Sound System

The soundsystem that came with my base model 2013 Silverado LT was as plain vanilla as it gets.  The fanciest thing it had was the remote cell phone connection for making calls.  But that’s all it could do with the cell phone was make calls.  What I really wanted was the ability to play music from my phone over Bluetooth.  No luck with this model truck.  Also, the speakers that came with it were pretty lame, any attempt at listening to loud music was squandered by the cracking and rattling speakers.

So, the first component I purchased for the truck was the stereo head unit.  By using customer reviews, I narrowed my selection down to two brands: Kenwood and Pioneer.  I needed music of Bluetooth which various models in both brands offered.  I also wanted GPS, a backup camera, Sirius XM and enough audio connections to be able to connect external amplifiers and a sub-woofer down the road.  Again both brands had models with all of the above.  What ended up being the deciding factor for me was that a lot of the reviews for the Kenwood models at the time, around 2014, complained about the user interface where there were very positive reviews for the user interface of the Pioneer models.  Based on this information I ended up choosing the “Pioneer AVIC 8100-NEX” model.  It was the top of the Pioneer line at the time and given the insane number of features I felt the $850 sticker on it was reasonable.  This was the most expensive item I purchased for my truck so I was a bit hesitant, but the reviews sold me on it and since this is the kind of installation you only want to do once, I felt that it was the right thing to do. These days, the latest version of that model is the “8200-NEX” which stickers for around $1000. From what I understand, the features didn’t change much between the “8100-NEX” and the “8200-NEX” so if you can find the older “8100-NEX” at a cheaper price you may want to consider it.

One thing to keep in mind with replacing a head unit in your vehicle is that most, if not all the time, you will lose the ability to control the stereo from the steering wheel controls. That’s a huge downside to any installation. Thankfully there are aftermarket products out there that can re-enable your steering wheel audio controls for most head units available today. When I installed my Pioneer head unit I also installed with it the “iDatalink Maestro” adapter that re-enabled all of my steering wheel audio controls to work with the new head unit. It’s a pretty slick adapter and allows you to program exactly what function each button on the steering wheel does, just in case you want the volume controls to change the Sirius XML station for example. For my installation I made all the buttons perform the same functions they did with the stock head unit.

By this point I had spent about all I wanted for my sound system at the time. But the nice thing about DIY is that you can add things later as the money becomes available to you. So several months later I continued my sound system upgrade. Next up were the amplifier and door speakers.

I’ll admit I was sort of a jerk when selecting my amplifier and door speakers. I buy almost everything from Amazon.com as you can see by my various posts on this site. However, I didn’t know anything about amplifiers and speakers and I needed to talk to somebody who knew. So, I went onto the Crutchfield.com website and started a chat discussion with one of their experts. I told them the kind of vehicle I had, the kind of music I listened to and they were able to help me select an affordable set of options. They even offered me a special discount through the chat session, but even with that the prices were cheaper over at Amazon.com, so there I went to purchase my products.

For the amplifier I went with the “Pioneer DM-D8604 1200 Watt 4-Channel Amplifier” per the suggestion from Crutchfield.

You may be asking yourself, “What’s a channel?”, so did I at the time. A channel is basically a speaker connection to the amplifier. So a 4-channel amplifier allows you to connect up to 4 speakers to it. This was perfect for me since I only had 4 door speakers to connect. Some amplifiers allow you “bridge” the channels which means you can turn 2 channels into a single channel for a sub-woofer. Let’s say you have a smaller single cab truck with 2 doors and you want to add an amp to the 2 door speakers and add a new sub-woofer. Rather than buying a 2 channel amp for the door speakers and a 1 channel amp for the sub-woofer, you can save some money and buy a 4 channel amplifier, bridge 2 of the channels into 1 and connect both the door speakers and the sub-woofer to it. One thing to keep in mind, multi-channel amplifiers all have power ratings on them in “Watts” and “RMS Watts”. The key is to make sure the speakers you buy have the same “RMS Watt” rating as the channels on the amplifier. Also, bridging 2 channels on an amplifier will alter its final “RMS Watt” output. In addition, both the amplifier and the speakers have an impedance rating, measured in Ohms, such as 2-Ohm, 4-Ohm, etc. The Ohm rating will affect the output of the speakers and amplifier so it’s important to make sure you match the Amplifier Ohm rating to the Speaker Ohm rating. Be sure to read the amplifier manufacturer’s installation guides to determine what the “RMS Watt” values will be for your amplifier based on how you intend to use it. I won’t pretend to completely understand everything about matching head units to amplifiers to speakers and sub-woofers. Crutchfield.com has several awesome help pages that will explain all of this in better detail:

For all 4 of the door speakers, I went with the “Alpine SPR-60” shown below for no other reason than the guy at Crutchfield.com said they would sound good and work perfectly with the Pioneer amplifier.

