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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I spent most of last weekend doing a major upgrade to the audio system in my 2014 Forte5 with UVO (non-nav). The factory system sucked pretty bad, as you all know.

Here is a list of what I installed:

  • Hertz Audio DSK 165.3 6.5" 2-way component speakers (front)
  • Hertz Audio DCX 165.3 6.5" coaxial speakers (rear)
  • Rockford Fosgate R300X4 4-channel amp for main speakers
  • Atrend 12SAL sealed subwoofer enclosure
  • Infinity Reference 1260w 12" subwoofer
  • Rockford Fosgate R500X1D subwoofer amplifier
  • Lightning Audio dual 4 gauge amplifier wiring kit
  • Stinger SGW9920 9 Conductor Speedwire 20ft
  • 16 gauge speaker wire
  • 12 gauge subwoofer signal wire
The first thing I did was work on the subwoofer enclosure. I contemplated building my own, something I've done for nearly 30 years now, but the enclosure I found was a whopping $49, and it was built very well. Full 3/4" MDF for all 6 faces, nicely carpeted, decent speaker terminals, etc. I decided to run full beads of silicone along every inside edge, just to ensure an airtight box, as well as around the speaker terminal box. I then glued about 3/4 lb of poly-fil to the inside surfaces. The general rule of thumb is about 1 lb per 1 cu ft, but I went a little less initially. After I do some tuning and measuring, I may adjust that. I also decided to mount both amplifiers to the sub enclosure, along with the power and ground distribution blocks. This makes it a nice contained unit for everything.

Here is the result of all that:









The first thing I did inside the car was to remove the factory head unit so I could test the voltage output from the ACC lead, pin 11 on Connector B. It does indeed output 12v when the ignition is on, a perfect lead for the amp remote-turn on inputs.

I used the online factory service manual for all procedures to remove/install everything (head unit, door panels, trim panels, etc). This came in quite handy.


The next thing I tackled was installing the new speakers. I started with the front passenger door. Removing the door panel was simple. Removing the door speaker was even easier, 4 screws and one connector, and it comes right out. I immediately realized I was going to have to somehow use the mounting bracket that the factory speaker was built into. The hole in the door was too large for my new speaker, plus it would also be too far in the door and may interfere with the window. I brought the factory speaker and one new speaker into the garage to examine on my work bench. After a few minutes of comparing sizes, I decided to just cut out the factory speaker from the mounting bracket. There are 5 plastic arms from the speaker to the bracket that I cut at the bracket. I also had to use scissors to cut the speaker surround. I then cleaned up the plastic edges where I cut out the speaker. Now I had a nice, clean mounting bracket for my new speaker. The new speaker's 4 mounting holes lined up perfectly on top of the factory bracket. I drilled 4 pilot holes into the top of the plastic ring the new speaker sat on, and then I used some 1" drywall screws I had to secure the new speaker to the bracket. The screws bit into the plastic perfectly and made a nice, tight seal. I then soldered a short piece of speaker wire from the new speaker to the inside terminals on the factory bracket. Now I can still use the factory wiring inside the door itself. Perfect.

Here's the underside of the new speaker/bracket:



Here's the top. You can see where the factory wiring plugs into the bracket at the very bottom of the image.



And here's the new speaker installed in the door:



I repeated this same process for the other 3 doors. It took about an hour total to get all 4 door speakers installed.


The next thing I did was remove the factory tweeters from the dash, also a very simple procedure. There's a small slot in the tweeter grill cover. Use a plastic tool or screwdriver to pop the cover off. There are two screws that secure the tweeter bracket in place. Remove the screws and the tweeter assembly comes right now. Then just unplug it from the connector. I then took a factory tweeter assembly and a new tweeter into the garage to likewise determine how to mount the new tweeter. The factory tweeter is glued to the mounting bracket, so I just carefully broke the factory tweeter off the mounting bracket. I used some epoxy to secure the new tweeter to the mounting bracket. The wires coming off the new tweeter were very short, so I extended them with some 12 gauge speaker wire, such that the wire dropped all the way to the floor of the car when I put the tweeter in place and secured it with the screws. When I went to put the tweeter grill back in place, it wouldn't fit. There is a small plastic ring around the center of the grill that interfered with my new tweeter which stands a bit taller than the factory tweeter. So I just cut off that plastic ring, and it fit like a charm.

Here's the underside of the tweeter grills, the left one has the plastic ring removed, the right one is still intact.



