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2019 Subaru Forester Limited CVT
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Here in about a week I am going to swap out my speakers and add some amps and a sub to my 2019 blueburu forester. I have done many stereo upgrades in the past but none involved keeping the factory HU. This is especially challenging due to the fickle nature of the radio - starlink module relationship and how they are connected to each other. I am hoping to avoid the dreaded red starlink light and have everything work properly. With the HUGE and very generous help of @Sdcerreta, I believe I can pull it off. With his help I have several options on how to get this done. Modifying a stereo shouldn't be this hard. The factory (non HK) system sounds terrible. I have also done a couple of other upgrades to my forester which I will detail later. More to come shortly.

Here's my 2019 blueburu forester.

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Right on, keep us posted. It's a shame that the '19+ are so bounded by starlink that head unit upgrades are a huge pain. Hopefully the aftermarket sector can find a compromise or a good work around.
That out of the way what are speaker/amps upgrades are you thinking of?
 

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I did the same, 2021 premium non-HK. You'll be installing a line out converter between the stock HU and Starlink module which resolves the issue described elsewhere. I used a JL LoC 22. I added a 3 channel JL amp, replaced the front speakers with Focals, and added a 10 inch sub in back. Super happy with the results.
 

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2019 Subaru Forester Limited CVT
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Right on, keep us posted. It's a shame that the '19+ are so bounded by starlink that head unit upgrades are a huge pain. Hopefully the aftermarket sector can find a compromise or a good work around.
That out of the way what are speaker/amps upgrades are you thinking of?
I am installing a soundstream reserve 150X4 class AB amp for the 4 door speakers, a fosgate 500X1 Class D amp for the subwoofer, all run through a audio control LC6I. I have infinity 6X9 component speakers for the front doors. Not sure where the separate tweeter is going yet. Some polk 6 1/2" for the rear doors and some JBL club 3 1/2" for the dash. The subwoofer I want isn't available yet from Crutchfield So I'll going to go without for a bit unless I find something else in the meantime. It's a really cool kicker slim down facing sub with a passive radiator. All my goodies arrive Monday and I'll post a pic hopefully soon.
 

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2019 Subaru Forester Limited CVT
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I did the same, 2021 premium non-HK. You'll be installing a line out converter between the stock HU and Starlink module which resolves the issue described elsewhere. I used a JL LoC 22. I added a 3 channel JL amp, replaced the front speakers with Focals, and added a 10 inch sub in back. Super happy with the results.
I was really curious about the JL LoC 22. So you tapped the wires between the HU and the starlink module instead of after the starlink module? I'm still a bit foggy on the details. I am thinking about clipping the front speaker output wires from the starlink module and from that point do two things. Run new wire to the dash speakers from the starlink module output (so hopefully it will be fooled and no red light) and also use that tap point for the front speaker level outputs. Then from the amp run the wires back into the dash to hook back up to the factory speaker wire. I am hoping that will fool the starlink module enough although I'm worried I won't get much volume out of the dash speakers unless I turn all my other gains down to match the dash speakers. I'm planning to tap the rear speaker wire directly from the HU, unless I find out the rear speakers need to see a resistance also and the HU freaks out. I'm really curious what setting you have your resistance set to on your LoC 22. There is a 20 kΩ (normal input), and 60 Ω (Low-Z) setting. Which one did you use? Does flipping the switch either change the audio output or activate the red starlink light? I've heard of people using 4 ohm resistors to fool starlink but I was afraid that would take too much power away from the outputs and reduce the overall volume. I'm still learning all this and would really appreciate your feedback. I really miss the old days where you could just hook something up and have it work instead of upsetting your car computer and having your car gripe at you. Audio control makes a "blue" LGD module to supposedly fix this whole problem, but they are hard to find at the moment from a reputable dealer.
 

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I was really curious about the JL LoC 22. So you tapped the wires between the HU and the starlink module instead of after the starlink module?

