Friday, March 7, 2008

Amplifier mounting and connections

After routing the power and signal cables to your amplifier, using the techniques described on page 3, you're ready to mount and hook up the amplifier. First, remove a bolt near the planned amp location. Crimp a ring terminal (included with the kit) to the short piece of black ground cable (also in the kit). Scrape away any paint and clean the bolt location thoroughly (improper grounding is the #1 cause of noise problems), and then bolt the terminal tightly to the vehicle's metal chassis. If you can't find a convenient ground screw or bolt, drill a hole for one — be careful not to drill into the gas tank or a gas or brake line).

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Thursday, March 6, 2008

Wire routing

All system wiring should be concealed for safety, and to give your installation a nice, finished look. Wires should be secured so that they do not interfere with safe vehicle operation. Depending on the vehicle and the location you choose for your amplifier, the wiring for your system may need to be run under the dash, door scuff plate, pillar trimpanel, or kickpanel. The instructions below address, in general, what panels may need to be removed and how they typically come off. Often, panels can be pried up at edges. Screws and retaining clips might also be present that will require removal (Figure 1). To prevent damage, always use care when removing panels — a panel tool is helpful.

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Monday, March 3, 2008


If your in-dash radio has preamp (RCA) outputs, connect the RCA patch cables (included with most kits) to these outputs, taping them together so they won't come apart. Route the patch cables (again, using wire ties) to the OPPOSITE side of the vehicle from the power cable and blue turn on lead. It's important to separate the patch cables from the power wires to avoid potential noise problems. Now you can partially re-install the radio in the dash (don't push it all the way in, in case you need to fix a problem later).

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Sunday, March 2, 2008


Remove the radio from the dash to access the turn-on wire (usually a blue wire). The turn-on wire will "tell" your amplifier to turn on whenever the receiver is powered up (usually, whenever the vehicle is turned on).

Strip the insulation off a small section of this wire coming from the radio, wrap the blue turn on lead (included with the amp wiring kit) around it, and solder. Or, use crimp connectors and a crimp tool to connect the blue turn on lead to the wire coming from the radio. Wrap the solder or crimp connection with electrical tape (or use a heat gun to apply heat shrink tubing) to guard against a short. Using wire ties (included with the kit) to secure the wire, route the blue turn on lead behind your dash all the way over to the place where the red power wire comes through the firewall.
Making the signal connections

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Friday, February 29, 2008


Attach the power cable to the positive battery terminal (not directly to the battery post itself). For top-mounted battery posts, the most common way to do this is to crimp a ring terminal onto the end of the power cable (most cables in wiring kits come with it already attached). Remove the battery terminal's nut, slip the power cable's ring over the bolt that secures the battery terminal to the battery post, and replace the nut. For GM vehicles with a side-mount post, we offer an adapter that works nicely.

Thread the wire loom (included with some kits) over the red power cable until it reaches the firewall and cut to fit. Thread another piece over the short power wire running from the fuse holder to the battery.

Anchor the fuse holder to a suitable spot with a self-tapping screw (see photo above).

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Monday, February 25, 2008

Step 3.

The red power wire from your amp wiring kit may have a fuse holder installed. If so, go to step. If not, find a good spot close to your battery to place your fuse-holder (included in the kit) — less than 6" from the battery is best. Cut a short piece off the end of the power wire (to cover the distance from the battery to the fuse holder location), and strip the insulation off both ends with a wire stripper.

Crimp the terminal ring (included in the kit) onto one end of the short piece of wire, and crimp the fuse holder onto the other end. Strip the insulation off the end of the red power wire that leads into the passenger compartment, and connect it to the other end of the fuse holder.

Fuse installed on power wire, and secured in engine compartment.

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Sunday, February 24, 2008

Making the power connections

1. Set the parking brake and disconnect the negative terminal from your battery to prevent any electrical short.

Route the red wire from your amp wiring kit through a hole in your vehicle's firewall.

2. Remove the red power wire from your amp wiring kit (usually 16-20 feet in length). Locate a hole on the firewall; most cars have a predrilled one you can use. If not, you'll have to find a good place to drill one. If you have problems, contact Crutchfield technical support at the phone number listed on your invoice. Once you've found or drilled a suitable hole, run the power wire through the hole into the engine compartment.

