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Headunit - recommendations? (cheap/basic, but good audio)

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  • Headunit - recommendations? (cheap/basic, but good audio)

    what do people here recommend as a cheap/basic headunit used primarily to just run the audio in from their carpc - needs to be of high sound quality!

    i don't want any features really - mp3 cd player and radio, maybe, if i don't want to use the carpc. will need 4 channel preout to go to an amp, and 2-channel in from the carpc (at rear).

    what are the differences between the cheap and the more expensive alpine units in terms of sound quality? will i regret buying the cheapest alpine unit - does it sound worse?

    thanks.

    (p.s. i've searched and not found much about this, sorry if it's been answered before. and yes, at the moment i am running my sound card directly to the amp which works fine, but i wish to run it through a headunit!)

  • #2
    To go through all of the headunits available would not be possible. But I would recommend that you go to a local shop to tell them what you are looking for as far as specs and inputs/outputs. I would recommend that you get a HU that has a AUX input (or option to add AUX) in the rear and NOT on the face, just to make a cleaner install.

    If you are looking at alpine, there aren't that many differences in sound quality, but with higher end models it may give you more controls to adjust the audio a little bit better and it may be a bigger jump than expected in price.
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    • #3
      Originally posted by fixed View Post
      at the moment i am running my sound card directly to the amp which works fine, but i wish to run it through a headunit!)
      what is the reason why you want to use a head unit now? do you just want hardware volume/EQ control? or do you want it for the independent AM/FM radio and CD functionality?

      if you only want hardware volume/EQ controls then a HU may be a waste of $$$ just to use it as an aux-in for your carPC. you could consider a 1/2-DIN pre-amp equalizer like the Clarion EQS746. this will give you true hardware/dedicated controls for: master volume, subwoofer volume, front/rear fader control, and 7-band 'graphic' equalizer. It also boosts the RCA pre-amp level up to 7 volts RMS! (much higher than a typical pc/soundcard audio output) I bought/installed one and it made my system sound 10 times better than the PC>amp setup I had before! I bought it on eBay for about $50 and IMO it was worth every penny.

      whatever you decide, good luck
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      • #4
        Fusion: I'm currently running two front splits + a sub off a 4-channel amp. I want to add the headunit primarily so I can power two rear speakers, and have physical controls over the front and rear channels. A radio/CD would be nice but I doubt I'd ever use it (unless the PC didn't work).

        That EQ sounds like an interesting route to achieve this. I've generally steered clear of Clarion stuff though, the stuff I've heard before sounds terrible - is this decent? Are there any that will power the rear speakers? Do any other manafacturers make decent quality gear (I'm running all Alpine Type R & JL Audio gear at the moment).

        pancit175: The DAC's don't differ with the different Alpine gear? I don't care that much about features, just don't want something that'll result in downgraded sound quality compared to plugging the PC directly into the amp!

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        • #5
          Originally posted by fixed View Post
          That EQ sounds like an interesting route to achieve this. I've generally steered clear of Clarion stuff though, the stuff I've heard before sounds terrible - is this decent?
          what "stuff" have you heard that sounded terrible?

          the EQS746 is the first Clarion product I've ever owned, but I am very pleased with it. there are plenty of user reviews online that praise it as well.

          I used a cheapo Lanzar Vibe750 before. at the time I thought it sounded ok but I didn't care for it's looks and I didn't like the combination volume/fader control. I replaced it with the Clarion EQS746. I was amazed as how much better my entire system sounded afterwards. the most noticeable difference was my subwoofer; the bass was much tighter / more accurate, and it hit much harder (probably due to the high-volt pre-amp level).

          Originally posted by fixed View Post
          Are there any that will power the rear speakers?
          there are some EQs that have small internal amplifiers built-in, but none of them are powerful enough to match the power output / SQ of an [outboard] amplifier.

          Originally posted by fixed View Post
          I don't care that much about features, just don't want something that'll result in downgraded sound quality compared to plugging the PC directly into the amp!
          any headunit will be a downgrade in sound quality when compared to an [outboard] amplifier. in general, a headunit's power output tops out around 20w(RMS). that will not be enough to compete with your 4-channel amp running your other speakers.

          why not dedicate your 4-ch amp to your front and rear speakers and buy a 2-ch or mono amp for your subwoofer? a good headunit will cost you a couple hundred $$$ and only be able to output around 20wRMS. since you would only be using the HU for it's aux-in function, I think you would be better off putting that money towards a dedicated amp for your subwoofer.

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