and Handsfree Phone
for the C6 Corvette
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Some time ago, I started doing some research on the ideal Bluetooth kit for the C6 Corvette. There are many Bluetooth alternatives in the aftermarket sector, but none of them are ideal for the C6 Corvette. However, I recently came across one that combined with either my auxiliary input harnesses or a Version 2 PAL, it will satisfy most any Vette owner for handsfree calling as well as audio streaming from most any new smartphone.
Here's the Kinivo BTC450:
This simple little device is almost perfect for the C6 Corvette as it is. Once mounted and installed, it looks nice in the Vette interior, and just as important, it works great and it will do a lot. It will automatically connect to a paired smartphone, and not just an iPhone like the PALs. It will connect to Android phones and about anything that supports Bluetooth. Once connected, you have handsfree calling with voice over the Corvette audio system which is clear as a bell. And not only do you have handsfree calling, but your entire music library on your smartphone is connected wirelessly via Bluetooth to the Corvette audio system. You no longer need a PAL to listen to your own personal music. Finally, you can stream internet audio applications like Pandora via Bluetooth as well. You can't ask for much more in a device under $50 bucks.
The Kinivo button interface:
has a blue and red LED on the left to indicate pairing and operating functions, the microphone, and a two button switch at the top for advancing or rewinding the next or previous songs on your playlists.
This button is all you see.
Click HERE for a link to their website.
Here is what the BTC450 can look like in your Vette:
But there are many alternate locations as well. Here it is mounted on the center console with its double stick tape:
In a Z06, it can be mounted on the headliner near the visor:
or next to the Onstar microphone:
Here it is near the ignition switch:
The above photos show alternative locations for the control button, but there's more to installing this device. You need two more connections:
1. A power source, and
2. An auxiliary input to your audio system
Let's discuss these:
The Power Source
The BTC450 comes with a cigarette lighter plug:
It will conveniently plug into the power socket of the center console. Plus it will allow a USB power adapter cable to connect and power your smartphone. This is great, except for one thing. In the Corvette, the power sockets are always hot, even when you shut the car down. Although the BTC450 only requires about 7 mA of current in sleep mode, this will drain your battery if you leave it connected for a long time. If you are willing to pull the plug at the end of your trip, this option will work for you.
If not, Click Here for a simple modification you can make to your fuse panel to make this Auxiliary Power Outlet hot only when your Vette is in Run or Accessory Mode.
Here is a center console installation with the power plug connected:
An Auxiliary Input to your Audio System
To provide good quality sound for both handsfree calling and audio streaming, you must be able to tie in to the Corvette audio system. Small and separate speakers won't do the job, especially in a car like the Vette with a lot of road noise. Many Bluetooth kits on the market brag about their portability - visor or other mounts with their own speakers. But battery powered modules force you to constantly be concerned about battery life and portable speakers are useless for quality audio streaming. That's why the BTC450 will meet the needs of most Corvette owners.
The problem, however, is that many C6s don't have an auxiliary input. After 2008, the factory non-Nav radios have an auxiliary input, but until 2011, none of the factory Navigation radio equipped Corvettes have a way to connect even an iPod. The Version 2 PAL provides an auxiliary input, and those with Version 2 PALs can use the auxiliary input for the Bluetooth device. And owners with original GM PALs can have their software updated to activate the auxiliary input on their PALs. But owners without PALs and with the factory Nav radios have a problem - no auxiliary input.
A couple of years ago, I started offering Auxiliary Input Harnesses for C6s that have an XM receiver. Although XM didn't become standard until 2008, many 2005-2007 C6s have that option. The factory option code for the XM satellite receiver is U2K, and if you have it, you will find U2K listed on the white options label in the glove box. Also, if you have the XM receiver, it's easy to tell from the buttons on the Nav radio. Without XM, the four soft buttons on the left of the Nav screen will be AM, FM1, FM2, and CD. With XM, the four buttons will be AM, FM1/2, XM1/2, and CD. You don't need an XM subscription for the XM1/2 buttons to show up.
If you are lucky enough to have an XM receiver, you have a couple of choices for one of my Auxiliary Input Harnesses. The simplest and least expensive is the AUX-1 harness. If you don't have an XM subscription and no longer need the audio from the XM receiver, the AUX-1 harness simply plugs into the XM receiver connector and uses the audio input to the radio for the auxiliary input. You push the XM1/2 button on your radio and whatever is connected to the AUX-1 harness will be heard over the audio system. Note that I install a 3.5mm (1/8") plug on the end of the cable from the AUX-1 harness:
BUT for the Bluetooth kit I offer the AUX-1F harness, with a female 3.5mm jack. Here's an AUX-1F harness connected to my XM receiver in my 2007 Z06:
Here is the AUX-1F harness with its male and female connectors:
Here is the other end with the 3.5mm jack:
Note: the photo above shows the female 3.5mm jack of an AUX-1F harness.
Here is the Bluetooth audio connection to the jack:
If you already have an AUX-1 harness with the 3.5mm plug, you can pick up a female/female adapter at Radio Shack.
The XM receiver is very easy to get to in the C6 Corvette. In the coupe and Z06, it is located in a plastic tray behind the carpet above the left rear wheel well. You don't even need tools to access it. In the convertible, it is located behind the waterfall between the seats. Once the receiver is pulled out or the waterfall is removed, you simply unplug the 16 pin connector from the receiver and connect the AUX-1 harness between the connector and receiver. Once done, audio from the Bluetooth device is fed to the radio instead of XM audio.
For those of you who do subscribe to XM, I offer the AUX-2 harness:
The AUX-2 harness has a 3.5mm jack:
that can be mounted in the center console:
to allow the Bluetooth to be connected directly to the jack. To listen to XM, you remove the Bluetooth plug and the XM audio is routed through the jack and back to the radio.
Click HERE for more details about the AUX harnesses.
Once you have the Bluetooth kit connected, it is easy to hide the wires under or behind the carpet, so all you see is the Kinivo control button. Your smartphone can be anywhere, even in your pocket. Here is my Motorola Droid Razr playing Johnny Horton wirelessly through the audio system:
Sound quality is excellent, as good as the direct wired Version 2 PAL.
How does this setup compare to the Version 2 PAL? Quality-wise, it is just as good. What is missing here is display of your music on the Nav screen. Also, your music searches must be done on the smartphone. But many owners just let their music play, even shuffling their song and playlists, so there is no real need for searches. The button on the Bluetooth control allows you to skip a song by pushing the advance button, which is very convenient. It would be nice if the steering wheel controls would do that, but that's a convenience it doesn't have. But the PAL won't do handfree calling and it won't work with just any smartphone. Also it won't do music streaming from Pandora unless you're in Direct Mode, and once you're in Direct Mode you lose your music information on the Nav screen anyway. The Kinivo will work with most any smartphone, including Android smartphones.
So it's a close call. This Bluetooth setup does a lot. It's not quite as nicely integrated as the Version 2 PAL, but its versatility makes it a very desirable option for most any C6 owner. It should be noted however, that early C6 Vettes without an auxiliary input or an XM radio option are out of luck. 2005 Vette owners might want to check out THIS PAGE for adding an XM receiver, otherwise I don't know of a way to add an auxiliary input to those Vettes except a complete radio replacement with an aftermarket unit or one of the new USB Nav radios from a 2011-13 C6 Vette. You CAN add a Version 2 PAL however.
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