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4.30.2009

Kia Soul Audio Experiements, iPhone, PSP, USB

I got a new Kia Soul last week. So far I'm really enjoying it, and I'm thoroughly impressed with the audio and bluetooth setup. I got the Soul + with the audio system upgrade. This package also includes the bluetooth option.

When I got the car, the dealership was not quite sure how all the USB functions and iPod integration on the system worked. Now that I've had a chance to thumb through the manual and run a few tests, I thought I'd post a few things for folks who are considering a Soul, or just got one themselves.

  • iPhone and iPod integration. The owners manual doesn't list support or iPhone, and the dealership didn't know anything about it. You'll have to buy their $35 iPod cable. It splits a standard dock connector to fit the USB / Aux setup on the car.
    IMG_3028
    My 1st gen iPhone popped up the "unrecognized accessory" warning and asked me if I wanted to use Airplane Mode. I tapped no, and everything worked. The cable charges the phone and I'm not hearing any radio interference on the audio. You can control the iPod easily from both the steering wheel or the head unit. Artist & Title show up on the dash display. I also tested my old iPod Mini, and it works fine as well.
    [EDIT 7-1-09] I have tested an iPhone 3G and 3GS as well, both work fine with the Kia cable. A warning will popup for Airplane mode, but just cancel it. Charging and playback work fine.


  • USB mass storage device - Works fine, put MP3's on it and plug it in. The jack on the dash doesn't supply enough power for large hard drives, and larger disks take longer to scan for tracks. Drives need formatted as FAT16 or 32. The manual lists the compatible bitrates. They recommend you not use larger keychain-style drives, as they may get bumped and damage the connector.
    IMG_3029
  • PSP - There are two ways to do this.
    1. Plug in via USB and go into USB Storage Mode. The PSP will charge and the audio system will scan the Memory Stick for MP3's. Just remember it probably won't be able to play any wierd MP4 or ATRAC files you have on there. My PSP seemed to charge intermittently this way. I think it may be wanting more power than the USB jack can supply.
    2. The other way to utilize a PSP is to navigate to the Music folder on the PSP and use it as a MP3 player and then plug it into the AUX jack on the dash. You'll need a 1/8" stereo mini cable to do this. You might want to use a car charger when doing this.
  • Bluetooth - The bluetooth integration on this car is great. You can pair a phone from either the head unit controls or from voice prompts. The car will automatically link with your phone when you get in range and the ignition is on. You can select from multiple phones or turn bluetooth on or off via voice commands. There are control buttons on the lower half of the steering wheel that control the voice dial, answer, and hangup commands. I was suprised how well it works with my iPhone since my phone has no voice dialing support. It imports my contacts in about 5-10 seconds, and voice recognition seems to be very accurate. My wife says the call quality is great.

Updated 11/10/11 - I've also now used the Kia cable with my iPhone 3GS and 4S with no issues. 
Bluetooth tethering works fine, and the Airplane Mode warnings no longer display since iOS4 and iOS5. 
Here are a couple of generic equivalent cables offered by Amazon if you don't want to pay full price at the dealership. 

25 comments:

  1. Nice post. Is the audio cable they have for the iphone (I have a first gen as well) any different than the one that I usually use for charging? When I use the one I have for charging and plug it into the slot, it just keeps making the iphone vibrate intermittently, but doesn't connect to allow audio playback.

    Also have trouble with the bluetooth with my iphone. I was able to pair it up, but it took a while for the phone to recognize it. Now it is paired, but it keeeps failing in connecting. Any ideas?

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  2. The Kia cable is not a standard USB to Dock cable. It's plugs into both the USB and 1/8" headphone jack on the Kia dash at the same time, and the other end is a single dock connector. So it's passing the audio out via the headphone, but still using USB for iPod control and charging.

    I had trouble with my bluetooth the other night, I tried to switch calls and hit the wrong button and my the car wouldn't talk to the phone. I did a full reboot of the phone and everything started working again.

    I have noticed that the car takes 10-15 sec or so to update your contact list every time it picks connects to the phone.

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  3. I get it on the cable. I will try again with the bluetooth. What version of the iphone software are you running?

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  4. I'm on iPhone software version 2.2.1.

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  5. Ok, I was not current on my version. But I went and downloaded and installed 2.2.1 and then tried it again ad got a failed connection. I rebooted iphone and tried again. Another failed connection. Any ideas?

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  6. Every time I've had a connection problem, rebooting the iPhone has worked. Maybe delete the iPhone from the Kia and then re-pair it?

    My dealer offered to help me set up Bluetooth on mine if I had problems. Perhaps you should go see them.

