2021 Prius Prime XLE Non-JBL Speaker Upgrade TIPS and OBSERVATIONS

Discussion in 'Prime Audio, Electronics, and Infotainment' started by Johninator, May 5, 2021.

  1. Johninator

    Johninator New Member

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    I just finished my speaker upgrade on my 2021 Prius Prime XLE, I ended up with the 12 speaker JBL configuration but may convert it back down to a 10 or 11 speaker with a 8" under seat powered sub. Using the factory 11.6" head unit from the XLE trim.

    I originally installed the JBL's on one side of the car first to observe the difference (Dash>RearDoor>FrontDoor). To be honest, the blend of half factory and half JBL created a more complete frequency range.

    SPEAKER UPGRADE:
    Dash 3.5": JBL Club 3520 (Installed the 270uf high pass capacitor or bass blocker)
    Front Door 6.5": JBL Club 620F
    Rear Door 6.5": JBL Club 6520
    Sound Deadening: Killamat 80mil Front and Rear Doors
    XTC Baffle: 3.5" deep baffle for dash speaker to minimize bass cancellation against front speakers
    TBD Under seat powered sub: Rockville SS8P 8" (Check the amp panel against the JBL Nano or Infinity Basslink mini, its similar just inverted, could be from the same factory, also has similar bass controller)

    AFTER INSTALL RESULTS:
    -The JBL sounds brighter, higher highs, but lacks bass response (deeper boomy bass, but less than factory speakers and also lost punchier bass).
    -Factory Door speakers produced better bass response punchy and boomy (Natural Sounding Bass Drum)
    -The JBL Dash coaxial mid/tweeter created better voice production and highs on top, but the factory tweeter had better high hat sounds (Drum Cymbal).
    -When compared to the factory speakers, it sounds higher and brighter however, lower vocal ranges and bass range is not as complete.

    NUTSHELL RECOMMENDATION FOR IMPROVED SOUND BALANCE(HYBRID APPROACH):
    -Only replace the Dash and Rear Door speakers with the coaxial JBLs (or other coax brands) to bring out the mids and highs on those locations.
    -Keep the factory front door speaker to get better punchy and boomy bass response.
    -Sound Deadening DID NOT make any significant difference in sound, but knocking on the door makes it sound solid, not tinny anymore. Factory has a small square sound deadening patch on each door to remove major vibrations.
    -By having the coaxial JBL's on the Dash and Rear Door, it creates a wider spatial separation from front to rear while maintaining a more complete frequency range with the factory front door speakers.

    TIPS AND OBSERVATIONS:
    -When Toyota quotes 10 speakers, it means coaxial 2way speakers counts as two speakers. In the Prius/Prime there are only 6 speaker mounting enclosures/holes for all trims.
    -There was major sound Engineering involved from the factory systems to create a very balanced sound and tuned to the car's natural dynamics. True for both JBL and Non-JBL systems. I wouldn't doubt if Pioneer and Harman/JBL engineers were involved with the Toyota sound system designs.
    -Factory dash tweeter/speaker has 4 wires wired in parallel with the front door speaker.
    -Front dash speaker wire harness is compatible with many other Toyota dash speaker harness (eg. Tacoma, RAV4...) its the harness that has two wire loops to short the dash/front speakers.
    -XTC baffles will help minimize some bass cancelation from the back of the 3.5" speaker being out of phase with the front door speaker. Airspace behind the dash speakers blends with the driver/passenger front door speakers.
    -If the bass blocker eg. 270uf capacitor are not installed on the dash speakers, the mid vocal range can get over pronounced in the front.
    -Front sound is more pronounced than the rear, could be the parallel dash/front speakers to drop the impedance.
    -Dash Speakers are 3.5" drop ins, 2 - 10mm bolts.
    -Non-JBL 6 Toyota speaker system has the following, Dash: 2 Tweeters, Front Door: 2 Full Range, Rear Door: 2 Full Range, all 4 full range door speakers are the same part.
    -Use 11/64" drill bit to drill out the riveted speakers.
    -Use rivet nuts M6 or 1/4-20 in place of the rivet holes, need to open the holes up. Use a 9mm or 11/32" drill bit to widen the hole for the M6 or 14-20 rivet nut.
    -Without the rivet nut, you can find a self tapping screw that will grab the original rivet hole.
    -Others twist the speaker mounts a few degrees and screw a new self tapping hole, but I don't recommend this as you may not be dead center and the plastic on the door panel may rub into your woofer.
    -If you prefer to have all speaker locations to sound brighter, replace them all with coaxial speakers, but you may loose some spatial imaging from front to back.
    -Factory Door speakers have little to no highs, but has great bass response compared to the JBL's
    -Factory Dash tweeters produces better high hats, but lacks higher frequencies
    -Factory speakers are not junk, they cover a balanced sound, except for higher frequencies.
    -The JBL's distorted first on their bass performance compared to the factory door speaker.
    -I would get the speaker adapters and harness instead of destroying your factory door speakers to mount your coax upgrades.
    -The smaller magnets on the factory speakers are Neodymium thus stronger and lighter.

    Hope this helps you guys out! This should also apply to the 4th gen Prius.
     
  2. POSPrius

    POSPrius Junior Member

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    Great work but why go through all the trouble for such a low end speaker like the JBL Clubs?
     