Thankfully the guy at Crutchfield was right, they sound great, however there was one major problem.  When I cranked up the volume the bass in the door speakers would cause the doors to rattle making a horrible noise.  I had to really play with the head unit settings to tone down the bass but that also made the music sound like crap sometimes.  Anyways, I’m on a budget, so I lived with the rattling for a couple years.

After a couple years, I was ready to add the last piece of the puzzle, the sub-woofer.  Now, I’ve tried building my own sub-woofer box before on the Jeep Wrangler I used to own, and it was a pain in the ass.  It sounded okay, but I know it should have sounded so much better.  When it came time to install a sub-woofer into my Silverado, I looked into building a box, buying the sub-woofer and buying the amplifier.   Once I had everything selected, and I didn’t use top end parts by any means, I was well over $400 for the entire sub-woofer installation.  That was way more than my cheap ass wanted to spend.  One night while trying to pair together cheaper parts and such, I ran across an item that literally saved me hundreds of dollars.  Let me introduce the “Rockford Fosgate P300-10” enclosed, powered 10-inch sub-woofer:

I was a bit skeptical about the sub especially since it was so cheap at around $150! However, it was right around my budget and if you take the time to read through the 660+ customer reviews on Amazon.com, many of them installing into the same crew cab Silverdao as mine, you’ll find that so many people think this is a fantastic sub-woofer. You also save time and money since you don’t have to build an enclosure and buy an amplifier separately. It’s an all-in-one system. I had to take the risk at that price so I did. Let me tell you something, the reviews did not lie! This sub-woofer not only fits perfectly under my back seat, but it sounds amazing! It’s not that teenager kind of bass that sounds like shit and makes your car rattle so bad the rust flies off making you look like a complete dumbass. The bass from the “Rockford Fosgate P300-10” sub hits crisp and hard and sounds like you are at the concert in front of the drummer. It really is an amazing sub-woofer for the price and I guarantee it will beat most high priced 10-inch subs out there. There is a 12-inch version at amazon too, the “Rockford Fosgate P300-12”, but the enclosure it’s in is too big to fit under the Silverado back seat. I’ve also read in several articles that the 12-inch subs in general sound more like that teenager sub-woofer where the 10-inch version is the harder crisper bass sound. That could be wrong, just what I read. Either way, I am beyond happy with this sub-woofer purchase.

Don’t forget, the sub-woofer doesn’t come with any wiring to connect it to your head unit and your battery, those need to be purchased separately. I decided to go with the “KnuKonceptz KCA Complete 4 Gauge Amp Installation Kit” option below for around $45 and have not had any issues at all.

A few months later I was ready to purchase the last and second most expensive piece of my sound system installation. The backup camera. I researched a lot of options for this one. There are wireless cameras, wired cameras, black & white cameras, colored cameras, low-definition cameras, high-definition cameras, etc., etc. The list goes on and on. My problem was, all of these cameras were not OEM, meaning they were aftermarket and looked like it. They mounted in strange locations, looked dumb, etc. I really wanted a camera that looked like it was installed right at the factory and looked like the Silverado LTZ backup cameras located right by the tailgate handle. Enter the “Camera Source CS-GMTRb Chevy Silverado Backup Camera” below. Yes it’s expensive, however this thing looks factory installed and the picture on the head unit is beautiful. It was also a DIY installation which saves you all the extra money to be able to purchase this camera.

That’s it for my 2013 Chevy Silverado sound system installation. I hope you can use some of this information to save you some money and some time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

A mix of home improvement ideas, DIY projects, product reviews, compiled from years of owning my own home and refusing to pay anybody to do, build or fix anything that I couldn't figure out myself.