Next I decided to tackle running the 4 gauge power cable from the battery to the hatch. I found one post here from someone who ran it down a hole in the fender, through the side, etc, etc, and I started going that way, but it was such a pain in the butt, and the power cable I used is so big, that it was actually scraping the insulation off trying to get it down that small hole in the fender. So I backed it out and then took a better look at the firewall. There's a nice, big grommet just to the left of the brake pedal where other wires are passed through, so I decided I would pass my power cable through there, too. I first poked a small hole through it to verify I could get through without interfering with anything else. All looked good, so I then made a large enough hole to pass the power cable through. So much easier.

Here's the view from inside the car of the power cable going into that large grommet:



The dual amp wiring kit comes with a large fuse holder to install right at the battery. I cut a small slot out of the back of the plastic box to run the cable to the battery terminal. Here's a shot of the fuse holder in place secured to the battery terminal:



I then moved the fuse holder down and secured it in place with some zip ties so it won't move around:



And here is how it looks with the battery terminal box cover back in place:



At this point I realized that the battery in my car was not orignal, and there was no tie-down hardware in place, so the battery actually just moves around on the battery tray. I took the car to Carmax (where I bought it, a much better experience than I expected actually), and the service manager took one look at it and immediately ordered new tie-down hardware and a proper battery for me. Nice!


Now it was time to remove all of the interior trim pieces to allow access to run all of the cables. Removing the trim pieces is easy, just follow the factory service manual.

I ran the power cable down the driver's side of the car.

To get the remote turn-on signal and 8 speaker leads (+ and - for 4 channels) from the head unit to the hatch, I used a wonderful product I happened to find on Amazon, the Stinger SGW9920 9 Conductor Speedwire 20ft. This is a nicely shielded cable with 9 wires inside. I connected the wires on one end to the various leads running to the head unit, and then ran the cable down the passenger side to the hatch.

Then one by one, I ran 12 gauge speaker wire from each speaker to the hatch. In order to verify factory speaker wiring, I used a 9 volt battery and taped about a foot of speaker wire to the leads, and then taped two small finishing nails to the other end of the speaker wire. I used this as a signal tester to verify the leads that ran to each door speaker. I also discovered that Kia smartly twisted each of the + and - wires for each door, so you can unwrap a section of wires and look for the twisted pair. I also wrote down the factory wiring colors when I replaced each door speaker.


So now I have the speakers in place, power cable run to the back, signal wires run to the back and all speaker wires run to the back. I also ran a cable that goes to a remote sub level control from the dash to the hatch. I still had to run a ground cable. I removed everything from the hatch to get down to the bare metal. I spent a little time looking under the car to see where there was free space. I found a nice spot of free space above/below, and then I drilled a hole through the floor. I used a 1/4" threaded bolt with washers, lock washer and nut to secure the ground cable in place. I also scraped off the paint on the topside around the hole to ensure a good ground connection. I forgot to take a picture of this though.

Then I ran all of the cables behind the rear seat so they all came up through a nice space on the driver's side behind the rear seat. I reinstalled all of the stuff I removed from the back and brought the (now quite heavy) sub enclosure outside. Here's what it looked like then:




It was 100 degrees here in Austin all weekend, so much of my install involved scenes like this:




At this point I realized one thing I didn't do that I should have when I was connecting that 9-wire cable to the leads from the head unit. The wire coloring is coded to match EIA standards, but I was so damn hot and tired by the time I got to that point, I just picked my own color scheme and wrote down which colors I connected to which leads on the head unit. I should have taken the time to look up the wire color standards, as this would have made for a slightly cleaner look when connecting to the amps. Oh well. I just had to be very careful to get every signal wire connected correctly, hence the blue tape with my color scheme in that last picture.


After lots and lots of wire stripping and crimping, it ended up looking like this:





Oh yeah, one more thing. The subwoofer amplifier comes with a remote level control I mounted under the climate controls on the dash. This allows me to adjust the sub level up/down as needed based on the song. Some songs are mixed with way too much bass, and some with not enough. Here's how that looks:



Monday night I was out to dinner, and when I was about to head home (now in the dark), I was nearly blinded by the brightest blue LED light I have ever seen in my life from that remote sub level control. Why would Rockford put such a bright LED on that thing? I drove nearly the entire way home with my hand covering it up. It was that bright. I covered it up with a small circle of electrical tape.


I haven't had a chance to do any system tuning yet, but even so it sounds pretty amazing. The amplifiers all have high pass and low pass crossovers and independent gain controls. I need to use some test signals and a real time analyzer to adjust things better. However I've already decided I am going to add an Audio Control DQ-61 sound processor to the system (mounted to the left side of the sub enclosure), which will take the signals from the factory head unit and allow me to do left/right and front/sub time adjustments, plus it has 7-band EQs for front, rear and sub channels. It then feeds the signals via RCA cables to the amps. Much, much cleaner sound plus a much better way to tune the system to deal with frequency issues. I'll probably order this tomorrow and install it next week.
 

