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Calling D’Ecosse, MalibuRapper and other Audiophiles

16 March 2005
Renton, WA
Calling D’Ecosse, MalibuRapper and other Audiophiles

Hey guys,
From all I’ve read in the Audio forum you two appear to be the true “Masters of Tuneage” so I greatly appreciate any advise you could give me. I’ll start this post by giving my current situation, gear I have and options I’m facing.

Current situation:
My CD changer officially died and 2 of the 3 stock amps are toast and the 3rd started popping/ crackling last week so it’s not to far from failing too.

Gear I have:
I have two Rockford Fosgate amps and a sub. One amp is a four channel (300 watts) the other is a two channel (275 watt) and a 10” sub.

First, I send the 3 stock amps to BrianK for repair and purchase an Alpine CHA-634 CD changer. I’ve never heard the stock Bose system with everything working but I’ve read it sounds pretty good. What do you guys think? Malibu, I know your answer “Stock Sucks” lol. I estimate the repair of the amps w/ shipping plus the new CD changer will run me about $600.

Second, stock gear out and new gear in. Use my sub and put it in one of Zetoolman’s enclosures (I know you guys like these but is Zetoolman still fabricating them and how much do they run $$$, I heard $425). Mount the amps behind the passenger seat and crossover my two channel to power the sub. So here’s were I need your guys expert advice.
Headunit: I’ve seen some very elaborate and great looking setups in this forum that I know are out of my price range. I’d like to get a double DIN touch screen and I’ve seen a couple from Pioneer and Kenwood I like but they’re all over $1,800…ouch :eek: ! Does anyone make a double DIN touch screen under $1,200. I don’t need it to play DVDs, have Navigation or satellite radio. I’m just want it to play mp3s, CDRs, etc. I could go single DIN but I want to fill the cassette space with something like an eq… .suggestions?
I love the look of this one.
Malibu, I like your setup also. Did you buy your modified double DIN console or is that a custom job?
Speakers: I’m open to anything here (size, type, brand, location). Ease of installation is preferred. I’d like to have separate tweeters but cutting into the door panels is stretching it for me. I read D’Ecosse’s Sound of Speed write up so maybe I could attempt it.
CD Changer: Not wanted, I’d like head unit to do play the CDs.

It’d be nice to stay under $1,600 for the head unit, sub enclosure and door speakers.

Three final questions guys. What’s your thoughts on having a retail change perform the installation, like a CarToys or Magnolia Hi-Fi or shall I say it……BestBuy. Should I avoid these places? I got a feeling I should wash my mouth out with soap just for mentioning BestBuy.

Does the NSX alternator produce enough juice to power both amps or do I need one of those thingies that assist in powering the sub so I don’t run down the battery?

The outside diameter of my sub is 12.5" and it's 5.75" in depth. Will it fit in one of Zetoolman's enclosures?

Thanks again for any expert advice you can give me.

Man, that's a lot of questions!
Some of it is contradictory though - one minute you say you want double din, then maybe an EQ to fill the space with a single din? CD changer or no CD changer?
If you really don't want nav or dvd, then go single din & save the money - not sure why you'd want to pay for features you don't want or will use & it looks like your budget will appreciate it. I don't think it looks odd with single din but if you want you can add something else (EQ, Radar detector, Turbo boost controller (kidding!) later as/when required) Alpine, Eclipse & Pioneer would be my recommended choices as top-tier but there are many more in the "second tier" (by no means should that be inferred as inferior) that are excellent quality & value. (Sony, Kenwood etc)
Your sub is way too big, will never work in anyone's enclosure in the footwell - you say it's 10" but the diameter is 12.5" - that's a 12" sub! You need a 10" max so you need to add that to your list of purchases.
I can't recommend what you might prefer, Bose or after-market - it's clear what I prefer but that's just me. You'll certainly get the best out of whatever you do by the decision already made to go with an after-market head unit.
If you do decide to add a CD changer, only go with the CHA-S634 if you choose an Alpine head unit (or keep OEM head) - otherwise select a changer that is compatible with your selected brand of head unit i.e. keep it in the "family" - this is not a "nice-to" it's a must in order to have your head unit be able to control it. Changer is something you can always add later if budget is limited, so you might want to go with your other features first then consider this last.
On your amps, you don't state the models, just the "power" - the total power doesn't mean much by itself I'm afraid, need all the specs i.e. what power /ch at what impedance. You should be able to do $1600 for a decent head (single din), speakers & sub/sub-box but that depends on whether your amp(s) are suitable. Don't lose sight of fact that you don't just need the main components however - there's also cables, install kits, head unit adapter, console modification & paint & general installation cost.
Install - well I'd generally be reluctant to go with a Best Buy type store (but hate to generalize - I know of one local car done by Good Guys (another chain) that did a fabulous job with a lot of custom interior work). The install could be a significant budget item there depending on what you have done and at minimum you will have console rework & paint.
The NSX alternator is plenty adequate for a whole lot more than you're considering - no worries there!
Sorry about all the questions, that's the engineer in me coming out. What I'm trying to accomplish is getting my mp3s into the cars audio system. If I keep the stock system and repair it than my only option is the Alpine changer. Currently, I'm using one of those FM modulators connected to a flash drive, and it sucks :frown: If I go with aftermarket head unit that plays mps than I don't have to deal with changing cds in the trunk which is a plus. I'm just want to weigh my bang for my buck options.

