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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
As you all know, the stock head unit in the S2 elise looks like it blasted out of the 90s and landed in your dashboard. Worse than that, actually. Every time my stock blaupunkt powers up I feel like I just turned on an Atari. It's actually embarrassing and, for me, completely tarnishes the overall exotic-level appeal of the car. An empty storage space with no stereo would be an improvement. I do enjoy some good rock while I'm cruising though, and so the quest for some decent looking stereo began.

What surprises me is that everybody replaces them with a best-buy or crutchfield stereo that doesn't look much better. If the car had somehow come with a stereo from the future and contained a single-DIN Kenwood or JVC stereo from best buy in the year 2019, I would have the exact same complaints about how badly it reminds me of cheap aftermarket crap from highschool. It simply doesn't belong!

And so, in my vain quest to find something that actually looks good in the dash, I have successfully installed something that actually is crap. But damn I love how it looks. Behold.


All jokes aside, I'm really super excited about this little project of mine. The head unit is out of an Alfa Romeo 4C (look the car up if you're not familiar - it's basically a turbo charged elise). That car has the same problem as ours in terms of ugly head units, but some of them came with this "Parrot Asteroid" head unit which is as beautiful as it is infamous. The moment I saw it in a 4C I said, I gotta get that in my Elise.

If you feel the same way I do - that no aftermarket head unit looks like it belongs in your dash - that none of them have that cohesive stock look that absolutely belongs in an exotic like the elise - then read on for some of the caveats:

- The head unit is feature-rich with Google Maps, Waze, Weather, and even stuff like Skype. However, none of these apps are on the unit when you first purchase it. Instead, it has an "Asteroid Market" application on it, analogous to Android Play or iOS App Store. You provide internet to the device via bluetooth "tethering," which many phone providers don't allow, and you likely won't get to work. Once passed that archaic hurdle, you can download dozens of cool apps, including those aforementioned. Once installed, they work magically on this beautiful little display until the head unit randomly hard-resets and loses all of its data, at which point you need to install them again. So it's best to not waste your time, and just avoid ever using the truly ambitious number of useful apps available on its own propriety app market. :facepalm
- Any useful app in the head unit requires GPS, which means you also need to install the rare USB GPS Antenna no longer manufactured by Parrot. I've located one on ebay and talked myself out of buying since the apps aren't really maintainable/useable. Maybe I'll install it just for kicks.
- If you spin the volume knob too fast, it will confuse whether you're spinning up or down. You need to spin the knob slowly.
- Some have criticized the sound quality. I can at least say it sounds better than the blaupunkt.

There are no "caveats" for bluetooth - it just works exactly like it should. I'm LOVING it.

Despite the issues, I feel like an absolute king, having resolved the major "elephant in the room" which bothered me every time I sat down in my car. She looks like she came from the factory with this thing, and I have this overall feeling that my interior is "complete." It's time to celebrate with a beer.

In the pictures attached, I'll include the stock blaupunkt... I never did get a good picture of it powered-on, and I wish I would have, to really hammer home how god awful ugly it was.
 

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2005 Elise LSS Saffron Yellow
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Mine has the 'Venice Beach' which is at least not an obvious silver radio in a black dash like yours was. Until I get some more sound deadening in the car I'm pretty much only listening to the the audio system when the car is stopped anyway. I'm not sure I'd choose a flaky OEM head unit in place of what I've got, but there are lots of head unit options out there, and I wouldn't mind one with less lame display bling than the Blaupunkt has.
 

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Wow. That looks great. Stereo is a really low priority for me but this is a nice improvement. Can you share a few details? How/where did you acquire the unit? How was wiring and harness hookup?
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Wow. That looks great. Stereo is a really low priority for me but this is a nice improvement. Can you share a few details? How/where did you acquire the unit? How was wiring and harness hookup?

Sure, here's what you need to know:
- It is $650 brand new from Alfa Romeo, but I doubt they can fulfill it if you order it, as they're no longer manufactured.
- Because of the defects in its first operating system version, most 4C owners have removed the Parrot and are happy to sell it for nearly free.
- Several "firmware" updates have been released which update the operating system, which make the head unit much better. You'll want a newer version of this "firmware" to ensure the thing works as well as possible
- There is one "firmware" update in particular which accidentally causes the head unit to not show a Alfa Romeo logo on startup. That's the version I got, and probably the one you'd want since you're not putting this in an AR.
- I made a post on 4c-forums.com and bought one for $100. After that, more emails came, offering it for $50 and $40.
- If you buy one, ensure they also send you the chassis (aka cage or sleeve). Without it, you cannot install it.
- None of the GPS features will work unless you buy the GPS antenna and hook that up. The seller is extremely unlikely to be willing to extract their GPS antenna from their car. I found the antenna on ebay here, but haven't purchased it: https://www.ebay.com/itm/Parrot-Ast...830275?hash=item2cce6d4b83:g:GHsAAOSwbF1aCnRN

Once you've done all this, you can just follow the usual instructions, step by step, as seen here:
https://howtune.com/articles/237-install-an-aftermarket-stereo-head-unit-on-a-lotus-elise


I'm pretty much only listening to the the audio system when the car is stopped anyway.
This is exactly why visual aesthetics were more important to me than audio quality or rich features. The fact that it sounds great was an unexpected bonus.
 

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Less is Better
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The Los Angeles is a terrible looking head unit. The Acapulco that came with the touring pack is much better looking. But they all look aftermarket to me.

Is the Parrot amplified? The documentation didn't appear to have direct powered lines to the speakers but I didn't study it too closely. It's hard to find a single DIN unit with an LCD display like the Parrot but there are a couple alternatives.

BTW - If you look at exotics from the same era, most of them have the problematic units from Becker, which don't look much better.
 

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Thanks for all the information lance_mn! bunta, I may need to send you a PM. Trying to decide if I want to tackle this wiring job.
 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
Thanks for all the information lance_mn! bunta, I may need to send you a PM. Trying to decide if I want to tackle this wiring job.
If you can cut 2 wires and connect them, you can do this. Well, except that there are 11 wires in this job. This was the simplest car audio job I've ever touched, mostly because the parrot is built to the same specs as all the aftermarket single dins, including the blaupunkt, and so no "mounting kit" is required, and all the wires match (except Yellow and red). Old blaupunkt comes out, old chassis comes out, parrot chassis goes in, parrot unit goes in. In between, connect the wires by color. For added convenience, the parrot's wires actually detach from itself via its own harness, so you can set the parrot aside and just work on a dozen wires in front of you.

Ez pz

In the "how to" article I linked, it instructs you to "re pin" the wiring harness. This is absolutely unnecessary. Just match each color with each color when you're connecting the wires, piece of cake, but swap yellow and red so that yellow connects to red and vice versa.

Personally I used this as an opportunity to finally learn to solder properly. I bought a $25 solder gun from harbor freight and spent an entire evening after work just cutting and soldering a practice wire. Once I felt like a pro, I had the parrot soldered and installed in about 3 hours the next night. Keep in mind I'm a very slow worker.

Of course you can use solderless connectors. Definitely easier and they have only failed me once in like 4 audio installs I've done.

Remember to have fun.
Lance
 

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How reliable is the Android OS, in actual practice? I've used a few non-phone Android devices, and so far I am not impressed at all.
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
Is the Parrot amplified?
55w rms. Plug it in and play.

UPDATE: I hate to report that the sound quality on this really isn't all that great. It's marginally better than the blaupunkt, but I'd say the aesthetics are now the only benefit of this head unit :(

I'm still stoked with it, but pretty sure others wouldn't be.
 
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