Add a new car stereo, keep your car's factory features
An iDatalink Maestro makes it possible
In this article, we'll explain how the iDatalink Maestro can help you install a new stereo and retain important factory features. Read on for more details.
Upgrading the car stereo in your vehicle can be a delicate balance. On one hand, you may want to expand your audio system and add great new features you may not have now, like Apple CarPlay® or Android Auto™.
On the other hand, you may not want to give up handy factory features that can be lost when you replace a radio. And if you own a vehicle with a slick "infotainment" system, like Ford’s SYNC®, Chrysler’s UConnect®, or GM’s OnStar®, you may want to know what’s going to happen to it when you change stereos.
The right car stereo interface can save many of your favorite factory features
iDatalink’s Maestro wiring interfaces take some of the uncertainty out of adding a new car stereo. By allowing you to integrate a new stereo into your factory wiring, you can retain many of the factory features you’ve grown accustomed to, expand your sound system, and add the latest infotainment options out there. And by the way, it likely costs less than what a dealer would charge to upgrade to a “premium” sound system.
iDatalink can provide some added benefits you don't have in the factory setup, like onscreen engine gauges in action.
So, how does the Maestro work?
The Maestro smoothly translates information between your vehicle and the radio. Basically, it speaks your car's language, allowing a factory system to communicate with your new receiver and vice-versa.
The features you use every day — voice commands, Bluetooth® connectivity, steering wheel controls, and even your back-up camera — will work beautifully alongside aftermarket benefits like an HD Radio™ tuner, Garmin navigation, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. You can stay on top of what's happening with your vehicle via touchscreen access to information like tire pressure, battery voltage, check engine codes, and more in certain vehicles.
To make it work, you need three things:
- Either the iDatalink Maestro RR module or the newer Maestro RR2
- A vehicle-specific adapter for select 2006-up vehicles
- An iDatalink compatible receiver — compatible stereos are available from many popular brands, including Kenwood, Pioneer, Sony, Alpine, and JVC.
With that gear, you'll be able to enjoy the advantages of an aftermarket touchscreen receiver and keep many of your familiar factory features intact.
Don’t forget, new stereos generally offer better audio circuitry and ways to integrate amplifiers to help enhance the sound of your music even more, so add this to the list of benefits. And best of all, when you buy the Maestro package with a new receiver, we'll offer you a deep discount on it.
Setup tips and advice from a Crutchfield expert
In this video, Crutchfield's Vehicle Integration Buyer and car guru, Darren, shares his years of expertise about installing the Maestro.
Can you really get excited about wiring?
If you ask Darren, he’ll emphatically tell you “yes!” You can tell he gets into his work, especially when working with great interface options like the iDatalink Maestro. Here's what he had to say:
“iDatalink impresses me with the way they approach stereo integration. It’s very solution based. They offer the ability to retain and improve many factory features that customers have become accustomed to. Things like onscreen performance gauges, climate controls, parking gridlines for backup cameras, and vehicle diagnostics. Crutchfield happens to be the number one iDatalink dealer."
Installing the Maestro
"Basically, you update (also known as "flash") the software in the Maestro RR module. You connect it to a USB port on your computer and input your vehicle information on iDatalink's website. Once that's done, you plug the harness into the serial port on a compatible radio and connect the remaining wires for the speakers and power. The Maestro smoothly translates information between your vehicle and the radio. That's how it can offer the features I mentioned above. So cool!"
Well said, Darren. And for the Maestro RR2, things get even cooler. You can now connect the RR2 to your phone via Bluetooth to flash the module right on your workbench in a matter of minutes. You can also flash the module once you've connected the Maestro RR2 to the vehicle-specific harness and your vehicle's wiring harness — you don't even need to turn your vehicle on. Furthermore, this means that if you want to make changes or update software later, you don’t have to remove the radio from the dash to flash the module behind it. Huge timesaver!
iDatalink offers handy videos on flashing their modules, such as this video for the Maestro RR2. Also, be sure to download iDatalink's Installation Guide after you flash your Maestro module. This guide is specific to your vehicle and will show you what to do with every wire.
A Crutchfield Advisor takes the Maestro for a spin
I interviewed longtime Crutchfield Advisor, trainer, and social media host, J.R., about the stereo installation in his 2020 Subaru Crosstrek. He was concerned that replacing the radio would mean losing the Subaru-specific features he loved. To best integrate his Sony XAV-9500ES digital multimedia radio with his Crosstrek, J.R. used the iDatalink Maestro RR2 interface module. The RR2 let him retain the vehicle’s settings menu (which would've been lost with other interfaces), steering wheel audio controls, and backup camera.
J.R. flashed the module’s software wirelessly with his smartphone using Bluetooth, right on the workbench with the module powered by a USB cable connected to an AC outlet. It took about five minutes. He mentioned that without Sony’s compatibility with iDatalink and the ability to keep essential vehicle features, he would've been stuck with the factory radio.
Shop for your iDatalink solution
iDatalink is continuously adding more vehicles and features to their programming compatibility. They also offer a few dash kits to go along with their interfaces. Just select a receiver with an iDatalink serial port and use Crutchfield's vehicle selector to see if we have an iDatalink solution for you.
And if you need more info about adding a new stereo to your ride, you can call or chat with one of our knowledgeable Advisors. They'll be happy to help you pick the right solution for your car.