New head unit or new speakers?
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This is a discussion on New head unit or new speakers? within the Electronics/Car Audio forums, part of the Interior Mods category; Which would improve the stock stereo in an 02 WRX sedan? I've heard both opinions, the stock speakers are junk ...

  1. #1
    Registered User KrustyTC's Avatar
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    New head unit or new speakers?

    Which would improve the stock stereo in an 02 WRX sedan? I've heard both opinions, the stock speakers are junk and the stock head unit is junk.

    I want to improve the sound of the stock system but don't want to replace the speakers only to find that the stock head was the problem, and vice a versa.

    Any input would be greatly appreciated.

    I'm sure in the long run I'll end up replacing both. But I would like to make the wisest investment first.

    thanks,
    KrustyTC

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    Registered User Kush's Avatar
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    Replace the speakers first. You can have the best head unit / amp in the world, but with cheap speakers it'll always sound like crap. In other words, a better amp with cheap speakers will sound much worse than the stock amp with good speakers.

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    I have a TR...and my head unit really produces much cleaner sound....but they speakers cannot handle higher power...
    '06 wrx wr-blue

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    Registered User KrustyTC's Avatar
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    According to Best Buy, both the front and rear speakers are 6.5". I've read on the forum though that that is not true. I'm not looking to compete in audio competitions, I just want a better sounding setup at higher volumes.

    Ideally I don't want to have to do any major mods to the doors or door panels. What fits without too much effort?

    thanks again,
    KrustyTC

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    Registered User rgold01's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KrustyTC
    Which would improve the stock stereo in an 02 WRX sedan? I've heard both opinions, the stock speakers are junk and the stock head unit is junk.

    I want to improve the sound of the stock system but don't want to replace the speakers only to find that the stock head was the problem, and vice a versa.

    Any input would be greatly appreciated.

    I'm sure in the long run I'll end up replacing both. But I would like to make the wisest investment first.

    thanks,
    KrustyTC
    if you dont want to do them together i would do the speakers first, then the head unit
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    Registered User Kush's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KrustyTC
    Ideally I don't want to have to do any major mods to the doors or door panels. What fits without too much effort?
    Measure af the size of the speakers in there now, just about any aftermarket speaker of the same size will fit. Component speakers MIGHT be too deep to fit, but other than that you're set.
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    Registered User vypr2002's Avatar
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    Kush is right do speakers first.
    I do this for a living and see people with this dilema all day long. personally do them both at the same time to avoid issues. save up and get them together.
    typically most imprezas have a 6 up front and a 4 rear.
    with a little work you can get a nice component up front and a 5 1/4 in the rear. but it needs spacers and some cutting.
    hope this helps

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    Registered User Just Be's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KrustyTC
    Which would improve the stock stereo in an 02 WRX sedan? I've heard both opinions, the stock speakers are junk and the stock head unit is junk.

    I want to improve the sound of the stock system but don't want to replace the speakers only to find that the stock head was the problem, and vice a versa.

    Any input would be greatly appreciated.

    I'm sure in the long run I'll end up replacing both. But I would like to make the wisest investment first.

    thanks,
    KrustyTC
    I changed the head unit (Alpine with XM) and front speakers (JBL) first. Then I did the rear and the Sub. (Infinity Sublink)

    You may want to consider going through a store that will give you one year same as cash financing and do it all at once.
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    I wouldn't say the stock head unit is junk. I think it's underpowered like most factory units. I would say get either a nice 20X4 amp or some good speakers. Preferrably both, but if you can only afford one, go for the amp. You can upgrade around it rather than having to buy stuff twice.

    The thing most people don't realize is that you aren't going to be pushing all of the power to the speakers all of the time. Most of the time you'll only be using the first watt or two. The first watt does most of the work. A 50 watt amp will not be twice as loud as a 25 watt amp, it will only be slightly louder (3dB). Most factory head units put out around 3 watts per channel, and you're only using about half of that on average when you've got it cranked. So a 25 watt amp isn't going to trash your stock speakers unless you are going for hearing loss.

    Before you dismiss my advice consider two things.

    I have been a musician for around 30 years and have played most types of music in everything from Rock and Jazz combos to orchestras.

