As so many of the current-generation Rams come factory-equipped with the optional Infinity premium amplifier/speaker package, we thought it a good idea to look into ways to improve this package. While its "sound" may appeal to the Ram's mainstream, non-audiophile owner who appreciates a strong presence in the 60-80Hz region, those of us with more sophisticated tastes will prefer a system that is smoother and flatter throughout the lower frequencies. To address this requirement, we suggest looking at units with extensive onboard signal processing capabilities. One such unit would be Blaupunkt's Orlando CD72 AM/FM/CD receiver ($530 MSRP), which has a built-in five-band parametric equalizer with Dynamic Sound Adjustment (DSA). This automatically adjusts the stereo's output at different frequencies to compensate for the acoustic characteristics of an individual car. Using a calibrated microphone and a programmed set of test signals, the radio "listens" to the way the car's acoustic characteristics distort the frequency response of sound in the cockpit, then automatically corrects the levels of different frequencies using the built-in five-band parametric equalizer. A skilled installer will be able to fine-tune its parameters, eliminating the bass bump while extending the low bass response effectively at least another 1/2 octave, resulting in a more realistic sound, even while retaining the Infinity factory amplifier and companion speakers.
If you're going to replace the Ram's factory amplifier/speaker package, then you can take a more dedicated approach to this issue by selecting the head unit that has the exact feature set you want and adding a separate multiband signal processor. While it's been around for years and is now considered a classic, AudioControl's EQX 6-Band, 1/2 Octave Bass EQ, 7-Band, Octave Equalizer ($340 MSRP), is still found in hundreds of competition-level systems. The reason is simple: maximum flexibility combined with ultra-low distortion, giving installers the ability to tune almost any system to address acoustic problems found in any truck's interior. Given the wide variety of Ram cab configurations along with cloth, vinyl, and leather seating surfaces that all affect sound quality in different ways, absorbing and reflecting sound in the cabin, a multiband equalizer is the only way to fully address these issues.
When cost is no object, you can consider a component to address these issues in the digital domain, and if that's the case, a more modern alternative is the AudioControl DQX ($600 MSRP), which combines 24-bit 1/3-octave equalizers with a three-way active crossover, giving maximum control over your system's tonal quality. A trained installer, setting the DQX with an RTA, can address almost any acoustic issue typically present in a vehicle interior, resulting in octave-to-octave balance that will rival the best home systems.
One of the things that makes the current-generation Ram unique among standard cab pickups is the space behind the seats for storage. On the new '04 500hp Viper-powered version of the SRT-10, the space even includes a factory-installed 10-inch subwoofer (more about that later). What that means for standard cab owners is that there is plenty of space available to install aftermarket components, be they signal processors or even amplifiers, all without compromising seat travel. No longer is it necessary when owning a standard cab pickup to choose between legroom or great sound. The trays behind the seats provide ample room to install a multichannel system amplifier, such as the Phoenix Gold Octane R 5.1 MT ($500 MSRP). This is a complete amplifier solution, combining five separate full-range 50-watt amplifier channels with a dedicated 100-watt channel to drive a dedicated subwoofer, all controlled by its own Graphic User Interface. Its relatively small footprint allows it to not only be mounted under the seat, but also installed in a variety of ways in the Ram's behind-the-seat storage trays, making it the obvious choice in any space-challenged application.