Subaru Forester: Audio & Entertainment Systems

tidestertidester Member Posts: 10,059
Discuss them here!


  • kate5000kate5000 Member Posts: 1,271
    Can anyone recommend an aftermarket system for Subaru Forester that plays CD, has AM/FM radio and integrated in-dash 6 disc cd changer?

    This what I had in my old car:

    and I'd like to get a similar unit (ok, less cassette) for a new car. Subaru OEM one is very expensive, so I'm looking at aftermarket first.
  • terry92270terry92270 Member Posts: 1,247
    I would check out From my browsing, they seem to have an online tool that makes getting the right unit a snap.....
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    The size fitment is single-DIN or double-DIN, the latter requiring that you remove the storage box below your current radio. I did this with both my '98 Forester and my wife's '02 Legacy.

    You can actually spring for NAV + CD changer, I've seen them for $1299 at Crutchfield. I know that's steep, but you're getting both, and all integrated. Search by model and they pop up.

  • madhat53madhat53 Member Posts: 6
    I have a 2006 Subaru Forester 2.5X with a standard stereo system. I am getting XM Satellite Radio and have several questions.

    1. Does the stereo have an auxillary port in the back that I can connect directly to the XM Satellite Radio?
    2. Where is the best place to mount the XM Satellite Radio? Custom Mount between stereo and glove box, Cup Holder, Tape onto Dashboard?
    3. Has anyone used the FM Transmitter and was it effective?
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    The 07 models will get an aux input, but 06 models don't, as far as I know.

    07 models also get Sirius as a factory option, but you said XM.

    I think Subaru folks have used in-line antennae plugs, ask the Legacy guys because they do that a lot.

  • terry92270terry92270 Member Posts: 1,247
    I own the same car, beautiful Gold Pearl one. :)

    I beleive ateixeira is talking about the factory installed, integrated radios that come equiped for satellite, not after-market units.

    I mounted the control in the middle of the console, just back from the parking brake. It covers one of the seat heater switches, however it is easy to tilt the unit and reach the switch when needed. My unit is the Delphi SkiFi2.

    Before, when I had Sirrius, they placed the control unit inside the dash compartment, attached the slim unit with velcro to the back side of it. I just lifted the lid, and it was easy to see or grab (it had a long cord) or the passenger could use the remote. That worked well too.

    I have not seen a unit with a port on the back, but that doesn't mean they don't have one. Check the XM site.

    The sound is excellent. I have the woofer/tweeter package, and that sure helps, especially with CD's. They mount the woofer/amp under the drivers or passenger seat.
  • madhat53madhat53 Member Posts: 6
    Thanks for the feedback. I have had my Subaru for almost 2 months and it is a joy to drive.

    I talked to the Subaru dealer (he gets this call several times a month) and there is no auxillary input in the standard Subaru radio. I am thinking about buying a satellite mount that goes into the cigarette lighter and that allows me to switch the satellite radio between cars. That way i do not put a sticky piece of tape on the dashboard or console.

    I am now looking at adding the tweeter and subwoofer/amplifier at a cost of $475 installed by the Subaru dealer. Any opinions on whether this will significantly"> enhance my sound or am I wasting my money?
  • terry92270terry92270 Member Posts: 1,247
    Yes, it will. You do need to make sure to tell them to turn up the gain adjustments, more than half way. ;) I didn't and had to unbolt the holding bracket, dig it out from under the seat, and use a small driver to adjust them.

    If you do the mounting where I did, it will not be in your way, and those units, most of them I think, now unplug from their mounting, and you can take it inside and use them there, or in a boom box. :) This type you could also switch between cars. Mine is screwed down. It will make the cars resale better.
  • madhat53madhat53 Member Posts: 6
    Thanks for the advice on the tweeter/sub-woofer and mountng on the satellite radio. I definitely will have them put the gain more than half way on the sub-woofer.

    My satellite radio is the Samsung Nexus 50 and the docking station has to be vertical. The mounting equipment included in the car kit will only work on the dash or vents. I really do not want to tape something to the car dash as I think it will spoil the look.

