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Mach Audio and upgrade


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December 22, 2000
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Hello, and thank you!

I have a 1998 Limited with the Mach Audio system. I am looking to upgrade with the minimum of pain - no fancy wiring, metal cutting, or building. My plan was to upgrade the speakers and maybe the amp(s). I also like the audio controls on the steering wheel so I don't want to change the head unit. I listen to alot of different styles of music - jazz, classical, alternative rock, so I'd like a clean sound rather than pure power. Price is no big issue.

Any suggestions?

PS. I have tried to find the real spec's on the Mach Audio system (amp power, frequency response of amp and speakers, etc.) Does anyone have this info (other than Ford?)

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first off, it seems to be traditional to welcome someone on their first post, so.. welcome to the forum.

I'm not really familiar with the "mach" audio system, but I beleive it is very similar to the premuim audio system from '97 and down? I had this system in my mountaineer for about 3 years.

From what I've seen, its very difficult to replace anything inside of the factory system w/o having to replace everything, I mean, an external amp can be connected to add a larger sub or better speakrs, but the quality of this is questionable, I tried to run such a situation for about 2 years and there were a number of problems.

1. the factory amp is also the brain of the HU, holding the station presets, CD changer controls, and even connecting to the antenna, the only way to come off this amp is to come off of an amped signal
2. the amped signal for the subwoofer (factory) is about 100 watts or so I beleive, to come off it will give you more bass and not lose quality, but this can be harmful to both the amp and the sub at high volumes
3. to replace the HU would require some pretty annoying wiring, I would suggest having anything hefty done by a shop to keep it organized

as far as speakers, I've been told they are 5x7s all the way around with an 8" subwoofer in the rear (4 door speakers) but according to ford we have something like 9? so I beleive the shops that have told me this may be wrong..

I'm sure anything I mised with be covered by future posts, but for what I have here, hope this helps

The Mach Audio System in your 1998 Explorer is rated at 290 Watts of peak power. The amp internal to the head unit is rated at 4x15W @<2% continuous average power; 4x30 W peak. The external Subwoofer amp is rated at 1x85W @<2% continuous power; 1x170 peak. There are five bands of EQ on the four satellite speakers, and 3 on the SW channel.

The factory speakers are 5.5" by 7.5" ovals in the four door locations. Most typical 5x7 or 6x8 aftermarket speakers will fit. About the only thing you could do without losing your Steering Wheel Controls would be to change the speakers. Changing the head unit, amps, Subwoofer, or any wiring could cause problems with the SWC interface.

Check other posts in this forum to see what has worked well for others. The system was designed to give "clean sound" at a reasonable cost. I doubt that you'll make it "better" without spending quite a bit of money.

The system in the 1998 Explorers is totally different than what was used in the Ford/JBL systems in the 1995-1997 models. They both have the same power ratings, but, the '95-'97 models use a "distributed" radio architecture. With those units, the tuner module is integrated into the amplifier located in the RR qtr panel area. For 1998, we put the primary amp and the tuner back into the head unit. We also increased the volume of the SW enclosure for 1998 (sorry guys, I was unable to convince the "bean-counters" that the Mach system needed TWO Subwoofer enclosures, like we wanted).



heh, gee thanks for making the HU brain seperate in '97.. really made things easier :p

heh, not to insult your or anything tho.. that sounded kinda rude, anyway.. what sort of speaker does the '97 permuim system have in the doors? are they round also? they are the only thing I have left that is stock that I'm using

Sorry about the "brain in the trunk" idea - it wasn't mine. I have always hated that concept. I went off to do cell phones for a couple years, and when I got back to car audio, the engineers had drifted off to "distributed audio" systems. Took me a couple years to get rid of them.

For '95-'01 Explorers and Mountaineers, there are three levels of systems offered: 1) a "base" system, which may have an AM/FM radio (not many of those), a Midline Cassette radio, or a Midline CD radio - the base systems are rated at 4x6Watts (24W Total, 48W Peak). 2) a "Premium" system, which will have a Premium Cassette, or Dual Media head unit - rated at 4x20W (80W Total, 160W Peak). 3) an "Audiophile" system (branded Ford/JBL 1995/97, branded Ford Mach Audio from 1998/01) with a Premium Cassette radio or a Dual Media radio - rated at 4x15W + 1x85W (145W Total, 290W Peak).

