The Wing Connect Garage   

Nothing is worse than sending out a product for repair and finding out there is nothing wrong with it.  This page will give you the tools you need to help troubleshoot your own audio system

Please check these topics before sending your radio in for repair. Quite often, the problem is in the bike, not the radio.

The Garage

This page contains the most complete and detailed help topics on troubleshooting the GL1800 Audio System that you will find anywhere.  It took a lot of time to write the Garage pages. It should  help reduce No Problem Found returns. I hope everyone finds this to be a valuable resource.

I suggest that you save the link to this page instead of printing it out or saving it to your computer. I will be doing many edits to the information, even adding some pictures for clarification. By saving it as a link, you will always have the most up to date information. (Hit the refresh button when returning to this page to make sure you are viewing the current revision.)

Except where noted, these troubleshooting steps are valid for all 2001 to 2010 Goldwings.

Readers should keep in mind that in most cases, these troubleshooting articles only apply to a stock audio system. Accessories such as Mike Mutes, external aftermarket amplifiers, or other devices can create additional troubleshooting steps, can skew your test results, and in many cases can also be the cause of your problem. It would be impossible to account for all the various customizations that are out there, although I do mention a few of them in the articles. These topics are only be considered reliable if those devices are disconnected from the system.

Click on any of the topics and you will be taken directly to that article. Click on "Return to Index" at the end of every topic to return to the top of the page.

Troubleshooting Radio problems

No Audio through Headsets (audio from speakers is ok)
No Audio from External Speakers 2001-2005 models (Headset audio is ok)
No Audio from one or more External Speakers 2006-2010 models (Headset audio is ok)
Driver or Passenger Intercom does not work. (Music plays through headsets)
Radio appears to be Dead (No radio function show on display)
Blown Fuses (relates to Dead Radio topic)
Radio Buttons don't Respond when pressed. (Display shows that radio is on)
One or more of the Radio Keyboard Buttons are Sticking
Bike drains the battery after one or two days.
Poor sound through Aux input  (Other audio sources sound ok)
The radio is badly distorted with all audio sources
Alternator Whine or buzzing through Aux input only
Alternator Whine  with all audio sources 

Troubleshooting CB Problems

Low Audio (Modulation) when transmitting
Feedback Squeal when transmitting
Your voice is heard through the external speakers when transmitting
CB Error message on display
About SWR


Removing the radio from the bike


Installing rear speakers
Choosing Speakers
Cabinet Filler
Sealing the Cabinet
Speaker Impedance

Bookmark this page and check back often. New topics will be added regularly.

No Audio through the headsets with any audio source.  Audio is ok through the external speakers.

This one is at the top of the list because it is the most common audio problem encountered by Goldwing owners.  This problem is easy to troubleshoot.  The bike can be the cause of the failure just as easily as the radio, so this troubleshooting step needs to be done before sending your radio in for repair.

The only thing you need for troubleshooting is a known good headset and lower cord. Any good tech always makes sure his test equipment is working before troubleshooting, and this is no different. Either borrow a known working headset, or verify yours works on another bike. That includes the lower cord.  You can even take your helmet and lower cord to your local dealer to ask if you can check it on a stock bike. Don't assume that it works just because it worked yesterday. Failure to test and verify your headset is just a good way to get your radio back from service with a no problem found diagnosis.

The GL1800 radio has two separate amplifiers, one for the external speakers, and one for the headsets. This is why you can lose headsets but still have external speakers, and the other way around. The audio from the 2 channel headset amp is split off in the radio and shared by the driver and passenger connectors. This is a key piece of knowledge to have in your troubleshooting arsenal, because it quickly becomes obvious that if either one of the headsets works, then the radio has to be ok.  You have a problem somewhere in the bike's wiring.

Make sure you check audio with the radio playing some music, and check with more than one source if possible, such as AM/FM, and the aux input.

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No Audio from External Speakers. 2001-2005 only (Headsets have audio)

As with many audio problems, no audio from the external speakers can be caused by a problem in the bike or a failure in the radio.  There are a number of tests that need to be done to narrow down the cause of this problem.  Despite how complicated Factory Service Manuals make this task, you will be amazed at how easy it actually is.

Keep in mind here that virtually anything in the audio path can cause no audio, but in 99.9% of cases, the problem is with the power amp outputs. Most failures in electronics happen in the circuits that are exposed to the outside world. We will be troubleshooting for a power amp failure in this article. 

Before digging into this problem, check with multiple sources, such as FM and a music player plugged into the aux input to make sure there is not something wrong with one of your sources. Switch to headset mode temporarily to make sure audio is there.  If anything checks different from the title of this article, you problem is somewhere else.

Some technical information is needed here to help you understand what happens when you have no sound. The external amplifier in the GL1800 radio contains protection circuits. The protection circuits shut down the amplifier in the case of a shorted amplifier output to protect the speakers. The protection circuits will also shut down when they detect a shorted speaker or wiring that can damage the amplifier.This means that two completely different problems can cause the same symptom.

Even if only one channel is affected, the protection circuitry will shut down audio to all four speakers. Your job in troubleshooting this problem is to find out whether you have a speaker or wiring problem, or a blown amplifier.

The most common external cause on the GL1800 is pinched speaker wires near the trunk hinges. Closely inspect the harness in this area for damage. Also, If you just replaced the front speakers with aftermarket drivers, check to see if the speaker terminals are facing toward the instrument cluster. Sometimes, oversized speakers can short out to the bolts on the inside of the cabinet, which will shut down the amp. If you remove the speakers and your audio comes back, you have found the problem.

If you don't find any damage to the rear speaker harness, completely eliminate the rear speakers and wiring as a cause by removing the seat and unplugging the 4 pin rear speaker connector. It is located inside the rubber boot behind the relay box.  Then check to see if you get audio to the front speakers. If you do, then you have a problem with your rear speakers or wiring.

If isolating the speakers and wiring with these tests does not expose the problem, you can make a fairly safe assumption that the amp in the radio is blown.  But if you have access to a multimeter, I recommend doing one more easy test.   You are going to make some measurements that you will never see in a service manual.

With the rear speaker connector unplugged, turn the ignition to accessory, turn the radio on, and turn the volume all the way down. The audio source does not matter. Just make sure the radio mode is set for external speakers.  Attach your negative meter lead to a known good chassis ground, or the battery negative terminal. Set the meter for DC volts. If it is not autoranging, select a range of about 20 volts. Measure the voltage at each of the 4 pins on the connector that goes up to the radio, not the one that goes back to the speakers.

