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Stock stereo upgrade - in case you need it.

Discussion in '3rd Gen. Tacomas (2016-2023)' started by hockeyman, Jun 24, 2021.

  1. Jun 24, 2021 at 10:56 PM
    #1
    hockeyman

    hockeyman [OP] Active Member

    Joined:
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    Jeff
    Vehicle:
    2018 Tacoma TRD Off-Road 4x4
    Dealer installed TRD intake and exhaust, window tint and Predator tubes.
    I posted this on another site and thought people here might be interested too. If it's too long or too "Amazon promoty" take it down by all means.

    Stock Stereo Upgrade - Kicker CS speakers - Subaru dash tweeters - Kicker KEY 200.4 amplifier

    Disclaimer: I am not a professional Tacoma guy or stereo guy. I have installed a ton of equipment over the years and everything I have done on this truck is working well to my liking. If you come here to bash.......well you can just buzz off and write your own story. Also...I am an Amazon whore, so what of it!

    Otherwise, grab a beer or other refreshment and enjoy the read. Sorry I am long winded for detail and entertainment value.

    My truck: 2018 TRDOR with stock non-JBL Entune head unit, Kicker CS series in all four doors, Subaru dash tweets and then.....enter the Kicker Key 200.4 Digital Sound Processor (DSP) Amplifier.

    I picked it up on Amazon for $200 on Prime day. It came two days later as is with tradition. Links to all the gear is below.

    The installation:
    First, disconnect your 12v+ terminal.

    In most cases, I would be installing a new head unit, running new speaker wires, doing cross-overs, amps, yadda yadda yadda. When I got my truck I wanted to keep it as simple as possible, but alas, I needed more sound and can't help but to upgrade/customize. I spend a lot of time in my truck and like all kinds of music, but didn't want to break the bank or wire up all that old technology stuff. At 48, it's just not my thing anymore, but stock sucks.

    I have taken the head unit out several times for other projects like 4 cameras around the vehicle, adding the short wave radio, radar detector, and some other goodies. This is a piece of cake if you've never done it. There are lots of videos on that out there too. Basically snap off the plastic trim, remove 4 10mm bolts and done.

    I tracked down the wiring schematic from the web, see below also. I did not buy a wiring harness or anything as I didn't find anything that was a direct fit....although I am sure it exists. I like to directly wire/solder when possible anyway, so I thought I would do that. Come to find out, Tacoma wiring is made out of vibranium or something because NONE of my solder would adhere to the wires. Yes, I used flux, and 3 types of solder at different temps with my iron. It's the FIRST time, I was unable to solder wires and felt immediately inadequate. I settled for in-line wire connectors which goes against every fiber of my being, but also just wanted it done. These tend to come undone sometimes so take your time and really line up the wires and crimps. I used Super-33 electric tape to further secure the connections after crimping and test-pulling. All is very secure.

    Pro tip: Super 33 is the ONLY electric tape worthy of your money. It's expensive and worth every penny. Heat resistant and won't unravel on you.

    I ran a dedicated 12v+ from the battery through the firewall and grounded the amp to the side of the head unit. I did NOT use the remote (blue) power on wire as there is a dip switch on the amp that allows you to negate it.

    I connected up all the wires and placed the provided microphone on the top of my head rest. I downloaded the "pink noise" files from Kicker, placed them on a USB drive. (Note: formatted FAT32 and used a small 1GB drive in the USB/AUX port) I had not yet reinstalled the unit or amp in case something went awry.

    Double check the two gain controls on the amp are completely turned down (counter clockwise) before you start.

    I plugged the battery back in and everything powered up as expected. I played the radio just to make sure all the connections were passing through the amp appropriately and they were. I turned the volume to about 25 or 30 for the microphone test setup. I started the pink noise file on the USB input and pressed the microphone button and closed the door (from the outside).

    The DSP did the rest. It runs a series of pitched noises through all your speakers and automagically identifies frequencies and their origin. Once done, it plays a lovely happy song indicating it's done. You can toggle between original and non-optimized.

