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Need some car stereo advice, especially about speakers (long)


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#1 of 23 OFFLINE   Wayne A. Pflughaupt

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Posted September 29 2004 - 11:58 AM

Hi everyone,

Since time immemorial I’ve always had a nice stereo in my car (and my wife’s too) – that is, until a few years ago when I bought the old “beater” I’m presently driving. I wasn’t sure how long I was going to be using it, so didn’t want to go through all the trouble it takes to do a good-quality installation. (I’m telling you, the older you get the less you enjoy doing things like that!)

Well, it appears I’m going to be driving this thing for the foreseeable future, and I’ve reached the point where I’m more tired of enduring lo-fi sound than I am of avoiding “all the trouble.” So I’m looking to upgrade the stock system. Scratch that – there won’t be anything left of it when I’m finished!

Anyway, I have some old gear on the shelf from my previous daily driver, so I’ll be using some of it as well as picking up some additional gear. I’ll save the details on the old gear for another post, in the interest of keeping the most important stuff (and your attention Posted Image ) in this one.

Probably should mention going in - since I dabble in more hardware-laden hobbies than I can reasonably afford, I plan on doing this “on the cheap” with quality used gear. Since car stereo is primarily the province of the twenty-something-and-younger set, I figure there’ll be better bargains with “gone-and-forgotten” gear of yesteryear, no matter how good it was.

Okay, my biggest question at this point concerns speakers. Here are my musings:

The best car system I ever heard a few years ago was using Boston Pro Series components, so I’m considering basing my system on those. I am seriously considering going active all the way this time, so I’d be ditching the stock passive crossovers. Since most passive crossovers are 12dB/octave designs, I figure if I use a 24dB/octave active crossover (AudioControl, natch) I could safely push the crossover frequency down an octave. With separately mounted tweeters (I like the Pro’s surface-mounted angling capabilities) this would give better imaging.

So - any reason not to go this route? Would some other component set be better suited for active two-way?

Also I’m a little concerned that the Bostons appear to be fairly deep, and I’m afraid that might be an problem with the only door location I’ll be able to use. Will it be hard to find some kind of spacer, if need be?

Much as I liked the Bostons my buddy was using, they really didn’t compare to the speakers I had back in the 80’s – AR 1CS plates with 5-1/4” woofs and silk dome tweeters. I’ve always been more partial to silk domes than metal, so if someone can recommend a good component set that uses them - I’m there. Since this is an “on the cheap” project I’d naturally prefer something vintage over the latest “hot” thing that all the kiddies will be clambering for and bidding up.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts and opinions.

Regards,
Wayne A. Pflughaupt

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#2 of 23 OFFLINE   Wayne A. Pflughaupt

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Posted September 29 2004 - 12:05 PM

Okay, the old gear list:
  • Top-of-the-line late 90s Denon head unit. No need to be impressed – all of Denon’s head units were high-priced junk.
  • Early-90s vintage Yamaha 4 x 50w amp. Excellent amp, very clean, has served me well for many years. Whether or not I use or go with some other amps will depend on what you all tell me about the speakers!
  • Alpine stereo four-channel parametric EQ.
  • A pair of AudioControl 1/3-octave equalizers. Probably will use the Alpine, not these.
  • Mid-90s vintage MB Quart 6-1/2 coaxial speakers. Sound pretty nice, but never quite “did it” for me; that’s why I’m planning on different speakers.
  • An assortment of vintage Yamaha and Proton under-dash EQ/crossovers – primarily for outboard tone control. Probably won’t be using any of them, since I plan to go with outboard crossovers this time.
  • 12” Shiva driver for sub, box yet to be made. Probably going with 1.5 cu. ft. sealed ‘cause I want to keep it small, and I like sealed. Posted Image

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#3 of 23 OFFLINE   MikeArcher

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Posted September 29 2004 - 03:29 PM

Looks like some very nice equipment you've got there, minus the HU. If it was before the A1, R1, Z1 series it was probably made by JVC and badged denon. It sounds like you're moderately happy with it, however, so it's really your choice.

I know the Bostons are excellent drivers, but if I recall correctly they require a lot of power to really get going. I'm sure they'd sound fine with 50 to each midbass and tweeter, it just might not sound as good as you had hoped. Otherwise everything looks great and it seems like you should have a very nice car stereo in the works.

#4 of 23 OFFLINE   KenWong

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Posted September 30 2004 - 05:08 PM

If you aren't impressed by the quarts, just look around and take a listen. I agree, Boston makes some incredible stuff, if you're looking for inexpensive, I suggest polk or even eclipse, IMO. Also, how much are you looking at spending? As far as the mounting depth, you can make spacers yourself or have somebody make them for you. if they're that deep, you might have to go and do some custom work.

