2019-up Ram 1500 pickups
Upgrading the stereo system in your Ram 1500
2019 • 2020 • 2021
In brief: This Crutchfield Research Garage article gives you an overview of your Ram's stock stereo system and your aftermarket upgrade options. Use our vehicle selector to find the gear that will fit your truck.
Overview of the Ram 1500
It’s a little strange to see words like "luxurious" and "quiet" in a road test article about a regular old pickup truck, but when you read most anything about the new Ram 1500, there they (or variations thereof) are. Pickup trucks have been used as car substitutes for a while now, but as a luxury car substitute? Really?
Yep, really. If you check enough boxes on the order sheet, this truck can do that job while also doing your regular pickup jobs. We’re definitely a long way from great-grandaddy’s old Power Wagon, which sounded like a tractor, rode like an ox cart, and smelled like a roadhouse at 2 a.m.
The Ram is still available in basic work truck form, of course (and thankfully), but if you want a truck with all the comfort and tech features of a modern living room, you can make it happen. And a lot of people are doing just that, judging by the way these big, roomy, powerful pickups are selling these days.
Upgrading the factory stereo system presents some challenges, but you can improve on the stock sound. Read on to see what you can do, what you can’t do, and learn a little about how to do it.
This is one of the largest stock receivers we've ever seen. It's more than just a receiver, though, so replacing it is not a great idea. (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Factory stereo system
The factory stereo systems range from okay to really, really nice. This is a good thing, because replacing the stock radio is pretty much impossible. Speakers, yes, but the receivers have to stay. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, because you can boost your sound quite a bit by upgrading the speakers in your Ram. Another benefit is that you’ll retain use of the truck’s remarkable number (9 total) of USB and aux inputs.
The Ram’s stereo systems start with a 6-speaker base system and go all the way to a 19-speaker Harman Kardon system that includes a subwoofer. That number, by the way, is because each speaker has a 4.7-microfarad cap and a tweeter mounted in tandem with the woofer. These Rams are big, but not quite big enough for 18 separate speaker locations!
Detailed stereo and speaker removal instructions
The middle system is an Alpine set-up with low-impedance speakers. Replacing them with 4-ohm aftermarket speakers will result in lower volume levels, so shop accordingly. If you have questions, give us a call or chat.
In stark contrast to the noisy trucks of yore, this truck features an active noise cancellation system. When you add an aftermarket amplifier, sound processor, or subwoofer, you'll need to disable that system. The ANC module is located under the driver's seat.
Note: This information applies to the newest Ram 1500 models. The 2019 Ram Classic models, otherwise known as the previous generation Rams, are covered in their own Vehicle Profile.
The 5" base LCD receiver doesn't do all the things its big brothers can do, but it's a good starting point for your upgraded sound system (Crutchfield Research Photo)
(Not) removing your factory radio
The Ram’s stock receivers come in three sizes: small, medium, and large. There’s the base 5" LCD, the mid-range 8.4" LCD, and the ginormous 12" model that is larger than the TVs some of us had in our college dorm rooms back in the day.
At the moment, none of them can be replaced, at least not without a ton of custom fabrication and wiring work. For that reason, we don’t recommend trying it at this time. That may change in the future, and if so, we’ll update this section and tell you what is and isn’t possible at that point.
Tools not needed because you won’t be removing or replacing the radio: Panel tool, small flat blade screwdriver, Phillips screwdriver
The middle child of the Ram receiver family is this 8" LCD receiver (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Removing your factory speakers
Okay, so you can’t do anything with the stock receiver at this point. Not ideal, but not catastrophic, either. You can still bring new life to your Ram’s audio system by upgrading the speakers. The work’s not that hard and the results will be noticeable, so if you’re looking for a DIY project that’ll pay immediate benefits, speaker replacement is the way to go.
In the case of the low-impedance Alpine speakers, replacing them with 4-ohm aftermarket speakers will result in lower volume levels. Shop accordingly, and if you have questions, give us a call or chat. We’ll make sure you get the speakers you need to get the sound you want.
Handy branding lets you know whether your truck has the stock Alpine or Harman Kardon system (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Center dash speaker
The center dash speaker, found in the Alpine and Harman Kardon systems, is very easy to reach and replace. In the case of the low-impedance Alpine model, replacing it with a 4-ohm aftermarket speaker will result in lower volume levels, so keep that in mind with this and all Alpine speakers.
