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Thread: Looking to Upgrade Car Sound System, Desperately Need Advice

  1. #1
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    Looking to Upgrade Car Sound System, Desperately Need Advice

    Hi all,

    This is my first post on this site, but I'll try and be as clear and to the point as possible.
    I'm looking to upgrade my car's stock sound system. New head unit, speakers, an amp and a sub.
    What I'm looking for is a head unit capable of powering all the speakers while the amp only
    powers the sub. I'm not looking for anything fancy, just something better than stock that'll
    impress my friends and that I'll also enjoy. I'm extremely new to the world of car sound systems
    and installations, however, I want to do as much research as possible so that I can safely buy and install the
    system myself. Basically, my questions are the following:

    Should the maximum power wattage of the head unit exactly match that of the speakers I choose?
    (i.e. Would a head unit that advertises "4 x 50 Watts maximum power with two-channel 2V preamp outputs"
    cooperate with speakers that advertise "360 Watts peak power handling"? Or would I have to connect those
    speakers to an amp?)

    What is a good website where I can find reasonably priced car audio equipment? I've been looking at Amazon a lot
    mostly because I have Prime and don't want it to go to waste, but I'm sure there are better sites out there.

    Lastly, what is the best piece of advice you can give me (and newbies in a similar situation) given my current situation?

    I'd appreciate any help, thanks in advance!

  2. #2
    Low Bitrate nalav's Avatar
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    Ignore peak or max power ratings. If you're not looking to use an amp for your speakers, any aftermarket speakers will handle the small power the head unit will provide. Match the sub rms power and ohm ratings to the amp's. A little off is fine. A 2 ohm sub rated at 250w rms will need an amp that doee about the same. Dual voice coils (dvc) are a little different, a dual 2 ohm will need the power at either 1 or 4 ohms. A good site to order from is Crutchfield, if you order fron somewhere else be sure to check with the manufacturer to ensure you're ordering from an authorized dealer. Post here with some ideas of what you're looking at and we'll offer advice and opinions. Also, depending on the sub and amp powering it you may want to consider powered speakers else they could be drowned out by the bass.

  3. #3
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    If you buy a good enough sub, i use a type R, it can handle upto double its stated rms rating, but don't make the mistake of underpowering your subwoofer, as this will harm your amp

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    Low Bitrate nalav's Avatar
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    JayParekh I would like to thank you for pointing out two common misconceptions in the car audio world.

    The first is that your sub handles double the RMS. While I'm not debating this, I'm going to point out that you're probably looking at the peak power rating. If you're reaching peak power levels often and for extended times then your subwoofer is probably damaged and you don't realize it. Anyway, the sub may very well handle that safely (doubtful, I've never seen a manufacturer underrate a speaker that much), but not for long, and not without clipping. And you'll never know for sure what wattage the speaker is getting without at least a multimeter.

    The second misconception is that you'll damage your amp by underpowering the sub. In fact, you can't damage anything by underpowering it. What happens is that people like to do stupid things such as turn gain and bass boost up, thinking they're volume controls, and it causes the amplifier to send clipped signals to the sub, which causes the voice coils to get cooked. There's a bit more to it though, see http://www.bcae1.com/2ltlpwr.htm for some technical information on that.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by nalav View Post
    JayParekh I would like to thank you for pointing out two common misconceptions in the car audio world.

    The first is that your sub handles double the RMS. While I'm not debating this, I'm going to point out that you're probably looking at the peak power rating. If you're reaching peak power levels often and for extended times then your subwoofer is probably damaged and you don't realize it. Anyway, the sub may very well handle that safely (doubtful, I've never seen a manufacturer underrate a speaker that much), but not for long, and not without clipping. And you'll never know for sure what wattage the speaker is getting without at least a multimeter.

    The second misconception is that you'll damage your amp by underpowering the sub. In fact, you can't damage anything by underpowering it. What happens is that people like to do stupid things such as turn gain and bass boost up, thinking they're volume controls, and it causes the amplifier to send clipped signals to the sub, which causes the voice coils to get cooked. There's a bit more to it though, see http://www.bcae1.com/2ltlpwr.htm for some technical information on that.
    From my experience in car audio, and from the many people I speak to on dedicated car audio forums, i think I know if I'm damaging my speaker or not, it never warms up, and I use an Alpine PDX amp and if you're telling me that that sends clipped signals at the right settings, you clearly don't know much about car audio. If you buy the right brands, and the good quality products, it's very rare that would ever cause damage. For those who do know me, I put a lot of research into my purchases before I make them, making sure they're the best for my budget and stretch if it means I'm getting a better product.

    As for the OP, I'd suggest you should firstly do the big 3, where you upgrade the engine ground strap cable, the alternator to battery, and battery to chassis cables to 0 guage, to reduce power wasted through resistance, get your car sound deadened, as it can increase your audio system by up to 10db by preventing loss of audio through vibrations. After that, purchase a new head unit, as long as you get one from a reputable manufacturer, alpine, denon, pioneer, kenwood, just to name a few) that's all that matters. Then purchase a new set of speakers, the same size as your current door ones to save fabrication and retain a factory look, and get yourself a 4 channel amp. Run a front stage 2way component set, or a full car 3 way component set off the amp, in the case of the 3 way, purchase a 6 channel amp, connect one speaker to each channel to eliminate the crossovers, and set the filters to provide a clean signal to every speaker. The elimination of the crossovers gives you a much louder system.
    Finally, purchase a subwoofer, a custom made box, tuned to the frequency you'll most likely listen to, which depends on the genre of music you listen to, and a class D monoblock amplifier, and then you've got a complete system! Make sure you're using 0 gauge cable to the distribution blocks where the amps are connected so you don't starve the amps of power, also, use a good 0 gauge ground, bolted onto a bare metal part of the chassis. Finally, use a decent guage speaker cable too, it makes a huge difference in sound quality!
    Hope this helps
    Jay

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