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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
When doing any kind of stereo install in our trucks, I know the trend nowadays is to retain steering wheel controls, add on or keep the existing backup camera, stock auxiliary inputs, and more. For myself, I just wanted better sound while keeping the ability for hands free calling and bluetooth audio functions. Really the only stock part of it I wanted to keep was the overall appearance. I never used or even liked the steering wheel controls, they actually got in the way as I'd turn a corner and accidentally skip forward to the next song as my hand bumped the switch. My truck also did not come with a reverse camera.

So, all that said, I just did a basic install with a new deck and 4 speakers. If anyone else is interested, here's my write up, with as much info as I can add so it's easy for others who'd like to do the same. I'll break it down in sections for easy reading and reference.

THE DECK
To keep the stock look, I went with a double din deck, the Kenwood DPX502BT. Its cosmetics blend in well with the overall look of the dash, and it has awesome audio features, with a 13 band EQ, bass boost, loudness, sound reconstruct for restoring compressed mp3 music, built in crossovers, and many more sound enhancements. I could go on and on about this deck, but I have so much more yet to cover, so I need to move on. Let me say this though, it included a small remote with loads of functions that I find many many more times useful than I ever did the steering wheel controls. I cannot overstate this. It also has bluetooth hands free calling and voice activation when linked to a compatible phone. Any iPhone should work well, and most androids. I use an iPhone SE. It came with a mic for voice pickup and the cable is plenty long enough to fish from the deck to either side of the truck, run up behind the A-pillar trim panel, and across the ceiling behind the headliner, where it was adhered to the windshield just above my rear view mirror. The mount and sticky tape was included.

THE DECK WIRING AND HARNESS
Since we have 2 ohm speakers in our trucks (4 ohm dash speakers for those who have them, which I don't), then I was not comfortable simply connecting the deck to run them in a 4 channel setup. I planned for new speakers later, but in the meantime, I connected my aftermarket harness to the deck's wiring in a way to create a safe 4 ohm load, and use just the front 2 channels to run all 4 speakers. I wired the two left side speakers in series to get a total 4 ohm load for the front left channel, and did the same again for the right side. This would make sure to protect the deck from overheating on impedance that was too low when volume was turned up. Trust me, there is no loss of volume this way, it can still get very loud despite running the speakers on less power. This is easy to do, just pay attention to the wiring connections. Run the DECK FRONT LEFT POSITIVE (+) wire to the HARNESS FRONT LEFT POSITIVE (+) wire, as normal. Then run the DECK FRONT LEFT NEGATIVE (-) wire to the HARNESS REAR LEFT NEGATIVE (-) wire, which is not normally done. Then just splice together the remaining HARNESS FRONT LEFT NEGATIVE (-) and HARNESS REAR LEFT POSITIVE (+) wires. This completes the two left speakers, now wired in series. The deck's rear left channel is not used. Repeat this on the right side with the right front channel, also not using the right rear channel, and you have a safe 4 ohm load on just 2 channels. You do not have use of the fader this way, however. Only the balance control.

As for harnesses, do your own research because I found there is a LOT of incorrect info online, even on the manufacturer websites. I can confirm the Scosche NN04B harness will work and provide a basic 4 speaker system hookup. It will NOT retain factory steering wheel controls, there is another thread here detailing a Subaru harness with modifications for that. You also do not retain any of the stock USB ports without an additional harness, however, my deck has one built in on the front, and I never liked the center console USB port location anyway. Other harnesses I found that appear they may work are Metra 70-7552, Best Kits (PAC) BHA7552, and American international NWH704.

ANTENNA ADAPTER
As for antenna adapters, it is a similar situation to the harnesses. I've read several places that the Scosche NAA2B won't work, but I can confirm that it does. I do not have a power antenna, even though the harness comes with a connection for that, so maybe that is why, but I just clipped this off, and as far as AM/FM reception and the harness connection working, it works just fine. Other "suggested" adapters are Metra 40-NI12, Best Kits (PAC) BAA36, and American International NI6.