    I was looking at using the cup holder mount, passenger seat mount, or the cigarette lighter mount. The cup holder mount does not give me a good view of the satellite radio and I lose a cup holder. The passenger seat mount bolts onto the passenger seat and is an option I'm still considering but I'm concerned if it will be in the way when someone is in the passenger seat. The cigarette lighter will sit below the radio but will block the various dials that control the heating/air conditioning.

    Sorry I got so long winded. Thanks again for the feedback.
  • terry92270terry92270 Member Posts: 1,247
    How about you having them drill a tiny hole in the bottom of the dash storage compartment, and put the unit in there? Not like you are looking at it all that much while driving....
  • madhat53madhat53 Member Posts: 6
    Well, I finally purchased a Pioneer 6800 stereo radio/cd from Circuit City with a detachable face plate and they installed the tweeters (did not get the subwoofer). The radio has an aux port under the face plate but I have to tilt the radio open to connect the XM satellite adapter. The radio plays in that position but I would prefer to have it in it's normal postion.

    In a post above, ateixeira mentioned removing the storage box below the radio for Nav + 6 cd changer.
    While I do not want to remove the storage box, I want to remove the storage door so I can plug in the XM Satellite adapter without tilting the radio.

    Does anyone know if the storage box door can be removed and can I do this or should the Subaru service department?

    FYI, the radio sounds great and really brings out the stock speakers I have in the car.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    It's just plastic.

    I have one with a lid, and one without. They came out of our Forester and Legacy, but I forget which came from which.

    I suppose you could remove it and saw a hole with a jigsaw or a Dremel, then pull the wires through there.

    Looks like it would fit an MP3 player, too.

  • gocerygettengocerygetten Member Posts: 13
    I put the tweeter and subwoofer kit in my 2007 2.5x and what a difference.Sounds great. I also installed the 6 disc in the dash and looks great. I dont feel i wasted my money. If anything put in the tweeters, very easy to do yourself. :)
  • fitbetfitbet Member Posts: 2
    I need clarity about the sound system issue-is it better to purcahse tweeters and sub woofer or just get Subaru to install theirs -I have the 6 disc with four speakers. Thanks for the input!
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    I have the premium sound speakers (2 ways), and they are slightly better, but you can probably do better in the aftermarket for the price.

    The tweeters are good, though. I hear good things about them consistently.

  • madhat53madhat53 Member Posts: 6
    I have standard Subaru speakers (no subwoofer), added the tweeters to my aftermarket Pioneer radio and the sound was great. The wife is now driving the Subaru and did not like the Pioneer radio so I put back in the stock Subaru radio and the tweeters still make a difference in the sound quality but not as much as when the Pioneer was in the car.

    I debated the subwoofer but did not put it in as I'm not a huge bass person. I agree that aftermarket speakers would be a better investment than the upgraded Subaru speakers.
  • billatthebeachbillatthebeach Member Posts: 10
    We have an '07 Forester Premium version that's supposed to have 120 watts of sound. It sounds to me like about 5 or 10. The radio/CD unit says model "6 CD Changer C-123." Does anybody else have the same impression as me? Did we get the correct model of stereo?
    (I originally asked about this in the wrong forum.)
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    120 watts means peak output, by the way. I'm sure the peak for sustained sound is much lower.

    Subaru isn't exactly known for great audio. They're passable, but audiophiles should go aftermarket, where you'll find higher quality and better value.
  • jefbakjefbak Member Posts: 19
    '07 Forester Premium purchased in January. All of a sudden I can only access CD1 Play/Eject/Load.

    The other 5 discs can no longer be accessed or ejected. They are stuck in the unit and I can't play them. All was working fine until now.

    Any quick fix for this or am I going have to get it serviced?

    :confuse: :mad:
  • knewtknewt Member Posts: 1
    My radio reception was working up until a week ago and then just quit. It's like the antenna cable was disconnected. I have gone over all connections and still can't get it to work. After the car is started, the radio kinda works for about 15 seconds then slowly fades out and all I hear is static. has anyone had any problems with the antenna amplifier?

