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Discussion Starter #1
I would like to see a schematic that shows the 540W 10 speaker premium sound system and the wiring for the touring/elite models.
My goal is to borrow and steal from the touring to improve the sound in the EX-L. The head unit should be the same, minus the factory nav. The big ticket item that would make a huge difference would be the subwoofer. If I can figure out a way to upgrade by replacing OEM components, I would think that the results would be better than aftermarket. The sound quality and the base on the Touring were amazing.
The center dash mounted speaker would be too hard to add, but the door speakers should be easy, unless there are amps involved.
There has to be some low hanging fruit to improve the sound system of the EX-L
Any help would be greatly appreciated.
 

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Discussion Starter #2
I looked up the part numbers for the touring and the EX-L speakers, amps, subwoofers and headunits. The touring has Panasonic components, that includes a 540w amp. The EX-L has pioneer components and a 240W amp. Without looking at the wiring harnesses it is impossible to know if this can be donde by swapping out parts only. The cost of the head unit is 1700, the amp is 500, the subwoofer is 130, the door speakers and tweeters are cheap. The more I think about this the harder it looks. I searched the Pilot forums and some have gone aftermarket, but then they create another problem by messing up the active noise cancelling (ANC) so that opens another can of worms. It has to be disabled. I may have to settle with what I have.
 

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Cars are SO sophisticated nowadays, it doesn't surprise me, I recall in the past true Audiophiles would not buy the top of the line OEM stereo, they would just yank it out and put in an entirely new unit, @ $2,400 plus for the Touring Stereo, I'm thinking you would be better served to visit a high end car stereo dealer and pick their brains on how to upgrade...!

And please let us know, if you end up upgrading...
 

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I looked up the part numbers for the touring and the EX-L speakers, amps, subwoofers and headunits. The touring has Panasonic components, that includes a 540w amp. The EX-L has pioneer components and a 240W amp. Without looking at the wiring harnesses it is impossible to know if this can be donde by swapping out parts only. The cost of the head unit is 1700, the amp is 500, the subwoofer is 130, the door speakers and tweeters are cheap. The more I think about this the harder it looks. I searched the Pilot forums and some have gone aftermarket, but then they create another problem by messing up the active noise cancelling (ANC) so that opens another can of worms. It has to be disabled. I may have to settle with what I have.
Also very curious about simple yet effective audio improvements to the 215 watt system. I have a Sport trim. I wonder how much simply upgrading the door speakers would improve sound quality? I think soundstaging really comes from the additional center speakers in the touring/elite (plus adequate power for the sub), but some better 6'' drivers in even just the the front doors could be a cheap and worthwhile upgrade. Speaker quality can make a noticeable difference. I have to also mention that the 540 watt power amp has way more headroom than the 215 watt and is probably capable of producing better/fuller sound at lower volume, but I'm not positive about this.

Overall the audio quality is really not terrible, and it is an upgrade from my 2007 Trailblazer (although while much more articulate, is it a bit more harsh/fatiguing to listen to). There's something just a little off about it, like they tried to create the illusion of better sound by emphasizing treble/punchiness maybe some compression(?), but the sound is not necessarily full, wide, and pleasing to listen to. Loudness is not an issue for me, its plenty loud when turned up, however, soundstage is pretty weak, and I find at low volumes it loses all fullness and becomes very trebly and thin with sibilance from the tweeters becoming annoying. I wish I could leave it a lower volume when having conversations in the car without such a hit to sound quality. Its like you turn it down to talk, but then the treble all remains and cuts through your conversation

The 5'' display offers bass and treble controls only, and a subwoofer control that doesn't really do anything. I feel the sub must be quite underpowered, it becomes slightly noticeable at higher volumes but doesn't really thump. I think with a better EQ i would be happier. The bass control on the display really turns up low-mids, not true bass, which sounds laughably terrible if pushed anywhere past center.

If you do any upgrade please post back here - it is something I plan to do eventually, but its a little ways down my list on vehicle mods for now. I will also do more research and post back here I find anything worthwhile.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Ksullivan, thank you for the feedback. I agree with you, and I am also doing research before pulling the trigger.

There has to be someone out there that has been able to improve the sound.
I found the following videos from Pilot owners with a similar system that have done some aftermarket upgrades:

Replacing tweeters
Kicker hide away sub
How to disable active noise cancellation
Pilot stealth subwoofer (in trunk compartment)

I have not checked with local installers yet. Good luck with your search, and please keep me posted.
 

