2018+ Jeep Wrangler JL Stereo Upgrade

Ready to upgrade your 2018+ Jeep Wrangler JL/JLU Stereo?

Here at are our shop in Brookfield, CT, we upgrade Jeep Wranglers stereos all the time – older TJ’s, JK’s and even the new JL body style. Jeep Wranglers are a blast to drive in the warmer months – top down, sun shining, doors off and wind blowing between your toes (don’t tell me you haven’t driven your Wrangler barefoot like this). Add a kick ass stereo to the mix and it adds a whole ‘nother layer of enjoyment to the cruising experience.

Jeep Wrangler JL Stereo Upgrade - 8.4" Uconnect with Premium Alpine System.

Jeep Wrangler JL Stereo Upgrade – 8.4″ Uconnect with Premium Alpine System.

I used to say, whenever possible, I prefer to plan out a Jeep Wrangler JL stereo upgrade BEFORE my client has even purchased the vehicle. That’s because when the Jeep Wrangler JL/JLU first came out, it was actually easier and cleaner to upgrade the sound in the premium amplified models, vs the non amplified models.

As technology has progressed in our industry, a new category has emerged which I refer to as “Pre-Amp Adapters”. For many newer vehicles on the market, there are these really cool pre-amp adapters available that allow us to simply pop out the stock premium amp and drop in an aftermarket amp (and aftermarket speakers) in its place. This enables us to fully upgrade the audio system without losing any functionality or control and while retaining the OEM head unit and user interface.

Jeep Wrangler JL Stereo Upgrade – which model radio is your JL equipped with?

Jeep offers several different radios and packages for the new Jeep Wrangler JL body style including:

  • 5″ touch screen
  • 7″ touch screen
  • 8.4″ touch screen

All of these models are offered with or without the factory premium sound option. Yet, what engineers have found, is the stock head unit electronics are the same between amplified and non amplified. So technically a pre-amp adapter can be used even in the non amplified models thanks to the clever techs at PAC Audio and iDatalink (article updated 8/6/2018). When used in a non amplified JL/JLU, they are essentially tricking the head unit into thinking it’s connected to the premium stock sound system.

Jeep Wrangler JL Stereo Upgrade – Using a pre-amp adapter

There are several pre-amp adapters available on the market at the moment, however, I’m a big fan of the PAC Audio AMP Pro 4 series which is also available for many GM, Toyota/Lexus and Ford models.

Jeep Wrangler JL/JLU Stereo Upgrade - PAC Audio AP4-CH41 R2

Jeep Wrangler JL/JLU Stereo Upgrade – PAC Audio AP4-CH41 R2

What is a pre-amp adapter exactly? Unlike a base model stereo, the audio signal coming from many premium stock head units is digital. It’s just one’s and zero’s, data streaming until it reaches the stock amp. Think of that digital signal as a pre-amp audio signal. Once the signal reaches the stock amp it is converted to analog which is then output to your speakers. The stock amp also has built in crossovers and 9 individual channels for each driver unlike a traditional aftermarket amp.

Ideally, to upgrade the speakers and amp in your Jeep Wrangler JL, you want to intercept that audio signal before it hits the stock amp. That is exactly what these pre-amp adapters do. They catch the signal before it has been processed, while it is still clean, unadulterated and digital and then provides you with a way to connect an aftermarket amp and/or DSP processor to your stock stereo. You can either catch it while it is still digital and then keep it digital by utilizing an amp or DSP processor with Toslink connectivity OR you can convert it straight to analog RCA. This photo from PAC Audio illustrates it pretty well. In our Jeep JLU we used a pre-amp adapter plus JL Audio’s TWK-88 for a DSP (update 8/6/19 – we have since upgraded to JL Audio’s VX1000/5i amp which is a combination amp and Twk-88) so that we have full equalization control and time alignment.

Jeep Wrangler JL Stereo Upgrade - Pre-amp adapter drawing

Jeep Wrangler JL Stereo Upgrade – Pre-amp adapter drawing

There are a few different pre-amp adapters on the market compatible with the Wrangler JL and JLU:

In our own 2019 Jeep Wrangler JL MOAB edition (Mojito!), we used the PAC Audio AP4-CH41 and out of the 3 options listed, this is our preferred adapter. It’s a bit more flexible than the other two options. One cool thing about the PAC Audio piece is you don’t have to go the full DSP route. A lot of Jeepsters are do-it-your-selfers and may have skills for a head unit, speakers and amp install, but lack the knowledge and expertise to set up a 31 band EQ or the digital time alignment included with most DSP processors. You can use the AP4-CH41 just to get a nice clean 5 volt pre-amp signal so you can easily install a nice 5 channel amp, upgrade your speakers and add a sub. A DSP is optional with the PAC Audio adapter; it’s not required nor is it included.

Jeep Wrangler JL/JLU Stereo Upgrade - PAC Audio AP4-CH41 R2

Jeep Wrangler JL/JLU Stereo Upgrade – PAC Audio AP4-CH41 R2

Keep in mind, if you have the non amplified Jeep JL/JLU, and you want to use the PAC Audio module, you MUST purchase the R2 version. The regular AP4-CH41 will not work for non amplified models, only AP4-CH41R2.

Just pause for a second or two and look at that picture above and look at how easy that makes your install. Gold plated 5 volt RCA pre-amp output, color coded speaker wire pigtail so you can run lines directly to your aftermarket amp (for non premium models; premium models can catch speaker wires in driver side upper kick at stock amp), remote turn on lead and OEM style cloth tape wrapped locking T harness. Fan-f***ing-tastic, I cannot tell you all how excited I am about this part. This makes upgrading anyone’s Wrangler JL/JLU stereo super easy. Not only does it provide a clean, pre-amp signal, it also retains all warning chimes, bluetooth calls, etc.

Please note: if your non amplified Jeep Wrangler JL/JLU is equipped with active noise cancellation, you will need to buy an additional adapter to retain that feature (ANC-CH01) or just disconnect the noise cancellation mic’s which is what we’ve been doing for years with Honda’s and Acura’s (they started doing that back in 2008).

Jeep Wrangler JL Stereo Upgrade – Why can’t you just use a basic line output converter?

Is the pre-amp adapter necessary? Can’t I just use a line output converter? For the premium sound models, no, you really need the pre-amp adapter to do it right. You can’t easily slap on a line output converter for a full system upgrade because you’d have to grab your audio signal AFTER the stock amp where it has already been converted and divided up into various frequency ranges for your stock sub, mid ranges and tweeters. This video from iDatalink actually explains really well why you don’t want to do it that way.

If you just wanted to add a sub to the stock system and you have the premium stock sound system, you can go the line output converter route and just grab your signal from the stock sub, but for a full system upgrade, you really want to go the pre-amp route.

For non amplified models, it’s even tricker to just tack on an aftermarket amp and speakers with a basic line output converter because the stock head unit wants to see a specific resistance value on the factory speaker lines. It’s much cleaner, easier and more cost effective to get yourself a pre-amp adapter.

Jeep Wrangler JL Stereo Upgrade – Speakers, amp, subwoofer and optional DSP processor

If you are familiar with my recommendations on the JK Jeep Wrangler Stereo Upgrade, then you’re already ahead of the game. Really the same rules still apply. In order to upgrade and really be able to enjoy the sound system in your Wrangler – top up or down – you need:

  • Good, clean audio signal (either aftermarket head unit with high voltage RCA pre-amp OR pre-amp adapter with or without DSP processor)
  • Quality speakers that can handle high power for the front and rear
  • Subwoofer – preferably side mounted or down-firing so bass isn’t lost when top down
  • High powered 5 channel amp to power new speakers and subwoofer OR use two separate amps – a high powered 4 channel and mono subwoofer amp

Jeep Wrangler JL Speakers – Sizes and location

Jeep Wrangler JL Stereo Upgrade - front dash speakers 4 inch component

Jeep Wrangler JL Stereo Upgrade – front dash speakers 4 inch component

Speaker placement in the Wrangler JL is the same as the previous JK models. You should have mid ranges against the dash pad, tweeters on the dash and component or coaxial in the sound bar.

Jeep Wrangler JL Stereo Upgrade - front dash speakers 2.5 inch tweeter location

Jeep Wrangler JL Stereo Upgrade – front dash speakers 3.5 inch tweeter location

However, looks can be deceiving. Although the grille sizes appear pretty similar to the JK body style, the speaker size has changed in the new Jeep Wrangler JL. Oddly enough, they have gone down in size.

Jeep Wrangler JL Stereo Upgrade - sound bar speakers 4 inch component or coax

Jeep Wrangler JL Stereo Upgrade – sound bar speakers 4 inch component or coax

The Jeep Wrangler JL is equipped with:

  • 4″ components in front with an oversized tweeter (3.5″)
  • 4″ components in the rear sound bar

Oh, and they are mounted in these cute little ported enclosures:

Jeep Wrangler JL Stereo Upgrade - OEM speaker enclosure pic

Jeep Wrangler JL Stereo Upgrade – OEM speaker enclosure pic

Only trouble with this size is you are kind of limited in options. There are not a lot of high power handling 4″ components on the market. Audison offers the Prima 4 series mid bass speakers and you can pair that with their AP1 tweeters and add a crossover for the fronts. Additionally German manufacturer Match offers a 4″ component set specific to BMW in the $250 range, but I have not had the pleasure of testing these speakers yet. Focal offers their ES 100K 4″ components from their K2 series around $750 a set.

