Car Stereo Upgrade

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by Z6128, Apr 14, 2008.

  1. Z6128 macrumors regular

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    New Jersey
    #1
    I need some input guys. I recently bought a new car and don't like the stock speakers. I want to upgrade all of my speakers (4 of them) but I dont want to change the head unit. I'd be worried that if I got a new head unit it would be stolen or my car vandalized because of it. Also, my car has OnStar which I was told increases the price of installation and the size of my factory head unit appears to be a double DIN but I am not completely sure. so my point is i do not want to spend $500-$1,000 on a car stereo system so my question is will i notice a difference between only upgrading the speakers?

    btw, if it helps i'd be installing 4 kicker brand speakers
     
  2. LumbermanSVO macrumors 65816

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    #2
    Yes, you'll most likely notice a difference with just the speakers.

    There are dash kits that will take the opening for your factory radio and turn it into a DIN(standard size) opening. There are also kits to make the OnStar work with the aftermarket radios.
     
  3. adk macrumors 68000

    adk

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    #3
    I hate to sound cynical, but you probably won't notice that much of a difference with kicker speakers. I'd strongly recommend looking into some Polks. A great set of four will probably run you about $200.

    If you don't want to change your head unit, just remember that the sound that comes out of the speakers will only be as good as the power you put into it. Since you have OnStar, I'm assuming you have a GM and therefore an AC Delco stereo.

    If you haven't been yet, check out crutchfield.com. You can put your make and model into the site and it will tell you what fits and what doesn't.
     
  4. squeeks macrumors 68040

    squeeks

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    #4
    my buddies car got broken into just so they could steal his DUAL headunit and amp lol...well i say broken into..he left the doors unlocked
     
  5. twoodcc macrumors P6

    twoodcc

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    #5
    if you buy nice speakers, then you'll notice a difference. also, an amp with those speakers would be even better.
     
  6. LumbermanSVO macrumors 65816

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    Denton, TX
    #6
    I built high-end car stereo's for several years, both for SQ and SPL. Even helped set a SPL world record once.

    The speaker is a pure mechanical device, just like any mechanical device, different speakers have different characteristics. Will the OP notice a change when he swaps his speakers? Yes. Will that change be good or bad? Notice my first post didn't lean either direction. Only the end-user can make that decision. Assuming nothing looney is going up upstream the speakers will have the biggest effect on the sound. Unless his speakers are horribly inefficient he likely won't notice much of a difference, outside of volume, by adding an amp. He would be better off adding damping material to his doors, and maybe the roof too.

    GM, like many car companies, could have easily tailored the output of their head unit to their speakers/car and changing the speakers may have a negative effect, unless you go with something very similar to what GM put in the car. Buying Polk or Pioneer or Alpine won't change the output of the head unit.

    If the OP likes the Kickers and GM hasn't done anything wonky then he will probably like the end result. If GM did some goofy stuff then he will probably want to swap out the head unit.

    These days interfacing with OnStar is a trivial task. The OnStar people are very friendly when you push the button and tell the operator you were just testing the system. Been there, done that.

    Here are some fun links:
    http://www.carsound.com/artman2/publish/slocum/Listen_And_Learn_277.shtml
    http://www.carsound.com/artman2/publish/slocum/Adaptation_263.shtml
    http://www.audiogroupforum.com/csforum/showthread.php?t=6330

    I found these articles while trying to find an article Carsound did about factory head units.

    My advice: Swap out the factory speakers for your kickers. If it sounds worse, start looking into an aftermarket head unit.
     
  7. LumbermanSVO macrumors 65816

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    #7
    I found the article I was looking for.
     

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  8. Z6128 thread starter macrumors regular

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    Jun 20, 2005
    Location:
    New Jersey
    #8
    thanks! my plan at the moment is to just get the speakers and see how they are. if im happy with them connected to the factory head unit i wont change anything, if not, then ill decide what to do. while i was in the shop i compared a few different speakers, mainly the kicker and alpines type s and the kicker was the best sounding. granted, all the speakers are connected to a powerful head unit but imo, anything is great improvement over the factory speakers.
     
  9. puckhead193 macrumors G3

    puckhead193

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  10. twoodcc macrumors P6

    twoodcc

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    #10
    i think you'll be pleased
     
  11. Sdashiki macrumors 68040

    Sdashiki

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    #11
    yes, anything over stock is generally going to sound better. When you compare paper cones to actual composite materials, the difference is quite clear.

    however, be mindful of the RMS wattage of your new speakers.

    all speakers have a perfect range of wattage, where they are the most efficient in their ability to reproduce sound with little distortion.

    more expensive speakers typically require more watts. and if you cant throw enough watts at them to make em happy, you might as well stay with stock speakers.

    if you arent using an external amp, and are using the radio's internal one, make sure you know its RMS rating and try to match the speakers to it.

    then again, you can take 100watt RMS speakers and hook them up to a 22watt RMS headunit and still get kick ass sound, but its just not gonna be the best your speakers can do.
     
