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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have the limited with no option packages. The standard stereo was not too bad actually, but the super efficient front 6x9s can get a little muddy as they're trying to accurately produce bass. The high end and imaging was already quite good IMHO. It just needed a little more power and tightness to the bass that only better speakers and more power can deliver. I'm still on the fence if I "need" sub-bass at this point in my life.

I know the RF amp included in this kit has a disabled subwoofer output, but it does have a DSP programmed into it that upgrades the soundstage pretty well, although the stock system wasn't exactly lacking in that department. I was told by RF that the amp is putting out 40 watts RMS per channel, and they confirmed the disabled SW channel. This was enough to get me to try it out. I purchased the RF Audio upgrade for $350. For the Ascent, it should be labeled as 160 watts as opposed to 300 since the sub channel is not active.

Installation was straightforward. Removing door panels is the same as any other car. The dash trim pieces pull off easily. The one quirky thing was getting the A/C vent pieces back onto the sides of the head unit. These pieces interlock with the radio as you snap them back in. You have to carefully guide the vent assemblies into place as you palm the pieces into position. This makes for a very tight assembly, which is great for fit and finish. It's just something I haven't encountered before. The beauty of this kit is the wiring harness, which is OEM quality and truly plug and play. The amp bolts down to existing studs underneath the passenger seat. Quality of materials is great. The 6x9 woofers included look to be of the "Prime" level of RF's range (prime < punch < power), but I cannot confirm this. The amp is supposed to be in line with their "Punch" lineup.

The results are good. The system is tighter and the imaging is more defined thanks the DSP and higher power. Listening to well-recorded music reveals some pretty good detail and imaging! I heard some magical things pop out in the mix - a sign of a good audio experience. Now, I have been EQing a lot of bass into these from the head unit to make it sound fuller. I think my 3 band EQ is set to 5-0-0. You get typical "reference" style frequency response at 0-0-0, but most listeners like to dial in more bass to get that punch you can feel. There is enough bass to shake your mirrors with this kit. I'm on the fence if I want to install a subwoofer. The really low stuff that you'd typically be able to hear with a real subwoofer is a little lacking, but chest kicking punch very present. Not bad for $350 with OEM quality design. ...and I only drew blood once(!) reaching underneath the carpet in front of the passenger seat, something cut my finger.

Here are some random pics. Not really a tutorial, but I know people like pics.
 

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thanks for posting. i have a 2018 legacy with the harman kardon system and its been nothing short of a disaster - 6 trips to the dealer in 6 months...3 amp replacements. HK factory support is non-existent to both end users and the suby dealers. problems all across the 2018 legacy/outback line - imo its ripe for a class action lawsuit.

anyway - i cant in good conscience pay for antoher HK upgrade so I'm considering the RF on a Ascent Premium. Are there only 4 speakers in this car? If you were going to put in a sub where would it go?
 

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thanks for posting. i have a 2018 legacy with the harman kardon system and its been nothing short of a disaster - 6 trips to the dealer in 6 months...3 amp replacements. HK factory support is non-existent to both end users and the suby dealers. problems all across the 2018 legacy/outback line - imo its ripe for a class action lawsuit.

anyway - i cant in good conscience pay for antoher HK upgrade so I'm considering the RF on a Ascent Premium. Are there only 4 speakers in this car? If you were going to put in a sub where would it go?
If it were me, custom enclosure in the sub-floor of the rear cargo area
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
If it were me, custom enclosure in the sub-floor of the rear cargo area
Yup. I have a JL 8" sub enclosure that fits right in there. No need for a custom installation. I had it under the rear floor in my Outback and it sounded excellent. I've also got an amp just waiting to get installed. I'm considering other amp options though, and I'm in no real hurry to run wires. I want to take it to a shop to get it wired for an amp, but I'd want to take it over from there. I wonder if they'd go for that...

CP108LG-W3v3 - Car Audio - Subwoofer Systems - MicroSub? - JL Audio
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
thanks for posting. i have a 2018 legacy with the harman kardon system and its been nothing short of a disaster - 6 trips to the dealer in 6 months...3 amp replacements. HK factory support is non-existent to both end users and the suby dealers. problems all across the 2018 legacy/outback line - imo its ripe for a class action lawsuit.

anyway - i cant in good conscience pay for antoher HK upgrade so I'm considering the RF on a Ascent Premium. Are there only 4 speakers in this car? If you were going to put in a sub where would it go?
There are tweeters in the dash, 6x9s in the front doors, and 6.5" coaxials in the rear doors. For sub location, see my reply above. Those little JL boxes can fit in the rear storage compartment. I should take a picture of mine.

Edit to add photos. There isn't much clearance for woofer excursion so some measuring/testing is still needed. I don't think the 8w3 is a long-throw styler woofer anyhow. I had 3/4" wood strips on affixed to either side of the woofer in my last car. They gave the needed support and room for the speaker to move. Plus they kept any cargo from caving in the floor board as it was very sturdy.
 

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You state that the SW output is disabled. If you know, could you clarify what you mean by disabled? I'm going to throw out a few ways of interpreting disabled to explain why I am confused.


(a) The H/W for the Sub output is depopulated on the PCB
(b) The H/W is present but the output is disabled in S/W (No signal at the pins)
(c) The H/W is present and the S/W supports it, but it just isn't being utilized (signal is being generated at the pins)


If the signal is there than this would be the ideal signal source for the amp to avoid splicing into something.


If the pins are useable, does anyone know the P/N for the mating connector/terminals?
Or the P/N of the connector in the Flex41 (datasheet should have the corresponding mating P/Ns)


I don't suppose there is any chance someone with an oscilloscope could probe the pins is there?
 

