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A 2013 Ford F-150 gets a stealthy upgrade from JL Audio
JL Audio's StealthMod and Stealthbox transform the audio while retaining the factory radio
Ed, Crutchfield's operations manager, loves almost everything about his 2013 Ford F-150. The one area where he was less than satisfied was in the audio department. While he dug the convenience of wireless Bluetooth® and all the inputs that the Ford SYNC® system offered, the overall sound wasn't making the grade.
He took a 2-pronged attack for his upgrade. His first step included completely covering the bare interior of his Ford with a sound-deadening material that reduces unwanted vibrations and road noise. Next, he installed JL Audio's StealthMod® system (which consists of a matched amplifier and speakers) and a Stealthbox® subwoofer made specifically for his F-150. This combination enabled him to keep the factory radio controls he was used to but vastly upgrade the overall presence of his music.
Ed presses Hush Mat on the metal substructure of the doors in his F-150.
The installation process
Step 1. While this first part consumed the most time, Ed knew that applying the sound-deadening sheets to the bare metal interior of the cab would quiet it down and bring out the most of the JL Audio upgrade. He removed all the seats, the center console, and the lining of his cab and doors to expose the frame.
The sound deadening kit, made by Hush Mat, came in pre-cut sections that include a strong adhesive that made sure the material wasn't going anywhere once it was pressed onto the frame. Unlike other damping material, it didn't require heat to get the adhesive to stick to the metal. It can be rolled or simply pressed on with your fingers. In the F-150, the kit covered the doors, the floor, the back wall, and fixed portions of the roof, so Ed could create his own quiet mobile sound studio.
Step 2. With the door panels still off, Ed then got to work on installing the JL Audio Evolution® C3-570 5"x7" speakers. JL included custom brackets for the speakers' crossovers, which matched existing factory screw holes near the speaker locations. They allowed Ed to secure the crossovers behind the door panels.
Custom brackets for the doors of the F-150.
The C3-570 speakers give you the option of mounting the woofers and tweeters separately or together, depending on your application. Ed chose to mount them together in the stock opening. He wired them to the crossovers and adjusted the tweeter level switch on the crossover as the manual recommended. At this point, he kept the door panels off just in case he needed to check connections or make an adjustment after the first sound check.
The C3-570 speaker and crossover are in place.
Step 3. Another advantage of removing the Ford's seats and interior lining for the Hush Mat kit was that it exposed the factory Sony amplifier under the center console. The StealthMod required tapping into this amp's wiring to link the audio to the JL Audio amplifier.
Ed ran the included wiring from the stock amp to the future location for the JL Audio amplifier. He also ran a power cable to the engine compartment for the new amplifier.
Step 4. The StealthMod included the XD700/5 5-channel amp for ultra-clean power to drive the four door speakers and the Stealthbox subwoofer. The StealthMod package also came with a cool custom bracket to secure the amp behind the rear seat.
To allow the amp to fit behind the seat, Ed had to cut the interior lining out around the amp location. This seems like a scary proposition, but this area is completely unseen once the seats are back in place.
Since accessing the amp is nearly impossible once the rear seats are back in, Ed made sure all his power, ground, and speaker wire connections were tight. He also used JL's recommended amp settings for his F-150.
The XD700/5 amp was mounted on the custom bracket JL supplies, and then the lining was cut to accommodate the amp.
Step 5. Ed also went with the custom Stealthbox as a natural addition to the StealthMod system. Its power handling serves as a perfect match to the amp's output power, and it neatly tucks away under the left rear seat in his extended cab. The Stealthbox connected to the XD700/5 amplifier's fifth channel. It bolted to the rear seat's brackets to secure it and conserve leg room.
Conclusion — JL creates a covert audio upgrade
While this was an involved installation, Ed knew the sound benefits would be worth the work he put into his F-150. He ran a couple sound checks before the seats and interior lining were back in place, just so he could troubleshoot any problems while he had easier access to the gear. He then reassembled his Ford to make it roadworthy. He took a short drive with no music on to try out the sound-deadening material. It did its thing and did it well. His cab was considerably quieter, especially at higher speeds and over rougher terrain. Before even turning on his JL Audio gear, he had created a much better environment for his music.
Now he was ready for the audio experience. Ed cranked out his favorite playlist on the JL system, which he had listened to many times on the factory system. He noticed that the bass from the Stealthbox was tight and clear, and the overall soundstage was significantly wider and more spacious. He was able to pick out more of the details in his music. And since he kept the factory radio, he didn't have to learn new controls on a new receiver — he was immediately able to just enjoy the music.
Ed continued to comment on the subtle things that JL had thought of, such as the custom brackets for the crossovers and the amp, and the included wiring for all the connections. He mounted the included "wife-saver" bass level knob in the dash to tone down that bass thump for his wife.
The bass level knob installed conveniently in the dash near the factory USB and aux input for easy access.
Check out our OutfitMyCar™ tool to see if there are any factory upgrade systems available for your vehicle, and feel free to contact our advisors if you have any questions about improving your system.