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My setup....on paper....suggestions?

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  • My setup....on paper....suggestions?

    Computer: HP ZD7000 Laptop - already have
    Power: Carnetix 1900 - need to buy
    Display: Xenarc 700TS - need to buy
    FM/AM Receiver: HQCTe or HU - still debating
    GPS: BU-353 - need to buy
    Wifi: Buffalo WLI-CB-G54HP - already have
    Wifi antenna: 3dB - need to buy
    Amplifier: HU or something - still debating see fm/am receiver
    Soundcard: Creative Lab Audigy 2 ZS - need to buy

    Tons of misc cables, elbow grease and fortitude.

    Ok, you old pros out there, I'm sure have some opinions. So if theres something I've forgotten to consider or better suggestions please feel free to comment even if it's "Looks ok to me".

  • #2're not related to moahdib, are you?

    Anyway, I don't see anything wrong with not having a head unit in the car, I still have mine and do not use it with any frequency...and I'm very new to the hobby. I'd recommend an outboard audio processor/crossover in place of the HU, and take sound to it digitally from the PC (so as to eliminate possible noise from the connections to the computer and all the peripherals)...a processor will offer you a flexible means of providing crossover, time alignment, EQ, and a host of other goodies to whatever amp/speakers you choose, and if you look around, you should be able to find them priced in accordance with what you intended to spend on the head unit. Store your songs in lossless flac or ape, and enjoy access to ALL OF THEM AT ONCE, rather than fumbling around with CD's. Choose a bit-perfect capable soundcard like the M-Audio transit, or a similar DAC, connect to processor via optical/coaxial digital, and you're golden wrt to everything prior to your crossover.

    As far as amp/speakers, I'd flip over to elitecaraudio or DIY mobile audio for research. DIY has a great install section, perfect for ideas...between here and there, you should be able to get all your questions answered.

    As far as using the head unit in place of an amp, this is almost never a good idea wrt to quality sound or power handling...I'd almost recommed sticking with the stock headunit/speakers rather than spending the money on a potentially regretable "upgrade". Only do so if you plan on getting high efficiency speakers, or keeping (after researching the feasibility) your stock speakers in place. As a good rule of thumb, assume output power quoted on a head unit to be 2-4 times actual RMS power (they typically use a different class of amplifier than you normally find in outboard current amplifiers used for car audio aps).

    I'd wholeheartedly recommend a simple soundcard - amp hookup as more robust and flexible than a headunit powering speakers (but then, take my opinion with a grain of salt, I'm very picky and there may be good ways of powering a speaker set from a head unit nowadays...I just have yet to hear of anything in this regard that I would do with my system).
    I have too much time and too little aggravation in my life, so I built a carPC. ;)


    • #3
      Originally posted by hithere View Post
      i'd wholeheartedly recommend a simple soundcard - amp hookup as more robust and flexible than a headunit powering speakers (but then, take my opinion with a grain of salt, I'm very picky and there may be good ways of powering a speaker set from a head unit nowadays...I just have yet to hear of anything in this regard that I would do with my system).
      is a sound card necessary when using an amp? or can the embedded sound work?
      '08 VW Rabbit S 2.5

      Carputer Progress:
      Design:[][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][] 100%
      Installation:[][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][] 80%

      In trouble...


      • #4
        Hmmm, I thought HU's had a small built-in amp as well as a tuner. Perhaps I mis-understood. I'll do more research. My stock radio is a 2 din variety. It's right where my screen is going to go. So I figured I'd get rid of it, hide the head unit in the compartment below and be able to use it for easy volume and tuning control. I have serious concerns about relying solely on the computer for radio and volume control. 1) Poor reception, 2) having to dig around the screen for volume control while driving. I'm not wholey convinced the HQCT or any of it's varieties are adequate. Some folks say it works like a charm. Others say they're still having problems getting it to work. Not to mention it's expensive as hell. I have not found an adequate PCMCIA or USB am/fm tuner as of yet.

        As for interference in the sound system, well, thats why I chose the Carnetix 1900 PSU instead of an inverter to power the computer. Seems like I have found relatively few threads when using a dc-dc PSU having interference versus an inverter. In all cases it comes down to grounding properly which I'll be sure to do. While I could go with an air/car dc-dc adapter I'd still have to adequately power the screen and the usb hub with separate power. The 1900 solves all that with 1 unit....i.e. 1 ground.

        I'm not an audiophile. I plan to stick with the stock speakers. The idea for the sound card was because most threads said not to rely on the integrated sound card. Are you guys telling me that the integrated sound will work just fine? That'll be another $50+ I can scratched off the project. Yes, I'm a cheap bastard. I've still got $50+ of misc. cables and stuff to buy for the project.


        • #5
          Those are all legit concerns (I don't listen to FM, so tuning is a non-issue for me).

          What kind of car is this? Does your car have steering wheel volume controls? How about a separate display for the radio? Reason I ask is those things might factor in to the setup you're going for...relocate the factory head unit, but maintain it in the system to provide signal to the factory speakers, provide fm radio tuning, and run the thing from your steering wheel controls.

          If you're not an audiophile, then yes, you should be just fine using onboard sound as a source.

          If you're sticking with the stock speakers, I'd go ahead and stick with the stock head unit as well, if possible, and provide signal to it via a changer port adaptor (available for most cars). This would save you even more money, and it's likely that the stock head unit is pushing the stock speakers at or near their capability to produce good sound anyway (or, at least as close as one could get without an expensive upgrade). Usually what you find when folks upgrade the head unit only in an otherwise factory system, is a system that sounds marginally better or worse, but has extra functionality, like being able to play CDs when all they had before was a tape deck, or the abilty to connect to an Ipod or satellite reciever. You can get all that via your carputer and a changer input adaptor, if your factory system has a changer controller port.

