Best Upgrade: Head Unit or Speakers?
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This is a discussion on Best Upgrade: Head Unit or Speakers? within the Interior Mods forums, part of the Tech & Modifying & General Repairs category; This won't happen for a while, but I'm curious. And I'd be upgrading slowly, so I could only buy one ...

  1. #1
    Registered User verbal's Avatar
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    Best Upgrade: Head Unit or Speakers?

    This won't happen for a while, but I'm curious. And I'd be upgrading slowly, so I could only buy one thing at a time. I have the factory premium system. What would give me the most 'bang for the buck,' a new stereo or new speakers? I don't want a huge system. I just want to upgrade the stereo and door speakers. Maybe the subwoofer or put an amp in it's place if possible. I don't know much about car audio, so I'm not sure what can be done.

    Also, if I did do an upgrade of the speakers and stereo, could I use the existing wires? Or would I have to rewire? Thanks for any help.

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    Registered User hozed's Avatar
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    I know others will disagree, but...

    I just replaced the HU in my 04... and the stock "upgraded" speakers and amp/sub combo actually sound pretty good with a good stereo driving them.

    Then again, I'm not *that* picky and I don't require my sub to shake the earth. As a non-audiophile, I think it sounds Very Good to Excellent.
    Last edited by hozed; 05-28-2003 at 07:06 AM.

  4. #3
    Registered User verbal's Avatar
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    Music is a big thing to me, so I'd like it to sound the best. But I don't want the resonant bass that some speaker boxes give, so I just want to upgrade the door speakers and head unit eventually. I'm pretty satisfied with the stock premium system. But the only thing I don't like about it is once you reach a certain volume, and keep adding volume, it sounds like the treble volume just goes up. Maybe it's just me, but thats how it sounds. *shrug*

  5. #4
    He simply abides. SD_GR's Avatar
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    People have argued whether the source or the speakers make more of a difference in the final sound forever. Either camp has strong advocates. Companies like Linn have forwarded the "garbage in, garbage out" school, others say speakers will make the most difference.

    My feeling is that you can do wonders simply by changing the speakers in the stock locations. This would probably be the most bang for the buck, and will sound quite good (relatively speaking; car audio has improved a lot but still sounds dreadful compared to a well sorted home system, but such is life). When the stock amplification starts clipping you will get harsh sound - kinda like what has been described above, I'm guessing. No way around this other than adding amplificaiton, but the stock head unit doesn't provide line level outs so it may not be worthwhile, since you'd have to go to a step-down/step-up step. At that point you may want to change head units.

    As long as output power remains constant you can use the factory wiring no problem. I'm unaware of *any* double-blind, controlled test data showing audible differences in wiring - and am always willing to look at some if/when it's available, but until then I'll hold to the idea that there is *no* evidence that cabling affects sound quality, provided the cables are adequately designed for the job at hand.

    If you add lotsa RMS power (amp etc.) you will need the correct gauge power cables, but that's later from what you say. For now stock HU = stock wires, no worries.

    As for later, almost anything is possible - amp, amps, boxes, flush installations, anything almost. Time, money, and space are the limits...
    Last edited by SD_GR; 05-28-2003 at 09:04 AM.
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    Registered User Th3Franz's Avatar
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    I'm an advocate of the "garbage in, garbage out" mentality. I like upgrading the head unit first and then worrying about the speakers.
    - F r a n z
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    I just added my PPI/JL Audio sub setup in my 04 Wagon tonight. Sounds good, but I can already tell the door speakers aren't going to cut it. I've got a few questions relating to the speakers and the factory head. How much power does the factory head give? Is it even for each channel; tweats, woofers and rear doors. Making it a 6 channel amp? From what I've read, there is no crossover in the deck, it's actually just caps at the door speakers in front. Will this feed most component sets? I'm looking at the MB Quart PSD213's (as much for their rep as the fact that their name gets thrown around here a lot) They state 40-100 watts (RMS or peak?) Now this speaker set's included crossover appears to have 2 pairs of inputs (tweats and woofs) and two sets of outputs. Is this correct? What does this do with the incoming power?

    I know enough about car audio to be dangerous. I've always wired my systems myself, but I've never encountered a setup like this with tweats and woofs and I've never had components and crossovers and all this good jaz (well, I've got one on my sub) Thanks for any help!
    '04 JBP Wagon 5MT

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    Len
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    Question

    Hi everyone, this is my first post here.
    I just bought a 04 Wagon, and while I love pretty much everything about the car, I don't think I can live with the stock sound system. I've been doing home audio for a few years and car stereo has never been my primary interest, but the sound quality(especially treble) of the WRX doesn't seem to be up to the level of other aspects of the car. I'm for the opposite camp of "garbage in, garbage out," I strongly believe the unit that physically moves air makes the most difference. Plus I'm not a big fan of boomy base. So I'm thinking maybe I'll replace the stock door speakers, starting from the tweeters if possible. But I am nothing but totally ignorant when it comes down to car stereo, and I don't have the slightest clue what I need to do and where I can get info. Anybody nice enuff to help me out? BTW, thanks SD_GR, your post actually made me register for the site.
    04 WR Blue Wagon 5MT
    Stock and no mods, thank you.

