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My adult (old guy) oriented KILLER Audio upgrade - $538.00

Discussion in 'Audio & Video' started by Team Scream, Nov 21, 2019.

  1. Nov 21, 2019 at 9:26 PM
    #1
    Team Scream

    Team Scream [OP] Well-Known Member

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    Old Man $538.00 Sound System Upgrade w/Kicker DS in the doors, and a Cerwin Vega VPAS10 powered (10") sub under the drivers seat.
    So I just recently acquired my 2018 DCOR4x4 and the first mod I did to it was swapping out the heinous chrome trim ring around the grill with the black SR5 trim ring.

    The next thing I did was start working on the sound system.

    Going into this, I knew a couple things were certain. I wanted to keep the factory HU and retain all of the features that affords, and I wanted decent sound with enough bump to serve my wide range of musical tastes, which cover country, EDM, breakbeat and heavy metal.

    What I did NOT want to do was spend thousands of dollars on amps, custom enclosures, high end subs, components, a DSP and whatnot. Been there and done that several times in my life and know the rabbit hole committing to that madness opens up. I am an older guy now and care much more about the functionality and convenience than dedicating days on end to tuning my sound system every other week as my musical choice changes.

    Anyway, I decided to embrace the $250.00 "Premium" audio upgrade path outlined by @bshammer0 and see where that got me. I then locked on to @Exracer2 and his upgrade path, and sort of split the difference. A BIG shout out to those guys for blazing the trail and the detailed outline in their respective threads. Also, a big shout out to @destin_meeks as well for all of his participation in the threads mentioned.

    I ended up going with the Kicker DS 6x9's up front, the Subaru tweeters in the dash and Kicker DS 6-3/4" in the rear doors, along with a Cerwin Vega VPAS10" powered sub under the drivers seat.

    I did this in stages, starting with the tweeters. The following day I pulled the front door panels off and sound deadened them. I have used Raamat BXTII for years, along with their Ensolite which is a closed cell foam, peel and stick layer, that goes over the Raamat. I did approximately 40% of the total door skin area in Raamat, then 100% coverage of the door skin with Ensolite. The result is a door that is 100% "dead". There is ZERO "ringing" or reverberations coming from the doors when I use this method. These Tacoma doors are like steel drums (the musical instrument) prior to deadening, so deadening is an absolute must in my opinion. There is absolutely NO reason to use more than 40% BXTII or your choice of foil backed butyl based deadening material. All you are doing is adding un-necessary weight and making it nearly impossible for your paintless dent removal guy to sort you out if you ever need his services. In reality, all you really need is 25% coverage. The Ensolite is the key to a truly dead door. When combined with the BXTII or whatever else you use, your doors will be dead and your music will come alive.

    The following day, I did the rear doors using the same method/process.

    I drove the truck around for 2 days with just those ^ upgrades and was reasonably pleased with the sound quality and loudness, but there was definitely a gap in the sound stage. There just wasn't any punch to it, and it definitely needed a sub.

    Finally today I installed the under seat 10" Cerwin Vega VPAS powered sub.

    The sub took the longest to install because I ran 4 AWG wire into the cab to a fused distro (4 awg in to (x2) 8 awg out). I am only using one side of the distro, which is powering the sub, but I have another fused 8 awg leg I can run should I decide to install an amp later. Honestly, I doubt I ever will because once I got the sub installed and dialed in today, I was absolutely blown away by how good it sounds. It is truly all I really need and I simply can't see myself needing more power or volume any time soon. Nonetheless, I rigged it the way I did, to give me options down the road. Leaving myself another power leg is just good insurance and it was not any more expensive to do it the way that I did, save the short run of 4awg from the battery into the drivers side foot well, which is where I hid the distro.

    I have a 60amp inline fuse at the battery, and another 60amp fuse on the distro for the 8awg leg going to the sub. The sub also has it's own external fuse, so the entire run is fused both inside and outside the cab. Overkill? Yes. Good insurance? Absolutely.

    I also created a plug-n-play harness using Metra 70-1761 and 71-1761 plugs available on Amazon. The plug n play harness is DEFINITELY the way to go. It requires some soldering and the wires on both plugs are color coded, so connecting the dots is super simple. Once done, there is absolutely NO cutting of the factory wiring harnesses needed. This all happens behind the HU. Details on the makup of the PnP harness can be found on @Exracer2's thread.