I have both this Focal series and Morel Hybrid series on our sound board in our display room. The Focal’s are great, don’t get me wrong, but that Morel tweeter is just sublime. Upon listening, most of our customers prefer the Morel Hybrid series over the Focal K2 series at this particular price point.

Generally speaking, for best performance, I prefer Morel. For reference, I did put a set of the BMW Audison Prima speakers in my 2013 1 series and they’re not bad, but I will be swapping them out for Morel in the near future – they’re a little bright/harsh in comparison to Morel.

Morel has a couple options to choose from and they are both pretty freaking awesome. You really can’t go wrong with either model. The Morel Hybrid 402 Components and the Virtus 402 Components fit quite nicely. The first Wrangler JLU we worked on, we did actually install a set of 6.5″ components in the front and modified the housings. We had pulled these speakers out from his last Jeep not knowing what size would be in the JL. It was quite a tedious effort, but if there is a specific set of component speakers you want and they are not available in 4″, you really don’t have any other choice than to modify the housing.

Update 8-14-19 – BLAM Audio, a French speaker company founded by a former Focal speaker designer, has a 4″ component set that I think will work very well in these vehicles for an extremely efficient, well balanced, VALUE priced speaker – currently at $250 a set. I jokingly refer to them as a poor man’s Focal Flax series, but really they are great performing speakers for the price. They have a similar tonal balance to the Focal Flax – very nice mid range, nice focus on the vocals. Although the tweeter is not quite as smooth as Focal or Morel, they still have a very pleasant, balance between the mid range and tweeter. Much more impressive than the JL Audio C2 series which I have heard of a lot of Jeep JL/JLU owners using (which I don’t understand, it’s a component set, why are people putting 4 sets of coaxials in these vehicles??). These are 2 ohm speakers, extremely efficient. The 4″ component, model 100 RS, is rated at 90 dB efficiency and can handle 40 watts RMS.

Jeep Wrangler JL Stereo Upgrade - Morel Hybrid 2-way

Jeep Wrangler JL Stereo Upgrade – Morel Hybrid 2-way

If you want to utilize factory locations and speaker sizes, you would basically order two sets of these component speakers – one for the fronts and one for the rear sound bar. Now, technically, you don’t have to go with a matching component set in the rear sound bar, you could get away with installing a coaxial such as the Hybrid Integra 402 point source or even one of Morel’s other 4″ coaxial speakers such as the Tempo Ultra 4″ or even Maximo Ultra 4″. In our own Wrangler we went with the Hybrid series front and rear and they are truly fantastic. Morel specializes in speakers and they really do a phenomenal job. They are made in Israel and they are known for their incredible tweeter. It is silky smooth, detailed, articulate and vibrant, but never harsh. It it impeccable.

Jeep Wrangler JL Stereo Upgrade – Amp placement and recommendation

With your pre-amp adapter, you can technically install whatever amp or combination of amps you desire, but I can tell you what has worked well for our shop in countless Wranglers. This amp is what my husband John and I each have in our own Wranglers – the Alpine PDX-V9. I highly recommend it. I’ve used this amp in many high fidelity system installs. It really is an excellent value. It is a compact, high powered and great sounding 5 channel amp. It pushes out 100 watts RMS per channel to the interior speakers and 500 watts RMS to the subwoofer.

This is plenty of power output if you like it loud and clear cruising with the top down. Even on the highway with the top down, you will still be able to hear and enjoy your sound system with this powerful amp. If you are installing this with only the PAC Audio AP4-CH41, and you are not using any separate DSP processor, we recommend you also include their RUXKNOB2 bass knob so you can adjust the sub bass on the fly from song to song.

Jeep Wrangler JL Stereo Upgrade - underseat amp bracket

Jeep Wrangler JL Stereo Upgrade – under seat amp bracket

In most Jeep Wrangler stereo upgrades, we install the amp under the passenger seat. JL Audio has a couple install accessories that we used in our own Jeep Wrangler JL stereo upgrade that you may want to consider to make your install a little cleaner and easier. The part pictured above is an under seat amplifier mounting bracket for the passenger side and the part pictured below is a nice mounting bracket for your fuse holder.

Jeep Wrangler JL Stereo Upgrade - fancy fuse holder bracket

Jeep Wrangler JL Stereo Upgrade – fancy fuse holder bracket

Jeep Wrangler JL Stereo Upgrade Subwoofer Options

What about the bass? Thankfully, JL Audio is on top of the ball and they have already designed two different stealth box enclosures for the 4 door Wrangler JL. This vehicle specific stealth box is available for either passenger or driver side (or both) and features JL Audio’s 10″ TW1 shallow mount subwoofer.

Jeep Wrangler JL Stereo Upgrade - JL Audio stealth box driver side 10TW1

Jeep Wrangler JL Stereo Upgrade – JL Audio stealth box driver side 10TW1

I know not everyone has the $750 to shell out for a sub like this, but if you can swing it, go for it and while you’re at it, go for both of them. This is the best way to add bass that doesn’t take up any room, is clean, tight, punchy and loud enough to hear over wind and road noise. Bonus – if you do buy this subwoofer you are also supporting American jobs. it’s made in America, right in Miramar, Florida (woofer and enclosure).

If you need a more budget friendly option and you’re working with the base 8 speaker system, you could consider using Alpine’s (made in China) PWE-S8 under seat amplified subwoofer. That is a great amplified subwoofer I have used in many Wrangler’s, but keep in mind it’s only 120 watts RMS so it’s pretty similar in output to what the stock premium subwoofer sounds like. It’s not nearly as powerful, deep or punchy as the JL Audio stealthbox, but it still makes for a nice improvement over the base sound system. If you’re going to build a basic enclosure for this vehicle, I highly recommend down firing it. The pressure waves will travel along the frame of the vehicle and are less likely to be lost in the open air compared to a traditional, rear facing, pre-fab subwoofer enclosure.

Jeep Wrangler JL Stereo Upgrade – DSP Processor – placement and recommendation

If you want fine tune control such as equalization controls, digital time alignment and easily adjustable crossover points, you’ll want to use a DSP processor with your installation. There are many DSP processors on the market. If you use the iDatalink AR you can use an Audison processor or you can use the DSR1 which has the Rockford processor built in. Our shop has tried many different brand processors on the market – Audison, Alpine, Rockford Fosgate, JBL, Audio Control, Helix, Metra, etc. Out of everything we’ve tried over the past 20 years, our favorite is still the JL Audio Twk-88. It just has the best sound quality and most versatility. Our only complaint is you do need a laptop to set it up. It would be nice if it could be adjusted through an app.

Jeep Wrangler JL Stereo Upgrade - JL Audio Twk bass knob location

Jeep Wrangler JL Stereo Upgrade – JL Audio Twk bass knob location

The Twk-88 should be installed with a DRC-205. This control knob has bother an inner and outer ring which can be assigned various functions. For example – when using the optical out of the PAC Audio APA-TOS1, you lose fader control on the head unit. So in vehicles where we are going optical out, we set up one knob as a fader control and the other as sub level control. When you push the knob in and release, that acts as your your listening preset control. You can see in the pic above that we have ours mounted where an outlet used to be. When John and I are cruising together, he pushes the knob in and the color on the knob ring changes to indicate we’ve switched from listening preset number one (which he set up for him, the driver) to listening preset number two (which he set up for driver and passenger). I believe with the JL Twk-88 you can have up to 6 listening presets.

For a combined amplifier/processor – consider any one of the JL Audio VXI series amps. These smart amps have the Twk-88 processor built in and even enable you to tie in a secondary analog amp. Not only did we do this in the YouTube video above, we eventually installed the VX1000/5i in our own Wrangler JLU after running our Twk-88 and PDXV9 for awhile (we still have the PDXV9 in there mainly to run our rears and have the JL VX1000/5i bridged to our fronts and running our two Stealthboxes). The small footprint and DSP control is impressive. They also added an optional Bluetooth adapter interface (VXI-BTC) which enables you to set up/tune your DSP via wireless connection to an iPad or laptop.

Jeep Wrangler JL Stereo Upgrade – Aftermarket Head Unit Options

If you have the base model, non amplified 5″ screen, you would probably prefer to replace the radio so that you can get better features like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. In all likelihood, such a head unit would also have a nice clean pre-amp output. However, as of this writing, Metra has not yet made a stereo installation dash kit for this vehicle, but I am sure they are working on it. Technically some of the wiring parts are available, so if you wanted to make a custom dash kit to install an aftermarket head unit, you could, but there are some limitations to be aware of.

Mounting depth is going to be an issue for any traditional aftermarket double din head unit. It’s probably only about 5″. The stock head unit is extremely shallow and there are vents behind it. I think one of the best options for head units currently on the market would be the Kenwood DMX7706s which utilizes a very shallow chassis and is iDatalink Maestro compatible. To learn more about the DMX7706s and iDatalink Maestro, check out the video below.

