Aftermarket Radio -- Where to begin?

Discussion in 'Mobile Phones / Entertainment' started by Aaron Silverman, Sep 16, 2003.

  1. Aaron Silverman

    Aaron Silverman Executive Producer

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    Hi gang,

    Unfortunately/ fortunately, I'm going to have to replace my car. I am almost certainly going with a Mazda 6S. Driving the car is great, but the base stereo is feeble and very few cars seem to have the Bose upgrade (note: I would NEVER put Bose equipment in my house, but IMO they do car audio OK [​IMG]).

    So I'll probably get a car with the base stereo and spend a few hundred bucks for a new unit and speakers. But I don't know anything about car stereos. What are brands to look for and to avoid? Is a $400 stereo that much better than a $200 stereo? I don't really care about satellite radio or anything; just a receiver and CD deck will be fine (although cassette would be nice). What's a decent amount to spend on speakers? Would it be worth just replacing the speakers instead of the whole unit?
     
  2. Edison Tinker

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    Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but the way the stock cd reciever is integrated into the dash of the Mazda 6S, you're going to end up spending A LOT of money to get an aftermarket unit to fit into the dash without totally disturbing the aesthetics of the vehicle...since the car is a relatively new model, I'm not sure what aftermarket provisions there are for a dash kit yet...but even the dash kit for that car would be fairly expensive (probably in the $100-$150 range for a pre-fab kit)...you might want to talk to a professional mobile electronics installer (not one at your local Best Buy or Circuit City or Good Guys either)before you make your decision to replace anything in that vehicle...it will no doubt be a fairly expensive undertaking...

    An alternative to replacing the stock head unit would be to use a line output convertor or LOC to add an amp and replace the stock speakers...make sure to get a decent one though...I know David Navone offers some very high quality ones on his website (www.davidnavone.com)...this might save you the hassle of ripping apart the dash of your brand new, very nice looking vehicle...

    But like I said, perhaps you should consult a pro and proceed from there...good luck [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  3. Aaron Silverman

    Aaron Silverman Executive Producer

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    Thanks for the tips! I am definitely not averse to just adding a good amp and speakers, or even just new speakers. Sounds like that'd be a better option than trying to replace the radio itself.

    Or maybe I can get a reasonable deal on a car with the Bose stereo -- I guess I could live with that.

    If anyone reading this can recommend a good installer in the West Palm Beach/ Ft. Lauderdale area, please post!
     
  4. Scott L

    Scott L Producer

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    Ask the dealer if they have a model with Bose in it, bring your favorite CD and see what you think. Even for $400 you don't have many options in the aftermarket world.
     
  5. Edison Tinker

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    With around $400 he can buy a decent set of separates for the fronts, some coaxials for the rears (if that's what he wants) and a modest four channel amp to power them...I'd say that's a better option than BOSE any day...

    Or instead of the rear coaxes he could go with a modestly priced 12" sub in a simple sealed enclosure...

    For Example: (prices quoted from www.sounddomain.com)

    Scenario 1 - Separates, Coaxes and Amp...

    Infinity Reference 5000cs - $180
    Infinity Reference 6002si - $100
    US Acoustics USX4065 - $124
    Total: $404

    Scenario 2 - Separates, Sub and Amp...

    Infinity Reference 5000cs - $180
    Infinity Reference 1230w 12" - $100
    US Acoustics USX4065 - $124
    Sub Enclosure - $50
    Total: $454

    ...good stuff on a tight budget...definitely better than stock...even if you factor in $100 for installation you'd still be in good shape, keeping things in the $550 range...just becasue you're on a budget doesn't mean ho have to settle for stock [​IMG].
     
  6. Scott L

    Scott L Producer

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    Well a better philosophy is if you're gonna do it go all out. An amp, 4 speakers, an amp kit, and a decent head unit that all costs $400-$550... all that work and if you don't like how it sounds, ouch! (I hated how my old Inf reference 6.5" components sounded)

    Just go for the stock stereo and save your pennies for decent components, buying it up piece by piece. If you spend a lot of time in the car it'll all be worth it in the end.