  12. LumbermanSVO macrumors 65816

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    #12
    The RMS rating has nothing to do with volume output. The sensitivity and power compression do. The RMS rating has more to do with mechanical/heat failure. The price of the speaker also has nothing to do with volume output.

    If he never wants to buy more power and doesn't want to sacrifice SPL then listening to speakers with a higher sensitivity would be the way to go. He would also want to look at making the vehicle quieter.

    Doubling the amount of power will only net you 3 db's, unless you start running into power compression, then you'll get even less from it. It takes 10 db's for it to sound twice as loud as before. So going from 22-25 watts to 100 will only get him about 6-7 db's and a little more dynamics.

    It still sounds like his bet is to just follow his current plan.

    I have 2 IDMax 12's in my Mustang. The RMS rating on them is 1000 watts each, people regularly put 2000 to them. I have them in a 2.5 Cu.Ft. sealed box. With only 50 watts each they are loud enough to make my car rattle and hear it in my house. If the RMS power rating was any indicator I would barely be able to hear them in my car.

    For awhile I powered them off the rear channels of a Pioneer deck(DEH-P4000 there is a LPF for this in the deck) at 20 watts each they were loud enough to over come the road noise in my car with NO interior, an exhaust that ended right under the firewall and the windows down at highway speeds. Again, the RMS rating has nothing to do with overall output.

    I've also had them at 1200 watts (600 each) and it was far louder than anything I'll ever need.

    PS, The only reason I'm throwing this out is because I've seen many people who were convinced that they NEEDED this or that for good sound. After getting them exactly what they were asking for they were disappointed and only then were they willing to listen to what we were saying. Telling someone they need a bunch of power or expensive speakers when they just want a small improvement is like telling your grandma she needs a Mac Pro to check her Email.

     
  13. Z6128 thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2005
    Location:
    New Jersey
    #13
    the speakers are going in a 2007 saturn ion 2. my goal is to spend not that much money on a decent set of speakers. i do not expect amazing bose or infinity or any superior speaker out of what i would be getting. my problem with the stock speakers is that they are not very good at putting out mids and highs very clearly. ive changed the eq settings to try and fix it would nothing made it sound right. my price quote after tax and installation is $310 which is around my price range. i dont want to do anything myself as i have no idea what im doing and do not want to be removing panels on my new-er car.
     
  14. LumbermanSVO macrumors 65816

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    #14
    Go for it and let us know how well you like it. I bet you'll be plenty happy.
     
  15. ghostee macrumors 6502

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    Feb 25, 2004
    Location:
    Villa Park, IL
    #15
    New speakers should make a world of difference. Just make sure your head unit or stock amp is rated for the same amount of ohms as the new ones. If you decide to upgrade the head unit, look into models that have a removable face. That should hopefully deter any would-be thieves. There are a ton of single-din ones available, and JVC even has a double-din 7" removable touchscreen dvd/gps model coming out soon (KD-NX7000).
     
  16. Sdashiki macrumors 68040

    Sdashiki

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    #16
    All I said about RMS was to match speakers to the head unit.

    No one said anything about higher RMS meaning anything at all.
     
  17. LumbermanSVO macrumors 65816

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    #17
    My point was that you don't have to give them anywhere near the RMS rating. You can easily go way over or way under and still be happy. Getting someone to focus on that one little spec without knowing the rest wont help them one bit.

    Is the speed of a the processor in a computer the only spec people should look at when buy a new computer?

     
  18. mc3s macrumors member

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2008
    #18
    New speakers COULD make a sizable difference but from my experiences I wouldn't expect it to. I do agree that getting new head unit with a removable face is most likely your best option. A new head unit = pre amp outputs and lord knows that more power to your speakers will bring you full and clearer sound. If you're looking to go cheap I might suggest you head to Walmart (who would have thought?) for Pioneer speakers and head unit and possibly Best Buy for an amp and wiring. Certainly not the best setup in the world but I just can't see getting much out of new speakers if your head unit is around the standard 55x4 - 65x4 range.

    I should also point out that Pioneer makes many fair sets of 3 channel speakers which should help out with your low - mid and high ranges.
     

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