Replacing front factory speakers with the aftermarket is the first step to improve car audio in Jeep Wrangler JK. But how to change front speakers in Jeep Wrangler JK, and which ones are the best? Let’s find out.
Replacing front speakers, although time-consuming, is not difficult. Follow the steps below and make the entire process straightforward.
- Remove the side dash panels using a panel removal tool or flat screwdriver.
- Remove knee cover on the driver’s side.
- Remove 10mm bolts from the metal steering wheel cover.
- Remove two 7mm bolts from underneath the steering wheel dash. Early Wrangler JK had four bolts in this place.
- Remove the glove box by pushing the inside tabs inward until the two plastic pins unlock from the dash.
- Unscrew the bolts under the glove box. Depending on the model, there are either two or four bolts underneath.
- Remove two 7mm bolts from underneath the glove box, older JK models have four bolts in this area.
- Remove two 7mm bolts from each dash side that hold speakers’ enclosures.
- Remove one 10mm bolt from underneath each enclosure.
- Disconnect wires from each speaker enclosure.
- Remove loose enclosures from behind the dash.
- Remove the speakers from the enclosures and replace them with new ones.
These steps will make the speaker replacing process fast and easy. If your Jeep is equipped with separate tweeters, replacing them is straightforward because you can access them from the top of the dash.
Depending on the Wrangler JK year, you will have either tweeter standing out in both dash corners, and after 2015 flushed inside the dash.
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In the article below, we will go through the best speakers you can find for a JK dash, and we will go in detail through the replacement process.
How to replace factory dash speakers in Wrangler JK?
Speakers in Wrangler are not placed in the standard doors, like in 99% of the other cars. Instead, you will find them in the dash facing seats, which means the stereo effect is also different.
Front speakers in our Jeep JK are not as easy to replace as in older Wrangler TJ, but it is not hard. It is just more time-consuming.
Someone may ask if it is worth replacing factory speakers in Wrangler. After listening to the standard audio system, you will understand that every hour spent on replacing them is worth the effort.
A not long time ago, we replaced front speakers in friend’s Wrangler JK on Saturday, and it was great fun with barbecue.
If you do not have the experience, it is easier to start on the passenger side, where you will have a little more access to the dash. When you already know what to do when the passenger side is completed, the speaker on the driver’s side will go much faster.
Replacing the Wrangler JK front speakers.
Although you do not need any advanced tooling, few simple hand tools will help to replace front dash speakers in Wrangler JK:
- Panel tool
- Socket wrench with extension
- 7mm and 10mm sockets
- Torx T-20 driver
To access the bolts holding enclosures, you have to remove the side panels on both sides of the dash and remove the glove box. When removing the glove box, squeeze the sides and then gently take the box out.
On the driver side, remove knee support under the steering wheel. Now you have access to all bolts holding the enclosures. Remove them using socket keys 7mm and 10mm from the bottom and side of the dash. In total, you will have depending on the production year of your Jeep, either four or six bolts.
Removing the enclosure on the driver’s side can be time-consuming. You will need to turn the box downwards to get it out.
After the speaker box is out, unscrew the bolts and remove the speaker out of the enclosure. When the speaker is out, disconnect the wiring, and now is the time to connect any wire adaptor that may be different than for factory speakers.
Also, at this point, it is worth checking and, if needed, replacing the polyester speaker’s stuffing. Do not install a new speaker to the empty plastic box; this will destroy the sound, especially when you will install powerful speakers with strong mid-bass.
Replacing the dash tweeters
When you finished with woofers in the dash, working with tweeters will be real fun.
First, take panel removal tool and take out covers.
Unscrew tweeters from the dash and unplug speaker wires. You may need to add wire adaptors depending on the type of the new tweeters you will install, but this will be just a few inches of the extra wire in the dash.
Place new tweeters in the original adaptors and plug wires. Depending on the speakers’ size you have, it may be necessary to buy adaptors that will fit larger tweeters, and you can find them online, for example, in Crutchfield.
When you have tweeters placed in adaptors, screw them back to the dash and cover with original earlier removed grills.
When you install a new speaker system, you will have to place crossovers and run new wires to the speakers. We put crossovers in my friend’s Jeep on both sides of the dash, just under removed dash covers.
Replacing factory tweeters with 2-way 3.5″ coaxial speakers
In Wranglers JK produced from 2015, you have room in the dash for flushed 3.5″ tweeters, which is the size of the adaptor plates. However, instead of tweeters, you can install there small 3.5″ 2-way coaxial speakers.
This way, you can have four channels playing in front of you, two 6.5″ at the knee height, and another 3.5″ at the top of the dash facing roof.
Having four independent speakers in front of the car is an excellent solution, especially when you have a six-channel amplifier. You can use four channels to power speakers in front of you and the other two channels for the Jeep soundbar above your head.
Such a system will play beautifully, and having four high-quality front speakers is something to be proud of.
Which are the best speakers for Jeep Wrangler JK?
When we know all parameters we should aim for, we can start actual research for our Wrangler speakers.
