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Newbie: Wanting to upgrade my sound, please critique my first quote.

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14 replies to this topic

#1 of 15 OFFLINE   George_W_K



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Posted July 03 2007 - 05:12 PM

Hello everyone,

I'd like to upgrade the sound in my 2003 Impala LS. I went to an audio shop today to get a quote on a total upgrade and I wanted your opinion on the products and prices and was wondering if you had any suggestions on what's good, or isn't, other products I should look into, etc.

The guy quoted me on a Soundstream set-up.

HU = VIR8006T 3.6" DVD/CD/MP3 In Dash Player W/TV Tuner - $400
ANT1 TV Antenna = $40
SWIX PAC Steering Control $70
Radio Installation Charge = $65
Metra Wiring Harness $10
Metra Harness $20
GM10 Metra GM Radio to Aftermarket Radio $5
MPQ5XO Parametric EQ w/ XO = $140
TRC.6N 200W Tarantula Component Set = $300ea. (X2, so $600)
Custom Speaker installation = $45 (X4)
TRA 1000.2 Tarantula 2 CH amp = $400
TRA 960.4 Tarantula 4 CH amp = $500
Amplifier Kit = $100
Amplifier Installation = $200
RFW12 12" subs = $200 (X2)
DA212C Diamond Slot Ported Enclosure = $150

All of this with tax comes to a total around $3500. I was only planning on spending around $2000. Over budget or not, is this a good system? Is there a better HU out there for around the same price, but does the same functions, or even more (like XM Ready, HD Radio, etc.)

To give you a better idea on the kind of sound I was looking for I'll tell you what I told the salesman. I want to be able to listen to a well recorded jazz or classical CD and it sound as close to a live performance as possible. But, I also listen to electronica/house/techno and would like the sub to hit deep, hard, but clean.

What are your opinions, and what other info would you like me to provide?

How hard is it to learn how to install this stuff? I'm not a stranger to using tools, but I am a stranger to taking my car apart to run wires and the like. Is there a good place to look up how to take whatever panels I need off without breaking them?

Thanks for the input!

#2 of 15 OFFLINE   Robert_J


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Posted July 04 2007 - 09:09 AM

You gave model numbers but not manufacturers. I have no idea what a Tarantula amp is. I know that Soundstream had a Tarantula line at one time. I think your subs may be Rockford Fosgate since they start with an RF. $100 per sub for sound quality? Not in my book. Also, your slot ported box. What's it tuned to? That's a big thing with ported subs. If you tune too high it will be boomy. Finally your EQ. Do you need it? You really shouldn't add an EQ until after your system is installed and tweaked. Then only add it as a last resort. Your will need to run something like True RTA and look at your system's response and then tweak from there to get it flat.

How hard is it to install? Easy if you take your time. I've worked on a base Impala when I installed an XM receiver. It took 5 minutes to pull the factory radio. If you order your head unit from Crutchfield, they send you instructions on how to remove the HU as well as all of the speakers. Door panels are easy if you know where all of the screws are. When I used Crutchfield instruction to upgrade the front door speakers, it took an hour for the first door and 30 minutes for the 2nd. Amp installs are a little more difficult since you have to run wires from the battery. It's really a 2 person job.

Look around at other options. Like CDT and Elemental Designs for speakers. They have some high quality models. Or you can piece together some components from Dayton RS series mids with Vifa tweeters. DIY Mobile Audio has some great advice on what works and you have very little of the juvenile chatter like on other car audio forums.

I'm not sure about prices but here's what I would do about speakers and subs:
1 ED 9.2 - 2 channel amp for your front speakers
1 ED 6500 - 6.5" component speakes for your fronts
(Leave your rear stock speaker and power then with the HU or don't connect them at all.)
1 ED 9.1 - mono amp for the sub(s)
Subs - pick one of the following that best fits your budget
2 ED Kv.2 12's - Good subs for the price but the are "budget" class
2 ED Ov.2 12's - An upgrade from the K series.
2 TC Sounds TC-1000 12's - I'm a TC Sounds nut. The 1000's are EXTREMELY clean sounding.
1 TC Sounds TC-2000 12 - An upgrade from the 1000. You only need a single sub.
2 TC Sounds OEM 10's - The same motor that is used on the 2000 but with a nomex fiber cone. Very nice.