The "Base" systems have 4 "conventional" speakers; Premium systems have 4 "Premium Sound" speakers (typically include a whizzer cone and larger magnet structure); Audiophile systems typically include 4 "Satellite" 2-way enclosures (SOME of our Audiophile systems use these only in the front, and two "Premium" speakers in the rear), and a separate, enclosed Subwoofer with a dedicated amplifier.

All models of the speakers (except the SW driver) are Ford standard 5.5"x7.5". The "Satellite" enclosures actually house two speakers, a 4" mid-range, and a 1" tweeter, and a crossover.


hrmm, interesting, well, I have the "premuim audio" system for my '97 mountaineer, it came with an 8" sub which was blown in a year, I've been told I have standard issue 5x7s all the way around in my doors, but, this is hard to beleive, do I have this "audiophile" system? my HU was a casette and I had a 6 disc changer in the arm rest, I have noticed none of my door speakers have any bass at all, but have rather nice high end, perhaps it is this crossover and tweeter combination... hrmm, interesting

If you have a factory-installed Subwoofer, then you have what I call the Audiophile sound system. The speakers in the front doors will be Satellite enclosures, the ones in the rear doors will either be Satellite enclosures or "Premium Sound" models. If they are not in enclosures like the front ones, then they are Premium Sound speakers. The 4 channel parametric amp in this system will send most of the low frequencies to the Subwoofer - thus accounting for your speakers sounding like they lack bass.


This is a great forum!

It looks like my best option may be a speaker upgrade. I guess I need a 2-way midrange/tweeter combination for the 5x7's. Do you know the crossover frequency so I don't get a speaker with too much bass response?

Is there any benefit to upgrading the sub, say with a JL Audio 8".

Again, thanks for the info.


Well my "midline" cd player just died. It wont play cds. Just makes this clicking sound and the display says something like *no dj*. Hehe I go in and tell the dealer what happend and they say theyll rip the current one out and order a new one. Suuuure while I drive around without a radio or tape even.....!! I dont understand why they cant order a new one and just swap it. sheesh! I hope to get it fixed or replaced soon but ill definately get a new system in 2001.

2000 model and already having audio problems? wow, I'd be raising a major fuss, they'd run and hide when they saw me drive in

Bass in 5x7s

If you're looking for a little more bass from your door speakers, do what a frined of mine has done (and I'll be doing this weekend).

You can buy 3M rubber spray-on undercoat from a stereo store for about $20 per can, or go to Wal-Mart and get the generic kind (red can) for about $2.50.

Take off the door panel and spray the foam rubber undercoat on the inside of the outside door skin (make sense?). Even use a straw or small diameter tube to get the stuff all over the door in as even a coat as possible. I'm not sure if it will take one can or two for the pair of doors. This rubber coat does two things, it dampens and absorbs the sound bouncing around in there, and also adds to the mass of the door, dausing less rattling. My friend also added dampening to the metal doorskin, covering the holes and everything. Use Dynamat Original or Stinger Roadkill (I've been recommended Stinger by numerous people recently) and a roll of 12 SQ FT should cover both doors. (around $40) After doing only one door, he almost pped in his pants! The effect was amazing. I'll post pictures of this process after this weekend.

Good luck guys,

Karl Burns

Cobrajeff, I have a question. I have the JBL system. Since I have the factory subwoofer, the factory speakers don't produce a lot of bass. Can I just change the speakers (not the sub) and keep the system?? Will that make more bass? Another question is concerning about the dual media systems. Can I swap my JBL cassette with the 99-01 dual media systems with "RDS?" If not, is there anyway to make it work?? Thanks for reading my questions.

Changing the Satellite speakers in theFord/JBL system will not produce more bass. The speakers in the doors are not getting the low frequency signals - they are being directed to the Subwoofer channel by the parametric amplifier.

Unfortunately, the '96 model has the "distributed architecture" system, making the radios completely unique - the tuner is not in the head unit, it is integrated with the amp in the quarter trim area.

The wiring harnesses and connectors changed in 1998, so you could not even plug in the '98 or newer head units. The only way, and it's not very practical, would be to change the entire system, including all the audio wiring and Subwoofer amp, over to the '98-up design.

It would probably be cheaper to just add a CD Changer to your current system.