View Full Version : Hidden Audio

07-14-2015, 10:28 PM
I thought I would share my setup because I'm pretty pleased with the way it worked out. I wanted better sound quality than the stock premium sound and the ability to connect an auxiliary input with out sacrificing that sound quality. I also wanted to keep the stock equipment in place and not hack ANYTHING.

Phase 1 was aftermarket speakers. My premium sound speakers were actually in pretty good condition because the car was so well taken care of but they still aren't of high quality by today's standards. So I purchased a set of Infinity Kappa 6832cf 5x7's (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002CMUKZY?psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00). I was actually aiming for a set of speakers that were good quality but on the lower end of power handling. The infinity's can handle 60W RMS power. My thinking was it would be better to match the power handling of the speakers to power out put of the premium sound amp.... well this was as close as I could get on a reputable brand. I read in an old thread the stock amp was about 15W RMS per channel. I hooked them up using Metra 72-5512 connectors (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0002BESTQ?psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00) - plug and play, no cutting or splicing. 2 sets.

When I turned the radio back on the sound quality was marginally better but not really much louder. I have a bluetooth FM modulator that I could use to stream from my iphone but the sound quality wasn't great through that either. I decided the stock head unit and amp just weren't going to cut it.

Phase 2 was replacing the factory amp with something more powerful with auxiliary input. There were a couple off-brand items and a few ways to pick an amp of your choosing and mickey mouse an aux input but in the end I went with the Kenwood 1824BT (http://www.ebay.com/itm/121619959280?_trksid=p2057872.m2749.l2649&ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT). This is a bluetooth capable (which is what I really wanted) 4 channel amp with a remote control and puts out 400W max / 180W RMS. It's designed for recreational vehicles (boats, atvs, etc...). When it arrived I inspected the provided wiring harness which includes, power, remote on, ground and 4 speakers all in the same plug. The power and ground were the exact same size as the stock power and ground wires (about 12 gauge) so I figured reusing these was a safe bet. Now the plug out to the speakers from the stock amp also has the power in, remote on and ground in it, which conveniently were all the same connections the Kenwood harness needs. I knew if I could find the stock amp jumper harness I could cut and modify it to suit my needs. I couldn't find just the jumper so I bought a kit which included it - Metra 70-5514 (http://www.ebay.com/itm/391087965452?_trksid=p2057872.m2749.l2649&ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT). I spliced one end of this directly to the Kenwood harness. I had to borrow some pins from the end of the harness that was not being used. Plug and play now. Again, no factory wires have been disturbed, just unplugged.

Now I simply zip tied the new amp where the original amp was. Now for the remote control, which needs to be plugged in because this is what carries the bluetooth signal. The remote fit perfectly where the ash-tray went and is nicely hidden. I might still make a bezel to go around it but it's really not necessary. It basically clips right into the space with a little coercion. Getting the wire down through the center console and under the carpet running over the tunnel was a chore but can be done with a coat hanger. Then run it under the seat, into the trunk and up to the rear package tray to the amp. Completely hidden, you would never see any of it.

Now, as long as my factory head unit is turned on the Kenwood amp turns on, automatically connects to my iphone and I'm ready to listen. I can stream from one of the many fm radio apps, pandora, spotify, youtube or what ever is resident on my phone. The Infinity's scream with 180W going to them. Great high and mid range with a very flat response. There is pretty good lows but you wouldn't mistake it for a sub. All in all - day and night difference from the premium sound.

A few cons; Volume control is a little fickle. The bluetooth controller only controls amp gain, not iphone volume. Not a big deal, play with it a little and youll find something that works for you. Equalizer - this is a beef with apple, not kenwood. There is no way to adjust the equalizer on streaming audio feeds. You can only do this for music in your own library. Again, not a big deal, it sounds damn good on most all genres I lsitened to anyhow. BIG pro is I have expandability. The kenwood has pre-amp outs so I can add a subwoofer at a later date. I would have to run more power to a second amp but at least the signal is available right there. I'd look at some of the powered "underseat" sub-boxes because they would fit nicely where the stock JBL box would've gone. But for now, I don't need anymore. This thing kicks ~~~ over stock and I can easily swap right back as nothing was cut or broken and I am retaining all the original components. Total spent was $275. 63778637796378063781

Brad Klein
07-16-2015, 11:57 AM
I also wanted to keep the stock equipment in place and not hack ANYTHING.

