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Discussion Starter #1
Anyone in the know...

I have checked the many threads on this forum about stereos but still have a question. I have the Skipper 500 and the power is fine - I can't get half-way up the volume dial without pain. :winks However, the fidelity SUCKS and there are a lot of sounds that I loose when compared to the CDs on my home system. I listen to anything from Mozart to Metallica and the quality is just not there on either one. I am also one who is more tuned to the treble side of sound and you won't hear my car thumping from the base to be sure.

I have seen a lot of great systems shown on this forum but they all seemed a "bit much" - I just want to swap out the head unit (and/or CD changer if necessary) or whatever and I don't need the fancy LCDs, etc. I just want better sound and do not need any more power than the 500 already has.

Anyone have any simple ideas or similar experience?

Thanks in advance. :worship
 

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I built my system in phases. First the head unit and Sirius, then the navigation, then replacing the speakers, then the amps and replacing the subs.

Now, having said that. In my opinion, replacing just the head unit actually made the system sound worse. The (much ) higher quality head unit brought out all of the flaws and limitations of the factory speakers. Having said that, if I were going to advise someone for an upgrade, I would advise replacing the door and deck speakers first. Then if they were still unhappy, replace the head unit. And in your case, you are not having issues with the skipper head unit, so I wouldn't rush right out to replace it. Pick yourself out a good quality set of component style 6X8 speakers and replace the door and deck speakers. I went with Infinity Kappa 682.7 series 6X8s in the door and rear deck. They handle plenty of power, the speaker has good mids, and they also have directional / tunable tweeters.

That's just my opinion...
 

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I agree, you will probably be happy with just replacing the speakers that produce the mids and highs. I suspect that these supposed "audiophile" speakers are just good dual cone's. Infinity is a good choice.

Good Luck:thumbsup
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Sounds like a good opinion to me and it makes sense - start with the cheapest, easiest part to fix and work your way up. I am on my second head unit because I did have the skipping problem - mine was an October '04 build and they finally replaced it in July.

Anyhow I'll check that out and can do the work myself.

And thanks hogpowr for confirming hawgman's ideas - guess the "hogs" have all the answers tonight! :winks

Thanks much! :drink:

hawgman said:
I built my system in phases. First the head unit and Sirius, then the navigation, then replacing the speakers, then the amps and replacing the subs.

Now, having said that. In my opinion, replacing just the head unit actually made the system sound worse. The (much ) higher quality head unit brought out all of the flaws and limitations of the factory speakers. Having said that, if I were going to advise someone for an upgrade, I would advise replacing the door and deck speakers first. Then if they were still unhappy, replace the head unit. And in your case, you are not having issues with the skipper head unit, so I wouldn't rush right out to replace it. Pick yourself out a good quality set of component style 6X8 speakers and replace the door and deck speakers. I went with Infinity Kappa 682.7 series 6X8s in the door and rear deck. They handle plenty of power, the speaker has good mids, and they also have directional / tunable tweeters.

That's just my opinion...
 

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i like ford, but thier stereos suck... bigtime... no sound quaility at all. i just bought my wife an 06 F150 Supercrew fully loaded and as usual the stereo sucks. you'd think for 42K you would at least get a good stereo.
 

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I've been thinking about replacing my speakers also. I did an initial check and it looks like the rear ones are pretty easy. I tried to figure out how to disassemble the doors from the Ford shop manual but there wasn't enough detail.

Take a look at Crutchfield's website and they give more explicit instructions. If you buy speakers from them they will give you harness adapters also.

http://akamaipix.crutchfield.com/graphics/download/sample_0190011.pdf

I would be careful about the Infinities because it looks like they are 2 ohm speakers. They can draw too much power from your amplifier if it isn't rated for them. I would try to stick to 4 ohm speakers like the factory ones.
 

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jiobao,

I don't think you'll be satisfied with only new speakers. It sounds like you want "cleaner" sound. The only way you will accomplish this is with mid- to high-end "clean" power. Just because a mid- to high-end system will make your ears bleed, that doesn't mean it is all it's good for.

The last system I built (about 12 years ago) was only rated at about 310 watts RMS, but, it was a high quality Kenwood system. It started with the competition deck, which had no amplifiers built-in, which pushed a very clean pre-amp signal. I paid about $700 for the deck and it was the anchor of the system and well worth the cost. A comparable one today would run about $450 (I would recommend Eclipse). After the deck, the next most important, yet usually overlooked, item is your wiring. You need top-notch RCA cables to get that "clean" signal to your amps, heavy enough power and ground cable to feed the amps the power they need, and heavy speaker wire to get the "clean" sound to your speakers. You don't need extremely powerful amps to get great sound, but, you do need to make sure they are high quality. I had a kenwood 40w RMS x 4 channel amp pushing four kenwood 6 1/2" 3-way speakers and a kenwood 150w RMS sub amp pushing two tens in a bandpass box. This was a total of 310w RMS but believe me, it would make your ears bleed. The thing was, the sound was extremely clean all the way through the volume range.

