Acura RSX Stereo Upgrade

Car Stereo and In-Car Electronics Expert Reviews
2002 Acura RSX Type S

2002 Acura RSX Type S

Two years ago I upgraded all the stereo components behind the factory head unit/in dash 6-disc changer. For those who think Bose represents high quality, don’t let the name fool you. The Bose stereo installed by the Acura fcatory is crap. We’re talking paper cone speakers, two tiny underpowered amps and a subwoofer that will make you laugh because it burps more than it thumps.

Check out the differences between the Bose 5.25″ subwoofer and the Focal sub that took its place. One, the Focal speaker cone material is stiffer than a 6th grader finding his dad’s porn collection. Two, the surrounding material and the overall basket construction is a lot stronger and higher quality over the Bose.

subwoofers - front view

Factory Bose subwoofer compared with Focal subwoofer

subwoofers - magnet size

Focal subwoofer magnet is significantly larger and heavier than Bose subwoofer

Stage 1 of the upgrade included installing Accumat in the door panels and rear quarter panels, using new wires/cables everywhere, Alpine amps, a/d/s component speakers for the front stage, Pioneer 6.5″ speakers for rear fill, power and ground distribution blocks, and a hi-lo converter. Sound quality was a HUGE improvement over the Bose stereo components.

I finally got around to upgrading the head-unit because I wanted integrated iPod control. The FM transmitters and cassette tape adapters on the market today just weren’t up to par. I’ve seen my friends use them and I didn’t like the drawbacks: 1) finding an unused FM frequency to broadcast the iPod tunes, 2) moderate sound quality because FM transmitters and other iPod adapters compress the signal within the limits of their media, 3) an external adapter to power/charge the iPod must be used, 4) and accessing your iPod music and playlists have to be done with your iPod in hand (a dangerous distraction when driving).

So, I went from this:

factory head unit

Factory Acura Bose Stereo - bleah!

To this:

Pioneer DEH-5900

Pioneer DEH-5900 with double-DIN faceplate

In stage 1, I had to use hi-low converters along the signal path because the factory head unit was still in place. Moving forward with stage 2, I dumped the hi-low converters because they were no longer necessary and cleaned up the signal path. Noticeable improvement in sound quality was probably more psychological, but once less piece of hardware is usually a good thing.

Below are some pics of the install.

Alpine V-series amps, a/d/s crossovers and Scosche power distribution blocks. The green box is the hi-low converter which was trashed immediately after I installed the Pioneer head unit.

alpine amps and crossovers

Passenger seat removed reveals crossovers and power distribution block


Focal subwoofer in Bose enclosure

door panel w/o insulationdoor panel w/Accumat

Accumat sound dampening material applied to doors and rear quarter panels significantly reduces road noise in the cabin.

Upgraded parts list:
Pioneer DEH-5900IB
Alpine MRP-F250 (4 x 40 Watts)
a/d/s 246IX (6.5″ component speakers for front stage)
Pioneer TS-G1641 (6.5″ speakers for rear fill)
Scosche power distribution blocks
Scosche dash kit
Metra wiring harness
Phoenix Gold wire and interconnects
Accumat sound dampening material in door and rear quarter panels

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  • naruto11 says:

    it was actually the sterio and amplifier which is not compatible with bose speaker by default. for full option Acura RSX the player and ampli are also bose and it even beat the sound of Mercedes bose sound system, so in order to work perfectly the crap player should have a crap speaker woofer to pair with. mine is working great with all set to bose by factory default and even my friend have Porsch bose system still eager to have my car audio system. :)

  • Derek says:

    @Sam – have you tried searching or asking the same question on the Club RSX forums?

    I have an ’02 and there are some differences with the 2005 model. Thus, I cannot give you any definitive information. Maybe there are speaker adapters for the rear necessary to make the 6.5 speakers fit. Crutchfield is a good source to determine if an adapter is needed since they have an online fitment tool.

  • Sam Warren says:

    Correct me if I am crazy but I have a 2005 Acura RSX base not type s. The 6.5 inch speakers will not fit in the front or back due to those triangle shapes they got going on with stock. How can you get them to fit? Do you have to cut out some of the metal and/or plastic? Is there a plate you can put over but still keep the stock face plate if not thats ok. I just need help because I installed Alpine type R in front and had to cut a little metal away to fit them because the hole is in a triangle like shape and same in back. I cant get anything to fit in back because of plastice paneling is also shaped similar to a tringle with the speakers flush mounting. The speakers that come with the rsx are 6 inch so that .5 inch os the problem. People tell me they have installed 6.5 inch without a probelm and all the sites tell me they should fit!! Please help!

  • Mark says:

    I purchased an OEM Bose Subs which I’m planning to install to another car. The seller told me that it cam from acura srx. The subs has four terminals/pins, does anyone here who can identify these?

    Any help will be surely appreciated.


  • Derek says:

    I purchased the Focal subwoofer back in 2005 for approximately $150. Upgrade was very simple and the bass response is great for a 5.25″ sub. The Focal does an excellent job of supporting the mid-bass and giving it some depth and punch. If you want deeper bass response, then you have to install an 8″ sub or larger.

  • Ted Brady says:

    Was wondering how much was the Focal Sub as well as hooking up the amp.
    Was it pretty simple to upgrade and how is the bass.

    Let me know.


  • Derek says:

    The Focal subwoofer (if you consider a 5.25″ speaker a subwoofer) is almost a simple drop-in replacement to the Bose subwoofer. The mounting holes did not directly line up with the Focal sub, so I had to create a mounting plate from a thin sheet of plastic. A very simple task.

    The only other modification was replacing the factory speaker wire with something of better quality. I’m not a big believer of over-priced speaker wire and interconnects, but the factory wiring should be replaced with something better.

  • Gianni says:

    Hey man, great job on that!
    I was curious though,, is that Focal 5.25″ woofer a direct replacement and DROP-IN of that Bose woofer??
    Was there any modifications you had to do ?
    any other help would be great. thanks!

  • derek says:

    The Metra wiring harness made the job a lot easier and I avoided hacking up the factory wiring. I was super lucky discovering that the a/d/s tweeters and mounting hardware that came with the speaker kit fit in the factory location, located in the dash, without any cutting or modification.

  • Julian R. says:

    Very nice work. I just bought a 2006 RSX Type-S 2 months ago, and I have been debating on how to upgrade the sound system.

    My thoughts are to go with the Kenwood Excelon DNX8120 DVD/Nav, remove the Bose amp and the sub, RAAMAT the doors and rear quarter panels, and use Pioneer TS-G1642R in all 4 speaker spots. I had debated using components in the doors, but I did’t want to cut any tweeter holes.

    Dis you use a wiring harness kit to hook up your HU, and if so, which one?

  • Derek says:

    A double din should work. You can pick up a trim plate from best buy or circuit city.

  • sam says:

    hey cool car! i have a 04 rsx s-type and i was wondering if a double din unit would fit in replacment of the stock unit and would best buy/circuit city have the dash kit or would they or myself have to order it and futher delay my head unit production?

  • Derek says:

    If you are referring to the dash kit for the head unit, it is just a Scosche dash kit that can be purchased from many car stereo outlets since Scosche is a common brand. The cubby space underneath the head unit is part of the dash kit and acts as a filler since the Pioneer stereo is a single DIN size.

  • Artyom says:

    You did a great job!
    Where can I get a stereo panel for my 2002 Acura RSX? The stock stereo panel looks really awful… Could you please tell me where you got yours?


  • josue says:

    ko-ol i got those but in my woofer .
    should i change the subs in my hometheater sub or leave it like that?

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