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Discussion Starter #1
Greetings and salutations!

I am looking to increase the amount of pleasure for any and all ears in my ride. I know NOTHING about improving car audio sound quality. I want to retain the 2012 Nav unit and go from there. From what I have gathered thus far, it sounds (pun intended) like I should consider some Dynamat, get an AudioControl LC6i, and some front and rear speakers. Now on to the questions...

1. Subs: Do I really need one? With upgraded F and R speakers, and the AudioControl LC6i, wouldn't bass be at least a little better? A thumping bass is not needed/desired.

2. AudioControl LC6i: I don't really even know what it is. What else do I need with it?

3. Speaker wire: At what pricepoint are will I be over-paying?

4. Tools: Recommendations for a DIYer?

5. Speakers: Can I spend less than $100 for decent front speakers and less than $100 for decent rear speakers?

I eagerly await all your expertise and knowledge. I am open to any and all recommendations. Thanks for even just looking!
 

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If your budget for speakers is $200, then you should just spend $200 on the front speakers. Decent speaker wire is cheap as hell, especially if you buy it on eBay. Sound deadening is important, I would at least do the front doors.

Tools, I would recommend a DMM, cordless soldering iron (the battery powered Hako I bought on amazon works quite well), heat shrink tubing is much nicer and more durable than electrical tape, and a decent wire crimping/striping tool. When doing car audio work I have all of these things in a bag with with me, along with a sharp pocket knife and a butane lighter for the heat shrink.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks MainFrame. So if I spent $200 on front speakers I would achieve my goal of at least minor, overall improvement to the audio experience? That certainly simplifies the process!!
 

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As someone who went way too far into car audio, my only advice is to upgrade what you can within your budget and hope for the best. For "audiophile" sound in an environment that you have little to no control over, it is an exercise in futility. With a car, there are just too many variables to consider, such as: exhaust/road/tire/other vehicle noise; wind noise; reflections off the glass and hard plastic surfaces; refraction from objects in the path of your sound waves between your speakers and your ears; and a whole slew of other things working against you. Then to top it off, you have non-equidistant placement of the speakers, further complicating the mix and electronic time alignment will only help you so much.

Unfortunately, with car audio, it is what it is, but it will be far from perfect! I spent the better part of three years trying to make two of my cars sound like a recording studio mixing console monitoring station, and all I did was waste a bunch of time, money, and effort. While everyone agreed that I built some awesome sounding vehicles, they still were nowhere near where I wanted them to be.

On the flip side, I did have a blast picking raw drivers from madisound and making them sound better than higher priced component sets commonly used by others. I also had fun experimenting with others by showing them that it was nearly impossible for them to distinguish between carefully selected budget amplifiers and higher priced amplifiers known to be the holy grail of sound quality. In other words, I can't say the whole delve into car audio was all bad because it was fun blowing all these marketing myths out of the water!
 

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Thanks MainFrame. So if I spent $200 on front speakers I would achieve my goal of at least minor, overall improvement to the audio experience? That certainly simplifies the process!!
Think of it this way, your front speakers set the stage and have the easiest pathways directly to your ears. The speakers in the back can detract from that if not implemented properly. As for the sub, it is the least important component of a car audio system because it covers roughly one octave of the musical spectrum. What always blew my mind is the fact that the young focused nearly 90% of their budget on the subwoofers and 10% of their budget on everything else. Heck, I used to do it myself.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Hey gunz4me! I must admit that I was phishing with "audiophile" in my thread title! Please forgive. My goal is simple, with no intentions to spend gobs of money. After much research into the WRX, the only negative, recurring theme I could find was sound quality with the OEM H/U. I don't want to change out my OEM Nav unit, but, I do want to improve the sound quality a little bit anyway. I have been so overwhelmed by all my research that I was persuaded into thinking I needed certain things that I most likely do not, i.e. sub! Ahh... the youth with their declining ability to hear because of THUMPING bass. Anyhoo... I don't really have a budget at this point. I am just trying to understand a simple way to make at least minor improvements to the audio experience. Oh, and hey! Thanks for your response!
 

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Rear speakers are typically nothing but fill. For a good stereo system on a budget, I recommend not replacing the rears, and powering them off the OE H/U. Spend your speaker budget on a quality set of components for the front, and installing the tweeters properly (A-Pillar or kick panels, not the OE location).