You are correct! The LOC taps in AFTER the Starlink module. I double checked that with the installer. No need to run any wire from the LOC except directly to your amp. Starlink sees the resistance from the LOC so no red light. Not sure how the factory wire would handle signal from your amp. The input load set to 60 low Z. Test to see which turn on mode works best for your case. For the front components woofers went in the door and tweeters in the factory dash locations. I highly recommend that you have remote control for the sub volume. I've got a wired JL bass control knob mounted in the black panel immediately in front of the shifter.
 

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2019 Subaru Forester Limited CVT
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thank you very much for your response Array! That was very informative. I'm swapping out the soundstream amp for a punch 400x4. This will put my project back a bit while I'm waiting for the old amp to be shipped back and the fosgate to arrive. The soundstream amp was very large and felt cheaply made. Even the printing above the speaker terminals and gain adjustments were smudged and blurry.

I'm also considering putting in some dynamat. I've never installed any of that before so I am a little leery. I'm hoping to take everything apart only once on this install.
 

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2019 Subaru Forester Limited CVT
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Started my install today. Got mostly everything I need here on hand with more items to arrive within a week or two. I started with the rear door speakers and Dynamat install.
For those that haven't taken their Forester apart yet I will show what I did to get the rear door panels off. These three areas highlighted are the first things to do. Photo below.

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You need to pull your door handle and use your plastic pry tool at the bottom to release the cover. You will see a small gap when you pull the door handle near the hinge. Remove the phillips screw and place it somewhere safe. I use the cup holders. Photo below.

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Next use your plastic pry tool to pop the little plastic cover in the door closure area. I'm really not sure what to call it. Once it's popped open you can either remove the little tab or leave it in place. I chose to remove it. Just give it a little wiggle and it should pop out. Remove the screw and keep it safe. I will mention now that all the screws you are going to remove for the door panel and also the old factory speaker are all the same screw so there's no need to separate them all. Photo below.

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Next you need to remove the little sail panel. Stick your plastic pry tool in between the plastic and the metal of the door about halfway up and pop it off.

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You can either use your pry tool or your fingers to release the clips from the bottom of the door frame working your way up to the top on both sides. Once you have released all the clips gently lift up on the door panel because it hooks in at the top by the window until it is free. Don't move the door panel too much at this point because it's still connected with the door lock cable, the door latch cable, and a small wiring harness plug. Undo these three attachment points and your door panel will be free.

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I pulled the plastic off of mine because I'm doing Dynamat.
Check out this horrible factory speaker. It is sad that this whole speaker unit was designed as a speaker and a bracket in one unit but it's just so weak. A couple extra dollars during manufacturing could have produced a much better sounding speaker. Shame on you Subaru.

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Notice the plug there for the factory speaker. Unless you plan on soldering wires to your new speakers, I highly recommend you pick these up. These work for both front and rear door speakers. They plug right in to the harness that went to the factory speaker and give you an extra several inches of wire. The dash speakers require a different type of plug. Those are still in the mail I hope to get them soon. They were backordered.

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Different trim levels seem to have different color wires at the speakers. In my case purple is positive and the other color is negative. You won't need to worry about that if you get these metra speaker harnesses.
 

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2019 Subaru Forester Limited CVT
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Next was the Dynamat. I wasn't really expecting it to be easy and I got what I expected haha. If you choose to go this route with your Forester I strongly recommend watching several YouTube videos. There are many different tips and techniques to install Dynamat and you should pick the one you are comfortable with doing. If you can afford to pay someone to do it I might recommend that. I did the inside of the outer door skin first and then put some on the inside of the door panel where the plastic was.

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The inside of the door was nearly complete at this point. Still had a few small pieces to install for more coverage. One trick I did that was helpful in the long run was pop out this wire harness plug and flip it to the inside of the door and put it back in the same hole it came from. The factory speaker plugs in from the outside of the door cavity and the new replacement speaker plugs in from the inside of the door cavity. Here's a picture with the plug circled.
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Once all that was done and it was time to do the rest of the door panel.

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New rear speakers are in and they sound good.