Just because things always have to be confusing, the voltage you should get will depend on what type of amplifier your radio has. But don't worry, you don't really need to know the type.  There are only two possible correct voltages.  You are more interested in the pattern of the voltages than the actual values.  You should measure either 3.0 to 3.5 volts, or about 5 to 6  volts DC at each pin. If even one pin measures near 0 volts or near 12 volts, you have a blown amplifier.

Based on the pattern of failures I have seen over the years, usually only one pin measures wrong. The rest will all measure correct.  Every great once in awhile, there will be a complete failure of the amp and you will read either 0 volts or 12 volts on every pin, but that is not as common.

I have found that in nearly all cases, it is the rear channels that blow, so you can usually stop measuring at the rear connector. But you can also check the front speaker wires as well. To do this, you must disconnect at least one wire from each front speaker, just as you did for the rear outputs by unplugging the connector. The resistance of the speaker voice coils can mask a bad voltage.  Check the voltage on each of the 8 speaker wires to make sure they all measure 5 to 6 volts. 

A little side note is appropriate here.  For 2002 owners only, the voltage you measure is actually a good way to determine whether you have one of the low power, high distortion amplifiers that can benefit from my amp upgrade.  If you measure 3 to 3.5 volts, you have one of the low power radios.

Some of you who have worked with audio a little bit may be wondering how there could be 6 volts on the speakers. You were taught that DC voltage on a speaker is a bad thing, and that is correct. In reality, there isn't any voltage across the speakers. The voltage you are measuring is referenced to ground. In a conventional amplifier, the negative lead is grounded, and the positive lead is driven by the amplifier. But in an amplifier like this, the negative lead is not ground. It is also driven by an amplifier. There are two amplifiers for each channel. Each speaker wire is driven 180 degrees out of phase with the other, which helps give more power from a 12 volt battery.

 If you have 6 volts on one speaker lead, and 6 volts on the other lead, what is the net voltage?  That's right. zero volts.  If you were to measure the voltage across the speaker leads on a working amplifier, you would measure zero volts, which is exactly what you were taught. When troubleshooting however,  measuring across the speaker leads is not a reliable way to check for blown outputs. For example, if both speaker leads measured 12 volts to ground, the voltage across the speaker leads would be 0 volts, which is what you want. You could be fooled into thinking the amp is ok, when in fact it has a problem.  Always measure the speaker DC voltage to ground, not across the speaker leads. That means you have to make 8 voltage checks for a 4 channel system.

One last thing to mention.  For future reference if you are ever working on a non-Goldwing audio system;  There are a number of different amplifier types out there, and not all of them can be diagnosed with this method. You have to know the type of amplifier you are working with before you go in and start taking voltage measurements. As a general rule of thumb, it will usually work with head unit amplifiers, and many low power external amps such as the 06-10 GL1800 amplifier, but not with high power aftermarket amplifiers.

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No Audio from one or more External Speakers. 2006-2010 models (Headset audio is ok)

Troubleshooting no audio to the speakers on the later model GL1800's is a little different than the early Goldwings because of the external amplifier used with the Premium Audio System. The symptoms can be a little different, but the same basic troubleshooting principles for the 01-05 models apply.

Symptoms for the external amplifier are generally one or two speakers don't have audio. You will rarely have all four channels out.  When 2 channels are out, it will be either both front speakers or both back speakers. Most of the problems I have seen so far involve the rear speakers.

The first step if the rear channels are out is to check for a pinched or cut rear speaker harness at the trunk hinges. Yes, this problem still exists on the later models, only this time the poor routing was done at the factory.

As with the early radios, each speaker lead has to have approximately 6 volts DC on it, when measured with the negative meter lead attached to a known good chassis ground. Finding a good point to check the voltage is a little more difficult with the external amplifier. The Honda Service Manual suggests testing at the amplifiier connector, but it is not really possible to backprobe these wires because it is a waterproof connector. You may have to actually remove the rear speaker pods or front speakers to access the speaker wires. When you do this voltage check, at least one wire from each speaker you check must be disconnected. Otherwise the resistance of the voice coils can give false measurements. If you find a speaker wire that does not have 6 volts on it, then the amp is blown.   Also, make sure the radio is in external speaker mode when testing. The amp is turned off when you are in headset mode.

If you are missing all four channels to the speakers, it is less likely that the external amplifier is the cause. The radio itself may be the problem, Make sure you check multiple sources and check your radio settings before condemning the radio.

The same tests can be done on the 06-10 radio audio outputs as the 01-05, but again, the problem here is that the connector between the radio and amplifier is a waterproof connector that is not easy to backprobe. I have not had the opportunity to work on a late model bike yet. (My bike is an 02)  If I come across good test points, I will add them to this article.  If someone reading this has done it to there bike, please email me so that I can add it.

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Driver or Passenger Intercom does not work, but music plays through headsets

 When your Intercom works, you have to know whether it is a microphone problem or a headset speaker problem. If you can play music through the headsets, but the Intercom doesn't work, this symptom indicates a microphone problem somewhere. The microphone circuits are wired  similar to the headset circuits. There is only one mike Pre-amp in the radio, and the audio splits off to each headset.  The rider hears everything that the passenger hears.  The troubleshooting steps for a microphone problem are similar to a headset speaker problem, with the exception of putting the radio in Intercom mode this time. 

Turn all music off to make sure that the Intercom Mute does not interfere with the test. Make sure the Intercom is turned on, and check the Intercom Volume setting by pressing the left knob on the radio. Use a minimum setting of 10 for this test. With a verified good headset hooked up to either driver or passenger connector, speak into the headset.  If you don't hear your voice, hook up to the other headset connector and retest. If you can hear your voice in either driver or passenger position, the radio is ok, and the problem is in the bike.  The connector where you can't hear your voice is where the problem is.

I have yet to see a failed microphone circuit in these radios. In the vast majority of cases, the cause is one of the headsets or lower cords at fault. Less common, but possible is a problem in the bike's wiring.  Blame the radio last.

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Radio appears to be Dead (Buttons are non functional, and no display)

This one often lures people in the wrong direction, and you will be surprised at some of the things that can cause a dead radio.  There are a number of possible causes for this, and most of them are not serious. It should be understood that if you have any radio functions showing on the display at all, such as the speaker or headset icons, then the radio is NOT dead!  Go back to the Index and pick the correct topic.

You don't have to follow the troubleshooting steps in this section in the order listed. I recommend that you read through the topic and follow the progression that makes most sense to your situation.

