wingless' 1994 ZJ Sound System Upgrade -
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post #1 of 4 Old 09-04-2017, 02:28 PM Thread Starter
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1994 ZJ 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Florida
Posts: 3,256
wingless' 1994 ZJ Sound System Upgrade

The Infinity Gold sound system on my 1994 Grand Cherokee has seen better days. The cones on the door speakers have crumbled. The head unit intermittently shuts down, losing the clock, requiring dash banging to wake up. The head unit frequently loses the right channel when impacting a road crack or gum wrapper, also requiring dash slaps to restore stereo sound. That OEM head unit has been disassembled and the circuit boards have been microscopically inspected for defective solder joints, no joy.

My sound system had been upgraded at several times over the vehicle life. When I special-ordered the vehicle in '94, I chose the cassette head unit and I installed a Sony ten disc changer, to permit versitality w/ playing the two popular music media formats. The Sony disc changer was then removed and replaced w/ this Parrot MKi9200 for bluetooth audio and hands free telephone.

Right after I purchased my new vehicle from the dealership, I also purchased the sound bar at the parts department. This was installed by me and used on the vehicle throughout the duration. For some reason the sound bar speakers have remained intact, with the cones still not crumbled.

The Infinity Gold sound system has a 8-pin rear-panel DIN connector, as-shown in the image. On my setups I connected the CD changer line-level audio output or the Parrot line-level audio output to that rear panel DIN input connector. The head unit audio output automatically switches to that DIN input when the Pin 8 aux enable input goes low. The OEM head unit remote enable input is wired to the external device enable output for the automatic audio switching operation. The Sony 10-disc CD changer asserted that enable output high when actively playing a CD, so I designed and implemented a transistor circuit to invert it to an active low input to the OEM Infinity Gold head unit. The Parrot MKi9200 was already an active-low output, so no change was required to automatically switch the head unit audio output to that external device, when that external device goes active.

These are my replacement sound system component selections.
Alpine CDE-163BT CD receiver
SiriusXM SXV300V1 Tuner
Blaupunkt GTA 470 DSP 4-channel car amplifier: 70 watts RMS x 4
Infinity Kappa 60.11cs 6-1/2" component speaker system
Crutchfield Reference 4-Channel RCA Patch Cable (17 foot)
Metra 99-6700 Dash Kit For select 1974-2004 vehicles — single-DIN radios
Metra 70-1817 Receiver Wiring Harness
Metra 72-1002 Speaker Wiring Harness (Two sets required)
Blue Sea Systems 5006 MAXI Fuse Block - 30 to 80A
Scosche SLC4 Line Output Converter (Used w/ aftermarket amp and factory head unit / shown in amp images, retired once OEM head unit replaced w/ Alpine head unit)

My sound system selection priorities are hands-free Bluetooth telephone, Bluetooth audio streaming and Sirius radio. (It also has to sound good.)

The 1½ DIN factory Infinity Gold cassette head unit was replaced w/ a standard single DIN Alpine CDE-163BT CD receiver. This looked to be the best choice and most appropriate for my application. They also offer the Alpine CDE-164BT CD receiver with identical specifications for a little more cost. The FINE people at Crutchfield determined the difference was that the slightly-more-expensive CDE-164BT (Alpine Site) has an upgraded internal aplifier and is otherwise equivalent, but my system uses the external amp, does not use that internal amplifier, so I selected the CDE-163BT (Alpine Site).

It is funny, but the installation step that I thought would be difficult and the step that I wasn't concerned about turned out to be reversed difficulty.

My big concern was getting the Sirius radio antenna wire from the exterior roof through the vehicle to the interior. It turned out that was no problem. I placed the magnetic antenna in the center of the roof, adjacent to the rear hatch. The wire is passed through that body gap, between the roof body and the hatch. When the hatch is opened it reveals three grommets / boots, where wires and washer fluid supply the rear hatch. The center grommet w/ the washer hose was popped out. I did a careful radial slice, from the perimeter to the washer fluid hose, split open the grommet, added the antenna wire alongside the washer hose, then popped it back into the body hole. Done. No problem.