    My car is a 2001 Subaru Forester that I have had for about 3 years. The only problems that I have had are the Knock Sensor and the radio. The Knock Sensor was easy to replace. Now if I can just get the radio working again...

    Thank you
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    I swapped out my stock stereo on my Forester. It's pretty standard, nothing out of the ordinary. The antennae just plugs in to the back of the stereo, same as my Mazda, my wife's Legacy, etc.

    Do you have the in-glass antennae? Maybe that connection cracked?
  • jspectorjspector Member Posts: 2
    I have a 2001 Forester. The other day, the car's battery was draining out (car wouldn't start). The in-dash lights worked but were very dim. Then I heard a slight whirring sound coming from the factory instaled AM/FM/CD player. Anyone ever hear about a CD-player being "stuck" in play position? (There was no CD in the unit). Thanks.
  • dkaronisdkaronis Member Posts: 1
    I have a 2007 Forester x model. Is it possible to swap out the standard factory installed sound system for an ipod friendly model ?? I don't want to compromise my warranty so is this something Subaru can do ? Does subaru sell an ipod ready sound system for the 2007 forester x ? Thank you.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    I believe it's still a double-DIN sized opening, isn't it?

    I did so on my 1998 model, to put in a 6CD changer out of a WRX. The harness fit plug-n-play.

    So it might be easier if you used a Subaru stereo, perhaps from a newer model that has features you want.
  • georgiamangeorgiaman Member Posts: 16

    I have a 2005 Subaru Forester 2.5X. Everything else on this car is great except that the AC cannot keep up with Georgia summers. So I am planning to get the Windows tinted. But I noticed that the factory-installed radio's antenna is embedded in the rear quarter window. If I use metallic film to tint that window, will it hurt the radio reception? I am looking at Scotchtint FX-HP 35 film.

  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    It shouldn't, given the film will be on the inside, so the antennae will still lie outside the tint film.
  • nanceannlvlnanceannlvl Member Posts: 1
    My DH drove my Subaru last week. He said when he got in, he just turned the radio off. Since then, I can't get it to come on. He tried changing out the fuse, no luck. It is just dead, like it's not getting electricity to it at all. Any recommendations? I generally drive 45 miles at least each way to work, so silence is a little deafening.
  • arnabcarnabc Member Posts: 27
    okay, so the one thing i really dislike about my new forester (premium package) is the less than premium sound on the default audio system. what are my upgrade options?
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    Well, it may be cheaper to replace vs. fixing it. It's fairly easy, too, if you can do-it-yourself (search for instructions).

    The dash openings are double-DIN sized, so it's fairly standard and leaves you lots of options. I put a 6CD changer from a WRX in to my old 98 Forester and it was a cake walk.

    In fact it went so well that I did the same thing for my wife's 2002 Legacy, which was actually a little harder (one out-of-the-way bolt made it harder).

    The harnesses were all interchangeable so it was plug and play. It was easier than I expected.

    I bought both used for $110-150 or so IIRC.
  • arnabcarnabc Member Posts: 27
    has nobody updated their sound systems on the 2.5x premiums? or looked into the various options?

    does simply getting the tweeter package improve things significantly or would i be better off replacing the speakers entirely? (can't replace the head unit having just invested a lot of money into the subaru ipod interface.)
  • arnabcarnabc Member Posts: 27
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    Mine are still stock.

    What I've heard, in general, is that the tweeters are worth it. Subwoofer is debatable, you can probably do better for the price of the OE, but it won't be as integrated.

    To be honest Subaru's audio stuff is really only so-so, even the upgraded stuff. It's just not their strength.

    I think they'll soon add audio upgrade options - it's a rumor for the next Legacy.
  • red927red927 Member Posts: 118

    Did you ever check if you get sound from the rear speakers when in the enhanced SRS mode?

  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    No, we had a crazy weekend and we drove the van around the whole time.

    My wife will be out tonight taking the kids to Dance, maybe someone else can check on that?

