Are you getting a bit tired of the stock stereo set that comes in your Harley? Well, we don’t blame you. Though there are many great things about owning a Harley Davidson motorcycle, almost everyone agrees that the stock stereo systems in these bikes are subpar at best.
But the good news is, you can easily upgrade the stereo if you have the money. With the best Harley stereo upgrade, you will be able to enhance your listening experience drastically. But it all depends on which stereo system you are buying in the first place.
Going with just about any off-the-shelf stereo is not a good idea here. You need to do proper research and understanding of how sound works to know which unit deserves your attention. But if you do not have the time, we are here to lend you a helping hand.
In this article, we will give you a quick rundown of everything there is to know about upgrading your Harley stereo system and getting the best listening experience out of it. So, without further ado, let us get started.
List of Harley Stereo Upgrade:
Top 10 Best Harley Stereo Upgrade Reviews
Upgrading the stock stereo system in your Harley Davidson is a big step. If you are an audiophile who wants a top-notch listening experience, you cannot just go with the replacement stereo. You want to go a step above what came originally with your bike.
Here are a couple of great options to consider when you want to upgrade the overall listening environment in your Harley Davidson motorcycle.
1. Jensen HD1BT AM/FM/WB/USB/SiriusXM Ready/Bluetooth Heavy Duty Radio
Speaking about the best Harley sound system, the brand Jensen always stands tall above the rest. The HD1BT, though a bit pricy, comes with many features that make it well worth the investment if you are looking for the best Harley speaker upgrade.
Installation of the unit is as straightforward as it can be. Since it does not require any optional mounting kit or handlebar diameter, there is absolutely no reason for it to not work in your motorcycle. With a power output of 50 Watts across four channels, you should find nothing lacking in your listening experience.
This unit also supports Bluetooth audio streaming through iPhone or Android devices for seamless transmission. The audio quality should be great regardless of what you play through the stereo. And if you want to fine-tune the sound quality, you will be able to use the equalizer to great effect.
The onboard radio of the unit is also pretty amazing. You get options like Auto-store, seek tuning, and RBDS to help you find the perfect radio channel and save it for an instant callback. It has a total dimension of 12 inches x 12 inches x 6 inches making it the perfect fit for your motorcycle.
This unit supports external preamp connections. As a result, you will be able to hook up an extra amplifier to it if you are not fully satisfied with the loudness of this device. It supports both WMA and MP3 playback, so you should have no issues listening to your favorite audio.
Both the front and rear chassis of the unit is waterproof. While the front unit is rated IPX6, the rear chassis is rated for IPX5, making it virtually impervious to water damage. All in all, if you want a worthwhile Harley audio upgrade, this is a great choice to go with.
- Premium audio output
- Supports fine-tuning radio frequency
- Supports both MP3 and WMA audio formats
- Waterproof construction
2. Aquatic AV MP5 Replacement Radio for Harley
Aquatic AV is a well-known brand that offers replacements parts for many motorcycles manufacturers, including Harley Davidson. This brand manufactures units with a simple design but prides itself in durability and construction quality. If you are looking for a quick Harley Davidson stereo upgrade, this unit is a great choice.
Those who own Harley Davidson Touring Motorcycles between the year models of 1998 to 2013 should have a good time with this device. Its plug-and-play system takes away all the challenges of replacing the factory stereo. And with a power rating of 45 watts across four channels, you should be all set to listen to whatever you like.
The unit comes with built-in Bluetooth along with its other connectivity options for pairing your smartphone. You also can access an equalizer that lets you fine-tune the bass and treble frequencies. With this function, you will be able to perfectly balance out your listening experience.
The size of this unit is only 9 inches x 6 inches x 4 inches making it a perfect fit for all Harley Davidson Touring models between the years 1998 to 2013. You can also attach a set of 2 volts preamps if you want to get a higher volume output out of this device.
For connectivity options, you get an auxiliary headphone output along with four speaker outs to get the perfect sound. In addition, it comes with a USB port that lets you charge your smartphone when you are on the road. This unit supports all digital media files that people commonly use, such as WMA and MP3.
