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Adding some clarity and fun to a new Subaru

Upgrading the audio and installing a Thule bike rack to a 2015 Subaru XV Crosstrek

Mark, an IT specialist, knew he wanted to perform two upgrades on his new 2015 Subaru XV Crosstrek. But instead of paying a professional installer like he had done in his previous vehicle, Mark asked his good friend (and Crutchfield car audio buyer) Stephen if he could install all of this gear himself. He was understandably hesitant, but Stephen let him know that with help from Crutchfield, he definitely could. 

Mark with his 2015 Subaru XV Crosstrek

Ready to tackle Virginia's beautiful Skyline Drive, Mark unloads his bike from his new Thule rack.

Sizing up the factory stereo system

When I first began talking to Mark about new audio gear for his XV Crosstrek, I immediately sensed his passion for music. As we went for a spin in his new car, he showed off a wide variety of music playing from his iPhone®. He told me he wasn't getting the clarity, depth, and detail he wanted out of his music. Everything seemed to be jumbled in the mid-range. Mark's also a self-admitted tech geek, and he told me about a DJ app he had written for the music at his wedding. So, I knew he was serious about getting the most out of his music in his new ride. 

Mark originally wanted to replace the factory radio because he wanted to incorporate some new technologies to work with his iPhone, although he admitted he hadn't fully toyed around with the factory radio. He was disappointed to learn that a receiver installation kit hadn't yet been released for his dash, so a new radio wasn't an option right away. However, we learned a kit was being made, and Mark could install a new radio later on.

2015 Subaru XV Crosstrek factory radio

The Subaru's factory radio offered some cool features, and Mark could certainly work with it for now.

We managed to restore Mark's excitement by letting him know that a speaker change would pay immediate dividends to his audio upgrade. Aftermarket speakers generally have larger magnets, tougher cone material, and pliable surrounds. What's all that mean? It means Mark's getting a bigger sound with more punch, better definition, and improved clarity from all instruments in the music. 

Rockford Fosgate woofer versus factory speaker
Mark removes the grille to access the tweeter.

Removing the factory speakers

Crutchfield was still in the process of creating the MasterSheet instructions for Mark's Subaru at the time of his installation, but Crutchfield's vehicle research team already had all the information we needed for Mark to be able to remove the factory speakers from his XV Crosstrek. Mark began by prying off the dash tweeter grilles. Next, he simply unscrewed two screws and detached the wiring harness. This first step served as a great confidence booster for Mark. 

After the tweeters were out, he moved to the four door speakers. Using Bojo pry tools, Mark popped off each of the door panels, disconnected the wiring harnesses, and detached the door lever cables so he could get to the stock speakers. He took out the screws holding the speakers in place, pulled out the speakers, and detached the wiring harnesses. 

Fishing speaker wire through the dash with a Pro.Fit Wire Worm

Mark uses a Wire Worm to fish the speaker wire through the dash tweeter opening.

Running speaker wire through the door to link the woofer and tweeter

Mark works the speaker wire through the door, so he can link the woofer and tweeter.

Prepping for the component speakers

The position of the factory tweeters created a unique challenge for Mark. He was installing Rockford Fosgate Punch P165-SI component speakers up front. These component speakers include separate woofers and tweeters, but Mark had to connect the wires between the tweeter locations in the dash to the woofer locations in the doors.

We instructed Mark to extend the wire that had been included in the box by soldering on an extra length of speaker wire, and then to fish that wire from the tweeter locations, through the door grommets, and to the door locations to connect the woofers. He taped the wire to a Pro.Fit Wire Worm and guided the wire from the dash to the doors, spraying it with some Febreze® to prevent the wire from getting stuck in the rubber grommet.

Installing Rockford Fosgate tweeter in the Subuaru dash

Installing the tweeters

With the wiring in place, Mark turned to the tweeters. Tweeters generally aren't a "drop-in" replacement in factory locations, so we recommended using universal backstraps to serve as brackets for the dash locations. Mark bent the brackets around the tweeter cups, secured them with screws, and then screwed them in to the dash locations after attaching the wires.

Drilling screw holes for speaker installation
Installing the Rockford Fosgate Punch speaker

Minor modifications

Like many vehicles, this Subaru's speaker locations didn't offer standard-sized mounting hole patterns. And there aren't any mounting brackets available for the XV Crosstrek to compensate for this, so Mark had to re-drill screw holes to get the new woofers mounted in the front doors and the Rockford Fosgate Punch P152 5-1/4" speakers into the rear doors.

This was understandably the biggest concern of the installation for Mark. The last thing Mark wanted to do was modify his new vehicle, but we reassured him that it really wasn't going to be too difficult, and the modifications wouldn't show up at all once he was done.

