2018+ Jeep Wrangler JL Stereo Upgrade

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

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 11-25-19 – Metra has announced new 6.5″ pods – the JP-1014 which will allow a 6.5″ component to be mounted in the front speaker location.

2018 up Jeep Wrangler JL JLU 6.5 Speaker Pods by Metra JP-1014
2018 up Jeep Wrangler JL JLU 6.5 Speaker Pods by Metra JP-1014

Additionally, SSV Works has announced a sound bar retrofit for 6.5″ rear components or coaxials.

SSC Works Wrangler JL, JLU ,JT rear 6.5" speaker adapters
SSV Works Wrangler JL, JLU ,JT rear 6.5″ speaker adapters

Lastly, TLC Auto Truck is making some really nice upright tweeter pods which will really help the sound stage. I always preferred the upright tweeter location in my 2014 Wrangler over the flat dash design aimed up at the glass.

TLC Autotruck Wrangler JL/JLU/JT Tweeter Pods
TLC Autotruck Wrangler JL/JLU/JT Tweeter Pods available for pre-order.

These aftermarket 6.5″ speaker adapters greatly open up your speaker replacement options for your Wrangler JL/JLU and are highly recommended for the best sound.

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).

Update 11-25-19: SSV Works has available a 10″ enclosure – available with or without a subwoofer at a more budget friendly price. This is a great alternative over the JL Audio Stealthbox.

SSV works Wrangler JLU subwoofer
SSV works Wrangler JLU subwoofer starting at $279.95 without enclosure plus shipping.

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.

Update 11-25-19 – It has come to my attention that Scosche has made a dash installation kit for this vehicle which also replaces the climate control panel and hazard button.

Scosche ITCCR05B JL Wrangler Dash kit
Scosche ITCCR05B JL Wrangler Dash kit

The new HVAC controls on this dash kit are all touch screen controlled. This is a $650 dash kit according to Quadratec. It also looks an awful lot like the Scosche Lexus LS2151B dash kit we installed for a customer a few years ago which came with the same style touch sensitive hazard button that goes off at all times of the day by itself. Due to the horrible experience I had with that dash kit (and Scosche’s response which was basically to throw their hands up and say sorry, nothing we can do) I cannot recommend this dash kit. It’s too bad they don’t sell the bezel by itself.

Alpine X409-WRA-JL
Alpine X409-WRA-JL

Lastly, if you have the dough to drop, check out Alpine’s X409-WRA-JL which is currently available for pre-order and provides a 9″ weather resistant touch screen with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, built in GPS (with off road mode) – this stereo retains the HVAC display, factory reverse camera and steering wheel controls.

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.

Mercedes CLS 63 AMG – K40 and Stealth Custom Sub Install

Mercedes CLS 63 K40 and Stealth Custom Subwoofer

Meticlous Install for a Meticulous Driver

Mercedes CLS 63 K40 and Stealth Custom Subwoofer
In the shop this week – Mercedes CLS 63 – Stealth K40 Radar Detector and Stealth Custom Subwoofer

This week in the shop we had the pleasure of working on a client’s 2014 Mercedes CLS AMG. For this vehicle, our task was to install both a K40 radar and laser system as well as fabricate a stealth custom subwoofer enclosure. We had previously installed a JL Audio amp and subwoofer over the Winter, however the enclosure was pretty big and took up a large portion of the trunk. Like most consumers, this client wanted the benefits of an amp and sub, but he didn’t really want to see it.

K40 radar and laser systems are usually pretty stealth as it is, but for this particular Mercedes we took integration and stealthiness to the next level by installing a Mid City Engineering K40 instrument cluster interface. This interface eliminates the need for the K40 LED indicator lights and instead displays warnings in the instrument cluster of the vehicle.

Aside from the K40 system and stealth custom sub install, we had one other task to accomplish. We planned to do a frequency sweep to investigate an inherent rattle that was baffling Mercedes engineers. Prior to us working on this vehicle, the client had been experiencing an annoying and inconsistent rattle coming from the rear shelf. After several failed attempts to identify and eliminate this rattle, the dealership called in Mercedes engineers who also failed to identify and repair the problem. A frequency sweep would be the easiest way to reproduce the rattle, identify where it was coming from and then repair it.

John focused on the K40 installation first. We sell and install and lot of K40 systems at our shop. There are several combined reasons for why we love the K40 systems.

  • Performance
  • Reliability (Funny side story – I can’t remember the last time I had a defective K40 product – On the other hand I sent out an Escort system for repair back in December. Turn around time for Escort is usually 6-8 weeks. This time they lost the parts and kept giving me the run around every time I tried to follow up. I finally just received it this week only to find out they sent back the wrong laser shifters. Consider reliability and customer service when choosing your Radar system.)
  • Discreetness

Exterior discreetness will be the same from brand to brand as most companies have radar receivers that can be hidden behind bumpers and laser shifters that are small enough to be blended into the vehicle’s front grill.

Mercedes CLS 63 AMG K40 Laser Install
Mercedes CLS 63 AMG K40 Laser Install

When you step back from the vehicle you really can’t see the left and right laser shifters. They really kind of blend into the front grill.

Mercedes CLS AMG Stealth Custom Sub Install and K40 Cluster Interface
Mercedes CLS AMG Stealth Radar Laser Install with K40 Cluster Interface

The coolest part about this install is what you see inside. Normally with K40 you have two small LED indicator lights as your display. One indicates for front, one indicates for rear. Additionally, there is a hidden speaker that announces the alerts and a wireless remote control to change settings and turn the system on and off. For an even more discreet and integrated installation, we installed a Mid City Engineering K40 instrument cluster interface. Check out how freaking cool this is.

K40 Mercedes Insturment Cluster Interface
K40 Mercedes Instrument Cluster Interface

No LED’s are needed with this setup, your display is right in front of you integrated into your factory instrument cluster. Mid City Engineering has a few different models listed on their website, but give them a call if you don’t see your application listed.

Mercedes CLS AMG Stealth Sub
Mercedes CLS AMG Stealth Sub – Factory Trunk Appearance

Check out this trunk. Would you believe we’ve got a 12″ W6V3 subwoofer enclosure in there?

