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Discussion Starter #1
The info in this thread applies ONLY to the non-Sony 9-speaker system with 8”MFT screen in '13-'14 FEs. To avoid confusion, please post Q’s or comments about the Sony system in another thread. Thanks!

This thread is to provide a compilation of some basic info about upgrading the non-Sony 9-speaker system in the ’13-’14 FE, mainly the interface between added components and the FE systems. It is broken into several posts due to length.

This info is based my study of the Ford Service Manual & Wiring Diagrams, input/posts from other forum members and my hands-on experience upgrading speakers, adding a 4-channel amp and a powered subwoofer to my FE.

PART 1 – SPEAKERS

OEM SPECS (all dimensions are ‘nominal’)
+ Front Center: 3.5”; 8 Ohm; labeled 25 Watts
+ Woofer/midrange (same all doors): 6.5”; 4 Ohm; labeled 25 Watts
+ Tweeters (rear doors and A-pillar all the same): 1”; passive crossover mounted to the tweeter body

SPEAKER UPGRADE NOTES
+ The front center speaker is NOT powered by a separately controlled audio channel; it is a mono output from the Audio Unit consisting of a simple blend of left+right channels; there is no provision for adjusting the output level of this speaker separate from the front door speakers. As suggested by member markboris, before upgrading this speaker try disconnecting it completely (pull the connector at the speaker); you may find you like your overall system sound ‘staging and presence’ better without it, especially after upgrading the door speakers (I did and I do – mine is not used).

+ Each Woofer/Tweeter pair is powered by a single channel from the Audio Unit, wired in parallel. The ‘split’ for the rear door tweeters is at the woofer; the ‘split’ for the A-pillar tweeters is in the wiring harness deep behind the dashboard before the woofer wires enter the door. All speaker wiring is 18 gauge from the Audio Unit. With the exception of the aforementioned A-pillar tweeters, the speaker wiring harness runs from the Audio Unit, down to the right side of the console where it branches to run under the seats to each door. IMHO it is very difficult to access the car-side of the flexible ducts that run between the A / B pillars and the doors (IMHO running new wires from inside the FE to the doors would be a real chore).

+ There is significant depth for 6.5” nominal speakers in the doors. The OEM speaker frame is almost 1” thick and is mounted on top of another 1” thick plastic adaptor ring over the cutout in the steel door panel. If you ‘gut’ the OEM Woofer poly frame and use a Dremel to cut-out the ‘spokes’ supporting the magnet, the remaining rim makes an excellent ‘adaptor ring’ for many aftermarket 6.5” speakers, perfectly fitted to the FE door and raising the speakers to the correct height relative to the door panel grille; a thin rim on the inside face of the resulting ‘adaptor ring’ may need to be cut off. I used this ‘salvaged adaptor ring’ to mount Alpine SPS-610C component midrange speakers in my doors at the perfect height without any other adaptors ;-)

+ The OEM Tweeters are easily removed from the back of the tweeter grilles (just ‘pry’ and they’ll pop-out). When you remove the tweeters you’ve removed the crossover mounted to them; thus the remaining harness wires are ‘clean’ and can be used with virtually any aftermarket component 1” tweeter/crossover assembly. Aftermarket 1” tweeters are easily installed in the OEM locations using hot-melt glue to hold them in place.

ACCESSING THE SPEAKERS
Several folks have done good picture-guides for getting off door panels to access speakers for replacement:
+ Front doors (Note, this installer mounted the speakers directly to the steel door panel – this leaves the speakers approximately 2” lower than the OEM speakers relative to the grille): 2013 Ford Escape Factory Speaker Replacement

+ Rear doors (Note, this installer mounted the speakers to the first-level OEM mounting ring with a thin adaptor ring included with the speakers – this leaves the speakers approximately ¾” lower than the OEM speakers relative to the grille): http://www.fordescape.org/forum/diy-garage/9378-diy-installing-swapping-factory-rear-speakers.html

+ Both of the above articles used 2-way 6.5” woofer/tweeter speakers and abandoned the OEM tweeters.

