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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

TJ Speaker Upgrade from Stock Speakers


I didn't see a total write-up for doing this, but did find some details here and there. I pulled together everything I learned and know for this install into one place for those thinking about doing an upgrading to their speakers.

The following will show how I replaced my stock speakers for my 2003 TJ to Polk Audio DB651s Slim-Mount 6.5” (soundbar) and Polk Audio DB461P 4x6” (dash). At the time I purchase them, Amazon was having a huge sale on all car audio, 50% off on average. Also, I did not bother to purchase the conversion cables as I wired the connectors using standard female crimp-on connectors. I’ll explain how to do this.

The Polk speakers I selected are marine rated, for those days the Jeep get wet inside :)

Also, the Polk 4x6 dash speakers are not oval speakers but true round speakers on squared frames. I read some people think oval speakers have poorer quality than round speakers. Perhaps, not sure, but wanted to point this out.

Note I did not replace the stock wiring, head unit, sub, or install an amp at this time. So nothing here will help you with that. [Although I did replace my sub last year with a Pyramid 6.5-Inch High Power White Injected P.P. Cone Woofer…plug’n’play for the TJ and sounds so much better!]
Pyramid WX65X 6.5 in. High Power White Injected P.P. Cone Woofer

Speaker Power

RMS rating: 50 watts / speaker
Peak rating: 150 watts


RMS rating: 55 watts  / speaker
Peak rating: 165 watts

RMS = continuous power

Tools & Parts you will need

  • A drill and 3/32” drill bit 
  • 4 Female ¼” crimp-on connectors for 22-16 guage wiring
  • 4 Female 3/16” crimp-on connectors for 22-16 guage wiring
  • (optional) substitute two 3/16” and two ¼” female crimp-on connectors 22-16 guage (above) for 14 guage crimp-on connectors if you want to extend the dash wiring like I did (see below section for details)
  • (optional) 14 gauge crimp-on butt connectors if you extend the dash wiring like I did
  • Depending on your stock speakers you may need to fabricate brackets for the new speakers. I decided not to and kept it clean and simple (I go into why below) and picked up brackets made for my TJ to install 4x6 speakers (see below pic for part details)
  • Crimpers, philips and flat head screw drivers, wire stripper, and wire cutters
  • There is also some upgraded 14guage wiring for the dash speakers in the pic below (optional if you upgrade the dash wiring like I did). I just could deal with buying cheap wiring like what is already in the TJ with the better wire being so cheap.
  • Poly-Fil to fill the voids behind the speakers; one bag did the entire vehicle with a little to spare (see pic below;less than $9)

Some of the tools & parts needed as stated above

Butt Connectors [optional per above description]

New brackets for dash speakers - got these from Crutchfield very cheap over-night free shipping along with the new 14 gauge wiring. They are oval, but the Polk speakers I bought fit perfectly.

Female crimp-on connectors for stock wiring (22-16 gauge) 

Female crimp-on connectors for extended, upgraded, wiring (16-14 gauge)

Dash Speakers

Soundbar Speakers


Positive & Negative Speaker Wiring

Drive’s Dash
Green - ( + ) Positive
Red/brown - ( - ) Negative

Passenger’s Dash
Blue - ( - ) Negative
Purple - ( + ) Positive

Positive Wire (+): Brown/Yellow
Negative Wire (-): Brown/Blue

Always keep the screws you remove as you will need most of them to put things back together.

Dash Speaker Install

Remove the dash speaker cover.  Two screws hold the cover on. 

There are two clips to help hold the dash cover in place.  Pull the cover off by hand.  Sometimes the clips come off the cover and stay in the dash.  Just pull them out from the dash and slide back onto the back side of the cover.

Remove the stock speaker by first removing the four screws holding it in place (2-top; 2-bottom). Then Remove the wire by disconnecting the stock wire connector.

Here is the problem with the dash wiring.  It barely reaches out from the dash.  I wanted more room to work with so I extended the wire a foot on both sides using the 14 gauge wire.
(passenger side stock connector)

New 14 gauge wiring I used to extend the dash stock wiring

How to Extend the Dash Speaker Wire
  1. Remove the stock speaker connector by cutting the stock wire near the back of the stock speaker connector.
  2. To make it easier to work with the wire I pulled the stock speaker wire under the dash to gain more room to fit my hands.
    (driver’s side red and green speaker wire shown here)
  3. Strip the Negative wire insulation ½” to expose the copper wiring. 
  4. Twist the copper wiring in order to make a clean connection into the new crimp-on connector. 
  5. Insert the exposed copper wire into a butt connector (for extending the wire) and crimp it 
  6. Strip the new 14 gauge wire plastic covering 1” making sure not to cut the wiring underneath 
  7. Strip the Negative wire insulation ½” (I chose the blue wire to make it easier to know later if I ever take the speakers out again) 
  8. Twist the wiring in order to make a clean connection into the new connector 
  9. Insert the exposed wire into the other end of the butt connector already connected to the stock speaker Negative wire and crimp 
  10. Repeat steps 1 thru 8 for the Positive wire. 
  11. Pull the wiring back up through the dash where the speaker will be installed
Now we’ll walk through the install for the female connectors that will connect to the speakers
  1. Cut the new 14 gauge wire so that you have about 9 to 12” of length stretching out from the dash (my preference, as you can cut longer or shorter as you need) 
  2. At the end of the 14 gauge wire strip the Negative wire insulation ½” to expose the wiring 
  3. Twist the wiring in order to make a clean connection into the new female crimp-on connector 
  4. Insert the exposed wire into a 3/16” female crimp-on connector for the 14 gauge wire and crimp 
  5. Repeat for the Positive wire but use a ¼” female crimp-on connector for the 14 gauge wire.
Before doing anything else I would test the connection, making sure the female connectors are hot.  To do this, turn the Jeep on for power to the radio, turn the radio on, volume up a bit and connect a new dash speaker to the wiring: positive to positive (1/4” connection); negative to negative (3/16” connection).  Now you know that the new connections are correct and the wires are hot to the speakers.  Disconnect the new dash speaker.

