How to make my car audio sound bettter?

Discussion in 'OT Technology' started by interstate, Feb 22, 2005.

  1. interstate

    interstate New Member

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    Ok, I have a 97 Subaru Impreza.. Stock speakers, I have an older JVC head unit now, but I'm probably going to buy a JVC Arsenal AR800 soon.. It sounds acceptable at lower volumes but when I push it up a bit, it gets really distorted.. I'd like it to play a littel louder and clearer... I'm thinking mostly I would just need to upgrade the stock speakers (2 6.5s in the front doors and 2 smaller speakers, unk size, in the back doors)

    I don't want a ton of bass... I do want it to be capable of good sounding bass, but I don't want the kind of system designed to show off bass.. i just want it to sound good...

    any suggestions on what equipment i would need?
     
  2. btimp

    btimp i am my other half

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    do a single 12" sub, sealed box. for the doors, go with some good components x-over for mid->high's
     
  3. P07r0457

    P07r0457 New Member

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    better components need an amp to sound good. Also, better components are usually designed to be used in-conjunction with a sub. Just because you have a sub doesn't mean you must have eye-dislodging bass. The right sub and a small monoblock (maybe 125-150W) will do much to even out the playing field. Components distort when you give them bass. plain and simple.
     
  4. veonake

    veonake OnT poster, OT lurker

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    12" is a little much for someone who says he doesn't want a lot of bass. (watch out before 04 comes in screaming how cone diameter isn't directly related lol).

    I would suggest a non-JVC head unit if you plan on replacing the HU anyways. I haven't read reviews the AR800 you are talking about, but I'm pretty sure you can do better.

    Next, go for a 10" or even 8" (10 is a good compromise though) sub in a sealed enclosure. I like JL, and they are good subs, but admittedly overpriced. Alpine Type-R is a less expensive alternative. In the middle (pricewise) is Image Dynamics. I have also heard good things about Boston Acoustics Pro series. I'm not sure what your budget is.

    Not sure why the guy above me mentioned "good component x-over" as 99% of all component speaker sets include crossovers and I don't think you are looking to get into custom crossovers. But, on the same topic, I don't think you have components stock. Probably coaxials. So, you'll be needing to buy coaxials to replace them unless you want to do some more custom work to install the tweeter in the doors someplace. Just throw away your rear speakers and concentrate on getting some decent coaxials for the front. Some personal favorite brands of mine (without getting very expensive) are Boston Acoustics, Polk Audio, Infinity. A lot of people like MB Quartz, I find them to be way too bright, this is personal taste (as if all of audio isn't lol).

    Now, probably more important than the speakers you buy will be the amplifier. Your sound sucks right now because your JVC headunit is providing shitty power to your speakers. For the sub you'll need a smaller monoblock since you don't need a lot of bass. I'd say 150-250watts maximum. Then, buy a quality 2-channel amp for your fronts. Something that provides around 90WattsRMS/channel @ 4ohms or more, depending on the efficiency of your new speakers and a low THD figure. Honestly, don't go cheap here. If you buy a $100 amplifier, it probably won't sound very good.

    I probably provided more information than you needed, but ask if you need more. /tangent.
     
  5. veonake

    veonake OnT poster, OT lurker

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    I really don't think the phrase "plain and simple" is appropriate for "components distort when you give them bass". That depends on a lot of factors, and many components are capable of playing without distortion into the bass range (30-80Hz or so). And yea, any non full range speaker (i.e. 99% of the ones in cars) will benefit from some support in the low bass range, but I'm not sure if components are designed with the sub in mind.
     