          I don't mean to say that head units don't come with an internal amp, I just mean to say that in most cases, the internal amp is of very low output and not very high quality. This often works out, however, for those keeping factory speakers, because factory speakers tend to be very efficient (able to deal with low power output from the head unit or amps that service them)...but beware, some modern factory systems, such as those by Bose, get their power from outboard amplifiers in the doors, near speaker locations, etc., and sometimes the speakers and amps in those systems are expecting specific frequency bands, specific signal strength, and specific eq'ing to achieve the sound you get in a factory install. A conversion is possible for such systems, but they often require line drivers and other adaptations in order to use an aftermarket head unit...often, it's more effective from a cost/performance standpoint to simply add the input adaptor and go from there.

          Make sure you do your due dilligence and research your stock system before making such an upgrade. If you can find a forum specific to your car, that would probably the be best route for the most pertinent info.
          I have too much time and too little aggravation in my life, so I built a carPC. ;)


          • #6
            My car is a 2006 Camry LE 4cyl with 18" wheels and ground effects. The car does have steering wheel controls for the radio. I've seen where some people have been able to use these in their system but I have not researched the technicals of the process. The radio/hu is 2 din. Big for sure. It would take up most of the compartment down by the shifter. More than I'd like. *Shrugs* I keep going back and forth hu or amp and HQCT. *shrugs* I dunno. Theres drawbacks to both.

            Well off to more research....


            • #7
              I took a look at the center console on the camry, if you wanted to maintain the factory stereo, I'd consider moving the PC display down to the lower area on the center console....but if it were my car, I'd definitely go with removing the factory head unit and putting a touch screen there. The spot was seemingly made for that, and in a double din slot, touch screen install should be a snap.

              Here's someone's experience with an ipod adaptor, would seem to indicate that at least the JBL system is capable of taking a changer controller input:


              If you could locate a place for the touch screen other than the factory double din, you'd be golden going that route...and save money, too.
              I have too much time and too little aggravation in my life, so I built a carPC. ;)


              • #8
                Thats what I thought when I first bought the car. That spot kept yelling out "Put screen here.....put screen here" so I'm putting the screen there. Besides, I drive a lot for the work I do so this system is going to be working for me as well. Especially, GPS navigation. So I need to have it as close to the windshield as possible. I'm going to be looking at it a lot. Let me ask you something......which screen would you suggest? I've looked for a perfect fit. Can't find it. The indash's seem to have a lot of problems. The 6.5" screen tend to be composite video only units or VGA units that are seriously over priced and have almost everything that makes putting a computer in the car almost pointless. The 7" ARE almost perfect. Almost. I've settled on the Xenarc 7" 700TS. As is now I'm looking at having to modify the bezel a bit for a factory looking fit. I'm going to have to fill in the sides and expand the top and bottom of the bezel a tad. If you know of one thats a perfect fit.....put me on it. I'd love to see it.

                With everything spec'ed and priced I'm looking at about $633.95 not including shipping. I figure add 30% for any additional tools, cabling, misc stuff, etc and I'm looking at around $824 to complete my carpc. Wow! And I already have the F'in computer. Thank God I have a decent job.

                Before I purchase I'm going to let this hardware thread mature a bit and see what others think of it. Maybe some of you can suggest some cost savings


                • #9
                  I'm running the 700TS, I'm pretty happy with it. It looks washed out in the sunshine, but not so much that it makes the navigation screen hard to read. It's a shame that in a few years the anti-glare screens will be the norm, but they're at a price premium now.

                  As far as the bezel goes, I lucked out with my Acura, the screen fits in the factory location perfectly, no cosmetic modifications necessary, just some "behind the scenes" cutting to accommodate the unit. Don't worry much, tho, as long as you're willing to try, I think you'll be just fine on the bezel construction/ isn't that tough, really, it just takes patience and work...a lot of first-timers report good results once they take the time to plan it out, do the research (which you're doing), and put the effort into it (read: sanding).

                  Where do you plan to put the PC itself? Reason I ask is that cabling can be a cost issue, especially with multiple USB devices. Word of advice, if you're going to be using an outboard hub somewhere, choose a location for the hub so that any cabling extension is to the hub itself, instead of to each individual peripheral.
                  I have too much time and too little aggravation in my life, so I built a carPC. ;)


                  • #10
                    The computer and the Carnetix 1900 are going in the trunk. The laptop has 4 or 5 USB ports. The only devices that are going to connect via USB that I'm aware of is the touch screen, GPS and the radio receiver (if I decide on it). The GPS and the radio receiver will be in the rear of the car. I am considering a powered USB hub up front for convenience but, I don't think I'll need it and can make due without it. Besides, if someone really needs to connect via USB, which I doubt I can always crack out my PPC and connect wirelessly. Or they can squeeze their *** through the rear fold down seats and connect it. I really don't want to put that much hardware up front for clutter sake.

                    I'll take your comments and a lack of retort from the rest of the community that I may have my bases pretty much covered.

                    I'm still debating receiver and amp vs head unit, though. The head unit will simplify powering the speakers and radio reception. But, I'll have to find a spot for it up front taking more space. Getting a receiver is iffy due to the nefarious nature of pc tuner reception. Then theres the amp, having to run to speaker cables to it, powering it, etc. *sigh* I'll consider my options over the weekend.