I upgraded my audio because mostly I wanted a way to have an iPod in the car because finding somewhere to put a CD case was getting annoying fast. Plus I wanted something I could hear "well" while driving on the highway.
Since this is an "exotic" car, I decided I had to go down the nicer path and get nicer components. I went with the usual Alpine and Focal units. Theres nothing wrong with other brands, I just wanted to keep the "ohhh, ahhh" response poeple give so frequently with this car
Headunit: Alpine CDA-9883 with KCE-422i iPod cable
Fronts: Focal 100CV1 4.00"
Rears: Focal 130CV1 5.25"
I did originally buy the 165CV1 6.5" speakers, but my Exige has the roll bar option, so the rear speakers are mounted on little pods, and the 6.5" just wouldn't squeeze between the pod and roll bar. Not without some descent amount of work. I didn't want to remove the panels, nor remove the harness bar.
I'll post pictures of the install, but I'm not at home to host them right now, so I'll attach a diagram of the wiring harness. I could never find a good graphical representation of the harness here on the forums...so maybe this will help future installers.
Use either the supplied Blaupunkt headunit removal tools, or make your own. Make a U shaped piece out of a metal coat hanger that as wide as the holes are on the sides of the headunit behind the faceplace. Bend the tips of the U inward a bit so that they push against the side of the headunit body when inserted.
Insert tool into these holes on either side
This is the retention flange that the tool is pressing back against the body so that you can pull the headunit straight out
With the retention clips released, the headunit will slide straight out.
Next you want to unplug the harness and antennea from the back of the blaupunkt.
Then remove the Blaupunkt mounting sleeve that the headunit slid out of. Next install the new mounting sleeve that came with the new headunit.
Alternative Power Source
This is the one that came with the Alpine CDA-9883. The "fingers" pop in place once you push it all the way in and is very snug.
I wanted something a little more beefy for the power cable for the headunit, plus I wanted some room in the future in case I decided to add an external amp down the road. I chose to run an 8 AWG wire (what I had laying around) from the battery posts on the front of the Exige. I do not believe Elises will have this option (or the task won't be as easy).
Battery terminals located under front driver side access panel on Exige
I ran the 8AWG wire from the positive terminal and added an inline fuse holder (came with 30A, a 10A would probably cover a headunit).
I ran the iPod cable and power cable behind the steering wheel. There is a channel behind there that you can run wires behind using a metal coat hanger (bent straight of course).
To get the power cable up to the battery terminals, I decided to use an old trick and run through the door grommet and up along the "fender".
Here you can see, I puncted a hole in the rubber grommet to run the power cable. Also you can see the iPod cable in its final location.
I then ran the power cable behind the door hinge. There have not been any noticable binding issues so far.
Nothing major here. Just follow the directions for splicing the wires. I soldered the wires then covered them in heat shrink. It gives the most secure and lowest profile connection, as opposed to bulky butt connectors or God forbid electrical tape (which unravels over time and leaves a sticky mess).
Since I was using a dedicated power source I did not put the power cable in the harness. In fact I removed the pin from the harness, just so there was no chance of a short or anything.
Heres a schematic of the harness so you'll know what to connect to what. This is looking at the Lotus end of the harness. So it will probably be mirrored if you have the female end in hand. But you should should be able to go by the pin layout and tabs. The "GALA" is a pin that may or may not be present.
Its what allows the headunit to raise and lower the volume automatically as you speed up and slow down. Personally it drove me crazy on the Acapulco and I turned it off within 2 days.
Heres the iPod cable in the drivers side cubby
As stated I went with the Focal 4" 100CV1 in the front and 5.25" 130CV1. Some poeple have had luck with the 6.5" 165CV1, but because I had the factory harness bar option it would have required some extra effort to get the 6.5" to fit. Getting the grills over the 130CV1 was hard enough as it was.
Comparision of stock speakers and Focal speakers
I cut the foam in the back so that it sealed up the are where the harness bar passed through the panel. There were some large holes that would compromise bass output, plus it could cause shuffing from the speakers on heavy bass and air moves back and forth.
The stock front speakers didn't even fit the actual hole.
Since the Focals put the grill retaining frame behind the speaker basket it seals the entire hole.
Having the iPod is nice. I couldn't find a good place to keep CD's in the car and digging around in the passanger foot rest area is not safe with the tight steering of this car.
I had a problem with the Acapulco where it would make this loud scratch sound every once in a while playing MP3's, so that was another reason I replaced the headunit, plus alot poeple (here and elsewhere) said the iPod controll was very lacking. One thing that did throw me off as with others is that if you have "M.I.X" mode on (shuffle) on the Alpine, you can't go back to playlist selection.
The overall sound more that anything, is that it doesn't distort when turning up the volume on the highway. That was the biggest problem with the Blaupunkt system was on the highway, it was just too distorted. Bass isn't great, but you can feel actual thumps in the seat now. If you were to fab up a custom panel in the back that was actually sealed, you could probably get descent bass out of these things.