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Basic Car Audio Upgrades, Honda Civic Part 1

For More On This Vehicle: Basic Car Audio Upgrades, Honda Civic Part 2, Amplifier, Speakers

If you’re wondering how to make your music sound better in your car you’re possibly stumped because of all the options. I often hear from people who get the idea that the whole sound system is trash and so it all has to get upgraded at once for the best improvement. There’s a more simple and affordable way to approach this, which is why I’m going to show you an affordable upgrade path demonstrated on a popular car.

The customer came to me with a 2008 Honda Civic EX sedan. This is from the 8th generation of Civic which includes model years 2006-2011. We agreed early on that the entire factory audio system would be upgraded, but I have been doing the installation in stages. The first thing to go was the head unit. I used a dash kit by Metra, p/n 99-7871T.

Factory Radio - 2006-2011 Honda Civic
Factory Radio – 2006-2011 Honda Civic
Metra 99-7871T Taupe dash kit for '06-'11 Civic
Metra 99-7871T Taupe dash kit for ’06-’11 Civic

A dash kit allows a factory radio to be replaced with an aftermarket radio. A replacement radio will be sized as single DIN or double DIN. This Civic has room for a double DIN radio to fill the entire dash opening but my customer decided to use a single DIN radio. The opening is filled in with a storage pocket below the radio. The buttons, knobs, and vent are transferred over from the factory panel for an OEM feel and functionality.

Clarion CZ702
Clarion CZ702

What you’re looking at above is the top model of single DIN radio for Clarion in 2012, the CZ702. The suggested retail price is $249.99 and the street price is around $220. This unit offers direct iPod/iPhone control and charging by USB, Bluetooth hands-free calling and stereo music streaming, aux input on the front, Pandora, HD Radio Ready and SiriusXM Ready, 3-way active crossover option and digital time alignment. This is an excellent sounding radio that is ready to control a 2-way component speaker + subwoofer system with a high amount of flexibility for crossover frequency selection.

When you get a new radio installed you also need a wire harness and an antenna adapter. This car required Metra p/n 70-1721 for the wire harness to connect to power, ground, and the speakers, as well as Metra p/n 40-HD10 to connect to the Honda factory AM/FM radio antenna. These are essential parts for the upgrade but they come at a moderate price. Expect to pay anywhere between $20 and $40 for the two parts. Sometimes these might be discounted as part of a shop flat rate installation fee, but that will vary.

'08 Civic Dash with Clarion CZ702
’08 Civic Dash with Clarion CZ702

When I stopped here the Civic had a more lively sound to it. The customer now had a way to plug in their iPhone or iPod by USB plus Bluetooth. In articles to follow I’ll show an amplifier installation, speaker upgrades, some sound deadening treatments, as well as a powered subwoofer upgrade.

Barry Schanz