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New car... car audio noob that wants QUALITY without wasting money

Old 06-05-2012, 03:39 PM
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New car... car audio noob that wants QUALITY without wasting money

Hello everyone. This is gonna be long, so bear with me.

Alright, here's my story: I own a 2005 Volvo S60R (a sedan) with a Dynaudio sound system. It's a pretty damn good factory setup, and good enough for me.

It went something like this: 3-way speakers in each door with a 6.5" woofer, a 4" midrange, and a component up at the top. Center speaker in the middle of the dashboard. Speakers (not sure of the size) in each rear door plus I think two more 6.5" units in the parcel shelf. It has a rebranded Alpine amplifier under the passenger seat, about 300-400 watts I think. The head unit does Dolby Pro-Logic II to move voices and whatnot to the center speaker and uses the rears mainly for echoes/reflections and bass.

Unfortunately, the Volvo is being written off.

I'm ordering a new 2012 Subaru WRX STi hatchback. It's not here yet. From what I've heard from my test drives and the general consensus on the Subaru forums is the sound quality is not really up to what I'm used to in my Volvo.

It has a nice head unit in terms of features and usability - a Pioneer AVIC-X9310BT (same as a X930BT and almost the same as the Z130BT). This is driving some Pioneer TS-A1684R units up front plus components, and then two generic speakers in the back.

Subaru has not modified the head unit in any way, it still has the subwoofer pre-outs right on the back and you can buy the missing cable bundle with RCAs on eBay to get all the other pre-outs, backup camera in, etc...

My question is where I should spend money on getting this thing upgraded a bit without ruining the functionality of the car. My first thought is to add a subwoofer and use a high-pass filter (in the HU or whatever) to cut some off the bass out of the existing speakers to make them sound better at volume.

There's a 0.65 cubic foot sealed enclosure made for the Impreza hatchback that you can buy for about $350 that stays out of the way. It will take a JL Audio 10W6v2 or smaller sub. I have no idea if this is a good sub for what I want, and it's like $300. Is this too much to spend?

I also don't know what I should be looking at for an amp. I like that you can buy "Class D" amps now that are nice and small (I think the only place to stick an amp in a hatchback Impreza is under the front seats), but are they any good for a sub with an emphasis on sound quality?

Is this even the right direction to be going in at all or should I look at replacing the speakers and driving them with an amplifier? (That sounds like way more work in terms of ripping a brand new car apart... *eye twitch*)

Thanks so much for any help!!
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Old 06-06-2012, 01:34 PM
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The first thing which came to mind when going from the Volvo to an STi was sound dampening; how quiet is the Subaru?
If you're very SQ-orineted as it seems you are, if the Subaru is notextremely quiet when driving, it would be the most logical place to start, to me.
It would also provide a better base on which to begin any further upgrades IMO.

Tuned in for this one! So sorry to hear about the S60R; those are fabulous cars.
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Old 06-06-2012, 04:01 PM
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It's tough to know how much sound quality you're after and it's also tough for us to judge if you're wasting money without this qualification and your general budget range.

It also sounds like you're willing to do some of this work yourself (saves wasting money for installation) but you're also feeling a bit of trepidation about ruining your new whip so stock locations are genearlly where any installation would occur. Are those assumptions correct?

A new sub and new speakers would be where I would start on that system (having not heard it myself). I personally would go with a set of nice front speakers, disconnect the rear speakers (or run them super quiet), add a sub (my current favorite bang for buck SQ sub is the Creative Sounds SDX10 as it's a Canadian company selling an excellent low distortion driver). A box can easily be built oneself with a touch of courage and woodworking or fiberglass capabilities. Go sealed for simplicity and sound quality. As for front speakers, that's just too personal of a question for me to throw anything at you just yet.

Sound dampening would be very important, but can easily become a $1000+ venture when you start getting really serious. Luckily you live in Edmonton where ITW Insulation can sell you some MLV locally to save on shipping costs for that stuff. MLV will really quiet the ride down. My brother has a 2010 Subaru Forrester and he says the main noise while driving is road noise, so concentrate on the floor and doors.

You had a question if Class D amps are good for sound quality and generally for a sub they're just fine (i.e. nobody can tell in that freq range). Don't use Class D for anything other than subs though if you're serious about SQ.
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Old 06-06-2012, 06:08 PM
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Drive it a week or 2 and you will know exaclty what you need and where to start.
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Old 06-07-2012, 10:07 AM
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Thanks for the advice - it's a good start for me.

At first, I would like to spend under $1000 to see what I can do to push it past the factory system - I'm getting married soon so money's gonna be a bit tight, hahaha.

I'm definately talking stock location installs. I have zero fabrication skills at the moment (I could probably put together a home theater kit speaker fine though, not that that really helps in a car).

Thanks for the tip about ITW too!
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Old 06-07-2012, 03:04 PM
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Originally Posted by stochastic View Post
Don't use Class D for anything other than subs though if you're serious about SQ.
8-10 years ago I would have agreed with this. These days this isn't true anymore.
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Old 06-12-2012, 11:31 PM
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Can't really comment on sq. but the s60r is the car is dream of. Was it manual?
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Old 06-13-2012, 10:46 AM
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Originally Posted by Dukk View Post
8-10 years ago I would have agreed with this. These days this isn't true anymore.
I concure, I am running a class D 5 channel amp in a 1986 Jetta, it sounds smooth, warm and very rich. I am so impressed, that I am not sure that class a/b is really "what it is cracked up to be".
So back to the Subaru. It sounds really easy.
Add a small sub to fill in the lows on the sub out on the HU, 25% of all music today is 60hz and under. Move all the bass out of the pioneers, then walla, great sounding car. The point about sound deadening is right, and this may be something to consider. Or do what some people suggest and drive it for a couple of weeks then you will have a better idea of what you are missing?
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Old 06-21-2012, 04:38 PM
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if ur in edmonton go see the guys at fx audio
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