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A 2013 Ford F-150 gets a stealthy upgrade from JL Audio

JL Audio's StealthMod and Stealthbox transform the audio while retaining the factory radio

Ed, Crutchfield's operations manager, loves almost everything about his 2013 Ford F-150. The one area where he was less than satisfied was in the audio department. While he dug the convenience of wireless Bluetooth® and all the inputs that the Ford SYNC® system offered, the overall sound wasn't making the grade.

He took a 2-pronged attack for his upgrade. His first step included completely covering the bare interior of his Ford with a sound-deadening material that reduces unwanted vibrations and road noise. Next, he installed JL Audio's StealthMod® system (which consists of a matched amplifier and speakers) and a Stealthbox® subwoofer made specifically for his F-150. This combination enabled him to keep the factory radio controls he was used to but vastly upgrade the overall presence of his music.

2013 Ford F-150 dash layout

The installation process

Step 1. While this first part consumed the most time, Ed knew that applying the sound-deadening sheets to the bare metal interior of the cab would quiet it down and bring out the most of the JL Audio upgrade. He removed all the seats, the center console, and the lining of his cab and doors to expose the frame.

The sound deadening kit, made by Hush Mat, came in pre-cut sections that include a strong adhesive that made sure the material wasn't going anywhere once it was pressed onto the frame. Unlike other damping material, it didn't require heat to get the adhesive to stick to the metal. It can be rolled or simply pressed on with your fingers. In the F-150, the kit covered the doors, the floor, the back wall, and fixed portions of the roof, so Ed could create his own quiet mobile sound studio.

Hush Mat 2013 Ford F-150

Ed presses Hush Mat on the metal substructure of the doors in his F-150.

Step 2. With the door panels still off, Ed then got to work on installing the JL Audio Evolution® C3-570 5"x7" speakers. JL included custom brackets for the speakers' crossovers, which matched existing factory screw holes near the speaker locations. They allowed Ed to secure the crossovers behind the door panels.

JL StealthMod crossover bracket

Custom brackets for the doors of the F-150.

JL Evolution C3-570 5x7 speakers

The C3-570 speakers give you the option of mounting the woofers and tweeters separately or together, depending on your application. Ed chose to mount them together in the stock opening. He wired them to the crossovers and adjusted the tweeter level switch on the crossover as the manual recommended. At this point, he kept the door panels off just in case he needed to check connections or make an adjustment after the first sound check.

JL Audio Evolution C3-570 speakers

The C3-570 speaker and crossover are in place.

Step 3. Another advantage of removing the Ford's seats and interior lining for the Hush Mat kit was that it exposed the factory Sony amplifier under the center console. The StealthMod required tapping into this amp's wiring to link the audio to the JL Audio amplifier.

Ed ran the included wiring from the stock amp to the future location for the JL Audio amplifier. He also ran a power cable to the engine compartment for the new amplifier.

Step 4. The StealthMod included the XD700/5 5-channel amp for ultra-clean power to drive the four door speakers and the Stealthbox subwoofer. The StealthMod package also came with a cool custom bracket to secure the amp behind the rear seat.

To allow the amp to fit behind the seat, Ed had to cut the interior lining out around the amp location. This seems like a scary proposition, but this area is completely unseen once the seats are back in place.

Since accessing the amp is nearly impossible once the rear seats are back in, Ed made sure all his power, ground, and speaker wire connections were tight. He also used JL's recommended amp settings for his F-150.

JL Audio XD700/5 amplifier

The XD700/5 amp was mounted on the custom bracket JL supplies, and then the lining was cut to accommodate the amp.

Step 5. Ed also went with the custom Stealthbox as a natural addition to the StealthMod system. Its power handling serves as a perfect match to the amp's output power, and it neatly tucks away under the left rear seat in his extended cab. The Stealthbox connected to the XD700/5 amplifier's fifth channel. It bolted to the rear seat's brackets to secure it and conserve leg room.

JL Audio Stealthbox 2013 F-150

Conclusion JL creates a covert audio upgrade

While this was an involved installation, Ed knew the sound benefits would be worth the work he put into his F-150. He ran a couple sound checks before the seats and interior lining were back in place, just so he could troubleshoot any problems while he had easier access to the gear. He then reassembled his Ford to make it roadworthy. He took a short drive with no music on to try out the sound-deadening material. It did its thing and did it well. His cab was considerably quieter, especially at higher speeds and over rougher terrain. Before even turning on his JL Audio gear, he had created a much better environment for his music.

