Pump Up the Volume: Upgrading RV Audio Systems

Unlocking the Sonic Potential of Your Motorhome

As an RV enthusiast and the owner of Orange County RV Repair, I’ve seen my fair share of audio systems in recreational vehicles. From the tinny, stock speakers that come standard in many models to the booming, custom-installed setups that would make a nightclub blush, the audio capabilities of RVs run the gamut. If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably found yourself cranking up the volume, only to be met with a disappointing, lackluster sound. Well, my friends, the time has come to pump up the volume and unlock the true sonic potential of your motorhome!

Assessing Your RV’s Audio Ecosystem

The first step in upgrading your RV’s audio system is to take a good, hard look at what you’re working with. What kind of stock equipment did your rig come equipped with? Are you rocking a basic AM/FM radio with a couple of tinny speakers, or do you have a more advanced setup with a touchscreen display and surround sound? Knowing the baseline of your existing audio system will be crucial in determining the best path forward.

One of the most common issues I encounter is that RV manufacturers tend to skimp on the audio components, opting for the cheapest possible options to keep costs down. This can result in a muffled, distorted sound that leaves you feeling underwhelmed, especially when you’re trying to jam out to your favorite tunes on the open road. But fear not, my fellow audiophiles – with a little elbow grease and the right upgrades, we can transform your RV’s audio system from forgettable to phenomenal.

Swapping Out the Speakers

Let’s start with the foundation of any great audio system – the speakers. If your RV is stuck with those uninspired, factory-installed speakers, it’s time to break out the tool kit and start swapping them out. Upgrading to a set of high-quality, marine-grade speakers can make a world of difference in the clarity and overall sound quality of your setup.

When shopping for new speakers, pay close attention to the power handling capabilities and sensitivity ratings. You’ll want speakers that can handle the wattage output of your RV’s audio system without distorting or blowing out. And don’t forget to factor in the physical dimensions of your speaker enclosures – you’ll need to ensure the new speakers are a perfect fit.

I recently had a customer with a Fleetwood motorhome who was struggling with a muddy, indistinct sound from their stock speakers. After evaluating the system, we determined that a set of Polk Audio marine speakers would be the perfect upgrade. Not only did they provide a significant boost in sound quality, but their weather-resistant design ensured they could withstand the rigors of life on the road.

Upgrading the Amplifier

With your speakers dialed in, it’s time to turn your attention to the amplifier. The stock amps that come installed in many RVs are often woefully underpowered, resulting in a thin, anemic sound that leaves you yearning for more. By upgrading to a high-quality, multi-channel amp, you can unlock a whole new level of audio bliss.

Look for an amp that can deliver ample power to your new speakers without straining the electrical system of your RV. Many of the top-tier brands, like Rockford Fosgate and JL Audio, offer marine-grade amps specifically designed for the unique demands of the RV lifestyle. These units are built to withstand the vibrations, temperature fluctuations, and occasional splashes of water that come with life on the open road.

One of my recent projects involved a Class A motorhome that was equipped with a lackluster stock amp. After installing a Rockford Fosgate Prime Series 4-channel amp, the difference was nothing short of remarkable. The owner reported a significant increase in volume, clarity, and overall sound quality – perfect for those long stretches of highway when you need to drown out the roar of the engine.

Subwoofers: The Low-End Rumble

No audio system is complete without a little low-end rumble, and that’s where subwoofers come into play. Adding a dedicated subwoofer (or two!) to your RV’s audio setup can transform your listening experience, infusing your favorite tunes with a rich, pulsating bass that will have your entire rig vibrating.

When it comes to subwoofers, size matters – but not in the way you might think. While a massive 15-inch sub might seem like the way to go, the reality is that you need to carefully consider the available space in your RV and the power handling capabilities of your amplifier. A well-designed 8-inch or 10-inch subwoofer can deliver incredible low-frequency performance without overtaxing your system.

I recently helped a couple upgrade the audio in their Class C motorhome, and the addition of a compact JL Audio subwoofer was a game-changer. Not only did it provide a satisfying bass punch, but it also integrated seamlessly with the rest of their upgraded audio components. Now, when they fire up their favorite classic rock playlist, the windows practically shake with the thunderous low end.

Immersive Sound with Surround Sound

If you’re truly looking to elevate your RV’s audio experience, it’s time to consider a surround sound setup. By strategically placing speakers around your living area, you can create an immersive, cinematic soundscape that will transport you straight to the front row of your favorite concert or the heart of a blockbuster movie.

Surround sound systems for RVs typically consist of a central sound bar, rear satellite speakers, and a subwoofer. The sound bar handles the front-facing audio, while the rear speakers envelop you in a rich, multidimensional soundscape. And of course, the subwoofer provides the low-end foundation to tie it all together.

I recently worked with a couple who had a high-end Class A motorhome and were eager to upgrade their audio system. After evaluating their rig, we settled on a Sonos Arc sound bar, a pair of Sonos One SL rear speakers, and a Sonos Sub. The result was nothing short of incredible – they now enjoy a truly cinematic audio experience, whether they’re watching a movie, listening to music, or even tuning in to the big game.

Tying It All Together with a Touchscreen Head Unit

With your speakers, amplifier, and subwoofer all dialed in, the final piece of the puzzle is the head unit – the command center of your RV’s audio system. Upgrading to a modern, touchscreen-equipped head unit can take your listening experience to the next level, offering a host of advanced features and seamless integration with your other onboard systems.

Look for a head unit that provides connectivity options like Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto, allowing you to easily stream music, podcasts, and audiobooks from your smartphone. Many of the latest models also offer built-in navigation, backup camera integration, and even smart home connectivity – perfect for controlling your RV’s lights, climate, and other systems right from the dashboard.

I recently worked with a customer who had a bit of a unique setup in their Class B campervan. They were using a tablet as their primary head unit, which worked fine, but they were looking for a more integrated and user-friendly solution. After researching the available options, we settled on a Kenwood eXcelon touchscreen head unit that not only provided a seamless audio experience but also allowed them to control various aspects of their van’s electrical system right from the dashboard. The result was a truly cohesive, high-tech setup that has transformed their on-the-road adventures.

Conclusion: Unlocking the Audio Potential of Your RV

As an RV enthusiast and the owner of Orange County RV Repair, I’ve seen firsthand the transformative power of upgrading your rig’s audio system. By swapping out those lackluster stock speakers, adding a high-quality amplifier, integrating a rumbling subwoofer, and tying it all together with a state-of-the-art head unit, you can unlock a whole new level of sonic bliss on the open road.

Whether you’re cranking up the volume on your favorite road trip playlist, immersing yourself in a cinematic surround sound experience, or simply enjoying the sounds of the great outdoors, a well-designed RV audio system can truly make all the difference. So what are you waiting for? It’s time to pump up the volume and take your motorhome’s audio experience to new heights!

If you’re in the Orange County area and need help upgrading your RV’s audio system, be sure to visit our website or give us a call. Our team of experienced technicians is standing by to help you get the most out of your rig’s sound system.