+ If you want to install component speakers with the tweeters in the OEM locations, the rear door tweeters are revealed when you pull the door panel; the A-pillar trim where the front tweeters are mounted uses no screws – simply pry-off the A-pillar trim with a plastic trim removal tool to reveal the front tweeters.

+ If you want to install a different center front speaker (or expose the Audio Unit)…. The panel covering the speaker extend to the front of the upper dash in front of the CD player slot; simply give a sharp ‘upward whack’ to the underside of the ‘ledge’ overhanging above the 8” MFT screen with the heel of your hand – it’ll snap up and you can proceed to pry it off to reveal the center speaker (disconnect the sensor wire obvious on the right side as you lift the panel).

PROVEN ALTERNATIVE SPEAKERS
Speakers proven to fit (I’m sure there are many others that will fit just fine) and which can be driven to loud levels by the OEM Audio Unit:
+ Rockford Fosgate Power T165 (2-way speaker, separate OEM tweeters abandoned)
+ Alpine SPS-610 (2-way speaker, separate OEM tweeters abandoned)
+ Alpine SPS-610C (component woofer/tweeter with passive crossover – tweeters installed in OEM locations)
+ I’ve found no reports of a center-speaker alternative actually installed


continued in next post...
 

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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
PART 2 – ADDING AN AMPLIFIER / SUBWOOFER

THE OEM “AUDIO UNIT” (ACM)

The “Audio Unit” / "ACM" (as named in the FE Service Manual) is the box with the CD player which also contains the amplifier in the non-Sony system. Though other components (MFT Screen, dash controls, steering wheel controls, SYNC APIM (allowing voice command), etc) are integral to the operation of the overall system, the “Audio Unit” is the closest analogy to a traditional “head unit” in the non-Sony FE entertainment system.

+ It should be noted that the FE audio system is mainly controlled by the digital-logic canbus, not by ‘traditional’ electrical switches and analog electrical signals.

+ The FE amplifier/speaker system is “on” whenever the car is running in order to support SYNC-to-driver communications through the speakers. The system automatically turns “on” due to canbus commands whenever a door is opened (or the remote is used to unlock a door) and remains on for a pre-determined period of time if no other action is taken, then it turns “off”.

CONNECTING AN EXTERNAL AMPLIFIER
+ There is NO analog pre-amp output from the FE Audio Unit; even if there were, by definition a pre-amp output is ‘line level’ and would sacrifice all of the convenience of the MFT, steering wheel, dash and voice controls for volume, balance, fade, treble/mid/bass, etc.

+ Therefore it is necessary to use either 1) external amplifiers which directly accept speaker-level / high-level inputs; or 2) a Line Out Converter (LOC) between the Audio Unit and the amplifier low-level (RCA jack) inputs. The option of installing a Digital Signal Processor (DSP) is beyond the scope of this discussion.

+ The speaker-level output wires from the Audio Unit are in connector “C240A”; see the post above, Part 1, ACCESSING SPEAKERS, last bullet about accessing the front center speaker for how to remove the dash panel to expose the Audio Unit.

+ See the attached pics for an example of making input-output connections for an external amplifier at connector C240A, including a wire color chart.

EXTERNAL AMPLIFIER POWER SOURCE
+ Most automotive audio guidance suggests that added audio components be powered by a fused power feed directly from the battery in order to avoid noise (buzz, whistle, hiss, etc) which can easily be introduced if power is tapped from an existing fuse box or other 12 volt source. Therefore I will not discuss alternate sources of 12 volt feed for added components.

+ Forum member markboris shows us how to get through the firewall with a power feed from the battery in this post How to route front camera wires into the cab?

