Toyota Tundra: Aftermarket Sound System Modifications

Whether you listen to hardcore rock, electronic dance music, or the classics by your favorite orchestra, there are some sounds that only an aftermarket audio system can bring out in those rich tunes. So if you're looking to upgrade your Tundra's sound system, continue reading for some essential information.

January 21, 2016

This article applies to the Toyota Tundra (1999-present).

You can feel the ruggedness in its drive, you can see the horsepower in its looks, but can you hear your Tundra's full potential? Chances are, if you still have a factory sound system installed, the answer is "not likely." Although many drivers are content with the pre-installed audio components set up in their cars and trucks, we think being content is overrated. With new artists and genres riding the radio waves daily, listening to diverse and synthesized music has never been more popular in mainstream culture. And to really bring out the tones and melodies that will have the same song you've been listening to sound like a newly-released hit, you'll need some new equipment to get the job done. We're thinking you should get an aftermarket head unit with amplifiers, speakers, and subwoofers. Here are some sound system modifications you can install in your Tundra that aren't too expensive or time-consuming.

Sound System Modifications

Of course, a sound system upgrade doesn't just mean "upgrading the sound." Many audio components are designed to give your Tundra a sleek and subtle or overt and overpowering fit, which means you can hide the subs under seats or you can replace the seats with an even bigger set of subs (the options go much, much further). But what really makes an audio upgrade so fun and complicated is the number of choices you have to give your truck the look, feel, and sound it deserves.

2002 Toyota Tundra with hidden JL Audio under-seat subwoofers
Figure 1. 2002 Toyota Tundra with hidden JL Audio under-seat subwoofers.

Stereo Receiver

Toyota Tundra with aftermarket Kenwood head unit
Figure 2. Toyota Tundra with aftermarket Kenwood head unit.

DIY Cost$75+

Professional Cost$150+

Skill LevelEasy/Moderate; requires basic wiring and tools.

Installing a new stereo receiver or head unit is the most common sound system upgrade, mainly because drivers prefer to swap their single-DIN head unit with a double-DIN unit equipped with video and GPS features. "DIN" simply refers to the standard size of the receiver's slot in the center console. Although double-DIN receivers are pricier and require a bit more wiring, they also give drivers a larger user-friendly interface as well as offer a look to complement a more complex sound system. Additional features that you may get from installing an aftermarket head unit are Bluetooth connectivity, satellite radio, and charging ports for portable electronic devices. Recommended for wireless capabilities and display functions such as GPS and video.


Toyota Tundra with aftermarket JL Audio dashboard speakers

Figure 3. Toyota Tundra with aftermarket JL Audio dashboard speakers.

DIY Cost$175+

Professional Cost$225+

Skill LevelModerate/Difficult; requires extensive wiring and may involve the removal and drilling of body panels.

With your factory speakers, you can probably hear some static fuzziness in the music when the volume is increased to higher-than-normal settings. But with aftermarket speakers, you'll get more clarity along with that extra boost of volume.

You'll need to do some extra research and actually listen to some new speakers in action before you find the right ones. Many Toyota owners prefer aftermarket JL Audio systems, but depending on how much is in your budget and what size you're looking for, you might have a better experience with other brands. Most speakers are plug-and-play, but because there are several speakers in your car, installation might get a little confusing. Remember, before purchasing speakers, determine whether you'll be purchasing an amplifier and subwoofer in the future, as there are power compatibility requirements. Recommended for audio-enhancement quality.


Aftermarket Clarion amplifier mounted to floorboard under the driver's seat
Figure 4. Aftermarket Clarion amplifier mounted to floorboard under the driver's seat.

DIY Cost$100-400

Professional Cost$300-500

Skill LevelModerate/Difficult; requires extensive wiring and may involve the removal and drilling of body panels.

As the powerhouse of an entire aftermarket sound system, an amplifier does exactly what its name implies—it amplifies the power and quality of music coming from the speakers and subwoofer. But, why is this important and how do you know what amplifier to get?

First and foremost, if you've stuck with factory speakers, installing an amplifier will only do so much, as the stock sound system components are nearly maxed out with their joint music-enhancement capabilities. So if you're thinking about getting an amplifier, we recommend getting aftermarket speakers as well. The idea behind why you need an amplifier is pretty simple; since the sound waves produced by your speakers and subwoofer are created by vibrations, more power is needed to not only produce bigger vibrations and sounds but to control the proper mechanism and efficiency by which the sounds are produced. The result is a higher peak performance that allows the speakers and subwoofer to work at their maximum potential. Before purchasing an amplifier, find out the RMS power rating of your speakers. Multiply that rating by 0.75 (75%) and use the calculated number to determine the minimum RMS power (wattage) of your amplifier. Recommended for upgrading and enhancing performance of speakers and subwoofer.


Toyota Tundra with JL Audio Stealthbox subwoofers
Figure 5. Toyota Tundra with JL Audio Stealthbox subwoofers.

DIY Cost$200+

Professional Cost$250+

Skill LevelModerate/Difficult; requires extensive wiring and may involve the removal and drilling of body panels.

It may be annoying when the car next to you is making the earth shake, but the feeling is much different when you're in the one causing the earthquake. From orchestra cellos, electric bass, and synthesizers, a subwoofer will bring out those deep, low frequency tones that give your music a heartbeat. In addition, different types and sizes of subwoofers give you the freedom to play around with whatever looks coolest and sounds the best. You can make your own multiple-sub enclosure or purchase one that is designed to fit stealthily under your rear seats.

Before you purchase a new amplifier, make sure there's a channel for the subwoofer and that the impedance of the parts match up. It may be tricky to calibrate your sound system to its optimum potential, so we recommend having the audio shop take care of it. In the end when you've added a subwoofer, along with new speakers and more power, you'll notice a deeper, cleaner, and higher-quality sound compared to the factory setup. Recommended for music enthusiasts wanting deeper and higher-quality bass sounds.

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