Some car projects in life are simple, others turn into a nightmare that you just know someone at the factory has worked really hard to stop you from doing what you want to do.
9XX Performance Products is a side of the business that is always presenting new challenges. Sometimes it can be developing a new part to increase performance of a particular Porsche model, this time it was different, we had customers flocking to JMG and 9XX asking if we were able to offer any upgraded speakers into the Porsche Boxster (986) or 996 models.
Our instant response was to get onto the internet and look for what products were already out there.. To our amazement I could not find ANY companies able to offer an upgraded speaker kit for the Boxster or 996!!! So we looked some more.. I found several enthusiasts on forums who had managed to fit aftermarket speakers, but only with the use of methods more suitable to BluePeter or RogueTraders (TV Shows for my overseas readers!) They had used blueTac, hot melt glue guns, bodyfiller, self tapping screws and all manor of DIY methods to get some speakers to mount into the standard Porsche speaker grills.. I thought to myself, "we can do better" and so begun a twelve month journey into developing the 9XX Boxster & 996 Speaker kit.
"So whats the problem?" I hear you cry.
The problem isnt with door speakers on the Boxster and 996, but with the dashboard speakers in the Boxster and the dashboard and rear speakers in the 996. When Porsche designed both these cars they offered it typically with 3 options for sound systems..
Standard (2 Speaker for Boxster and 4 for the 996)
HiFi (With door speakers)
and Bose (expensive!)..
So in the view of protecting their interests they designed the speaker grills not only to be an unusual size and shape, but also to have the speakers mount up into the dashboard (or rear) in an unusual way, making it near on impossible to replace the speakers or upgrade the speakers without buying expensive optional upgrades to you Porsche from the main dealer.. So, the gauntlet was thrown down, the challenge set!
Boxster and 996 owners from all around the world were busy doing almost the same thing, trying to fit aftermarket speakers into their dashboard or rear grills was like trying to hammer a square peg into a round hole.. the results are never pretty and often sound as bad as they look!
Like so many 9XX solutions, any product or kit would need to be an easy install that provided a solution which sounded good, worked well and looked almost like Porsche had designed it.
A tough challenge, but read on.. we cracked it!
In our careers we have often found that some of the best modifications for Porsche cars are ones where you are fighting against a design set out to stop you from modifying that particular aspect of the Porsche.
A good example many years ago were the cylinder heads used on Porsche 924 engines. For years no one managed to release power improvements from these underated Porsche 924's, so we set on a mission to find out what was holding them back.. Eventually we found and eliminated the design features which caused the 924 to under perform, Porsche had been cunning in their design, as they didnt want 924's to be modified to out perform the more expensive models, but when we managed to bypass the problem and was rewarded with amazing performance gains we knew every late night and hundereds of hours working on the problem was worth while..
This new project, a speaker upgrade for the Boxster and 996 was not going to be any different!
So lets take a look at the speakers in question.
You will notice that we have highlighted the picture of the standard speakers in grills with two colours, red and green.
The items highlighted in red are the mounting points for the speakers to be screwed down. Normally speakers have 4 mounting points at an equal distance apart. Meaning you can not find speakers apart from standard 996 and Boxster items which mount in this configuration. What the picture does not show is that the speakers mount onto the grill with a round sleeve, unlike standard upgrade or aftermarket speakers which mount against a flat surface!
In green you can see the electrical connector where the standard 996 and Boxster loom connects to the standard speaker, meaning unless you butcher the wiring, you can not connect up the standard wiring loom upto an upgraded speaker!
Now for a mention of the standard Boxster and 996 speakers and their ability to produce sound. Unfortunately the Boxster and 996 standard speaker uses a cardboard cone, cardboard cones were out of date in the 1980's let alone 20 years later. These days we use polycarbonate or composite speaker cones for their reliability and ability to move at greater frequencies while moving larger volumes of air, so its no shock to find that most of the speakers we have removed from Boxsters and 996s are actually between 14 and 20 watts per channel!!
So the challenge was to develop a product which would allow the installation of the latest technology speakers from a premium company such as Alpine, connect to the standard speaker grills without modification, allow installation to the standard wiring connectors without modification and to not leave any external trace of modification while also allowing the car to be reverted back to standard without having to buy additional parts!... A tall order, but we knew we could do it!
So first we needed to get a feel for the standard items. An order was sent through to Porsche and within 24 hours we had all the different versions of Boxster and 996 front and rear speakers sat in the workshop for the mad scientist experiments to begin! A day later a delivery from Alpine had every speaker they sold in the size suitable for our project.
