My JVC KD-R810 Car Stereo Review

Quick take: The JVC KD-R810 is a very nice head unit and I’d recommend it to anyone looking for integrated Bluetooth support. The customizable colors are a plus and they really complete the install in my Tacoma.

JVC KD-R810 – Available at Amazon for about $130 shipped

About 4 years ago I installed a Pioneer head unit and dash kit in my 2005 Toyota Tacoma with excellent results. That stereo got stolen when my truck was broken into this summer and I needed to find a new stereo to replace it. In the 4 years since I did research into¬† different stereos there has been an increase in features being included in units for about the same or a bit more money. iPod, USB and Bluetooth integration are becoming ubiquitous and HD Radio tuners are even starting to be included at lower price points. One big movement coming is towards “Media Receivers” that forgo a CD player completely and are really designed around using an iPod, phone or USB drive exclusively.

Bluetooth: My only Bluetooth experience has been in our Jetta Sportwagen. As far as I know you can only receive calls on that unit and initiate calls from the phone since there is no phonebook support. The JVC KD-R810 does have support for a manual phonebook and can access your phone’s recent received/dialed/missed calls. I mounted the external mic directly below the stereo in my dash kit’s pocket. My wife said I sounded fine the few times we’ve used it so far. Units with the mic built into the faceplate of the stereo have received marginal reviews on Amazon so the external mic was a plus in my book. I also tested streaming music from Pandora on my phone to the unit over BT and it worked flawlessly.

iPod Connectivity: The unit has worked great with my 5th generation iPod. Compared to the factory media interface in our Jetta, the JVC is vastly superior. Browsing is easier with the knob and loading is nearly instant. Spin the knob quickly and it will go into a fast seek mode much like the iPod does allowing you to skip quickly through a long list of items.

Color Customization: One other big selling point was the ability to customize the display’s colors. My Tacoma’s dash has an orange/red backlight across all of the controls and aftermarket head units like to use bright alternative colors that clash. The button lights and display can be set to different colors for day, night and menu use. One of the color presets matched the rest of my dash lights exactly and I set it to use that all the time.

Sound Quality: I have a pretty good ear for audio and dialing in an EQ. This unit was much easier to dial in than my previous Pioneer unit. Not sure if it has more power, but it just needed a healthy boost at 50hz and small cut at 1khz. It is very clear and pumps out more than enough low end with my stock speakers. The unit does have a Burr-Brown 24-bit DAC which is a step above what you’d get on a cheaper stereo.

One Con: The only con of the unit I can find is that the display is not polarized lens friendly. With my sunglasses on, the display text is almost completely filtered out. It is slightly annoying, but I shouldn’t be looking at the display when I’m driving anyways.

JVC KD-R810 – Available at Amazon for about $130 shipped

My 2nd Toyota Tacoma Aftermarket Stereo Upgrade

The first stereo I put in my 2005 Tacoma got stolen this summer so it was time to do it all over again. It was a lot easier this time since I wasn’t starting with the stock stereo still installed, but it’s a fairly easy project either way.

Shopping List

Head Unit: Last time I bought a Pioneer unit and liked it, but this time around I was looking for more features, especially built in Bluetooth. I narrowed my choice down to the JVC KD-R810 because it had Bluetooth and good iPod support along with customizable backlight colors. One of the preset colors matched the rest of dash exactly. You can read my full review of it here.

Dash Kit: The Scosche kit is pretty nice and matches the flat silver color on my 2005 SR5 Access Cab almost exactly. I prefer it to the stock stereo which has the textured silver. I chose to run the Bluetooth microphone and the rear USB connector through the back of the dash kit’s pocket. There’s a plastic support piece that screws onto the back of the pocket and it covers up nearly the whole thing. I was able to drill two 1/2″ holes right next to each on each side to feed through the mic and USB. There’s just enough room with the support piece on for the cables themselves and covers up the bulk of the holes. You can kind of see this in the picture below.

Wiring Harness: The wiring harness is a must. Not only does it make installation go quicker, but it avoids having to cut the factory harness off. The wire color on the harness and the stereo are standardized so you just have to match them up and crimp. You can solder them, but either way works just fine. I found joint pliers were the easiest to get a good crimp with.

Final Results: I’m much happier with the install this time. My old stereo matched the color of the dash, but it had white text and green backlighting. I think I prefer the JVC and its black/silver front with matching lighting.

Installation Process

  1. Pop out climate control panel with a screwdriver
  2. Unbolt stereo from dash, 4 total behind the climate control panel (exact head size of bolts eludes me)
  3. Pop the whole stereo out, it’s held on by little clips
  4. Unconnect everything and bring the stereo inside
  5. Transfer the little yellow clips onto the dash kit
  6. Transfer the clock and hazards assembly to the dash kit (kind of a pain to get out)
  7. Wire up the harness to your new stereo, twist matching wires together, stick them in a crimp cap and give a good squeeze with pliers (give them a tug to make sure they’re in there tight)
  8. Drill any holes you might want in the pocket
  9. Install stereo in kit, but be careful not to scrape the mouth of it, the metal sleeve will take paint off
  10. The metal sleeve around the stereo has little tabs, bend those up along the back of the face to help lock it in
  11. Hook the stereo up and test it (having a second set of hands will help here)
  12. Connect the hazards and clock harness
  13. Once everything looks good, bolt the dash kit back on
  14. Snap climate control panel back into place