J.W. Speaker LED Headlight Installation and Review

Jun. 09, 2016 By Jaime Hernandez, Photos by Jaime Hernandez and Courtesy of Manufacturer

Round headlights have a classic look that dates back to the earliest production vehicles on the road.  The 7-inch round in particular can be found on some of the most iconic 4x4 vehicles around—like the Willys Jeep, Ford Bronco, and Toyota Land Cruiser to name a few. There are also plenty of vintage 4x4 pickups and cult following sport utility vehicles, like the Scout, that share the same headlight. 
Although it’s a good-looking design, one the biggest drawbacks with the old 7-inch incandescent is its poor lighting output—it’s marginal at best. Sure you can do a halogen headlight upgrade, but with today’s lighting technology at reach, many automotive enthusiasts are opting for better and more efficient lighting power –- we’re talking LED headlights with classic looks.

The J.W. Speaker Model 8700 Evolution 2 LED Headlight is offered with Black or Chrome Inner Bezel.

An aftermarket manufacturer that does it well is J.W. Speaker.  Their new Model 8700 Evolution 2 LED headlight is a direct 7-inch replacement for Jeep CJ and TJ, early pickup trucks and sport utes—basically anything with a 2D1 or 7-inch round headlight.

The Model 8700 Evolution 2 features performance high-output LED lighting technology matched with an energy efficient design.  The new Evolution 2 is an improved version of their original LED headlight. It’s brighter, with an effective lumen output increase of more than 50%! Here are the numbers:

2,610 Raw Lumen | 1,150 Effective Lumen Output (High Beam)
1,770 Raw Lumen | 750 Effective Lumen Output (Low Beam)
- Both with 5000K LED color temperature, equivalent to daylight.

 More lighting power and better optics for J.W. Speaker’s NEW 7-inch Model 8700 Evolution 2 (left) give drivers a visible improvement over the original Model 8700 (right).

J.W. Speaker not only increased the lighting output of the Model 8700 Evolution 2, the company re-engineered the beam pattern for improved performance. These new 7-inch LEDs feature the all-new ComfortLite high beam, which deliver better illumination above the horizon and more penetration down the road. 
Unlike other cheap and poorly constructed LED headlights on the market, J.W. Speaker LEDs surpass DOT & Transport Canada requirements. They’re also designed and Made in the USA.


Replacing a 7-inch round headlight is pretty straightforward.  There are typically three screws holding the headlight in place with a headlight ring.  To get to this part of the assembly, you may need to remove a light bezel like we did on the early Ford Bronco shown. On other models, you may need to remove the entire grill to get to the headlights. The best thing is to reference your owner’s manual for tips on servicing headlights.

After removing the stock headlight we did a quick comparison of the Model 8700 Evolution 2 and a standard 7-inch round. The J.W. Speaker uses a Die-Cast Aluminum housing, while the standard 7-inch round uses a glass housing. The stronger aluminum construction has the edge in durability.

Another nice feature to the Evolution 2 die-cast aluminum housing are the built in cooling fins. Aluminum is a great material for getting rid of heat (also known as heat dissipation). Powerful LED lights produce heat created by the internal circuit board and processor. To extend the life of the LED diodes, it’s important to keep that heat at bay. The fin design J.W. Speaker uses increases the cooling surface area dramatically, making them much more efficient and cooler than if it was a flat surface.

The three-prong H4 plug found on early trucks, Jeeps and sport utility vehicles is available on the Model 8700 Evolution 2, making it a true plug-n-play solution.  They’re also offered with an H4 to H13 adapter.  If you own a Jeep Wrangler JK, you’ll want the J.W. Speaker Model 8700 Evolution J LED Headlight with anti-flicker.  It will save a lot of electrical headaches, and the Half-halo looks pretty cool too (see J.W. Speaker for more info on the Evolution J).

During the installation we discovered a nice built-in alignment feature that takes the guesswork out of keeping the headlight straight during assembly. The built-in alignment blocks fit perfectly into the notches found on the factory retainer bucket.  Not only do they make installation super easy, they also help keep your headlights from rotating during bumpy off-road excursions.

In our application, the Chrome Inner Bezel Evolution 2 was a good match for the classic early Ford Bronco. The hard-coated Polycarbonate lens used on the Evolution 2 is resistant to rock and debris on the trail, making it a perfect fit for off-road applications. The lens also has a nice curvature that pays tribute to classic lines and aerodynamics.
Here you can see the J.W. Speaker Model 8700 Evolution 2 LED headlight (left) and the standard halogen 7-inch round headlight (right) installed. 

Updating your old 4x4 rig to the latest LED headlight technology is a breeze with the J.W. Speaker Model 8700 Evolution 2. Not only do they look great, but they also increase the forward lighting power and visibility at night with minimal electric draw. The light put out by the Speaker LED headlight is much brighter than the standard halogen 7-inch (see below).  

They also have a nice beam pattern that spreads wider and further down the road.  They’re not obnoxious, but they are bright. During our six-month test, we’ve never had any oncoming traffic flash their lights because our lights were piercing their pupils. The daylight color temperature of 5000K on the Evolution 2 also looks more modern than the stock 7-inch halogen, which has a color temperature of 3000K.
We really enjoy the high beam on the Model 8700 Evolution 2. It’s brilliantly bright, and has a nice spread and depth to it. Driving up and down curvy mountain roads is much easier on the eyes now with these brighter headlights.

In the off-road environment they work awesome. We’ve been rocking and bouncing them around forest roads, Moab, and even the desert during King of The Hammers.  It’s fair to say they’ve seen their fair share of dirt, mud, snow and rocks. We’ve had nothing but fun and zero issues with the J.W. Speaker LEDs.

During that same time we have encountered some one-eyed Jeeps running cheap knock-off LED headlights. For some reason the cheap-o models just can’t take the bumps and tend to trip the electrical system—causing circuits to go haywire.  This has made us appreciate our J.W. Speakers even more. They haven’t given us a lick of trouble and just keep working day in and day out.

If you’re in the market for quality, street-legal LED headlights that deliver a powerful light on and off-road, look no further than J.W. Speaker. They’re not cheap—but you’ll get more than what you paid for.

J.W. Speaker

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