Thanks to the Conformal PCB coating, this unit will last you a long time. It is IP55 waterproof, meaning; even when it is raining, you will have no trouble using it. Considering the combination of performance and price it offers, it is a fantastic choice as a Harley Davidson replacement stereo.
- It fits all Harley Davidson touring models between 1998 to 2013
- IP55 waterproof protects it against rain
- It comes with a charger port for your smartphone
- Bluetooth and Equalizer options
3. Rockford Fosgate PMX-HD9813 Replacement Radio with Smartphone Connection for 1998-2013 Harley-Davidson
The Harley Davidson sound system that comes with your motorcycle is pretty decent for casual users, but it is not the best choice for serious audiophiles. A small upgrade like the Rockford Fosgate PMX-HD-9813 can offer a huge improvement to your overall listening experience in that case.
Since it is a direct replacement of some select Harley Davidson models between the years of 1998 to 2013, you will not have to struggle with installation at all. It supports plug-and-play if you have the factory wiring harness, which means the moment you hook up this Harley Davidson stereo system, it will be ready for use.
This unit can deliver 50 watts of power to four speakers at 2 ohms without any issues. It also supports wireless Bluetooth Streaming, along with Pandora Internet Radio Control and SiriusXM. You also get a 7-band graphic equalizer and PEQ in addition to separate level control for the subwoofer to tweak the audio signal to your liking.
The chassis size of the unit is only 2.5 inches x 8.2 inches x 7.5 inches making it the perfect choice for a Harley Davidson Ultra Classic speaker upgrade. If you want to boost the audio signal and make it louder, you can attach a preamp using the 4 Volts preamp output in the unit, which promises zero clipping and distortion.
This unit is a perfect choice for audiophiles and enthusiasts because of the flexibility it offers in tweaking the audio signal. You get selectable audio crossovers with slope functions so that the sound feels smooth and noise-free. It can play any audio format without any issues.
This unit is IPX6 rated waterproof which means even if your motorcycle does not have a windshield for some reason, it will not be damaged by rainwater. This unit comes with a warranty of 2 years. So even if you do find something worth complaining about, you can get it replaced quite easily.
- Excellent build quality
- Selectable audio crossover
- It comes with a 7-band EQ and PEQ
- It supports a 4 volts preamp connection
4. BOSS Audio Systems 616UAB Multimedia Car Stereo
This is a unit that was originally designed for cars. But because of its slim structure and efficiency in power usage, it can serve just fine when you pair it up with your Harley Davidson motorcycle. The 616UAB by Boss Audio System is a worthy choice if you are on a budget but still want quality audio output and performance.
The unit boasts a simple and straightforward installation process requiring nothing other than a screwdriver as long as your dash has enough space to fit it. It outputs a total of 200 watts of power, 50 watts across four separate channels. What it lacks in loudness, however, it makes up for it by delivering crystal clear audio free of any noise or crackling.
You also get Bluetooth connectivity to pair it up with your phone. The built-in equalizer allows you to tweak the sound fine-tuning it to your exact liking. There are a couple of fantastic EQ presets to switch between. And if you want to modify the EQ curve yourself, you can do that too.
This unit has a dimension of 4.88 x 7 x 2 inches which makes it perfect for most Harley Davidson dashboards out there. And if you were worried about its loudness, don’t worry; it comes with a dedicated preamp output to hook up an amplifier of your liking to get even more punch out of it.
Furthermore, the unit features an auxiliary input and a USB port that can handle a flash drive of up to 32 GB size. You can also pair it with your phone using Bluetooth for seamless audio streaming. One thing to note, though, is that it does not come with any CD drive to playback audio.
This unit can playback both MP3 and WMA file formats without any issues. However, the major issue with the device is that it is not fully waterproof. It comes with a full three years of warranty protecting your investment in case something goes wrong with the device.
- Preamp output support
- Plenty of input options, including Bluetooth
- Built-in equalizer with excellent presets
- Supports mp3 and WMA digital media
5. JVC KD-X260BT Built-in Bluetooth, AM/FM, USB, MP3, Pandora, Spotify, iHeartRadio Digital media receiver
For our next option, we are going with the KD-X260BT by the brand JVC. This stereo for Harley Davidson might not be much to look at, especially when you look at some of the other options on this list. However, it comes at a great price and has all the features you would want when buying motorcycle stereo systems for Harley.
