A factory stereo system could have very disappointing bass. The solution to this is to install a subwoofer to the factory stereo. I know what you’re thinking, just how hard is it to do this? Not a lot of us are savvy techies that know how to do this but no worries because we are here to guide you through it step by step.
Do I Need a Subwoofer?
Before you even install it you might be wondering if you need one and what difference it would make itn your life. Not only do they enhance your musical experience, it can also improve the performance of the speaker itself at higher frequencies. You can see for yourself a list of our top-rated recommendations for shallow mount subwoofers, for instance, if you’re considering going this route.
One huge advantage is a car subwoofer can go anywhere you go. Install one in your trunk, under your seat, or just place it in the backseat. When it comes down to it, they don’t have spatial constraints. Although the largest benefit is still the enhanced sound.
A Guide for Installing a Subwoofer to a Factory Stereo
What You Will Need
You might need to get a separate amplifier—check out our list of top-performing 5-channel amplifiers—unless you got an underseat car subwoofer. Let’s take a look at some of the tools you will need
- Subwoofer box
- Basic toolbox
- Speaker wires
- Subwoofer speaker
- RCA cables
- A few small screws
- Inline fuse of 50 amps or higher
- A wiring kit
Once you have all of these you should be good to go. If you don’t have exactly what we suggest on the list, there are a few things you can use to substitute. For example, instead of two RCA cables, you can use just one with the red and white. Instead of a wiring kit, a 10 gauge or or thicker insulated wire would work too.
Choosing an Amplifier and a Speaker
You would need both that can pump out max power without blowing each other or itself out. Just because an amp has an 800 watt power rating for example, it doesn’t mean it should be blasted to this extent or should it be at this high of a power continuously. The power output rating for the amp is referring to speaker impedance, NOT how much power the subwoofer can handle.
To get the best results, the RMS of the amplifier and the subwoofer should be close in number. What is the RMS you ask? It’s the power output the speaker is capable of without blowing out or distorting the sound. The RMS for the amp refers to the power it can handle before overheating. Try to keep the ohms (the impedance) the same for the best results. Lower impedance means more energy exerted to push the speaker or subwoofer.
To get power, you need to hook up the subwoofer to your car battery and NOT the fuse box. Or else, all you will get is the amplified engine sound through your speakers.
Pop open your hood and find the firewall. It’s close to the windshield and looks like a metal wall. Thread the cables through the hole in the firewall but keep enough wire on your side to reach the battery. After that, remove the insulation from the end of the wire. Don’t connect it to the battery just yet.
Remove your stereo unit from its resting spot and flip it around. You should see the RCA inputs. You need to connect the inputs through the back of that and plug it into the backside of the stereo.
As for the remote wires, there should be one (or two) blue ones. If there are two, one is for the amp. If you have a power antenna, then you might need to cut into the blue wire.
Put the speaker back in its place and make sure the gasket is still on it. Secure it in place by screwing it back in and place the subwoofer in the trunk. If you are left with connectors, you need to make sure to wire them into the speaker as well.
Now just a quick cleanup. Wire the amp and connect the power cable to the battery. Place the large fuse in the fuse holder and put the wire between next to the battery clip.
Test out everything and then you’re free to listen to booming bass from now on!
Your work doesn’t just end there, you need to maintain the condition of your subwoofer. Cleaning it is the best way to maintain your subwoofer so make sure you have a lint-free cloth handy (preferably microfiber), a soft brush, a small handheld vacuum or one with a suction pipe and nozzle, and ammonia.
Use a dry cloth for the exterior, and that’s where the lint-free cloth and ammonia come in since ammonia is useful to keep surfaces dry.
Unscrew the grille and clean the interior with the vacuum carefully. Don’t remove the grill if you aren’t 100% confident you will be able to put it back.
You have to be extra careful when you clean the cones, and use soft brushes and don’t overdo it on the cleaner.
Take extra care in every cleaning step as you don’t want to damage any of the components. The cones are fragile and cannot be replaced if damaged. For the readers that are less confident, perhaps just cleaning the surface will suffice, especially if you keep your car pretty clean.
Finding the right subwoofer is hard enough, which is why we simplify the process by giving you this guide and similar others. But, you also have your work cut out for you in finding a matching amplifier as well as the installation. Remember, if the steps aren’t clear cut and you are less than confident in your abilities, then spending a bit of cash and getting a professional to do it for you could be a better bet. After installation, remember to test all the wiring and make sure everything is working before you head home. Ah, the lengths we go to in order to get good bass, am I right?