Alternatively, something like the Pioneer DMH-C2550NEX or DMH-C5500NEX could possibly work. Both of these models utilize a modular system. The screen is a thin and shallow component and then there is a separate sub brain for the radio guts and pre-amp. Both of these models are also iDatalink Maestro compatible. Using the iDatalink Maestro RR and CH3 harness, you can retain functions like steering wheel controls, access to and ability to modify vehicle settings and on screen vehicle info like tire pressure monitoring, battery voltage and read/reset check engine codes. However, at the moment, it doesn’t look like there are any parts to retain the OEM reverse camera (which is most likely CAN bus activated like most Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep OEM cameras so may not be possible to try and cut and splice and trigger on your own). I’m sure a solution will be available soon for both the dash kit and reverse camera and once it’s available, I will update this post with new details.

Jeep Wrangler JL Stereo Upgrade – Limited options, but only for a limited time

The Jeep Wrangler is one of the most highly accessorized and popular vehicles on the road. It’s only going to be a matter of time until more products hit the market and more options become available. The Jeep Wrangler JL body style is still relatively new, so we are still somewhat limited in accessories and upgrades currently available. However, if you’re looking to upgrade the sound system in your Wrangler JL now, you still have some solid methods and solutions available and I hope you found this blog post helpful in exploring those options. I’m sure there will be many more product solutions in the near future. Until then, I hope this post has been informative to my fellow Wrangler JL owners out there. Please let me know what you think in the comment section below.

64 comments for “2018+ Jeep Wrangler JL Stereo Upgrade

  1. Paul
    September 27, 2019 at 8:21 pm

    Hi Annie,

    I pulled the trigger and installed the recommended setup. Sounds 10x better right out of the box! I am in the process of tuning the system and, at the risk of asking for your “trade secrets”, I was wondering if you could provide some guidance.

    a) I am strugglng a little to settle on an appropriate corssover frequency between the fron Hybid 402’s and my sealed box JL W6v3. I am focusing on around 125 hz crossover, but i am wondering if I should be worried that that is too low (Hybrid has a Fs of 82 Hz.) I don’t hear distortion, bit I am curious about your experience.
    b) I am noticing that there is a fairly significant RTA anomaly at around 135 hz (Big , sharp dip on the the front left that mirrors into the overall response (it does respond to sub polarity change.) i assume this is an effect of the interior geometry, but it also occurs that we are putting these speakers into a pre existing ported pod. (I can find no information on the port frequency…) I am getting a crash course on REW and its myriad features :0…so I am sure i will figure it out.. eventually.

    Anyway, any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks again for the article and your prior responses!


  2. Parvez
    September 22, 2019 at 4:51 am

    Hi Annie, Thanks for the detailed write-up! I have a few questions I was hoping you could help me with.

    I have a 2019 Wrangler JL non premium sound system with 7” screen, 4 door. I am planning to upgrade both the front and rear speakers with Polk Audio MM 6502 (knowing I’ll have to modify the housing), with an Alpine PDX-V9 amp, and Rockford Fosgate P3D4-10 sub, and iDatalink Maestro RR w/ CH3 harness. What are your thoughts on this set up?

    Am I missing anything or would you replace something (assuming a total budget of $1.5-2K for the whole upgrade)?

    Will I be able to get away with not replacing the stock head unit?

    • October 5, 2019 at 2:03 pm

      Hi Parvez – the Maestro RR and CH3 are if you planned on replacing the head unit so don’t buy those. You can use all the other equipment, but you’ll need a pre-amp adapter to tie everything into the stock head unit. We like the PAC Audio AP4-CH41R2 (has to be revision 2 to work with your stock head unit). That will make your install nice and easy by providing color coded speaker wire out from the stock harness that you can run to the aftermarket amp and a 5 volt front, rear and sub pre-amp to work with your PDXV9. I’m assuming you’re building a box? Down-firing it works well in Jeeps when the top is down. Good luck!

  3. Russell
    September 3, 2019 at 2:09 pm

    Have you found a solution to add speakers in the rear soundbar of the 4 door JL. If you ride in the backseat, you can barely hear any of the music playing.

    In addition to changing speakers & adding an amp and sub, I was curious if you had come across a solution for rear speakers on the new JL. Thanks

    • September 7, 2019 at 12:20 pm

      Hi Russell,
      Well, the same speakers that fit in the front (Focal, Morel and BLAM 4″ components) will fit in the rear sound bar, same size, but I think both your questions are really about adding an additional set over stock speaker placement. Regarding an extra set of roll bar speakers, we will be tackling that sometime in October for a client. He has some roll bar speaker enclosures we had made and previously added to his old TJ. We’re going to try and re-use them in his JLU he ordered. I haven’t seen anything specific for JLU so at this point it’s probably something to fabricate or maybe adapt some Versa-pods from Select Increments. I hope that helps!

      • Russell
        September 12, 2019 at 6:49 pm

        Thank you. My local stereo shop, Seismic Autosound in Bay Area May fabricate some enclosures to attach on the plastic that holds the back seat seat belt at the bottom of the rear roll bar.

        I am thinking of going Blam Audio 4” components upfront, 51/4” coax in factory soundbar location and again in very rear soundbar. 10” sub in custom hidden enclosure attached to rear tailgate and powered by mono sub amp and 8 channel dsp amp (maybe Helix)

        I’d love to see what you figure out for the rear roll bar.

  4. Jeff
    August 31, 2019 at 7:17 pm

    Probably read through this about 10 times. Excellent information.

    I am looking at the PAC Amppro R2 for 7” non-alpine. Is it better to get the Toslink and TWK D8 or use the RCAs and TWK 88? I had a custom box built for my 10w3 running off a Rockford Power T750x1bd. Going to get the matching 4 channel. They have a small footprint and both can easily be mounted in the rear cargo with the TWK. Still deciding on which speakers for the fronts. I’ve seen a few 4” components for focal for a decent price. Something cheap in the sound bar for fill.


    • September 7, 2019 at 12:10 pm

      Hi Jeff,
      Based on what you have, I would run Toslink out to the TWK-88 and then RCA from the TWK-88 to your 4 channel and mono (assuming they only accept RCA). It keeps the install and signal clean, less susceptible to noise/interference. The only thing is you lose fader control from the head unit when you do it that way, but you could set a fader control up on the DRC-205 knob if desired. For good cheap components, I’m kind of liking these BLAM audio speakers, 100 RS. I have a set of 6.5″ on my display board that I leave playing all day. Quite efficient, nice balance. They’re $250 a set for component in 4″. But if you found a good price on the Focal K2 series, go for it. I hope that helps!

  5. Paul
    August 31, 2019 at 1:37 pm

    Thanks so much for the well written article. HUGE help. I have a few questions. I have a 2door JL with 8.4 and premium audio. I was planning to duplicate your recommendations (PAc, vxI amp, DRC knob, morel Hybrid front, Virtus rear (still on the fence if the component is value add back there):
    A) do you know if the JL amp rack works in the 2 door? Their site only references the unlimited. No sure why the front seats would be different, but who knows?…
    B) Where did you mount the PAC unit? Did you run the level knob somewhere?
    C) Not sure how the stock sub is wired in. Can it simply be removed or will that throw an error?
    D) Does the ANC play nice with this setup or do the mics need to be disconnected?
    E) I typically rerun the speaker wire but I don’t spend a lot of time cranking the stereo. Any thoughts on how much benefit the new wire would be over intercepting stock?

    Thanks in advance!


    • September 7, 2019 at 12:03 pm

      Hi Paul, glad you enjoyed the article. Let me try to tackle your questions:

      A) I don’t think the amp rack works in the 2 door because the seats are different due to the tumble function in the 2-door, but I haven’t had the chance to work on a 2-door yet so just making the assumption based on the fact JL didn’t include the 2-door in the product description and based on the JK’s being different fit under the seat between 2-door and 4-door.
      B) PAC unit behind the dash, don’t usually use their knob, usually set up sub level control on the DRC-205 connected to the VXI amp
      C) You can physically remove the stock sub, we did in ours and another clients JLU. Just don’t disconnect/remove the stock amp, you’re bypassing the speaker wires going to it, but you want to leave the amp in-line for healthy computer status.
      D) ANC works fine as far as I can tell with the AP4-CH41 and amplified models, have not had an issue with any OEM controls/features in our JLU or customer’s. If you had the non amplified model, you would need to bypass it. We did that a couple weeks ago in a RAM 1500 with the 8.4″ non amplified system using the AP4-1CH41 R2.
      E) We use 16 ga speaker wire for our set up – we’re pushing 150 x 2 RMS to the fronts and 100 x 2 RMS to the rears. If you can run it, it’s recommended, but if you’re pushing less power, you could get away with 18 ga. In general, I think it just makes for a cleaner install and leaves factory wiring in tact in case you ever sell the Jeep and put it back to stock.

      • Paul
        September 8, 2019 at 1:00 am

        Thanks! I contacted JL and they confirmed that the rack does not fit the 2 door. No plans for a stealth box for the 2d either. As usual 2 doors get NO love from the aftermarket….. I will just have to fab something myself. Maybe I will put the amps where the factory sub was. Thanks again!!

  6. ray muszynski
    August 12, 2019 at 5:43 pm

    Hey Annie,

    Fantastic write-up, this will help many non-techie persons get the most bang for the buck.

    Please keep on doing other articles-much appreciated


    • August 13, 2019 at 5:40 pm

      Thanks Ray. I will keep updating as new parts become available for the Jeep JL/JLU!

