A quick question for audio upgrade in 2011 WRX
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This is a discussion on A quick question for audio upgrade in 2011 WRX within the Electronics/Car Audio forums, part of the Interior Mods category; Hi all, Picked up my 2011 wrx a few weeks ago. Love the car so far, EXCEPT for the audio! ...

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    Question A quick question for audio upgrade in 2011 WRX

    Hi all,

    Picked up my 2011 wrx a few weeks ago. Love the car so far, EXCEPT for the audio! The speakers are too lame to be added in a car.

    And so I'm looking for options to improve the audio quality without changing the head unit, since it's too much hassle and I'd love to keep the bluetooth connectivity, etc.

    This is what I'm envisioning to do:
    - Swap all the six speakers to a better brand;
    - Install the Subaru subwoofer when it's ready for the 2011 model year.

    So my question is, will the upgrades above make a somewhat significant difference at all? I primary listen to classical, jazz, and occasionally some pop. Nothing too heavy on the bass side.

    I don't need a complete super hi-fi setup, so I'm not trying to aim too high. But the current speakers are just too bad to begin with.

    Thanks for any input!
    2011 Subaru WRX 5-Door
    2008 Mazda RX-8 GT

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  3. #2
    Registered User 06scoobyrex's Avatar
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    Id say replace the door speakers and run an amp to them and add an aftermarket sub and amp to it.... that should liven it up a lot... plus the audio will be a lot clearer...
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    Quote Originally Posted by 06scoobyrex View Post
    Id say replace the door speakers and run an amp to them and add an aftermarket sub and amp to it.... that should liven it up a lot... plus the audio will be a lot clearer...
    Understood. Great to know it'll work!

    Thanks for the response!
    2011 Subaru WRX 5-Door
    2008 Mazda RX-8 GT

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    Registered User 06scoobyrex's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by msharp View Post
    Understood. Great to know it'll work!

    Thanks for the response!
    No problem man... let me know how it turns out... do ya have any pictures of you 11?
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    Coming from someone who's done it, if your speakers/HU are the same as mine (Base model 2010 WRX), I swapped the HU and the difference in sound was huge.

    The stock HU is a steaming pile of crap, and you may be better served looking into changing that out first.

    I put a Pioneer Avic-x710bt in mine and bought tweeters and new sail panels but after the HU upgrade, I decided it was good enough to not need anything further.

    Obviously your definition of "good enough" may be different than mine, but I think the real culprit is the HU and not so much the speakers.

    P.S. - If you have Sirius or a media hub, neither will work with a new HU. The stock Subie Sirius antenna will, but the Sirius receiver itself will not.

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    Registered User Chader's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rpenna View Post
    Coming from someone who's done it, if your speakers/HU are the same as mine (Base model 2010 WRX), I swapped the HU and the difference in sound was huge.

    The stock HU is a steaming pile of crap, and you may be better served looking into changing that out first.
    The HU in the 2011's is different in at least one way because it includes the Bluetooth compared to the 2010. You can tell the difference in the button layout too.

    I don't know if the actual sound bits are any different.

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    Registered User mm05897's Avatar
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    The sound is horrible in the base 2011s, too.

    Here's my story. I kepth the factory head unit and first tried replacing all 6 speakers, adding a sub, and a 6 channel amp. All good stuff, e.g. Alpine, JL. Although the sound improved, it still just wasn't quite right. The junk factory head unit was to blame. After debating between a JL CleanSweep vs. a brand new head unit, I eventually opted for a new Kenwood Excelon. That was the magic fix. The system sounds amazing now. The bluetooth is built in to this new head unit, and functions better. People could not hear me loud or clear on the factory bluetooth.

    So, IMO, a reasonable and modest budget fix for the crappy stock system in the base 2011 WRX would be replacing the head unit and replacing all 6 speakers. You can always add an amp and a sub later if you feel you need it. However, you should see a huge difference by simply replacing the factory head unit and factory speakers.

    Good luck with it. The sound system was absolutely the only disappointment with my car. Everything else is awesome on this car.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mm05897 View Post
    The sound is horrible in the base 2011s, too.
    ....
    The sound system was absolutely the only disappointment with my car. Everything else is awesome on this car.
    I'm a newbie to the forum (literally just signed up 5 mins ago to research the audio/nave options in a potential 2011 wrx limited -- so this thread is an interesting read.

    I am not a huge audiophile -- but I'm not sure the idea of having audio that's a huge pile of crap is all that appealing.

    Several posts had thoughts on the audio system and mentioned "stock" stuff... Does the criticism/disappointment extend to the various upgraded sound system options..?

    I test drove a car at the dealer today and they mentioned a new removable tom-Tom system becoming available as an option. Sounded nice (bluetooth audio streaming, sirius, nave with traffic, etc.)

    I scoured the internet and couldn't find any specific opinions on it.. Maybe its too new?

    Would this HU suck too..? Maybe subaru just doesn't place high importance on a good sounding audio system..?

    For anyone curious here is a link to what i think is the sound/nave system that the salesperson described to me...

    http://blogs.edmunds.com/strategies/...an-option.html

    Anyone have any experience with it..?

