Acura RSX Stereo Upgrade – Aftermarket Head Unit Install with Auxiliary input for iPod/MP3 player

A couple of the buttons on our Acura RSX’s stock radio were dying and I wanted an auxiliary input to plug in an iPod or other MP3 player so it was time for a replacement stereo. Compared to the install of a new radio in my 2005 Tacoma this was a cakewalk. The stock stereo is a standard single DIN size so there was no need for a dash kit or anything extra.

There were a couple things I wanted on the replacement stereo: black face and red backlighting to match the rest of the dash and a front auxiliary input for easy and cheap iPod integration. The Kenwood KDC-MP208 matched this pretty good and the price was hard to pass up, $59 shipped from one of the third party sellers at Amazon. If you are hooking an iPod up to an auxiliary input I highly suggest a cable that gives you a line level output like this Cables To Go – 4ft iPod Dock Connector to 3.5mm Cable.

Type-S Owners: If you own a Type-S with the premium stereo (no pocket, like this) you will need to get a replacement dash kit to accept either a single or double DIN aftermarket stereo. This Scosche installation kit allows for either single or double DIN and comes with the pocket if you go with a single DIN unit.

Installing Double DIN unit: If you want to install a double DIN unit then you’ll need the Ssosche kit linked above.

Head Unit: This JVC unit looks interesting as it has built in HD radio and customizable colors: JVC KD-HDR50. These units look like good matches to the RSX’s red/orange backlighting too: Kenwood KDC-MP142, Sony CDXGT430U, and Sony CDX-GT330. I got the Kenwood KDC-MP208 but it is no longer available at Amazon.

Wire Harness: Scosche HA08B Power Speaker Connector for 1998-Up Honda

Installation Steps

  1. Pull off bottom plastic dash cover that houses the power adapter plug. There are little tabs on the side to get a screwdriver in. Pop one side out and firmly work the rest of it out. It might be tough at the end, just give it a good tug straight out and it will give.
  2. Unplug power adapter to get it out of the way
  3. Using a small ratcheting wrench with 8mm socket or stubby Philips screwdriver, unscrew the two screws going up towards the stereo. They’re at a funky angle and there’s not a whole lot of room to work. Might be a good job for someone with smaller hands. I loosened the screws and backed them out by hand to avoid the risk of dropping them into the bowels of the dash.
  4. Once the screws are out the whole stereo and hazards section will slide out with a little force. Grab the back of the stereo mount through the dash and give it a real good pull. Mine had never been removed and it took some pretty good yanking to get it to budge. I used a screwdriver to pop a clip on the top right corner above the hazards switch. Slide it out a few inches and disconnect the hazards wiring harness and then the stereo’s harness.
  5. Unscrew the stock stereo from the bracket and replace it with the new unit. Plug it in with your prepared wiring harness and test to make sure everything is working. Pan to each of the channels to verify the speakers are connected correctly.
  6. Plug the hazards harness back in or your turn signals won’t work. Wonder how I know that?
  7. Slide the whole thing back into the dash while trying to keep all the new wires on top of the stereo so they don’t get smashed behind it
  8. Replace the 2 screws and pop the dash cover back on. That’s it.


I’m really happy with the results. The sound on the inexpensive Kenwood unit is much better than the stock stereo. The bottom end was very lacking before, but now it is more than adequate with the stock speakers. Radio reception is good and overall this is a nice cheap way to get your MP3 player hooked up in an RSX.

22 Replies to “Acura RSX Stereo Upgrade – Aftermarket Head Unit Install with Auxiliary input for iPod/MP3 player”

  1. Is that exact wiring harness needed? how do I know what kind of wiring harness I need?

  2. It doesn’t have to be that exact wiring harness I linked to, but it has to be compatible with your specific make and model. Honda has probably standardized their harness so the generic Honda 1998 and up harness will probably work with any new model Honda/Acura with a basic stereo. What car are you looking to install in?

  3. There’s really only 3 things you need to do the install:

    1. a new stereo
    2. the wire harness
    3. crimp on caps to connect wires from the new stereo to the wiring harness (radio shack will have them)

    The wiring harness makes the wiring part a snap, just crimp the matching wires together. My instructions are fairly detailed and should be enough to get you through it. If you have any other questions feel free to ask.


  4. I am looking at all these different crimping connectors, and have no clue what the best kind is. Radioshack didn’t have crimp on caps, but eBay has that… can you post a picture of the crimp caps I need. Thanks.

