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Discussion Starter #1
My wife recently bought a new RAV4 and I'm really enjoying it. It's our primary car for trips and whatnot so I've decided to upgrade the radio a bit.

I haven't been able to find much on upgrading the stereo so I wanted to chronicle the event here to hopefully help others.

In the decision process, there were these factors/requirements from my wife and I:
Head Unit:
-Easy to use, simple layout
-Has a mute button
-Satellite radio capable, no additional interface
-Retains steering wheel controls

Speakers:
-6.5" if possible, grilles are 5.25... will see what they are soon...
-Must play loud and clear

I've decided on Infinity speaker (RS6000 components for the front and 6002si coax for the rear) I've ordered an Alpine 9847 and satellite tuner/antenna. I like Infinity's highs and midrange but the bass rolls off sharply in the mid-bass area... so no real bass is possible in my last experience with these speakers in my Jeep.

Additionally, I just decided to get a 6-channel JL Audio (e6450) amp and a JL wedge sub. The wedge will feat neatly behind the back seats and not take up too much room.... but the wife may not like this... but she'll like the bass, I assure you.

Has anyone put a big amp in their RAV? I was planning to put it under the driver seat but it looks really lumpy plus the heat vents would be just under it. (A good thing in the summer with AC but not so good in winter.) This big amp is 18" long and about 14" wide.

I'm also coating the doors with 'Quietcoat' which is a liquid goo that has a similar application to dynamat but (supposedly) much better absorption properties. We'll see... I think it'll be a huge mess and I'll hate it but... you don't know till you try. And, if the results are as good as I've read, I won't be sorry at all.

I'm installing the goo and the speakers... and maybe the amp. I'm getting a really good pro installer to do the head unit and satellite stuff.

Any suggestions or comments are welcome.

Thanks,
Carl
 
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Discussion Starter #2
In case you haven't looked, the forum has several posts on changing the stock RAV head unit with a Scion. You retain all the controls, get more power and MP3.
 
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I saw that but I'm a little leary of buying used car gear from ebay. (Especially now that the seller for my amp seems to be MIA.)

I also wasn't sure about a lot of things with that swap. Everything I've read about RAV4's is for 2004 and before... and I have an '05.. .I don't know if there are any differences but that too made me hesitant. Plus, for an additonal $50 (150 used Scion vs. $200 new Alpine w/ warranty) I know the quality will be better, I'll have a full warranty, etc.... Plus my wife had an Alpine in her last car that she really liked. (BTW, my price comparison isn't actually fair if you want the steering wheel controls to work. That's another $100)

The Scion otherwise looks perfect, especially since I wanted sattelite also. Oh, and I wanted preamp outs for a separate amp and sub. This system *should* sound awesome. I'm really looking forward to getting it done.... but not looking forward to the time it'll take... ugh.
 
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The 2005 is a carry over from 2004 so it should be identical. As for changing out head units the process is relatively simple but aftermarket ones such as an Alpine might not support the steering wheel controls. I installed a Clarion in my 2004 but it came with a remote so i use that most of the time anyway. Amps can be placed under the front seats if you want, i think its acctually a great place to put them because they're out of the way and easy to get to if you want to adjust anything. Replacing the speakers in the door does tend to be a pain in the neck because the factory speakers are riveted to the door so they'll have to be ripped out and then you're left with a hole that bigger than the 6.5" speakers that are supposed to go in them. If you're going to go to an audioshop make sure they know what they are doing because I made the mistake of picking a random one and they didn't do a good job with removing the door panels and broke alot of clips.
 
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Good points, Turtle. I plan on doing the speakers and door panels myself... I trust my installer but I have to coat the door panels with my goo so, I figured I might as well install the speakers while I'm there... and save myself a ton of money.

The installer is using a device that converts the steering wheel controls to the Alpine's remote input on the rear of the head unit. The Alpine does not come with a remote but it has a remote input.

Apparently, it has become common to have this kind of setup to accomodate steering wheel controls. According to the installer this is an everyday type of install.

My ebay deal on the 6-channel amp has fallen through. So, I'm getting a 4-channel amp and using it on the front speakers and sub. The rear speakers will use the factor harness/wiring and power from the head unit. Since the front speakers have a crossover, I'd prefer to amp them. If it doesn't work out, I'll return the 4-channel and go 6. I think most of what I'm doing is overkill anyway.. :lol:

Thanks for the tips.

-Carl
 
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OK.. it's all in and I need to posts a few photos that might help with the front door panels especially.

Once I realized the speaker and its mounting plate were all one unit... and that 6.5" speakers were not quite wide enough and that the depth of the speaker caused a problem with the window, I knew I was in for a rocky road.

I ended up removing the speaker portion of the all-in-one mounting plate and screwed the new speaker to it. I then epoxied the screws. This solved the depth problem and gave me a nice mounting plate to use. However, the holes where rivets had been used were large and required some more deliberation. In retrospect, I would've done it differently but I simply found some fat coarse-threaded metal screws and mounted them firmly and was careful not to strip them.

I had to dremel down the ring on the back of the door panel to get the clearance I needed. It worked well.

I mounted the crossover just to the left of the speaker if you're looking at the front of the door panel. It sits in a nice little space on the inside... free from moisture. I screwed into the back of a plastic rivet to mount the xover.

The tweeter was almost a direct replacement. The original had a screw in the magnet that held in place. I used a dab of glue and am satisfied with it. The tweeters took 5 minutes to replace.

The soundcoat stuff was a little messy but not too bad. I ran out of time to do a third coat. I needed to get the car together to get it to the install place for round 2; amp and head unit install.

My e6450 came just in time... and worked.. whew! So, that saved me about $170.

So, how's it sound? Absolutely incredible. It is one of the best sounding car audio systems I've heard at the price. It's got loads of SPL and the sub is not just a 1-note boom-boom type. I'm still tweaking it a bit and the speakers need some more break-in but I know it'll get a little better within a week or so. Right now the highs are just a tad to hot but I know that always calms down after some hours of play... and tweaking.

If you like it VERY loud and clear while still being able to hold it all together at low volumes, I highly recommend this system. All in all it was a bit expensive... around $1500 including all the parts, installation, taxes, satellite service for a year... etc... but to me it's worth it for the sound quality and features.
 
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Update...

Well, thought I'd come in here and update this fun project.. I recently did an 'Audio Makeover' for this system..
The Alpine started having problems.. when you'd push a button on the front, the whole unit would turn off... and then come back on. It always sounded a bit harsh so I was happy to replace it and try something else.. My wife wanted GPS.. So, I got her a Pioneer AVIC 700.

The Pioneer is a very good sounding unit and sounds MUCH better than the Alpine in every way. The cd player is audiophile quality. (And I am an obsessive audiophile.) I'm not nuts about the GPS software (compared to a Garmin) but it's not bad and gets the job done. The Ipod integration works and sounds good also. With the Ipod we don't really need satellite so, we didn't bother with that. The Pioneer needs an additional tuner for sat or HD radio..

A month or 2 after the new head unit, the amp stopped working... The main fuse to the amp weakened but didn't blow... sending less than 12V to the amp.. I thought the amp was blown so I bought another e6450 to replace it... (local, used deal, cheap)... By the time I'd figure out it was the fuse, the new amp was in place so.. there's a new amp.

So now the only thing left from the original 'overhaul' is the speakers. The speakers are still a little bright but easily controlled with EQ. With the new head unit and amp it's very balanced and slightly warm sound. It also images a bit which is cool...

My wife is super pleased with it too.. which makes me happy. But it's a pleasure to listen to.. and much better than before! :)

-C
 
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