Previously on AMU, I (Ozzie) talked about how I just purchased a 2016 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Unlimited. If you missed it, check out the article below.
I bought a Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon!!!
Today, I’m sharing details about the sound system that I just got installed at Soundz Good Custom. First and foremost let me start by saying that I shopped at a total of 5 different audio shops in which I felt like everyone was either too busy to give me the time of day, or belittled me and made me feel like I couldn’t get what I wanted unless I paid them 10,000. However, David at Soundz Good Custom was the exact opposite. He talked shop with me both over the phone and in person and listened to what I wanted and offered to help. I’ve had at least 10 different audio set ups in the past so it’s really frustrating when people talk to me like I’m stupid. I felt like David and team treated me with respect and went over and above to make sure I was happy with how my setup turned out. I want to make sure that we give them the recognition they deserve since it’s not everyday you get great customer service, great prices and quality work from a small business. Here’s their contact info if you’re in Socal and looking for some audio help. Make sure you mention Ozzie from AMU sent you and they will hook you up.
Website – Soundzgoodcutom.com
Email – Soundzgoodcustom@gmail.com
Contact – David
My Decision to Upgrade:
Since purchasing the Jeep, I’ve been busy researching thousands of aftermarket parts for this car. Since the JK model in particular has been practically unchanged for the last 10 years there are literally too many options to sort through when shopping for parts. I now understand what they meant when I read that the Wrangler is the MOST accessorizable SUV on the market. In addition to there being copious options, there’s also no real authority on which option is the best, making the research process rather daunting.
After a few month of perusing the Jeep forums, reading reviews online and staring at my bank account, I decided that my first project would be upgrading the audio in my Jeep. If you too own a Jeep, you know that the stock sound system without the subwoofer upgrade is pretty terrible. There’s no bottom end, absolutely no range in volume and the system sounds muddy overall. I listed some specifics below.
- The Headunit – My Jeep came with the Uconnect 430N which has touch screen, nav and a hard drive to store music but lacks in sound quality and some function.
- The Uconnect 430N lacks
- Volume – You cannot dial up the the radio to a descent volume without distortion, making it especially problematic if you’re riding with the windows down, top off, or even on the freeway on Mud Terrains.
- USB Audio – I found it odd that the radio has a USB input but only works to load music from a thumb drive to the factory hard drive and doesn’t allow you to connect your cell phone to play music. (There is a standard Aux port but this isn’t 2003)
- Bluetooth – The 430N does not come with bluetooth nor bluetooth audio and I didn’t want to pay $3,000 extra for a package upgrade with bluetooth.
- # of Speakers
- Not saying that more is always better, but in terms of having full and rich sound, I can say that this is the case.
- My Jeep came with 6 speakers (Two Components that include two separate tweeters and two coaxial speakers in my sound bar) and the sound definitely is not full. This is an SUV, not a sports car and it needs a few more cones to do the job.
- Speaker placement
- The component speakers in the front of the Jeep are located in the dash below the steering wheel instead of in sealed boxes in each door panel like you would normally find in an SUV. The tweeters are located on the dash by the window which is pretty standard practice.
- The rear speakers are mounted in a sound bar that is attached to the roll bar located right in front of the rear passengers’ head. The poor back seat riders get audio blaring down on top of their head vs. it being delicately balanced in door mounted speakers like most cars. I understand why, as the doors are removable etc. but it doesn’t change the fact that the speaker positioning isn’t optimal for sound quality.
- No Bass
- Most new SUV’s come with both component speakers and drivers mounted in the door panel, where the Jeep only has component speakers up front. The drivers help balance out the other speakers with both mid range and bass. So the moral here is, if you don’t have drivers, and nowhere to mount drivers, you need a subwoofer or subwoofers to complete your sound system.