Mercedes CLS AMG Stealth Custom Sub Install
Mercedes CLS AMG Stealth Custom Sub Install

Looks pretty stock, right?

Mercedes CLS AMG Stealth Custom Sub Install
Mercedes CLS AMG Stealth Custom Sub Install

Disclaimer – We did sacrifice the inflate a spare to accomplish this.

Mercedes CLS AMG Stealth Custom Sub Install
Mercedes CLS AMG Stealth Custom Sub Install

John built a down-firing sealed enclosure for the 12W6V3 and remade the entire trunk floor as it needed to be raised up 3/4″. He removed the factory hardware from the original trunk-liner and attached it to his newly fabricated trunk-liner.

Mercedes CLS AMG Stealth Custom Sub Install
Mercedes CLS AMG Stealth Custom Sub Install

He also dynamatted the entire trunk well while he was in there.

Mercedes CLS AMG Stealth Custom Sub Install
Mercedes CLS AMG Stealth Custom Sub Install

The JL symbol on the top of the box is a foam inlay he made before carpeting the enclosure. Whenever adding an amp and subwoofer to a factory installed audio system, it’s always a good idea to install a bass knob or subwoofer control knob. In this particular vehicle, John mounted it towards the bottom left side of the driver’s seat panel. It’s discreet, yet easy to access.

Bass Knob Location - Mercedes CLS AMG Stealth Custom Sub Install
Bass Knob Location – Mercedes CLS AMG Stealth Custom Sub Install

To identify the rattle that eluded Mercedes engineers, John played a frequency sweep and then listened and located the rattle in the rear shelf. The culprit was a control box mounted on top of the deck lid bolted from the bottom. Even though it was securely mounted, it needed sound dampening material underneath it.

This was a thorough and meticulous installation designed to be discreet without sacrificing performance. This vehicle now sounds fantastic and has the added benefit of radar and laser protection, yet you’d never know it from appearances. If you’re in the vicinity of Brookfield, CT (Fairfield County) and in need of a polished and discreet installation for your vehicle, contact us today to see what options are available.


JL Audio CES 2015

JL Audio CES 2015

JL Audio reveals several new model amplifiers, powered subwoofers and hints at new processor at CES 2015

While attending CES 2015 I paid a visit to JL Audio over at the Palms Casino Resort and Hotel.  I have to thank JL Audio for staying out of the crowded and noisy convention center and allowing their dealers a much more intimate setting to display and explain new and developing products.  JL Audio knows it’s all about quality, not quantity.  This is at their core in everything they do.  You can see that reflected in their product, their marketing approach and even in how they show their dealers their new products.

JL Audio CES 2015
JL Audio CES 2015

Check out the view from the 32nd floor suite.  What’s that in the middle of the pool, you ask?  What you see pictured in the center are the two new amplifiers I mentioned in a previous post.  The HX280/4 and HX300/1 – offered in both Black and White (Car/Power Sport or Marine).  The HX280/4 is a 4 channel amp producing 50 watts x 4 RMS at 4 ohms.  The HX300/1 is a mono producing 300 watts x 1 at 2 ohms.  Both models have received IPX6 water resistant ratings.  Having heard and seen these amplifiers in person, I can tell you they absolutely pass the water proof test.

JL Audio CES 2015 new amplifiers HX 300/4 and HX 280/4
JL Audio CES 2015 – New amplifiers HX 300/4 and HX 280/4 still going strong after playing under running water for 4 days.

Here is a close up view.  By the time I saw and heard these amplifiers, water had been pouring over them for days and they continued to play without issue.  What you can’t see or hear is that these amps were actually wired up and playing in this condition.  Off to the right and left of the pool were a couple JL Audio Marine speakers and subwoofers which were playing loud and clear.  These new JL Audio amplifiers revealed at CES 2015 are a no brainer for Marine applications as well as Motorcycles, Power Sports, Jeep Wranglers and other ATV style vehicles – even a golf cart.  Technically they’re not waterproof, they’re water resistant.  But I’d say they’re pretty freaking resistant.

JL Audio reveals several new Amplified Microsub models and new Marine speakers and subwoofers during CES 2015

Aside from some really cool new amplifiers, JL Audio also announced several new amplified Microsub enclosures.  I am so excited to see these new amplified subwoofer options from JL Audio.  They’ve taken their existing successful Mircosub design and have imbedded a powerful, efficient amplifier to drive these enclosures.  In order to increase efficiency, they have dropped the impedance on these subs to something like .6 ohms.  The amplifier is designed specifically to work with this very low impedance, much like a Bose amplifier and speaker combo works.  JL Audio claims these new amplifiers have an efficiency close to 96% which is pretty rare in car audio and quite impressive.

JL Audio Amplified Microsub
JL Audio Amplified Microsub

Here is a side view of one of these new amplified Mircosub enclosures.  You can see there is a high level input or RCA and remote bass knob is optional. They will be offered in 8″, 10″ and 12″ style enclosures.  I believe there will also be a dual 8″ option as well.

JL Audio Amplified Microsub Enclosures
JL Audio Amplified Microsub Enclosures

These new JL Audio amplifiers are rated at an impressive 400 watts RMS.  The enclosures will be offered in both sealed and ported varieties.  Additional upgrades to the JL Audio line include a new 12″ Marine subwoofer and cosmetic upgrades to their existing Marine speaker line.

JL Audio 12" Marine Subwoofer
JL Audio 12″ Marine Subwoofer

The new line of JL Audio Marine speakers will be offered with cool blue LED lighting.  JL Audio currently offers their Marine products in several grill styles in either Classic White or Titanium Gray.  This year they will also be offering their speakers in a Chrome finish.  At the moment Blue will be the only color choice for accent lighting.

New JL Audio Marine Speakers with LED Lighting
New JL Audio Marine Speakers with LED Lighting

JL Audio has also partnered up with Kody over at VooDoo Bikeworks from Phoenix, Arizona who is fabricating enclosures for various motorcycle applications specifically designed to house JL Audio Marine speakers.  Kody had a bike on display which was not only visually impressive, but audibly impressive.  Kody even designs and sells Fairings designed to house 8.8″ speakers and a double din head unit.  The best part about his designs are that they maintain existing storage space.

