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Old 04-08-2012, 02:12 AM   #1
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Why soundbar won't sound good with stock amplifier

So since i have a bunch of audio stuff I'm playing with and setting up, my intention was to do my installs in order to simulate some of the easier / cheaper / quicker mods first, and actually measure them and hopefully provide some online so people can judge for themselves.

First operation is to pull the soundbar speakers and replace them with Polk MM651. Total cost: $110 shipped from onlinecarstereo.com.

I have a lot of other stuff lined up for my install (actually sitting in the house waiting to go) So, I decided I'd try the speakers before installing, by hooking them up to the JBL MS-8 directly. This is a sound processor, that is also an 8 channel amp / eq, and head unit line level converter / summer.

I actually think that the JBL with the stock system, and some polyfill, and vibration absorption may end up making a huge difference to the system.

At any rate, with the Polks hooked up to the MS-8 without any enclosure or baffle, but set on bypass, they sounded pretty tiny and bass shy, as expected for a speaker without an enclosure. I was curious what the MS-8 could do so I ran the calibration and kicked it in. The difference was pretty amazing! Also, of note, is that with one channel setup to drive the polks, I could hear them clearly throughout my house. I suspect this means that the rated 25 W rms / channel that the MS-8 puts out is higher than the Infinity in the car in actual rms per channel.

I setup a tone generator and spl meter, and without enclosure but with the MS-8 kicked in the Polks were playing well down to 55 hz or so, and audible at 40.

I then installed those speakers in the jeep soundbar, and hooked them up. First off, I did get a measured 5db increase in sound from them over stock at volume 20 on the headunit. (went from 85db for just rears to 90) Combined all 4 at that volume went from 91 up to 95 or so.

However, using my same tone generator out of my android and faded all the way rear, the stock system basically started dropping the soundbar out at 150 hz, and it was completely gone by about 110hz or so! I didn't check the high end yet, but I suspect it's pulling some of that as well.

Any rate, the polks are a definite improvement over stock, and louder (by testing) however, it's fairly obvious that in order to get real sound out of the soundbar, the stock crossover needs to be eliminated.

My next project is going to be attempting to pull out the stock amp, and replace it entirely with the MS-8. I suspect that it will run the full set of speakers in the jeep better than the infinity amp, with much better sound quality and probably with equal or better volume, even though it's only rated at give or take 200 rms. (8 channel x 20 @ 4 ohm, 30 @ 2 ohm)

After that it'll most likely be my new front components, and then the polk amps.

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Old 04-08-2012, 07:06 AM   #2
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Very interested in the results. If the benefits significant I'd swap out my amp too.

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Old 04-08-2012, 07:13 AM   #3
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Thumbs up

Please take and post pictures along the way. I am interested in doing this as well.
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Old 04-08-2012, 10:57 AM   #4
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Very interested in the results. If the benefits significant I'd swap out my amp too.
I looked at the stock amp placement yesterday. I'm hoping I can get in there and locate the JBL box in the same place, and then do the wiring harness. Awkward area to work in for the wiring though, however, I think it'll be worth it to get that in.

I'm holding off putting my front components in, because I want to get the results with stock speakers for reporting back to people. If it works, it would be about the same cost as the infinity upgrade for people that don't have it coming from the showroom floor, and I have a feeling it'll be way nicer sound.
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Old 04-08-2012, 11:37 AM   #5
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ronrad: appreciate your tekkie post, anxiously anticipating further findings.

Not looking for loud, just 'as good as possible' from what is already there....which while better than my old pickup, doesn't say all that much for Wrangler sound engineers.

I get the idea they just randomly assembled a bunch of overstocked parts that more or less fit the holes they had to fill.
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Old 04-08-2012, 12:04 PM   #6
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Looking forward to it.

But everyone keeps saying you have to replace the head unit, not the amp. (Although I'm not sure this applies to the 730N units and the premium sound? Please, correct me if I'm wrong!)
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Old 04-08-2012, 12:14 PM   #7
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Looking forward to it.