#5 of 23 OFFLINE   Wayne A. Pflughaupt

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Posted October 01 2004 - 05:19 AM

Mike,

Wow, didn’t know that about the Denon head units. I figured they were outsourced, but didn’t know by whom.

Ken,

I know it’s aggravating when people say this, but I really don’t have a set budget. But considering the equipment I already have, I hope to get out for a few hundred. I really don’t mind if I have to spend more; it will just take a little longer. But that’s no problem.

The biggest thing “up in the air” at this point is the question of going active 2-way for the front speakers. If I do that it will require additional amplifiers and crossovers that I don’t have at this time. If I just use the stock passive crossovers, about the only thing I’ll be needing hardware-wise is a sub amp.

Regarding the speakers, I’m more interested in excellent sound quality than something “inexpensive”, so I would say I’m looking for speakers in the $4-500 range - which means I should be able to find them on e-Bay for $200-250.

Preliminary internet research is turning up CDT and Focal as brands to consider alongside the Boston Pros, but for all three of these I’ve seen as many complaints of harsh or bright tweeters as I have rave reviews.

Any opinions on a/d/s components? I like the fact that they have soft dome tweets but they seem to get no respect on the car audio forums. I’d regard the opinions of the membership here as more reliable. Posted Image

Regards,
Wayne A. Pflughaupt

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#6 of 23 OFFLINE   Brad_Harper

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Posted October 01 2004 - 06:07 AM

Wayne:

If you want to go active just buy another 5 channel amp by a reputable company. Most 5 channels will have enough power on the mono channel to power your sub in a sealed box.

As far as speakers go, you have pretty much come up with all the popular component sets. The infinity perfect line may also be worth a listen. Pioneer's top of the line component set also was very good the last time I demoed them.

#7 of 23 OFFLINE   David.G

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Posted October 04 2004 - 12:40 PM

ok, well i'd say ditch the HU, i know its not the RF HU's like Denon now has but can't remember if it was JVC who was building there's before. I'd replace that with a new HU, Pioneer or Eclipse. Since you have some EQ piece already you don't need to buy a high end HU, could get the Eclipse 24 series or the Pioneer 4600(plays MP3). As far as speakers go with CDT. CDT's beat out Boston all day long. Much better than SQ. CDTs are on the same level as Focal and in some ways beat them out. I had MBs, Focals, Pioneer, Polk, Infinity, Vifa, Orion, Viper and got rid of all these to get CDT all around. I have an authorized dealer who i buy all my CDt stuff from, names djdilliodon. You can email him atislandsound1@yahoo.com He's got good prices. If you're going all active i'd suggest mixing and matching stuff. I'd get the HD-6 and the TW-25t with the LP-1. You can get the LP-1 and the TW-25t for about 50-60$ shipped and the HD-6 i'd say around 175$ or so. Email him and ask him, he's a good seller and i'd say buy from him. He's better than Ebay because he has warranties. He also carries other products too but CDT speakers are very good. Check out ICIXSOUND if you're looking for some CDT reviewing. Even Sounddomain forums push CDT.
David is the car audio guy, Jason is the home audio so if you see a post in car audio thats David, if in Home thats more than likely Jason. Confusing isn't it!!! Also i hope i am allowed to put my sounddomain down on my equipment page. Its car audio but you guys might enjoy it.

http://members.sou...

#8 of 23 OFFLINE   Chris_Liberti

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Posted October 04 2004 - 01:47 PM

What is your price range? There are some real good values in the low end if you aren't too concerned over having a big brand.

#9 of 23 OFFLINE   Wayne A. Pflughaupt

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Posted October 05 2004 - 02:13 PM

Brad,
Quote:
If you want to go active just buy another 5 channel amp by a reputable company. Most 5 channels will have enough power on the mono channel to power your sub in a sealed box.
Yup, that’s pretty much what I’ve come up with since I opened this thread. If I stay with the Yamaha amp, I’ll be needing a couple of crossovers and another amp, minimum. That’s really more hardware than I want. I’ve decided to try and land an older Soundstream Reference 5-channel, since they have built-in crossovers and higher power for the sub channel. Hopefully it will cost about the same as the other route, and save me lots of trunk space.

David,
Quote:
ok, well i'd say ditch the HU, i know its not the RF HU's like Denon now has but can't remember if it was JVC who was building there's before.
Believe it or not, Ken Pohlmann gave the one I have (DCR-950) top billing in the SQ department in a 1995 Car Stereo Review face-off with something like nine head units. It was Denon’s top-of-the-line offering at the time, something like $650 list.

