You love your car. Its features, the look, the economy, the comfort and the way it fits into your lifestyle. It looks amazing in car parks as you walk up to it. The sun glistens off the bodywork, it speaks to you. You jump in, turn the ignition… and you’re greeted with flat, boring and uninspiring sound. Upgrading your factory speakers was once a pretty involved process. You’d need to upgrade your A/V unit, speakers themselves, install an amp, wiring kit at the absolute minimum. Now, with the Kicker 180.4, you can unlock the potential of your factory setup using A.I. driven smart Digital Sound Processing!
We love bringing you guys the best in-car audio, after all, you are the #bankstownfam! We got John Grasso from Kicker to come in and show us their new super teeny tiny 4-channel amplifier that’s literally the same size as a house brick. The reason we’re paying so much attention to this unit over most others is the fact that with this one unit, you can avoid replacing at least 4 pieces of equipment in your car. This one unit is all you need to take your factory stereo and speakers from meh to holy hell!
What Is It?
In a nutshell, the Kicker Key 180.4 is a small form factor new-generation amplifier with a whole bunch of updated smarts inside. It has the ability to replace multiple different components in a sound system upgrade.
It has the ability to “listen” to your factory speakers inside your car, and through its Gain Adjustment and Time Alignment engines, tune it properly. This has the truly amazing result of turning ordinary performing speakers into a properly tuned and powered sound system deserving a much bigger price tag.
Not only does the Key listen to where it can improve things, but it also pumps out 45W per channel to your speakers, making sure that it’s milking absolutely everything out of your factory setup. While it has the ability to connect to aftermarket speakers and crossovers, it’s primarily designed to work with stock, factory sound systems to elevate and unlock their potential; this really is the Key to great sound.
What’s It For?
Traditionally, when you wanted to upgrade the sound system you’d need a new Head Unit, something like the Pioneer AVH-Z9200DAB would be nice, then you’d need new speakers, maybe the Kicker CSC65’s and the Kicker CSS654’s maybe, and an amplifier to top it all off, obvious choice here is the Kicker KXA400.4.
Total that all up and you’re looking at just under $2,000 before installation. You’d have to then also addon the aftermarket facia kit to fit the Pioneer AVH unit and any and all adaptors that you’ll need to get it all working. So, let’s say a clean $3,000 and an entire day to install it all.
The Kicker Key is for those who think maybe not to the above plan. Or for someone who wants to keep their dash looking factory (let’s face it, carmakers are actually doing some pretty attractive stuff with their factory 8” touch-screen infotainment systems now). The Key will happily and easily sit behind your factory head unit and provide all it’s A.I. driven smart DSP goodness.
That’s right, we’ve gone from multiple parts, $3,000 in parts and labour and an entire day to install to a single part, $359 and about 3-4 hours to install. All with your factory bits, no new hardware required!
How Can It Be That Good?
Since the days of Paul Walker’s neon-green Eclipse where everything was simple, car’s have become infinitely more complicated. Electronics have become so far advanced that we can legitimately put the same power that came from a boot-filling 5-channel monster amp into something smaller than a house brick. We can also get it to “listen to stuff.”
Kicker has advanced leaps and bounds ahead of the pack in terms of their electrical nerdiness and has patented some pretty cool stuff. Pretty cool stuff that allows things like the Key to exist.
Digital Sound Processing
Digital signal processing (DSP) refers to a bunch of different techniques for improving the accuracy and reliability of digital sounds. The theory behind DSP is quite complex, but basically, DSP works by clarifying, or standardizing, the levels or states of a digital signal. It makes things that sound bad, sound better.
Think of it like this; without DSP, you’ve got the screaming Goat videos. With DSP, you’ve got Cardi B’s new album.
Put simply, it controls how long it takes a speaker to make a noise. This allows you to direct sound and influence where it can be heard. As you’ll know, the majority of the sound coming from your system comes from the larger speakers, at your feet. Through Time Alignment, the Key is able to control the time it takes for the speaker to make the sound, lifting the sound stage to your ear-level.
This along with DSP is something that they Key has over almost everything else in the market. Nothing at this price point produces improvements at this quality. More power is just more power. The Key crafts and bends that power to deliver proper High-Fidelity sound in your car, for next to no cost.
Do I Need Anything Else?
About five-years ago car makers just went stupid with how they handle their cables, adapters and general electrics. Looking at some cars it’s still a bit of a learning process. However, with all the cars Bankstown Sound & Marine and Custom Car Audio have installed the Key into, no. The Key is really all you need for Livin’ Loud.
Can I Install It Myself?
Sure, you’re a strong independent woman who can do what she wants! There’s a great video from Kicker USA walking you through the installation process. If you’ve installed an amplifier successfully in the past, you should be able to get through this one.
That being said, it’s probably best to order yourself a Kicker Key 180.4 from Bankstown Sound & Marine and have our amazing install team put it in for you, just to make sure that it’s all good, as Kicker warranty doesn’t cover stupid.
Is It Worth It?
Honestly, this guy is all about the bass and all about loud! However, I’m putting one in my Colorado as soon as I can! After hearing the Kicker demo car – there nothing on the market even close to it!