In order to make this topic a more manageable size – I have broken it up into three separate parts:
- This Introduction (Part 1 of 3)
- Sprinter Speaker Replacement (Part 2 of 3)
- Aftermarket Amp and Subwoofer Install (Part 3 of 3)
- Bonus – Bluetooth ‘House’ Stereo System (bypassing head unit)
Use the links above to jump to the separate parts / posts.
We replaced the speakers in the front doors, added rear 6×9 speakers and a separately powered subwoofer. We kept the stock stereo (cost, practicality, stock look) but added a 300W amp to power the new speakers. The system sounds great and the install was fairly straightforward. It required removing the stock stereo (though not removing the entire front dashboard) to get at the speaker wiring and removing the door panels to replace the front door speakers. But overall the install process was pretty straightforward and only took about 4 to 6 hours (including a lot of fidgeting, thinking, and theorizing).
Its no secret the stock audio system in the Sprinter is terrible. The stock speakers are pretty much just recycled paper with a magnet glued to them (not that there is anything wrong with recycling). And the Audio 15 head unit puts out hardly any power. You are left with a tinny, weak sound you can barely hear over the road noise. Originally, I thought that fixing the road noise issue (with sound dampening and insulation) would make the stereo sound better – at least you would be able to hear it. I was wrong, once I could hear it, I knew how bad it was – I couldn’t pretend anymore. If we were going to do long road trips in the van (which was the entire point of having the van) the sound system had to be upgraded!
Lots of folks replace the stock speakers in their vans, realize that the sound from the stock head unit is still not very good (even with better speakers) and then replace the stock head unit with a different unit. We took that route at first too, and its true, the sound is still pretty bad. However, we opted to keep the stock head unit (no complaints about its capabilities to play radio or music over bluetooth) and instead added an external amp, rear speakers, and subwoofer to the mix. This made a huge difference and honestly I believe is the better way to go (if you don’t mind not having a touchscreen head unit – not a problem for us). The cost of a decent amp is similar to the cost of new head unit (including the required amp accessories) and I believe the sound improvement with an amp pushing 300+ watts exceeds the improvements you would get from a new head unit that maybe pushes 100 watts. Plus then you don’t have to deal with rewiring your steering wheel controls or need a new wiring harness, dash plate, etc. So, in summary my recommendation for the money is to add an amp and new speakers to your system and keep your existing head unit. Find out how we did that, below.
General List of Tools:
- soldering iron
- plastic trim removal tools
- Star drive (Torx) of various sizes (T-20 & T30 I think)
- Wire strippers, wire cutters, and the usual electrical gear
List of all Materials:
- Amplifier: Rockford R300X4 Prime 4-Channel Amplifier
- Subwoofer: BOSS Audio BASS1400 1400 Watt Low Profile Amplified 10 Inch Subwoofer
- Front Speakers: JBL GTO609C Premium 6.5-Inch Component Speaker System
- Rear Speakers: JBL GTO938 6×9″ Coaxial Speakers
- Speaker-Level Converter: AudioControl LC2i
- Front door speaker adapters, from Impact3D
- 18 gauge stereo wire
- Amp wiring kit: BOSS Audio KIT2 8 Gauge x 2
- DirtDevil Build: Lots of good information on taking the front doors apart (and the dash apart which I didn’t do) – see first two pages of post
- Sound system upgrade: great write up on replacing the door and dash speakers.
Our stereo upgrade involved five main steps, broken up into three posts (including this intro):
- Speaker Replacement:
- Install the door and dash speakers
- Install the rear speakers
- Aftermarket amp and Subwoofer Install
- Intercept the speaker outputs from the stock head unit and run the wiring
- Install the amp and supporting accessories
- Install the subwoofer
That covers my radio / stereo system recommendations for the Sprinter van upgrade. Overall I am very happy with the sound system. It is definitely a huge improvement to the overall sound in the van and the general road trip experience. The stock head unit continues to perform very well with the upgraded systems behind it. I appreciate still having the stock feel, not having to worry about integration with the steering wheel controls, or being more attractive for theft. And yet there isn’t really anything I would want out of a new head unit that I don’t already have with my phone (mounted to the drivers side vent).
Continue on to the details, with the detailed posts below:
With good music, we can drive all day and through the night (if the destination is worth it). Hope this helps, feel free to ask questions or provide comments below.