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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I'm by no means an audio freak and I don't like ear blasting audio, but the audio system that came with my 2009 SRT is not loud enough for me. My 2004 Ford Explorer puts out more volume level then my SRT does.

I have the Option Group II package and here's what it came with:

– 13 SRT™ High-Performance KICKER® speakers (eight locations) with a 322-watt digital
amplifier and 200-watt subwoofer amplifier (included with SRT Option Group II)

Would changing out the stock speakers alone help raise the volume level? I really don't want to add an aftermarket amp if I don't have to.

Any suggestions/recommendations would be greatly appreciated.
 

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I'm by no means an audio freak and I don't like ear blasting audio, but the audio system that came with my 2009 SRT is not loud enough for me. My 2004 Ford Explorer puts out more volume level then my SRT does.

I have the Option Group II package and here's what it came with:

– 13 SRT™ High-Performance KICKER® speakers (eight locations) with a 322-watt digital
amplifier and 200-watt subwoofer amplifier (included with SRT Option Group II)

Would changing out the stock speakers alone help raise the volume level? I really don't want to add an aftermarket amp if I don't have to.

Any suggestions/recommendations would be greatly appreciated.
Generally speaking, no. The factory speakers are high efficiency designed to get the most output from the factory amplifier. Not particularly clarity focused, but efficient at low power.

In order to go louder the biggest bottleneck is going to be the factory amplifier.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks Ceri.

Do you know if there is an aftermarket amp that can use the OEM wiring harness/connectors?

If so, how much wattage do you think the OEM speakers can take?

Thanks again.
 

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Thanks Ceri.

Do you know if there is an aftermarket amp that can use the OEM wiring harness/connectors?

If so, how much wattage do you think the OEM speakers can take?

Thanks again.
No and no. The OEM head unit and amp are proprietary. The head unit speaks the amp's language. Replacing the amp alone leaves the head unit communicating in a language no other amp knows. In order to work around this with an aftermarket amp and a factory head unit you have to install a signal summing line output converter (LOC) after the factory amp (taking in the speaker level wiring) and convert it into RCA (low level wiring). Or you can replace the head unit and get RCA outputs on the new one, which means full system replacement.

To do this in stages you'll want to replace speakers first, then amp with a LOC, then head unit. Factory speakers won't hold up to aftermarket amplification for too long if output is your goal. They say 368 watts on the factory system, but what you're actually getting is something in the neighborhood of 15-20 watts RMS per channel. 368 is a peak rating for all channels combined, which doesn't mean much in audio but looks good on a marketing brochure. It's really about the equivalent of an aftermarket head unit's onboard amp on a channel by channel basis.
 

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No problem. If you have any other questions feel free to hit me up in PMs or continue posting.
 

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You would need to take a similar path as I did. As Ceri says something like a Audio Control LC8i, 5 channel amp and new speakers is one way. Not much you can do with the existing gear but you might be surprised how much just adding a good sub/amp sounds as a first step.
A JBL MS-8 might also work well. It is designed to maximize your factory system and has it's own internal 30 watts per channel amp. You could put one in and keep all of your factory speakers but it is pricey.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks SacTownMan. I'll probably hit you and Ceri up for more details after the new year. I'm going to be pretty busy up until then.
 

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I'm by no means an audio freak and I don't like ear blasting audio, but the audio system that came with my 2009 SRT is not loud enough for me. My 2004 Ford Explorer puts out more volume level then my SRT does.

I have the Option Group II package and here's what it came with:

– 13 SRT™ High-Performance KICKER® speakers (eight locations) with a 322-watt digital
amplifier and 200-watt subwoofer amplifier (included with SRT Option Group II)

Would changing out the stock speakers alone help raise the volume level? I really don't want to add an aftermarket amp if I don't have to.

Any suggestions/recommendations would be greatly appreciated.
I have a '12 and understand what you mean. What I have found is the volume you get varies with the source material you are listening too. If I play sounds recorded in the last decade I can get volumes the are pretty loud. However if I play oldies from the 70's I have to crank it all the way to its max and that still isn't loud enough to really enjoy.
 

