How to – Full Car Audio System Installation – Speakers, Subwoofer and Amplifier

Complete Car Audio System Installation – $300 in equipment.
Audio Samples of Factory System vs Kenwood System

Installation Vehicle:
2016 Toyota Corolla

Chapters of the Installation:

Finding out what size speakers you need: 0:51
Benefit of Speakers, Amps and Subs: 1:12
First Steps of Install: 2:04
Run Power Wire Through Firewall: 3:15
Removing Rear Seats: 5:10
Removing Rear Deck: 6:30
Making Custom Rear Speaker Adapter Plates: 7:15
Creating Wiring Harness for Rear Speakers: 9:15
Mounting Rear Speakers/Dynmatting: 10:50
Making Rear Speaker Connections: 12:45
Mounting the Amplifier: 13:30
Amplifier and Subwoofer Connections: 15:50
Wiring the Fuse: 17:01
Removing Front Doors and Speakers: 18:01
Making Custom Front Speaker Adapter Plates: 19:30
Assessing Tweeters: 20:35
Dynamatting Front Doors: 21:35
Mouting Speakers and Adapter Plates: 24:15
Creating Custom Wiring Harness for Tweeters: 26:38
Audio Samples of Factory System vs Kenwood System: 28:45

How to set amplifier gains – What is clipping? – Smoke!!

What is amplifier clipping?

Clipping at its root is distortion. It occurs when an amplifier is overdriven and attempts to deliver an output voltage or current beyond its capability. Like the guy at the gym trying to squat 10 plates. It is important in car audio to avoid because we want to have all of our components in the signal path optimized to prevent the onset of distortion. Clipping has disastrous consequences for our speakers.

clipping audio signal
Here is what a clipping and non clipping audio signal look like on an oscilloscope

Why is this important?

Amplifier clipping comes into play into two places in our audio system, our speaker level amplifier and our pre-amp level amplifier. This is hugely important when we set the gains of our amplifier. We want to match the maximum output of the pre-amp level to the maximum speaker output of the amplifier. This ensures the best audio quality from both the radio and the amplifier.

Clipping is important to understand because it has a direct impact on how we set our gains

What does clipping look like?

Audio signal are a series of waves, these waves have perfectly formed tops and bottoms. Clipping causes the wave to no longer have a perfectly formed top or bottom. To show you what this looks like we will use a 30 Hertz test tone recorded at 0db and connect an oscilloscope to the speaker output of our radio. To see clipping we need to increase the volume to exceed the output capabilities of the amplifier by raising the volume.

distortion blows speakers
Distortion does nothing other than destroy car audio equipment

Here we have a nice clean top with a descending arc, and now you will the top of the wave get cut and that is amplifier clipping or better known as distortion. The byproduct of distortion is heat and that has lovely effects on our speaker voicecoils.

testing audio signals
Perfectly formed sine wave uniform top and descending arc, the way an audio signal should look like

Are some radios better than others?

We’ll take it a step further, depending on the quality of the radio or amplifier you may have clipping at different frequencies, a 1 kHz test tone may play fine, but a 30 Hz test tone will clip at the same volume level. Add in the fact that some radios have EQ’s and that creates additional issues.

pioneer avh-4200nex double din radio
Here we tested the AVH-4200NEX both the speaker outputs and the line level rca outputs

To demonstrate this we’ll show a couple of examples utilizing the AVH-4200NEX double DIN radio. Make sure to check out our review here.

Review on the Pioneer AVH-4200NEX Double DIN Radio

We’ll start with setting the EQ to powerful and take some measurements.

AVH-4200NEX Equalizer setting
Here we set the EQ to powerful before we begin out testing of the internal amplifier

We begin our test with the internal pre-amplifier and test using a 30 Hz, 60 Hz, and a 100 Hz test tone to see if our radio can maintain the same volume setting on all three test tones. We have gone ahead and hooked up our oscilloscope to the front RCA output leads and begin playing our 30 Hz test tone.


