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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Alternate Title: Upgrading the "base" Alpine system in a 20' Hellcat

Growing up in the 80's and 90's I remember the street truck scene and then (God forbid) the import tuner thing. Yes, I partook of both but I've grown up. Well mostly. That being said, the HC is my first car I have chosen for myself in the last 19 years. 19 YEARS! It's been inherited cars, family grocery getters, and work vehicles. Not that I'm really complaining because it's a blessing to always have vehicles for getting from A to B for the various reasons. But let's face it, even if a car was technically mine, why bother upgrading a Toyota Matrix or Sienna van? So in choosing my "fun" car, I knew the HC was going to get the make-it-mine treatment and the HK system wasn't a part of that. On to the business:

Fair warning: this won't be a competition system. I just want to be able to hear the full spectrum of sounds/instruments, and at times just make it loud.
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Not pictured: enclosure, subwoofer amp, speaker brackets, wiring, the Yeti that lives in my attic

I started with the (2) 3.5" dash speakers. Crutchfield (there's that 90's reference again) was my source because installation instructions, they research fit, speaker rings, wiring adapter, etc. Kicker KSC3504. 4-ohm speakers.

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Dash install is super simple. Just pop off the A pillars, pry up the piece of the dash that covers those speakers and voila. I think it was a 7mm socket wrench that did the trick. Oh I did have to splice the high pass filters that came with the speakers into the Metra wiring adapters, but a couple Scotch locks and some electrical tape did the trick. So factory wiring is still unmolested.

Don't let anyone tell you that going to 4-ohm speakers on this system will result in lower volume (Factory Alpines are 2-ohm). The Crutchfield advisor I was talking to basically tried to get me into a full rewire and DSP situation with a 4 or 6 channel amp. So I politely ended the chat and ordered without her help. To judge the validity of the 2-ohm vs. 4-ohm argument for myself, I used a highly scientific analysis involving the Sound Meter app on my phone, specific placement of said phone on the dash, and the first minute of Tha' Crossroads by Bone Thugs and Harmony (God I really am trying to relive my teenage years). At the same volume on the radio, and all other things being the same, the new Kicker 3.5's put out 1 more db than the factory speakers. No I didn't cough to make the aftermarket speakers louder. So lower volume be [email protected]! With just the dash speakers replaced, highs are clearer and if I do decide in the future to go with an amp for fronts and rears, these things will really shine.

Door speakers: I'll be using Kicker KSC6904. 4-ohm 6x9's. I haven't done those yet, but install shouldn't be too bad. Especially after replacing the rear deck speakers. Those are a pain in the rear. See what I did there?

Rear Deck speakers: Kicker KSC6504. 4-ohm 6.5's. Do your yoga, eat a light breakfast, drink lots of water, and turn on the fan/air conditioner/ice packs in your vest. (Sorry no pictures, because I was mad at the world after doing these.) Just to get to the rear deck you have to:
  • pull out the bottom of the rear seat
  • take off the B pillars with rear seat armrest area
  • disconnect or unmount antenna modules on the above pieces
  • pull up part of the trim on the door sill area
  • take off the C pillar sail panels
  • loosen the C pillars (Crutchfield said you had to untether these and remove completely, but it wasn't necessary)
  • and then finally pull out the rear deck
The crap part is that these huge trim pieces are still tethered to the car via the seatbelts. So unless you feel like unbolting the seatbelt retractors, these trim pieces will be laying on your folded down back seats. This leaves you none space for sitting while working on the rear deck. PRO TIP: cover these trim pieces with blankets so they don't scratch each other, or you. Trust me on this. Replacing the speakers at this point is child's play. Just be sure to assemble your new speakers to the mounting brackets first and test fit. The passenger side of the deck has some stamped form into it, so there was only 1 way that the bracket sat flush to the deck. You will have to break off all the extra flanges on the mounting brackets but it's easier than cutting the pieces off the plastic tree from your Testors USS Nimitz model when you were 10. As others have expressed, the screws included with the 6.5's were ridiculously long even when used with the mounting brackets. I had plenty of shorter screws available in my misc. fastener drawer in the tool chest.

