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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hello all:

Thank you all for the terrific articles. I love my 2012 RTL and it is my third ridgeline and I have some amazing info from this forum. :smile:

I have been considering upgrading my audio. (in short, USB, HD Radio, etc). However, after reading a few articles, I felt the first step was to upgrade the speakers.

So after much research, I purchased Four Polk DB+ DB652 6-1/2" 2-way Speakers from Crutchfield and installed the rear doors today. Here comes my observation. I thought the old factory speakers sounded better. Wow. Was shocked.

So did I make a mistake? I could not find the actual specs on the RTL audio, but wondering if I should have stayed with the factory speakers. I know the RTL systems is 6 channel and upgraded, but what are the actual specs?

So would like your opinions? Continue with the front speakers? Stay with the factory? I know there are about a million head unit choices, so just assume I will get the near latest tech and if needed an amplifier (not to blast my music to everyone, just to get really good sounding quality).

Thank you to everyone.

Don
 

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I frequently liked aftermarket sound systems better in my vehicles in my younger days, but only with fairly expensive equipment and only once I put in an amplifier and a sub or subs in addition to the door speakers.

That said, I _always_ liked certain aspects of aftermarket systems, even if I only replaced speakers. I usually preferred the high end (treble) that good aftermarket speakers afforded. Bass was _always_ lacking, though, until a sub or subs went in.

I don't think most people realize just how much engineering and just plain cost there is in factory audio systems. You can't 'improve' them by spending 50 bucks on a pair of speakers, IME.
(To be clear, I'm not suggesting that's what you did; I was attempting to make a point)
 

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I frequently liked aftermarket sound systems better in my vehicles in my younger days, but only with fairly expensive equipment and only once I put in an amplifier and a sub or subs in addition to the door speakers.

That said, I _always_ liked certain aspects of aftermarket systems, even if I only replaced speakers. I usually preferred the high end (treble) that good aftermarket speakers afforded. Bass was _always_ lacking, though, until a sub or subs went in.

I don't think most people realize just how much engineering and just plain cost there is in factory audio systems. You can't 'improve' them by spending 50 bucks on a pair of speakers, IME.
(To be clear, I'm not suggesting that's what you did; I was attempting to make a point)
Lotsa truth in that "point".

IMO part of what many folks often miss or misunderstand is the degree to which OEM speakers are 'matched' to OEM HU output characteristics and cabin acoustics, and the degree to which given 'better' aftermarket speakers (even those costing much more than $50) may not be (and thereby may yield 'worse' sound from that OEM HU).
 
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@interman, is it possible the new speakers are not wired up correctly? I've read that the sound in the second row is the worst because of how far the rear-passengers are from the tweeters in the dash, given the door speakers are just simple full-range ones with no tweeters. So if your new speakers have a separate tweeter built in--which it looks like they do--there is no factory wiring to support it and you have to run new wires to the HU. So you could be listening to your new speakers without the tweeters working as they should.

Polk DB+ DB652


Factory Pioneer Premium door speaker
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
Thank you, all. This is exactly what I was talking about needing.
@bulwnkl, I did not take it that way. So many posts were that the factory speakers were crap and replaced them. So I just picked well rated, good specs, moderate price speakers.
@CentexG2, Good point. My biggest concern was not the quality but the life span. I read that factory speakers, while they maybe all the things discussed, degrade over time. Materials and what not. Especially in trucks where the conditions are harsher.
@McChizzle, yes they are crossover speakers. Of the 20+ articles on installing them, not one mentioned I needed new wiring. I assumed that the crossover tech in the speaker itself would take that over.

Don
 

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@interman, is it possible the new speakers are not wired up correctly? I've read that the sound in the second row is the worst because of how far the rear-passangers are from the tweeters in the dash, given the door speakers are just simple full-range ones with no tweeters So if your new speakers have a separate tweeter built in--which it looks like they do--there is no factory wiring to support it and you have to run new wires to the HU. So you could be listening to your new speakers without the tweeters working as they should.
FYI the Polk DB+ Series DB652 are 2-way coaxial speakers designed for connection to a single full-range input channel and lack any provision for discrete 2-channel woofer/tweeter inputs. They incorporate a simple passive XO/filter mounted integral on the speaker frame to 'split' that full range signal to the woofer and tweeter components.

While a few 2-way coaxial speakers provide terminals and jumpers to allow alternate connection to discrete woofer/tweeter inputs (bypassing the integral XO/filter) the Polk DB+ Series DB652 do not.

