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Discussion Starter #1
The intent of this thread is for people to contribute what they've done to improve their non-HK sound systems. First up - these amazing tweeters!

Subaru sells a set of Kicker tweeters H631SFJ101 for a wide range of Subaru models, and the Toyota community has embraced it as an easy plug-and-play audio enhancement since they share the same 4-pin physical connectors, as long as it's not the JBL/Harman system, which uses a different 2-pin connector.


The stock tweeter is so light that it feels completely empty, as if it's just a piece of plastic and nothing more. It doesn't even have a detectable magnet. The Kicker tweeter has a "cup" and easily weighs 4x (or more) than the stock one.

IMG_20200222_140414.jpg IMG_20200222_140440.jpg IMG_20200222_140506.jpg

As you may have noticed, the Kicker tweeter mounts have the screw holes closer together than the stock tweeters, by about 1/4". While this makes it impossible to use the original screw holes perfectly, it's close enough that a small 1" fender washer will let you use one of the original screws to clamp, and the other to directly secure the Kicker tweeter.

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How much better is the sound? Surprisingly better. I had already changed out all 4 of the door speakers and was fairly happy with it the way it was, but after putting these Kickers in, it's night and day. These tweeters improve vocals, detail, imaging. It improves the sound in every way that a tweeter can improve sound. Is it the world's best tweeter? Of course not, but it's a decent tweeter, unlike the stock thing. Suddenly the system sounds "right". In the same way that a good subwoofer can transform the overall sound of a system, apparently a decent tweeter can do the same. My source was Pandora with high quality audio setting.

Although I believe that these are titanium tweeters, they do not sound harsh or peaky to my ears. Turned the treble to -1 for best results. There are threads all over the internet about these tweeters and I'm with the 90% who report that it's a good upgrade to a stock system. It's currently the #7 best selling tweeter on all of Amazon.

Despite glowing reviews from people who have swapped paper tweeters for these, this is the first time to my knowledge that anyone has swapped one of the plastic tweeters like our Onyx's have, for the Kickers. I did not expect this significant of a transformation.

I did not try these tweeters alone with the stock door speakers, nor with the Rockford Fosgate upgrade - but I do not hesitate in recommending them as an easy inexpensive upgrade for either system. Installation took 5 minutes on each side.
 

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I would do this upgrade for my uncle's Outback if he didn't get the Limited with the HK speakers.

$94 on Amazon
$95.50 on eBay
 
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Discussion Starter #5
I would do this upgrade for my uncle's Outback if he didn't get the Limited with the HK speakers.
Some people with the Toyota JBL system, with the same 80mm coaxial dash speakers have used these tweeters and claimed it was an improvement, but it requires cutting wires and such, plus the impedance might not be right. If you're going to cut wires you might as well put in tweeters that are even better, like the Infinity ones that I returned. If the HK 80mm dash speakers are 2 ohm then the Infinity 2.5 ohm ones might be a good match.
 

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Nice report, Silver. I'm sure others will follow.
So what did you end up cahnging out into your doors? Any issues with those installs?
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I used Cruchfield's SpeakerCompare system with headphones to do a virtual audition of various speakers that fit the Onyx. SpeakerCompare™: Listen and Compare Speakers Online – Crutchfield

For the front doors I chose the Alpine R-S69.2 6x9 coaxials, Kenwood 1796PS for the rears. I am not specifically recommending these speakers. I am happy with them, but with so many choices you may find others that you like better. The tweeter I mentioned in the first post is unique in that it is plug and play and is decent. Had I known I would be using Kicker dash tweeters, I would have had a bias towards sticking with the Kicker brand.

For all 4 doors, there is a wiring harness adapter that lets you plug into the stock harness and then there's two leads that attach directly to the speaker tabs. It's Metra 72-8104 - fits perfect. These same harness adapters are also used for the Harman Kardon system, according to Crutchfield. I wrapped the hard plastic parts of the stock harness in foam since they were now able to move about, and secured them with duct tape so that they wouldn't rattle.

Crutchfield doesn't offer wiring harness adapters for the dash or center speakers.

Crutchfield also tells you which mounting adapters you need - and you will need something. Custom installs will make their own baffles, but for the easy DIY plastic adapters are fine. Just need to use thin adhesive foam to isolate and seal the plastic adapters to the doors, and the speakers to the adapters. I used 1/4" thick open cell foam from a hardware store. It's not the same as 'speaker gasketing tape' but it's what I had available.

I looked at some youtube videos for the specifics of the 2020 Legacy front door panel removal, and the 2020 Outback rear door panel removal. Don't ask me why, but whoever made the front door video didn't do the rear doors and vice versa. Nothing surprising. Each door has one screw behind the door latch, and one screw in the arm rest grip.

