Why are MB radio/cdplayers so complicated?

I'd like to buy a new cd/mp3 player to replace my MB (not Bose) radio/tape player and I can find many nice players BUT no one has wiring harnesses, connectors, etc for the Mercedes. Circuit City wouldn't even consider an
installation, saying that they have tried but end up causing many problems that the dealers have to straighten out.
Why is the MB radio system so much more complicated than say, an American car's radio? What are the specifics that cause the complications?
There must be a logical explanation, isn't there? Don S.
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I think the reason for less aftermarket Mercedes audio is more a matter of the components being less standard or less common, rather than being too complicated. That, combined with a much smaller market for add-on components among MB owners, just means less stuff is available and less people to install them.
A couple of examples in older MBs are the console-mounted fader (more typically incorporated in the player) and, the ability for the radio to keep playing when you shut the key off, until a door is opened. Hooking an aftermarket system into the wiring of features like these is not necessarily complicated, but easy to mess up for less experienced installers (e.g. ending up with a radio that only plays with the door open :-).
MB also has used different systems in the same model/year runs which vary by putting tuners and amps in the trunk for example. Again, not complicated to interface aftermarket components into if you have diagrams for the interface cables, but there just is not a big enough market for most shops to mess with them. And now, newer MBs, use fiber-optic cables to reduce cost/interference, and to increase bandwidth. Interfacing to these cables is only possible with electronic adapters, and such adapters will take a while to show up in the aftermarket.
Here are some relatively low cost things that you can do (or nearly any stereo shop can do) if you want to upgrade your system without major surgery:
1 - replace your front tweeters and midrange speakers with higher quality items. If your car does not already have well filtered separate tweeters up front, use component speaker sets (component speaker sets have separate mid range and tweeter with a crossover). High price does not necessarily mean high quality, so do a little research. 2-Way speakers are better than nothing, but a good component set is worth the work. 2 - Add amplifiers up front that have "speaker-level" inputs. These amps allow you to simply use the factory speaker lines (usually only 10watts or so) as inputs so that you do not have to "splice" into your factory system looking for line-level inputs. With even as little as 100-200 watt amps you can make a huge improvement in your front sound stage with high-end component speaker sets (which require more power than the factory unit produces). More power does not necessarily mean ear-splitting volume. High quality speakers have bigger magnets, more travel, and separate mid/tweeters which demand more power to generate the cleaner sound. 3 - Increase bass with a discretely placed subwoofer "tube" or box in the trunk. There are also custom aftermarket subwoofer enclosures designed to hide away nicely in some cars. Better bass makes a huge difference for nearly all types of music. These units are available with built-in amplifier and low pass filter so you can just plug in your rear speaker wires and along with 12v line. Try to get at least 200W-400W of bass power. Do not worry about giving up your rear speakers - high quality speakers up front combined with good bass usually sounds much better than the "4-door" set up anyway. 4 - If you need a CD player, consider adding a changer (most MB dash units come with changer controls), or get a factory in-dash CD player off eBay that plugs right into your dash. If you need MP3, you'll probably have to go with a trunk mounted "changer" with an FM-modulator style hookup.
I've used these in various combinations on our cars and the difference is sound quality is amazing - especially in the quiet MBs. They avoid messing with the existing electronic/wiring and require no structural "hacks" to you automobile. If you do not like doing the work yourself, take these ideas to a PROFESSIONAL stereo shop and see what they say. Eventually you will get a nice setup!
Scott D

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CLK wrote:

Yes. There is a quite easy explanation: You have to buy a MB radio with a three times higher price than a "normal radio."
Last time I wanted to connect my brand-new MP3-player via an line-in connector to my MB Audio10 radio. The MB service-guy told me, that I need an MB CD changer to get a line-in connection to my radio. For just 700 Euros fitting incl. Good joke I thought and bought an FM-Modulator for just 49 Euros. But as you know as an owner of such a aweful car everything is much more expensive than you can expect.
I have an SLK and this car is more days per year at the car repair shop than on the road. But it will be my last mercedes. In this live.
best regards,
Manfred.
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