Installation of the unit is extremely simple and straightforward. You get a user manual with your purchase that includes all the instructions you would need to get it set up. The amplifier in the stereo system can dish out 50 watts of power across each of its four channels, netting to 200 watts of total RMS power.
The best part of the unit, however, is its seamless smartphone integration using Bluetooth. You will be able to stream audio, in addition to using it for hands-free calling, which is quite excellent for people who are frequently on the road. It also features a 13-band EQ to tweak the sound to your liking.
But if the equalizer does not seem enough, you also can use the audio crossover features to set high or low pass filters to get even more tuning out of the sound signal. The dimension of the unit, 9.69 inches x 10.47 inches x 4.49 inches, is perfect for most Harley motorcycles.
This unit also comes with a preamp output with a voltage capacity of 2 volts. So if you want to get more punch out of the stereo, you can hook up an amplifier of your liking. Its control panel is simple and easy to use, even for a new user. You can access most of its functions using the large rotary dial on the stereo.
Furthermore, this unit features a 1.5 Amp USB port to charge your smartphone when you are riding. It supports MP3, WAV, and WMA audio formats. With your purchase, you will get a free Alphasonik Earbud which also adds a lot of value to your investment. This unit comes with a 1-year warranty.
- Simple and straightforward design
- 200 watts of total power
- 13-band EQ and high/low pass filter for tweaking audio
- Supports WAV, MP3, and WMA audio formats
6. Pyle PLMRKT48BK Marine Head Unit Receiver Speaker Kit
If you liked the bundled design of the Stinger kit that we reviewed just now, but cannot afford it due to budget constraints, then this option by the brand Pyle might be a better fit. It also comes with a handy remote control though the price of the unit is extremely budget-friendly.
Since this unit comes with all the power wiring harness with your purchase, you will be able to get started with the installation right away. In addition, the clear and user-friendly instruction manual takes away all the hassle of working out the wiring method of such a device. It also supports Bluetooth for wireless audio playback and streaming.
With a total power output of 300 watts across four channels, this unit can get pretty loud. But if you are an audiophile, this is good news. As for audio adjustments, you will get the option to set the Bass, Treble, Balance, and Fader to get a fully customized listening environment.
The dimension of the unit, which is 1.97 inches x 4.26 inches x 7.01 inches is perfect for just about any Harley Davidson touring motorcycle out there. Since you can add an extra preamp with the stereo system, you will be able to get even more kick out of the included speakers if you want.
It also supports hands-free calling thanks to the built-in microphone. You can playback any audio files from external devices either via Bluetooth or using the built-in USB and Micro SD memory card reader. IT also has the capacity to read ID3 Tag from your digital files to give you information like Name, Title, or Artist.
Needless to say, because of its marine design, it is fully waterproof. So, you will not have to worry about a bit of rain when you are out on the road. Overall, it is a fantastic investment, and considering the low price tag of the unit, a worthy pickup for just about anyone.
- Includes speakers and wiring harness with your purchase
- Built-in microphone for hands-free calling
- It comes with a USB port and built-in card reader
- 300 watts of maximum power in four channels
7. Alpine CDE-175BT, Single-Din CD Car Stereo
The Alpine CDE-175BT has a lot of great things going for it. For one thing, it is a lot more affordable than many of the options on our list. But when it comes to sound quality, it shows no signs of compromise. Needless to say, it offers a lot of value for your investment.
Thanks to the inclusion of the wiring kit with your purchase, you will have no trouble setting it up. Installation should go smoothly if you follow the instruction manual. We were pretty happy with how easy it was to follow and could set up our device in under an hour.
This unit has a power output of 50 watts individually across four channels. So, the total power output of the unit nets to about 200 watts. Since it comes with a Bluetooth connectivity option, you will be able to pair it up with your smartphone quickly for easy audio playback.
The only real lacking of the unit is its equalizer option. It only comes with a basic 3-band eq which is fine if you are a casual listener. However, if you want a bit more control, you might feel disappointed. On the plus side, though, it has a CD drive which we rarely see in such units.
