Looking for information on Car Audio CD Players

Discussion in 'Mobile Phones / Entertainment' started by Brian Harnish, Oct 25, 2003.

  1. Brian Harnish

    Brian Harnish Screenwriter

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    Now I have a great place to discuss car audio as well. Awesome! [​IMG]

    I'm currently looking to upgrade my new 1996 Honda Civic LX with a new CD Player (right now it has a Pioneer cassette/stereo receiver which sucks as I really dislike audio cassettes). Brands I'm looking at include Pioneer (which I have in my old crappy car) and Kenwood. Price range I'm looking to spend is $150.00 for the CD player. I don't commute in my car as long as most do. However, I do want to get the best possible head unit in my price range.

    Right now, I'm considering purchasing it at Best Buy or Circuit City due to their quick installations. My first car's installation was done within a couple hours. However, I may consider going to a specialty car audio installation place (that may be a better route to take).

    Also, I'm not looking to upgrade speakers yet as they seem to sound a lot better than my old car's speakers with the radio (warmer and clearer as well). I'll get some great speakers later when I run into some extra cash.

    I'm looking forward to the always-informative responses here. [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  2. brentl

    brentl Cinematographer

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    I think you picked a bad day to ask, most people take the weekends off[​IMG]

    I'd look at doing it yourself, it;s really easy and will save you some $

    I prefer Sony, but I tend to get spanked for offering it as a viable HU.

    Alpine is always a good choice.

    People say Pioneer but Ijust find them WAY to busy.

    B
     
  3. Brian Harnish

    Brian Harnish Screenwriter

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    I used to be a diehard Sonyphile myself but recently got turned into exploring other brands in Home Theater (and much more recently, car audio). So I'll explore other brands than Sony (I love my Toshiba 42H83 Widescreen RPTV).

    Do the HUs come with instructions on how to install it? I enjoy installing HT stuff myself so this should be fun. I only hope that a 1996 Honda Civic LX dash isn't too complicated to remove.

    What web sites are out there that delve into the installation phase of car audio more deeply?
     
  4. VinhT

    VinhT Second Unit

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    If you are just installing a new head unit, then the installation itself is extremely easy.

    You will need to purchase three items:
    Head unit
    Honda-to-universal wiring harness adapter ($15)
    Head unit brand-to-universal wiring harness ($15)

    The last item is optional, but will save you time as you will not have to splice wires. The installation is simply connecting the Honda wiring to the universal adapter, then connecting the head unit with the brand-specific wiring harness.

    The most difficult part of car audio is the car disassembly. The Honda Civic dash is not the fastest to take apart, but since the cars are so popular, you should be able to find a great deal of information about the process on the Internet.

    As for having a retail store install the head unit for you, please note that the seemingly long installation time is due to waiting time. The actual dash disassembly, head unit installation, and dash reassembly takes about 15 minutes at a leisurely pace.
     
  5. Sean^M

    Sean^M Stunt Coordinator

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    Avoid Sony like the plague. Their reliability is one of the worst in the car audio field. Their products tend to have a >50% failure rate within the first year. Their performance sadly lacks as well. I think they bought up some really bad car audio company and slapped their name on everything. That's the only explanation I could come up with. heh

    Apline is escellent, Pioneer is alright. In your price range, look at Clarion. $150 is on the really low end of teh spectrum, so choices are tight. If you want that for $150 installed, you'll rally be hurting unless you find a free install offer, of DIY.

    For speakers, look at a company called CDT. They offer pretty much the best speakers in the lower price range, until you're ready to spend at least $200+ per set.
    www.etronics.com
    www.thezeb.com
    both have good prices for the above items.
    If you do go the DIY route, all you'll need is the wiring harness(es) for the Honda head unit location, and a mounting kit for the radio if the existing one doesn't do the job for you.

    did I miss anything?
     
  6. Brian Harnish

    Brian Harnish Screenwriter

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    Thanks for the advice, everyone! I'm seriously considering going with the Alpine CDA-9805 or the CDA-9803. Not exactly sure yet. I'll check them out in person and see how they perform.
     
  7. Sean^M

    Sean^M Stunt Coordinator

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    If you want really nice clean power from a head unit, look at Alpine's V-Drive models as well. They use an 8 or 10AWG power line directly from the battery for the internal amplifier for the current draw. For a head unit, they power a set of components very nicely.
    Just a thing to keep in mind if you're interested.
     
  8. ChrisAG

    ChrisAG Supporting Actor

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    The V-drive is way out of his price range.

    The 9805 is a nice unit - very easy to use by feel, nice display. The 9807 is more expensive but it gives you MP3/WMA playback, which I find useful since I download Internet radio shows and burn them to disc. However, the silver 9807 may not match your car's interior.

