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Lead image

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.

iDatalink Maestro

The iDatalink Maestro lets you keep the handy factory features you use every day.

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.

kenwood receiver in dash sync menu

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:

  1. Either the iDatalink Maestro RR module or the newer Maestro RR2
  2. A vehicle-specific adapter for select 2006-up vehicles
  3. 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. 

JR and his stereo

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.

Flashing the module

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.

Last updated 5/10/2022
  • Paul Jorge from Attleboro

    Posted on 9/29/2021

    I have a 2014 jeep cherokee limited, If i install and aftermarket radio will i lose heating controls that are in the factory radio as icons on the new radio?

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    Ken Nail from Crutchfield

    on 9/30/2021

    Paul, the best way to get started is to enter your vehicle information when you shop our selection of car stereo receivers. That should give you an idea of what features you'll keep or lose. If you have questions then, call or use chat to talk to one of our well-trained advisors.
  • Randy Vertrees from Moxee

    Posted on 7/18/2021

    My wifes 2014 Toyota SE blutooth went out on her factory stereo ...its hooked up to all tye car systems and controlled on the steering wheel...the dealership wanted 1200 to replace the whole unit dont know if there is a d3xk for this situation or just an easy fix..ive scoured youtube and cant find anything...its a touch screen...abd other than Bluetooth it works fine..but now the new phones dont have aux capabilities....please help...Randy.

    Commenter image

    Jon Paul from Crutchfield

    on 10/14/2021

    Randy, With questions like that, it's always better to have a conversation with a real live human. Give us a call and talk to one of our advisors. We can help you choose the right gear and give you the right advice on how to install it.
  • Brent from Tacoma

    Posted on 6/20/2021

    Just got a 2021 Silverado to replace my 2018. I bought a complete audio setup for the 2018 but never got around to installing it. Somehow I got lucky and found out I have one of only two Pioneer decks recommended for the only Metra deck 0late currently available. However, this new Silverado has a lot of functions through the factory deck that I'm afraid I may lose that functionality from. I bought this $500 deck from Crutchfield a year ago and may not be able to use it and will have to just use the factory deck. Still new in unopened box. :/

  • Jonas from Greenwich

    Posted on 6/6/2021

    Will I be able to maintain my, heated steering wheels function?

    Commenter image

    Jon Paul from Crutchfield

    on 6/11/2021

    Jonas, When you enter your vehicle's info into our Outfit My Car tool, you'll see which stereos fit your car, plus the correct harness and info on factory features that will be retained or not. If you have any questions, our advisors are available via phone or chat.
  • Mark T from Chicago

    Posted on 4/11/2021

    I just uncovered this awesome feature after a full reset about 3 years after purchase! Maestro w a Kenwood DDX9904S. 2009 Ford Escape w Sync. I didn't realize I could use my Sync's BT for telephone and BT streaming. The factory microphone tends to pick up better than aftermarket. In the case of my Ford, it has 2 microphones for better noise cancelling.

  • Larry Wyatt from Lansing

    Posted on 9/21/2020

    Can this be installed in my 2012 ford f 150 XLT, regular cab , 8 cylinder I have Sinc also

    Commenter image

    Alexander H. from Crutchfield

    on 9/30/2020

    Larry, You can use our vehicle selector to confirm which stereos fit your car and get some info on what else is needed for the installation.
  • Aaron from Oklahoma City

    Posted on 9/13/2020

    I have a 2009 F150 platinum. The climate control can 90% be controlled by physical buttons. But there are somethings that require the stock touchscreen. I would like to upgrade and get car play. Would a Maestro allow me to keep these features?

    Commenter image

    Jon Paul from Crutchfield

    on 1/26/2021

    Aaron, When you enter your vehicle's info into our Outfit My Car tool, you'll see which stereos fit your car, plus the correct harness. If you have any questions, our advisors are available via phone or chat
  • Curtis V from Mt. Holly

    Posted on 7/31/2020

    I have a 2010 Ford F-350 with Sync. I am replacing the factory radio with a JVC KW-V850BT unit. I would like to maintain sync access and steering wheel controls. When researching this seems possible with a module. My question is this actually possible and witch module is best for my situation?

  • Robert from OCEAN SPRINGS

    Posted on 7/27/2020

    Hi, I have a 2018 Ford Mustang Ecoboost Premium. Looks like my 7" screen has died (have it at Dealership now). Just out of warranty, and afraid what the replacement cost may be. I would like to have Alpine or Kenwood Touchscreen to replace it. My question is- will the factory installed backup camera work on one of these units? Anyway to have Sync options to a new unit?

    Commenter image

    Alexander H. from Crutchfield

    on 7/31/2020

    Robert, yes, you will be able to retain your backup cam and other factory features (although not Sync). An Alpine or Kenwood will be a good choice because you'll need compatibility with iDatalink. Depending on your decision about the dealership, give us a call. An Advisor will be able to help you narrow down the best choice for your Mustang.
  • Eric from Mobile

    Posted on 7/25/2020

    I have a 2017 ford fusion hybrid with the sync 1 system with the 4" screen... Is it possible for me to upgrade to this system with the Kenwood receiver.

    Commenter image

    Alexander H. from Crutchfield

    on 7/26/2020

    Eric, some work is involved in the installation but you have lots of options. You can explore them using our vehicle selector. I've passed your question along to an Advisor to help, and someone will contact you as soon as possible.
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