JL Audio Marine Speakers installed on Bike
JL Audio Marine Speakers installed on Bike

JL Audio hints at a new processor in the works – no photos allowed

I’m not sure how much JL Audio wants me to say on this subject as they quickly stopped me from taking photos of some interesting prototypes they were demonstrating, but I have to mention it.  The JL Audio Cleansweep has been a reliable and successful processor for OEM integration for more than a decade.  However, there is no denying that OEM audio systems have become much more complex and sometimes require summing signals from more than 3 audio signals and additional manipulation and equalization.  These are things you just can’t do with the Cleansweep.

Thankfully, JL Audio is working on two new products that will solve this problem: the Fix and the Twk (pronounced Tweak).  The Fix will address an issue that all other processors on the market do not seem to address.  It will account for and correct factory time correction before auto equalization which will allow for an even cleaner signal than ever before.  Additionally, it will have 4 channel summing built in.  For additional equalization control, the Twk can be added.  The Twk adds 8 analog inputs and 2 optical inputs, 10 band equalization adjustable separately for left and right channels.  It will have multiple EQ preset options for various driver preferences and driving scenarios.  You know what it’s really going to do?  It will give Audison’s Bit One and Alpine’s PXA-H800 Processor a run for their money.  JL Audio is still in the process of developing the product and software at this point.  JL Audio probably has at least another 9 months to a year in development.  Details on pricing have not been released yet, but I’ve been told by we will all be pleasantly surprised.

Shout out to my lovely assistants

Attending CES and writing about it is quite a bit of work and usually requires a team effort.  Traditionally, my lovely assistant at CES is always my hubby John.  This year however, hubby had to stay back home in Connecticut and keep the shop open (and care for our cats) while I attended the show.  I am grateful to John for his sacrifice because I know running the shop and caring for the cats is a LOT of work for one person.  His willingness to do so afforded me the wonderful opportunity to take my Dad along instead.  My Dad had never been to Las Vegas before and he’ll be turning 69 January 12th.  I don’t get to spend a lot of time with my Dad, especially just the two of us.  What better birthday present is there?

Car Stereo Chick with her Dad
Car Stereo Chick with her Creative Assistant, aka Dad

This CES was incredibly special to me and I am so thankful for the opportunity.  The last time I spent this kind of time with my Dad was when I was a little girl, maybe 5 or 6 years old when he was called in to work on Saturdays and I tagged along.  This time around I got to bring him to work and it was an absolute blast.  So thank you John for supporting me back home while I was away on this trip.  And thank you Dad for being my lovely assistant – I hope you had the best birthday ever.

Car Stereo Chick is getting ready for CES 2015

Car Stereo Chick is going to CES 2015

Christmas is over and the new year is here – CES 2015 is next.

When Christmas is over and the new year is here that can only mean one thing for Car Stereo Chick.  The shop is booked with plenty of work and the consumer electronics show is only days away.  It’s time to get ready for CES 2015!  I’ll only be there for two days so I’ve narrowed down which brands I’ll be focusing on and what information I will be seeking.

Alpine CES 2015

Alpine will be my 1st stop during CES 2015.  Alpine will be revealing several new applications for their 9” truck and SUV AVN system including – get ready for it –  Dodge Ram, Toyota Tundra and JEEP WRANGLER.  I own a 2013 Jeep Wrangler and we do a lot of Jeep Wrangler audio systems in our shop so I’m pretty excited about this one; it should be a very hot model.

Alpine X009-GM
Alpine X009-GM installed in a GMC Yukon

Alpine has definitely branched out from their competitors by focusing in on these niche customers.  It makes a lot of sense; these are the types of customers that drop thousands of dollars into customizing their vehicles with upgraded tires, wheels, exhaust, lift kits, etc.  Why not build a stereo specifically for these customers?

Alpine has done just that designing a line of 9″ touch screen navigation stereos that seamlessly integrate with existing factory features such as SiriusXM, Bluetooth, Rear Seat Entertainment, and Onstar.  The Alpine X-009 series even integrates vehicle information such as tire pressure monitoring and the ability to read and reset vehicle error codes (through iDatalink Maestro integration modules).

Alpine X009-GM
Alpine X009-GM – Using the HDMI input you could watch movies from your iPad – not while driving of course.

All the Alpine X-009 models feature a 9″ touch screen, Navigation, Bluetooth, DVD, HDMI input and each model comes with some serious bragging rights.  Who else on the block really has a stereo this big and this cool?  I can’t wait to see Alpine’s X009 for the Jeep Wrangler at CES 2015.

Pioneer CES 2015 – when will we see Android Auto?

It’s not often, something really big and exciting comes along in the car audio industry, but I have to say Apple CarPlay has been one of those big things.  I’m happy I’ve been able to learn about it, adopt it and promote it.

Pioneer CarPlay update is finaly here
Pioneer CarPlay on AppRadio 4

Now that Apple CarPlay is out, I am eagerly anticipating Android’s answer to CarPlay.  And I’m hoping Pioneer has some answers for me at CES 2015 on when we can expect to see Android Auto integrated with a Pioneer head unit.

I’m pretty sure Pioneer will be the 1st to feature Android Auto aftermarket and I have lots of questions for Pioneer regarding this.  Will there be a software update for existing models (like Apple CarPlay)?  Will there be a model that features both CarPlay and Android Auto (unlike what we’ve seen from car manufacturers)?  When will we see a product like this hit the market?  I hope to find answers during CES 2015.

JL Audio CES 2015 – party at the Palm’s Casino

JL Audio won’t actually be at the convention center this year and I can’t say that I blame them.  Booth space at the convention center comes at a premium price.  I’m sure they’ll actually be able to present more (and more effectively) outside the convention center.  And with the extra money they’re saving being off the convention floor, I’m sure they’ll also be able to spoil their guests a bit more.

While attending CES 2015, I hope to see two new amplifier models which JL Audio recently announced.  They are incredibly compact, efficient and water proof.

