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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
OK, I've searched not only this forum, but also the entire internet, and I can't find this answer. I apologize if it's been covered...

What is the power output of the stock WRX stereo/head unit (I own a 2015). I don't have the nav system, nor the upgraded stereo/speaker package. I know it's made by Clarion, but I can't seem to find any other specifications. It's not even in the owners' manual.

I want to replace my speakers, but I'm trying to determine if the stock head unit has enough wattage to support better speakers. Thanks in advance!
 

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Around 7w. You could spend $1000 on speakers.. as long as you're running them off of the stock head unit they're still going to sound like garbage. This is the case with 99% of OEM head units. If you want to retain the OEM head unit you could always get a DSP and run it to an amp, then the speakers.
 

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ˆˆ This is what the OEM Monsoon Audio system has in my 2003 Regal. It is the most awesome factory audio system I have ever heard.
 

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Hmmmmm.... I find that statement to be suspect.
He probably means 7w per channel.

Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G890A using Tapatalk
 

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Yes.. that's 7 watts RMS per channel. More troubling than the low power output is the terrible frequency response and poor THD. Much of the frequency response issues can be fixed with the use of a good DSP. Unfortunately, DSPs aren't exactly cheap.
Curiosity question and not picking on you particularly but I am surprised by all the certainty regarding poor stock HU performance. Is there bench data to support this? In the car it is impossible to separate the speakers and the installation from the HU performance alone. For example, almost every car I have ever owned has shown a low frequency resonance from speakers being in the undamped doors. This is something than neither flat speakers nor a flat HU can do anything about but which could be construed by a novice to be a fault of either.

So is there measured data?
 

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Curiosity question and not picking on you particularly but I am surprised by all the certainty regarding poor stock HU performance. Is there bench data to support this? In the car it is impossible to separate the speakers and the installation from the HU performance alone. For example, almost every car I have ever owned has shown a low frequency resonance from speakers being in the undamped doors. This is something than neither flat speakers nor a flat HU can do anything about but which could be construed by a novice to be a fault of either.

So is there measured data?

Crutchfield has some comparison data in these two articles. I don't have time to look through them right now, but IIRC they didn't mess with baffling, just testing speakers and head units. Either way, comparing stock to aftermarket head units in the same car, both with just the ear, and with empirical measurements makes other variables like dampening moot. If the only thing that has been changed is the head unit that that's going to be the only thing making a difference in sound. Baffling and things will certainly make a big improvement, but if you're not messing with any of that then it is unrelated to head unit and speaker SQ comparisons.

https://www.crutchfield.com/learn/car-stereo-proving-ground.html
https://www.crutchfield.com/S-3od36F8yhBI/learn/labs-aftermarket-vs-factory-sound.html



Most factory head units also have THD >10%, which is nothing to scoff at. Compare that to aftermarket head units which are usually <1% THD, you're definitely going to be able to hear a difference in SQ.
 

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... comparing stock to aftermarket head units in the same car, both with just the ear, and with empirical measurements makes other variables like dampening moot. ...
Subjective evaluations of audio equipment are notoriously bad. This is how we get "magic" silver cables costing hundreds of dollars being sold to the gullible. Most of the problem is confirmation bias (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confirmation_bias), a very natural thing that we are all prone to. I don't want to get into a big argument here, but bench data is really the only way to know what you have. I say this from the perspective of working my way though undergraduate and graduate school as a broadcast and recording engineer. The empirical data in the Crutchfield pieces is interesting, though. I knew that car audio had to be bad, but I didn't realize how bad!

Most factory head units also have THD >10%, which is nothing to scoff at. Compare that to aftermarket head units which are usually <1% THD, you're definitely going to be able to hear a difference in SQ.
THD is a number that is meaninglesss unless a power level stated. Typically, it is quoted at the rated power of the amplifier. At lower powers is can be almost nonexistent and attempting to overdrive the final output stage will cause it to skyrocket. This creates a kind of dilemma for manufacturers who are selling watts. Claiming a higher wattage level necessarily means (if they are honest) reporting a higher THD as well. But of course this is not an industry that has been known for its honesty. I'd bet that at equivalent power levels and below any clipping level, THD for any car amp, OEM or aftermarket, and measured on the bench is going to be negligible.

I don't really have a dog in this fight, as I find the sound in cars to be so execrable that discussing aspects of its quality to be a waste of time. Whatever you like is best for you. That's pretty much the end of the story. What I like is my Klipsch Fortes and Klipsch La Scalas, conservatively driven and properly placed in rooms where background noise is not an issue. Those produce a quality of sound that is simply not achievable in a small tin box, even if the box is sitting quietly in a driveway.
 

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Subjective evaluations of audio equipment are notoriously bad.

THD is a number that is meaninglesss unless a power level stated. Typically, it is quoted at the rated power of the amplifier. At lower powers is can be almost nonexistent and attempting to overdrive the final output stage will cause it to skyrocket.

What I like is my Klipsch Fortes and Klipsch La Scalas, conservatively driven and properly placed in rooms where background noise is not an issue. Those produce a quality of sound that is simply not achievable in a small tin box, even if the box is sitting quietly in a driveway.

Agreed on all accounts (although subjective evaluations by the owner are really the only thing that matters in the end). You do have an issue when THD is 17% with the peak power output of the device being a measly 14watts per channel. Any way you look at it, that's pretty crummy performance.


As a side note, I recently dug up some primo Class A single ended vacuum tube amps that my father in law had built basically from scratch (along with a PAS-3 preamp, a really nice turn table, and some Klipsch horns). I've only ran through the preamp so far, and just started bench testing the amps. It will be a while before I hit them with any power, but from what I ascertain they should sound magnificent once I get everything all fixed up. Makes me really want to drop the cash on a DSD processor so I can play SACDs through it, but I'm going to have to wait on the price to come down first.
 

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I'm no sound/audio engineer of any kind. I didn't claim to be. However, I am an audiophile with a keen sense of hearing. The sound quality difference between the crappy stock HU and almost *any* aftermarket HU is substantial. It's not going to rival high-end house/building stereo equipment, for obvious reasons.

However, the OP was talking about purchasing new *car* speakers. The stock car speakers in the WRX are decent. No comparison to cabinet speakers, but that's a somewhat unreasonable comparison.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I'm no sound/audio engineer of any kind. I didn't claim to be. However, I am an audiophile with a keen sense of hearing. The sound quality difference between the crappy stock HU and almost *any* aftermarket HU is substantial. It's not going to rival high-end house/building stereo equipment, for obvious reasons.

However, the OP was talking about purchasing new *car* speakers. The stock car speakers in the WRX are decent. No comparison to cabinet speakers, but that's a somewhat unreasonable comparison.
So what are you saying, Chris? I should first replace the HU? IMO it's much easier & cheaper to replace the speakers first. Plus, I like the look of a stock HU, regardless of how nice an aftermarket one may be. Please correct me if I'm wrong...
 

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If you like the stock HU, as I do, you can get an aftermarket JL DPS, amp, SW and new speakers, that will set you back ~$1200-1400.

I have had some serious audiophile equipment, and I won't say it's up to the level of a good home audio system, but as Frank Zappa would say it makes it so the intonation will not offend the ear.

I haven't had mine for 6 weeks (car in the shop) and miss it dearly.
 

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And in answer to your question with this setup it will seriously produce some sound. Not seismic bass, which is an offense on humanity anyway, but music way too loud for you to tolerate at more than 50% HU volume, 50% amp volume.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
OK, so who has leftover equipment from their first upgrade, have since gotten even better equipment, and now they want to donate it to me? :D:cool:
 
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