In any 9XX development of a physical component there is one man who needs to be involved. Roy or Roy Penske as we call him is an expert in engineering and three dimensional awareness. His history involved working for Penske Racing for over 20 years where his input and skills were tested on the track with their Indycars (American F1 type racing) and development of the current Porsche spyder endurance car being campagned even today. Needless to say, even though this current project wasnt a performance part that I nornally work with him to develop, nor was it to be made out of space age materials such as carbon fibre or titanium, it was the kind of thing that I knew he would be able to solve.
One of the benefits of Roy Penske is that he isnt just an engineer and problem solver, he is also an expert machinist, so it wasnt long before Roy delivered to us the first prototype set of adapters. Over several design revisions and testing in actual Boxsters and 996s physically the adapters for mounting the Alpine speakers were completed.
Now we just needed to work on the wiring adapters which were manufactured by a company who specialise in building wiring adapters normally for more common vehicles, it wasnt long before this part of the puzzle was also complete.
Luckily, anyone likes a free lunch.. 996 and Boxster owners are no exception. With 3 customers with 996 and two customers with Boxsters willing to test the kit, what followed was six months of testing where our test pilots reported back to us on an almost weekly basis, thankfully this period passed without issue and on examination of all the speaker and adapter kits we were ready to put the adapters into production.
Interestingly, all five customers reported they were initially impressed with the sound volume and quality of the kit with Alpine speaker, but also that over the course of the first few weeks the sound quality and volume level before distortion improved constantly. A quick call to Alpine confirmed that their speakers do actually "run in|" and should improve with age! You learn something every day!
In addition to a kit to allow off the shelf Alpine speakers to be installed into a Boxster or 996, we also managed to convince Alpine into making a production run of hybrid speakers using other components within their range with our adapters built into the mounting face, however these seemed to be unpopular with customers due to the price, so these are still available, but by special order!
To the right you can see an example of an Alpine SPG-10C2 speaker mounted to a Boxster speaker grill using our kit.
Notice in the picture with an Alpine speaker has so much more of a heavy duty magnet compared with the standard speaker at the start of this article. The Alpine speaker in question is rated at a constant 45 watts per channel with 200 watts per channel peak performance! over twice and almost three times the power of the typical speaker fitted to a Boxster or 996!!!
What you cant see in this picture is the wiring adapter, which allows the Alpine speaker to connect to the standard Boxster or 996 wiring loom without modification.
The entire kit is now production made, using the latest in injection moulding technology to provide a kit of components that are garaunteed to give good service for the lifetime of the car without any worries of manufacturing defects!
Initially, our adapter was only available as part of the Alpine custom speaker or with a SXE-1025S speaker. But again due to customer demand, we now offer the speakers adapter kit to work with the following speakers.
Standard European Kit
Standard USA Kit (Also for Australian Markets)
The other benefit of now offering a fitting kit is that we are now able to ship the kits worldwide without the penalties of having to also send heavy speakers with the kit!
Above you can see the speaker kit in all its glory, every component is designed to work in unison with the standard 996 and Boxster speaker grills and with off the shelf Alpine models shown in the table opposite.
Should you be interested in fitting a set of Alpine speakers to your Boxster or 996, dont go out to the shed looking for BlueTac, CrazyGlue, Hot Melt Glue guns, nails or even self tapping screws. Save yourself the agrovation and buy one of our kits above.
So it was a long road.. and I would be lieing if I said it was an easy project, but in true 9XX tradition we managed to complete the project and provide a stealthy solution to improve yet another aspect of Porsche ownership!
ALPINE SPEAKERS THAT FIT THE KIT.
SXE-1025S - Budget speakers with reasonable sound quality
SPE-10C2 - Middle of the range speakers with very good sound quality.
SPG-10C2 - The best speaker Alpine do in this range, with exellent sound quality!
For the USA or Australian Market you need to order our USA Kit designed to work with the SPS-410 speakers available over there.
We can also provide a kit for JL-Audio speakers, in particular the C2-400X Speakers by JL Audio.
Having dealt with this issue, we also cracked the problem of what speakers to use in the doors and can also provide door speakers for the Boxster and 996 models. The most impressive thing is that with our door speakers, dashboard speaker kits and the active bass units we sell, it is possible now to upgrade a non Bose 996 or Boxster to a higher volume and sound quality level of the expensive Bose equipped cars.. Result!!... Guess who is now working on a 997 and Boxster/Cayman 987 kit.. here we go again!
To order any of the products mentioned in this article, call our mail order department on 01202 488800 or visit our online shop by clicking on the mail order button at the top of this page.
Bellow are two downloadable items. One is the fitting instructions for our kits, the other is a selection of hints and tips for troubleshooting the install (it is quite straight forward, so you should not get problems!)