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    Upgrading a JBL System

    I've fallen down another rabbit hole lately, and this time it's the Town Car's audio system.

    The car has the remnants of a JBL system. Speakers are all original, but one of the door speakers is dead and one on the dash is starting to occasionally buzz. I wouldn't be surprised if the mids on the rears are gone too. The JBL amp is still mounted in the trunk, but a previous owner appears to have bypassed it with a bunch of crimp connections, so I assume the amp is not 100%. Factory head unit is long gone. Currently have a $15 Amazon unit in its place. No idea on the specs, but it has Bluetooth, USB, and SD card inputs, and apparently enough power to run whatever speakers I still have.

    I understand the JBL stuff was quality, but now that it's 35 years old where do I go from here?

    A full set of working speakers is probably my top priority. It'd be cool if any replacements were also JBL, though it sounds like the JBL of the '80s is not necessarily the JBL of today. Eventually I'd like to run components in the doors, mounting the tweeters in the panel above the armrests. But until then it's either 2- or 3-way coaxials.

    The next step would probably be a working amp. I don't know whether it's worth trying to resurrect the stock JBL unit, which I've read is 140w (peak or RMS?), or go with some aftermarket 50w 4 channel amp.

    I have a junkyard Premium sound head unit of unknown condition that can someday replace my current model. But I enjoy having Bluetooth and an SD card with preloaded songs on it, and losing one or both abilities will be a bit of a blow so I'm in no rush to go back to a stock appearance.

    Some sort of subwoofer is also in order. Not an immediate need, but something to plan for. I figure the obvious spot for a box would be one side of the trunk, where later Panthers mounted the spare tire. But I've also been reading about infinite baffle setups. I'm unclear on whether they can be installed behind the rear seat, but if so that could be an even better solution.

    I know there are more than a few audio enthusiasts here, while I have no practical experience in this domain. I'd be interested to hear any thoughts on how to move forward before I make the wrong assumptions and do something dumb.
    1987 Lincoln Town Car - Signature, "Prudence"

    #2
    I upgraded the premium stuff in my car to aftermarket JBL some seven or five years ago. I used JBL Power Series in the doors and rear package tray along with one of their five channel amplifiers and a JBL 12" subwoofer. If it was possible to find that stuff used, I'd highly recommend it, but now? Hmm. Kenwood or Sony might still make a good single din, that's what I've got. Sony something as Sony made the CD player that was optional in Townies. It was nice because the lights when the headlights are off are white and then green when on, it was customizable. Anyway, if you listen loud you will only need the speakers in the doors and package tray. I initially had JBL speakers in the dash but unplugged them due to how it sounded- too harsh on the ears.

    The factory JBL speakers are actually very hard to beat. I have a box full of stuff in working order that I've found over the years. To do better than how those sound you're looking at spending over $150/pair.

    Gadget knows how to resurrect the JBL amplifiers, which are pretty damn good. I don't know that you can still get parts, we'll see what he says if he chimes in. I have a couple lying on the shelf that uh, "ran when parked."
    1985 LTD Crown Victoria - SOLD
    1988 Town Car Signature - Current Party Barge

    Comment


      #3
      There are a pair of JBL 652s Power Series speakers on eBay right now. JBL has a couple new series of 6.5"s on Crutchfield too. Club and Concert series, I believe? Not sure how they stack up against the Power Series, or the Ford-JBL stuff, now 35 years later. But if the stock speakers are so good, is it worth trying to have them repaired? I don't know what that would cost, or if it's even possible.

      I read on an old thread here that a common point of failure in the JBL amp is some STK 2240 chip, which apparently can be replaced. A quick search shows both 2240 and 2250 modules for sale on ebay for under $10. So that could be one option. And an amp in the hand is worth two in the bush.

      But I think it comes down to whether I stick with the stock speakers. I had started to feel they were underpowered, as my wife's Honda Fit seems to put out better sound than the Lincoln. But that could entirely come down to running them through a $15 Chinese head unit, and using an amplifier could make all the difference.

      ***

      As for head units, Blaupunkt appears to sell some '80s style units with Bluetooth and USB, though only in Europe. They all are named after European cities, followed by '200 BT' or similar, like the Valencia 200 DAB BT. Not sure what kind of quality they offer, but the market for period correct aftermarket radios is pretty slim.