But everyone keeps saying you have to replace the head unit, not the amp. (Although I'm not sure this applies to the 730N units and the premium sound? Please, correct me if I'm wrong!)
So I have infinity with base radio 130. I deliberately chose not to upgrade the head because I know I can do a lot better aftermarket. However I'm doing speakers and amps first. As part of that I picked up the jbl for control of the crossovers etc. It has the ability to undo everything the head unit does as well as taking a direct auxiliary in from my Android

This piece is not just an amp so it may be able to do something decent from the stock head unit. That is what is designed. For
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Old 04-08-2012, 12:26 PM   #8
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The easiest way to improve the sound bar's performance is to feed the front speakers output from the head unit to all four channels input on the amp.

You lose the fader control, but the improvement is dramatic.
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Old 04-08-2012, 01:40 PM   #9
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Very interested in the results. If the benefits significant I'd swap out my amp too.
Also extremely interested. I have some Polk and JL 6s lying around from the time I wrecked an Elise.
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Old 04-08-2012, 01:42 PM   #10
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The easiest way to improve the sound bar's performance is to feed the front speakers output from the head unit to all four channels input on the amp.

You lose the fader control, but the improvement is dramatic.
Interesting - hadn't thought of that.

Has anyone tried an inline amp just to the sound bar?
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Old 04-08-2012, 01:58 PM   #11
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Very interesting thread...

I agree that the sound bar speakers are LAME in the db department and
Looking for a good option without getting rid of my 430N head unit

This idea looks promising and looking forward to see results

cheers,
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Old 04-08-2012, 03:40 PM   #12
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Interesting - hadn't thought of that.

Has anyone tried an inline amp just to the sound bar?
It still won't restore the frequency range, although that combined with sending the fronts to the rear probably would.

However, I'm going to see if the JBL box still works with the fader. It technically combines all of the channels and then processes to get output on all the other channels, but not sure if it will take the fade of the head unit as input to how it controls output.
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Old 04-08-2012, 03:48 PM   #13
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If anyone figures out a solution for the rears, please make a write up!

I'm ok with losing fader control, for the most part. Would be nice to keep it though.
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Old 04-09-2012, 10:30 AM   #14
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Well, depending on how you hooked it up, if you used some type of speaker level control box feeding an amp, you should be able to at least set the fader initially to something you prefer, it would just be more difficult to change later.

ronrad, thanks for doing this. I've been wanting someone to do this for a while and I will probably do something similar when I get around to changing my rears out. Your results definitely agree with what I am hearing when routing all to the rear.
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Old 04-09-2012, 10:39 AM   #15
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The easiest way to improve the sound bar's performance is to feed the front speakers output from the head unit to all four channels input on the amp.

You lose the fader control, but the improvement is dramatic.

How would you go about doing this and how hard is it to do? I just put in new alpine type S speakers to try and do the same thing with fixing the soundbar. I'm trying to avoid putting a ton of money into the sound system as I have a soft top only and leave my jeep unlocked most of the time. Too tempting to have stuff stolen if I have an awesome head unit and all sorts of amps. That and water form off roading could ruin expensive components.
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Old 04-09-2012, 01:20 PM   #16
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EveryOne Here Does Know reason??

The reason the soundbar speakers have little sound/power is CanBus. Soundbar speakers are the exact speakers in dash. Order the Infinity Amp that goes in a Nitro not for the wrangler. Amps are preprogramed per vehicle. cost, $130.00....simple
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Old 04-09-2012, 01:45 PM   #17
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The reason the soundbar speakers have little sound/power is CanBus. Soundbar speakers are the exact speakers in dash. Order the Infinity Amp that goes in a Nitro not for the wrangler. Amps are preprogramed per vehicle. cost, $130.00....simple

So you're saying this is the case even with the Premium Sound system? Just swap out the AMP (which one would be best?) and walla!?
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Old 04-10-2012, 11:46 AM   #18
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Quick update, wired the JBL box in as final amp, after the infinity amp yesterday.

