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#1 (permalink) Old 01-10-2013, 05:28 AM
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Audio Upgrade Options

I drove my brothers CX7 recently and was really surprised at how good the sound system was verses my rav4. Gladly it was about the only thing that impressed me, but I have decided I have to upgrade the audio. After reading through a number of posts i am uncertain as to what will deliver best bang for my buck.

I have a navigation version of the oem unit, and don't want to replace that. A few others have had similar requirements noted in these forums and it seems that other than a head unit upgrade there are at least three options:

1. Replace the speakers - the results from what I have read on this forum are ok.
2. Replace the speakers along with adding a clean sweep unit and amp - but possibly relatively complicated and expensive

3. Add an amp and subwoofer, either with or without replacing the other speakers (I could not figure out if the head unit on a 2009 Rav4 v6 has a sub out)?

I would love to hear what people have done to improve the sound in their car, and the improvement it made (or not!).
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#2 (permalink) Old 01-10-2013, 08:49 AM
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I have done all of the above. Replaced the speakers and added two more. Have a JL Audio Cleansweep after the stock head unit to clean up the signal. JL Audio amp, Bazooka 10" self powered sub.

My criteria was absolute clarity at any volume level with a flat signal that I can modify if desired. It is set up more as a "surround" with prominent front stage kind of like a home theater. It works for me and all that have listened to it with a critical ear were astounded. All was professionally installed and tweaked to my liking.

In my opinion leaving the stock speakers in and adding an amp is a big mistake. The speakers are cardboard and just don't cut the mustard. Somewhere on this forum I posted pictures of the factory installed speakers @ 5 1/4" and the 6.5" that were put in their place. The tweeters were also replaced and two more added in the rear doors to facilitate the surround effect I wanted.

I scrounged about and found the pictures:

Speaker Upgrade

There are a few folks here that have show stopping systems complete with full sound deadening material to maximize the interior sound. I do not think the stock head unit has a "Sub Out" on the rear of it.

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#3 (permalink) Old 01-10-2013, 06:32 PM
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So how much difference did adding the cleansweep unit, amp and Bazooka sub make compared to just upgrading the speakers as your first step? You noted in the linked thread you were happy with just the speak upgrade. Would that alone give a significant bump - assuming I get my speaker selection right?

I am not an audiofile particularly, I just know that the sound currently is not crisp, and know it can and should be better!

Also, what signal goes to the sub if there is no separate sub line out (or perhaps your unit had the necessary connections?). I don't want to turn up with a bazooka and amp, only to be told I need a new unit to install them. But I do like the idea of telling my CX7-owning-brother, when he goes on a rant about his superior sound system, to talk to the bazooka coz the face ain't listening!
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#4 (permalink) Old 01-11-2013, 12:47 PM
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I approached the issue in stages and measured the performance improvement of each step. Here is what I did.

1) the stock speakers are crap. I replaced the front with Infinity 6030cs and the rear with JBL 622's, cutting adapter donuts out of 3/4 MDF and mounting the 1" domes in the front doors by cutting a circle in the existing grills. The improvement is very significant. These high efficiency low impedance speakers make the most of the power that is there. Many people would say this is good enough, but not for an old rocker like me.

http://www.sonicelectronix.com/item_...SearchClickout[query_id]=15611301&SearchClickout[Ignore]=1

http://www.sonicelectronix.com/item_...SearchClickout[query_id]=15611374&SearchClickout[Ignore]=1


2) I used an audio sweep generator and rms voltmeter to measure the effect of the HU built-in EQ. This is what the cleansweep and other automatic equalizers do, but it is only half of the job. This process does not measure the acoustic parameters of the speakers or the environment. One can remove the factory EQ which in the case of my Pioneer/Toyota nav was mainly a big boost in the bass and a small one in the midrange, but it takes a sound level meter with the sweep generator to measure the system performance.

3) I added a Soundstream Rubicon 600 (150w rms x4) and put it in the tray behind the back seat, along with a Sony 500w sub amp for the Pioneer TSW-841D I put into the back door. The amp has built in HP and LP filters that I was able to use to remove much of the stock EQ, and in combination with the on-screen tone controls it was a huge improvement. The amps have speaker level inputs. It sounds great but not quite there yet.

4) I decided to put in a pair of parametric equalizers so I could have separate EQ for the front and rear and preserve the on-screen balance control. To do this I needed to convert the balanced speaker signal to the unbalanced RCA inputs of the Pyle 520P units I am modifying today to fit in the space below the HU. I tested the Scosche unit and the performance at low frequencies is terrible. The PAC converters are the same price and are literally 100x better at 20-100Hz.

The Pyle units are half DIN, and the space is almost wide enough but not quite. I could remove the plastic shell; there is lots of room around it, but I decided instead to take the EQ units' PCB's out of the case and whittle them down in the rear as much as the boards allowed. They wedge in perfectly to the space now. The EQ units are parametric, which means the center frequency of each of the 5 filters is adjustable. A paragraphic EQ is more typical, where each control covers 1/2 or more octaves, but it would take a 31 channel paragraphic to do what this 5 channel parametric can do for me in this situation.

