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Johnny man

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Big shout out to Adrian (NGOT8R), Peter (CATHUL), and Brian (EVOLVD) for the insight!!!!

After many hours/days of reading on this forum, watching YouTube videos on the subject, and speaking with many audio shops across the country, including 5 Star Car Stereo, I was finally able to take my 2023 mustang s550 GT coupe Premium 401A , with the B&O crap stereo, and make my daily driver (130 miles to work one way) a place of happiness. To be clear, in my opinion, even podcasts were a miserable listening experience on the B&O. I play lead guitar in a band and have been a lifelong audiophile. I am still amazed FORD puts out such a POS!!! The big hiccup for me to overcome on this upgrade was the lack of guidance from both PAC Audio and Crutchfield on the subject of the compatibility of the PAC AmpPRO AP4-FD21 and the APH-FD01 harness. I live in a small town and 2 of high-end audio guys in town did not want to touch the project due to this compatibility issue. After consulting with and being encouraged by Brian, Peter, and Adrian on this forum and the 5 Star YouTube guys, and speaking to Crutchfield and PAC (both no help), I decided to take a leap of faith and ordered all the stuff!!!! I was able to talk Audio Video Connection in Dixon, IL 815-285-4900 to take a leap of faith with me and give it a go. They did top shelf work!!!!!

Another issue I struggled with was the mid-range drivers in the front doors. There is simply not enough room to mount many available 3-1/2" or 4" drivers without significant modifications or cutting of the door and/or door trim panel. The void is quite shallow and hole diameter smaller than I would have thought with the window track/mirror bracing being big obstacles. I wanted to keep the factory grills and door trim looking stock. Also, you have to deal with the Ford wiring issue of the OEM A-pillar tweeters being wired in parallel with the OEM upper door mounted mids. At first, I thought I would go with Infinity Reference 3-1/2"s in the door as the mids, hooked up to the OEM amp. I would then also run 2-way components to the 6.5" door woofer location and A-pillar tweeters off the front channel of a new trunk mounted amp. I actually bought some Hertz 2-way components for this and planned Hertz coaxial's on the rear deck hooked up to this new amp's real channel. However, I ended up changing my mind (and man I am glad I did) and using the Hertz 2-way components on the rear deck instead of the coaxial's in order to have a forward-facing tweeter set-up in the rear. The coaxial's would have caused a reflection of the tweeter in the rear window glass vs a directional aim of the 2-way component's surface mounted tweeters. Additionally, the Hertz 2-way component system is actually a more robust 6-3/4" higher SPL/watt/sensitivity speaker than the Hertz coaxial 6.5". The more I thought about it, the more I wanted no part of counting on the factory OEM amp in any way for my new set-up to provide quality mid-range sound. Bass was now going to be tight and well controlled with the new SUB and 6-3/4" door/rear deck speakers so attention to mids and highs became my focus. Besides, the PAC APH-FD01 harness puts a load on the OEM Amp to protect the car from sending out nuisance error codes and keeps the factory chimes/voice/Bluetooth/NAV as they should be; I did not want to mess with that. My research indicated most stand-alone 3.5"s handle a lower wattage than I would like anyway (only 25-40 watts RMS) with marginal bass rolloff at best. I feel the mid-range/high-range of the B&O is truly the weakness of the system (along with such an overwhelming loose bass BTW) so I wanted to have the best chance of getting it right. That forced me down a path of a 3-way component system in the upper/lower door and A-pillar locations off the front channel of a new amp. This starts to quickly raise the cost of the project with more questions, like an active vs passive crossover and possibly more channels on the new amp and DSP. I wanted more of a Hi-Fi system than a processed/time delayed set up. One reason to use the PAC AmpPRO AP4-FD21 is to start with a flat unmolested signal to avoid summing/forscan/bass rolloff and have a simpler cost-effective system while still allowing for the factory Head Unit to control EQ/Fade/Balance and still having some DSP like control of the EQ-Q width/tone-point curve. It is fair to note that my phone has a sophisticated EQ already built in for MP3 and Spotify feeds. We actually tried the MB Quarts PS1-316 3-way passive system, but there was simply no way the mids of the MB were going to fit in the door without a lot of cutting/chopping. This realization now seemed to rule out most of the cheaper systems like the CT Sounds, Massive Audio etc. and frankly the more expensive systems too. The Focals, Hertz 163's and the Alpines/Sony, at far greater expense, seemed to involve some kind of cutting and/or modification because of the larger mid-range speakers. There are custom mount rings for this issue available should you want to go down that path or of course fabrication should you choose. I wanted to stay with a five-channel amp and passive crossover for simplicity, trunk space, and cost. I settled on Morel. Shout out to Crutchfield for quickly returning the Hertz coaxials/Infinity 3.5's/and MB Quarts, and overnighting me the Morel Maximo Ultra 603 MKII 3-way passive system while the car was literally torn apart. The Morel Maximo Ultra 603 MKIIs 3-way components have a 2-1/2" mid driver (slightly smaller than the mids of most other brands) with good measurement/size specs and high wattage/sensitivity ratings that allowed a minimal modification install in the factory mid driver location with the OEM mounting ring and factory grills.