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That is an awesome writeup. Great attention to detail. One quick question, what were the OEM tweeters like? On my previous 2011, they were just some crappy piezo type.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
That is an awesome writeup. Great attention to detail. One quick question, what were the OEM tweeters like? On my previous 2011, they were just some crappy piezo type.
Thanks! I hope my write-up is useful for others wanting to do similar upgrades.

I didn't save the tweeters, and I also didn't take pictures of them before I removed them from the mounting brackets, but they seemed pretty cheap and brittle. They actually easily broke apart as I was trying to remove them from the bracket. Very likely also just cheap piezo tweeters.

I just did some image searching and found this picture that looks like the tweeters that came out of my car:

 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I recently installed an AudioControl DQ-61 audio processor to fine tune the audio and deal with shortcomings of the factory head unit. I've spent several hours making adjustments over a few days. In general it sounds much, much better, however the factory head unit is doing some very weird things. From one time to the next, the rear level changes quite noticeably, and since I pull the sub channel from the rear (well, the DQ-61 automatically pulls the sub channel information from the rear input), the sub level also changes substantially. Has anyone else seen this issue? It's quite annoying and frustrating. I'm going to try manually pulling the sub channel off the fronts instead and see if that is an improvement.

I'm about ready to ditch the factory head unit and go with a known good aftermarket head unit.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I rewired the DQ-61 to bypass AutoMode which extracts sub channel information from the rear channel inputs. Now I have the front channel inputs also feeding the subwoofer inputs. After tweaking the sub level and EQ a bit I auditioned 5 or 6 songs of very different styles, and now it sounds excellent. I shall see if this remains sounding good each time the system turns on.

For anyone who wants to maintain the factory head unit but add separate amps and a sub, the DQ-61 is a pretty amazing audio processor. I highly recommend it!
 

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I rewired the DQ-61 to bypass AutoMode which extracts sub channel information from the rear channel inputs. Now I have the front channel inputs also feeding the subwoofer inputs. After tweaking the sub level and EQ a bit I auditioned 5 or 6 songs of very different styles, and now it sounds excellent. I shall see if this remains sounding good each time the system turns on.

For anyone who wants to maintain the factory head unit but add separate amps and a sub, the DQ-61 is a pretty amazing audio processor. I highly recommend it!
Following this with interest, I have been looking at changing the Head Unit but I will loose my rear reverse camera and trying to source all the wiring harnesses so that I retain steering wheel control has turned me off this approach. So getting the DQ-61 sounds like the best option and I can get it here in Australia off E-Bay.
I would be interested in what your thought is of the overall sound quality now you have this working properly on your Kia headunit. I just find the factory headunit sounds weird like it's missing mid bass or something, sounds like it is all top and bottom end.
 

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I recently installed an AudioControl DQ-61 audio processor to fine tune the audio and deal with shortcomings of the factory head unit. I've spent several hours making adjustments over a few days. In general it sounds much, much better, however the factory head unit is doing some very weird things. From one time to the next, the rear level changes quite noticeably, and since I pull the sub channel from the rear (well, the DQ-61 automatically pulls the sub channel information from the rear input), the sub level also changes substantially. Has anyone else seen this issue? It's quite annoying and frustrating. I'm going to try manually pulling the sub channel off the fronts instead and see if that is an improvement.

I'm about ready to ditch the factory head unit and go with a known good aftermarket head unit.
Yes the factory head unit does do some weird stuff in the sub bass region. Definitely rolls off bass but also other issues I think. I thought about getting external dsp but endeded up getting a new head unit. I think that dsp should get rid of the factory eq curve and flatten it out. either way is a good alternative the the stock head unit. Was the dsp easy to set up?
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Following this with interest, I have been looking at changing the Head Unit but I will loose my rear reverse camera and trying to source all the wiring harnesses so that I retain steering wheel control has turned me off this approach. So getting the DQ-61 sounds like the best option and I can get it here in Australia off E-Bay.
I would be interested in what your thought is of the overall sound quality now you have this working properly on your Kia headunit. I just find the factory headunit sounds weird like it's missing mid bass or something, sounds like it is all top and bottom end.
I've driven a few times now since making my last change, and so far it remains sounding very good. No more bass levels being too much or too little. The DQ-61 does a great job of fine tuning the sound for sure. I'm still playing around with the feature it has to counter the factory head unit rolling off bass as the volume increases though. I find that's been a trial and error thing for me so far. The DQ-61 is worth the cost, especially if you have a subwoofer.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Yes the factory head unit does do some weird stuff in the sub bass region. Definitely rolls off bass but also other issues I think. I thought about getting external dsp but endeded up getting a new head unit. I think that dsp should get rid of the factory eq curve and flatten it out. either way is a good alternative the the stock head unit. Was the dsp easy to set up?
The DQ-61 was easy to install. Doing the initial setup took a good hour or more at first, and I've been continually tweaking it. I've probably spent a few hours total tweaking it now. I really like the overall sound of the system now, but I'll probably still make more minor adjustments over time.
 

