Car Audio set up/discussion thread

  • Last Updated:
  • Jul 26th, 2020 11:07 am
Deal Expert
Mar 23, 2004
33251 posts
bembol wrote: Times have really changed or I'm thinking factory systems are just good enough?
bembol wrote: Getting back into Car Audio, my last system was 13 years ago on my 2002 Acura RSX Premium, I spent about $3k with Alpine Type S series.

I missed it and didn't help my boy got a 2020 Subaru Impreza with the upgraded Rockford Fosgate system. Also I figured, since I'm not going back to the Philippines again this year, why not make use of my money. LOL
RF factory "premium" systems have tended to be pretty good, even since back when the last Lancer came out and had the option. Other "premium" factory audio is widely hit and miss. Factory audio systems are mainly concerned with putting fifty drivers all over the goddamn place so they can advertise "moar speakerz" along with some silly inflated wattage numbers. Even then the audio systems aren't focused much upon say compared to 10 years ago. Now all they gotta do is put any ol' garbage/same ol' garbage in there and instead of needing to advertise speaker counts or wattage, they just need to have Android Auto and/or Car Play and that's all people care about in 2020 :shrug:

I've heard some expensive "premium" factory options along the way that sounded pretty crap, and just have too many speakers bouncing sound everywhere. OTOH some systems that aren't even "premium" and just the standard stereo have been half-decent. It's really quite variable.

Anyway your son seems to have lucked out because as mentioned RF OEM systems are fairly good. In fact, for the most part the OEM systems from Dynaudio, Kicker, RF, Pioneer, are typically better than the "pay for the name" junk from Blose, B&O, Mark Levinson, etc. that you find in a lot of lux cars. Still, pretty much none rival what you can do with what is usually less money, and often with gear from some of those very same companies in the aftermarket.
bembol wrote: Did you upgrade?
Being an old-skool "car audio guy", I don't think I'll ever have a car I don't upgrade the factory audio in. I used to have the opinion that the less they put in there stock, the better--I used to say they should sell cars cheaper w/o the stereo system at all, lol. However now that's a little different because of the degree of integration of features, nav, controls, etc. into the "infotainment" system/interface in modern cars. They should at least sell them w/o speakers and amps but yeah you're not gonna see that happen...
bembol wrote: Upgrading my CivicX, keeping the OEM infotainment but everything else is being upgraded to JL Audio C1 series components , 5-channel and single 12 at the back. I always wanted JL Audio back in the day.
Sounds decent...pun intended??? LOL.
bembol wrote: I wonder if I should order some Sound Deadening on amazon?
For Civic, yes I would say so. For the Q3, if/when you decide to upgrade that, TBH you can go completely without it as the doors are both solid and really well sealed from the factory.
CanKon wrote: You do realize the same oem head units are made by the same guys who make "upgrades" right? And I've been hearing this since 2003 when cars started to integrate the HAC with the display...
Uh yeah someone has to manufacture them but it's not really the same thing. Most factory HUs have been OEM'd by various aftermarket companies for ages, the main exceptions being the bigger automakers in the 80s/90s as GM used to have Delco, and Ford and Chrysler also had their own divisions making electronics. Delco often paired with Blose who outlined the specs for the processing and amps for their shitty "premium" systems but still all made by Delco I believe. Chrysler had a similar arrangement with Infinity though I believe Infinity actually manufactured many of the amps. But most "Japanese" marques have had their HUs made by the likes of Pio, Alpine, Panasonic, etc. for ages. Germans, most of them were using Blaupunkt as their OEM. They're not nearly the same thing as what you get in the aftermarket though--not back then and though much closer today, still not the same.

For example OEM processing is all custom tailored and for the most part there is some degree of EQ to the audio that is set from manufacture and cannot be defeated. Back in the day this mostly involved hidden, non-defeatable "loudness" which automatically eases or deactivates when the volume is increased beyond a certain point. Today the hidden EQ/factory colouring of the audio can be quite a bit more complex, but it's still there in some capacity. Yes there are adjustable EQs/settings as well but even today it's mostly limited at things like "low", "mid", "high", while some cars may have a few bands of EQ available, that's about as much as you're gonna see. Crossovers are totally non adjustable as well.
Deal Expert
Mar 23, 2004
33251 posts
Bianco13 wrote: Simply tapping the speaker wires to the level inputs on the amp, giving you the accessibility to add a sub-woofer(s). That's exactly what I did with my stock system on my daily driver, huge improvement!
Yeah but you can't defeat the factory EQ/processing/DSP, which can range from mild to "highly coloured" depending on the car make/model. That's why RF sells stuff like the 3SIXTY... I mean I don't really recommend those unless you have a lot of money to burn or if one of those (or similar products) aren't expensive to you, but anyway yeah there's stuff you can't get around a lot of the time. Sometimes there are line-level outputs "hidden" somewhere that can be tapped into but most of the time these days you're screwed.

That said adding some real amps to any factory system will give big improvements.