Good news is that it restores bass and some volume to the soundbar.

Bad news is that I still lose the stock fader control (have to use the JBL fader control which is awkward to say the least) Sound quality is promising (with replaced polks rear/ stock front) Also need to test without the sub wired in. (to simulate attaching to stock system)

Next step will be to test the setup using the input lines to the stock amp (and the stock amp removed) and see how it compares. This will be the best installation option, as it will allow me to mount the jbl box in place of the stock amp (although that's going to take some work!)

BTW this is *not* a beginner installation option, however, I think it will allow better sound quality than infinity setup, with keeping stock radio / look / functionality, better sound bar volume, for about the same price as the infinity upgrade, without any external visibility that anything has been done. Installation involves cutting into the stock wiring harness for the infinity, or at least getting a plug in adapter and then cutting into that and splicing it.

Overall volume will be up some on infinity system, but I'm not sure how much total yet. (I'll try to measure final db with clean sound)
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Old 04-12-2012, 02:46 AM   #19
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Next update ...

I've completely bypassed the Infinity amp, and am now running directly from the stock 130 unit to my JBL MS-8, in combination with Polk MM651s in the soundbar. I still have to mount the amp, however, I think it will fit in the stock amp location once I pull the stock amp out. At that point the system is still almost 100% stealth, and the sound shows a ton of promise. It's already quite a bit improved on the Infinity setup. Imaging is much better, soundstage is considerably wider, more overall output available when driving with the front panels off the roof and cleaner, (although still not massively loud) Much more blended sounded, and doesn't have the "highly processed clock radio with boom box" sound that the stock infinity has. Doing a sweep I have a considerably flatter frequency response with flatter range than the infinity setup.

Caveats: the JBL does have a learning curve. My first few shots I wasn't very impressed with my tuning results. IT has a defeat vs active mode, and I was much preferring the sound on defeat. However, I stuck with it, read some online comments on volume parameters and choosing crossover points, and the results are now considerably better than stock and I feel there is still a fair number of things I haven't tried yet. The great thing is that a retune only takes about 2 minutes, so it's quite easy to try different combinations, and the box does most of the work.

I'm actually coming to question whether I will actually need to replace the stock head unit!

Caveat 2: Right now, I've lost the volume control from the head unit. I believe that is because the unit is programmed to believe that it is in a system with the Infinity. I'm hoping I can talk my dealer into reprogramming it to take that bit out, although the volume control on the remote for the JBL is fairly useable.

At any rate, for people buying a sport and considering the Infinity upgrade, I would say for roughly the same dollars, the two steps I've taken so far (replace rears and then add the JBL box) will result in a much better sound system than the stock infinity, although I suspect from stock you would need to upgrade the front speakers as well. (As compared to the infinity speakers that I have still up front)

Next step is to get the JBL mounted and add one of my amps for the rear speakers.
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Old 04-12-2012, 03:02 AM   #20
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Were is the stock amp located?
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Old 04-12-2012, 03:13 AM   #21
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Were is the stock amp located?
Mounted vertically from the edge of the vehicle in towards the steering wheel, on the drivers side under the dash, straight behind the speaker pod on the drivers side. You can actually get at it / see it without removing anything by crawling under the dash and looking up from the panels. I need to completely remove the stock amp before I'll see if the JBL fits, which from what I can tell involves removing the front panel under the steering wheel, the side trim panel and (maybe) unbolting / removing the one giant dash piece to get better access.

You can wire in the JBL to the stock amp wiring without removing any of that though as two plugs for the amp are right on the bottom, and you can pull them out from there. I'm guessing install in a non infinity install will be little different as you will likely need to get at the speaker wires from the radio itself instead of at that location.