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Nice. I was using an audio control loc. But it wasn't a dsp. Just an active loc. Lc2i was the model. Those Hertz speakers look good btw. I've heard good things about them.
 

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I've driven a few times now since making my last change, and so far it remains sounding very good. No more bass levels being too much or too little. The DQ-61 does a great job of fine tuning the sound for sure. I'm still playing around with the feature it has to counter the factory head unit rolling off bass as the volume increases though. I find that's been a trial and error thing for me so far. The DQ-61 is worth the cost, especially if you have a subwoofer.
I have ordered the DQ-61 through an Ebay store in the US $279 plus $35 freight to Australia which wasn't bad, so a long wait until the end of the month when it arrives.I haven't a Subwoofer which doesn't worry me I will be happy if I can tune in some upper bass and tone the midrange down a little. The EQ settings on the factory headunit are rubbish they hardly alter anything at present I have bass +10 and the Mid's and Treble -6. I think the Techs who set up the sound settings for this factory headunit must be tone deaf or they are use to sqarky sound from their small speakers in their portable sound gear.
With your speaker inputs to the DQ-61, did you run a feed from your back speakers or did you just run the feed from the front speakers and split the input for the back speaker inputs on the DQ-61.
Keep posting as I'm anxiously waiting to gage your opinion on the new sound
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Nice. I was using an audio control loc. But it wasn't a dsp. Just an active loc. Lc2i was the model. Those Hertz speakers look good btw. I've heard good things about them.
I really like the Hertz component speakers in front, much nicer than the coaxials in the rear. I'm tempted to replace the rear coaxials with components as well, just to have the same sound all around. And driven with good power they sound great at all volumes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 · (Edited)
I have ordered the DQ-61 through an Ebay store in the US $279 plus $35 freight to Australia which wasn't bad, so a long wait until the end of the month when it arrives.I haven't a Subwoofer which doesn't worry me I will be happy if I can tune in some upper bass and tone the midrange down a little. The EQ settings on the factory headunit are rubbish they hardly alter anything at present I have bass +10 and the Mid's and Treble -6. I think the Techs who set up the sound settings for this factory headunit must be tone deaf or they are use to sqarky sound from their small speakers in their portable sound gear.
With your speaker inputs to the DQ-61, did you run a feed from your back speakers or did you just run the feed from the front speakers and split the input for the back speaker inputs on the DQ-61.
Keep posting as I'm anxiously waiting to gage your opinion on the new sound
For running signals from the head unit to the rear, I found the following 9-wire cable on Amazon for $20:

Stinger SGW9920 9 Conductor Speedwire 20ft

It contains 1 wire for the remote turn-on lead and 8 wires for the +/- speaker wires for front and rear channels. I tapped into the speakers wires behind the head unit using this cable, and it worked like a charm. I also ran new 16 gauge wire from the amp to all speakers instead of using the factory speaker wires, up to the doors at least.

I did end up using the front speaker level signals as inputs for the subwoofer input on the DQ-61 as well (instead of letting the DQ-61 pull sub information from the rear inputs), which has helped a lot, since the rear channel level seems to vary from time to time.

You really should add a sub, even a small one! It makes such an impact on the overall sound, and you can cross over the 4 main channels so they can play more efficiently without trying to reproduce low bass. The DQ-61 has great subwoofer controls.

I've driven a couple more times now since my last post, and the system still sounds great with no changes. So my change to use the front signals for the sub input was a good change indeed.

The DQ-61's remote bass level control allows you to toggle the changes on/off by pressing the dial, so you can hear the difference the signal processing makes. It's quite stunning actually.
 

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For running signals from the head unit to the rear, I found the following 9-wire cable on Amazon for $20:

Stinger SGW9920 9 Conductor Speedwire 20ft

It contains 1 wire for the remote turn-on lead and 8 wires for the +/- speaker wires for front and rear channels. I tapped into the speakers wires behind the head unit using this cable, and it worked like a charm. I also ran new 16 gauge wire from the amp to all speakers instead of using the factory speaker wires, up to the doors at least.