      The biggest draw of going back to a stock unit, in my opinion, is to have volume control and other knobs that feel substantial. So many aftermarket units either have no knob at all, or it's some cheap lightweight thing. I know it's possible to hook up Bluetooth in line with the antenna cable. I wonder if some SD card or storage device could be hooked up in the same way the stock CD players interfaced with the head unit?
      1987 Lincoln Town Car - Signature, "Prudence"

      Comment


        #4
        I put JBL Stage3 527 5,25" speakers in my front doors, they seem nice, especially for the 60€ price.
        Still running the factory Premium sound head unit and 4-channel amp. The rear 6x9s are crapping out currently, those are getting replaced next. If my amp or head unit kicks the bucket, dunni what I'll do. Probably go full aftermarket...

        Blaupunkt head units are all excellent, even the cheaper ones. Bremen probably looks closest to factory, it's best of the best and stupid expensive. They also have cheaper, almost 80's looking units aswell, like Barcelona and Madrid.

        IMO, a 70's and older style dual knob radios look way better in boxes, looks more correct. Retrosound makes some generic head units that you can pick and choose the faceplate and knobs on. Also a couple hundo and up.
        Caliber makes a cheapo retro looking head unit, dunno much about it, doesn't have too poor reviews.
        1985 Mercury Grand Marquis LS, "Maisa"
        1995 Chevrolet Caprice Classic STW, "Sally"

        Comment


          #5
          see if the fuse is good in the amp. If its blown, its dead.

          What usually dies in them is the big output amplifier chip, which is essentially obsolete and impossible to obtain known genuine units. They do show up on ebay from China for 7 bucks each. I'll let you draw your own conclusions on that, but Sanyo, the OEM, has not produced them in a long time. Not the faintest clue if the China knock-offs work, how well, or for how long.

          The original dash speakers are always shot at this point. The paper turned to dust probably 20 years ago. The door speakers usually hold up OK. Rear deck speakers often lose the midrange, same paper problem as the fronts.

          I like the way it sounds, but its just impractical to try and fix with all the original stuff at this point unless you have a stash of it or are able to find it for not-dumb prices in the junkyard or just used.

          86 Lincoln Town Car (Galactica).
          5.0 HO, CompCams XE258,Scorpion 1.72 roller rockers, 3.55 K code rear, tow package, BHPerformance ported E7 heads, Tmoss Explorer intake, 65mm throttle body, Hedman 1 5/8" headers, 2.5" dual exhaust, ASP underdrive pulley

          91 Lincoln Mark VII LSC SE, triple black (Timewarp) - poly front bushings, KYB struts and shocks, Holley SystemMax1 lower intake, SilverFox AOD valve body,

          1984 Lincoln Continental TurboDiesel - rolls coal

          Originally posted by phayzer5
          I drive a Lincoln. I can't be bothered to shift like the peasants and rabble rousers

          Comment


            #6
            Well unless someone has a Ford-JBL door speaker they're willing to sell, I'll have to go down the aftermarket route for speakers. And if that's the case, the custom frequency response and 35w per channel of the stock amp would probably become more of an impediment anyway.

            I had the passenger door apart today and noticed the back of the speaker is labeled 'woofer'. Does that mean the front speakers are more of a component setup, with mids and tweeters in the dash and the woofer below? I had always assumed the door speakers were at least 2-way coaxials. If they are components, is there any merit to keeping it that way?
            1987 Lincoln Town Car - Signature, "Prudence"

            Comment


              #7
              The Towncar ones were a component, the mid/high was in the dash. Mark VII ones are 2 way, with a tweeter in the middle. No dash speakers on those.

              No reason you can't keep it that way, the dash speakers are incapable of reproducing any bass so putting a crossover to keep them from trying is a good idea. I don't know if the door speakers had a crossover to cut the highs out. it would be at the speaker if it was anywhere, the wiring is just the wiring, there is nothing between the amplifier and the speaker to modify any of that.

