car stereos & components?
2005-10 Scion tC
2005 • 2006 • 2007 • 2008 • 2009 • 2010
2005 Scion tC liftback (Crutchfield Research Photo)
When Henry Ford set out to craft the first business model capable of creating an evolving global automotive industry, it was unlikely that ‘brand concept’ was high on his ‘to do’ list. That said, nearly a century later, Toyota did indeed create the first vehicle purely based on a sense of brand first, and technology second when the company rolled-out its first Scion variant in 2004.
Although the Scion tC did not appear to be particularly innovative on first blush, there was a clear difference between it and its competitors in the compact-car category. The tC was entirely designed around five central customer-satisfaction points: price point, available options, performance & driving experience, purchase confidence, and most importantly in our case, 21st century vehicle-entertainment packaging. In each of these criteria, the Scion excelled, and as a result the brand immediately became a significant market success.
The tC's Pioneer stereo (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Factory stereo system
As a standard entertainment offering, the Scion tC carries a ‘flip-up’ AM/FM/CD stereo and a 6-speaker Pioneer audio system, driven by a 160-watt (peak power) amp. There was also an option to add a subwoofer powered by its own 35-watt amp. Along with the more traditional electronic elements, the car also offers MP3 playback, plus an additional audio input jack for an iPod®, cell phone, or other audio device.
Mounting kit installed (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Replacing your factory stereo
The car’s dash cavity is nearly 9" deep, so there should be no problem removing the standard receiver package and replacing it with an upgrade that requires more space. The factory stereo is a double-DIN size, so you can replace it with the same size receiver, or use an adapter kit to install a single-DIN receiver. There are also mounting kits available that will let you eliminate the Scion’s flip-up door and mount the stereo flush with the dash. (Crutchfield includes the necessary mounting kit and wiring harness free with most car stereo orders.)
Getting into the receiver itself is pretty straightforward, and offers no particular concerns. All you need to do is follow the step-by-step instructions in the Crutchfield MasterSheet, and you should be good to go. The entire Scion configuration has been designed to allow the customer to tailor his/her driving experience and, as a result, the replacement and upgrade process has been made as simple as possible.
Tools needed: Phillips screwdriver, small flat-blade screwdriver, panel tool
Steering wheel audio controls
There are a couple of different adapters available that will let you use your steering wheel audio controls with a new receiver. Crutchfield recommends the Axxess ASWC-1 from Metra because it’ll be much easier to install and set up than the other option. Metra also makes a connector harness specifically for adding the ASWC-1 adapter to Toyotas – the 70-8114 control harness. It lets you install the ASWC-1 without having to splice wires, and if your new stereo has a rear auxiliary input, this harness enables you to keep using the Scion aux input.
The front door speaker (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Replacing your factory speakers
The Scion’s front door speaker system is comprised of a 4-ohm, 6-3/4" diameter woofer located in the lower portion of the door panel, mated to 4-ohm, 1-1/2" tweeter installed in the mid-line, adjacent to the door lock panel, just under the window opening. The mounting height for a new speaker (the gap between the front of the speaker and the door panel) is very shallow. Because of this and the need for a mounting bracket that works with the oversized opening in the door, your options for replacement speakers will mostly be limited to 5-1/4" component speakers (those with separate woofers and tweeters). There are also a few 5-1/4" full-range speakers that will fit, but you’d be better off taking advantage of the easy-to-get-to tweeter location and installing components.
Remove the door panel according to the directions in your Crutchfield MasterSheet. Start by prying off the sail panel at the top of the door panel. Open the screw cover found behind the door release handle and remove the screw. Pry off the front piece of the door pull handle and remove the two screws revealed there. Then use a panel tool to pry off the door panel around the edges, and lift if off of the door.
Drilling out the speaker rivets (Crutchfield Research Photo)
The woofers are riveted onto the door, so you will have to drill out the rivets using a 1/8" drill bit. You’ll need an adapter bracket to install your new speakers. Mount the speaker in the bracket, then hold it up to the door and use a pen to mark the locations for the screw holes. Set the speaker assembly aside and drill the new screw holes, again using a 1/8" bit. Then connect the speaker wiring harness and screw the speaker into place. (The mounting bracket and wiring harness are included free with your Crutchfield speaker purchase.)
The factory tweeter (Crutchfield Research Photo)
The tweeter is mounted on a bracket which is attached to the door by a single screw. It’s easy to remove, but for new tweeters, you’ll need to fabricate a new mounting bracket. We carry a universal backstrap that can be cut to the proper size to mount your new tweeter.