I am not a fan of the modern front sound-stage, time delayed car audio experience. I grew up in the muscle car era of 6x9's in the rear/6.5" coaxial's in front with a slight fade toward the back and feel like you should be immersed in the sound; not have the sound directed at you. Also, stereo is more realistic to me than surround, such as in the Doobie Brothers China Grove; with different guitars on LT/Rt sides and moving drum rolls. To me car audio is not a TV show or a concert, I did not want the space behind me to be just fill or surround. As a musician in a band, I can tell you the front row seats don't hold a candle to the ON stage sound experience if that makes sense. I wanted to somewhat create that experience. Further, I wanted to stay on a tighter budget than some. Already in this for a $1,000 donation to FORD for the B&O absolute BS crap system; I, like many, wanted a good value along with much needed better sound. I considered high end components, but in the end, decided that good mid-range stuff should work, as the cost would be considerably higher from this point for what I felt was less return for my personal needs. The first 85% of my goal seemed within practical reach with a 15% more benefit coming at exponentially higher cost which I could not justify. I felt, if necessary, I could add a DSP or active crossover with a higher channel amp later should this experiment not work out, so I chose to start without it. The total cost of parts was around $1600, at one point I was considering $5k worth of components, but I did a reality check on myself; because the car is still a Mustang with a 5.0 exhaust note that begs to get its fair share of air time too! And, after all, it was still a risk because I had found no one on the planet who had done this to a brand new 2023.

Parts:
PAC AmpPRO AP4-FD21, $315 (USB wire from Walmart purchased separately)
PAC APH-FD01 Wiring 10' Interface-harness w/loads to simulate to the OEM amp speakers still hooked up, $49.99
Morel Maximo Ultra 603 MKII, $479 3-ways w/ passive crossover up front in doors/A-pillars
Hertz Uno K 170, 6-3/4" 2-way components for rear deck, $119.99
Rockford Fosgate Punch P3SD4-1, 10" Sub wired for 2 Ohm load in factory B&O enclosure, $189.99
Kicker 46CXA6605T, 5 channel amp $382.96
Kicker 46CXARCT, Bass Knob, $39.99
Metra 82-5605 Ford Speaker Bracket, FREE w/speaker
Metra 82-5605 Ford Speaker Bracket, FREE w/speaker
Crutchfield Amp Wiring Kit CKD4, 4 gauge, $74.99
Crutchfield 17 ft RCA Cable, for Sub $12.99
Crutchfield 4 Channel 17' RCA cables for front and rear channels, $19.99
Metra 72-6514 Speaker Harness, SUB, FREE w/speaker
Metra 72-5602 Speaker Harness, rear deck, FREE w/speaker
Metra 72-5602 Speaker Harness, doors, FREE w/speaker
coursemotorsports.com Direct Fit Mustang phone mount, $41
Siless 50 mil (1.3mm) 52 sqft Car Sound Deadening mat - Butyl Automotive Sound Deadener - Noise Insulation and Vibration Dampening Material ( 52 sqft), Amazon $69.95 (sheets, not a roll for easier installation) beware it is harder to install this stuff on older cars because of the dirt that builds up in the doors, must clean with alcohol for good adhesion

