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  1. #1
    Frank Wulfers
    Roving Adventurer Wulf's Avatar
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    Saab 9-3 dash speakers upgrade

    The stock dash speakers in the Saab 9-3 are really low quality and very inexpensive paper cone products. The upgrade with after-market speakers is really easy to do yourself and increases the sound quality drastically. My sound system is the standard ES2-7 speaker 150W system.

    The Boston Acoustics S35 3-1/2" speakers are a popular choice and fit very nice in the dash speaker openings. They are available for about US$ 70, I purchased mine from Crutchfield

    The procedure is the same for the 13 speaker 300W system but you will find a pair of stock tweeters in the dash opening as well. These tweeters have to be removed because it would sound bad having two sets of tweeters.

    This speaker upgrade works for the 2003-2006 model years. 2007-and-up use a different sound system and installation may be different.

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    The change in sound is remarkable. I normally turned the treble all the way up but I had to move it back to the mid setting after installing the new speakers. The sound is much clearer and has so much more depth. As you can see, the stock speakers (left) are very basic speakers and are smaller than the BA's (right). It is surprising that Saab tried to save money on such an important part of the sound system.

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    The steps are basically the same with the 7 speaker/150W and the 10 speaker/300W system but I will describe them separately. Start out with both systems by removing the dash grille by using a small screwdriver or butter knife. Put some tape around the end to prevent any marks on the grill or dashboard. They should come out pretty easy without using much force.

    7 speaker/150W system

    Remove the stock speakers. You will need some kind of tool with a torx head. I used a torx bit from a screwdriver together with a pair of pliers because you don't have a lot of room to work with so close to the windshield. I am sure fancier tools are available but I didn't feel like running to the hardware store. The screws come out pretty easy.

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    Here is the dash opening with the speaker removed.

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    A close-up of the connector shows two numbers. Wire 1 is negative, 2 is positive.

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    The stock speaker shows the + and - of the speaker connections. Please note the image on the speaker is upside down so the + is on the left and - on the right side of the connector in the picture.

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    You can cut the dash wires and solder or crimp the speaker wires to the dash wires (4 connectors are included with the speakers). Another solution is to remove the connector from the stock speaker and solder the speaker wires to this connector. This way, you don't have to cut any wires in the car and can easily solder the wire and connector together. I just didn't like the idea of having a hot soldering iron near the dashboard.

    I used a fine saw to cut off the connector from the speaker.

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    And soldered the speaker wire that came with the new speakers.

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    Continue to "Finishing up for both systems" below.


    10 speaker/300W system

    Remove the stock speakers. You will need some kind of tool with a torx head. I used a torx bit from a screwdriver together with a pair of pliers because you don't have a lot of room to work with so close to the windshield. I am sure fancier tools are available but I didn't feel like running to the hardware store. The screws come out pretty easy.

    The tweeters are not secured with any screws so yo can lift them out using a little bit of effort.

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    This picture shows how the tweeter and 3 1/2" speaker (removed) are hooked up. Unplug the tweeter cable from the cable going into the dash. The connector is hiding under the foam sleeve.

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    You can follow the same procedure described for the 7 speaker/150W system by cutting off the grey connector from the stock speaker but I decided to use the connector from the tweeter cable.

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    Cut the cable and strip the ends. The stock speaker in this picture is for reference to show the black wire is negative (1) and the grey is positive (2). As mentioned above, please note the image on the speaker is upside down.

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    Solder the speaker wire that came with the BA speakers to the stripped cable. Black to black and grey to white.

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    You can cut off the connector for the original dash speaker but I decided to leave it on in case I want to return the system to the stock setup. Tape up both connectors and re-use the foam sleeve to make sure the connectors are not going to rattle against other hard plastic in the dash.


    Finishing up for both systems


    Connect the wire to the speaker and attach the female connector to the male connector in the car.

    Secure the new speaker by using the same screws that held the stock speakers.

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    Put the grill back in and you're done.

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    Last edited by Wulf; 28 August 2010 at 01:33.

  2. #2
    New Member haagcaab's Avatar
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    Saab(s)
    Now Saab 9-3 convertible 2008, former 900 NG convertible '96, 9-3 convertible '99
    Hi Wulf, I am dutch myself. I just bought a 2008 9-3 convertible. Do you know witch speakers i must buy in the dashboard to upgrade the system. I did the same trick in my 9-3 convertible ('99) at home. That made a lot of difference!!! I have the 150 watt (what they call premium sound ) system

    Joost

  3. #3
    Frank Wulfers
    Roving Adventurer Wulf's Avatar
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    Welkom! I checked the 2007 EPC (Electronic Parts Catalog) and it lists the same speaker part number for 2003-2007. They changed the audio head unit in 2007 so I think it is safe to assume the 2008 is the same as well. I remember seeing on another forum about speaker replacement for the later models and the dash speakers were exactly the same as the older ones.

    The premium 150 watt system doesn't have the tweeter in the dash speakers so I think replacing with something like the Boston Acoustics speakers will make a nice difference.

  4. #4
    New Member haagcaab's Avatar
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    Saab(s)
    Now Saab 9-3 convertible 2008, former 900 NG convertible '96, 9-3 convertible '99

    dash

    Thanx Wulf,

    I am gonna order them right away!

    Joost

  5. #5
    New Member Steve-O's Avatar
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    30 Nov 2010
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    Westport, CT USA
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    Saab(s)
    2004 9-3 Linear Auto
    Thank you. This is great because Crutchfield doesn't recommend the BA's in their online "Outfit My Car" application for my 2004 9-3 Linear sedan (I understand that it's because the fit is off by 1/100th of an inch, which in my opinion is neglible and acceptable), but clearly these are a good choice.