  7. Brian Diehl
    August 10, 2019 at 1:23 am

    Have a 2019 sport with uconnect 3( non amped). Will the amppro 4 work in sending signal to amp while maintaining head unit functionality? Also is there a resistor required in order to trick the unit into sending sound output to the pac ? Plan on adding amp, subs, front and rear upgrades. Thx for the help.


    • August 10, 2019 at 1:06 pm

      Hi Brian,
      If you specifically use the new AP4-CH41R2 – it has to have that R2 label on the box like by the bar code area, then it will work. If it’s the original AP4-CH41, that one is only compatible with the amplified models. You do not need resistors with the AP4-CH41R2 and it will retain all head unit functionality. If you have the active noise cancellation feature, you will need another part not yet released, the ANC-CH01 or you can simply disconnect the active noise cancellation system. I hope that helps!

      • Brian Diehl
        August 10, 2019 at 5:26 pm

        Thx for the quick response! Active noise cancelling ? For the microphones? Or something else? I doubt it has it due to its basic functions it has. It does seem to stop getting louder at around 29 volume level and start to change EQ curves sounds horrible.

  8. Jared
    August 6, 2019 at 2:24 pm

    Figured I’d add to the questions about front stage. I have a JT and drive with the doors off probably more than on. I notice that the front stage is completely gone (zero midrange, with stock Alpine upgrade system) This makes me wonder what the 3.5’s are crossed at. I’d assume lower than say a 1″ tweeter making the switch to 4s in the knees and tweets up top more detrimental to sound when the doors are off. Was wondering if a possible front stage would be 6.5 in the knee pods, 3″ dedicated mid in the dash and a tweeter somehow podded to not look like ass near the 3″. Thoughts? Do you know what I mean about the missing mids with the doors off? Is that still an issue with upgraded mids in the knees and more power?



    • August 6, 2019 at 10:23 pm

      Hi Jared,
      Yeah, it sounds like ass with the stock system and doors off/top down. All your muddy bass from the stock sub gets lost behind you and you can barely hear the sound bar and just sounds like a couple tweeters coming at you from the front. Totally get it. If you install the PAC pre-amp adapter, quality high powered 5 channel amp or amps, Morel Hybrid speakers and JL Twk-88 or their Vxi amps or even the iDatalink DSR1, you have the EQ controls to correct for the lack of mid bass up front by setting up time correction on all the speakers and the subs. Getting the timing on the bass is key to overcoming this issue along with having much more powerful bass that is not lost over the wind/road noise. Additionally, the higher quality speakers like those Morel Hybrid 402 can be crossed over lower like a 6.5″.

      You need good quality low end for sure, stock sub doesn’t cut it. But if you have quality, high powered bass in the back, whether it’s a down firing enclosure or one or both of the JL Stealthboxes, that will fill in the gap especially when time correction and EQ properly set.

      If you wanted to mod and put 6.5″s in the front, that will help even more to fill in the gap. Morel does make an oversized tweeter/mid range that you could technically install in the OEM tweeter location as a tweeter/mid and there are surface mount cups that are discreet (I like the Focal tweeter cups for dash mount options) but if you’re going to mod, just go for a standard 6.5″component like the Hybrid 602, put the tweeter in OEM location in an angled bracket just as shown in the video. I am not a fan of 3-ways, unless you have position perfect or individual time correction of each channel, it’s nearly impossible to get sound stage correct. With your placement idea it might work, but I’m just giving you my honest opinion on 3-ways from personal experience (had 2 VW’s with stock 3-way position and any time we do a car with 3-ways we make sure we have individual channel control to get it right). I’m a fan of the KISS rule. Have good quality equipment, set up properly and you really can’t go wrong. I hope that helps!

      • Jared
        August 9, 2019 at 2:44 pm

        Thanks for the reply. I have some old supremo piccolo tweeters from an old install that I can use up top. Just need to find a good mid to pair with it. I have a Stereo Integrity BM MkV 12″ sub I’ll put behind the rear seat. I like your idea of keeping it simple. Do you have a recommended mid/midbass that could go in the knee pod to fill the gap between the sub and tweet? I’ve had the tweet crossed at 2.5k without issues in the past, so will probably go that route again this time. Hopefully that’s low enough to keep the sound stage in front when the doors are off.

      • August 9, 2019 at 5:42 pm

        Nice! Those are awesome tweeters. Morel does sell their mid bass drivers separately like an Elate Ti MW6 (assuming you modify pods) or if you stick with 4″ the Hybrid MW4. We do recommend a crossover network, for whatever reason, even though you could run on individual channels on your DSP/amp, it has been our experience that it sounds better when you use a crossover normally and have a good amount of power to the drivers. Did this both ways in our Jeep and a customers Jeep before we came to this conclusion. Both had Morel Hybrid 402’s and a dedicated 75×4 RMS just for the fronts using JL VXI amp. Sounded better running the amp channels bridged as 150×2 with Morel MXR240 crossover (non bi-ampable crossover). If you want to bi amp a crossover the MXT380 will do that.

  9. Scott K
    July 24, 2019 at 5:38 pm

    This is the best information I have found yet to help, so first of all thank you Annie. My question is this based on what I have read on this post. I have a 2020 Jeep Gladiator with the 8.4 Alpine premium upgrade already that came with the vehicle. Like most, not feeling great about the sound output and need something better. I want to do this in phases if possible based on sound quality improvement as I go and the shear upgrade costs. Meaning, I’m hopefully my stock speakers will sound good enough to make me happy by adding the power components first and then adding speaker at a later time if the sound quality still isn’t quiet there.

    I would like to do the build in 3 phases:
    1) Power component upgrades
    2) Knee and Soundbar Speakers
    3) Dash and Subwoofer

    From what I am reading, I will need the following components to get started in phase 1 and this will improve my stock speakers sound.
    – PAC AP4-CH41
    – Pac Audio toslink adapter APA-TOS1
    – Alpine PDX-V9 AMP or a JL Audio AMP

    Then can add speakers at a later time if the stock speakers still are not good enough. Just making sure the stock speakers will not blow by adding the power components.

    Is there anything else I would need for phase 1 component wise or wiring outside of the kits listed above to do this part of the build?

    Any other recommendations you can think of on the Gladiator?

    Again, thank you so much for sharing your knowledge and expertise.

    • July 25, 2019 at 4:23 pm

      Hi Scott,
      I’m so glad you have found it helpful and congratulations on your Gladiator! Sweet ride. You’re right, the costs can add up real quick. You could potentially break it down into phases like that and you can technically amplify those stock component speakers, but go easy on the gains. We have used the PDXV9 to do that (powered the stock rears and stock sub), but you will need an external crossover network to do so. I wouldn’t go too crazy on the crossover network since whenever you put in speakers later, they will be replaced with whatever crossovers your new speakers come with. You could get yourself a couple pairs of the Morel Maximo Ultra crossovers sold separately for $50 a pair. Or you could even order something off PartsExpress.com, just a basic passive crossover network.

      Does the Gladiator have a stock sub??? Pretty sure it does, but not sure where or how big it is. I’ve amped the one in the JLU and it’s just a bit boomy, but you can use that amp to power it up, we’ve done that before. You’ll only need the APA-TOS1 if you go optical out into the JL VXI amp. We did notice you will get more output with RCA, however the top end detail is cleaner/more detailed with Toslink and this is even noticeable with top down, doors off, highway 60 mph+.

      Again thinking of the whole phase thing – if you go with the PDXV9, that is technically a more powerful amp and less costly than the VXI. You could always add the Twk-88 DSP and DRC-205 controller to that later. Meaning just do the AP4-CH41, PDXV9, aftermarket crossovers and put the cleaner/more powerful amp to all the stock components. Then do your speaker/sub upgrade as another phase and DSP maybe as last phase.

      Wiring wise – depending on what amp you go with you will need a standard 4 gauge wiring kit, RCA cables (12 ft length good if putting amp under passenger seat) or single toslink cable (will lose ability to balance/fade through head unit, but can set up fader using DRC-205 if you go with the VXi amp) and speaker wire. Stock amp in the JLU is driver side dash so you can catch your speaker wires there and direct to your new amp or run new lines, but do leave the factory amp in place. It’s part of the network in the car so you don’t want to physically remove/disconnect it.

      Also – the stock sub is usually quad voice coil – I think quad 4 ohm??? So you’ll need to do some wiring in series then parallel with all the voice coils. I’m not sure what the default set up is with the stock amp, but the PDXV9 is stable from 1.5 – 4 ohms.

  10. Jason Burton
    July 18, 2019 at 4:23 pm

    OK Annie you win, you convinced me =). I watched your JL install video a few times and read through your articles and I have decided to go the PAC AP4-CH41 route. I’m replacing the front and sound bar speakers with Virtus 402’s and sticking with the JL 12 inch sub in a single box in the cargo area. I will put some quick disconnects on it so I can just pull it and leave it at home if I need to carry some gear, which I rarely do. I’m going to have my installer run the PAC into a JL TwK-88 so I can tinker with my own timing and EQ settings. From the TwK-88 I’m going to feed into the Alpine PDX-v9 and run all my speakers from that. So one final question, will I still have to have load resistors on the speaker lines to turn on the signals or does the PAC eliminate that issue?