My goal after finding all my problem areas was to build a system that no only sounded better than stock but one that was completely stealth like stock. I bought an SUV with the intentions of using it, so one of the amenities I didn’t want to give up was the storage capacity. It would be easy to put a huge box with 2 12″ subs in the back with huge bulky amps, or to only upgrade my factory speakers and headunit, but I didn’t want to take the easy route. So I took some time, did lots of research and I came up with a solution to most of my problems below.
- Aftermarket Headunit
- After tons of research, I decided to save some money on my aftermarket headunit and get the Pioneer 4100 NEX with car play instead of another model that has built in Nav and other features. I’ve found that I seldom use the factory Nav, or any other built in features in any of my other cars, and that I use the app suite on my iPhone via Bluetooth most of the time. My Jeep is no different and figured I’d save a lot of cash getting a headunit that has great audio output, a gamut of audio adjustment tools and expandability to suit the rest of my sound system needs.
- Aftermarket Speakers
- IMPORTANT PLEASE READ: Crutchfield, forums and other sites will tell you that you can use 5.25″ speakers to replace your factory front and rear speakers in your Jeep. Do yourself a favor and DON’T. You can get custom brackets etc. etc. but in the end, you will spend more time and money making them fit rather than buying 6.5 – 6.75 inch speakers that were made to fit. I made the mistake of buying 5.25″ components and coaxial speakers at first and ended up trading up for bigger speakers after getting some good advice from the guys at Soundz Good. Since I went with a Pioneer headunit, I decided to match my speakers with the same brand, but you will find later that I was unable to maintain the Pioneer theme throughout the build. I planned on running two subs in my car so I was less concerned with going BIG on components. You can spend the money to get better quality speakers, but I feel like the ones I bought, do the job.
- Front Speakers: Pioneer TS-D1730C
- Rear Speakers: Pioneer TS-D1602R
- Like I mentioned earlier, one of the most important requirements was to upgrade my sound while maintaining the stock appearance. My goal was to convert my under floor storage in the trunk into my amp rack but there was just one problem; space. The compartment is both shallow and narrow, too small to fit one big amp to power my entire system nor multiple amps to power both hi’s and subs separately. There were a few amps I found on the market that would fit the bill but I didn’t like the fact that they didn’t give me easy access to the gain and crossover controls. After a little more research, I found my answer. I decided to use waterproof Marine amps since they are both small and have the gain controls on the bottom of each amp. I figured I could have Soundz Good make a custom wood cover and mount each amp to the bottom and fabricate gain control windows for easy adjustment.
- Amp for Components and Coaxials: JL Audio HX280/4
- Amp(s) for Subs: JL Audio MX500/1 x 2
- I originally had my system installed with one MX500/1 amp under the assumption that subs mounted under my front seats wouldn’t need much power but boy was I wrong. Maybe if I purchased cheap subs one would work, but since I didn’t, I was starving my subs of power and the bass sounded horrible. One amp had trouble handling low bass frequencies, multiple frequencies at one time and sounded “thin” instead of round. (Rule of thumb, always over power vs. under power speakers. (More info on subs to follow)
- Custom Sub Boxes
- These are probably the most important component of my build. A big thanks goes out to Matt from the JK forum for helping his son hand make these boxes for my truck. Him and his son run a small company called MRK2 Sub Enclosures and produce these custom boxes in small quantities, in which the proceeds are used to help pay for his sons tuition (IMO money well spent). If you’re interested you can shoot them an email to request more info at MRK2Subs@cox.net
- Basically, these are fiberglass enclosures that were made to fit like a glove under both the driver and passenger seats (with some modification). The boxes are coated in line-ex and are pre drilled and speced for 10″ shallow mount subs. Of course, you don’t have to use two in your sound system configuration, but I figured “this is an SUV, not a sports car” meaning I have more volume to fill with sound and reverted back to my first rule of thumb that more speakers are better.