5) Once I get the EQ units installed and any bugs worked out, I will take the sweep generator, a good microphone, and FFT software to adjust the frequency response of the entire system; HU, speakers, amps, sub, and the acoustics of the vehicle. I know most people will not go this far, but I just thought I'd share all this.

The reason I need such good sound in my car is that my wife cannot tolerate the volume I like to play music at in the house on my electrostats. Now I just rattle the spare tire and it bothers nobody, with the added benefit that my wife rarely rides in my car anymore.

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#5 (permalink) Old 01-11-2013, 05:09 PM
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Originally Posted by simondav View Post
So how much difference did adding the cleansweep unit, amp and Bazooka sub make compared to just upgrading the speakers as your first step? You noted in the linked thread you were happy with just the speak upgrade. Would that alone give a significant bump - assuming I get my speaker selection right?

I am not an audiofile particularly, I just know that the sound currently is not crisp, and know it can and should be better!

Also, what signal goes to the sub if there is no separate sub line out (or perhaps your unit had the necessary connections?). I don't want to turn up with a bazooka and amp, only to be told I need a new unit to install them. But I do like the idea of telling my CX7-owning-brother, when he goes on a rant about his superior sound system, to talk to the bazooka coz the face ain't listening!
The speaker upgrade did make a positive difference in clarity and less distortion at higher volume but was still lacking in impact. I had the 3 pieces of equipment (not the door speakers) removed from the Accord I traded in on the RAV. Then later they were installed in the RAV. It was a matter of money.....I didn't have much so I went with what equipment I had on hand.

As far as how the stuff hooks up I have no earthly idea. That is why I use a local shop with professional installers. They have done all the work on my last two cars and all items were purchased through them originally.

By the way when I first got the Bazooka I was horribly disappointed. I thought "That's it"? The store manager told me to be patient and allow it to break in. I did and it came alive after it "loosened up" a bit and I've been pleased ever since. Earth shattering? No but it will buzz your seat with appropriate lows when needed. Volume and crossover knobs are hidden in the cubby in front of the console beneath the A/C controls.

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2008 Limited V-6 front wheel drive
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#6 (permalink) Old 01-11-2013, 06:23 PM
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Most sub amps, like the Sony I used, and all the amplified Bazookas, have speaker level inputs for both channels and they sum them into one mono channel that is amplified. Some have a remote pot you can use to adjust the sub level. You just tap in to the existing wires on the front or rear channels. The bigger issue is power. You can only get 100 watts out of the accessory plugs. That will not likely be enough. You can get a good ground from the bolts behind the rear seat, but you have to run a good size wire, #6 at least, for power, and add a fuseholder close to the battery. The only sensible place to get through the firewall is on the passenger side at the bushing that carries the washer fluid to the back. I found it easier to push the bushing through the hole, poke a hole and put the wire through, then push the bushing back in.

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#7 (permalink) Old 01-21-2013, 11:38 AM
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Update 2007 rav 4 with navigation system

Hi,

I have a 2007 RAV4 limited, with the JBL premium sound, I'm kicking myself for not getting the navigation system at time of purchase - I was short sighted.. I was hoping to use bluetooth to stream audio, but it turns out that the JBL system doesn't enable it. Regardless, I want these things now. Are there any good systems out there that are less than $1000? Less than $500?

Specifications:
- GPS navigation
- connection to iPhone 5
- bluetooth audio
- satellite radio capability

Thanks!
Carollynn
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#8 (permalink) Old 01-21-2013, 12:25 PM
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Originally Posted by glamoursmith View Post
Are there any good systems out there that are less than $1000? Less than $500?

Specifications:
- GPS navigation
- connection to iPhone 5
- bluetooth audio
- satellite radio capability

Thanks!
Carollynn
here's a pretty decent unit for just over $500

Clarion NX602 6.2" DVD LCD Car Receiver w/ Bluetooth & Navigation

add XM/Sirius for $15

SIRIUS XM V200 SXV200V1 (SXV200) Satellite Radio Vehicle Tuner 2.0

add HD radio if you want it for $98

Clarion THD301 (THD 301) HD Radio Tuner Module for Clarion

Clarion is excellent quality, Sonic is great to deal with. I'm sure there are other options. There will probably be installation issues with any unit connecting it to the JBL system but I'm sure others here know how to deal with that part.

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#9 (permalink) Old 01-21-2013, 05:53 PM
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Simon whats your budget? Are you doing the work yourself?

2012 Rav4 4x4 Base/2001 Jeep Grand Cherokee. Nexus 5, Nexus 4, iphone 5. PC Builder.
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#10 (permalink) Old 01-30-2013, 04:21 AM
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Hi chex,

My budget is a little flexible in that I am willing to spend more, perhaps up to $1000 if it is worth the extra money. Otherwise would love to keep it to $500.

After reading some of the effort required to do some installs, i think anything more than a speaker upgrade would be best left to the professionals. So add install costs on top of that budget. I plan to keep the car for a while so happy to find something I am happy with.

I just received the GPS override switch which I read about in these forums. Not being able to update nav details while in the passenger seat is nuts, and was hoping that any wiring to be done behind the unit could be done at the same time as installing the switch.
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