    • July 24, 2019 at 3:50 pm

      Hi Jason, you will not need resistors with the AP4-CH41 when used in the Alpine premium models – that was previously needed for non Alpine models when adding an amp/aftermarket speakers. However, the non amplified models can now use the AP4-CH41R2 which should be out any day now. But in your case, you definitely don’t need them when you use the AP4-CH41. I hope you enjoy it! The tweeter in the Virtus series is open, airy and smooth!

  11. JC
    July 16, 2019 at 10:54 pm


    Will any of this options do away with the OEM Alpine amp on the JL? We are looking to remove it and just use the signal to our processor and amps.

    Thanks and great work!

    • July 17, 2019 at 2:37 pm

      Hi JC,
      The AP4-CH41 allows you to bypass the stock amp in that it gives you a front, rear and subwoofer pre-amp signal BEFORE the stock amp so it’s nice and clean and not processed. However, you technically leave it in line as it is really part of the computer network in the vehicle. That’s how a lot of stereo components are in cars these days either operating off the CAN Bus or MOST Bus communication system. I can recall one install where we replaced a stereo in a 2016 GMC Sierra and we accidentally removed the WiFi module which is connected to the stereo and right behind it (thought it was part of the radio initially) and guess what, the truck wouldn’t start with it removed! So leave it in line and if you don’t feel like running new speaker wires just take them off the the stock amp which is on the driver’s side up in the kick panel.

  12. Jason
    July 15, 2019 at 12:58 am

    Hey Annie, your info is awesome but I need some help! I have a 2018 Jeep JLU Rubicon 4 door with the Apline premium system and the 8.4 head unit. Great unit, but that factory Alpine subwoofer stinks. I’ve ordered a JL 12 sub and a JL 500/1 Mono Amp and sub box. I also grabbed a LC2i so I can tap into the B pillar speaker wires for my source , but i have a dilemma: Can’t I just tap into the subwoofer factory speaker lines and use those for the LC2i source? Problem is….there are 4 pairs of wires plugged into the darned factory sub and, while I can tell which ones are + and -, I don’t understand why there are 4 pairs of wires for that factory sub?! Any help would be appreciated, and should i just go back to my original plan and just tap the B pillar wires going to the little midrange speakers in the bar? I feel like i may lose frequency relevance if i do that. Suggestions?

    • July 15, 2019 at 11:42 am

      Hi Jason, you’re on the right track if those are the parts you plan on using. The stock JLU subs that we have seen are quad voice coil with 4 sets of positive and negative. I wasn’t sure if that’s what you meant or if yours actually has just a dual voice coil set up? Either way, if you know what’s positive and negative, just pick two pair of positive/negative going to the stock sub to use with your LC2i. Since it’s all mixed mono signal anyways, it won’t matter. You don’t want to grab from the sound bar, you’re right, you’ll lose the frequency range you’re looking for.

      HOWEVER – did you know you can use the Pac Audio AP4-CH41 to get an even cleaner signal??? Pre-amp? The awesome thing about that part is you don’t have to use everything it offers: front, rear and sub pre-out. You can just use the sub pre-amp for now and leave the entire stock audio system in line since it daisy chains in and then down the road when you want to upgrade the interiors with a 4 channel amp you already have what you need. I HIGHLY recommend it over the LC2i (which is still a good LOC, but would not be my first choice in this vehicle when it has the stock premium set up).

      • Jason
        July 15, 2019 at 3:26 pm

        Thank for your help! That answers my question on the sub perfectly. Mine is the 4 voice coil model alpine. I will just tap into two of the wire pairs there and not have to worry about the B pillar. Thanks for the heads up on the Pac Audio AP4-CH41, if I didn’t already have the LC2i I would probably go that route. If I ever plan to do more upgrading of the stock system that’s likely the direction I will go.

  13. David
    July 7, 2019 at 10:32 pm

    Thank you for the wealth of information – Due to your informative guide , I am convinced the Vxi eq and matching Amp are the ticket – however — do you have similar advice for installing a system in a Gladiator yet (With Alpine premium speaker setup? My dealer said the front and soundbar will be standard JL… That being said will most likely beef up the oem enclosures with good mat and perhaps fiberfill (especially in the sound bar – hat are your thoughts on Utilizing Focal ES 100K 4″ components vs the Morel? Secondarily, due to the very limited room behind 2nd row – an appropriate sub under each front seat might be appropriate but do not know if there are enough cubic ft underneath each front seat to build a box for a Jl Audio 10tw3-d4 Shallow-mount 10 ? Please advise.


    • July 9, 2019 at 5:15 pm

      Hi David,

      Focal also a great speaker manufacturer, we carry both and have both on display. Interestingly enough, most of our customers prefer the tonal balance of the less expensive Focal Flax series to the K2 series. The K2 has a smoother tweeter, but Flax has a more vibrant (IMO) mid range, but they don’t make a 4″ component in Flax.

      When compared to the Morel Hybrid, I and most of my customers prefer the Morel tweeter. You can’t beat them, Morel makes the best tweeters I’ve heard in my 19 year career. I think the Focal mid range may be a little more pronounced, but when compared side by side, most of my customers opt for the Morel Hybrid over K2 series. Or if they like a real vibrant, present midrange over the smooth and articulate tweeter, they settle with Flax. I don’t think I’ve ever had anyone hear all 3 and go for the K2’s oddly enough. Also from a power handling perspective, Morel can take more than Focal and louder/more power always better in the Wranglers. I hope that is helpful.

      Definitely not enough room under each front seat for something like a 10TW3 from what I can see. I briefly had a chance to check one of these out when we upgraded the factory halogen low beam/high beams to LED and checked out the storage under the rear seats and was disappointed not same set up as what we have in our 4 door. We have a lot of room under our rear seats in our 4 door, but in the Gladiator, it appears you would need to remove the storage tray and may have enough room for something like a couple 8W3V3’s or possibly 10TW1’s both of which require only .35 cubic ft volume sealed to perform quite nicely. You could probably do the 10TW3 as well (one or two) under the rear seat, those need about .5 cubic ft volume per sub. There was also a bit of room behind the rear seat back which could be possible location for amps if you wanted to go with an under seat style subwoofer.

      I didn’t even think to look under the front seats, but I imagine it’s the same as the regular 4 door JLU and really not going to be enough room under there. I’m sure something amp sized would work like a powered sub like the PWE-S8 from Alpine, but I don’t think there’s quite enough for a traditional woofer like the 8W3 or 10TW1. Definitely don’t think anywhere close to what’s needed for the TW3 which needs. Keep in mind you also need room for excursion with the Tw3 or 8W3. The however Tw1 has a recessed grille and surround so fits better in tighter spaces. I hope that helps!

  14. Chris again
    July 3, 2019 at 8:29 pm

    Thanks! Since it looks like I will need to keep waiting for a Head unit option…. is there much difference with the fix 82 vs 86 if I will only end up running 1 amp? Will running the JL fix options be of any benefit when combined with the Kenwood unit you posted above? Eventually I think that looks like that route I want to go and I hate waiting a few hundred bucks if it won’t help down the road.

    • July 3, 2019 at 10:24 pm

      Hey Chris,
      Yes, although both offer 8 channel input:

      -Two sets for front Left and Right (normally used in a stock amplified system when no digital pre-amp available and you have to grab the tweeter frequency and midrange frequency after the amp and sum everything – I think it’s full range from your head unit, haven’t had one in the shop yet to scope it)
      -One set for rear Left and Right
      -One set for stock sub Left and Right (if equipped)

      The key difference is the Fix-82 is only 2 channel output. The Fix-86 provides front, rear and subwoofer output just like an aftermarket head unit would. So if you go with the Fix-82, you’re going to only use one RCA cable to go to your 5 channel amp (make sure it has a selectable input like the JL XD series or Vxi series otherwise you’ll need Y splitters and then it gets messy because you’re trying to split one signal to 3 different inputs) and then that means you have no front to rear fader control. Since you’re going to eventually do an aftermarket head unit with front, rear and subwoofer RCA pre outs, I would go ahead and do the Fix-86 and run the three sets of RCA’s now so it will be an easy change over when you get to install the head unit.

      However, once you do the head unit, either Fix product is entirely unnecessary, but it may have some resale value on eBay or Facebook. We sell the Fix-86 because most people want to retain fader control and it’s just cleaner from an install perspective.

  15. Shawn
    July 1, 2019 at 8:58 pm

    When using the jl fix to a dsp, will a 2018 with the 8.4 non amplified still retain all warning chimes and backup sensor chimes?

    • July 2, 2019 at 10:10 pm

      Yes, it will.

  16. Austin S.
    June 30, 2019 at 5:17 pm

    Hey Mrs. Annie!

    Having a big issue and have not found an answer to my problems. I have a 2018 Jeep Wrangler JL non premium sound system with 7” screen, 4 door, I bought a custom wiring harness from LLJ Customs, the harness T’s into the back of the screen. This harness looks almost identical to the ones you have posted to use. It then connects to a LC2i lineout converter. I have replaced stock speakers out with some 4” kickers and added an amp and sub in the back. After a few months of use, out of nowhere my rear soundbar quits working. That is both speakers and tweeters. The front speakers and tweeters still work. By chance have you ran into this issue before? What would be your suggestions to fix this issue? Thank you in advance!