    For the right and left front speaker signals that need to run to the sub/amp, I used 18-4 shielded cable, which is 4 individual wires that are combined in a single outer insulator. The stuff I used I got from my local electronics place for 35 cents a foot. I bought 20 feet and had some left over. I also bought s small pack of 4awg ring terminals for $1.50 (pack of 4).

    I ran everything down the drivers side door sill, and under the drivers seat to the sub. Clean, easy, short runs and it worked the first time I fired it up. All I had to do was tweak the sub a little and I was up and running

    So, all in, I am at $538.00 and a few hours stretched across 3 days to get it all installed.
    The end result is absolutely stunning in my opinion. Keep in mind that I have built fully active systems in my cars, where every single speakers is individually tweak-able, and spent THOUSANDS getting there. All of my previous installs would be considered old school by todays standards, but I was all in on Zapco back in the day, Phoenix Gold prior to that, with Oz, Image Dynamics horns under the dash, 30 band active EQ's, DSP, 6 individual amps in one car etc etc. So I know what spending money on the best you can get....gets you. I am not there any more. I have no desire to shake the earth with my subs, nor do I like listening to music at eyeball rattling levels for more than about a minute at a time now. Age has it's benefits. The shit you thought was important when you were in your 20's, is less important in your 50's.... It's also a little less expensive.

    What I wanted out of this system is EXACTLY what I got. Incredibly good sound, for under $500.00

    I did not take any pictures of the install, because ALL of this has already been documented by the awesome members I linked above, and their respective threads..

    Those threads were my inspiration. Here they are:

    https://www.tacomaworld.com/threads/premium-audio-upgrade-for-less-than-250.510424/

    https://www.tacomaworld.com/threads/kicker-hideaway-final-upgrade-to-the-250-3rd-gen-premium-upgrade-kicker-key-180-4-amp.541375/


    My parts list and links:

    RaamMat BXTII: I used a total of 9 sheets to do all 4 doors. They are $6.45 a sheet ($58.14)
    RaamMat Ensolite: I used 2 yards for all 4 doors. ($39.92)
    http://www.raamaudio.com/categories/Mat-and-Foam-Products/
    Cerwin Vega VPAS10 200w powered sub: ($160.00)
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01M5LBQTS/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o01_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    Kicker DS 6x9's Front Doors: ($74.95)
    https://www.crutchfield.com/p_206DSC6904/Kicker-43DSC69304.html
    Kicker DS 6-3/4 REar Doors: ($64.95)
    https://www.crutchfield.com/p_206DSC6704/Kicker-43DSC6704.html

    The Kickers come (crutchfield) with Metra speaker spacers which are a bit of a pain in the ass. For 2019 and under, they come with the proper adapter harnesses to make the speakers plug and play. I soldered these to the speakers instead of using the spade terminals. You don't have to do that if you don't want to, but it makes them bulletproof.
    The 6x9 spacers need to have the mounting holes enlarged/slotted a bit to make them work. You will see when you get them, but be prepared for a little frustration. The rears are fine, but unless you want to notch slots in your door sheet metal, use a dremel to removes some of the plastic on the DOOR side of the spacers, where the screws/bolts pass through so that you can recess the head of the bolt enough to clear the sheet metal. The (provided) nuts will go on the speaker side. No sheet metal cutting required.

    The Subaru Tweeters I got from my local Subaru dealer because I get a bit of a deal from them. They can be had on Amazon for $95.00, These are plug and play so no explanation needed here.
    https://www.amazon.com/Genuine-Subaru-H631SFJ100-Tweeter-Kit/dp/B00BINKKGM/ref=sr_1_2?crid=1STZQHSX9A9GU&keywords=subaru+tweeter&qid=1574398375&s=electronics&sprefix=Subaru+Twee%2Celectronics%2C182&sr=1-2
    The Metra Plugs i used to create a PnP harness are: ($15.00 for both)

    Metra 71-1761
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00029X1KA/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o01_s01?ie=UTF8&psc=1
    Metra 70-1761
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0002BEQJ8/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o01_s01?ie=UTF8&psc=1
    The 4awg, 8awg and 18-4 (shielded) I got at my local electronics store, which for most, is like a unicorn and I understand that. I just happen to live in an area that has a bad ass electronics store that carries lots of bitchen shit and makes it easy. You might have to grab it on Amazon or hit up a local car audio shop and see if they will sell it to you by the foot without ripping a hole in your ass in the process. When in doubt, buy an extra foot or 2. It's way easier to cut a piece off if it's too long than the other way around so just know that. I bought 8 feet of each and had plenty. For the 18-4, I bought 20 feet and used about 15 feet of it.

