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Two hours of cursing this morning and it is done! I ended up going straight through that grommet behind the intercooler with a coat hanger. I poked a tiny hole and slowly fed in the hanger. Found the "hanger bulge" in the corrugated part of the tubing under the dash and made a knick to poke through. I initially tried in the other diretion but had no luck. Once I was into the cabine with the hanger, I taped on the power wire, and pulled it though the cabin into the engine bay. I think I will seal around the cable entry into the grommet cover with some silicone , but I don't really anticipate that to be a water intrusion point. It's already a pretty snug/stretched-fit. Now I just have to tap a line level converter on to one of the door speakers and run an RCA to the sub. I never had to push too hard so I'm pretty confident nothing was damaged by the hanger. I will test drive just to make sure, before connecting power to the sub. Thanks again.
 

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Got the 10 inch 250W subwoofer installed in my Wilderness (transferred from my Crosstrek, and Wrangler before that). The sub is one of those old Bazooka tubes, nothing crazy but does the job. . I modified it to just use an RCA and an XT60 power connector instead of the crappy stock harness so I can easily pop it in/out when I need more cargo space. It takes literally 2 seconds to disconnect/remove and it's super light to just lug back into the house. I have it in the trunk area right now, but it will also fit in the footwell behind the driver/passenger front seats with the rear seats folded down! I left enough slack wire to be able to reposition it as needed.

Having a sub really has rounded out the sound, though I still find that the stock non KH/RF high-mids are a bit harsh and poorly defined. Probably going to install the kicker tweeters next, and see if I want to do the front doors speakers after that.
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Here's another random tip for the group. If you listen to Spotify, there's actually a built-in 6 band equalizer baked into the app (both on iOS and Android) . It's a good a bit more tunable than the built-in 3-band on the infotainment center.

The bazooka sub has a knob on the back that let's you dial in its power, and the lowest 60-100Hz band in the Spotify EQ is enough to fine tune the sub's level from the driver's seat. With the sub install and Spotify's EQ, I've at least managed to make the stock system acceptable for a few hundred miles while I consider next steps.
 

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2022 Outback Wilderness
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I did the Kicker tweeter upgrade this afternoon after getting my package from SubaruOnlineParts. The first one was more difficult, the second one was about 5 minutes as I learned from the first.

I didn't have the trim removal tool but carefully using a straight screwdriver worked fine. There are 4 clips you need to pull it out from. I found it easiest to pry from the side closest to the middle of the car. This pops it out of 2 clips, and just pulling by hand gets it out of the other two.

I used an offset screwdriver like https://www.amazon.com/I-MART-Offset-Screwdriver-Phillips-Driver/dp/B07HDJGV92 . That was a little slow as I could only get a 1/4 or 1/2 turn at a time. Using one of the ratchet or very stubby screwdrivers would've been better since I had to re-find the screw slots each time. It helped to have a lot of light and look down from the outside of the windshield. Likewise screwing the new tweeters in. I used the square holes, no washer. Even though the square looks too big, you only get part of it through the tweeter bracket so it screws in well. One of the four screws wasn't catching well so I put a piece of tape over it to hold it in place. It may not handle a rollover but I think it'll be fine.

I found it easiest to put the trim cover back on by starting at the same place, the short side closest to middle. Get those two clips lined up and snapped in, and the other two go easy.

Definitely a better sound. Worth the cost. I'm undecided if I'll do a further upgrade.
 

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2018 Outback Limited 2.5
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Silly question, but what is the purpose of the foam wrapped around the circumference of the tweeter that I see in some pics? Is it just to reduce the chance of vibration against the grill? Or does it enhance the sound somehow?
 

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Silly question, but what is the purpose of the foam wrapped around the circumference of the tweeter that I see in some pics? Is it just to reduce the chance of vibration against the grill? Or does it enhance the sound somehow?
That foam is so light it would barely do anything to sound, It's more of a vibration isolator. It could in theory stop some reflection from ultra high frequencies, but you're unlikely to hear much difference.
 