  3. Johninator

    Johninator New Member

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    Model:
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    The JBL club series is perfectly match for my factory head unit. It does not overpower the other speakers, and has just the right power to drive the Club series. Higher end JBL's speakers such as the GTO series will most likely need to have a separate amplifier to get their designed sound potential.

    In my case, I went through all the trouble to upgrade the front speakers with JBL Club 621Fs just to pull it out and put back the original factory tuned mid bass drivers. The factory front speakers had better bass and lower vocal response and complements the other frequencies the JBL Club in the dash and rear produces.

    Most speaker companies usually have a unique sound signature to their speakers. In this case, the JBL upper vocals are pretty clear, while the highs sounds like a hybrid of silk dome and piezo type tweeters. The JBL Club has a nice low frequency sound, but its very mild, and lacks mid-bass punch and lower vocals.

    Given my current setup (10 speaker, Dash: JBL Club, Front: Factory Full/Midbass, Rear: JBL Club), I would say it sounds like an executive system.

    I recently added an 8" under seat powered subwoofer. I tuned it at around below 70hz to fill the frequency gap where the 10 speakers can't produce while lowering the gains so it does not overpower the factory system. The result is a balance of sound at all frequencies with a slight bias on the lows, mids and highs. If you have heard the Sonos One WiFi speaker, I would say my system sounds close to it.

    I would say for $200, I was able to get my system to sound just a good as any factory premium sound systems(if not even better than some systems I've heard). Its not for those who just likes it loud, but for who wants clear and balanced sound all throughout the volume levels from 0-40 in my case. I call it my 11 speaker Toyota/JBL/Rockville premium sound system.

    Good sound systems does not have to come from the most expensive components. Keep in mind, sound is subjective, but this system should appeal to most people.
     
  4. Johninator

    Johninator New Member

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    Dash Speaker Installation:

     

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  5. Johninator

    Johninator New Member

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    Rivet Nut Installation:
     

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  6. Johninator

    Johninator New Member

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    Rear Speaker Installation:
     

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  7. Johninator

    Johninator New Member

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    Front Speaker Installation:
     

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    vvillovv likes this.
  8. Johninator

    Johninator New Member

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    Under Seat Powered Subwoofer Wiring with High Level Inputs from Dash:
     

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    #8 Johninator, Jun 15, 2021
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2021
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  9. Potorap

    Potorap Active Member

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    Hello John,
    Which sub did you install? thank you.
     
  10. Johninator

    Johninator New Member

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    I installed a Rockville SS8P. I had an issue with the first one I received where it will make a loud enough static/white noise when the amp is powered up. So at low volumes or 0, you can hear the static, just like a cheap amp of the past. It took several support sessions to send the defective unit back and get a new one. The new one works well now.

    Just FYI, The dimensions of the SS8P is just right under the passenger seat of my XLE, clearing the under seat vents. The powered driver seat of the XLE has an extra connector/tab underneath that will push the under seat sub when you back out the seat. If you have no powered seat, that will be better, otherwise it still fits either ways. If you have powered seats, just don't move your seat back and forth, and it fits fine without having to modify the car seat.

    Some similar sized powered under seat sub would be the JBL Nano (slightly smaller) and the Infinity Basslink Mini (almost same dimension externally if not the same) but they use a squarish 6x8 driver. I'm pretty sure they would all sound similar. I suspect that Samsung (Parent of JBL, Infinity and Harman) uses the same amplifier and manufacturer (outsourced) since the amp layout are the same for all 3. The JBL and Infinity amp layout is just flipped 180degrees, and uses a black connector harness, but pretty much the same cutouts and pin assignments, even the bass controller looks the same. I figured for 1/2 or almost 1/3 the cost, I'll try the Rockville SS8P 8" under seat powered sub. So far so good, its easier to throw away when it goes bad in the future. The technology today on these subs has gone a long ways, where the gap on sound quality and performance has been narrowed or shared.

    I don't know if you guys want to sticky this post to help others looking to improve their factory sound system. I put in some efforts to experiment, R&D and capture the pictures to help everyone out. You can pretty much get great sound on your factory system for $100, or $200 if you decide to add an under seat sub. I believe in having quality sound with value in mind for this my project. The results turned out to be fantastic!

    Since this is most likely applicable to all Gen 4 Prius as well, might as well make it easy to access before it gets buried over time. Hope this helps you guys out!
     
  11. jay1105

    jay1105 New Member

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    Do you mind linking where you purchased your speakers, wiring, harnesses. etc? I have a '21 Prime with the factory JBL system and it sounds like crap. I literally cannot hear anything from the back speakers even after balancing the sound output with the fronts.

    I'm looking for a plug an play option that doesn't break bank and you seem very knowledgeable on the subject matter. I've installed speakers many times over on my previous cars and just the thought of running wires throughout again gets depressing. Tuning the system to cover all the frequencies is a totally different level for me and it looks like you got it all figured out. I just want a modest option that doesn't draw much power, thus not reducing the life of the car battery significantly.

    Can you show how you are powering the sub or how you routed the power wire? Do you have a picture that shows how you connected your sub input from your head unit output?
     
    #11 jay1105, Oct 11, 2021
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2021
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