'09 Base Model Speaker Upgrade
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This is a discussion on '09 Base Model Speaker Upgrade within the Electronics/Car Audio forums, part of the Interior Mods category; I have a 2009 WRX base model sedan. I don't mind not having the navigation system, sunroof, etc., but the ...

  1. #1
    Registered User drrockandroll's Avatar
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    '09 Base Model Speaker Upgrade

    I have a 2009 WRX base model sedan. I don't mind not having the navigation system, sunroof, etc., but the base stereo is pretty awful. I'm not an audiophile, but I instantly disliked the base stereo as soon as I turned it on. I recently got a $50 Best Buy gift certificate, so that gave me reason enough to replace the stock speakers. I wasn't looking to spend a ton of money (there's more important things to buy, like an AccessPORT), so here's what I worked out for $100 total. It sounds a lot better--good enough that I don't plan on making any other upgrades to the audio system.

    There are four speakers in the WRX sedan: two in the front doors, two in the back doors. All of them are 6 1/2". I bought two new pairs of 6 1/2" Pioneer TS-G1642R speakers for $50/pair. The Pioneers weighed more than twice as much as the stock speakers (22 oz. vs 10 oz.). At least the stock speakers don't have paper cones, but they're still pretty crappy. Here's a comparison of the two:

    Front:


    Back:



    Anyway, here's a rundown of what I did. Click on the pictures for larger ones. Keep in mind this is for a sedan. I'm not sure how this compares to the hatch.

    First, remove the door trim. Removal is similar for all of the doors. There is a screw behind the door handle and one in the hand hold, shown here:


    Next, remove the window/lock control panel (gray/silver part of the arm rest on my car). I was able to do this with my hands to avoid marring the door panel. Just grab near the lower rear portion of the panel and pull out while gently pulling up. Once this is off, remove the two remaining screws holding the panel onto the door, shown here:


    There is also a small triangular plastic piece above the door panel that needs to be removed; it pulls off pretty easily (sorry, no pics). Once that is off, there are only plastic snaps holding the door panel on. Get your fingers behind the door panel and pull gently. Once all the snaps are out, lift up on the door panel and pull it outward. This will give you sufficient access to the speaker to remove it. You could disconnect the door/window controls and the door handle, but I didn't find this to be necessary. Just make sure you support the panel to prevent the cables and wires from pulling the plastic liner away from the inside of the door while you remove the speaker. Here's what you'll see:


    Disconnect the plug from the speaker. Remove the three screws holding the speaker onto the door. Repeat all of the above for the three remaining speakers.

    Now that you have all of the speakers out, you'll need to remove the stock speakers from the spacers. This procedure is similar for the front and rear speakers. Pictures of the front speakers are shown. First, use a small saw to cut the plastic spokes connecting the magnet to the spacer. Cut them as close to the spacer as possible, as shown here:


    Next, cut the outer rim of the speaker surround as close to the spacer as possible. Then use an Exacto knife to help remove the outer foam gasket from the spacer. Once the foam gasket is separated from the spacer, it's pretty easy to pull off. Try to make sure it comes off in one piece.


    The two wires leading to the speaker should be the only thing left holding the speaker and spacer together. Desolder these and this is what you get:


    Now you need to modify the spacer to accept the new speaker. This is done differently for the front and rear speakers. Here's what I did for the front:

    Place the new speaker into the spacer. Mark and drill holes for mounting it. My new speakers came with pushnut retaining clips, shown below, which probably come standard with most new speakers. I cut slots for these directly beneath each of the holes I just drilled in the spacer. Once the slot is drilled, slide the pushnut retaining clip onto the spacer. Next, place the speaker onto the spacer and secure it with some screws.

    Pushnut retaining clip:


    Pushnut in slot with screw:


    Place the foam gasket (removed earlier) around the new speaker, and this is what you get:


    Just solder wires from the speaker connector to the speaker and you're finished with the front speakers.

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    Registered User drrockandroll's Avatar
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    Now for the rear speakers...