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So on my OBW, I've decided I'm not going to amp. It appears the RF may or may not provide a hiss, the Key200.4 could be a consideration in the future, but not going to expect anything near B&O, so I will make the best out of it without breaking the bank or bothering to chase a pipe dream. To be frank, I've talked with coworkers about designing a plug-and-play passive DSP that doesn't amp, but rather corrects signal only, like a speaker harness adapter.

It seems like my best option is to go with managing the internal audio features appropriately (referencing SilverOnyx's noticeable improvements in the last update), adding acoustic treatment directly behind the speakers, and run with it. When I tested the RF system in an Onyx, it was truly hot garbage.

Because of this, I decided to go with:
  • Focal TWU 1.5 Tweeters (will test, may still look for larger midrange/tweeters)
  • Focal ICU 690 6x9 Coax fronts (with +3dB feature on 2nd driver)
  • Focal RCX-165 6.5 Coax rears
  • All tools, adapters, treatment
All comes out to a bit less than the RF upgrade, although my install will be done by myself.

Looking at the frequency response charts, I have decided that my choice in the ICU 690 coax over the ISU 690 components will provide a better overall soundstage. Only if I decide that a sub is necessary will I think of a DSP, but even then, the whole point of this vehicle is not to make it a splice job. Although the audio situation is something that I am quite sore about. Besides, I'd rather destroy my ears during production/mixing/mastering in front of my studio monitors or at my destination (usually electronic events) than while en route.

I think I will be fine. I'll write it up when everything gets in.
Bravo. Great write.
 

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I think I am "finished" with the sound upgrade journey. Very happy now. No RF/HK/Amp for me. Here's the whole journey that I took over the last weeks. Driving a few days between each upgrade.

Subwoofer- First, I added a 250 watt active 10 inch tube style sub in the post above that I had from my last two vehicles: Free for me- but would cost you ~320 new today. As mentioned above, this rounded out the bass nicely. I definitely noticed the bass was coming from the rear of the car, and the sub didn't integrate super well with the rest of the system's image, but again, it at least gave the bare-stock system some ooomph an was certainly an improvement. The mids and high's still were still extremely harsh over 25/40 volume on the infotainment system. Overall sound wasn't great, but better than stock. As mentioned before, I installed it with some extra cable length so I could remove it easily, or sandwich it behind the driver's seat when rear seats are folded.
Bazooka 10 inch active sub: BTA10250D: $320 today at various spots

Tweeters-
Second, I added Subaru Tweeter Kit by Kicker, as mentioned in post #1 here. These cleaned up the top end and made stereo imaging more transparent and defined and slightly less harsh in the highs. It helped give a clearer sound, but the tweeters actually made the smallest difference to barebone-stock-wilderness system to my ears. While the least night and day, the difference but it was definitely perceivable.
Subaru Tweeter Kit by Kicker: H631SFJ101 $104 on Amazon

Front doors:
Last, I added Coax Kicker 6x9's with Metra adaptor rings and wiring adaptors from Crutchfield. This was the final piece that tied everything together. Can't even describe how bad those stock 6 inch front door speakers compared to the replacement Kicker 6x9's. Mid-install after doing the driver's side speaker, I took the opportunity to A-B the replacement door speaker with the stock passenger side one by fading the whole sound system far left and far right. The difference was shocking. The stock door speakers had the honkiest, brittle sounding mids and no real bass to speak of. They sounded so much worse when I directly AB'd them. The kicker 6x9's speaker made the mids very clean and non-distorted. However, the overall volume of the mids now sounded a little subdued with these though. I dialed in a +0B/+2M/+0H EQ on the infotainment's equalizer as my only tweak from stock settings now w/ no non default DSP. As an added bonus, the Kicker 6x9s also produced more bass response in the front of the car that balanced out the rear bass response from the subwoofer perfectly. The bass in the whole car is now just "there," it no longer sounds isolated in the rear. If I was going to do only one of these three mods, front door replacement would be my go-to, subwoofer next, and tweeters last. I think any decent front door speaker would produce similar results on factory amp. Just get those 6 inch stock-cardboard-craps out of there.
Kicker 6x9's 46CSC693 with all rings/wiring adaptors included for free: $107 on Crutchfield

