Show us a truck—any condition truck—with a high-quality sound system, and we’ll show you the money. Simple as that. Our priorities are such that an engine could be running on half its cylinders, but if the truck’s stereo isn’t up to snuff, that limping V-8 can wait.
Fortunately, that wasn’t the case when we acquired an ’11 GMC a couple of years back, as its LS had but 25k on the odometer and ran like, well, a new truck. However, the Delphi hi-fi wasn’t all that—matter of fact, we managed to blow out the B-pillar speakers in no time. In addition, the limited range of adjustability afforded by the head unit, not to mention its lack of iPod integration, left plenty to be desired in the audio department. We hoped we could simply swap out the blown paper drivers with some spare separates we had lying around and jimmy-rig a hard-wired interface for the iPod, but, to our dismay, not only was it not simple, but—thanks to GM’s clever ways (extremely low head unit output, non-standard driver size/mount configuration, zero personal audio adaptability)—the results would’ve been quite disappointing, to say the least.
So what to do, short of having an entire new system installed? We posed that exact question to our buddy Alan Hickman, who’s been a go-to for everything auto-audiophile related since the day we first went to the Audio Shoppe in Riverside, California, many years ago for some RCA cables. Alan’s response was quick and accompanied by a clever grin: “Have I got the perfect solution for you—and you get to keep that crappy OE head unit!” Great?!
| Arc Audios Sound System Integration Solution
Alan’s solution is ARC Audio’s answer to the OE system blues: the ARC Audio PSM digital sound processor. In short, the compact-size PSM fully compensates for the factory’s preset ultra-limited tuning and equalization parameters—in a plug-and-play manner…at an extremely affordable cost. Teamed up with one of ARC Audio’s XDi series amps that OE unit ain’t half bad now. But what about those blown speakers?
Alan’s solution was to stick with the best and replace the OE drivers with the ARC Series 6.2 component set and eliminate the B-pillar speakers altogether. For the necessary low-frequency needs, we also stuck with the ARC Series by using a pair of 10-inch subwoofers housed in an enclosure specifically designed for the ’07-to-’14 GM 1500 standard cabs. Furthermore, Alan’s crew fully lined the interior of said cab with Dynamat, which not only enhanced the audio beyond our expectations, but it sealed out the exterior noise so well it actually feels like driving in a luxury car rather than a lowered custom truck! Lastly, as the AC Delco battery was on its last leg, Alan suggested going with an Odyssey Performance Series AGM instead, which we did and, to date, have not a single complaint.
As for the solution, we can’t imagine a better or simpler one than ARC Audio’s PSM—that is, its PSM combined with the aforementioned components! Now we can look forward to running the LS till it’s on four cylinders and not have a care in the world!
| Literally Davey and Goliath—ARC Audio’s PSM digital sound processor may be a fraction the size of our factory GM Delphi head unit, but the little magic box will easily conquer the severely limited preprogrammed tuning abilities of any late-model OE stereo unit without even breaking a sweat.
| Additionally, ARC’s PSM allows the use of a complementing power amplifier and appropriate drivers. For the power source, we went with ARC Audio’s XDi 600.4 Class D amplifier and ARC Series 6.2 component speaker system.
| Without the processor, your sound equipment choices are basically limited to upgrading the factory speakers by replacing them with the exact same ones you likely blew out long ago! We chose to run the ARC Series 6.2 component speaker system.
| Furthermore, we’re adding something the little red GMC was never equipped with in the first place: a stand-alone low-frequency source, aka a pair of ARC Series 12-inch subwoofers in a custom-built enclosure put together by Alan Hickman and his crew at the Audio Shoppe.
| Are you wondering why the entire interior (minus the headliner) has been removed instead of just the dash bezel and door panels? Well, the inside of your typical standard cab pickup isn’t the ideal surroundings for a higher-end sound system.
| The Audio Shoppe is addressing that by properly insulating and sound-deadening the GMC’s floor, doors, and lower rear back panel.
| Dynamat supplied us with nothing but the best when it comes to eliminating unnecessary interior noise and vibration.
| The company’s Dynamat Xtreme, a butyl rubber-backed aluminum sheeting sound deadener, is ideal for the cab’s floors and back panel.
| It applies directly to metal without any adhesive or glue needed. The crew knocked out the whole job pretty quickly.
| The backsides of the door panels also got the Xtreme treatment in an effort to seal out as much exterior road noise as possible.
| We were already excited to hear the results, and we’re just getting started.
| While the insides of the doors were getting lined with Dynamat, Alan pointed out an additional limitation of the factory system: its uncommonly configured door panel speaker mounts. Then, just as quickly, he configured them to properly accept the larger 6-inch midrange speakers with their standard-style mounting.
| Once the ARC Series 6.2 mids were installed, a sheet of 1/8-inch Dynaliner was applied prior to the door panel going back on. Because of its minimal thickness, the thermal insulator won’t interfere with the fitment of the door panel, yet it will provide a much-needed barrier to keep out the heat and moisture.
| While the Sierra came factory equipped with speakers located in both A- and B-pillars, we’ll only be retaining the forward two for the tweeters.
| The midranges in the doors are more than sufficient for a standard cab. But, just as it was with the door panel mounts, the A-pillars require some reworking in order to accept the new ARC Series tweeters.
| A little trimming and we were on our way.
| ARC’s two-way passive bi-amp capable crossovers were mounted midway between the tweeters and mids on each side of the dash.
| Out of sight and out of mind for the crossover, as all the adjusting/tuning is done through the amp, which will be much more accessible.
| Believe it or not, unless you’re well above the 6-foot height range, there’s plenty of room behind the seats in the ’07-to-’13 1500 standard cabs for a healthy-sized subwoofer enclosure to house a pair of ARC Series 10s, which are designed for use in compact, tight-space applications to begin with.
| Speaking of compact, power amplifiers sure ain’t what they used to be when it comes to their physical size—ARC Audio’s got it wired when it comes to packing a whole lot of watts into a tiny package, as its 600-watt XDi series amp clearly illustrates (the updated ’19 model is the X2 600.4—which is even better!). It mounts beneath the passenger seat for ease of adjustability access yet doesn’t interfere with the seat adjustability process.
| But all is for naught without the smallest component of them all: ARC Audio’s PSM digital processor, aka the most important component in the entire lineup.
| Once connected, it’s the liaison between that uptight factory stereo and all that new sound equipment that’s just itching to turn things up.
| As we were right in the middle of getting all the audible elements adjusted and fine-tuned, the GMC’s original power source—the ACDelco battery—decided it had enough and wasn’t about to keep us moving forward.
| So we hopped on over to West Coast Battery and grabbed a new Odyssey Performance Series AGM battery to see how it would handle the power requirements in comparison to a similar Delco 48AGM battery.
| So far so good, and not just with the battery performance, as the truck’s ARC Audio-enhanced system sounds amazing—and when it’s not in use, the ambient sound quality is equally amazing thanks to the wall-to-wall Dynamat!