  • newsubielovernewsubielover Member Posts: 1
    I just purchased a new Forester from dealer stock. The radio is satellite radio compatible, which means that the dealership wants to sell me a XM unit for $390 plus installation. Are there any compatible alternatives?
  • caliberchiccaliberchic Member Posts: 402
    Yes you can purchase a receiver independently and have an audio shop install for you. I paid $150 for my installation and about $80 for my receiver.
  • red927red927 Member Posts: 118
    After several weeks with a new radio (6CD Changer w/SRS), I have now started using the radio without the enhanced surround sound. It just sounds better. I have also noticed that in irder to hear the radio, I have to boost the volume up to between 18-22. That is ridiculous. The radio in my wife's Outback LL Bean is too loud at volume 8.

    I broke down and called Subaru Customer Service at about 1:00PM and expressed my dissatisfaction. The rep took down the information and said that he would research this and get back to me later this afternoon. I said OK.

    Much to my surprise, he did call me about 6:15PM with a response. He said that I would not be happy with what he found out. I got the "that's the way its supposed to be" response. In all fairness, the rep told me that the technical department guy told him that he was also not satisfied with the quality of the sound system in the car. He said he knows because he has one too. I mentioned that it would have been better if Subaru put the new HK system in the high end Foresters for 2009. He said he didn't disagree.

    The Customer Service rep said that he was going to e-mail the manufacturer my questions and if he gets a response from Panasonic then he will contact me.

    Although I am not pleased with the answers I received, I am pleased with the time it took to get an answer.

    I'll keep everyone posted.

  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    Well, not all radio volumes are the same.

    My van sounds right at around 18-20 or so.

    My Miata I have to crank up to 30 to hear when the top is down. 22 the rest of the time.

    My old Subaru only needed 6 or 8. My wife's new Subaru needs more, though.

    They all use different scales.
  • sdsmithsdsmith Member Posts: 1
    I ran across this forum while doing a search on factory audio systems for the Forester 2.5xx.

    I was thinking about installing the factory Sirius satellite radio, until I found out the price tag was $390.00! Considering that the existing factory system is less than stellar, I am now considering just doing retrofitting it with an aftermarket system from Crutchfield or some other supplier. The current factory system is the double DIN type "B" unit, with a 6 CD changer and aux inputs for an Ipod and satellite radio. (By the way, does anyone know who makes this for Subaru?)

    I haven't yet tried to dig into the dash to see how the cabling is configured for the system, and I hate butchering cable harnesses and chassis mounts. I was curious as to whether anyone on the forum has had any experiences, either negative or positive, with an aftermarket system.

    I am an audio engineer by profession, so I know how to tackle the technical issues, but I'm unfamiliar with the wiring configuration of this particular vehicle (especially the control interface)

    As others have noted here, Subaru is not particularly known for their audio systems, but I love the car otherwise (OK, the road noise it a little excessive). The major weakness of the existing factory unit is the FM band. In a congested RF area (I live in Chicago), it has terrible problems with intermodulation and signal overload.

    Given all this, it would seem that I might be better off just chucking the existing system and replacing it with something which (hopefully) has better performance. However, I don't want to end up with bastardized system which makes a mess of the dash.

    I would welcome any comments from those who have "been there, done that".

  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    Well, it's a double-DIN opening, so you have tons of options.