So for about $211 out of pocket, doing my own install (or $530 if I didn't have the sub already) the whole system now puts a big smile on my face. Is it super hi-fi? Heck no. I typically listen to music at home through nice studio monitors. I know that sound, and this system isn't it. Is it pleasing to listen to while driving with typical road/engine/transmission noise? Very much so. Sounds/feels very good to my (mildly) aging ears. The difference from stock before and after is night and day. At this point, I definitely don't feel the need to re-amp because I feel an aftermarket amp would yield diminishing returns for the cost and headache of install/wiring/tweaking. I don't know if I'll bother with the backdoor speakers at this point, unless I am bored and want to just get the last of the crap stock speakers out. Given the difference between the stock and upgraded front door speakers, I'm sure I'd hear the difference in the rear, but I'm pretty content now.
 

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'22 Outback Wilderness
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Hi all, this is a wonderful thread. I'm a new guy here, I bought a Outback Wilderness last month and just after a couple weeks I'm already more than ready to part ways with the stock speakers😂. I ordered a component speaker system, namely the Focal 165AS, from Crutchfield and is looking at getting it installed during the break. I chose this product as it seems like the impedance rating matches with that of the stock speakers, supports for low RMS wattage (6W min.), and I really like how it sounds in Crutchfield's speaker compare tool.

It looks like this speaker set comes with a crossover network that needs to be connected to both the woofer and the tweeter. But from what I learned from this thread, in the Base/Premium/Wilderness trim the head unit is already doing some HPF and is only sending high frequencies to the dash corner. So if anyone has already tried installing a component system with a separate crossover module to their car, my question is can you just ditch the crossover? If can't, what would be a good place to put this additional module? Appreciate your help.
 

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Any issues with the install with this setup/kit from Crutchfield? Holes that didn’t line up, etc? Also, did you do any kind of speaker foam sealing tape when you installed the new 6x9s in the door?

I think I am "finished" with the sound upgrade journey. Very happy now. No RF/HK/Amp for me. Here's the whole journey that I took over the last weeks. Driving a few days between each upgrade.

Subwoofer- First, I added a 250 watt active 10 inch tube style sub in the post above that I had from my last two vehicles: Free for me- but would cost you ~320 new today. As mentioned above, this rounded out the bass nicely. I definitely noticed the bass was coming from the rear of the car, and the sub didn't integrate super well with the rest of the system's image, but again, it at least gave the bare-stock system some ooomph an was certainly an improvement. The mids and high's still were still extremely harsh over 25/40 volume on the infotainment system. Overall sound wasn't great, but better than stock. As mentioned before, I installed it with some extra cable length so I could remove it easily, or sandwich it behind the driver's seat when rear seats are folded.
Bazooka 10 inch active sub: BTA10250D: $320 today at various spots

Tweeters-
Second, I added Subaru Tweeter Kit by Kicker, as mentioned in post #1 here. These cleaned up the top end and made stereo imaging more transparent and defined and slightly less harsh in the highs. It helped give a clearer sound, but the tweeters actually made the smallest difference to barebone-stock-wilderness system to my ears. While the least night and day, the difference but it was definitely perceivable.
Subaru Tweeter Kit by Kicker: H631SFJ101 $104 on Amazon

Front doors:
Last, I added Coax Kicker 6x9's with Metra adaptor rings and wiring adaptors from Crutchfield. This was the final piece that tied everything together. Can't even describe how bad those stock 6 inch front door speakers compared to the replacement Kicker 6x9's. Mid-install after doing the driver's side speaker, I took the opportunity to A-B the replacement door speaker with the stock passenger side one by fading the whole sound system far left and far right. The difference was shocking. The stock door speakers had the honkiest, brittle sounding mids and no real bass to speak of. They sounded so much worse when I directly AB'd them. The kicker 6x9's speaker made the mids very clean and non-distorted. However, the overall volume of the mids now sounded a little subdued with these though. I dialed in a +0B/+2M/+0H EQ on the infotainment's equalizer as my only tweak from stock settings now w/ no non default DSP. As an added bonus, the Kicker 6x9s also produced more bass response in the front of the car that balanced out the rear bass response from the subwoofer perfectly. The bass in the whole car is now just "there," it no longer sounds isolated in the rear. If I was going to do only one of these three mods, front door replacement would be my go-to, subwoofer next, and tweeters last. I think any decent front door speaker would produce similar results on factory amp. Just get those 6 inch stock-cardboard-craps out of there.
Kicker 6x9's 46CSC693 with all rings/wiring adaptors included for free: $107 on Crutchfield