Mark used a pen and a speaker to mark the holes on the sheet metal, then made a pilot dimple in the door with a punch and hammer. (The dimple will keep the drill bit on target and prevent it from skittering across the door's surface.)

Since Mark was working with some contours that may not create a good seal between the speaker and metal, we suggested that adding foam baffles behind the speakers would help create that seal and close any gaps. Mark carefully drilled the marked holes, put the speakers in the baffles, and screwed them into the door locations. On the front door speakers, we cut out the back of the baffles, so he wouldn't lose any bass response. 

The Rockford Fosgate Punch P300-10 powered subwoofer

The Rockford Fosgate powered subwoofer looks right at home

Attaching the power cable to the Subaru's battery.

Mark attaches the power cable to the Subaru's battery.

Posi-Tap connects tap into existing speaker wires without cutting

Posi-Tap connects let Mark tap into existing speaker wires without cutting.

Adding some bass

Now it was time to add a little thump to the system. We recommended a powered subwoofer to round out the sound in Mark's new audio system. He initially didn't think he and his wife would get much out of a subwoofer, since they weren't really looking for the chest pounding throttle you'd hear in a dance club, nor were they keen on losing cargo space.

We explained that a sub can nicely complement a system's bass deficiencies, and a powered sub (a combination of an amp, sub, and enclosure) didn't necessarily mean they'd lose their hatchback space. With the Rockford Fosgate Punch P300-10 10" powered sub, Mark could even quickly and safely detach the sub from its wiring to give him more cargo room when he needed it.

Installing a powered subwoofer requires running a few wires thoughout the vehicle, but with a good plan of attack, the results are well worth it. Mark ran the main power cable from the battery in the engine compartment, through a grommet in the bulkhead, and under the door trim panels on its way to the rear cargo area.

After removing some of the rear cargo flooring, he found a chassis bolt with no paint on it, so he could connect the ground cable. A good ground is essential in reducing the chance for noise in your sound system. And to get the audio signal, Mark tapped into the rear speaker wires in the side pillars by using Posi-Tap connectors

Finally, the sound check

And with the speakers and subwoofer installed, Mark connected the battery, queued up a song on his phone, and powered up the radio. This big, broad smile came over his face, as he immediately let us know his system sounded so much better. The individual instruments were separate and distinct, while the music was much more controlled and offered more pop than the factory system had. Mark reassembled his vehicle and was ready to cruise. Not only did he have a better sound experience, but we could see some pride in the fact that he did the work. He was a happy camper; he told us later he was giggling as he thumped on down the road. 

Mark was completely wowed by the upgrade in sound
Mark secures the AeroBlade bars to the Subaru's roof rack.

Mark secures the AeroBlade bars to the Subaru's roof rack.

Adjusting the Thule 528 Sprint bike carrier

Thule's adjustable knob lets you adjust and secure the front fork of your bicycle.

Finishing it off with a Thule bike rack

Mark and his wife recently started cycling, so they wanted a way to carry their bikes on their new vehicle. That's where Thule came in. Thule offers a great roof rack system that secures their bikes out of the way, and is simple to install. Mark used the Thule 450R Rapid CrossRoad Railing foot pack to attach the two Thule AeroBlade 53 cross bars to his existing Subaru roof rack. The four flexible and durable foot pack straps cinched tightly to the roof rails.

Once they were properly spaced and tightened, Mark installed two Thule 528 Sprint fork-mounted bike carriers on the AeroBlade bars. This provided a strong and easily adjustable system for the bikes. Mark can release the front wheels and stow them in the hatch, while the forks attached to the carrier. With a couple turns of the large front knob, Mark had the bikes locked in. 

Lasting impressions

What was already a cool new vehicle had just become even cooler. Mark was really impressed by the improvement the new speakers and subwoofer made to the overall sound. He also had a safe way to carry his bikes, while still giving him access to the rear hatch. Mark let us know the work and time was well worth the effort, and he was really looking forward to installing a new radio when a kit was available. 

  • David L Kwasinski from Milwaukee

    Posted on 11/29/2015

    I plan on getting the Posi connectors to tap into the rear speaker wiring however, do you have a diagram and or know which wires to "tie-in" to by chance? I can't find it anywhere on google. Please help.

  • Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 11/30/2015

    David, you can search our online Knowledge Base for your vehicle's year and model.

  • Ray Seda from Effort

    Posted on 12/22/2015

    For the rear speaker wire connection did you remove the center pillar cover and did you tap into one speaker or both speakers for the sub-woofer audio connections. Thank You

  • Dave Delamere from Crutchfield

    Posted on 12/22/2015

    Ray, Mark removed the pillar trim cover between the front and rear doors on both the left and right sides of his Subaru. He tapped into both the left and right rear speakers for a consistent signal going to the powered subwoofer.

