Stereo upgrade on the cheap
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This is a discussion on Stereo upgrade on the cheap within the Electronics/Car Audio forums, part of the Interior Mods category; I have a 2012 WRX sedan and have been thinking about upgrading the stereo. I went to a local car ...

  1. #1
    Registered User Doctor Jeff's Avatar
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    Stereo upgrade on the cheap

    I have a 2012 WRX sedan and have been thinking about upgrading the stereo. I went to a local car stereo place in Omaha and found JVC and Pioneer units that I like for $350-450. Here's the problem - the estimate for the install with accessory kits for SWC and Sirius was over $600! That seems crazy to me just for a head unit.

    So here are the options, interested in advance to get the most bang for the buck. Btw I am a music fiend - old school rock and roll, alternative rock and occasionally jazz - but not an obsessive audiophile. What I would like from the stereo update is better sound definition, not more bass, etc. Must have BT phone and stereo streaming, must work with SWC's. Sirius +\-. I actually like the functionality of the stock HU, just not the sound.

    I apologize in advance if this is found in an older post, but I didn't find this specific topic with a bit of looking.

    1. Replace speakers. Seems like the cheapest and easiest upgrade. I've read the stock speakers aren't bad with a good HU though.

    2. Replace HU but do install myself. I'm pretty tech savvy, have done some aftermarket installs to stereos in other cars but I don't know about this one. The SWC connections and USB seem a little intimidating. If I understand correctly, a HU like the Pioneer 5500 plus an inexpensive SWC harness should be all that's needed for a basic install?

    3. Replace HU, using a big box store with a cheaper install. No Sirius, as I can stream that from my iPhone anyway.

    Thoughts?

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  3. #2
    Registered User RichD514's Avatar
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    There are some hidden options you could try accessing first:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X3wD...e_gdata_player

    Aside from that, I'd say go ahead and change the HU yourself. There are tons of write-ups and how-tos on here and on YouTube.

  4. #3
    Registered User AngryBird's Avatar
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    ^^^ Sweet Video. I'm going to try that. I'm very disappointed in the quality of sound from my 13 WRX. The only vehicle I ever bought with worse sound was my 1997 Jeep.

    Anyways what about replacing all the speakers and using high level inputs from the stock head unit and an amp to power them? I see a lot of people telling me to change the HU but I really don't want to do that and have to get adapters for sirius and steering wheel controls. I've never changed a HU and had it make the speakers sound better. In my experience it always makes them sound "tinny" and "boomy" and kills the midrange substantially. Maybe that isn't the case with the WRX because Subaru uses good speakers with a crappy head unit for some reason.
    I do my best proofreading right after hitting submit...

  5. #4
    Registered User AngryBird's Avatar
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    What about something like this? Maybe someone with some experience with these small amps can chime in?

    Amazon.com: Alpine KTP-445U 4-channel Power Pack Amplifier: Car Electronics
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  6. #5
    Registered User degobah77's Avatar
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    I believe the stock HU is a Clarion model and puts out about 15wx4 channels. The stock speakers are rated at least 40 watts from what I read. This is for the "Premium" audio system, don't know if there's another stereo trim.

    Anyways, the stock speakers handle mids and highs just fine IMO with a better amp and crossover - I had them install a small sub to handle LFE and the difference in sound quality is astounding. I'll only replace the speakers if they blow at this point.

    The first thing I did to my WRX was replace the HU but I had a local small business do it as time is money and I don't have time or space to do such work anyways.
    Not so much anymore.

  7. #6
    Registered User Captain Obvious's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by degobah77 View Post
    Anyways, the stock speakers handle mids and highs just fine IMO with a better amp and crossover - I had them install a small sub to handle LFE and the difference in sound quality is astounding. I'll only replace the speakers if they blow at this point.
    Any additional information on the amp and crossover you went with?

    I am also on the fence, don't want to spend a ton of money, like the option to have better sound, but not really willing to toss a ton of money at it. Better things to do with my $s.

    Personally, my background road noise is so loud, I can't even use the bluetooth, so keeping that functioning is low priority when considering getting a new HU.

  8. #7
    Registered User Doctor Jeff's Avatar
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    I adjusted the EQ using the method described above and it did seem to help significantly. I am still disappointed by the lack of definition of the sound. The radio sound is horrible, much worse than Bluetooth streaming from my iPhone.

    I am leaning toward getting one of the double-DIN JVC or Pioneer models and installing myself. I think I will wait til the temperature gets above freezing though, as my garage is too small and dark to work in.

  9. #8
    Registered User cflip2x's Avatar
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    I Support ClubWRX
    a stereo swap is easy shouldnt take that long. a lot more prep work with soldering the wiring harness.
    2012 WRB 4DR | SPT Exhaust | Short Throw | Rally Armour | WC Lathe Werks Custom TI Knob | Kartboy Bushings | Stoptech Brake Lines | JBK Elements DRL | STI HID Retrofit | XB LED Angel Eyes | GrimmSpeed Lightweight Crank Pulley

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  10. #9
    Registered User AngryBird's Avatar
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    So how do they handle Steering wheel controls, Bluetooth, and Sat Radio with a new HU? I haven't changed an HU in 10 years and back then none of that was really a concern...

    Also does anyone else have a rattle from the passenger door when they turn the volume up? Its really quite annoying.
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  11. #10
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    Mine sounds like a rattle from both front doors. I was considering using some weather foam gasket on the back of panels to help with this.

  12. #11
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    The easiest thing to do if you like the OEM HU is to keep it. Feed it into an amp and new speakers and call it a day. You could go into a really nice processor like a bit one or 6to8 or something similar and if you know how to tune it it would be great.

    SWCs are easy to keep. There's a few modules that will handle this and every aftermarket radio I can think of will accept SWC inputs.

    The rattle in the door sounds like a harness hitting the plastic. I have it in my passenger side front and driver side rear door. I'm going to look at that today and I'll let you know what I find.

    Sent from my Moto X using Tapatalk

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