No clipping

Slight Clipping


30 Hz




60 Hz




100 Hz




Based on that test you can see that the internal pre-amplifier is pretty clean until the last 10% of the volume range. Mind you we took this test with only a single RCA connected with a very short lead.

Now we’ll show you the how changing the EQ curve has a direct effect on pre-amplifier clipping. We set the EQ to flat and begin all of our measurements.

AVH-4200NEX Flat Equalizer setting
Here we set the EQ to flat before we begin out testing of the internal amplifier



No Clipping

Slight Clipping


30 Hz




60 Hz




100 Hz




What does clipping sound like?

Here in our examples you can actually hear when the amplifier clips, it make an almost rattling or slapping sound.

How do I use this to set gain?

To set gain we set the radio to volume 38, this is the maximum clean output of the radio. Volume 38 will also be the volume level that we would never exceed when playing music. Next we connect the RCA’s to the amplifier and turn the amp gain all the way down. We connect the oscilloscope to the speaker outputs of the amp and increase the gain until our wave begins to clip.  Our gain is perfectly set!

setting the amplifier gain
Here we set the gain without clipping the output signal.

In this video we used an inexpensive $89 oscilloscope the DSO Nano, if you are into car audio and electronics this is a must have. Click in the description below for more info and where to get one.

That’s it on what is clipping and how to set your gains. Be sure to check out all the latest car audio and car video gear at If you enjoyed this video click that like button and leave any comments below and don’t forget to subscribe to out youtube channel. We have included a series of 0db test tones so that you can test and set your equipment.

Best Overhead DVD

Best overhead DVD player for under $200


Tview T91DVFD Overhead DVD player

For the family looking for entertainment without having to break the bank, the best value in the under $200 category is the T91DVFD.

The T91DVFD has a good DVD loader, especially for its price range that sets it apart from its competition. It tends to be on the reliable side as it is not prone to skipping or freezing of any kind.

If your looking to use wireless headphones with this unit, you can. If your looking to play the audio over the cars radio wirelessly this monitor can handle that as well.

Best of all what a lot of units in its class do not have is built in speakers but this unit is more than capable of providing its own sound with two sets of speakers.

The T91DVFD can also play movies through a thumb drive or SD card, so you don’t have to worry about lugging around a whole catalog of DVD’s.

For its reliable DVD loader, Built in Speakers and low price of $139.99, the T91DVFD is the best value of the under $200 flip downs.

The T91DVFD comes in black, grey and tan and can be purchased Tview T91DVFD 9 inch overhead DVD player

Best overhead DVD player for under $250

Audiovox AVXMTG9

Audiovox AVXMTG9 Overhead DVD player

Moving towards a slightly more competitive category, flip down monitors just under $250 can come in all shapes and sizes but most people a 9 inch flip down should be plenty.

The AVXMTG9U is definitely the cream of the crop in several different areas in this category. What really sets this monitor apart from the rest is build quality. An Audiovox unit even feels sturdier in your hands than other flip downs.

As far as reliability goes this unit is an absolute champion. It is widely considered as one of our products least likely to be returned for defective reasons and built to last for years of use.

he 9U has every feature you need in a flip down such as a SD card reader and USB port, as well as built in dome lights.

The AVXMTG9U is available in black, tan and grey and can be purchased Audiovox AVXMTG9 9 inch overhead DVD player

Best overhead DVD player for under $300

Audiovox AVXMTG10UHD

AVXMTG10U Flip Down MonitorFlip down monitors worth noting in this price range tend to stay between the 10-12 inch range and can come with extras such as free headphones included. Still the best monitor for the money is the Audiovox AVXMTG10U 10 inch flip down monitor.

Although this particular monitor does not come with any extras it does not need them to provide the best value in this class. A reliable DVD loader that plays smoothly every time as well as a sturdy build more than make up for lack of freebies.

A great thing about the 10U is that it comes in with all three colors in the box. Sure the black will already be installed but one can easily replace the color to grey or even beige by replacing two quick trim pieces.

With infrared for headphone use, fm modulator to listen over the cars speakers and a crisp quality picture to round out the unit, you can’t really go wrong with this monitor as it has no real weakness except maybe for the fact that it does not have external speakers.

