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Mid-Level Audio Upgrade (Amp, Speakers, Sub)

9665 Views 66 Replies 13 Participants Last post by  stevenD
As a new Passport owner, the posts here have been super helpful. Most threads in the audio section fall into basic upgrades (speaker replacement) or high-end overhauls (love seeing stevend.17 and ironchef19 posts).

I wanted something in the middle - just enough of an audio boost to be too much at times, know what I mean? So after consulting a shop I trust, ended up going with:

- Factory radio connected to a JL Audio FiX-86 for DSP to create front/rear/sub outputs

- That hooks into a JL Audio XD700/5v2 to power the whole system

- Focal Access 165 YE speakers front and rear

- JL Audio 10Tw1 in a custom box to replace the factory sub in the same location

- Sound dampening in all 4 doors and trunk

- JL Bass knob for quickly adjusting the bass response as needed

(And before the install, I replaced the 3 year old OEM battery with an Interstate MTZ-48/H6 to make sure everything had enough juice.)

Verdict - fantastic. The amp is the size of a Harry Potter novel, but has more than enough juice to power the whole system. And the sub really has some nice kick. The installers (shout out to Safe & Sound, Chantilly VA) found a nice place to tuck it under the back seat on the driver's side. Speakers took about a week to break in. And the bass knob fits perfectly into a blank next to the traction control.

Definitely recommend sound deadening to everyone, makes things nice even when the stereo is off, which is rare. Pics - forgive the animal hair, need to vacuum!
















See you later, factory speakers!

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Very nice install! Although, I would consider this slightly above the middle upgrade wise 馃槈 After seeing yours, I'm looking forward to my next audio upgrade since I just got an Audison AP F8.9. I think my upgrade will fall somewhere around yours cost wise once everything is said and done. I do like your use of the factory sub location. I have debated whether to get a custom enclosure done or just use the loaded sub I already have for now haha
- JL Audio 10Tw1 in a custom box to replace the factory sub in the same location
Quick question: Do you know what dimensions the custom sub box ended up being?
Hello Saison and welcome to the site!

That looks like an awesome upgrade to me, they did fantastic work and I love the Bass knob in the OEM panel!

Your amps and sub are all good choices and if you are happy with the Focal's, then that's all that really matters - BUT if you hit the Lottery, get some inheritance money from Aunt Ethel or just get that itch to upgrade again, I'd highly recommend the Focal 165W-XP (which I previously had!) or the 165-KX2.

Most people don't care enough to upgrade as the stock stereo's in Elite/Touring sound pretty decent.

I'm super happy to have another stereo-minded person, here and look for my next update in my stereo thread, I finished my system yesterday...

Cheers!
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I'm super happy to have another stereo-minded person, here
There are those of us here for sure. I've considered upgrading the system in mine but every time I think about it makes me think about removing the interior to install sound deadening on the floor, doors, etc. Did it previously when I had an Expedition. I still have my amps and 15" woofers which I think would be over kill for the PP. Cranked it for a buddy one day and blew his ball cap off his head. It took a lot of work which I'm not sure I want to do again especially since I wouldn't leave them in if I decided to get rid of it.
Tin Rectangle Wood Cylinder Box
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Those are beautiful...!

Only sound deadening the doors makes a huge difference, maybe try that first and if your happy with it, you wouldn't have to strip the interior bare... (That's a lot of work & cost)

What speakers did you run previously and what would you put in the PP?
It took a lot of work which I'm not sure I want to do again especially since I wouldn't leave them in if I decided to get rid of it.
Totally get what your feeling. I've debated hard about the full sound deadening and stereo install, but I'm justifying the effort with the fact that this will be the last ICE car I will be buying and thus keeping indefinitely. Luckily my insurance covers excess electronics in case anything ever happens, god forbid 馃檹
Thank you for this detailed post, I find your battery replacement suggestion most useful. I think you should give @stevenD posts a look too, apart from being an admin he's also one of the top in house audiophiles.
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Quick question: Do you know what dimensions the custom sub box ended up being?
Just measured - top is 14" by 13" and 8" deep, with brackets that raise it a couple inches off the trunk floor.
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Your amps and sub are all good choices and if you are happy with the Focal's, then that's all that really matters - BUT if you hit the Lottery, get some inheritance money from Aunt Ethel or just get that itch to upgrade again, I'd highly recommend the Focal 165W-XP (which I previously had!) or the 165-KX2.
The shop has the Focal Utopias as part of their demo setup - they're amazing! And also with a retail price of $2K, so that's why this is a mid-level setup (for now) 馃

