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Explorer Audio upgrade(s)

Discussion in 'Modified 2011- 2019 Explorer Sport Tuning' started by deewan, March 10, 2012.

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    1. deewan

      deewan Active Member

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      I have a 2012 Limited with the Sony 12 speaker system. It's a fine sounding factory system, but I am a bit of an audiophile. I don't purchase commercial speakers for my living room, office, or home theater, instead I build from the ground up (cabinets, crossovers, selecting the best drivers). I'm not as picky when it comes to car audio since the inside of a car isn't idea for hi-fi listening, but I would still like to make the most out of what's available.

      This morning I started down a journey to upgrade the audio system. First step, was to simply upgrade the subwoofer since it is VERY muddy. I had a few drivers laying around from previous projects and testing so I thought I'd see what I could do.

      Following will be the steps that I took. These steps may differ based on the trim package, audio package, and other options you have in your Explorer.
       
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    3. deewan

      deewan Active Member

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      The Limited trim package has a subwoofer mounted in a sealed enclosure in the cargo area on the passenger side. The only info I could find online was that it was an 8 inch driver. So time to pull the Explorer apart and see what's going on. These were my steps.

      1) Remove the two cargo net anchors on the passenger side. I was able to unscrew these by hand. Normal counter clockwise to unscrew.
      2) Remove the scuff trim pieces that run along the lift gate/bumper area.
      3) Starting at the lift gate, begin pulling the the large rear quarter panel off near the rubber seal of the lift gate. I saw no clips across the bottom of the panel, they are all on the top and end. Pay attention to the third row seat beat cover near the floor. I removed that small trim piece after I got the rear quarter panel loosened a bit. Moving your way from back to front, move along the rear window from back to front popping all those slips off.

      NOTE: I have the third row power seats. I had to adjust these seats from stowed to upright to folded a few times in order to remove the rear quarter panel. I also have the second row inflatable seat belts and was iffy on how much of the rear panel I wanted to remove since I wasn't sure where impact sensors and the airbags were located back there.

      4) Move the rear quarter panel out of the way. It's large enough to be a pain, but gives you enough access to get at the subwoofer.
      [​IMG]

      5) You can't simply remove the subwoofer driver from the enclosure. You must remove the enclosure to get at a bolt on the backside of the sealed enclosure. There are three bolts holding the enclosure in place. Standing at the back of the lift gate, there is one at the bottom close to the gate, one at the top, and then the third is near at the top near the amp. SORRY, I should have taken more pictures!
      [​IMG]

      Note: The three bolts holding the sub enclosure in place take many many turns to remove. They are not tight, but take forever to remove even with a socket wrench. So if you have a pneumatic wrench, USE IT! Without the entire panel removed, even a regular socket set takes a while since space it limited.

      6) The top of the sub enclosure furtherest away from the lift gate has a metal bracket or clip helping it stay in place. Simply lift up off the frame of the Explorer and remove the sub enclosure.

      7) On the backside of the enclosure, you will see the only bolt, which holds the sub driver in place from the back. Remove the bolt. Flip the enclosure over and remove the screws holding the driver in.
      [​IMG]

      Now here is where my day turned south. I popped the sub driver out and for the first time noticed the 4 wires running to the driver. The factory driver has dual voice coils. Not a bad thing, but all my sub drivers on hand were single voice coils. My plans were spoiled! With everything torn apart, I decided to poke around a bit.

      For those thinking of swapping out sub drivers. The max mounting depth is 3.6 inches (found using a digital caliper). But that would have the magnet resting against the back of the plastic sub enclosure. So I'd stay at a mounting depth of 3.5" or less.

      Another thing, the factory sub driver is 1.2 ohm! That's pretty low. So make sure you find an aftermarket driver that is not higher than 4 ohm. Anything higher and you won't get much power at all out of the factory amp. The factory Sony driver is also rated at 60 watts per channel. So make sure you are not getting an aftermarket driver that requires a lot of power!!! The last thing I noticed, the inside of the sub enclosure had one small piece of acoustic stuffing.
      [​IMG]

      So all that work, and I can't really do anything. No local car audio shops were open today (Saturday), so I did the only thing I could, I used acoustic-stuff and lined the sub enclosure and put everything back.

      My next steps will be to find a shallow mounting depth, low power handling, good sounding sub driver. I have a few ideas, but this might even cause me to think about swapping out the factory amp for something more powerful.

      (To be continued...)
       
    4. TIO M

      TIO M Active Member

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      Nice and good luck on your audio project.
       
    5. VinceL

      VinceL Well-Known Member

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      Cool project. Did you take any pics of the subwoofer in the enclosure? Would porting the enclosure help/hurt?

      I found a older F-150 forum thread that is trying to do exactly what you are doing. It is proving to be challenge.

      Keep us posted.

      Edit-

      Here's the link. Maybe something there will help??
       
      Last edited: March 11, 2012
    6. Spengracin

      Spengracin Active Member

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      Great post for the audio buffs
       
    7. deewan

      deewan Active Member

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      I did not take any photos of the front of the enclosure, but it is VERY similar to the pics in the F-150. The Sony factory driver is a paper cone, with a poly dust cap. I have to admit, it was better than I thought it would be, but not what I would like to see.