While it is possible that the OEM HU rear speaker output is filtered at the HU, that would not be typical - much more commonly when a vehicle has a single speaker driver (per side) in the rear it is a 'full range output signal' from the HU with a filter mounted integral on the OEM speaker as necessary to protect the speaker / provide the intended sound reproduction by that OEM speaker driver.

So, to the extent that the OEM HU provides a 'full range' signal to the single rear speaker channel (per side), the DB652 will reproduce that entire available frequency range.
 

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Does anyone have the actual specifications on all the components of a 2012 RTL with Nav? I cannot find. Or has anyone tested the speakers?

Don
You can get a crude but effective and often interesting idea of each channel's / speaker's frequency reproduction capabilities by playing test tones of various frequencies through whatever input your system allows (e.g. test tones loaded on your phone and played through the system).

Google "test tones" will reveal many download sources for discrete-frequency test tones from 20 to 20kHz.

You can isolate each speaker driver using the balance/fade controls on the HU for the 'test'; tone / bass / treble controls should be set to 'null / centered'.

If you do this always start each 'speaker test' with the volume turned all the way down and slowly ramp it up for each test - stopping at the point that the tone 'breaks-up' or sounds distorted (to protect each speaker even though the system's filters should preclude damage).

This 'test' will of course only reveal the characteristics of the 'total audio chain' - it cannot reveal whether the limitations you hear are due to limits of the input device, the HU, the speakers, or your ears.
 

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... While it is possible that the OEM HU rear speaker output is filtered at the HU, that would not be typical - much more commonly when a vehicle has a single speaker driver (per side) in the rear it is a 'full range output signal' from the HU with a filter mounted integral on the OEM speaker as necessary to protect the speaker / provide the intended sound reproduction by that OEM speaker driver. ...
I have not read anything about how the OEM HUs function with its speakers. The Pioneer and Clarion HUs on the RTSs and RTLs push signals to two tweeters in the dash, four speakers in the doors, and one subwoofer behind the back seat. So is it possible those HUs could possibly be pushing a filtered signal because it has to deal with separate tweeters and speakers--hence why people complain about the sound quality in the rear-seat even though those rear-door speakers are the same as the front?

A RT, RTX, or Sport trim come with a different Pioneer HU, different door speakers, and no tweeters nor a subwoofer. The door speakers on those trims have to do a lot of work all on their own and with less watts compared to the upgraded HUs in the RTS and RTL with more watts different door speakers, separate tweeters, and a subwoofer; but it's a much simpler setup.

I'm interested in upgrading my speakers as well but have been leary to do so due to may lack of experience in this area. So I'm learning through reading what others are doing on the ROC.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
@McChizzle

The actual replacement is very easy. Just watch a few videos. For me, it was three screws and then pop the bottom of the panels and lift. Old speaker is just clipped in place, so it pops easily.

This is the best video I have found to date. Only minor changes from the video.

I recommend and went with Crutchfield. They have the best tools and support (I even called them on Sunday on Memorial Day weekend, and they helped me). You will need to drill at least one hole in the door. Again, I was nervous but it was easy. Crutchfield gave me everything I needed to install (except some sheet metal screws which I got at Lowes for $2.). Crutchfield gave me the enclosures and wiring harnesses for free and free shipping.

If anyone is interested in my step by step, let me know.

Don
 

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I have not read anything about how the OEM HUs function with its speakers. The Pioneer and Clarion HUs on the RTSs and RTLs push signals to two tweeters in the dash, four speakers in the doors, and one subwoofer behind the back seat. So is it possible those HUs could possibly be pushing a filtered signal because it has to deal with separate tweeters and speakers--hence why people complain about the sound quality in the rear-seat even though those rear-door speakers are the same as the front? ....
First, I've not done any testing on any Honda or RL system. I have looked into a fair number of OEM systems from a variety of other mfrs and tested more than a few at the HU / amp outputs using test tones and an oscilloscope.

Having said that, anything is possible but IME even with OEM systems having discrete 2-way front channel HU outputs, those with single (per side) rear speakers invariably had 'full spectrum' output from the HU to those rear speakers with the filtering occurring at the speaker. Those systems with a sub may filter/attenuate the low frequencies to the door speakers (front and/or rear) either at the amp as mentioned below or at the speakers. I'd be very surprised if Honda / Pioneer / Clarion units deviated from that 'norm', but hey, I've been surprised and enjoyed learning new things before ;).
_____

Regarding systems with separate front tweeter / woofer speakers ...

Perhaps you've looked at the wiring diagrams for each of the different RL audio systems or at least yours - the only one I've examined is for the '19 RTL-E which I posted here. In that case the discrete amp outputs for front woofers / tweeters strongly suggests the XO/filters for those channels is managed in the amp.