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Saturday, February 23, 2008


Follow the manufacturer's recommendations for mounting the amp and make sure it's
secure. An amp that isn't secure could break loose in an accident and injure a passenger as it flies through the vehicle.

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Thursday, February 21, 2008

AMP mounting locations:

* On the firewall (passenger side).
Pros: Short wires and patch cords required. You won't have to remove a seat or climb into the trunk.
Cons: Only very small amps fit here. Closer to some common noise sources.
* In the trunk or hatch area.
Pros: Plenty of room for large amps. Near the rear speakers.
Cons: You sacrifice some cargo space. Longer wires and patch cords required. If working in the trunk, tape over the latch, so you won't get trapped inside accidentally.
* Under a seat.
Pros: Closer to the receiver, so you can use shorter patch cables and signal cables, which are less prone to noise and signal degradation. Closer to the front speakers, so running wire to them will be easier. No cargo space sacrificed.
Cons: You may have to remove the seat to do the installation. Warning: removing your seat could deactivate your vehicle's SRS system. Larger amps might not fit. You must elevate the amp to avoid contact with water from rain or snow brought in on passengers' shoes.

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Sunday, February 17, 2008

Planning ahead:

Choosing your location according to these guidelines will help your installation go smoothly:
* The amp should be at least three feet from the receiver to avoid noise radiated from the vehicle's electrical system. The amp can also interfere with the receiver's AM/FM reception.
* An amp produces some heat during operation, which its heatsink absorbs and radiates, so it needs a few inches of air space to stay as cool as possible. When mounting an amp on a side wall, make sure the fins on the heatsink are vertical. Never mount an amp upside down, as dissipated heat will radiate back into the amp.
* There must be enough room on either side to make the wiring connections and adjust the controls (gain, crossover, bass boost, etc.).

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Monday, February 11, 2008


Tools needed, depending on vehicle

A note about wiring: In addition to the tools listed above, your amp installation will require power and ground wiring, plus RCA cables, terminals, and a remote turn-on lead. The easiest way to get all of these items is in an amplifier wiring kit, available ad:

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Amplifier Installation Guide

Guide to amplifier installation.

This installation guide offers examples of amplifier installation types and suggested system layouts. The installation of your amplifier will depend on the make and body style of your vehicle, as well as the equipment purchased.

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Friday, February 8, 2008

Plan your project

It should take about eight to ten hours to complete. The orignal panel was held on by clips. One tug and it was off.

The speaker wires are routed under the door sill and through Q-logic kick panel. Note: there are 2 sets--one for the woofer, and the other for the tweeter.

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Wednesday, February 6, 2008


Hide all the wires the best you can. Use electrical tape, wire ties and tubing to conceal your work. And don’t get rid of that diagram just yet—put it somewhere safe in the car.

In case you have a problem later on it will be easier to pull that out than trying to remember! Now install the fuse, turn on the car and see how she sounds.

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Tuesday, February 5, 2008


The MB Quart speakers came with crossovers. A crossover is a device that restricts and separates the range of frequencies sent to the speaker. I mounted four crossovers (one per speaker), in the trunk near the amp for easier connection. Connect each speaker’s woofer and tweeter (+/-) terminals to the corresponding OUTPUT terminals on the crossover. Now connect the amp’s output terminals to the INPUT on each of the crossovers. It might sound complicated, but if you follow the manufactures’ instructions carefully, the improvement in sound is well worth the time, labor and extra speaker wire. After the wires are routed, speakers are mounted and the subwoofer is in place, follow the diagram provided with the amp for the correct hook up.

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Monday, February 4, 2008


When the speakers and subwoofer are in place, route the wires back to the amp. For the front speakers, run the wires on the same side as the signal cables and turn-on lead that you ran earlier. Make sure to hide the wires for the rear speakers somewhere in the trunk as they’re the only components that are wired by themselves.

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Sunday, February 3, 2008

When selecting speakers consider this:

Are you just replacing the stock system or do you want to do a custom job? I went with a 4x1 custom system because I didn’t want to rip apart my doors to replace the factory speakers. To solve this, I used Q-Logic’s Q-Forms Kick Panel speaker enclosures that discreetly and unobtrusively hold the MB Quart’s QSD 213 front 5-1/4 inch speakers at the drivers and passenger’s feet while directing their sound in the right direction. Q-Forms are available for over 500 different model cars, come in multiple colors to match your interior and are indistinguishable from the factory finish. Q-Logic also made a custom subwoofer enclosure that fits the 12 inch MB Quart’s DWG 304 perfectly. It tucks the bass-box neatly into the passenger’s side rear-well, saving cargo space, which, in a sports car, is particularly valuable.