New Amplifiers from JL Audio CES 2015
New Amplifiers from JL Audio CES 2015

These two new amplifiers from JL Audio, the HX280/4 and HX300/1, are offered in both Black and White (Car/Power Sport or Marine).  The HX280/4 is a 4 channel amp producing 50 watts x 4 RMS at 4 ohms.  The HX300/1 is a mono producing 300 watts x 1 at 2 ohms.  Both models have received IPX6 water resistant ratings and feature impressive power handling specs delivered in a tiny, compact package.

JL Audio HX280/4 and HX300/1
JL Audio HX280/4 and HX300/1

Impressive size, impressive ratings and impressive price – only $229.95.  I ordered a couple a few weeks ago and I am still waiting for their arrival.  I hope to see a sample of these new JL Audio amplifiers while attending CES 2015.

Other cool stuff while at CES 2015

I will definitely venture over to Kenwood’s booth and Sony’s booth as well and I will post about any other cool car audio related gadgets I find while at CES 2015.  Check back next weekend to learn about all the latest and greatest in car stereo from CES 2015.

Car Stereo Chick is going to CES 2015
Car Stereo Chick is going to CES 2015

Jeep Wrangler Stereo Upgrade

Jeep Wrangler Stereo Upgrade Double Din Installed
Sony Double Din Installed in 2013 Jeep Wrangler
Sony Double Din Installed in 2013 Jeep Wrangler

Thinking about a Jeep Wrangler stereo upgrade, but not quite sure where to start?

Be sure to check out my other Jeep Wrangler stereo upgrade articles which can be found here. Looking to upgrade your 2018+ Wrangler JL/JLU stereo? Check out this article here.

If you own a 2007 up JK 2 door or 4 door Unlimited, you know what I’m talking about.  At lower volume levels the Jeep Wrangler stereo is tolerable.  However, as soon as you try to crank it up – like when the is top off – forget it.  You can’t turn it up loud enough to hear over the wind noise.

You may also notice this other annoying peculiarity in your Jeep Wrangler stereo.  As you turn the volume up, the only frequencies that seem to get any louder are upper mid range and treble frequencies.  The bass level stays kind of flat.  This self attenuation feature is to prevent you from blowing stock speakers and to save Jeep the cost of having to replace them under warranty.

There are a number of things working against you with the factory Jeep Wrangler stereo.  Luckily, it’s relatively easy to overhaul this system and do a Jeep Wrangler stereo upgrade.

Where to start with your Jeep Wrangler stereo upgrade?

We see a lot of Jeep Wrangler’s in our shop and for the most part, we’re replacing and upgrading everything – head unit, speakers, amp, subwoofer.  I realize, that’s not always in everyone’s budget and for a lot of people out there, you may have to do your Jeep Wrangler stereo upgrade in different phases.  I recommend you start with what is going to give you the biggest impact and biggest improvement overall – the subwoofer.

Even if you installed the best 6.5″ speakers money could buy, they would still be incapable of reproducing the natural frequency range so effectively produced by an aftermarket subwoofer.

When adding a subwoofer to a upgrade a Jeep Wrangler stereo, most of my customers are looking to keep the installation discreet for a couple reasons.

  1. There’s not exactly a ton of extra cargo space in these things to begin with.
  2. They’re such easy targets for theft (I will address this as well later on in the post – there is an easy way to add an alarm to these vehicles.  I recommend you protect your investment and you can do so without any additional remote control.  The alarm I recommend works off the factory key).

For a Jeep Wrangler stereo upgrade, I highly recommend installing JL Audio’s Stealthbox subwoofer.


Stealth Subwoofer Enclosure by JL Audio for 2 door model Jeep Wrangler 07 up
Stealth Subwoofer Enclosure by JL Audio for 2 door model Jeep Wrangler 07 up

They offer it for both the two door model and 4 door unlimited.  Check it out.

JL Audio offers a Stealth Subwoofer Enclosure for 2007 and up Jeep Wrangler Unlimited
Stealth Subwoofer Enclosure by JL Audio for 4 door model Jeep Wrangler Unlimited 07 up

Note – if you have the factory subwoofer enclosure in the Unlimited model (2011 and up), you will also want to purchase these two additional Mopar parts to replace the trim that goes around the seat belt bolt. A plain (without subwooofer) passenger side rear cargo trim panel (part #1PU12DX9AG) and a cover for the upper seat belt / roll bar (part #1PU18DX9AD) from Jeep/Mopar parts.  If you have the rear 12 volt outlet as well, you will lose that feature.

If you start your Jeep Wrangler stereo upgrade by adding one of these options, you will also need to add a separate amplifier as well.  Additionally, if you’re going to be running this off the stock head unit, I also highly recommend using Audio Controls LC2i line output converter.  This product helps to correct any factory attenuation that occurs in the signal being fed to your new amplifier and subwoofer.  In this scenario, with the factory Jeep head unit maintained, we’re still receiving audio signal from the factory stereo.  The same factory stereo that limits the increase in bass frequencies as you turn the volume up.  Because of that attenuation feature, it’s beneficial to have a line output converter that is designed to integrate with such a head unit.  The Audio Control LC2i will provide a more seamless and smooth increase in subwoofer volume as you turn your stock volume knob up.  If you’re doing an aftermarket head unit at the same time, don’t worry about this aspect.  Replacing the stereo also addresses this annoying attenuation feature.

Either way you go with your Jeep Wrangler stereo upgrade, you will want to have a separate subwoofer control knob.

Bass Knob Jeep Wrangler
Bass knob for Jeep Wrangler stereo upgrade

I think this is a must in any installation, factory head unit or aftermarket.  Especially if you listen to a variety of music.  Every recording is different; some songs have more bass, some have less.  A bass knob gives you an easy way to tweak the bass level on the fly from song to song for ultimate listening enjoyment.  In the Jeep Wrangler, there is room right in front of the center console behind the shifter for such a knob.

Let’s talk amplifiers for your Jeep Wrangler stereo upgrade

Okay, so hopefully I’ve convinced you to invest in one of the subwoofers discussed above in order to upgrade your Jeep Wrangler stereo.  And by now you realize you will also need an amplifier to power it up.  If you see yourself also eventually upgrading and amplifying the speakers (highly recommended) then you’ll want to buy yourself a nice, high powered, yet small, 5 channel amplifier.  Remember, space is limited in these vehicles.