The factory system is fine, I'm just surprised to see people raving about it. Once you upgrade, it's night and day, we promise.
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Just measured - top is 14" by 13" and 8" deep, with brackets that raise it a couple inches off the trunk floor.
Interesting! That's deeper than I thought we would be able to do in that area and with it being raised off the ground too. Thanks for posting the dimensions! Looks like a subwoofer project is in my future 馃槅
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There are those of us here for sure. I've considered upgrading the system in mine but every time I think about it makes me think about removing the interior to install sound deadening on the floor, doors, etc. Did it previously when I had an Expedition. I still have my amps and 15" woofers which I think would be over kill for the PP. Cranked it for a buddy one day and blew his ball cap off his head. It took a lot of work which I'm not sure I want to do again especially since I wouldn't leave them in if I decided to get rid of it.
View attachment 13613
Orion amp brings back memories from back in the 90's when I ran across an Orion amp and installed in my Ski Nautique and that amp was a beast way more amp than I needed!
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Orion amp brings back memories from back in the 90's when I ran across an Orion amp and installed in my Ski Nautique and that amp was a beast way more amp than I needed!
Technically most monoblocks are more than most people need, but there's something about having power available if you want it. Tis why the luxury segment continues to be viable 馃槅
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Those are beautiful...!

Only sound deadening the doors makes a huge difference, maybe try that first and if your happy with it, you wouldn't have to strip the interior bare... (That's a lot of work & cost)

What speakers did you run previously and what would you put in the PP?
If you were talking to me...

I have 2 Fosgate Punch 15's, Polk Audio mids n highs (didn't take out), 2 Audio Control EQT's (sold em), Street Wires dist blocks and interconnects (still have), Sony head unit (didn't take out), Lightning Audio Storm Digital 1.5 farad cap instead of adding a 2nd battery. I took the 3rd row seat out and put in a custom made sub enclosure. Sub box took 2 people to put it in.

The manual for the Orions said to set the power level at 1/2 for setup but it was so loud I turned them back to 1/4 power.
I seriously thought if I kept em at 1/2 or turned em up to 3/4 the woofers would blow the windows out.

It all started b/c my wife wanted to add a cd player to the Expedition. 3K later I was done.
I got lucky with the Orions n Fosgates, found an audio store that was going out of business and got a great deal on them. Otherwise I wouldn't have paid the normal asking price at the time.

I've checked out the Crutchfield Fosgate T1675-S n T2652-S but then think about the work required and end up saying the Touring system is fine. I told my son if he ever decides to put a system in his next car, what I do have is his if he wants it.

In my younger days, I'd most likely go thru the trouble.
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Orion amp brings back memories from back in the 90's when I ran across an Orion amp and installed in my Ski Nautique and that amp was a beast way more amp than I needed!
I got into the stereo game after Orion...my first real "system" involved 2 15" "VEGA" vega's and an original HiFonics Brutus lol. Then I went to 4x 12" Type R's in a sealed box. That was my changeover from SPL to SQL haha.
I got into the stereo game after Orion...my first real "system" involved 2 15" "VEGA" vega's and an original HiFonics Brutus lol. Then I went to 4x 12" Type R's in a sealed box. That was my changeover from SPL to SQL haha.
Haha! Those were the days! You had a nightclub on wheels!
Update: while the low-end was good, it wasn't quite there - turning the bass knob up to max on some songs just didn't give the mirror-vibrating response I had with my old JL Audio Stealthbox up front in my Honda Element. Sometimes you just want to irrationally turn it up, you know?

Luckily my shop (shout out again to Safe & Sound, Chantilly VA) obliged with a new box for the same woofer: twice as large (who needs that second small storage compartment?) and now ported instead of sealed. Better response with more boom. Good compromise between the street-rattling systems people are sharing in this thread, and keeping the trunk space for an Ikea haul. This is the way.








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Nice update... Glad you like it...
Update: while the low-end was good, it wasn't quite there - turning the bass knob up to max on some songs just didn't give the mirror-vibrating response I had with my old JL Audio Stealthbox up front in my Honda Element. Sometimes you just want to irrationally turn it up, you know?

Luckily my shop (shout out again to Safe & Sound, Chantilly VA) obliged with a new box for the same woofer: twice as large (who needs that second small storage compartment?) and now ported instead of sealed. Better response with more boom. Good compromise between the street-rattling systems people are sharing in this thread, and keeping the trunk space for an Ikea haul. This is the way.








Love your build. You think a 2 ohm sub would have hit harder than the 4 ohm as it was?
Love your build. You think a 2 ohm sub would have hit harder than the 4 ohm as it was?
I wondered the same thing - the installer convinced me that box design was more important than upgrading power (like to a JL XD1000/5) or lowering to 2 ohm. Below is a reverse pic of the port venting to the rear driver's side. You can definitely spend some $$$ chasing big bass (been there before), but this is plenty for now

Also to help future Google searchers, forgot to include a pic of the Fix-86 location. Didn't realize the factory amp was easily accessible just by popping off the trunk storage tray. Good place to put a DSP if you need to make periodic adjustments.





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