    Also on a side note, I disconnected the aftermarket harness and reconnected the stock harness back to the screen. The left side of the sound bar works but not the right side.

    • June 30, 2019 at 11:16 pm

      Hi Austin,
      Without taking it apart and seeing it in person, I’m not sure what’s going on. The amp you have is just for your sub? Or that is also powering the speakers? Assuming that is just for the sub and speakers getting powered off the head unit, it sounds like maybe a broken line somewhere in your speaker harness. What I would do if it was at our shop is do a basic speaker test using a battery with some speaker wire attached to it and see if I could manually probe and pop the speakers using the lines from the car radio harness in the dash. I honestly have not had a non amplified model come through our shop yet, but I know there does need to be resistors in line for the stock head unit to give you any output and the factory speakers have that resistor in line. So I would check the resistors on your aftermarket harness and make sure they are not broken. I hope that helps!

  17. Renee
    June 26, 2019 at 11:35 am


    I purchased a 2018 JL Rubicon and would like to upgradethe sound system. Everything is factory, I have no Sub or amp. I don’t want to change to the radio but would like to change speakers and add amp/sub. I don’t know where to start. Please help. thanks in-advance

    • June 27, 2019 at 8:57 am

      Hi Renee,
      If you have the non amplified basic audio system, we highly recommend upgrading the speakers, installing a high powered amp to power all the speakers and one or two subwoofers. When adding all this to the stock base sound system, we recommend using the JL Fix-86 discussed in the post. It will take the output from the factory stereo and clean it up so you have a nice flat clean pre-amp signal to work with. From there you can connect a quality aftermarket amp, speakers and sub. For more fine tune control we recommend also using some type of DSP processor (highly recommended, especially if you are bringing your Jeep to a professional car audio shop familiar with setting up and tuning DSP processors). We are a fan of the JL audio product. They have amps with the DSP built in such as their VXI series (VX 1000/5i is the 5 channel) or their stand alone Twk-88 can be used with any aftermarket amp.

      For speakers we recommend Morel Hybrid 402. They fit in factory location and can handle a lot of power. If you subscribe to my YouTube Channel, I will have a video up shortly of a build we did in a 2018 Rubicon in the next couple days. You may find it helpful.

      The problem with these vehicles (all body style Wranglers really) is you can’t just upgrade speakers and expect a huge improvement because you are still working with the limited output and sound quality of the factory radio. And at the moment, there really aren’t suitable parts just yet designed to replace the radio in this vehicle.

      Additionally, many frequencies audible at lower speeds or with the top on are largely lost when cruising along, top down in road and wind noise. To overcome all of that you need a quality audio signal that can be amplified (in JK’s we do aftermarket head unit – in JL’s we do Fix-86/DSP route), speakers that can handle a lot of power, a subwoofer (or two) and a powerful amp to push everything. The more power you have, the louder and clearer it will be. A powerful amp, along with speakers and subs that can handle it creates a sound system that can play the full range of frequencies loud enough to hear and enjoy over wind/road noise. So that is how we normally approach these vehicles.

  18. Stephen
    June 21, 2019 at 2:05 pm

    Hi Annie, I just purchased my Rubicon and it has the Alpine premium sound in it. I have the fix86 from my previous car and I was wondering if there is a harness I can plug into the factory amp’s output and input? So with my previous car I had purchased a male and female harness so I can get the speaker level in put from the factory amp’s output and would hook up aftermarket amp’s output to the factory speaker lines. Would you happen to know part number for those harnesses? Made by metra, pac, and etc?

    • June 21, 2019 at 2:52 pm

      Hi Stephen,
      If you have the Alpine premium, the Fix-86 is unnecessary. It’s a good piece of equipment, but not what you want to use in the Alpine premium sound. Would be good for someone with the basic Jeep radio non amplified (in case you want to sell it).

      You can use the Pac Audio AP4-CH41 discussed in the blog post to get your audio signal BEFORE it reaches your stock amp and is processed. The Fix-86 is designed for vehicles where you can’t do that and have to catch your signal AFTER the factory amp. The Fix-86 does a very good job summing signals and cleaning up sound, but in JL Wrangler’s with the Alpine premium sound you can use the AP4-CH41 to catch the audio signal while it’s still clean and digital. It retains warning chimes, Bluetooth, etc. The AP4-CH41 gives you a dedicated 5 volt front, rear and subwoofer pre-amp output. Also with an optional toslink adapter, you can keep signal digital if you’d like and then go into a JL Audio Twk-88 or other processor or amp with optical in and DSP such as JL Audio’s line of VXi amps.

  19. scott
    June 13, 2019 at 11:37 am

    I just bought a 2019 JL 4 door with the 7 inch screen with the base speakers. I’m looking to upgrade and found this system from Alpine. https://www.quadratec.com/p/alpine/full-sound-system-upgrade-jeep-wrangler-unlimited-jl

    I love the plug and play install concept, sounds easy enough for me to do without any experience upgrading car stereo systems. I figure, I can watch a youtube install videos and get it done.

    I don’t want to over pay but since I’m considering making the sound system upgrade I want to get quality sound.

    I don’t see any other full system upgrade kits like this Alpine that seem easy enough for a novice.

    I did read that Alpine decided not to upgrade the base main speakers stating that they are pretty good just not in the highs and lows hence why their upgrade focuses on the tweeters and subwoofer only. I have no idea if it is better to upgrade the main speakers too or not.

    Any suggestions on what I should look at for complete systems or combination of products to do an upgrade?

    Much appreciate your advice!

    • June 14, 2019 at 6:23 pm

      Hi Scott, have you been on the JL forums? There is a speaker upgrade thread on there I’ve commented a lot on there along with a lot of other folks and the consensus seems to be pretty much what I’ve stated in the article. You may find it helpful.

      Ideally you’d want to do something like the Fix-86 from JL Audio along with a quality aftermarket 5 channel amp with or without DSP control (ideally with a DSP such as JL Audio’s VXI amps with built in DSP Tun software or another high powered amp like the Alpine PDXV9 and separate DSP like the JL Audio Twk-88) and some type of subwoofer. Here’s the deal with that Alpine package. You’re spending a lot of money for easy plug and play t harnesses. Those speakers, the amp and the sub retail combined just under $600. So you’re paying $700 for easy install. IMO, you are much better taking that money and buying better quality components and going to a true professional installer familiar with the vehicle and equipment.

      For reference, there was someone on the forum who had done this upgrade and was not happy with it, he complained of speakers popping at higher volumes which is exactly what I would expect to happen if I put more power to a very basic stock 4″ driver. There are very few vehicles I would do this in, the only cars I’ve really had success in amping stock speakers are BMW’s – putting cleaner power to the stock under seat subs while upgrading the main 4″ component works. But I can’t see that package sounding like a $1300 upgrade. I just think Alpine has it priced way too high for what it is. I’m an Alpine dealer and don’t sell it, but I love selling other Alpine products where they’ve done well like the PDXV9, Type X speakers and iLX-W650.

      If you have a JL Audio dealer in your area, you may want to consider a VXI 4 channel amp, better quality speakers and the PWE-S8 subwoofer (which can be routed and audio tuned through the VXI amp). Price wise, depending on what speakers you go with and going labor rate in your area, that’s probably going to be more like a $3200 – up sound system. However, in terms of sound quality and bang for your buck, that is going to be leaps and bounds higher quality upgrade. I just have a hard time justifying paying that kind of money for the Alpine set up, I think it would make more sense if it was priced around $800-$900. That’s just a lot of money on nice connectors and brackets for $600 worth of equipment (consists of PWE-S8 – $299, KTP-445U – $169 and SPR-T10W tweeters – $119). There really are no other novice easy install systems on the market which I am sure that’s why they feel comfortable with the price, but knowing what the hard cost of each component is in that package makes it a lot harder for me to justify it.

      • mark
        June 25, 2019 at 11:33 am

        Annie, I have read your thread several times. Please help me. I have a 2018 Jeep Wrangler JL and its already been modded to fit 6 inch fosgate speakers. A 300 watt 12 inch sub enclosure with built in amp and a 4 channel fosgate amp for mids was installed. The aftermarket radio is a Kenwood DDX 9905S. I really want my factory radio back because I need my back up cam plus the air conditioner controls and steering wheel. The radio offers lots of after market features but i dont think it will ever be like it was without the factory radio. My factory was the big screen that controlled everything. Plus the new radio sticks out 4 inches more. Please be very detailed on what I can do to have my super loud system but keep my features and go back to my factory radio so I can have the cam and steering wheels controls and u-connect.

      • June 25, 2019 at 10:49 pm

        Hi Mark – sorry to hear that, kind of sounds like you should start from scratch. If you like the aftermarket head unit, you could go with the DMX7706s which just came out and is super shallow and iDatalink Maestro compatible. The Maestro would retain access to climate controls, but not the reverse camera. If you put the stock head unit back in, I would advise doing everything described in the post. I assume you had the non amplified head unit? And 2-door or 4-door?

        Assuming non amplified 4 door here is what I would do if you put the stock head unit back in. I would use the JL Audio Fix-86 which will clean up the sound quality from your factory radio and give you a nice clean front, rear and subwoofer pre-amp to work with. If you happened to have had the Alpine premium sound, put in the Pac Audio AP4-CH41 discussed in the article instead (same idea – gives you a clean front, rear and subwoofer pre-amp output with stock stereo).