    You may kick yourself later if you don't get a unit with MP3 capability... just brown-bag your lunch for a few weeks to save the cash [​IMG]
     
  9. brentl

    brentl Cinematographer

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    I think alot of what people have to say about Sony is what they heard from the web and YMMV

    3 Sony HUs 7180(13 years old),XRU880(10), and CDx-5050x(2). The last 2 units are ES. With the exception of the XRU-880 the others work perfectly. The XRU880 is preamp only and after sitting in the garage for 2 years they act up now.

    3 Sony amps regular line. 2-4024(40w times 2, 120 bridged) and 1 3020(30w by 2) All work PERFECTLY

    1 Sony crossover XEC-1000 a very good crossover work perfectly. It's also around 10 years old.

    They must have fallen awefully far to be despised by the masses. Maybe it's just that the "cool factor" isn't there.

    Don't think I won't try any other brands, but I've always had good luck with Sony

    Brent
    Brian .... Here is the install for your radio

    I hope you don't have factory locks, as you'll read in the PDF.
     
  10. Sean^M

    Sean^M Stunt Coordinator

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    Chris, I see the Vdrive models on eBay go for pretty decent prices if he's willing to go that route. It was just something I figured I'd mention, as I'm not fond of head unit internal amps in general.

    Brent, regarding Sony, I'm speaking from experience. as an E.E., the shop where I worked used to be a Sony dealer. We dropped Sony due to the poor reliability, high failure and return rate, and horrid difficulty getting parts to repair their products even as an authorized repair center. They are cheaply put together, and don't hold up well. Kenwood isn't any better to be honest. They are two of my least favorite large names in car audio. Just about every Sony and Kenwood product I have given a chance has failed as well, repeatedly in fact, and I tend to baby my equipment as I compete in DQ events, and avoid SPL oriented events whenever possible. I figure hitting over 150dB is plenty and I don't need to have anything louder than that in a car.
    Particularly not at the cost of sonic quality. I prefer finesse to brute force.

    I also help run a car audio forum online that has about 2,000 active members, and pretty much every post involving Sony is a complaint or a cry for help, usually on a failed amplifier that has that dreaded protection light stuck on.
    Sadly, many of these amps are brand spankin' new out of the box, or less than 4 months old.

    Anyway, as I said before, if you're lucky and you get a good unit, it should serve you well. Just pray everybody has your luck with that stuff [​IMG] I try to stay with products that have the best reviews by the owners overall, and that I've had the best results with.. that tends to be stuff in the higher price ranges though, which I suppose stands to reason. older Orion and RF, sinfoni, mcintosh, eclipse, alpine, audiocontrol, onyx mobile audio, dynaudio, compustar, and so forth. I get queasy now the moment I hear a person say a name like audiobahn, pyramid, legacy, boss, planet audio (same as boss), etc when stating their problem.

    anyway I hope that doesn't all come across as argumentative. I'm just rambling. No offense intended, and I'm honestly glad you've had good luck with Sony. I wish everyone did. Heck, I adore their CRT technology, and a few other limited things they do, but overall, I fear Sony mostly rides on their name these days, and their gargantuan size.
    Too much of the world is going to the corporate big company conglomerate attitude, and the smaller, really high end companies are being swallowed up by that, and the personal touch some of us love so much is evaporating before our eyes.
     
  11. Brian Harnish

    Brian Harnish Screenwriter

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    Well, I got a nice surprise. I got a total of $250.00 for my birthday (not too bad for a guy that just turned 24) after my b-day dinner today; birthday was on Tuesday but didn't have the celebration 'till today. I'm seriously debating whether or not to spring for the Alpine 9805 or the Alpine 9811. I don't really burn CDs or play MP3s all that much myself so I'm probably not going to need the MP3 player features.

    What do you guys think? Should I wait until Friday to buy the Alpine 9811 unit with money from my paycheck or should I just go ahead and get the Alpine 9805? I'm excited right now and I have Tuesday off so getting it tomorrow and installing it myself on Tuesday (or even tomorrow) would be fun. I don't know whether I should delay gratification for features I might not use or what. Still not sure when or if I will ever get into MP3s.