The 5 volts external preamp output in the unit was a pleasant surprise as that meant you could get a massive boost in volume if you want. This unit can playback both MP3 and WMA file formats. You can also use the USB drive to playback FLAC files if you want.
Furthermore, the unit comes with a waterproof chassis design to ensure you have a good listening experience when you are riding out in the rain. With a warranty period of one year, you can also be sure that it will last quite a while. For any budget-concerned individual, this is a fantastic addition to their motorcycle.
- It comes at a reasonable price
- Supports FLAC files playback via USB
- It comes with a CD drive
- 5-volt external preamp output
8. Stinger – Complete Plug and Play 350W Audio System for Select 1998-2013 Harley-Davidson Touring Motorcycles
If you are looking for the ultimate Harley Davidson speaker upgrade that includes speakers as well as the stereo system, and budget is not an issue, then the complete Audio System by the brand Stinger is a perfect choice. It is the quickest way to fully revamp your listening experience.
This unit supports complete plug-and-play installation and tries to make the task as easy as possible for you. You get a full kit with your purchase, along with all the wirings and brackets to set it up and an instruction manual to follow. The unit has a total power rating of 350 watts across two channels which means the sound you get out of it is undoubtedly loud.
For audiophiles and perfectionists who do not want to compromise with the sound quality, this one is the perfect investment. You also get options to adjust the crossover and apply high and low pass filters to tweak the sound to set the audio exactly to your liking.
The stereo unit in this package has a dimension of 10 inches x 12 inches x 15 inches. This makes it compatible with most Harley Davidson Touring models between the years 1998 to 2013. If you are not happy with the volume, which is unlikely, you can also add an external preamp to make it even louder.
Since this unit supports almost any audio format, you should not have any issues with the playback of audio regardless of the digital media format. If there is an audio signal, this unit can play it back perfectly. And combined with the speakers bundled in this package, your listening experience will be top-notch.
It is also waterproof, meaning you will not have to worry about rain damaging your device when you are out on the road. You get a one-year warranty for all the parts that come in the bundle. All in all, if you want a simple solution to enhance your listening experience, this is a great choice.
- Loud output thanks to 350 watts RMS power.
- It comes as a complete bundle
- Suitable for Harley Davidson Touring models between 1998 to 2013
- Waterproof construction
9. Plug-n-Play Upgrade Headunit for 2014+ Harley Davidson® Touring Motorcycles
For our next unit, we will again be looking for a unit aimed at audiophiles and serious investors. The Head unit HDHU.14 is a great choice for those who want to stop at nothing to get the best sound out of their speakers on the motorcycles. If quality is what you are after, it does not get better than this.
Since it is designed as a direct upgrade to the head unit that comes in your Harley Davidson 2014 and newer Touring bikes, installation is as easy as it could be. You get a self-adhesive bracket, four plastic collars, and all the wiring harness included with your purchase to make installation seamless.
With a power output of 25 watts in each of the four channels, the unit might not be as loud as you want as an audio enthusiast. However, for casual listeners, it is not bad at all. And since it comes with Bluetooth support, you will be able to stream audio or answer calls directly through this unit.
If you require louder sound, this unit supports 6-channel preamp outputs for exactly that reason. The front preamp output can support up to 4 volts of devices. It even has a 10-band graphic equalizer built into its functions to help you tweak and fine-tune the sound level and quality.
With a dimension of 9.69 inches x 10.47 inches x 4.49 inches, you should have no issues getting it to fit inside your bike’s dash. It comes with a 7-inch capacitive touchscreen display making it extremely easy to access all the different functions of the device. Naturally, this also increases its price a bit.
But you should have nothing to worry about when it comes to the overall sturdiness of the unit. It is designed to be IPX6 waterproof, so rain should be no match against it. You also get one year of limited warranty in case something turns out faulty with the unit.
- Excellent build quality
- It comes with a 7-inch touchscreen
- Six channel preamp output
- Designed for 2014 or newer models of Harley Davidson Touring motorcycles
10. Sony XAV-AX7000 6.95″Apple Carplay/Android Auto High Power Media Receiver
There are many audiophiles out there who consider Sony as a leading brand when it comes to electronics and sound systems. And With the XAV-AX7000 at your hand, you too will be a part of their community. Though it is a bit pricy, its quality is undoubtedly one of the best out there.