So for about $211 out of pocket, doing my own install (or $530 if I didn't have the sub already) the whole system now puts a big smile on my face. Is it super hi-fi? Heck no. I typically listen to music at home through nice studio monitors. I know that sound, and this system isn't it. Is it pleasing to listen to while driving with typical road/engine/transmission noise? Very much so. Sounds/feels very good to my (mildly) aging ears. The difference from stock before and after is night and day. At this point, I definitely don't feel the need to re-amp because I feel an aftermarket amp would yield diminishing returns for the cost and headache of install/wiring/tweaking. I don't know if I'll bother with the backdoor speakers at this point, unless I am bored and want to just get the last of the crap stock speakers out. Given the difference between the stock and upgraded front door speakers, I'm sure I'd hear the difference in the rear, but I'm pretty content now.
 

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Any issues with the install with this setup/kit from Crutchfield? Holes that didn’t line up, etc? Also, did you do any kind of speaker foam sealing tape when you installed the new 6x9s in the door?
No issues. Everything lined up perfectly. I actually re-used the thin speaker foam that was on the stock speakers. Peeled it off with a razor blade and a little tugging and restuck it under the metra adaptor rings crutchfield sent. No rattles so far.
 

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For those still considering upgrading, I am in support. I have now replaced all 6 speakers, as well as laid some CLD (controlled layer damping) and “de-rattled” all 4 doors. I have a 22 OBW w/o the HK upgrade. I think my outcome has improved the quality materially. Cleaner sound all around, much more noticeable mids, and actually some real bass. Here’s my low-down.

It’s worth it. Total cost for me was under $400, which is probably the minimum to get to THIS outcome. My shopping list is below.
  • IF you want to pursue deadening—First, you may not have any need to ever do this without pushing more power or bass with an amp and/or sub woofer. I did because I wanted to try it (never have), not because I expected or am now claiming huge gains.
  • IF you do—Many people over-use both butyl rubber based panels (“dynamat”) and closed cell foam (CCF), incorrectly attempting to create sound insulation [to reduce exterior/road noise]. Butyl panels exclusively reduce panel vibrations. CCF exclusively decouples two layered pieces, such as a door card and the interior door skin. Combining the two reduces sound interference (“stage 1”), but does not insulate from sound (“stage 2”). Insulation requires a third material, mass loaded vinyl, attached indirectly with something like Velcro, and a complete seal of any openings allowing sound to enter. Partial coverage with MLV does no good, sound finds it’s way in. So, if you really want to truly insulate, you’re looking at a much more involved process, much more added weight, and cost.
Shopping list:
Subaru Kicker tweeter upgrade, H631SFJ101 - $91 subaruonlineparts
Kicker 46CSC674 - $72 Crutchfield
Kicker 47KSC6904 - $120 Crutchfield
Kilmat 80mil 36sq ft - 34 sheets - $58 Amazon
Tessa tape 19mmx15m - $6 Amazon
Butyl rubber rope 3/8”x15 ft - $15 Amazon (waaaay more than you need, I used like 9” total)
Metal roller - $9 Amazon
Foam speaker tape (weatherstripping) - $10 Amazon

