Upgrading the Defender

Upgrading the Defender

The Land Rover Defender is a true British classic design. Although, now sadly out of production, the longevity of the Defender means that they will be on (and off) our roads for a great many years to come.

It’s design hasn’t changed much in its 70 years and, despite continuous improvements to comfort the audio, performance has always been poor. A relatively noisy environment coupled with small speakers has always meant the sound in the Defender has a lot left to be desired!


As Macclesfield in Cheshire is a fairly rural community there are a lot of these vehicles about as you can imagine and over the years I have developed an audio upgrade package which is powerful and discreet.


The first challenge is the speaker size. Being only 10 cm without modification means that the bass performance is limited. Step forward JL Audio! As the undisputed leaders in subwoofer design, JL Audio are perfectly placed to design speakers that have a much better bass response. This is not to say that a 4 inch speaker can replace a subwoofer but JL Audio’s expertise means that you will get a massive improvement over the stock speaker.



To bring the bass response up to the required standard we need to fit in a subwoofer. The irony is that although the Defender is a large utility vehicle, there is almost nowhere to discreetly install a sub box without compromising useful space. JL Audio is here to the rescue, again, with their amazing sub, the 6w3.



This astonishing unit is a true 6 inch subwoofer. It is optimized for a tiny enclosure of just 0.125 cu ft. I have developed a carpet trimmed speaker box that will fit just under the roll cage bar behind the front seat. One can be used but for best results we recommend one either side to create an effective 12 inch sub. This allows for a much smoother performance and really blends with the music.



So now we have a sub we are going to need an amplifier. Again, space is limited but fortunately there is room under the driver’s seat for a compact unit. It makes no sense to just amplify the sub so we always install a multi-channel unit to power sub and speakers.


Here we must address the acoustic issues in the vehicle because of the speaker layout and the rather boxy interior of the Defender the sound staging is challenging to say the least. It is essential to install some sort of signal processor or regardless of the quality of the installed equipment, the sound stage will be poor.


I now always use the Audison Prima AP9Bit amplifier. This amazing unit has a full digital signal processor coupled to a powerful 8 channel amplifier in a very compact chassis.



This amplifier can be configured in any way I need depending on the complexity of the installed system. In the Defender it can be a 5 or 6 way for one or two subs. I can then configure the signal processor for the car acoustics and the personal musical tastes of the owner. The software is very powerful, providing  full spectrum equalization on every channel with very fine time alignment available to place the sound stage where it needs to be.



As a musician I can appreciate the subtleties of sound and this software allows me to bring out the finer details of the music even in a challenging environment like the Land Rover Defender. I am often challenged by owners who say you can’t get a good sound in a Defender but I guarantee that I can. I have installed many of these systems now, both for private individuals and for local dealerships, the feedback is always the same, that they just can’t believe how good this sounds. One customer even came back to tell me that the sound was better than in his Bentley GT!


It is true that the kit described above is extremely good but without the ability to carefully tune it the results would be average at best. That is where I can make the biggest difference, my experience and exacting standards mean that this great equipment can be enjoyed to its true potential and I feel that this is true value.


Whatever you own, Land Rover, Lamborghini, Lotus or any other car with a challenging audio performance I can make it better, give Tim a call on 01625 432707 or email sales@carhomestereo.co.uk to start your journey to better sound


  1. G’day from Australia

    No mention of rear speakers?
    I have a Defender dual-cab so options with speakers etc in the rear part of a wagon aren’t available to me. Any suggestions?

    Also is it OK / possible to have speakers behind seats (facing the seat back) or would that just spoil / block the sound?

    1. G’day indeed, nice to know I’m reaching ’round the world.
      Rear speakers in a 90 or 110 are again usually 4 inch and to be honest are not essential to improve the sound at the front. However your dual-cab has no rear speaker locations as you say. In the past I have manufactured small enclosures where space has allowed. Placing these speakers behind the seats will greatly compromise the higher frequencies making them sound muffled but you could turn this to your advantage if you are designing a tuned system and make these low/mid drivers. This will only really work where there is a signal processor and multi channel amp involved.
      Another alternative would be to fit larger 6 inch drivers into the front seat boxes facing forward and utilising a three way component system. This will really enhance the front sound.
      Hope this helps, please feel free to contact me if I can be of further assistance.

  2. Hi there!

    This sounds like a great way to improve the Landy’s sound!

    Question, I have a 110, but following your advice, I am uncertain as to what to do with the dash mounted tweeter that comes standard with the Defender? Do you leave it as is, or do you replace it together with the 4″ being replaced in the front? Same question for the rear speaker in the 110 (I think they may be 5″, not sure), do you leave them as is when mounting the two 6″ woofers in the middle of the vehicle (say behind the rear seats)?

    Thanks! Cheers


    1. Hi, thanks for getting in touch and my apologies for the very late reply. I don’t know how I missed your message!
      In answer to your question we usually replace the tweeter as well as the main speaker. I often use a Focal K series set of speakers as they are excellent and fit really well.
      In the rear is another 4 inch speaker as standard but that could be enlarged if the hole is increased. However I often fit a JL Audio C2 4 inch coaxial speaker as it is more than good enough especially when a subwoofer is added to take the bass performance pressure from the main speakers.
      If I can help further please feel free to call me on 07971 928881 or 01625 432707.
      Thank you

  3. I have a 1997 defender. I’m looking for a simple stereo upgrade with Bluetooth dab etc. What is recommended and which adapter is required?

  4. Hi, I really like the sound of the setup described in your post on the Land Rover Defender. Can you tell me if this would work in my double cab and the cost to supply and fit that kit.

    Many thanks

  5. Hi – This is a really good blog post.

    It is not easy for me to travel for fitting – can I purchase the parts required – especially the custom made box for the subs on each side.

    I have the Focal ES100K for the front speakers, and also the Focal 100AC – 10cm coaxial for the rear (can replace these with others if you’d suggest).

    1. Hi David, thank you for the feedback, glad you enjoyed the blog.
      I can supply but we need to chat about what is best for you so please call me on 01625 432707.
      Thank you

  6. Hi Mate

    good job on the blog, just got defender 110 single cab pickup , stripping it out gradually so doing sound proofing and extra cables can we talk kit supply



  7. Great post. Any thoughts on mounting mid-range speakers to the center cubby box between the front seats. (ie, in the side faces) Mounting in the front of the seat boxes as per your comment above might become an issue for me. there is the very real issue of the landy filling up with water during river crossings. :-0
    Rear speakers have been removed. Looking for ideas to fill the space between the Focal ES 100k’s and the sub.
    Would love to hear you views.

    1. Hi Craig,
      Sorry for the slow reply, it’s crazy busy here! My issue with mounting speakers in the cubby would be the detrimental effect this would have on the stereo response. I just finished a Defender last week with Focals up front and a Rainbow powered sub on the seat bulkhead. The amp was an Audison Prima AP4.9 dsp unit. Once I’d tuned it the sound was tremendous with no lack of midrange so I know it’s possible to do. Of course we’d need to relocate the amp in yours from out of the driver’s side seat box!
      If that wasn’t possible and you could live with a reduced stereo image then the cubby could be used for a speaker enclosure as long as you didn’t try to get too much power from them.
      Anyway, if you’d like to discuss options please give me a call on 01625 432707.

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