We have had many great demo vehicles over the years here at WSS. The most recent project we completed was our 2011 Chevy Silverado 1500. We wanted to go “over the top” on the audio system, but we also wanted this Chevy Silverado audio upgrade to demonstrate how incredible you can make a stereo sound while still using the factory radio in the dash. We installed a TON of great equipment in this truck overall, but in this article we will just be focusing on the stereo portion of the build-project. Stay tuned for an article on all the cool truck accessories we added!
Keeping The “Factory Look” Key To This Demo Vehicle
We knew we needed to keep the factory radio in the dash and hide any equipment in the truck if we really wanted to blow the mind of anyone who gets in and cranks up the volume. We wanted to show exactly how far you could go and how great a stereo could sound while still keeping that “factory look” and not effecting the integrity of the Chevy Silverado interior. Since this truck was to be a demo vehicle for WSS, everything needed to be perfect. Every single detail needed to be addressed.
JBL MS8 Signal Processor Acts As a Bridge To The Factory Radio
(And Much, Much More)
If we wanted this Chevy Silverado audio upgrade to jam, the first step was getting a quality signal from the factory radio. The solution for this was easy. We needed an MS8 signal processor made by JBL. The MS8 is one of the most advanced pieces of electronics we have ever sold at our facility. The MS8 is a DSP (digital signal processor) that uses technology like Logic 7 matrix processing and 31 bands of equalization to dramatically improve the sound quality and staging of a stereo in any vehicle. The processor uses time-alignment to perfectly arrange the sound waves from each and every speaker in the vehicle based on the distance to your ears, completely transforming the way it performs. If you listen to a stereo tuned with an MS8, you literally feel like you are sitting in the recording studio with the musicians. The music is no longer coming from the speaker locations in the doors, it is right in front of you.
The stereo was now wired “actively,” meaning there was an individual channel dedicated to each speaker, including the tweeters. There really are no words for how much of an improvement this processor makes in any stereo system. We installed the MS8 and interfaced it into the factory head unit, and now we had a great starting platform to build a stereo to knock your socks off!
JL Audio ZR Speakers – Loud and Clear!
The factory speakers in any Chevy Silverado sound very muffled and hollow. Yes, the Bose speakers may sound better than the basic Chevy speakers… But they are still lousy in comparison to high quality speakers. This truck had four 6.5″ speakers in the doors and tweeters on the A pillars. We wanted speakers that would take plenty of power and REALLY perform. The speakers we chose to install in the front locations were the ZR flagship components made by JL Audio. These are the best full range speakers that JL Audio manufactures. The level of volume you can get out of these speakers with absolutely no distortion is unbelievable. JL Audio made the ZR speakers to outperform anything else it their price range.
C5 Speakers For Rear Fill
We installed JL Audio C5 speakers as coaxial speakers in the rear doors. We wanted a good quality rear speaker as well, but the focus was mainly on the components in the front, since that’s what matters more! The rear speakers in this truck were essentially just for rear fill. Now that we had replaced all the speakers in this Chevy Silverado, it was time to choose amplifiers and add some bass!
JL Audio Amplifiers Chosen To Handle The Power
We needed 8 total channels of amplification in this truck:
- Two for tweeters
- Two for front woofers
- Two for rear speakers
- Two for subwoofers (which we will get to shortly)
The amplifiers essentially needed to be bulletproof since we were going to be showing this truck off to clients on a regular basis. We chose three amplifiers made by JL Audio. The amplifier we used for the front ZR components was an HD600.4. This gave us four individual channels at a whopping 150 watts on each tweeter and woofer respectively. One of the beauties of the JL Audio HD series amplifiers is that the amount of power produced is not affected by the impedance (ohms) of the speakers it is powering.
JL Audio Stealthbox For Bass
The amp we chose for bass was the HD1200.1. The HD1200.1 powered a JL Audio Stealthbox under the rear seat, containing two 10″ JL 10W3 subwoofers. This gave us exactly what we were looking for as far as ground-pounding bass while still remaining relatively factory-looking. The Stealthbox was carpeted to match the interior of the truck, and the subwoofers fired toward the floor. This gave us plenty of bass while keeping on track with our original mandate of maintaining the integrity of the interior and keeping the full usage of the back seat. We did not want this to be just a rolling boom box, we wanted it to still have the ability to be used as a truck. Based on the design of the Stealthbox, it also allowed us to hide a JL Audio XD2002 amp to power the C5’s as rear fill. The Stealthbox had a recessed location perfectly sized for the amp to be totally out of view.
Custom Amp Rack Hides Everything Out Of Sight
Since the Stealthbox took up the larger area under the 60/40 split rear seat, we designed a custom amp rack for the other side to hold the two JL Audio HD amplifiers. Custom amp racks are one of our specialties here at WSS Westminster Speed and Sound. We fabricated a custom amp rack out of fiberglass and installed a Plexiglas window on the top so you could see the amplifiers. We then painted the inside of the amp rack in red to match the exterior of the truck, and wrapped it in carpet to blend in with the rest of the truck. Fabrication using fiberglass is an art form that we are proud to offer as a service to our clients. From amp racks like this one, to subwoofer enclosures, to new dash panels, we strive to deliver a finished product that is perfect in every way. This particular amp rack looked great and filled the rest of the unused area under the rear seat.
Hushmat Ultra Eliminates Vibrations
The stereo in this Chevy Silverado was coming along nicely. We had a fantastic audio system, but now that we had great speakers and a ton of power going to them we were starting to hear vibrations and small nuances in the truck. We needed to solve this 100%. There are many sound damping options that we sell here at WSS… So we installed ALL of them! First, we installed Hushmat Ultra sound damping padding throughout the truck. We installed it on the door panels (both on the backside of the panel, and on the inside of the door itself), on the floor under the carpet, and on the rear wall behind the back seats. The Hushmat Ultra is a material specifically designed to reduce vibrations and the “noise floor” inside a vehicle. This makes the stereo sound much better by getting rid of annoying rattles and noises you don’t want to hear.
Hushmat Silencer Megabond Blocks Road Noise
The next step in sound damping was to install Hushmat Silencer Megabond padding in all four doors. The Silencer Megabond is a foam padding that absorbs high frequency sounds and blocks the transfer of sound waves, meaning it keeps unwanted sounds out and wanted sounds in! It also helps to eliminate “back wave,” which is the reverse sound wave created when the speaker moves inward that could potentially bounce around inside the door and negatively affect the overall sound quality of the stereo.
Lastly, we installed closed-cell foam rings around the front ZR woofers. This keeps the sound going where we want it to: Through the grille in the door! Without these foam rings, some of the sound gets trapped under the door panel and also bounces around where it shouldn’t. The foam rings are very inexpensive, but the benefits and great for almost any vehicle! They can make a tremendous improvement in the sound quality of ANY speaker, not just these ZR’s. In fact, even with factory installed speakers, all of these sound damping materials can make a difference in the way the stereo sounds as well as help to keep road noise out of the vehicle!
Chevy Silverado Audio Upgrade Jams With Factory Radio
The sound from this Chevy Silverado audio system sounded SO GOOD it was hard to believe what you were hearing after seeing a factory radio in the dash… Yahtzee! That’s exactly what we were looking for! We now had an incredible stereo that we could demonstrate to our clients on a regular basis. If you have a Chevy Silverado and are interested in upgrading the stereo, we hope you got some ideas from this article! We are here to help plan your dream stereo, no matter what type of vehicle. Stop by our top notch facility and experience how great your music should sound! Feel free to give us a call or Contact Us to start planning your stereo upgrade!
To see the Silverado performance upgrades in this vehicle, check out this post.