Originally posted by Splinemodel
What did you recently purchase? I just got a WRX and it came with the "upgrade" sound system with 6 CD in dash changer. I can't recall if the audio is integrated into the temp controls, but there is OF COURSE a way to hook up an iPod.
My 2005 Legacy came with the so-called upgrade 6 CD in-dash changed too. And yes, there are "ways" to hook-up and iPod -- I have one hooked up now -- but only shitty and/or far, far more complicated and compromised ways of doing so, involving problems which could have been avoided if Subaru wasn't either incredibly stupid about, or actively hostile towards, aftermarket audio.
If your WRX is a 2005 model, not a 2004, you probably face the same issues I do. First of all, the factory head unit has no auxiliary line input. Unlike the 2004 models, even the external link between the CD changer and the radio/amp no longer exists, closing off one popular aftermarket approach for integrating external audio sources.
The only external input is the FM antenna input -- a noisy, low-fi solution at best when compared to a line-level audio connection. Subaru even makes the best form of FM input (direct-wired input) difficult by using non-standard antenna connectors, connectors which don't work with the standard Motorola-style RF connectors typically used for hooking up external RF modulators.
(In the past few weeks has an aftermarket antenna adapter for Subaru radios become available. I lost patience well before that and hacked my own solution: cutting the pigtail antenna connector and inserting an inline male/female pair of standard Motorola connectors -- connectors designed to be solderless, but soldered and gooped down with epoxy for strain relief because they were designed for crimping onto a much thicker gauge of wire than the also-non-standard antenna lead used by Subaru.)
So, what if you'd like to do better than moderately crappy wired-FM solutions (which I'm settling for now), or a really crappy wireless solution, like using an iTrip or AirPlay? Replace the head unit with a better head unit? Like perhaps the really nice Alpine I had in my previous car and had wished to install in my new car? Hah!
The HVAC controls share a single contiguous piece of dashboard plastic with the radio/CD changer controls. At the very least, this arrangement poses mechanical and cosmetic challenges to using an aftermarket head unit.
The problems, however, go deeper than that. Behind the dashboard faceplate is a single, vertically-mounted circuit board to which both sets of controls are mounted. Behind that board is a single metal box housing, as one unit, the HVAC controls, radio, amp, and CD changer.
Short of someone designing a no-doubt very expensive, Subaru-specific replacement unit which duplicates the functionality of Subaru's HVAC system, or a difficult and expensive custom-rebuilding/repackaging of the electronics inside a factory combo HVAC/Audio unit, you're pretty much stuck with the factory sound system staying in your car -- even if you don't want to use it, it's not going anywhere.
What are some of the non-FM solutions?
There's a hack I've found online where you open up your radio, splice into the CD changer cable, and then, with the aid of a CD with nothing but a single track of 80 minutes of silence, fake out your factory unit that your now-direct-wired iPod is a CD playing. You will, of course, have to put up with the audio muting for a couple of seconds every 80 minutes when the fake-out CD audio auto-repeats.
There's also just enough space between the two air vents over the radio that, with a custom modification/rebuild of the vent housing, you can squeeze in a standard DIN-style aftermarket head unit (just barely) between the two vents. No aftermarket wiring harnesses exist for the 2005 Subaru, so you'll have to create your own harnesses or hack into the existing wiring for power, speaker output, etc., all while making sure you don't disable the power or control signals needed for the HVAC unit.
Using a homemade wiring harness and/or hacking into the factory wiring, you might also go the route of using nothing more than an amplifier wired to your speakers -- but you'd have no radio that way, and you'd have to control volume via a volume control on the amp itself (might not be convenient to reach) or via your iPod.
Both of the above approaches mean that your dashboard contains a distracting, useless and essentially dead head unit that you can't get rid of.
Even sticking with their annoying all-in-one HVAC/Audio design, it shouldn't have cost Subaru more than $5 to provide a simple auxiliary line input which could have made life so, so much easier and better not only for millions of iPod users, but satellite radio users as well.