1.. Check the fuses. There are two of them and they both must be good for the radio to work. Labeling and number location might be different depending on the year of your bike. On the 01-03, they are labeled Audio/ACC and Battery. The fuse numbers are 21 and 22. Do not rely on visual inspection. Check the fuses with a DMM on the Ohms scale by pulling the fuse and checking for continuity.  You can also check for voltage on both sides of the fuse if you have probe tips that are pointy enough. The ends of most fuses have tiny holes on each corner. Put your ground lead on a known good chassis ground or the battery negative post. The Battery fuse is hot at all times. The Audio/Acc fuse is only hot with the ignition on. You should measure voltage on both sides of the fuse.  If you have blown fuses, read the Blown Fuses topic on how to resolve the problem.
2. Do you have one of the mp3 adapters that plug into the CD input? These adapters communicate directly with the microprocessor in the radio, and can cause it to lock up in certain situations. This is a design fault in the mp3 adapter, not a problem with your radio.

The first step in troubleshooting this is to remove the seat and unplug the mp3 adapter from the CD input connector. Check to see if the radio works.  It often won't if the radio is completely locked up. Next, disconnect the negative battery cable for about 15 minutes. When you reconnect, make sure the ignition is off and make sure you get a solid connection right away. Don't allow the ground lug to lie loosely against the battery post or make any sparks while you tighten it down. The constant making and breaking of the connection can cause voltage fluctuations which can prevent the radio from resetting properly.

If the radio now works, turn off the ignition and try plugging in the adapter to see if it works. The most common cause of this failure is from the BikeMp3 units. If you hit the A-Sel button while in CD mode, you will lock up the radio every time. But the problem can be caused by any brand of adapter for a number of reasons.

3..  Stuck buttons. Yes,  stuck buttons can cause your radio to be dead in certain situations. If the radio was turned off or if you attached the battery cables  while a button is stuck. Refer to the section Buttons Don't Respond When Pressed for info on this problem.

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Blown Fuses  (relates to Dead Radio topic)

This may seem like a cut and dry problem, but it's not. The two fuses for the radio power more than just the radio, and any of them can be the cause of a blown fuse. I have had a number of blown amplifiers in radios that were a dead short to ground, causing the fuse to blow.  But this problem still needs some troubleshooting to make sure your radio really has a problem.

The battery fuse to the radio also powers the following items.
  1. Gauges
  2. Radio
  3. CB
  4. Trunk Lock
  5. Trunk Light

The audio/accessory fuse is only live with the ignition on. It powers the following items

  1. Grip heaters
  2. Radio
  3. CB
  4. LCD display and ECU
  5. Backlighting
  6. Suspension adjust
  7. Accessory connectors

Don't be tempted to remove the top shelter and unplug the radio, and then replace the fuse to see if it blows as a fist step.  Before doing that, check out a couple of other things first. You may find a problem elsewhere. Why take off the top shelter if you don't have to?

There are a couple of common problems that cause these fuses to blow, and most of them are caused by accessories or improper installation.

If the accessory fuse is blown, this fuse powers the accessory connector under the left pocket, the grip heater connector under the right pocket, and the accessory terminal screws on the fuse box. These are all popular places to attach accessories. If there is a short in the accessory wiring, or if the line was overloaded, that fuse can blow, which will make for a dead radio. Unplug anything connected to these 3 points and replace the fuse. If it doesn't blow, the problem is probably not in the radio.

Under the trunk lid is a connector for a trunk light. Many people use this connector to power things like cigarette ligher sockets for charging devices. This connector is powered by the battery fuse. If your battery fuse keeps blowing, look at this connector as a possible cause.

After all that is done, then you can remove the top shelter and unplug the radio.  When the radio has a dead short, it almost always blows the battery fuse. I have never seen a GL1800 radio blown the accessory fuse.

WARNING!!! Do not under any circumstances every replace a blown fuse with a higher value fuse. If anything, use a lower value for testing. Using a higher value fuse can cause serious damage to your bike and a possible fire.

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Radio Buttons don't Respond when pressed. (Display shows that radio is on)

A little technical information about how modern controls work will go a long way towards helping owners understand what happens when buttons stop working.

Like many modern products, most of the controls on the GL1800 radio are momentary switches. They are on when you press them, and off when you release.  These controls are arranged in what is known as a key matrix. A key matrix simply allows many functions to operate a device with fewer wires. Instead of needing 40 wires for 20  switches, you might need only 5 wires to the microprocessor.  A key matrix uses combinations of the available wires to let the microprocessor know which button was pressed.

The second, and more important thing to understand is that a microprocessor can only process one input at a time.

Knowing that, what do you think would happen if one button became stuck in the on position?  It would cause all the buttons on the radio to appear to be dead.  Any button that controls the radio, (except for the mute button) can cause this. Your mission in troubleshooting this problem is to inspect every single audio switch on the bike to see if any of them appear to be mechanically not functioning properly. Check all the faceplate buttons to see if any of them are stuck and don't pop back up. Check the handlebar controls, especially the CB PTT switch.  But the next one is the one everyone forgets to check.

If you have a passenger audio controller, the most common button to get stuck on the GL1800 is the passenger PTT button. It often sticks after servicing the bike. The seat presses on the button and jams it.

If any of the radio faceplate buttons are stuck, see the topic on Sticking Radio Buttons.

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One or more of the Radio Keyboard buttons is sticking.

Ok, this one is kind of obvious that the problem is in the radio itself. But what is wrong and how do you fix it?

There are typically two possibilities here. The first is that you have debris or dried up soap in between the buttons and faceplate. The second is that the rubber keyboard membrane has collapsed. The membrane has raised nipples under each button that compress when you push a button, then push the button back up when you release it. If a nipple collapses, the button won't pop back up.  You can't tell without taking the keyboard apart which problem you have. They feel the same. I have a limited supply of membranes in stock. Because of the high cost of this part, it is NOT included in my flat rate repair. The membrane costs an additional $85 on top of the flat rate repair.  I know. Ouch!

Do not force a stuck button. If you are on the road and a stuck button is keeping the radio from working, you can try to gently pop it up with something that is not metal, but be careful. The plastic is soft and easily damaged.  If you get it popped up , leave it alone until you have a chance to repair it properly.

The rubber keyboard membrane also serves a second function. It protects the keyboard from water that get down in between the keys. I have had a few collapsed nipples that were actually torn. This allowed water to reach the keyboard and damage it. Again, water damage is not covered under my flat rate. Water damaged boards are not repairable and must be replaced. As you can see, what seems simple can actually get quite expensive, especially if you ignore it.