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You state that the SW output is disabled. If you know, could you clarify what you mean by disabled? I'm going to throw out a few ways of interpreting disabled to explain why I am confused.


(a) The H/W for the Sub output is depopulated on the PCB
(b) The H/W is present but the output is disabled in S/W (No signal at the pins)
(c) The H/W is present and the S/W supports it, but it just isn't being utilized (signal is being generated at the pins)


If the signal is there than this would be the ideal signal source for the amp to avoid splicing into something.


If the pins are useable, does anyone know the P/N for the mating connector/terminals?
Or the P/N of the connector in the Flex41 (datasheet should have the corresponding mating P/Ns)


I don't suppose there is any chance someone with an oscilloscope could probe the pins is there?
If you look at the picture of the amp you will notice a plastic panel covering the remote and subwoofer connectors area. This would make me think there is an even chance they are depopped as well. It also makes me think it is disabled in software especially if there is a custom EQ for the Ascent, which I would hope so, otherwise definitely not worth the money. (But I would be concerned of no EQ at all on the sub output even if it were left active and populated.)

All just guessing from experience working on OEM sound systems.
 

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so i went and looked at one today. in the very back along one of the interior side panels (i think it was on the right side) it looked like there were slots in there for speaker sound to exit. i wonder if its a void for the sub on Harman Kardon equipped cars? im thinking of picking one up with the RF system already installed, then taking it to car toys and seeing if they can put a sub in that spot of activate it on the amp. what do you think?
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
The right side of the non-HK equipped cargo area is void of any speaker compartments, grills, etc. It's just a recessed area that you can have a custom enclosure built into if you'd like, but there are no provisions to mount a raw driver in there. The left sides does have a grill type thing, but it's definitely not audio related.

I personally wouldn't put a sub there so that I get the full width of the cargo area. I still don't know if my golf clubs fit back there with the 3rd row up (I should try that). The arrival of my Ascent has kind of distracted me for over a month now. lol
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Do you think replacing just the door speakers without an amp would be worth the effort/time for the oem headunit? (Non HK system)
The cheap/efficient standard OEM speakers are good at turning little power into loud volumes, at the expense of possibly sounding a little sloppy. New aftermarket speakers may sound cleaner, but may not get as loud or produce as much bass without an appropriate boost in power. That is my experience. In reality you kind of just have to try it. You may be pleased or you may be wanting for more.

Fast Rings might help. I have no experience with them so far though with aftermarket speakers. The OEM and RF upgraded speakers already have this foam built-in. I have a set of 6.5 rings to add to my rear aftermarket speakers. It's been such a low priority that they've been sitting in my garage for months.

https://www.crutchfield.com/p_541FAST6X9/Stinger-Roadkill-RKFR69-FAST-Rings.html
 

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For aftermarket speakers with a stock headunit and no external amp I highly recommend Polk speakers. They are more efficient and have a high sensitivity rating so you get more sound from the same power. I've done this in many cars now even with subpar headunits and the results are very good.
 

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Hello,
I'm knee deep in adding a JL Audio Power Wedge to the rear cargo area to fill out some lacking bottom end in the Harmon Kardon system that is included with the touring edition.

I am having some challenges gaining easy access to speaker level wires without tearing apart the rear panels. My original plan was to simply tap the wires going to the existing sub-woofer in the rear. But it's pretty tricky to gain access and I have no idea what color the wires are coming off of it. They could be running through the trunk area, but who knows?

I am wondering since you have had success removing the source unit; are there any line level outputs in the rear of the unit that I can use? Finding this information has been difficult and I didn't want to attempt pulling it out for nothing. Any tips on removal?

Even if no line level outs, I'm thinking that maybe speaker level access is best achieved behind the deck to avoid any nuance with the HK amp under the seat. Thank you in advance for any advice that you can lend. Thanks for your photos too!
Your post is the most informative on this topic that I've been able to find.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Hello,
I'm knee deep in adding a JL Audio Power Wedge to the rear cargo area to fill out some lacking bottom end in the Harmon Kardon system that is included with the touring edition.

I am having some challenges gaining easy access to speaker level wires without tearing apart the rear panels. My original plan was to simply tap the wires going to the existing sub-woofer in the rear. But it's pretty tricky to gain access and I have no idea what color the wires are coming off of it. They could be running through the trunk area, but who knows?

I am wondering since you have had success removing the source unit; are there any line level outputs in the rear of the unit that I can use? Finding this information has been difficult and I didn't want to attempt pulling it out for nothing. Any tips on removal?

Even if no line level outs, I'm thinking that maybe speaker level access is best achieved behind the deck to avoid any nuance with the HK amp under the seat. Thank you in advance for any advice that you can lend. Thanks for your photos too!
Your post is the most informative on this topic that I've been able to find.
There are no line-level outputs on the back of the head unit as far as I saw. There are definitely no RCA jacks. Good luck with your installation! I have yet to install my subwoofer as I'm mostly satisfied with the RF.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
So it sounds like the RF upgrade came with wiring harnesses? No patch cable needed.
Appreciate the response-Thank you!
Yes, it came with a monster wiring harness. It was actually a thing of beauty! Completely plug and play and very high quality.
 

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Best way to add a sub.. I'd do this converter at the head unit, not the RF amp.

hit this on amazon. /gp/product/B00CQUL240/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o08_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Great sub option is the CerwinVega spare tire applicatoin.. this thing is ridiculous. Drops in your spare tire... no space wasted and monster bass.

You will need an Amp wire kit.. don't go crazy. 8guage is more than enough.
 

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Great sub option is the CerwinVega spare tire applicatoin.. this thing is ridiculous. Drops in your spare tire... no space wasted and monster bass.
So how does that work considering the Ascent's spare is outside of the vehicle? ;)
 
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