Actually my only beef with it is that the removable faceplate is poorly designed. It loses contact pretty easily over bumps and the sound drops out for a second. No, it’s not the CD transport – it happens on radio, too. A minor complaint, but an inexcusable design flaw for a high-priced flagship model, no matter who it was outsourced by. Fortunately, I got it for about $100 on eBay a few years ago, so it doesn’t grate me nearly as much as it would if I had paid full retail. Posted Image
Quote:
I'd replace that with a new HU, Pioneer or Eclipse.
Right now I’m more interested in getting a functioning system installed, so I can live with the head unit for the time being. I may look into replacing it next year. For me that may prove to be a challenge; most of the head units I see these days are butt ugly. Except for perhaps some Nakamichi models, none of them look like hi-fi components. And I hate the way they beep every time you push a button. Not to mention, I prefer to have instant-access knobs for adjustments rather than sifting through menus for everything. I know, I know, “Good luck with that!” Posted Image

Still, I find the ability to play MP-3s pretty intriguing, so I may eventually have to bite the bullet. That Pioneer is a pretty low price for a MP-3 head unit.
Quote:
As far as speakers go with CDT.
Hadn’t heard of this brand until I started looking into this, but the name keeps coming up so much it’s hard to ignore it. I’ve found out since I opened this thread that a/d/s and Dyaudio use soft dome tweeters, so I think I’ll give them a try first. If I don’t like those I’ve moved CDT to the top of my list of must-see metal dome sets.

Regards,
Wayne A. Pflughaupt

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#10 of 23 OFFLINE   KenWong

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Posted October 06 2004 - 02:30 PM

"instant access knobs".... you're the same as me- I find it useless to have to go through all these buttons to make some adjustments to the sound EQ, DSP, Subwoofer, etc. The only one that I love for simplicity- which you may find ugly- is the Rockford Head Unit. Don't flame me for this one; I know Pioneer and Eclipse might be better, I work with them almost everyday, but I love the simplicity of the rockford much more than any Unit i've used.

Also, I know Denon and rockford teamed up, a couple of years? back and made a nice head unit with a nice platinum (champagne) finish, no internal amp, etc... It's regarded as a high-end unit so you might look at that if you are considering purchasing a new deck.


#11 of 23 OFFLINE   David.G

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Posted October 07 2004 - 11:18 AM

yeah sounddomain had released some of them a month or two ago. They are very nice if you're going to get a nice install. Won't really do much for you if you're going for a small setup. I'd get CDT before any company. I have all hard dome, i think its titanium, tweets and they are better than both soft and hard domes i've heard. It has all the detail of a hard dome but the nice SQ of a soft dome. I hated the Focals as they were too hard and all the soft dome tweets i got from MB and Infinity were too weak in detail and could be overpowered by the strong midrange i had. once i got the CDt tweets on the LP-1 remote all was well. LP-1 remote helps cut the level of the tweet by -10db. Improves the SQ of tweets at high volumes.
David is the car audio guy, Jason is the home audio so if you see a post in car audio thats David, if in Home thats more than likely Jason. Confusing isn't it!!! Also i hope i am allowed to put my sounddomain down on my equipment page. Its car audio but you guys might enjoy it.

http://members.sou...

#12 of 23 OFFLINE   Wayne A. Pflughaupt

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Posted October 07 2004 - 01:40 PM

Quote:
Also, I know Denon and rockford teamed up, a couple of years? back and made a nice head unit with a nice platinum (champagne) finish, no internal amp, etc...
That must be this one – going for a drop-dead $1200 on eBay.

http://www.sellersdo....057/Denon1.JPG

Looks like typical Denon – so much attention paid to SQ that they lose sight of the basics. For instance, for a couple grand or more wouldn’t you like to have nomenclature that’s readable in daylight?

Gimme strength.

I have a line on a set of a/d/s 346 components for a good price – about 1/3 of list. I think I’ve located a local dealer, so maybe I can give them an audition.

Regards,
Wayne A. Pflughaupt

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#13 of 23 OFFLINE   Wayne A. Pflughaupt

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Posted October 08 2004 - 05:19 AM

I’m surprised no on has commented on the prospect of running tweeters lower with active crossovers.
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#14 of 23 OFFLINE   KenWong

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Posted October 08 2004 - 05:59 AM

Uumm... it's being closed out at sound domain for 300
http://www.cardomain...item/ROCRFX8250

The only thing I thought they could have done to make it better was to replace those UGLY UGLY green buttons (lights).. I mean.. if it was red, I'd get it in a second!


