I’ve run the car stereo gamut and back to stock…ish. The reasons:
Needed ANC (active noise canceling) working again, bad drone at 1500 RPM. Which happens to be highway RPM as well as a range that’s occupied a lot at lower speed.
There was also the annoyance of chimes through aftermarket equipment. The parking sensor chimes could no longer correspond with the front or back since the signal was only L&R through the optical connection. And the rear cross traffic alert had a horrendous beeping sound instead of the factory tone. Very unpleasant.
Lastly, I wanted to pull some money out of this project and into some stuff for the house and baby.
Now, unfortunately I ordered this truck with the Alpine system entirely because I planned on replacing everything. Had I known I’d be back here, I would have went with the slightly less poor Harmon Kardon (and made the same changes). But what’s done is done and I had to fix it. “OEM plus” style.
The Harmon Kardon speakers plug and play in the Alpine system, so I figured it was worth a try. These speakers can be had very inexpensively on eBay and are the same across all FCA cars and trucks with the HK system. I installed the HK 3.5s in the dash and roof locations and was actually very pleased. They are both louder, AND much clearer. I measured 5db louder, in fact. Now, I would say they border on being too bright on certain songs since the system isn’t EQ’d for them. And the stock Alpine door speakers will lag behind them without help. But overall if you like brighter sound, I think it’s worth it, even if you don’t change anything else.
Rear doors were left with stock Alpine 6x9s for proper ANC function. I also re-installed the stock sub since it is used in ANC.
Front doors get more interesting. The stock Alpine system is composed of a single 6x9 that’s on a low pass filter. My compromise was to concede the ANC on the front doors, get an amplified full range signal up there, and squeeze some more volume and mid-bass where there previously was very little in the Alpine setup. The VX600/6i came out and in its place, the slightly cheaper VX400/4i went in. In order to gain the upper front door speaker location, I replaced all the door panels (and dash and roof grills) with Harmon Kardon parts. I saved with used parts where I could but it no doubt ate up some of the budget because I wouldn’t accept any parts that weren’t cosmetically perfect. It wound up being expensive, but fun. And at least they look nicer too, with laser cut stainless grills. The metal grills actually sound better as well. Plastic really kills sound.
For the door speakers I went with the Harmon Kardon 6x9s and 3.5s, with crossovers supplied by my car audio stockpile. Not only are these speakers very cheap to buy, but they also blend with the rest of the speakers much better than if I just bought some component set from the store. Lastly, the space for the 3.5 HK will not hold any other midrange speaker. It’s literally molded for the HK and its tiny neo magnet.
Powered by the VX400/4 bridged, each front door can get 200w RMS. I applied time delay and EQ (mainly to pull treble down) and much to my relief, the front stage stayed up on the dash. And even better, these factory 6x9s actually sound really good. Excellent, tight mid bass. And the whole system is super loud. Not as clear or quality as the Focals, but just as loud.
It’s funny because the real HK system I heard sounded like shit to me in the 2019 Ram I test drove. Goes to show that amplifier and tuning has more to do with the sound than the speakers.
Anyway. I am now very happy with this “factory” system. While the process sounds insane, letting the stock amp run ANC in the back, and blending a bit more aftermarket power into the mix up front was ticket. If I had the HK from the start I still would have done the same thing with a new amp, because this setup is very impressive for what it is. Better than the sum of it’s parts.
Stealthbox and VX1000 amp are staying in place and sounding great.