      Porting the enclosure isn't a good idea without first testing the driver to see what the specs are. Also, with the small size of the factory enclosure, it would be VERY difficult to not get port noise from the velocity of the air coming out of the port.

      I want to keep everything looking as stock as possible, so a new sub box sitting in the rear cargo area is not an option. I've found a few shallow mount drivers, specifically one that I think will work well. But I am going to think about replacing the amp(s) while I am back there. I should have paid closer attention to how it was hooked up when I had everything torn apart. But I was a little disappointed by the shallow mounting depth that I just put everything back together so I didn't spend any more time this weekend.
       
    8. VinceL

      VinceL Well-Known Member

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      Thanks for the info. I'm just starting to get my basics down for car audio. This thread interests me because I feel as you do that the bass is very muddy. I'm the kind of guy that doesn't need a lot of thump, rather I prefer the bass to be very clear and precise.

      When taking test drives, I actually found the quality of the bass in the XLT with premium sound to be better. If it only had just a bit more power behind it...
       
    9. Rick

      Rick Pumpkin Pilot Staff Member Admin Elite Explorer

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      Nice write up:chug: I set you up with a 6 month of Elite Explorer membership for your work.
      Looking forward to the rest of the article.
       
    10. deewan

      deewan Active Member

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      THANKS RICK!!!! I really appreciate it!

      VinceL. I never test drove the XLT so I don't have anything to compare the Sony Limited system too. But as I noted in my second post and as the thread you provide stated, adding stuffing to the sub enclosure will help clean up the bass a bit. There is a difference, but it's not night and day.

      Since I hope to keep everything stock and not require custom work for others to make an upgrade, I want to stay within the factory gear and enclosures for the most part. There is only one driver out there that I've found that can act as drop in replacements.

      Dayton Audio NS210

      I've used Dayton drivers in some way in almost every one of my home audio applications and they have always demonstrated a high value. A mounting depth of 2.5 inches leaves plenty of room, It's rated at 4-ohms, I wish it would be 2-ohms, but it isn't very power hungry, so a little is made up there.

      I was unable to find suitable drivers from the normal car audio BIG brands... but will continue my search!

      EDIT:
      I just found Rockford Fosgate will be releasing a shallow depth 8-inch subwoofer in April 2012. Dual-voice coil, 2-ohm, 150 RMS power consumption. That might be the best driver option!!! Now it's just a waiting game for them to release the driver.
      Link for Rockford Fosgate driver
       
      Last edited: March 11, 2012
    11. VinceL

      VinceL Well-Known Member

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      ^ Sweet. It almost sounds like they read your mind!

      Here's the page with the instruction manual for the Rockford sub in case you missed it. Don't know if it would help with planning or not...

      Keep us posted :)
       
      Last edited: March 12, 2012
    12. chaneya

      chaneya Elite Explorer

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      deewan - do you expect to do a direct swap, or are you going to swap the amp too? in other words, do you expect the factory amp to be sufficient to power the RF sub? I'm anxious to find out if you get a true lift in sound quality by swapping out a $200 sub... if that makes any sense.
       
    13. deewan

      deewan Active Member

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      Thanks for the manual link VinceL.

      chaneya - while the Rockford site does give some specs on the driver, they don't give me enough right now to do a full model of what the driver can produce. The lower Qts of the Dayton driver makes me believe that will be able to produce tighter bass when compared to the Rockford driver but only if they are given the same amount of power. Since the Rockford is a 2-ohm driver and the Dayton is a 4-ohm, The Dayton will pull roughly half the power the Rockford driver will from the factory amp. It will be difficult to decide if the lower Qts of the Dayton driver that will pull less wattage OR the higher Qts of the Rockford driver that will pull more power will be better. It might be a guessing game unless I can get more info about the factory wiring and amp.

      Long story short, right now I am planning on swapping out only the sub driver and leaving the factory amp. I think it will be enough for what I hope to do... tightening up the bass and improve overall sound. However, if I find out the factory amp installed back by the subwoofer powers more than just the sub, I might look into changing it out as well. but again, I want to keep this as simple as possible for anyone else who wants improvements but doesn't feel comfortable pulling wires and redoing everything. Once I make a decision, I will explain why and try to give the trade-offs if you decide to do something else.
       
    14. deewan

      deewan Active Member

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      I've spoken to my local Rockford dealer and he has no info on when the new subwoofer will be shipped. I'd like to get this project moving so I am considering purchasing the Dayton driver and then checking out the drest of the speakers and stock amp to see if that can be easily replaced. I'll wait one more week before making my final decision.
       
    15. VinceL

      VinceL Well-Known Member

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      Bummer on the Rockford subwoofer. Thanks for the update and keeping us posted. I am watching this thread with a lot of interest :)
       
    16. deewan

      deewan Active Member

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      More info. I emailed Rockford directly about the driver. Here is the response I received.

      Thanks for contacting us. The P3SD2-8’s are in stock and shipped, you should be able to get one through your local Rockford Fosgate dealer. We will assume your question has been answered if we do not hear from you within 48 hours.

