Since we use our rig as a daily driver as well as a desert and trail machine, we appreciate a few creature comforts that some may forgo. The factory stereo and speaker bar offered adequate performance in regard to audio output but were lacking in other features such as a means for hooking up an MP3 player. Also, after six years of dust and moisture intake, the CD player had stopped working and speaker sound output was waning. Looking for something better, we were led to Quadratec, which can supply a variety of stereo and speaker options for most Jeep applications.
Desiring a capable and powerful stereo, we elected to use the Sony CDX-GT400 AM/FM CD stereo head unit. The unit includes a remote control, is satellite ready, has a flip-down detachable faceplate, and offers seven different color LED displays to choose from. The Sony unit also has front and rear sub pre-outs, MP3/WMA playback ability, a front-panel auxiliary in, and offers 52-watt power output. We also acquired a Sony install kit from Quadratec. A different install kit is required for '97-'02 and '03-and-later TJs due to changes to the dash configuration, so make sure you order the proper adapter for your year-model Jeep. The install kit includes a single-DIN radio dash adapter and a pigtail harness for plug-and-play installation.
With the sound quality of the factory overhead sound bar decreasing, we elected to install a set of Vertically Driven Products' (VDP) overhead sound pods. The pods are available for '86-'06 Wranglers and offer a fairly universal mounting. The pods include prewired 6.5-inch high-output speakers and dome/map lights. Independent tweeters and crossovers are also included in the rugged housing made from weather-resistant, black textured plastic. The sound pods mount to the factory rollbar and replace the factory sound bar. An extra-long wiring harness is included in the kit.
With parts in hand, we started into the installation, which we accomplished in just a few hours using basic handtools. A general knowledge of wiring is required for wiring the speakers, but otherwise the installation was very straightforward and was completed rather easily. The end result is greatly improved sounds and better ability to use external components such as an MP3 player and satellite radio. Check out the photos and captions for the play-by-play.