  6. interstate

    interstate New Member

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    damn, im a tech savy guy when it comes to most things, but ive never really been into car audio, so all the tech talk goes over my head...

    the reason i wanted that JVC is because it has an AUX-In for my iPod... I'm open to suggestions for better HUs, but it has to have an aux-in and be affordable.. i didnt really want to drop a ton of money on this, especially if i end up upgrading my speakers..

    i would prefer to stay away from a sub... im pretty sure i can get the sound i want out of a new HU and upgraded speakers.. i dont know how to describe it... my car is almost there as it is, i would just like there to be less distortion when i pump the volume and bass up a little.. could i get that out of just upgrading the speakers or would i need an amp/etc? seriously, im not looking for a mind blowing audio experience... just a little less distortion when the bass and volume go up... :hs:
     
  7. pharcyde183

    pharcyde183 Nissan by nature

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    Here dude this will be cheap......

    Kicker DX60 front coax, 50rms $45shipped
    http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&category=18799&item=5753002987&rd=1

    Refurb Planet Audio P-60.2S [email protected] (@12.8v, so you'll get prob 40rms a side)
    $42 shipped
    http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&category=18796&item=5753053774&rd=1


    so you have a complete setup minus headunit for $87...
     
  8. P07r0457

    P07r0457 New Member

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    uh, most aftermarket head units have aux-in.
     
  9. interstate

    interstate New Member

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    I've look through many different decks, most of them require an adapter.. I'd rather buy one that comes with aux-in built in, rather than spending $200 on a deck and then $30-$50 on an adapter...

    Do you have any suggestions for a better HU that is still affordable? I'm open to any suggestions.
     
  10. P07r0457

    P07r0457 New Member

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    what about the panasonic 8300u? or 8100 if you don't need mp3.
     
  11. interstate

    interstate New Member

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    A little more than I wanted to spend, but I'll look into it... What makes it superior to the JVC?
     
  12. P07r0457

    P07r0457 New Member

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    I have never used a JVC, so I'll let someone with more experience with them answer that question. However, I have heard that they're just cheaply built decks.
     
  13. interstate

    interstate New Member

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    I've been happy with mine (it's probably close to 6 years old)... I'm no expert but it sounds good and has held up well... :dunno:

    Would I really need an amp for the front speakers or would I be good to jsut replace them? I really don't know how this works and have no experience with it..
     
  14. P07r0457

    P07r0457 New Member

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    a good pair of components need an amp... I've heard great components that sound worse than the stock system when run only off the headunit.
     
  15. StealthMode

    StealthMode Active Member

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    I wish I my Alpine had an Input on the front, then I could plug my iPod in, but alas...I need an adapter. Oh well. :dunno:
     
  16. 04

    04 Guest

    LOL's you're so funny, calling me out any time you can, huh? :jerkit:
     
  17. P07r0457

    P07r0457 New Member

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    i put a JL 12W0 and a JL e1200 monoblock in my car and it's not much bass, but it really fills the sound out.

    It really depends on the sub/amp, imho.
     
  18. 04

    04 Guest


    One thing you might want to do is simply get an aftermarket amp for the current speakers you have. If you like the sound of the current speakers, but they simply dont get loud enough, that could solve the problem.

    However, it is also possible that your speakers are reaching their mechanical limits even with headunit power. If that's the case, then upgrading to an outboard amplifier wouldnt be a good idea, unless you also plan on adding a subwoofer or replacing the current speakers.

    A test you might want to try is turn down all the bass boosts, and then crank the volume up. Odd are if you're still getting distortion, a new amp will help out, but if the distortion goes away, you'll probably need speakers with better bass capability or a subwoofer.
     
  19. veonake

    veonake OnT poster, OT lurker

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    Ok, let me try to answer all of your questions. No, you cannot just get away with upgrading your speakers. They will still sound bad and will distort, especially off a JVC deck. Nearly all good HU's have an aux input, unless you are referring to one on the front of the deck instead of behind. However, I'm not sure if a quality deck exists that has an aux on the front, usually that is reserved for lower end stuff. Don't worry if it is on the back, you can always run a wire back there and have the input placed in the glovebox or somewhere else convenient.