IIRC someone has posted a diagram for another model RL having separate front woofer / tweeter but showing a single output (per side) from the HU/amp with the tweeters and woofers wired in parallel [edit / correction, doh] external to the HU/amp - a telltale that all the XO/filter management is at the respective speakers. I'm sorry I can't readily find that post nor do I recall which system it was for.
______

Regarding RL HU/amp tests …..

Here's a thread presenting some '19 RTL-E data, but as I indicate in my comments in that thread I suspect a flawed test protocol in that case. I reference that here for your independent consideration.

Here's a post showing sweep plots for front and rear outputs on an '19 RTL-T. IMO these are likely 'credible' data and among other things indicate that the rear speakers in that case (lacking separate rear tweeters) receive a signal that's subject to a High Pass filter/XO in the amp that attenuates the signal below ~55Hz but does not use a Low Pass filter to attenuate the high frequency spectrum. That HP filter on the rear speakers is IMO 'sensible' given that the tested RTL-T has a subwoofer to handle the frequencies below ~55Hz.

I've not run across any testing of the HU/amp rear speaker outputs for the RL systems lacking a subwoofer.

One might find such test data posted on the DIYMA forum - there's tons of info there on OEM systems and mods, I've not scoured that resource myself for info on the Ridgeline specifically.
 

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I just found this audio wiring diagram in the 2009-2013 RL repair manual. To me (the uneducated) it looks like the HU is doing nothing special for the tweeters vs. door speakers. It actually looks like the tweeters are just spliced into the wires that go to the front-door speakers (shame).

Text Diagram Plan Technical drawing Design
 

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A RT, RTX, or Sport trim come with a different Pioneer HU, different door speakers, and no tweeters nor a subwoofer.
A bit OT, but there’s a misunderstanding here. The Sport (my ‘13 is a Sport trim) has the tweeters in the dash. I don’t know anything about the HUs, so I’m glad to know they’re all Pioneers.
 

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You're right. All Gen1s have at least four full-range and two tweeters (six total speakers); the RT, RTX, and Sport are just missing the subwoofer and are only 100 watts vs. 160 watts. So all the tweeters are spliced into the system then. Thanks for the correction @bulwnkl.
 

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I just found this audio wiring diagram in the 2009-2013 RL repair manual. To me (the uneducated) it looks like there HU is doing nothing special for the tweeters vs. door speakers. It actually looks like the tweeters are just spliced into the wires that go to the front-door speakers (shame).
Correct for that schematic in that the HU is not providing any active XO/filter function for the 2-way front speakers wired in parallel (not series - corrected my post above for that silly mistake).

Undoubtedly you'll find a simple passive coil/capacitor XO/filter integral on each of the tweeter and woofer speaker frames in that case.

There's nothing inherently 'shameful' in that arrangement when properly engineered / tuned. Some of the best sounding high-end 2- and 3-way home audiophile speakers (and many great sounding car audio systems) use passive XO/filter arrangements.
 
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I love oem stuff..and try to keep it that way ....except the stereo...best thing i ever did on my 07 that had no Bluetooth etc...im sure oem more reliable but aftermarket and power even with factory door speakers rocks..
I changed tweeters and sub with aftermarket head and never looked back..
Also xm was a concern but i do the online siriusxm now so not an issue..

I like the Crutchfield route and what they recommend...after all the trim and instal crap it works out
 

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There isn't anything mysterious about the sound system in 2012 RTL vs the sound systems in all the 2009+ Ridgelines. It has the same door speakers. In fact, as best as I can tell it has the same door speakers as every Ridgeline produced since 2006. The headunits vary from the single disc units of the RT and Sports to the 6 disc changer in the RTS and RTL's to the Navi Units. All of these use an in dash tweeter and the RTS, RTLs and Navi vehicles have subwoofers. There is a crossover built into the dash tweeters and it shares its supply with the front speakers from the front two channels of the headunit. There might be some filtering from the headunit of low frequencies of the door speakers in the subwoofer models but I doubt it. There are NO filters on the stock door speakers themselves.

The factory door speakers look pretty pathetic upon examination (TINY magnet, almost no weight) but actually seem to produce a decent amount of bass from the factory head unit. In most GenI's the factory tweeters are pathetic paper units that barely produce any sound at all. However in my 2014 Sport I actually found that Honda had upgraded the tweeters with poly cone units with a decent sized magnet. I don't know what year / models they started using the improved tweeters.