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Hmmm. Did not realize there was active noise cancellation. Could be contributing to the "processed" sound and listening fatigue I've been noticing. I would be curious to see what effect disabling it has on sound quality. I'm not a fan of noise-cancelling headphones, that pressure feeling in the ear and the kind of "plasticy" sterile quality of the sound. I get that a lot of people love their Bose Quiet Comfort etc. it's cool tech, but for me its very unnatural sounding. Will look into disabling it.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Hmmm. Did not realize there was active noise cancellation. Could be contributing to the "processed" sound and listening fatigue I've been noticing. I would be curious to see what effect disabling it has on sound quality. I'm not a fan of noise-cancelling headphones, that pressure feeling in the ear and the kind of "plasticy" sterile quality of the sound. I get that a lot of people love their Bose Quiet Comfort etc. it's cool tech, but for me its very unnatural sounding. Will look into disabling it.
Also check for instructions on disabling the ANC through the maintenance menu (by holding buttons in ACC mode to access it). Haven't done it so I can't provide instructions, but they are out there.
 

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A pair of these in the front doors would probably be pretty awesome - great reviews all around. I wonder how similar they are to the OEM pioneer speakers. May have to take a look when I get home from work.
 

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Just found this on the pilot forums - looks like the stock head unit may not take so nicely to aftermarket door speakers. Seems that in the 2016 pilot (possibly same/similar head unit as us but I'm not sure), nice Kicker aftermarket door speakers didn't sound too great, most likely because the OEM speakers were tuned specifically to the output of the source.


This also interesting from same thread: Step 1 for immediate improvement in bass is to search the forum for how the bypass acoustic noise cancelation (ANC). The subwoofer is primarily used to cancel out cabin noise, not to replicate earth shattering bass. Bypassing ANC will also significantly improve the signal to your after market subwoofer feed.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Also check for instructions on disabling the ANC through the maintenance menu (by holding buttons in ACC mode to access it). Haven't done it so I can't provide instructions, but they are out there.
ANC can be disabled by unplugging a module behind the glovebox in older pilots an also in the Acura MDX. This does not look difficult or risky at all. Link to thread Here
 

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Update: I disconnected the ANC last night. This forum post was the most helpful I could find - It's for the Ridgeline but everything was exactly the same. Pretty easy overall, prying the curved trim piece off that is directly over the glove box was the hardest part, as it has 9 pins and it feels like you will break it if you pull too hard (same goes for snapping it back on).

It was late last night when I finished this, so I didn't get to really test the sound for too long. Initial impression is that the factory sub is a bit louder (could it be placebo? haha), I can feel it in the seats more on the kick drums. It's not really a night and day difference, but there does seem to be more low-frequency in the cabin. The sub is not really any more extended into the low range, but seemed to at least be pushing a bit harder, as I noticed some rattle coming from somewhere in the back that I've never had before. I have to assume that the sub can do its job with music better when not emitting a series of low, anti-frequencies to constantly cancel out engine/road noise, but I don't really know.

More importantly, I'm hoping that overall the sound will be more natural for extended listens. My girlfriend and I have both noticed the stock stereo (with ANC on) being kind of fatiguing, weird on the ears. I have a road trip coming up this weekend and will report back with a better review on overall sound and whether or not there is any increases in the level of road noise/ cabin sound.
 

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Ok, after some further testing, I believe I may have fallen victim to the placebo effect in my initial test (ahhh the subjectivity of evaluating sound). I did a more substantial test, this time unplugging, plugging in the unit while music was playing. No noticeable effect on sound quality. Unplugged, turned car completely off, tested, no difference. Plugged in turned car completely off/on, again no difference. I tested this just sitting there idling, and while accelerating around town. There was a momentary crackle sound one of the times I plugged it back in while music was playing (I think I didn't plug it in perfectly straight at first). There was no difference in bass response, sound stage, or "natural-ness" of the sound. This leads me to believe that the only time one would want to do this is when installing an after-market sub that isn't tuned with the stereo's computer, otherwise it doesn't seem to do anything. I guess the ANC unit is tuned quite well to the stock speakers as it really doesn't seem to interfere with the speaker / subwoofer output. Maybe it just isn't really all that active. Perhaps it has been updated over older pilots/ridgelines where people say disconnecting it really improved sound quality. Sorry for any misleading info in my previous post where I thought the subwoofer response was increased.
 

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Also for those who would like to conduct their own testing - do it through the diag menu, rather than ripping the dashboard apart like me. I have a sport trim without touch screen. The diagnostic menu can be accessed by turning infotainment to off, sequentially holding 1 + 6 + ON. Follow the simple menu, the settings to turn ANC on and off are under the sound menu. There's also an EQ on or off in there. I turned the EQ off and the system sounded horrible - flat, muddy lifeless. This thing has been heavily tuned to make the most of the stock speakers. There is a different procedure for getting into diag on the touch screen infotainment. Same as Pilot and Accord I think but I'm not sure how - this video may show it:
 
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