    Also, thanks to everyone that gave me some very helpful advice! It's been very useful in helping me make my car audio decisions. [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  12. ChrisAG

    ChrisAG Supporting Actor

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    I have the 9811 and like it a lot (see my review at epinions)
    http://www.epinions.com/pr-Car_Stere...layer_CDA_9811
    There are a few features it has over the 9805 that you may like:

    - multi-angle tilt face, which is usefull if you mount the unit down low in your console/dash

    - time correction, which lets you set the delay in the closer speakers so that you appear to "be in the middle" of the sound

    - crossover adjustments for main speakers vs. subwoofer (just like in a Home Theatre receiver)

    - CD Text scroll

    - MP3/WMA playback

    - three colour vs. two colour display

    However, that being said, the 9805 is a nice unit, and there is no point in spending money on features you don't need. In fact, had I not wanted MP3 I probably would have gotten the 9805. You could always put the money you save with the 9805 into speakers, sub, or separate amp.
     
  13. Sean^M

    Sean^M Stunt Coordinator

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    Firstly, happy belated birthday.
    I would take a deep breath, and not let the money burn a hole in your pocket. Take a step back, look at the feature differences, and see which unit really fits your needs.
    There are always places to spend money you save on things you didn't really need. [​IMG]

    As suggested above, you could pet the extra money toward a nice, small 4 channel amplifier for the components in the car. For example, the JBL P80.4 is 40W x 4 @ 4 Ohms, and runs around $150 or less, and would give plenty of clean power to a couple sets of components, or a small mono amp and a sub to fill in that low end your mids/highs can't quite reach, to round out the system. Or, an alarm to protect your investment.

    It's always something. haha
     
  14. Angelo_Petralba

    Angelo_Petralba Second Unit

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    Happy Belated birthday..

    With a budget of a little over the $200.00 mark, you will have enough cash to have a very nice headunit offered by Eclipse..their Lower End line is MP3 Capable as well and they are one of the nicest sounding head units out there.

    There are not many bells/whistles on the units, but they are regarded as one of the better HU out there and if installed by your local authorized dealer, you'll get a 3 year warranty AND 1 year of Theft Warranty.


    Just another choice I guess.

    Angelo
     
  15. Brian Harnish

    Brian Harnish Screenwriter

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    Thanks a lot for the advice, everyone! I finally settled on the Alpine 9803 due to its ability for CD-R/CD-RW playback (so I don't have to have my original CDs in the car). I got it this morning and had the dealer install it (Al & Ed's Autosound in Huntington Beach). Excellent, fast service. I also saw a pair of Pioneer speakers that I really like the sound of. I'll buy those within the next two months. [​IMG]

    Excellent head unit and I love the sound from it. From the sounds of the speakers that are already in the car, though, it sounds like the previous owner was an audiophile him/herself. I'd like to find out which speakers are in the car already. Very nice HU and well worth the $200.00. [​IMG]
     
  16. brentl

    brentl Cinematographer

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    Cool, You didn't like the install guide[​IMG] I swear, it's really easy[​IMG]

    I currently have my dash and armrest(etc) apart so I can put a couple amps and my crossover under my seats, and it's been a while, but I reallly still enjoy this stuff.

    So I guess it's true, Sony stiff has really fallen over the last 5 years!! Too bad, I remember not so long ago when the Sony rmx 2001 was the beginnings of a very high end system. Darn, even 5-6 years ago the cdx-c910 was one of the much loved HUs out there.

    Too bad

    I guess my Sony HU won't get ripped off ..... THAT"S GREAT!!

    Brent
     
  17. Sean^M

    Sean^M Stunt Coordinator

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    actually the c910 is one of those rare exceptions that came out really well. If you have one, treat it kindly, and cherish it. [​IMG]
    The problems we (my shop) had with Sony date back to at least 1990 though. It isn't a "new" thing per se.
    Anyway enough badmouthing Sony. I didn't mean to make such a big deal out of it. I'll try not to nay-say stuff so much in the future. Everybody has their personal tastes. [​IMG]
    I'll freely admit that my tastes are very "elitist" and I'm a bit snobbish about better hardware. I just hate to see folks blow good money on cheap hardware and have it fail, then have to spend more replacing it. (note by cheap I mean poorly made)
     
  18. Brian Harnish

    Brian Harnish Screenwriter

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    I may not even need to get the speakers I mentioned above. After spending more than a few minutes listening to my new CD player, it sounds like the previous owner(s) of the car was an audiophile. Compared to the stock speakers and stock cd player in my mom's Honda Accord EX (barely any midrange; can anyone guess who might have made these speakers?), the speakers in mine sound warmer, and there is a distinct lower range, midrange, and high range as well.

    The midrange is what got to me -- it is very clear and defined. The stock speakers in the Honda Accord I used to "borrow" sound very hollow and not very good compared to the ones in my new car. Maybe I'm just imagining things but I can definitely tell a difference (even mom could -- she was surprised at how nice my new audio system sounds...hehehe).

    Very nice sound, indeed. Another excellent purchase thanks to everyone's expert help. [​IMG] [​IMG]
     

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