I probably spent a total of about $1500 (I installed it myself) on the system and it could probably be duplicated today for around $1200 or so. If you just replace your speakers, you probably aren't going to get what your looking for.

The shaker is a decent production head unit, but, it is far from a high-fidelity type unit that is going to put out the "clean" sound you are looking for. You could put in the best speakers money could buy but they will not overcome a sub-par head unit putting out a signal that is not up to your standards.
 

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Speakers and amp, then front end

Hi Jiobao, what sort of budget did you have in mind? I'm in exactly the same boat - music from AC/DC to Chopin.

Like the other members say I think you will be disappointed if you replace only the front end; it may give you a bit more clarity (maybe not) but probably not give you any more punch or control and even a good front end will benefit greatly from an external amp. You would also have to decide how to run the lower front door subs which are currently powered by two seperate amps. You say that you dont need more power; in fact you probably do need more power especially if you replace the speakers; there is no way the Shaker 500 can produce 500 watts of clean power. More CLEAN power will allow you to drive your speakers without distortion and give you a nice punchy sound with a tighter bass more like your home system. Even with good speakers, the sound can be flabby and flat if you run directly from the head unit.

I was thinking of going in two stages - 1) replace door and shelf speakers with 6x8, possibly MTX 6802 (4 ohm), I've used MTX and Kicker before and they are both good especially with rock/pop. Install 4 channel amp (MTX 564 or similar) and feed it with high (speaker) level outputs from the front end. This way I can still use the subwoofers in the lower door powered by the factory amps in the short term. Stage 2) Install new front end with 5 pre-outs (2 x front, 2 rear and 1 sub) and run these to the 4 channel MTX, install either a mono amp and sub or powered sub in the back. Not sure what I'll do with the door subs at this stage, probably try to hook them up one way or another.

Like you, I'm not really interested in the flashing bar charts and head units with every 3 letter acronym scribbled on there. Blaupunkt make some nice units like the Monterrey MP35. This has the 5 pre-outs, vario colour display just like the car dash, not sure about the aluminium look trim though. you can pick a new one up on ebay for ~$150.

Whatever way you decide to go, just give yourself some headroom for future expansion i.e. good quality speakers and consider a head unit with the 5 pre-outs as above. If you intend to install yourself and are not too concerned about full warranty you can pick up some good deals on good gear on Ebay. 6x8 MTX should be ~ $80 a pair, 4 channel amp ~$160 so for my Stage 1 $320 plus shipping and cables, say $400. Will probably start install after xmas, as no time right now - in a motel in Texas hill country - the joys of fatherhood.

Thanks Kinigit for that Crutchfield link; the Ford DVD manual leaves a lot to be desired.

hope it goes well and keep us informed; I'm sure there are many with the same issues.

PS you did well not to go for the Shaker 1000 - a friend has one and.....ah... lets just say (so I dont upset anyone) I found the sound rather disappointing for more than a $1200 premium.

regards
 

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I replaced the Shaker 500 head unit with an Alpine 9853, and it didn't improve sound quality hardly at all. So now I'm thinking speaker replacement as well. Are the 6x8s required for replacing the doors and rear deck? I was thinking about Alpine Type Rs or Infinity Reference if so. Also, will I need to get an external amp to go with these? The Alpine head has a 50x4 internal amp.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks for the detailed input 05SilverBullitt and steve999_1 - it's much appreciated and some of the same conclusions I am coming to just since I began this bit of research yesterday. I did find the Crutchfield site last night and it was quite nice and after seeing all the extras needed (It ain't just plugging in the wires) I have already decided I'll have a local shop install whatever i go with. Like you there is the fatherhood thing (only 10 weeks for me :happyhapp ) so while I may have money to spend, I really don't have extra time to play with the car.

And you were right - it is cleaner sound I am looking for

as for my budget - won't know until it's all done, and while I can spend whatever I want I am not going to buy an expensive system just because it is expensive - if it's worth it, then I'll toss down the green.

My wife's Camry has only a 300 watt system but the sound is far superior and envelopes me. I just can't stand driving a 4-banger. :tongue

I'll check out some of those systems you both mentioned and then once it's all done let you know results, what I went with, and how much it all cost.