I did end up using the front speaker level signals as inputs for the subwoofer input on the DQ-61 as well (instead of letting the DQ-61 pull sub information from the rear inputs), which has helped a lot, since the rear channel level seems to vary from time to time.

You really should add a sub, even a small one! It makes such an impact on the overall sound, and you can cross over the 4 main channels so they can play more efficiently without trying to reproduce low bass. The DQ-61 has great subwoofer controls.

I've driven a couple more times now since my last post, and the system still sounds great with no changes. So my change to use the front signals for the sub input was a good change indeed.

The DQ-61's remote bass level control allows you to toggle the changes on/off by pressing the dial, so you can hear the difference the signal processing makes. It's quite stunning actually.
Thanks Carl, I already have the speaker inputs and output wires connected, they were attached when I added my 4 channel power amp. As for bass goes I find with my Koup I get plenty of bass maybe it's due to the bigger size ofthe front doors on the Koup, I also have Dynamat on the door panels.
One other question, for your main power feed to the DQ-61 did you just tack into the power lead you already had for your Subwoofer?
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thanks Carl, I already have the speaker inputs and output wires connected, they were attached when I added my 4 channel power amp.As for bass I find with my Koup and the bigger doors I get plenty of bass maybe it's due to the bigger doors on the Koup.
One other question, for your main power feed to the DQ-61 did you just tack into the power lead you already had for your Subwoofer?
I ran a 4-gauge power wire from the battery (fused at the battery) to a power distribution block in the hatch that splits to 2 8-gauge wires each with another fuse there. I mounted the power distribution blocks (one for ground, too) right to my subwoofer enclosure. You can see them in pictures in the first post in this thread. For powering the DQ-61, I just tapped into one of the 8-gauge wires coming from the power distribution block for the amps.

You should be able to just use the same power and ground lines that feed your amp. The DQ-61 doesn't draw that much power, especially compared to an amplifier.

Definitely post an update when you get yours, and let me know if you have any questions about wiring it, setting any of the internal jumpers or making adjustments.
 

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Thanks for the very detailed and informative write-up. It takes a lot of time to do that. I'm a long-time car audio guy as well, attending my first IASCA event in 1990 and competing in 1992 when I was 17.


I plan to add a sub and amp to my Koup over the winter and maybe add another amp and do something up front later on. It has the same non-Nav UVO as yours and I was curious if the head unit did alter the signal based on volume like most modern cars do. I was hoping it wouldn't so I could run the rear speaker wires directly into the high-level inputs of the amp I want to use. Since that sounds like it won't be that easy I was thinking of buying an MTX RE-q processor. They don't sell them anymore but they were a much less expensive processor to add to a factory system to 'clean' the signal for use with an aftermarket amp. Any experience with those?
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Thanks for the very detailed and informative write-up. It takes a lot of time to do that. I'm a long-time car audio guy as well, attending my first IASCA event in 1990 and competing in 1992 when I was 17.


I plan to add a sub and amp to my Koup over the winter and maybe add another amp and do something up front later on. It has the same non-Nav UVO as yours and I was curious if the head unit did alter the signal based on volume like most modern cars do. I was hoping it wouldn't so I could run the rear speaker wires directly into the high-level inputs of the amp I want to use. Since that sounds like it won't be that easy I was thinking of buying an MTX RE-q processor. They don't sell them anymore but they were a much less expensive processor to add to a factory system to 'clean' the signal for use with an aftermarket amp. Any experience with those?
Very cool. I used to enter competitions when I was young, too. I built my own system, designed and built my own sub enclosure, etc. The judges were always blown away by how good my amateur system sounded.

As I said in my other post, you could just tap into the rear speakers for the sub channel, but the head unit does alter the bass output as volume increases, so something like the RE-q would be good to add. The DQ-61 would be overkill for just adding a sub, but if you're going to also replace the speakers and add a 4-channel amp along with a sub, then I recommend the DQ-61 for sure.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I don't have any experience with the MTX RE-q.

For just adding a subwoofer you could also consider using the AudioControl LC2i ($70 on Amazon), which is a 2-channel line-out converter with their Accubass processing and subwoofer control.
 

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For adding any amp to the Forte I'd definitely either swap head unit or get a dsp that fixes the eq curve for you or at least gives you eq controls to try and manually make it sound better. Like the audio control dq61 does. Good double din Hu with a lot of features vs good dsp is not a whole lot different in price. The low lows just don't come out of the stock hu.
 
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