A long-time client of ours recently referred one of his co-workers to us. When the client stopped by, we talked with him about his Ford F-150 audio system and the changes he wanted to make. He previously had an audio system installed by another shop and wasn’t happy with the performance of the system. We gave the client a few different options and price points, highlighting the improvements for each step. We were thrilled when the client decided to go with the best of our proposals.
F-150 Audio Integration
The client had the factory radio in his truck and was happy with how it worked and the aesthetics of the unit. We advised him that with the help of a JL Audio FiX 86 processor he could utilize the factory radio as his source unit. The JL Audio processor removes and time delay and flattens out the response of the factory radio. This gives us a perfectly clean signal to start with, much like if he used an aftermarket radio. We were able to easily find the factory wire colors using our Mitchell1 software subscription.
A Second JL Audio Processor
In-between the time we had the client scheduled to drop his F-150 off and his initial deposit he asked about any additional audio upgrades that were possible for his system. We felt comfortable that we had maximized his budget for the speakers, amplifiers and subwoofers. The one thing we didn’t originally quote him for, however, was a DSP (digital signal processor). We feel that any amplified system can benefit from a DSP. In a system like the one we were building for the client the DSP would allow us to run the front speakers fully active, meaning each speaker would have its own amplifier channel. This gives us much more flexibility in adjusting the sound and let’s us digitally compensate for the different locations of the speakers in the truck.
Since we were already using a JL Audio integration processor, it made perfect sense to go to JL Audio for the DSP as well. We used the JL AudioTwK 88. A benefit of the TwK processor is that it allows the use of the JL Audio DRC-200. The DRC-200 is dual knob control that allows the client to adjust the subwoofer level and system volume from one convenient spot.
JL Audio Amplifiers
One of the goals of this F-150 audio upgrade was increased clarity and volume. That means power, and lots of it. Because we would be mounting the amplifiers behind the rear seat, we needed amps with a small footprint. Consequently, the JL Audio xD amplifiers were the perfect choice. The speakers in the truck would be powered by a XD600/6v2. We configured the amplifier to provide the tweeters and woofers in the front of the truck with 75 watts to each driver. The rear doors were powered by the remaining two channels of 75 watts per side. The subwoofer system was to be comprised of 4 10″ subwoofers. To make sure they had the recommended power we chose a XD1000/1v2. This amp would give each subwoofer the rated 250 watts.
Front Speaker Upgrade
The front speaker upgrade consisted of the Focal PS165v1 component speakers. These speakers were chosen for their realistic audio reproduction and fit in the F-150 doors. The small size of the tweeter allowed our technicians to install them in the factory location in the pillar. The 6.5″ woofer was installed in the door location. A custom composite adapter plate was fabricated to adapt the round speaker to the factory 6×9″ speaker hole. To reduce any resonances in the doors plenty of sound deadener was used. The final step before installing the door cards back on the truck was to add a set of foam rings around the woofers. These rings help the output of the woofer couple to the cabin of the truck and prevent any sound from being trapped between the door card and the door.
Rear Speaker Upgrade
The rear doors received a bit more simple upgrade from the front. In the rear we installed a set of Focal Performance 6.5″ coaxial speakers. These speakers are the same series as the front speakers, so we knew they would tonally blend. Similarly, we used the same methods to install the rear speakers as we did the front. Again, the final step was the addition of the foam rings to help seal the speakers.
The previous F-150 subwoofer system the client had installed was lacking in musicality and didn’t quite have as much audio output as he wanted. One of the key parts of this F-150 audio system was the bass upgrade. After taking some careful measurements under the rear seat we came up with a plan for maximizing the bass output within his budget. Our plan was to use 4 JL Audio 10TW1 subwoofers in a custom-fabricated sealed enclosure. The enclosure was built with three braces, equally spaced, to help reduce any bass loss due to panel flexing.
To help make this system look as good as we knew it would sound we added a bit of extra detail to the cosmetics of the enclosure. The corners of the enclosure were formed to precisely follow the contours of the edge of the seat. To keep the enclosure looking good for years to come, the outer edge was covered in black carpet. For a custom look we fabricated a vinyl covered insert for the top of the enclosure. This insert helps to flush in the woofers as well as giving the overall enclosure a cleaner look.
Final Tuning and Delivery
With all the gear installed it was time to setup the integration processor and tune the DSP. We started the process by calibrating the JL Audio FiX 88. Once the signal was clean it was time to adjust the sensitivity controls on the amplifiers.
With the sensitivity controls properly adjusted we moved on to the DSP settings. We provided the client with 2 different tunes for the system. The two tunes can be selected by pressing the center knob on the DRC-200. The first tune was a sound quality tune optimized for the driver’s seat. For this tune we set the crossover points, signal delay and individual equalizers for each speaker. The result was an audio experience that placed all the soundstage up on the dash and presented the listener with accurately placed instruments and artists across the dashboard. The second tune was for when the client would be driving with other passengers in the truck. For this tune the crossovers were set and global equalizer adjustments were made. This tune ensured each seat in the truck shared a similar listening experience.
After all the work was done we finally got to listen to the F-150 audio upgrades. They sounded fantastic! We were overjoyed when delivering the truck to the client because we knew how pleased he would be with his new audio system. Thanks to our improvements, the client’s drive to work every day will be much more enjoyable.
If you are interested in an audio upgrade for your vehicle, stop by Pinnacle Autosound, contact us online or call us today!