With screws removed, the door panels pulled off without any complication. There are wiring and door handle cables that need to be detached. Tip for the door handle cables - just disconnect the cables - don't unscrew and take out the door handle assembly. Another tip - when putting the cables back, don't forget to snap the back of the cables into their respective mounts. I forgot to do that on my first door. doh!

Next, with the door panels removed, I firmly attached the new speakers to their respective mounting adapters, with foam to isolate them. I didn't want the plastic adapters to vibrate against the speaker baskets. I then applied foam to the back of the plastic adapters, so they would just screw onto the speaker locations.

After that, fish the wiring adapter through the small hole in the adapters and connect them to the speaker terminals.

Then just screw the new speakers to where the old ones were, attach the harness, test the sound, then put the panel back. Easy peasy... well there is one complication I don't know if others will experience. The front door panels just unhook like normal, but the rear door panels are more stubborn to get off, and for whatever reason, the part that touches the glass can partially come off during removal, and you'll have to carefully put it back in place before putting the panels back on. That happened on both of my rear doors.

No drilling, wire cutting, soldering. I didn't do dynamat or other more advanced car stereo installation techniques.

I would be curious if the Subaru RF audio upgrade with front speakers and amp, combined with the Kicker tweeters would be a great combo. If your Rockford Fosgate Audio system is lacking in definition and clarity, try the Kicker tweeters.
 

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@SilverOnyx

Are you also adding a sub? If so, which one did you go with and where did you install it (i.e. under the seat or a box in the trunk)? I am going to go with the Kicker 11HS8 and was wondering about whether it would fit under the front seats.
 

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@SilverOnyx

Are you also adding a sub? If so, which one did you go with and where did you install it (i.e. under the seat or a box in the trunk)? I am going to go with the Kicker 11HS8 and was wondering about whether it would fit under the front seats.
I used dual 15" subs in an isobarik configuration in my 1990 Mitsubishi Eclipse GS, a 10" powered trunk sub in my 1996 Impala SS, and an under-seat genuine subaru powered sub in my 2005 Legacy GT Wagon. In this car, I'm not sure.

I looked into the Kicker HS10, then went on Amazon to look at other powered subs, and there's this brand of subs I never heard of "Rockville" that is very popular, dirt cheap, including the Rockville Rock Ghost that would fit in the Onyx full sized spare. There's a slight chance I will get a small powered sub, but only after others have blazed the trail for me. Still thinking about it...
 

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@SilverOnyx

Are you also adding a sub? If so, which one did you go with and where did you install it (i.e. under the seat or a box in the trunk)? I am going to go with the Kicker 11HS8 and was wondering about whether it would fit under the front seats.
If you do, just make sure it will fit under the seat height wise. ( I'd make a cardboard mark-up first and test fit.)

Silver, great write up! Ialso agree with your thoughts to add these better tweeters to the RF system. I bet that would be a great addition.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Silver, great write up! Ialso agree with your thoughts to add these better tweeters to the RF system. I bet that would be a great addition.
I think the RF + Kicker could be much better than just going with aftermarket speakers in the doors. I do hope that someone with the RF tests this and reports back. I was hesitant because of the complicated installation and the mixed reviews on the result. With the addition of the Kicker dash tweeters it could be a home-run and worth the effort. Installing the tweeters is trivial.
 

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I used dual 15" subs in an isobarik configuration in my 1990 Mitsubishi Eclipse GS, a 10" powered trunk sub in my 1996 Impala SS, and an under-seat genuine subaru powered sub in my 2005 Legacy GT Wagon. In this car, I'm not sure.

I looked into the Kicker HS10, then went on Amazon to look at other powered subs, and there's this brand of subs I never heard of "Rockville" that is very popular, dirt cheap, including the Rockville Rock Ghost that would fit in the Onyx full sized spare. There's a slight chance I will get a small powered sub, but only after others have blazed the trail for me. Still thinking about it...
The hardest part about installing a powered sub under the front seat is finding the channel feed(s) to tap. You likely already have some leg up on that part ( even if you have to run them back out of the doors). From there, it's just a mid sized (10-12 ga) power wire to the fuse box/battery. In a car like the OB, it's easy to tuck those wires under the console to get from the dash to the seat. A 8" powered sub won't thump like a pair of 15's but it is amazing how much it can change what you actually hear in any given piece of music. Might as well go ahead. You know you want too. :devilish:
 

