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Just A little Newbie Help
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Old 10th April 2012, 06:18 PM   #1
Tom Da Tech is offline Tom Da Tech  United States
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Default Just A little Newbie Help

Car Audio System Planning

What is system planning? It's the process that keeps you from making costly mistakes and ending up with equipment you don't want or can't use. This is what keeps new people from staying in the audio hobby wasting money that they do not have. Here's system planning for most new car audio shoppers.

"My friend just got two fifteens for his car and it booms! I just got the same ones he bought but I bought the new million watt amplifier Click the image to open in full size. I saw in the magazines. I also bought a new high end head unit but I want to keep my factory speakers because I don't want to spend too much money."

Everything sounds OK until you realize that he drives a Mazda Miata and barely has enough trunk space for a bag of groceries let alone the six cubic feet those two fifteens require. Oh, and he also has a premium sound system that requires an $80 adapter to interface with the factory amplified speakers. Too bad he already opened the boxes and now they're not returnable.

So what could have prevented this? Planning. Newbies you need to know four things. ( I had to learn these the hard way )
  1. What you want
  2. What you have
  3. What you're willing to give up to get what you want
  4. What you're not willing to give up
Here's how it should be done.

I want a stereo system that sounds clean and can be heard for three blocks.

A Honda Prelude with a factory sound system


Trunk space for my Anything
I am a father so I need trunk space for kids stuff , shopping, toys, other hobbies. so Trunk space is a huge factor for me

Now that you know what you want you can figure out how to get it and stay within the set parameters. Here's how I went about it.

Get the best set of component speakers you can afford and drive them with 75-150 watts of clean amplifier power. Install a high powered subwoofer system.

Remove the factory sound system and replace it with the CD head unit of your choice making sure it has at least two sets of pre-amp outputs Click the image to open in full size. to allow fading between the front speakers and the subwoofers.

Expect to pay $350+ for the component set. $200+ for the head unit. An amplifier for the component set will run $200 and up. Small box subwoofers will be $500+ per pair. Add another $100 for a custom enclosure. A high powered amp for the subs will be about $400+ with a built in crossover Click the image to open in full size. and one ohm stability. And don't forget $100 for wiring. Expect an installed cost of $2,000+.

You'll need to get a subwoofer system that can fit in an enclosure small enough to allow room for the stuff you need to haul. I'd recommend subwoofers built for small enclosures. You could get a pair of twelve inch woofers that would only require 1.5-2.0 cubic feet of space total. Maybe even a fiberglass enclosure that could be form fit to the car to really maximize available space. You'll want a large amplifier to run these woofers at high volume levels. I'd also recommend installing some sound deadening material to your car to keep the vehicle from sounding like a tin can when the system is turned up.

Make sure you take into account any vehicle limitations. This includes shallow space in the doors, bottom mount only rear deck speakers, shallow depth head unit, etc. Almost any car audio problem can be solved if you have enough money. This is where most new guys have the problem. Not enough space for large subwoofers? Add more power to smaller subwoofers. No room for a double DIN Click the image to open in full size. head unit in your dash? Have the dash reconstructed. If you don't have a lot of money then you need to make better buying decisions.

Maybe only one subwoofer instead of two. Maybe a four channel amplifier instead of two stereo amplifiers. A head unit without the dancing lights. One note of caution when budget shopping. Don't skimp on the speakers, especially the front speakers. If there's one thing that should be the best you can afford it's the front speakers. In my experience there is nothing else that can make or break a system like the quality of the front speaker set. The best head unit and amplifiers won't make a difference if you don't have a great front stage. Make sure quality front speakers are a part of your system plan.

I hope this helps anyone from new guys to the older guru's that go a little over board.
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