Friday, January 18, 2008

I'm super Sirius

Today, I decided to take the plunge and have satellite radio in my car. This is something I've been thinking about doing for over 5 years now and have just never gotten around to. When I bought my Kenwood car stereo, the deck came with the option to have Sirius installed for free, as long as you signed up for a year of service. That seemed excessive to me, so I never did it. I'm kicking my 2002 counterpart now.

For Christmas, my uncle gave me a gift certificate for a Sportster head unit, which is an external Sirius tuner for your car. I went to Best Buy and picked it up a couple of weeks ago...then waited until today for an install appointment. I figured they'd slam it in there and I'd be up and running by this evening. How foolish of me.

First, the Best Buy installer told me I'd need a 35 dollar FM Modulator to make my Sirius Sportster 5 work through my Kenwood CD player. I knew this was false, as I had already visited and verified that my computer had a rear auxilary input open for this already. I told the tech this.

"Have you ever heard of a rear auxilary input in a Kenwood deck?" the installation tech asked one of his coworkers.

"Um, they're only in about 85% of the stereos we sell out there" the other guy replied.

If only he had been the one doing the install.

The tech opened the box up and separated all the components. He told me that he'd need a special RCA to headphone adapter that they didn't have in the install bay, so I should really go the FM Modulator route. I told him that I'm sure Best Buy carried that cable and I'd rather have a direct hook-up to my head unit than have to tune to a FM radio frequency to hear satellite radio. He went out and found the cable.

I walked around Best Buy and looked at televisions, cameras, video games and every other section of the store. If anyone ever wants to buy me a thirty thousand dollar gift card for Best Buy, I could spend it all in 5 minutes. After about an hour of perusing their inventory, I got a call from their install tech. I walked back to the install bay.

"We can't figure out how to switch your deck to Auxilary" the tech told me.

I showed him how to switch the sources.

It's a pretty tricked out deck, so I don't really blame him for not knowing the menu system intimately. It is strange that they didn't have some sort of online or printed knowledge base to check, but I was happy to click a few buttons and get them back on their way. Just to be safe, I decided to wait in the chairs at the install bay for the rest of the installation.

As I read through Time magazine, I saw my windshield wipers go on several times. I thought to myself "That can't be good." Mike called me. I had dropped my car off just before 4pm and it was now 5:45. I told him that I was unfortunately still stuck at Best Buy and I was going to miss racquetball at 6. Nothing I could we rescheduled for Saturday.

The tech informed me that he was done. He backed the car out of the install bay and turned on the new satellite radio. No sound. After fiddling with the buttons a bit, he informed me that perhaps I needed a different cable than the "Y connector" I had suggested using to connect it to the deck. I said "I don't think the cable is a problem but let's try it with my Zune". We plugged my Zune in and that didn't work either.

He checked his connections and then suggested my deck was broken. I knew this wasn't the case. My Kenwood Keg also wasn't working any more. I suggested we bring the car back into the install bay, but he brought a flashlight out and fiddled with the cables in the parking lot. Eventually....he informed me that my satellite radio was properly installed and it was my deck was having a problem. He said I could visit Car Toys to buy a cable Best Buy didn't carry, and if they didn't have it either, then I'd need a new stereo.

He handed me the paperwork to sign, which I wouldn't sign without writing that the installation was not complete. I had him sign it as well. I was now the proud owner of a brand new Sirius Sportser 5 that did not work. I thanked him for the effort and drove to Car Toys.

I described my stereo problems to them and they charged me around 30 bucks to look at it. Their techs quickly discovered all the things the Best Buy guy had done wrong and fixed them. No new products needed. He even tweaked my deck so that I could control my amps from the head unit instead of from the trunk controls (which is how I currently do it). I now have access to more bass than any human ever needs.

I drove back to Best Buy to collect my paperwork and tell them what Car Toys had done to fix it. They didn't seem that interested. I believe I'll be taking the whole thing back to Car Toys to get it rewired sometime soon. I don't like it on the left side of the car where the Best Buy guy said it had to go, and I'm definitely not trusting them with it again.

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