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2021 Ram 2500 HD Tradesman
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42 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Been awhile since I posted but I wanted to post up on some fun I have been having. I bought my truck new in August of 2010. I installed the REr radio soon thereafter along with a Lockpick 3.0 to allow me to connect a small back-up camera, Bluetooth, iPod, etc. It basically duplicates the stock RER in my base ST truck. Understand that I have a regular cab, long bed truck with manual windows and door locks - basic except for the Hemi...

Wanting to improve the sound and seeing the unused center channel speaker location - my truck had the base RSC radio with 6-speakers - I bought a JBL MS-8 from Crutchfield. I replaced the stock speakers in all locations. The doors and rears are JL Audio 5 1/4" 2-ways with adapter plates, and the (now) three in the dash are all JL Audio 3 1/2" two-ways.

I just wrapped up installing the MS-8. Not for the faint of heart, but I took my time and ran all new speaker wire from each location back to the driver's underseat area where the MS-8 lives. I also got a Kicker 10" powered sub box that just fits in the rear storage area. True - it is not a ultimate in driving bass, but it plays the low stuff OK for me. Of course, I have nice 10" JL Audio sub in a bigger box but I don't think I could fit that behind the seat - maybe a custom enclosure if I decide I need deeper bass someday...

Lessons learned: be deliberate and run each wire one at a time and solder the connections. You have plenty of room to run and hide these wires... Use the front door speaker harnesses to tap in on each side for a stereo pair of speaker-level connections that will feed the input side of the MS-8. I read on this forum and agree that tapping any other speaker leads (I tried the rears first (thinking they were full range - nope!) for ease in wiring - results were not good!) results in bad sound. Like folks in the other threads posted up here, for the base stereo trucks (and remember that mine is a two-door, no back seat, etc...) you need the front door speaker wiring to get full-range 20-20,000 sound to the MS-8. For those front doors, I temporarily unscrewed the stock rubber boot from the forward area of the door (carefully get the weatherstrip up and over the two closest pins in that area...) and carefully opened it up to feed the new wires in each door - yes, one wire to the door speaker FROM the MS-8 and another wire FROM the door and stock speaker harness there TO the MS-8 to supply the input signal. After running the wires I put the boot back together and it all looks stock. A good thing about our trucks is that there is alot of room in kick panels, behind dash, etc. to run new wires. So much easier than say on an imported sports car or the like...

I never did figure out where (or if) my base truck audio system hides an outboard amp - if there even is is one. Anybody know for sure? Maybe behind steering column like on the Alpine-optioned trucks?

Logic 7 sounds great in my truck and this was a worthy upgrade. Highly recommended! Even an easier recommendation if you choose to dump the stock head unit and go aftermarket. For those, the RCA outs from the aftermarket head unit will feed a pre-amp (low) level signal via an RCA cable into the MS-8 with no need to go through the intial level-setting drill (using supplied CD) that I had to do because I was using an OEM radio with speaker- (high) level inputs to feed the MS-8.

Now all I need to source a new center speaker grille - the one on my truck did not have the openings cut out, so I need the grille from the Alpine-optioned trucks I guess. I found one online for ~$20 (dark gray) and I hope it has the speaker hole formed in it... We will see.

Your thoughts welcome...
 

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2021 Ram 2500 HD Tradesman
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42 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Really?

Not worthless to me - I took 20 minutes out of a busy day at the office to write a few thoughts about some fun I had working on the truck last weekend. Crutchfield takes tons of photos of many vehicles to document what they do - I am just an amateur. Maybe I'll post up some photos (if I am allowed to do that on this forum site) when I think I have done something novel, otherwise my words were thought to suffice as many of you have likely done far more.

Last night I pulled the RER radio out (it had been acting up) and went back to the RSC - leaving the MS-8 in the truck of course. I am now planning to do a stealth install of some Kenwood gear that sends source signals to any head unit (or processor/amp) Aux In jacks - of the MS-8 in this case. I will use a Kenwood KOS-A300 External Media Controller ($50 at Crutchfield right now) which will accept my iPod and bypass its onboard DAC in favor of the superior DAC found in the KOS-A300 (much better sound quality this way - and all my tunes are Apple Lossless), their KTC-HR300 HD Radio Tuner and their KCA-BT300 Bluetooth Hands-Free Interface. Anyone looking into the truck thinking of mischief will see a base stereo head unit and move on... I can use my Blackberry Storm 2 and its free Telenav app for navigation.

Why? Just wanting to try something a bit different. Any sources playing through the Kenwood and into the MS-8 directly will sound superb as they avoid going through the factory stereo and its speaker outputs which feed the MS-8.
 

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2021 Ram 2500 HD Tradesman
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42 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Going for an Aftermarket Head Unit...

The Kenwood KOS-A300 External Media Controller ($50 at Crutchfield right now) with their KTC-HR300 HD Radio Tuner and their KCA-BT300 Bluetooth Hands-Free Interface all worked fine. Sound quality of iPod throught the A300 was superb! Unfortunately, even as a roughed-in install (no holes cut in center console of dash yet!) there were just too many little displays and knobs to try and affix somewhere in the dash area for safe use, so I punted. I AM keeping the A300 (sent back the BT and HD modules) for possible use on another project - old car where I want a real stealth stereo, leaving the stock head unit in dash as inop...

I just ordered a new for 2012 Pioneer AVH-P8400BH DVD Receiver and I look forward to trying this one out. Has integral Bluetooth and HD radio, bypasses iPod's DAC, and has a nice 2-DIN touch screen with backup camera input. I will probably never insert a CDd or DVD in the unit, but no Media Center unit approaches this one in capability... Really, seems much like a top-end Nav head uinit - without the Nav. I did spring for Pioneer's excellent Pioneer GEX-P920XM XM Satellite Radio add-on tuner. I can always add a nav module later but I am not sure that I can get Nav much better than I get now on my Blackberry Storm 2 when the screen is set sideways...and the app is free w my data plan... This head unit and the MS-8 ought to do the trick.

More to follow...
 
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