Jeep Wrangler JK Audio upgrade - The facts about your Jeep's audio and how to improve it
The Jeep JK Wrangler audio systems have always been a bit of a mystery to most. Firstly, Jeep in their great wisdom fitted most of the South African spec cars with the lowest (feature) spec head unit model available in the range with no satnav or bluetooth (UConnect) and a pretty poor set of either Infinity or Alpine speakers. However, the amp fitted at the factory is a good one and rarely needs to be replaced or boosted, so before you do anything... know your options.
Firstly your head unit. Make no mistake, the standard headunit sound quality output is excellent. The components and build is first class, however it is the lack of features that lets Jeep owners down. Adding Bluetooth telephony to a factory supplied Jeep head unit is difficult and very expensive and even if you have SatNav then you will find updating the maps pretty impossible and prohibitively expensive. Reverse cams were also an impossible addition until ANGRiJeep developed a system for adding front and rear cameras to the standard unit, but it's not a cheap addition (ANGRiView) but extremely effective if you are hell bent on keeping your standard unit.
So whether to replace your head unit is a 'Features' only decision. If you are happy with your 'features' (or lack of them) on your factory fitted radio then just leave it there as it is a quality unit. However, if you want the latest SatNav maps, Maps for Africa, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, GoogleMaps, Waze, Bluetooth audio streaming, Bluetooth telephony, YouTube, Wifi, HD Screen, Reverse and front cams, dash cams, Whatsapp, messaging, voice control and the myriad of features available on today's 'Made for Wrangler' upgrades at ANGRiJeep then just upgrade it and you will never regret it!
You cannot just put any after-market head unit into your Wrangler, as the Jeep's canbus system is extremely fussy and the very high quality built in amp also forms part of the Jeep's onboard systems. Integrating a normal after-market unit into all that seamlessly is tricky and involves boxes full of extra looms, canbus adaptors, control boxes and trims. We have seen extreme horror stories rolling into ANGRiJeep with a rat's nest of cut and poorly joined wires, error messages, new amps (unnecessary) strewn under seats and generally very inadequate hardware fitted by general audio 'specialists'. Don't do this as there are much better systems available and more importantly... especially made for 'Wrangler' or put together into proper Wrangler compatible systems by ANGRiJeep that simply plug straight in.
Our replacement head units for Wrangler are now loaded with all the features and flexibility you could ever want (including wireless Apple Car Play and Android Auto), so decision making comes down to just a few small variables of style and screen size. Apple Car Play and Android Auto are game changers for in-car audio, and all of our Wrangler audio upgrades have them as standard.
If you are sticking with your standard speakers and just 'feature hunting', you will still notice an increase in sound quality with your new ANGRi installed replacement head unit despite the fact that the standard speakers you get with your Wrangler are far from great, so hide quality audio well! However, if you have one of our Kicker speaker upgrades you will really benefit from the clarity and sound quality improvement that those replacement speakers bring which becomes very obvious. Out of the box, our head unit upgrades offer great improvements in sound quality and sound control over the standard units.
Size and position of head unit replacements are the main variable and 'made for Wrangler' systems come in two distinct types.... In-dash (as per factory) or 'Out of Dash' (where the screens are bigger and protrude slightly). The full range of 'made for Wrangler' systems from 8" to 10.1" screens from Smartnavi can be seen here and it is purely a matter of personal preference or how good your eyesight is! The larger 10.1" units are much easier to see at a glance and do not interfere with anything on the dash and use 'dead space' on your dash.
IN-DASH SYSTEMS v LARGER SCREEN
As mentioned before, the factory amp (hidden behind the steering column) that came with your Jeep is actually an excellent digital-based unit and when you pump up the sound has plenty of 'grunt'. However, you will notice from 60% volume upwards the whole systems starts to badly distort. This is not the amp or the head-unit... this is your 'way below par' speakers fitted when your Jeep was born! If your Wrangler is 2007-2014 then there is a massive room for improvement (2015+ can be improved, but the jump quality jump is less dramatic). You have some factory speakers above your head, some near your's and your passenger's knees, and some little 'tombstone' tweeters on each corner of the dash. You will also have a big lump poking out into your boot space (the subwoofer)..... so the cheapest and very best sound upgrade you can do is replace most of this with a Kicker speaker upgrade.
THESE ARE THE SPEAKERS THAT JEEP PUT IN YOUR CAR... NOT GREAT!
The 2015+ models got a little bit of a speaker upgrade which included adding tweeters to the overhead sound bar, slightly larger flush mounted tweeters to the dash and a the subwoofer moving to the boot floor. The sound of this speaker system is definitely superior to the pre 2015 models but there is still room for improvement due to the poor quality speakers used.
A Kicker speaker upgrade in a Wrangler is the best value sound quality upgrade you can do very affordably and the difference is incredible. We call it a 'clarity' upgrade. As we mentioned above, the amp is highly capable and very loud but suffers from speaker distortion at the higher volume levels. With the Kicker speaker upgrade, this distortion disappears and you can crank your system up to much higher levels with extreme clarity to the Wrangler's audio.There is rarely the need to replace or add any extra amplifiers to the jeep Wrangler when this is done. The subwoofer is also actually very good and is more than capable to keep up with this system enhancement so we only line your existing box with special sound material to enable it to come 'on song' a little more. But if you want a little bit more bass 'Kick' or 'Doof Doof' we can add a hideaway Kicker HS10 active subwoofer under your passenger seat!
6 SPEAKER KICKER CS SPEAKER UPGRADE FOR WRANGLER 2007-2014
The Kicker speaker upgrades for Jeep Wrangler also come in two flavours.... the CS range which offer such a huge upgrade from the standard system... and then the KS range which are a little more refined for the proper audiophile. The 2015+ Wranglers can also greatly benefit from the Kicker Series upgrades and comprise of two full component systems (woofers and tweeters) because of the new split speaker setup on your overhead sound bar. The full range of speaker replacement systems for your Wrangler can be seen here.
What else?.... Reverse cams, rock cams, dash cams, rear screens, TPMS, Carobotor digital dash, specialist off-road maps and a myriad of add-ons for your new Wrangler audio and video systems are available from ANGRiJeep. Alongside our unrivalled range of Genuine branded body and suspension upgrade hardware for Jeep, we stock the largest range of audio and video equipment specifically for your Wrangler in SA ready to install. If it is still confusing, just pop in to see us, or call us on 021 180 4990. Everything is in stock and your upgrade can sometimes take less than an hour.
Take a look at everything 'audio' for your 2007-2019 Wrangler JK or JKU at https://angrijeep.com/collections/jk-jku-audio-upgrades/JK
ANGRiAudio @ ANGRiJeep