For more info on the AVXMTG10U click Audiovox AVXMTG10UHD 10 inch overhead DVD player

Active Headrests – What are they and how to install DVD’s

What are Active Headrests?

Active headrests are normally found on newer vehicles as a part of the cars safety equipment. These headrests are referred to as active because in an event of an accident the headrests actively move forward to cradle the head and prevent whiplash. A quick look into your vehicles interior can help identify whether your car is equipped with an active headrest restrain system. Vehicles with active headrests commonly have what looks like a rectangular shaped plastic enclosure on the back of an otherwise cloth or leather headrest (See picture below).

dvd headrest monitors
You can have DVD players in vehicles that are equipped with Active headrests

Can I still have DVD in the headrest with active headrests?

Removing the active headrests from a vehicle would not only cause the airbag light on the dash to turn on but may also void the vehicles warranty. Aftermarket headrest DVD manufacturers usually get around this problem by designing DVD headrests specifically made for vehicles with active headrests that simply attach to your existing posts, without the need of removing the headrest. Universal active DVD headrest monitors will only come with a plastic enclosure in a black, gray, or tan color. However companies such as Vizualogic and Rosen specialize in designing headrest buns that are enclosed with the exact material, color and stitching as the one found in your current interior.

How to install active DVD Headrests

active headrest installation
The completed installation of the Rosen AV7700 Active Headrest DVD System

We recently installed some active headrest monitors on a BMW X5 made by Rosen, one of the companies dedicated to matching your cars interior and delivering high end monitors.

This particular installation called for a bit of a custom job as the customer was looking for built in speakers when these Rosen units don’t carry any. What we did was attach a computer speaker to these monitors and attach a seperate volume control.

factory active headrests
Here are the headrests prior to installing the Rosen AV7700 DVD Headrsts

Here is a quick view of the X5′ s active headrest monitors before installing Rosen’s active headrest monitors.

seat back removed for installation
The seat back is removed prior to installing the DVD active headrests.

The back of the seat must be removed in order to run and hide all of the wiring needed to complete the installation.

rosen av7700 dvd headrest attached to the seat
Here we have attached the Rosen AV7700 DVD Headrest and run the wiring through the seats

Removing the back of the seat and running the wires that will ultimately run to a control box that will house all of the systems connections is often the hardest part of installing these headrest monitors Rosen AV7500 Installation Manual.

cable installation of dvd headrests
Here we have tied off all the cabling for the new headrests

Once all of the wires have been ran to the bottom of the seat where the control box is located you are ready to close the back of the seat.

dvd headrest control box
We have installed the central control box underneath the drivers seat. Both DVD headrests connect to this control box

All the connections on a Rosen headrest system ultimately must connect to a control box which the installer will place on the bottom of the driver or passengers seat. This control box controls the power source and houses the headrest monitors RCA connections.

active dvd headrest with speakers
This customer wanted to have speakers attached to each headrest so that headphone would not be required. Here you can see our custom work

On vehicles with active headrests you cannot remove the headrest without voiding the vehicles warranty or causing the check airbag light to turn on so active headrest monitor simply attach to the back of the headrest as seen above.

installation is complete
The completed passenger side headrest.

All connections are ran through the back of the seat so no wires show when the installation is complete.

headrest dvd installation is complete
The completed vehicle with both Active DVD Headrests with added speaker systems

A panoramic view of the interior of the vehicle when the installation is has been finalized.

Car Stereo Installation 101- Video tutorial

Get the supplies you need for your car stereo installation

Car Stereo Installation

Learn the basics of an aftermarket car stereo installation. We take you through the steps of wiring a Clarion NX404 Double DIN navigation system to a Metra wire harness. First we walk you through the steps of preparing the Metra wire harness and the connections to the Clarion radio harness. In the second step, we take you through the process of mounting the radio to the Metra Dash kit and preparing to install the radio in the vehicle.

If you have any additional questions please feel free to ask us below.

