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delaswim

JBL head unit upgrade: update

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Hello everyone!  I'm a newbie to this forum.  This weekend I bought a 2003 243 Sunesta with only 105 hours!  The boat is so much more than I thought I was getting.

One thing I want to upgrade is the old school JBL head unit.  On my boat, the head unit is mounted in the storage "closet".  There is a control pad by the ignition key, and also a control pad on the back of the boat.  

What I'm looking for is a newer head unit that is blue tooth capable.  Ideally, I'd love to be able to use the control pads to adjust volume with the new blue tooth head unit.  Has anyone had any luck in doing this?  Is there a replacement JBL (or any other brand) that's available and compatible with the control pads?

Thanks for the help!

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I am pretty sure a new HU will not be compatible with the old remote units.Especially Bluetooth.  Probably have to replace

the HU, and both remotes.

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Ideally, I just want to replace the HU with a blue tooth setup.  Connect my phone via blue tooth, and still be able to use the volume function from the remote.  Volume is the only thing I'm wanting to maintain in the remotes.

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The technology has move so far past that JBL in your 2003.  You will need to buy the remotes and head unit and new brand specific cables to connect it all.  I did a full system upgrade on my 02 last season and it was well worth the time.  Same for the marine Class D amps that you can buy are a tiny fraction of the size of whatever came in your 03.  One issue I had was that many of the remotes are now round as that seemed to be the trend and so had to do some fiberglass modification/cutting for the transom remote to work and look as though it came that way as you and I had rectangle remote from the factory.  You can still get rectangle depending on brand but betting there will be some minor modification needed.  The old transom remote was a surface mount with two screw holes and a tiny hole for the wires to run though and the new round that I bought was inset so required a hole cutter of a specific size. The new stuff is so seamless and works so well, you are going to love it.  

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Those remotes are proprietary JBL remotes and not even the new JBL labeled heads will work with them. You will need two new remotes and the appropriate cables that go along with what ever brand you choose. or, if you go with something like the Kicker KMC-10 or KMC-20 or Wet Sounds MC-1, you would just need one remote and cable for the transom and mount the main interface screen on the helm.  Just note, if you want SAT, go with the KMC-20 or MC-1. 

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Gees.  I was just wanting to replace the HU.  Seems like that's not possible.  So, what's the best and cheapest alternative that some of you have used?

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If you just want bluetooth.  you can add a bluetooth dongle.   Clarion and Kenwood make marine stereos, but the remotes are proprietary and most likely a different size and shape of your existing remotes.

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2 hours ago, delaswim said:

Gees.  I was just wanting to replace the HU.  Seems like that's not possible.  So, what's the best and cheapest alternative that some of you have used?

Because my boat is old as yours and our summers are ultra short, I don't spend the big money on the equipment and mid level works fine for our purposes (even though I am an audiophile with whole house audio/entertainment/hometheater main house.)   I went with a Kenwood set up with the round remotes that have the LCD screens (versus the basic kenwood remotes with no lcd).  Kenwood, I've always though of as pretty marginal stuff.  I forget the model but it has no CD slot as I don't own any CD's any longer as it is all digital but that it streams different music services that are built into the headunit for seamless control with your phone or you can just stream any source from your phone as well.  So if there is a song I want to listen to and my amazon subscription doesn't have it, I can just stream the music video from youtube via bluetooth or any other source.  The only issue I have been seeing lately is that for some reason the cellular network has been overcapacity and so depending on the spot I am on the lake, the song I'm streaming will stop and the circle will spin which was worse than ever this summer.  I love having the remotes but I'm finding I'm not using the transom remote as much as I though I would.  There's plenty of other brands out there but the Kenwood had some surprisingly good specs for the money.  

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17 hours ago, rreale said:

If you just want bluetooth.  you can add a bluetooth dongle.   Clarion and Kenwood make marine stereos, but the remotes are proprietary and most likely a different size and shape of your existing remotes.

BT dongle?  I've never heard of that.  Are they easy to install?  Anyway to provide an Amazon link to this?  Thanks for all the information.

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13 minutes ago, rreale said:

i bought this one

https://www.ebay.com/itm/NEW-Milennia-Marine-Bluetooth-adaptor-MILBTREC-/142367095342

you will need 2 free AUX ports on the back of your stereo.  and make sure the "switched" power wire,usually the red one as a power source.  

 

Thanks for the info!  I'm wondering if anyone knows if the JBL MR15 HU has RCA plugs in the back making the installation much easier?

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Update:  

I checked my JBL MR15 head unit and found that it has a set of RCA jacks that show up as an input for a CD changer.  I'm guessing if I connect a Blue Tooth Dongle to these jacks and use the CD Changer mode, I should be good to go.  Can anyone confirm that this should work?

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It will. We have an Aux cord connected to ours' and stream from phone's via the hard wire

connection all the time. BT dongle will work as well, with some signal loss though.

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We also use an aux cord to connect to the phone. Well, when we are not listening to CDs.  Yes, we are a bit old school.  :rolleyes:

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8 hours ago, Rip5 said:

. BT dongle will work as well, with some signal loss though.

Not with some of the universal BT's we are using. They will knock the headphone jack's d1*& in the dirt! most have at least a 2V line level output. Thats as strong as many head unit pre-amp RCA outputs are. With a new BT receiver and a phone that not old in terms of electronics evolution, BT signal quality is outstanding. 

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15 hours ago, Was_Wylie_Tunes said:

Not with some of the universal BT's we are using. They will knock the headphone jack's d1*& in the dirt! most have at least a 2V line level output. Thats as strong as many head unit pre-amp RCA outputs are. With a new BT receiver and a phone that not old in terms of electronics evolution, BT signal quality is outstanding. 

Good to know.  Can you recommend one specifically?

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WWT, can you power those Dongles off of the amp wire (blue one) from the head unit? Also, do they have to be line of sight?

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@tomnjo

I do not suggest it for a couple of reasons. 1st and foremost, we need to watch how much load we put on that turn-on circuit. Its only designed to trigger amps to wake up, not designed to actually power the supply line of a current consuming device. 2nd, the turn-on is considered a "dirty" circuit in reference to the audio path. We need ALL electronics in the audio signal path to draw off the same 12V source. So this means the blue tooth should be powered with the head unit's yellow constant, which in turn, should be the same supply as the amp's B+. 

For those worried about a BT being on all the time, The two above 12V supplies should be on the boat side of a main battery switch, so the BT will be off when the boat is out of service. other wise, wire in a relay that supplied by the proper 12V feed and triggered by the turn-on or switched IGN.  

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I've got 2 blown speakers.  I'm wondering if anyone has had any luck replacing the stock JBL speakers with ones that have the same mounting hole patterns.

JBL Speaker.PNG

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