EXTERNAL AMPLIFIER ‘POWER ON’ CONTROL
I have not found a dedicated DC output which is analogous to a ‘remote power on/remote power antenna lead’ as found in some audio head units and commonly recommended as a source for a ‘remote power on input’ for external amplifiers. Some alternatives for power-on control are:

+ Tap BCM unused fuse slot F87 – this fuse is hot only when the ignition is on. Note this means that you will not get speaker sound /SYNC sound info as you would for a certain time before you start the car and after you shut it off like with the OEM system. You would not be able to play music at all with the key off like you can with the OEM setup.

+ Tap one of many “always on” circuits and add a manual turn-off switch – with the obvious great risk that if you forget to turn-off the system you’ll kill the battery.

+ Use an amplifier with speaker-level inputs that includes a feature sensing current in the speaker circuit to turn-on the amp. Current is present on the speaker wires when the Audio Unit is “on” even when no sound is present. Many offer this, for example the Alpine MRV-F300 4-channel amp and the Alpine PWE-S8 powered subwoofer (Google those models for more info). Both those components work flawlessly in my FE to exactly mimic the operation of the OEM system with zero turn-on pop, delay, sound clipping or other adverse effect. In addition, if the entertainment system is told to ‘shut-down’ by the FE battery-saver feature that will automatically also shut-down the added components.

+ Look for a separate device that uses the speaker-sensing technology described above as a turn-on trigger. The PAC TR-4 might work (I have NOT tested that device). Pac-Audio.com Product Details | iPod Integration for your car and More by Pac-Audio - Connecting you to the future

AMPLIFIER GROUNDING
+ Most automotive audio guidance suggests that all audio components be grounded to the same point to help avoid ground-looping which can induce noise in the system.

+ The audio components in the non-Sony FE all use the same grounding point, located under the carpet near the front of the driver’s door sill. Pry-up the plastic door sill on the driver’s side and pull-back the carpet that tucks under the sill in front of the seat. You will see three grounding screws in a cluster – the front-most screw, the only one with three separate wires under it, is the FE audio system ground point. Remove the screw, add your ring-end ground-wire connectors to the stack, route your ground(s) under the carpet. FWIW I didn’t even try another ground – I used this point for each separate ground wire to my added amps and have zero noise from the system.

Sorry for the long posts but I hope some will find the info helpful. Each step of my audio system upgrade yielded better sound in my FE. I’ll soon do a post in the “Electronics, Audio, and Lighting” subforum describing my completed audio upgrades.
 

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Awesome post. Great info.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
About MOLEX connectors for those that have never used them ..... they make great professional connections, are economical, are DIY-friendly, are reasonably compact, easy to install in cramped spaces.

Molex connectors are a system of plastic-bodied multi-pin connectors used in many OEM auto and electronic applications where weather-protection is not required. There are literally hundreds of MOLEX brand connectors for 1 to XX circuits (pins/wires) per connector and different wire gauges.

Each different size/type ("Series") of connector pin requires a specific crimp tool (to install the male/female pins to the wire) and extractor tool (to remove a pin from the plug body if you make a mistake or want to revise the connection). You MUST use the crimp tool designed specifically for your MOLEX connector Series to get acceptable results. Therefore it's more economical to work with one "Series" as much as possible to save tool cost.

I like the .093" Series connectors and use them a lot. They will accommodate #22 through #18 AWG wires (up to 16AWG in a pinch but that's an off-spec use). Pictured in my post above are 9-pin .093 Series for an 8-pin connection (one hole in the connectors is not used - no problem). That is MOLEX part no. 1292PRT which includes the male and female connector body, 11 female terminals (pins) and 11 male terminals. MOLEX connector kits always include extra pins.

I used the two-pin version, part # 76650-0060 where I cut-off the Ford connectors in the doors to install my speakers and tweeters. I soldered a short pigtail to the speaker terminals to reach the Ford harness where new MOLEX connectors were installed - looks and works like OEM if/when you need to pull speakers for work in the doors.

