2021 F-150 Stereo upgrade

2021 Ford F-150 stereo upgrade

Beautiful truck with a sub par stock stereo

This week in the shop we performed a complete stereo upgrade in a client’s 2021 Ford F-150. This client’s truck came equipped with the factory “premium” stereo which features a gorgeous 12″ infotainment screen and Bang & Olufsen stereo system.

2021 Ford F-150 stereo upgrade - 12" Infotainment with B & O stereo
2021 Ford F-150 stereo upgrade – 12″ Infotainment with B&O stereo

Nearly everything about this truck is absolutely stunning. Ford did a phenomenal job with the overall design and functionality. The detailed cabin touches manage to exude luxury and practicality at the same time which is not an easy feat to pull off.

2021 F-150 Stereo Upgrade – Tailgate illumination

One of my favorite features about the truck is the bed. From the super bright light by the reverse camera, to the built-in phone holder, convenient inlaid ruler and discreet bottle opener – the back of this truck is like a swiss army knife on steroids. Yet, despite all of it’s luxuries, the B&O stereo still leaves much to be desired.

How to upgrade the stereo in your 2021 F-150 without looking like you upgraded the stereo

When our client reached out to us about upgrading the sound, I immediately thought of using a pre-amp adapter – either from PAC Audio, NAV-TV, Maestro or Mobridge. Pre-amp adapters are a growing category of parts that enable us to install complete aftermarket audio systems that are integrated with factory infotainment systems. We can install aftermarket amps, speakers and subs, without sacrificing sound quality through a line output converter.

Most newer vehicles are equipped with the kind of radio that you realy can’t just replace even if you wanted to. But look at that screen, why would you want to change that? The radio is essentially part of the computer network in the vehicle.

Digital Pre-amp adapter

This is how it works – there is a digital signal coming from the factory radio. You plug in your smart phone. It reads the data and sends all that data as one’s and zero’s to the stock amp. At that stock amp is where the sound is actually converted from digital to analog. It’s then fed to the stock speakers.

Ford F-150 stereo upgrade - B&O has got to go
Ford F-150 stereo upgrade – B&O has got to go

And that stock amp is unlike any typical aftermarket amplifier. It has numerous channels on it to power each individual speaker. Each channel has a very specific frequency range designated for its corresponding speaker. If you wanted to tack on an amp after it, you’d first have to sum all of the frequencies and then use a DSP to clean up the signal. Even still, you’d be double processing at that point which is far from ideal.

What’s the weak link?

That stock amp is the weak link in the chain. So how do you bypass it? A pre-amp adapter can interrupt that signal from the factory radio while it’s still digital, before it’s been processed by the stock amp. By interrupting it before it’s been processed, it takes that digital signal and converts it into a clean RCA pre-amp output that can then be fed to aftermarket amps and speakers. The end result is an aftermarket stereo that integrates with the OEM operating system and by all appearances retains the stock esthetics. All warning chimes, vehicle information and audio controls are retained seamlessly. In this application the stock amp is removed completely and the pre-amp adapter and aftermarket amps take its place.

NAV TV – NTV-KIT889 ZEN A2B

Quality components

Initially, I wanted to use the Mobridge Pro A2B because it offers some additional fine tune control. Unfortunately we experienced a few compatibility issues with that module in this car. For this particular install we used the Nav-TV NTV-KIT889 which worked flawlessly.

2021 F-150 stereo upgrade - JL Audio amps
2021 F-150 stereo upgrade – JL Audio amps

With a clean pre-amp level signal to work with, we installed higher quality aftermarket Focal Flax series speakers, two JL Audio amplifiers and two JL Audio 10″ subwoofers. In order to maximize the clients usable space, we installed the amps behind the existing under seat storage tray area. Behind the rear seats, we installed an MTI double 10″ subwoofer enclosure.

2021 F-150 stereo upgrade - MTI double 10" enclosure behind the rear seats
2021 F-150 stereo upgrade – MTI double 10″ enclosure behind the rear seats

It’s definitely a tight fit for the two JL Audio 10″ TW3 subwoofers. It did require some modification to the existing carpet behind the rear seat. In fact, it’s such a tight fit, we couldn’t even use speaker grilles with this enclosure. Yet, as you can see, it’s fully functional. With the rear seats in their upright position, you’d never know there were two amps and two 10″ subs in there – that is until you cranked up the stereo of course.

2021 F-150 stereo upgrade - stealth install - hidden amps and 10" subs.
2021 F-150 stereo upgrade – stealth install – hidden amps and 10″ subs.

Hear your music like you’ve never heard it before

The end result is the client is now experiencing their music in an entirely new way – as if hearing it for the first time. Details and nuances previously unnoticed are now present in songs they’ve listened to countless times before. Great sound doesn’t have to be complicated. The key is to use the right parts for the application, execute the installation properly followed by a professional tuning. If you’re interested in upgrading the stereo in your truck, call/text, email or visit our showroom today.

Attempting yourself? Here are the components used in this build.

Remote Bass Knob - 2021 Ford F-150 stereo upgrade
Remote Bass Knob – 2021 Ford F-150 stereo upgrade

For the do-it-yourselfers out there, here’s a handy list of components used in this build:

As technology on the OEM side progresses, our industry is staying on top of it with state of the art components designed to integrate with a vehicles advanced electronic system. The end result is clear, vibrant, detailed and punchy aftermarket sound all while retaining the OEM appearance and functionality. Have you upgraded the stereo in your Ford F-150? What components did you use?

2021 Ford F-150 Stereo Upgrade
2021 Ford F-150 Stereo Upgrade