Tried to do a stereo upgrade...

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2012 Mazda5 Sport 6MT
I have a 2012 Mazda5 Sport 6MT with the factory stereo that includes the 6-disc changer. I don't use the changer very much and thought that I'd upgrade to a 2013+ OEM stereo so that I could get the USB/iPod compatibility and control my modded 128GB iPod classic via the steering wheel and have it pause when I shut off the car. I bought a cheap stereo and the appropriate USB cable but it's not working as planned.

I'm wondering if some of the functions are controlled by the body control module or if I just got a defective stereo. None of the buttons or knobs on the radio work, but I do have some limited control via the steering wheel controls (volume, mode, scroll through presets). Not surprisingly the aux input no longer works as that's part of the 16-pin connector on the original radio, and this new one has a 12-pin. I haven't found any pinouts for the 12-pin connector on the new radio so I don't know how to match them up with the wires on the 16-pinner, but this all may be a moot point anyway. I wasn't able to select the USB/iPod mode via the steering wheel control either.

That 16-pin connector seems to be fairly common on Mazdas through 2012, so now I'm tempted to go back to the original stereo and just use one of those eBay special Bluetooth/Aux devices in place of the factory aux jack. I'm reluctant to go with one of those because I find most of the cheap Chinese electronics to be of dubious quality and usability, but for $15 it might be worth a shot. They don't say that they support a 2012 Mazda5, but I'm assuming that they will since it's the last usage of the 16-pin connector that Mazda used for years across a number of models.
 
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2013 Mazda 5 Sport
I my 2013 Sport AT did not have a 6 disc changer, but when I replaced my head unit, the AUX and USB also stopped working. That little unit has its own harness that plugs into the back of the OEM unit and is not part of the main stereo harness. If I were in your case, I would replace the head unit with a decent aftermarket unit. I know the market is tough at this time and inventory is low and prices are high, but it's worth it.
 
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2012 Mazda5 Sport 6MT
I my 2013 Sport AT did not have a 6 disc changer, but when I replaced my head unit, the AUX and USB also stopped working. That little unit has its own harness that plugs into the back of the OEM unit and is not part of the main stereo harness. If I were in your case, I would replace the head unit with a decent aftermarket unit. I know the market is tough at this time and inventory is low and prices are high, but it's worth it.
It seems that 2012 was the last year for the 6-disc changer; subsequent models all had USB/iPod capability, and that's when they changed from the 16-pin plug for the aux port (and whatever else) to the 12-pin. I picked up the changer on eBay for $10 or $20, thinking that I'd make MP3 CDs, but I never really got around to it; for at least the last 7 years the same discs have been in the changer. I tried one of those full-screen Chinesium Android-based DVD/nav units but didn't care for it and so it sits in the basement.

There is a square connector on the back of the 2013+ radios near the antenna connector that is strictly for the factory USB port; they aren't listed as being for a Mazda but for a Camry and other Toyota models. I bought that cable to go with the 2013+ stereo I bought but I was unable to get it to work in my testing since the radio wasn't responding to button presses; perhaps I should contact the seller and see if I can exchange it as I don't see any reason why I shouldn't be able to have the buttons and knobs work unless the BCM is getting in the way. At first I ordered the wrong gender of cable, buying the one that allows you to re-use the factory USB port on the 2013+ cars with an aftermarket stereo (like https://www.ebay.com (commissions earned)), then ordered the correct one that plugs into the stereo; If I can't get this to work perhaps I'll just plug the two into each other and have a generic USB extension cable.

I am using an Anker Roav for Bluetooth via the aux port, so perhaps I'll just stick with that and make those MP3 CDs I've considered. I also have a generic Bluetooth remote, one that appears to be for phone VR setups, that allows me to switch tracks and such. I also built a little box out of a broken set of headphones that integrates with a factory button I put in place of one of the blanks on the left of the steering column that allows me to skip ahead, play previous track and play/pause. I should modify it a little bit to include a microphone and I'll have a decent hands-free setup, although not as well integrated as the factory solution would be. I could have bought a 2013 model since I bought my 2012 well after the 2013s had rolled out, but the 20% discount that I got on the car was just too good to pass up.
 
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South Carolina
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12 MZ5 13 CX-5
Also have a 2012 Mazda5, and I've documented my stereo build on this site.