All of these will work in sealed boxes. Don't go ported. You don't need it.

If you decide on TC Sounds, then act quickly because prices are going up in 2 weeks.


#3 of 15 OFFLINE   George_W_K



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Posted July 04 2007 - 10:24 AM

Robert, the head unit, amps, and speakers are all Soundstream. The ported box was what the store owner said he would put the 2 12" subs in and said it was a good match to the particular subs he spec'd out for me. Also, he put the EQ in not only for the equalization, but because of the 10V output to the amps as well.

Oh, and the subs are $200 each. I'll edit my original post to clarify.

I'm definitely not stuck on the items he chose for me, when I first signed up here for HT I received plenty of advice on what speakers to buy and my money went a lot further than if I didn't sign up here. I plan on doing the same for car audio.

As for TC sounds, would my old woofers from my SVS PB12 plus/2 be an option to use in my car? They're the 12.1's.

#4 of 15 OFFLINE   Robert_J


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Posted July 05 2007 - 01:15 AM

Your 12.1 will work just fine. In fact, TC Sounds was selling off their extras for $75 each since SVS took their driver manufacturing in-house - link.

I didn't know that Soundstream made head units. They are known for their Reference series amps since they are still getting a premium price on Ebay. I've seen a little discussion of their current subs and amps on the car audio forums but there are definitely better buys out there.

I'm still recommending a HU from Crutchfield. My favorite is Pioneer. The one in my Maxima is 13 years old and still working just fine. I may upgrade to get one that has a USB input so I can connect a 20GB drive to it.

If the ED components are too much, Cadence has some overstock in their online store for under $100. They were $250 when they came out a couple of years ago. Very good reviews. Mount the mid in the stock location and the tweeter in a spot on the door a little above the mid. Just use a hole saw on your drill to make a hole the appropriate size. The trim rings on the tweeter make it a nice, neat install. Or you can go with a nice coaxial from someone like CDT. Any way you go, the doors are extremely easy to work on. They are usually held on with 2 or 3 screws and some plastic push pins. Your local Autozone will have a panel puller for $10 that will make the removal very easy.

Like I said earlier, use the facory rear speakers and power them with the HU or don't power them at all. You want your music to come from the front. I don't use rear speakers at all.

Subs - use the recommended small, sealed box for your 12.1's. The ED amp will push about 450 watts to each. You will have more than enough bass.

Amps - ED amps. Quality brand that has a great warranty. You can also get a good install kit from them as well. If you run into trouble, the owner of the company as well as their tech guys frequent their forum or you can call for help. They stand behind their product.

DIY car installs are not difficult. Once you get over your fear of popping off a panel, it's EASY. If you happen to break a push pin, you can buy a replacement bag of them from Autozone or your local Chevy dealer for a few dollars. Run your power wires down one side of the car and your signal wires down the other side. Door sills are easy to remove and that gives you access to the edge of the carpet to run wires under it. I've seen the trunk of a regular Impala and yours should be at least as large. Your sub box should fit without a problem. There are dozens of pre-fab ones one Ebay. ED will build a custom one for you. Or you can use one of their many blueprints and try your hand at building.

Check out the prices of the equipment I listed. See how much you will save with a DIY install. Break it down into sub-projects and tackle each one.


#5 of 15 OFFLINE   George_W_K



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Posted July 05 2007 - 11:44 AM

Originally Posted by Robert_J
Subs - use the recommended small, sealed box for your 12.1's. The ED amp will push about 450 watts to each. You will have more than enough bass.
Where is this recommended, the TC Sounds site? I may as well use my subs instead of spending money on others. Then I can up the price of the head unit.

I'd really like a DVD unit, but don't need the NAV option. I haven't seen anything come with a TV Tuner besides the Soundstream so I'll probably have to lose that.

#6 of 15 OFFLINE   Robert_J


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Posted July 05 2007 - 02:33 PM

The recommended 1.4 cf box is on the link I posted above. After TC Sounds sold off the last of their db500's, they removed the page from their site. The wayback machine (archive.org) is a great way to find old information.