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Discussion Starter #13
The hardest part about installing a powered sub under the front seat is finding the channel feed(s) to tap. You likely already have some leg up on that part ( even if you have to run them back out of the doors). From there, it's just a mid sized (10-12 ga) power wire to the fuse box/battery. In a car like the OB, it's easy to tuck those wires under the console to get from the dash to the seat. A 8" powered sub won't thump like a pair of 15's but it is amazing how much it can change what you actually hear in any given piece of music. Might as well go ahead. You know you want too. :devilish:
My rear view mirror shakes at moderate volume (20) with EQ flat, all bass-enhancements off, with the Alpine 6x9's and Kenwood 6-3/4" speakers playing. I'm not feeling the need for a true sub, but undoubtedly it would again improve the system. I'm just waiting for others to report back before I choose anything.

Sometimes it seems like bass is absent, and other times it's too much. I'm not sure if it's volume related, or if the head unit detects low frequency content and pulls it back. Still trying to figure out what's going on with the bass in the car. I've never experienced this kind of strange bass behavior before. It was like this with the stock speakers too. This odd behavior also makes me wonder what kind of signal the subs would get. Would it be crippled before it ever got to the subs?
 

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My rear view mirror shakes at moderate volume (20) with EQ flat, all bass-enhancements off, with the Alpine 6x9's and Kenwood 6-3/4" speakers playing. I'm not feeling the need for a true sub, but undoubtedly it would again improve the system. I'm just waiting for others to report back before I choose anything.

Sometimes it seems like bass is absent, and other times it's too much. I'm not sure if it's volume related, or if the head unit detects low frequency content and pulls it back. Still trying to figure out what's going on with the bass in the car. I've never experienced this kind of strange bass behavior before. It was like this with the stock speakers too. This odd behavior also makes me wonder what kind of signal the subs would get. Would it be crippled before it ever got to the subs?
479578
 

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I just installed a Kenwood under seat sub, 150 watts rms, 8", came with all wiring needed, it's not 2 15's that's for sure, but it fills the missing low end very nicely.
Fits under the seat perfectly.


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Discussion Starter #16
I just installed a Kenwood under seat sub
All of the subs I've installed had aftermarket head units with sub-out or line level outs - did you have to use high level inputs from both front channels? If so, how did you do the wiring? High level to Line level converter, or high level all the way to the sub?
 

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All of the subs I've installed had aftermarket head units with sub-out or line level outs - did you have to use high level inputs from both front channels? If so, how did you do the wiring? High level to Line level converter, or high level all the way to the sub?
I think the sub supports direct line level inputs without a level converter.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
I think the sub supports direct line level inputs without a level converter.
Are there pros and cons between doing a line level converter under the dash and then using RCA's to go to the sub, vs running speaker wire all the way to the sub? To me the ideal would be a converter that summed both channels before sending a single RCA to the sub.
 

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High level to Line level converter,
this sounds crazy to me. haha Well I never heard of any such things in all my years in audio, but I looked it up just now and apparently its a thing these days and it seems mostly done in car audio, (taking an amplifier's high level output and converting it back down to line level, only to send it through another amplifier). In professional audio we have +4 and consumer audio was always at -10 so we had gear that would convert one to the other and vice versa, but taking the amplified output of a power amp and converting it down to -10 line level and then amplifying it again!!?? That sounds like a significant degradation of the signal (in theory) because an amplifier will have distortion and noise added to it (how much would depend on the quality of the amp), and you will be amplifying THAT signal, and then adding more potential noise. Funny, I had never heard of anyone doing this till now.

The things I learn here. ;)
 

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this sounds crazy to me. haha Well I never heard of any such things in all my years in audio, but I looked it up just now and apparently its a thing these days and it seems mostly done in car audio, (taking an amplifier's high level output and converting it back down to line level, only to send it through another amplifier). In professional audio we have +4 and consumer audio was always at -10 so we had gear that would convert one to the other and vice versa, but taking the amplified output of a power amp and converting it down to -10 line level and then amplifying it again!!?? That sounds like a significant degradation of the signal (in theory) because an amplifier will have distortion and noise added to it (how much would depend on the quality of the amp), and you will be amplifying THAT signal, and then adding more potential noise. Funny, I had never heard of anyone doing this till now.

The things I learn here. ;)
Yes it is a degredation every time you add a device in the chain, but without low level outputs, what choice do you have? An amplifier with speaker-level inputs doesn't amplify that signal - it converts it down internally then amplifies. I'm not asking whether converting to line level is good - it's whether the conversion should happen under the dash, or under the car seat. As I said before, I've never done it this way before - I've always used preamp outs from a head unit but I don't think ours has it, does it?
 
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