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Old 09-01-2016, 02:22 PM   #1
Junkfood
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2001 L-Series 3.0L Sedan
Question L300 Annoying Hiss When Listening to the Radio or CD Player

I have a 2001 L300 with the standard audio system. All of a sudden I started to hear an annoying hiss whenever I listened the radio or the CD played. The hiss is coming out of all four speaker stations (LF, RF, LR, and RR), so it must be something in common with all the speakers and central to the system. I acquired another "Head" unit, and swapped it with the original one, but the hiss still remained. Looking at the wiring diagrams there appears to be an amplifier between the "head" unit and the speakers (even in the standard audio system), so I am thinking this might be where the problem lies. Does anybody know where this is located and possibly how to replace it?

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Old 09-01-2016, 03:20 PM   #2
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Default Re: L300 Annoying Hiss When Listening to the Radio or CD Player

The amp was only in vehicles with the upgraded audio system and the sub in the trunk. If you don't have the sub, then there is no amp.

I suppose it could be a problem in both head units, but it could also be a bad ground. Since it is common to all the speakers, I agree that it is very unlikely that the speakers are the problem.

Is the his a constant sound or does it change with engine RPMs?

...
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Old 09-01-2016, 03:32 PM   #3
Junkfood
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Default Re: L300 Annoying Hiss When Listening to the Radio or CD Player

It is a constant hiss, like a bad transistor or something similar to that. There must be some sort of amp between the radio/CD player, since I don't think you can't just hook speakers up directly to the "Head" unit and just play it.

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Old 09-01-2016, 04:09 PM   #4
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Default Re: L300 Annoying Hiss When Listening to the Radio or CD Player

Before radios added tape and CD's, most used self contained amps without needing a separate amp module. Many are stand alone units without needing a separate amp.There's more to car stereo systems than anyone can imagine. Ever since AM and FM radios gave way to adding tape, CD, vcd's, navigation and OnStar, entertainment systems are sophisticated. And probably a reason they went from standard to double din size with supplemental modules either tucked under the instrument panel, under seats or in the trunk.

Another way to see if you have a separate amp is the descriptions of speaker wires as twisted and bundled to connect radio to amp under the instrument panel beam. Service manual pictures aren't drawn well and descriptions go like this;

Remove the fasteners that attach the amplifier to the instrument panel (I/P) beam.
Slide the amplifier off of the clutch pedal bracket.
Disconnect the electrical connector connectors from the amplifier.
Remove the amplifier from the vehicle.

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Old 09-02-2016, 09:03 AM   #5
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Default Re: L300 Annoying Hiss When Listening to the Radio or CD Player

The L and S series share the same audio units. Both have a common connector, though the wiring is slightly different. That said, it sounds like you have a ground problem.

Pull the unit and check the wiring for where it connects to ground. Also check the head unit for any iffy connectors that may have become loose.

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Old 09-02-2016, 02:56 PM   #6
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Default Re: L300 Annoying Hiss When Listening to the Radio or CD Player

Quote:
Originally Posted by Junkfood View Post
There must be some sort of amp between the radio/CD player,
There is no external, separate amplifier installed on L Series cars with the CD/Radio unit. My car came with that unit originally. As pointed out before, the amplifier only came with the premium CD/Cassette/Radio (double din sized) and included a subwoofer mounted underneath the deck (in the trunk) and behind the left rear passenger seat. But who knows, perhaps your situation is an exception? As flyingj stated, if there is no subwoofer behind the back seat - and visible from inside the trunk - then there is no amplifier present.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Junkfood View Post
since I don't think you can't just hook speakers up directly to the "Head" unit and just play it.
Not so. I replaced my CD/Radio with a premium CD/Cassette/Radio without utilizing the amplifier and it plays just fine. I did upgrade the front door speakers as the premium unit itself has its own internal amplifier which is stronger than that of the CD/Radio. It was purchased at a Pick-Your-Part wrecking yard for $31.00.

Why did I replace the CD/Radio? All of the LED bulbs had burned out so I could see nothing from it while driving at night. The wrecking yard unit was the least expensive alternative, is plug and play (even if you don't have the amplifier nor the subwoofer), works perfectly, and all bulbs are illuminating. It was a great deal!!