I use crimping tool WALDOM W-HT-1921-P and extractor W-HT-2038-P. Both tools run about $30 dollars now (combined price) and are 'forever' tools for most of us (the crimpers can wear out with high-volume of production use).

I buy locally at an electronics store (Altex in Austin, TX); Radio Shack carries limited supply of 'equivalent' connectors in their own packaging. Google is your friend for finding them from hundreds of online sources (use "molex .093 series" or the part numbers listed above).

HTH
 

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some good info there.. Wow.. :)
 

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Very nice Centres as all ways.
Mark
 

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Great thread! Wish someone had compiled all of this a year ago before just diving in.

I recently replaced my 3.5" center speaker with a Polk 4 ohm speaker. You want to talk about a massive upgrade to the sound! It was much like getting a high quality center channel speaker for your home theater system.

It pulled out the muddled mid-range only sound and gave both volume and vibrancy to music.

Considering I paid $25 for it (two were $50 and I have a spare) and it took five minutes to replace, it was well worth it.
 
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Great thread! Wish someone had compiled all of this a year ago before just diving in.

I recently replaced my 3.5" center speaker with a Polk 4 ohm speaker. You want to talk about a massive upgrade to the sound! It was much like getting a high quality center channel speaker for your home theater system.

It pulled out the muddled mid-range only sound and gave both volume and vibrancy to music.

Considering I paid $25 for it (two were $50 and I have a spare) and it took five minutes to replace, it was well worth it.
Good INFO, but what did you do about the ohm difference?
Mark
 

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I didn't worry about it. I upgraded the doors with Alpine 610s, which are also 4 ohms, and then Polk tweeters, which are the same. Everything is working beautifully together. After installing I just had to tweak the speaker output to rear bias slightly more in the MFT to balance out the sound.
 

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so just to clarify Centex...you are running the Alpine PWE-S8?

where did you mount it? I didn't see it in your rear cargo area? of course I wasn't going to just go crawling around in there... lol

you have the powered sub and the amp all hooked up?
 

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Discussion Starter #11
so just to clarify Centex...you are running the Alpine PWE-S8?

where did you mount it? I didn't see it in your rear cargo area? of course I wasn't going to just go crawling around in there... lol

you have the powered sub and the amp all hooked up?
Patience, Grasshopper ;-)

None of the audio mods were in the FE when we visited, so there was nothing to see.

The speakers went in awhile ago (9/14) the rest a week ago and I've been 'calibrating' since (playing with gain, crossovers, balance/fade) using both test-tones and music, lowbrow instruments and ears. That iterative process has taken some time as my ears need rest and it helps to 'step away' not listening for awhile, listen at length, use different music, etc. The amps have been 'loose located' during that process so I can more easily access the controls which won't be so conveniently reached when in their final firm mounted locations.

All will be revealed when, in the next day or so, I complete the final bolt-down, get the wires hidden and snap a few pics.
 

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centex, about the remote power on for your amp, you would want to connect that to the delayed ignition output, right? I have my amps connected to this output and it works as the factory system did. I looked at the wiring diagram and the non-Sony system is different than the Sony system in regards to which wire this is at the BCM and it also depends on if you have power window door modules in each door (all windows auto up and down). You probably know all of this but just in case......
 

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Discussion Starter #13
... I recently replaced my 3.5" center speaker with a Polk 4 ohm speaker. You want to talk about a massive upgrade to the sound! It was much like getting a high quality center channel speaker for your home theater system.

It pulled out the muddled mid-range only sound and gave both volume and vibrancy to music...
Good INFO, but what did you do about the ohm difference? ...
I didn't worry about it. I upgraded the doors with Alpine 610s, which are also 4 ohms, and then Polk tweeters, which are the same. Everything is working beautifully together. After installing I just had to tweak the speaker output to rear bias slightly more in the MFT to balance out the sound.
A few comments not to criticize ...

