Introduction to the VW T4 audio…
If you are here then you are most likely looking at VW Transporter T4 audio upgrade options, this means you already know the sad embarrassing truth about your pride and joys tiny speakers.
Ok, I’m not sure how much introduction the absolutely tintastic distorting standard VW Transporter T4 audio needs, anything other than Radio 4 just isn’t worth listening to…
Jokes aside, audio technology has come a long way since the VW T4 first hit the road in 1993. Other than a few minor facelift tweaks in 1997 (which didn’t affect the sound system) the T4 went vastly unchanged until the VW T5 hit the road in 2003.
So even if you are one of the later T4 model owners (like me), I am sorry to have to tell you that you are still running van audio technology that was first introduced in 1993.
To make that fact slightly worse, the VW T4 speakers deteriorate over time as their core components were paper cone and foam. If they were bad in 1993, they most certainly are now.
So, your speakers are almost 30 years old and they were not especially cutting edge back then. Audio in vans was more of an afterthought (just be grateful it has a radio dude!)
This low-cost upgrade is one of two that I would consider essential for modern day living. The other obvious essential upgrade for less than £30 being the Headlight upgrade Guide HERE.
So, moving on
The good news is, in this article we will look at a couple of low-cost options for the VW Transporter T4 audio upgrade. For around £50 you can at the very least upgrade the VW T4 dash speakers.
Drop any comments to the bottom of the article, I would love to hear about your best T4 audio tweaks!
This is the start of your audio journey.
VW T4 dash speaker upgrade
This is the easiest audio upgrade that you can carry out on the VW T4. It is basically plug and play in around 10 minutes.
There are two ways to go with this, either:
- Buy a purpose made T4 kit audio upgrade kit or:
- Source your own speakers, plugs, wires and fitting ring yourself.
I will cover the easier way:
The easier way
The easy way (which is what I did) is to buy a purpose made dash audio upgrade kit for a T4 (Like this one).
It might cost a few extra quid, but it saves a lot of the faffing with plugs, wiring and the potential of loose connections further down the line (wiring isn’t a strong point for me anyway).
The other added benefit is that the VW T4 audio kit includes an adaptor pod/ring where necessary which ensures a snug fit into your dash.
Without a pod/ring fitted (on some speakers) you will find they will rattle around on bumps. I have seen a few DIY installations where foam has been used to pad out the small gaps around the aftermarket speakers, but I don’t think it’s ideal.
So, the main benefit of doing it this way (for me at least) was that the connectors were already changed to be compatible with my VW T4, essentially making the fitting process plug and play.
The 180w Alpine speakers below are, 2 way Coaxial with a RMS Wattage 25W. I’m no speaker geek but this has served me fine and were sufficient for my purposes, you may choose to go bigger/dearer.
How to install the 1st VW TRANSPORTER T4 AUDIO UPGRADE
The process for the dash speaker VW Transporter T4 audio upgrade is self-explanatory – it is dead simple. I have taken a couple of pictures of mine (post upgrade sorry) to assist your confidence.
- Prise the speaker cover off with a screw driver. They aren’t especially stiff (mine popped off with hardly any force)
- Prise the speaker out of the hole, mine had 3 metal spring clips (if thats the correct name) but with a bit of pressure the whole speaker will pop out.
- Unplug the connection on the old speaker… Plug in the new speaker…
- Reverse process to put back. The whole thing all being well should take no more than 10 minutes.
Want to go bigger? Installing larger speakers
If you want to go bigger than the standard 10cm speakers then there are solutions that work well.
A common combination that allows you to upgrade the dash speakers from 10cm to 16.5cm is by using a Autoleads SA-011 160mm Pod Speaker Adaptor Kit coupled with the Alpine Electronics S-S65 6.5″ Coaxial S-Series Speakers or other similar 6.5″ speakers.
It is worth pointing out that despite the 160mm stated on the adaptor kits, they do indeed fit the 6.5″ speakers.
This upgrade is essentially plug and play also, the only difference is that the speakers sit slightly above the dash rather than flush with the original speaker hole.
VW T4 door speaker upgrade
So, this upgrade is a little harder than the VW Transporter T4 dash audio upgrade above, and isn’t one that I have personally done myself up to this point however one of my previous T4’s already had it carried out by a kind previous owner.
As always there are a few ways to do it however the one I like the best is inserting speakers into the door cards.
If you are feeling confident you can buy a set of standard speakers (like THESE that are 10cm diameter) then use them as a template to draw around and then cut out the holes in your existing door cards.
Alternatively, if you have a browse on eBay you can pick up ready cut door cards relatively cheaply such as the one below (Link here). Most will be cut for a 10cm diameter speaker but double check before you buy.
The final thing that you will need is some 2 way audio cable which is only a few £ on Amazon(Examples here).
If you are carrying out this upgrade I highly recommend the video linked below that shows the process much better than I can explain
Concluding your VW Transporter T4 audio upgrade
Hopefully, that has given you a good idea on the cheapest ways to upgrade your VW T4 audio speakers.
Just the dash upgrade on its own gives good results however for the full effect, and if you have the time, with a little confidence you can also have speakers installed in your door cards.
These will give you a much better surround sound experience and doing both upgrades will put you on par with the sound system found in a VW T6. The whole upgrade costs less than £150.
One final thing
The final upgrade to consider once you have upgraded your T4 speakers would be to change the standard vw t4 stereo head unit.
This again is pretty much a plug and play process. If you select a standard head unit (Sony, Pioneer etc etc) make sure it has the ISO connection for an easy life. There are plenty of examples for less than £30 if you are not picky such as the one (HERE).
Slide the old one out (you will probably need a screw driver again), unplug the old ISO connector and then connect up your new one. Then slide the new head unit into place.
This final upgrade will get rid of any leftover distortion that you may have experienced with the original T4 unit. It also likely means you now have Bluetooth, hands free, USB charger etc that seems standard on head units these days.
I hope that this guide was informative. Please feel free to add comments below if you think I have missed anything.
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