DASH INSTALL KITS
This will vary by model of truck. If I understand correctly, for the SV and Pro-4x that have a basic traditional deck that can be removed and leave about a 4x8 inch rectangle hole in the dash, the following kits should work. For the S models, I believe there is a larger Scosche kit that also incorporates the climate controls into it. I have an SV model, so I used the Metra 99-7619 dash kit for my truck. It has the look I want, within reason, but I'm probably too picky anyway. I don't care for the slight protrusion out of the dash, but this is minor, and less than 1/8 inch. The color is very close to the surrounding dash and I have a mostly stock look with it.

What I like about it is there are plenty of slots and holes in the mount tabs to make alignment with my deck's ISO-DIN mount screw holes easy. What I don't like is that the kit's parts seem to be made of brittle plastic that easily cracks. I've already seen some of the screw mount points breaking and the deck has only been installed for about 2 months. They do not line up and lay flat 100% with the screw holes in the dash and this seems to have put things in a bind which likely caused the cracking. I discovered it when I installed speakers a month later and opened the dash to change the series wiring to a 4 channel setup again. I realized things weren't 100% when I first installed it, the kit wasn't made ideally to mate with all the screw locations and I had to add washers for support, but the cracking still occurred. Additionally, I have also noticed some cracking of the dash material itself at screw mounts in several places. Until I began this install I thought my truck was still perfect since buying it new, but I noticed several places where screw points had broken so this could also be due to just heat and plastic fatigue.

Other kits that are supposed to work are Best Kits (PAC) BKNDK780 and American International NDK780. These are basically the same kit, and they reuse the metal mounts that held the original deck in place instead of using plastic tabs like the Metra kit does. However, the metal brackets from my old deck do not have holes that line up with my new deck, so careful measurement and drilling would be required to make this work. I did not find a Scosche kit that would work for my model, only one for the S model up to 2013.

SOUND WITH ONLY A NEW DECK AND STOCK SPEAKERS
As mentioned, I am replacing speakers as well, and have already done the front 6x9's. The rear 6.5's will be put in today. But for about a month I listened to just the deck with the old speakers. For those that only want this and no more, you will be pleased to know that there is a vast improvement in sound with just a new deck only. Bass is strong (midbass that is), and midrange and treble are really cleared up with the EQ being able to adjust so many bands. Again, I wired for a safe 4 ohm load, but I've been told it works just fine using a 2 ohm, 4 channel (standard connections) setup with all four stock 2 ohm speakers each on its own channel. Without going in depth technically as to why I see this as a potential problem, lets just say it can work if you don't crank the volume too high, and you probably won't need to anyway, which is probably why no one has any problems with it. But with the safer 4 ohm series wiring I mentioned above, using just 2 channels, there's no risk, and volume can get loud just the same. I worried I'd hear some loss with each speaker only able to get half of one channel's available power, but again, without getting technical, that's not happening on near the scale it seems it would, and audibly, you can't even tell any difference, power and volume wise, but sound quality wise, there is a large difference for the better with just a new deck and stock speakers.

While the deck did make a huge improvement in sound, it also highlighted the speaker limitations. The 13 band EQ and all the extra goodies on the deck worked well to improve over before, but I knew it could be better, particularly in the higher treble ranges (no matter how much improved the treble is, there's still no tweeters with stock speakers), so I replaced the front speakers with Pioneer 6x9's, model TS-A6986R. The rears will be Pioneer 6.5's, model TS-A1686R. To keep this post from being way too long, more on this later. Right now, I have to finish my rear speaker install.




 

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Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
FRONT SPEAKERS INSTALL
I installed Pioneer TS-A6986R 6x9 4-way speakers in my front doors. There are some good videos online showing door panel removal, as well as dash removal for the deck install, so just do a search and you'll find those fairly quickly. As for the install, I can confirm the Pioneer 6x9's do fit, regardless of what some sites, including Pioneer's, says. They may only be claiming they don't fit because of the small plastic nib that needs to be trimmed off of the speaker mount to let them lay flat. This nib was only used for the stock speaker. Also there is a raised edge around the perimeter of the mount that I had to sort of work the speaker's frame into, because it wasn't a spot on match as far as shape. But I'm talking about 1/16 inch difference, and this could be trimmed off as well, but I didnt do it and the speakers fit in fine. The Pioneers are 3 3/8" deep, and they used nearly every millimeter of space available, but no cutting or modification was necessary beyond what I've described so far. I applied a thin foam gasket to the mount surface before installing the speaker, to make a seal and improve bass. Beware of overtightening the screws when you install the speakers! The mount is just a soft feeling, polypropylene type plastic and would strip easily. Once installed, the door panel went back on in reverse of how it came off and I can verify the raised tweeters do not contact the panel from behind on this Pioneer model. Everything fits well.

