car stereos & components?
2004-06 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited
2004 • 2005 • 2006
You don't usually talk about great sound systems and Jeep Wranglers in the same breath, but this particular Wrangler Unlimited actually gives you some pretty cool options for audio upgrades. You'll find enough room in the dash and sound bar for a wide variety of replacement speakers, and some interesting options for bass, ranging from replacing the sub in the center console to amplified subs that fit behind the rear seat. With a little bit of work, you can fit any DIN (2" tall) radio in the dash. That's really good news compared to Wranglers and CJ Series Jeeps of the past, which were definitely not built with audio excellence in mind.
|2005 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sport (Crutchfield Research Photo)|
This Jeep Wrangler came with an AM/FM/CD receiver and offered two speaker options.
4-speaker system: two 4" 2-way speakers in the dash and two 5-1/4" speakers in the roll bar;
7-speaker system: two 4" speakers with accompanying tweeters in the dash, two 5-1/4" speakers in the roll bar, and a 6-3/4" sub in the center console.
- To install a new stereo, you'll need a Phillips screwdriver, a flat blade screwdriver, a 10mm socket wrench, and a panel tool.
- To replace the speakers, you'll just need a Phillips screwdriver.
- To access and replace the subwoofer, you'll need a Phillips screwdriver, a panel tool, a 10mm socket wrench (with ratchet and extension), T20 and T30 Torx drivers, and a pair of needle nose pliers.
|Jeep factory radio (Crutchfield Research Photo)|
Replacing the factory radio
There's only about 6" of space behind the dash, but you can unbolt and remove the factory radio's rear support without too much trouble, giving you plenty of room for any DIN-size radio. You'll need a mounting kit to trim out the new radio, a wiring harness that lets you connect your new radio without having to cut the factory wiring, and an adapter that connects the Jeep antenna to your new radio. (Crutchfield includes these installation parts free with most orders, along with our step-by-step instructions for your Wrangler).
|Closeup of Jeep radio (Crutchfield Research Photo)|
Steering wheel audio controls
Two companies (PAC and Axxess) make adapters that let you connect your Jeep steering wheel audio controls to a new car stereo. The Wrangler Unlimited has a single-wire connection for the steering wheel controls. In order to install the PAC adapter, you'll have to go to the steering column to access the analog control wire. We recommend the Axxess self-programming ASWC-1 adapter for this Jeep, because it'll tap directly into the data wire in the dash — a much easier installation.
Replacing the factory speakers
This Jeep will accept 4" speakers in the dash, and 5-1/4" speakers in the sound bar. Both locations offer plenty of room for replacement speakers, so you'll have plenty of options. Your Wrangler may not have speakers in the dash, in which case you'll have to go to your Jeep dealer for speaker grilles and brackets. Many Wrangler owners who drive with their top off choose marine-certified speakers that won't be bothered by an occasional shower or condensation.
It's a good idea to get speaker harnesses along with your new speakers. They'll allow you to attach the new speakers to the plugs that connect to the Jeep factory speakers, and they make it easier to reinstall the factory speakers if you ever sell your Jeep (Crutchfield includes these wiring harnesses free with every speaker order).
|Factory front speakers in 7-speaker system (Crutchfield Research Photo)|
Front speakers: Each of the front dash openings houses a 4" speaker and a tweeter, and you can access the location by removing two small screws. The easiest upgrade is to install 4" coaxial speakers and remove the factory tweeters. If you're willing to do a little work, you can put a nice set of 4" components up front, but you'll have to fashion mounting plates for aftermarket tweeters.
Sound bar speakers: You only have to remove a few screws to replace these speakers, and you have enough room for almost any 5-1/4" speakers to fit.
Custom speaker installations
Since it's such a popular vehicle, the Wrangler Unlimited has several options available for putting speakers in other locations. These options also let you use larger 6-1/2" speakers, rather than being limited to 4" or 5-1/4" sizes.
Q-Forms: Q-Logic builds Q-Forms for the Jeep Wrangler, unloaded enclosures that install down in the Jeep's kick panels, housing 6-1/2" components.
Mod-Pods: Select Increments offers the Mod-Pods for the Wrangler, unloaded enclosures that hold 5-1/4" speakers just below the Jeep's doors.
Quad-Pods: Select Increments also builds Quad-Pods for the Wrangler, unloaded enclosures that hold 6-1/2" speakers and 8" subs in the Jeep's back corners (pictured here in the standard Wrangler).
Bass in your Wrangler
You won't find many bass enclosures made specifically for the Wrangler Unlimited, but lots of people install an amp and sub enclosure in the larger-than-usual area behind the seats.
|The Unlimited's extra length gives you a little more space for a bass system (Crutchfield Research Photo)|
If you like to get a lot of mud on your Wrangler, it's a good idea to splice connectors into the power and speaker wires so you can quickly remove your sub from the back of your Jeep when you're heading out on the trail. You'll also appreciate the quick disconnect if you're headed to a risky area and don't want someone walking off with your gear. If you're into building your own enclosure, here are measurements for the available space:
- Width (side to side) = 34"
- Height = 14"
- Depth (front to rear) = 23" at top, 25" at bottom.
You'll also find a wide range of subwoofer options available. Select Increments makes the Stealth-Pod, an enclosure that bolts onto the back door and holds a 10" sub of your choice.
|Select Increments Stealth-Pod (Courtesy of Select Increments)|
You'll have to remove the center console to replace the factory subwoofer, not a difficult job, but it'll take some time. Here are the dimensions for this factory sub location:
- Mounting depth: 2.789 inches
- Magnet diameter: 4.178 inches
- Mounting height: 0.712 inches
You may have to re-drill screw holes, but you should be able to find a small 6-1/2" or 6-3/4" sub that's within these dimensions. And, as long as you're going to drop an upgraded sub in the console, you might as well put a small amp under the seat to give it some decent power. If you're keeping the factory amp, you'll want to replace the factory dual 2-ohm voice coil sub with another DVC sub so you don't lose power.
|Factory sub removed from the console (Crutchfield Research Photo)|
If you're installing a remote start system, we recommend the FLCAN interface. Otherwise, no interface is needed.
Digital Signal Processor
If modifying your ride just isn't in your DNA, Helix offers another option for vehicles without factory amplifiers. The Helix PP50DSP digital signal processor 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. Next, go to Helix's site, download your vehicle’s audio parameters onto 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 optional Helix sub, and you've got a total system upgrade with minimal work.
I'm OK with the power of the Jeep system, but I'm constantly turning up the bass control trying to get more punch. What should I do?
You might try adding a powered sub first. Cranking up the bass control puts a huge strain on your Jeep's radio, and the extra bass produced by a sub allows you to turn the bass control back down so you get more usable power from your radio. The extra bass will also make your factory speakers sound better when you're driving with the top off.
My Jeep's system sounds cool in the driveway but it's useless at 55 mph with all the road noise. What should I replace first?
Whatever you replace, you should definitely buy an amplifier because clean power is what you need. The amplifiers that are built into car stereos are relatively low-powered — an outboard amp will give you more headroom so your system can coast along instead of straining to create the level you need on the highway.
I don't want to put a new radio in my Jeep, but my music doesn't sound that great. Will new speakers help?
Absolutely. If you're going to keep your factory radio, look for speakers that are efficient (sensitivity rating over 90 dB). Spend a little more money on the 5-1/4" speakers that are going over your head — a good tweeter will bring out all the details in your music without taking your head off.
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