To remove the stock model, use a panel tool to pry up the center dash grille to release seven retaining clips. Disconnect the harness and remove the grille, then remove the two Phillips screws securing the speaker to the dash. Disconnect the harness and remove the speaker.
Tools needed: Panel tool, right-angle Phillips screwdriver
The corner dash speakers are reasonably easy to reach and replace (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Corner dash speakers
The 3-1/2" corner dash speakers, found in all three factory systems, are similarly easy to deal with. Starting at the rear edge, use your panel tool to pry up the corner dash grille, releasing two clips. Remove the grille, then and remove the two Phillips screws securing the speaker to the dash. Disconnect the harness and remove the speaker.
Pay attention when you’re looking for replacements for the Alpine speakers, of course. In the case of the Harman Kardons, note that each speaker has a 4.7-microfarad cap and a tweeter mounted in tandem with the woofer.
Tools needed: Panel tool, right-angle Phillips screwdriver
The Harman Kardon (shown) and Alpine systems have component speakers in the front doors (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Front door speakers/woofers
In the six-speaker base audio system, the front door speakers are full-range 6"x9" models. In the Alpine and Harman Kardon systems, the doors house 6"x9" woofers and 3-1/2" tweeters. You’ll need to remove the door panels to get to any of these speakers, but the job’s not hard and it’s a good project for the DIY-er. We’ll look at the bigger speakers first.
Starting at the bottom edge, pry out the screw cover behind the door release handle to release five clips, then remove the screw cover and remove the exposed 10mm screw. Next, starting at the top edge, pry out the screw cover behind door pull handle to release those clips, then remove the screw cover and remove two exposed 10mm screws.
Pry up the power switch panel to release the retaining clips, then disconnect the harness and remove the switch panel. Pry out all sides of the door panel to release fifteen clips, then disconnect the harnesses and door release cable and remove the door panel.
The front woofer or full-range speakers come out the same way. If you need mounting brackets for your aftermarket speakers, we'll include them with your order. (Crutchfield Research Photo)
From here, just remove the four 6mm screws securing the speaker to the door, disconnect the harness and remove the speaker.
In some cases, you’ll need speaker mounting brackets to install your new speakers in this location. If so, we’ll include them with your order. If you’re replacing Alpine speakers with anything other than Powerbass speakers, you’ll want to pay close attention to the impedance when you’re shopping. Again, if you have questions, give us a call or chat.
Tools needed: Panel tool, small flat blade screwdriver, 6mm and 10mm sockets, ratchet and extension, needle-nose pliers
You'll need to remove the door panels to remove the front tweeters, of course. This is a Harman Kardon tweeter. (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Front door tweeters
Once the door panels are off, you’re well on your way to replacing the tweeters. Just remove the two Torx T20 screws securing the speaker to the door, disconnect the harness and remove the speaker.
Tools needed: Panel tool, small flat blade screwdriver, 10mm socket, ratchet and extension, Torx T20 driver, needle-nose pliers
The Ram Crew Cab's rear doors house 6"x9" factory speakers (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Rear door speakers (Crew Cab)
In the Ram 1500 Crew Cab (There is no standard cab, interestingly enough…), you’ll find 6"x9" speakers in the rear doors. The speakers themselves differ a bit depending on whether you have the base, Alpine, or Harman Kardon system, but the removal and replacement process is the same. You can replace these speakers with same-size, 5-1/4" or 6-1/2" aftermarket models, and we’ll include mounting brackets when your installation requires them.
Starting at the bottom edge, pry out the screw cover behind the door release handle to release five clips, then remove the screw cover and remove the exposed 10mm screw. Next, starting at the top edge, pry out the screw cover behind the door pull handle to those release clips, then remove the screw cover and the two now-exposed 10mm screws. Pry up the power switch panel to release the retaining clips, then disconnect the harness and remove the switch panel.
Pry out all sides of the door panel to release fifteen clips, disconnect the harnesses and the door release cable, then remove the door panel and store it somewhere safe while you continue working. Remove the four 6mm screws securing the speaker to the door, disconnect the harness and remove the factory speaker. And there you go. You’re now ready to install your new speakers.
Tools Required: Panel tool, small flat blade screwdriver, 6mm and 10mm sockets, ratchet and extension, needle-nose pliers
In the Quad Cab, there's a bit less door, but you'll still find 6"x9" stock speakers (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Rear door speakers (Quad Cab)
In Quad Cab trucks, the story is pretty much the same, both in terms of the new speakers that fit and the work you need to do to remove the old ones.
