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Door Speakers & Subwoofers in my Leaf

Posted: Sun Apr 10, 2011 12:16 am
by Randy
Tonight I finished upgrading the 16cm door speakers in my Leaf, so I thought I'd post some pictures and discuss the job. It was pretty time consuming to do that first door, but then it got faster with the remaining doors. I'm calling it phase 1 because I'm still planning on installing a subwoofer in the car, although I haven't got all of those details worked out yet as far as brand, location, etc. That will be phase 2 later in this thread :)

Here's how I went about preparing for the installation. Of course, there are many ways to skin the cat. You may decide to install different speakers or in a different way, but hopefully some of these details will help the community if/when you decide to upgrade your sound system.

Feel free to post / ask questions...There's probably some details I'm leaving out...

* After lots of research, I decided to purchase CDT Audio 6.5" speakers Model CL-6EX. They make a 2 ohm version, which is what you want. I purchased 2 pairs of these speakers from woofersetc.com for $99 per pair. These speakers have received pretty good reviews online and they impressed me out of the box. They're built very well.
http://www.woofersetc.com/p-9392-cl-6ex ... akers.aspx

* I also purchased two pairs of Nissan speaker wiring connectors with spade lugs from Amazon (Metra 72-7400). My original plan was to use these to plug into the car wiring harness and then connect the connectors to the speakers. Note that the plugs on these harnesses don't fit the Leaf, but I was able to use the wires and speaker connectors by soldering them to the car speaker wires.
http://www.amazon.com/Metra-72-7400-Spe ... B0002BEQX4

* I also purchased some tools from Amazon to help with the removal of the power window switch finisher, the inside handle escutcheon, and the door panels
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000VYBLJ4

* I also purchased some rubber flashing tape from Home Depot to line the inside of the doors, per a recommendation from a friend. It was only $21 for 75 feet, so I thought it would be worth a try to see if it would help quiet down the doors and provide a less reflective surface than the inside of the door for the speakers...In the Home Depot stores, this item is found in the same aisle with metal flashing parts or right by the rain gutters or across the aisle.
http://www.homedepot.com/buy/building-m ... 69824.html

Here's some photos of the materials before we get started....


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Re: Upgrading Speakers in my Leaf: Phase 1

Posted: Sun Apr 10, 2011 12:16 am
by Randy
If you have a copy of the Service Manual, it will be helpful to print out pages INT13 - INT18 (Body Interior). This information can be used to remove the two pieces on the door so you can get to the screws underneath and ultimately remove the door panel. I followed the directions in the INT manual. You really need a thin tool for the bottom piece. One you get the two pieces off, then disconnect the wiring connector for the door lock / power window. Then remove the two screws.

Then use the wider tool to remove the clips around the outside of the door. There's 9 clips on the front and 8 clips on the rear doors.

Once you get the door panel off, check out the factory stock speaker. There are 3 screws holding it to the door and one wiring connector to disconnect. Then you can remove the speaker. My speaker harness wiring connectors didn't fit the Leaf, so I cut off the connectors and soldered / shrink tubed two speaker wires with connectors onto the car's speaker's wiring.

By the way, the Nissan Service Manual wiring color chart is incorrect for the Leaf.

Here are the colors I found:

Front Left (+) Blue / Grey
Front Left (-) Violet

Front Right (+) Red / Grey
Front Right (-) Brown / Grey

Rear Left (+) Violet / Grey
Rear Left (-) Light Green / Grey

Rear Right (+) Light Green / Grey
Rear Right (-) Pink / Grey

On the fifth photo down, you can see the rubber strips on the inside of the door that I had started to apply. I'll do some more testing and listening over the next few days to see if I can tell a difference with the rubber strips installed. It does feel more substantial in the door with the strips applied.

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Re: Upgrading Speakers in my Leaf: Phase 1

Posted: Sun Apr 10, 2011 12:17 am
by Randy
Here is the factory speaker removed. The speaker is actually combined with the mounting bracket as shown (it's all one piece). Check out the rear of the factory speaker. That has to be about a 1 ounce magnet, because the whole thing weighs about 3 ounces...Wow....I'm surprised it sounded as good as it did given the paper whizzer cone and light weight of the speaker / magnet assembly.

You can't just mount the speakers into the existing hole because it isn't large enough and the new speakers "bottom out" before going flush. I didn't feel like cutting metal on the car doors, so I kept thinking about a better speaker bracket solution.