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Last edited by pierrot; 09-02-2016 at 03:06 PM..

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Old 09-02-2016, 03:30 PM   #7
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Default Re: L300 Annoying Hiss When Listening to the Radio or CD Player

There seems to be some confusion over what is "Premium" and what is standard. My "Head" unit is the standard which came with the L300, which is the Radio/Cassette/CD model. The "Premium" unit is the system with the six CD changer and subwofer in the trunk. Does this change any of your replies to my issue?

...
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V6 Get-up and Go!
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Old 09-02-2016, 07:30 PM   #8
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Default Re: L300 Annoying Hiss When Listening to the Radio or CD Player

Quote:
Originally Posted by Junkfood View Post
There seems to be some confusion over what is "Premium" and what is standard. My "Head" unit is the standard which came with the L300, which is the Radio/Cassette/CD model. The "Premium" unit is the system with the six CD changer and subwofer in the trunk. Does this change any of your replies to my issue?
Yes, it does. I must say that in your earlier posts it seemed odd to me that your sound system was the CD/Radio. My recollection of the stereo units was that the LS2/L300's all had the CD/Cassette/Radio, but I thought that it might have been possible that you had something different. Now that we know the correct stereo present in your car then you definitely have the amplifier there along with the subwoofer. The CD Changer in the trunk was an option available for the premium sound system, at least in M.Y. 2000. The premium sound system lower door speakers have larger magnets than the standard lower door speakers so that they can handle the greater amplifier output. The front door lower speakers also had a stronger cone material. (The premium sound system would have been an optional upgrade in an LS1 if I'd wanted to pay for it back in the day.)

The amplifier is located above and to the left of the brake pedal arm. You need to remove the cover (black) beneath the dash and perhaps the lower air ducting to see it. As for the source of the hissing, I have nothing to add to what has already been written.

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Old 09-03-2016, 08:52 AM   #9
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Default Re: L300 Annoying Hiss When Listening to the Radio or CD Player

Can I just throw this in. My son's 2003 L300 has a CD player/Radio.
At some point along the way Saturn, like other manufacturers dispensed with Cassette players in the radio.
If memory serves me correctly, and a Drivers Manual would confirm this, the 'basic' audio is usually radio only, followed by CD/Radio. The CD being single play. The add on's were the CD autochanger.

So Junkfood had a single CD Player/Radio as the head unit, he would not have had an amp or subwoofer. He has now changed that head unit out for what appears to be an older head unit featuring a cassette player.

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Old 09-03-2016, 09:13 AM   #10
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Default Re: L300 Annoying Hiss When Listening to the Radio or CD Player

My '03 L300 has the radio, CD and cassette (double din configuration?). A trunk speaker, two tweeters and four speakers. Does this make mine a standard system without the six CD changer? Premium sound system with CD changer? I have never looked for the supplemental amp as I loathe looking under the steering wheel, finding clutter when rehanging and inspecting the remote start modules and wiring. I've been under there several times over the years to connect a program switch to allow modifying my remote start for longer cranking times.

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Old 09-03-2016, 03:05 PM   #11
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Default Re: L300 Annoying Hiss When Listening to the Radio or CD Player

My L came with the AM/FM/CD/Tape double DIN unit. Not the premium set up though. I don't have the sub/amp combo. I have since replaced mine with an aftermarket single DIN deck and it works fine. Only the amps that were part of the head units have been used. The double DIN deck wasn't only available as part of the premium audio package, but just an upgrade available from the single DIN unit without the glorius tape deck.

It sounds like Junkfood's setup is the same as mine. Double check the ground connections for the radios and see if that helps.

...
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2006 Vue 3.5L AWD Mileage: 130,000
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Old 09-03-2016, 05:39 PM   #12
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Default Re: L300 Annoying Hiss When Listening to the Radio or CD Player

It seems plausible that the OP may not have the premium sound set up.

The premium sound system was not available with the plain radio or CD/Radio.

...
273,000 miles-it keeps on rolling!
The blessings of liberty erode in my country.
Gov't's grown bigger, but a chance exists that it will be reduced. I'm cautiously hopeful.

Last edited by pierrot; 09-03-2016 at 05:53 PM..

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