My favorite amp for a Jeep Wrangler stereo upgrade is the Alpine PDXV9.

Alpine PDXV9, perfect 5 channel amp for Wrangler Stereo Upgrades
Alpine PDXV9, perfect 5 channel amp for a Jeep Wrangler stereo upgrade.

This baby puts out 100 watts X 4 RMS to the interior speakers and a whopping 500 watts RMS to the subwoofer.  For comparison, most stock head units put out around 10 -15 watts RMS per channel, aftermarket head units are around 18 watts RMS per channel.  So in terms of power and output, this is a huge upgrade.

If you’re building your system in stages, you can always wire up the amp for the subwoofer channel only until you invest in some higher quality interior speakers.  The bass knob for this amp is the RUX-KNOB, pictured above in my own Jeep Wrangler center console area.

There is room to mount the amp under the passenger or driver seat in either the 2 door or 4 door model.

If you’re feeling a little sticker shock on the price of the amp, I do have an alternative suggestion.  Consider purchasing an Alpine head unit like the CDE-153BT and using the Alpine KTP-445A power pack amplifier.  It’s very tiny, compact amplifier that is easy to install and it will boost power to your interior speakers to 45 watts x 4.  It’s designed specifically for Alpine head units.  It’s pretty easy on the wallet too.  You could then purchase a mono or single channel amplifier such as JL Audio’s XD 600/1V2 for the Unlimited enclosure or the XD 300/1V2 for the 2 door enclosure.  Both of these JL Audio amps will work with the HD-RLC bass knob.

Let’s talk about your source for your Jeep Wrangler stereo upgrade

One thing I always stress with customers in my own shop is this.  The source of your music is like the heart of your stereo system.  You could buy and install the best car audio speakers and amplifiers money can buy, but if it’s all being pushed through a crummy, basic stock head unit, it’s like taking two steps forward and one step back.  You’re still limited to the sound quality and capability of your source.  Technically speaking, you could install something like JL Audio’s Cleansweep processor and keep the stock head unit.  However, it’s really not the same as an aftermarket head unit.  That’s just cleaning up and leveling out what’s already there.  The Cleansweep is not really capable of improving detail and resolution.  That still comes down to your head unit’s digital to analog convertor.

Desirable features like detail, richness and vibrancy come across in the quality of your head unit’s digital to analog convertor.  Because of this, I highly recommend replacing the stock head unit.  If you have the budget, I recommend you go for a nice double din touch screen head unit.

Double Din Jeep Wrangler
Double Din Sony in my Jeep Wrangler

Having the large touch screen just makes it so much easier to access and search all your music sources.  Connect an iPod and search by artist, playlist, song title, etc.  Stream Pandora from your phone and search by channel and category.

Whether you decide to go for a single din or double din head unit, you need to be aware of some key features that will be beneficial to your Jeep Wrangler stereo upgrade.  When shopping for head units, look for features like these:

  • 3 high voltage RCA preouts 4-5 volts (the higher the sensitivity here, the more kick and efficiency you will get out of your amplifier)
  • Bluetooth (seriously, everyone should have this feature by now.  It’ so convenient and in some states legally required for making and receiving calls.  Android users – this feature will also allow you to stream your music pre-amp level which is better sound quality than through a head phone jack connection)
  • USB (best sound quality for iPod or iPhone.  In general, try to avoid connecting any device via headphone jack.  When you connect via the head phone jack, this uses the amplifier in the device, as well as the amplifier in your stereo – so it’s like amplifying an amplifier – not the cleanest way to listen to your tunes)
  • Steering Wheel Control Capability (most Jeep Wranglers stereos have this and it’s a really nice feature to retain – consider PAC Audios RP4-CH11 to make your installation easier)

Jeep Wrangler owners should consider the new Alpine X009-WRA which is the biggest, baddest and coolest double din head unit I think you’ll ever see for a Jeep Wrangler. However, it isn’t cheap so if the cost of this head unit is beyond your budget, you can check out this post for help selecting the best double din head unit.  Or if you’re interested in a navigation double din stereo, check out this post.

Update 5/10/15 – Be sure to check out my post on the Pioneer AVH-X4100NEX.  This model is new for 2015 and is both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible and has a detachable face – ideal for Wranglers!

Speakers for Jeep Wrangler stereo upgrade

Okay, so we’ve addressed the subwoofer, the amplifier and we’ve addressed your source for your Jeep Wrangler stereo upgrade.  Now let’s talk about speakers.  The stock Jeep Wrangler stereo system was redesigned in 2007.  This redesign eliminated the previous standard issue front 4″x6″ speaker housing.  We can now accommodate a standard 6.5″ component system.

I can haz tweeters?
I can has tweeters?

Thanks to the assistance of one of Alpine’s engineers, who worked with Jeep on this redesign, Wrangler owners now have standard sized speakers front and rear.

Jeep Front Speakers
Jeep Front Speakers – Don’t believe Crutchfield, you can fit a 6.5″ there no problem.

The rear sound bar accommodates 6.5″ coaxial speakers.

Jeep Rear Coaxial Speakers
Jeep Rear 6.5″ Coaxial Speakers

Previous model Jeeps were very limited in speaker size and thus potential output – it’s not exactly easy to find a good quality, high power handling 4″ x 6″ speaker.  Luckily for 2007 and up Jeep Wrangler owners, it’s pretty easy to find good quality, high power handling 6.5″ speakers.

Pick the best of the best

When it comes to purchasing car stereo equipment for your Jeep Wrangler stereo upgrade, I always recommend to cherry pick among brands.  Alpine tends to excel in those PDX series amps – they’re the best sounding, high powered, compact amplifiers I’ve heard in the past 14 years.  JL Audio tends to excel in their XD series amplifiers and their American made subwoofers and Stealthbox enclosures.

Every company excels in a couple areas.  It varies from brand to brand and price point to price point and that also changes from year to year.  However, when it comes to speakers, I recommend choosing a company that specializes in speakers.

Morel is one such company, they excel in speakers.  That is all they do.  From $100 speakers to $10,000 speakers and everything in between.  So for speakers in your Jeep Wrangler stereo upgrade, I recommend Morel.