FWIW, the cable from the Sirius antenna is perfect for the application. The cable jacket outside diameter is small, making it easy to route in tight spaces. The cable jacket appears tough / durable, also helpful for routing. The cable jacket is slippery, another routing plus. The only minor negative is that the cable is henked into a rectangular box shape for the package. Those packaging bends always needed to be helped during routing to not become a kink. The better packaging would have been a circle, with no bends.

The cable was too short by a couple of feet for me to follow my desired routing. I followed the OEM cable path from the rear roof, along the passenger side, up the passenger side kick panel and across the dash. The issue was that I determined to place the receiver box behind the speedometer after all this routing, so the antenna cable had to cross to the opposite side of the car. The length would have been fine if it was routed to the same side as the receiver box. The cable was able to fit by deviating from the OEM path and just cutting across the HVAC box, all fully hidden by the dash. The short receiver cable length limits the possible mounting locations. Finalize the Sirius receiver location first.

What I thought would be no issue is area / clearance / volume behind the radio for connectors and cables. It turns out that fitting all the connectors is very difficult.

The dash structure has a molded plastic cavity for the radio, w/ cable openings at the engine side. About a half inch behind that engine-side plastic wall is a solid unpainted formed steel plate. Attached to the other side of that steel plate are the HVAC ducts. The steel plate provides the structure for those "floppy" ducts, securing them to remain in-position. It is not possible to cut an opening in the unpainted metal for additional clearance, because that would damage the HVAC ducts on the other side.

Part of the solution to improving the connector clearance was notching the plastic wall, above the existing right rear opening, to create additional room for the RCA plugs, as-shown in the image. Additional room (depth for the connector) would have been MUCH better, but that would have required cutting that unpainted steel plate that can't be cut w/o damaging the HVAC ducts, so I ended up w/ tight RCA connectors.

The BIG modification that I found essential, was to remove ALL the cables and ALL the connectors from the radio cavity that are not plugging into the back of the radio. The factory secures a fat cable harness, w/ a pair of radio connectors, a ground wire and an antenna lead, all to the radio cavity. For the aftermarket radio, add the new radio connector, plus the Metra 70-1817 Receiver Wiring Harness. Push as-hard as you want, no way will it fit.

My solution was to first remove the dash pad and the speedometer cluster assembly (by taking apart the dash) to fully expose the radio cavity from the top, plus the area behind the speedometer cluster, also from the top.

Once everything was exposed I detached the plug that secures the harness in the radio cavity and pulled everything behind the speedometer. The harness wrapping was partially unwound to permit the antenna to reach the back of the radio, while everything else was able to chill in the new home behind the speedometer cluster. There is enough room between the molded plastic and the unpainted steel for: the fat wrapped OEM radio cable bundle; the two OEM connectors that were plugged into the rear of the OEM radio; the Metra 70-1817 Receiver Wiring Harness; plus I put the SiriusXM SXV300V1 Tuner in that cavity too. The suggestion is to poke everything to the far left side, so that the speedometer cluster assembly connector and cable can fit into that fully exposed and empty window cavity as-intended. The last image shows everything pushed to the side, providing speedometer cluster cable assembly clearance.

The net result of all this effort is NOW the radio cavity ONLY has connectors that will plug into the back of the radio. In my case I have: the main radio plug; the hand-free microphone connector; the satellite radio connector; four RCA external amp connectors and the antenna connector. The RCA connectors are a VERY tight fit, w/ the cable bending immediately after exiting the connector body. It would have been worse w/o the new notch in the plastic.

Plenty of room for cables and connectors before, for the OEM Infinity Gold head unit, even room for sound bar power resistors and extra sound bar junction connectors.

Tight fit for Alpine w/ LOTS less in radio cavity, even w/ NEW notch at RCA connectors.

