We've had a bunch of discussions here about audio systems in TJs, and I've asked a bunch questions to get feedback from you'all. I finally made my decision and have essentially completed the installation.
My intent was to get a system which would have good quality sound, be as secure as could reasonably be expected in a TJ, and be as "stealth" as reasonably possible. As I'm finding with most things Jeep/TJ, there are compromises along the way. So this is what I ended up doing.
I got this:
Alpine CDA-9857 HU
Alpine 70x4 MRP-F450 amp
Alpine 220W MRP-M450 amp
JL Audio 8" sub
Alpine ALP-SIR1 Sirius receiver
MB Quart RKC-113 5.25" speakers
I also got two new Tuffy pieces:
055 rear-half console for speaker
048 overhead console
I installed the HU in the overhead console, of course, and the sub in the center console. As for amp placement, I thought quite a bit about a reasonably secure location, where the amps wouldn't get wet if I spilled a little water (like they would on the floor under the seat), but where they would also have some air flow for cooling. I already had a Tuffy 046 rear cargo security lockbox installed, so I ended up deciding to raise it (!!!) and put the amps underneath. So I did this by placing some 4x4's on the deck, with some metal corner cross pieces to make it very difficult (note I didnt' say "impossible") to reach under to grab the amps. The amps themselves are screwed to the floor - I added little rubber feet to each one so they would be cushioned somewhat from the vibration, and to allow for a little flex). I ran a 4G power lead from the battery (fused a couple inches from the battery), back to a Monster power distribution block, with short 8G leads running to each amp (each one of these fused as well). For the grounds, I ran 8G wire to the existing bolts near each amp, providing a solid ground to the chassis.
I installed two of the 5.25 speakers in the dash using the brackets from OnlineToyStore.com, and the other two in the speaker pods (sound bar) (my TJ is an '06). I used polyfill behind the speakers in the dash. I applied a half dozen coats of truck bed liner (I used Duplicolor, because it was the one I could find, and figured it would suffice for this application) to the inside of each of the speaker pods, and added some polyfill there as well. I ran 16G wire to each of the speakers from the amps, tucking the wires in sheathing where appropriate, and inside the roll bar padding. I tried to avoid running power leads parallel to speaker or pre-amp cables - making them cross perpendicularly where necessary.
Installing the sub in the center console, I also used some polyfill. I would like to get a box built for inside the console, but for now I'm doing without it.
The Sirius receiver box fits perfectly in the unused spot at the back end of the overhead console. I mounted the antennae under the roll bar padding just behind the overhead console.
All this was really time consuming - I was off work this past week and spent most of my week working on this. Maybe I'm just slow, but each of these parts took time to figure out, and then lots of time to do "just so".
In the end, I am happy with the sound - and figure it was worth the expense and time, because I expect to have the Jeep for many years - and even if I trade, I can pull all this out and use it again (I had my previous Alpine, which I let go with the XJ a few months ago, for about 12 years... 9 in the XJ and 3 in the previous vehicle).
A few notes...
- I listened to the system quite a bit before I put the rear security lock box back in. I was quite happy with the sound. Putting the box back in place changed the sound significantly. It lacks the "open" sound it had before, and doesn't sound quite as 'clean'. I suspect there's lots of reverberation in the metal box, and sound reflecting off the hard surfaces. I am going to try applying some indoor/outdoor carpet (can I buy sheets of Jeep or other vehicle carpet???) and suspect that may help. Also I'll use Dynamat (or "second skin") on the inside of the box).
- I'm not completely sold yet on the overhead console. It's a bit of a pain to maneuver the opening drawers. You have to wriggle them into just the right position to close the lock. Even though everything tightenable is tightened up, the unit did introduce a bunch of new rattles. I did apply some padding (the soft side of some industrial strength velcro sheets) to each side of each drawer, and that helped considerably, but there's still some rattling. Also, now that it's in place, I am realizing just how visible this makes the HU, especially at night, whenever the drawer is open. I will likely get into the practice of keeping it closed except when I'm actually changing the volume or station etc (but this is a pain). But I do like the relative security of it when it's lock (much more secure than sitting exposed in the dash).
And now some pics... sorry for the poor quality, but the lighting isn't very good in my garage. Also the overhead console pics are from before I installed the second drawer (wanted to make sure everything was completely working before I put that in place - because it's a tricky install, and once the drawers are in place it's almost impossible to get to the cables inside).
As I stated earlier, everything is a compromise, but overall I'm happy with how this turned out. Even with its limitations (e.g. the 8" sub in a sub-optimal location (no pun intended
), this is far better than any stereo I've had in any prior vehicle. Now I just have to be careful (to be considerate) when driving in traffic ... and only really crank it up when I'm out on the freeway. (soon I'll be writing about my new hearing aid, LOL