    If I were going to go through that much trouble, I'd probably install one with a GPS. You may want to consider that.
  • gocerygettengocerygetten Member Posts: 13
    I put an aftrmarket radio in my 08 forester sports and could not be happier with it. I put in a Kenwood touch screen DD unit and it looks great,sounds great and with sirius radio, and full Ipod control it much better than the factory radio. I purchase the plug so you dont cut any car wire and can wire it up to the radio in you house and just plug it into the car harness. I put in a kenwood ddx512. and like I said it looks much better than the factory radio and the touch screen is waaaaay coool.I can add on navigation later if I want. :)
  • kmo170kmo170 Member Posts: 1
    I checked around and it looks like the head unit (indash 6 disk changer c-123) is made by Clarion. I took mine out of the dash and it has the square 13 pin connector that only Clarion uses.
    Does any know where the sirius tuner goes?
    I am going to get the Clarion adapter and universal Sirius tuner and save $250.00 over the factory unit, but I wanted to know where then factory unit is put. ( in the dash or in the back?)
  • gocerygettengocerygetten Member Posts: 13
    I put both under the passenger seat . The interface cla-sci has a long cord that I ran along the side of the middle counsel and out and down under the seat. It plugs into the tuner sc-c1 and I ran the antenna up under the window rubber along the luggage rack and put the anntena on the back top of the roof.You cant see anything and it works great.
  • hobbit3hobbit3 Member Posts: 1
    I bought a 2009 Forester Limited X in Sept 08. Soon afterwards I realized that fading to rear speakers resulted in very little sound in the rears. I told the dealer about the problem and they asked me to bring the car in. They said that Subaru thought it could be a radio programming problem. After less than an hour they said the problem was fixed. They said that the 6-CD unit had two settings, one for SRS Surround (which they claimed was not yet available) and one for standard units. Mine was set for SRS. When they reprogrammed the radio to the standard setting with their computer hookup, the rear speakers worked fine and the front speakers sounded better (more rich sound in the front door and tweeter speakers). So if you or anyone else is having similar problems with rear speakers, you may want to have the dealer check it out as I did. Hope this helps.

    P.S. I plan to replace all four door speakers with some good aftermarket ones.
  • red927red927 Member Posts: 118
    I believe that the dealer gave you a bit of double talk. It is true that there are 2 settings on the radio but it does not need to be reprogrammed to take it off the SRS "Enhanced" Surround Sound. All you have to do is to hit the menu button and you can switch back and forth between the settings. Just remember that it is not a true surround sound system.

    As I stated in another message a few days later, Subaru says that with the SRS, the rear speakers do not produce very much sound. Many owners have noted that the sound system in the Forester is very poor. Since mine is leased I cannot do anything, but if I owned it I would definately rip out the OEM system as soon as I could.

    Good luck,

  • golfnffgolfnff Member Posts: 7
    Phil, I am also leasing but can't stand the stock system so I am swapping it out. I will just replace it back to stock when the lease is up. I can't stand living with a poor system for 3yrs.
  • jrock56jrock56 Member Posts: 5
    I just leased a 2009 forester XT Premium and i will agree, the sound system is poor!!! I almost got the 2009 outback premium, which comes with Harmon Kardon, but hte forester just rides better.

    I am leasing, but will probably do what Golfnff is doing and swap it out then swap it back. Maybe i will like the car so much after 3 years and just buy it after the lease anyway :-)
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    You ought to slap in an in-dash GPS, Kenwood makes them with Garmin navigation built-in.

    I'm thinking about doing that for my Miata.
  • medic481medic481 Member Posts: 32
    edited August 2010
    Has anyone purchased the XM kit and installed it themselves? Would love to hear if it's possible and how hard it is. Don't feel like paying the dealer's inflated price. I can buy the XM install kit online for $318, not the $400 the dealer quoted (less labor!).
  • medic481medic481 Member Posts: 32
    I just installed the XM module and antenna in my 2010 Forester. It was really painless, taking about 1 hour or so. Subaru provides all the parts you'll need, and everything fits perfectly, without any adjustments needed. The instructions they provide are like the ones you get at Ikea, pictures with no words. If you aren't good with interpreting drawings like this, you may want to get someone to help, as some of the illustrations can be a little confusing to figure out. The antenna installation is the dicey part- you have to remove a trim clip on the driver's side A post by inserting a screwdriver underthe airbag assembly, being very careful not to damage it. If you do, it will have to be replaced, meaning $$$$. To remove the interior trim, order a set of nylon trim removal tools from JC Whitney (still the best) for about $15 bucks. They won't leave marks on the plastic trim. I had the radio up and running in no time, and it sounds great. I ordered the kit online from Subaru parts mall for $318. The dealer wanted close to $500 to install it. Next project: installing the tweeter speaker kit in the doors.
Sign In or Register to comment.