Need help with choosing a car stereo

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#1 Posted by Yagnav (6107 posts) -

So i've got a Honda City incoming, for my EU and American brothers its not a model available in your regions yet but please do bear with me.

Now i'm a car stereo noob but i do like good sound, at home and at work i'm set up with Bose, Harmon Kardon, B&O and the like, but i realise cars have their own expertise.

So fellow gamespotters please help, any info and guidance appreciated, wouldnt mind links to any specialist car stereo sites either like toms hardware or anandtech for PC's.

Require :

Head unit - Must be double din, ipod/iphone capable (not too crazy about full integration, just ease of access and use), DVD (would be nice, but can live without), Navigation (optional), Touchscreen (optional, got steering mounted controls so no dealbreaker here)

Speakers - not going in for sub-woofers, but need something mid-high range. 2 tweeters + 4 speakers is how the setup is, again noob alert here so any help in understanding appreciated.

Amp - Absolutely must !!!

Budget - appx USD 1000 :(

Mind you I live in asia, so prices will vary for everything but with all the info here i can atleast make an informed decision.

Much obliged and thank you in advance.

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#3 Posted by Bozanimal (2494 posts) -


I am a former MECP-certified car audio instructor. I have since switched careers, but can certainly provide you with some feedback.

Think of your equipment in this way: If you want bells and whistles like DVD, Navigation, Surround Sound, Bluetooth, HD Radio, etc. you are eating into your budget for quality speakers and equipment. You can either have excellent audio or tons of conveniences within that budget, but not both. Some things to consider based on what you've written so far:

Adding Navigation to a Double DIN DVD receiver will pretty much double the price of the receiver by itself, and absolutely kill your budget. Think $600 vs. $300.

If you want to use the factory steering wheel controls with an aftermarket receiver, it will require an adaptor anda compatible receiver, which is generally pretty expensive. Think 10% to 20% of your budget or more.

Adding a separate amplifier(s) will require a wiring kit and significant installation work. If you are doing this yourself, it will take time and education. If you are having someone install everything for you, the labor will, again, impact your budget.

If you're not adding a subwoofer, I'd reconsider even bothering with an amplifier. Yes, an amp will make your speakers sound a lot better, but without a subwoofer you are missing part of your music. It's like assembling a jigsaw puzzle and not putting in the corner pieces. I'd strongly suggest you get a subwoofer, even if it's a small one, especially if you're putting in an amp anyway.

For your budget you can get a very nice head unit, three-channel amplifier (or four channel with one channel bridged), separates for the front, a subwoofer, and all the wiring you'll need. You can throw in a cheap pair of speakers for the rear if you want, but I leave mine turned off: You do not need rear speakers in a car unless you're watching something in surround sound, and even then the surrounds only account for a small percentage of the overall audio experience.

I cannot recommend any equipment without knowing the exact year, make, and model of your vehicle. Every car has not only different sizes, like 5.25" vs. 6.5" diameter speakers, but different speaker depths and head unit depths which will affect your universe of equipment. That your car is an Asian model certainly doesn't help, so if it has a U.S. equivalent that information would be most helpful.

Do you plan on watching movies in surround sound? If you do, you'll need a center channel and a six-channel amplifier. Adding a center channel for most vehicles means doing some cutting and/or fiberglass work on your dash. I usually don't advocate this because it is a lot of work for very little reward, since you aren't watching movies in a car frequently unless you're living in it, and if that's the case you shouldn't be buying car audio equipment you should be making your wife happy so you can move back inside.

Car Audio is a labor of love. It requires a lot of research and diligence, but the rewards are there. Personally I invest my time and energy into creating a great stereo, since the majority of your time is spent listening to music, not watching movies or playing games, but if your priorities vary, let me know and I'll factor it in as I consider recommendations.

Happy to help; provide as much info as you can and I'll see what I can do.


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#4 Posted by Yagnav (6107 posts) -
hey thanks for all of the above, I had almost given up on this site, but you're right on many things. I just got hold of the vehicle yesterday and the stock system dosent sound too bad at all. In fact i'm thinking of just investing in decent speakers at the moment and then taking it from there. I'm told they are 6" dia speakers. Honda City, Yes Mr. Wayne it comes in blackInteriors, it it helps
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#5 Posted by Bozanimal (2494 posts) -
Before I go any further, I would strongly suggest that - if you are mostly happy with your stereo - not to make any modifications, particularly if you are leasing as it may impact the terms of your lease. Alright, now that that's out of the way, if you mostly like the sound as it is you might want to consider adding a small subwoofer to fill out the sound, such as a Bazooka tube. Many amplified subwoofers, such as the one I linked, include the wiring necessary to hook into your factory stereo, making them a fairly easy upgrade for neophyte installers, and a great value. Replacing the door speakers is a good idea, as well, and it looks like the Honda City has 5.25" speakers, a common size for Honda sedans. Infinity Kappa and Polk's DXi or db lines of separates are a great option due to their high sensitivity, meaning they'll work better without a dedicated amplifier than many other speakers. If you're doing this, make sure you go for separates. Coaxials are convenient and inexpensive, but separates have major advantages over them, including a separate crossover and the ability to position the tweeter to point directly at the listener, which are both very important as an upgrade over factory speakers. If you want to use your rear speakers, you should replace them at the same time as your front speakers with a brand-matched pair of coaxials, and fade the audio mostly to the front. They'll provide a bit of ambiance, but you want most of the audio to come from the front of your car, not the rear. Nobody goes to a concert and faces away from the band. If those brands are not available in your area consider Alpine (Type R) and Pioneer (TS-A), which are both well-regarded and available worldwide. I've used Alpine in the past and have extensive experience with Pioneer, and can vouch for their products. If you have a web site you will be ordering from, I would be happy to take a look at the catalog of products and make suggestions depending on your local availability. The biggest problem you will face is installation due to lack of available information regarding your vehicle. I would personally use the 2012 Civic as a guide, and use your best judgment if you run into any discrepancies between the two. If you're getting an aftermarket head unit - which I would advise if you're buying nice replacement speakers - consider models from JVC and Pioneer, which tend to be an excellent value and good quality. You can also go Alpine, which are widely regarded as the gold standard in car audio, but you'll pay for it. I hope this is helpful. Happy gaming, Boz
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#6 Posted by dennickman (25 posts) -
Hello Everybody , My name is Dennis Dickman and I have a few questions to ask so I will jump to the right section now . I am looking forward to being a member on this forum and getting to know you all. cheers
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#7 Posted by kraken2109 (13271 posts) -
[QUOTE="dennickman"]Hello Everybody , My name is Dennis Dickman and I have a few questions to ask so I will jump to the right section now . I am looking forward to being a member on this forum and getting to know you all. cheers

Why have you posted in a 2012 thread?
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#8 Posted by _SKatEDiRt_ (3117 posts) -

Hello Everybody , My name is Dennis Dickman and I have a few questions to ask so I will jump to the right section now . I am looking forward to being a member on this forum and getting to know you all. cheersdennickman