A sub is important even if you don't want thumping bass. The subwoofer takes care of the lows, allowing your speakers to focus on the mids/highs (what they're designed for). An 8-10" sub would be perfect; the JL 10W3 is a great sub that doesn't break the bank.

Sound deadening is also important. See the link below for advice:
STI sound deadening, new tutorial - NASIOC


If you want to upgrade your stereo, do the following:
Aftermarket H/U
Component speakers (Front)
8"/10" subwoofer
4- or 5-channel amplifier (Ch 1/2 for front speakers, bridge remaining channels for the subwoofer)
Sound deadening (as per link above)

That will be sufficient for almost anyone not looking to compete in audio shows. A sound processor works great as well, but is often overkill.
 

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I agree that the sub is important, but I don't agree with it being the most expensive component in a car audio setup. Has anyone ever sat there and just listened to the sub alone? As long as it was designed properly for the environment that it is installed in, it is real difficult to tell the difference between cheap subs and high priced subs.

I have another gripe about these so called custom shops dropping an off the shelf subwoofer in a prefabricated rectangle enclosure and calling that "custom" but that is another gripe for another day. My latest endeavor to build sub enclosures is to measure for the calculated cabin gain with Smaart, then model the subwoofer in Bass Box Pro. It worked out great in my wife's Genesis coupe that to her was just missing a little bit of low end umph from the factory. In fact, the particle board shelving test box that I built ended up being the permanent solution for her.:rotfl:
 

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Rexinbrex said:
EJ257...

So with the OEM H/U, a decent set of components for the front, a sub, and some dynamat should do the trick? This sounds pretty manageable. I had a lot of Legos as a kid so I am pretty good with directions!

I can do the above w/o an amp or processor?

Thanks amigo.
You didn't read my post...

I'd recommend an aftermarket H/U and amplifier. When it comes to deadening, dynamat doesn't cut it.

gunz4me said:
I agree that the sub is important, but I don't agree with it being the most expensive component in a car audio setup. Has anyone ever sat there and just listened to the sub alone? As long as it was designed properly for the environment that it is installed in, it is real difficult to tell the difference between cheap subs and high priced subs.
The only person who mentioned a subwoofer was me, and I recommended a sub that can be had for $150 or less all day. If that's the "most expensive component", then they need to re-evaluate their goals.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
It's true, I didn't. My apologies. I will take the time to read it now. Perhaps you forgot about my OP... I want to keep my H/U though. Sorry for any confusion.
 

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Rexinbrex said:
It's true, I didn't. My apologies. I will take the time to read it now. Perhaps you forgot about my OP... I want to keep my H/U though. Sorry for any confusion.
Touché ... didn't notice that part :p

Instead of the aftermarket H/U, you should be looking into sound processors. The JBL MS8 Tony mentioned is a good choice.
 

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You didn't read my post...

I'd recommend an aftermarket H/U and amplifier. When it comes to deadening, dynamat doesn't cut it.
Argh, so true. To do it right you need come sort of constrained damping layer (Dynamat, Secondskin, Sound Deadener Showdown), closed cell foam, and 1 pound per square foot mass loaded vinyl. I was shocked when I saw a Prelude get a 10 decibel reduction in road noise just laying this down that combination on the floor in the main cabin.



The only person who mentioned a subwoofer was me, and I recommended a sub that can be had for $150 or less all day. If that's the "most expensive component", then they need to re-evaluate their goals.
Sorry about that... I was trying to clarify what I posted because I re-read it and it could have been mistaken as me saying that a subwoofer was not necessary. IMHO, something is needed to fill out that bottom octave BUT it doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg. I am also of the opinion that the actual enclosure is more important than one's choice in subwoofer, within reason of course. I'm not saying buy a Pyle sub, but I am saying that I have heard the Dayton HO10 give some much more expensive subs a run for their money.

Also, another sub to look into is the new Alpine Type R. One of my friends picked one up for $125 shipped and I must say I am impressed with it!
 

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Honestly, without upgrading the HU, you're starting with a crap signal and fighting to make it better. The first thing to upgrade should be the HU,, but you want to keep it, so...
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Hey rage. Again, NOT looking to replace the H/U. I realize this puts me behind the 8 ball right out of the gate. I realize this makes my quest for improved sound a much narrower road and perhaps a more expensive road as well. Here's a question for the masses...

Retaining the 2012 OEM Nav H/U and $500 in my pocket, how do I improve sound quality?
 
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