If you are reasonably mechanically inclined and good at putting back together what you took apart, you can clean a keyboard yourself.  There are no springs that will pop out or anything. Just remember the order you took everything apart.  But many owners don't want to attempt this. That's ok. I can repair it for you.   Better yet, send your radio in for the upgrades if it is eligible, and the keyboard will be torn apart and cleaned for free.  This is a non-advertised maintenance service that I do on every radio that needs it before it leaves the bench. How can you beat a deal like that?

All you have to do is remove the 4 black screws from the faceplate and lift it off the radio. Then remove the screws holding the circuit board in place.

Most of the time, it is sand in between the buttons that causes them to stick. Sand does not compress like dirt does. But dried soap from washing can cause it too.

The only caution needed here is for two parts. Do not touch the gold circuit board contacts for the switches, and don't touch the black carbon on the tips of the nipples. Skin oil can increase resistance. Do not clean these points with anything either. The carbon and the coating on the gold contacts comes off easily. Stick with cleaning the black plastic pieces and you will be fine.

You can check the nipples for a problem by pressing on them. A bad nipple will be weak and want to compress to the side instead of straight down. Compare good ones against one that you suspect is bad.  If you can't tell, when you put it back together, you will find out quickly enough if it was dirt or a collapsed membrane.

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Bike drains the battery after one or two days.

Trying to track down excessive leakage current that drains the battery can be time consuming on any vehicle. It also requires a little more than a basic knowledge of electronics than most troubleshooting because you have to be highly familiar with how the current function on a multimeter works.

There are many things that can cause a battery to drain. It is beyond  the scope of this article to show how to find all types of drains. These steps are intended to help you find out if your radio is the cause.  The methods for finding a drain other than the radio are similar.

There is no easy magic test that technicians do to solve problems like this. You simple have to isolate systems until you expose the problem. You can get lucky and find it first time, or it can take many attempts.

I am going to start off this topic with basic things that a novice can do. If that does not locate the problem, we are going to get into a few things that may require you to get some help, depending on your level of experience.

One thing that needs to be stated here is that, just like car batteries, motorcycle batteries are not deep cycle batteries. They do not like to be deeply discharged. The thin, delicate plates on a non deep cycle battery suffer some amount of permanent damage each time the battery is deep discharged. This damage is slight however, so 2-3 times will probably not cause enough degradation to make a difference.  Just don't do continuous testing by seeing if your battery dies overnight.  And until the problem is fixed, disconnect the negative battery cable when you are not working on the bike to stop the battery from draining.

There are a few simple questions that have to be answered whenever you have a dead battery. 

  1. Does the battery have a defect, or is it weak due to age?
  2. Is my alternator charging?
  3. Is something on my bike drawing too much current after the ignition is turned off?

Your answer will be yes to one of those questions.  And until you answer questions 1 and 2, don't even bother with question #3.  Troubleshooting excessive current draw can be very time consuming depending on how deep you have to dig.

  • First, verify the battery's condition. Pull the battery from the bike and charge it. Then take it to an auto parts store or motorcycle dealer to have them do a load test on it.  A load test is not perfect because it only tells you the battery's capacity. It doesn't tell you if the battery has an internal current leak. But we fill find out that one later if it becomes necessary.  For now, the battery capacity test is enough because it is the most common type of battery failure.
  • Next, re-install the battery and get out your multimeter. Pull the left side cover off and start the bike. Check the voltage across the battery posts. A normal resting voltage for a battery is about 12.2 volts. With the engine running, you should measure higher than that voltage. In most cases, the voltage will be 13.0 -14.5 volts.

If those two tests check out, we have to assume that something is drawing too much current. Now we just have to find it.  I will show two methods here, a simple method, and an advanced method with a multimeter.

Leakage test Simple Method
If you are not confident in your abilities with measuring current with a multimeter, you can still do some basic tests that will just take a little longer.  This method works pretty good if you are trying to isolate a single specific circuit. But if the problem is becoming elusive, you are best off using the advance method at the end of this article.

The first thing I recommend is looking at what accessories installed on your bike that can cause a drain.  If you have one of the mp3 adapters that plugs into the CD input connector, these are highly suspect.  Unplug it from the CD input connector, disconnect the negative battery cable to reset the radio, and hook up the cable after 15 minutes. If you have a CB, unplug the 3 pin  power connector.  (Unknown water damage to the CB can cause current leakage.) 

Look at any accessory that you have that connects directly to the battery and disconnect it. This includes heated clothing controllers.

Make sure the battery is charged, and measure the battery voltage about 5 minutes after removing the charger. Write the voltage down and let the bike sit. Come back every few hours and take a voltage measurement. If the battery voltage drops under 12 volts on a fully charged battery in a short time, the components you disconnected are not the cause.

Leave those accessories disconnected and remove the battery fuse from the fuse block. On the 01-03 bikes, this is fuse # 22, which is a 20 amp fuse.  On a 2008, it is fuse 31. Check the label on the cover of your fuse block for the proper fuse for your bike.  Also, if you have a 2006-2010, pull the power amp fuse as well. it is the large fuse at the bottom of the fuse block.

Do the same test again. Charge the battery and then write down the voltage after the charger is disconnected for 5 minutes. If the voltage still drops, the problem is not in your radio and you have something else wrong with your bike, such as a stuck relay or bad ignition switch.

Don't get fooled by these measurements. It is normal for the battery voltage to settle somewhat after charging. But it should not get very much under 12 volts.

Leakage Test Advanced Method.
For liability reasons, I have decided not to describe how to set up a meter to measure current. I cannot risk someone making a mistake, causing damage and blaming me for it. If you don't already know how to do this, you should not be attempting it.   This is a potentially hazardous measurement. Your meter is actually inserted into the bike's wiring. Connecting the probes to the wrong test points can put a direct short across the battery posts. You accept all risk in performing this test.  Information is available elsewhere on the Internet if you want to learn this measurement. I recommend practicing on something that uses a power supply with lower current capacity before tackling a motorcycle battery.

Checking for leakage should be done by disconnecting the negative battery lead. This is much safer than using the positive lead. The meter will be connected with one lead on the negative battery cable, and the other lead on the negative battery post. Set your meter to read milli-amps, and DO NOT turn on your ignition at any time while the meter is connected.

The Honda manual states that leakage current should be somewhere around 7 milli-amps.  This is a good starting point, but keep in mind that if you have accessories installed, current could measure up to about 15 ma. or so. This is normal and will not kill your battery. When the battery dies within a day or so,  the current draw will measure around 100ma or higher. If the current measures high, start pulling fuses one at a time until the current drops. The same thing applies as with the simple method. All accessories such as mp3 adapters should be disconnected from the bike since they might be connected to the same fuse as the radio.