For your new Polk speakers you will probably find that they don't produce quite as much bass as OEM and that they are most certainly brighter than your OEM speakers. Installing sound deadening in the door cavities, sealing the speakers to the panel properly, and letting the speakers break in some will help with bass in particular. The front speakers and aftermarket tweeters will have the biggest impact.

On my 14 Sport I kept the factory single disc changer and installed new JL separates up front with JL coaxials in the back. All the speakers are powered by a small Rockford Fosgate 4 channel amp up front. The final product blows away the stock system and the speakers produce full range sound with excellent bass. I have given up on putting in a rear sub for the near future as the bass quite good with the current setup. I did install just the rear speakers first (including sound deadening, but with no external amp) and sound from the rear had less bass and more highs than stock. The aftermarket amp and the front separates really made everything come alive with bass that you can feel. Its not an earth shattering subwoofer type system but the bass is quite good.

I would suggest installing some sound deadening in all your doors (redo the rears if you didn't) and putting in the front door speakers AND REPLACING THE STOCK DASH TWEETERS. Give the new setup time to break in and then a that point decide whether or not to replace the head unit and or go with an external amp. Bottom line is that the stock door speakers are cheap junk that have no place in decent sound system. A better amp (whether in an aftermarket head unit or a stand alone amp) will dramatically improve the sound of your new speakers.

Good luck!
BTW, here's my audio thread for my 14
https://www.ridgelineownersclub.com...ronics/173626-stereo-upgrades-2014-sport.html
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Hello all, thank you for all the good information. Here is an update.

I let the speakers settle for a few days and am very impressed with the sound. I still only have the rear speakers installed but noticed that I do not have to turn the volume as loud to get the same volume level. @eurban is correct that there is a little less bass but the treble is amazing. All sounds are much crisper than the OEM speakers. For the missing bass, the stock subwoofer makes up for it and I get great sound. I plan on replacing the front speakers this weekend.
@eurban and anyone else. I bought sound deadening material but it looks like a complete pain to put in. The rear doors have several large holes and I am not sure if I am to cut it out or to cover, and then do I remove the backing on the holes (if I di remove the backing, does the glue get on the window?). Also, the picture about where to place the material on the speaker is a unhelpful. I bought "Dynamat 10435 12" x 36" x 0.067" Thick Self-Adhesive Sound Deadener with Xtreme Door Kit" and IMO, the implementation help is very poor. Instructions are vague, pictures are small and unhelpful, and I have found no videos or guides that answer my questions. Any help would be appreciated.

So then finally, not what I have new speakers, I keep debating on a new head unit. The stock one sounds fine, but I would like some USB support, HD radio, etc. I use Waze on my phone, so not sure I need Navigation on the HU. Plus every HU seems to have low power so I have to put an AMP in as well. Ahhhh, so many choices.

Thanks.

Don
 

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The stock HU in many modern vehicles is integrated into the vehicle’s computer systems and can be a royal pain to replace, especially if you have nav. JBL came out with a solution for that - the MS-8 digital signal processor. It hooks up to your factory HU and takes that modest output and does some amazing things with it. It cleans up the signal and then allows precise control of the output, not only the frequencies, but also the timing of the signal for each speaker. In audiophile grade home audio systems, the speakers are positioned v carefully so that the sound from each arrives at your ear at the same time. This is critical to coherent sound. That precision is impossible in a car, where one speaker is 2’ from your ear, and another is 6’ away. That may not sound like much, but the timing difference confuses your brain and makes the sound muddy. The MS-8 comes with a set of test headphones that are actually two microphones, one over each ear. When you “train” the system, you put on the headphones, sit in each seat, and it plays a series of test tones to determine the timing and frequency response for each seat. During normal use, you tell the system whether you are alone in the drivers seat, or have passengers with you. It uses an algorithm to adjust for the best sound. If you are alone, it syncs perfectly with your ears and the effect is phenomenal. The before and after is like the difference btwn watching a movie on your iPad vs seeing it in the theater. I had a friend that was the head installer at a high end car stereo shop for many years and they did some amazing things. The MS-8 has a built in amp, but most people use an outboard amp for more power and dynamic range. I bought a used MS-8 (it’s been discontinued), as well as JL Audio speakers, a 900W 5 channel amp, and even a custom JL sub built for the RL a couple years ago, but life got in the way and I never installed it. I know, waaay too much information, but I’m an audiophile junkie and had to put my 2 cents in.
The sound deadening material is easy to install. Just put a good sized chunk behind each speaker - applied to the inside of the outer door skin. This reduces vibrations of the sheet metal and that reduces the road noise that is radiated into the cabin thru the speaker cone. It doesn’t take much to make a difference - even covering 25% of the door panel helps.
 
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