2015 Pioneer AVIC-8100NEX With Android Auto Overview and Review

Check out the Pioneer AVIC-8100NEX Double DIN Navigation system with Android auto and Apple CarPlay

Today we are featuring Pioneer’s Flagship model, the AVIC-8100NEX.

With top of the line bluetooth, intuitive built in navigation and seamless smart-phone 2 way connectivity this years crown jewel definitely lives up to the the pioneer legacy. Last year they were one of the first manufacturers to introduce Apple carplay. This year they continue to focus on a driver friendly interface with Google’s answer to carplay, in Android Auto.

Android Auto is an interface designed specifically with driving in mind to make it as convenient as possible to access your smartphone and minimize distractions. You will have a Google maps tab with turn by turn navigation, a music tab, to access to all of your music including streaming apps like spotify as well as a phone tab to make calls and see your call history.

Most importantly it has an overview screen that will organize all the most important information in one screen including the weather, anything scheduled on your calendar, and missed phone calls and text messages.

The AVIC-8100NEX features and extremely responsive touch screen identical to your smartphone. Its premium voice command to make everything even easier to access and less distracting while driving. It is satellite radio and steering wheel control ready so if you already have those features in your car it can retain them with the accompanying harnesses. It has incredible sound quality and can even play flac files.

Get yours today at, you get a 30 day return policy and a 1 year warranty.

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How to install an Amplifier and Subwoofer in a car

If you’re installing a subwoofer and amplifier in a factory-amplified audio system, you may have some questions. This is a common modification for vehicles, but before you begin switching wires around and dismantling the existing parts of your automobile, take a look at our how-to guide.

1. Identify Equipment & Wire Placement. You need to run the positive lead to the positive terminal of the battery. Only the driver’s and passenger sides of the footwell have access to the firewall. The driver’s side is optimal, as it generally allows to an empty grommet or the ability to piggyback from an existing cable bundle. If this side’s space is, you’ll have difficulty feeding the power wire to the battery. Use the passenger side footwell to gain access in these cases.

2. Locate a large grommet with ample space.

3. Locate a cargo bin with plenty of room for your device, which will give you easy access during installation, as well as for any future needs.

4. Disconnect the negative lead of the battery, and remove all of the paneling on the side of the vehicle that will house your device.

5. Organize all parts by location, and use bags to store the hardware so you can easily reassemble your vehicle when you’re finished.

6. Disable the subwoofer. Disconnect all factory wiring behind the car’s paneling.

7. Test for factory subwoofer speaker leads. Use the subwoofer speaker outputs from the factory amplifier. Determine which wire to use by visually confirming the wire color at the factory subwoofer and amplifier.

8. Verify wire colors using volt meter and cheater lead. Check out our video Testing for Continuity for further assistance.

9. Test for Phase prior to disconnecting the battery or use a phase detector after removing the battery.

10. Test Speaker Level Inputs.

  • Connect your leads to the signal wires you tested earlier.
  • Pull the speaker leads and remote turn-on through the factory hole in the carpeting to the factory amplifier.
  • Run the power lead through the hole drilled in the grommet under the dash.

***Tip*** Undersize the hole you drill in the grommet to ensure a tight seal between the wires and rubber grommet to prevent water from coming in.

11. Shield the power lead and ensure an original look:

  • Use split loom tubing.
  • Tie off all wiring to the factory wiring underneath the lip of the firewall to the battery.
  • The power lead must be fused in a proper location, which is ideally within six inches of the battery.

12. Mount your fuse to the factory battery mount. See our video How to Wire a Fuse.

13. Ground your connections. The ground lead is connected to the factory ground point near amplifier. To provide an ideal ground, remove paint with sandpaper.

14. Prep the storage compartment:

  • Determine the mounting location.
  • Drill holes proper holes for the cabling.
  • Install plastic bushings to clean hole and protect wiring.
  • With all cables run, reassemble the vehicle, and prepare final connections.

15. Prevent sparking:

  • Use a test light connected to positive side of battery and slowly charge amplifier’s power supply.
  • Before connecting battery, make the final subwoofer connections.
  • Prepare the subwoofer speaker wires from the amp to the subwoofer, now connecting negative lead from the battery and testing remote turn-on.