Don't get the decimal place mixed up. Remember that .2 amps is 200ma and .02 amps is 20ma  Most meters will actually measure in milli-amps, so you should not have to convert between amps and mill-amps.  Also keep in mind that inexpensive meters might have a hard time measuring current accurately at this low of a reading, so don't be too picky with your readings.  This problem is rarely borderline. It is either normal, or very high.

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Poor sound through Aux input

Once in awhile, a problem happens with the audio ground for the Aux input. The problem will exhibit a very specifc type of distortion.  The audio will have the distinct sound of an echo, and there will be virtually no bass. The volume level will be noticeably lower as well. The reason for this odd behavior is that when the audio loses its ground, the left channel will pick up its ground through the right channel, and the right channel will pick up its ground through the left channel. The wider the stereo separation, the worse it sounds.  The differences in the stereo sound coming through the left and right channels tends to cancel each other out.

If your distortion does not match all of those symptoms, then the problem is elsewhere. Try lowering the volume at your mp3 player to see if the sound quality improves. it is possible to overdrive the radio inputs with high output mp3 players.  Dirty connections on GPS cradles are another possibility.

The AMB function can also cause some odd behavior. I always recommend that owners turn this function off while troubleshooting poor sound. Certain types of music react badly with the Ambiance function.

If you suspect a bad ground problem, first turn off the AMB feature on the radio.  AMB tends to muddy the sound, making it difficult to diagnose.

I have seen a failure in the radio cause this problem when someone hooks up something to the aux input that should not have been hooked up. The excessive current blows out the circuit board trace for the aux ground. The only way to fix this is to send it out for repair.  Fortunately that problem is rare.  Most of the time it is one of the connections in the aux line. 

The best way to attack this problem is to go for the easy stuff first, and work your way to the most difficult fo repair problems.  The first thing to do is clean the 3.5mm headset style plug in the left pocket. Drip some WD40 or contact cleaner on a paper towel or scrap rag and rub the contacts until they are clean. You usually cannot see the thin layer of oxidation that causes a bad connection . Note that this can also be caused by the jack in your player or GPS. Try substituting with another player to see if the problem goes away.

If you are not lucky enough to have a bad headphone plug, then the problem is probably being caused by the white 3 pin audio connector under the left pocket. The connector is located in the rubber boot. Pull this connector and clean it with some WD40 or contact cleaner, and retest. You can even flex the connector slightly to see if the problem is intermittent.

If you still have not solved the problem, things begin getting more difficult to fix. Sometimes the connector actually goes bad. The area where the wire gets crimped onto the connector pins can become oxidized and  lose its conductivity.  You can hope it is the 18" long aux cable that is bad and order a new one, but if it is the bike side connector, the only solution is to either pull the pins out and re-crimp or solder, or just cut the connector off and replace it.  Working with the bike side connector is not easy with the fairing on. If you are not good with working with tiny wires in a tight spot, try to find a friend who has experience. Making a mistake will just force you to cut the wire again, making it even shorter, and that much more difficult to repair.

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The radio is badly distorted with all audio sources....
You might think that my answer to this question would be to get the amp upgrade, but not so fast.  Before wondering if you need the amp upgrade, you have to ask yourself, how severe is the distortion?  The radios with the high distortion amplifiers don't sound very good, but if your distortion is severe, you probably have a problem with your audio system, and until that is fixed, getting the amp upgrade won't do you any good.

I get this question quite often in emails from customers. I probably should tell you right from the start that severe distortion is almost certainly not a problem in the radio. It is not impossible for a radio to distort, and you certainly could have an unusual problem. But with this symptom, the radio is the very last thing to blame.  Radio failures almost always result in no audio somewhere.

With a stock system, distortion is usually caused by the speakers themselves. The stock speakers have cheap treated paper cones that quickly lose their stiffness. And even aftermarket speaker succumb to the elements. Most aftermarket speakers are only water resistant. That means that they should not see direct contact with water, and we all know that never happens on a motorcycle.  Sometimes speakers are just not very high quality, or are just a poor match for our cabinets.  (The Polk db501 is a fully waterproof marine rated speaker, not just water resistant.)

Aftermarket amplifiers are another cause. People are often drawn in by no name amplifiers because of their small size. They advertise high power in a small package, and many owners figure that it is worth a chance. You never know when you will come across the next great Goldwing accessory. But more often than not, these amplifiers are actually low quality and do nothing more than add to the distortion. It is also possible even with a high quality amplifier that the input level control of the amp is set to high. This will overdrive the inputs to the amp and cause distortion.

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Alternator Whine or buzzing through Aux input only

This is a very common problem on the GL1800, and is caused by a classic ground loop.  It only happens when you connect an audio source that is powered by the bike's battery.

This is not a defect in the radio or the bike's wiring.  It is caused by a combination of many factors. Ground loops are a complex subject. It is beyond the intent of this website to go into a full technical explanation.

The only solution to this problem is to install a ground loop isolator. They are available from many electronics sources such as Electrical Connection and Crutchfield. Electrical Connection has one version that replaces the existing aux cable and plugs right into the 3 pin aux connector under the left pocket. Others plug in in-line with the existing aux cable. When you shop for a GLI, make sure it has 3.5mm plugs on both ends. Radio Shack sells them, but the last I saw, they only had RCA jacks.

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General Alternator Whine  Troubleshooting, (Usually present with all audio sources)

Before we dig into this problem, please note.  Do not email me for help on alternator whine issues.  I cannot offer any suggestions beyond the common fixes that you read here. Alternator whine can be a very difficult problem to troubleshoot, with many causes, and many solutions.  It is for the most part something you have to be at the bike to diagnose if the bike requires troubleshooting beyond the basics shared in this article.

Alternator whine is often a case of trial and error, and can be very frustrating, but hopefully I can send owners in the right direction with some basic information and common causes.

The first step in solving this problem is to thoroughly operate every function of the audio system, noting every little detail you can gather. Items that may seem insignificant can actually be major clues. Subtle symptoms can often lead directly to the cause.

For instance, if your noise is only present with the aux input, you probably need a ground loop isolator. If the whine only happens when you engage the cruise control, you will have to install an RF shield around the cruise module.

For noise that is present with all sources, bad grounds are the most common cause. The most likely culprit with the GL1800 is the main ground under the fuel tank.  This ground is the return point to the battery for not only the radio, but also most of your bike’s systems.   Remove the negative battery cable, remove the fuel tank, and re-work this ground. Scrape or sand any powder coat off that area of the frame, run a tap through the mounting hole to clean off any powder coat, and re-install the ground wires and bolt. 

