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112 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hi everyone

My plan for "Maria" is a retro-ish look (think Morgan, or old Jaguars, to exaggerate a bit).
One thing that REALLY doesn't go well with that is the big shiny Kenwood-Radio the previous owner installed.
That that will have to go is already decided.
The question I'm asking here is:
What to do instead of that thing?
I tend to say I bought the MX5 "instead of a gaming PC", and that's sort of how I plan on driving it.
On weekends/holidays, only in good weather, and not very much (insurance is limited to 3100 Miles in the first two years).
So there won't be any commuting, and if I don't get unlucky with the weather there won't be any distance worth mentioning driven with the top up.
I only need the radio for music from the cellphone (Spotify via USB, until now), since my portable GPS takes care of traffic jams and such.
I "see" three options:

-Maintain a radio
Either put the radio in the trunk (don't like that, since it involves drilling through the chassis) or in the glovebox (which is kind of the only place to put stuff I have), or find a radio that looks like it's vintage.
Retrosound is a bit costly, the Becker Mexico looks too much like a Volkswagen part for me, and that's about all the vintage-looking radios I know :oops:
Did anyone of you put his/her radio in a new location, or install a vintage-looking one (other than the two I listed)?
I'd prefer a single-DIN-option, to leave some space for switches/auxiliary-gauges.

-Find a way to connect my cellphone to the speakers
Simply put, throw the cell phone in the glovebox (or find another place for it), plug a USB- or aux-cord into it, and have the music play over the car's speakers without having a radio in the center console.
Apart from "speakers" and "aux-/USB-cord" I have pretty much no idea what parts I need to get that setup to work, to sound decent and to have a way to regulate the volume.
Can anyone tell me (if and) how that can work?
As it is, I prefer this solution to sticking a radio in some hidden place.

-Full delete
No radio, no speakers, nothing.
Pro: Can't get a "cleaner" retro-look.
Contra: No music.
I really like having some music in the car, so that would certainly take some getting used to.
But I still like it better than having a modern radio in the center console.
Because yes, "Maria's" looks matter a lot to me.
But then again, if I'd actually have an old (British) sportscar, I wouldn't have a radio either.
My question to those who did a full delete is:
Do you ever miss what you took out?
And for those who still have some sort of radio/music in the car:
Is it actually (decently) audible with the top down, without any of the optional sound systems?
I only have the basic speakers (which I could upgrade, of course, if I keep them), not the optional sound system.

So, those are my options, and I'm thankful for any information on the advantages and disadvantages of them, as well as experiences/solutions.

Thanks in advance,


828 Posts
I was in the same position. What I ended up doing is at the end of the post.

If you are looking at aftermarket head units, nothing is more retro and clean than RetroSound. These look fantastic, are extremely customizable and some models come with Bluetooth. The only downside to this is the price. Bluetooth model is ~$400.

If you want to go headunit-less, check out the following threads:
Cheap Headunitless Stereo Install
Not quite as cheap headunit-less stereo install
Another Head Unit-less install
Need some Bluetooth headunit-less radio ideas

I actually like the look of the OEM radio, so I began looking for ways to incorporate an external audio source. For the longest time I used a cassette adapter. This was a solution but a terrible one. Audio quality does not get worse. So I began digging through some old threads and a few linked to an image/wiring diagram for an AUX input using the 13-pin CD connector in the back of the OEM radio. The image was hosted by a site long gone, but I was able to scrap it back up with the help of The guy who came up with this idea is still around, and even replied to a few emails when I was figuring out how to do what. Won't post his info here. Anyway, diagram below.

Basically, you are emulating the OEM CD player that some cars came with. If yours didn't, it came with a blanking plug that has the top 4 pins still there. You remove that plug, no audio. Replace it with the above, and you can control the audio source on the other end.

I will include some actual photos at some point in my build thread, but all of the parts required for this can be had from eBay or Amazon, wires are regular audio wires. I skipped the "Tie all wire shields together/ground" bit, and it works fine. I now have a switch hidden in the center console that lets me switch audio source from radio to RCA/AUX.

112 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
I did some considering, and so far going without a head unit and just connecting my phone to the speakers seems like the best solution.
I came up with a partial circuit diagram, showing pretty precisely

I'm not planning to get super-amazing sound, since the (usually open) roadster is the wrong place for that.
I just want the music from my cell phone (Spotify, in my case) to come out of the door speakers and sound decent.
The phone itself is supposed to go into a small "pocket" that gets velcro-ed to either the carpet (where the center console is now) or the wall behind the seats.
A small cut in that carpet takes care of hiding any cables going into the phone.
Right now I plan on re-purposing the defroster-cable (I'm not using my hardtop, and my soft top has a plastic window) to charge the phone, with the former defroster-switch saving the battery when the phone is plugged in for longer (with the engine off).
I don't know for sure, but I guess if I pull the carpet I'll find the cable for the defroster near the center console or under the left (driver's) seat.

With the charging-port being used for charging, the AUX-slot is going to take care of the actual music.
The phone has an equalizer within the music-software, and I know from this thread that you can run a wire from the AUX-port to a volume-knob, but since his sound system is much more elaborate than mine that's where the similarities end, meaning I have no idea about how to do the remaining wiring.
All I know is that I'm going to stick with the door-speakers (although I could install better ones than what Mazda delivered 23 years ago), rather than installing a bunch of speakers and a subwoofer.
I'm going to try to find someone at my local electronics-store to talk to about my plan, but if anyone of you can help that'd be very welcomed.
I do have free space for some switches where the head unit is now, and if necessary I'd sacrifice the glovebox or a bit of trunk-space for needed hardware.
I just really don't want a screen in the center console.

Thanks in advance,


Supporting Member
743 Posts
Maksim.7, thank you for digging that up, I personally may not need it, but it's gold. I can't leave well enough alone when it comes to audio systems, and someday I might try to locate an oem stereo and do that mod to connect a bluetooth receiver.

Max, definitely keep us posted on your setup. I've unknowingly been on a quest to get as good audio as possible in the cabin of a Miata. There's a few car amps out there that have bluetooth direct connection, i don't know if you've researched that, it might help you.

I was in the same boat and went through a number of different setups. I'm currently using the RetroSound stereo that has the blueteeth. It's honestly not bad, but for the price, I am finding the whole user interface and connection a bit subpar for what it costs. With that bieng said, it's still the best setup I've had [thus far] for what I was trying to accomplish - as OEM (in the dash) as possible, still have FM reception, bluetooth streaming/decent phone usage ability, ipod integration, and output connectivity. The rest of the setup has a couple of amps, a sub in the trunk, a couple of midbass behind the seats, and high end coaxials in the factory locations; completely sound-deadened cabin, and well insulated wiring.
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