  • Regina Roberts from Knoxville

    Posted on 12/23/2015

    Enjoyed the article on upgrading the audio system for the XV Crosstrek 2015 Subaru, it was very informative and detailed. In September, I upgraded my factory speakers in the two front doors, by replacing them with Kicker speakers. Sadly I haven't noticed as big of an improvement in sound quality as I had hoped. Would you recommend that I move Kickers to the back doors and replace with the Rockford Fosgate Punch P165 SI component speakers in the front doors? Add the tweeters in the dash and Rockford Fosgate Punch P300-10 subwoofer as in the article. Another question will the kicker speakers a) Fit in the back door? b) Will they coordinate with the Rockford Fosgate system ? C) Should I do a similar upgrade but use Kicker brands? D) Since I can't afford to do these upgrades at once, what would be the most reasonable approach to take in stages? Thanks again for the helpful article, wish I had read it before I installed my Kicker speakers.

  • Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 12/24/2015

    Regina, installing components up front could certainly improve your sound. Pairing up Kickers and Rockford Fosgate shouldn't be a problem either. You're right to want to make sure that your Kickers will fit in your rear door openings though. I've passed along your information to our sales team to help you. An advisor will contact you soon with some suggestions on how to improve the sound in your Subaru.

  • Matt

    Posted on 1/9/2016

    Are there any important changes in the 2016 model, or should all the same information apply?

  • Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 1/11/2016

    Matt, you can usually count on changes year to year and even between packages of a particular year. The good news is that we have researched the 2016 Subaru Outback, so you can use our vehicle selector to confirm which gear fits your car. If you have any questions, just give us a call.

  • Jesse from Grand Rapids

    Posted on 7/11/2016

    Would I notice much of a difference if I put 2 way speakers in the front doors and also replaced the dash tweeters, or is just the component systen sufficient?

  • Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 7/11/2016

    Jesse, replacing your factory component system with a new component set should be all you need. Feel free to give us a call if you have any other questions or need a recommendation.

  • Todd from Mckinney

    Posted on 1/17/2017

    How about adding an amp to this?

  • Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 1/19/2017

    Good thought, Todd. Definitely a possibility here. Obviously, that would entail extra work, but driving new speakers with an aftermarket amp, instead of a factory head unit, would definitely give your sound a boost.

  • Jin from San Francisco

    Posted on 5/16/2017

    Are they not 6.5" speakers in the doors? It says you are using Rockford Fosgate Punch P152 which are 5-1/4. Can you please clarify this?

  • Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 5/17/2017

    Jin, the 5-1/4" speakers were installed in the rear doors.

  • Arthur

    Posted on 5/19/2017

    Which color wire do you need to positap into to tell the amp in the subwoofer to turn on and off with the head unit? Or does the amp turn its self in off based on speaker input signal?

  • Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 5/24/2017

    Arthur, that info is both vehicle- and amp-specific. If you bought your gear from Crutchfield, you can call Tech Support for free help troubleshooting your system. If you purchased your equipment elsewhere, you can still get expert Crutchfield Tech Support - 90 days-worth for only $30. Check out our tech support page for details.

  • Blair

    Posted on 7/12/2017

    Great write up of the install, which Grommet did you run your power wire through?

  • Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 7/13/2017

    Blair, we used the top grommet on the passenger side.

  • Marcello Palombi from Washington DC

    Posted on 7/28/2017

    Hey guys! So I have a 2013 Subaru Impreza sport limited. Love the car but the stereo is outdated and as you guys know, phones keep updating but the car stereo doesn't. Is there a way I can get a whole new stereo, I'd love to buy an OEM from the new 2016 models and have it installed. Is that an option or will subaru not do that? My Bluetooth isn't really connecting wel anymore.

  • Dave Delamere from Crutchfield

    Posted on 7/29/2017

    Marcello, we have no information about OEM Subaru stereos since we don't sell them. You may want to check out our online OutfitMyCar application to determine what stereos fit your Impreza. You'll probably find that aftermarket stereos we do carry offer more features, are more powerful, and cost less than factory options.

  • Cristian Gil from cvh32093

    Posted on 9/4/2017

    Hi, does this set up require an line output converter?

  • Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 9/5/2017

    Cristian, not in this case. The powered sub accepts either a line level or speaker level signal.

  • Chris from Crystal Beach

    Posted on 1/7/2018

    I'm glad I found this article ! I have a 2018 Crosstrek with the factory system. I'm planning to add JL Audio C1 components in front and JL C1's in the rear doors. Also I plan on adding a simple JL Audio JX400/4D to run them. It was suggested that I put the XD400 amp and the Fix86 to really bring it to life. I have my doubts though. I'm not an audiophile. To my ears, the factory system sounds decent, but really just needs good speakers and a bit more power. Reading through this article helps in choosing the more basic option. Thanks !

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