Some people have taken the extra step of running a ground wire from this point directly to the battery.  A word of caution is needed about running a ground wire however. Even though there is normally not a lot of current flowing through this ground, if a high current ground return ever did go bad somewhere on the bike, such as the G1 ground, the load will try to use your added ground as a return path to the battery. For this reason, any secondary wire that you add must be able to handle the full current capability of the bike. Do not use anything less than an 8-10 gauge wire for this duplicate ground path. (It probably should be even heavier than that.)

The extended ground wire fix does permanently solve many noise and whine issues, but for liability reasons, it is my position to not endorse it due to the potential hazard, no matter how unlikely the hazard is.   While it may seem like just an innocent piece of wire, it is not. When you do this, you are altering the OEM wiring design by supplying a duplicate ground path from the frame to the battery.  I would feel more comfortable with this fix if I were to actually test the current demands of the bike's electrical system so that the correct, safe gauge of wire could be determined, but I have not done that.  I do acknowledge that the likelihood of a failure of the type I am concerned about is very low.  It just isn't low enough for me.

As an alternative, the correct, by the book method for doing this fix would be to completely remove the ground wires from the G2 ground under the tank and splice them to a ground wire that runs directly to the battery.  It would serve the same purpose, with the exception that it would isolate your ground wire from the hazards I am concerned about. It will remove the frame to battery ground path that can cause safety problems.   I have not tried this however, so I don't know how well it would work. In theory, it should work, but when it comes to alternator whine, theories are just theories until you prove that they work.

For those that are wondering;  Yes, I am extremely safety conscious when it comes to electronics. I don’t believe in throwing caution to the wind, and I don't believe in "It's good enough".  I have built a repuation of trust among my customers that I would never suggest anything that could put them in harm's way. But I also understand that not everyone agrees with my stance on this mod, and everyone's risk tolerance level is different. 

So why am I even sharing this if I don't endorse it?  It has become a fairly popular mod over the past few years, with at least one servicer advertising it and performing it in his shop. I have received a number of emails asking me about it, so I figured I would share the information and let everyone know where I stand on the issue  What you do with that information is up to you. If something does go wrong, nobody can come back to me and say I didn't warn them.

I am not claiming to be the final word on this subject,  It is not uncommon to see design opinions disputed among industry professionals. This is one of those cases. Electronics always carries at least a small amount of safety risk. It's just the nature of the beast.  It may very well be that I am being overly cautious on this subject.

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The Honda OEM CB

The Honda CB's performance gets unfairly maligned on the forums, except for the fact that it is grossly overpriced.  There have actually been very few problems with the CB. Most problems are actually problems in the bike's wiring, not an electrical problem in the CB itself.  These problems are many times frustrating because they are usually intermittent. Hopefully I can unravel some of the mystery here and help you to get the most out of  your CB. (Yes, I have one, and have always considered the alternatives to be lacking, except for maybe the BikeMP3 unit.)

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Problem #1:  Your transmitted voice is very quiet and hard to understand by other riders receiving your transmission.  (Low modulation)

The GL1800 CB (Clarion version) has always had a reputation for poor transmit range.  The reputation is well deserved. However, it is usually not the transmitter itself that is the cause of the problem.  For some reason, Clarion has the modulation levels set too low.

I will keep the following technical discussion basic for those who are not familiar with the details of how transmitters work. After all, you only care about fixing the problem, right?

To transmit audio over the air, there are two basic components needed, a carrier, and modulation.  The carrier is what most people are familiar with. The carrier is the sine wave that others tune to when they want to receive your signal, The carrier is the signal that other CB's detect when they break squelch.  It is also what you are adjusting when you check your SWR.  The maximum legal CB carrier power is 4 watts.

There is no audio in a carrier however. If you just transmit a carrier, all you get is silence. This is where modulation comes in. Modulation is simply the audio signal you want to transmit. In the case of a CB, it is our voices. The audio signal from your microphone is added to the carrier.

For your voice to be heard the loudest and clearest possible, with the least amount of background noise, the peak modulation needs to be as close to 100% as possible without going over 100%. In reality however, very few of the Honda Clarion CB's ever transmit anywhere near 100% modulation. In fact, it doesn't even hit 50% on most bikes.  It doesn't matter how far the CB can transmit if the audio level is too low for anyone to hear it.  Just to add to the problem, some headset microphones  have a lower output than others. When you combine this with the distance we have to keep out mouths from the mike due to the windsock, it just makes a bad problem worse.

To solve this problem, I now offer a service to correct the low modulation problem. I modified Clarion's alignment procedures in order to increase the modulation to a level that will enable the CB to reach its full potential.  (At present, this is for the Honda Clarion CB only.)  Before anybody asks, this alignment is unfortunately not something that owners can easily do themselves. Not only does it require a modulation meter and preferably an oscilloscope, but since the two circuit boards can't be separated without unplugging them, you can't access the alignments and power up the CB at the same time without a specially made interface test cable.

To get your CB  re-aligned and enable it to reach its full capability, see my Online Store. I have tried to keep the price as reasonable as possible.

Two things should be kept in mind about this alignment.

  1. Since all microphones are different, and each person speaks at a different volume, the reference modulation level still has to be kept below 100% to take worst possible scenarios into account.  This is a standard procedure for all CB's.
  2. If you have the CB feedback squeal problem, the problem needs to be repaired before getting the CB re-aligned. If you don't, this fix could make the problem worse.  See the troubleshooting tips below for more info on correcting the feedback problem.
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Problem #2 Feedback squeal during transmit.
This is a fairly common problem with the Goldwing CB. The problem itself is actually quite simple. But finding and correcting it is sometimes not so easy.

Transmit squeal is nearly always caused by a bad ground that is reducing the effectiveness of cable shielding somewhere in the system. When grounds go bad, shielding becomes less effective.  Shielding is used to keep unwanted interference from becoming mixed with the audio signals traveling in the cables. It can work the other way around too.  In the case of a CB, you have a shielded coax cable which, when working properly, prevents the transmitted carrier from being radiated outward. That transmitter signal needs to be kept inside the cable until it reaches the antenna, and if the cable's shielding is less than perfect, it can't do that effectively.  Even though a CB carrier is only 4 watts, the radiated EMI can be quite strong, and can be induced into the bike's wiring. When this happens, you get feedback, which is heard as squeal.  It is important that the transmitter carrier not be allowed to radiate anywhere except at the antenna.