This unit comes with all the wiring harness and mounting brackets that you need to set it up right away. The instruction manual they include with your purchase has clear and precise instructions on what you should or should not do. If you have a basic idea about installation, you should have no trouble getting it set up.
With a power output of 45 watts RMS in each individual channel, this unit can deliver a maximum of 200 watts across four channels. So, the sound of the unit should be loud enough to please your ears. It also comes with Bluetooth support for seamless integration with your smartphone.
Not only does it support connection with an external preamp, but it also lets you control the subwoofer right from the head. To tweak the sound signal, you can use the 10-band equalizer that also has extra bass if you need it. Furthermore, the Dynamic Stage Organizer in the unit compensates when the speaker is positioned lower.
Its total dimension is 7.5 inches x 4 inches x 7.25 inches making it a good fit for your motorcycle. You do not require any extra modifications when you set it up. It supports most audio formats and can even playback FLAC files when you are hooking up a USB flash drive to its port.
This unit features a 6.95-inch touchscreen monitor that makes it easy to handle all the functions that it comes with. You also get a handy remote control to access the settings. The device comes with a warranty of 3 years which means you are pretty much set for a decent time.
- Premium sound quality
- Built-in 10-band equalizer
- Easy installation process
- Good warranty coverage
Things To Consider When Buying A Stereo Upgrade For Harley Davidson
Now that you have a decent grasp of your options, we can dive into some details. Sure, a couple of options can make things easier, but you still need to do a fair bit of research on the units before you commit to one.
Understanding the critical elements of the stereo system will help you make a better decision. With that said, here are a few things you want to look for when buying a stereo upgrade for your bike.
In most situations, the first thing you want to check when you are buying a stereo system for your Harley Davidson is how much power it can output. The power of a stereo directly translates to the loudness of the sound. And if the power is inadequate, the volume coming out of the speaker will not be loud enough.
Ideally, you should only settle for a stereo that can output at least 40 to 50 watts of power per channel. So, if the unit comes with four channels, its total power output should be 200 watts. Those who want even louder audio can always invest in a motorcycle amplifier down the line.
2. Bluetooth Connectivity
Bluetooth has made audio transmission a lot easier. And if the stereo that you are buying does not come with this feature, you will be missing out on a lot. Bluetooth connectivity allows you to pair your smartphone with the head unit and playback files directly from your phone.
And these days, getting a unit with Bluetooth connectivity does not cost anything extra. The products that we reviewed in our list all come with this option. If you are going with a different option, we suggest you find something that comes with decent Bluetooth connectivity.
3. Input and Outputs
The input and output options that you get with the stereo matter in dictating your overall listening experience. Typically, Harley Davidson stereos do not come with a CD drive. But you should make sure you get inputs like USB or card reader to get the most value out of it.
As for inputs, it depends mostly on your preference. Usually, Harley Davidson bikes can support up to four speakers, so if your head unit has four channels, it would be the ideal scenario. However, some people find two channels to be the perfect choice.
4. Audio Tweaking
The thing with audio signals is that they tend to change and sound different depending on your listening environment. When you hear the audio in your home speakers, it might seem fuller and brighter. But when you switch to your motorcycle speakers, it may seem dull.
The easiest way to fix this is to apply some mild tweaking yourself through the stereo. Options like equalizer, audio crossovers, etc., will allow you to quickly tweak the audio signal and modify it so that it sounds brighter, fuller, and even louder through your motorcycle speakers.
5. Digital Media Support
The most common audio formats that people play back in their stereo are MP3 and WMA. So, if your stereo supports these two audio formats, you should be all set. With support for these two file formats, you will be able to playback most of the audio files in your arsenal.
However, if you are an audio enthusiast and want to listen to files encoded using FLAC or WAV format, you might have to take a closer look. Not all units support these formats, and if that is a requirement, you need to check the product specification of the unit before you buy it.
6. External Amplifier
Though the basic power output that you get with most stereo upgrades should be enough for casual listeners, some may find it lacking. If you are a true audio enthusiast and want to hear the Boom coming out of your speakers, you need to invest in the best Harley replacement radio.
