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Aftermarket Radio -- Where to begin?


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16 replies to this topic

#1 of 17 Aaron Silverman

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Posted September 16 2003 - 03:48 AM

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 Posted Image).

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?
"How wonderful it will be to have a leader unburdened by the twin horrors of knowledge and experience." -- Mr. Wick

#2 of 17 Edison Tinker

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Posted September 16 2003 - 06:32 AM

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 Posted Image Posted Image
Fourteen hours ahead, a head that's heavier than lead...toothpicks pry open my eyes, a smile more yellow than the sky...

#3 of 17 Aaron Silverman

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Posted September 16 2003 - 09:45 AM

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!
"How wonderful it will be to have a leader unburdened by the twin horrors of knowledge and experience." -- Mr. Wick

#4 of 17 Scott L

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Posted September 16 2003 - 01:41 PM

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 of 17 Edison Tinker

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Posted September 16 2003 - 03:31 PM

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 Posted Image.
Fourteen hours ahead, a head that's heavier than lead...toothpicks pry open my eyes, a smile more yellow than the sky...

#6 of 17 Scott L

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Posted September 16 2003 - 05:31 PM

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. Posted Image Plays mp3/wma and comes with a remote. $210 shipped sound good?

#7 of 17 Aaron Silverman

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Posted September 17 2003 - 02:47 AM

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.

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

What exactly are coaxial speakers, and why would they make a sub unnecessary? (Like I said, I'm pretty ignorant when it comes to car audio! I did install a radio a number of years ago, though. Posted Image )

PS I believe the Bose option adds $650 to the sticker of the 6.
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#8 of 17 Edison Tinker

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Posted September 17 2003 - 05:00 AM

Quote:
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!


Better is subjective...for one not looking for audiophile/competition grade sound and just looking to better a stock steup then "going all out" isn't really necessary or cost effective, I doubt any of us has unlimited resources after all...and as far as not liking the way it sounds, well that's where auditioning equipment comes in...especially in the case of speakers...never buy without trying...

In putting together the system I have now, I did go all out...but I also didn't dump any cash into an upgraded factory unit only to upgrade it later...$650 extra into the price of the vehicle for a "premium BOSE" stereo is a waste IMO...spend that $650 on good aftermarket equipment and go home happier...

Aaron, coaxials are basically two way speakers where the tweeter sits on top of the woofer on one axis...they do not eliminate the need for a sub...I was merely suggesting that scenario because some people prefer "all around sound" (having speakers in the front and rear of the vehicle) and are not as concerned will bass level...personally I'd recommend the separates/sub route (scenario 2) since bass is an integral part of music and you'll want to be able to reproduce it effectively...good luck!
Fourteen hours ahead, a head that's heavier than lead...toothpicks pry open my eyes, a smile more yellow than the sky...

#9 of 17 Dave Bennett

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Posted September 18 2003 - 09:23 AM

Posted Image
That's why adding a new deck isn't really an option for him.
Regards,
Dave

#10 of 17 Scott L

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Posted September 20 2003 - 04:02 AM

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. Posted Image

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

#11 of 17 Dave Bennett

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Posted September 20 2003 - 04:39 AM

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.
Regards,
Dave

#12 of 17 Aaron Silverman

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Posted September 24 2003 - 10:35 AM

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. Posted Image If nothing else, it'll be worth a few extra bucks when I eventually trade it in!
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#13 of 17 John_MackieBass

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Posted September 30 2003 - 05:51 AM

ive always liked blaupunks HUs.

#14 of 17 Aaron Silverman

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Posted October 08 2003 - 07:27 AM

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! Posted Image

I will probably replace the speakers at some point, but for now, it's fine.
"How wonderful it will be to have a leader unburdened by the twin horrors of knowledge and experience." -- Mr. Wick

#15 of 17 Dave Bennett

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Posted October 08 2003 - 09:11 AM

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 Posted Image
Regards,
Dave

#16 of 17 Aaron Silverman

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Posted October 10 2003 - 08:12 AM

Agreed. And this after putting out the MazdaSpeed Protege and Protege5 with 3rd-party radios standard!
"How wonderful it will be to have a leader unburdened by the twin horrors of knowledge and experience." -- Mr. Wick

#17 of 17 Dave Bennett

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Posted October 10 2003 - 11:04 AM

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.
Regards,
Dave





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