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Neo 35 installation in Mk4 Golf

This page contains pictures of the installation of a Neo 35 MP3 player in my Mk4 Golf.

The car

The installation

Neo 35 mounted in the boot The Neo is installed in one of the compartments in the boot. It's a pretty tight fit and the Neo has to be installed at an odd angle. It is held in place by blocks of polystyrene. Also in this compartment are a ground loop isolator and a home made line driver. The GLI is needed to remove alternator whine. I believe that a fault in the design of the car bay means that the audio ground and power ground are not correctly isolated, so no amount of careful grounding of the unit will remove the need for the GLI with this particular revision of the car bay. I believe that this is fixed in later versions. The home made line driver boosts the signal from the Neo which is a bit low otherwise. This means that the volume of the Neo matches that of other sources on the head unit. Increasing the signal in the wires running to the head unit also improves the signal to noise ratio and gives a much cleaner sound.



The boot The polystyrene isn't as neat as it might be, but who cares? When the compartment is closed you'd never know it was there, and the polystyrene does mean that the hard disk is well insulated from knocks and bumps when driving - I have had absolutely no problems with hard disk damage. The aluminium box below the Neo is the line driver, the small black box with white tape around it is the GLI.

Close up of remote cable connector One very small addition I made was to loop a piece of string through the connector on the cable remote cable. This makes it much easier to remove the plug without risk of damage. This problem has been avoided on the new Neo Jukebox by placing the remote connector in a sensible place - on the car bay.



The dashboard Up front I have a Blaupunkt Hamburg CD70 head unit, with the Neo connected to the AUX input. Since taking the photo on the left I have changed the LCD display in the remote to a black-on-grey LCD, similar to those elsewhere in the car. This is much more readable in bright sunlight. It also has a blue backlight connected to the interior lighting circuit, although it is not a very good match for the other blue lights in the car.

The new LCD One of my issues with the Neo is that there is no DIN sized remote control. The main unit has a DIN sized front, but it is too deep to fit in the dashboard of a Golf (and indeed most other cars). My solution is a remote control mounted on a plate in the spare DIN slot above the head unit.



Remote close up This photo shows how the remote is mounted. I used a DIN-sized blanking plate with a hole cut in it. I took the remote apart and shaved a couple of millimetres off the back panel so that when mounted on the blanking plate the original screws still reached through to hold it in place with the plate sandwiched between the front and back halves of the remote. The PCB taped to the back of the remote is a 12V DC to 125V AC invertor, needed to power the blue EL backlight. The blue and brown wires on the right are connected to the illumination circuit.



Conclusions

I have invested a lot of time and money in this installation. Was it worth it? Definitely. For me, this sort of setup is perfect for in-car audio. There is simply no comparison between a 12 disc CD changer and an MP3 player with hundreds of albums and a handful of personal playlists on it.

I do have a few reservations about the unit itself. Many people have described this unit as not being ready for "prime time". I think that this is a fair assessment, but for anyone with a bit of enthusiasm who is prepared to get their hands dirty it is possible to get a very good setup with it. I understand that the Neo Jukebox is a rather more refined product. This is what you get for buying a first generation product from a small company.

It is interesting but perhaps not surprising that none of the big manufacturers are making similar units. I am sure that if they put their minds to it they could create better looking, easier to use and probably cheaper units. I suspect that if big manufacturers ever do catch on they will create products that are limited by SDMI, which may severely limit your ability to make "fair use" copies of music that you have already bought.

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