system. It offers 3 sets of 6 preset stations and displays artist/song on the screen. The system works perfectly with the Toyota system. I could not recommend a product/company more. :)
  • and WOW does it sound nice, even on the original crappy speakers (which Tweeter will liberate tomorrow). I got it from www.factoryinteractive.com and spent a few hours installing it. Not a cake walk but with the awesome instructional DVD (which I watched twice) I tried it and was successful.

    It adds modes to the AM button and inserts 3 SAT modes between AM and FM when you use the MODE button on the steering wheel.

    This kit is only for the Highlander Hybrid. They also make a kit for the Prius.

    Well... That slays my biggest complaint about the car. I guess after the new speakers I'll just have to be happy cruising in the coolest SUV ever! :shades:
  • Does the installation involve removing panels, or other parts, to access the wiring harness(es)? What tools were needed?....I'm interested in doing the same, but would like to know what's involved before taking the plunge. Thanks.
  • As I recall it was a 10mm socket, a small blade screwdriver, a pair of scissors (used twice to cut nylon ties that you install to hold onto wires) a towel and a drop of dishwashing detergent (for prepping antenna space on the rear of the vehicle roof). At NO point do you cut or even tap any wires, or drill any holes.

    Wall panels and kickplates had to be moved temporarily but it really wasn't bad because you get to watch the entire process on the instructional DVD. I kept it paused and would go back to it when I had a question. It sounds more intimidating than it really is and the end result is nothing short of dramatic.

    The receiver unit (which gets installed under the rear heater controls in the passenger side rear wheel well) even says TOYOTA on it, so it's no accident that it works so smoothly. And if after watching the video you decide to go somewhere and get it professionally installed, this is still IMHO the BEST XM option because of the tight integration with the vehicle's systems (controlled by NAV screen and steering wheel controls). After you are done, the antenna is the only sign that you did anything. All other cables, etc disappear when the panels are snapped back in.

    I would do it again without hesitation.

    Good luck and have fun!
  • bob259bob259 Posts: 280
    Rodney12, How does that rear antenna mount so the cable doesn't show? If I get one I don't want it to look like an add on and have a cable running over the weather stripping/roof.
  • They have you mount the antenna on the right rear roof just forward of the opening for the hatch, about 2.5 inches or so. The cable does cross the weatherstrip (after a short drip loop they have you make to avoid a water problem) and go behind the trim where it is never seen again (after it is installed of course). There is also a piece of black adhesive that is used where the cable makes the 90 degree turn to follow the surface contour just below where it is installed.

    I perhaps have the same aesthetic concern as you, but (at least on my black HiHy) it does not scream "look at me" at all. It is, in fact, virtually invisible with the hatch closed and not in a place you're generally looking when its open.

    As I see it there are a few options in general when adding XM to a vehicle. There's the 'stick it to the roof' option employed here, the 'stick it to the windshield' on the inside, and the dreaded 'drill a hole in your car' option. I think they made a good choice in this case.

    From inside the vehicle there is no sign that anything has been done, until you turn on the radio of course. I hope this helps.
  • Thanks for your posts. I just ordered my XM kit, and I plan to install it within the next two weekends, or so. Will let you know how it goes.
  • bob259bob259 Posts: 280
    Thanks, this helps. Any chance of posting or sending some pictures?
  • The kit arrived on Fri, and I successfully installed it on Sat (12/3) within a few hours. The included instructional DVD was incredibly helpful; especially for one who's done nothing more than change burnt-out bulbs.

    It was a bit difficult to remove some of the panels though, as they were much tighter than the DVD implies. I was sorely tempted to buy one of those tools that can pry open panels without scratching them. Fortunately, patience prevailed and no fingernails were broken in the process. Also, for the uninitiated, like me, the loud popping sounds made while removing the panels was a bit disconcerting.

    This is my very first satellite radio, and I love it. So much so, that I purchased a portable receiver, Tao xm2go, for my husband.

    Only one problem though:
    The song Title & Artist fields are truncated to only 10 characters, or so. Is this normal?
  • I sent an email to Factory Interactive. The response was that the text truncation is a "limit imposed by the vehicle".

    This is disappointing, especially given the relatively high cost of the kit when compared to other satellite radio options.

    That being said, any of you know of a way around this alleged vehicle limitation?
  • I have noticed this as well. I'm guessing somewhere in the design process someone was thinking more "Cher", less "The Dave Matth".

    Anyhow, I still think that it's integration is worth every penny. I have nothing against aftermarket, I just really like the changes I make to be invisibile.

    If there is a fix I hope you find it or it finds you (service flash somewhere down the line).

    Good Luck!
  • So, I'm very happy with my Highlander Hybrid. We've had it since July 1. The power steering failed within the first month (computer problem) but otherwise it has been great. But I'm not too impressed with the Limited's JBL "premium" sound system. I'm thinking the biggest bang for the buck, and the least invasive place to start is with the speakers. Crutchfeld doesn't have detailed specs for the 2006 HH, so I'm wondering if anyone on the board knows exactly what will fit?

    Specifically, I'm looking at the Polk component speakers in their db series, like maybe the db6750. Anyone know if a 6.75 inch woofer and 1 inch tweeter and crossover will fit into the Highlander front and/or back doors without any modification? Also ,is it pretty easy to get the door panel apart to access the speakers?

    Any input would be appreciated.

    Thanks!

    -Chris
  • Hi boylan1,
    Can you please elaborate on weaknesses of the stock speakers? There have been a few posts here regarding this but nothing specific. I would love to know your views.