    As for suggestions over JVC. Eclipse, Alpine, Pioneer Premiere. Those were listed in order of average price range as well. In your situation, I'd buy an Alpine because they are high value, and you can find them for much lower than MSRP on eBay. Some people like Blaupunkt as well.

    As far as the amp goes. Yes. If you want your speakers to stop distorting and sound MUCH better and be able to play things loudly, you NEED an amp. Otherwise, you will be in pretty much the same boat as before. If you buy a decent set of coaxials and an amp I think you will be fairly satisfied. However, you will probably feel like you are missing out on some bass. This is because, in general, until you get up into the really high end components (even then it's not the rule), coaxials don't put out strong bass. Sure, they should be good for upper bass (for things like tom-toms and drum kicks possibly), but not a whole lot below 100Hz.

    In short. Buy something better than JVC (Alpine, Eclipse, Pioneer, Blaupunkt, NOT Sony, Aiwa, Clarion is iffy, JVC, Panasonic) Kenwood is in the middle I'd say. Buy an amp. Buy an amp (~90 [email protected]) from companies like: Alpine, Polk, JL, Eclipse, HiFonics, Precision Power. NOT from Audiobahn, Rockford, Phoenix Gold, Profile, Sony. Buy speakers from Alpine, Infinity, Polk, maybe Kicker, Boston Acoustics, MB Quartz, Focal. not from Kenwood, Pioneer, JBL, Sony.

    These are all my personal opinions, and some people might be offended by the brands I listed and sound is subjective so make sure you listen to them first. Btw, when you listen to them, it's almost gaurenteed they are running off a seperate amp and not just a head unit.
     
  20. veonake

    veonake OnT poster, OT lurker

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    lol, you know you would have said something if I didn't add that disclaimer. You always do.
     
  21. 04

    04 Guest

    I really don't think the phrase "12" is a little much for someone who says he doesn't want a lot of bass. " is appropriate for all subwoofers. That depends on a lot of factors, for example many subwoofers are capable of having much longer excursion.
     
  22. 04

    04 Guest

    Dude, are you TRYING to piss me off or something? You are such a hypocrit. :uh: How can you post shit like that, but the NEXT post, you go and try and correct someone for the SAME thing. :ugh: Read your response below, pal.

    It's ok for YOU to correct people for being vague and general, but not anyone else?
     
  23. interstate

    interstate New Member

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    I like the pioneer decks, what is the difference between the Premier decks and the "reulgar" series? I like the Alpines as well, but i'd like a deck that comes with a remote and the only Alpine in my price range (its at the very top) that comes with a remote is alot more than i wanted to spend.. plsu id have to buy an adapter, which is another $30...

    Are there any other good brands to look at before I make a decision on a HU... anyhting in particular I should look for?
     
  24. 04

    04 Guest

    IIRC the Premier decks had a higher preamp output voltage, and a longer warranty. I could be wrong though.

    I've had a reasonably good experience with Pioneer decks, but does the one you are looking at have an AUX input? That is the main reason you're upgrading right?
     
  25. interstate

    interstate New Member

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    I just happen to like the Pioneer decks aesthetically... Plus they're a bit cheaper than Alpine.. I would really prefer a deck with an aux-in built in, instead of having to get an adapter like on the Pioneer and Alpine decks, which is why I was looking at that JVC.. I would actually prefer a deck with the aux-in on the back, because i can just route a cable from it... In all honesty, if I could get a good deal on a Pioneer deck i wouldnt mind getting the adapter.. I'd like an Alpine, but the one I like (CDA-9851, I believe) is quite a bit more than I wanted to pay.. I'm jsut trying to find the best balance to get a good deck for as cheap as possible.. I don't think I really need one that has a ton of features, but I don't want a cheap one I'll regret later if I decide to upgrade other components.. I really don't know much about car audio, and that makes it alot tougher to decide, because im not really sure what to look for..
     

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