    It's spherecally fun. It's fun any way you drive it.

  9. #8
    Registered User randy98mtu's Avatar
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    Check out this page for excellent instructions for accessing and replacing the door speakers. Another valuable thread here for some great spacers. (I hope I did that thread link correctly ) Mine are on order now. I would suspect that you'll get pretty good sound just putting decent aftermarket 6.5's in the front doors. I can't go without a sub, so as above, I installed a 12. I'm still looking for a more convenient box. Constantly moving the box around to get to the various storage compartments is getting old. Post pics or I'll do the same when you wire the speakers. The only suggestion I've got yet is to wire the crossover to the woofer line from the head/amp. Nobody else has spoken up to tell me if this is correct though. (please?)

    Hope taht helps.
    '04 JBP Wagon 5MT

  10. #9
    He simply abides. SD_GR's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Len
    ...I've been doing home audio for a few years ...I'm for the opposite camp of "garbage in, garbage out,"...Plus I'm not a big fan of boomy base. So I'm thinking maybe I'll replace the stock door speakers, starting from the tweeters if possible...BTW, thanks SD_GR, your post actually made me register for the site.
    Cheers!

    Check out that link above, it's possible to fit some quality speakers front and rear and you'll probably get quite an improvement.

    I don't know the power output the stock amp is capable of so I don't know how susceptible to clipping your treble will be, and this will vary from speaker to speaker anyway of course. You might want to go on a listening tour, but take your own recordings and make sure they are *very* demanding in the midrange and upper highs (female vocals, classical violins etc.).

    Welcome and have fun!
    SD
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    The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong in the broken places. Ernest Hemingway
    I lied. I cheated. I bribed men to cover the crimes of other men. I am an accessory to murder. But the most damning thing of all... I think I can live with it. And if I had to do it all over again - I would. Benjamin Sisko
    DISCLAIMER: Opinions expressed are the author's alone and are inherently worthless.

  11. #10
    Registered User ONeBadREx's Avatar
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    if possible i would say replace the h/u first. then buy upgraded speakers. Im abusive when it comes to stereos...ive blown my factory spks in the first 6mths of haveing the car. Even the headunit broke on me after a while. but i didnt really care... i always upgrade everything anyway. I need it loud...not even just bass..but vocals as well...love the concert quality/sound


    frederick
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  12. #11
    Registered User RexMobbin''s Avatar
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    a new HU will definetely improve the sound quality even with the stock speakers. and the best part is that you get rid of the factory HU "bass cut" safety feature when the volume goes up.
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  13. #12
    Len
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    Cool

    Thanks guys. It seems like I have heck of a lot to learn on this subject. I won't even think about getting new gears for couple months until I gather enough info. I guess I'll just buy a radar detector for now. hehe.

    By the way, I searched this site and I did get some idea what brands are usually considered, but can anybody give me general directions on 6.5" components. I mainly listen to Jazz, classic rock, blues and such, and I've always liked "lively" sound over boomy, warm or neutral. I would like something toe-tapping, but not so much as fender-shaking. And I definetely can't live with harsh treble. Any idea?
    04 WR Blue Wagon 5MT
    Stock and no mods, thank you.

    It's spherecally fun. It's fun any way you drive it.

  14. #13
    Registered User ONeBadREx's Avatar
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    you will love mb quarts then...they are the best. You will enjoy the great sound these speakers can produce with the right set up. highly recommended....

    now here is the bad side...they cost money and they are hard to find sometimes....when i got mine...they were on sale for 800xx. they had a level higher then the ones i had...1200.xx....the lowest end i would go in these speakers would be psd series. just something to consider

    frederick
    Hks up/dp/ebc/ti exh; TeIN springs:
    kartboy ss; blitz bov; volk gt-c

    ...n we're just getting started

    13.4@99mph

  15. #14
    Registered User Th3Franz's Avatar
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    A friend of mine has some Cerwin Vega speakers and he's very happy with those. I don't think they are quite as expensive as MB Quart speakers.
    - F r a n z
    Bucky with teh lime powah!

  16. #15
    Registered User wrmax2002's Avatar
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    I added an amp and EQ that I've had since '99 to the stock HU and speakers, and have had good results. A few people that have been in my car can't believe that it is stock speakers. It was the cheapest way for me to go.
    As far as starting from scratch, a good high power HU might be all you need if your tastes arn't too high.

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