    I have been installing car stereos since I was about 16. That's over 20 years of car stereo experience. Heck, that's almost 30 years.

    Now, I am not a professional musician, nor a professional stereo installer, just an expert level amature.
    Last edited by Marlon Elliott; 04-09-2006 at 09:49 AM.
    "I drove like my mother in the first stage" Gigi Galli, WRC driver, Mitsubishi.

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    Registered User Kush's Avatar
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    The main advantage of having a higher wattage amp is the headroom. Sudden low-end bursts wont distort and the sound may not be louder, but it'll be much cleaner because you won't be straining the amp. That's why the competition systems have huge capacitators wired in - they have a similar effect as a bigger amp by storing power for those sudden bursts of sound. You don't need 50 watts all the time, but you do need it if you're planning on listening to anything but classical music.

    Pay attention to Peak vs RMS power - the peak is what you should really be concentrating on, that'll tell you how much headroom you have. Like Marlon Elliott said, other than that, you won't be using all your wattage under normal situations.

    Also, the stock speakers may not be rated for anything over the stock amp anyway, so getting a bigger amp without better speakers would be pointless, all you'd get would be distortion.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kush
    You don't need 50 watts all the time, but you do need it if you're planning on listening to anything but classical music.
    Au contraire. If you listen to Classical or Jazz you need more power due to the immense dynamic range. Popular music has almost zero dynamics.
    "I drove like my mother in the first stage" Gigi Galli, WRC driver, Mitsubishi.

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    Registered User KrustyTC's Avatar
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    I truly appreciate all the information. It looks like I won't be happy though unless I do both the speakers and the head unit at the same time. I'll just have to wait and talk to some installers in my area and see what I have to spend to get what I want sound wise.

    I did do some messing with the bass and treble controls on the stock unit and got it to sound pretty decent even at higher volumes. I mostly listen to hairband type music. Occasionally some country rock and blues thrown
    in.

    I'll be sure to post and let you all know which direction I've decided to go in.

    thanks again for all your help,
    KrustyTC

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    Registered User silvewrx's Avatar
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    if you're looking at doing SPL competitions, you'll need way more than an amp, some speakers and a head unit. The competitions use their own head units anyway, and a lot of the cars are undriveable(no motor, plexyglass windows, etc). If you're looking at some amateur show stuff, check out premier, pro-audio for head units, fosgate for amps, and either JL or fosgate for subs. for serious competitions, i really couldn't help you i'm sorry, all i can say is big $$$$$$$$$ and big sound pressure, so obviously several amps, a million 10s, and several 15s and 18s usually do the trick. I'm sure someone here must be well-versed in SPL competitions. Oh yeah, goes without saying, Dynamat everything, and sponge your plate.
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    Registered User KrustyTC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by silvewrx
    if you're looking at doing SPL competitions, you'll need way more than an amp, some speakers and a head unit. The competitions use their own head units anyway, and a lot of the cars are undriveable(no motor, plexyglass windows, etc). If you're looking at some amateur show stuff, check out premier, pro-audio for head units, fosgate for amps, and either JL or fosgate for subs. for serious competitions, i really couldn't help you i'm sorry, all i can say is big $$$$$$$$$ and big sound pressure, so obviously several amps, a million 10s, and several 15s and 18s usually do the trick. I'm sure someone here must be well-versed in SPL competitions. Oh yeah, goes without saying, Dynamat everything, and sponge your plate.
    I'm definately NOT planning on doing any competitions. I just want a decent sounding system without having to spend a ton of money.

    thanks for the input though,
    KrustyTC

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    Registered User silvewrx's Avatar
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    6.5 components, Boston acoustics are nice, but anything but blaupunkt are OK. one 10" will hit nice in the rex, look for like 1000watts max, which will actually be like 350 constant, and get an amp to match......very important, underpowered subs sound muddy and have no response. remember, the larger the woofer, the lower the note it produces, but also the less response it has. In theory, 3 tens in the same box will actually be way better than 2 12s. they will have larger sq in, so the note will be lower(if they're in the same box), and they will still 'hit' like a single 10. Make sure when you do it, you do it as a 'system' -don't by a decent amp and beat speakers, or visa versa. hope this helps, happy heavy hittin'
    New England F4
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