When I got my Jaguar XKR-S, one of my favorite things about it was the engine roar. It’s delightful, guttural, magical. However, when I was just cruising and I rolled up the windows, the stock stereo sounded terrible.
I knew just who to turn to: Musicar did a phenomenal job on my Porsche 911 Targa’s electronics, making it look stock while adding a ton of functionality. Their Stage 3 audio upgrade sounded completely effortless and detailed no matter the volume level. There is absolutely no distortion no matter how loud I crank it, and I can hear every single detail. So while we were in Iceland this year, after Elite Finish finished up the paint correction, they shipped the Jag over to Musicar.
Musicar’s design included:
- Helix DSP Ultra – the brains of the operation. The Jaguar factory head unit is terrible: it responds slowly, has awkward menus, and can’t even stream audio over Bluetooth. However, it controls car functionality like the seat heaters, and I prefer my cars to look as stock as possible. We opted to leave the Jaguar head unit in place, and just not use it at all for audio, and route music directly from my iPhone or Astell&Kern SR25 into the Helix.
- Morel Elate Carbon Pro 2-way – tweeter and midrange speakers for the front. The Jaguar XK’s factory audio didn’t include separate tweeters in the A-pillars, so Musicar had to custom fabricate a new set of A-pillars.
- Morel Tempo Ultra Integra rear stage speakers.
- Audison 10″ subwoofers – designed for low-profile installations to add oomph without taking up too much space.
- Mosconi Pro 5:30 and 4:10 amps – for a total of 2,230 watts of power. We’re not trying to win any volume competitions, but this much power helps make sure that the audio is effortlessly distortion-free regardless of volume level.
- Plus some additional electronic goodies from Escort and AL Priority.
Along the way, Musicar did a lot of custom fabrication and noise insulation. They start with removing the interior, exposing the bare metal surfaces where Jaguar doesn’t apply sound deadening material by default:
Jag was trying to save weight for the sports orientation of the XKR-S, but I don’t need to hit 186mph, so I don’t mind adding weight to get a better grand tourer. Musicar applied SoundShield to the bare surfaces:
Morel Carbon midbass drivers went into the doors:
The XKR-S didn’t originally come with tweeters, so Musicar fabricated custom housings in the corners of the windows. Totally looks stock:
Installing the Subwoofers and Amps
The Jaguar XK has quite a bit of space in the boot, but we’re taking up some of that with a low-profile subwoofer box and amplifiers.
The finished effect is spectacular. Musicar’s attention to detail is utterly amazing, complete with French Racing Blue trim on the enclosures and an R-S badge:
I even love how the overlapping blue angles relate to the spoilers on the outside of the Jag. Those angles are unique to the XKR-S.
I’m so happy with how the trunk turned out. It’s still got a ton of usable space, plenty for luggage for long trips. When everything’s closed up, it looks beautifully stock.
Installing the ALP and Escort Gear
Musicar fabricated black plastic housings for the ALP laser sensors at the back of the car:
And the sensors in the front are really subtle. They’re the shiny black plastic bits in the oval grill below:\
The shapes are just so flawless, blending in beautifully with the oval grille. You’d never know at a glance that they weren’t stock components.
Finally, to control it all, Musicar tucked everything into the ashtray, and the door still closes when I want the subtle stock look:
The dial at right controls the volume level, rear sound stage, bass level, and source. I can choose to use the factory head unit as a source, but that would be a last resort – I’d rather just play directly from my iPhone or SR25. The factory head unit just stays in place to control things like the AC and the seat heaters.
Controls all closed up:
The end result is not cheap – you can buy an entire Jaguar XKR (but not R-S) for what I spent on the project. It would never normally make this much sense to spend this much on car electronics, but for me, this is a dead man’s car. I’m so excited to take this up to Vegas next month and drive through Valley of Fire State Park.
Next up on the upgrade list: waiting on my set of custom monoblock Skol Wheels to arrive.