    So that is it. The rest is all about you and your elbow grease. All in, I am at $538.00 for what I can only describe as unbelievable. Most aftermarket double din head units (worth having) cost more than that by themselves. And NOTHING screams I have a shitload of money in my sound system like a $700.00 head unit sitting up there in plain view for the junkies and crack heads to see.

    I am pretty much convinced that if you are over 40, are done with clubbin and cruisin the boulevards while your license plate bounces off your tailgate, that these affordable upgrades will make you smile from ear to ear. It is not going to win you any SPL trophies, nor is it going to wow the bro's at the local high end car audio store, where they push $500.00 ++ bit.one's at you, claiming the porn stars will come oozing out of the woodwork once you let them build you a system based around Audison and Hertz components, but it WILL provide amazingly full sound, loud enough for you to enjoy your commute every day. That is the effect it will have on me.

    If I were going to do anything differently, I would and probably will at some point, swap out the 6x9 3 ways in the front doors for 6x9 components and just shelve the tweeters that come with a component set. THE ONLY issue my described system has, is that when listening to satellite radio, with it's overly compressed shit quality, the tweeters in the 6x9's overwhelm the dash tweeters and sound a bit harsh. That being said, I do not listen to satellite radio for music generally. I do however listen to talk radio now and again, and for that, I do not need loud, I just need to hear it. IF you are a satellite radio junky, then go with 6x9 singles (woofers) in the doors and the dash tweeters and call it a day. That being said, before I commit to swapping out the 6x9's, I will probably try to seal up the tweeters in the DS 6x9's with a small piece of BXTII temporarily to see if that helps, and if it does, I will probably glue something over the tweeter to take it out of the equation. I like the mid range driver in the 6x9's as it adds a nice fill that compliments the dash tweeters, and when using USB as my source, the way it sits now sounds great to me... It's just the satellite radio thing that bugs me a little bit.

    Any questions or specifics of the install, just ask... Happy to help.








     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2019
    502TACO, Evlkarl, CXYyuppie and 10 others like this.
  2. Nov 22, 2019 at 7:06 AM
    #2
    Fulton246

    Fulton246 Well-Known Member

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    Great write up. Very timely as I am getting ready to place an order for a very similar setup. I am definitely going with the Subaru Kicker tweeters in the dash, but am still deciding on front and rear speakers. For the front, I am trying to decide between 2-way Kicker KS series, 2-way JL Audio C1-690x or component JL Audio C1-690 (I would ditch the JL tweeters if I go with components)... Any reason you decided to go with DS series instead of KS series?
     
  3. Nov 22, 2019 at 9:43 AM
    #3
    Team Scream

    Team Scream [OP] Well-Known Member

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    Old Man $538.00 Sound System Upgrade w/Kicker DS in the doors, and a Cerwin Vega VPAS10 powered (10") sub under the drivers seat.
    Mainly because I rushed into it when I started buying things after reading the $250.00 upgrade post. I wanted to try and stay under $500.00 AND have a sub, so that was what drove the decisions. Also, the KS are high power speakers with rubber surrounds and when running HU power, you wont get the excursion and therefore air movement out of them like you will with the poly surrounds. The driving factor overall, was keeping the price as close to $500.00 as I could and still get decent sounds out of it.

    Like I mentioned tho, the only time the 3 ways up front are an issue is with crappy satellite stations. There are some stations that sound good, but most of them are not worth listening to loud, but that is the case with any system and satellite radio.
     
  4. Nov 30, 2019 at 10:59 AM
    #4
    Ozzy_Bear

    Ozzy_Bear Well-Known Member

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    Great write up, looking to do similar upgrade trying to keep the price low and missus happy
     
  5. Dec 4, 2019 at 8:22 PM
    #5
    beetledude

    beetledude Well-Known Member

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    can you describe your use of the raamat and ensolite a bit more? where was the raamat applied vs the ensolite? when you say door skin is that the interior (cavity) of the door?

    thank you!
     
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  6. Dec 4, 2019 at 8:31 PM
    #6
    Hobbs

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    Subbed! I am a good deal of the way there. I may just have a look at that Cerwin Vega...
     
  7. Dec 10, 2019 at 11:36 AM
    #7
    Team Scream

    Team Scream [OP] Well-Known Member

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    Old Man $538.00 Sound System Upgrade w/Kicker DS in the doors, and a Cerwin Vega VPAS10 powered (10") sub under the drivers seat.
    Hobbs, I can say with absolute certainty that the Cerwin Vega 10" sub is the shit. It is now nicely broken in and sounds AMAZING. It fits perfectly under the drivers seat, with NO seat lift.