  5. Hello,

    I’m going to be installing a new headunit in a 2003 Santa Fe. I understand everything i need to do dash trim and stereo removal. However the one thing I’m confused about is the wiring harness. I have never crimped before but after you do crimping to the ends of the wires do I plug the crimp cap directly into the pins from the new harness to the cars existing harness?

    Please explain this process to me if you could I would really appreciate it. Thanks!

  6. I wanted to install a stereo in my car an its an Acura RSX Type S 2003 but mine does not have that little compartment below the stereo. Did you install that your self or did it come with it??

  7. Thanks, your information was very helpful. 2004 RSX. The wire harness you mentioned was correct. Did just as you said. A couple of details…There is one wire left unconnected on the wire harness. I terminated the solid orange wire as the stereo I chose (the JVC you mentioned) only has the orange with white stripe. This was probably the easiest install I’ve ever done. Rather than crimp, I chose to interlace and solder the wires and heat shrink them. It turned out great.

  8. Mike, I have also bought the JVC, but the HDR59 version of it. I have also connect the JVC’s orange with white stripe to the HA08B adaptor’s orange with stripe wire. The dimmer didn’t seems to work. I only see the display blinks once when I turn the lights on. Does yours work? I am worndering if I should go back and open up my dash to try and connect it to the solid orange wire on the adapter instead. Anyone has any input on this? Thanks in advance for any inputs.

  9. Good news. I went on a little googlie-research and found a site with the exact chart of wiring for my HA08B adapter with the JVC HU. My answer was found there and I need to connect the solid orange wire on the adapter to the orange with white stripe on the JVC HU. Then terminate off the solid with white stripe on the HA08B adapter. Then I set the dimmer to auto on my HU and VOILA! the dimmer comes on when I turn on the headlight and it goes off with the headlight. Hope this helps straight things out for any one in the future. As for Mike, be careful with your setup, I have been told that you can blow out your dash with the wrong connection.

  10. Thank you!! This was spot on! Inwa starring at this for a while trying to figure out how it came out!

  11. this is, by far, the best tutorial for replacing the stock unit stereo in an Acura RSX that i have found, and i have been researching obsessively for a few weeks now. all i really need is an auxiliary input so i can use my iPod, but i’ve been waffling back and forth between getting a converter and rigging it to my stock unit and the idea of just getting an aftermarket unit and calling it a day. i’m still not sure what i’m going to do, but i’ve read your blog description twice now, once a few weeks ago and again today, and i think you’ve convinced me to go with the aftermarket unit if only in hopes that it will slightly improve my RSX’s sound quality. thanks so much!

  12. Quick question……I have a 2002 5 spd and wanted to know if the wiring harness is a must to install the unit. I bought the Kenwood KDC-MP208 – Radio / CD / MP3 player – Full-DIN – in-dash – 50 Watts x 4. Just wanted to know if I need to order the wiring kit to install or I can do with out.

    Your post here was very helpful and greatly appreciated.


  13. Brian,

    The wiring harness isn’t a must, but it keeps your from having to cut off the factory connector that’s plugged into the stock radio right now. The wiring harness plugs into the stock connector and has exposed leads for each of the wires. You take those and crimp or solder them to the leads coming off the Kenwood unit. Just makes it easier and let’s you put the stock stereo back in.

  14. I have a 2002 acura just put my aftermarket radio but the sound doesnt come out it saying to by pass the bose amp how do i do that need help

  15. so after i get the aftermarket head unit, do i also need to get a kit so that it will fit snug and stuff like yours looks in the picture? i know next to nothing and would appreciate any help

  16. Aaron,

    Which model do you have? Does it have the little pocket underneath with the door? If so then you don’t need a kit and the new stereo will slide right in once you get it taken apart. That’s assuming you just want a single DIN radio, double DIN needs the kit.

  17. me too!!!! bought a 2002 rsx-s want to plug the radio everything works fine except the sound!! how do you bypass the bose amp? i have the same wiring harness as shown on your link…

  18. Thanks for these instructions. However, I have a question for you as I am considering installing a new unit on my 03 Acura RSX. As I said I own just the base model RSX not the type-S so I’m assuming I wouldn’t need to order a dash kit but I spoke to a guy I know who installs stereos and he told me I would need the dash kit. This is the unit I am thinking of ordering.

  19. I don’t see anything that indicates it’s a double DIN unit, unless I’m missing something. What do you think?

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