              86 Lincoln Town Car (Galactica).
              5.0 HO, CompCams XE258,Scorpion 1.72 roller rockers, 3.55 K code rear, tow package, BHPerformance ported E7 heads, Tmoss Explorer intake, 65mm throttle body, Hedman 1 5/8" headers, 2.5" dual exhaust, ASP underdrive pulley

              91 Lincoln Mark VII LSC SE, triple black (Timewarp) - poly front bushings, KYB struts and shocks, Holley SystemMax1 lower intake, SilverFox AOD valve body,

              1984 Lincoln Continental TurboDiesel - rolls coal

              Originally posted by phayzer5
              I drive a Lincoln. I can't be bothered to shift like the peasants and rabble rousers

              Comment


                #8
                Is a 4" mid/high component speaker something that exists? Or do you just put a 2-way coaxial in there and use some sort of crossover device to cut out the low frequencies? For that matter, can you buy a 6.5" woofer without having to buy a component tweeter with it?
                1987 Lincoln Town Car - Signature, "Prudence"

                Comment


                  #9
                  Just a thought.

                  I don't own one, but I have 3 friends with the JBL Stadium bass hub spare tire insert subwoofer. The things work.
                  A speaker level input amp and instant power for your Lincoln.
                  All FORD All The Time

                  Comment


                    #10
                    The dash speaker sort of has to be a 3 1/2" with the adapter ring to make it fit. 4" technically fits the hole, but the stock speakers use 3 holes to mount and it doesn't really work right with a 4 hole mount. Depth problems keep you from using a large speaker on both the bottom and the top.

                    but yes 3 1/2" coaxials exist. Might actually be harder to find one that isn't a coax. They don't have any crossover to keep the bass out of the speaker, but even a simple capacitor "bass blocker" deal would serve. Just have it dump anything below probably 400hz. it won't be capable of doing anything with lows but it will make annoying flapping noises as it tries to anyway.

                    doors take a 5 1/4" if you retain the angled mount ring or you can jam a 6" in there without it, but honestly it sounds better with the adapter.

                    86 Lincoln Town Car (Galactica).
                    5.0 HO, CompCams XE258,Scorpion 1.72 roller rockers, 3.55 K code rear, tow package, BHPerformance ported E7 heads, Tmoss Explorer intake, 65mm throttle body, Hedman 1 5/8" headers, 2.5" dual exhaust, ASP underdrive pulley

                    91 Lincoln Mark VII LSC SE, triple black (Timewarp) - poly front bushings, KYB struts and shocks, Holley SystemMax1 lower intake, SilverFox AOD valve body,

                    1984 Lincoln Continental TurboDiesel - rolls coal

                    Originally posted by phayzer5
                    I drive a Lincoln. I can't be bothered to shift like the peasants and rabble rousers

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by clutch47 View Post
                      I don't own one, but I have 3 friends with the JBL Stadium bass hub spare tire insert subwoofer. The things work.
                      A speaker level input amp and instant power for your Lincoln.
                      You know, I saw that sub either on Crutchfield or Amazon. Pretty nifty looking thing. Looks like something that you could take with you easily enough if you ever decided to sell the car. I'm sure I'll be adding a sub to the Town Car, but it's lower on the list right now than a set of working front speakers, maybe followed by an amp.

                      Originally posted by gadget73 View Post
                      The dash speaker sort of has to be a 3 1/2" with the adapter ring to make it fit. 4" technically fits the hole, but the stock speakers use 3 holes to mount and it doesn't really work right with a 4 hole mount....

                      ....doors take a 5 1/4" if you retain the angled mount ring or you can jam a 6" in there without it, but honestly it sounds better with the adapter.
                      Where do you find the dash speaker adapter ring? Or is it something you have to make yourself?

                      On the doors, I would think that a woofer low with a proper crossover wouldn't need the angled mount as much as a coaxial might. Isn't bass supposed to be non-directional? And if you had a 2-way in the dash and a woofer in the door would you split the signal with a crossover set to something like 2-3 kHz? Later on I could cut out the lowest frequencies from the amplifier, once I'm running a subwoofer.

                      ***

                      Out of curiosity I did some searching on modern Lincoln audio systems. I was surprised to find the number of speakers and their sizes were not that different from the Ford-JBL stuff from 40 years earlier. The Revel stuff is all component, has a sub, and uses the doors and a center dash point instead of the dash corners for the mid/high speakers, but it really doesn't seem that far off from the Boxes. Maybe the most interesting point to me is that Revel placed the midrange and tweeter in the door instead of the A-pillar, perhaps for airbags and sightlines. Anyway, this is what the Corsair uses:

