New to car audio, need to replace head unit

Discussion in 'Mobile Phones / Entertainment' started by Jeff_Hunt, Feb 20, 2004.

  1. Jeff_Hunt

    Jeff_Hunt Stunt Coordinator

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    My stock head unit in my 2003 WRX Wagon died and I want to replace it with something. I've never really been "into" car audio so I've asked some friends and they tell me to buy Alpine (and they say it with semi-religious fervor, which tends to frighten me). Is Alpine the end-all-be-all of car audio?

    I was thinking of getting the 9813 so I can play mp3's, it seems to have a good bit of power to it as well. While I'm upgrading things, I thought it might be nice to upgrade the speakers somewhat. I don't really want to spend a ton of money, but I'm thinking it would be nice to go with something better than stock speakers with the new head unit.

    I don't want to go really crazy adding amps and subs since I autocross the car and any extra weight in my already very heavy car would be no good.

    Any suggestions for me? Are there some good sources of car audio information out there?

    Thanks,
     
  2. Dave Bennett

    Dave Bennett Screenwriter

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    Jeff,
    I've got an 04 Impreza Outback Sport and the first thing I did was rip out the terrible stock stereo. Alpine definitely makes good stuff, but I never cared for their design. I went with a JVC-LH 2000 and have been really happy with it. It sounds great mated with my Polk speakers and sub and the screen is larger than the Alpine that was in the same price range at the time. Plus, the display can be customized to one of any number of colors so it looks more stock than others may. Alpine is a good bet though but shop around, you might find something with similar specs that you might like better in terms of design. Replacing the headunit is criminally easy in the 02 and newer Impreza. Mine too me about 30 minutes adn most of that time was just stripping wires and soldering the wiring harnesses together. Taking the dash apart is an insanely simple process.
    If you're gonna replace the speakers too, be prepared to do a little bit of work unless you buy ready made spacers. You'll need spacers for the front speakers to keep the back of the magnet from preventing the window going all the way down. There's a place that sells ready made ones for the Impreza or you could just make your own. I went with Polk EX365 6.5" speakers up front and some cheap 4" Pioneers in the back (you can sometimes fit 5.25" speakers in the back but it depends on the model of speaker. 4" will fit no problem though). I'll post some links to some good stereo pages for Imprezas if you're interested.
    Edit-Just noticed you car is an 03. Is it still under warranty? If so get a new stock unit from the dealer. Even if you don't want a new stock unit in the car you could always sell it on ebay for a tidy profit.
     
  3. Denton

    Denton Stunt Coordinator

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    Denton
    If you've never done this stuff before, Crutchfield is often the way to go. They provide help with what will fit as well as support after the sale. Head units come with needed adapters and wiring harnesses so cutting of stock wiring is avoided. And their "tech sheets" are a great help in taking the car apart successfully.

    Alpine is great. I'd avoid the cheaper models from most lines. My best luck has been with Alpine, Clarion, and Blaupunkt. Your mileage may vary.

    Cruthfield has recently been running a deal on Polk speakers, with the second pair half off.
     
  4. brentl

    brentl Cinematographer

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    First thing I'd do was to get Subaru to replace the HU so that when you sell the car you can put a working unit back in.

    B
     
  5. Aaron D

    Aaron D Stunt Coordinator

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    I enthusiastically second Crutchfield. Service is impeccable and the included additional mounting kits/wiring harnesses are awesome!

    I have used Pioneer receivers in my last 3 cars and have been satisified overall, although I'd like some better functionality in the MP3 player I bought last year. I am currently using Infinity Reference speakers (cheaper than Kappa series and sound just fine). I only wish I had some subs, but I'm not really into it anymore and I'd like to spend more on my theater anyway.

    A word more about this- IMHO, relatively mid-level equipment will eclipse your stock stuff's performance and be adequate for everyday driving and listening. Don't be conned into buying top-level stuff unless you plan on going all the way (ie- sound-proofing your interior, adding subs and several amps, EQ's, etc.).

    A
     
  6. Shawn Shultzaberger

    Shawn Shultzaberger Supporting Actor

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    I will also say to have a look at www.crutchfield.com They may not be the cheapest around but service is good and you get all the extra little doo-dads that you need to install the head unit or speakers.

    I've had Alpine, Kenwood, Pioneer, Eclipse and Clarion head units. My favorites were the Eclipse and Clarion. They seemed to have the best sound when playing a CD but not as good an FM Tuner as the Pioneer, Kenwood or Alpine. Of course this was a few years ago.

    Since you don't plan on adding an amplifier then go with a head unit that puts out at least 22watts RMS per channel or better. I believe the Alpine 9833 puts out 26w x 4 RMS and requires a seperate fused, 10-gauge power wire ran to the battery. This would be plenty for a simple four speaker system. I currently use a Pioneer DEH-P4000 head unit and it does just fine. But in all honesty you can't go wrong with any of the head units suggested in this thread unless you start looking into "Legacy" or "Rockwood" or "Roadmaster"... or...yuck [​IMG]

    As for speakers again, Crutchfield has probably done the work and will list only those speakers that will fit in your model year car. For a first time DIY'er you almost can't go wrong with Crutchfield.
     
  7. Jeff_Hunt

    Jeff_Hunt Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks guys,

    I actually found a guy on the Subaru forum selling an Alpine 9815 for a pretty good price and he has the wiring harness for my car and everything so I think I'm going to do that.

    I'll check Crutchfield for speakers, but that's probably going to wait a little while before I get to it.
     

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