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Another XCarlink Install


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#1 benw123

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Posted 17 June 2011 - 07:48 PM

Completed installation of my XCarlink device today. After kindly receiving a discount code here at TA, which effectively made the postage free, the unit arrived promptly and I planned to install over the weekend to take my time. In the end, I had it done in just a couple of hours, using this excellent guide from CivInfo:

http://www.civinfo.c..._in_2007_Accord

This guide is so good I didn't feel the need to take pictures or document the process, but I wanted to add some further tips to this guide if you plan to use it:

  • Tape up the edges of the centre console around the DVD trim panel. Stupidly, I didn't do this (despite having done it before when retrofitting factory sat nav to my wife's Audi A3) and the bolts attached to the DVD drive have scuffed part of the centre console plus a couple of climate control buttons. Annoying, and all my own fault;
  • The author suggests using a magnetic screwdriver which is a good idea, although a pair of pliers can be used to fish out anything dropped deep into the centre console, plus they work well to undo electrical connectors without breaking them;
  • I thought the kitchen spatula used in the article was a joke at first (!), but actually, this works as a brilliant trim removal tool! Will use it again;
  • Sounds obvious, but test XCarlink before putting everything back together.

I located my XCarlink box in the glovebox. The space above it is open so it's dead easy to run the cable to the back of the stereo. Originally, I wanted to put the box in the centre console but it would need a fairly large, rectanglar hole drilled to pass the connector block through it.

During research I read comments about sound quality during XCarlink playback. It's fine really; I found that the quality is at its best with the treble set to max and the bass about two-thirds. The treble just makes the sound more crisp and overcomes any real shortcomings in MP3 decompression. Rip your sounds at the highest quality of course. There is no volume levelling either, so you may need to use one of those free apps which level out volume levels in music collections.

Finally, I used to work as a software developer and even before ordering XCarlink, spotted an opportunity to write a small desktop app to make arranging the contents of your USB stick or SD card easier. I've got something running which I hope to release via SourceForge next week for others to use. Basically, it opens a window with 6 columns and you can drag/drop your music into it before transferring to USB or SD card. I'll start a new thread here with the details, and will update this thread again later next week when I've spent more time using XCarlink. So far, so good!
2006/56 Accord i-CTDI EX, Artic Blue, Sat Nav, XCarlink

#2 Dan Robinson

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Posted 17 June 2011 - 07:54 PM

:lol: that Civ info guide is almost legendary now :lol:

Interesting comments on the tone controls - I have had to tweek mine a little to get the richness I like - but otherwise I found the quality of the PSS to be great.

I suspect the business end of both our devices are the same despite being different manufacturers [sic] and/or labels.
<!-- isHtml:1 --><!-- isHtml:1 --><p class='bbc_center'>06 (facelift) Tourer EX Graphite w/ Pentas, Stage 1 Remap by <a class='bbc_url' href='http://www.premiertuning.com/'>Premier Tuning</a>. Nice. With a genuine fake real spoiler. Factory fit. Probably the best spoiler ever. A-Spec suspension - makes the world a better place.</p><p class='bbc_center'><br /><img src='http://lh5.ggpht.com...8 - shopped.jpg' alt='Posted Image' class='bbc_img' /><br />It's a constant race between making things idiot-proof, and the universe making better idiots.<br /><br /><span style='font-size: 10px;'><a class='bbc_url' href='http://typeaccord.co.uk/forum/topic/4073-ta-shirts/page__st__160'><span style='color: #FF0000'>Get your TA Shirts here. While stocks last.</span></a></span></p>

#3 benw123

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Posted 20 June 2011 - 06:59 PM

Three days in and all is well - the device works nicely. I like the way that like the best MP3 adapters, and indeed the CD player, it remembers where you were in a track when you go back to the car.

As for quality, there's no problem if you rip at a high rate. The low-rate MP3s I tried sounded particularly poor, but of course this isn't the device's fault. I can only compare it to a similar MP3 player in my wife's Audi A3, which is a decent unit anyway, and the XCarLink competes fairly well. So far I'd say it's well worth the money, if only because of the easy install and the superb way it integrates with the car (head unit and steering wheel controls).