    Now, here is where I am stuck for now. I hear at LEAST 3-4 different settings....as if I am scrolling through multiple EQ. It was about 9:45pm when I completed and my wife suggested I stop pissing off the neighbors with my various choices of test tunes.....including Disturbed, Five Finger Death Punch and The Crystal Method to name a few. High Roller from Crystal is a great song to test your system IMO. Tomorrow when all the old folks are at bingo, I will retest the sound and see what's what. It also felt like the amp wasn't saving the setting when I turned off the truck. I could use the microphone toggle to put it back to what I liked, but maybe I missed a step in "confirmation" or something.

    There are a few great ways to listen to the "optimized" endstate for sure. I don't want to keep the microphone connected and have to toggle that from start to start, however. The amp looks like it will fit nicely just below the head unit inside the dash and therefore, I will not be hard mounting it anywhere. Instead, I have used 3" rubber O rings around the body of the amp for any vibration and will secure it in place with some foam from around the house. There is no heat sink or fan on the amp to worry about obstructing and the head unit has one to move air in there. I doubt it will over heat or have any issues when I am done.

    If you have any questions or want more detail, I am happy to provide it. Hopefully this helps someone at least. For what it's worth, I am already VERY happy with this modest stereo upgrade and all in was about $450 plus my time to install it which I really enjoy still.

    Here are some links to the products if you're interested in doing some or any of this project.

    Amp - (bought on Prime day and got $50 off)
    https://www.amazon.com/Kicker-47KEY...624597495&sprefix=kicker+200.4,aps,300&sr=8-2

    Speakers -
    Front door speakers https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07NSC87RF/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8

    Back door speakers
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07NS7NZLX/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8

    Speaker wires for plug and play
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01GEIP7RW/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8

    Mounting gear
    6x9s
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00IIC6CPE/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8

    6.75s
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00IIC63P8/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8

    Tweeters
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00BINKKGM/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8

    Kicker Pink Noise files
    https://www.kicker.com/test-tones

    Head unit wiring
    Large plug in head unit
    White = constant 12v
    Gray = switched 12v ignition
    Ground = white/black
    Green = dimmer
    Front left + = violet/black amp white
    Front left - = violet/white amp wht/blk
    Front right + = violet/red. amp gray
    Front right - = violet/green. amp gray/blk
    Small plug in head unit
    Left rear + = white Amp green
    Left rear - = black. Amp gen/blk
    Right rear + = blue. Amp purple
    Right rear - = green. Amp prpl/blk

    The tan wire is for the phone mute I believe. I didn’t mess with it.
     
  2. Jun 25, 2021 at 4:58 AM
    #2
    tgerno

    tgerno Well-Known Member

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    Where did you mount the amp?
     
    pwimberly76 and eclipse98 like this.
  3. Jun 25, 2021 at 6:48 AM
    #3
    hockeyman

    hockeyman [OP] Active Member

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    Dealer installed TRD intake and exhaust, window tint and Predator tubes.
    It appears it will rest nicely just below the head unit in the dash. I will likely snap a pic later today since I didn't finish up last night. I emailed Kicker support to see if I missed a step. As mentioned in that lengthy thread, it seems my EQ selection isn't sticking.
     
  4. Jun 25, 2021 at 6:49 AM
    #4
    tgerno

    tgerno Well-Known Member

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    Thanks - looking forward to seeing the pictures.
     
    hockeyman[QUOTED][OP] likes this.
  5. Jun 25, 2021 at 6:52 AM
    #5
    hockeyman

    hockeyman [OP] Active Member

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    Dealer installed TRD intake and exhaust, window tint and Predator tubes.
    It should be mentioned that support@kicker.com is fantastic at replying. I emailed them at 6:42am PST and got a reply with suggestions by 6:47!! Great customer service!
     
  6. Jun 25, 2021 at 6:57 AM
    #6
    tgerno

    tgerno Well-Known Member

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    Good to hear. I was planning on using their components when I upgrade. Did you install any sound deadening in the doors?
     
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2021
  7. Jun 25, 2021 at 6:59 AM
    #7
    Deacon Blues

    Deacon Blues Well-Known Member

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    Eight tweeters now...why?
     