16. Use crimp connectors to make connections. Once connected, turn on the system and adjust gain and crossover settings. Use factory audio settings to fine-tune your new audio system.

To see this information put into action, check out our YouTube video How to Install an Amplifier and a Subwoofer in Your Car – Rockford Fosgate and Kicker.

How to video – Backup Camera Installation

Start to finish, fully detailed!

As part 3 of our series on how to install a backup camera we take you through the entire installation process.

Our equipment and installation locations

For our installation, we decided that the back up camera would be located in the rear tailgate and the monitor would be a replacement rearview mirror monitor. The camera we decided on was the Boyo VTK230HD back up camera as it was very small and would mount perfectly to the lip overhang by the license plate.

backup camera installed
Here we mounted the backup camera near the license plate on the overhang above the license plate

For the monitor, we opted to use the Safesight RVMZH4300 4.3 glass mount rearview mirror monitor.

rear view mirror monitor
Here we installed the glass mount rear view mirror in place of the factory mirror

Why add a back up camera?

The Toyota Sienna minivan is a relatively large vehicle that has multiple blindspots. For most drivers vans and SUV’s are the most difficult vehicles to back up, let alone see something small such as a child or toy directly below the rear bumper. This makes them very prone to hitting objects that you cannot directly see. A back up camera eliminates this risk.

items behind vehicle
It’s to easy to run things over behind your vehicle.

Why is this installation more difficult?

Opening tailgates present a unique problem; the wiring must be installed in a way that allows the tailgate to continue to function normally. If unfamiliar, the installation is difficult, we show you how to make the installation a breeze.

backup camera wiring
Here we are feeding the cabling through the factory rubber boot

This in depth video is meant to be a reference manual on how to do the entire installation. Make sure to check out our other videos on back up camera installation and the concepts behind the entire process.

Click on the chapters below to skip ahead or go back to the section that best helps you with your rear view camera installation.

How To Correctly Install a Car Stereo, Wiring Harness & Dash Kit

Can I do this?

Let’s face it, installing an aftermarket car stereo can appear to be a daunting task. With some basic skills nearly anyone can successfully install and aftermarket radio in their vehicle. Learning these basics of car stereo installation without a teacher can take years. We show you the tips of the trade and the basics of an aftermarket car stereo installation.

Step #1 Car Stereo Wiring

metra wiring harness installation
Here her prepare the Metra wiring harness and steering wheel remote

We take you through the steps of wiring a Clarion NX404 Double DIN navigation system. First we walk you through the steps of preparing the Metra wire harness and the connections to the Clarion Double DIN radio. Preparing the wire harness by stripping the appropriate wires and using crimp connectors to make those connections to the aftermarket radio’s harness.

The Metra wiring harness is specifically designed to plug in to your vehicle’s factory wire harness without having to cut the factory wiring. These harnesses have color coded wires to make connection much easier for the novice. All aftermarket radios have a standard wiring color that matches up with the Metra Wire harness. Be sure to check out our video on the difference in wiring harnesses here.

Step #2 Car Stereo Dash Kit

In the second step, we take you through the process of mounting the aftermarket radio to the Metra Dash kit and preparing to install the radio in the vehicle. This part of the stereo installation is often the easiest part as it is aa matter of mounting.

metra dash kit installation
Here we are installing the Metra Dash Kit

If you have any additional questions please feel free to ask us below.

To purchase these items

Car Stereo Receivers
Installation Parts and Accessories

Find the correct installation hardware for your vehicle

Find the Installation kit and harness for your car here:

toyota car stereo
OEM factory radio…. How boring!
car stereo installation parts
Here we have all the items we need for the installation of our new car stereo. We have a Pioneer AVH-X3500BHS, ASWC Steering wheel remote, Metra dash kit, and Metra wiring interface
metra dash kit installation
Here we are installing the Metra Dash Kit
metra wiring harness installation
Here her prepare the Metra wiring harness and steering wheel remote
car stereo installation
About to install the Aftermarket Pioneer Double DIN Car stereo
Pioneer double din installation
We install a Pioneer double din car stereo

Complete in dash radio installation

Maybe its the Navigation, maybe its the ability to play DVD’s in your vehicle while on the road or it might just be the ability to play songs directly from your smartphone wirelessly, whatever the reason might be for you to want to upgrade your stock radio, there are only a few steps that you’ll need to take to make sure your installation goes as smoothly as possible.

