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Unread 06-15-2011, 11:54 AM   #1
goldenglory18
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A not so simple, simple way to upgrade the stock JK (Non Infinity) stereo

Hey everyone.

I'm a first time Jeep owner and loving the JKU that I bought just over a month ago. It's such a capable vehicle for what I wanted it for (back road fishing in the AZ deserts) and there are very few things I would like to change about it (pretty irregular for me. I'm a true car guy. ) Unlucky for me though, I'm also a huge music fan and love my tunes. Thus, here we are in a roofless tin box with a very lack luster stereo that for me just wasn't going to cut it. Now everyone said “just upgrade the head unit” and as easy as that would be, know I work in a pretty seedy part of town and really don’t want my heep to become more of a target than it already is. New cars around these parts are pretty rare. Leaving a new car without doors and a top with expensive stereo gear at a circle-k is like leaving a big mac and fries next to a first week biggest loser contestant. Do not expect it to be intact when you get back…..

After searching the boards for a while, I came to realize that the true problem is the fact that the stock stereo is programmed to cut the low end frequencies to protect the crap-tastic stock speakers. I had no idea the manufacturers did this and it was a complete letdown. Didn't anyone teach those engineers that two wrongs don't make a right? Thanks to our fellow member Molshove, he gave me a direction to take the stock sound and I ran with it. This is what ensued....

I decided to purchase the following gear and install it on my own. I did this with pure cost savings in mind.

Polk dxi6500 component speakers for the dash
Polk dxi650 two way speakers for the roll bar
JL XD400/4 four channel amp
RE-q5 five channel "bass restoring" processor
Amp wiring kit, speaker wire, stock speaker adapters, crimping sleeves, etc.

Thanks to a little bartering and savvy ebaying, I managed to only spend $213 out of pocket for ALL the gear and tools/intangibles for the installation.

The concept was simple enough to me. The RE-q receives signal from the stock stereo and boosts the cut frequencies to a more standard level, then it sends it to the amp. Amp then does its thing and sends signal out to the speakers. Easy, right?

Little did I know that the Jeep wiring and everything involved with the stock stereo was completely confusing and as close to a foreign language as colors and stripes could be. My initial plan was to remove the stock speakers and find what colors the wiring was there. Then pull the head unit out and match the colors at the harness. Nope. That’s not the way Chrysler does it. Because of the stock “components” it changes. Because of the roll bar, it changes. Nothing was consistent from signal source to end user. :kill me now:

Thanks to the help from the boards and a bit of deductive reasoning, I finally cracked the crayola code and wrote it out for anyone else that is looking to upgrade their sound with the re-q processor (or anything else requiring splicing into the stock harness,) all while retaining the look of the stock system....



Here is the layout of the final install. The amp and processor are underneath the passenger seat. Eventually they will be “boxed” and mounted away from prying eyes and flooded floor pans. Crossovers are temporarily under the dash about knee level on both sides. I’m thinking they will eventually live there permanently but I need to figure out a way to mount them without drilling holes back into the cabin. Pardon the scale. It's a bit off and my paint skills are lackluster at best.



Interesting things to note:

I used a 12' cut of "speed wire" as a harness to mate the RE-Q5 and the stereo wiring. This was one of my biggest hurdles and after I figured out the colors matched perfectly, it was a no brainer. Not only did this ease installation of the RE unit, but it allowed me to mount it a lot farther away from the head unit than I originally planned/expected to be able to. Funny enough, I originally bought that "wire" to use as the speaker wires. How ironic...

6.5" aftermarket speakers need brackets to correctly fit both the dash and roll bar locations. They are a frogs hair smaller then the stockers. I used the Polk brackets and modified them to work for the rear (trimmed unnecessary mounting tabs and drilled another hole on the largest tab.) For the front I centered them on the stock boxes and drilled new holes for the four Polk mounting screws. I did not reuse the stock speaker cover for the rears.