Morel has a few different series speakers in their line up and I will describe the pros and con’s of each.

Morel Maximo Series – Entry level

Morel Maximo Series ranging from 80 - 90 watts RMS
Morel Maximo Series ranging from 80 – 90 watts RMS

The Morel Maximo series are considered entry level, but they’re an excellent value and perform well against other entry level brand speakers.  The tweeter is very detailed, yet still smooth and the mid range is a clear improvement over stock.  These speakers are pretty efficient and will perform with limited power output.  However they can also handle a decent amount of power and thus perform even better with proper amplification.  In the front, you could do the Maximo6 and in the rear, the Maximo6C.  The mid range is not as clean as what you will find in the next level up from the Tempo series.  However, you will still find these speakers give you a night and day difference in performance and quality over stock.

Morel Tempo Series – Mid level

Morel Tempo Series speakers, handle between 110 - 120 watts RMS
Morel Tempo Series speakers, handle between 110 – 120 watts RMS

These are some of my favorite speakers that we sell in our shop.  The tweeter is very smooth and mellow, and the mid range is very warm, clean and punchy.  However, these babies really need an amplifier to perform and achieve their full potential.  Capable of 110 – 120 watts RMS, that Alpine PDXV9 will do them well.  In the front, you could use the Tempo6 components and in the rears, the Tempo6c coaxes.  If you prefer more detail in your tweeter, consider the Hybrid series.

Morel Hybrid Series – High end


Morel Hybrid series speakers are very smooth, detailed, accurate and warm.  Handling between 100 - 140 watts RMS.
Morel Hybrid series speakers are very smooth, detailed, accurate and warm. Handling between 100 – 140 watts RMS.

The Morel Hybrid series speakers are really quite awesome.  The tweeter is very open and airy, yet incredibly smooth and delicate to the ears.  The mid range is clean, accurate, warm and natural.  This is what we have in our own Jeep Wrangler, but honestly there’s no way I can appreciate the full quality of these when the top is off.  Here in Connecticut, we typically have the top off for only 3-4 months out of the year, so we definitely have plenty of time during the rest of the year to appreciate their performance and quality.  In the front, you could use the Hybrid 602’s and in the rear, the Hybrid Integra 602’s.

Ultimate performance and quality does come at a premium price.  For practicality purposes, many of my customers choose the Tempo series or Maximo series and are quite happy with their choice.  Keep in mind, speakers are just one piece of the puzzle in your Jeep Wrangler stereo upgrade.

Installation gear for your Jeep Wrangler stereo upgrade

Whenever you install an aftermarket amplifier in a vehicle, you will need quality power and ground cable, a fuse, fuse holder, speaker wire and RCA cables.  Always choose 100 percent oxygen free copper.  We use Stinger wire and Stinger RCA cables in our own shop.  If you’re installing the amp under the front passenger seat, you can get away with 6 foot RCA’s.

Metra and Best Kits both make a double din dash kit for this car, however we prefer the fit and finish of the Best Kits BKCDK642 kit.

Depending on whether or not your car has steering wheel controls, you will probably want to buy a PAC Audio interface harness.  The C2R-CHY4 is fine if you do not have steering wheel controls (provides retained accessory power, turns on any stock amp if equipped and if being retained) or go for the combo piece RP4-CH11 if you do have steering wheel controls.

Sound deadening material – Dynamat definitely helps to cut down on rattles and reverberations in all vehicles.  I highly recommend it to any customer who is upgrading their stereo.  In the Wrangler, I would recommend a Trunk kit and a Wedge pack.  Definitely do the back cargo area and sound bar area.  It really does improve sound quality, cut down on rattles and road noise.  Overall, it helps to give you a cleaner bass and mid range response.

Protecting your investment – get an OEM style alarm for your Jeep Wrangler

These vehicles are easy targets for theft so you want to think about protecting what you’ve invested in your Jeep Wrangler stereo upgrade.  Consider the add on alarm available from DEI aka Directed Electronics (parent company of Viper).

3903T Jeep Add on Alarm System
3903T Jeep Add on Alarm System

The 3903T is an aftermarket alarm designed to work with your factory Jeep key.  It adds basic alarm features such as a shock sensor, starter kill relay and it also comes with a standard outboard 6 tone siren.  Besides the 3903T, Jeep owners should really add the 508D proximity sensor.

When properly installed, the 508D creates a radar bubble around the vehicle.  The sensor can be installed under the center console.  You really want it towards the center of the vehicle for best performance.  If that field is disturbed – say by someone reaching into the open vehicle – the alarm goes off.  It’s a great theft deterrent.

It’s very important to have this type of product professionally installed.  You need to adjust the proximity field to the point where it is effective and not over sensitive.  It’s easy to over do it.  If the radar bubble is too large, the alarm will go off anytime anyone walks by your car in a parking lot.

Here is another cool product to consider from Tuffy.  Keep in mind, it does require modification to the JL Audio Stealthbox Unlimited enclosure.  That enclosure sits higher than the Tuffy security deck is designed for (speaking from experience here).

Protect your stuff in your Jeep Wrangler when the top is off
Protect your stuff in your Jeep Wrangler when the top is off

Tuffy offers this product for several model Jeeps, please refer to their website to order the correct one for your vehicle.

In my own 2 door Wrangler, we’ve removed the backseat and have fabricated a custom down firing subwoofer enclosure mounted where the backseat was.  Next Spring, we will be installing the Tuffy Security Deck.  Note, if you have the 2 door like we do with backseat removed, you will want to order the 4 door model security deck to cover the full cargo area.

Jeep Wrangler Stereo Upgrade Conclusion

As you can see, it’s not that difficult or complicated to upgrade the stereo in a Jeep Wrangler.  We do it all the time at our shop in Brookfield, CT.

If you have to build your system in phases, I would recommend starting with the subwoofer.  Add in the frequency range that you’re missing.  Next step would be an aftermarket head unit.  This gives you more output and control over the stock speakers.  Most aftermarket head units have crossovers built in.  This feature will allow you to filter out the bass that would normally go to the stock speakers.  This will allow them to play only mid range and treble frequencies while the subwoofer plays all the bass.  After that, I recommend upgrading your speakers and lastly, make sure you amplify those speakers.