CONNECTIONS AND PROPER POLARITY
As for the wiring, the Metra 72-7401 harness is supposed to work, and appears it would, however, I did not use it. The speakers came with wire connections with spade terminal connectors made to fit their terminals. I simply snipped off the truck's stock plug, then used a 9v battery to test the old speaker for positive and negative polarity (when the cone moves outward you have it right) and based on how that went I looked to see what color wire had been on the old speaker's positive terminal before and made sure it went on my new speaker the same way. I spliced the wires and used a crimp connector and GOOD 3M Super 33+ electrical tape to wrap it all.

SOUND AND REVERSING THE PREVIOUS SERIES SPEAKER WIRING
Before testing, I opened the dash again to reverse the previous series wiring I'd done to make a total 4 ohm load. The Pioneers are already 4 ohm speakers, so leaving it the way I had it would have left me with a total 6 ohm load and further cutting down my available power for the speakers. I just went back to a 4 channel setup, with normal wired connections, leaving a 4 ohm load on the front channels, and a 2 ohm load on the rears. I simply adjusted the fader all the way to the front to prevent the rear channels from running on the lower ohm load. Basically, I just turned the rear speakers off for a time until I could get the new ones installed. I ran it this way about a month, and found I liked having all front sound quite well. I've had systems like that before but every one is different, and this truck with just a deck and two front speakers is quite nice. I did try it briefly with all 4 running, and the difference in sound was awful to me. I'd gotten used to the Pioneer sound and almost forgot what the stock sound was like. They don't mix! Even with the rears faded way down, the sound was disgusting with both stock and Pioneers playing together. Alone, the Pioneers were wonderful. Originally I had most of the upper EQ treble bands maxed out with all stock speakers. With the Pioneers, I was cutting that down from +9 to +3 ranges. Having speakers with tweeters really helps the clarity. Also, with certain songs, I had noticed the vocals sounding gravely with the stock speakers. This was present before and after the install of the new deck, but it vanished with new speakers, so again, better clarity across the entire spectrum of sound. Bass improved some also, but not nearly as much as the upper clarity and sharpness. However, I'm now down to just two speakers, and they're not even in the same class as the stock speakers as far as power handling (I've been told the stocks are just 3 watt speakers vs. The Pioneers can handle 100 watts continuous, which the deck doesn't have) so I can't say I expected a huge SPL output on the low end. Where I heard an improvement was that it seemed to go lower and cleaner sounding. After swapping speakers, I had to go through all my EQ settings again, and adjust accordingly.


 

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Thanks for typing all of that. Although yeah, pictures would make it WAY better (try using img.ur for photo hosting)
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
REAR SPEAKER INSTALL
I installed Pioneer TS-A1686R 6.5 4-way speakers in the rear doors. The stock rear speakers are made different than the fronts. With the fronts, the speaker and mount are separate. With the rears, they are built together. There are videos online showing the stock woofer cone and magnet being cut out to use the frame to mount the new speaker in, but the Pioneer model I chose would not fit the old frame after I destroyed one of my rear speakers to attempt this. I'm glad, because the mounts I ended up making in my shop were much better. There are plastic ones available online for cheap, but the ones shown on Amazon only show them fitting 2005-2009 models, although I believe they're all the same. Some others I found that should work are Best Kits (PAC) BKNSB710, and American International NSB710. But I just made my own.