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They are hooked up to the factory head unit for now and I noticed they are not playing much bass. This leads me to believe that the front speakers get a full range signal and the rear speakers have a bass roll off programmed in from the head unit. This is most likely done for compatibility with the Rockford fosgate upgrade so you won't blow the rear speakers to bits if you were to install that upgrade.

There is an easy workaround for that. Get a 4 channel line out converter with "channel summing" and hook up both the front and rear speakers to the speaker inputs. I am planning on using an Audio Control LC6I and running all my speaker outs to it from the head unit. The rear speakers are hooked up to the factory head unit for now but I'm planning on installing some amps here in the next few steps.
 

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2019 Subaru Forester Limited CVT
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Got a little more work done today. I did the driver door. It was pouring rain later in the day and I had to stop working on the car to go fix a couple of clogged gutters on the house. After I got soaked fixing gutters in the rain. I kind of lost some motivation for today.

The driver door panel comes off pretty easy. There are just two screws to get. One is behind the door open handle and the other is in the door closure handle. Then you pop the retaining clips from the bottom of the door panel and work your way up.

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It's best to try to find something that is the approximate height of the door panel like a box or something similar so you can set the door panel on that while you unplug the wiring harnesses. There are three wiring harnesses to unplug. Two are under the door handle and the third is at the bottom of the door if you have the puddle light. Undo the door open and lock cable and the door panel should be free.

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Installed the Dynamat inside of the door cavity. It's not exactly easy to do but it's possible if you like tedious projects. I was able to cover the entire inside of the door.

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There are a couple of plastic panels behind here that you can remove for more access to the inside of the door if you are installing Dynamat. I didn't get a picture of them but they are behind these pads on the door plastic. The clips pop right off with a plastic pry tool and snap easily back into place when you are done. I went ahead and put Dynamat on both sides of the plastic panels.

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Got the rest of the Dynamat and the speaker in.

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The speakers I installed have separate tweeters and a little crossover box that you have to hide somewhere. I'll show you where I put mine. It didn't interfere at all with getting the door panel back on. I attached it with double-sided 3M VHB tape and also taped down some of the wires so they wouldn't rattle or buzz.

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Got the door panel back on and was glad to take a break.

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2019 Subaru Forester Limited CVT
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Here's where I put the tweeter on the door panel. I had a hard time figuring out where to put it or whether to even use it at all since the new dash speakers will have tweeters. It works good there and is out of the way.

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2019 Subaru Forester Limited CVT
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
A quick tip when you were taking off the front door panels if you have puddle lights. Before you take off the panel, access the puddle light first from the under side of the door panel, remove the bulb and unplug the wiring harness. This saves a lot of trouble trying to unplug it after you remove the door panel.

If you are disappointed with the tungsten bulb brightness in the puddle lights I highly recommend these LED lights from Auxito. They have a flat panel design and all the light shines downward to the street and none is wasted in the fixture like round LED bulbs. There is no point shining light upwards into your door panel. I got a 10 pack of them for around $15 thinking I would have some extra in case they burnt out. I've had them in for over a year with no problems at all. I'm really surprised at the quality. As far as I know they don't have a model number but they are easy to identify by the way they look. Here are some pictures.

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I'm curious what LED bulbs other people have used and had good luck with. What do you use?
 

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2019 Subaru Forester Limited CVT
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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I installed the Dynamat in the front passenger door and the speaker replaced with the new infinity. Put the tweeter in the door panel just like on the driver's side photos above. The new speakers sound surprisingly good considering they are powered from the head unit. I can't wait until my amp arrives.
Also got Dynamat put in the spare tire area. I did two layers of it. Applying Dynamat in the trunk is much easier than in the doors! This stuff is addictive.
The Dynamat treatment on the doors and in the rear made a very noticeable difference. It's much quieter and you don't hear the road noise nearly as much. The doors shut with a solid thunk and I love the dead thud sound when you knock on the outside of the doors. No more hollow cavity sounds. Thank you very much @Sdcerreta for recommending it! A very worthwhile upgrade indeed.

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