        Also needed is a high powered, quality amp preferably with DSP controls which can be set up by someone familiar with the product. Something like the VX800/8i bridged to the speakers to push out 200 watts RMS x 4, that would be plenty of power. These digital amps have a pre-out which can be assigned to a subwoofer amp so if you wanted to keep your existing amp you could, but 300 watts does not sound like enough. If budget allows, I would recommend something like the XD600/1 and both JL Audio stealth boxes. Since you’ve already modified for larger speakers, you can put in anything that will handle a good amount of power. We like the Morel Hybrid series, but we also sell a ton of their Maximo Ultra series which are amazing speakers for the money and they handle 90 watts RMS. We cruise around in our JLU with the top down all summer long cranking our stereo. We have the Morel Hybrid speakers, both stealth boxes, VX 1000/5i amp and another amp for the rears (our older PDXV9 which we use for the rears and occasionally we throw in our old sub too for even more bass) so we are essentially pushing out 200 x 4 RMS to the interiors and 600 x 1 RMS to the subs.

        I am working on a video of a build we just did in a JLU with all the same stuff, will have up on YouTube on my CarStereoChick channel in a couple days (hopefully, just some more minor editing to do). You may find helpful.

  20. John
    June 11, 2019 at 6:06 pm

    2019 4 door Wrangler Rubicon with 8.4” Premium System. Is the 12 channel amp that comes in this system a high quality amp that needs a dsp, or should the amp be replaced. Looking to use Morel 4” Hybrids front and rear. Also, what about the quality of the 10” sub that comes in the Premium System, does it need to be replaced?

    • June 12, 2019 at 10:54 am

      Hi John, we do this every day so I doubt we could ever live with a stock premium sound system and ever be happy with it. It’s probably better than the previous Jeep premium sound system, but it’s still just a stock premium sound system, it’s nothing special or fancy in terms of quality of the amp or speakers.

      We replace the stock amp in the premium models using the Pac Audio pre-amp adapter described in the article. The JL Audio VXI amps with built in DSP are popular, but not quite as much power output as something like the Alpine PDXV9 which we had in our last Jeep and what I have in my 2-door 2014 Wrangler and am totally happy with in terms of quality and output. The PDXV9 could then be combined with a separate processor like the Twk-88. It depends on how loud and clear you like it and how much control you want over the sound. We like it loud with the top down and we like having different EQ presets such as one for driver only, driver and passenger and then same thing for top up vs top down. So we currently have in our own 2019 Wrangler 4 door MOAB:

      -Pac Audio AP4-CH41 pre-amp adapter
      -Pac Audio toslink adapter APA-TOS1 (keep signal digital to aftermarket amp/processor)
      -JL Audio VX 1000/5i (75 watts x 4 plus 600 x 1) running front speakers and subs with DRC-205 control knob (to change presets and sub level control)
      -JL AUdio XD 200/2 (75 watts x 2 (running rear speakers)
      -JL Audio Stealth boxes (driver and passenger side)

      If you are looking to do your upgrade in phases you could potentially replace the speakers first, but you’ll never get the full potential of those Morel speakers until you replace the amp. You may be able to get away with re-using the stock sub and just putting cleaner power to it with an aftermarket amp, we have done that too, but it’s just a very boomy enclosure, not very tight or punchy so that would not be my first choice.

  21. alan
    June 2, 2019 at 5:48 pm

    Hi Annie. I see lots of info regarding 4-door JLs, but not so much for the 2-door. Can you point me in the right direction? I have the 7″ uConnect 4 and am willing to replace everything.

    • June 6, 2019 at 3:56 pm

      Hi Alan, we haven’t had a 2-door come through the shop yet, but as soon as we do I will be sure to update the post 😉

  22. John-Patrick
    June 1, 2019 at 10:07 pm

    Thank you for such a comprehensive write-up! I have the 12ch Alpine system, and I’m looking for a speaker wire harness that will allow me to unplug the speaker wire plug from the factory amp, and connect a harness to that bundle run from my amp under the seat. I’m looking to keep the little factory amps in place so I can more easily revert to stock if needed. Is there such an amp bypass adapter that you know of? I actually got the PAC APH-CH01 AmpPro Harness, but it’s not looking like it’s the right one.

    Basically looking to do this>
    Headunit>AMP Pro 4>TOSLINK>VX800/8i>speakerwire to harness>to unplugged factry amp speaker output wiring.

    -Thank you

    • June 6, 2019 at 3:55 pm

      Hi John-Patrick,
      I know what you’re looking for, but I am not aware of anything on the market just yet. And you’re correct, that APH-CH01 is only compatible with the previous JK body style and it looks like the 2018 2-door JL, but not the 4 door (I’m assuming yours is the 4-door, I had made the same error when ordering parts for our car and when I drilled down saw it wasn’t listed for the JLU). To keep it clean you may want to consider using bullet style crimp connectors where you break the connection so you can easily reconnect everything if you sell the car and need to go back to stock.

      • John-Patrick
        August 14, 2019 at 9:15 pm

        This is becoming a HUGE pita. I’ve got 2 serious problems.

        Running PAC AmpPro AP4-CH41 (firmware updated and replaced once) w/toslink, to the JL hub (though the problem also is present without it).

        1. I understand that the toslink inputs don’t have an input sensitivity control of any sort in the TuN software, but frankly the default setting of “7” on the RCA inputs, results in an output to the speakers that is every bit of 30dB difference. Unless I happened to receive two different VXi amps that are defective in precisely the same way, this is a ridiculous design oversight. I get that the very nature of toslink is not as “hot” of an input. It’s not an incorrect setting, it’s not 1 sub 180 out of phase, it’s not the source. 3 different toslink cables, and I replaced my PAC AmpPro 4, and toslink adapter. This situation was also duplicated using a home AV receiver with optical vs rca. The same results from using a tv with optical and rca. (yes, I drug a damn av receiver and freaking 50″ television out to my Jeep to test this craziness.

        I got the Wrangler with the “premium” 12ch system. I opt’d to remove the factory Alpine sub, and replace it with two 4 ohm JL stealth boxes. While I setup the VX1000/1i on the 2 10’s, I temporarily left the factory mid amp (about the size of a paperback book) running the two pair of 3.5″s and two pair of 4″ speakers. To give this some perspective, with ALL settings in TuN maximizing any output to the subs, the output is nowhere near what one would expect. 2 10’s, on a 1000w JL amp, using optical input, can’t provide even a proportional output along side a tiny factory amp driving mids and tweets.

        I set up 2 identical presets in TuN, with one difference…preset 1 is S/PDIF input only, preset 2 is analog only. I’ve got tone generating software , but it figures….atm I don’t have a spare 9v battery for the one dead in my multimeter to actually meter the output voltage. I did try to record a video on my phone. At a steady 40hz, I set the volume on my head unit to 7 out of 35. The optical only preset could barely be heard in the recording. Switching to the analog only preset, the output was so loud, that my phone mic cut it out. It’s a massive difference. Preset 1 – barely heard, preset 2 – getting pulled over for noise disturbance. I seriously can’t understate the difference.

        I did hook up the VX800/8i just to see what it does, and got the same result. I am actually hoping these amps are defective, because if they’re not, then this is an unacceptable failure in design that’s being ignored.

        2. I went ahead and hooked up the VX800/8i to the mids/highs, using only optical and it all sounds terrible. when I turn the volume up, the speakers distort like one wouldn’t believe. I thought maybe it was because I hadn’t yet replaced the factory alpines….Replaced everything with JL C2’s, same problem. I wonder if this is a problem with Active Noise Canceling. Did you have any issues like this?

        Anyone seen this? Please help me God.

      • August 15, 2019 at 11:33 am

        Hi John-Patrick,
        I’m sorry to hear this is turning into such a headache for you, I hope to give you some pointers that can help! We have used that PAC adapter in a lot of vehicles aside from the Wrangler JL/JLU’s and never had a bad one or bad toslink adapter, so I agree it sounds like your issues are related to the amp OR possibly, maybe the hub. That is one part we have not used yet! Have you tried running Toslink out to the 8 channel and then daisy chain your sub amp through the analog output of the 8 channel? Just to see if it has anything to do with the hub. I wasn’t sure if that’s what you meant when you said you tried it with the stock amp for the mid’s and high’s and the VXi amp for the sub.

        We agree the default output level on RCA is too high and optical is too low on these amps, but with the Tun software, we were able to adjust this so that it was not such a dramatic difference. In fact, we ended up doing a mix in our own vehicle on one of our presets where we are using analog out from the PAC adapter just for the sub and Toslink for the front and rear. To do this, we did turn the input level on Toslink all the way to 12 on the final page of set up and turned the analog input down to get a nice blend. We are not experiencing a 30dB difference. We have the Vx1000/5i running our front Morel Hybrid components and two JL stealthboxes 4 ohm each and our old PDXV9, part of it, is being used to run our rears.

        Have you called JL tech support? I don’t know what your crossover points are on the speakers and some of this may have to do with the quality of speakers you are using. Are you using the 8 channel for each individual speaker? We originally set ours up this way, but found it sounded better when we bridged it and used the crossover that came with our Morel speakers.

