new sound system in TJ (LONG) -
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post #1 of 10 Old 12-24-2006, 05:17 PM Thread Starter
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new sound system in TJ (LONG)

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, 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 )

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post #2 of 10 Old 12-25-2006, 09:25 PM
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Looks good! Nice job.

I would think some Dynamat inside that box would fix the rattling, or maybe some bedliner.

On the topic of rattling, I have a 10-inch in-seat sub and all you can hear is rattling outside of the Jeep. I got a can of Durabak bedliner for Christmas. Does anyone know if that will stop the rattles? I assume it will, but I was just curious to see if anyone else had used it to stop rattles along with its other benefits.

1985 CJ7 Laredo
258, T176, D300
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post #3 of 10 Old 12-27-2006, 07:49 AM
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I hope that you have a fuse and holder under the hood and not just at the amps!! Otherwise all looks good

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post #4 of 10 Old 12-27-2006, 12:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Got2HaveLights
I hope that you have a fuse and holder under the hood and not just at the amps!! Otherwise all looks good

it wasn't necessary to fuse the power lines after the distribution block. grounding both amps to the same spot would be ideal, but it's not going to hurt anything they way you have it.

otherwise.....nice selection of equipment.

why didn't you just get the full stereo tuffy console instead of the half console and rollbar console? would've been much cheaper and would've helped with some of the issues you were talking about having.


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post #5 of 10 Old 12-28-2006, 10:46 AM
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nice install! do you have any pics of the center/ sub console? for the sound quality, do you reccommend the center/sub console? i am thinking of buying one but i wanted a personal opinion on it first, its not real cheap. thanks

06 WK Laredo
3.7, 4wd......lift and tires coming soon!
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post #6 of 10 Old 12-29-2006, 12:34 PM
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You may have some overheating problems with the amps, depending on how hard you run your speakers and/or sub.

If you find this to be a PITA, you can buy small fans (around 2") at hardware stores, stereo shops, etc. Put one of these on each side and leave the back of your amp rack open. Wire them according to the manufacturers' instructions and this will provide a constant flow of air across the heat sinks in your amp.
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post #7 of 10 Old 01-02-2007, 10:24 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for all the feedback! I'm a bit late in responding, because I was off road-tripping (and off-road tripping:-)).

Here's a response to the various questions that came up.

- I've thought about some Dynamat (or Second Skin) to help with the rattling. It's not the Lock Box in the picture that's rattling though - it's the overhead console. I am a little concerned if I insulate the console too much, it'll trap heat and overheat the HU. But maybe I will just put some Dynamat along the sides (inside) the console, and maybe along the bottom. It'll still rattle but maybe that'll muffle it so I don't hear it...

- as far as the fuse at the battery... yes, I did fuse the 4G power line just a few inches from the battery. I also placed the fuses for the individual amps, so there'd be smaller fuses for each amp, rather than waiting for the high amperage fuse near the battery to blow. Maybe it wasn't necessary...

- on the question of why I used the overhead console instead of the full stereo/speaker console... I have been second guessing myself on this decision ever since I made it. But there were several reasons I didn't go for the full console. One is Alpine specifically states their HU's should be mounted within 30 degrees of horizontal. I know, there are probably plenty of people on here who say they work just fine mounted vertically. But I didn't want the potential issues, either with CDs not playing right, or with heat distribution. Also there's the issue of constant rattling from the subwoofer being in the same physical unit as the HU. Lastly, and this will sound goofy, but the full console doesn't have cup holders, and I can't live without them . I need them for my morning hot wake up beverage .

- as for pics ... stay tuned, I took a few of the sub/console. I'm not sure if I'm qualified to recommend the sub console or not. Someone else on here posted that the configuration I put together would "sound bad" because the sub I used isn't designed for an enclosure that's not sealed. I think it sounds good and has about the amount of bass I expected for that size sub. I think in the ideal world you'd also built an enclosed box for inside the console - I'll look into this at some point, when I catch up from all I've done already $-).

- as for the potential overheating of the amps... I thought about this as part of how I designed this setup. I figured just about anyplace I mounted the amps, in order to keep them reasonably "stealth" and secure, they would be covered up somehow. At least where they are, there is an air chamber around them, they're isolated from each other, and both ends of the chamber in which each is mounted is open for ventilation. If anything, maybe the steel box overhead will help conduct heat away from the amp. Right now there's about 1.5" of overhead clearance between each amp and the box, and the rest of the space fore and aft is open. The ironic part, though, is that I may need to get smaller supports (maybe 2x3's instead of the 4x4's) to lower the Tuffy box a bit, because as it is, the rear door doesn't clear the bar for the rear window, which is a pain (need to open the rear window to open the rear door of the Tuffy box). I may look into the fan idea, though I'm leery of a fan sucking (or blowing) dust into/over the amps.

Thanks again for all the feedback. Stay tuned for pics of the console/sub.
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post #8 of 10 Old 01-02-2007, 10:30 PM Thread Starter
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Here are a few pics of the Tuffy rear half console with the JL 8W0 sub. Please excuse the poor quality of the pics (as a bit of a photography hobbiest, I'm almost embarrassed to post such poor pics)... but the light in my garage isn't very good (and photographing black objects in a Jeep with a black interior isn't easy either, and with all the work I was doing, I couldn't take the extra time to set up more lights, tripod, and so on, to get better pics.

The pics show the brace that holds the console, the inside of the console, the polyfill (the pic looks like it is packed tightly, but it's actually just loosely placed inside), and finally the console mounted in place.
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post #9 of 10 Old 01-02-2007, 10:34 PM Thread Starter
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and here are a couple more showing the front side of the console in place. Yah, I know, the white balance is off, but you get the idea .

Note I even took the time to paint the bolts so there wouldn't be silver bolt heads on the outside of the black box (no wonder this project took so long,hehhe :-).
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post #10 of 10 Old 02-10-2007, 07:24 PM
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Thanks for putting this post up --- suprisingly there aren't many descriptions of Tuffy installs and its hard to figure out exactly what is going to fit.

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