Radio harness, connectors and Sirius jammed behind speedometer cluster assembly cavity.

All the usual radio installation stuff was implemented. The main Alpine radio plug was mated to the Metra 70-1817 Receiver Wiring Harness. The splices are staggered by about 1", in three groups, so that all the splices DO NOT happen at the same position. I use soldered Western Union splices, covered w/ adhesive-lined heat shrink tubing. (Never apply too much solder that wicks up under the insulation, making the wire stiff.) All of the wires are labeled for function. I use my Brady IDxpert, in these cases printing on shrink tubing or on adhesive self-laminating label stock.

One benefit from dash disassembly is that it makes supporting the rear of the radio very easy. The radio attaches to a carrier and the carrier is screwed into the radio cavity. For my installation I attached the rear support strap to the top and bottom of the carrier. The result is a VERY secure radio installation.

One note is that I was initially very happy that the Alpine head unit has two different output enable lines, one for the power antenna and one for the external amplifier. IMO it makes no sense to have the power antenna extended, unless the receiver is pulling in AM or FM. The OEM system uses a shared wire, split to the power antenna and external amp, so the OEM radio always extends the antenna whenever power is on. For this new system I cut that OEM connection, so that each Alpine receiver output now is individually connected to the power antenna and to the external amp. My hope / expectation was that the Alpine logic would only assert the power antenna when required. It instead extends the antenna whenever the unit is turned on, not what I was hoping / expecting.

If there is a menu selection to attain the desired function, then I have not discovered that yet.

The OEM connection that was broken is right at the power antenna relay, in the relay center under the glove box. I snipped the green / orange external amp enable wire from the power antenna relay socket and connected that directly to the new receiver. That green / orange wire was snipped right against the connector contact, so there would be no dangling wire to cause problems.

Here is the completed Alpine CDE-163BT CD receiver in my 1994 Grand Cherokee, also showing my custom, snap in/out Pro-Fit JP-71-92 Phone Mount.

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post #2 of 4 Old 09-04-2017, 02:29 PM Thread Starter
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Location: Florida
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The Jeep was special-ordered w/ the Infinity Gold sound system, that included an external amplifier under the seat. That external amp was removed and replaced w/ a Blaupunkt GTA 470 DSP 4-channel car amplifier: 70 watts RMS x 4. That new amp was used w/ the OEM Infinity Gold head unit, prior to replacing w/ the Alpine CDE-163BT CD receiver. The amp only has line-level inputs and doesn't have speaker level inputs, so a line level converter was required when used w/ the OEM Infinity Gold head unit. I used a Scosche SLC4 Line Output Converter. The wiring harness was disassembled, rerouted and labeled for the installation. It was not required to splice cables to increase the length. The existing Infinity Gold amplifier connectors were snipped off, the cut cable ends that were labeled are shown.

The Alpine has both output types. I selected line level output from the Alpine, to line level input into the Blaupunkt, using these Crutchfield Reference 4-Channel RCA Patch Cable (17 foot). FWIW, the cable length is ideal.

The advantage of the prior installation, using the OEM head unit w/ the aftermarket amp and the line level converter, was that it permitted a concurrent evaluation of both audio connection types. I ran the system w/ the fronts using speaker level output through the converter and the rear using line level output. FWIW, I was unable to detect any difference in the audio between the front speakers, speaker-level output though the converter, to the rear speakers, line-level output.

The new amp was slightly larger than the old. The overmold / grommet where the rear wheel ABS sensors pass through the body were in the way of the new amp, requiring new holes to be drilled through the floor pan. There is also a nearby threaded stud used to retain a push-on cable mount that was in the way. That push-on stud was cut off. The edges of the new holes and the cut stud were painted for rust protection. The vehicle upgrades included covering the floor w/ Dynamat Xtreme, Radiant Barrier (reinforced foil w/ dense denim insulation blanket), then a layer of 1 lb/ft² Mass Loaded Vinyl (MLV), with overlapped and glued seams. The Dynamat was used to cover the old holes. The exterior exposed Dynamat was painted to match the exterior painted floor pan.