MAKING AND INSTALLING NEW MOUNT BRACKETS
I used the old speaker frame as a template to trace out a new mount on 1/2 inch plywood with a very smooth veneer. I only traced the outside edge. Then I cut the center out to fit the speaker I was dropping into it. This was easy for me, as I have a wood shop with a drill press, band saw, and plenty of other tools to get it done. I made another spacer ring as well, minus the screw mount tabs of the first one I made, and then stacked the spacer and mount together to make it very close to the size of the old one. I made two of these, one for each door (later, I found out I'd have been better off to just using the bottom only instead of with the additional spacer ring). I installed a thin foam gasket between the speaker and the new wooden mount, and also between the mount and the door itself. I made it to fit exactly as the old one had fit, and used the same bolts to put it in. I put the bracket in place on the door, then connected the speaker to the wires, then mounted it to the bracket. After this, I installed a peel and stick open cell foam gasket around the outer edge of the new speakers to absorb soundwaves that might otherwise travel between the door panel and the metal door itself. I had read that this will improve midbass and is the reason why most stock speakers have a thin one around them. I used some made for air condtioners. Same stuff.

WIRING
The wire connection for the rear speaker is actually outside of the door cavity, between the metal door and panel. Since my new design now requires a connection from behind, I found a nearby hole in the sheet metal and fished the wire through that came with the speakers, clipped off the stock plug, and spliced the wires the same as I had with the 6x9's. Then used a zip tie to secure the excess. I had already changed the channel setup from before, so this time all I had to do was adjust the fader and EQ if needed.

THE FINAL SOUND AND MY MISTAKE
At this point, with the rear speakers in, the project is finished. Since I only just got them in today after making the mounts last night, it will take some time to dial in the sound just right. I played with it for about an hour and I can tell you this, there is a significant, very very significant, increase in bass! I've already turned down the volume by 4 clicks (now at 15 out of 30 for reference), turned the bass boost down one notch, adjusted the lower EQ bands down a couple of notches, and faded the sound towards the front by 2 clicks. They are only just 6.5 speakers, and you'd think 6x9's would produce more bass. Maybe it's suddenly having four speakers playing on settings previously set for just two. Maybe it's the addition of more cones moving more air. Maybe it's because I added the foam gaskets all around where I did not do that with the 6x9's except between speaker and mount. All I know is the bass is big compared to how I've ever heard it before in the 3 years I've had the truck. I will need to readjust things and spend some time listening to get it all lined out.

One final thing. As for my mistake, when I reinstalled the rear door panels, I saw that the tweeters contact the back side of the built in grill. When I made the mounts, at the time I was making a clone of the old mount. I had not realized how close the old speakers had been to the panel before. One layer of plywood would have been enough. But it only contacts it just enough to hump the surface slightly. Not enough to cause a serious problem. I'll cross that bridge if and when it ever does. I made my mount an inch thick, and added 1/16 foam gaskets to both sides. These compress nearly flat, but whatever they add contributes to overall height, and with the Pioneer TS-A1686R, it's just slightly too much.





 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for typing all of that. Although yeah, pictures would make it WAY better (try using img.ur for photo hosting)
Yes, I definitely want to add pics. Also, typing all this was a real chore on a tablet but I've been wanting to do it for awhile, especially to share the different harness and adapter models I looked into as I researched what I needed and wanted.
 

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BTW all the speaker mounting brackets (and aftermarket adaptors) are all the same between 2005-now, nothing has changed - the aftermarket just got too lazy to update their fitment dates.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks for typing all of that. Although yeah, pictures would make it WAY better (try using img.ur for photo hosting)
Thanks for the site suggestion. I figured it out and added a few pics, but some aren't so good. These were quick shots from when I first put the deck in and was texting them to a friend. I'll do some better shots of the deck later and add them.
 