Finally, I've released the app I mentioned which helps organise MP3s on to SD cards and USB sticks for use with the XCarLink. See this thread for more details.
2006/56 Accord i-CTDI EX, Artic Blue, Sat Nav, XCarlink

#4 Matt

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Posted 03 July 2011 - 03:39 PM

Having just fitted my birthday present Xcarlink, I thought I'd add my two penneth:

Prior to ordering I was concerned about where I might conceal the unit, and if I might need to source an extension cable. No need to worry, there's acres of space behind the various trim and facia panels! Incidentally, I didn't need the Honda Y adapter cable Xcarlink advertise either.

For reference the device measures (approx) 98 deep x 23 thick x 65 wide (millimetres) and has a generous 1m of cable attached.

benw123's link to the civinfo guide is right on the money: The trim section between the ashtray and the aircon controls DOES come off as described -you just need the confidence to pull hard enough! I managed the job in about an hour without disconnecting anything: The seat heaters, gear stick boot and cig lighter can all be moved to give access without unplugging. Mine is a non-satnav version (no DVD drive) so there's no need to remove the upper air vents or draw forward the head unit for access. A magnetic screwdriver came in very handy!

Having realised that I didn't really need access to the unit once installed, I fitted on top of my cubby:

Posted Image

and added a USB extension (supplied with the Xcarlink) into the bottom corner of the cubby, so I can easily remove my music. A small hole in the corner and a cable tie to secure were all that was required:

Posted Image

With everything put back the install is nice and discrete:

Posted Image

My system appears to read the first fourteen folders on the USB stick, and the 6 CD changer still operates normally.

A thousand thanks to Type Accord for getting me started on this little project! I look forward to having a play with XCarLink MP3 Manager.


Finally, anyone wanting to get a discount on a new unit should check my post here before it's too late: http://typeaccord.co...arlink-discount

Facelift i-DTEC ES GT tourer. Formerly pre-facelift  i-CTDi EX tourer


#5 Dan Robinson

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Posted 03 July 2011 - 03:43 PM

Excellent post bud. It is easier than it looks once you have that first bit if trim off innit :D

Edited by Dan Robinson, 03 July 2011 - 03:44 PM.

<!-- isHtml:1 --><!-- isHtml:1 --><p class='bbc_center'>06 (facelift) Tourer EX Graphite w/ Pentas, Stage 1 Remap by <a class='bbc_url' href='http://www.premiertuning.com/'>Premier Tuning</a>. Nice. With a genuine fake real spoiler. Factory fit. Probably the best spoiler ever. A-Spec suspension - makes the world a better place.</p><p class='bbc_center'><br /><img src='http://lh5.ggpht.com...8 - shopped.jpg' alt='Posted Image' class='bbc_img' /><br />It's a constant race between making things idiot-proof, and the universe making better idiots.<br /><br /><span style='font-size: 10px;'><a class='bbc_url' href='http://typeaccord.co.uk/forum/topic/4073-ta-shirts/page__st__160'><span style='color: #FF0000'>Get your TA Shirts here. While stocks last.</span></a></span></p>

#6 TypeR

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Posted 03 July 2011 - 04:28 PM

Some nice tips there, like the way you have created the usb port.
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#7 brett

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Posted 03 July 2011 - 04:34 PM

Good write up buddy and as shabz said i like the usb port location
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#8 benw123

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Posted 04 July 2011 - 08:09 PM

Excellent write-up and nice install! If you install the Xcarlnk MP3 Manager, let me know what you think. I'm working on the next update which includes support for up to 12 CD folders.
2006/56 Accord i-CTDI EX, Artic Blue, Sat Nav, XCarlink

#9 Matt

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Posted 07 July 2011 - 07:29 PM

Here's a few thoughts about my Xcarlink, having used it for a few days:

I really like it!

The sound quality is good. Not outstanding, but I'm happy with it. Compared to other devices (playing identical material of the same compression) it somehow lacks fidelity. It's really hard to quantify, but the difference is noticeable. It lacks clarity at the top end and warmth at the bottom, and the stereo image seems smaller. But when you're stuck in traffic that doesn't really matter. Tweaking the bass & treble on the head unit helps.

I'm more often than not a Mac user, which litters my USB stick with hidden .dot and .dot_underscore files. These give the Xcarlink pause for thought. After a second or two it skips the offending hidden file and continues with the next track. This is a small annoyance which just needs a bit of extra housekeeping on my part (though my Samsung MP3 player is happy to just ignore them).

