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Need help w/ car audio


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22 replies to this topic

#1 of 23 OFFLINE   Shawn.G

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Posted March 25 2003 - 02:23 PM

I am getting my car tomorrow, a 1997 Ford Explorer XLT, and I am looking to get either a cd player or 2 speakers, and when I get a summer job I will buy the subs. But now I have to find which cd player and speakers will fit my Explorer. Can someone tell me or give me a link to a car audio forum that will tell me what fits and which are the best to buy? I am new to car audio and need some help from someone who knows what they're talking about. Thanks.

#2 of 23 OFFLINE   Cam S

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Posted March 25 2003 - 02:37 PM

Crutchfield.com has a good system to match speakers and head units with what fits in your specific car/truck, give their site a try.
MOOOOOO

#3 of 23 OFFLINE   Shawn.G

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Posted March 25 2003 - 02:49 PM

I tried Crutchfield, but for the speakers they gave me both oval and circle fitting speakers. I'll try agian, but in the mean time what is a good car audio forum?

#4 of 23 OFFLINE   Marshall Alsup

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Posted March 25 2003 - 03:46 PM

www.caraudioforum.com Posted Image

You answered your own question. But seriously, its a great site, I consider it the HTF of the car audio world. They are a little hardcore, but like here, they're always willing to help a new guy.

later,
Marshall
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#5 of 23 OFFLINE   Scott L

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Posted March 25 2003 - 04:39 PM

If you've never installed a cd receiver before I'd recommend to get it straight from Crutchfield. They charge retail but they include wiring harnesses for free and detailed illustrated instructions on how to install the player. The same goes for speeakers.

Plus they arguably have the best customer service in the world! Posted Image

Bargain sites:
www.ikesound.com
www.zebaudio.com
www.carmedia1.com

#6 of 23 OFFLINE   DarrenH

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Posted March 25 2003 - 04:59 PM

Hi Shawn, You might want to take a ride over to your local car audio store (not Best Buy but a smaller private place specializing in car audio). The guys there are usually pretty cool, and if you aren't ready to buy, tell them, and see what they have to offer, and tell them you are checking your options. On popular models like Explorers, they might know sizes off the top of their head, if not, they have books and computer programs to give specifics about each model. At least if something doesn't sound right, the guy can come and look at your truck. Good luck...

#7 of 23 OFFLINE   JayV

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Posted March 26 2003 - 02:11 AM

Shawn, I purchased from Crutchfield for my 1997 Ford Explorer XLT. I installed a Sony head unit and a Sony ten-disc CD changer. I think it was about $325 total. Their web site can be configured to only show you equipment that is compatible with your truck. Crutchfield, as Scott pointed out, includes everything you need: the wiring harness, the amp bypass, a new fascia to give you a pocket above the head unit (because the new head unit is half the height of the OEM radio) and instructions specific to your (our) vehicle for free. They also included an IR remote control for free for some reason. Dunno if it was an unadvertised special or a mistake, but I wasn't charged for it. The amp bypass runs to the amp hidden behind the right-side rear panel in the cargo area (the one with the pocket). I put the changer underneath the right rear seat (the wider one). There is enough clearance to fold the seat down properly. I secured it to the floor with self-tapping sheet metal screws. You might want to pick up a panel removal tool from Pep Boys or whatever. It looks like a funky screwdriver and helps pop out the panel. Also, empty your glove box and open it all the way. You can disengage it by pushing in the tabs while pulling on it. This will give you access to run the amp bypass and CD changer control cable under the paneling to the right. The entire installation took about twenty minutes. No soldering required. -j

#8 of 23 OFFLINE   Shawn.G

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Posted March 26 2003 - 02:12 AM

Thanks everyone. This helps a lot.

#9 of 23 OFFLINE   Angelo.M

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Posted March 26 2003 - 02:48 AM

Uh, don't want to sabotage the thread, but... The CD player (installed by CC, I think) in my wife's car is dead. I'd like to replace it with an CD/MP3 myself. Should I take on the project myself? Will I have to replace the wiring harness that CC put in? Any help appreciated in advance...

#10 of 23 OFFLINE   Mathew Shelby

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Posted March 26 2003 - 03:23 AM

I would also check out cardomain.com AND sounddomain.com. You can actually see what your Explorer will look like with the audio equipment installed.

#11 of 23 OFFLINE   Christ Reynolds

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Posted March 26 2003 - 06:15 AM

[quote] You might want to take a ride over to your local car audio store (not Best Buy but a smaller private place specializing in car audio). [quote] in defense of a job i hated...i worked for bby doing mobile install for two years, and while not everyone was a pro, they werent 'to be avoided'. our bay was quite good at times, and mostly everyone knew their shit. i agree that not all the installers are great company-wide, but avoiding bby just because of the name is silly. in comparison, there was a specialized car audio place down the street. they didnt know i was from bby, yet that didnt stop him from being a condescending prick toward me. it depends on the people in the bay, not the bay's name. best of luck.

CJ
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#12 of 23 OFFLINE   Ted Lee

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Posted March 26 2003 - 06:28 AM

angelo - you should be able to tackle the project yourself. you may (or may not) need a new wiring harness. it depends on how the other intallers made the connection. they probably used those plastic crimps, but even then you may be able to cut off the excess. but it probably won't hurt to get another wiring harness - they're only about 10 bucks. then you just wire the new harness into your new head unit, then clip it to your car's existing wiring. i love those harnesses - i did my friend's car in about 20 minutes. no kidding...
 