#15 of 23 OFFLINE   Wayne A. Pflughaupt

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Posted October 13 2004 - 02:56 AM

Ken, did you read the description at that link?
Quote:
...the button illumination color can be switched from green to red.
So – I guess the check’s in the mail? Posted Image

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#16 of 23 OFFLINE   David.G

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Posted October 13 2004 - 04:46 AM

yeah thats the one 8250 i believe. Its not much in terms of features but thats why its designed for larger setups. Most people get it for the DACs and build and then buy an AC DQS or the RF EPX2 with upgrade chip for EQ features. I believe the Denon model will not work in the US only the RF one, not sure though. I think the Denon model's FM radio is setup for Euro stations and not US. I've heard many debate whether the 8250 or the Eclipse 8053 are better. I prefer Eclipse, better features, better security, and just as good build. But get a something that has good EQ features whether its a HU or add-on EQ because that controls your speakers. As far as switching the crossover points, make sure your other speakers can bridge the gap from where you cut it off. Messing with crossover points means you may take away frequencies from your stage which may be noticable. I spent a good hour messing with just my crossover points and EQ.
David is the car audio guy, Jason is the home audio so if you see a post in car audio thats David, if in Home thats more than likely Jason. Confusing isn't it!!! Also i hope i am allowed to put my sounddomain down on my equipment page. Its car audio but you guys might enjoy it.

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#17 of 23 OFFLINE   Dean_S

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Posted October 21 2004 - 02:47 AM

Wayne,

Consider using the 1/3 octave Audio Controls instead of the Alpine Parametric. I've found in my past experiences as an installer (over 9 years professionally and 20 years total) that the Audio Control EQX is less noisy and all around a better stuff then Alpine's processors.

I can't help you much with the speakers since I tend to like expensive (as far as car speakers go) DynAudio's. Since you are going to be running active crossovers I why not just buy the raw drivers and avoid paying for the passive crossovers (this assumes you don't need the accessories like grills or special mounts or you can make your own mounts/grills).

Dean

#18 of 23 OFFLINE   ClarkeMagnum

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Posted October 21 2004 - 04:52 PM

I agree with the last statement you have....

I have all of my stuff in my car ran actively and all through a PPI FRX-456 crossover...does everything I need it to do and more...

Some nice drivers to check out include:

Morel home audio's (particularly the 144/166 models)
Scanspeak revelators
Seas Lotus Premium's

Tweets include:

Scanspeak
LPG
Max Fidelity

I actually wouldn't mind building some really nice main's for my bedroom with my morel mids....their midrange is absolutely beautiful....

#19 of 23 OFFLINE   Wayne A. Pflughaupt

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Posted November 09 2004 - 04:16 PM

Hmm... For some reason I didn’t get e-mail notification for the last two posts.

Nice to hear the info on the equalizers, Dean. Frankly, I’m not surprised to hear that the AC is a better equalizer. Since I have both it won’t be hard to make a direct comparison. If I go full-active maybe I'll get lucky and only need EQing for the mids and sub. I would imagine that keeping the Alpine out of the high freq loop would probably eliminate the noise problem? Oh, the flexibility of full-active!

Quote:
Since you are going to be running active crossovers I why not just buy the raw drivers and avoid paying for the passive crossovers (this assumes you don't need the accessories like grills or special mounts or you can make your own mounts/grills).
This is going in an old car that didn’t have speakers in the door, so unfortunately it’s not a drop-in installation. I’ll have to cut holes, so I need the grills and other stuff. So that pretty well rules out anything full-on DIY.

I went ahead and got the a/d/s/ 346is I mentioned in my last post, even though I didn’t get to audition them locally. The price was too good to pass – got them new-in-the-box from a nice fellow who haunts the Elite Car Audio Forum for half list. Spent hours researching the archives of several forums and found nothing but good comments about them. They have the soft dome tweeters I wanted. Couldn’t find any specs on the crossover frequency, except that the manual says it’s “unusually low for a tweeter,” which is also in line with what I was looking for.

They’re supposed to compare favorably with Dynaudio - we’ll see. At the price I paid, if I don’t like them I can always eBay them and not be out too much.

Next up is an amp. I’ve decided not to use the Yamaha I have – it would require adding other amps and external crossovers. Too many boxes. In keeping with “buy high-quality older stuff that’s no longer the rage,” I’m going to go with a Soundstream Rubicon 5-channel model. Plenty of power, built-in crossovers if I need them. It would be easy to “test drive” the 346’s full-active. My understanding is that these amps sold in the $12-1500 range; I’ve seen them on eBay in primo shape go for under $350. Often way under. Hard to pass that up.

I also have a line on an interesting component, a PPI PSC. It’s an adjustable phase shifting device that can electrically compensate for the different lengths between the left and right speakers, which should improve imaging considerably. I hope to pick it up this weekend.

Regards,
Wayne A. Pflughaupt

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#20 of 23 OFFLINE   Dean_S

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Posted November 10 2004 - 06:15 AM

Wayne,

Soundstreams sound great and are a good match for the ADS speakers but they are not known for being extrememly reliable anymore. I really like the ADS speakers but they don't compare to DynAudio. The Dyn's are more natural sounding and much, much more revealing (not all that important in car but it is a noticable difference). That said, the ADS at retail is still far less expensive and a good value, a great value at half price. The funny thing about the ADS is the tweeter, it might be a soft dome but it doesn't always sound like one (can be bright, but the electronics will dictate just how bright they are).


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