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In Reply to: RE: You need a very quiet car to make it worthwhile. My entry-level Camry posted by oldmkvi on April 11, 2017 at 10:39:53
I assume you had your new system installed by a car stereo shop, rather than paying upfront for an upgraded factory stereo.
I played that game a couple times and based on personal experience it's better to pay upfront for the upgraded factory stereo when buying the car.
It's really not that difficult to best a factory installed system, and for about a third of what the manufacturer charges. The problem is, just as in our hobby, the masses aren't interested in quality, it doesn't sell, so the car shops give the public what they want, a trunk full of bass boxes.
I usually do my own, have for decades, it's where I started biamping back in the late 70's. In 1998 for my wife's Volvo I decided to have a shop do the work, they tried to push a bass box on me but I wasn't having it. The final system consisted of a set of Pioneer components in all four doors driven by a 4 channel Rockford amp, and 2 8" bass drivers in the rear deck with sealed tubes extending to the bottom of the trunk driven by a second Rockford. The head unit was a Pioneer Premier, I can't remember the model numbers of any of the equipment now.
The bass wouldn't rattle your windows when I drove by, but the sound would rival most decent home systems. The installers at the shop were floored, they never thought of doing the bass drivers that way. But I can't blame them, most of the kids that spend large sums on there car sound don't want what I had, they want MEGA bass.
I later did something similar with her Mercedes and the system was a huge improvement, even over the multi amped high end system Mercedes put in there S class cars at the time. At the same time I put together a system in my Chevy Z71 with the goal to do it for a $1000. I went a bit over, I believe the end total was $1200, but the system annihilated every system I had ever owned before. I purchased a demo head unit for under $200, used 2 6"passive bazooka tubes driven by a Rockford Punch 160, a set of Kenwood components in the doors, and 2 pair of Pioneer plate speakers in the dash and rear roof pillars, also powered by Rockford amplification.
Again, the 6" bass drivers wouldn't rattle your windows when I drove by, but the bass was fast, tight, musical, and plenty deep, you could definitely feel it in your gut.
I should add, I currently own a 2009 Mustang GT with the premium sound package, meaning the shaker 500. For a factory system it's better than many, but still only so so. The bass is boomy, the mids thin, the highs meh, and imaging is non existent, we almost never even turn it on.
I agree, I've yet to hear a factory system to give much competition to an aftermarket system of quality and good install. There's a system that Chrysler uses in a few cars that is pretty good, I heard one in a Durango and my friend's car, I forget what it is, HS or something. Sometime back JBL had a decent system in the Lincoln. I'd like to hear the Dynaudio system in VW. Or, the Naim system in the Rolls. To hear the sound of most factory systems I have to wonder if auto engineering considers sound at all or if it's just, where can we cram it in.
The trick to low noise and having a car system sound better is Dynamat, or similar product. Some aftermarket insulation does amazing things.
If you have the money a car system can now rival some high end systems for home and kill your average home system. There are processors you can buy that somehow put the sound in front of you like a home system. It's really amazing. So much so, I wonder if I'd find it too distracting. Auto for background or company while driving is one thing but a system that sounds that good is another.
You also have to choose your installer wisely. I went to a shop with my daughter, the guy was more than willing to show off his system, I put in a Dave Grusin CD, the bass was so over driven it was terrible, but that's what some kids think audio should sound like.
Last year my friend's Jaguar XK had to go into the repair shop. Meanwhile he was given a courtesy Jaguar with a Meridian audio system ( factory fitted option). Now I have never been that keen on Meridian home audio but that car system was unbelieveably impressive. Its achievement was way beyond my best expectations and of real audiophile quality. I thought about buying that Jag for a minute or two just for the sound system until I realised that I can't afford it and that I only drive about 500 miles a year (in my 2003 Ford Fiesta) :-).
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