Before mounting the rear deck speakers, I wanted to see how best to hook up the Line Output Converter. This is the only instance where I technically messed with the factory wiring. Since the LOC will be used to send audio signals to the subwoofer amp, tapping the rear deck speakers is the obvious choice. The only problem is that the rear deck speaker wires aren't run close together. I was hoping they would be bunched close together somewhere behind the rear seat. Alas, they might be, but everything is loomed and harnessed close to the point of attaching to the speakers (think left side of the deck and right side of the deck). So I didn't want to trace wires all the way back to where they MAY have been in close proximity to each other. Since my sub amp is Kicker (got a brand theme going) I used the Kicker KISL "LOC" which really is just an RCA cable split with speaker wires. It's super short, so I had to add a length of wire to one set on the KISL so that I could connect to the left rear deck speaker wiring and then make the long run to the right side speaker wiring. I attached the KISL with Scotch locks to the factory wiring and hid it under the rear deck. There's a convenient channel there between the right and left speakers.

I will say that replacing the rear deck speakers actually resulted in less low end sound. I wasn't worried though because the next day the subs were going in. Again, there was an increase in the mids and highs compared to factory Alpine. Some would argue that rear fill is counter-productive, but I like having it as long as the imaging is still in front of me.

Subwoofers:
  • Zenclosures rear firing Challenger Sealed box for 2 12" Subwoofers
  • 2 Kicker Comp R CWR124 (Dual 4-ohm Voice Coils)
  • Kicker Bass Remote CXARCT
  • Kicker CXA800.1T Class D Mono Amp
  • 4 Gauge Amp Wiring Kit
  • Polyfill (with plenty extra for Among Us characters made out of old socks for my 6 year old)

I had a leftover piece of 1/4" plywood that was cut to fit inside the styrofoam insert in the spare wheel well. I mounted the amp and fuse distribution block to this. Ground wire was attached to a point on the trunk floor right above where the tire inflator sits. Power wire obviously to the battery. Remote turn on wire - this one was fun - was attached to fuse #67 in the rear fuse box "Rain and Light Sensor / Sunroof / Inside RR View Mirror / Power Outlet Illumination (Center Console) / Police Run Acc Relay." I know fuse #12 is a 20A for the USB and Cigar Lighter. The problem is that I'm using one of those Littlefuse Add-a-Circuit doo hickeys, and them things is only rated for 10A on each leg. Let me say that the 10A fuse in spot #67 works like a charm. The amp powers on only with ignition, and nothing has burned up (so far). Sunroof still works too. Oh, I used a 5A fuse on the Add-a-Circuit for the remote turn on wire.
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I cleaned it up a little, but don't really care. Not registering for IASCA or USAC or whatever the heck those things were. I just really wanted to get this done. In the future I'll probably build a custom rack for the amp, fuse block, and inflator. I've also got some sound deadening for the trunk. Maybe some LED strobes and a disco ball to really bring it all together. All in due time.
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The sub enclosure is a tight fit. I don't actually have it secured with any brackets yet, but we'll see how that goes. It is press fit in the trunk, seriously.

Oh and as far as the sub remote, I have it sandwiched between the dash and the center console for now. I'm thinking of mounting it in the coin holder, but wanted to wait before really hacking that piece. After tearing apart the rear of the interior, running the cord for the sub remote was simple. It goes from the amp in the trunk, along the left side, drops from the door sill under the driver's seat, and then under the center console to where it sits currently.
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You can also see the cheesy a$$ start button sticker I put on. I'm usually not much for stuff like that, but I just really like the way this sticker looks compared to the button by itself. And am I the only one who keeps a super fluffy microfiber towel in the front seat to wipe down anything and everything? It's like my security blanket...

I think I've spent about $1400 so far, including the yet to be installed sound deadening. But at this point, I'm not counting.

Moving forward, I'll update this thread with the door speakers and anything else audio related. For now, I just have to take the time to "tune" it to different music and find the right balance. I currently have the amp gain set to 1 o'clock, and the sub remote is about the same. It's not overpowering and if I turn the remote knob all the way down, you can't even hear the subs. Right after I did a shakedown of this install (i.e. 5 miles of polite driving through the suburbs), I took the kids to the playground in my Honda Pilot. I knew I was on the right track because the Pilot sounded like my middle school gym teacher singing through his bullhorn.
 