(how to remove dash trim) I added this phone holder BTW, very nice!!!!!

https://www.google.com/search?q=mus...#fpstate=ive&vld=cid:dd3119e9,vid:XxNDhOutHzw (how to run power wire, start at 5min 20 second mark.
  1. Contrary to all official guidance, ALL of these components worked out of the box, plug and play.
  2. to remove the dash trim, open glove box and peel back air vent trim first (see video)
  3. Install AmpPro to factory Head Unit, put USB wire (not included with AmpPro) and Bass Knob in glove box for later access, test system before reassembly to ensure DIP switch options (I used 5 volts, 4 volts is said to reduces hiss, I did not experience this) you will have to later set chime volume, set EQ-Q etc. No forscan is required with the AmpPro
  4. remove wire from OEM center speaker to disable it
  5. install Power wire (watch video above), take off Right wheel and peel fender inner trim back, cut rubber grommet
  6. run power wire to trunk on passenger side under door threshold. We ran the blue turn on wire from the AmpPro with the RCAs on the driver's side to the kicker Amp, they put all wires bundled in sheaths for a pro job.
  7. disconnect speaker output harness from OEM AMP, install speaker load wire off PAC APH-FD01 on factory amp in its place below driver's side dash, leave sub jack connected (you will disconnect the OEM sub wires in trunk)
  8. connect PAC APH-FD01 wire harness to OEM speaker harness of the car that you just removed from the OEM Amp. NOTE: you will be driving the mids and door woofers only with this harness as the factory tweeters are in parallel with the OEM mids so you will have to run new speaker wires to the A-pillars (be careful about the phase), we cannibalized the rear deck Lt/Rt wires off this new APH-FD01 harness to run the tweeters from the passive crossovers; which we mounted in the trunk, near the Amp, below the rear deck, near the rear speakers, (My car has a spare tire, so the wheel well was not an option to mount the crossovers and amp). We cut the harness wires (cannibalized rear LT/RT) just prior to the PAC APH-FD01 connection you just made under the dash and Butt connected those wires to the A-pillar speaker's new wires ran to the Morel tweeters. Since the rear deck speakers and sub are so close to the amp, we just ran new wiring directly to the deck speakers and the SUB (leaving the SUB OEM wiring disconnected).
  9. The Kicker 5-channel amp was to me the best of both worlds because, the power was higher than some (65x4 at 4ohm and 300x1 at 2 ohm) and only the SUB part was class D, the front/rears were still warm AB technology. I wanted more the just 40-50 watts RMS
  10. Run all APH-FD01 speaker harness wires, Kicker sub volume knob wire (PAC Sub knob stays in glovebox), RCA cables and blue turn on wire on driver's side so as to not add noise from power lines ran on passenger side
  11. When you install the sub, I used the factory enclosure and lined the crap out of it with sound deadener inside and out (yes it looks bad). We also put pillow fiber inside. It was hooked up as a 2 OHM load with 10ga wire. We lined the inside of the passenger side quarter panel while the sub was out with the sound deadener. Some of the OEM raised tabs on the factory B&O enclosure mounting surface had to be ground down in some locations to accommodate the RF SUB. I did not want to cut the speaker as to not void the warranty. We filled minor holes from the tab cut with a 2-part epoxy. I used a 10-ga wire from the Sub to the new Amp for max efficiency.
  12. We sound deadened the inside of the doors both on the outside door skin and the inner panel metal frame. They also lined the rear deck and floor below the rear seat, basically anywhere they could
  13. In the rear we surface mounted the tweeters on the trim in the rear corner of the back side triangle windows to try and direct the sound more at the front seats and as high as we could. My speaker choice was 6-3/4" instead of 6.5", with the highest sensitivity and RMS I could attain in this price point.
  14. The A-pillar tweeters were custom cut, be careful with the trim's hinge, it functions with the air bag, so mount it correctly. They connected the tweeter to the +3db of the crossover (once again mounted in the trunk and utilizing the rear LT/RT wires of the APH-FD01 harness to send the signal to the front of the car).
  15. We edge trimmed each speaker in the door and on the rear deck with foam to allow no sound to escape behind the door/rear deck panels.
  16. used the factory wires with Metra 72-5602 connectors to hook up the door speakers.
  17. Read all assembly instruction PDF's
  18. I went with RCAs to the new amp off the AmpPro instead of a Toslink to keep the OEM fader/EQ capabilities of the head unit (something I really wanted).
  19. I felt active crossovers and more amp channels/DSP could be added later, if necessary, but to save on complexity and cost I wanted to try this set up first.
  20. the GT does not have ANR like the ecoboost
  21. I had this done at Audio Video Connection in Dixon, IL 815-285-4900, the project is not for the faint of heart. 20-30 hours of ball breaking work
  22. Tune the system with a laptop for the AmpPro, and adjust the Kicker Amp settings, bass knob, Head Unit all as required
  23. Others have commented that in the end it was not worth it, well..... I can say this took up a lot of my head space for months, more than I care to admit. My long drives in such a wonderful car became obsessive anger toward FORD for such a crappy stereo, I simply had to do it or crash the car into a wall for my own sanity.
  24. I wanted to put this out for people to consolidate the info and perhaps save someone from having to sort through the vast postings that I had to endure which are fragmented across the internet
  25. To anyone thinking about buying ANY FORD with a B&O, DON'T do it!!!!! get the stock 9 speaker stereo without an amp and go from there, it would have been so much easier and cheaper to upgrade!!!!
  26. Final verdict...... It is really awesome, so worth it!!!! I did not fully attain the moving of the soundstage behind me as I wanted basically because the Morel 3-ways are just unbelievably fantastic and I think it would be hard for any 2-way 6.5"s to compete with them especially being so much farther away from the driver, but it is more centered in the car and I am quite happy. Both the AmpPro module and the wiring harness from PAC were simple and worked as they should, no compatibility issues or problems with the factory Head Unit or any of the car's systems. Really no adjustments needed. No noise or hiss. The Direct fit phone mount is perfect. The SUB is tight! The definition and clarity far exceeded my expectations. The volume is very good, as you would expect too. I will try and post some photos.
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NGOT8R