Use electric tape to wrap up any exposed wires but do not cover the female connectors.

Here is the dash wiring after being extended – so much easier to work with now.

So easy my son can do it!

Now to Install the Speakers into the Dash

Old and new speakers side-by-side.  You can see they are short as the brackets make the stock speakers longer.  Some are able to cut as they have different speakers, the stock speakers in my TJ have a plastic casing including the brackets for the screws…you can see in the pics below and above.

Mount the new brackets to the new speakers

Connect the wiring to the back of the speaker – positive to positive (1/4” connection); negative to negative (3/16” connection).  You may need to squeeze the ¼’connector because it may slightly slip off the speaker connection I found.  If so, w/o the wire connected to the speaker, use the crimp tool to compress the female connector a VERY tiny bit.  When you slide it on, you should feel it holding in place w/o slipping off.
Now, put the speaker into position to be screwed back into the dash and install the dash cover.

UPDATE 23Jul2012: Added Poly-fil

Repeat the entire process for the other side.

The dash speaker upgrade is complete!

Soundbar Speaker Install

Soundbar before (stock '03 TJ)

Four Philips screws hold the cover on.  After taking the cover off glue will be holding the speaker to the soundbar.  Just pull it off by hand or by using a flat head screw driver to gently pry around the speaker from the soundbar.

Disconnect the stock speaker from the stock connector.

Change the stock connector to a standard female speaker connector

Same procedure used as above; however, the extension of this speaker wire was not necessary in my TJ as the wire was already long enough for me.  So you may not want to extend it.  Your call.

Installing the New Speaker

When you take the new soundbar speakers out of the box it will have a foam seal for between the speaker and the mount point.  Remove it from the new speaker, temporarily, place it somewhere safe.  This will allow you to more easily position the speaker to find the correct position to mount the new speaker to the soundbar.  The new speaker is larger than the stock hole, but no need to do any cutting. 

For the following it was important to me to position the speaker correctly to meet the following:
  • Not to reuse the stock holes as they did not line up correctly 
  • Positioned the speaker so not to fastened it unbalanced 
  • Pay special attention to the four holes that line up for the speaker cover and the other three that don’t
You should note the screws that come with the new Polk speakers for the soundbar are not long enough to screw through the cover, speaker, and into the soundbar and hold it all in place.  I reused the four stock screws to fasten the new speakers to the sound bar and used the nice shiny screws to hold the speaker cover on (barely reaches into the soundbar, but do enough of a job - perhaps I'll change them to long, wider screws, but they have held up for the time being.)


Before installing the speaker fill the void in the soundbar hole with Poly-Fil to help deaden the vibrations.  It has made a difference as I did this after installing and used the speakers for a few weeks.


  1. Position the new speaker in the hole centering it best you can and using a drill with a 3/23” drill bit, drill the first hole only.  In the blue circles (see above pic) there are two holes in the speaker; be sure to focus on the holes not lined up with the speaker cover. The red circle are the screw holes that line up with the speaker and the cover.
  2. Using this single hole drilled, find one of the stock screws and hand screw the speaker to the soundbar. IMPORTANT not to use a drill as you will over tightened and potentially strip the hole. It will be a bit tight, which is what you want. Do not tighten all the way, just enough to hold the speaker up while you position the speaker again to drill a hole on the other side of the new speaker into the sound bar making sure to balance the position of the speaker onto the soundbar
  3. Screw the second drilled hole using a stock screw and finish drilling the third hole. Do not screw it in yet.
  4. Now, unscrew the two you just put in
  5. Connect the speaker and test that sound comes out.
  6. If the speaker connection is good proceed; otherwise figure out what is wrong
  7. Disconnect the speaker from the wiring
  8. Remember the foam seal? Get it and position it correctly onto the back of the speaker (see following pic)
  9. Connect the speaker wiring
  10. Position the new speaker to the newly drilled holes in the soundbar and hand screw using the stock screws. Do not over torque. Just enough on each screw to stop it from moving.
  11. Once all three are tightened where the speaker doesn’t move drill remaining holes for the speaker cover
  12. Position the speaker cover over the speaker and using the Polk provided screws, hand fasten the cover making sure not to over torque.
  13. Repeat for the other side.
Foam seal in position on speaker

Speaker after being mounted to soundbar; before installing the cover

After the speaker is installed


These speakers are awesome.  They sound cleaner, have more depth and tones, and can be heard with the top down doing 60+mph.  All this without even changing the dash unit, wiring or installing an amp (remember, I did upgrade my stock-sub previously.)  Good Luck!

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