I know repair and changer are $600.

The aftermarket system I wanted with the double DIN LCD screen consisted of Pioneer headunit AVIC-D1 ($1,800), sub 10" ($200), enclosure ($425), door speakers (unknown - I'm hoping you and Malibu could recommend a set that had good mids and highs, I'm looking for bang for my buck here, what would you recommend for under $500). Price tag almost $3,000, this is were repair looks pretty good.

I found a couple motorized LCDs for $800 less but I'm not sure if I'm sold on them what's your guys' opinion on these. I know they can interfer with the vents and they don't look as clean as the dbl DINs. I'm hoping here's $1,000-$1,200 dbl DIN you guys know of so I can justify the extra $$. That goes for the door speakers as well.

Is it possible to get comparible items that I list for $3K for under $2k or am I dreaming?


Thanks again for the help.
Steve, I like the car in your avatar. So many questions...

Your first option is the least expensive and easiest option. If you are happy with the OEM system then this is your best bet.

What series RF amps do you have? Do you know the model numbers? You might be fine with just using that one 4 channel amp to power your door speakers and sub. Given the limited space in our cars, I'd go for a single amplifier setup if possible.

Head unit: The DDX7015 I know can be had for under $1200. Especially now that it's being replaced, you should see it near the $1000 mark at the stores even. I paid around $1100 for mine when it first came out. It will also play MP3s on DVDs which gives you 8x more storage than a CD and will also work with the Phatnoise keg. I'm not a big fan of Pioneer or Premier after having problems with a DEXP1 and a flipout touchscreen for a friend of mine, I will never buy them again. They have a bad service facility (sent my units back several times w/o doing anything and they are still broke). That's just my experience and considering the price of those decks I would have expected better service. If you have an IPOD, you should consider the Clarion VRX755VD. It's the only one with really good IPOD integration but it is a single DIN.

To make the double DIN fit, I'd highly recommend modding the original dash trim. The reason is that the OEM trim fits like an OEM trim. It's strong as well and if in good condition can easily be prepped for paint.

Regarding the tweeter mounting, when I do it again, I'd move mine to the A-pillars like PT91 has in his car. The reason is that the position where I have my tweeters high/front in the doors creates a dead spot for the passenger because of the steering column blocks the tweeter. Low tweeter positioning next to the midrange is ideal but it can easily be blocked out by limbs in our cars. I like my speakers up high.

Regarding your subwoofer, it's a bit on the large side. I'd also consider buying another sub as they have improved a good amount over the years and I don't know how old yours is. The JL10W1v2 can be had for around $100 so it's somewhat trivial in your upgrade plans.

Finally to do this all for $1600 would be just about impossible considering the labor and materials involved. If you downgraded the deck to a single DIN unit, you could shave off $700 or more fairly easily. But you might hunger for that touchscreen and DVD capability later so keep that in mind as well.

I think what you can salvage from your old system is your amp(s), RCAs, power cables, etc. Maybe you have a decent sub too, but I'm imagining a sub sitting in a garage collecting dust with a foam surround and spider that is deteriorating (yes, they do age and not gracefully). Junk your changer, you can replace it with a single CD full of MP3s.

Good luck!
(I was only teasing re the long list of questions - thats' what we're here for)