Are you wanting a DVD unit for yourself or for kids in the back seat. It is illegal in 99.9% of the country to have a DVD screen in view of the driver while the car is in motion. It's not enforced much or the guys here in Memphis with monitors in their sun visors would get busted all of the time.

And I would think a TV tuner in a car would be useless. It's difficult enough to get the proper antenna to pick up HDTV at a stationary house. I'd hate to have to mount my 40" UHF antenna on the roof of my wife's Lexus. She won't even let me upgrade the factory speakers until the "new" wears off.


#7 of 15 OFFLINE   George_W_K



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Posted July 05 2007 - 04:46 PM

I was thinking about a DVD player for myself, but more along the lines of music videos and such, more for the music. But, I will also use it for movies, but not while driving.

#8 of 15 OFFLINE   Robert_J


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Posted July 06 2007 - 05:42 AM

If you are still set on a DVD player, still check out Crutchfield for models from Pioneer, Eclipse, Alpine and other major players in this area. I don't see myself ever using that feature. That's why there's different models. I'm looking for USB connections so I can put a large chunk of my digital music in the car.


#9 of 15 OFFLINE   George_W_K



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Posted July 11 2007 - 12:03 PM

UPDATE: I bought an Alpine IVA-W205 and had it installed today for almost the same price as Crutchfield is selling the radio. And from an authorized dealer! Thankfully, I happened to know a guy who knew the store owner so he helped me out. Posted Image

I really like this unit so far, but it's going to be much better whenever I have a full system running.

Now I have to worry about speakers! From my HT experience, this part is really going to take awhile.

#10 of 15 OFFLINE   Paul_Dunlop


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Posted July 13 2007 - 02:37 AM

^ That is a great start!
And I always recommend to people that they should upgrade 1 or 2 peices at a time, for the following reasons

1. costs are smoothed out over a period of time
2. you will appreciate each upgrade more ****Most important reason
3. you will know when to stop

in my opinion. $3500 is way too much up front cost

Continuing on with what you already have, I would do the following next

1. 4 channel amp install - for the stock speakers - let them know you will be adding another amp for the sub - they can run all the cables at the same time

2. new front speakers
3. sub amp and subwoofer - you may only need 1 12"
4. new rear speakers (if needed)

I think the only drawback to this way of doing things, is the multiple trips to the install shop - but I think the benefits outweigh that

Have fun with your upgrade
HD DVD in the house

#11 of 15 OFFLINE   George_W_K



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Posted July 15 2007 - 03:34 PM

Hi Paul,

I didn't get an e-mail telling me I received a reply or I would have been a little more patient and followed your advice. I just won a bid on some Focal 165 K2P speakers for the fronts. I won't be installing them (or have them installed) until I have an amp though. No reason to underpower them.

Thanks for the advice!

#12 of 15 OFFLINE   JLAudioCavalier



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Posted July 19 2007 - 12:38 AM

I think you will be please with those components. Going to be quite a nice upgrade from factory speakers. Did you give them a listen before going out and purchasing them? Everyones ears are different, so I worry when people purchase their speakers without an audition.

But anywho, do you plan to get into the hobby or simply upgrade the sound and leave it to the pros? You will be surprised as to how much you can save with a DIY job rather than paying for each piece to be installed. And you will have a ton more fun! Posted Image

Starting from scratch and ignoring your innitial thread with those pieces the shop put together for you, assuming you purchase online, what is your budget for an amp for those comps? I may be able to point you in a very... very good direction.

#13 of 15 OFFLINE   Justin Lane

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Posted July 22 2007 - 01:11 AM


I think you will be happy with the Soundstream system if you decide to go that route. I have used their amps and have no complaints.

The Crutchfield recommendation is fine if you are set-up to do the work (have proper splice connectors, tools, time, and know how). However if this is your first amplifier, I would say get some help before taking on the task yourself.

For the $445 dollars it looks like they are charging you, in my opinion it is worth just having the shop do the install as they have more experience with such matters and will make everythign look clean and neat.


#14 of 15 OFFLINE   s_sarah



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Posted January 27 2008 - 08:40 PM

Invest in good sound equipment. It will come in handy in the future.

#15 of 15 OFFLINE   penchuin



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Posted May 26 2008 - 07:23 PM

Thanks for the reassurance. I like impala’s nice look with an updated interior.Posted Image