There are a few common ground points to check when you have the squeal problem. The most obvious one is the battery cables. For some reason, motorcycles are known for battery cables coming loose. The next place to check is the bolts that mount the CB antenna. And check to see if the reinforcing bracket for the antenna is cracked in half.

Other easy to check grounds are at the antenna cable connector, and the 3 pin CB power cable under the seat. It is hidden in a black rubber boot to the rear of the relay box.  Check this connector to make sure they are not oxidized or corroded. Spray it with a little contact cleaner or WD40 Do not spray contact cleaner in the antenna connector. You can screw up the impedance of the connection.

There are three more connectors that have grounds that can cause squeal, but they all require a lot of disassembly. The large 13 pin CB connector up near the radio, the radio connectors themselves, and the main radio ground under
the gas tank are possible culprits.

Before doing a major tear down, there is one simple fix you can try. Sometimes, even with proper shielding and grounding, an RF signal can still be induced into the bikes audio system. This is because rarely is consumer grade shielding perfect. If you look under your seat, you will notice that your antenna cable either crosses over, or runs right alongside your passenger headset cable. This is a potential problem. Those cables should be separated as far away from each other as possible to minimize the chance of the transmitted carrier being induced into the headset cable.

I recently saw an installation where the owner decided to run his CB antenna cable along the bottom of the trunk directly to the CB instead of routing it under the seat as the Honda instructions suggest.  My first reaction to seeing this is that it was just a case of somebody being lazy. But the more I thought about it, I realized this was a great idea because it gets that antenna cable as far away from the audio cables as possible. I wonder if this installer even realizes what a genius he was!

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Problem #3 You can hear your voice through the external speakers when transmitting.
This problem is not very common, but does show up from time to time. It can also be caused by bad grounds, usually either at the radio or the 14 pin CB connector under the top shelter. But once in awhile, it is actually a problem in the radio causing it.

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Problem #4  You are getting a message on the bike's LCD display that says "CB Error"
The CB Error message is generated by the radio's microprocessor.  It is displayed if there is any loss of communications with the CB while the CB function is turned on. Data is constantly being shared between the CB and the radio whenever both of them are on. That communication can't be interrupted.

Now that you know what causes the error message, you are probably already imagining some of the possible sources of problems. The 3 pin CB power connector under the seat is a major suspect, as is the 14 pin main CB connector under the top shelter. The two radio connectors themselves are also a possible cause. Anything that can cause an interruption in data flow between the radio and CB can cause this problem. The antenna or antenna cable CANNOT cause a CB Error message.

One seemingly unlikely cause for the CB error message is a bad battery or loose battery cables. If this is the cause, you will know it, because it will only happen if you start the bike while the CB is turned on, with the error message popping up a few seconds later. When you start your bike, the high current draw from the starter causes your battery voltage to momentarily drop. This is normal, and is expected. But if the battery is weak or the cables are loose, the voltage can drop too low and play havoc with the bike's electronics.
When the battery voltage drops too low, electronic devices can momentarily power down. If the CB powers down, even for a second, the result can be a CB Error on the display.

I have not been able to duplicate the battery problem on the bench, but some owners have reported that it caused their problem, so I am throwing it out there as a possibility. Checking the battery and cables should always be the first step whenever experiencing an electrical problem anyway.

One unfortunate possible for the CB Error is a possible internal  failure in the CB, and most CB failures are due to circuit board corrosion caused by water damage. This is one of the drawbacks of the CB being located in the bottom of the trunk. Any spills in the trunk will head directly for the CB. If this happens to you, the CB is usually unrepairable.  Severe corrosion is obvious, with white residue on the circuit boards and visual signs of rust. Discoloring of the circuit board is also a sign. Most boards are green. Visual signs of large black splotches on the circuit board are a possible sign of corrosion  going on underneath the top layer.  But sometimes corrosion is hidden, and not easily detected by the untrained eye.

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A few thoughts about SWR
I have read the opinions of many owners who say that you do not have to check the SWR on the Honda CB, because the antenna and radio are matched to each other. It is certainly true that by using a CB designed specifically for a single model of vehicle, with a specific antenna, the manufacturer is able to tune everything to work properly together. But like most things, there is more to it than that.

In most cases, you can indeed install the Honda CB with the Honda antenna,  and the SWR will be acceptable. But you can usually still make it better. And the lower your SWR is, the farther you can transmit.

There is an even bigger reason for checking the SWR after installation however. Sometimes a new CB, or antenna, or coax is defective, or something could have gone wrong during installation. Checking the SWR verifies that your installation and equipment are good. In my opinion, no shop that is interested in doing quality work would ever install a CB without checking SWR, and you shouldn't either. it is just the proper way of doing things.  Meters are cheap to buy, and you can sometimes borrow one.  Keep in mind however that Honda uses Motorola connectors instead of standard PL259 RF connectors,
so you will also need adapter cables to test the SWR.

When adjusting the SWR, in many cases you have to cut 1/4" or so off the antenna to get the lowest match. This is done intentionally by the mfr. It is easy to cut off some length if needed. You can't add length however. There are many very well written procedures on how to adjust SWR on the Internet. I may add something here in the future if I get the time and find that it is necessary.

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  Installing Rear Speakers

I get a lot of requests for information on installing rear speakers, so it's probably a good idea to put the procedure here in the WingConnect Garage.

If you don't have rear speakers installed now, you will need to purchase a rear speaker harness. There are multiple sources for this harness, but I recommend the one from

1. Remove the inner trunk lid liner. There is one screw for each speaker pod that is hidden behind the inner liner.  This is 17 screws.  Check screw lengths as you remove them. The 4 screws for the latches are definitely longer. Don't mix them up!

The inner liner cannot be completely removed because of the wiring for the remote trunk lock unit. There is a harness clamp that can be bent back to give you more room to work.

2. Remove the speaker pods.
  There are 5 screws holding each speaker pods in place, 3 underneath the pods in recessed holes, and 2 in the trunk lid on each side.  If I remember correctly, some of these may also bedifferent sizes.

If you are installing Polk db501 speakers, the procedure is the same as for the front speakers. You have to slot the speaker baskets by nipping off the ends with a pair of tin snips or side cutters, and mount the speakers using some small fender washers as shown in the picture to the left.

Installing the speaker harness.

You will have to remove the seat to access the speaker harness connector. The connector is located in the large rubber boot behind the relay box. You will probably have to pull the boot back and do some digging in the boot to locate the connector.  It is a 4 pin square connector.