    Do you have any info on other 9-3 audio upgrades (for the 7 speaker, 150 watt system), i.e. extra speakers and amplifier in rear?

  6. #6
    New Member lacey499's Avatar
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    Saab(s)
    2004 9-3 Arc convert.

    Speaker Sense!

    I too am in speaker upgrade mode and staying clear of anything but speakers. The How -To above and layman speak is invaluable. Sooo much conflicting, tecky info out there... If I may add-on to this: '04 arc convert (150w/7) - what size works in center dash and any recommendations? Then over & down to front doors...finally rear side panels. Bulk of commentary I've seen indicate front doors are pretty much all bass, while rear side essentially useless. And just to make my head spin, the 2 vs 4 ohm thing. Any help for amp-challenged is greatly appreciated!

  7. #7
    Frank Wulfers
    Roving Adventurer Wulf's Avatar
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    The center dash speaker is 4". I never bothered to replace because there isn't much sound coming from it. I can't tell much on the door speakers but, as you indicated, they are mostly used for bass. From what I have researched in the past, good L/R dash speakers will improve the sound about 80%. Changing doors, center and rear will add the remaining 20% improvement and it just wasn't worth it for me.

  8. #8
    New Member Cafasco's Avatar
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    Saab(s)
    2008 9-3 SS 2.0T
    Awesome write up!

    The 2008 is the same as the 03-07's in terms of the front dash speakers. I believe the 09 and 10 is the same as well. The amp was moved from under the driver seat to the driver’s side of the trunk (easy access) in '08. The rest of the 7spk system is the same: 3.5 front sides, 4” center, 6.5” door woofers, 4" rear deck (there are vacant factory 6x9 holes - for the 11spk system). The 5 smaller speakers run off the head unit power. The 6.5" 2 ohm door woofers run off the 150 watt amp.

    I already had some Polk db351 speakers. I installed the passenger side but the tweeter was just a tad too high to get the grill back in place properly. Dang it! I panicked and looked at the Boston's, Infinity Ref, and some JL Audio; all with a shorter tweeter protrusion that would fit under the grills. I nearly ordered some JL's but the sensitivity was only 83db.
    Not wanting to sell these Polks and go a diff route (since I already cut the OEM wires), I gathered my composure and simply marked the center of the tweeter on the speaker cover and used a 1.5" hole saw. It actually looks pretty dang good. So then I installed the driver’s side. I’m sure glad there are some other silver bits in the car to match the tops of the tweeters.

    The sound is better, but I wouldn't say it's night and day. I must be losing my hearing or these 3.5 Polk's are not that great (I’m kind of surprised how well those crappy paper cone speakers sounded). I also wanted to use the 3.5” Polk’s as I'm planning to put Polk db691s in the rear to replace the OEM 4". The db series has built in crossovers which has made a big diff with their 5.25, 6.5, and 6x9's that I've in the past compared to other speakers that did not.

    If I get too many neg. comments about the tweeter tops, I may have to order new speaker covers and get some diff. 3.5’s. I think it looks fine though…
    Last edited by Cafasco; 13 January 2011 at 02:52.

  9. #9
    New Member yelldawg's Avatar
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    Saab(s)
    2008 9-3

    Question

    Thanks to Frank Wulfers for the awesome write-up, and for Cafasco's clarifications for the MY2008.

    I've changed my front dash speakers to the Polk DXi350s. I was able to get the cover to fit back smooth - I had to really crank down the torque screws, and it was tight, but I got it to fit. I chose the speakers and did it before I saw Cafasco's notes, so I consider myself lucky it worked out without modifying the cover, since I would assume Polk 350 and 351 should be pretty similarly sized without comparing the specs.

    So a new quick question: To get at the 6.5 speakers in the door, do you need to remove the door panel or does the cover just pop out like the dash cover? I chipped the passenger side door cover trying to pry off, but I wasn't sure where the clip was. Any ideas?

    Also, has anyone changed the 4" speakers in the back to 6x9s? Can I just wire new 6x9 instead of the 4"? Do you think there would be any advantage or disadvantage to this?

    Thanks for all of you who have done this already and are making it easier on newbies like me!

  10. #10
    New Member Cafasco's Avatar
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    Saab(s)
    2008 9-3 SS 2.0T
    Glad the Polk Dxi350s fit w/o difficulty! The tweeter height must be .25" shorter than the db351s. I did send an email to Polk to find out. It's hard to tell just by looking at pictures on crutchfield.com. I'm not digging the tweeters polking out though the grills, so switching to either BA S35s or maybe the Dxi350s.

    To access the door speakers, you have to remove some screws first. I have not removed the door panels yet so I'm not sure where they are. Most car makers have a couple in the armrest and one in the door handle. They are usually covered up. After the screws are out the door panel should pop out. Pull from the bottom first, then work around the edges. Lift up and out but be careful as there wires and the rods for the door handle. It's not hard just a little tricky.

    As far as the door speakers go, I'm currently planning to go with Kicker CVT-652 (6.5", 2ohm) sub woofers. They are supposed to be awesome and are the only 2 ohm 6.5" woofer on the mkt. The stock 150watt amp runs the door woofers at 2ohm and the center dash speaker. The best price I found is here: Kicker 10CVT652 6-1/2" Shallow-Mount Comp VT Subwoofer CVT652

    You can put 6x9's in the rear. I recommend Soundstream SST6.9. They are supposed to be awesome. You can however get 6x9 to 6.5" conversion plates on ebay. 6.5's usually sound much better than 6x9s since they are round. I'm going with Polk db651 speakers in the rear deck. I don't know how the Soundstream 6x9s compare to the Polk 6.5's, but I do know the db651s sound a much better than the db691s...to my ear anyway. Amazon.com: Polk Audio DB651 6.5-Inch Coaxial Speakers (Pair, Silver): Electronics

 

 
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