Auto Tech

Alpine and Jeep build weatherproof audio for the Trail-Rated Wrangler

Alpine and Jeep team up to build a car audio system that's as tough as the Wrangler that it's installed in.

Antuan Goodwin/CNET
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Antuan Goodwin/CNET

LAS VEGAS -- Whether it's fording a doors-deep stream, having its washable interior hosed down, or caught in the rain with the roof and doors removed; every Jeep Wrangler will have to gracefully deal with water inside the cabin. It's a condition that's unique to the Trail-Rated Jeep. So when designing the 2015 Wrangler's premium audio system, the automaker worked with Alpine build a stereo that can survive almost anything the rugged SUV can.

The Alpine nine-speaker system is an optional upgrade to all 2015 Jeep Wrangler models that adds a 500-watt amplifier to the audio system. The system features a 12-channel DSP that features different audio profiles for top on and top off driving. Tunes are pumped through eight speakers around the cabin -- including four tweeters and four 6.5-inch full-range drivers.

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The all-weather subwoofer needs to be tough because it's installed in the Wrangler's floor. Antuan Goodwin/CNET

The coolest element in this new system is the weatherproof 8x12 inch subwoofer that's mounted in the floor of the rear cargo area. Aiming up from the floor may seem like a dumb place to mount a speaker in a truck that sees a lot of water, dirt, and sun, but Jeep didn't want the large subwoofer taking up any valuable cargo or loading space.

To make sure that the subwoofer could survive the rough conditions the Jeep will see, Alpine has tested the speaker when fully caked with mud and silt, with ice and rocks, and even fully submerged in water for over 90 hours at full power. I have no doubt that this subwoofer draws on the experience of Alpine's marine audio division, which manufactures speakers, amps, and audio head units designed for use on boats.

At CES 2015, I was able to watch the subwoofers operate while submerged, splashing water around a sealed Jeep display. (See the video above for a peek at that.) Next, I was able to hop into a 2015 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon to give the full system a try. Understand that it's difficult to get a good clear listen on a loud show floor in a car with as little sound insulation as a Wrangler, but I was pretty pleased with how well the Alpine setup handled loud, clear volume and even more delicate passages. It's no audiophile system, but most audiophile systems couldn't survive the sort of conditions this one was designed to thrive in.

The Alpine nine-speaker premium audio system is available now on all 2015 Jeep Wrangler models as an optional upgrade or a standard feature on top-tier trim levels.