How to add GPS nav languages/voices to a Kenwood DNX-8120.

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How to add GPS nav languages/voices to a Kenwood DNX-8120.

  • As delivered, the Kenwood DNX-8120 has very few choices loaded for available languages.  You are pretty much stuck with American English (Jack or Jill), American Spanish (Paulina), French Canadian (Felix) or Brazilian Portuguese (Raquel) for TTS (text-to-speech) selections.  Since my Garmin GPS portables have other interesting choices like British and Australian English, I called Garmin today to ask how to update my 8120.

    After a half hour on the phone with Garmin tech support today trying different approaches, it was determined that there is no way to add voice files via SD card, which is the normal update path for the 8120 units.  Dead end.

    I decided to try another route via USB. On the back of the 8120 there is a mini USB port for connecting the GXM-30 XM/traffic antenna.  By connecting a PC to this port you can update the unit via Garmin's WebUpdate software just as you would a portable unit like a StreetPilot.  Here are the steps:

    IMPORTANT NOTE: The current GPS software is ver 2.4.  An update procedure posted at the Garmin website uses the SD card to update this software.  I used the SD card method and it works fine.  The USB method SHOULD work but I have not verified it, so I recommend updating your GPS software to the latest revision via SD card BEFORE doing this procedure.

    1.  With power removed, slide the 8120 head unit from your dash by removing the black plastic trim piece and releasing the unit from the mounting cage with the two removal tools provided by Kenwood.  Slide it forward far enough to access the back of the unit. Leave all wiring connections in place.

    2.  Insert a USB cable into the mini USB jack (GXM-30 connection jack, not the bigger iPod or USB cables).  I used a Garmin cable which came with one of my Garmin portable GPS units.  Plug the other end into a PC or Mac. (I didn't test it with the Mac version but it normally works fine on my portables)  By the way, you need an internet connection to do this.  WiFi works great so you can do the update in your driveway or garage.  Make sure your batteries (PC and vehicle) have adequate charge so you do not lose power during the update.

    TIP: You can slide the 8120 partially back in to support it while leaving enough clearance for the USB cable.

    3.  Power up 8120 and run WebUpdate program from Garmin (free download) on your PC or Mac.  I had to load new USB drivers for my PC to recognize the 8120 (download from Garmin if you do not already have Garmin software on your computer.)  The program will first check the unit software and then look for other update options.  All the other languages are in these other options.  You just check the ones you want to load.  (The ones with names are TTS) 

    4.  After the update is complete, the new languages will be available for selection in the Language section in general setup.

    5.  Verify proper GPS operation and new languages.

    6.  Remove the USB cables, slide the 8120 head unit back into its cage and reinstall trim piece.

    These actions worked for me.  I loaded the Australian and British English TTS files into my 8120 and they all appeared as menu choices.  I tested two of them and they work fine.

    Of course, normal disclaimers apply.  Do this procedure at your own risk.  I do not work for or represent Garmin or Kenwood and as far as I know there is no published procedure from either source yet on how to update the language files in an 8120.

    That's it.  Good luck.


    [edited by: Doug H at 1:50 PM (GMT -5) on Thu, Jul 24 2008] Fixed a couple of typos. Slightly modified subject. (clarity/length)
  • Great Info - Thanks!

    2002 Ford Focus JVC KD-A815 Sony CDX-GT410u Sony XT-100HD HD Tuner Stock speakers, no amp, no subs

  • Doug,

    Awesome post!!!  I just did the update myself, and would never have had a clue that it could even be done if you hadn't posted.  So... thanks!  Smile

    One thing I want to add to your post above, though.  If you are looking at purchasing this unit and aren't going to be installing the GXM30 Garmin/XM antenna, then go out to your local Radio Shack or electronics store.  Spend the 15 or 20 dollars to purchase a USB-to-mini-USB (5 pin) cable.  Plug the small end into the spot on the back of the 8120 reserved for the GXM antenna.  Run the other end to your glovebox, and voila!, you won't have to mess with the trim or anything.  I installed a 6-foot cable and am easily typing on my laptop right now from the car, with the cable plugged in to the back of the 8120.  It's updating as I'm typing this post. 

    A few notes about my experience:

    (1) I downloaded the Garmin software, as indicated above in Doug's post.  It went fine.  When I plugged the USB cable into my laptop (with both the laptop and the 8120 on), it (Windows XP) asked me if I wanted to search for software for the USB device.  I originally said "no" since I thought I was ok without it.  What it was really asking me was, "Do you want to try to find drivers for this Garmin USB device?"  I tried it once more, and said "Yes" this time, which is what you need to do.  Windows then installs the necessary drivers, and the Garmin Update software will finally be able to see the DNX8120.

    (2) I downloaded a male and female voice for Australian English, and another male and female voice for British English.  They all appeared in the menu just fine, though I have yet to try any of them.  It all looks good though.

    If you're a little nervous (as I was) about messing with your new $1400 navigation system, DON'T BE.  This procedure is very easy and just about fool-proof.

    Doug, thanks again for sharing!


  • Alex. My pleasure.  I'm glad everything worked out.

    Great idea on adding the USB cable and leaving it attached.  I think I will eventually get the GXM-30 but yours is a great idea to add to this thread.



  • Alex and Doug, thanks for all the great information!!  I'll have to give this a try.


  • Do y'all know if this would also work to upload routes?  If so, would the routes have to be saved in the same map version as is in the unit?  We have City Navigator 2007 on the PC but both cars have the 2009 maps.

  • I think you would have to run Mapsource rather than WebUpdate software to upload/download routes.  My guess is it would work as long as the route doesn't travel roads that are new to the 2009 maps.
  • I tried updating my software via sd card. I followed the instructions on the garmin website but yet it still didn't work. It was the software update I tried doing. How do I know what version I have anyhow?
  • Ersh,

    Here's a link to the software update procedure:  40960 

    Step 10 tell you how to determine your software revision. 

  • I installed a GXM30 tuner/ant(yes it's very cool but costs $7/month on top of XM everything package but I am hooked). I purchased a mini-b extender which I plugged into the back of the DNX8120 and then along with the GXM30 cable ran to my glove box so I don't have to pull the DNX8120 out evertime I want to hook up my laptop. This enables me to install voices, vehicles from Garmin,, etc., and POI files from,, etc.. I am currently checking out and others for other downloadable content.  Select "Garmin Mode" to use webupdater and poiloader and mass storage mode for direct access (yes, it's dangerous. I recommend backing up the original content and make sure to use the "Safely Remove Hardware" to disconnect from the DNX8120. You may end up having to ship the DNX8120 to Garmin to fix it). Some of this can be done with the SD card but it's pretty much only good for updating the garmin software.
  • Awesome job that guy did on the BatMobile icon and even cooler that he shared it for free.  Personally, I would have preferred the 1960's TV show one, but .....

    Thanks for finding it and posting!!!

    2002 Ford Focus JVC KD-A815 Sony CDX-GT410u Sony XT-100HD HD Tuner Stock speakers, no amp, no subs

  • How do you remove the thin black plastic trim piece that is around the kenwood? I managed to remove the top 2 clips, but cant seem to find/release the bottom 2? Thx