However, if your unit does not support external preamp connections, investing in an amp will not give you any results. This again depends on the user preference, and if you are satisfied with the volume level and sound quality, you do not need to think too hard about this factor.
7. Waterproof Rating
Since you are investing in a stereo for your motorcycle, it makes sense that you invest in a unit that comes with a decent level of water resistance. Without water-resistant properties, you will not be able to ride your bike when it is raining outside.
And since there are many motorcycles stereo out there that has waterproof design, you should not limit yourself to getting something that can be damaged by water. It also improves the overall durability of the device, which in turn translates to a better value in the long run.
8. Built-in Microphone
If you want to get the most value out of the stereo in your motorcycle, consider investing in one that comes with a built-in microphone. Not only will it allow you to answer calls, but it will also let you use features like Apple CarPlay or Siri when you are riding on your bike.
With this function, you will be able to use the voice control and navigation features from your phone through the speaker and get directions as you are riding without having to pull over. Though this seems like a small element, it can drastically change your overall experience with the stereo.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Should I buy an external amplifier for Harley Davidson?
It depends. If you find that the stereo does not provide enough volume, investing in an external amplifier is a fantastic idea. With an external amp, you can boost the audio signal while applying high or low pass filters and some minor equalization to the signal to get a fuller sound out of your stereo system.
2. Why should I replace my Harley factory stereo head unit?
The stock stereo head in the Harley is enough for most casual listeners. But for, those who want to get better sound out of the system should consider replacing the head unit. Aftermarket Harley stereo heads offer a lot more options than what comes with stock ones, including more power and more adjustability.
In addition, a new stereo head unit typically comes with better inputs and outputs and also allows you to hook up external preamps for better audio output. For any audiophiles and listeners, replacing the factory stereo in their Harley is a good idea.
3. What are the benefits of upgrading Harley speakers?
By upgrading your Harley speakers, you will be able to compliment your new head unit perfectly. The stock speakers on most Harley Davidson motorcycles sound a bit thin compared to aftermarket options. So, upgrading speakers is always a good idea when you are going for a stereo upgrade.
4. Which Aftermarket Speakers Are Right for My Harley?
There is no easy way to say which aftermarket speaker is right for your Harley. You need to take a look at the stereo and see its power output. Typically, you can find the right ohm value for your speaker listed in the specification of your head unit.
Other than that, you should look at the size of the tweeter and subwoofer of the speaker. Their size dictates the overall clarity and depth you get out of the speakers.
5. How much does it cost to upgrade my Harley speaker system?
Thankfully, these days, you can find many decent stereo systems for Harley at an affordable price. However, they might not be able to match the level of performance that you would get out of premium options.
If you are on a budget, you should be able to find a decent unit within a price range of 100 to 200 dollars. However, once you go above the 500 dollar price point, you will get much better quality. In the end, it comes down to how much you are willing to spend for a premium listening experience.
6. Should I buy weatherproof and waterproof Harley speakers?
Yes. When you are buying a new set of speakers for your Harley Davidson motorcycle, you should always make sure that it is water and weatherproof. Since motorcycle speakers are always exposed, rain or wind can easily damage them. But if your unit is water and weatherproof, it will not be damaged as easily.
7. How do I wire an aftermarket head unit on my Harley?
Since all head units are different, their installation process can vary drastically. You should obviously start with going through the owner’s manual. It should contain clear and concise step-by-step guidelines on how you can install that specific head unit in your motorcycle.
8. How can I make my Harley sound system louder?
If you are not happy with the audio level coming out of your stereo, there are a couple of different ways to improve it. The first and easiest way to get more volume is to get better Harley Davidson audio upgrades. If you are going with a high-powered stereo, it should be able to output much more volume.
Other than that, investing in an external amplifier is also a solid option. If your stereo comes with tweaking features like an equalizer, you can also tweak it to get a bit more volume out of it. You can also invest in a better set of speakers that are louder than your old ones.
When you finally upgrade the stock stereo in your Harley to a decent unit, you will immediately notice the improvement. The bass will be deeper, and the highs will be smoother. And for any audiophile, this improvement is often worth the cost.
We hope our article on the best Harley stereo upgrade could help you find the right sound system for your motorcycle. Good luck!