    The stock rear speakers are recessed into the spacers and look like this:


    Remove the rear speakers from the spacers in the same manner as the front. You'll be left with this:


    The rear spacer has two parts which I'll call upper and lower. The upper part faces in toward the cabin; the lower faces outside. If you look at the upper part, you'll see the spacer cone. If you look at the lower part, you'll see the magnet. They are glued together but can be separated by scoring where they connect with a sharp knife like so (in this picture, the upper portion is on top, the lower is on the bottom):


    A flatbladed screwdriver applied along the cut helps to separate the upper and lower part of the spacer. Once that's done, you'll have two pieces like this:


    Cut a 1/4" off of the bottom of the upper spacer (this is about the thickness of the rim of the new speaker). Here are the beginnings of the cut:


    Follow the same steps for mounting the front speakers to the spacer to mount the rear speakers to the lower spacer. Once you have that mounted, invert the outer spacer such that the part the was facing toward the cabin is now facing outward (touching the screws holding the new rear speaker to the lower spacer). Mark where the screws are and drill. Unscrew the speaker from the lower spacer. Place the upper spacer over the new speaker and lower spacer. Screw all three together and you'll get this:


    Since the outer part has been inverted, there's not much to attach the outer foam gasket to. I used some super glue to help secure the gasket to the upper spacer like so:


    Now just solder the connector to the new speaker and you're all set.


    Here's a before and after comparison:

    Front before:


    Front after:


    Rear before:


    Rear after:


    Here are all four of the speakers after the mod:



    I tested the new speakers after installation and didn't notice any vibration or distortion. I played music through each speaker individually at max volume with bass, midrange, and treble separately maxed out with no problems. Response is good across all frequencies as far as I can tell. I listen to classic rock and indie for the most part, so I'm not pushing anything too hard. This is all with the stock head unit, too. You get what you pay for, to be sure, but I'd say I got my $100 worth.

    Any suggestions on how to improve this setup are welcome. The fit up front is a little tight, so that's a good place to start; it didn't appear to affect speaker function, though. The rear spacer mod is a little contrived, but it's the best I could come up with. I tried to avoid excessive fabrication, gluing, and spending money on anything beyond the speakers.

  4. #3
    Registered User wrxnews's Avatar
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    Wow....great write up, this should definitely get sticky'd under the DIY....great

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    Registered User drrockandroll's Avatar
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    Thanks! I hope somebody finds it useful.

    I was driving around today testing it out and I noticed that the rear speakers have better bass response than the front. I'm not sure why, though. It could be that the door panel is impeding front speaker movement, but I'm not sure that this is the case because there isn't any buzzing or distortion. Also, the front speakers respond similarly to the rear ones at mid and high frequencies. Or it could be that the rear speakers resonate better because of how they are recessed in the spacer. Or maybe the head unit is designed to send more bass to the rear.

    I'm not going to worry too much about it because it sounds good to me, but any thoughts are appreciated.

  6. #5
    Registered User binjoau's Avatar
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    good write up, only thing I would reccomend is fixing the door speaker rattles by bracing the plastic door support and the outer panle with dynomat. There is a thread on the site somewhere. Otherwise nice one!
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    Registered User drrockandroll's Avatar
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    Like I said, I'm not experiencing any rattles, buzzes, or distortion with this mod. No bracing or dynamat needed!

  8. #7
    Registered User binjoau's Avatar
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    Im not being critical at all. Ive also done a total stereo install in my 09 ( I run a car audio store) just saying that you probably will notice them at certain frequencies.
    09 WRX Premium: AP, Perrin Stage 2, Perrin Intake, Perrin SS, Perrin TBE, BC Racing Coilovers
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    Registered User drrockandroll's Avatar
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    Don't worry, no offense taken. I hadn't noticed any buzzes or rattles in the past couple of days, but that changed this morning. The right front speaker buzzed a bit while I was listening to some radio commentary. It was the first I had listened to any non-musical sound through my stereo. The buzz happened consistently anytime a male voice came on. I jimmied the door panel a bit (that's a technical term, btw) and got it to stop. We'll see if it returns...

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    Registered User FACTION95's Avatar
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    Is there any other way to get around having to cut and reinstall the door spacers? Can you buy new ones from Subaru? Would buying new ones make the job any easier?
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  11. #10
    Registered User drrockandroll's Avatar
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    When I went to Best Buy, they didn't have anything WRX-specific. The only thing they had were universal speaker spacers that looked like this:

    Scosche - Universal Speaker Spacer for Most 5-1/4" x 6-1/2" Scosche Speakers (2-Pack) - SS65

    All they are are thick plastic rings that they're trying to sell for $30 (obviously you can get them for less, though). They would work for the rear speakers, but I'm not sure there's enough clearance to use them in the front.

