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A seasoned car audio veteran upgrades his RAM pickup

Getting better sound from his truck's factory stereo

Like the many shoppers he’s helped over a whopping 42 years as a Crutchfield Advisor, Brad encountered a challenge when considering an upgrade for his 2019 Ram pickup’s sound system. He couldn’t replace his big, info-filled factory stereo — a common hurdle in modern vehicles. But just as he’s told many of his customers, he knew there were other ways he could improve the sound.

Removing the headunit

Using our exclusive Crutchfield MasterSheet™ for his Ram, Brad removed the factory radio temporarily so he could make connections for speakers and the amp interface.

Setting expectations

“While the factory stereo system in my Ram is respectable, I wondered how far I could improve the bass, volume, and clarity without the addition of a separate subwoofer,” Brad told me. “Some folks doubted that I would get what I wanted without a sub, but I put a premium on retaining storage. I’m not into sound competitions; I’m just trying have a great music experience with the windows open.”

To get that experience, Brad knew he'd have to pick new gear to integrate with the factory radio and wiring, replace the stock speakers, and increase the power to those speakers. He also wanted to fine-tune his sound using an amplifier with a built-in digital signal processor (DSP). “My goal is to pour as much amp power to the speakers as I could from an amp that fits under my seat. I made it my mission to see what I could achieve,” Brad explained. AudioControl’s robust sound control app lets Brad tweak the entire system.

AudioControl D-4.800 Amp with seat removed

Brad removed the driver's seat to make mounting and wiring the AudioControl amp much easier. He had previously "dry fit" the amp under the seat to make sure it would fit in the space.

Choosing the gear

Brad selected sweet-sounding Morel Tempo 6"x9" speakers for the front and rear door locations, with components up front for excellent imaging, and two-way speakers for sound fill in the rear. “Because I wouldn’t have a sub, I went with the largest in-car speakers that could work for the best bass response,” Brad explained. “When I originally looked at the Morel speakers, they weren’t listed as a fit in our system. However, our detailed measurements showed a difference of only 0.1", so I was confident I could get them to work.” (You can contact one of our knowledgeable Advisors if you’re unsure about fit information.)

Brad with laptop

AudioControl's app links to the amp and lets Brad customize just about every aspect of his sound.

To further enhance his sound, Brad opted for the AudioControl D-4.800 amplifier and its powerful output of 125 watts per channel. Additionally, its DSP includes app control over the gain, polarity, crossovers, and the amp’s 30-band equalizer. All of that’s packed in a small chassis. “My easiest decision was the amp location, directly under the driver’s seat as a central location for wiring and fit.”

Using factory connections

“I had to use the factory wiring to connect to the speaker outputs on the AudioControl amp. There are plugs connecting wiring between the truck body and doors that block new wiring, so I connected speaker wire between the amp and the existing factory speaker wires to feed signal to the Morel speakers.”

PAC AP4-CH41 installed

With many panels removed to make his wiring easier, Brad cleverly tucked the PAC interface away once it was connected.

Brad added, “I also decided on the PAC AmpPRO amp interface that seamlessly connected to the factory radio using a T-harness, and provided outputs for the AudioControl amp.” Additionally, the Ram’s stock system has active noise cancellation (ANC), which often doesn’t play well with aftermarket gear. He solved that problem with a vehicle-specific iDatalink ANC bypass harness, so there are no negative effects on his overall sound.

Installing a speaker

Installing the speakers

With the panels off, Brad installed the Morel 6"x 9" speakers in the front and rear doors. The doors were actually well-insulated, but Brad went the extra mile by installing a Morel Acudamp sound dampening in each door to knock down road noise and improve the overall sound.

sound deadening

Morel's Acudamp was an easy add-on to the door's interior sheet metal.

Brad made quick work of installing the two-way speakers in the rear doors by using vehicle-specific wiring harness adapters we offer with speaker purchases. The front speakers were a little trickier, since he was installing component speakers up front. While they require a bit more elbow grease and some planning since there are separate tweeters and crossovers involved, component speakers definitely provide better imaging from your front soundstage in a vehicle. The tweeters wouldn't mount directly into stock tweeter locations in Brad's Ram, so he created small brackets to secure them in place.

Morel Tempo tweeters affixed to custom brackets

Brad secured the Morel tweeters to custom brackets he made to match the Ram's screw holes.

Brad’s advice to DIYers

For those considering a sound upgrade like his, Brad recommends,“Do your homework. Definitely research your vehicle’s limitations for running wires and mounting the gear. It's exciting to get the amp and speakers in place, but it's a big letdown when you find out you can't get wiring to them due to restrictions in your vehicle. And consider a DSP in your system to compensate for imperfect vehicle interiors.”

Brad and his truck

We're ready to help

When you're ready to upgrade your sound system, you can use our handy vehicle selector tool to see which gear will fit your vehicle. And our Advisors are available by phone or chat to help you create the right audio system for your application.

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