Re: 4 Ohm instead of 8 Ohm
+ Though there may be some risk to the Audio Unit power output circuits, from what I've gleaned as a non-expert, the risk may be less in low-powered systems (ours certainly is that), the risk may be long-term, the risk may be less if not played at high output (volume) consistently, and then again the system may tolerate it just fine forever. It's worth noting that the "Ohm / impedance rating" of speakers is a nominal-average-artificial-number, the actual impedance of a speaker constantly varies with frequency and power level.

+ All other things being equal (Audio Unit volume setting and speaker sensitivity) the 4 Ohm speaker will be louder than the 8 Ohm speaker. That means that the 4 Ohm front center speaker will be more prominent relative to the front L/R speakers 'out of the box'; lacking a separate control for front-center relative to the front L/R speakers, the only way to reduce the level of the front center speaker in the overall mix is to bias the sound to the rear which of course reduces the front L/R volume along with the front center relative volume to the rear

Re: The Sound "Effect"
+ Listening to music is like looking at art ... first and foremost the old saw "I may not know 'good' art but I know what I like" applies absolutely. What is "right" for each of us is not the same, in terms of both music tastes and the audio effect delivered to our ears.

+ From his description of the mod and adjustments I strongly suspect that in comparison to the 'effect' of my system, Spider Pig's has much more center prominence, much less L/R distinction from the front, and much more bias to sound originating from behind the driver. Not saying one is right or wrong, just pointing out the likely comparative differences .... "right / wrong" is in the ear of the beholder.

Bottom line - if you like the sound of your system for your music, that's all that counts.
 
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Bottom line - if you like the sound of your system for your music, that's all that counts.
Can't agree with you more!!!

Having designed and built speakers systems in my younger days (many years ago), not everyone seems to like what you like. Some love it, some hate it. As long as you like what you have created, that is all that matters.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
centex, about the remote power on for your amp, you would want to connect that to the delayed ignition output, right? I have my amps connected to this output and it works as the factory system did. I looked at the wiring diagram and the non-Sony system is different than the Sony system in regards to which wire this is at the BCM and it also depends on if you have power window door modules in each door (all windows auto up and down). You probably know all of this but just in case......
Nope, I didn't, you are continuing my education as you have in the past.

As I understand, you are saying that in lieu of tapping an amp remote turn-on lead to BCM fuse 87 (which is hot only with ignition on), there is a place to tap 12 volt for that trigger which is hot during the same 'before and after startup' periods that the OEM sound system is hot.

No, I did not find that connection point (being lazy I quit looking when I found the 'speaker-sensing feature' of the amps I chose would work just fine without any separate remote turn-on connection).

If either one of us has a chance to describe that connection point for the readers, recognizing it is different depending on other features, that'd maybe be helpful in this thread for folks that don't have the Service Manual ;-)

(I may or may not get to finding that info)

BTW to everyone .... if you have tips relating to connecting audio mods to the non-Sony system which are proven to work, please feel free to add to this thread for the benefit of all
 

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The thing is, before I post here on any thread, I like to test and confirm my findings to make sure it will work for others. Since I have the Sony audio system and door modules in each door, my delay ignition turn on lead is not in the same connector nor is it the same color wire as the one for your system described here. After looking at the wiring diagram for the non-Sony system, I see a couple of different wires I would tap into that should have DC output on the delayed ignition. One is at the main fuse box in the engine compartment and the other at the BCM. Do you have door modules in each door (all windows auto up and down)? I am actually in a plane to Utah right now and have nothing better to do so I can look at the wiring diagram again before we land.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
The thing is, before I post here on any thread, I like to test and confirm my findings to make sure it will work for others...
I absolutely appreciate that ... thus my harping on "proven to work".