Much thanks!!:worship
 

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CORRECTION to my previous reply

Just noted that the MTX564 does not have high level inputs, so will only work with the Shaker 500 head unit if I use line convertor (converts speaker level back to line level) MTX 404 has line level level inputs.

SatinSylvia, If you replace the speakers then you will notice a real improvement by adding an external amplifier. Although your Alpine head unit may be rated at 4x50W, it will start clipping way before it reaches that power level output. A seperate amp, even one that looks no better on paper such as the Alpine MRP-F240 with 4x40W will be able to give you higher levels of distortion free sound. That 9853 of yours is a nice lookin' head unit. Yes the 6x8 would replace the shelf speakers and the speakers in the middle door. Crutchfield is a good site to check compatability. The woofers at the bottom door are seperate subs that receive only a bass signal from the head unit via two smallish amps. How are you connected to the subs now ? good luck!
 

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steve, thanks for the advice. What level of amp would you recommend and what is a likely price range? Also, I had Best Buy do the install of the head unit, so Im not too sure how its connected to the in-door subs.
 

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expect ~$400 - 450 for upgrade

Sylvia, firstly I'm not an expert on audio installations, just someone who likes music and playing around with electronics when I have time and having not yet started on my Mustang upgrade I'm a little hesitant to be too specific ! The following are only suggestions rather than recommendations. Your team down at best-buy should be able to make some suggestions about taking your sound up to the next level.

A good quality 4 channel amp (2 front and 2 rear channels) will cost around $150-200 from Best buy or Circuit City. I have very good personal experience with MTX, Kicker and a friend has been using an Alpine system in his Volkwagen diesel since '89 and still sounds great after 16 years ! I can't seem to access Bestbuy at present so the following are prices from Crutchfield. MTX Thunder 564 $149.99 (4x70W), Alpine MRP-F240 $199.99 (4x40w), Kicker KX350.4 $199.99 (4x60w). Don't worry too much about the power ratings of the above - they will all sound good at normal/high volumes with good speakers. All of the above have received good consumer reviews. There are many more on the market that may be just as good.

Speakers you are looking at ~$70-100 for a pair so ~$150-200 for the front and rear pairs of 6x8, or 5x7. A pair of Alpine SPR-574A at crutchfield is currently only $59 which seems like a good deal. I have good experience with Infinity, Kicker and MTX (and friend's Alpine) speakers but there are many more. I have less favourable experience with Pioneer and Sony although they were cheaper speakers.

So adding it all up if you buy and have installed by Best Buy or similar I would expect ~$450 including all cables etc. Not a small investment but you will notice the difference and you have already purchased a very nice head unit. rgds, steve
 

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I am more "in the know" than most folks here.
I own a high end audio / video store, and have been in business almost 30 years.
While we don't currently offer car audio; We used to. So I have a decent knowlege of what to do.

I personally like clear - detailed sound. You will not hear booming bass from me either.

I ordered my car w/o the Ford "Skipper" system because I wanted to install my own system.

So far all I have done is replace the lousy Ford dual cone speakers w/ Pioneer TS-D680R. Speakers should be your first choice as they are the final "say" in how your system will perform. Get good speakers and then you will really hear and appreciate the other upgrades in the system.
Check these out. http://www.pioneerelectronics.com/pna/product/detail/0,,2076_4067_37940_tab=B,00.html?compName=PNA_ProductDetailComponent
REAL crossovers, light yet rigid woofer, soft dome tweeter, bigger voice coils. They are a nice drop in replacement. The sound is much more detailed and the highs are pretty silky. (They do take some time to break in) The bass is slightly better - but more defined. I suggest you go to a car audio specialist (NOT the big box stores) and "listen" to some speakers and see what sound qualities you prefer. Ignore specs and price- they don't amount to anything. LISTEN!!!!! (Preferably with your eyes closed - I'm serious)

My next step is the replace the head unit. I was going to put in the Pioneer AVIC-D1 (I have one in my F350), but since I don't drive the Mustang as much as the truck, I am not going to need Nav; even though it is cool. I am checking out radios that support XM. I am leaning towards Pioneer DEH-P8600 because their internal amps use mosfets; which deliver more current and are way more detailed than "chip" amps. The sound result should be a deeper more controlled bottom and crisp highs w/o shrillness.

As for bottom end bass, I'll wait until I get the head unit in and see what that brings. Should I prefer more bass, then I'll likely look into some type of sub that uses 1 or more 6" drivers. That way the bass will be quick to respond and not have that dull / slow / sloppy sound that you get with large drivers.