- If I hadn’t gone this route, my options were getting a JL stealth box (which still takes up cargo space) or installing a big and bulky sub box in the trunk. Since I wanted to go completely stealth, I opted to take a leap of faith and pick up a set of the under seat enclosures.
- My subs are almost equally as important as the custom enclosures so I took Matt’s advice and went with the setup he was using in his Jeep. I figured, the engineer wouldn’t recommend a product that didn’t do his work justice. He recommended Sundown SD-3 woofers that feature an inverted rubber surround and solid pole (no space needed for venting and subwoofer; excursion can perform 1″ shallower than a regular sub). Overall this sub isn’t considered a ultra shallow woofer, but they are as shallow as possible without sacrificing performance. Overall, they are about 2 inches shallower than the competition with no sacrifice in performance. In fact these subs, paired with the custom boxes hit very clean, and play a wide frequency range which I love. BEWARE! If you plan on running these subs with the Amps I mentioned earlier you will find the subs to still be slightly underpowered. I’ve found that in order to see the full potential of these subs, you still have to add more power or better amps with more continuous ability. Don’t get me wrong, there is still more than plenty bass, but those looking to shatter your windows may find limitations. On the flip side, your subs can only play so loud before they begin to vibrate against the wires underneath your seats (especially the passenger side). My configuration is just about perfect; any more and I would begin running into issues.
- Sub Woofers – Sun Down Audio SD-3 10 D4 x 2
- Sound Deadening
- After I first got everything installed, I wasn’t happy with the quality of the sound. #1, I was underpowering the subs (big no no) and #2. I didn’t have the team apply any sound deadening material (another no no). So at first my car sounded like someone was banging on a steel drums whenever the bass hit. The additional amp helped to make my bass more round and full and the sound deadening material kept the sub boxes from vibrating against the metal flooring of the Jeep.
- The team applied hushmat material under the boxes with a small addition of vibration foam. The hushmat strengthens the sheet metal on the floor of the Jeep while the foam absorbs all the vibration.
- I still have some sound deadening to do as I haven’t gotten rid of every rattle but the process is always a lot of trial and error.
- Other equipment / modification needed
- To make everything work I needed a few other items.
- Maestro RR – Universal car radio replacement interface.
- This is needed in order for your headunit to communicate with your car’s computer. Ultimately allowing one to retain features like steering wheel audio controls, bluetooth, etc.
- Maestro CH1
- This harness is also needed to assist the Maestro RR connect to your existing wiring harness.
- FM Antenna Adapter
- My connection wasn’t great after the first installation so they ordered another adapter that made the connection 100% better.
- The sub boxes require some modification to the driver and passenger seats. Matt includes instructions on what to do, but make sure you follow them to a T or else you WILL have issues getting your seats back in the car. Additionally, make sure you (or the shop) does a good job tucking the wires underneath your seat or else you will get quite a bit of rattling from the wires tapping the sub.
- Also, the passenger seat sits slightly higher than the driver side, you may need to adjust the driver side seat height to prevent the subwoofer from contacting the wires on the bottom of your seat.
- A grin from ear to ear.
- I definitely got the volume I was after. I can turn the radio up and get clear, non distorted and quality sound.
- Having bluetooth makes my life complete. I can stream audio and talk on the phone with ease for WAYYY less than the 3,000 upgrade at the dealership.
- Car Play is pretty cool. It can read really embarrassing text messages out loud to your passengers and can also utilize your phones apps to mirror on screen.
- Most importantly, I can carry bikes, gear, strollers, people, animals, you name it without ever having to worry about compromised space due to a big sound system. I also sleep easy knowing that the average thief will never guess that my truck has anything of value inside (unless they heard me blasting music down the street).
I took the liberty to trim my factory storage bin so that I could finish off my custom amp rack. All you need is a dremel and a steady hand.
I know this was a lot to digest and even after reading you may have some questions. Please feel free to send us an email at AutoMobileUploads@gmail.com.
Thanks for reading and feel free to share!
Video coming soon!