2010-2013 Kia Soul
Upgrading the stereo system in your Soul
2010 • 2011 • 2012 • 2013
In brief: This Crutchfield Research Garage article gives you an overview of your Soul's stock stereo system and your aftermarket upgrade options. Use our vehicle selector to find the gear that will fit your Kia.
Overview of the Kia Soul
Kia built its reputation on unremarkable cars that came with remarkable warranties. They weren't cool, they weren't stylish and they weren't fun, but they gave you pretty good bang for the buck. The Soul is a different kind of Kia.
Kia has obviously been working hard to change its reputation, and the Soul is just one example of how far they've come. It's a nifty, fun-to-drive little box with a style all its own, so it's a great home for an upgraded audio system.
Detailed stereo and speaker removal instructions
Factory stereo system
The Soul was available with two stock stereo systems:
- the Standard system, with an AM/FM in-dash receiver/CD player with an input for an MP3 player. The base model had four speakers, the + model (It gets weirder, see below....) added two more.
- the Premium system, optional on the ! model (We kid you not.) and standard on the Sport model (Ahhh, that's more like it....), added a center speaker, a sub, and an outboard amp. The ! and Sport could also be equipped with steering wheel-mounted audio controls.
You can replace all or part of either system with a reasonable amount of effort. Single- (2" tall) or double-DIN (4" tall) receivers will work just fine and steering wheel audio control adapters are available.
The Kia Soul's factory radio (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Replacing your factory radio
With roughly 7" of usable space behind the dash, the Soul's dash can accomodate just about any aftermarket receiver. Due to the location of the HVAC controls, fold-down face receivers are not on that list, but you'll still have a wide selection of great receivers to choose from.
Installing an aftermarket receiver in your Kia isn't an impossible task, but it does require a fair amount of skill and know-how. The clips that hold the dash panel in place are extremely tight, so you may have to use considerable force to remove the panel. You’ll also have to be careful and patient when you're doing this, as the combination of tight plastic and a pry tool can lead to massive (i.e., "expensive") cosmetic damage.
There are some disassembly process differences between the 2010-11 and 2012-13 models. We'll explain them all in the Crutchfield Mastersheet included free with your stereo purchase.
The Soul’s disassembled dash, ready for a new receiver (Crutchfield Research Photo)
You'll need a mounting kit to trim out the new radio, a wiring harness that allows you to connect your new radio without having to cut the factory wiring, and an adapter that connects the Kia antenna to your new radio. These installation parts are available at a deep discount with your Crutchfield stereo order, along with our step-by-step MasterSheet™ instructions for your Soul.
The bad news? You'll lose your factory satellite radio capability if you replace the factory radio. If you want to keep enjoying SiriusXM programming, look for an aftermarket stereo that is satellite radio-ready. Thankfully, there are plenty to choose from.
The great news? You won’t lose the Kia’s pulsating speaker lights when the factory radio is removed.
The factory amp, located in the right rear side panel (Crutchfield Research Photo)
The installation process is much the same with this system, but you have the addition of the factory amp, located behind the right rear side panel. The easy route is to tie your new car stereo into the Kia amp, and it’s a good way to go. The Crutchfield wiring harness will take care of this.
By using the factory amp, you’ll get an improvement in sound quality and performance from your system with a new stereo, plus you keep the 8" subwoofer and the 4" center speaker operating. Otherwise, you’ll have to run new speaker wire from the new receiver to all your speakers. That's not a whole lot of fun.
Tools required: Panel tool, Phillips screwdriver
Steering wheel audio controls
It's relatively easy to retain the steering wheel audio controls when you install a new stereo in your Soul. When you enter your vehicle information, our database will choose the adapter you need to make your factory steering wheel controls work with your new receiver.Shop for car stereos that fit your Kia Soul
The Soul’s front door (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Replacing your factory speakers
The Soul has speakers in the dash, the doors, and behind the rear side panel. The Premium audio system adds a center dash speaker, plus a sub and amp.
Front door with panel removed (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Front doors: The factory front speakers, mounted in the doors, are slightly undersized 6-3/4" speakers in a bracket. You can upgrade to 6-1/2" or 5-1/4" speakers with the help of an adapter bracket (free from Crutchfield), but you’ll have to do a little work.
In order to access the speakers, you have to remove the door panel. You'll need to remove several screws and covers before removing the panel. The door panel is plastic, of course, so use caution when removing both the screw covers and the screws themselves.
With the panel removed, you'll have to drill out the rivets that hold the factory speaker in place, so make sure you have the right tool for that job. You'll also want to work carefully and, of course, wear eye protection when drilling.
Once the door panel and factory speaker are out of the way, you'll need to drill new screw holes to mount the aftermarket speaker bracket to the door. Use your free speaker adapter bracket to mark the spots for your pilot holes, then drill new holes, mount the adapter and mount your new speaker. The factory speaker grilles on the door panel will fit perfectly over the new speakers.
Mounting the adapter bracket in the Soul’s front door (Crutchfield Research Photo)
The 2-ohm factory speakers really aren't bad at all, so if you're going to go to the trouble of doing all that work, we humbly suggest that you spend a little more money and get the most bang for your buck — and your busted knuckles.
