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A 2016 Mustang gets loud

Morel and AudioControl soup up this EcoBoost

One of our Advisors at Crutchfield's Norton, VA facility, JC, is a loud music enthusiast. And he drives a loud car as well — a 2016 Mustang EcoBoost. The problem for him was that the factory sound system couldn't really get very loud, distorted when it was turned it up, and had no bass. His attempted solution? "I wanted a replacement that not only was going to give me loud bass, but also have significantly more over-all volume and clarity of sound."

JC and his gear

Editor's note: JC is no longer with Crutchfield, but this is his story and it's a great one. 

The best in sound and volume

JC is a big-time basshead. He admits with a sheepish grin: "I love the kind of competition-level bass that can tick off the neighbors." But while he knew he wanted powerful subs, he didn’t want to sacrifice clarity. He chose Morel speakers and subwoofer because he wanted the best of both worlds — loudness and sound quality. The AudioControl amps fulfilled his desire to have the customization control to tweak and tune the sound to his personal satisfaction. "I also want to tic-off the neighbors."

Once we heard his plans, we set out to help make it happen. Crutchfield provided the Morel speakers and subs, while the AudioControl graciously supplied their gear for JC's installation. And JC provided the day of gratifying DIY. 

Eight speakers and two powerful amps

In addition to the 3-way component system, JC fit in two monstrous 12" Morel subwoofers — that’s eight drivers in all. Power was going to be key, so he went with a powerful 1500-watt sub amp and a 6-channel DSP amplifier, both from AudioControl, to drive and control it all.

Speakers in the door, pillar

Meticulous application of patience

JC took his time installing everything neatly with tight connections and wiring hidden under the carpeting. Also, putting in a 3-way speaker system involved a bit of customization of the Mustang's front doors and pillars. This took some time, and JC wanted to do it right.

Subs in the back

There were a lot of balls to juggle in this installation

In addition to the tweeters, midrange drivers, and mid-bass speakers, JC also installed two monstrous 12" Morel subwoofers — that's eight drivers in all, for a stereo 4-way system. No wonder he picked out the powerful 1500-watt AudioControl subwoofer amp and the 6-channel DSP amplifier to control it all.

Let's take a look at each piece of the system.

Morel Virtus 603 speakers

Morel speakers are each hand-made and tested to produce the most musical and most powerful sound possible. Each set of the Virtus 603 components can handle up to 140 watts RMS of power, so JC was able to achieve his desired level of loud. The combination of the tweeter, midrange driver, and woofer, plus the high-tech crossover, reveal subtle new details in music. It's like giving JC a brand new collection of music to explore.

Morel Ultimo SC subwoofers

JC installed his two Morel Ultimo SC subwoofers into a custom-built enclosure that actually takes the place of the rear seatback and blasts bass throughout the vehicle. These subs are designed to handle a ton of power, so JC wired them to present a two-ohm load to the amplifier for maximum output. Each subwoofer features a hybrid paper-carbon fiber composite cone and unique voice coil design that contribute to the sub's high-quality sound and toughness.

AudioControl LC-1.1500 mono amplifier

AudioControl is a company that makes practical and reliable gear that delivers on performance, no matter how complex the features. At first, JC left his car's factory stereo system intact — the AudioControl amplifiers can handle the factory system's amplified signal for their inputs. As for output, the LC-1.1500 subwoofer amp can dish out up to 1500 watts RMS, so he can definitely bother people if he wants to.

Digital signal processing (DSP) for the win

Let's be honest: the only way to achieve OCD-quality sound in a car is by employing a DSP in the system. A DSP lets you:

  • improve the frequency response with an EQ,
  • correct image placement with time-alignment,
  • and balance the sound with individual loudness adjustments.

This 6-channel wonder, the AudioControl D-6.1200, supplies power and ultimate control over the sound of JC's tweeters, midrange, and mid-bass speakers. He downloaded AudioControl's control app, plugged in his laptop, and started on the fun and challenging road to sonic bliss.

Headunit group

A new stereo to tie it all together

Initially, JC wanted to keep his factory stereo, because it controls so many of the Mustang’s functions and features. However, he quickly learned that this wouldn’t be possible because Ford plays artificial engine noise through the factory stereo. It’s Ford's way of making the efficient, but super-sporty, 4-cylinder turbocharged engine sound like a full-throated V8.

