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  • Headunit vs. Amp

    As far as I'm aware, and I haven't seen any posts comparing these two, there are only two options for wiring car audio to PC (IGNORING FM transmitters - evil to begin with.)

    1. Sony stereo with aux in.
    2. PC to amp to speakers.

    Which is the better quality considering I'm not an audiophile?
    I understand the headunit is much easier to work with, but is it 1/2 the quality of getting an amp?

    When I get this Protege Carputer working, I'm going to be playing DVDs. I don't care much for getting into 5.1 setups though. Sound is sound, as long as it's clean and loud.

    I tried the


  • #2
    Originally posted by Avalerion
    As far as I'm aware, and I haven't seen any posts comparing these two, there are only two options for wiring car audio to PC (IGNORING FM transmitters - evil to begin with.)

    1. Sony stereo with aux in.
    2. PC to amp to speakers.

    Which is the better quality considering I'm not an audiophile?
    I understand the headunit is much easier to work with, but is it 1/2 the quality of getting an amp?

    When I get this Protege Carputer working, I'm going to be playing DVDs. I don't care much for getting into 5.1 setups though. Sound is sound, as long as it's clean and loud.

    I tried the

    There are dozens of headunits that take aux in besides sony. I have an alpine with the optional aux connector. The downside to using an amp is that you wont have volume, bass, treble, balance, and fader controls.
    Don't Fear The Gurkey
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    • #3
      generally an amp will give you a better sound because they have so much more power than a headunit would, for example the amp that powers my speakers is 4x60wRMS and the old head unit i had was only 4x17wRMS. If you want to use the volume control and the convineance of a cdplayer/radio in a headunit then go for it, just keep in mind that most "pro" setups use a headunit which is run to amps (ie they dont use the built in amp in the headunit they only use the headunit as, well, a headunit)

      Hope this Helps
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      • #4
        So from what I understand, an amp is only there if you want the best sound.
        A headunit is good enough, and simple enough to wire to the PC sound card.

        As for experience, when you use line in on the headunit (which I believe is in the rear of the unit itself), is there any engine noise/static/pops in the sound?
        The reason I suggested Sony earlier is because I saw a nice one with Aux In a few days ago. I would venture a guess and say they're a good brand to get.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Avalerion
          So from what I understand, an amp is only there if you want the best sound.
          A headunit is good enough, and simple enough to wire to the PC sound card.

          As for experience, when you use line in on the headunit (which I believe is in the rear of the unit itself), is there any engine noise/static/pops in the sound?
          The reason I suggested Sony earlier is because I saw a nice one with Aux In a few days ago. I would venture a guess and say they're a good brand to get.
          I originally had a SONY CDX-M 800 for a headunit and it had the AUX INPUTS. The unit was 52W x 4 and had XPLODE mode which made the sound great for CDs and radio. When playing devices through the AUX Input, there is another volume setting you'll have to adjust kinda like a "Gain" for the sound to be almost equal but I didn't care for it too much. Now I'm looking at pulling out the HeadUnit and putting in a Clarion Amp so I can use that HU space for better things like a bigger screen! Volume control will work just fine from the windows volume control once I have the AMP installed and the HU ripped out!

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          • #6
            I decided to go with a Sony 7700 with MP3 and Aux-In. Unfortunately the XPLODE exploded earlier, so I have to run back and get a different unit at Best Buy. It was less than $200, so it's a good temporary solution until I understand cars and sound better. Actually, I better learn electrical systems pretty quick too.