Process:
  1. Remove door panels, prepare them to reduce any rattles.
  2. Tessa tape the door card connector pins seating ring, one layer only, so they don’t rattle. I also stuck a tiny piece between tabs attaching plastic panels within the door card. And wrapped lots of wires anywhere contact could be made.
  3. Butyl mat any large flat plastic panel sections on the door card itself, with biased areas closest to the speaker. Full coverage not important. Proper application with roller and heat gun potentially (yes for me in the cold garage) pretty important. I used maybe one sheet per door card.
  4. Butyl mat the outside door skin, starting from the center of the door, and attempt 50% coverage. Bigger pieces do better. I used 1.5 per rear door and 1.9 per front door.
  5. An effective hack versus more CLD is to jam small tootsie rolls of butyl rope segments in the gap between the panel and the support bars in a few places, leaving gaps for water to drain. I did this next to the factory mounting foam in the same areas.
  6. Look for needed areas to CLD the inside door skin. There aren’t many. Also note where the door card has deadening. This is where people really over do it and cover the entire door. Diminishing returns after the flat panels are muted.
  7. Decouple speakers from mounts and door skin with foam tape on both sides. I also put foam tape on the front of the speakers, and also reused the stock speaker outer foam.
  8. This may not be needed on all applications* My hunch is that in purchasing 6.75” speakers rather than 6.5” I had a fitment issue. My rear mounting adapters fit the factory holes, though the protruding back of the mounting machine screws came into contact with the inner door skin. So, I used a Dremel to sand out small semi circles in the four screw locations to allow it to fit. Put paint on any exposed metal.
Let me know if you have any questions. Sorry I didn’t take more pictures, I didn’t intent to post about this when I started!

P.S. the factory front “6x9s” are actually just the same junk 6.5” cones in the rear, just mounted in a 6x9 plastic shaped housing. Criminal!

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2022 Subaru Outback Wilderness Edition
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I've been reading through the extremely long thread relating to the Subaru Outback Wilderness audio upgrades. I recently installed the Rockford Fosgate Tweeters and Speakers from Crutchfield (Rockford Fosgate Power T1675-S). Other than some nicer bass, the essential problem hasn't changed, which is extremely harsh and grating highs, which as I understand it from the thread are because of the DSP in the head unit sending only highs to the tweeters. Having played around with the head unit settings, the only way to get rid of this awful harshness has been to set the vocal stage way back from the centre, but this only mitigates the sound in part. In anyone's opinion, what is the easiest way to get rid of this awful sounding harshness? I was happy to do the speaker and tweeter install myself as it was fairly straightforward, but anything more I am willing to hire an audio pro to do. My ears will thank you in advance. I have a US model Outback, not a Canadian, as I live in Virginia.
 

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I've been reading through the extremely long thread relating to the Subaru Outback Wilderness audio upgrades. I recently installed the Rockford Fosgate Tweeters and Speakers from Crutchfield (Rockford Fosgate Power T1675-S). Other than some nicer bass, the essential problem hasn't changed, which is extremely harsh and grating highs, which as I understand it from the thread are because of the DSP in the head unit sending only highs to the tweeters. Having played around with the head unit settings, the only way to get rid of this awful harshness has been to set the vocal stage way back from the centre, but this only mitigates the sound in part. In anyone's opinion, what is the easiest way to get rid of this awful sounding harshness? I was happy to do the speaker and tweeter install myself as it was fairly straightforward, but anything more I am willing to hire an audio pro to do. My ears will thank you in advance. I have a US model Outback, not a Canadian, as I live in Virginia.
Hi stout_trapdoor9, I noticed you bought a component system with standalone crossover boxes. Did you route the tweeter wires so that they pass through the crossover boxes? I too have recently installed new speakers on my Wilderness and at first, I bought a component system (Focal 165AS) just as you did. I had a call with the tech support and they told me the head unit does not filter the signal sent to the tweeters. The stock tweeters only get high frequency signal because there is a tiny capacitor on the back of them which acts as a HPF. Obviously enough, this HPF will be removed along with the stock tweeter. If you don't route the aftermarket tweeters through the crossover boxes that came with them, there won't be any filtering at all which might have caused the harsh highs you have described. The proper way would be to secure the crossover somewhere in the doors and route new wires through the door boot to the dash corner position, or surface mount the tweeters on the door panel. Their tech support also warned me if I don't install the crossovers with the speakers I will risk breaking them and I will lose the warranty for not using them as instructed.

I ended up returning the component system and bought something else that has separate in-line crossovers for both the woofer and the tweeter so that I didn't have to take apart the entire dash just to install the tweeters properly.
 

