So the first thing that I immediately noticed after buying the Jimny was that the sound was worse than terrible, it was probably the worst sound that I have ever heard in a car. If you played music you couldn’t actually hear the words, and the sound felt like it was coming from your feet, it didn’t fill the car. So without any hesitation, I set off to improve this asap.
Step 1: The speakers
The Jimny by default has two 4″ speakers in the front and nothing in the rear. However, when searching for replacement speakers the most important thing is what size can one fit in. As always we want to fit the biggest and the best.
Rear: 5 – 1/4″
Front Speakers sizes
Rear Speakers sizes
The new gear
After some good googling and online research I opted to go for the high-end Alpine series Coaxial speakers (Coaxial means the tweeter is built into the speaker). I initially wanted to go with a split system (meaning the tweeter is separate from the mid) in the front to try and get the sound to be less in the footwell. However, I couldn’t find a decent 4″ set at the time I was looking.
Then for the active subwoofer, I went with the ‘JBl 8″ bass pro’ as this was apparently best in class. In hindsight, I would probably have gone with the Targa active sub as it is MUCH cheaper and possibly better in my opinion.
Step 2: The Install
The obvious first place to start is indeed the front speakers, these are the easiest to change. As a phase 1, you can improve the sound just by changing the front speakers without having to break anything or take the whole car apart. This alone is a worthwhile upgrade.
Remove the plastic panels
This next step is optional, I thought I would rather not cut into the stock wiring and rather migrate the connectors from the old speakers to the new speakers, this means that I can simply plug the new speaker. One could just simply cut the wires and connect them to speakers.
Next on the list was to soundproof the door panels and ensure that there would be no wires that rattle. This can also help with the mid-bass of the speaker as it slows the air down simulating a larger-volume enclosure.
The rear speakers
The rear speakers are unfortunately not as straightforward and simple as the front speakers. The main reason being, in order to access them, you need to basically take the whole rear of the car apart. By this I mean: Remove the rear seats entirely, remove the seat belts & remove the back side panels. This is quite a tricky process as there are quite a few little plastic clips which hold it in place.
Here is a very detailed write up on how to remove the rear seats & panels.
Once you have the rear panels removed, the next step is to locate the stock rear speaker connector. many people opt to run new cables from the speakers to the head unit as the stock ones are rather thin, I however just re-used what was there. There is a 4 pin connector located the left wheel arch, this gives you your Rear left & right cables. I removed the pins from the plastic connector and then crimped on my own connectors to just join up with the cables. You will need to run a cable from the left side to the right-hand side speaker, and the stock speaker connector does not go to the right-hand side rear.
The placement of the subwoofer was really tricky, I had written off the back of the vehicle as I often pack the car FULL and the long term view is to put a full drawer system in. So this left the middle to front. The obvious choice of subwoofer for the Jimny is an active powered subwoofer (meaning it has a build-in amplifier) as there is definitely not any space for a sub and an amp. I opted to go for the JBL active subwoofer.
After much debate and trying to place this sub around the car, it came apparent that the only ideal place would be under the front seats. One can simply mount it to the floor, however, I decided this will not end well when my first river crossing goes bad, and when overlanding we often pack loads of stuff under the front seats. So I decided to mount the sub on the bottom of the driver’s seat. This mean the sub will be raised off the floor, it would move forward and backwards with the chair.
Installing the subwoofer
This step is optional, however over the past 3 cars which I have owned and done the sound on all of them, I find soundproofing helps allot with rattles and especially with road noise. Now the idea of the Jimny was to build an overlander which would be doing many hours on long rough dirt roads, I quite liked the idea of soundproofing the entire car. This would also help with thermal insulation when driving in the boiling hot African heat or the freezing cold snow.
The soundproofing I did was very DIY and I would not recommend it to others. There are professional products out there made just for this. I simply went to my local hardware and bought a role of ISOtherm non-flammable roofing insulation and then two rolls of roof waterproofing bitchumen. I had read online that bitchemen was very similar to the professional sound deadening sheets you can buy, just half the price.
All in all the DIY waterproofing turned out to be a SERIOUS job. The stuff was super difficult to work with, It stuck to my hands and took many many hours to put on. It could NEVER be removed from that car, so it was actually a very risky thing to try. It could have smelt bad or all fallen off leaving sticky bitchumen all over the car. However, over a year later it is still going strong and I have no regrets. I just think it’s probably worth the few extra bucks to buy the professional sheets which are also much larger. I literally had a 15cm wide strips all over the car with lots of overlapping.
I am extremely happy with the outcome of the build, the costs all added up to be more than what I had expected. But the car is much quieter, the music & sound is amazingly clear and the subwoofer just fills the entire cabin with what’s missing from a stock sound system. I would honestly recommend this speaker swap / upgrade as the first mod that anyone makes to their Jimny. Please feel free to contact me should you have any further questions, and please leave comments below.