I'm still having a hard time understanding why you want an LCD unit just to have mp3 capability and your stated desire to not want DVD or nav?
You can get an excellent single din head with a LOT of features, like processing etc for a fraction of the cost. If you truly don't want this capability then free up your budget into something more meaningful to you.
Malibu & I did want LCD but we went different routes to get there - I have single din & a JDM Honda "nav" pod, while Malibu went "in-console": now I don't want to put words in his mouth but I think he (& others who have in that location) would point out the glare problem & it is a less ideal viewing angle. However on the contrary there are excellent features in some of the DD units.
There are so many speakers out there over a large price range its hard to come up with a recommendation; I will say I was very impressed with the Eclipse SC8264 we put in Random Harmony's Installation (Good example too of how a single din unit looks) - these in my opinion are a really good speaker for the price, I was very impressed by the performance. I have no affinity to this brand or retailer, just an honest opinion that I was impressed upon hearing them.
We say this frequently - go check out some options in the listening room at a retailer & see what sounds best to your ear - don't get hung up on names or $$, just listen for what appeals. That's what Shane (Random Harmony) did & came away with the Eclipses - first time I heard them was when we fired them up in his install. The very initial impression was poor due to insufficient power from the amp, so it's important to recognize the need to drive them (or any quality component set) adequately. Now I wouldnt trade them for my SEAS but for less than 1/4 the price a terrific deal!
You can obviously "get by" with a Bose repair - the major difference is when you start talking about subs - until you hear a system with & without sub, you can't perceive the difference it makes - whole new dimension. So if you are intent on sub, your option drives you to aftermarket, but of course the investment is greater.
So I would realign your options & determine what is more important:
a) Do you really want/need a Dual Din LCD head unit with bells & whistles? Then re-align to perhaps doing that & staying with the OEM Bose amps/speakers (at least for now - you can always do it & stages & will get a good return on a rebuilt set of speaker/amps if you sell them)
b) Is your preference more audio performance based? Then put your money into amp(s), speakers, sub & box - you should still be able to buy an excellent head unit with many features built in that can enhance your audio experience even higher (EQ, TA, Processing) etc.

From your stated requirements I'm having a hard time understanding why you would choose a) - seems like you have not given any real reason for requiring a DD LCD other than purely aesthetic reasons: while a consideration I would think that should not be your most important on a limited budget (but of course you may have other thoughts - that's why it's difficult to make recommendations, we all have different perception of what's important.) I am making the recommendations I have based on your initial request for audiophile opinion (not that I consider myself one) therefor the sound is what would be more important, not how it looks.

p.s. one comment on MP3 vs CD - there is definitely a discernible difference between original recording CDA & MP3, on my system at least; yes you get 20x the capacity on a cdrom, but I'm thinking of installing a changer for original cda.
Alright, you asked for opinions from those guys and audiophiles, but I'll chime in anyway :biggrin: . I just recently finished my Bose exorcism and I am so happy with the result. If you're even considering going the aftermarket route, you're probably never going to be happy with the limitations of the stock system.
My main priorities were; budget, sound quality, mp3 capability, aux input, and budget. So, none of my components were top shelf, or even near that level. However, the nice thing with redoing the whole system is that now that all the hard work is done I can upgrade any component with ease. My impression, so far, is that this won't be necessary as the quality of the sound, at least to me, is great.
My components to give you an idea of what can be done with even less than you're willing to spend;

1. H/U Kenwood EZ500 $140 @ Best Buy

2. Amp Sony XM4060GTX $95 @ Fry's Electronics

3. Speakers Infinity 6012i $80 @ Circuit City

4. Used Buzz Box with Earthquake SWS sub from a Prime member

5. Amp kit + 2 RCA patch cords from Fry's

6. Used Dali Carbon Fiber replacement console

For a total of..................... $750

This was actually more than I thought I'd spend, but I think you'll agree you couldn't possibly spend less than this. You'll have to spend around $300 extra for the Toolbox but that still leaves you with several hundred to play with. You could spend $100-150 extra on each component, get much nicer stuff, and still come in within budget. I say go for it you won't regret it. :cool:

D'Ecosse said:
now I don't want to put words in his mouth but I think he (& others who have in that location) would point out the glare problem & it is a less ideal viewing angle.

Yes, that's a completely true statement. Night time is great. Daytime is less than ideal and daytime with the top off you'll learn how to make a visor with your right hand while driving.

One thing that touchscreen will give you with MP3s is control that's just not possible w/o a screen. I have a regular single DIN deck and navigating my MP3s on it is crazy. You have to scroll through folders and songs, one at a time. But with the double DIN kenwood, I could burn all my songs to a DVD, then scroll through 6 folders or 6 songs at a time and select them by touching the screen. To me, it's a minimum improvement of 600% in efficiency. I don't know how people can put up with the MP3 capable CD changers on the stock deck.

D'Ecosse said:
p.s. one comment on MP3 vs CD - there is definitely a discernible difference between original recording CDA & MP3, on my system at least; yes you get 20x the capacity on a cdrom, but I'm thinking of installing a changer for original cda.