Step-by-Step installation instructions

Old factory radio

We installed a feature-packed Pioneer AVH-X3500BHS (Now Replaced With the AVH-X3600BHS) on a 09 Tundra. Like most aftermarket radios the X3500 is compatible with the stock steering wheel controls but we had to add an interface to make it happen. For the most part this was a fairly standard head unit installation but we also needed to add a special harness to bypass the JBL components on some Toyota vehicles.

We chose the X3500 (starting at $349.99) for Pioneers reputation for quality and reliability as well as what seems like its endless entertainment options. The X3500 has the ability to play Sirius XM satellite radio, HD radio, play DVD’s/MP3’s and has industry leading Parrot Bluetooth technology to stream music from your phone wirelessly including Pandora playlists and answer phone calls on the go.

Apart from having to add a couple of adapters, it did not take much to transform this technology outdated stock radio, which even has a cassette player(not that there is anything wrong with that) with top of the line technology.

We walk you through the process below to help you get a better feel on how easy it can be to upgrade.

Old radio completely removed

Old radio

Step 1: Removing the factory head unit can sometimes be a bit of a pain but the first step is to remove the plastic housing surrounding the unit. In this 09 Tundra the plastic housing includes pretty much the entire dash in a circular form.

Once the housing is out, the head unit itself should be held in place by a couple of screws, simply remove those screws and un-clip the wiring harness as seen in white (above) and you have the blank canvas for your new navigation.

Our wire harnesses

Completed wire harnesses

Step 2: While upgrading to a new navigation receiver our customer wanted to make sure he did not lose his ability to use the factory steering wheel navigation controls. We were able to keep the controls by using the Metra ASWC-1, a steering wheel control interface for select aftermarket radios that can be bought for around $50.00.

This 09 Tundra also needed an adapter that would make it compatible the stock JBL equipment already in the vehicle. With Metra TYT001 we are able to use the stock amplifier and stock speakers with the aftermarket navigation receiver for about $75.00. This double-din unit did not need a dash kit as it fits practically snug without additional housing.

New radio ready to push into the dash

New radio installed in the dash

Step 3: Once all of the wiring interfaces and adapters are in place, installing the new navigation receiver is about the same process as removing the stock radio to begin with. In this case, we attached the JBL adapter to the vehicles stock harness and connected the steering wheel adapter.

Once those two connections have been made, we hold the unit in place using the same screw holes we used to remove the stock unit. The picture on the left should show exactly how it should look once mounted. Once that is mounted all that is left is to place back the plastic housing that hides all of the electrical connections of the dash and the installation is complete.

Radio installation complete

Metra Wiring Harnesses Explained – 70- vs. 71- Video

Why are there two Metra wiring harnesses?

Metra provides two types of harnesses for different installations. Occasionally you may need to replace the factory harness and in other situations you want to replace the factory radio, we show you the differences between Metra wiring harnesses.

Replacement vehicle Harness – 71-

Metra produces two types of wiring harnesses, one is designed to replace the factory wire harness in the vehicle if it becomes damaged. These wiring harnesses have a part prefix of 71-****.

Metra wiring harness
We show you the differences in wiring harnesses that Metra produces

Aftermarket Radio Installation harness – 70-

The more commonly used Metra wiring harness are those that are designed so that you can connect an aftermarket car stereo to the factory wiring without cutting. These harnesses have a part prefix of 70-****.

If you have any additional questions please feel free to ask us below.

Order Car Stereo Installation Parts
Order Metra Dash Kits
Order Metra Wiring Harnesses
Order all your car audio gear

Find the Installation kit and harness for your car here: