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Social media readers pick a new car audio system

A mechanic installs his winning stereo gear

Steven A with his Civic

We met Steven through Jude, one of Crutchfield's buyers. Steven, a mechanic and car fanatic, made several upgrades to his 2012 Honda Civic Si, so he could show it off at car shows. These included a short throw shifter, a 3" full exhaust, halo headlights, a carbon fiber hood, red lowering springs with a gold camber kit, black rims with 3" lips, and chrome extended tuner lug nuts.

Despite all the performance upgrades, Steven still had the factory stereo and speakers. We wanted to see how well a mechanic could handle installing his first audio system. Plus, we had an idea we wanted to try out for our next installation...

A socially accepted car stereo system

We used our Outfit My Car™ tool to size up Steven's Honda, and picked four complete audio systems. Each system included a multimedia receiver, new speakers, a 12" sub, and an amp to power all the speakers. Then we decided to have some fun by posting the four systems on Crutchfield's Facebook page, and letting our followers pick the system that Steven would receive from us.

Crutchfield's Facebook page with four systems

The car audio system voting booth

Here are the four audio systems up for the vote:

And the winner is...

When the results were in, the Pioneer and Kicker system was the winner. Here's what it included:

Prepping for an entire audio upgrade

Steven was excited after checking out each of the four systems, and he was anxious to get going on the installation. Meanwhile, we were interested in getting a mechanic's take on the help we provide, in terms of our MasterSheet installation instructions, installation gear for his Civic, and our tech support, if he needed it.

Steven dove right into the installation by pulling dash panels to access the factory radio. With a Bojo panel tool in hand and following the steps detailed in our MasterSheet instructions, he had the panels off and factory radio out in a matter of minutes. Since the dash was to be the junction point for all of the speaker wiring, he wanted access to that first. He was also eager to install the new Pioneer receiver.

Steven removing dash panels to access the radio.

Getting ready for the new speakers

Steven made the connections between the Metra wiring harness adapter, made for his Honda, and the Pioneer wiring harness. He also ran speaker wire from the radio location to the amp location, which was in the trunk. This enabled him to tie the speaker wire into the speaker connections on the Metra harness. This saved some wiring hassle, since he could use the existing factory speaker wire for his new front speakers.

Installing the front speakers

Next, he turned his sights to removing the factory speakers. He detached the factory panels and removed all four speakers, again following our MasterSheet instructions. Once the factory speakers were out, Steven compared them to his new Kicker speakers, realizing that the motor structure (the size of the magnet) was far bigger on the Kickers. This meant his sound was about to be become much more impactful.

Steven compares the Kicker and factory speakers.

Installing components can sometimes be tricky, but with a good game plan, the final results can be well worth the effort. Steven's Honda had stock tweeters in the windshield pillars. So, the plan was to use these factory locations for the Kicker tweeters. The Kicker tweeters were bigger than the factory models, so Steven shaved some of the plastic on the pillars he'd removed to make some room.

Tweeter modifications in the pillar.

The factory tweeter before modifications is on top, while the Kicker tweeter is shown installed at the bottom.

Steven mounted the crossovers for the components under the dash near the kick panels. This meant he had to run some speaker wire from the crossover to the door woofers, going through the rubber door grommets. The Pro.Fit Wire Worm tool and some Febreze™ spray to lubricate the speaker wire made the job much easier (and smell even nicer).

Steven runs the speaker wire through the door grommet.
Steven A installing a crossover

Steven secures the speaker wire to the crossover for the Kicker component speakers.

Installing the rear speakers

Once the rear factory speakers were removed, the new Kicker full-range speakers screwed right into the factory openings in the rear deck. Steven crimped on quick-slide connectors to connect the speaker wire to the Kicker speakers' tabs. He then ran the other end of the wire to the amp location.

The rear speakers installed.

Installing the amp and the subwoofer to make a sonic impact

Jude stopped by to check on the installation and took a look at the cargo space in Steven's trunk. Steven had previously removed the spare tire, which left a large gap in the floor below the floor board. Jude suggested that Steven make a custom shelf and cutout to really show off the Kicker 5-channel amp that powered his entire system. So with some scrap MDF board, Steven took the measurements from his trunk and began cutting. Once the board was ready, Steven connected the amp to the wiring he'd run from the speakers and receiver, and from the engine compartment. He then hid the wiring underneath his custom board.

Steven's custom amp mount.

The final results

Steven actually summed it up best:

"The system sounds amazing, and the subwoofer's bass definitely hits hard. The installation was great, especially having the install guide. It was very helpful. I definitely get a lot of compliments on the system at shows. People like the sound quality, touchscreen deck, the tweeters, and the subwoofer. They also liked how the amp was hidden."

Great job on a head-turning show car, Steven!

Check out Steven's photo album on our Crutchfield Facebook page to see more of the behind-the-scenes details of the installation.


Now it's your turn

Don't stop here. You can have your own killer car stereo system in no time. The first step is deciding on what improvements you want to make to your vehicle's sound system. The following links can help you from there:

  • For inspiriation, check out our Custom Car Showroom to see other installations that we've done and also lots of installations submitted by customers and fans.
  • Use our vehicle selector to find out which stereos and speakers will fit your car, and also to get the installation gear you need to get the job done.
  • Turn to our library of helpful articles and videos to learn more about shopping for and installing a new stereo, speakers, amplifiers and subwoofers.
  • If you have any questions about what to install in your vehicle, give us a call.

  • James from Twin Lakes

    Posted on 11/10/2016

    I recently installed the Kicker 41KSS654 6 1/2" component speakers in a Fiesta. If you notice, there is a three way slide on the crossovers. There were no instructions included with my Open Box (or was it Scratch & Dent) Special so I called Crutchfield. "What is it. Where do I set it" The tech said it was 0 db (flat) in the middle, +3 on high, and -3 on low. Sounded reasonable. I set it in the middle, covered it with a baggie and tossed it in the door and mounted the speakers over the hole. Sealed up the door. The tech was wrong. It's 0 db on low, +3 on middle and +6 on high. So I got it sealed in the door on +3 instead of flat. Bad. Has to be all redone. Take care with that setting.

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