Thill's 2014 WRX Audio Upgrade
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This is a discussion on Thill's 2014 WRX Audio Upgrade within the Electronics/Car Audio forums, part of the Interior Mods category; Most of you know the deal. The stock sound in our cars blows big time. Probably the worst sounding system ...

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    Thill's 2014 WRX Audio Upgrade

    Most of you know the deal. The stock sound in our cars blows big time. Probably the worst sounding system I have ever owned (and I have owned lots of cars). But nobody buys these cars for the audio system

    Car: 2014 WRX Silver Ice 5 door (base). I do have the underseat OEM sub, and it came from port with the car. I never would have ordered it, and the dealer negotiated the price as I did not want it.

    What I don't like about the current setup:
    - Sound is very flat and muddy. Anemic is the right word.
    - The stock HU has a tiny screen for a double din unit. Want something larger.
    - No app integration.
    - While turn by turn nav works from my iPhone 5S, I sometimes fumble around trying to look at the screen while driving (I don't use nav much, but do from time to time)
    - No HD radio tuner. My last HU had HD radio and most stations here broadcast in HD and sound quite good.
    - Lack of EQ options. I did find the hidden menu and messed with that and it helped a tiny bit, but the sound is still anemic and flat to me.

    Before I bought the WRX I actually scored a really good deal on some JL Audio C5-650's on a clearance sale and never installed them in my last car. So I have a good set of component speakers. Thing is about these JL's they need more power than a stock head unit (typically 15-20 watts RMS) to sound their best.

    I don't really want a lot of bass, and the JL's should really improve this. I can always add another sub later.

    I did my research and ordered the 20pin harness from SVXdc, the USB adapter, and the AXXESS steering wheel contolller. SVXdc is an awesome guy and a real asset.

    I also don't like the look of the OEM bezel and the trim kits I have seen out there. I prefer a more stock, integrated look, and SVXdc posted the USDM part number for the JDM style bezel and I ordered one from Ebay for $61 shipped. Probably more than I wanted to spend, but worth it to me.

    So now I am deciding on a head unit and 2 channel amp for the speakers. I want a double din, that has bluetooth integration, 6-7" screen, some iPhone app integration if possible, built-in HD radio tuner (this one makes it more of a challenge on a budget), good interface, etc. Eyeing the Pioneer models that are heavily discounted at Cruthfield right now. Several of them meet my criteria and one is $299 which is about what I wanted to spend. Max budget is about $400-450. I also would like RDS too.

    Open to options here.

    For an amp, I like the 80-100 watt RMS 2 channel MB Quart amps that go for $120-140 or so. I have not owned the brand before but know several folks who have and liked them and they get good feedback.

    But am also open to options. Budget is $150 or less.

    I am using a local installer that I have used before and he knows his stuff, does clean work, and is reasonable since I am a returning customer. He is going to apply sound deadening materials to the front driver and passenger doors as well.

    I am not touching the rear speakers for now due to budget and I just don't think I will get the bang for buck. I may add an amp down the road but want to stay on budget and see how the JL's and underseat sub sound first. Again, I am not a bass-head but have had subs before would be open to a tight 8-10" sounding sub.

    Here is a pic of some of the goodies (harness, Axxess controller, speakers, bezel):

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    Registered User degobah77's Avatar
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    Not sure about the base model, but my Limited sounded 100x times better just with a new HU install. However, I also added a small pick-up size sub with an underseat amp. But the HU amp alone drove the speakers to a level they just couldn't perform at with the stock unit.

    I see no reason to replace the speakers unless there's a difference between the trims.
    Not so much anymore.

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    Quote Originally Posted by degobah77 View Post
    Not sure about the base model, but my Limited sounded 100x times better just with a new HU install. However, I also added a small pick-up size sub with an underseat amp. But the HU amp alone drove the speakers to a level they just couldn't perform at with the stock unit.