I intend to grab some pictures when I do the replacement if it works.
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Old 04-12-2012, 08:07 AM   #22
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I think the issue is in the flashing of the systems, but it could be part of the harness as well...maybe both.


Here is the wiring diagram for the Infinity system.
2008-2009 Jeep Wrangler with Infinity Wiring Information

Here it is for the base system.
2008-2009 Jeep Wrangler without Infinity Wiring Information


From what I have read, the amp on the Infinity amp contols the fading and a lot of the adjustments. So you have to run your sound processor downstream of the amp to keep a lot of the functions intact.

I wonder if a non-infinity wiring harness would revert control back to the head unit (or would it still have to be flashed)? I also wonder if that would only work on a 130 since 430's and 730's are always connected to amp?

It seems like what is really, really, really needed is a way to hook the stock Ininity amp up to a computer and play with the adjustments. Be it a Kicker amp or a Dodge Nitro amp, the problem always seems to be poor sound quality because all of the processing is "in" the amp, not at the head unit, so you can't get to it.
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Old 04-12-2012, 08:30 AM   #23
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The reason the soundbar speakers have little sound/power is CanBus. Soundbar speakers are the exact speakers in dash. Order the Infinity Amp that goes in a Nitro not for the wrangler. Amps are preprogramed per vehicle. cost, $130.00....simple
Where are these for sale? I'd gladly drop $130 for a new one. I've been scrounging for used and can't find any sellers.
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Old 04-12-2012, 09:19 AM   #24
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Old 04-12-2012, 09:28 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by JandS View Post
Interesting - hadn't thought of that.

Has anyone tried an inline amp just to the sound bar?
i have a 2 channel amp between my alpine head unit and my soundbar. very clear sound at any speed (especially highway w/ soft top). the amp is mounted in my front passenger seat.

(of course i have a TJ)
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Old 04-12-2012, 11:24 AM   #26
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Originally Posted by panthermark View Post
I think the issue is in the flashing of the systems, but it could be part of the harness as well...maybe both.


Here is the wiring diagram for the Infinity system.
2008-2009 Jeep Wrangler with Infinity Wiring Information

Here it is for the base system.
2008-2009 Jeep Wrangler without Infinity Wiring Information


From what I have read, the amp on the Infinity amp contols the fading and a lot of the adjustments. So you have to run your sound processor downstream of the amp to keep a lot of the functions intact.

I wonder if a non-infinity wiring harness would revert control back to the head unit (or would it still have to be flashed)? I also wonder if that would only work on a 130 since 430's and 730's are always connected to amp?

It seems like what is really, really, really needed is a way to hook the stock Ininity amp up to a computer and play with the adjustments. Be it a Kicker amp or a Dodge Nitro amp, the problem always seems to be poor sound quality because all of the processing is "in" the amp, not at the head unit, so you can't get to it.
That's matching the 2012 wiring I found for my amp, and the guidleine I was using from online crutchfield. As I thought, the amp is wired to the rear speaker outputs from the radio, and it switches functionality to make them line level on the infinity setup. So, I need to figure out how to reprogram the radio to go back to base, and I should have volume control on my setup.
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Old 04-12-2012, 11:25 AM   #27
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Originally Posted by panthermark View Post
I think the issue is in the flashing of the systems, but it could be part of the harness as well...maybe both.


Here is the wiring diagram for the Infinity system.
2008-2009 Jeep Wrangler with Infinity Wiring Information

Here it is for the base system.
2008-2009 Jeep Wrangler without Infinity Wiring Information


From what I have read, the amp on the Infinity amp contols the fading and a lot of the adjustments. So you have to run your sound processor downstream of the amp to keep a lot of the functions intact.

I wonder if a non-infinity wiring harness would revert control back to the head unit (or would it still have to be flashed)? I also wonder if that would only work on a 130 since 430's and 730's are always connected to amp?

