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Unread 07-14-2015, 02:04 PM   #1
metallicpea
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2006 LJ Wrangler 
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Chicagoland
Posts: 35
Audio System Upgrade Complete

Well,

I just finished the last bit of work upgrading the stereo on my 06. Thought I would share my findings.

My main goal was to upgrade the audio to be decent without luring any punks to mess with my ride and without sacrificing any of the functionality of my LJ. I have and had pretty good audio systems in my cars and home over the years. For the most part I am beyond that, but the stock sound system was terrible with the wind and road noise on my vehicle. Heck, even my wife agreed the audio needed an upgrade.

My main complaints were clarity at loud listening levels and lack of any real mid bass or treble.

I really wanted to try to stick with the stock head unit so everything would appear stock as I leave the top off and park around town all summer. This is not my daily driver.

My original plan of attack was to select some new front and rear speakers that would be well matched to the output of the factory radio. Then find a way to up the bass without impacting the rear seat removal or rear storage space.

After much research here and elsewhere, I selected Alpine S-510 5-1/4" with ebay front tilting brackets for the front dash and S-610 6-1/2" for the rear overhead pods.

The front was straight forward with the brackets I used. Plenty of clearance to the dash and the brackets faced the speaker upward a bit more toward the listener. Fitting the rear 6-1/2" was much more difficult. It turned out pretty good, but required significant modification to both the opening in the pod and the frame of the speaker, but I was able to flush fit these and with a nice airtight seal and a little poly fill, the back was sounding much better. The bigger driver and separate tweeter really help and power from the radio was good. Stock grills could not be reused, but exposed appearance of the alpines is very subtle. The front however did not sound as good as I was hoping. The tweeters helped, but the free air nature of this bracket - like stock - left these very one dimensional. Something else would be needed up front.

In the meantime I researched sub options and found that everything required an external amp that would be tough to hide and required a significant amount of important space be sacrificed - no good. Could not seem to find any good JL style stealthbox for the TJ, so decided to dig up a stock sub enclosure for the center console. Found a cool website a guy had posted explaining how to retrofit the wiring of the factory sub into a base audio system.

http://www.higherground4x4.com/Install%20Sub.htm

After several weeks of waiting for a decent part to surface on ebay, I pulled the trigger on a used enclosure. After preparing to retrofit, I noticed I had bought the new style unit with 12 wires - not the 6 wire version shown on this website. So back to ebay. A few more weeks, found what I was looking for and sold off my newer one. BTW, both paper subs were shot, so plan on the 90 or so bucks to put in the quadratec replacement sub from the beginning. For me the rubber surround is a no brainer over the foam. Anyway, followed the website above and everything was great. My factory wiring harness did not match his, so I looked up an image of my 22 pin radio harness on google to figure out which wires were which. Used a fuse tap to get power from the fuse box behind the glovebox and everything worked great - first try.

Sub makes a big difference. By no means a booming system, but it fills out the low end that is totally missing and was more than I had expected. Having it right in the middle of the Jeep gives some bass to everyone even with the top and doors off. Totally worth the $160 or so and few hours of time. As for sound vs impact to function of my Jeep, it's a win win. A few little tips. First, I used blue "tap it" from Posi-Tap fittings to tap into the 4 speaker wires on the factory radio harness. Worked great and minimal impact. Also, after removing the full depth liner from my old center console, enclosure fits like a glove. I was lucky my sub came with the front and rear mounting brackets, but I will need to find the shorter console liner that fits with the sub so that I can put stuff in the console without losing it down the side. No luck yet. Maybe a junkyard...

Now, back to the fronts. Decided that despite the slightly high price of the Select Increment dash pods, I didn't know what else to try and gave them a shot. Removed my ebay tilting brackets and installed my same 5-1/4" alpines into these pods. This was more fiddly than I hoped. Pigtails are great, but need to seal them to the grommet. Supplied screws were too short, but mixed and matched and used rope caulk to seal them up tight. Then when installing to my dash, I noticed that the thickness of the pods brought the surround of the driver extremely close the the dash frame. This required a fair amount of dremel cut and smoothing work to ensure the surround doesn't cut itself on the frame, but managed it ok.

However, again the cost and the time was worth it on the front. Now there are actual mids and highs from the front speakers.

I am extremely satisfied with the sound at this point. And although a lot of fiddling, and not too much $$, I would do this again and recommend to others. Not a plug and play, but for someone with some car audio experience, way worth it. I can report back once I have spent more time with it. Anyone have a short center console tub/liner?

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Unread 07-14-2015, 04:02 PM   #2
05LJTampa
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2005 LJ Wrangler 
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: Tampa, FL
Posts: 946
Use foam baffles behind front speakers, polyfill in rear sound pods. They make a bracket/plate that holds an amp and mounts under the steering column so no wasted space.
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Unread 07-14-2015, 04:27 PM   #3
metallicpea
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2006 LJ Wrangler 
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Chicagoland
Posts: 35
I did use poly fill in the rear pods and in the front ones. Foam baffles would help and be less work, but you can't beat a sealed enclosure for quality sound and simplicity. Those front pods sound better than I was expecting.

Who sells / makes the amp bracket? That's a cool idea. I didn't see a ton of space.
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Unread 07-14-2015, 04:38 PM   #4
T-Mav
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1999 TJ Wrangler 
 
Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: Genoa, Nebraska
Posts: 152
I put this amp under my steering column it's small and packs a good punch!
image.jpg  
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Unread 07-14-2015, 08:02 PM   #5
05LJTampa
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2005 LJ Wrangler 
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: Tampa, FL
Posts: 946
Not sure if he makes them any longer but the company's name was skinnypedal. Search for "thrifty pedal amp mount" and you'll see how a guy spent alot less to make one then spend $60. I have the skinnypedal mount and it was quick and easy but boy is it tight up there after mounting the amp.

I also have a lockable tool box enclosure I built in the back that has a downfiring 10" sub in it along with my tool storage.
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Unread 07-15-2015, 08:37 AM   #6
metallicpea
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2006 LJ Wrangler 
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Chicagoland
Posts: 35
Checked out the amp plate and thrifty alternative. I will absolutely go this rout if I decide to upgrade speakers and add an amp. Very nice!
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Unread 07-24-2015, 08:00 AM   #7
metallicpea
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2006 LJ Wrangler 
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Chicagoland
Posts: 35
BTW, looking at the Alpine F300 amp - it is the 4 channel version of the one above - I love the newer feature of line-in capability.

Wanting to keep the stock head unit has always created the need to mess with line output converters. Not a big deal, but extra cost, wiring, locating and hassle. I've been wanting this built in feature for decades. Love to see it.

Still happy with my set-up. I don't plan to upgrade speakers or add amp at this point, but if I do in the future, I will direct wire my stock radio speakers outputs to this alpine amp and run some good quality 2 way speakers in the stock locations - with the in-dash pods, and would expect some pretty decent sound. And wiring would be pretty simple.
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