    I see no reason to replace the speakers unless there's a difference between the trims.
    I am not sure if you got upgraded stock speakers with the Limited but I believe the stock speaker in the base model are only rated 20-40watts max. I just have a hard time believing they will be superior to the JL Audio speakers that I already purchased 8 months ago. I also think the stock tweeters sound pretty bad, but your right the head unit could be the root cause. At home I am an audio nut. I have built my own subwoofers for my home theater and have measuring equipment and EQ. I don't typically care as much in my car (meaning I don't want to spend $10-20K on a good system) and I wanted to keep my budget right at $1200 including installation.

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    Registered User skimd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thill View Post
    I am not sure if you got upgraded stock speakers with the Limited but I believe the stock speaker in the base model are only rated 20-40watts max. I just have a hard time believing they will be superior to the JL Audio speakers that I already purchased 8 months ago. I also think the stock tweeters sound pretty bad, but your right the head unit could be the root cause. At home I am an audio nut. I have built my own subwoofers for my home theater and have measuring equipment and EQ. I don't typically care as much in my car (meaning I don't want to spend $10-20K on a good system) and I wanted to keep my budget right at $1200 including installation.
    Struggling with this issue as well. Divided opinion on this all over. I like the way the Limited's steering wheel controls work. With the "Loudness Trick" and avoiding the radio (in favor of bluetooth or hard-wired) Sirius or Pandora over my phone and it sounds much better.

    Local installers by me are out of their minds. For them to upgrade the HU and do all the stuff that SvXdx has they want between $1,200 and $1,800.

    The more reputable Subaru audio guy thinks the stock HU sounds way better when the "$5 paper cone speakers" are replaced with good speakers, dynamat and an amp. He came in with an $1,800 estimate.

    Changing my mind now to upgrading performance before audio...

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    Registered User degobah77's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thill View Post
    I am not sure if you got upgraded stock speakers with the Limited but I believe the stock speaker in the base model are only rated 20-40watts max. I just have a hard time believing they will be superior to the JL Audio speakers that I already purchased 8 months ago. I also think the stock tweeters sound pretty bad, but your right the head unit could be the root cause. At home I am an audio nut. I have built my own subwoofers for my home theater and have measuring equipment and EQ. I don't typically care as much in my car (meaning I don't want to spend $10-20K on a good system) and I wanted to keep my budget right at $1200 including installation.
    That's exactly what I paid for my Alpine install - W530 HU, 300w sub, and an Alpine underseat amp. Local shop...pretty good work, sounds great.

    Looking to upgrade the HU soon, though, want a bigger screen and now they have 7"-8" screens that would look badass....should be plug n' play too, no installation charges this time!
    Not so much anymore.

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    Quote Originally Posted by skimd View Post
    Struggling with this issue as well. Divided opinion on this all over. I like the way the Limited's steering wheel controls work. With the "Loudness Trick" and avoiding the radio (in favor of bluetooth or hard-wired) Sirius or Pandora over my phone and it sounds much better.

    Local installers by me are out of their minds. For them to upgrade the HU and do all the stuff that SvXdx has they want between $1,200 and $1,800.

    The more reputable Subaru audio guy thinks the stock HU sounds way better when the "$5 paper cone speakers" are replaced with good speakers, dynamat and an amp. He came in with an $1,800 estimate.

    Changing my mind now to upgrading performance before audio...
    Wow. That is crazy epensive. My installer is charging me $75 for the headunit and Axxess steering wheel install and programming. Speaker install is $100 but that includes dynamat in the doors. I really cannot complain. $1800 still seems like a lot for speakers, an amp and dynamat, but I don't know what components you are looking at. I am buying all my own stuff and my installer is installing it for me. I like the guy, but his prices are close to double what I can find it online from a reputable store.

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    Quote Originally Posted by degobah77 View Post
    That's exactly what I paid for my Alpine install - W530 HU, 300w sub, and an Alpine underseat amp. Local shop...pretty good work, sounds great.

