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Well Deserved Audio Upgrades


March 31, 2003
Reaction score
City, State
Wildwood, MO
Year, Model & Trim Level
1994 Sport
I just completed a complete audio upgrade of my 1994 Explorer Sport. Prior to the upgrade, I had been using the stock cassette deck/Sony RF changer and factory amplifier with the JBL premium speakers (not the sub though -- I bought the speaker on Ebay). The sound quality just plain sucked as most of you guys know already.

My first upgrade was a Sony CDX-MP40 MP3/CD HU. I initially tried using the RCA ouputs of this with the Ford factory amp because I figured an external amp MUST be better than an internal amp, right? WRONG! First of all, after speaker with the Sony technicians, I learned that the Ford factory amp is designed to accept speaker level inputs, not line level (there was this annoying popping sound that I couldn't get rid of). Puls, the internal amp on a good HU is so much better than the factory amp -- I recommend you bypass it immediately. This made a huge difference!

My next upgrade was to replace my four speakers. I was thinking of replacing them with Infinity Reference 5x7s, but didn't like the fact that the fit left a gap in the speaker locations. I went to Cruthcfield.comI and learned that you could use 5.25" speakers in the factory locations with a speaker adapter plate (comes with them free if you buy from them along with speaker clips to hook to the stupid Ford wires). I also found a great deal on the Polk EX series speakers (the good series, not the bottom of the line one). I wasn;'t sure if I wanted to go for the 6x8" or 5.25" POlk speakers, but I'm really on a tight budget and don't need booming speakers, so I went for the 5.25" speakers (plus they were an additional $10 off because they were in the scratch n' dent store).

The speakers sound great -- MUCH, MUCH better than the stock speakers. Even though my front speakers were the Ford JBL woofer/tweeter seperates, the Polks have much better treble and stereo imaging (they have a great rotating ellipitcal lens that lets you focus the treble in a particualr direction -- great for the angle the speakers are mounted at). The clarity in the midrange compared to the stock speakers is awesome. The bass is not pounding, but is very clean. Overall, I really ejnoy the sound and would highly recommend this setup to anyone trying to get a great quality upgrade for a little bit of money.

Here's my overall budget for the upgrade:
Sony CDX-MP40 Head Unit - $158 (Ebay)
Ford Amplifier Bypass/Harness - $15 (Crutchfield)
Polk EX352 5.25" Coaxial Spaakers (2 Pairs) - $76 (Crutchfield)
Shipping - $6 (Crutchfield)

Total - $254

Not bad for a pretty good system. Now time to start thinking about the sub....

Sounds like a nice setup you got. I need to do something with my system. I have a decient HU, but the speaker are the factory speakers. I need to get some speakers soon.