It seems like what is really, really, really needed is a way to hook the stock Ininity amp up to a computer and play with the adjustments. Be it a Kicker amp or a Dodge Nitro amp, the problem always seems to be poor sound quality because all of the processing is "in" the amp, not at the head unit, so you can't get to it.
That's matching the 2012 wiring I found for my amp, and the guidleine I was using from online crutchfield. As I thought, the amp is wired to the rear speaker outputs from the radio, and it switches functionality to make then line level on the infinity setup. So, I need to figure out how to reprogram the radio to go back to base, and I should have volume control on my setup.

I wonder if the stock radio will then eq out bass from the rear outputs though?
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Old 04-12-2012, 11:48 AM   #28
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That's matching the 2012 wiring I found for my amp, and the guidleine I was using from online crutchfield. As I thought, the amp is wired to the rear speaker outputs from the radio, and it switches functionality to make then line level on the infinity setup. So, I need to figure out how to reprogram the radio to go back to base, and I should have volume control on my setup.

I wonder if the stock radio will then eq out bass from the rear outputs though?
Great info. But I'm still confused as to the actual "fix"?

Is is as "easy" as simply rewiring the "Premium" Infinity amp? Or do you have to still replace it?
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Old 04-12-2012, 12:04 PM   #29
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Well, what's been found here between the two of us is as follows.

Ronrad discovered that the lows are cut below 150Hz. to the sound bar speakers. This requires a re-eq to fix.

I have just discovered that the highs are cut from the front speakers and sent to the tweeter pods on the dash. This doesn't change anything until you try and run component speakers in the front or send the front signal to the rears to correct for the low sound levels. What I ended up with was no highs anywhere but the tweeter pods.

Components need a full range audio signal to crossover the woofer to tweeter. The factory amp is already doing it rendering the superior external crossovers useless.

Bottom line. The drop in Kicker speakers from Mopar sound pretty good. For the price, it's a tough one to beat. Cheap, easy, looks stock, and sounds pretty good.

If you want better than that, gut the factory crap and start from scratch. This will net the best result.

I, like many of you following these threads, wanted to upgrade the sound without attracting thieves with candy like aftermarket head units etc. This just is not feasible.

I've thrown in the towel on the Infinity amp, my Crutchfield orders are placed.
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Old 04-12-2012, 12:05 PM   #30
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Great info. But I'm still confused as to the actual "fix"?

Is is as "easy" as simply rewiring the "Premium" Infinity amp? Or do you have to still replace it?
I've worked with both options so far. First thing I did was wire in the JBL after the infinity amp (so take all the outputs, splice them and then put them into the JBL. This is actually more work in terms of things that you need to connect and splice, and you will need to add extension cables to the JBL connectors as you will not be able to mount the JBL anywhere close enough to the stock amp with the stock amp still in place with those cables. This kept the stock volume control functioning though as is, with no other mods, and sounded quite a bit better than the infinity amp by itself, along with getting more power, and more extension to the rear soundbar. After I wired it this way I left the box pressed against the left side of the driver compartment inside of the clutch, but it's definitely in the way and not a permanent mounting location.

What I'm doing now, because of the mounting problem, and to see what the sound is like without the infinity, is to cut the infinity amp out entirely from the system, so I took the input from the infinity and going two channels directly to the JBL. I believe this is better sound quality, although it's hard to say because I'm going by memory. I'm also hoping that I can now install the JBL in the stock amplifier location, so I have a nice clean install. (The main reason for getting rid of the stock amp) The problem is that in the infinity setup, the head unit is programmed to deliver line out level signals to the infinity amp (which are now going to the JBL) and apply the volume control over canbus at the infinity amp. So, I have lost the volume control from the radio. Work around is volume control on the JBL itself with its remote

SO I'm hoping I can get the dealer to reprogram the radio to think it doesn't have infinity so that I can get volume control back. Make sense?

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