How to Add RCA Input to Factory Radio
As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases made on our website.

An RCA jack is a signal carrier commonly used for carrying audio and video signals from one device to another. The Radio Corporation of America introduced this design, hence the acronym RCA. In this context, the RCA connector is used to carry audio signals from a factory radio to a preamp, an amplifier, or directly to the rear panel of a speaker.

Adding the RCA input is important for manually connecting the car amplifier to a factory-made radio system.

This is because for the sound coming out of the factory radio to pass through the amplifier successfully to the car speaker, the signal needs a carrier. However, dealing with a factory radio poses the challenge of adding an RCA input because most of these radios don’t come with an integrated input.

Step By Step Guide

  • Bring out the car stereo from the slot.
  • Separate the wires from the radio’s rear channel.
  • Connect the wires to the RCA converter.
  • Attach the cables from the RCA cable to the jacks and start the car.
  • Connect to the amplifier

This is explained in more detail below.

DIY Procedure

Step1: Remove the factory car stereo from the slot.

  1. For safety reasons, the first and most important step when performing any upgrade or removal on your car is to disconnect the battery from the terminals. This is to prevent accidents that could be detrimental to the parts of the car or even to the person. However, this should be done by removing the negative wire first and then the positive, ensuring that they don’t touch each other. The positive wire can be identified as a black wire or by locating the wire with a plus (+) sign. The negative is red or with a minus (-) sign.
  2. Most factory-fitted radios come with a cover known as the “stereo trim.” This is a plastic covering that forms part of the interior design and holds the radio in the slot. Remove this plastic trim by unscrewing it from the dashboard. The screw is mostly located safely in a part that is hidden from the naked eye, although this is always toward the bottom of the trim.
  3. After removing the screw, separate the trim from the dashboard by using a flathead screwdriver. Remember, these are factory-fit, which means they might be hard to separate. However, be careful with the force you add not to break the plastic.
  4. Removing the car stereo should now be easier. Although this might depend on your type of stereo, the stereo should have between 2 and 4 bolts holding it down in place. Unscrew the bolts to slide it out.

Step 2: Separate the wires from the radio’s rear channel.

  1. Most of the time, you might find that it is still difficult to bring out the stereo even after unscrewing. This is because of the antenna wire. Most often, this wire is short, and that might be responsible for the difficulty. Hold the stereo out with one hand and use the other hand to disconnect this antenna wire.
  2. There are other couples of wires you will also need to disconnect from the back of the stereo. The common ones are the speaker wires and the power wires. Gently disconnect these wires from the rear of the radio without damaging it. The best way to ensure this is by removing the wires one at a time, holding the wire with one hand and the stereo with the other hand firmly.

Please note: it is important to note of where you remove each of these wires to make it easier when you have to put them back.

Step 3: Connect the wires to the RCA converter.

  1. Before connecting the wires, the first step to take is locating where to mount the converter. This might sound strange, but as a non-professional, the best way to save wastage is to first find out where you want to put the converter. This step will be able to guide your selection of how long the wires will be.
  2. Run a wire from the position you have chosen to mount the converter to your head unit. The dashed box behind the head unit might not be an ideal position for the converter because it might cause discomfort when putting the stereo back in.
  3. Connect the wires to the splice bar of the converter and place them where you have decided.

Step 4: Attach the cables from the RCA cable to the jacks and run down the car

Next, connect the RCA cables to the jack and run it from the converter down through the headbox. This should come out through the box to the engine unit to make it easier to connect to the amplifier.

Step 5: Connect to the amplifier

To get your speaker working, connect the wires to the amplifier to power it. Now you can test to be sure your connection is working.

Fix all connections back and replace the stereo in the dash box. Fix it all the same way you removed it. Everything should work perfectly now.

Please note: To prevent the converter from producing a rattling sound when the car is in motion, you can screw it down or tape it to a surface to hold it in place.s

RCA Adapters for Stock Radio

Connecting an amplifier without speaker-level inputs to an amplifier with no preamp outputs is made possible by using the RCA adapter that comes with the receiver. An example of this is the LOC2S amplifier add-on RCA adapter.

Speaker to RCA Converter

These are adapters that convert audio signals from an electronic device to a speaker-level output. This adapter is compatible with smartphones, multimedia players, tablets, and so on. An example of this is the “CESS-064-1f Speaker Cables to RCA Plugs Adapter”.

Car Stereo RCA Output

As long as your head unit has RCA outputs that work, an amplifier can be added to your stereo. This makes it possible for audio signals to reach the amplifier and be turned into powerful signals that can drive the car speakers. Else, you will only get low-quality sounds or no sounds at all.

FAQs

1. Can I use any RCA input for my car?

It depends! Knowing the exact type of RCA that works best for your car may be the only help you will need. However, in most cases, you can easily get this help at no cost by asking the seller which RCA would be best for you.

2. Can I use RCA input without an amp?

No! RCA cables are used to connect amplifiers to speakers and vice versa. Therefore, thinking of using an RCA cable without an amp may defeat the purpose of using an RCA input.

3. Are RCA converters expensive?

That will depend on your definition of “expensive.” But, in a truer sense, an RCA converter only costs a couple of bucks to a few hundred dollars.

Conclusion

Adding an RCA input to your factory radio might look like a task only a professional should attempt, but when you look at the importance of having an RCA cable to the factory radio, almost everyone should be able to do it. The steps in this article should guide you to fixing one in your car when the need arises.