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Audio Upgrade & Modification Basics!

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Car audio is not hard unless you haven't done it before. Here are some basics that may help: To start ...

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Old 05-25-2012, 11:29 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Post Audio Upgrade & Modification Basics!
Car audio is not hard unless you haven't done it before. Here are some basics that may help:

To start if you are installing a oem radio to replace your current oem such as raq, rec etc these are plug and play no further wiring is needed. Only thing that might be required is a different radio bezel as Chrysler Jeep Dodge makes one for the navigation and non navigation.

In regards to my gig that is considered a retrofit There are a few parts that cost anywhere from $200-400 to make this fit including a lock pick, nav antenna, bezel, Sirius antenna.

All necessary harnesses and installation kit for an aftermarket Head Unit (HU):

1. Peripheral's CHYAH05 or Pac Audio C2R-CHY or scosche CR03SR (lets you retain factory amp with your new head unit)

2. Wiring kit (allows you to bypass the factory amp to use the head units power) http://www.crutchfield.com/p_1207065...n-Adapter.html or Pac audio C2R-CHYNA

3. here is the antenna adapter from oem antenna end to the new hu: http://www.crutchfield.com/p_12040CR...r.html?tp=2569 or scosche CRAB

4. to retain steering wheel control on your aftermarket head unit you will need PAC SWI-X in conjunction with SWI-Can 2

5. If you decide to go with an aftermarket navigation unit and do not have an OEM navigation unit you will need a factory navigation radio bezel. If you go from a navigation unit to a regular Head unit without navigation you will need to get the factory regular radio bezel.

When installing the aftermarket amp, run your RCA from the pre outs on the back of the Head Unit to the designated amp. From Subwoofer pre outs to subwoofer amp etc. NOTE: not all amps have inputs for multiple power and ground wires.


1. Visiting audio shops listening to subs can be the most important piece selecting a subwoofer that will fit in a box that will fit in the truck.

2. Your subwoofer has some type of ohm configuration most common a single voice coil (SVC) 2 ohm or 4 ohm or dual voice coil 2 ohm or 4 ohm load (DVC). Knowing this is very important when deciding on an amp and woofer. NOT ALL AMPS are compatible with all ohm loads. Wiring the sub is more than just plugging it in from sub to amp and requires the decision of the ohm load you’re planning to run which is called series or parallel. When choosing an amp you want the rms and max wattage to be about the same as your subwoofers rms and max wattage. Amps are usually rated somewhere like this but this is an example of standard RMS ratings:
200 x 1 @ 4ohms
400 x 1 @ 2ohms
600 x 1 @ 1ohm

Ideally you want to maximize the amp to run it at 1 ohm. Look at the the link below to see what woofer configuration you need to get to those specs.

If you went with a (DVC) woofer you notice if you bought (1) 2 ohm woofer you could run it in parallel to achieve the 600x1 @ 1ohm from the amp. This is a simple representation obviously you can add multiple woofers and obtain different ohm loads. BUT REMEMBER NOT ALL AMPS CAN HANDLE ALL OHM LOADS A LOT OF CLASS D (subwoofer amps) are not 1 ohm stable, so be sure to look at all specs of subwoofer and amps, when deciding on the package you want to buy.

Installing an aftermarket amp and subwoofer with a OEM radio/head unit

There are two common ways of doing this the most simplistic way is buying a Line Output Converter (LOC) this basically creates a rca signal for your amps which is required. The LOC basically you take 2 wires and tap the + and - on both speaker wires going to the rear 6x9's. (There are many great brands out there but I personally use the Scosche SLC-4 since it was recommended to me and works great). You can buy wire splice that crimp on at radio shack for $2-4 bucks. Then you plug you rca from loc to amp input. Check out LOC’s from AudioControl.com especially the 6 port units with summing.

The other way uses the factory installed amp and the PacAudio harness (C2A-CHY) behind the oem deck which provides a set of rca pre outs. Basically you plug in some rcas to the PacAudio harness and run them down the side of the vehicle under the carpet and door sills to the amp.

Installing the Amp (OEM Head Unit or Aftermarket HU)

Your amp requires three wires for it to turn on and function properly. Power wire, ground wire and remote ignition wire. Choosing the wire gauge depends on the amount of amps and the amps draw. For an amp kit they usually tell you how much wattage the wiring kit is designed for sometimes not.

