3rd Gen Tacoma Specific Plug & Play DSP Amplifier and Subwoofer – Complete Install Guide & Impressions
While the Toyota Tacoma is arguably the best mid-size truck on the market, it leaves quite a bit to be desired when it comes to the sound system.
It could be worse, but if you’re into sound and audio, you know that the 3rd Gen Tacoma system is lacking. The sound is flat, the bass is lackluster and the sound just can’t get quite loud enough for those highway drives with the windows down.
There are a few options on the market, but none are as dialed and perfectly suited for the Tacoma as the System 500 from OEM Audio Plus. Many products require wiring, adapters and can be a headache to install if you’re not more electronically inclined. As far as audio upgrade installs go, this system can be installed relatively easily.
Even if you don’t have a ton of experience with this sort of thing, take your time and follow along with this guide – you’ll be experiencing next-level sound in no time. It’s also important to note that this upgrade will not affect the factory warranty. Another big plus is that it’s completely plug-and-play.
This product is a replacement for a non-JBL sound system. OEM Audio Plus does offer a kit for those of you who have factory JBL as well.
Find It Online
- 2016+ Toyota Tacoma Sound Solutions: Check Price
What is the System 500?
The System 500 is the middle-tier system in the OEM Audio+ lineup.
It includes a vehicle-specific subwoofer, digital signal processing (DSP) power amplifier and a plug-and-play wiring harness.
The Tacoma-specific subwoofer is designed to fit perfectly in the storage location behind the rear driver-side seat. It features an 8” quad-coil subwoofer with a genuine carbon fiber cone woofer.
The DSP amplifier installs seamlessly under the driver’s seat with absolutely no modification necessary.
This system was designed specifically for the Tacoma and its goal is to not only bring clear, loud bass but also to provide better volume control and clarity to your stock speakers via the amplifier.
Read on as I install the System 500 in my Tacoma and share my thoughts about its performance.
What You’ll Need
This install is completely plug-and-play and can be completed with a very basic set of tools.
Tools & Materials
- Plastic Trim Removal Kit: Check Price
- Mechanic’s Tool Set: Check Price
- 10mm socket
- 12mm socket
- 14mm socket
- Universal Screwdriver: Check Price
- Pliers: Check Price
- 1″ Hole Saw: Check Price
- Heat Gun: Check Price
Step 1. Install Amplifier
Any time you are working with the electronics in a vehicle, you should unplug the negative lead of your battery to avoid shorting out the electronics in your truck.
Use a 10mm socket to loosen the negative lead, remove it from the battery terminal, and move it so it isn’t close enough to make contact with the terminal if the truck shifts during installation.
With that done, you can proceed with installing the amplifier under the driver seat.
First, you’ll need to remove the bolts securing the driver’s seat to the floor using the 14mm socket. Next, lean the seat back carefully to gain access to the underside. You might need to remove the back bolts as well, or you might be able to get away with loosening them. I also have the Desert Does It Seat Jackers installed in my truck, so I needed to remove them in order to lift the carpet later on.
There is a clip holding the seat wiring to the bottom frame of the seat. Pinch to detach the wires from the chair. This clip will be reattached to the amplifier bracket after it’s installed.
Next, remove the two clips from the amplifier bracket and install them over the two holes in the seat frame.
These can be a bit hard to slide on, so I ended up using some pliers to help push them on.
It’s now time to install the amplifier. The hook part of the bracket attaches to one of the springs towards the rear of the seat.
Next, use the provided bolts to secure the bracket to the frame where you installed the clips. Finally, insert the wire clip into the slot in the amplifier bracket.
Step 2. Trim Removal
The wiring harness will need to be run under the door sills with the other wiring of the truck. The quick-sync wiring harness, pictured above, will run towards the front of the vehicle while the separate subwoofer harness will run to the rear.
To start, pull up on the driver’s door sill to remove it. Do the same for the driver’s rear door sill.
Next, remove the driver side kick panel. There is a plastic screw above the footrest that needs to be removed first, and then the kick panel will pop off with a little bit of force.
You’ll now need to remove the bottom seat belt bolt.
To do this, simply remove the cover and remove the 14mm bolt.
Next, pull up the rubber door trim on the side pillar so you have access to remove the center pillar trim.
You can now pull off the center trim panel, starting at the bottom and working your way up.
Some of the clips may be left behind after removing the panel. Use a trim removal tool to remove them from the pillar and return them to the panel. Repeat this for any other clips during the install.
Next, you will need to remove the top of the rear seat. To do this, remove the bolt covers in each corner and remove the 14mm bolts.
Remove the three 10mm bolts securing the rear storage panel and pull from the top to remove it.
Finally, remove the weather stripping on the back rear corner so you can remove the rear trim panel.
This part will take a bit of effort and angling and you may need to use a trim removal tool to get the clips undone.
With all of the trim pieces removed, we will now be able to modify the storage panel and run the wiring harness with ease.
Step 3. Storage Panel Modification
This whole install requires only one slight modification to the rear storage panel.
In order to run the subwoofer harness to the sub, you need to cut a 1” hole through the inside of the rear storage panel. Luckily, this hole is only visible from the inside of the panel, so it will be completely hidden once the subwoofer is installed.
Use the provided foam piece to mark and measure where you will need to make the hole for the connector. Later, use this foam piece under the subwoofer to help prevent vibration.