Now he was ready for the audio experience. Ed cranked out his favorite playlist on the JL system, which he had listened to many times on the factory system. He noticed that the bass from the Stealthbox was tight and clear, and the overall soundstage was significantly wider and more spacious. He was able to pick out more of the details in his music. And since he kept the factory radio, he didn't have to learn new controls on a new receiver — he was immediately able to just enjoy the music.

Ed continued to comment on the subtle things that JL had thought of, such as the custom brackets for the crossovers and the amp, and the included wiring for all the connections. He mounted the included "wife-saver" bass level knob in the dash to tone down that bass thump for his wife.

JL StealthMod remote bass level knob installed

The bass level knob installed conveniently in the dash near the factory USB and aux input for easy access.

Check out our OutfitMyCar™ tool to see if there are any factory upgrade systems available for your vehicle, and feel free to contact our advisors if you have any questions about improving your system.

  • Joe Murcia from Frisco

    Posted on 1/28/2023

    I was under the impression that the factory amp was also somehow connected to other features like hands free phone or navigation etc.. is that not the case? So if the Sony 700 watt amp is no longer in use were the high input wires just clipped going into it and connected to a low input converter then sent to new amp using rca's Or did he only use the high input signal off the Sony amp for the sub for the 5 channel amp? I'm curious about this part of the install process as I already upgraded my sub and amp but looking to add an amp for the door speakers.

  • Commenter image

    Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 8/31/2017

    Johnny, Ed tells me the factory amp is still in place and that he used its output signal for the new amp.

  • Johnny from Santa Barbara

    Posted on 8/30/2017

    With the audio upgrade and his new JL 5 channel amp. Did he remove the stock amp out of the truck or did he leave the stock amp in place but moved the wiring to the new JL amp?

  • Commenter image

    Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 3/20/2017

    Thanks, John. Here's some more information on sound deadening for those interested.

  • Commenter image

    Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 3/20/2017

    Steve, yes, here's some more info on how to install an amplifier. If you have any questions about a specific amp you have in mind, just give us a call.

  • John from Worcester

    Posted on 3/19/2017

    I've been into and installing car audio for over 20 years. Might I suggest that covering 100% of the interior sheet metal with sound deadening material isn't nessesary. Depending on the quality of the sound deadening material and the thickness of the constraint layer (Aluminum foil facing), you will only need to cover 25-40% of the sheet metal. Exceeding those amounts will not improve their ability to reduce panel resonance but will only add weight and cost. Check out Sound Deadener Showdown for more information and proof to see what I mean. One can also test this with a piece of sheet metal. Cove one piece with 40% material and then another with 100% and compare them and you'll see what I mean. Please help Crutchfield customers understand that sound deadening materials do not in any way block sound. They help reduce structure born noise by converting the vibrations in the panel into very small amounts of heat. Think of a pitch fork ringing and then you stop it by putting your finger on it.

  • Steve from Mount Airy

    Posted on 3/17/2017

    This seems like an AWESOME upgrade, and I have a similar truck, but I'm terrified that a simple sentence in the article, such as "He also ran a power cable to the engine compartment for the new amplifier." could equate to an entire weekend of frustration for me. I wonder if there's any more detail as to how that process is done without destroying the aesthetics of the truck for someone not comfortable removing the entirety of the interior (or rather not comfortable REPLACING the interior.. taking it out is NEVER the problem!!)

  • Commenter image

    Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 4/18/2016

    Aaron, I've passed your question along to our sales team for the best answer. An advisor will contact you soon to help find the right gear for you and your F-150.

  • Aaron

    Posted on 4/16/2016

    What would be a similar setup for a 2015 f150 platinum? I am worried that the terrible sound quality in my truck stems from the head unit, and no amount of electronic trickery will fix it. I also want to use all JL Audio components. I really hope the poor sound is coming from the stock speakers and amp, not the head unit, because I want to keep that stock for functionality purposes. Please can you help me get my truck sounding better?

  • Commenter image

    Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 12/21/2015

    Servando, the factory amp and sub are no longer in use.

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