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This is precisely why I wanted the HK system in the car... because the Alpine system is awful. The other aspect was that it's covered under warranty. Your system probably sounds better to a degree, but I hate having to tear apart a brand new car for it.

Congrats!!! I love these kinds of writeups
 

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2020 Challenger Hellcat Redeye Wide Body
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This is precisely why I wanted the HK system in the car... because the Alpine system is awful. The other aspect was that it's covered under warranty. Your system probably sounds better to a degree, but I hate having to tear apart a brand new car for it.

Congrats!!! I love these kinds of writeups
This ^^^
Lots of people post about how they’d much rather take the 2k and build a better mousetrap. Cutting up a new car is something I dont think I could do lol. The days of needing an insane system are gone for me anyway. The HK is perfect for my needs. With that being said this is interesting to follow. I can hear vicariously through this lol.
 

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This ^^^
Lots of people post about how they’d much rather take the 2k and build a better mousetrap. Cutting up a new car is something I dont think I could do lol. The days of needing an insane system are gone for me anyway. The HK is perfect for my needs. With that being said this is interesting to follow. I can hear vicariously through this lol.
Exactly... about the only thing I want on the HK system is a better overall equalizer... but otherwise the system is beyond what I need in a car these days. I'm not doing audio comps anymore, so no need for anything stupid. As it is, the HK system is loud enough to annoy the neighbors lmao
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I can appreciate where ya'll stand with regards to not having to touch the factory system. But I have enjoyed this process even with minor cuts and occasional cursing. And as we say down here, it gives my HC lagniappe (a little something extra). It has certainly allowed me to learn more about my car.
 

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I can appreciate where ya'll stand with regards to not having to touch the factory system. But I have enjoyed this process even with minor cuts and occasional cursing. And as we say down here, it gives my HC lagniappe (a little something extra). It has certainly allowed me to learn more about my car.
Nothing at all wrong with your chosen route. It's not the destination but the journey that is important :) How you get there is all that matters..
 

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I'm with you. I had the crappy HK system ripped out and replaced with quality components and I couldn't be happier.
 

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Lol.....I also have done the rattle the pics on the walls 2 blocks down thing in the past...now, the HK’s plenty fine
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I'll see your "rattle pics on the walls", and raise you a "kids with their hands covering their ears!" With age comes wisdom, and I do turn it down once I enter the neighborhood and at most intersections.
 
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Rio, great work and thanks for sharing! I don't think I've ever owned a car and not touched anything. Even brand new cars, within days, I was digging into them "fixing" what was necessary. You'd never know I was in there.

I remember when I bought my new 2007 Mazdaspeed6, and a couple days later my mom had stopped by, and I had the interior completely ripped out. She was WTF are you doing...you just bought this brand new car...Well I needed to make a connection to hook up my ipod! I did like that Bose system though...was very good and balanced. I believe they even tuned them different if you had leather or cloth interior to account for the sound bouncing off the interior.

My 2020 5th Gen Ram has the base system, which was lacking. Just adding some Kicker dash speakers (from Crutchfield) has completely woken her up.

Just got my 2017 Hellcat last week with the HK and something is definitely missing in the mid range. I might try again and change out the dash speakers to see if that helps.
 
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Rio, great work and thanks for sharing! I don't think I've ever owned a car and not touched anything. Even brand new cars, within days, I was digging into them "fixing" what was necessary. You'd never know I was in there.

I remember when I bought my new 2007 Mazdaspeed6, and a couple days later my mom had stopped by, and I had the interior completely ripped out. She was WTF are you doing...you just bought this brand new car...Well I needed to make a connection to hook up my ipod! I did like that Bose system though...was very good and balanced. I believe they even tuned them different if you had leather or cloth interior to account for the sound bouncing off the interior.

My 2020 5th Gen Ram has the base system, which was lacking. Just adding some Kicker dash speakers (from Crutchfield) has completely woken her up.