The end result?  Investing in these quality car audio products, and having them properly installed and tuned, will do wonders for your Jeep Wrangler driving experience.  When you upgrade the stereo in your Jeep Wrangler, you’ll be able to crank it up and actually hear and enjoy the stereo system.

Don’t forget to check out my other Jeep Wrangler stereo upgrade articles which can be found here.

JL Audio introduces Stealthmod for Chevy Camaro Convertible, Kia Soul and BMW X5

JL Audio Stealthmod

Looking for an easy OEM upgrade?  Take a look at JL Audio’s all new Stealthmod.

JL Audio Stealthmod for Chevy Camaro includes a Stealthbox with two 10″ W1 Subwoofers

In my last JL Audio post, I briefly mentioned a new product from JL Audio, called the Stealthmod.  For all you car audio enthusiasts out there that own a Kia Soul, Chevy Camaro Convertible or a BMW X5, read on.  Don’t own one of these cars?  That’s okay, keep reading, JL will be adding more models soon.

JL Audio is no stranger to OEM system upgrades.  They’ve been offering easy OEM sound upgrades for over 15 years.  Their first Stealthbox hit the market in 1996.  9 years later, JL Audio released the CleanSweep, a sophisticated DSP processor that eliminates frequency errors that occur in factory audio systems. This brings us to the newest integration breakthrough from JL Audio, the Stealthmod.

The Stealthmod is what lies between simply adding a Stealthbox to an OEM audio system and doing a complete overhaul with the CleanSweep.  Currently the Stealthmod is available for the Chevy Camaro Convertible, Kia Soul and (very soon) the BMW X5.  JL Audio has taken the guess work out of upgrading your stock system.

JL Audio Stealth Mod Camaro Convertible

After months of research and development, JL Audio is proud to offer a complete OEM upgrade kit that will include:

-Component speaker upgrades

-System amplifier with remote level control

-Wiring (power, speaker and signal)

-Brackets, adaptors and hardware

-Detailed installation and setup instructions


JL Audio has thought of everything with these kits.  I was shocked at CES to see that these kits are shipped with every wire you need for the installation, pre-cut, down to the exact length of wire required for the application.  They also include every nut, bolt, screw, fastener and bracket you will need.  JL Audio has always offered excellent quality products at extremely reasonable prices and I think you will agree that these Stealthmods, like most JL Audio products, are a great value.

Prices and equipment will range from vehicle to vehicle.  The Kia Soul Stealthmod includes a pair of C2-650x’s, the 3 channel XD 500/3 and a vehicle specific Stealthbox housing a 12″ W0.  This system can be yours for $1449.95.

If you own a Chevy Camaro Convertble, your Stealthmod will include a pair of C3-650 convertible speakers, the 5 channel XD 700/5 and a custom Stealthbox enclosure housing two 10″ W1 subwoofers for only $2399.95.

For the BMW X5 drivers out there, your Stealthmod (with stock premium audio system) will include a set of C5 tweeters and passive crossovers, the 5 channel XD 700/5 and a Stealthbox housing a 10″ W3.  The BMW X5 Stealthmod is offered for X5’s with the Harman Kardon Logic 7 system and will be sold for only $1899.95.

JL Audio Black BMW X5 Stealthmod Subwoofer Upgrade – 94518/ Contains One 10W3v3-2 Subwoofer/ Five-Channel Amplifier To Power The Front Speaker System And Filter Its Frequency Ranges For Increased Performance/ Stealthbox Installs Beneath The Cargo Area Floor In The Passenger-Side Rear Corner Of The Spare Tire Well/ Offers Dramatic Improvements In Low-Frequency Extension And Quality/ Black Finish

Due to the nature of these all inclusive kits, the installation will take a fraction of the time that a traditional custom OEM audio upgrade would take.  Without the need to plan and/or fabricate anything, the installation of these kits will be a breeze and thus cut down on installation costs as well.

Always thinking ahead, JL Audio is making great strides in OEM integration.  For more information on your Stealthmod, along with specific application details, visit JL Audio’s website.  Have you installed a JL Audio Stealthmod yet?  If so, please tell us your experience.

JL Audio revamps their line of car audio subwoofers and amplifiers for 2012

Newest JL Audio subwoofers

During CES 2012, I had a chance to check out some of the great improvements and new additions JL Audio made to their car audio line up.  Some of these additions include 10″ and 12″ W3 shallow mount subwoofers, a new line of Slash series amps as well as redesigns of their W1, W3 and W6 line of subwoofers.

JL Audio has always been a tried and true American car audio company.  In fact, they’re the only car audio company I’m aware of that still manufacturers products in the USA.  Their quality is reminiscent of the days of great American car audio.  While other brands like Rockford, ADS, Orion, PPI, Phoenix Gold and others sold out and shipped manufacturing overseas, JL did what they could to stay as close to their values as possible, despite changing economies and market shifts.  That’s why I have a W6 in my car; it’s the best sounding subwoofer I’ve heard and it’s part of the line of subwoofers JL Audio offers that are made in the USA.

JL’s 13TW5 was our first introduction to JL’s family of flat line subwoofers.

During 2008, while other companies were implementing layoffs and cutting costs, JL Audio was busy at work engineering new products and spending their time and money redesigning their future line of car audio equipment.  When the market your business operates in changes and business drops as a result of that, you may see your competition struggling, cutting back costs or they may fail and bow out (unless you’re lucky enough to be a bank, insurance company or automobile manufacturer, instead of bowing out, you get bailed out).  For the rest of us, that’s the best time to reinvest in your company and JL Audio knows this.  They assumed the economy and market would turn around eventually, and that when it did, they were going to be years ahead of their competitors.  Based on the record breaking attendance at CES 2012 (153,000 and still tallying), I’d say the economy is turning around and JL Audio is now poised to own their market.

JL Audio TW3, new shallow mount sub revealed at CES 2012
JL Audio TW3, new shallow mount sub revealed at CES 2012

One of the revolutionary products JL Audio developed during that time, was their shallow mount subwoofer.  We all know, or should know by now, the 13-TW5.  JL Audio owns the patents on this fantastic subwoofer design Let me just say this.  There are a lot of shallow subs on the market these days.  Pioneer has one, Alpine has one, Kenwood has one too.  I’ve tried those brands and I believe, this is, by far, the best sounding shallow mount subwoofer out of all of them.