After much trial and error (mostly error!), I made a decision on the mounting brackets for the new speakers. No one sells an aftermarket speaker bracket (at least that I could find). So I decided to "gut" the interior of the factory speaker and screw / silicon the new speakers to the factory bracket. It took some work, filing, sawing, and nipping (not necessarily in that order), but the solution ended up working out great. Whatever speakers you buy, though, if you're going to use this approach, they can't be too large or they won't fit into the factory brackets.

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Re: Upgrading Speakers in my Leaf: Phase 1

Posted: Sun Apr 10, 2011 12:17 am
by Randy
Okay, here are some photos of the finished speakers mounted on the door with the wiring attached just before re-assembling the door. It took me all day to do the four doors, but I learned a lot along the way and could do it again much faster.

By the way, the Service Manual says to replace the clips in the door. I tried to buy some clips, but couldn't find an exact match. The clips didn't get damaged when I removed them, so I was able to reuse the clips without any problems. The doors snapped back into place just fine and made a nice tight connection...

I spent about 30 minutes listening to music after getting all the doors back together tonight. The difference is easy to hear, and the sound is a lot better than the factory stock speakers. There are lots of great speakers on the market that will fit in the Leaf, it's just that mounting bracket fit you have to watch...

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Re: Upgrading Speakers in my Leaf: Phase 1

Posted: Sun Apr 10, 2011 12:17 am
by Randy
So, what did I learn? A lot, actually...

* The Leaf factory speakers are very inexpensive and are worthy of an upgrade.
* The car is so new that there isn't much information on exactly what to order or what will fit.
* I took a chance on the CDT Audio speakers because they had such good reviews, and they ended up fitting just fine.
* I do have to turn up the audio system a notch or two extra to get the same volume as the factory speakers, but the amp drives them fine and they play pretty loud without distortion.
* You need two ohm speakers to be compatible with what was there previously.
* A 10mm socket is needed to remove the 2 screws in the door to get the panel off.
* 3 or 4 of the door clips will remain in the door when you remove the panel. Just pry them carefully out of the door and reinstall them in the door before re-seating.
* The drivers door is the hardest because it has 3 wiring harnesses you have to disconnect to remove the door lock / window / mirror control panel from the door.
* I left the tweeters in place, and the system sounds fine. It seemed like too much work to replace them and the new speakers come with tweeters. The "highs" are not overwhelming.

It was a fun project!!!! Now the audio system sounds a lot better!!!!!

Let's discuss it....Any questions?

Thanks, Randy

Re: Upgraded the Door Speakers in my Leaf

Posted: Sun Apr 10, 2011 1:19 am
by GeekEV
Nice! I may have to give this a shot. Doesn't sound too terribly expensive...

Re: Upgraded the Door Speakers in my Leaf

Posted: Sun Apr 10, 2011 6:24 am
by mwalsh
Well done Randy!

I'm must admit great admiration for those of your willing to tear apart your new cars! I really haven't had a problem doing this with new-to-me cars in the past. Maybe that this is my very first brand new car that I'm personally reluctant.

Re: Upgraded the Door Speakers in my Leaf

Posted: Sun Apr 10, 2011 6:48 am
by EVDRIVER
NIce job. As a note,

1) Not all aftermarket speakers will fit into the modified factory spacer cage, I recommend making one out of a denser material as it will sound better.

2) You can buy Dynamat sound material online to deaden the doors but the residential material used is an upgrade over nothing, the brand he used is one of the best and sold at Home Depot

3) Although the load on the highs is not as significant as lows, leaving the factory tweeters in place changes the load to the amp as there is now half the resistance approx as two tweeters in parallel at a 4 ohm load goes to 2 ohms, etc.

4) if you are cutting the factory speaker cage and not going back to stock just cut the factory speaker wire and crimp new ends on for the new speakers.

Re: Upgraded the Door Speakers in my Leaf

Posted: Sun Apr 10, 2011 6:56 am
by garygid
Did you find a way to check the phasing of the (unexpected-colors) speaker wiring?

And, one wire (light green / grey) on each of the two rear speakers was the same color, but opposite phase?

Re: Upgraded the Door Speakers in my Leaf

Posted: Sun Apr 10, 2011 6:59 am
by EVDRIVER
garygid wrote:Did you find a way to check the phasing of the (unexpected-colors) speaker wiring?

And, one wire (light green / grey) on each of the two rear speakers was the same color, but opposite phase?

The factory plug end indicates polarity, you can use the factory speaker to validate polarity and it will be the same on all others.