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    Spoke with another salesman that supplied the rumor to the one I spoke with and it turns out they were just hypothesizing that there could be an update in 2012 model of the tomtom unit currently in several other 2011 Subaru models... Depending on dealer and customer feedback.. etc. etc.

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    First off, many thanks for all the info! I super appreciate this!

    Quote Originally Posted by mm05897 View Post
    ... The bluetooth is built in to this new head unit, and functions better ...
    mm05897, with the new HU, are you still able to use the steering wheel controls to adjust volumes and handle phone calls? I just wanted to make get a HU that doesn't break existing controls, etc.

    Also, could you disclose the cost for swapping the HU? I'm totally new to car modding and have no idea on how complicated it might be. Based on your input, I'm considering swapping the HU first and see how it improves.

    Many thanks!!

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    Registered User mm05897's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by msharp View Post
    First off, many thanks for all the info! I super appreciate this!



    mm05897, with the new HU, are you still able to use the steering wheel controls to adjust volumes and handle phone calls? I just wanted to make get a HU that doesn't break existing controls, etc.

    Also, could you disclose the cost for swapping the HU? I'm totally new to car modding and have no idea on how complicated it might be. Based on your input, I'm considering swapping the HU first and see how it improves.

    Many thanks!!

    The bluetooth controls on the steering wheel no longer work with the aftermarket head unit. However, they intalled some sort of adapter that allows the volume and channel/track buttons on the steering wheel to still work. So, just the bluetooth controls were lost. But the new head unit has built in bluetooth, and I simply operate it through the buttons on the head unit.


    The new head unit was $250, plus installation (about $120), plus the steering wheel controls adapter (about $90), plus misc. shop supplies. Total came out to right around $500.

    Should make a good difference for you. However, those speakers are standard size, and could be replaced with decent aftermarket speakers for less than the new head unit cost. So, I would take the plunge and do both.

    If you decide to do just one or the other for now, then swap out that head unit. It is complete garbage. Good luck.

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    Registered User Battousai311's Avatar
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    My 2 cents:
    Usually most factory decks are rubbish compared to after market and you can usually get better sound out of stock speakers simply by changing the deck (of course changing everything isn't necessarily bad). What I've noticed in my '11 is that listening to the radio sounds like crap. Regular radio stations sound like hardened **** thrown into an empty coffee can. Surprisingly though, it sounds 100x's better when I'm listening to my iPod. The crappy part being that I really enjoy listening to The Morning Sickness on the radio but it's wretched. I still have the under seat sub from my '04 and anyone who does stereo installs can patch it in to the stock system w/ ease (a much better option if you don't want a 10" thumping sub in your trunk, which is the new sub option on the '11's). One I get the sub in I'm hoping that the radio sound better, but I'm pretty sure it still won't. Long story short, seems to be bad only on standard radio but saying it's "bad" is being REALLY nice.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mm05897 View Post
    The sound is horrible in the base 2011s, too.

    Here's my story. I kepth the factory head unit and first tried replacing all 6 speakers, adding a sub, and a 6 channel amp. All good stuff, e.g. Alpine, JL. Although the sound improved, it still just wasn't quite right. The junk factory head unit was to blame. After debating between a JL CleanSweep vs. a brand new head unit, I eventually opted for a new Kenwood Excelon. That was the magic fix. The system sounds amazing now. The bluetooth is built in to this new head unit, and functions better. People could not hear me loud or clear on the factory bluetooth.

    So, IMO, a reasonable and modest budget fix for the crappy stock system in the base 2011 WRX would be replacing the head unit and replacing all 6 speakers. You can always add an amp and a sub later if you feel you need it. However, you should see a huge difference by simply replacing the factory head unit and factory speakers.

    Good luck with it. The sound system was absolutely the only disappointment with my car. Everything else is awesome on this car.

    What kind of speakers did you install? Did the tweeters fit in the original enclosure? I am looking to replace my speakers as well.

    Thanks.
    '11 Red WRX Premium
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    Registered User AmateurX's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Battousai311 View Post
    ...What I've noticed in my '11 is that listening to the radio sounds like crap. Regular radio stations sound like hardened **** thrown into an empty coffee can. Surprisingly though, it sounds 100x's better when I'm listening to my iPod...
    I've noticed the same thing! I have a USB drive plugged in, and a MP3 CD in the player, and both sound reasonably good. (that is, until the door panel starts to rattle...still need to get that fixed.)
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    Quote Originally Posted by mm05897 View Post
    The bluetooth controls on the steering wheel no longer work with the aftermarket head unit.
    Hey thanks again for the detailed response! I really appreciate it (and it's very helpful!!).

    I was exactly planning on keeping the cost low by just replacing one item at time, so head unit first. However, I'd really like to keep those steering wheel buttons functional. Not only because they're handy, but also I hate having something staying in the way without doing anything.

    So I guess I'll just do more research to see if any aftermarket head unit could be compatible with those steering wheel controls... or... Does anyone know if this is even possible at all?
    Thanks again!

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