#13 of 23 OFFLINE   Angelo.M

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Posted March 26 2003 - 07:52 AM

Ted: Thanks. Pardon my ingorance, but I want to be clear on the terminology. I know that the head unit can be wired into a harness, but is there also a harness that the car's existing wiring connects to? So, am I ultimately making a harness-to-harness connection? Or is there only one harness--wired to the head unit--to which the car's wiring must also be connected?

#14 of 23 OFFLINE   Ted Lee

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Posted March 26 2003 - 08:14 AM

[quote] So, am I ultimately making a harness-to-harness connection? [quote]

yup, that's exactly right. it'll look something like this.

factory wiring --> factory harness --> aftermarket harness --> aftermarket headunit

the two harnesses clip together to make the connection between the head-unit and the car's factory wiring.
 

#15 of 23 OFFLINE   Shawn.G

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Posted March 26 2003 - 03:22 PM

It seems like Crutchfield gives you some nice, free things. One of the things I am worried about is that if I get an in- dash CD receiver, and I don't really know what it is called, but Crutchfield calls it a receiver mounting kit...for those who have Ford Explorers, they know what the radio looks like, the factory radio is pretty big and the regular cd receivers on Crutchfield are smaller. Is this receiver mounting kit what I need for the new, smaller receiver to fit? I think I have answered my own question, but I want to make sure I am on the right track. ALSO, what watt RMS do you recommend being the least you can safely go without making the music sound too bad? Thanks for all the help. I am sorry this is worded so badly:b .

#16 of 23 OFFLINE   Ted Lee

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Posted March 27 2003 - 03:34 AM

[quote] Is this receiver mounting kit what I need for the new, smaller receiver to fit? [quote]

yep, you need the dash adaptor to make the smaller after-market unit fit the car's existing space.

also, they do make after-market stereo's specially sized for these types of openings. check out this example from pioneer.
 

#17 of 23 OFFLINE   Jason Merrick

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Posted March 27 2003 - 04:03 AM

Hey Shawn, You will be very surprised by the improvement in sound quality just from replacing your head unit. I have a 1998 Expedition and if your Explorer is the same as mine (which I'm pretty sure it is) you can't use one of those larger Pioneers (1.5 din) because of the stuff that is behind the factory stereo. The top half of the factory stereo is only an inch or two deep and there is some defroster ducting or something behind there that prevents you from installing an aftermarket head unit of comparable size. Most modern aftermarket head units will output between 20-25 watts RMS x four channels which is plenty for most normal applications. If you like to really crank your music up though, you will want to replace the door speakers and install an amplifier to run them (at least 40 watts RMS per channel or more). Also, if your Explorer is the same as my Expedition, the speaker size is kind of odd... both 5x7 and 6x8 will fit. The reason Crutchfield shows you round speakers as well is because you can just use a simple mounting plate adapter to install the proper size round speaker into your oval opening. Without trying to start a flame war, I will say that you should do some research on which brand of head unit to buy prior to purchasing. Many will look similar, most will look great, but they don't all sound alike. For instance, I purchased a fairly good (at the time) Sony CDX-M630 a year ago for my Expedition and have never been all that happy with the sound quality (I also replaced the front speakers with Clarion components and the back speakers with Alpine Coaxials and am running an Alpine multi-channel amp). In contrast, I recently purchased a Pioneer 8400 head unit for my new Acura RSX and am running the stock door speakers off the head unit with no amp and the sound quality is MUCH better with the Pioneer and actually louder, which very much surprised me. I have since found out that Sony's reputation for car audio products had gone way downhill in recent years. Just do some research before spending a lot of money! Good luck!

#18 of 23 OFFLINE   PrinzII

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Posted March 27 2003 - 05:30 AM

Considering that many Ford head units are made by Jensen, getting a new head unit would be a good start. Brands I would stick with in your case would be Eclipse, Alpine, Kenwood Excelon, Denon, Nakamichi, Clarion, and even Sony ES. Personally, I own an Eclipse and do not regret the $$ I spent on it. As far as speakers are concerned, you might want to look at Boston Acoustics, a/d/s (now a subsidiary of DEI (aka Viper)), Eclipse, Diamond Audio, JL Audio, MB Quart....to name a few. When you actually go shopping, treat the purchase of your car system the same as you would for your home theater system. Bring some CDs with you that you know are mixed very well and sample them with different head unit/speaker/amp combos. That's the easiest and fastest way to determine what ultimately sounds pleasing to you.
Building mine one piece at a time.

#19 of 23 OFFLINE   Scott L

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Posted March 27 2003 - 05:49 AM

After using and hearing so many headunits all I'd go for at the moment is Alpine. Kenwood Excelon ain't bad either but I'd definitely stay away from Sony. Like their home audio components they focus more on looks & features than sound quality. Posted Image

I'm planning my next HU will be harddrive-based so I can stop fooling with CDs and scratches...

#20 of 23 OFFLINE   DarrenH

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Posted March 27 2003 - 01:33 PM

Hey Christ, Sorry, I wasn't making a value judgement on the skills of the installers at best buy. I find that store is best to walk in and out of, and it is usually difficult to get help, and at times the help you get is not all that great (maybe this is just the ones in my area). I have found that the people at specialty stores are more willing to take time and talk to you, and even come out and check out your vehicle. That is not to say that there aren't jerks at the specialty stores, unfortunately one can find less-than desireable people anywhere. Also, it is nice to build up a relationship with the people at specialty stores because they tend to have less turn-over compared to best buy. Just my $0.02, didn't mean to offend...




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