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A high-schooler's first car stereo installation

A savvy teen upgrades the sound and iPhone® functionality in her 2007 Ford Focus

In this edition of Crutchfield DIY stories, we take a peek inside the installation of a new audio system in a 2007 Ford Focus. Lauren, a high-school senior, takes on the job with a little help from the crew at Crutchfield. Her new system includes all new speakers, a touchscreen stereo with Apple CarPlay®, and a powered subwoofer.

Lauren is her school’s valedictorian, an avid volleyball player, and a huge rap music fan. But the factory audio system in her 2007 Ford Focus just wasn’t delivering as she played music from her iPhone® 8. She and her father bought new gear for her Ford — and Lauren decided to tackle the installation.

Why install a new stereo system?

Lauren had one word for the factory audio: “Horrible!” There was no clarity or detail in her music, and she heard a lot of static because she was using a wireless FM transmitter to broadcast her iPhone’s audio. The radio stations were crowded in her area, so reception bleed-over often interrupted her music. She also wanted a safer way to control her phone calls, navigation, and music apps.

Before

after

Swipe the image to see the "before" and "after" shots of Lauren's radio Lauren's new setup let her get rid of the clunky FM transmitter (left of the factory radio). In the "after" photo, you can also see the bass volume knob we mounted on the dash, so she can control the bump from the Rockford Fosgate powered sub.

A new car stereo takes center stage

The factory radio was a good starting point for Lauren, who had no installation experience. She received our Crutchfield MasterSheet™ instructions with her purchase, looked them over, and seemed comfortable with the radio removal.

Once she got the hang of a few tools, she pried off the dash trim and removed a few bolts to take out the factory radio. She prepped her new stereo by connecting the wiring harness and assembling the dash kit, both of which we supplied at a deep discount with the purchase of the stereo.

Installation of receiver

Lauren reversed the disassembly steps to mount the Pioneer AVH-1330NEX receiver in the dash. Now she has Apple CarPlay™, which perfectly integrates with her iPhone 8 for hands-free calling and easier control over her music.

Our selection of receivers with Apple CarPlay continues to grow.

Car door

Installing new speakers in each of the doors

Replacing speakers can appear to be a daunting task. After showing Lauren what needed to be done to remove the factory speakers, we could see her concern. But once she got comfortable with popping the panels off and unscrewing the speakers, Lauren looked like a pro in no time, moving much faster through each successive door panel. Bojo trim panel tools really help in removing tricky panels.

Speaker installation

Lauren chose two pairs of JBL GTO speakers, which gave her that clean sound she wanted from her music.

Bring on the bass!

With rap, you gotta have bass! Lauren and her dad picked one of our most popular Rockford Fosgate powered subwoofers. It combines the amp, enclosure, and sub in one package. The 300-watt powered sub added that thump that Lauren had been desperate for.

subwoofer install

Adding a powered subwoofer seemed really involved to Lauren, and that’s understandable. She had to run several different wires throughout her Ford, including a power cable that had to be routed to the engine compartment. For some of those connections, we were happy to help her out a little.

Check out our selection of powered subwoofers for your vehicle.

Controlling the bass bump

Bass control
Rockford Fosgate included a remote bass level knob for their powered subwoofer. We talked with Lauren about where it work best for her. She didn't seem too keen on having it float around unsecured, although she was stoked to know she could turn her bass up quickly. So we offered to mount it on the side of her dash wall, and she was cool with that.

She can’t sit still

This is my favorite part of the story. As we watched Lauren switch on her system for the sound check and she heard the first sounds hit her speakers, her face lit up. Suddenly, we were in a mini nightclub, and Lauren led the dance from her seat. Below is one of the most in-focus photos we could get of Lauren once she got her music going. Hmmm, we think she likes it. Just a hunch.

Testing the system

Whether you're a first-timer or a seasoned installer, our Advisors are here to recommend a great system for your ride. You can chat, email, or call, and we'll be glad to help out. 

  • Bill from Atlanta

    Posted on 2/26/2018

    That last picture!! HAHA! Awesome! :-)

  • Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 2/15/2018

    Thanks, Matthew! Well said!

  • Matthew B

    Posted on 2/14/2018

    I read Lauren's story yesterday from top to bottom - it made me smile and recall my first build back in high school (yikes!), and my first 'better' build in college (which Crutchfield supported!). 'Car stereo' is a great, lifetime hand's on skill to start as a young person...and the skills carry over into other DIY detail segments once you own a home. My current, high quality sound/stealth build btw - went together like clockwork. You never forget this stuff! Parents reading this (and I'm a parent) - if your responsible kid, like Lauren, expresses an interest in doing a radio upgrade, help them budget and support that pursuit. It's worth it in the long run!

  • Blockustomz from Florida

    Posted on 2/13/2018

    Great article of a mass produced car great for sound. This should help many get rid of that stock sound. I also upgraded my 2006 Focus Wagon with 8" Skar mids and tweeters in the doors. The trickiest part of the build is finding a dash install kit that sits flush for double di. The best fitting and flush is the Metra 95-5812.

  • Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 2/12/2018

    Yes, it IS a big garage. Since we were documenting the installation, and helping out when needed, Lauren did the work in our photo studio at Crutchfield HQ. So you're getting an "inside peek" at where most of our on-site photography happens.

  • Stanley Landis from Pawleys Island

    Posted on 2/9/2018

    Wow that's a big big garage Daddy has. Ahem. Yeah.

  • Rn from Utah

    Posted on 2/8/2018

    Rock on! Or is it rap on?

  • Chris from Raleigh, NC

    Posted on 2/8/2018

    Finally! A gal who likes decent sound in her ride. Very cool article. Props to Lauren for tackling this task on her own!

  • Liz Holeman from Daytona, Florida. 32

    Posted on 2/5/2018

    Very cool ad. Starring my great niece. She is an asset to your product.

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