To reuse the stock tweeter locations, the opening in the dash needs to be permanently modified. I used a dremmel and opened it to just shy of 2" in diameter. This allowed the Polk tweets to be mounted in the supplied "flush" mounting hardware and with a little foam double sided tape as a shim, they are in the stock locations firmly, but with the ability to be removed if needed.

The front speaker "boxes" are very irregular. When the new speakers were put in there, it caused a pretty noticeable undertone at higher volumes that was somewhat expected. Some have dynamated the boxes, I stuffed them with polyfill (I actually did the roll bar too...that made those a lot tighter in the low end). It cured about 90% of that weird tone. I may mat the boxes later down the road, but I suspect this has more to do with the top being off than anything else.

The stock components are GARBAGE. The sound quality between the stockers and Polks is night and day. Add the amp and processor and holy Moses...it is fantastic. Besides the volume getting noticeably louder (loud does not equal better!) the stereo now has that "feel" that a good system should have. With the top off and cruising at highway speeds, you can still FEEL the bass line of a song and hear in good detail the high end. It's not perfect but it's a damn good improvement.

That’s about it. Three days and about 20 hours worth of work later and this is the (almost) final product. Thanks again to Molshove, Rubibluejay, and everyone else that offered up their productive words of advice. I mentioned this before and it’s worth saying again….if this forum is any representation of the quality of people Jeep owners are, I’m not so sure I belong in your company.

Until next time….tight lines everyone…..

Kenny in AZ

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Last edited by goldenglory18; 06-17-2011 at 11:36 AM.. Reason: Clarification on which stock stereo it was
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Unread 06-15-2011, 12:27 PM   #2
Mol
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Very nice

How much hair did you lose in the process of the not so simple (simple) install ?? It's a PITA for what should be a no brainer, isn't it!
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Unread 06-15-2011, 12:55 PM   #3
goldenglory18
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Eh, it's not the amount of hair I lost, it's the color. I'm only 27 and as of a month ago, I was about 15% gray. Thanks to this project, I'm now about 30%.

Seriously though, it wouldn't have been so bad if I knew what the hell I was doing. Looking back on it, I learned a hell of a lot about my Jeep and could easily tell someone how to do it again, all while making their life easier in the process.

I need to snap some pictures of the finished product, and the amp/processor "shelf" that I'm building....
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Unread 06-15-2011, 04:58 PM   #4
DustinS
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Good job on the write-up.
So to clarify, you did not have the stock premium system, right?
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Unread 06-15-2011, 06:32 PM   #5
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awesome write up, in october or november, I'll be looking to do something with my stereo, so this will come in real handy! crawled.
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Unread 06-16-2011, 06:43 AM   #6
MikeTHIS
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Awesome job!

Thanks for getting the wiring nailed down for the rest of us!

The way my Jeep has been leaking, I'm a tad nervous to add an amp right now lol
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Unread 06-16-2011, 08:23 AM   #7
goldenglory18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DustinS View Post
Good job on the write-up.
So to clarify, you did not have the stock premium system, right?
Correct, and thanks for asking. I'll make sure to emphasize that in the original post.

Quote:
Originally Posted by trw View Post
awesome write up, in october or november, I'll be looking to do something with my stereo, so this will come in real handy! crawled.
Right on! If you have any questions, feel free to let me know.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeTHIS View Post
Awesome job!

Thanks for getting the wiring nailed down for the rest of us!

The way my Jeep has been leaking, I'm a tad nervous to add an amp right now lol
No prob. That was the biggest hurdle in this whole thing. There really isn't any slack to work with, so getting it right the first time was VERY important.