    For $100.00 less than the Kicker 8" everyone loves to use, you get a 10" sub and more power.

    A perfect addition to the inexpensive upgrade path.
     
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  8. Dec 10, 2019 at 11:49 AM
    #8
    Hobbs

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    Aaawwww piss. I have a Kicker 8" on the way. I waffled on the 8" or 10" size, thinking the 10" might be more difficult to fit under the seats...
     
  9. Dec 10, 2019 at 12:17 PM
    #9
    Team Scream

    Team Scream [OP] Well-Known Member

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    Old Man $538.00 Sound System Upgrade w/Kicker DS in the doors, and a Cerwin Vega VPAS10 powered (10") sub under the drivers seat.

    Sorry I missed your post brother.

    So yeah, I pulled the door panels off, then peeled back the plastic water barrier, which is easier if you do it when it is cold outside, since the butyl they use to stick the thing on, comes off nicely if you peel up a small corner, then use quick yanking motion to pull it away 6 or 8 inches at a time. Then just fold it back on itself and stick it to the door up and out of the way of the opening. You do NOT have to remove it completely.

    Then, use some electrical tape and cover the sharp openings of the speaker hole and the bigger hole because you will have your hands and arms up inside the door and that shit is sharp as hell. It will cut you to the bone if you're not careful. Taping the edges saves you from that.

    Then, you wipe down the inside of the sheet metal (outer door surface) with alcohol or whatever you have handy (glass cleaner is fine) to prep the surface.

    Then, I cut several (approximately 5" wide) strips from a sheet of Raammat, and start laying it down (laterally) on the sheet metal, starting from the top and working my way down as I complete each layer. Again, you do NOT have to cover the entire door skin with the stuff. You really only need to do 30% or so. I did about 60% because i had enough material to do it, but it is completely unnecessary to use that much. Lay down a strip, leave a 1 or 2" gap , then line up another strip. The as you move down, just use a "running bond" pattern like you see on concrete block or brick walls, so that the gaps on the row above, do not line up with the gaps on the following row. Do that for the entire door top to bottom, leaving a space or gap between vertical layers just like you did laterally.

    After all the Raammat is in place, I put gloves on and go back over all the pieces and rub down each piece to make sure it is stuck down everywhere. Gloves keep you from cutting your fingers on the thick foil backing. That shit is sharp too.... Not rubber gloves, real gloves.

    Once you are done with that, start cutting 5" strips of (peel and stick) Ensolite, and cover the entire door skin, right over the top of the Raammat. You can overlap the strips of Ensolite, so don't worry about being perfect here. The concept is to cover all of the Raammat and the entirety of the door skin with Ensolite. I double up the Ensolite right behind the door speakers to add a little more bass response and it works really well.

    The way you know you have done it right, is by knocking on the door from the outside BEFORE you start this process and notice the steel drum resonance that the door makes with no deadening in place, then do it after every piece of Raammat you lay down. Once you get a few strips of Raammat laid down, the resonance stops, almost completely. It only gets better with every strip you lay down. Then, once you get the Ensolite laid down, knock around on the outer door skin again and you will experience a totally dead door. No more ringing or resonance.

    Most people go WAY overboard with sound deadening and if you do the same knock tests on their doors, they are no deader than yours will be if you follow my lead here. People that yank their seats and carpet to do the floors are wasting time in my opinion. That floor section is curved, has humps and reinforcement everywhere, and you are not going to improve upon it in any meaningful way. The roof however, is another story. The roof is the worst offender of the entire cab, but unless you are going to be running multiple sub drivers and 1000 watts to your sub enclosure, going after the roof is a lot of work not worth doing unless you are a glutton for punishment.

    Do the front and rear doors using the method I described and you will be BLOWN away with the improvement in sound quality, and how solid your doors feel when closing or opening them. It is a HUGE improvement.

    No pics of the Ensolite... Sorry, but here are a couple pics of the Raammat and water guard on the rear door. As you can see, it's not critical how you lay the stuff down. Just cover between 30 and 60 % of the door with the shit and call it a day.

    Hope that helps.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
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  10. Dec 10, 2019 at 12:24 PM
    #10
    Team Scream

    Team Scream [OP] Well-Known Member

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    Old Man $538.00 Sound System Upgrade w/Kicker DS in the doors, and a Cerwin Vega VPAS10 powered (10") sub under the drivers seat.
    Send that thing back and get the Vega. You won't be disappointed. I guarantee it. Yeah it will take you a few more days to get there, but the end result is well worth it.
     