JL Audio knows that space is an issue in all vehicles, probably more so than any other car audio company on the market.  JL Audio introduced their line of space saving Stealth Boxes 15 years ago.  Even back in 1997, these guys were well aware of space constraints in vehicle subwoofer applications.  They were creating effective solutions way ahead of their competitors and they continue to do so to this day.  By the way, have you seen their line of powersports audio equipment?  Talk about an audio system in a tight space; try doing it in a Can-AM or a Polaris.

Magnet view of the new JL Audio Shallow mount W3

Expanding on their strength of creating high fidelity with substantial bass response in tight spaces, JL introduces two new shallow mount subwoofers within their W3 line up.

With a mounting depth of just 3.25″ for the 10″ TW3, only 3.5″ for the 12″ TW3, the TW3 lineup is poised for various tight space vehicle applications.  Enclosure requirements are only .5 cubic feet for the 10″ and .75 cubic feet for the 12″.

Don’t let the shallow look fool you, unlike other manufacturer’s making shallow mount subwoofers simply by utilizing smaller magnets, these subs have a real magnet and some serious weight to them (about 18 lbs on the 13-TW5).  Leave it to the resourceful engineers at JL Audio, using their patented concentric tube suspension design and floating cone attach method, they’ve been able to produce 3 different shallow mount subwoofers with excursion ratings exceeding that of their traditional W3.

Available in 10″ and 12″ with a dual 4 ohm voice coil and rated at 400 watts RMS, the TW3 shallow mount subwoofers will be reasonably priced at $299.95 for the 10″ and $349.95 for the 12″.

JL Audio’s newly designed W6 revealed at CES 2012

Other subwoofers that got a face lift include the W1 and the W6.  The W6 had it’s last redesign in 2002.  For a car audio subwoofer to go 10 years without a redesign is pretty unheard of, but the W6 is just that good.  Did I mention I have one in my car?  The newly redesigned W6 boasts a larger, more powerful motor system with the 12W6v3 motor system being 20% larger.  Also improved is the linear excursion capability, 14% more than W6v2.  More obvious improvements to the naked eye include an improved cooling circuit design (patented) and a more attractive satin black basket.  I know, I know…..You’re thinking “Who actually looks at that anyways, it’s going to be in a box?”.  Even so, you know it’s there and you know it’s cooler looking than your buddy’s classic 12W6V2.

We always knew JL Audio was great at manufacturing subwoofers that not only sounded good, but looked good. Perhaps you’re wondering what can we use to power these awesome new subwoofers?  Especially for those tight space applications?

JL Audio’s new JX 500/1D shown with an iPhone for size reference

Check out the newly redesigned JX 500/1D.  The new 500 watt RMS mono amplifier is 43% smaller over last year’s model.  Moving away from the class A/B amplifier design, the new JX 500/1D utilizes the far more efficient Class D amplifier technology.  Consistent with their line of space saving subwoofers, once again, JL Audio was able to pack a mighty punch in a tiny package.  Measuring at only 2.09″ x 7.68″ x 7.83″, you will have no excuse as to why you can’t fit a subwoofer in your car.

Not digging the size?  Maybe small just isn’t your thing.  Don’t worry, JL Audio has revamped their classic Slash series amplifiers.  The striking new look features an all-black finish that is a drastic change from their signature silver/titanium finished amps.  The distinct appearance of the new Slash series amps is reflective of the fact that the Slash series ARE distinctively different from JL’s JX, XD and HD amplifiers.  Underneath the attractive new cover you will find on-board signal processing that includes a parametric equalizer along with very adjustable and tweakable crossovers, making this amp an installer’s dream choice.

The new lineup of Slash series amps also includes the warm and sweet sounding, class A/B, four channel, the 300/4v3, rated at 75 x 4 RMS.

Look at the wide range of tuning adjustments on the new 300/4v3

With so many tuning options, make sure you read their detailed instruction manual.  If you don’t know what the adjustments do, you can really screw up your sound, or worse, damage your speakers or the amp.

One of the features that makes the Slash series amps so versatile is their R.I.P.S. (Regulated Intelligent Power Supply) technology.  The regulated intelligent power supply provides consistent power whether you have a 1.5 ohm load or a 4 ohm load, or anything in between.  In addition to the regulated power supply, the Slash series amps are equipped with Advanced Rollback Thermal protection which helps to maintain consistent playback even in demanding conditions.

The JL Audio Slash 1000/1v2 mono amp received a makeover along with a 200 watt upgrade

In the monoblock models you will find the output has been increased 20% over the previous Slash series amplifiers.  The 1200/1 v3 is replacing the classic 1000/1v2 mono amp from JL Audio, packing an extra 200 watts over it’s previous version.  Following a similar upgrade is the 600/1v3, replacing the 500/1 v2 with an extra 100 watts RMS power.

But wait, there’s more!  JL Audio is also releasing all new OEM upgrade packages.  Looking for an upgrade over your stock audio system, but don’t feel like overhauling and tearing out everything?  Introducing the Stealthmod.  The Stealthmod is sort of a spinoff from their line of stealthboxes.  JL is making it easier to do an upgrade one step above the basic amp and sub upgrade.  Currently available for the Kia Soul, the Chevy Camaro Convertible and the BMW X5 (with premium audio), JL has designed packages that will not only include a stealthbox, an amplifier and speaker upgrade, these kits will include everything you need to install it all.  And I mean EVERYTHING, including subwoofer control knob, all brackets, fasteners, adapters and every wire you will need pre-cut to the precise length you will need for your application.  These systems are designed to make an OEM upgrade easy and highly effective.  JL Audio will be expanding their list of vehicle applications for  Stealthmods throughout 2012.

With so many innovative quality products to offer, it’s no wonder this company has stood the test of time.  I look forward to sharing the new line up with my customers in 2012. I hope you enjoyed this preview of new products from JL Audio as much as I did.  To find a JL Audio dealer near you, click here.