        What we did, and what we would recommend in your set up with that amp, is to bridge the amp so you are running it as 200 watts x 4 RMS to some component speakers that can handle serious power. The key in ANY good Wrangler stereo regardless of body style is having a good clean source, speakers that can handle a lot of power, a sub to fill in the low end and a lot of power to push all the components so you can easily overcome road/wind noise.

        Also – please keep in mind, the C2’s are really not what we recommend for these vehicles. They are very entry level basic low power handling speakers and for the life of me, I don’t understand why so many people are putting them in their Jeeps other than the fact that they fit relatively easily. The 3.5″ is rated at 25 watts RMS and 83 dB efficiency and the 4″ is rated at 35 watts RMS and 84.5 dB efficiency. Compare to the Morel Hybrid rated at 89 dB and 100 watts RMS. Since the output is higher on analog, you can keep the gains lower, so they probably sound decent on analog, but with digital, you have the gains all the way up and those speakers are just not designed for that much power. But I understand you have to turn it up to get the output level closer to analog. For reference, I use those sized JL C2 speakers rarely in our shop and when I do it’s typically in an older vehicle like an older Mercedes, GM truck or Toyota truck/SUV (like from the 1980’s) where the stock speakers have just dry rotted and we need to replace them with something that fits. They can usually do okay with head unit power or a small amp, usually we don’t go with anything more than 45 watts RMS on those speakers.

        I do think JL may be able to address the output level difference with a software update, because we have noticed it doesn’t seem to be as dramatic a difference with the Twk-88 on its own, but only when in the VXi amps. Having said that, it really hasn’t been a show stopper for us, more of something we address in tuning so I’m thinking if you really want to use Toslink and get the full potential, you’d have to bridge it like we did and go with components that can handle high power. Or maybe there is something going on the with hub that is effecting output levels. OR if you really just want to run the C2’s, leave it on each individual channel and run it analog.

        But if you’re getting tired of messing around with it, since you already have the C2 speakers installed, I would recommend running it analog on each individual channel unless you feel like upgrading to something like the Morel Hybrid 402’s and bridging the amp to run it at 200 x 4 RMS. I hope that is somehow helpful. Let me know if you tested with and without the hub.

  23. Markeith
    May 29, 2019 at 9:17 pm

    Will utilizing the Pac Audio AP4-CH41 Pre-Amp adapter still allow full functionality of the 8.4 Uconnect headunit? Wondering if the phone connections and mic will still be routed to the correct location.

    • May 30, 2019 at 8:35 pm

      Absolutely, retains full functionality, no issues. I annoy my husband all the time when I call him when he’s listening to his stereo, but he can hear me and I can hear him loud and clear just like factory. Phone calls, warning chimes, reverse sensors, etc. all work exactly as they did before. The only thing I think you might lose (and I haven’t even checked because we’re doing everything through the JL Audio Twk software) is you might not have fader control. I will double check.

    • May 30, 2019 at 8:54 pm

      Okay, talked with hubby John, fader control depends on how you use the AP4-CH41. If you use it as it and keep it analog and use the front, rear and subwoofer 5 volt pre-amp, you will still have fader control. But if you keep it digital (cleaner sound) with the toslink adapter then you lose fader control, but still have balance. That’s really the only difference.

  24. Scott
    May 18, 2019 at 3:15 pm

    I had a few questions about using the Morel Hybrid speakers. I have a 2018 JLU Wrangler Sport with the base audio system and 5″ Uconnect3 head unit.

    1) Hybrid 402 vs. 502/602:
    You mentioned that you did one install with 6.5″ components, but that it was a lot of work to make the necessary modifications. Would the 5.25″ components be significantly easier, or would it really be almost as much work? The larger Morel Hybrid drivers would increase power handling and frequency response over the 402s, but would it be worth it? There’s not a huge difference in speaker price going up to the larger drivers.

    2) Active vs passive crossovers:
    I’m seriously considering just disconnecting the rear sound bar rather than upgrading the back speakers. This gives me a couple options for the front. One option would be to stick with the Morel passive crossovers and bridge the amp to provide more power to the speakers — especially if I ended up going with the larger drivers. The other option would be to use the TWK-88 (which I plan on using in any case) as a crossover and power the front components with four channels. That would give the DSP some more flexibility in terms of time alignment for the tweeters vs. the mid range. Would I be able to save some money by buying the individual Morel Hybrid woofer and tweeters over the component set, or would it really cost about the same, since sometimes the sets provide a discount over full price for individual drivers? Is there a good reason to favor one choice over another here?

    3) Hybrid vs. Elate Titanium:
    Compared to the Hybrid 502, the Elate 502 is a huge jump in price (close to double), but it wouldn’t cost any more than two sets of Hybrid 402 components for front and rear. I probably wouldn’t want to spend the extra money, but do you have any experience with the Elate series? If I’m not buying the crossovers, that might also reduce the price for getting a set of Elates.

    • May 24, 2019 at 4:10 pm

      Hi Scott,
      That’s a lot of questions, all very good ones.

      1) Hybrid 402 vs 502/602. I kind of want to answer this one after we RTA our JLU. We have the Hybrid 402’s, passive crossovers, 5 channel amp (100 x 4 and 500 x 1) and JL Audio 12W6 in a custom downfiring enclosure with a passive radiator. It sounds great, but maybe I am biased so I am curious to see how it compares to the RTA of a similar set up with the 6.5″ drivers. On paper – when properly installed and set up you should not be missing anything especially considering you would be using the TWK-88 to set time correction and possibly crossover points. Either way to go up to a 5.25″ or 6.5″ you’re essentially shaving off the top of the speaker enclosure and fabricating a new top to house the larger speaker. Depending on magnet size, maybe with a different series speakers it might be easier with a 5.25″, maybe you could just dremmel it out rather than do this. From a power handling perspective – 402’s rated at 100 RMS, 502’s rated at 120 and 602’s rated at 140. So if you have an amp that can put out 150 per channel, yeah better off doing the extra work so you can utilize full power potential.

      2) Active vs passive: always nicer to have control over individual drivers. In all my previous vehicles (2003 & 2006 Jetta GLI, 2008 & 2011 BMW 3 series) I never included rear fill, I preferred to run active and with time alignment I never missed the rears. In my 2014 Wrangler, I actually really like the rear fill, I think because it’s not really from behind me but above me, I feel like it does add to the listening experience especially when the top is down or sun rider open. Personal preference there. With the Twk-88 you could always add a 2-channel amp and some rear fill later on, you’ve got 8 channels so you could run active tweeter and mid in front, a coaxial in sound bar (or passive crossover with component) and sub and still have full control of every channel. I don’t think it would be cheaper to buy the mid’s and tweeters separately unless you go with Elate’s. Hybrid 402 woofer pair retails for $409, MT-230 tweeters pair retail for $349, but in the Elate line they specifically offer minus crossover for $200 less.

      3) Hybrid vs Elate – I agree it’s a huge price jump. I explained it to another client this way. It’s like double the price, but not necessarily double the performance. Definitely more refined, clearer and warmer. If you can swing it, it is nice, but not exactly twice as nice. I’ve had a few customers go for Elate and not one of them ever said to me gee I wished I saved the extra money and went with the Hybrid’s. They were happy.

  25. Derrick Andrews
    May 16, 2019 at 4:28 pm

    Would love to know if there are any updates yet on aftermarket decks and mounts for the JL’s?

    • May 17, 2019 at 1:56 pm

      Hi Derrick – nothing yet from Metra, BUT, I’m pretty sure something could be fabricated using the stock 7″ trim ring and an aftermarket radio mounting sleeve like the Pioneer ADTVA-133 and possibly some thin ABS plastic. Also – I just learned this today and super excited about it. I mentioned Pioneer’s new hideaway style units would be compatible, but Kenwood’s new DMX7706s and DMX706s are going to feature a super shallow chassis like the Alpine iLX-W650 AND they are iDatalink Maestro compatible so that is probably going to be my go to choice for a radio replacement in these vehicles. Those models are shipping end of this month. Only thing we’ll be waiting on at that point is iDatalink to retain the reverse camera. They are currently working on it, but no ETA at the moment. I’m sure it’s a priority because these vehicles are so popular.

      • chris
        June 25, 2019 at 5:38 pm

        I just got my new JL and the sound is horrible… base system with the 5.0…. so I dont even want to retain that since no apple car play. I just wanted to say thank you for this article and all the info, I will keep checking back for more info on replacing the Head unit. It has been a long time since I have installed any stereo stuff, but it looks like some custom work needs to be done to make wranglers sound decent.

        In the installs you have done with the stock speaker sizes, have the 4″ been good enough output when paired to a sub since that can handle the lows that the smaller speakers just cant do well?

      • June 25, 2019 at 10:52 pm

        Hi Chris,
        You’re quite welcome, thanks for reading and commenting. To answer your question, as long as you have a good amount of power going to the speakers and speakers that can handle it, it sounds great – we have since upped ours to 200 x 4 RMS to the interiors and 600 x 1 to the subs and we put in both JL stealth boxes. Sounds great. As far as aftermarket head units go, the new Kenwood DMX7706s is definitely shallow enough to fit and is Maestro compatible, but they still don’t have the camera figured out yet.

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