Our client brought us their 2-door Jeep Wrangler with the typical complaints: the sound quality was poor, the volume too low, and the radio “too lame” (that’s a direct quote by the way). After some consultation and a quick evaluation of the system, we were prepared to rock their world.
The Audio System
The first (and perhaps most important) item on the agenda was the new touchscreen radio. We used the tried-and-tested Kenwood DDX9905S 6.75" CD/DVD Touchscreen Receiver (2019 model: Kenwood DDX9906XR 6.8" DVD Touchscreen Receiver) complete with Apple CarPlay and Bluetooth and WiFi built in to deliver the sound quality and feature set our client was after. She uses an iPhone so getting Apple CarPlay into the mix was a must. CarPlay allows her to use Apple Maps, Waze, or Google Maps for navigation while handling phone calls, text messages, and music streaming services (such as Spotify, Pandora, Tidal, etc.) right through the large 6.75” screen or via voice control through the supplied microphone.
We tied the existing steering wheel audio controls into the new Kenwood stereo using an iDatalink Maestro RR module. And, as a bonus, our client would now also be able to view vehicle information such as tire pressure and battery voltage right through the interface on the touchscreen.
As with most clients that get to demo them in our Montgomeryville showroom, the client was blown away by the Focal PS 165 F Expert Flax 6-1/2" 2-Way Component Speakers and asked if we could use them in her Jeep. These speakers deliver some seriously impressive bass response - one of the main reasons they are so popular - and since the client did not want a subwoofer at this phase of the project, they were the perfect choice to give her some solid bass performance via speakers alone.
So as not to compromise on the Wrangler style, we installed all of the new speakers behind the existing factory-installed speaker grilles. The Focal PS 165 component speakers in the front locations (top dash and front dash) and the Focal ICU 165 Universal Integration 6-1/2" 2-Way Coaxial Speakers tucked away in the overhead speaker locations. A stealth installation, but a mighty upgrade in comparison to what was there before.
Since the power from the Kenwood touchscreen wasn’t going to fit the bill to drive the new speakers, we stayed with the Kenwood line and chose the compact Kenwood XR401-4 eXcelon 400-Watt 4-Channel Amplifier to handle this load. With a slim footprint, this amplifier fit under the driver’s seat and provides a whopping 75 watts per channel to thoroughly drive the connected Focal speakers. Made of premium sound components and boasts a 2-year warranty, this was a no-brainer amplifier choice for something compact, but powerful.
Rear View Camera & Light System
To make backing up easier, we installed an Alpine HCE-TCAM1-WRA rearview camera and light system, specifically made for Wranglers on the rear of the Jeep. This camera system mounts on the spare tire mount and provides a reverse camera, large brake light, and a bright LED reverse light to help illuminate the area behind the Jeep when the vehicle is put into reverse.
At the end of the installation, some time was spent tuning the new audio system through the controls at the amplifier as well as the DDX9905S receiver. Not to toot our own horn, but it sounded absolutely incredible and the client was pleased with everything – especially the fact that all of the speakers were invisible behind those Jeep speaker grilles. This is the type of system that a Wrangler should be born with!
Here's what the client had to say:
“We love the new system! The sound is incredible and the install is flawless. There are so many options with the car-play components that I can control with my steering wheel controls. The after-market camera is priceless due to the size of the jeep - it gives me a clear view behind the vehicle and is compatible with the Kenwood touchscreen. The final result has totally exceeded my expectations!” Lisa R.