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I have a '12 and understand what you mean. What I have found is the volume you get varies with the source material you are listening too. If I play sounds recorded in the last decade I can get volumes the are pretty loud. However if I play oldies from the 70's I have to crank it all the way to its max and that still isn't loud enough to really enjoy.
That's 100% accurate and one of the things audiophiles complain about with modern music. It's recorded "rail to rail" now days with no headroom for dynamics and subtlety. Essentially it's recorded with purposeful clipping. Metallica's last album sounds weird because they used to do this already, and now modern studio engineers do it too. They got a double dip and so tons of clipping and distortion. The whole thing sounds messy and lacking a soul. The 70s took many more steps to ensure recording quality, but much worse equipment. Today we could easily mix up a masterpiece, but nobody wants to or it will sound too quiet by today's standards. There's been a losing effort by some industry insiders to push for standardization and get Apple on board so that iTunes enforces this standard, but so far no luck. Everyone knows it's a problem (in the audio mixing field), but they're afraid to be the first ones to make the jump and record company execs don't care too much.

:soapbox:
 

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Is there an alternative to the JBL MS-8? I looked that up and to say pricey for what your getting is an understatement. If I want to spend that type of money I would just go with a complete system and be done. Thanks for the info, this has been very informative!
 

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Is there an alternative to the JBL MS-8? I looked that up and to say pricey for what your getting is an understatement. If I want to spend that type of money I would just go with a complete system and be done. Thanks for the info, this has been very informative!
The MS8 is a LOC, digital signal processor, amplifier, with apparently a pretty good automatic tuning function. It's not just a line output converter. It's a "car audio system in a box" and made to drop in fairly easily for most factory systems. It is unique with it's list of features. It is going to be cheaper than buying each of those pieces individually, but has very little tuning flexibility. The auto-tune is good, but cannot be refined manually. A stand-alone DSP is usually a $500+ piece of equipment and few of them have any sort of auto-tuning. It's a pretty good deal all told, and if I were putting together a system for a non-techie friend/relative I'd probably use one.

The digital signal processor (DSP) part can make a big difference in a car. It handles time alignment, equalization, crossovers, and it might even have some phase adjustment. I haven't looked at it in awhile. Those can make a factory system sound pretty damn good. Stack a bit more power on top of that through the built-in amplifier and it's a great option. The only tricky part in our car is that the amp is under the steering wheel. You'd either need to find a place to install it nearby or run a lot of wires to the trunk. What's really great about it is that if that is Step 1 to your audio system then you can come back and swap out speakers down the road and just auto-tune the MS8 again. It will adjust itself to the new gear without any thinking on your part.

With all of that said, I'm an audio snob. I prefer to have full manual tuning control over my setup and I've got a lot of really expensive and completely unnecessary gear in my car that I want to take full advantage of. With the proper testing and measurement setup I can get better results out of my install by manual tuning so the MS8 is the wrong product for me. My HelixDSP combined with my Zed amps take the place of the MS8, but that's $2k MSRP in equipment and not many people would understand what's going on to be able to tune my system properly. My setup is not the right product for most people. The MS8 might be. In fact JBL is putting money on that being the case and I think it's paying off for them.
 

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I bought a MS-8 and was going to use it in my setup but took a different route. You summarize the benefits of the MS-8 perfectly Ceri. You do lose the fader control on the HU but the small control panel it comes with works well to adjust the sound.

It may very well be the ideal piece of equipment to allow someone to keep all of the factory gear and help it become a little bit louder without the investment in time and money like you and I have done with our setups. It also has a very good surround processor.

The only other path is to buy a $200+ Signal summing LOC, 5 channel amp at $400, connect kit, labor and still have issues with the factory speakers sounding weak. At least the MS-8 would allow you to get the most out of the current factory speakers AND work even better with aftermarket add-ons later.

Just a thought!
 

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I am a bit of a noob when it comes to systems like this. I am way old school, so I tend to just go with what's installed but the sound in the SRT just blows for the most part. Ceri, thank you for really breaking it down. I guess that the MS-8 does bring a lot. I have looked several times at whole systems and there is so much to change and the cost is astronomical I have just skipped it. I have been looking for a "magic bullet" piece that I could start with and move up as I needed to depending on how happy I was at what stage. Sactownman, you say you bought an MS-8 and didn't use it? Wouldn't be selling it by chance?
 

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I already sold the MS-8 on EBay a while back. Look around, it can be had for around $400.
 
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