Since I have the Sony audio system and door modules in each door, my delay ignition turn on lead is not in the same connector nor is it the same color wire as the one for your system described here. After looking at the wiring diagram for the non-Sony system, I see a couple of different wires I would tap into that should have DC output on the delayed ignition. One is at the main fuse box in the engine compartment and the other at the BCM. Do you have door modules in each door (all windows auto up and down)? I am actually in a plane to Utah right now and have nothing better to do so I can look at the wiring diagram again before we land.
I have door modules but this issue is moot for me as stated above. Any additional info that can be posted about connections to the non-Sony system, as long as we make clear the precedent conditions (e.g. with/without door modules (auto-up-down on all windows)) would be for the benefit of others that follow. If 'untested' it'd be nice to simply present things as a "suggestion for testing to verify that it works as intended".




[totally off-topic rant - does anyone else find it irritating that we can't go back and edit posts, particularly technical posts, a hour or more after the OP? No reply to this rhetorical question needed ;-)]
 

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I shall eagerly await the final items then sir!

as was stated...I like the overall quality of the 9 speaker system as it isn't too bad...but it definitely lacks lower freq presence...and I know it would be next to impossible to find a sub other than the factory unit to mount in the cubby on the driver side in the rear cargo area...and I have a powered kenwood unit in my truck and it works great working off the signal from the speakers.

Thank you sir!
D
 

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A few comments not to criticize ...

Re: 4 Ohm instead of 8 Ohm
+ Though there may be some risk to the Audio Unit power output circuits, from what I've gleaned as a non-expert, the risk may be less in low-powered systems (ours certainly is that), the risk may be long-term, the risk may be less if not played at high output (volume) consistently, and then again the system may tolerate it just fine forever. It's worth noting that the "Ohm / impedance rating" of speakers is a nominal-average-artificial-number, the actual impedance of a speaker constantly varies with frequency and power level.

+ All other things being equal (Audio Unit volume setting and speaker sensitivity) the 4 Ohm speaker will be louder than the 8 Ohm speaker. That means that the 4 Ohm front center speaker will be more prominent relative to the front L/R speakers 'out of the box'; lacking a separate control for front-center relative to the front L/R speakers, the only way to reduce the level of the front center speaker in the overall mix is to bias the sound to the rear which of course reduces the front L/R volume along with the front center relative volume to the rear

Re: The Sound "Effect"
+ Listening to music is like looking at art ... first and foremost the old saw "I may not know 'good' art but I know what I like" applies absolutely. What is "right" for each of us is not the same, in terms of both music tastes and the audio effect delivered to our ears.

+ From his description of the mod and adjustments I strongly suspect that in comparison to the 'effect' of my system, Spider Pig's has much more center prominence, much less L/R distinction from the front, and much more bias to sound originating from behind the driver. Not saying one is right or wrong, just pointing out the likely comparative differences .... "right / wrong" is in the ear of the beholder.

Bottom line - if you like the sound of your system for your music, that's all that counts.
Yes, I knew about possible risks going from 8 to 4 ohms, but after doing some research, I came to the conclusion that while there was "risk," it was minimal. And since I usually get a new car every four years or so, I wouldn't see any possible problems before I buy something else.

And you're correct about my sound setup as well. I prefer depth in my music/sound, but also like keeping everything central to the entire car. I have no idea why, but it just sounds much more complete to me if the sound is focused dead center. I usually rear bias the sound when I'm not running an amplifier/sub. This comes from owning many cars with 6.5" front speakers and 6x9" rear speakers. Without a subwoofer, the 6x9 usually have the ability to put out more volume, which gives a slight impression of more bass to even everything out.

What is interesting is that my sound setup is probably strange to a lot of people, because I have chronic tinnitus from working in the gun business. I also don't listen to my music turned way up, which is why I upgrade the speakers to give better clarity without risking destroying the head unit/audio control unit.

But you made great points all around. Any modification comes with a risk; even speakers, and people forget that at times.
 
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