Just got my 2017 Hellcat last week with the HK and something is definitely missing in the mid range. I might try again and change out the dash speakers to see if that helps.
Seems I'm always chasing midrange too!
 
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Alpine and HK both are terrible. I’ve done audio all my life. I went the overkill route with mine lol. I went 4 ohm speakers as well but used a DD Audio 4 channel amp and a JL Audio Fix 86

My system has a DD Audio 9515 15” Supercharged sub in a custom ported box, a DD Audio M2C mono amp, DD Audio 4 channel amp, Rockford Fosgate Power 6x9s in rear, DD Audio 6x9’s in doors, DD Audio 2 3/4 in dash, JL Audio Fix86, 0 gauge Stinger wiring, 300 amp fuse block, just added XS Power battery which was a PITA to change due to sub box over top lol. I have a thread on here some where. I didn’t have to chop mine up. Spliced in the line output converter for the sub amp and spliced into the factory amp wires for signal for the 4 channel amp but nothing major. I can put it all back to stock pretty easy.
 

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Alpine and HK both are terrible. I’ve done audio all my life. I went the overkill route with mine lol. I went 4 ohm speakers as well but used a DD Audio 4 channel amp and a JL Audio Fix 86

My system has a DD Audio 9515 15” Supercharged sub in a custom ported box, a DD Audio M2C mono amp, DD Audio 4 channel amp, Rockford Fosgate Power 6x9s in rear, DD Audio 6x9’s in doors, DD Audio 2 3/4 in dash, JL Audio Fix86, 0 gauge Stinger wiring, 300 amp fuse block, just added XS Power battery which was a PITA to change due to sub box over top lol. I have a thread on here some where. I didn’t have to chop mine up. Spliced in the line output converter for the sub amp and spliced into the factory amp wires for signal for the 4 channel amp but nothing major. I can put it all back to stock pretty easy.
My last major system was 140+ decibels... and I honestly don't have a need for anything close to that now. The stock HK system isn't anywhere as good as an aftermarket setup, but its 1000% better than the Alpine system. Additionally, I really didn't want to spend another $1500 or so to add all the crap on top of it.

Nothing wrong with your route, if I had the time and money to do it, I probably would. I just didn't want to waste the money that could go into my exhaust or rims/tires :D
 

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So you bought a base spec car and now you’re complaining the base stereo sucks? Everyone could of told you that. So now you’ve spent more than the factory stereo and in your opinion is better sounding. The factory upgraded stereo is great and most of us didn’t need to hack up the interior.

R.K.
 

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So you bought a base spec car and now you’re complaining the base stereo sucks? Everyone could of told you that. So now you’ve spent more than the factory stereo and in your opinion is better sounding. The factory upgraded stereo is great and most of us didn’t need to hack up the interior.

R.K.
I thought Canadians were supposed to be all polite haha. Kidding. I know you weren’t referencing me but a lot of people say the Alpine sounds better than the HK. Alpine doesn’t necessarily mean base car. You can get tons of bells and whistles and still get the Alpine. It’s all a matter of each persons idea of quality sound. I guarantee you mine is overkill but I also guarantee it sounds 100x better than the stockers haha. It flexes the windshield and I guarantee mine isn’t a hack job lol.
 

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I thought Canadians were supposed to be all polite haha. Kidding. I know you weren’t referencing me but a lot of people say the Alpine sounds better than the HK. Alpine doesn’t necessarily mean base car. You can get tons of bells and whistles and still get the Alpine. It’s all a matter of each persons idea of quality sound. I guarantee you mine is overkill but I also guarantee it sounds 100x better than the stockers haha. It flexes the windshield and I guarantee mine isn’t a hack job lol.
Sorry I meant to reference the OP.

R.K.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
So you bought a base spec car and now you’re complaining the base stereo sucks? Everyone could of told you that. So now you’ve spent more than the factory stereo and in your opinion is better sounding. The factory upgraded stereo is great and most of us didn’t need to hack up the interior.

R.K.
Dude, did you even read my original post? I got the base stereo because "I knew the HC was going to get the make-it-mine treatment and the HK system wasn't a part of that."

And if you don't get the HK, you have a base spec car? I may have spent more than the factory stereo, still not as much as the HK.
 
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