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Saturday, February 2, 2008

Install Your Speakers And Sub:

The speakers (and subwoofer) make the system. A great set can make even a stock radio sound great yet selecting a good set requires more than just comparing specs. Get out into show rooms and find a set that matches your acoustic preferences—this is not the time to settle.

After many hours of in-store testing, I selected the MB Quart line by Maxxonics. MB Quart has been developing and manufacturing speaker systems for more than 30 years and they’ve learned a thing or two about audio production in that time—they turned my car into a sound experience. Here are the specs:

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Friday, February 1, 2008


For safety, disconnect the negative battery terminal before connecting the amp's power lead.

Look for pre-existing holes through which you can route the amps power wire through the firewall.

Clearly marked preouts on the back of the radio connect to the amp (in the trunk).

Tuck your wires under the door trim hides the wires.

The rca cables from the radio connect to the left side of the amp.

Connect the ground wire to a bolt in the trunk via a nut a lock washer. Remember to sand around the hole--the ground needs to touch bare metal.

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Thursday, January 31, 2008


To get the wires to the amp, bundle and tuck them under the doors sill and back seats, all the way to the trunk. Use wire ties and electrical tape to fasten your bundle to any preexisting wires along the way.

On to connecting the amp’s ground. The ground wire is short and the same gauge as the power. It must be connected to the bare metal of the chasses or frame. Find a near by bolt and sand or scrape away any paint. Secure the ground wire using the ring terminal supplied in your amp kit. If you have to use a screw, watch where you’re going and use a short screw--you don’t want to hit your gas tank.

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Connecting the amp to the head unit:

Head unit’s preouts (RCA inputs) located on the back. On the Kenwood’s deck there were three preouts: front, rear and sub. Connect, following standard color codes (red for left and white for right). While you’re connecting the preouts, also connect the amps turn-on lead. The turn on lead does exactly what the name implies--it’s the amps on/off switch, turning the amp on every time the receiver in use.

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Monday, January 28, 2008


The amp’s main power lead needs to be connected directly to the battery. For safety reasons disconnect the battery’s negative wire from its post. Then using the supplied ring terminal, connect the power wire (usually blue if using an aftermarket kit) with the fuse holder directly to the battery positive post. Leave out the fuse until the install is complete and ready for testing. Run the power wire through the fire wall (look for pre-existing holes or routed wires that you can run it along). The power must be run on the opposite side of the signal (RCA) cables to prevent signal noise, which would sound like a dentist-drill in the background of the music. If there is no hole in your fire wall and you have to drill, make sure to avoid any of your car’s vital components.

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Sunday, January 27, 2008

Powering Your System

The easy part is over--things are about to get tougher. This is where your install diagram is crucial. Your entire audio system is going to be powered through your amp, so make sure to choose one that has enough juice and supports as many channels as your system needs. The Mean-Machine MM 8000.5 amp is where I will be making all manual connections--no harness or plug and play quick-fixes here. Pick a spot to install the amp that you can reach with both hands easily. The amp needs to breathe, so while it can be mounted almost anywhere, the best location is the trunk—and never mount an amp upside down. To make things a little easier, purchase an amp-install kit--it’s an all inclusive package to get your amp powered up.

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Saturday, January 26, 2008

Finishing your new system:

If all you’re doing is swapping out you radio, follow your system’s instructions to fully secure the head unit and put your dashboard back together. You’re done. Enjoy your new system.


Don't let the mess of wires scare you. If you plan out your installation you won't have to cut a single wire in the car! It's simple--just Plug-and-Play.

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Friday, January 25, 2008

Master plan and your project:

Carefully remove the dashboard components surrounding your radio by removing any set screws or hex bolts securing the fairing and carefully pulling the component away from the vehicle. You should see a couple of set screws holding in the stock radio. Remove these, and slide out the old head unit.

A confusing collection of colorful wires should follow the stock radio. Disconnect these by carefully prying apart the wiring harness connection that connects the stock radio to the vehicle. The harnesses can be tough to pull apart, but with some wiggling it will eventually separate. Disconnect the radio’s antenna connection and set the old head unit aside (don’t throw it out--if you want to keep your new system when you sell your car, you’ll eventually need to re-install the old radio).

