Sony XR4950X Car Stereo Installation.

If you are wondering why we have a car stereo page yet don't sell car stereos there is a good reason. We USED to sell car stereos with shortwave coverage. Unfortunately the market has changed and this gear has become increasingly difficult to find. This page still gets a lot of traffic so we have left it up for you. Please feel free to visit our main web site at www.durhamradio.com to see all of the products we now carry.

Please note that installing a car stereo isn't for everyone. Some shops don't charge a great deal for this service and it might be your best route if you do not have some basic mechanical and electronics skills. This page should give you a pretty good idea as to whether you want to attempt the job yourself or leave it to the pros. This article in not intended to be a comprehensive guide and it deals with one radio and one vehicle only. Your situation may be very different.

The pictures below show the steps I took to install a Sony XR-4950X AM/FM/Shortwave Radio with Cassette in my 1993 Mercury Sable. Other vehicles may be more complicated and require additional parts. Please note that if you are considering a current model shortwave radio, there won't be any difference in the installation technique.

Before working on the electrical system of your vehicle, it is recommended that you disconnect the vehicle's battery. This is just a precaution. Better safe than sorry, right?

Here's a picture of the original factory stereo. Notice the holes on the left and right side of the front of the radio. On this vehicle the holes are completely exposed. On other vehicles it may be necessary to remove one or two pieces of trim that cover the edges of the stereo. A special tool is inserted into the holes to release the clips holding the radio in place. I used a poor man's version made out of a coat hanger. The proper tool is called a DIN tool and is available at car stereo shops and some larger department and hardware stores that carry car stereos and parts.
   
The radio slid out quite easily. The next stop is to unplug all of the connections to the radio. This is what the dash looks like with the stereo removed. None of the wires are labelled so it would be pretty tough to wire in the new stereo without a wiring diagram.
   
This is the wiring harness that comes with the car stereo. All of the wires are identified in the manual that comes with the radio. Although it could have been wired directly to the wires sticking out of the dash, I chose to connect to an aftermarket harness that plugs into the connetors that were made for the factory car stereo. The easiest way to wire up a stereo is to buy a wiring harness that connects directly to the existing factory cable assemblies. The harness comes with a wiring diagram explaining what each wire is used for. Notice that this vehicle requires a set of two harnesses and they come in one package. There are two plugs on each harness making these a "universal" fit for a wide range of Ford/Mercury vehicles. If you purchase these adapters, you won't have to cut off the factory connectors on the vehicle. It will be a snap to re-install the factory radio!
   
The photo shows the store-bought harnesses wired to the new car stereo harness. This is the intermediate connection that adapts the car's wiring to the new stereo. The connections were soldered and heat shrink tubing was used to insulate the connections. Good crimp connections would work fine here too. Before installing the stereo, a metal mounting sleeve is installed. It comes with the new stereo. There are whole bunch of "V" shaped tab in the sleeve. Push in a few tabs to secure the sleeve in place. Simply choose tabs that won't hit an obstruction when you push them in but hold the sleeve in position at the same time.
   
The above image shows everything wired in place and the stereo is ready to be installed. Don't forget the antenna connection. (not connected in the picture.) Here's the stereo finally in place. It's a perfect fit. Unfortunately, it didn't slide in that smoothly. I ended up cutting off the plugs that were not used on the harness.
   
Here's a picture of the radio pulling in WBCQ loud and clear from my driveway in Whitby, Ontario. Although the stereo sounded great in comparison to the factory stereo, the extra power was putting a real strain on the factory speakers. To take advantage of all this stereo has to offer, I decided to upgrade the speakers. Shown here is the new speaker I purchased (left) verses the factory speaker (right). Notice the big difference in the size of the magnet. The new speakers are 3-way for better mids and highs. The original speakers didn't have a midrange or tweeter in them.
   

Speaker Installation

The front speakers were mounted in the doors so the door panels had to be removed. There were only a couple of screws to remove. The skin was easy to pry off. The new front speakers were the same size so no modifications were necessary.

The rear speakers were much easier to  replace. It was only a matter of lifting the metal grills on the rear deck to get to the speakers. No work was required in the trunk.

The original rear speakers were 6 x 8. To make the install simple I chose the same size speakers. There is room on the back deck for bigger speakers (most people choose 6 x 9's) however I was looking for an easy install and went out of my way to find speakers that would fit without any modifications whatsoever.

The factory speakers were pretty cheap so I decided to dispose of them. Before throwing them out, I took the quick connects off the speakers and soldered one to each of the new speakers. This made the new speakers "plug and play" with the factory wiring. Of course, before I removed the connectors from the old speakers, I marked the positive terminal.