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Considering you have woodworking skills, I would suggest you do the same up front - ditch the 6x9 OEM plastic bracket and make a better, solid one - I guarantee your front sound will improve
 

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That sounds like a good idea
I want to do this to my truck but haven't gotten around to it, but on my brother's Tacoma he switched out the plastic enclosure for wood and it made a huge difference... he also adjusted the position of the speaker cone by making the wood enclosure thicker, so that it put the cone as close to the interior door panel speaker grill as possible... no more need for the foam ring, just by bringing the speaker cone closer to the edge of the door panel, his highs were brighter and his mids were louder. ::wink::
 

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Woah! Thank you for writing all of this up, Frontier14! Its been very helpful - I didn't know the rear speakers and mounts were one piece. I'm considering those Pioneer speakers myself - been looking for speakers with wide range because I would rather not get a sub (if anything maybe powered subs under the seats in the future). I've also been looking at the 3-way TS-A6976R but I think the specs say the tweeter sticks out more than the 4-way, so it might be more difficult to make it fit.

BTW all the speaker mounting brackets (and aftermarket adaptors) are all the same between 2005-now, nothing has changed
Does that mean that the TS-A6986R and TS-A1686R speakers would be a similar install on my 2007 Frontier? Could they fit if I do some filing for the 6x9s in front and get new mounting brackets for the rear 6.5s? Would aftermarket brackets work well for the TS-A6976R or would it require something custom for good fit?
 

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Thank you for writing all this up Frontier14 - this has been very helpful! I'm actually looking to install these exact speakers on my 2007 Frontier.

BTW all the speaker mounting brackets (and aftermarket adaptors) are all the same between 2005-now ...
Does this mean that if I follow similar steps I should be able to install these Pioneer speakers in my Frontier too?

I was also looking at the 3-way 6x9 speakers by Pioneer, TS-A6976R, but some specs say the tweeter sticks out higher so I dont know if that one would actually work.
 

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Thank you for writing all this up Frontier14 - this has been very helpful! I'm actually looking to install these exact speakers on my 2007 Frontier.



Does this mean that if I follow similar steps I should be able to install these Pioneer speakers in my Frontier too?

I was also looking at the 3-way 6x9 speakers by Pioneer, TS-A6976R, but some specs say the tweeter sticks out higher so I dont know if that one would actually work.
There's still a fair amount of room between the front speaker mounting surface (on the door) and the speaker grills (on the inner door panel), so I'm guessing it'll fit.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 · (Edited)
I don't think there is much difference between the 3-way and 4-way tweeter protrusion, and I have a little bit of room left between the tweets and grills on my 4-ways so I believe the 3-way will fit also. The specs are available for download if needed. I got them from Pioneer's site, and they should be available from Crutchfield also. They'll show in detail the exact dimensions, tweeter height and all, so you can compare different models.

Where you may have trouble is in the back. I have a king cab, so the crew cab may be different, but in the king cab, making the exact mounts like I did puts the tweets on the 4-way 6.5 in contact with the back of the grill. You're better off just using one layer of 1/2" or 3/4" plywood to make your own mount rings, instead of getting fancy and doubling it like I did.

That said, they did fit, in spite of me making it 1" deep, and this specific speaker model is made so that, even with grill contact, the dome of the tweeter is not compromised. The part that contacts the grill is just the surrounding plastic housing.

What I did to make mounts was destroy one of my rear speakers by cutting the basket, magnet, and speaker cone, surrounds and all, completely out of it, leaving only the ring frame with the mount tabs sticking out on the sides. Then I traced this pattern on plywood and cut it out on a bandsaw (jigsaw would work fine, too). I actually used a straight edge to mark from the ends of the mount tabs across to the top of the circular ring to widen the tabs instead of cutting them out "mouse ear" shaped. I think my pics above will show this and the original pencil lines I'd made when I traced as well. Makes cutting them out easier, and they end up stronger, and they fit just fine. Also, while the old speaker ring is still in place, just eyeball center a pencil mark where each mount bolt will go. I used a drill press and a Forster bit to drill a recessed hole so I could use the old bolts. Then I used a brad point bit to finish the hole on through, leaving a stepped hole when finished. You can simply drill regular holes at full depth all the way through the wood without the recession for the heads, but you'll need to get new bolts if you do that, because the stock bolts won't be long enough, and these are most likely metric threaded.

When I was ready to mount, I fastened the new brackets to the doors, then lined up my speaker where I wanted it, pencil marked its mounting holes, laid the speaker aside, and predrilled holes through the wood and the door sheet metal behind, then used the screws that came with the speakers to install them.
 
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