    Ps- I have a brand new Alpine 9807 for sale. Bought it new from ikesound but went with a higher model instead, now they're giving me a hassle to return it. [​IMG] Plays mp3/wma and comes with a remote. $210 shipped sound good?
     
  7. Aaron Silverman

    Aaron Silverman Executive Producer

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    I'm going to bring a CD by the dealer this evening and see if there's much difference between the base and Bose stereos.

    As for buying a new head, that is definitely not part of my initial plan. (To find out why, look up a picture of the console in the 6 -- Edison was putting it mildly!) Replacing the speakers and possibly adding a sub is a much more attractive option.

     
  8. Edison Tinker

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  9. Dave Bennett

    Dave Bennett Screenwriter

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    [​IMG]
    That's why adding a new deck isn't really an option for him.
     
  10. Scott L

    Scott L Producer

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    hehe. Is it just me or would anyone else not buy a car that wouldn't let you upgrade the head unit? Looks neat stock but they don't leave much room for upgradability. [​IMG]

    PS- Maybe there's a console cover that has two parts to let you install a radio. Try calling Crutchfield.
     
  11. Dave Bennett

    Dave Bennett Screenwriter

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    I'm with you on that one Scott. While factory systems have improved somewhat, they are still pretty weak. The one in my 2004 Subaru was probably the worst stereo I've ever heard. Not only is a weird dash design like that bad for those of us who want to put systems in our car, but that means if the radio dies at some point down the line it'll be pricy to fix since you can't pop in a cheap aftermarket deck in there.
     
  12. Aaron Silverman

    Aaron Silverman Executive Producer

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    Well, last week I brought a test CD (V, by Spock's Beard -- maybe not the best audition disc, but I really felt like listening to At The End Of The Day!) and compared the stock and Bose radios.

    The stock radio was eh. Not horrible, but nothing special.

    The Bose system clearly had better stereo separation, but also had that Bose-iness to it (i.e., all brassy midrange). Apparently it has 4 full-range speakers in the doors plus two tweeters and a sub, but it didn't seem all that much better for the price difference.

    At any rate, it looks like I'll end up with the Bose system, because the local dealer has a car with all the other options I want in this funky silver-green color that's very hard to find, and it's got the Bose. I guess I can live with it for the time being. [​IMG] If nothing else, it'll be worth a few extra bucks when I eventually trade it in!
     
  13. John_MackieBass

    John_MackieBass Stunt Coordinator

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    ive always liked blaupunks HUs.
     
  14. Aaron Silverman

    Aaron Silverman Executive Producer

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    Well, by the time I got to the dealer, they only had one car left with the Sport Package -- white, with the stock radio. After a week or so of driving it, I will say that the radio, while not spectacular, is decent. It sounds better than the Bose in my old Millenia, which may be partly due to the fact that the 6 drives much quieter on the highway. I'm glad I didn't end up dropping $650 on the Bose! [​IMG]

    I will probably replace the speakers at some point, but for now, it's fine.
     
  15. Dave Bennett

    Dave Bennett Screenwriter

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    Really the only thing that is severely limited is the headunit. The speakers would be easy to replace adn you could easily add an amp and or sub by using either an amp with high level inputs of a line out converter. I tell you though, I think alot of car makers are putting form over function in terms of radio design(Mazda is also putting in a virtually irreplacable radio in the new Mazda 3). Luckily Ford has seen the error of it's ways by moving away from the oval dash fiasco [​IMG]
     
  16. Aaron Silverman

    Aaron Silverman Executive Producer

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    Agreed. And this after putting out the MazdaSpeed Protege and Protege5 with 3rd-party radios standard!
     
  17. Dave Bennett

    Dave Bennett Screenwriter

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    Aaron,
    I never even thought about that. That is quite the contrast, from aftermarket as "stock" to virtually eliminating even the possibility of aftermarket. Hopefully this doesn't become a more common trend with car makers.
     

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