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Although the BMW X5 is considered a premium vehicle, the OEM audio system within was definitely entry level. On the X5, BMW offers multiple audio system configuration choices such as in-dash navigation, subwoofer and CD changer - however other than the standard factory amp, our X5 had none of these luxuries. The only sources available on this '03 BMW were AM, FM or cassette. With such a bare-bones system, we decided to get started upgrading several areas. This upgrade allowed us to also evaluate some new and existing products from Kenwood, Vizualogic and EFX
The World's Easiest Upgrade For Your Factory Radio Kenwood KOS-A200 Replacing the radio in the X5 is not an easy proposition. Instead of replacing it, we decided to add some digital audio sources via Kenwood's KOS-A200. Officially the KOS-A200 is described as External Media Controller with RDS Encoder, but it's easier to think of it as a universal auxiliary audio interface. The KOS-A200 is essentially an FM modulator - connecting to the OEM radio via the vehicle's antenna system. It features a slick RDS encoder that allows the external source information to be displayed on any RDS-text equipped radio. This means there's no awkward external display controller to detract from the handsome BMW dash.
The heart of the KOS-A200 system is a hide-away unit that features USB, auxiliary audio RCA, 3.5mm and Kenwood's proprietary 5L input connectivity. The 5L input is compatible with Kenwood's CD changer, iPod interface, satellite radio tuner, HD Radio tuner or Bluetooth hands-free kit. We decided to connect Kenwood's iPod interface (KCA-iP500) to the 5L input on the KOS-A200. It must be noted that out of the box, the KOS-A200 comes supplied with a USB cable and USB flash drive so it doesn't need another Kenwood accessory for it to function.