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Old 21st May 2010, 04:58 AM   #1
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Default Best easy car audio upgrade?

Whats got your vote for the biggest bang for the buck upgrade out there for taking a completely stock car audio system and improving it a few notches at reasonable cost and with easy installation (preferably able to do by a novice)? I'm talking for true audiophile reproduction - making music more realistic and enjoyable, not for adding enough thump for your neighbor 3 lanes over to enjoy the bass as you approach, or for your passenger to ogle as the 4 new speaker cones you artfully replaced his airbag with bobble in the dash demonstrating their gloriously high Xmaxes. I'm looking for subtle, easy, inexpensive and effective. If I use any of the ideas, it would be going into an ancient '97 Lexus with a Nakamichi sound system.
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Old 21st May 2010, 05:43 AM   #2
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Default Upgrades

By far the best upgrade for you would be a replacement of speakers. Car stereo shops have all the different sizes in stock configurations. Chances are you can't see the drivers in the doors and toward the back....so you can't make out just how bad they might be. If they are indeed the stock set-up they maybe damaged and you don't even know it!
Speakers in cars can be damaged severely by moisture...with it comes warping of cones with water damage & really bad deterioration of sound quality.
Don't go all psycho by buying up the most trick set-up.........perhaps the doors have 6 1/2 inch drivers....the rears six by nine, or five by seven...or whatever!
Be careful that the original grilles can be replaced...often times the more exotic versions $$$ will have you deleting the stock grilles for the aftermarket grilles......try to get the ones where you don't need "their" grilles. Nothing looks as tacky as todays current crop of aftermarket grilles. If the factory grilles won't work ask for something rather plain looking for grilles, you won't regret it!. Be carefull of monster magnets on said speakers as some don't have enough clearance on the back-side.

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Old 21st May 2010, 06:41 AM   #3
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I've always thought that replacing the head unit would be best - certainly improved the sound in my Dad's Focus. Also, it means that any speakers you do buy will be driven by something decent. Last thing you want to do is fit new speakers, then cook them with DC from an under-powered amp.

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Old 21st May 2010, 07:33 AM   #4
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IMHO, the very first thing to do is get an decent 4-channel amp for the fronts and rears. This will net a HUGE improvement, even with everything else being stock.

Once I got some decent power to the fronts/rears in my car, the factory speakers sounded good enough for me to not even consider wasting money replacing them.

YMMV
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Old 21st May 2010, 07:55 AM   #5
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The best upgrade I've done to a stock system was a set of tweeters mounted on the dash. They made a huge difference. followed by a sub and amp then a new head unit.
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Old 21st May 2010, 09:53 AM   #6
Xoc1 is offline Xoc1  United Kingdom
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So far You have been recommended to replace your head unit, amplifier, and speakers!
One improvement that you could make without junking what you already have is adding a resevior capacitor to the DC power input of your power amplifier.
Typically I have found that many car stereo systems cause the DC supply to sag with the bass beat. I don't think that the massive farad capacitors loved by some are necessary. I used a fairly large 25V cap from my junk collection. Probably even 22,000 uF would make a difference.
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Old 21st May 2010, 12:11 PM   #7
Glowbug is offline Glowbug  United States
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I guess a Lexus really is ancient @ '97, lol.

If you want to keep your stock head unit for ease of integration, JL makes something called a Cleansweep - it allows you to integrate aftermarket amps to your stock head unit. Lack of dynamic range by not having enough undistorted power is a huge problem in a stock setup.
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Old 21st May 2010, 12:52 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by theAnonymous1 View Post
IMHO, the very first thing to do is get an decent 4-channel amp for the fronts and rears. This will net a HUGE improvement, even with everything else being stock.

Once I got some decent power to the fronts/rears in my car, the factory speakers sounded good enough for me to not even consider wasting money replacing them.

YMMV
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Old 22nd May 2010, 05:26 AM   #9
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Thanks for all the input. I've about decided that I'll get the best bang for the buck for me with a speaker upgrade. I'm probably just going to replace the front door mids and tweeters for now. I haven't been able to find a wiring diagram online. Anybody know where the crossover components in a system like this are? I have the '97 Lexus SC400 with the "premium" Nakamichi system - but apparently this system uses the same Pioneer drivers as the "nonpremium" system.
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Old 22nd May 2010, 06:51 AM   #10
amc32 is offline amc32  United States
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I second,replacing factory amp. Many times replacing the factory speakers with better ones comes at a price of efficency. The new better quality speakers require more power and with the lack of power they are allowed to shine. And when looking for replacement speakers with similar sensitivy you will find their quality isn't much greater than the original ones. Since your car has componets,check to see what kind of condition they are in and buy an amplifier.

As far as,where are the crossovers for the car. Front and rear speakers run full range with simply a cap on the tweeters.
Good luck with the install.
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