As part of my sound deadening upgrade, the routing for the large transverse cable was relocated from the OEM location to instead passing through the two large rear seat support / catch parts.

The new amp was mounted on top of the MLV.

The Blue Sea 5006 amplifier Maxi fuse block was used for the new 8 AWG amp power feed. The new feed was run alongside existing wires through an existing firewall feed, to enter the passenger compartment.

The wiring was completed and the carpet was trimmed to match the new amp. The converter is still in-place (for now) but not in-use.

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post #3 of 4 Old 09-04-2017, 02:29 PM Thread Starter
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Shortly after this special-ordered vehicle was delivered to me, I went to the parts counter and ordered, then installed, the rear sound bar.

For reference, the original OEM sound bar installation instructions for usage w/ the Infinity Gold system and the OEM headliner cut template are linked here: OEM Instructions Page 1; OEM Instructions Page 2 and Headliner Cut Template. IMO, the headliner does NOT need to be cut per the template. When I reupholstered my headliner I glassed over those openings I made from the initial sound bar installation and did not cut those again, leaving the headliner board and fabric solid at those prior openings.

The door Infinity Gold speaker cones crumbled, mandating replacement. My decision was to switch from three pairs of speakers; front doors / dash; rear doors and sound bar, to now having no rear door speakers. The speakers I selected are the Infinity Kappa 60.11cs 6-1/2" component speaker system, for both the front doors / dash and for the rear sound bar.

The FSM wiring diagram inaccurately shows the Left Front door woofer / dash tweeter splice location to be at a connector in the kick panel. Those splice connections are actually located within the wiring harness running along the floor, adjacent to the driver's seat and door. The splices were located then disconnected by unbundling that wiring harness, exposing, then cutting the splices. The harness was then restored to original condition and replaced, with individual wires feeding the external crossover, for the amp, the woofer and the tweeter.

The FSM wiring diagram accurately shows the Right Front door woofer / dash tweeter splice location to be at the large instrument panel connector array, in the passenger kick panel. Those connections are made in Connector G, cavities 5 + 6. Those connections were disconnected by cutting at that location, also to permit individual wires feeding the external crossover, for the amp, the woofer and the tweeter.

The splices must be cut to permit proper wiring of the external crossover box, provided w/ the new speaker system. The OEM Infinity Gold connects the wooder and tweeter directly to the amplifier because the filter network is integrated into the tweeter.

The Metra 72-1002 Speaker Wiring Harness is VERY handy to avoid snipping the factory wiring harness for the door woofers and was also useful for the dash and sound bar tweeters.

The OEM sound bar was removed, the old speakers were removed, the fabric was removed, the old foam was scraped away and the old adhesive was scraped away. For some reason the sound bar speakers were intact, the woofer cones had not crumbled.

The sound bar woofer opening diameter needed to be slightly increased for the new woofers.

The soundbar interior was also treated w/ Dynamat Xtreme deadener squares and Denim Ultratouch Reinforced-Foil-Backed Insulation. The insulation was attached w/ 3M Super 77 Aerosol Spray Adhesive.

Attaching the Ultrasuede fabric to the soundbar was a challenge. The soft / stretchy OEM fabric can be pulled to match all the unusual contors. The Ultrasuede cannot be pulled to match the contours. I needed to cut a dart on each rear corner and glue an overlap on the fabric to make it fit. The "U" shape around the rear light was impossible to get a tight fit. All in all, I think it looks fine, even w/ these "issues". The Ultrasuede was also attached w/ 3M Super 77 Aerosol Spray Adhesive.

The sound bar was recovered in Ultrasuede Fawn-color fabric to match my redone headliner.

The speaker system includes an external crossover. That crossover box doesn't fit within the soundbar. I cracked open the crossover box and removed the guts. The circuit board was attached to the soundbar w/ heavy-duty Velcro. The boost switch was depressed and attached to the circuit board also w/ the heavy-duty Velcro.