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Hi stout_trapdoor9, I noticed you bought a component system with standalone crossover boxes. Did you route the tweeter wires so that they pass through the crossover boxes? I too have recently installed new speakers on my Wilderness and at first, I bought a component system (Focal 165AS) just as you did. I had a call with the tech support and they told me the head unit does not filter the signal sent to the tweeters. The stock tweeters only get high frequency signal because there is a tiny capacitor on the back of them which acts as a HPF. Obviously enough, this HPF will be removed along with the stock tweeter. If you don't route the aftermarket tweeters through the crossover boxes that came with them, there won't be any filtering at all which might have caused the harsh highs you have described. The proper way would be to secure the crossover somewhere in the doors and route new wires through the door boot to the dash corner position, or surface mount the tweeters on the door panel. Their tech support also warned me if I don't install the crossovers with the speakers I will risk breaking them and I will lose the warranty for not using them as instructed.

I ended up returning the component system and bought something else that has separate in-line crossovers for both the woofer and the tweeter so that I didn't have to take apart the entire dash just to install the tweeters properly.
Wow, I had never thought of that. I did not install the crossovers because for some reason I didn't think I needed them - not too bright of me. Can I ask what you bought instead?
 

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Wow, I had never thought of that. I did not install the crossovers because for some reason I didn't think I needed them - not too bright of me. Can I ask what you bought instead?
I bought the Focal ISU 690 instead. The crossovers just goes between the speaker and the adapter. Its build quality is certainly not as good as the 165AS but at least it requires taking apart less panels.
 

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2022 Subaru Outback Wilderness Edition
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I bought the Focal ISU 690 instead. The crossovers just goes between the speaker and the adapter. Its build quality is certainly not as good as the 165AS but at least it requires taking apart less panels.
Thankyou for saving my ears. I love my Wilderness, but coming from an Audi with premium audio it was getting hard to stay in love. I will give that a shot when I get back home. Any install tips or is it fairly straight forward to do?
 

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Thankyou for saving my ears. I love my Wilderness, but coming from an Audi with premium audio it was getting hard to stay in love. I will give that a shot when I get back home. Any install tips or is it fairly straight forward to do?
If you installed the Rockford Fosgate yourself, there shouldn't be anything to worry about. It's exactly the same process.
 

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I bought the Focal ISU 690 instead. The crossovers just goes between the speaker and the adapter. Its build quality is certainly not as good as the 165AS but at least it requires taking apart less panels.
I had the speakers in my Onyx upgraded this past weekend.

Focal ISU-690s is the front with the remote tweeters put in the dash. RCX-165s in the back seat. Bought everything from Crutchfield. Came with all of the extras needed to do the install, for pennies shy of $450. Like night and day. Excellent sound and I'm quite pleased. May or may not go with an amp later, if I do it'll be a Kicker Keyer200.4.

Professional installation cost $100 locally. I could have done it myself but just didn't feel like messing with it.

Definitely a worthwhile upgrade.
 

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Also did an upgrade last week on my 2022 wilderness. Did the Kicker tweets up front, took 10 min after prep as I notched both screw holes with a dremel and the mounted without issue. Also did the Kicker CS 6x9 coax speakers in the door along with the Best Buy sold dynamat type product as I didn't have a time window to wait for deliveries. But I applied generous strips on the inside of the outer most door skin, several smaller places on the inner door frame and a few more on the door card. Door speakers came from Crutchfield so the mounting rings and adapters were included. I did have to drill two holes on the mount rings to get the speakers to align the best while the other 2 of 4 screws used the normal holes. Reused the foam backing that sits behind the factory speaker and applied it to the mounting rings and then used new foam stripping from home depot to mount the speakers to the ring.

Massive improvement, not perfect, but ended up with +2 across the board on the EQ and toggling the Live Bass setting between Off and Low depending on music. I much prefer to + the bass on the EQ as it seems to use a parabolic adjustment which increased mid bass along with the bass as well, rather than the Live Bass, which seems to just amplify and synthesize the low frequencies around 60-80Hz. The result with just Live Bass only at first seems to be harsh in the mid to mid high heavy reproduction with a significant absence of mid-bass in the metal I listen to, but with big booming kick drum. So kind of wonky. The EQ only route is much more natural. Put on some hip hop or electronic and I change the Live Bass to Low and has a great resonating tone that shakes the mirrors.
 
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