    I just checked on Crutchfield and these should fit the front:

    GM Speaker Brackets 5-1/4" or 6-1/2" adapter plates for select 2005-up Chevrolet, Pontiac, and Saturn models at Crutchfield.com

    Buying them is certainly easier and less time consuming than modifying the old ones. I altered the old ones because I had time to do so and didn't want to wait for new ones to arrive.

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    Registered User drrockandroll's Avatar
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    '09 Base Model Speaker Upgrade Follow-Up

    The intermittent buzzing in the right front speaker after the original mod was really starting to get to me, so I decided to go ahead and get the spacers that Crutchfield said would fit the WRX base model, which I linked to in another post. After $15 (plus shipping) and a few days, the spacers arrived. Here's what they looked like (click for larger views):



    Well, it turns out there are a couple of problems with these spacers. First, only two of the three holes used to mount the spacer to the door line up properly. I tried both spacers in every possible orientation but didn't have any luck. Second, these spacers don't buy you any extra depth because they are as thick as the stock spacers are at the very front of the door. I guessed that I needed about an 1/8" more depth to prevent the speaker from buzzing up against the door panel.

    After having already removed the modded front speakers and spacers from my car, I decided to try to refine the original mod to provide a better fit. This turned out well, and there's definitely enough clearance to prevent the speaker from buzzing against the door panel.

    Follow the original instructions I posted for removing the door panel and speaker. In addition to the original mods to the front speaker spacer, cut around the outer rim that initially had the foam gasket mounted to it like so:


    Once you cut completely around it and separate it, you'll have something like this (minus the wires if you're doing this for the first time):


    Go ahead and dispose of the plastic ring you just cut off of the spacer. Now place the new speaker into the spacer. The speaker mounting holes should be flush against the spacer, and the speaker shouldn't be any higher than the rim of the spacer. Drill starter holes for mounting the speaker and screw it all together. You won't be able to secure the speaker using the pushnut retaining clip like before, but I managed to get it to hold well with small pilot holes and regular screws. Follow the rest of the original instructions to complete the mod.

    Here's what the mod looked like before this adjustment (left) and after (right):


    The speaker is now recessed into the spacer, providing a fit nearly identical to the stock configuration, only it doesn't suck.

  13. #12
    Registered User silvercookie's Avatar
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    high five.

    i did the same thing, cut out the stock ones.

    works amazing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by drrockandroll View Post
    When I went to Best Buy, they didn't have anything WRX-specific. The only thing they had were universal speaker spacers that looked like this:

    Scosche - Universal Speaker Spacer for Most 5-1/4" x 6-1/2" Scosche Speakers (2-Pack) - SS65

    All they are are thick plastic rings that they're trying to sell for $30 (obviously you can get them for less, though). They would work for the rear speakers, but I'm not sure there's enough clearance to use them in the front.
    Has anyone tried using these? They are now 10 dollars from Best Buy, which is pretty cheap and sounds like a lot easier than going through everything that you went through.

    I saw that the spacers from old Outbacks work, and now I am kicking myself for selling my Outback without pulling those guys out. Thanks.

    (The forum won't let me re-post the link because this is my first post.)

  15. #14
    Registered User drrockandroll's Avatar
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    Read my post on 8/26. I got the universal spacers from Crutchfield and they sucked.

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    Quote Originally Posted by drrockandroll View Post
    Read my post on 8/26. I got the universal spacers from Crutchfield and they sucked.
    I did. That is why I asked about the ones from Best Buy. They are a different company, and I think they are a softer plastic that possibly wouldn't crack. The only reason I ask is that I am not doing the install myself and I have a trust issue with installers when they are forced to make these types of modifications.

    I have also seen a number of other posts, specifically from 2009 wrx stereo help thread, that stated people were able to mount 6.5 into the front and rear with different types of spacers. I have no doubt that the ones from Crutchfield failed (as I saw the photos), but I am wondering about other pre-made alternatives.

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