Original Sound Bar and Original Headliner

Measuring / Marking Larger Speaker Opening Diameter

Cutting Larger Speaker Opening Diameter

Bare Sound Bar Dry Fit to New Upholstery Headliner

Dry Fit Ultrasuede Fabric - Fawn Color

Spray On 3M Super 77 Aerosol Spray Adhesive to First Third

Sound Bar Covered w/ Ultrasuede Fabric

Sound Bar Rear Treated w/ Dynamat Xtreme and w/ Denim Ultratouch Reinforced-Foil-Backed Insulation

Crossover Boxes Disassembled

Sound Bar Speakers Mounted

Sound Bar Speakers Wired

Completed w/ Grills

Sound Bar Mounted

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post #4 of 4 Old 10-06-2017, 10:16 PM Thread Starter
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The new sound system has been working great. The sound is terrific. The only shortcoming is that the bass is not impressive.

For my usage I am unwilling to consume cargo area for a subwoofer box or amplifiers.

My system has speakers in the front door / dash panel and in the rear sound bar. The rear door speaker locations were inactive w/ my new system.

My plan was to install one of these Kicker CompRT 43CWRT672 Shallow-Mount 6-3/4" Subwoofer w/ Dual 2-Ohm Voice Coils subwoofer speakers into each rear door speaker location. These would be powered by a Blaupunkt GTA 1500 D Mono Subwoofer Amplifier — 500 watts RMS x 1 at 2 Ohms.

One of the first steps was to fully lubricate the window and the lock mechanisms w/ white lithium grease. There was also internal surface rust spots that was cleaned and painted w/ Rustoleum.

The component subwoofer speaker selection was for the dual 2 Ohm voice coils. In each door these coils would be wired in series, for 4 Ohms in each door. The right and left door would be wired in parallel (w/ opposite phase), to present a 2 Ohm speaker load to the amplifier. The amplifier is rated at 500W RMS into a 2 Ohm load and is rated at 250W RMS into a 4 Ohm load. The Kicker CompRT 43CWRT671 is also available w/ 1 Ohm voice coils, but those wouldn't provide optimum load / maximum output wattage for my dual subwoofer setup.

The Kicker 43CWRT672 requires 2-3/4" mounting depth. The door cavity is plenty deep at that location, but the rear window just contacts that component subwoofer at the bottom of the travel. My solution was to add a stop so that the window does not hit the speaker and only loses about an inch of travel. The rear windows are already designed to never open fully. I took a 1½" Schedule 40 PVC drain pipe cap and used two ¼-20 machine screws to attach the cap to newly drilled /tapped holes I made into the internal door reinforcement. It is a nice solid stop.

The molded plastic on the door card near the subwoofer speakers was preventing a proper fit, so I cut off that interior plastic.

The OEM rear door speaker wires were set aside and thick Monster cable speaker wire was run from the amplifier to each component subwoofer.

The 5 Meter Crutchfield Reference 2-Channel RCA Patch Cables were run from the Alpine head unit subwoofer output to the Blaupunkt mono amplifier input. There is now an amplifier under each rear seat. The four-channel full-range amplifier is on the driver's side, the mono subwoofer amp is on the passenger's side.

The radio cavity is REALLY tight at the location where the subwoofer RCA connectors plug into the radio rear panel. I cut more of the radio cavity plastic shield and I also dented the unpainted metal panel, behind the plastic shield, that supports the HVAC ducts, to increase the room available for those RCA connectors. These radio cavity changes made the parts just fit.

It is not ideal to place the subwoofers into the rear doors, but I did everything possible to make these provide good, effective sound. These are changes I made to the rear doors for improved subwoofer sound.
The objective is to deaden the sound at the rear and to use metal to block the back wave from cancelling the front wave sound. The audio from the A/V clip shows one effect of this deadening, implemented on the rear door and the rear quarter panel, but not the front door. The rear door now closes w/ a thud, like an armored car.

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