As for the water issue, I feel the same way. I need to get the electronics closed up before the rainy season hits here in AZ. Right now it's ok unless a fire chopper accidentally thinks I'm a wildfire.....
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Unread 06-17-2011, 12:37 PM   #8
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Unread 06-17-2011, 01:03 PM   #9
Tribalmonkey
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Is there a more simple, simple stock JK upgrade? I have the base RES with single cd, uconnect, and SAT radio. I'd just like to get some decent sound without all the mods. I understand new speakers and an amp are in order. My idea is to leave the stock tweeters on the dash, replace the four wimpy stock speakers with the kickers I saw on Quadratec. I know great speakers don't mean great sound. So I'm sure I will need an amp. Which amp will do the job and fit up out of the way somewhere? Ok, let me have it. What is wrong with my plan?
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Unread 06-17-2011, 01:15 PM   #10
goldenglory18
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From what I understand, the biggest flaw in the stock system is the head unit. Like I said above, the stock unit actually rolls off the low end frequencies to help protect the weak stock speakers.

If you want to get better sound out of the stock head unit, then you have to either get a processor of some sort, or boost the hell out of the stock system and tweak the EQ until you get what you are looking for. I tried the latter first without any luck.

With the RE-Q unit, it readjusts the frequencies to a more "flat" level. When the jeep was stock, I had to boost the lows, cut the highs, and turn it to about 50% volume to get any decent tone when the top was off. Now, the volume is at 30% max, dead flat in the eq, and I can feel the bass through the front speakers. Not to mention it is significantly louder now.

Tribal, tell me more about what your ultimate goal is. What type of music you listen to, your listening habits, and how you listen to your music (CD, ipod, satellite, etc.)
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Unread 06-17-2011, 01:16 PM   #11
Mol
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tribalmonkey View Post
Is there a more simple, simple stock JK upgrade? I have the base RES with single cd, uconnect, and SAT radio. I'd just like to get some decent sound without all the mods. I understand new speakers and an amp are in order. My idea is to leave the stock tweeters on the dash, replace the four wimpy stock speakers with the kickers I saw on Quadratec. I know great speakers don't mean great sound. So I'm sure I will need an amp. Which amp will do the job and fit up out of the way somewhere? Ok, let me have it. What is wrong with my plan?
Trust me, we all wish it were that simple

You have two options:
  1. Replace factory head unit (aftermarket will push more power to speakers), though an amp is still necessary to realize your new speakers' fullest potential. This route makes the sound processor (re-Q5, above) no longer necessary.
  2. To RETAIN THE FACTORY HEAD UNIT, the complications above are necessary, and make choice number 2. The factory unit does not have a pre-amp signal out, so you have no way to send the signal to the amp you want to add without wiring in the sound processor. That processor converts the signal to pre-amp, so it can feed into the amplifier before heading to the speakers.
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Unread 06-17-2011, 01:24 PM   #12
goldenglory18
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Yeah, what he said.
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Unread 06-17-2011, 02:25 PM   #13
goldenglory18
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The most "difficult" part of this install was figuring out the stock wiring to get the RE-Q operating.

The most "invasive" part was cutting the stock stereo harness and splicing the re-q into the stock wiring.

The most "confusing" part was the rear speakers and how I was going to get the aftermarket wiring up there.

The most "permanent" part was modifying the dash to fit the aftermarket tweeters. In hindsight it was a cake walk in comparison to the rest of the install, and with a little double sided tape, or even a couple dabs of glue, I can get the stock tweeters back into the pods.

difficulty, invasive, confusing, and permanent were all my concerns.
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Unread 06-17-2011, 06:26 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by goldenglory18 View Post
After searching the boards for a while, I came to realize that the true problem is the fact that the stock stereo is programmed to cut the low end frequencies to protect the crap-tastic stock speakers.
Extremely common. Good write up !
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Unread 06-18-2011, 05:45 AM   #15
monkers
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Eh, it's not the amount of hair I lost, it's the color..... The color goes first, then the hair starts thinnin.....lol.. great write up, Im not overly pleased with the sound outa my 2010 Rubicon 2 door either, but Im very electricaly challanged, so I will probably wait until I can afford to replace the head unit and speakers. Do you have any reccomendations as to which head unit / speaker combo would be a decent upgrade? Im not looking for sound studio sound, just want a touch better than whats there? Thanks
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