Boy oh boy.... where do I start.....
Being an avid audiophile for years, this was probably the longest-term project I’ve done on the truck so far. I’ve been installing custom audio gear in my vehicles since high school (eons ago...). I’ll try to list out all the part numbers after this part of the post, so those should be listed below if anyone wants them.
I originally started out with just adding a pair of MTX 10’s in a Thunderform box. I already had this from my ‘04 Ram, so since it had the amp and everything already in it, it made sense to drop it in. I used a PAC adapter on the factory Mygig head unit to get the pre-amps and turn-on wire for the subs, then adjusted the crossover and gain on the Thunderform itself. Fairly simple “plug-and-play” install. The PAC just goes in-between the factory harness and the Mygig. Power wire was run directly from the battery through the clutch-delete plate for the amp. Just the sub alone really makes this system sound so much better, but the center channel from the dash speakers was over-bearing. I opted to replace the L/R dash speakers with a set of C2 3.5” JL coax’s. I removed the center speaker completely. The sub and dash speakers stayed like that for a couple of months until I got the itch to go wild with it.
The next step for me was a futile attempt to keep the factory Mygig head unit, replace all of the factory speakers, and utilize an aftermarket amp. I really like the Garmin Nav in the Mygig. While keeping this can be achieved, I didn’t have the luck some have had. I went with all JL speakers (except for the subs) as well as a JL amp. I used a JL Cleansweep and SSI to sum the signals for the new gear. While this did work, it wasn’t without it’s inherent flaws. Not having any full-range signal anywhere in the factory Alpine system forces you to use a summing device like the Cleansweep/SSI units. What sucks about this is the fact that you lose all EQ and fader control, and you have to use the volume control that comes with their stuff for best results. I chose not to use the JL control, but to use the factory volume knob for a more seamless install. That, and I could retain the steering wheel controls. Well, if you don’t use the JL volume control, you will get a constant hissing noise at all volumes. Even when it’s turned all the way down. Totally unacceptable, and plenty loud enough to hear while driving. I’m quite aware that there are other options out there for keeping the factory head unit, but if I was gonna spend in excess of a grand to make that happen, I’d just as soon replace the Mygig with something aftermarket. I knew about this issue going into this upgrade, but from what I read on the interweb, it seemed to be only a few isolated incidents. I was wrong. I had the noise even while using the JL volume control. JL Audio clearly states that you CAN use the factory volume control with the possibility of a “slight hiss”. It wasn’t so slight in my case. Typical. Welcome to the Rusty Bolt Club. I’m a founding member.
All this frustration leads me to where I gave up on the hissing and the noise from all the PAC adapters and summing interfaces. I ended up selling the Mygig and going with a Kenwood Nav head unit. No more Cleansweep, no more SSI, and no more Mygig. Just clean, fully EQ’d, DSP’d audio going straight to the amp. Finally what I was looking for. I still have Garmin nav, still have steering wheel controls due to an Axxess ASWC module, and was able to retain the factory USB port. (more on that in a bit) The only PAC adapter that I have now is used to retain the stock backup camera. Nothing more. The ASWC module is super easy and literally programs itself.
For the front doors I used a set of JL C5 6.5” separates with the tweeters in the upper panel on the front of the doors. Perfect fit, and makes for a very clean install. the 4” mid from the set was installed in place of the 3.5” JL coaxes that were previously in the dash. The 6.5” mid-bass drivers were installed with 6x9 adapters in the factory locations in the doors. The crossovers are installed on the window regulator sub panel and leave plenty of room behind the door panels.
For the rear doors, I installed a set of C2 6.5” JL coaxes with 6x9 adapters. The headliner tweeters were removed. Everything except the subs are powered by a JL 400/4 amp. Very small, and packs a hell of a punch. It’s mounted under the driver’s seat. All speakers were installed with new wiring, not using the factory harness at all.
A few things I did find that I haven’t really seen anyone post much about are the use of the factory Sirius/GPS antenna and the built-in backlit USB port in the upper glove box. The yellow plug that would normally plug into the Mygig is the dual Sirius/GPS antenna. I found that if you take off the plastic housing of the plug you can use it for your aftermarket SiriusXM tuner. (not GPS) I opted to install the GPS antenna just above the new head unit on the little plastic bracket that’s there. I used 3M trim tape to secure it in place. Works great. The other thing that I found...by accident... was the factory USB cable and CANBUS module. It’s located to the right of the glove box. Simply unplug the small square grey plug (see pics) and use a USB mini-B female to USB A male adapter. I had to use a regular USB extension to give me the extra length I needed to reach. (albeit MUCH longer than I needed...zip ties FTW) I love this mod. I now have the factory backlit USB plug in the upper glovebox as well as the iPos plug in there in case I need it. (and no, I didn’t misspell that :P)
For bluetooth, I installed the microphone just above the rear-view mirror. Works great, with little noise. Sounds at least as good as the factory bluetooth I’m told by people I’ve called on it. I also have the harness installed for my Escort 9500ix radar detector. Same deal as the microphone. I can pull the wire out from the headliner and plug it right in. Nice and high on the windshield with no coiled wires hanging. And since I have the brow tinted on the windshield, you can’t even see it when it’s mounted from outside the truck. The mute button is mounted by my right knee on the center console. Last, but not least, is the new shifter knob and plasti-dipped console trim to keep from blinding me on sunny days.
I hope you all enjoyed seeing and reading about what I’ve worked so hard to create. I’ve had no real issues with my truck otherwise, except for a squeaky passenger seat that should be taken care of soon enough. Here are the part numbers for the audio gear.
Kenwood DNX7190hd Nav Head Unit
1pr - JL C5 653 (6.5”, 4”, 1” separates)
1pr - JL C2 650 (6.5” coax)
1 - JL XD 400/4 (400w 4ch amp)
1 - PAC C2R-CHY4 (CANBUS adapter for power, also required for backup camera harness)
1 - PAC CHYRVD (backup camera adapter)
1 - Axxess ASWC (steering wheel control module)
Gratuitous parting shot!