Had he kept the factory stereo, he would’ve run the risk of the engine noise being blasted through the subwoofers, destroying his bass output. Not good. 

Luckily, there was an easy solution to this problem. iDatalink’s Ford kit and Maestro radio replacement module. Using these two interfaces, JC was able to install a new Kenwood stereo and keep all of the factory features and functions that he wanted. He was able to keep the factory dash centerpiece and buttons, but bypass the Mustang's artificial engine noise. The Kenwood stereo provides a direct feed – and clean signal – to the new amplifiers. And JC can take full advantage of the AudioControl DSP for ultra-precise sonic control.

JC taping wiires.

What did we learn here?

Right out of the box, with no tuning, it sounded better than the factory system. After some preliminary tuning — setting the crossovers, speaker placement, time alignment, and tweaking the EQ using the built in real-time analyzer — it sounds superb. "Unfortunately, I'll probably be tweaking the tune every other day or so forever. But that's okay, I love it."

Call us to upgrade your sound system

JC's new system was a dream come true. Crutchfield can help you create your dream system, too. Call us.

Vehicles in the Custom Car Showroom are submitted by customers and fans, and edited by Crutchfield writing staff. You can find more of these articles on the Showroom main page.

  • James Dyer from Port Orchard, WA

    Posted on 10/21/2020

    Well done JC! I also have an s550 Mustang (2017 GT with 6 speakers). I replaced the factory head unit with a Metra dash kit and Kenwood DMX4707S. Rockford Fosgate T400x4ad is driving Focal PS165FX 2 ways up front and PC165F coaxials in the rear. Saving up now for Rockford Fosgate T750x1bd and a pair of 12w6v3 subwoofers.

  • Harry Jones from Arvada

    Posted on 9/15/2020

    Are the subs in a ported enclosure or sealed? I imagine with all the power he has and the precise sound accuracy he was wanting to achieve, I would assume that it's a sealed enclosure, but I could be wrong. Also, I am thinking of a system with a sub for my Ford Fusion, but I want to keep the stock radio.

    Commenter image

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    on 9/16/2020

    Harry, I wasn't there at the installation, but judging by the photo, the custom backseat sub enclosure looks to be sealed.
  • Jose Rosario from Las Piedras

    Posted on 9/2/2020

    Been thinking about this for two years. The article says you used iDatalink's Ford kit and Maestro radio replacement module. I checked the parts and they won't fit a 2016 Mustang. How did it fit your 2016 Mustang? Can I see some pictures of the head unit JC used? Also would like to see the questions asked by Bismark in previous comment answered. Thanks

    Commenter image

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    on 9/4/2020

    Jose, JC's install included front left and right 3-way components, and two 12-inch subs in a custom-built enclosure that actually takes the place of the rear seatback. There was a bit of customization of the Mustang's front doors and pillars to get everything to fit - that's standard practice in car audio installations. The 3-way crossovers were mounted under the front seats.
  • Bismark from San Juan, PR

    Posted on 9/1/2020

    It is nice to see that someone actually took the time to find out the answer for the S550. I have been dealing with the dilemma since I got my car delivered back in 2015. I will be honest; I like the factory stereo and the engine feed sound. I do like bass, but I am not longer a maniac. I will prefer to dress some 8" or 10" so I have some questions. Did you keep factory battery? Are the Subs really in the way of the seat? It looks to me that you are able to fit the well behind the upright seat. Where exactly did you hid the external crossover? Did you eliminate the central console speaker? Is there any video where I can assess the functions with the aftermarket stereo? I will appreciate the feedback. I have only swapped speakers because I don't feel comfortable giving up to all the premiums controlled by the factory unit.

    Commenter image

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    on 9/4/2020

    Bismark, JC's install included front left and right 3-way components, and two 12-inch subs in a custom-built enclosure that actually takes the place of the rear seatback. There was a bit of customization of the Mustang's front doors and pillars to get everything to fit - that's standard practice in car audio installations. The 3-way crossovers were mounted under the front seats.
  • Jayson from Chicago

    Posted on 8/18/2020

    Another option would have been to use FORSCAN to turn off the fake engine noise, and keep the factory radio.

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