Put a ring terminal on both power and ground wires take the nut off both power and ground at the battery and put the designated wires on the designated screws. Put the negative on a bolt near the positive terminal on the chassis because the less ground you have to use the better. On the power you’re going to want to fuse it to protect your electrical system and amp in case something happens so put an inline fuse 12-18" off the power wire. The fuse however should be the last thing installed after all wire is hooked up and sub is all wire up, to ensure safety to car and equipment.

To determine the fuse size, add up all the fuses on the amps. For instance if you have 3 20amp fuses on the amp, put a 60 amp fuse in the inline fuse holder on the power wire. For the ground wire usually you want to make this wire as short of distance as possible between battery or chassis and amp so interference (alternator wines when you hit accelerator etc.) isn’t brought into the cars speakers through the amp.

Installing the remote wire there is three options tapping into the fuse box for an ignition wire (turns power on when car is on, off when car is off). Or you can tap a wire in a wiring harness found near the battery.

To make sure this wire is the right one, take a car test light put into this wire and the other end of test light to a ground chassis and or battery. If light is off when car is off and on when car is on you found the right wire to use as a remote. The third option is only for those with aftermarket Head units. When installing the aftermarket head unit you will notice in the wiring harness there is going to be a remote wire connect to this wire and run to the amp.

Having some wire loom, zip ties and zip tie bases comes in handy when cleaning up the install and protecting the circuits.

Replacing Speakers

Regardless of what sound group you have you will have 2 - 10 speakers maybe an amp maybe not. These speakers are in the dash, in the front doors and in the rear doors. In regards to the brand and type coaxial or full range component style that is up to you. For this sake I will talk about the most common speakers used which are coaxial. Components can be done but honestly only an experienced person with car audio knowledge should deal with them because of proper imaging the multiple speakers, understanding the crossovers and really the need for their own aftermarket amp. Anyway back to coaxial no matter what size coaxial they tend to share the same characteristic and come in many different configurations. You can get 2 way coaxial which usually mean you have two speakers in one. Usually two ways includes the midbass speaker and a tweeter. Three ways tend to have a midbass and maybe two tweeters mounted above the midbass. Now the main reason to replace these stock speakers is because they tend to have inferior materials. Even the better oem sound groups like the Boston acoustics have paper cones, usually with speakers with better materials (and they range) you will get more performance such as more midbass or more crisp highs etc. Now this is a slight bit of opinion but if you cant afford or plan to replace the speakers in pieces start with the front of the soundstage. Reason being is this is where the emphasis is when you close your eyes your car should be set up where it sounds like there is a concert stage in front of you. In a perfect world you would have perfectly imaged tweeters with sound waves coming directly into your ears. Anyway if you want to tackle the door speakers or dash speakers first that is up to you. But here is something to consider when replacing speakers:

1. if you’re replacing your door speakers you really don’t need anything crazy like 3-way coaxial. A simple 2-way or full range speaker is fine and will save you money. Because the door speakers are usually crossed over at the amp to only receive the lower frequencies you would not be utilizing those tweeters on those 3-way coaxial they are doing probably next to nothing your midbass is doing all of the work so save the money on use it on something else.

2. Same scenario goes for the dash speakers. Using 2, 3 way 3.5" speakers is wasteful per say. With the dash speakers they are crossed over at the amp to only receive high frequencies to keep the sound stage high and in front of you. So really in this scenario you’re only utilizing the tweeter the midwoofers are doing next to nothing. A lot of people even opt to put a 1"-2" tweeter in the dash because really that is all that is needed.

3. Replacing the rear speakers is probably the least important and noticeable of the entire sound stage. You want your music to come at you from the front. Rear speakers are for fill so just match up the specs and go with a 2-way set.

4. Choosing a speaker is completely up to you, people can give recommendations all day long, all speakers will sound slightly different in different cars so many variables go into play in audio systems. Your best bet is hit a few of the local audio shops your best buy, mom and pa audio shop etc. Listen to them and compare what sound you like best.
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Old 05-26-2012, 12:02 AM   #2 (permalink)
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If you want to do your own audio work, good site for beginner car audio information is:

Basic Car Audio Electronics


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