If you want your truck to boom, you need a boom box. Luckily, the bed of your truck is there and provides four sides of a box to help amplify your sound. So, when you rock up to a tailgate party or a friendly bonfire, presto – sound system ready.
It does take a bit of work and a bit of know-how. But, if you’re a handy kind of person and you’d rather do it yourself than pay someone else, then jump on into this project.
I’m going to look at three different methods of how to install speakers on a truck bed so that you can get yourself the best stereo in town.
Why Install Speakers on a Truck Bed?
In case “Why not?” isn’t a good enough reason, here are some better ones to silence the doubters.
- For tailgating and bush parties. You can rock up and provide music for the whole party, all from the back of your truck.
- For cruising or car shows. If you’ve gone through the trouble of customizing every inch of your truck and you want to show it off, why not have a great sound system to go along with it?
- For camping, fishing, hunting, and other outdoor activities. Just because you have speakers doesn’t mean you have to blast them. You can drive your truck into remote places and enjoy the outdoors and a bit of music at the same time.
Music for all occasions is the name of the game with a completely mobile, powerful sound system. If you have one in your truck, you’re going to be able to bring it with you everywhere to liven up events and help people get down.
3 Different Types Of Truck Bed Stereos
There are two main philosophies for how to install speakers on a truck bed. These are built-in and built-out, and I’m sure you can understand what I mean there.
There are two ways to build a speaker system in a truck bed. These include fixing speakers to a roll bar or rack, or building a speaker cabinet and fixing that to your flatbed.
Method 1: Built-In
When I say built-in, this is what I mean. I’m talking about cutting holes into your truck bed walls and mounting speakers into those holes. Does that scare you? It should.
To be perfectly honest…
I would never recommend doing this unless you’re pretty much a body shop pro because things can go wrong real fast. The thought of cutting holes into my truck is giving me shivers right now.
At the same time, some trucks have factory speakers built into the bed. In this case, you’re going to find precut, laser-precise holes made by the manufacturer. Then, all you need to do is measure and replace those factory speakers with something that has more power.
You can either wire up to the existing wiring or follow it along in case you need more current. But, other than replacing factory speakers, I’m sorry, folks – I’m not going to touch built-in speaker installation even with a 10-foot pole.
Method 2: Built-Out on a Bar
One way of installing speakers in your truck bed that is becoming more and more popular these days is also the simplest by far. All you need to do is to get yourself some marine-grade speakers (I mean boats, not troops) and fix them onto your bed’s roll bar.
Sounds easy, right?
Well, it is as long as you have a roll bar. If not, you’re going to have to pick one up and install it first, and that can add to the cost. And the other thing to consider is that you can’t just pick up any old marine speakers.
You need marine-grade speakers with full enclosures and brackets to mount to bars. There are all sorts of options out there, and some are pretty affordable while others can run you a very high price. Here are some examples:
These come as a pair in black or silver, and each packs 150 watts of RMS power. They also have color-changing LEDs that you can control by remote to add an extra pop to your party.
These get you 125 watts RMS per unit. The speakers have an ingress protection rating of IP45 and are intended for dusty, muddy, wet outdoor use.
They clamp easily onto bars or roll cages, and you can also pop them on and off different vehicles. Why? Because they’re Bluetooth compatible, so you don’t even have to hardwire them in.
They come in well-sealed bodies that are rated IP66 for dust and waterproofing. Even though they have a max output of only 75 Watts RMS each, they still pack a powerful punch.
Method 3: Built-Out in a Box
Would you like a system that rocks? Would you like it in a box?
The last and most common method involves installing your speakers in a cabinet to protect them from the elements. The benefits of doing this are many-fold:
- A cabinet bolted down to your truck bed is going to be a whole lot harder to steal than marine speakers clamped to a bar.
- A cabinet might take some work, but you can mount a lot of speakers in it and build yourself a massive system.
- You can also get away with using much more affordable speakers because they don’t have to be fully waterproof like marine speakers.
- A cabinet can also provide deeper bass sound and passively increase the output of your system.
Convinced? If you’re a bit of a DIYer and have access to some pretty standard tools and materials, building a speaker box might be the best way to go.
How to Build a Speaker Cabinet for Your Truck Bed
If you’re going to attempt to build a speaker cabinet for a truck bed, you should have at least one full day free from commitments and interruptions to get it done. A whole weekend (maybe when the family’s out of town?) might be better to make sure you can take your time and do it right.
The tools and materials you’ll need can vary. But, if you have access to the things on these lists, you’ll be able to get started easily. If you don’t have the tools needed to install speakers in a truck bed, I’ve added links for suggestions.
Materials You Might Use
Tools You’ll Probably Need
Step 1: Getting Started
First things first. Go out and have a look at your truck and decide how big you need to make this cabinet. Of course, you’ll need to grab that tape measure and see how much space you have in the truck bed. But, also consider how tall you can make it before it starts to block your rear view.
Work out your box size by planning the length and width of each of the six sides of the box. This will tell you how much fiberboard or plywood you should buy. However, because a standard sheet is 4’ x 8’, it’s a great idea to plan your dimensions so you can cut all your parts from a single sheet.
Also, decide on your speakers and BUY THEM FIRST. Don’t build a cabinet and then order speakers only to find out you made the box too small to mount or wire them correctly. Get the speakers first, and be sure you know their diameter and depth so that your box is a great fit.
Glad you asked. You could pick up something flashy like the LED-lit WDCL5 6.5” Marine Speakers from Dual Electronics. For more power, a pair of Rockville’s RMC65W 2-way Marine Speakers might do the trick.
But, if you need some serious kick in your system, Polk Audio’s DB692 3-way Coaxial Marine Speakers can hit pretty hard. They draw 150 Watts RMS and are rated IP55 for water and dust-proofing to keep your sound system safe.
