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Old 3rd May 2006, 13:40   #1
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Default Newbie guide for Car audio

Hi guys,

This is the result of my experience in getting high quality car audio information in an Indian context which I found on this forum, unfortunately its too spread out and you have to invest a substantial amount of time to get the information across all the threads. This is an effort to collate that information so that people like me who are relatively clueless can find the information more quickly and perhaps not make the same errors I made. Since I'm not an expert a lot of the resident experts like Sam and Navin would ideally contribute here.

This is not a guide for a high end system, its a basic guide based on information I ve picked up from the forum, I am not an expert. If you ask me any questions I will probabaly not know the answer. Ask Navin and Sam.

Ok, lets start. The most important thing when you are considering car audio is the installer. The installer has to be top notch, reputed and you should be willing to spend extra for their expertise. Perhaps somebody could put up a thread pointing to good installers in different cities. The second thing is your warranty, which might become invalid if you fit an audio system from outside so please check with your respective car manufacturers. Third and the most important NO CUTTING. No cutting wires and No cutting your car, cutting the fibre trays that come with some cars is ok, they are easily replaceable. In my case because of ignorance the installer cut the metal on the back door hatchback of my Zen and this is a strict no no. There are more intelligent ways to install rear speakers.

Now on to the system itself.
A basic system needs a good HU(Head Unit) and a good set of speakers.
The popular and widely available HU's are Sony, Pioneer, Alpine, JVC, Blaupunkt and Kenwood. The consensus this board is Alpine is the best but they are also the most expensive starting around 13k with bill and warranty. (Less without) www.tmc-electronics.com for Alpine prices. JVC is not very popular on this board and I ven't yet learned exactly why but the general opinion is they don't sound as good Pioneer or Sony. Sony and Pioneer are the most popular for acceptable quality and price, A basic to mid level mp3cd HU from either usually starts from 5k-7k. The models I hear about are Sony 5500 and Pioneer 5750/5850. You can get higher end models for more but then if you have a higher budget ( more than 9k for the HU) you really should consider an Alpine. Maybe someone on this board will provide us the models and pricing for Alpine.

Speakers are critical for good sound quality and in car audio things get complicated with 'components' and co-axial speakers. Co-axial speakers are like the speakers we are familiar with, they are single pieces, 'components' have tweeters and crossovers separate, they are generally more expensive and ideally need an amp to drive them and sound better. Co-axials are cheaper and offer minimum fuss installation. Since I am not too familiar with 'components' and amps I will leave that for other more knowledgeable members of the forum. What i've learned though is even for a basic system sometimes it makes sense to invest in 'component' speakers in the front of the car for better sound quality unfront. Alpine and JBL are the higly regarded names for components on this board.

Coaxial speakers are more common and offer acceptable sound quality. Typically you will want 4 speakers, 2 for the front and 2 for the rear.
Most cars provide space on the front doors to install speakers. This space starts from 4 inches upto 6 inches. For instance Zen and WagonR can accomodate 4 inch speakers whereas Swift and Getz can accomodate 6 inch speakers. The popular choices for front speakers are JBL, Alpine, Pioneer, Sony, Blaupunkt. I needed 4 inch ones and I listened to Sony, JVC, Pioneer and Alpine and Alpine sounded clearer and more well defined to me. (I wanted JBL GTO426e but they were not available) But take this with a pinch of salt because I am no expert. The Sony, Pioneer and Blaupunkt are between 1k to 2k wheras the Alpine and JBL ones are 2-2.5k.
The JBL GTO and CS series seem to be popular. GTO is higher end that CS and for my Zen 4 inch GTO426e is avialable for 2.5k and similar size CS series for 1900. Check www.fxaudio.com for JBL model nos.

For the back speakers 6x9" speakers seem to be an ideal way to get some bass and decent quality. But remember these can overwhelm the front speakers. Again JBL and Alpine seems to the popular choices here. The JBL GTO 936e sells for around 4-4.7k and the Alpine 690a is in a similar range. The JBL CS396s series is cheaper, I think 3k. The Pioneer 6x9" models are also popular and apparently deliver good bass, models nos I hear about are 6990/6991 and are around 2.8-3.5k. Installing the back speakers must be done with care. It is common to get an mdf board(700 to 800 rs) and replace the back tray with this and install the speakers here or make custom boxes at the cost of losing some booth space. Since we are looking for basic but a good system with good quality parts and are not audiophiles I would recommend installing it on an mdf board that replaces the back tray.

One last thing use good quality cables. Belken and Monster supply good cables. Or get a good installer you trust and ask him to use good quality cables.