I frequently listen podcasts from the BBC, which can extend to well over an hour. As benw123 notes, Xcarlink resumes where it left off rather than starting from the beginning again which is nice. The resume time seems quite variable, and I've yet to figure out the 'rules'. Sometimes it can take close to a minute to pick up, other times it re-starts instantly. This may be related to the length of the file, or the number of files in that folder, or something else. Not sure yet.

What's not so nice is a small codec issue I've run into...

When my podcasts are resumed, or when fast-forwarded (to skip the boring bits) there seems to be some sort of a decoding sync problem. The audio takes on a phasy 'underwater' quality. If the track is started back at the beginning it plays normally again. I've not been able to reproduce this on music tracks (mostly 128 and 192 Kbps stereo), but on the podcasts (64Kbps mono) it happens often and repeatably. Good and bad files are both 16bit 44.1KHz, so sample depth and rate aren't the issue.

Having experimented with various re-compressions it appears that being mono is the problem. Easy to fix with a pass through dBpoweramp, but an extra stage I'd rather not have to do. Transcoding to 128Kbs stereo makes a huge difference. Clearly this doesn't improve the underlying quality, but it does allow for a cleaner resume / FFD.

Having initially thought Xcarlink will read 14 folders, I've found I was wrong. It'll read the first 16 folders on my stick. They must be numbered sequentially from CD01 to CD16. CD17 onwards are just ignored. Missing out a number (eg no CD10 in the list) doesn't make later numbered folders available. i.e. It plays the end of CD09 then the start of CD11 then on to the end of CD16 then back to CD01. CD17 doesn't get a look in.

All told nine out of ten :)

Facelift i-DTEC ES GT tourer. Formerly pre-facelift  i-CTDi EX tourer


#10 benw123

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Posted 13 July 2011 - 01:14 PM

Hi Matt, just seen this post. Interesting about the 16 folder limit - I'll make a further adjustment from 12 folders to 16 in my Windows app.

Regarding the delay on start-up, I wonder if this is dependent on the size of the USB media. In my wife's Audi A3, whose sat nav head unit takes SD cards to play MP3s, the larger the SD card the longer it takes to get running. Incidentally, I use a 4GB micro-USB stick with my XCarLink, currently set with 16 folders and a total of 329 tracks. The start-up time when leaving for my morning commute is never more than 10 seconds.
2006/56 Accord i-CTDI EX, Artic Blue, Sat Nav, XCarlink

#11 Matt

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Posted 18 July 2011 - 09:14 PM

Hiya Ben, I'll PM you a bit of feedback...

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#12 Dario

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Posted 11 August 2011 - 09:50 PM

good job mate, my one is waiting for fitting :D
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#13 Stevearcade

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Posted 27 December 2012 - 04:56 PM

http://www.civinfo.com/wiki/index.php?title=Install_Xcarlink_in_2007_Accord


Thanks for providing this man. I couldn't have done mine just now without it. The spatula to pop the top centre panel off is a stroke of genius.

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#14 benw123

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Posted 28 December 2012 - 08:34 AM

It's a legendary thread now :)
2006/56 Accord i-CTDI EX, Artic Blue, Sat Nav, XCarlink

#15 Dan page

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Posted 01 June 2015 - 04:16 PM

Thanks for the write up and tips people. Will be fitting mine as soon as I get a chance :)

#16 rlees85

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Posted 26 July 2018 - 02:15 PM

Sorry to revive such a dead thread but this is the closest thing I can find to what I want to achieve...

 

I recently brought a facelift 7th gen accord. It has satnav and a cd-changer, but the cd-changer looks like its part of the drive at the front and not external. I have an xcarlink on the way and am just looking for the best way to get at the back of the stereo.

 

Sadly... the link to civinfo for at least the past day or two seems dead!

 

Any help would be really appreciated...

 

I'm getting the idea just removing the glove compartment and reaching around is very optimistic.....



#17 antdad

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Posted 27 July 2018 - 09:16 AM

Looks like you have to join civicinfo

 

https://www.civinfo....8-civic-ex.html



#18 rlees85

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Posted 27 July 2018 - 10:15 AM

Cheers for the link, got the PDF, hope the Accord is not too different ! Going to have a go tomorrow