Pimp my ride

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Re: Pimp my ride

Post by Fluffyumpkins » Mon Feb 02, 2015 11:07 pm

Car audio question for the gang:

One of the cars I'm considering has fairly crappy audio. I'm a fan of my electronic beats, and I'd like a car that has a decent enough sound system. If I wanted to purchase new speakers and have them installed, how much (ballpark) would this cost me? Is it as simple as popping the old speakers out and plugging the new ones in? Do I need a new stereo, or will the existing stereo suffice? I've done some research, but I'm having a tough time getting a general idea of how much new speakers would run after installation (if needed.)
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Re: Pimp my ride

Post by MonMotha » Mon Feb 02, 2015 11:56 pm

Well, it really depends on the car.

You're likely to have more success with lower end vehicles that don't have hugely integrated "infotainment" systems. Find one where the stereo head unit is a standard DIN formfactor, and you'll have a huge assortment of replacement head units at your disposal. Replacing the speakers themselves is usually not too hard if they're something resembling a standard size. The hardest part is usually finding a wiring harness adapter for your vehicle to wire it all up to the head unit. A lot of people just end up splicing the hell out of their car's wiring which kinda sucks but works.

Systems with highly integrated infotainment systems are usually going to require that you stick with the OEM head unit if you don't want to lose a ton of that functionality. On the upside, those do usually offer some method of expansion, but they're usually expensive as hell. Replacing the speakers themselves is often still possible if you really care.
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Re: Pimp my ride

Post by Ho » Tue Feb 03, 2015 1:56 am

On the last 4 cars (3 Dodge/Chrysler and 1 Mazda) I've bought, I've found that replacing the head unit improved the sound quality while leaving the factory speakers. The largest margin of improvement was on the Mazda. I think the reason is that aftermarket radios tend to have better/more powerful amplifiers than the factory radio.

I believe Alpine actually manufactured the head units for the Dodge/Chrysler vehicles I've had. That's a pretty solid aftermarket brand and those were decent factory head units. I don't know who makes the Mazda head unit I had...but it was pretty crap. But, to be fair, the Mazda head unit was in the most basic trimline for that vehicle while the Dodge/Chryslers were higher or top end trims. So, the head units may be (probably are) better in the higher trim Mazdas.

To address MonMotha's points, replacing speakers is usually pretty easy. It's mostly just a matter of finding the correct size for a given positing in a car and then figuring out how to get the panel off and old speaker out. The mountings on the speakers may or may not match up--which may be a bit of a pain--but otherwise they're not usually hard to connect or drop in.

As for head units, it seems like most cars I've seen lately have a double-DIN or larger opening for the factory radio. Double-DIN radios are pretty easy to come by and there are trim plates available for most model cars to make standard DIN or double-DIN head units fit in the factory opening. You can see an example of this on either of my cars, actually.

As for the wiring, harness adapters are also available for most model cars. It can be time consuming to connect the head unit's wiring to the harness adapter, but once that's done, you just plug it into the car with no modification of the car necessary. This is nice to avoid hacking up your car and if you decide you want to put the factory radio back when you sell/trade the car.

MonMotha's point about the fancy infotainment head units is correct. If the factory radio is displaying things like tire pressure, oil change reminders, mileage, etc...you'll likely lose those functions by replacing it with an aftermarket radio. However, other things like GPS, satellite radio, and back-up cameras can either be adapted to an aftermarket radio or are included on it--replacing the functionality that the factory radio may have had. There are also adapters for many models that allow you to use factory steering wheel controls with an aftermarket radio. This way you can still use the volume, track skip, and sometimes even Bluetooth controls that are mounted on the steering wheels of many cars these days. You can see my Mazda for an example of this.
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Re: Pimp my ride

Post by Merk » Tue Feb 03, 2015 9:21 am

Dollars-wise, how much are we talking here? Speaking from your own personal experience(s)
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Re: Pimp my ride

Post by Ho » Tue Feb 03, 2015 9:39 am

Are you asking me? If so, about what?
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Re: Pimp my ride

Post by Merk » Tue Feb 03, 2015 9:55 am

What was the approximate amount of dollars spent on replacing the head unit of your previous four vehicles?
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Re: Pimp my ride

Post by Ho » Tue Feb 03, 2015 10:07 am

Oh jeez. It's been well over 10 years on the Chrysler and Dodges, so I can't really remember. But I just did the Mazda this past Christmastime. Here's the head unit I put in:
http://www.kenwood.com/usa/car/navigati ... /dnx571hd/

Including the dash kit and all the adapters, I probably spent around $700. Of course I did the installation myself, so that saved some money (and cost some time).
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Re: Pimp my ride

Post by Merk » Tue Feb 03, 2015 10:20 am

Do you believe, given your knowledge of Chad, that Chad will be capable of performing this installation himself?
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Re: Pimp my ride

Post by Fluffyumpkins » Tue Feb 03, 2015 10:29 am

I do not.
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Re: Pimp my ride

Post by Ho » Tue Feb 03, 2015 10:29 am

It may depend on the car, but I believe with a little help he can probably do it. There's pretty good instructions out there for the most part, and nothing is terribly difficult. He'd probably just have a few questions on the best/easiest way to do something or clarification on a step or two.
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Re: Pimp my ride

Post by Ho » Tue Feb 03, 2015 10:34 am

I'm trying to remember how long it took me to do the Mazda. Maybe 4 hours? But I think at least 90-120 minutes of that was because I decided to solder and heatshrink the wiring harness together and I'm pretty slow at soldering.

If I had used butt splice connectors, I probably could have done the same in about 30 minutes. But I figured it would be good soldering practice for me. Also, I had plenty of solder and heatshrink on hand and not enough butt splice connectors of the right size. I think I also did it on Christmas, so stores weren't open...or I didn't feel like going out. I don't remember. :P
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Re: Pimp my ride

Post by Merk » Tue Feb 10, 2015 2:28 pm

Chaz, would you like to tell us about your car adventures?
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Re: Pimp my ride

Post by Fluffyumpkins » Tue Feb 10, 2015 2:48 pm

I figured I'd share once it was all done. Still a few moving parts, and I want to make sure everything goes through. There will be plenty of time for everyone to tell me I messed up and make me feel bad for taking on good ol' American debt on a shitty vehicle. The tl;dr will look something like this:

I bought a new 2015 Subaru Legacy.
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Re: Pimp my ride

Post by Ho » Tue Feb 10, 2015 3:55 pm

*applauds*
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Re: Pimp my ride

Post by Fluffyumpkins » Mon Feb 16, 2015 2:49 pm

Thanks everyone for your help. I'm overall quite happy with the vehicle, and appreciate everyone's advice and suggestions. I doubt I would've felt as confident as I did without the spirit of IndyDDR on my side.
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