  8. Jun 25, 2021 at 7:00 AM
    #8
    hockeyman

    hockeyman [OP] Active Member

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    2018 Tacoma TRD Off-Road 4x4
    Dealer installed TRD intake and exhaust, window tint and Predator tubes.
    I used to get all crazy with Dynamat and separates and amps and crossovers and and and and......but with this truck no.

    But I didn't want the extra door weight as lame as that sounds for a truck. I'm sure that would make even that much more a of a difference and it's never a bad idea.
     
  9. Jun 25, 2021 at 7:01 AM
    #9
    Skydvrr

    Skydvrr IG: @kalopsianick

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    I love my kicker key! Especially with morels in the front doors :humble:
     
    hockeyman[OP] likes this.
  10. Jun 25, 2021 at 7:03 AM
    #10
    hockeyman

    hockeyman [OP] Active Member

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    Dealer installed TRD intake and exhaust, window tint and Predator tubes.
    I guess I didn't look at it like that but that's a really good point. The dash mounted subbie tweets are probably all that are needed, but I like how it all sounds. I guess in hindsight, and maybe the next move, will be to run just some 6" subs in the doors in the rear. Not sure how what would work out and I do have passengers enough to want full sound range back there.
     
  11. Jun 25, 2021 at 7:04 AM
    #11
    hockeyman

    hockeyman [OP] Active Member

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    Dealer installed TRD intake and exhaust, window tint and Predator tubes.
    How did you install yours? What position are your EQ and Time Delay dip switches? That is the change I am making later as was suggested by the Kicker dude.
     
    Skydvrr[QUOTED] likes this.
  12. Jun 25, 2021 at 7:05 AM
    #12
    Skydvrr

    Skydvrr IG: @kalopsianick

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    Honestly no fuckin idea. I bought my setup used, wiring and everything. I just plugged it in and did the auto tune thing and let er rip. If u figure something out tho, lemme know!
     
  13. Jun 25, 2021 at 7:13 AM
    #13
    hockeyman

    hockeyman [OP] Active Member

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    Dealer installed TRD intake and exhaust, window tint and Predator tubes.
    Why mess with a good thing!?! If you like the way yours sounds, as you said.....letter'rip!!!

    Once dialed in, I will snap pics of my dips switches and mount location for the group
     
    Skydvrr[QUOTED] likes this.
  14. Jun 25, 2021 at 7:16 AM
    #14
    aturk

    aturk Well-Known Member

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    There are some other good threads on here about making the proper T harness so you wouldn't have to touch any of the factory wiring. Many of us have done it successfully.

    I ran my truck with all the Kicker upgraded speakers for a year, and thought it sounded pretty good. Added the Key 200 amp about 6 months ago, and that made a big difference. I still need to add some sound deadener in places, and yes it would sound better with a dedicated sub/sub amp, but I'm pretty happy for having $600 or so in it.
     
    hockeyman[OP] likes this.
  15. Jun 25, 2021 at 7:19 AM
    #15
    hockeyman

    hockeyman [OP] Active Member

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    Dealer installed TRD intake and exhaust, window tint and Predator tubes.
    Patience is a virtue I don't always possess. :p I know there are tons of "proper" solutions out there. Glad you still like your setup after 6 months too!
     
  16. Jun 25, 2021 at 7:21 AM
    #16
    Skydvrr

    Skydvrr IG: @kalopsianick

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    Yeah fair point. But u know how our chimp brains are, always want MOAR!
     
  17. Jun 25, 2021 at 8:04 AM
    #17
    Woodrow F Call

    Woodrow F Call Kindling crackles and the smoke curls up...

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    What improvements are you getting sound wise?
     
  18. Jun 25, 2021 at 5:40 PM
    #18
    papito3kids

    papito3kids Well-Known Member

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    Does the Kicker Key amp do anything for the complete lack of volume available from the head unit to the rear speakers? I'm guessing that's more because the head unit doesn't send much signal back there, but wondering if anything magical happened after adding the amp? Would love to bring those rear kickers alive that I spent $$ on.
     
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