Ultimate Harley Radio Flash Guide for Aftermarket Speakers and Amplifiers
The following is a complete guide to performing your own radio flash and getting all of the performance you ever wanted out of your factory 2014 or newer Harley Davidson radio. This guide assumes that you already know what a radio flash is and have some idea of why you need to get one done, but I will explain the details of what options you should program for and why. Be aware that there is a ton of misinformation out there about what flash you should get and who should do it. This article sets the record straight. Be careful of the blind leading the blind on forums and Facebook.
Now the radio flash will get the best features of your radio turned on but you still need to make the right choices when connecting your new gear to your radio. Always use the proper Harley radio signal harnesses from American Hard Bag so that the radio is properly loaded and balanced, and never use high to low level converters. Skipping the correct interface harnesses will result in a bunch of new problems that you don’t need and ultimately amplifier and speaker failures. You can find all of our factory radio integration harnesses here. https://www.americanhardbag.com/collections/wire-harnesses
Radio Flashing Equipment
The first thing you need to do is decide if you will have your bike taken to a shop to have the flash done for you or if you will be doing the flash yourself. In either case the same software will be used and in either case you should be aware of all your options.
TechnoResearch Flash Tool
Let’s clear something up right away! The factory system that Harley dealers use to flash a radio is not what you should be using. All factory Harley flashes are intended to be used for factory Harley speakers and amplifiers and not aftermarket equipment.
There is only one flash tool to use. It’s made by a company called TechnoResearch. Fortunately Virtually all non-Harley bike shops that have a flash tool, have a TechnoResearch tool. This tool has become so popular that many factory Harley dealerships now also have this tool that they use as well as their factory supplied equipment. So in this article I will only be referring to the TechnoResearch tool and software.
Get Your Flash Tool Now for Free
For a limited time you can get a free flash tool loaner with select products. See the video for details.
What Do You Want to Accomplish by Flashing Your Radio?
When flashing your radio you can
- Enable or disable the rear audio channels. This is an important setting since all bikes that originally only came with two speakers have the rear channels disabled, so there is no fader ability. Also bikes that came with factory amplifiers have no fader ability once the factory amplifiers are removed from the system. So those bikes also need to be flashed to a configuration that enables the rear channels.
- Enable or disable the factory amplifier status. There is a secondary menu that allows you to tell the radio that a factory amplifier is or is not present for front channels and for rear channels. If you enable the amplifier option the audio signal on those channels will drop to a voltage level of just under 2 volts. This is a good thing for most aftermarket sound processors and amplifiers. It keeps the signal from being too high and clipping the inputs of the following device in the audio chain. For those of you who plan to use the factory radio's onboard power to directly drive your speakers in lieu of an aftermarket amplifier, it is important that you set your channels to disable factory amplifier status. This will boost the audio output from the radio to around 10 volts, which is what you need to directly drive a speaker.
- Select a configuration profile that sets the radios frequency response, rear speaker output behavior, and factory amplifier status all in one shot.
- Enable Apple CarPlay without the need for any special hardware or adapters (GTS Radio Only)
So What's Next?
That depends on the scale of your audio system and what you expect to get out of it. If you have a simple 2 or even 4 speaker system with speakers that don't need a lot of tuning, you might be just fine with just the flash.
If however you expect to get the most out of a more complex aftermarket Harley sound system you not only need the flash that configures the factory radio but you will also want to get a DSP like the Rockford Fosgate DSR1 digital EQ so that you can make your own equalization adjustments with your smartphone and never have to take your bike apart or plug into a computer again.
We now also cary the Velocity 8 DSP for top level systems. The Velocity 8 is the very best DSP avaiable for high performance and killer tuning tools built rith into the unit. You can find them here.
For those of you who want something in between a DSR1 and the Velocity 8 sound processors we now have the spectacular Musway M4+ amplifiers with built in 8 channel sound processor. We think that everyone not using a Velocity 8 should be using the M4+. You can find them here.
How to Connect to the Bikes Data Port
How to Use the Software and Load the Rockford Fosgate Radio Flash
See how to use the software in this step by step tutorial. It is far easier than you might think.
Enable Apple CarPlay for Free!
Did you know that you can flash your GTS Harley radio to enable CarPlay without having to add any special hardware or wire harnesses? If you are already flashing your radio for a new amplifier and you are an Apple user, now is your chance to get CarPlay up and running for free.
The DSR1 is a product designed as a go between for factory radios and aftermarket amplifiers. When used with the proper plug and play harnesses it will plug directly into your bike and give you 8 channels of RCA output for external amplifiers. It gives you separate equalization for up to 8 individual speakers, digital crossovers, gain control, and more. There are no buttons or knobs on the thing. All adjustments are done through an easy to use app on your phone.
What About Using a DSP Like the dsr1 and Not Doing a Flash?
We no longer recommend doing this. We used to offer DSP files that in the right hands could eliminate the need for a flash. However tuning is then much more complicated and with our flash tool loan program there just is no longer a good reason not to get a proper flash.