car stereos & components?
2003-07 Honda Accord Sedan
2003 • 2004 • 2005 • 2006 • 2007
|2003 Honda Accord EX Sedan (Crutchfield Research Photo)|
The Honda Accord sedan is the poster child for what the automotive industry does right, that’s why it’s one of the most popular cars in the world. The 7th generation (2003-07) Accord is comfortable, well-engineered, safe, very reliable, and will maintain a high resale value. Most people keep their Honda Accords for a long time, so it makes sense to upgrade the stereo system. Honda claims six speakers — two of them are tweeters — and 120 watts of power for the Accord’s sound system. The reality is that it's powered by a low-output Honda radio (roughly 10 watts RMS x 4 channels) that, along with the speakers, could stand a lot of improvement.
|The Accord's factory radio (Crutchfield Research Photo)|
Replacing your factory radio
You have plenty of room behind the dash, so you can install any DIN radio in the Accord. If you don't have the dual climate controls in your Accord, you have a choice on how to install a new car stereo in your dash. You can use a simple dash kit to put the radio in the factory pocket below the existing radio, or you can purchase a more sophisticated dash adapter that replaces the entire climate control/radio pod. The adapter houses the new radio and the factory climate controls.
If you have dual climate controls in your Accord, you can't replace the factory radio because of its integration with the climate control system. The good news is that you can the same simple dash kit to install a new car stereo in the factory pocket below the existing radio.
|The factory stereo removed (Crutchfield Research Photo)|
It may seem intimidating taking the dash apart from the gear shifter all the way up to the AC vents but, by following the Crutchfield MasterSheet’s step-by-step instructions, you’ll find it’s not complicated. You remove the factory radio/changer, only to unplug its car harness and antenna. Then, you drape those cables down to where the new receiver’s going and put the radio and dash back together, replacing the old storage bin with the new dash kit, which has a small storage shelf of its own. Then, you can install a single-DIN sized (2" tall) aftermarket receiver into the opening provided.
Installation Note: You will need the factory radio security code if radio power is interrupted and the factory radio is re-installed. Honda usually includes this code on a card in the owner's manual. If you don't have that card, you'll have to talk to your local Honda dealer. Also, you'll lose your Honda's satellite radio capability when you replace the radio.
|Accord stereo with navigation (Crutchfield Research Photo)|
If you have the factory navigation receiver, you'll have to enter two codes if the power is disconnected: one for the navigation system and one for the audio system. Once these codes have been correctly entered, the entire system will be unlocked and ready for use.
|Aftermarket kit and new radio location (Crutchfield Research Photo)|
Tools needed for car stereo installation: A Phillips screwdriver, a small flat-blade screwdriver, and a panel removal tool.
Steering wheel audio controls
Both PAC and Axcess make adapters that allow you to connect your Honda steering wheel audio controls to a new car stereo. Both are a good choice, and with either adapter, you’ll have to splice into two wires on the factory wiring harness.
Replacing your factory speakers
Tweeters: The "6-speaker system" includes two tweeters mounted in the upper corners of the dash.
|Factory tweeter location (Crutchfield Research Photo)|
The only tool you’ll need to install new tweeters is a flat blade screwdriver, but you’ll have to fabricate a mounting bracket or some other way to place your new tweeter in the factory grille assembly.
You’ll also need to splice the leads to the factory wiring, because there’s no tweeter harness available. The factory tweeter has its crossover built-in, so the simplest way to replace them would be with one that also has its crossover built-in.
Installing component tweeters with external crossovers
If you are adding components, it would be best to put the crossovers near the radio. Connect the front door speaker leads to the woofer output on the crossover network, and then run new speaker wire from the crossover to the tweeter. This keeps you from having to pull a new wire through the Molex plug in the door jamb, which on most Hondas is nearly impossible.
Front door speakers
You’ll need a Phillips screwdriver, a small, flat-blade screwdriver, a panel tool, and a drill with a 1/8" bit to replace the door speakers.
|Front door speakers (Crutchfield Research Photo)|
The plastic-framed factory 6-1/2" speakers unclip easily enough from the door frames, but you'll need to drill new mounting-screw holes into the door steel to install any new speakers. Aftermarket options include 5-1/4" and 6-1/2" speakers.
|Door panel removed (Crutchfield Research Photo)|
Both sizes require adapter brackets. Speaker harnesses are available for all locations in the Accord except the tweeters. These will let you connect your new speakers to the car’s harnesses without cutting or soldering wires. These brackets and harnesses come free with your speakers when you order from Crutchfield.
Rear deck speakers
The rear deck 6"x9" speakers are much easier to replace. You’ll need a panel tool and an 8 mm socket wrench. There's plenty of room there, so most aftermarket 6"x9" speakers will fit, and you have the option of installing 5-1/4" and 6-1/2" speakers with the help of mounting brackets.
Bass in Your Accord
The factory system, at least, can really do with the additional bass a subwoofer provides. The roomy trunk offers plenty of space for a sub, enclosure, and amplifier. And you can also consider small powered subs that'll fit under the front seat.
Another solution is to replace the rear deck speakers with 6-1/2" or 6"x9" subs, for a stealthy way to get bass. If you choose this option, make sure you use plenty of Dynamat or another noise-dampening material on the back deck. This material will keep the deck from rattling and buzzing when the small subs start pumping out lots of bass.
Security and remote start
Although the Accord comes with a basic built-in anti-theft security system, you can upgrade with a number of different options, including remote starting. You will need a transponder bypass for remote start, and we suggest the FLCAN because it also controls door locks, trunk pop, and provides status alerts on the doors, hood, and trunk.
Options for the factory radio
If you want to leave your Honda’s radio connected, you can still add features like Bluetooth® and iPod® connectivity by way of accessory adapters and harnesses that hook in behind the factory radio. Some Hondas come with XM Radio built-in, and you'll lose that if you replace your radio. If you're a satellite radio addict, pick a new car stereo that supports SiriusXM so you can keep listening to your favorite channels.
Helix offers another option for vehicles without factory amplifiers. The Helix PP50DSP processor will make a dramatic improvement in the sound of your Accord's factory system. It works like this: you buy the processor, along with a vehicle-specific cable and a plug-in powered sub. The cable plugs into your factory radio's plug, connecting the processor/amp to your factory speakers. Next, go to Helix's site, download your vehicle’s audio parameters onto a microSD card, then load that info into the amp/processor. The PP50DSP is now ready to use equalization and time alignment to make your factory speakers sound great. Add in the bass from the optional Helix sub, and you've got a total system upgrade with minimal work.
The steps to upgrading your Honda’s sound system
First, the speakers
Replacing the speakers brings immediate improvement to the sound. The easiest way is to replace the front door speakers with coaxial, full-range speakers. But your best choice is to replace your four front speakers with separate woofers and tweeters, as these component speakers will help you achieve superior presence and stereo soundstaging.
Add an amplifier and subwoofer
An aftermarket amp driving new speakers will really bring impact and excitement to the ride. If you're keeping your factory radio, pick an amp with speaker-level inputs so you can tap into the factory radio’s harness to get signal. You can also use a line output converter to prep the signal for an amp that just offers preamp inputs.
Replace the radio/changer
When it comes to serious playtime, you’ll want a receiver that can keep up with all the different media you’ll want to feed it, and give you more than the typical treble and bass controls. Many high-end receivers now come with time alignment and automatic EQ features that can bring breathtaking stereo imaging to your on-the-road listening.
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