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Very nice! I can only imagine how good your upgraded stereo sounds now. It looks like you and your audio guys put in lots of hard work. I’m happy to hear that you have accomplished what you set out to do, which was make it sound amazing to your ears.
 

Evolvd

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Nice work man! Glad I could help you out. Did you punch out the holes on the rear deck trim panel? That’ll give you more feedback from the rear speakers since they get choked off by that panel.
 
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Johnny man

Johnny man

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Yeah putting holes in the rear deck is on my list, could not get it done in the time allotted though
 

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NGOT8R

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Yeah putting holes in the rear deck is on my list, could not get it done in the time allotted though
I only have one speaker in my rear deck. The other was removed to serve as a bass port for my 12” sub. I could still probably stand to open the holes in the rear deck lid to allow that one factory speaker to stand out a little more.
 

m3incorp

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I still need to punch the holes in the rear also.
 
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Johnny man

Johnny man

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I drove around with the back seat down today
 
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Johnny man

Johnny man

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you would think..... this actually took more out of me than I would have guessed
 

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Bassackwards

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Another great write up!

We've seen several installs where the factory amp is bypassed without an interface and no ill effects. What are your thoughts on this?
 

RagmopInKona

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Nice write up.
I don't think the b/o system is that bad for most folks. I do think they set the eq for today's popular music. Not the age group's music that buys these cars mostly.
kids today don't know what channel separation is. or db punch.
I'd like to know what range the head units mid-range is boosting, Anything like China grove or Bostons smoke'n,etc with big midrange punch seems to be muffled, it has to be in the units eq settings. even the cheapest tandy(radio shack) speakers sounded better and I put them in a cardboard box in my 73 camaro
I think my late 80's panasonic boom box was louder.
 
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Johnny man

Johnny man

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Another great write up!

We've seen several installs where the factory amp is bypassed without an interface and no ill effects. What are your thoughts on this?
I think the factory amp is just too underpowered and the OEM Dsp set up has too much bass roll off. Too bad Ford did not go all the way with the B&O ugrade. The bass is way to loose and the crossover sloppy. The 3-way components really solve the problem of the frequency overlap and make all the instruments really stand out as they are separated very nicely.
 
 




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