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Bought my 2016 Volt with Bose system and felt that, while not horrible, it wasn't what I was hoping for. The once venerable "Bose" named system consists of little more than several low quality, paper cone speakers placed in fairly strategic locations. The factory system is capable of getting loud, but is riddled with intermodulation distortion and break up, at even moderate volumes. With some research, I ended up putting together what I consider to be a reasonable upgrade for the gen2 w/ Bose. The upgrade consists mostly of speaker replacements (with one additional amp for the sub). I have seen several posts that indicate that some others may be interested in a setup like this, so I figured I'd share. Unfortunately, I didn't take the time to photo document the actual procedure of replacing stuff, but honestly there is plenty of documentation out there about how to access and replace these speakers. I got a lot of useful info myself from this forum. If there is interest, I will be happy to point people in the right direction.

My main criteria for the upgrade was:

1. Under $1000 (actual cost was around $900)
2. The factory entertainment system and amplification will be left alone, since they are fairly integral to the vehicle.
3. The upgrade should be straightforward and should achieve as much of an improvement as possible without requiring addition of, hacking of, or software tuning of, a DSP, or dismantling the Chevy Mylink stack to interface to some intermediate stage of audio.
4. The upgrade should be as stealth as possible using factory speaker locations, with no disadvantage to the cargo area, etc. (i.e. no additional sub box)

One important thing to know about the Volt sound system, as others have pointed out, is that the Chevy Mylink system is connected to an amplifier with a factory programmed DSP, which affects independent speaker EQ and volume characteristics on a curve. This is probably to compensate for specifics of the speakers and cabin acoustics. Since we will be changing these characteristics, the ultimate solution would really require circumventing this. There is an aftermarket device (name escapes me) that allows one to get straight, unamplified outputs from the factory unit without these DSP adjustments. My solution is technically a compromise without something like this. That being said, I believe many people would be extremely happy with the results I was able to achieve without having to go to this extent. It turns out that having the Bose system design does provide a lot of the groundwork needed for a truly great sounding system, but falls short largely in the area of actual speaker quality.

As mentioned, this upgrade consists largely of direct speaker replacements at all factory locations, with the exception of the subwoofer, which consists of both a speaker and amplifier upgrade. The upgrades are summarized below, in order of largest to smallest impact on listening quality.

1. Corner dash tweeters. The factory solution is some kind of small 2.75" AC Delco tweeter that has a big problem with losing definition at or above middle volume. I replaced mine with Kenwood Excelon KFC-X2C, cost $70 for pair. Installation was very straightforward as they line up perfectly with the factory holes. The connection required cutting/splicing as no adapter seems to be available. You need to be really careful to get the polarity right as the factory doesn't really give you any clues. I used a 9v battery to figure out which terminal was + and - (if the cone moves OUT, terminals match the battery). After the upgrade, the improvement was substantial and resulted in the most significant impact to my ears. The sound stage and dynamics were dramatically improved, and listening at spirited volumes became a rewarding experience. If you do nothing else, you should look at this, as it will probably be the best $70 you ever spent on your car (unless you really just don't care).

2. Trunk subwoofer (and amp). The factory solution is an 8" speaker in a built-in custom built enclosure, niftily located behind the passenger side trunk panel. There is a notably underpowered factory amplifier powering this speaker. I added a compact Clarion XC2110 class D amplifier. This 300W, class D amp is really small and uses very little power. I mounted it in the styrofoam right below the trunk mat. This amp can take a high level input, so I simply connected that to the leads that fed the factory speaker. I wired the Clarion's remote turn-on to the lighter outlet in the rear seating area.

The factory sub itself probably isn't horrible, but I wasn't sure about the power handling, so I replaced it with a Kenwood Excelon KFC-XW800F 4 ohm, shallow mount speaker for $170. The basket fits perfectly into the factory enclosure after you shave off the little plastic alignment studs. I used self-drilling screws to anchor the new speaker, since the screw holes did not line up. Though not critical, I encourage you to install some sound deadening material around the inside of the enclosure while the speaker is out. I used Noico RED 315 mil self adhesive, which came in a nice pack for $30. Note that the port diameter of the factory enclosure is a really a bit small for higher SPL under 80Hz or so, but I found it was not much of a problem for most material, especially if you are not cruising the strip while playing the brown note, and are just trying to achieve a well rounded sound system. The amp has a bass boost, LPF, and gain control. I set bass boost to zero, LPF to no-effect (the factory already sends an LPF signal so you don't need to filter it further), and the gain at about 85-90%. The gain control is super touchy in this range, so you'll need to play with it to get the balance just right with the rest of the system. Total cost of amp, speaker, sound deadening: $390. It makes a big difference. The sub now has some real power and you'll know it right away.

2. Center channel. The factory solution is an unremarkable 3.5" paper cone mid range speaker. Again, breaks up pretty bad at anything other than driving-home-from-church-volume. Center channel speaker is pretty key as it serves both front seats, so I kind of splurged on this one and got an Infinity Reference REF-3032-cfx. Came as a pair for $90 but I only used one. This speaker sounds amazing, and I highly recommend incorporating it into the upgrade. Due to its key position, the center channel services the entire car, so don't underestimate the value of improving it.

4. Door speakers. The factory mid-bass door speakers are pretty garbage. Really just a simple paper 6" speaker. I am really disappointed that this thing is labeled "Bose" as it is really a pointless connotation. These speakers do a surprisingly mediocre job of recreating mid-bass given that they only have one job. These are not even the kind that have to try to produce full range using a whizzer cone in the middle, a la 2-way/coaxial. It's important to know that these are 2 ohm speakers. I replaced with CDT audio CL-6.2 speakers, which are also 2 ohm. The mid bass is far more detailed and natural, not to mention tighter. You'll want the Scosche SAGMHR-634 brackets (which you will need to dremel off the inside screw holes for the CDT baskets to fit), and Metra 72-5600 connection adapters. The total cost was around $340. These speakers are a really good match for the factory ones in terms of impedance and sensitivity. I can't stress enough that this is where a lot of aftermarket speaker upgrades in the Volt tend to fall down. Without a good match here, the door speakers will be too quiet, and out of balance with the other speakers. If you turn it up to compensate, the tweeters and sub are working really hard, and all hell breaks loose.

So yeah. Around $900 and a DIY friendly, pretty straightforward installation path to true audio bliss. Perhaps this seems a bit much to some, but to others this might be more surmountable that some $2000+ upgrades proposed (amp interface, amps, DSP, and all speakers). I know that in some cases the very topic of paying for/achieving good audio in cars seems to invoke a holy war with people, so I make no representations about whether you should choose this or not. Just throwing another possibility out there, for gen2 owners who are disappointed in their Bose system, are put off about spending twice as much, plus days of ripping stuff apart, reassembling, and programming DSPs.

If anyone is interested in pursuing, and would like more specifics about what I did, I am happy to provide.

Cheers
 
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Thanks for all the detail! How hard to change out the center speaker? Also, any reason you couldn't have used the coaxial CDT CL-6EX.2? I listen to music some but it's not a passion so I don't want to mess with anything I don't have to. I really was hoping to replace the 4 door speakers with something coax to get a little better highs and cleaner lows/mids and just leave the factory garbage in the dash. Is it worth doing just that? All I'd need then is 4 speakers, mounting plates, and wire adapters, I assume.
 
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