Now I simply zip tied the new amp where the original amp was.


these comments dont work LOL you couldnt have screwed it in place

looks good and looks like you took your time but a bezel would finish it off though and make it look more factory.
adjusting the gains for volume isnt ideal (if I read that right), and besides other than trying to keep the stock look why keep the factory radio for about $100 you can have a nice stereo with all the inputs on it. These cars are 20+ years old so unless you're living in a high crime area and not driving around windows down volume up you should be pretty safe

07-16-2015, 02:34 PM

these comments dont work LOL you couldnt have screwed it in place

Why don't they work? I removed the stock amp, which just clips into the package tray and put the Kenwood in it's place. I didn't screw anything in, I just passed zip ties through the amp and existing holes in the package tray.

Also, the ONLY purpose of doing it this way was to leave the stock head unit in place. I am not in the least worried about theft. I understand I can get a decent head unit for $100 but I view this car as somewhat of a show-piece (even if the larger collectors community is unaware of it) so the original look is important to me. On the bezel, I agree, it would be nice looking, but I just close the ashtray when I'm not fiddling with the volume or it's parked at a show and it disappears.

This is by no means the easiest way to upgrade a sound system but it worked for my needs and sounds damn good. It is worth noting that the Kenwood amp is FAR more powerful than most, if not all, head units out there and was reasonably priced at $150. Another note, anybody who has a subscription to Sirius-XM in their daily driver, download the app and you now have it in any vehicle with auxiliary input.

I'll take some better pictures later if anybody is confused about the installation.

Brad Klein
07-16-2015, 03:27 PM
what I was trying to get across you didn't want to do a hack job but installed the amp with zip ties which is a hack way of doing it although I've seen worse

I understand wanting to keep the look stock I obviously don't but I respect the effort to keep the look. I've seen guys at shows have the front cut off the factory radio and have an aftermarket one set behind it so its factory when you park it. There has to be a better way to adjust the volume and not the gains you're going to end up getting distortion and blowing speakers if you keep it up. Adjusting the volume on the phone doesnt work? what about an aux port does the amp have one or even buy one that plugs into the rca's it would be a pain having to plug it in every time you get in the car but its not to bad

It absolutely amazes me how cheap stereo equipment can be I've bought some higher end speakers for mine but when it come to head units and amps I paid over $500 for my first Alpine now I can get one for under $200 and it does so much more its not worth saving the old one

07-16-2015, 03:49 PM
what I was trying to get across you didn't want to do a hack job but installed the amp with zip ties which is a hack way of doing it

I got ya now. Well, hack has dual meaning here. I'm not drilling or cutting anything on this car. So the mounting holes didn't line up, I zip tied instead. It's not going anywhere and you'd have to lie on your back in the trunk to see the zip ties.

Volume control. Maybe "gain" isn't the right term. The controller for the amp is certainly intended for adjusting volume so I don't think it will be an issue but I don't know. I guess time will tell if it burns up but for now I set the iphone at about 3/4 volume and use the amp controller for the rest. The reason for this is if you set the iphone at full volume you can't turn the amp down to an acceptable min volume. On the flip side, if I go any lower than 3/4 volume on the phone you can't turn the amp up to an acceptable max volume. This is why I said it takes some fiddling with but I found a spot that works for me.

There are other auxiliary inputs but why use a wired input when I'm connected via bluetooth? I have sirius, fm radio, pandora, music library etc... all on my phone with unlimited data.

Anyhow, not trying to argue with you, just respond to your questions. This is good though, it'll help others make a decision for themselves. It worked out well for me and since I searched and didn't find and hidden systems or restoration type installations I thought I'd share. I'd love to see the installs others have used.

Brad Klein
07-16-2015, 05:35 PM
yeah were all here to learn I'm not arguing so please don't take it that way

I understand the wire and bluetooth debate I have a wire in my truck and my wife has the bluetooth in her car and I like the wire better it just seems easier and never loses connection and doesn't seem to kill my battery.

the gain might be your problem most amps have one but I don't see it on this one. Normally you can adjust it and set you iphone or whatever to its highest and clearest volume and set the gain before distortion that way you're not in between like it seem you are now.

seems weird and I'm surprised there is a market for a bluetooth amp did you find a lot of these or was this one of a few? your application seems like the only use for something like this

07-16-2015, 07:59 PM
The intention of the application is for recreational vehicles not previously equipped with sound like atvs boats and motor cycles. The remote controller has some sort of IP rating for dust and moisture intrusion.

There are a couple of off brands that I never heard of that make bt amps. Poly planar i think is one and they're bigger in marine applications.