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Unread 06-06-2012   #1 (permalink)
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Default Audio upgrades for 2008 Mustang GT Coupe with Shaker 500

Proud new owner here of a 2008 Mustang GT Coupe. Not so proud of the factory Shaker 500 sound. Not looking to win any contests, but the sound from the factory system in my wife's 2007 Camry SE is head and shoulders better. I've done a ton of reading here and other places, and a ton of research. Don't want to spend thousands of dollars on the audio, either. That would interfere with buying one of DOB's manifolds. Just looking for better sound.

First step is to replace the factory 6x8s in the doors and rear deck. I listened to a bunch and bought two pairs of Infinity Kappa 682.9CF speakers. Those will (hopefully) make it in this weekend. Seems like just this change should make quite a bit of difference.

If not, I'm planning to add an amp. Opinions about amps seem almost religious. After reading lots of reviews, most of which are positive for almost every amp, I think I would get a JL Audio JX360/4. Those are available from numerous sources for about $150 shipped. It has speaker level inputs, so I can just tap into the speaker wires off the Shaker 500. I plan to mount it in the trunk, in anticipation of a possible sub. Is adding this amp a reasonable second step?

Couple of questions. One is the amp turn-on connection. Do I just tap into the ignition lead that's going into the Shaker head and run that to the amp? Second, is using the speaker level inputs on the amp acceptable or should I use a line level converter?

I'm considering adding a sub, too. I'd build a box to fit in the trunk and give me mounting points for both the JX360/4 and the sub amp. Perhaps something like a JL Audio 10W1v2-4, available for about $130-140 shipped. Not sure about what amp, though. Perhaps the JL Audio JX250/1. But I could get another JX360/4 for only a bit more cash. Then my plan would be to bridge two channels of the second JX360/4 to the 10" trunk sub and use the other two channels for the door subs. Possibly replace those with the Shelby Kicker door subs.

If I do this, can I just run the same speaker level inputs to both amps? Is it worth bothering to replace the door subs or run them off a new amp?

I've considered other amps like the Alpine MRX-F30 or Sony Xm4s. Both are less powerful, but more compact than the JL amps. I can't really get a read on which amps are better or worse. Lots of opinions, but seems like for every person that says A is better than B, someone else says the reverse.
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Unread 06-06-2012   #2 (permalink)
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I would replace the head unit then get the amp.
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Unread 06-06-2012   #3 (permalink)
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I second replacing the head unit as the first step - well, in your case second step (I would have done that prior to getting any speakers). You can get a very nice head unit for less than $200 with iPod controls, an amp turn on / power antenna lead, and, most importantly, low level RCA outputs. IMHO, using an amp without RCA jacks is a PITA that never produces the sound that you expect. Most modern head units also have a dedicated subwoofer output with a built in cross-over that is controlled independently of the other speakers so you can fade the bass in or out to suit your tastes.
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Unread 06-07-2012   #4 (permalink)
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OK, I've heard the advice to replace the head unit from numerous sources. The Shaker head has the capabilities I need, though. I don't want navigation or a touch screen. The iPod interface capabilities of the Shaker are sufficient. I don't know the last time I used a CD for anything other than ripping into iTunes, so the "skipper" attributes won't be noticed.

Is the sound quality from a $200 head unit noticeable better than the shaker? Realizing that a $200 head unit also needs another $65 PAC C2R-FRD1 and a non-trivial amount of extra work to get installed. Or, is that adapter even needed? The 08 GT doesn't have steering wheel controls, so the ONLY thing a replacement head unit offers is better sound quality. Does it really do that?
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Unread 06-07-2012   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wheatie View Post
OK, I've heard the advice to replace the head unit from numerous sources. The Shaker head has the capabilities I need, though. I don't want navigation or a touch screen. The iPod interface capabilities of the Shaker are sufficient. I don't know the last time I used a CD for anything other than ripping into iTunes, so the "skipper" attributes won't be noticed.

Is the sound quality from a $200 head unit noticeable better than the shaker? Realizing that a $200 head unit also needs another $65 PAC C2R-FRD1 and a non-trivial amount of extra work to get installed. Or, is that adapter even needed? The 08 GT doesn't have steering wheel controls, so the ONLY thing a replacement head unit offers is better sound quality. Does it really do that?
YES. The quality is far better. Especially if you are going to be adding high-end stuff like it appears you are - Infinity, JL - that stuff won't work to its potential with a Ford factory radio...

