How to Install a Firmware Update on a 2020 Kenwood Head Unit

Kenwood DMX9720XDS 1 photo
Photo: Kenwood
As we said so many times before, if your car didn’t ship with CarPlay and Android Auto as a factory-installed option, your next best option is to upgrade the head unit with an aftermarket device.
At this point, there are plenty of such models out there, and there’s a good chance you’ll find one that perfectly fits your car. Installing a new head unit in a car isn’t as difficult as it sounds, and pretty much anyone can do it by simply following the tutorials out there. But on the other hand, if you’re not exactly tech-savvy, going for a professional installation is the recommended choice.

Once installed, the experience with the new head unit depends on several factors, including the software version powering the device. The good news is that manufacturers often release new firmware updates on a regular basis, all with the purpose of shipping more features and resolving the reported glitches.

Kenwood is one of the companies that publish new firmware updates on a regular basis, and today we’ll show you how you can install such a release on an existing head unit.

However, it's worth emphasizing that the tutorial here only covers 2020 models, so for other head units, make sure you consult the manual that came in the box.

Downloading the firmware update

The first step when it comes to installing a new firmware update is to download the files. To do this, head over to this page – this is where Kenwood announces its new firmware update for the released head units.

Make sure you find your model in the list above, and then click the download button.

Kenwood ships firmware updates in a ZIP archive, so you’re going to need a dedicated tool to extract all files. If you’re running Windows, the OS is already capable of extracting files from ZIP archives, so simply right-click the archive and click the Extract option.

Installing the firmware update

Now comes the more difficult part. Before you install a new firmware update on a head unit, you need to format a USB flash drive to make sure no other files are stored on it.

In theory, updating a Kenwood head unit is possible even if other files are stored on the USB media, but this isn’t at all recommended, as certain formats could interrupt the process, eventually bricking the device.

So make sure you format the USB flash drive using the FAT16, FAT32, NTFS, or exFAT file system so that no other data is on it. Also, these are the only file systems a Kenwood head unit can read.

What you need to know is you shouldn’t rename the installation files or place them in a separate folder. All files must be copied directly on the USB flash drive for the updater to be detected.

After copying the files to the USB flash drive, go to your car, and on the head unit, follow these steps:

Menu > Setup > System > Software information > Application Version

If the newer version can be installed, simply plug in the USB flash drive in the head unit and wait for a few seconds. The device should automatically detect the new firmware version and a confirmation message should show up on the screen reading: “There is updated data on the USB drive which is ready to begin. Is it OK?” Just click Yes, and the update process should start.

Needless to say, everything should be performed when the vehicle is parked, and the update process takes a few minutes to complete. In most cases, it won’t take more than 10 minutes, during which the screen might flash a few times, and the head unit could restart. Don’t touch anything on the head unit until you see a message telling you the “Update is complete.

This update method works for the following Kenwood head units:

  • DMX9720XS
  • DMX9720XDS
  • DMX1057XR
  • DMX1037S
  • DNR1007XR
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About the author: Bogdan Popa
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Bogdan keeps an eye on how technology is taking over the car world. His long-term goals are buying an 18-wheeler because he needs more space for his kid’s toys, and convincing Google and Apple that Android Auto and CarPlay deserve at least as much attention as their phones.
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