    I am not expert in car stereo but did dabble in better home audio and it normally is not just the speakers. I heard a friend's home $20K all vacuum tube CA/pre-amp/amplifier driving a pair of $500 speakers and they sing straing into my soul. He uses good cables of course (Nordost Valhalla) to connect all the components.

    He told me 2 "opinion"-of-thumb :-) for car stereo:
    1. First change should result in noticeable difference.
    2. Identify and address your needs step by step starting with source components.

    This means knowing what you dislike about the stock system and then systematically and slowly add things to improve it. The weakness may be poor focus and image, lack of depth and clarity, mush bass, no midrange. These things could be speaker mounting is in the wrong place or the speakers are not properly protected from resonance. Resonance in the car can cause the sound to smear. It may be cheap wires, poor quality CD player or amplifier.

    The first things to change then may be the CD player or the amp or the cables depending on which is the most likely culprit. The last thing to change would be the speakers.

    A good shop should be willing to work with you through this to install a custom system in your car.

    This is how he put together his home system, 1 component at a time.

    Just my 2 cents, and if you are already an audiophile, please forgive my rant. :-)
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    Considering that the ambient noise level in most cars at highway speed is at least 70Db (LS430) the first thing you might want to consider is a musical content preprocessing program so that you can copy your CDs to new copies to be used exclusively in a car.

    The preprocessing software would raise the low volume music passages to at least 70Db so you could hear them in the car without constantly fiddling with the volume control.

    Since music often contains passages as high as 120Db if you simply left the volume constant the 190Db result would undoubtedly damage your hearing permanently.
  • I agree, the kit's seamless integration with the existing stereo/nav system is a big plus.

    I absolutely love the sound quality of satellite radio. I never realized before just how good it is compared to regular broadcast radio.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,090
    preprocessing software would raise the low volume music passages to at least 70Db

    Excellent idea. We have a lot of classical CD's that have a very wide dynamic range. I find myself turning up the Pepe Romero guitar solos, then down when the whole Orchestra comes in. Do you have a software you like for this change in dynamics?
  • Hi discussion1,

    I've been into high-end audio and home theater since I was about 13, and have written professionally about audio gear for about 6 years in Enjoy The Music and now Big Picture Big Sound magazines. My main rig at home features all Martin Logan electrostatic speakers, a Conrad-Johnson tube amp and other fairly esoteric gear. I won't get into debates about ultra-expensive cables or the value of high quality electronics - if your friend enjoys what he does, isn't mortgaging the house to pay for speaker cables and is happy with the results, then more power to him!

    But a car is far from the controlled listening environment of the home and the priorities of a car system are different than those of a home system. Specifically, my Toyota dealer intimated that changes to electrical components of the Highlander Hybrid (of which the stock head unit is certainly an electrical component) may void the car's warranty. This is why, he tells me, the dealers are not authorized to install the DVD entertainment system on the Highlander Hybrid, among other things.

    So I'm thinking that changing the speakers is the simplest, most non-invasive change and if it does not make a dramatic difference in ths sound (which I believe it will) then it will allow me to at least assess the performance of the rest of the components.

    As for the stock JBL speakers... To me they sound tubby, thumpy and a little thin. Certainly not the worst I have heard, but definitely worth experimenting with replacements.

    So if anyone here has experience with replacing the speakers and/or has details on the size or replacements, then please feel free to chime in.

    Thanks,

    -Chris
  • I have an '01 non-hybrid HL with the "premium" JBL sound system and agree the "premium" adjective is only perhaps marginally justified.

    There is quite a bit of info on upgrading the HLs sound system's components on the Toyota Highlander Owners: Accessories & Modifications board so definitely check it out.

    My vague recollection is the HL speaker size is 5-1/2" to 5-3/4"; I suspect the 6-1/2"ers wouldn't readily fit assuming the HH is the same as the '01 HL in this respect. I was able to mount the 5-3/4" drivers easily enough but for the 1" tweeters I ended up gluing them to the inside of the door panel. For the rears I used coaxials to keep it simple. See post 602 in discussion Toyota Highlander Owners: Accessories & Modifications for info on removing door panels on the HL; is probably identical for the HH.

    General consensus on the HL sound system near as I can tell is upgrading any of the three components will improve the sound (HU/amp/speakers); each has it's short comings. But once again the aforementioned discussion has detailed info on various poster's experiences. My guess is the HU will have the most affect, the amp next, and the speakers last. But myself I'd leave the HU to last just because I prefer not upsetting the aesthetics of the HL interior, though the '04 and later HL/HH are less affected by the styling of aftermarket head units by virtue of the bold styling of their interiors contrasted to the more sedate styling of that of the '01-'03s, which are more sensitive to some of those aftermarket HUs that look like they belong in a Las Vegas casino.

    Since we have audiophiles here and I'm relatively new to car audio I have a question. My HL has modestly-priced aftermarket speakers that exhibit a very boomy frequency hump centered around 120 Hz. If one were to design a equalization filter to compensate for the peaks and valleys in the frequency response as measured by a sound-power level meter with a test disk with sinusodial tones, would this result in marginal-sounding speakers in the low end sounding way better, or will they still sound cheap? My roommate doesn't think it will work as he contends the marginal quality results from non-linear cone distortion rather than from frequency response variation. I sort of suspect he's right; it's my hunch too that buying more expensive (and better sounding) speakers will be more effective than designing an equalization filter (which by the way I've already done using active filter topology but have been too lazy to put it together these past three years).
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