Aftermarket stereo for ION

Discussion in 'Saturn ION' started by Chris Seal, Oct 16, 2003.

  1. Chris Seal

    Chris Seal Guest

    I have a 2003 ION3. The supplied stereo radio/cassette/CD does not play
    MP3s, and the freqeuncy response is tinny. Turning the bass response up only
    distorts the bass.

    Has anyone replaced the GM stereo with an aftermarket stereo?

    What I want to do is replace the built in radio/cassette/CD with an
    aftermarket brand that plays MP3s in the CD player.

    As far as I know there are no radio/cassette/CD/MP3 sets to buy, only

    Once this is done I want to improve the bass response for the radio (and
    cassette). If this does not improve with a change to the stereo system then
    I would then replace the speakers. Anyone done this on an ION yet?

    If anyone has done one or both of these things, what brands did you use and
    did it improve the sound without resorting to buying an additional
    Chris Seal, Oct 16, 2003
  2. If you replace the head unit and keep the original speakers, you will not
    get much improvement. Even replacing the speakers with your current head
    unit would likely make a big difference (on my old Sunfire, even cheapo
    replacement speakers were way better than stock, with a stock CD player).
    Robert Hancock, Oct 16, 2003
  3. I've seen a few Ions on cardomain that have had aftermarket decks installed.
    I'm curious as to exactly which stock saturn system you're using. I have
    the 6 disc in dash changer/cassette player along with the 160W 6 speaker
    advanced audio system and it sounds really good for a stock
    system........considering how picky I am about audio that means a lot. The
    only thing I've bothered to do was to have a single amp and subwoofer tapped
    into the stock system for that extra low end that was missing. I do plan on
    eventually replacing everything with a custom competition or at least show
    level setup but that's a few months or more and several 1000 dollars off.

    Charles Paluda, Oct 16, 2003
  4. Chris Seal

    Chris Seal Guest

    Hi Charles,

    My ION3 came with the 'AM/FM stereo with CD/cassette player and four coaxial

    Similary equipped 2004s have 'four coaxial premium speakers'. So there's a
    Also, the 2004s have 'ETR AM/FM stereo w/CD player, MP3 player, radio data

    And all stereos on 2004s have 'improved sound quality and equalization'.
    Chris Seal, Oct 16, 2003
  5. Chris Seal

    Wurm Guest

    im going to have to disagree with Robert here, of course, you're talking ION
    and I have a SL2, but I think its safe to assume that the stock speakers in
    both cars are about the same. Anyway, I replaced the garbage stock tape
    player with a Pioneer 50x4 (dont remember the exact model number, but if
    your interested i could dig it up for you) CD/radio player and the
    difference in sound quality was amazing. Music sounds great now and I was
    actually pleasantly surprised by the quality of the speakers considering the
    genre of music I listen to which generally kills speakers in a month.... and
    they are still going strong after 2.5 years :)

    Wurm, Oct 16, 2003
  6. Chris Seal

    Chris Seal Guest

    Thanks for the feedback, Wurm.


    Chris Seal, Oct 16, 2003
  7. Hmmm, mine is 2003 as well, but it sounds like you have a different speaker
    setup and it's being run off of the amp in the deck so yeah that could very
    well be the sound quality problem. You don't necessarily have to replace
    the deck but if you replace the speakers you will want an amp for them since
    I highly doubt the deck by itself can properly drive aftermarket speakers.
    Maybe the best route here is to replace the deck first and see how the sound
    does. It all comes down to how much you can spend and what you really want
    to do I guess.

    Charles Paluda, Oct 16, 2003
  8. Chris Seal

    Lane Guest

    I would have to agree.

    Dollar for dollar, money spent on speakers will usually make more of an
    audible difference than anywhere else. But at a minimum, try to replace the
    head unit and at least the front speakers at the same time to get the most
    out of your upgrade.

    Lane [ l a n e @ p a i r . c o m ]
    Visit my Saturn Car Audio and Performance Page at

    Lane, Oct 16, 2003
  9. I've heard both the standard and the premium system (the premium is what I
    have in my car). I agree, the premium system is pretty good for a stock
    setup. The standard speaker system sounds like a clock radio by comparison.
    Robert Hancock, Oct 17, 2003
  10. hehe there's always the frankenaudio system I had in my 94 SC2. When I
    bought it I got it with just the basic cassette/stereo but bought the
    coaxial front/extended range rear speaker package......Saturn's high end
    speakers at the time. It was ok, but I changed it, I disconnected the deck
    from all the speakers and tapped in an Audio Control EQX EQ/crossover
    unit.....if you don't know what that is it's a high end competition level
    processor that in 94 was $350. Ran that out to a 4 channel amp and tapped
    the amp into the stock speakers and also had another amp and subs in there.
    Believe it or not that actually sounded pretty decent. Probably only
    because of the EQX though lol. I even custom designed the box so that I
    could remove the spare tire without having to remove any stereo stuff even
    though the box still took up half the trunk almost.

    Charles Paluda, Oct 17, 2003
  11. Chris Seal

    Logan Parker Guest

    You'll need a mount kit, Metra PN# 99-3106, and it's always nice to use a
    no-cut wire harness as well, to plug into the GM harness, Metra PN# 70-2002.
    Most install shops should have those kits, but also, a stereo install is
    really not too difficult. With the help of that kit and harness, you can
    probably do it yourself. I would recommend the Kenwood KDC-MP522, or if you
    want more toys, the MP822 or MP922. Sounds great, even with the stock
    Logan Parker, Oct 22, 2003
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