The most popular and often installed is the Alpine SPV-65X-WRA component system with 1-inch dome tweeters, but this is not the only option.
Another popular in Jeep 2-way system is Kicker 47KSS6704 or water-resistant Polk Audio MM652. All these systems are top class, but each of them will make a little different sound.
If I were about to replace my front speakers in JK now, I would buy Kicker 47KSS6704 even today, and here is why.
The Kicker is known for quality, powerful speakers, and KS series is no different, but it is not the power I was looking for, it is quality of music I had a pleasure listening to.
KSS6704 is a 6 3/4″ component system that is larger than typical 6.5″, It contains two powerful polypropylene woofers and even stronger 1″ silk dome tweeters.
Such a combination makes a fantastic audio effect, taking into consideration that front dash speakers in Jeep JK face down the front chairs. All sounds are natural, and starts unusually low, at 35Hz. 35Hz for standard car speakers is an excellent achievement, usually played by subwoofers.
Tweeters, on the other hand, although do not go extremally high in the frequency, can have adjusted loudness at the crossover up to 9dB per octave. This is also a fantastic result, these small sensitive silk dome tweeters after adjustment can be three times louder, and you hear this difference.
My overall experience from Kicker KSS6704 is hugely positive. I loved especially vocal and instrumental quality with all depth and surrounding effects. They are available on Amazon, so if you would like to give them a try, click this link and check the latest price.
One point to add to this fantastic system.
To experience KSS6704 dynamic at full, you have to have a good amplifier, and I would not recommend anything from the bottom shelf. An amplifier made in A/B class, with 150W RMS per channel would be ideal.
These speakers can be, of course, powered from the head unit, but why?? The sound will be flat, and to be honest, even if other speakers would match the factory radio better, Kicker KSS6704 will not.
Another thing is that because the front speaker enclosure in Jeep JK is plastic, make sure they are filled with polyester stuffing before installing the speakers.
- 6-3/4″ woofer with polypropylene cone and rubber surround
- 1″ silk dome tweeter
- crossovers with three levels of tweeters adjustments, up to +9dB
- Power RMS 125W (peak 250W)
- Frequency Range – 35-21,000 Hz
- Sensitivity – 91 dB
- Impedance – 4 Ohm
If you find Kicker too powerful or too expensive, you may need to check out Alpine SPV-65X-WRA that produce smooth and precise tones, but not as dynamic as Kicker. You can find them on Amazon, so if you already convinced by Alpine’s great reputation, click this link and check the recent price.
Alpine makes speakers that are part of the Jeep Premium Audio System, so I decided to try them, and find out how good they really are.
Alpine SPV-65X-WRA are standard 6.5″ size, waterproof component speakers, that can be installed as independent, or typical coaxial speakers thanks to the included special bracket.
As I expected, bass in Alpine is softer and low tones do not go as low as in the Kicker. However, I was surprised by the highs produced by 1″ Teteron dome tweeters. The frequencies are very wide, which makes produced mid and high sounds clear and precise.
When looking at these speakers from the side, they look like a smaller brother of my favorite Kickers. Especially when looking at the much smaller magnet, you can tell these speakers will not make strong kicks. Nevertheless, they are worth buying, especially if your favorite tones are in Classical, Jazz, Soul, or any unplugged soft sounds.
- Power RMS 75W (225W peak)
- Frequency Response – 65-22,000 Hz
- Impedance – 4 Ohm
Polk Audio MM 652
If you are driving your Jeep JK with no roof or through the rivers, you should look for a powerful system with high speakers’ sensitivity, but also waterproof.
When talking waterproof speakers, first coming in my mind is the Polk Audio with its fantastic MM series, from which MM652 has the best fit to the Wrangler JK. If you fancy off-road trips or crossing rivers make sure your speakers can handle these harsh conditions. MM652 are available on Amazon, so if you want to give them a try click this link and check the current price.
These heavyweights 6.5″ speakers have been designed as marine speakers, which means you will not be disappointed with the sound quality in the free air. I was listening to them only in the studio, and the music was so precise and without the smallest distortion.
Thanks to the sensitivity 93 dB, they can play loud in the car with a soft-top or with the roof down.
MM652s, although the head unit can power them, show their best when wired to the quality amplifier. The cones made of polymer with titanium coating are ready for real power and can make strong bass starting as low as 40Hz, and this is excellent value for coaxial speakers.
The best effect comes from tweeters that can go up to 40kHz and play outstanding quality high tones. Listening to the violin, guitar, or vocal is something you will not hear from many other speakers.
• Titanium coated polymer woofer cone with Santoprene rubber surround
- 1″ Terylene fabric tweeter
- Basket made from reinforced fiberglass
- Power RMS – 100W (300W peak)
- Frequency Response – 40-40,000 Hz
- Sensitivity – 93 dB
How to choose dash speakers for Jeep Wrangler JK?
As a standard, Wrangler JK has eight speakers (4 in-dash and 4 in soundbar), and if you are lucky to have a premium system, it will have an additional subwoofer in the back. Either of these systems is better than smaller speakers in previous Jeep TJ, but if you value music quality, you will have to replace even the bigger ones.