If you don't want to change the head unit, you don't have to - but, I wouldn't splurge on a JL amp unless I did change it - just go to Best Buy or eBay and buy a cheapy brand amp to run off the speaker level inputs...
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2006 GT - Vortech polished w/ intercooler, Eibach suspension, Hurst short-throw, some other goodies - tuned by Paul's High Performance. It moves...

and it collects dust admirably while parked for repairs in the garage...

SOLD - 1995 Black Mustang GT, AODE. Loved it, but I had to let it go...

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Unread 06-07-2012   #6 (permalink)
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A comment and a question here:

I have owned two different 05 Mustangs. Both with the Shaker 500. To my ears, the sound is better than any I've heard in any of the other 55 or so cars I've owned. Granted, when just listening to the radio it is not great...but when listening to good quality CDs, it sounds great to me.

Maybe there is a difference in quality of sound from year to year or sample to sample of the Shaker 500 ?

Maybe it is the young ears, who want tons of bass response ?
O.K., I'm a 65 year old geezer, yet I DO listen to alternative Rock stations, AND love Punk Rock, (whether or not it is a current trend).

Personally I like lots of treble, yet not so much bass that interior panels of the vehicle are going to vibrate. I find, with the original factory system I have, that often I have to turn down the bass level slightly from the full amount that is available for some CDs.

I'm happy with what I have, from the factory. And most of the time I'm more interested in hearing the engine and it's exhaust note, with the sound system turned off.

Currently my carpet is removed, and the base of the back seat is removed. This allows me to hear the exhaust, the ring and pinion sound, even the fuel pump....noises which are the real music to my ears..
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Unread 06-07-2012   #7 (permalink)
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I don't think the Ford factory stuff sounds bad by any means. The worst radio in a car made post-2000 is probably better than a lot of the aftermarket stuff available only 10 years prior.

One of the main differences IMHO is the "crispness" - highs sound high as opposed to tinny, lows are tight as opposed to mushy - can't really think of another way to describe it.

Of course, I am half blind, so maybe my hearing is better than some folks? Don't really know, but my rust bucket pickup with a nice eXcelon head unit and 5 1/4" Boston speakers produces "cleaner" sound than the Shaker 1000 I have in the Mustang. Not as much bass by any means, but it sounds superior to my home theater system as far as separation of frequencies. JMHO...
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2006 GT - Vortech polished w/ intercooler, Eibach suspension, Hurst short-throw, some other goodies - tuned by Paul's High Performance. It moves...

and it collects dust admirably while parked for repairs in the garage...

SOLD - 1995 Black Mustang GT, AODE. Loved it, but I had to let it go...

mjmalegalsolutions.com
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Unread 06-07-2012   #8 (permalink)
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Log onto crutch field.com and type in your car info, find a head unit you like, and they'll match up all the speakers/amps/subs and connectors you can hope for in seconds.
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Unread 06-07-2012   #9 (permalink)
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I've been reasonably content with the factory sound in my 2000 Xterra. That Camry has spoiled me, though. Its just the factory system, but the sound is really good. I didn't really even consider the sound in the Mustang. I test drove something like 16 cars (OK, four of them were different Mustangs) and most of them were totally boring. The Mustang was a late and very different consideration than the others, but I was hooked. So no regrets (other than I'd have liked the Candy Apple Red rather than Silver.)

But listening to the Shaker is just dissatisfying. I even parked it and Camry side by side and listed to the same songs. Its just not the same. I don't know enough to pinpoint what's different, but the sound in the Camry is much better. And I'd like better sound in the Mustang, even as much as I like the sound of the Mustang itself.

I do have a (second) inquiry into Crutchfield. Their first recommendation for a head unit, the Kenwood Excelon KDC-X496 gets bad remarks for complicated controls. I hate to pester them too much. I might buy the head unit from them but almost everything else is available elsewhere for 60% of their prices or less.

I think between you guys and a buddy here I will get a new head unit. The same buddy just offered me a set of JL Audio gear. A e4300 amp, a 1000/1v2 amp and two 10W6v2-4 subs for $1000. They're about 10 years old (one of the boxes has a 2002 date), but they were only used for a year and have been in storage since then in the original boxes. Seems overkill and more than I wanted to spend, though.
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