The first thing you have to do with your new harness is determine which set of wires is for the left and right channels. Hopefully your harness came with instructions, but many times they don't, so you may have to do some detective work. Don't skimp on this step. Yes, the speakers will work no matter how you hook them up. But if you hook them up wrong, you will have poor sound quality, and your new speakers will just be a waste of money.

The colors of the new speaker harness wires will be different than the colors of the speaker wires on the bike. They will usually be something like red and black. Red is usually positive, but verify it anyway. And usually, one set of wires is shorter than the other. The shorter leads should be for the right speaker. (viewed while facing the front of the bike.)

Try to pull that boot back far enough to see the colors of the wires going into the connector. The following chart lists the color code for the rear speakers.

Left Channel Right Channel
 Blue/Yellow    Red/Yellow  
 Negative  Green/White    Brown/White  

Notice that both positive leads have a yellow stripe, and both negative leads have a white stripe.  The wires are probably dirty and hard to see, so wipe them down. While you are at it, that connector is probably pretty dirty from being exposed all these years, so spray it out with some WD40 or contact cleaner.

Plug the speaker harness in and trace the colors you identified to the other end of the harness, and mark them.  The speakers themselves will have either a red dot or some kind of marking to identify the positive lead.

Routing the speaker wires.   I don't like the way Honda and some other aftermarket companies want the speaker harness to be routed. It is quite common for the harness to become pinched by the trunk hinges, which results in shorting out the wires, resulting in no audio, popping sounds, and possibly blowing the power amp in the radio.   I have developed my own method for installing the wires. It is actually easier with my method, and the chances of a pinched speaker harness is greatly reduced.

Route the speaker wires up along the inside edge of each rear storage pocket up to the trunk hinges. In the following picture, you can see how I routed the wires. I run it alongside the channel, bend the wire, and push it up through the hole into the speaker cavity. I recommend drilling a small hole in the side of each storage pod so that you can tie down the speaker lead with a small cable tie. When installed properly, you will notice that the harness twists instead of bends when you open and close the trunk. Not only does this keep the wire in place, but it spreads out the stress, minimized the chance of the wires breaking from fatigue.


Speaker Tips
(Note: This discussion deals primarily with the speakers in the 01-05 bikes. The 06 and later models have the Premium Audio Sound System, which utilizes 6 1/2" speakers. At this time, I have very little hands on experience with the speakers on the 06 and later models. )

I highly recommend upgrading the OEM speakers if you are interested in making your GL1800 stereo sound the best it can, and it is pointless to get your amp upgraded if you aren't going to replace the speakers.  The OEM speakers are not very high quality, and you can't take full advantage of the big improvements of my power amp upgrade without decent quality speakers.

I normally don't like to recommend speakers because speakers are a personal choice. Unlike the electronics, speaker choice is subjective. No matter how high my opinion of a speaker is, the only thing that matters is what sounds good to you. 

That being said, I make an exception in this case, because there simply are not a lot of good quality choices out there when it comes to speakers that work in the Goldwing.  I recommend the Polk db501 speakers front and rear.  The sound quality is quite good for a speaker this size. They drop right in, with the only modification being that you have to notch the holes in the speakers to make them slotted. You then bolt them down with some small fender washers. The best part is, Polk speakers are marine rated and waterproof.  Most automotive speakers are only rated as water resistant, which in my opinion is not adequate on a motorcycle.

Keep in mind that the 01-05 Goldwing does not come with rear speakers. If your bike has never had them installed, you will need to purchase a rear speaker harness. It is available from Honda, Electrical Connection, and other retailers.

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Does stuffing the cabinet with filler help?
It all depends on the cabinet and speakers. The purpose of filler is primarily to eliminate standing waves and resonances that are created by sound bouncing off of parallel surfaces. It can sometimes also mask the "colored sound" of a less than ideal cabinet material.

The Goldwing's cabinet walls are for the most part not symmetrical, so standing waves are not an issue. But a plastic cabinet doesn't make for a good sounding speaker normally, so it is worth a try. The worst that can happen is that you have to take it back out again.

I have found that using filler with the db501 has a detrimental effect on the loading of the speaker cone, and the speakers lose bass.  With the Polk's, I recommend against using filler. The db501 really likes the volume of that cabinet just the way it is.

I do recommend making a foam gasket for the speakers.  For one, it prevents an audible breathing sound when air is forced through small passages. (You usually don't recognize this as an air leak. All you will notice is that it just doesn't sound right for some reason.)

I use two types of material to seal speakers. The first one is plain old window and door insulating foam, the type that is 3/8" thick and has a peel back covering for the sticky side. It is great for uneven surfaces because it can fill small gaps.

For the back speakers, sealing the speakers is really not necessary, except to maybe minimize vibration. There are already so many drain holes in the back cabinets that sealing the speakers offers no audible benefit.

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What about the hole in the bottom of the speaker cabinet?
That hole is so large that Honda probably intended for it to be a bass reflex port. A port is only effective if it is tuned to the particular speaker you are using so its usefulness will vary by the type of speaker you install. The speaker you use also has to be designed around a ported enclosure design for this port to be effective.

The db501
speaker excels with the cabinet being sealed as tight as possible. Take some of that foam insulation, pull the speaker wire up a little bit, wrap a few layers of foam around the speaker wire, and stuff it tightly into the hole. You will be impressed with how tight the bass becomes.

Should I also plug the hole at the back of the cabinet? 
No, absolutely not. That is not a hole. It is an extension of the speaker cabinet. The cabinets extend into additional chambers around the back of the instrument cluster. Plugging this cavity will effectively reduce the size of your cabinets, and you will lose bass.

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What affect does it have to change from the 3 ohm OEM speaker to a 4 ohm aftermarket speaker?
This is a complex subject that I could devote an entire page to, giving you all sorts of theory and math that will just put you to sleep.  Many car audio installation sites claim that a lower impedance speaker will give you more volume because the power amp can put out more power.  (Ohms Law)  Unfortunately, once you put the calculator down and enter the real world, there are other factors that affect volume other than sheer power.  A 3 ohm speaker can indeed be louder than a 4 ohm, but it isn't due to the impedance of the speaker. It is the overall design of the speaker itself, and the current capability of the power amp, that dictates its volume output. the Polk db501 is at least as loud, if not louder than the OEM 3 ohm speakers.  It is rated at 93db @ 1 watt. You aren't going to find many speakers higher than that.

Even though Honda uses 3 ohm speakers, the output IC is designed for 4 ohm loads. I am convinced that they only reason Honda uses a 3 ohm speaker is so that they can claim a higher fictitious power output figure in their advertising to make it appear the stereo is more powerful than it is.

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