Lastly I initially wanted a cheap system, I am not an audio person so I got myself a JVC HU with 4 inch round JVC speakers for both the front and the back. It cost me 6k. The sound was metallic, it was hurting my ears and I had to replace the system in 2 days. Its better not to have a system than to have one that sounds bad. If you don't have a budget, wait a bit and get good quality speakers and HU. Get a basic system but get good quality components (not speaker components). That's the key to good audio. I replaced the JVC with a Pioneer 4859, got JBL 6x9' speakers in the back and 4 inch Alpine speakers in the front. It cost me 12.6k. Its not the best but these are decent quality parts and the difference with the earlier JVC system is like a cat screeching and Lata Mangeshkar singing.
Be informed.
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Old 3rd May 2006, 17:51   #2
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Good man keep it up like ur write up
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Old 4th May 2006, 01:00   #3
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Hi Nimish, Ya I just returned to Pune from Mumbai. I don't you if you have read my earlier thread about my botched up install, but if you did you would ve realised only a very brave person will ask me for advice. I am useless in audio.
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Old 4th May 2006, 09:16   #4
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nice write up mate....loved it....me just like you have a decent all pioneer audio system setup with HU, 6x9 at the rear parcel tray, 4" in the front door shelf and tweeters near the windsheild on my palio. Its not the best can live with it..and i do out smoke many sony Xplod installs my friends have ..
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Old 4th May 2006, 19:59   #5
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good writeup. Now if someone could only provide links to relevant threads..that would be real useful for newbies who find the car audio thread a daunting read.

Cheers
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Old 5th May 2006, 16:12   #6
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Hi Raul,

Thanks for the post. I really needed to read something basic here before wading through loads of posts. I just got a new Wagon R Vxi and am looking for an appropriate HU (?Pioneer 5750), and speakers (? Kenwood/Sony - 4" for front and oval for the rear speakers. I am looking to fit an MDF board instead of the parcel tray, one that is removable in a jiffy.
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Old 5th May 2006, 18:03   #7
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Default audio care

Hi Raul,

A very good writeup.

Reqest some seniors to post more information on:

1. Care for the audio equipment
2. Other lesser discussed accessories like antenna. Mine gets rusted every few months
3. A few basic tips on adjustments etc (For ex: Automatic storing of radio stations, optimal settings for listening pleasure)
4. Basic troubleshooting. Everytime I give my Wagon R for service, something with the wires coming loose etc happens and one has to fight with mechs for fixing.
5. Good shops for audio accessories

Regards,

LS Jeyaraman
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Old 6th May 2006, 09:48   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lsjey
Hi Raul,

A very good writeup.

Reqest some seniors to post more information on:

1. Care for the audio equipment
2. Other lesser discussed accessories like antenna. Mine gets rusted every few months
3. A few basic tips on adjustments etc (For ex: Automatic storing of radio stations, optimal settings for listening pleasure)
4. Basic troubleshooting. Everytime I give my Wagon R for service, something with the wires coming loose etc happens and one has to fight with mechs for fixing.
5. Good shops for audio accessories

Regards,

LS Jeyaraman
I think we have threads going on for all u said e.g.audio accessory shops in few cities,care for audio equipment and also threads about troubles in ICE keep popping up.
So u got to visit this forum more often.

In case u have any trouble,just post it in new thread...easy na...
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Old 6th May 2006, 23:47   #9
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Well done buddy....a very nice compiled work...
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Old 8th May 2006, 14:50   #10
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I would like to tell you guys is that. Basically when you like to buy a music system and speakers for your car work back ways;
1. Work on the budget - like how much you like to spend for the music in your car.
2. Based on the budget look for a valued store in your area which probably has a good installer.
3. Eliminate all you friends who are the influencers in your purchase. dont take them with you when like to buy/install the system. actually people say one mans food is the other mans poison so one mans music and his taste cannot be the same for the other.
4. look into all the models and brands check the availability, check if the waranty is vaild in india etc... carry all these brouchers/pricing back to your home and give it some time and slowly decide.
5. Speak to the actual installer at the store as his information has a lot of practical and hands on exp.
6. spend time with the installer during installation.
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Old 28th July 2011, 13:04   #11
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Default Re: Newbie guide for Car audio

Great write up. Care to update it now , especially if your knowledge has expanded in this time?
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Old 4th October 2011, 08:22   #12
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Default Rear oval speakers - Kenwood or ALpine or JBL

I am looking for Rear oval speakers for HU Kenwood X7016 .

1 - Kenwood KFC-6993 ( 500W-5way-110W rms )
2 - Alpine SPG 69C3 ( 350W-3way-90W rms )
3 - JBL GTO 948 ( 400W-3way-100W rms )

Which one is best in SQ without amp ??
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Old 4th October 2011, 12:57   #13
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Default Re: Newbie guide for Car audio

Vasanthan, please do not cross post. Your question has been answered on the other thread.
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