                      14 speakers
                      4x 170mm (6.5")midwoofer, each door low
                      4x 25mm (1") tweeter, each door high
                      2x 80mm (3") midrange, front doors high
                      2x 100mm (4") midrange, center dash
                      25mm (1") mid-tweeter-mid, center dash
                      13.5"x7. 5" racetrack externally coupled subwoofer
                      12 channel amplifier

                      No specs on what kind of power the amplifier puts out. It seems to be a trend these days to have as many channels as possible, which would probably be quite spendy in an aftermarket build.
                      1987 Lincoln Town Car - Signature, "Prudence"

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Used to come with speakers if you bought them from Crutchfield but I think they may be obsolete at this point. It wouldn't be any big deal to make, pull the stock speaker and trace the outline on a piece of something, and trace the cutout for the new one inside that. Cut at the lines, done.

                        86 Lincoln Town Car (Galactica).
                        5.0 HO, CompCams XE258,Scorpion 1.72 roller rockers, 3.55 K code rear, tow package, BHPerformance ported E7 heads, Tmoss Explorer intake, 65mm throttle body, Hedman 1 5/8" headers, 2.5" dual exhaust, ASP underdrive pulley

                        91 Lincoln Mark VII LSC SE, triple black (Timewarp) - poly front bushings, KYB struts and shocks, Holley SystemMax1 lower intake, SilverFox AOD valve body,

                        1984 Lincoln Continental TurboDiesel - rolls coal

                        Originally posted by phayzer5
                        I drive a Lincoln. I can't be bothered to shift like the peasants and rabble rousers

                        Comment


                          #13
                          JBL today is trash, IMO. You'd probably have better results with Pioneer. I remember their stuff with basalt cones sounded pretty smooth. Not sure what they make now, I'm not really into the car audio scene beyond making it work these days. Although if you can find stuff for your application, Infinity made pretty good stuff. I put their 4x6 kappa plate speakers in my K1500 and I rather like how it sounds. Probably the most impressive 4x6 I've ever heard next to of course the 4x6 JBL Power Series plates in my Fireturd.

                          Forgot to mention that the roundy generation of Lincoln Continentals can also be harvested for JBL goodies. They did away with the coaxial stuff for the rear 6x9's, Ford nomenclature refers to them as subwoofers. The door speakers are coaxial units which would swap in place of your old ones. Of course, they've got the 89+ style connector but not a hard swap. IIRC, the Conti's also had 5x7's in the rear doors, also coaxial units. Very good idea to liberate them of their JBL goodness. Not sure about the amps those had.

                          But yeah, the factory JBL stuff back in the 80's was mighty impressive for the time. I'd say they were the only domestic car at the time to offer a component system consisting of a preamplifier, amplifier and matched speakers.
                          Last edited by DerekTheGreat; 10-11-2022, 06:45 AM.
                          1985 LTD Crown Victoria - SOLD
                          1988 Town Car Signature - Current Party Barge

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Chysler had Infinity, GM had Bose around the same time period. I think both of those had the amplifier built in to the speaker though, which made it obnoxious to deal with or upgrade. The Ford / JBL system was a much less annoying architecture.

                            86 Lincoln Town Car (Galactica).
                            5.0 HO, CompCams XE258,Scorpion 1.72 roller rockers, 3.55 K code rear, tow package, BHPerformance ported E7 heads, Tmoss Explorer intake, 65mm throttle body, Hedman 1 5/8" headers, 2.5" dual exhaust, ASP underdrive pulley

                            91 Lincoln Mark VII LSC SE, triple black (Timewarp) - poly front bushings, KYB struts and shocks, Holley SystemMax1 lower intake, SilverFox AOD valve body,

                            1984 Lincoln Continental TurboDiesel - rolls coal

                            Originally posted by phayzer5
                            I drive a Lincoln. I can't be bothered to shift like the peasants and rabble rousers

                            Comment


                              #15
                              It seems no one makes standalone 5.25"-6.5" woofers except for at the extremes of the spectrum. Crutchfield has a few examples way beyond my budget. Parts Express, meanwhile, has Dayton Audio woofers at a very attractive price point, but one that makes me wonder whether I'll get what I paid for. Not that I'm swearing off the budget option, I just don't know whether it's the smart move.

                              I'd like to preserve the front component setup of the Town Car, and I wonder if duplicating tweeters in the doors and dash might be too much/muddled high, especially with the door speakers located so low.
                              1987 Lincoln Town Car - Signature, "Prudence"

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