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  11. Dec 11, 2019 at 10:06 PM
    #11
    beetledude

    beetledude Well-Known Member

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    edit -- never mind, you posted how much ensolite used in the original post. thanks again for the great write up!
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2019
  12. Dec 27, 2019 at 8:53 AM
    #12
    teamhypoxia

    teamhypoxia MichelinMan

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    Just saw this.... glad you like the sub. I was gambling when I got it and feel like I won the gamble :D
     
  13. Dec 30, 2019 at 8:00 PM
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    mikez104

    mikez104 Member

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    Damn, I've been sucked in.o_O Ordered the tweeters and front speakers. On the fence about the sub because I have one and an amp from a previous system but that looks so easy to stick under the front seat I may be getting it. Already bought a head unit. God, this is how it all starts... Headed down the rabbit hole I guess.
     
  14. Dec 30, 2019 at 8:58 PM
    #14
    CAG Gonzo

    CAG Gonzo Ascendant Spaghetti

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    One of us! One of us!
     
  15. Dec 30, 2019 at 9:24 PM
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    Shouldnthave

    Shouldnthave Where all the white women at?

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    Great write up! This is exactly what I was looking for. I’m not only excited to get a sound system that is worth listening to, but doors that don’t sound like I kicked a coffee can when I close them.
     
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  16. Dec 31, 2019 at 12:31 PM
    #16
    James710

    James710 Well-Known Member

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    Love this write up.

    it’s inspired me to get my audio game going- good sound on a budget. I too have ‘been there, done that’.

    OP, can you touch on clarity a bit more? Also, keeping a factory HU, was the sound output/ volume noticeable as well?
     
  17. Jan 2, 2020 at 7:57 AM
    #17
    Skydvrr

    Skydvrr IG: @kalopsianick

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    How hard is it to wire in that key amp? I'm thinking I need one for my kickers in the door. The hu really struggles.
     
  18. Jan 2, 2020 at 10:08 AM
    #18
    Team Scream

    Team Scream [OP] Well-Known Member

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    Old Man $538.00 Sound System Upgrade w/Kicker DS in the doors, and a Cerwin Vega VPAS10 powered (10") sub under the drivers seat.
    For me, the clarity is fantastic on HU power. There are some satellite stations that just sound like crap, and it is what is is. Amplifying crap sound results in louder crap sound, so if you have Sat you know what I mean there. As far as output/volume/sound pressure levels, it gets more than loud enough for me as I may have mentioned. I can hear it perfectly while cruising freeway speeds with the window(s) down for sure. Hope that helps. The only other thing I mentioned is that because I put 3 ways in the front doors AND the Subaru tweeters in the dash, there are times on certain songs where the door tweets clash with the dash tweets, and I was going to cover the door tweets with a piece of sound deadener, but at this point, it rarely bothers me, so that is an experiment I may tackle once it warms up a bit outside. Right now, it all sounds good to me so I am on to other projects.

    Pretty simple as I understand it. Here is the best thread I have found on wiring it in using existing power. This is not how I would do it, but there a plenty of guys that have done it like this with no issues, so it seems like a valid, easy way to go. If I were to do it, I would tap into the power I ran into the cab already, as I think it is a much better way to go.

    https://www.tacomaworld.com/threads/tpp4s-no-nonsense-guide-to-kicker-key-t-harness-16-19.642415/
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2020
  19. Jan 4, 2020 at 12:06 PM
    #19
    mikez104

    mikez104 Member

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    Yup, I drank the Kool aid. Got the tweeters and front door speakers installed last night. I threw some sound deadener stuff in the doors while I had the skins off. I had already installed a new headunit before these mods. Finished cleaning up my wiring this morning and going to drop it in now. I also got that key amp.

    IMG_20200104_150044.jpg
     
  20. Jan 5, 2020 at 11:37 AM
    #20
    mikez104

    mikez104 Member

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    Well I got it all stuffed into the dash and I have to say that it does sound a lot better. I will be adding a sub though. All went well except for one screw that fell into the abyss. Dropped down ind and is lost forever.

    Oh, I still need to do the alignment on the key amp it says to have the input gains set to a minimum when doing that. Unfortunately I buried the amp down somewhere need that lost screw. Has anyone here done the alignment? Do you really need to have the amp inputs at minimum? I really don't want to pull all that mess back out if the dash.
     

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