When searching for speakers that will fulfill our needs, we have several installation options.
- Install a complete component system and replace both factory woofers and tweeters.
- Install coaxial speakers in the dash and add separate tweeters.
- Install coaxial speakers and leave original factory tweeters.
- Install coaxial speakers in the dash and another pair of small 3.5″ coaxials in the place of the tweeters. This is, however, possible only in Jeeps JK that were produced after 2015.
All alternatives are worth considering, and the final effect depends on the quality of speakers used and your personal goal. For the best results, I recommend using a high-quality 2-way component system and replacing all front speakers at the same time.
Although the cheapest option is to install coaxial speakers and leave factory tweeters in their places, I would not go this way.
Standard tweeters will not play as good as any aftermarket, not to mention top-class tweeters.
On the other hand, you can try budget option, replace coaxial speakers, and disconnect factory tweeters, but that will remove a large portion of the high sounds from the top of the cabin.
Remember, high-frequency sound waves create the best effect when directed towards the ears, so it is really worth having them playing from the top of the dash, especially in Jeep Wrangler, with the roof down. So, this is another no go for me.
When it comes to choosing the right speakers, there are several parameters we should consider:
Jeep JK speakers’ size.
The size of the speakers is one of the main criteria we have to look at. You do not want to buy 5.25″ when the car has locations for 6″ x9″, so it is important to know this specified size.
For Jeep Wrangler JK, we can buy the majority of standard round 6.5″, that will offer much better sound than in the previous Jeep TJ, where it was room only for small oval 5″ x7″. 6.5″ speakers in Jeep JK will fit into standard enclosures and will play good enough to meet the needs of most drivers.
Regarding the tweeters that are mounted on the top of the front dash, there are two types depending on the age of the Jeep JK. In older models, vertical locators in the dash corners can accommodate any standard ¾” or 1″ tweeters that are part of component speaker systems.
After 2015, Jeep changed the design of the dash, and since then, tweeters were flushed inside the dash, in a flat horizontal position. The good thing about this change was adding them to the special adaptors that allow you to install several different tweeter sizes. Also, instead of tweeters, in these original places, you can fit small 3.5″ 2-way speakers, which will boost music quality in the Wrangler JK.
Speakers’ components quality
From all speakers available, it can be tricky to choose these that will last a long time and provide sounds quality we aim for. No one, including me, wants to buy new speakers every year because something was missing in their research.
When we already know which speaker sizes and system to choose, the next step is to look at their built quality and material used. This is even more important when we consider conditions in which speakers will play, especially in Jeep JK, when we drive with no door or roof.
In such harsh conditions, speakers must handle extreme temperatures or be water-resistant (even waterproof) if we drive across the rivers. I would not install any speakers that have metal aluminum or paper, even when coated cones. Also, suspension and surroundings should be strong but elastic, ideally made from butyl rubber that will not tear down quickly.
If you live in a hot, sandy area, forget about sensitive silk or nylon tweeters, and use instead stiff ones with aluminum cones that have fully protective grills. Well, unless you want to have small hi-end domes covered with sand or dust in no time.
Also, in such areas, tweeters must be able to handle direct sunlight and do not overheat at the same time.
As you see, there are few critical points to look at if you use Wrangler JK for anything else than pleasant weekend road trips. It is better to invest in the higher quality speakers at the beginning, rather than being frustrated when something gets damaged after a few months. Below in this article, we will go in more detail through few robust speakers for your Jeep JK.
The sensitivity of the speaker is an important parameter, especially in Jeep JK with no roof. Speakers with low sensitivity will play quietly because their design does not allow them to make loud noises in the open area.
In other words, a speaker with a sensitivity of 88 dB, which would be not bad for a silent car with hardtop, will be way too low for Jeep with a soft-top where all road and tires noises are far greater.
Sensitivity tells you how loud your speaker will be at the 1m from the cone when powered by 1W, and for Jeep, we should not consider anything less than 92dB.
Power Handling, as one parameter alone, does not give any indicator about speaker loudness or quality. This is the only number telling you how much electricity you can transfer through a voice coil without damaging it.
Nevertheless, the speaker’s power is a crucial factor when looking at the overall car audio performance. We can tell the higher the power, the better materials are used for the speaker, well at least from the known producers.
Necessary to point out here is that we are talking about RMS power, not any other that is often used in the marketing brochures.
When you research an audio system, one thing to consider is your speakers’ source of power. If you want to use a factory, or even aftermarket head unit to power speakers in your Jeep JK, do not buy strong speakers that will be begging for more power from the external amp.
By saying that I mean, head units should not power speakers stronger than around 50W RMS, simply because they cannot produce enough power, and by turning volume higher you will start hearing distortions.
So, when you do not want an amplifier, search for lower power but high sensitivity speakers that will play great from your stereo.
Instead, install an amplifier that produces around 50% power more than speakers need, and this way, you will be able to enjoy the music with its full dynamic and details.