There is a loss that comes with compression but with a high quality MP3, you would have a very hard time discerning the difference between MP3 and CDA. Certain players can make MP3s sound better as well. My Kenwood does a great job of playing MP3s but there are tracks where my MusicKeg plays the song better. This is going through all of the same equipment except the Keg is doing the decoding. Likewise, my DDX7015 plays MP3s better than my Kenwood KDC 8017 in control and SQ. My friend's 1st generation AIWA does an awful job at playing the same MP3s. But you don't want to enter an IASCA event using compressed material, that's for sure. You can always go WAV if you want uncompressed material.
Here is info on the "TOOL BOX" Sub enclosure:
Here is the new price list:

Option 1: Box set up for most 10" with wire, connectors, nut plates, Allen head bolts,and polyfil $450.+ shipping/packing

Option 2: With JL 10W1v2 drilled and installed with grill $600.+ shipping/packing

Order by option # please!

Also, here is the thread of the install I worked on:

I have added a power plug, or cig. lighter. To be able to charge cell and run Radar Detector.

See the amp in the rear area. No lost space. The one amp is powerfull enough to run all speakers.

Let me know if any other questions.

Thanks for all the great input guys. Zetoolman I think I'm going to go with one of your "Toolbox's" with sub and Malibu I'm also going with a Kenwood DDX-7015 (I found one for $945) it's perfect for what I was looking for THANX.

D' Ecosse and Malibu here's pic of the tech specs of my two amps, are they girly men or would they make Arnold proud (I hope this comes out ok, my first pic post).

Let me know if they're powerful enough.

Thanks guys!
Seatown-92 said:
Let me know if they're powerful enough.

Your computer login is MacDaddy eh?

Just post a picture or a model number. Hopefully you have one of the US made Punch series amps. My favorite ones were the silver with gold end caps which the thieves made off with from my car years ago.
The two channel is Rockford Fosgate RF-2.9x.
The four channel is Rockford Fosgate RF-4.6x.

Thanks Malibu,
MacDaddy...I mean Steve :smile:
Malibu Rapper said:
Night time is great. Daytime is less than ideal and daytime with the top off you'll learn how to make a visor with your right hand while driving.
Hey Bradley

I actually made a visor for my 7015. I'll have to take a pic and post it soon. I made it just for the top but I going to do the sides next I think.
Seatown-92 said:
The two channel is Rockford Fosgate RF-2.9x.
The four channel is Rockford Fosgate RF-4.6x.

The 4.6x is a 4x30 conservatively rated amp. Puts out around 4x50 of true power. It's a good amp to start with, bridge the rear channels to your sub and then run the components off the front channels. You may crave more power later but it's good enough to get started. If you wanted more power, you could buy a new amp install that 2.9x for the sub and bridge the front and rear channels on the 4.6x to power your front speakers. I would go the single amp route to keep your installation complexity/costs down and keep things neat. Then buy a more powerful 4 channel later if that's not enough for you.

SoCalDude said:
I actually made a visor for my 7015. I'll have to take a pic and post it soon. I made it just for the top but I going to do the sides next I think.

I'm waiting for the pix. :)
Hi Steve,

In your first thread, you were wondering about the installation service from Magnolia Hi-Fi and CarToys.

Well, I have been a customer of the Roosevelt Magnolia Hi-Fi store for years, and I strongly recommend them. They have a couple experience installers who have experience with very high-end cars, and their customer service is great.

I had horrible experience w/CarToys. Don’t ever go there. You don’t want some rookies to experiment w/your car. Let me tell you about my recent encounter w/CarToys (downtown) and hope it will give you some ideas about CarToys.

I acquired all the gears for my stereo system upgrade about 6 months ago. At the time, the guy that I was going to go with from Magnolia was on vacation for 2 weeks. I was too anxious to get the system done and made my mistake by going over to CarToys. They first told me that their installer had worked on NSX before. As it turned out, no one from that location had touched NSX before. When the installation was done, I have serious engine noise from the amp. I went back to the store 3 times and they couldn’t address the problem.

Later, they were going to charge me extra for spending more time into the system. I argued that they were supposed to get the system done right to begin with, therefore, regardless the extra time they spending digging around, I should not be charged. To make the long story short, they were not taking responsibility in the end. They charged more than Magnolia Hi-Fi, and their customer service sucks. If there’s problem w/the install after money has been paid, the customer service is no longer available. This was how I felt w/CarToys.

You mentioned mounting the amp behind either the passenger seat or the driver’s seat. I have my amp in the back of the passenger seat mounted on the firewall. I don’t recommend doing it this way. You will be better off mounting the amp in the trunk. The reason is that you might get some sort of rattle from the amp casing. I have that problem, but not too bad. However, it’s kind of irritating sometimes. When I have more time, I am going to remove the amp and put some sound barrier within the amp so eliminate the rattling.

It’s nice to meet someone local. I am in Seattle. Well, good luck w/your system upgrade and hope everything turns out great for you. I would love hear more about your progress so please post updates.