Use the 1” hole saw to create a hole on the inner wall of the storage panel. As you can see mine got a little messy, so I recommend using a hole saw with a drill bit in the middle to help guide it properly.
Step 4. Run Wiring Harness
Use a trim removal tool to unhook the white carpet clips so you can lift up the carpet.
Combine the subwoofer harness with the end of the quick-sync harness that has the amplifier connectors and ground wire.
Feed the harness under the carpet and insulation layer and through the hole in the carpet where the factory seat wires run.
Plug the amplifier connectors into their respective plugs on the amplifier.
Make sure to leave enough slack so the seat can fully move back and forth.
Next, use a 10mm socket to remove the ground bolt under the insulation layer.
Place the ground wire over the hole and replace the bolt securely.
You can now feed the wiring harnesses through the door sills by securing them under the white clips similar to the factory wiring. The subwoofer harness should be fed through the back door sill and up into the rear storage panel where the sub will sit.
The quick-sync wiring harness should be fed towards the front of the truck. The yellow wires will eventually go through the firewall and to the engine bay, so you can separate them from the rest of the wiring harness.
Return the seat to its normal position and tighten down using a 14mm socket. Now with the wiring harness in place, it’s time to install the subwoofer.
Step 5. Install Subwoofer
Installation of the subwoofer is pretty straightforward.
With the subwoofer wiring harness run to the rear of the truck, you can reinstall the rear pillar trim piece and the rear storage panel. Once that’s in place, you can feed the wiring harness through the newly created hole in the rear storage panel and reinstall the panel.
Plug the harness into the sub and slide the harness into the storage panel. Finally, reinstall the rear seat.
Step 6. Remove Dash Trim & Install Harness to Headunit
To remove the head unit, you will first need to remove the plastic dash surround.
To do this, use the trim removal tool to lift the side nearest the passenger seat. Once it comes loose, you should be able to continue pulling to remove the full surround.
Next, you will need to remove the four 10mm bolts holding the head unit to the dash.
Pull out the head unit and carefully let it hang. You can put down a blanket if you are worried about scratching anything.
From here, you’ll need to run the wiring harness from the driver kick panel, up above the pedals, and through to the back of the head unit.
Be careful with the part of the harness above the pedals, making sure it won’t sag and interfere with your use of the pedals. Use the provided zip ties if necessary.
Now unplug the 10 and 4 pin connectors (white and blue, respectively) from the bottom passenger-side of the head unit.
Plug these into the quick-sync wiring harness, and then plug the harness into the head unit in those empty plugs.
Now, reinstall the head unit.
Step 7. Run Power Wires to Battery
In this step, you will need to run the yellow power wires through the firewall and to the engine bay.
To do this, I used part of a metal clothes hanger to help pull the wires through the rubber gasket leading to the firewall. This part is a little tough, but some determination will help it through.
Once the wires are through, mark the wire labeled “A” down towards the firewall.
I used a piece of black electric tape to do this.
Next, cut both of the wires so that they loosely reach the battery terminal. The “B” power wire won’t be used for this system, but it’s still good to run it in case you want to use the dedicated sub amplifier option.
Install the supplied corrugated split loom to protect the wires from the engine heat.
Now use a wire stripper to strip about ⅜” off of the A power wire and insert it into the fuse assembly connector. Crimp the connector, and apply heat to the connector in order to melt the solder and ensure a secure connection.
On the positive lead of the battery, remove the 12mm bolt. Feed the end of the fuse assembly lead under the rubber cover and through to the battery terminal bolt location.
Reinstall the bolt through the lead to the battery terminal. Then install the provided fuse into the fuse assembly. Finally, reinstall the negative lead to the battery any remaining trim pieces and the installation is complete.
The System 500 truly surprised me in a way I didn’t really expect.
Serious Bass Boost
When I first turned on the truck and music began to play, the bass was obviously the most immediately noticeable difference.
The 8” carbon fiber subwoofer provided the deep, clear, and loud bass that the Tacoma was so desperately missing. Hip hop, rap, and rock songs all felt much more immersive and truly brought credence to the saying “feel the music.”
Seriously, the bass is awesome. It’s just something no factory audio system can provide.
The biggest surprise for me was discovered when listening to the slower songs that lacked bass, such as country and some R&B songs. In songs where the bass is lacking, there was still a huge difference due to the digital signal processing amplifier.
It was surprising just how much the amplifier enhanced the sound clarity and loudness coming from the stock Tacoma speakers.
I’d say it added about 5-10 levels of volume in relation to the stock system as measured by the head unit. Meaning, a level 20 on the System 500 is as loud as level 25-30 on the stock system.
In addition, there is an upgrade in clarity where the louder sound levels don’t get washed out and muffled as they do with the stock system. I would also go so far as to say the amplifier enhances the bass of the stock speakers, separate from the subwoofer.
Overall, I would 100% recommend this system. It is a fantastic choice if you either don’t want to upgrade the stock speakers or if you already have aftermarket speakers. The bass is everything that the Tacoma was missing and the amplifier truly enhances the stock speakers in the truck.
Next, I will be installing the OEM Audio+ speakers in my truck, bypassing the sub and amp, so that I can compare them to the stock Tacoma speakers. Stay tuned!