#1: ditch the factory radio. It ain't great in the slightest. I went for a Kenwood DDX8706S in the car, which has dual USB inputs (one for the 256 gig thumb drive, the other for the phone). It also has wireless Android Auto. Plus, with the correct interface, an iDataLink Maestro RR, you can even have full gauges, right on the face of your stereo. You also get inputs for a backup camera, along with most anything else you can think of. Plus, the sound quality is absolutely on point.

#2, if you're going to rip all of your CD's like I did, (all 400+ of them!) do NOT waste your time and rip them to mp3. Mp3 is trash, rip them to flac. Mp3 was literally made even before Windows 95 to be able to transmit music across a 14.4kbps modem and be stored on a 40 MEG hard drive. It's 30 year old software that should have died before the turn of the century. With $30 256 gig thumb drives and 100 mbps Internet speeds, there is not one single valid reason to still be using mp3.

#3, the factory speakers are trash. You need to change them. Even a modest upgrade to something like a $79 set of Mmats 6x8's will make a tremendous difference in sound quality

#4, our vans have ZERO factory sound insulation. None. You really need to address that as well. Again, I documented how I did mine here on this website.
 
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2012 Mazda5 Sport 6MT
Also have a 2012 Mazda5, and I've documented my stereo build on this site.

#1: ditch the factory radio. It ain't great in the slightest. I went for a Kenwood DDX8706S in the car, which has dual USB inputs (one for the 256 gig thumb drive, the other for the phone). It also has wireless Android Auto. Plus, with the correct interface, an iDataLink Maestro RR, you can even have full gauges, right on the face of your stereo. You also get inputs for a backup camera, along with most anything else you can think of. Plus, the sound quality is absolutely on point.

#2, if you're going to rip all of your CD's like I did, (all 400+ of them!) do NOT waste your time and rip them to mp3. Mp3 is trash, rip them to flac. Mp3 was literally made even before Windows 95 to be able to transmit music across a 14.4kbps modem and be stored on a 40 MEG hard drive. It's 30 year old software that should have died before the turn of the century. With $30 256 gig thumb drives and 100 mbps Internet speeds, there is not one single valid reason to still be using mp3.

#3, the factory speakers are trash. You need to change them. Even a modest upgrade to something like a $79 set of Mmats 6x8's will make a tremendous difference in sound quality

#4, our vans have ZERO factory sound insulation. None. You really need to address that as well. Again, I documented how I did mine here on this website.
Thanks for the reply. I'll have to take a look for your post on your stereo upgrade. I'm currently unemployed and am trying to do this on the cheap, so a new head unit is currently out of the budget. I do have an ancient Alpine IVA-W200 I could install if it comes down to it, with a better upgrade later. I think I paid more for the power cable to test it than I did for the unit itself, and was surprised to find that it actually powered up and worked flawlessly.

Most of my music was ripped as AAC files. I'm in agreement with you regarding MP3; It was acceptable in its day, but like you said, that was decades ago. I still like to modify and use iPods (yes, I'm a dinosaur...) and I thought that a simple OEM head unit update would give me the one feature that I wish my car came with, namely the USB/iPod integration. I don't have an unlimited data plan so I generally don't stream music off of my phone, although I did clean it up recently and have a s*** ton of space on it that I could devote to music.

The first update I did to this car was to replace the speakers. I'm partial to Polk Audio, and the ones that I installed are an amazing upgrade over stock. I like the aesthetics of the stock stereo over a big LCD screen, as well as the high center display, but I realize that if I want to swap out the head unit I don't have a lot of choices other than one with a big LCD display. I like to be able to reach down and turn a knob or press a button without having to look at a screen, but I suspect that those days are long gone. I do have a pretty high-end, large display Garmin GPS, along with a wireless camera that links to the Garmin, so I really don't need those features in a new unit, but they probably all have that stuff nowadays.

Sound insulation is a must. All of the reviews of the 5 back in the day mentioned the road noise and I was prepared for it, but that doesn't mean that I have to like it. Having come from owning multiple German luxury sedans I knew that I wasn't buying a quiet and refined vehicle, but it's nice to know that a little sound insulation will go a long way towards quieting down a car that I plan to keep forever.
 
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2015 Mazda 5 Sport
I am not an audiophile and I buy things on the cheap side. A $75 eBay no brand Android unit (in my case, with the rear view camera, mounting bracket and hardness adapters totaled ~$120) works well for me, especially knowing that I have choices of installing any navigation software I want from Google play store.

I think the unit you bought used was bad caused by defective control or connections. The steering wheel controls are just voltage pulse signals so it bypassed the defective component and worked.