Pry out the screw cover behind the door release handle and remove one exposed 10mm screw, then pry out the screw cover behind the door pull handle and remove two exposed 10mm screws. Pry up the power switch panel to release the clips, disconnect the harness and remove the switch panel.
From here, just pry out all sides of the door panel to release twelve clips, disconnect the door release cable, and remove the door panel. Stash the panel in a dry, safe place. Now onto the speaker. Remove the four 6mm screws securing the speaker to the door, disconnect the harness, remove the speaker, and get ready to install the new one.
Tools Required: Panel tool, 6mm and 10mm sockets, ratchet and extension, small flat blade screwdriver
These are the rear roof speakers. We'd suggest leaving them where they are. (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Rear roof speakers
The Alpine and Harman Kardon systems include speakers in the roof, above the rear seats. These speakers cannot be replaced without removing the headliner, which we do not recommend.
The stock subwoofer can be found behind the rear seats (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Bass in your Ram 1500
The sub, which is part of the Alpine and Harman Kardon systems, is found behind the rear seat. This 8" triple voice coil subwoofer (each voice coil has a 2.2-ohm impedance) is mounted to a polymer enclosure. It’s not terribly hard to get to, but you will need to fabricate a mounting bracket to secure your aftermarket 8" sub in the enclosure. You’ll also need to splice or solder the sub wires to the vehicle’s speaker wires, because there's no wiring harness adapter that will work here.
You will have to fiddle with the seats, which is challenging, but not too bad. Once they’re handled. All you need to do is pry out the rear wall trim enough to get to the sub enclosure, then remove the six Torx T25 screws securing subwoofer to the enclosure. Disconnect the harness and remove the subwoofer. Complete, illustrated instructions can be found in the Crutchfield ResearchNotes included free with your stereo or speaker purchase.
As with all other Alpine speakers in the Ram, replacing this low-impedance factory speaker with a 4-ohm aftermarket speaker will result in lower volume levels.
Tools Required: Panel tool, 10mm and 18mm sockets, ratchet and extension, Torx T25 driver
A powered sub, like the Sound Ordnance B-8PTD, is a great way to boost your bass without taking up too much space
Adding a subwoofer
If your truck doesn’t have a factory sub or you just want even more bass, there’s room under the rear seat for a powered subwoofer. The available space measures 8" H x 52" W x 9" D; it's tight, but there are some powered subwoofers that'll fit.
Protect your truck's carpeting with a set of WeatherTech floor liners
Other options for your Ram
Here are some other ways to improve your Ram truck's comfort, safety, and sound.
Your Ram is a big vehicle with big doors and a big grille, so it punches a big hole in the atmosphere. The stock ANC system did a nice job of masking all that road noise and wind roar, but now that you're disconnected it, you might want to bring the quiet back. Once way to do that is to install Dynamat when you're replacing your speakers. This soundproofing material will dampen the sounds you don't like, so you can get more enjoyment out of the ones you do.
Stop noise-cancelling feedback
Some Rams were available with an active noise cancellation system (ANC) that doesn't play nicely with an aftermarket system. You'll need to disable the ANC in order to get the best possible sound. iDatalink's bCH3 ANC bypass harness plugs into the factory wiring as a jumper that bypasses the noise cancellation module, allowing your new system to play the way it should. This harness doesn't work with all Rams. It only works in trucks that don't have a factory amplifier, so check with us before you order it.
No matter how much you pamper your Ram truck, you're eventually going to get involved in some sort of truck-like activity that gets you and/or it dirty. When that happens, it's a good idea to have a set of WeatherTech Floor Mats and Liners. These incredibly durable mats trap moisture, contain dirt, and keep your factory carpets looking good.
Remote start and security systems
Adding remote start capability to your vehicle lets you warm it up in the winter or cool it down in the summer. The iDatastart system is incredibly convenient and makes it easier than ever to install a remote start system, so we highly recommend it. The module requires a vehicle-specific T-harness (sold separately) to connect with your vehicle's computer, security, and ignition systems, so we ask that you call to order so that we can make sure you get the right harness for your ride.
You can also talk to your Crutchfield Advisor about a security system. They’re not as easy to install (we usually suggest letting a professional do the job), but we can help you choose a system that’ll work in your vehicle.
Find the audio gear that fits your car or truck
Visit our Outfit My Car page and enter your vehicle information to see stereos, speakers, subs, and other audio accessories that will work in your vehicle.