Tools required: Panel tool, Phillips screwdriver, small flat blade screwdriver, drill plus 1/8" and 5/32" drill bits
Front tweeters: The Soul's 1-1/2" tweeters are mounted up front, on the corners of the dash. To remove them, the corner dash grilles and the outer dash vent assemblies must be removed. This isn't hard, but again, we recommend care and caution during the process.
As on the doors, the clips are extremely tight and may require considerable force to remove. When you're prying them off, remember that brute force can result in cosmetic damage. You’ll have to make a new mounting bracket or spacer to install your new tweeters. A wiring harness is not available, so you'll have to cut off the factory connectors and splice the vehicle's speaker wires to your new speaker wires.
Tools required: panel tool, Phillips screwdriver
Rear door with panel removed (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Rear doors: The factory rear speaker is a slightly undersized 6-3/4" speaker in a bracket. You can install 6-1/2" or 5-1/4" speakers in the rear doors with the help of a mounting bracket, but you'll have to remove the door panel to access the speakers.
This process is similar to the removal of the front door panels, and the same notes of care and caution apply. Be patient, be calm and take good care of the panels when you're prying them loose.
Look at the bright side: if "fit and finish" were Kia problems back in the old days, those problems have been solved.
The rear factory speaker (Crutchfield Research Photo)
You'll need to drill out rivets to remove the factory speaker, then drill new screw holes to mount the aftermarket speaker bracket to the door. A speaker adapter bracket is required, and it's included free with your Crutchfield speaker purchase, along with the wiring harness. The factory speaker grilles will work with your new rear speakers.
Tools required: Panel tool, Phillips screwdriver, small flat blade screwdriver, drill plus 1/8" and 5/32" drill bits
The factory center speaker (Crutchfield Research Photo)
The Premium system, available on the ! and the Sport models, adds a center speaker, a subwoofer, and an outboard amp. The system boasts 8 speakers and 315 watts. You’ll find an extra plug on the 7303 harness (used to connect your new stereo to the Kia’s factory plug) that turns on the amp. Removing the speakers in the front and rear doors is the same as the base system. If you’re keeping the factory amp, you’ll want to pick aftermarket speakers with a lower impedance, like Infinity or JBL, or you’ll hear a noticeable drop in volume level.
Replacing the factory center speaker: Surprisingly enough, this speaker is actually somewhat easy to remove and replace. The stock unit is a 4" speaker, but there's limited space available in terms of mounting height (how tall the speaker can be before it bumps into the factory grille). The center dash grille must be removed in order to access this location. As usual, the clips are tight and extreme care should be used when removing the plastic bits.
Again, Kia uses a 2-ohm speaker, so pick a low-impedance aftermarket speaker or you’ll hear a big drop in volume from the factory amp. Since it’s tough to find a good single 4" speaker, you might want to hold off on replacing this speaker until you’ve replaced the front tweeters and door speakers.
Tools needed: Panel tool, Phillips screwdriverShop for speakers that fit your Kia Soul
The Soul's sub (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Bass in your Kia Soul
The factory subwoofer is an 8" low-impedance ( 2 ohm) dual voice coil unit tucked away in a place that makes removing and replacing it a job for pros, semi-pros, wildly-optimistic amateurs, or serious masochists. It's also not that bad a sub, so if you're going to tackle this project, you might want to go with a top-shelf subwoofer that's worth the effort.
You’ll have to remove the far rear side panel to access the sub location. Once you've done that, you'll note that the factory bolt pattern uses four holes of the aftermarket standard 8-hole bolt pattern, but the cutout is smaller than most aftermarket 8" subwoofers. You’ll need to cut metal to install just about any aftermarket 8" sub, so we'd suggest fabricating a bracket and installing a 6-3/4" subwoofer. Like we said, the factory unit isn't that bad.
Of course, if you don't mind giving up a little storage space in the rear area, there's plenty of room for a powered subwoofer.
Tools required: Panel tool, Phillips screwdriver, 10mm & 14mm socket, ratchet and extension, good grades in shop class.
Other options for your Soul
There are plenty of ways to make your Soul a nicer place to hang out. Here are a couple of suggestions:
iPod® and satellite radio adapters
Better sound is a wonderful thing, but not everyone is up for replacing the factory receiver. Not a problem. You can still add versatility and great sound to your Fit, especially if you’re okay with the idea of going CD-free. We offer several adapters that will allow you to use an iPod, MP3 player, or satellite radio with the factory system. You can upgrade the speakers later for even better sound.
The Soul is a solidly built car, but it’s still a subcompact and it can be a bit buzzy at highway speeds. The Dynamat Xtreme Door Kit is the perfect way to seal out the noise and seal in the sound. This heavy-duty insulating material is easy to install, and it really makes a difference. This is a great thing to do while you’re installing new speakers. Why take the doors apart twice if you don’t have to? One kit will take care of the front doors on your Soul.
Installing a security system in your Soul isn't easy (security systems rarely are), but it's definitely a good idea. Our Crutchfield Advisors can help figure out what you need to get the job done, but we usually recommend taking your car and new gear to a professional installer.
Find the audio gear that fits your car or truck
Visit our Outfit My Car page and enter your vehicle information to see stereos, speakers, subs, and other audio accessories that will work in your vehicle.