The VF is an amazing car and HSV took it one notch up with the final Maloo. Well this one is not quite the last but it is certainly one of the best we’ve seen. It was in for one of our VF Commodore stereo upgrade packages.
Factory VF Commodore Upgrade
The power, the looks and that exhaust note are something else but the audio… well nobody is perfect! Fear not though there is always a way to add great sound, even when keeping the factory source unit.
One of the first things we did when upgrading the factory speakers and woofers in this VF Maloo was to analyse the factory sound system to see what we could fit with no modification to the car. None at all! On looking at the factory tweeter and door speaker mounts we knew Alpine X-Series speakers were going to be perfect for the job.
VF Commodore Stereo Upgrade
First up we removed the factory speakers and used a combination of VF speaker spacers from TDJ and the factory tweeter mounts. This allowed us to install the new Alpine speakers which have a small neodymium magnet so no modification was required. Of course we applied plenty of Stinger RoadKill sound dampening to both the inner and out door skins. This ensured the speakers play hard and low without rattles. Foam trim rings were used to seal the speaker against the door trim to finish the speaker installation.
Moving up to the tweeters we were able to clip out the factory tweeter and with a little modification to the X-Series surrounds moon them into the factory holes. The crossovers were wired into the factory tweeter plug for a seamless installation.
Replacing the Factory VF Sub-Woofers
Once we were finished with the front it was time to look at getting some more action from the factory woofers located in the lower rear quarter panels. These factory woofers are in small sealed enclosures and are powered by a small amp located above the transmission tunnel. In theory these things should pump but in practice they lacked any kind of excitement – to the point it was almost impossible to know they were even there.
We decided to install a pair of the X-Series mids only. The factory enclosures were removed and treated to some sound deadening. Adding mass and rigidity to help the 6.5″ mid woofers play hard and low. Once complete the enclosures were reinstalled into the VF.
Adding an Amplifier to Your VF
Once the speakers were in it was time to look at adding more power. To keep it clean we used an Alpine X-Series 4 channel amp. This powers the front speakers with around 100 Watts RMS a side and 300 Watts to the rear woofers. The amp was mounted under the passenger seat. It’s size perfect for the VF Commodore as it sits between the floor humps and is tucked well out of the way. In keeping with the theme of no holes we ran all the power and speaker cables through the factory openings.
With the battery in the rear the power cables are nice and short as they run directly back along the tunnel to the battery. While we were back there we also added a layer of sound deadening to the rear wall to help keep vibrations down.
As we were to retain the factory source unit we made a T-Harness that clipped in between the source unit and factory wiring loom. This allowed us to pick-up the high level output directly from the back of the factory radio while also connecting into the factory door speaker wiring. Again the entire loom can be unplugged to leave no sign of our upgrade should the owner desire.
Testing and Tuning
Once it was all in and done it was time to have a listen. We ran the front speakers full range, as the doors were now super tight they sound fantastic. To give the system a bit more ‘bang’ we ran the low-passed the rear mids at 250hz. They too sound really strong, with ACDC’s Thunderstruck kicking you hard in the kidney!
While we were able to get a great sound from the factory Commodore source unit there are some limitations. From factory the rear parking sensors, indicators and warning chimes all come through the speakers. Once amplified these tones can be unbearably loud. We tried a number of products to help reduce these while also delivering crisp, clean sound. Helping with this was to add a centre speaker back into the mix to handle all of these functions. This allowed us to then tune the audio system independently.
The VF Commodore Can Sound Great. Promise.
All in all it’s a fantastic sounding system. For those wanting a bit more bass we’d look at a different woofer for the rears and also look to add a subwoofer level control. But otherwise it is a great upgrade that brings the audio system up to the performance of the car itself.
While this system was in the VF Maloo it would also adapt well to other vehicles in the VF (or even VE) Commodore range. By adding a bigger amp or more channels you could introduce rear door speakers and bigger subwoofers.
If you’re looking to upgrade your VF Commodore or HSV we’d love you to get in touch. There’s a lot of little tricks we’ve developed to get the most out of the factory source unit and everything we do can be removed as desired to protect future value of the vehicle.