Stereo & Electronics - Head unit or amp?
04-22-2012, 06:53 PM
Just looking for some opinions here, is the stock Monsoon head unit or stock amp a bigger cause of distortion?
I've always personally thought that the amp was the problem, but I've seen some other comments on here that suggest the head unit could be it too.
I'm planning to do a stereo upgrade on a budget. The speakers are going for sure, but I don't think I have the money to add a new head unit and a new amp. Which needs to be removed first?
04-22-2012, 07:17 PM
I wouldn't put new speakers on a crappy amp and risk damaging them, they will most likely be underpowered and sound bad anyways. What's your budget? There is nice stuff out there for pretty cheap. Pay for the products, not the name ;)
Consider checking out ebay or craigslist for some good used stuff too, I found an Alpine 7998 head unit on CL for $40... its worth at least $400 even used.
04-22-2012, 07:29 PM
Well my budget is as cheap as I can get. :D
I was wondering if the Monsoon amp, when given some clean signal from an aftermarket head, wouldn't be too bad. I try to play it safe and won't turn it up any louder (or turn it down) if it starts distorting. This old Monsoon crap just can't play loud enough to get over the T-top wind noise and still sound good. :)
I was thinking the CDT speaker package from Kee Audio, or some Polk Audio stuff.
I've used the Kenwood Exlcon KDC-X395 before and it sounded awesome (and has 4V preouts). If I do the head unit I plan on using this again.
04-22-2012, 07:38 PM
Definitely start with a solid head unit first and then go from there as your budget allows.
I know polk makes good home stereo stuff but haven't heard any of the car equipment. I have heard CDT, they sound great and are reasonably priced. A component set is the way to go.
Soundstream makes good amps and they are cheap too. I think you could get one of their 200watt rubicon series amps for like $90.
Ive got a kenwood excelon right now and yeaaa man it def sounds sweet!
04-23-2012, 07:44 AM
To answer the original question... the factory head unit is a distortion machine while the Monsoon amp is actually pretty good for what it does. It's not particularly powerful but it produces clean output when given a clean signal.
When doing a gradual upgrade on a budget, change the HU first then upgrade the speakers (Kee Audio has good packages). If you want more bass, you can add a sub and amp. Then you can decide if you still want more upgrades. At that point further upgrades will require an aftermarket amp to replace the Monsoon and rewiring.
And no... putting replacement speakers in the Monsoon system will not risk damaging them.
04-23-2012, 07:50 AM
If you end up going with CDT audio speakers, they are gonna underpowered and trying to get some volume out of them w/o enough power = distortion = damage. Not worth it.
04-23-2012, 08:04 AM
That is only true if you drive the HU or amp into clipping. With a factory HU, that is easy to do - that's why replacing the HU first is the best way to improve sound. It's also the primary reason that the factory speakers tend not to last very long.
However, with a decent aftermarket HU, you would be hard pressed to drive the system into clipping at any volume level that isn't being heard from a block away. If you want that kind of volume then of course you'll have to invest in more power. But the Monsoon amp is quite capable of producing enough clean volume to be heard even with the windows down and the t-tops off.
04-23-2012, 10:37 AM
I think I'll stay with the stock amp for now, and see how far I can get with it. It has the bonus of not having to rewire anything, and also leaves the option to put everything back to stock if I need to.
trying to get some volume out of them w/o enough power = distortion = damage.
That is the main reason for me wanting to upgrade. I'm pretty careful and won't push things into clipping, so I'm not really worried about damaging the speakers. I do realize that I won't be getting everything I could out of them though. But trying not to kill my current speakers leaves a lot to be desired (at least I get good exhaust music :D).
Has anyone tried the Polk db series speakers? They are rated more sensitive than the CDT package from Kee (92db vs 90db). I haven't heard any bad about Polk, and if they are more sensitive, I can get that much more from the stock amp. Or if anyone has other speaker suggestions I'd like to hear them. I'm hoping not to go over about $300 on the speakers, I gotta pay this car off first!
From the different speakers I've heard, I really like the soft material tweeters -- the metal ones are just too harsh for my taste. I've had Kicker and Kenwood speakers in some of my previous cars and didn't like either (and the Kicker speakers blew after ~1 month). I also had some really expensive Pioneer speakers in a car (previous owner put them in) and I loved them, but $200/pair is a little too much for me. :D
04-23-2012, 12:43 PM
i have alpine type r speakers in my doors and the sails and for the price i'm very pleased. but then again i do have them being pushed by a $400 amp.
04-23-2012, 01:00 PM
I would piece together some used aftermarket stuff, even an Alpine MRP-F300 used for $75 would be better than the stock amp. P,us if can remove the stock amp, there a people who will buy it on eBay. Check out DIYMA forum's classifies, that forum is ran by the same company as this one. There's always awesome deals, and usually on higher end, quality product that will give you great SQ for years to come. For speakers, whatever you can get from a good brand will do the job, same goes for an amp, but there are certain 6.5" subs that blow others away so stick will real good stuff there, unless your just gonna throw 1-10" in the back and call it a day. DO NOT buy rear speakers if your on a budget, spend more on fronts and use the factory rears if you want rears.
04-30-2012, 03:54 PM
Well I couldn't stand it any longer, went out and bought a new head unit Saturday. Got the cheapest one at BestBuy that had the features I wanted (HPF/LPF, minimum 5 band EQ, > 15 Watt RMS). It happened to be a Sony CD-GT56UI for $89 + $10 wiring harness + $15 dash kit. Its got HPF/LPF, 7 band EQ, and 17 watts RMS.
100x better sound than the stock head. Even on the old half-blown speakers, its louder, more clear, and the subs have some power behind them (after some EQ customizing :D). If I had some good speakers I would be satisfied, I don't think an aftermarket amp is necessary. I do plan on upgrading the head unit again in the future, but this is by far better than stock crap.
V8ImpSS, which 6.5" subs are the best? I have just planned on CDT subs, its hard to find any other companies that make a 6.5" sub. I do not plan on adding an extra sub in the back later.
I also listened to a bunch of speakers at different places over the weekend. I almost bought some unused Alpine coaxials for $60. After listening to them, I want something more sensitive. The Alpine, Pioneer, and Polk speakers all sounded great, but the Polk were the most sensitive and gave the most volume for the same input power. I figure if I keep the stock amp, I want the most sensitive speakers I can find (which so far is Polk Audio).
04-30-2012, 08:35 PM
the CDT 6.5 subs are one of the best for sure, right up there is the JL 6w3 but I havent seen anyone on here running those in the stock location. they kickers are alright and possibly better suited for the power from the stock amp but that won't be a significant benefit.
as for speakers, my standard order starts with Alpine Type S, then JL C2, then JL C3, the Hertz Energy and on and on. The type s's are a great value for components, but if coax is what your wanting then the Type E is nearly identical to the Type S for less cash. I would reccomend a component set, the external crossover supplied with a component set is where the majority of the cost difference comes from. Good crossovers are important, coax's usually dont have much of a crossover, they just have caps. component sets' midbass drivers (the 6.5 door speaker) will also usually have more clear extension in the upper frequency range aas well as have better midbass. Another reccomendation for you would be infinity. alot of budged minded guys like them and I like how they sound for the money too. Harman audio (parent co. to infinity, JBL, crown, ect) makes a good product.
O and with your EQ customizing :), never push a frequency up too far, pulling the others down will get you way better SQ.