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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello everyone. First time posting a question on here...

So. I bought a 16 WRX premium a couple weeks ago, love the car to death already. Hate the audio. I'm a bit of an audiophile, so obviously the stock speakers had to go. I replaced the stock speakers with my own set of 4 aftermarkets.
The sound quality is obviously better, but because of the weak stock head-unit, the EQ doesn't allow for me to push any lows/mids the way I want to. I have done as much research on this topic as I can and I have actually called Subaru to see if they had any technical specifications on the stock head unit... No data available.

I've basically boiled the issue down to two possible sources within the stock HU.
1. The HU doesn't put out enough power (RMS wattage) to handle driving the lower ends of the speakers
2. The HU actively filters out the mids/lows in order to 'protect' the stock speakers (which are low quality) through a high pass filter.
....or both.

Here's my question:
If the issue is only issue #1, then installing an amplifier (with its own high pass filter/bass boost/etc) will completely solve the issue and I'll be able to blast Skrillex and Creed with awesome sound quality.
If the issue is ONLY issue #2, would installing an amplifier even help? My thought is that if I'm amplifying an already filtered signal, then a ****ty sound will be amplified (=no me gusta)
-Instead, would I be able to open up the Head Unit, and replace the original amp or pre-amp that exists within it? OR, would I be able to simply install a signal processor and mini-amp to replace the stock amp/preamp?

(YES... I'm aware that replacing the entire headunit would solve all of my problems. but that's hella expensive and I actually like the look/functionality of the original HU. I only want to upgrade the QUALITY of the sound coming out of it.)
(And YES, I'm also aware that installing my own amplifier and plugging my audio directly into that would also solve the issue. I'm lazy and don't want to run new wires all over the place.)
(And lastly.... No I don't want to install a subwoofer.)

Thanks in advance to anyone who can help.:wiggles:
 

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HU not the problem per se. You can get an aftermarket amp and subwoofer and DSP like this one:

FiX-82 - Car Audio - Processors - OEM Integration - JL Audio

It ain't real cheap, but it will solve the sound problem and allow you to use the OEM HU with complete functionality. I personally find the sound of my JL system to be superior to the HK upgrade.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
The HK upgrade actually doesn't include any extra hardware other than the speakers and a small software change to the EQ on the stock HU, so yeah I definitely agree there...

The other part of your answer is kinda self-contradicting though... if the HU isn't the problem, then there shouldn't be a need for an after-market DSP (unless you want pro-quality audio). Yes, it would give better control over the frequency range and levels, but if the HU isn't the problem then I can assume that the stock DSP that exists within it isn't the problem? See what I mean?
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I think I've figured this out. I think I just need to add an amp with a wider RMS frequency band and decent power.

Does anyone know where the factory amp is located? It'd be great if i can just hot swap them.

It's probably within the stock HU, but I've seen it mounted to the firewall or under/behind the glove compartment on other makes/models.
 

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Anarekist: I didn't have the HK, but I heard it when I test drove a couple of WRX's. It actually sounded fine, it's just that my JL system, which was installed by the dealer, is super fine. (It should be for the money...)

If I bought a new one, I would be happy with the HK. (I usually nitpick about every audio system I've ever had to be honest.)

CTSubieNoob: The problems with the stock HU are not enough intrinsic power, and the OEM DSP. With a higher-wattage amp you can solve the first, and with an OEM integrator (DSP processor) you can solve the second.

I actually don't know which JL amp model I have (it's under the seat), but the OEM Integration DSP is the Fix-86:

FiX-86 - Car Audio - Processors - OEM Integration - JL Audio

I don't know if you can tweak the OEM DSP on the HU to improve the sound significantly without another device. My salesman told me they use the same HU in the Forester but have it tweaked to sound better.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks Doc!

I'll definitely try an amp to start with, and when i have the head unit out, I'll see if I can find the OEM DSP. I think that the limitation may be directly from the OEM amp though, as a lot of cheaper amps have a built-in fixed high-pass filter.

One last question.. Do you think there's enough room for an amp behind the HU?
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
It has to have an amp... That's how speakers work... They need to receive power from something.... nvm. I'm just gonna open up my HU this weekend and let everyone know what I find inside.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
But again, that is for the HK setup... correct? Also, could you post a source link to that image?
 

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Have you considered an OEM+ setup?

Subaru Options | OEM Audio Plus

Truthfully though, since there is so much in-cabin road noise in the pre-2018 WRX, it seems wasteful to spend $$ on top audio.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Of course I've considered it, but the HK audio is actually not the greatest, the amp is only 400W, and I don't want a subwoofer in my car.

I'm trying to get the best audio quality possible for the least amount of money. Which I think I'll be able to do for less than $300. ($120 for speakers, $100 for an amp, $80 for sound dampening to reduce road noise)
 

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Of course I've considered it, but the HK audio is actually not the greatest, the amp is only 400W, and I don't want a subwoofer in my car.

I'm trying to get the best audio quality possible for the least amount of money. Which I think I'll be able to do for less than $300. ($120 for speakers, $100 for an amp, $80 for sound dampening to reduce road noise)
It’s been universally accepted the head is the weak link and even with the best speakers and amps in the world the head blows and sends a poor audio signal.

There have been a lot of people try a lot of different things and it always comes back to the head making the real improvement so just on that alone I would start there. Then fine tune with speakers


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Unless there's a function within the HU that filters the signal, I disagree. The issue is the stock/built-in amp within the HU, which most likely has a high pass filter on it in order to protect the stock speakers.

If I bypass the original amp or remove it from the HU entirely, I should be fine. I'll be running a frequency test on the car when I put the amp in this weekend, so if the actual HU has a built in filter (aka a DSP in the form of a small pcb board or something) then I'll be able to know from that. If that's the case, THEN I'll buy a new HU entirely.

Either way, I'll be letting everyone know how it goes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Yeah, the HU most likely has a tiny amp built in to drive the power to the speakers. Some cars come with the stock amp mounted in a different location (the honda accord has its stock amp mounted behind the glove compartment), which is why I want to be sure that when I install my own amp, I'm not pulling the HU out for no reason.
 
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