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  7. They tried, but no success there. My wife's blackberry paired and connected just fine, but my phone will say it paired, but will not connect. Maybe I neeed to contact Kia...

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  8. Does the Kia's audio system support other audio file formats like WMA or AAC via USB? I dont want to bother with audio cds or iPod.

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  9. Anon, I think it only does MP3 and maybe WMA (non-DRM). I'll have to check the manual. You just have to put the files on a FAT32 formatted USB device.

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  10. I am having trouble with the sound quality pairing my Sprint LG Lotus phone with the Kia Soul bluetooth. It pairs easily, downloads the phone book easily, and calls easily. But the sound quality is awful. Occasionally it works OK, but usually is so poor I can't use it.

    My Lotus works fine with a blue tooth headset. Any ideas on what is causing this?

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  11. Thanks a lot. We had a new salesman :/

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  12. I have the 3GS - thanks for the post about the cable. I was at a loss! A note: I've had no problems pairing my phone, but have run into this a couple of times: if your radio is set for SAT 2 - and possibly other "alt" bands - the iPhone/Kia will both show the call in progress, but nothing will broadcast over the speakers. I've had to learn to simplify my radio tuning usage so that when the call does come through it's where the system can broadcast the audio. Haven't narrowed down the problem since I found the workaround, and I'm not a big Sirius user anyway. Weird, but HTH.

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  13. Jeff, I think this issue may be fixed. I've taken my Soul in for two oil changes, both times the dealer updated the firmware on the stereo to fix a few issues and I remember one of them being something about iPod & Satellite radio performance, but I didn't have the service bulletin to verify it.

    When they update the firmware, you lose all your radio presets, but your bluetooth pairings stay intact.

    I think you can also create a user login on a special Kia site and get the radio firmware yourself. Check at www.kiasoulforums.com and see if someone there has posted firmware update instructions. Or just call the dealer.

    They also changed out my mood lighting switch, apparently the first batch didn't work well in 90+ degree heat, so they swapped them out for free.

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  14. I absolutely LOVE my KIA Soul. I have had it for about 8 months. I live in Michigan and not until the temperature fell below 45 degrees did I learn that my stereo is broken.

    The dealership has had the car twice and cannot fix the issue! Anytime the weather is below 45 degrees the stereo will not output sound. The stereo thinks it is on and the speakers light up with the bass so they also are getting a signal somewhere. I don't know what to do since the dealership doesn't know what to do to fix it! I am very frustrated.

    Anyone heard of any issues like this?

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  15. I just got one too. My Dad gave it to me as a birthday gift . That was the sweetest birthday gift ever! There's a lot of things to do with this car. It was really a great innovation!

    KIA

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  16. I am trying to find a cable that is the dual jacks (usb and audio) for any mp3 player as my device is a Zune and the iPod connectors do not fit the opening is smaller. has anyone found any of these and if so where do i get one.

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  17. Anon, I'm pretty sure they don't offer a Zune cable or Zune control integration on the Kia's. You could use a USB to Zune cable to charge and a regular 1/8" headphone cable to pass audio to the stereo. This would not give you any dash or steering wheel control for the Zune.

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  18. Got my Soul yesterday. It paired my phone no problem but wasn't recognizing my contacts, like "home". Works fine if I say the number. I'll have to try my wife's phone.

    Also, I expected the stereo to sound a little better. Not sure what the issue is, but I think that center speaker is messing me up. You don't get good channel separation.

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  19. i just bought a Kia Soul a few weeks ago and did not get the cord that i was supposed to get. I had an AUX cord and plugged that in to listen to music on my ipod/iphone and mid song it pauses the song??? Any suggestions?

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  20. Ok, thank you so much for posting this. I just bought a Kia Soul last week and the Ipod has been driving me nuts.

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  21. I haven't heard or seen if the USB reader supports playlists in any form.
    I hate listening in alfa order. and the random feature turns off everytime I turn the vehicle off and on a 4G stick i hear the same song within 30min of driving.

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  22. I have Kia Forte SX 5 door and I use the iphone 4
    Bluetoot pairs just fine....my complaint is once paired if I recieve a text or IM no sound comes from the phone or audio system.....this is Kia related as it works fine paired to my pioneer in my other car

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  23. I used the standard ipod cable for my Kia Soul and it works just fine.

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  24. I would love to find a cable that was longer than 12-18 inches. I am not able to use my iPhone's nav apps, with the crappy 12-18 inches. Any ideas?

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  25. I just did a youtube video about how to sync the iPhone 5 and use the lightening cable with the 2013, Kia Soul. Not sure if it works with older models.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qkeibbQ0yrk

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