      I used the Rockford Fosgate site to find all my local dealers. The only other local dealer besides the dealer who said they had no information about the product doesn’t carry car audio equipment and no longer carries Rockford gear. They stopped carrying Rockford stuff (and car audio gear all together) about 4 years ago. So I checked the next closest dealer to me which is about 50 miles away and in the town I grew up in. That shop went out of business 2 years ago. On to the next dealer, about 80 miles away and it’s a big box store and they said they only carry what is on their website (no Rockford Shallow mount subs). Fourth dealer, same thing as the third dealer. So back to Rockford I went, asking where I could get a driver. They suggested online stores, Crutchfield was their first choice. So I called Crutchfield. They don’t have the driver in their system, nor do they have additional information about an Explorer Sony audio system. They do have info on the base model audio system in case anyone is interested. I next did a search for the product online and found only one place that supposedly has them: Pacific Stereo. Cost is $189 for the driver. But a call to Pacific Stereo confirmed they do not have the item even though it is listed on their website. They think they should get them in stock, they just are not sure when that time might be.

      Sooooo…. I really wish now that I would have taken a closer look at the amp while I had the panel off so I could have confirmed if that amp was driving only the sub or the sub and other speakers as well. I’m also considering making a mounting ring to act as a spacer to add some depth for the mountain distance for the driver so more 8-inch drivers could fit in the stock enclosure. Maybe I’ll look into that this weekend.
       
    17. tyrael44

      tyrael44 New Member

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      Have you looked at the Earthquake SWS-8xi?

      The specs are pretty awesome. I'm curious to know how it would work. The people that installed them in their BMWs were happy with the sound.

      It's in stock at onlinecarstereo.com
       
    18. deewan

      deewan Active Member

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      Thanks for the info tyrael44. :thumbsup:

      The Earthquake sub will fit in the Explorer stock enclosure. The specs look pretty good too for the 8xi and match up well with the stock amp. The Earthquake is actually a better driver than the Rockford AND cheaper AND currently available. This might be the driver!!!! I may be sending an order for this driver by the end of the week.
       
    19. deewan

      deewan Active Member

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      I was about to order the Earthquake sub then realized the Earthquake sub is a single voicecoil driver. Since the Ford factory sub is dual voicecoil, unless some amp changes are made, the single voil coil driver will not work. Again, back to the drawing board.

      The Rockford driver is back in the lead, followed by the Dayton driver. Still can't find the Rockford driver for sale anyplace. I am planning on swinging by the local Car Audio shop tonight to see about getting a new amp installed. But I really would like to stay away from this option as it would defeat the purpose of getting the upgraded audio system (although it comes stardard with the trim package I bought) and would not be a DIY job.
       
    20. VinceL

      VinceL Well-Known Member

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      Of course, you could always ebay it:

      ebay listing

      Question becomes: Are they in stock, and how did they get them in stock?

      Just passing that along...
       
    21. deewan

      deewan Active Member

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      Thanks VinceL. I had not check out The Bay for the drivers. I might shoot them an email and make sure they have them in stock, if they do, I'll order one.
       
    22. tyrael44

      tyrael44 New Member

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      You are not limited to a dual voice coil subwoofer. You can bridge 2 channels which should not cause any more load as long as you do not create any less resistance (less ohms) for each of the channels. If the Sony subwoofer is 1 ohm dvc you should be able to bridge the channels for a 2 ohm svc. Each of the channels will still see 1 ohm. If you don't trust the amp you can get a 4 ohm svc sub and each channel will see 2 ohms instead.
       
    23. deewan

      deewan Active Member

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      My concern with brdiging the factory amp is I have no idea how the audio system is setup. Does the head unit send the right and left channels to the amp in full range, and the amp has the low and highpass filters wired in? If so, I don't want to bridge the amp because depending on the music, I could miss notes below whatever the lowpass filter is because of the one channel instead of two.

      If the head unit does the splitting and the amp gets two ranges (let's say below and above 80Hz) for each right and left, then I would be fine brdiging the amp. The fact the factory system has a dual-voice coil makes me think the filters are in the amp, not the head unit.

      Perhaps I will take the laptop out and stream my REW Audio Calibration I use for Home Theater setups through the system and try and determine how the Ford system breaks down the ranges.
       
    24. tyrael44

      tyrael44 New Member

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      Regardless if the amp or the headunit does the lowpass the subwoofer will still receive the same signal. Both channels are connected to the sub and not a different channel that would receive the highpass. It should never receive a full range signal being a subwoofer. And you have to hope they don't send 2 different signals (left and right not a sum) to each of the voice coils, because that's just a bad idea anyway. I don't think it will be a problem to bridge the channels together. You can test it by bridging the channels an wiring the stock dvc in a series. It will receive less power but it will give you an idea of how it sounds.
       
    25. VinceL

      VinceL Well-Known Member

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      Any updates on your project deewan?
       
    26. deewan

      deewan Active Member

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      No updates. I got sidetracked with a different audio project....

      [​IMG]
       

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