Hope this helps a bit. . . . .:eyebulge:
 

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Discussion Starter #16
It is very helpful - I have also decided to go to the pros and contacted a couple of custom shops for info - I only used Best Buy and the like to check out prices but there are two custom sound places in my neighborhood that seem pretty good.

Too bad you're not in So Cal! :winks

I'll let you know the results and will probably get it all done in a couple of weeks.

:worship

BillR said:
I am more "in the know" than most folks here.
I own a high end audio / video store, and have been in business almost 30 years.
While we don't currently offer car audio; We used to. So I have a decent knowlege of what to do.

I personally like clear - detailed sound. You will not hear booming bass from me either.

I ordered my car w/o the Ford "Skipper" system because I wanted to install my own system.

So far all I have done is replace the lousy Ford dual cone speakers w/ Pioneer TS-D680R. Speakers should be your first choice as they are the final "say" in how your system will perform. Get good speakers and then you will really hear and appreciate the other upgrades in the system.
Check these out. http://www.pioneerelectronics.com/pna/product/detail/0,,2076_4067_37940_tab=B,00.html?compName=PNA_ProductDetailComponent
REAL crossovers, light yet rigid woofer, soft dome tweeter, bigger voice coils. They are a nice drop in replacement. The sound is much more detailed and the highs are pretty silky. (They do take some time to break in) The bass is slightly better - but more defined. I suggest you go to a car audio specialist (NOT the big box stores) and "listen" to some speakers and see what sound qualities you prefer. Ignore specs and price- they don't amount to anything. LISTEN!!!!! (Preferably with your eyes closed - I'm serious)

My next step is the replace the head unit. I was going to put in the Pioneer AVIC-D1 (I have one in my F350), but since I don't drive the Mustang as much as the truck, I am not going to need Nav; even though it is cool. I am checking out radios that support XM. I am leaning towards Pioneer DEH-P8600 because their internal amps use mosfets; which deliver more current and are way more detailed than "chip" amps. The sound result should be a deeper more controlled bottom and crisp highs w/o shrillness.

As for bottom end bass, I'll wait until I get the head unit in and see what that brings. Should I prefer more bass, then I'll likely look into some type of sub that uses 1 or more 6" drivers. That way the bass will be quick to respond and not have that dull / slow / sloppy sound that you get with large drivers.

Hope this helps a bit. . . . .:eyebulge:
 

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"Car Audio and Electronics" mag install in GT

jiobao, you may be interested in an Article in "Car Audio and Electronics" December edition. Phase II Autotrends took a '05 GT with a Shaker 500 system, custom made a dual 12" subwoofer enclosure behind the rear seats, installed a couple of Crossfire amps etc, and guess what ? - they kept the existing Shaker 500 head unit, just converted the speaker level outputs to line level using a PAC SNI35 convertor. Interestingly the article is called "System on a budget" costly $3,074. Obviously a big budget !

No doubt your local shop will try to sell you a new front end, but I would still first go with a good set of speakers, then amp with speaker level inputs (from the Shaker) and if you are still not satifisfied, then replace front end and run RCAs to amp. The Shaker 500 still looks a lot better than the aftermarket products which are no longer flush with the dash. rgds.
 

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steve999_1 said:
The Shaker 500 still looks a lot better than the aftermarket products which are no longer flush with the dash. rgds.
Agree with ya 250% on that one.

BUT, with 99% of the head units available you can ISO mount it in the kit and the head unit WILL be flush. Most installers are too lazy to install this way.
Look in install instructions for how to mount using side bolts. (Head units are commonly mounted this way in Asian cars) Looks much better.
 

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Alright guys what do you think about this setup??? The Infinity Kappas in front doors and rear deck crutchfield.com/S-SY9IfMgTYN2/cgi-bin/ProdView.asp?g=52200&I=1086827CF, with some sort of 4 channel amp, not sure what yet, any recommendations on power output?? (The Kappas handle 300 watts peak)
thanks
 

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05 SatinSylvia said:
Alright guys what do you think about this setup??? The Infinity Kappas in front doors and rear deck crutchfield.com/S-SY9IfMgTYN2/cgi-bin/ProdView.asp?g=52200&I=1086827CF, with some sort of 4 channel amp, not sure what yet, any recommendations on power output?? (The Kappas handle 300 watts peak)
thanks
The peak power rating is not very useful. The RMS or rated power handling is 2-100 watts, and that is the wattage you should pay attention to. Get a 4 channel amp that can handle 75-100 watts RMS and the speakers will get the power they need. As a general rule, the speakers need an amp that can supply 60-100% of the RMS wattage.
 
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