            One additional question:

            I bought a female Y split RCA cable and 10ft of male-male RCA cable.
            To get audio in from the PC, all I do is plug the male of the Y split into the PC and run the rest to the front unit? Seems easier said than done, but maybe it's not.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Avalerion
              Unfortunately the XPLODE exploded earlier, so I have to run back and get a different unit at Best Buy.
              Sony's older models (Mobile ES) were nice, and were built with good quality, on par, if not better with Pioneer. Several years ago they replaced Mobile ES with this low-quality line named Xplode, speakers, amps, decks, etc. IMO, all of them are crap, and do just that after less than a year of use... EXPLODE!
              Moral of story: There are lots of better decks out there for the same or a little more $ with much better build quality.
              Originally posted by Avalerion
              One additional question:

              I bought a female Y split RCA cable and 10ft of male-male RCA cable.
              To get audio in from the PC, all I do is plug the male of the Y split into the PC and run the rest to the front unit? Seems easier said than done, but maybe it's not.
              When you say Y-split, is it a stereo mini-phono jack to 2 RCA's like this?:
              http://www.radioshack.com/product.as...5Fid=274%2D369
              If so, the answer to your question is yes, just run the RCA's to your AUX input on your deck.
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              • #8
                I got a Clarion DXZ545MP, it can be found on Ebay for arount $100 - has 4x54 Watts, Sirrus Ready, AUX inputs, MP3, reads CD-R/RW and looks cool as well. Unfourtunately I am not getting the MP3 capability of it since I am remoting the HU behind the dash (will never see a CD).
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                • #9
                  I did get that Y cable, so I'm set for that. The Sony installed somewhat painlessly the second time around and it sounds good. Yesterday, I blew two 15 fuses across the country. Those things don't even look like fuses anymore.

                  I hope it survives for a while.
                  Thanks for the help!

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                  • #10
                    Installed and tested the sound system with a laptop hooked up via RCA. It worked great with no noise whatsoever. Let's hope it stays.

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                    • #11
                      I use computer --> Clarion EQ/Line Driver --> amps
                      So I still have convenience of manual knobs if I want to use them, plus EQing, plus a alternate input for my Noamd Zen... And with the power of the amps you get great sound even under high volume, whereas with a headunit only, sound degrades quickly as you up the volume.
                      Car: 2000 Audi A4 Avant 1.8t
                      Carputer 2.0: removed. Back to stock.

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                      • #12
                        I'd Go For a HU

                        I've got a Kenwood KDC-W6527 head unit in my car, and at the moment I am more than happy with the sound, it should have been around 300 quid, and I know its a lot for a unit that will primarily be using the aux in, but its features are wicked. I've put a review in the car audio section of this site, so take a bit of time to read it if you want to there are loads of places you could buy one online, letsbuycaraudio dot com or justkenwood couk

                        Its loaded with functions, and when I wanna remove the PC, it can play cds with mp3s on them. Its a shame all my archived ones at 128kbp sound like cack.

                        At the moment, its ipod-tastic as I have not got enough parts yet to build my baby!

                        VW Mk2 Golf GTI 16V:
                        Kenwood KDC-W6527 HU
                        Silver Travla C134, Slot Loading DVD/CDRW,
                        256MB, VIA Epia MII 12000, Carnetix 60W, Xenarc VGA/Composite TS and a GPS Mouse

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                        • #13
                          Call me stupid, but why not hook up the PC to a headunit (so you've got some degree of control over the sound), and hook up the headunit to amps as per any normal car stereo install? Surely that's the best of both worlds (and what I was planning), or have I missed something?

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Snootch
                            Sony's older models (Mobile ES) were nice, and were built with good quality, on par, if not better with Pioneer. Several years ago they replaced Mobile ES with this low-quality line named Xplode, speakers, amps, decks, etc. IMO, all of them are crap, and do just that after less than a year of use... EXPLODE!
                            Moral of story: There are lots of better decks out there for the same or a little more $ with much better build quality.


                            When you say Y-split, is it a stereo mini-phono jack to 2 RCA's like this?:
                            http://www.radioshack.com/product.as...5Fid=274%2D369
                            If so, the answer to your question is yes, just run the RCA's to your AUX input on your deck.
                            maybe a dumb question but if you use this splitter are you getting true stereo sound? or is it going down to mono?

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                            • #15
                              Stereo

                              I actually purchased the Stereo hookup.

                              When you connect the RCAs to the headunit and the adapter (to a laptop for testing), the sound is very very good. It's stereo quality.

                              Just be sure not to get the mono-headphone ones. They look the same at Radioshack, but actually degrade the PC sound.

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