Step 2: Get Cutting
Measure and mark your six box sides onto your plywood or fiberboard sheet. If you have a table saw set up, you’re off to the races. Although, you may need a helper to brace the wood for you as you pull it through the saw.
If you don’t have a table saw, a circular saw will do. Lay out the plywood on a raised surface and make your cuts. Be sure to check and make sure you have clearance under each part you are cutting.
If you only have a jigsaw, you can still do this project. You just need to be very careful with your cuts. And, you’ll probably still need to do a fair bit of sanding to get your edges nice and straight.
Everything must fit together tightly in your cabinet. This will create a sealed environment that will hold in air pressure and keep the efficiency of your system high. It will also keep out everything from water to dust to creepy crawlies.
Step 3: Assemble
Once all of your sides are cut out, and the edges sanded smooth, test to make sure you’ve got everything right by dry assembling your box. Of course, I know you measured twice and cut once, so everything should be fine.
If it’s all in order, it’s time to put it together. Start by running a bead of wood glue on the first two edges you will assemble. Then, use a drill and wood screws, or a nail gun if you have one, to fasten the pieces together. Repeat for each side, BUT don’t put the front panel on just yet.
Once your box is all assembled except for the front plate, grab that wood glue once again. Run a bead of glue along each joint. This will give you extra sealing and protection from the outdoors. Alternatively, you could paint first and then seal these joints with silicone. Whatever floats your boat.
Step 4: Make the Holes
The reason you left that front panel off is to make it cleaner and easier to cut the holes you’re going to use to mount your speakers in. Go ahead and find the hole size you need, then mark out the center for each speaker.
Using your compass, scribe the circles you’re going to cut onto the front plate. There should be plenty of distance between the holes to make sure there is enough material to hold the speakers in place. If not, or if your circles overlap, measure and mark it again. That’s why pencils have erasers.
All set? Let’s continue…
Once you get it right and everything looks great, it’s time to cut the holes out. To cut the holes, find a drill bit that is at least as big as your jigsaw blade is wide.
Drill a pilot hole near the edge of each circle, of course, on the inside of the circle. Then, you can insert your jigsaw blade into the hole and start making your round cuts.
You’re also going to need a hole for the cables. Flip the box over and drill a nice small hole through the back of the cabinet. I would recommend putting it dead center, just to ensure it’s high off the bed, so there’s no worry about wet or tangled wires.
Step 5: Sand and Paint
Sand down your hole cuts and anything else that looks like it needs it. Then, paint your box. If you were hasty in putting it together, you might need to leave it a bit to let the glue dry first. No problem. Go have a brew and watch Netflix for a bit.
You will also very likely need to prime the whole box first. Many primers these days are quick-dry and can even be painted over in an hour or less. Cut the lawn while you wait.
When the primer is ready to be painted, go ahead and get it covered. A single coat may be enough in the interior, but make sure you do two to three coats on the exterior to make your cabinet waterproof.
Step 6: Put it Together
Once your paint is dry (see why you might want the full weekend?), go ahead and attach the front plate to the rest of the box. You can do this using the same method (glue, nail gun, or screws), or you can get some weather stripping and use screws in case you might want access to the interior.
In the next section, I’ll talk about how to wire up the speakers to your sound system. But, suffice it to say, you should wire the speakers up before you attach them to the front plate. So, wire them up, run the wire through the back hole, and then screw them down.
And, just like that, your speaker cabinet is complete. However, it’s not attached to your truck yet. Don’t worry. This is a guide on how to install speakers on a truck bed, after all.
Step 7: Attach It to Your Truck Bed
There are many different ways to do this, so I’m not going to go through each one. Instead, I’ll just explain the most common way to install a speaker cabinet to a truck bed. And that is to use 90-degree steel brackets and screw or bolt those to your truck bed.
I’d use at least four brackets and screw them on the cabinet with some heavy-duty screws. Then, you can screw or bolt it down, and you’re done.
Of course, this will keep the cabinet from moving around and damaging your connections inside. But, it will also keep stick-fingers away from your system, or at least act as a deterrent.
How to Wire Truck Bed Speakers to Your Stereo
If you got those Bluetooth speakers, go ahead and skip this section, smarty-pants. Just don’t forget to keep them charged.
For passive speakers, you’re going to have to run wires to your stereo, but there are some things to be thinking about here.
Wiring speakers should be done by following the speaker specifications and instructions that come with your speakers. Take careful notice of the wire colors and gauge of wire recommended by the manufacturer.
You will wire your speakers using coaxial wire and run that through the hole you put in the back of the box. Then, these wires will run through the bed.
So, if you don’t already have a drain hole to go through, you may have to drill one. Then you can run the wires down and under the cab and in following the stereo wiring under the hood.
Keep in mind…
If you’re going to draw a lot of power with some beefy speakers, you may need to install a dedicated second battery for your system.
Use a 12V battery and wire a second fuse box to it. Then connect your amplifier to the fuse box, not forgetting to ground the amp to your truck frame. Connect your truck bed speakers to the amp.
You can also install a toggle switch to allow you to turn on the interior or exterior speakers. A toggle box could go between the head and amp, or between the amp and the speakers. Once your wiring is complete, test it out and see how big your stereo booms.
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How To Install Speakers on a Truck Bed – Final Thoughts
I hope this overview has been helpful and inspires you to install your own speakers in your truck bed. You can always get some professional help, such as for the wiring, but trying it yourself can be a fun project that helps you learn new skills.
There are a lot of other great custom ways to add speakers to a truck bed, but due to lack of space, I’ve only looked at the two most common ways. Both are straightforward enough that someone handy, like yourself, should be able to succeed in creating a stereo system that rocks the block.
Until next time, good luck and enjoy your new sound system.