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Making the installation much easier:

You should also purchase a wire harness designed specifically for your vehicle’s make and model. This will save you from having to cut any wires inside your dash, and, trust me, that’s well worth the $20 you should expect to pay for a harness. Before you begin to disassemble your dash, you can splice the new wiring harness to your new radio by matching wire colors and descriptions. Also attach Kenwood’s add-on Ipod control interface (KCA-iP500) and navigation system (KNA-G510) following the product’s simple instructions. Once the harness is connected, the rest of the job is plug-and-play.

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Sunday, January 20, 2008

Replacing the Head Unit

When purchasing a head unit (the in-dash radio that controls your system), make sure you chose the appropriate size for your car. Head units are sized as single-din (a 180 x 50 mm panel) or double-din (180 x 100 mm panel) and you can often purchase an adaptor plate to fit a single-din unit in your double-din vehicle. The opposite was true for my car: I installed a double-din 7inch touch screen head unit, the Kenwood DDX-6019 available at Keep in mind that depths, although largely standard, could vary, so pay attention to how much space you have.

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Saturday, January 19, 2008

If there’s one piece of advice you have to follow it is this:

Read through each component’s instructions to create a master installation plan. Know what you have, where each piece is going to go, and what extra tools it will take to connect everything. Make sure that you’re confident that once you pull apart your dashboard you’ll be able to fit it back together. Check literature about your car to make sure you don’t need extra adapters such as a custom radio faceplate, or, especially with older or imported vehicles, to make sure there are no non-standard components behind the radio (such as a separate amplifier buried deep within the console) that might greatly complicate the process. Finally, get a big piece of paper and draw a diagram that details where every wire will run. This will organize your thoughts and uncover any potential problems.

In addition to all your new equipment you’re going to need wire cutters, black tape, crimpers, pliers, screwdrivers, a rubber mallet, a drill, a Dremmel, a ratchet set, flashlight, wire tubing, double sided tape and wire tires to get the job done.

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Thursday, January 17, 2008


Before you start turning the screwdriver and ripping into your dashboard, set aside time to plan out the entire installation process. It wasn’t until I was looking at a colorful fistful of stock radio wires--with no wiring diagram for reference--that I realized my confidence--er, haste--wasn’t going to get me anywhere (it turns out that the 50 feet of speaker wire I assumed would be more than enough for a tiny Mustang, is about three feet short when you finish all the splicing, meaning I had to rerun all the wiring.

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Our car radio installation guides specify Metra Wire Harness numbers when installing aftermarket car radios. These wire harnesses also have several manufacturers. We suggest the aftermarket wire harness, it saves time and headaches. Wire harnesses lessen the chance of mistakes for blown fuses, shorted wires and several other radio related installation problems. Using the aftermarket harness will also allow you to reinstall the factory car radio. You may not be happy with your aftermarket radio purchase, you may want to upgrade to a better model and you can use the aftermarket wire harness again. We have seen cut wire harnesses with many aftermarket car radio installations. There is no going back to the factory car radio unless you have the original car radio wire harness. All car radio installation shops sell the wire harness that mates to the factory wire harness. They do not sell the harness that mates to the factory car radio. There is a section of this website that may help if you feel the need to cut the factory car radio harness, Factory Car Radio Wire Diagrams and Color Codes.

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Car Radio Installation Kits -

There are several manufacturers for installation kits. Install kits are specific to vehicle. Use radio installation kits that are available to you locally or on the internet. All manufacturers kits for car radio installation and mounting are basically the same.

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Monday, January 14, 2008


There are always modifications when it comes to aftermarket car radio installation. Filling edges of kits, radio trim panels, dash trim panels and a variety of other modifications for proper fit and operation.

Car Radios - There are many different manufacturers for aftermarket car radios, speakers and amplifiers. Each manufacturer can have over ten different models within their product line of car radios. Car radio models change according to features and specifications.

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Sunday, January 13, 2008


There is no standard for aftermarket car radio installation.
If there was a standard, there would only be one make and model of car, one make and model of aftermarket car radio, one kit, and one wire harness available for purchase. There would be no professional aftermarket installation shops, everyone would be an installer for car radios and there would be no need for this website.

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