    Looking to upgrade the HU soon, though, want a bigger screen and now they have 7"-8" screens that would look badass....should be plug n' play too, no installation charges this time!
    The install won't be bad as long as you buy the harness SVXdc sells and if you want to maintain the steering wheel controls you have to buy a module for that. The harness is $12, the Axxess module is $58.

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    I almost wish I upgraded my HU first but I went the speaker route. When setting up the Axxess make sure to have the reprogram manual. Auto config found the basic controls but to have the phone controls I had to go button by button really not a problem. The only button I couldnt get to work was the voice control or the last of the phone buttons. Instead Its sett to mute for my Pioneer HU.
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    Quote Originally Posted by cflip2x View Post
    I almost wish I upgraded my HU first but I went the speaker route. When setting up the Axxess make sure to have the reprogram manual. Auto config found the basic controls but to have the phone controls I had to go button by button really not a problem. The only button I couldnt get to work was the voice control or the last of the phone buttons. Instead Its sett to mute for my Pioneer HU.
    Yes, my installer told me he has installed the Axxess on a lot on Subaru's but I will definitely mention the reprogramming manual. I read from others as well that they cannot get the voice commands to work from the steering wheel, but I really don't see myself using voice commands much and actually like the idea of the mute button on the wheel anyway.

    Thanks for the tips!

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    Registered User cflip2x's Avatar
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    You might be able to get the voice commands to work but it may depend on the HU. On my Pioneer its not really mute it says ATT and mutes it to almost zero but its nice when I take phone calls on my headset or when talking to others in the car. Only a few times since the summer has the controls not worked for me but maybe it was due to cold weather.
    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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    Quote Originally Posted by cflip2x View Post
    You might be able to get the voice commands to work but it may depend on the HU. On my Pioneer its not really mute it says ATT and mutes it to almost zero but its nice when I take phone calls on my headset or when talking to others in the car. Only a few times since the summer has the controls not worked for me but maybe it was due to cold weather.
    I am really leaning towards Pioneer for a HU. Which model do you have and are you happy with it? Thanks!

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    Registered User cflip2x's Avatar
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    I have the X5500BHS. I really like it. I got it before I got an android phone and at times I wish I got the 8500 for the extra USB port and possible mirroring but its not a big deal. I would really only want to mirror some waze. I really like the HU so far no real complaints. The only one would be since I have an ipod classic I can only skip a song once the album art loads so about 10sec for my classic faster from a phone guessing since its flash based.

    I havent set up a back up camera yet but I plan to run several cameras and a multiplexer so I dont have to adjust mirrors if I have to park near a curb
    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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    Quote Originally Posted by cflip2x View Post
    I have the X5500BHS. I really like it. I got it before I got an android phone and at times I wish I got the 8500 for the extra USB port and possible mirroring but its not a big deal. I would really only want to mirror some waze. I really like the HU so far no real complaints. The only one would be since I have an ipod classic I can only skip a song once the album art loads so about 10sec for my classic faster from a phone guessing since its flash based.

    I havent set up a back up camera yet but I plan to run several cameras and a multiplexer so I dont have to adjust mirrors if I have to park near a curb
    Thank you that is great feedback. I am considering both the X5500BHS and 3500BHS. I have other suspension mods I want to do so may get the 3500BHS..

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    Registered User degobah77's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thill View Post
    The install won't be bad as long as you buy the harness SVXdc sells and if you want to maintain the steering wheel controls you have to buy a module for that. The harness is $12, the Axxess module is $58.
    The original W530 install work already retained all the steering wheel controls, bluetooth stuff, etc. So the next Alpine should be simply unplugging the old one, moving connections over and re-installing
    Not so much anymore.

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    Quote Originally Posted by degobah77 View Post
    The original W530 install work already retained all the steering wheel controls, bluetooth stuff, etc. So the next Alpine should be simply unplugging the old one, moving connections over and re-installing
    Gotcha, that makes it easy.

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