Other than the rivet issue, the rest of the upgrade is pretty vanilla.
Rear side panel (Crutchfield Research Photo)
The Scion’s rear speakers are located behind the side panels, so getting to them involves a little more work, but it’s not that hard. Accessing the speakers involves removing the lower part of the rear seat and the side panels, but the process is explained step-by-step in our Crutchfield MasterSheet. Use care when removing the rear seat cushion since there is an internal retaining strap attached to the floor.
Scion's rear speaker (Crutchfield Research Photo)
The rear speakers are 5-1/4" diameter cones, and are fastened to a side panel bracket with screws. As in the front, you’ll have to use a mounting bracket to install the new speaker and drill new screw holes to install it. The available space between the inside portion of the side panel, and the top of the speaker is minimal, so when you choose a replacement, insure that you don’t buy something that is too deep for the available space. As in the front, your options will be limited to mostly component systems and a few full-range options. A Crutchfield advisor can help make sure you choose speakers that fit. If you do want to get a component set, you’ll have to custom-mount the tweeters on the side panel, or only use the woofers. Our article about tweeter mounting can be helpful here.
Tools needed: Phillips screwdriver, small flat-blade screwdriver, panel tool, drill & 1/8" bit, ratchet & extension, 10mm socket
Bass options for your Scion tC
Subwoofer location (Crutchfield Research Photo)
The Scion stereo system could be augmented by an optional factory subwoofer. If present, it’s located inside the car’s cargo area. The component is comprised of a 2-ohm, 6-3/4" subwoofer powered by a 35-watt amp, and is integrated into a molded cavity to the right of the spare tire. As a result of the integrated configuration and low-impedance design, replacing this woofer is likely not worth the effort. If you want to replace the woofer, you should also replace the amp with something with more power.
Factory subwoofer (Crutchfield Research Photo)
If you don’t have the factory subwoofer, you can add a powered subwoofer or standard subwoofer/amp system. There’s plenty of room in the storage area for a subwoofer enclosure, but powered subs take up much less room and are easier to set up.
Tiny Pioneer system subwoofer (Crutchfield Research Photo)
There’s also a custom-fit option available from JL Audio. The JL Audio Stealthbox installs under the spare tire and contains a 10" JL Audio subwoofer. Add a good amplifier (up to 500 watts RMS) and you’ll have your bass and storage space too.
Helix PP50DSP Amplifier
If you don’t have the factory subwoofer option and modifying your ride just isn't in your DNA, Helix offers another option for vehicles without factory amplifiers. You can use their PP50DSP processor and amplifier to make a dramatic improvement in the sound of your factory system. It works like this: you buy the processor, along with a vehicle-specific cable and a plug-in powered sub. The cable plugs into your factory radio's plug, connecting the processor/amp to your factory speakers. You then go to Helix's site to download the audio parameters for your vehicle on a microSD card, then load that info into the amp/processor. The PP50DSP is now ready to use equalization and time alignment to make your factory speakers sound great. Add in the bass from the Helix sub, and you've got a total system upgrade with minimal work.
Adding a security system to the tC can be fairly tough. All of the connections are difficult to get to and space is tight. You might want to leave this to the professionals. If you want to add remote start, you’ll also need a transponder bypass in addition to the remote start system. Shop for car security systems for your Scion tC
If you replace the stereo, most new receivers have iPod controls built in. If you’re keeping the factory stereo, there are several adapters available that will let you add iPod charging and control to the stereo. Again, if you have any questions about these options, contact Crutchfield and our advisors will be happy to help define what you’ll need.
Good, better, best
The Scion tC is a great car for someone who wants to build a great audio system. The front tweeters are in the door panel, which makes replacement much easier. The stereo is easy to replace and there’s room for a touchscreen receiver. And there’s enough room in the back for a nice bass system.
Good: Since the Scion comes standard with a Pioneer sound system, a good place to start would be with a new stereo to add modern features like iPod control, Bluetooth® connectivity, and maybe navigation. Then of course, replace the speakers. The factory Pioneer speakers are fine, but they still don’t compare to the sound quality you’ll get from aftermarket speakers.
Better: After replacing the stereo and speakers, your next step is either more power or a subwoofer. A new amp will make those speakers sound even better, while a subwoofer will round out the music and give you the bass that regular speaker can’t reproduce.
Best: Do whatever you didn’t do in the first two steps.
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