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mUnky-matt

Advice for a basic audio setup from scratch

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I've got a 180sx here that's been my project car for many years now and the interior trim and wiring has either been totally removed or replaced by my own pieces - ie, there is no audio gear in the car atm. I'm looking to change that - I'd like to install a fairly simple sound system back into the car but I'm not really familiar enough with the various components to judge either what I need or how much money I should devote to each part.

 

It seems to me that for a really simple setup, there's no reason to go for an external amplifier or subwoofer. Does the fact that I have a 180sx mean I'm confined to having only the two door card speakers and that's it?

 

Any tips/advice/photos would be great.

 

Cheers

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We all have our personal tastes, however I personally think that a simple setup is the exact opposite of what you think it is, namely a low-power 4-channel amp, a very small sub (even 6-8" 8 ohm computer sub goes really well in a 180sx), two 6.5" spits in the front and line input to a device of your choice.

 

The issue with simply installing a headunit and speakers is that the amplifiers in headunits are a joke and can barely power factory speakers, let alone most low-power aftermarket units. An external amp can do the job much better, for usually the same cost as a CD player. Amps are also far more reusable, so the money is much better invested, with an amp from 20 years ago effectively doing the same job as one bought today (ignoring Class D power consumption etc). For instance, some of the 240v hi-fi amps and speakers from the 80s comepletely sh*t on modern amps and speakers you can buy from JB Hi Fi for $300, despite being 30 years old.

 

Ok, as for recommendations.

 

1. Amp

Personally, I like Alpine for their quality and cleanliness. I have an old Alpine amp that never let me down, yet my current Pioneer unit seems to have issues with gain control. If you want to keep the cost low, look for a second-hand Alpine Class-D 4-channel amp with bridgable channels in nice condition, test it, and buy. For a low-power setup, a real 50wrms per channel is plenty. Alpine tend to post actual rms rather than peak, so a lot of their units aren't as underpowered as they look. There are other good brands like Rockford Fosgate and Focal, but you will pay more for them.

 

Mounting locations for amps vary, in passenger cars I used to install them under the front seats with spacers to keep them off the carpet, but you can just bolt them anywhere that won't catch fire. The important part is to ensure that your power lines don't run alongside your speaker cables and line input. If you get that right, and have a really short earth strap to the chassis, you shouldn't have noise issues.

 

2. Door Speakers.

If you cut up a piece of 20mm MDF, you can make some simple brackets to mount 6.5" speakers in your doors. These are the most common variety, and go hard enough for even the most industrially-deaf of drivers. Buy a split system with silk-dome tweeters and a passive crossover, then mount the tweeters on the wing mirror covers or in the dor panel below them. I'd recommend brands, but honestly, you'll be hard pressed to tell the difference between them with the amount of road noise in a 180sx. I have some Cadence units in my 180sx as I got them for $100, and they're fine. Look for ones that are of a low power rating, that way you don't need a big amplifier to drive them effectively.

 

3. Audio Input

This is an area in which the driver's habits come into play. If you find that you almost always plug your phone or MP3 player into the AUX input jack of cars, then you may find it cheaper and easier to DIY a volume remote (http://www.nissansil...howtopic=536552) and simply connect your phone directly to the amp. The advantage is that you don't need a headunit, so it's cheaper and your car is less likely to be broken into. The downside is that you REALLY need to use an Equaliser application or you will end up with very high treble levels. If however you can change the audio levels on your phone/mp3 player itself, then this is an awesome option. The alternative to this concept is to install the cheapest headunit with Auxillary input and RCA line-out, then use it exclusively as an Equaliser and volume dial. For this you could buy one for $60 and it will suffice.

 

4. Sub

This is the area in which someone will no doubt tell me that I'm a dumbass, but having been there and done that, I can say with confidence that in a liftback you neither need a big sub, nor a 2ohm one. I've had great success with all sorts of random hifi subs over the years, and actually have an 8" ported logitech computer sub sitting in my boot. It's 8ohm with a frequency tune of 60hz, so it won't go super loud or super low, but it's small, cost nothing (liberated from a council cleanup) and works. For a cheap system, I can't recommend old hifi subs enough, since they're compact and can essentially be had for free. You can also liberate 8ohm speaker cones from hifi speakers for use in custom enclosures.

 

In a friend's Subaru we picked up a second spare-tyre-liner for $5 from Pick n Pay Less (it's a plastic cup that you can put tools in, that sits in the upturned spare tyre in the boot), bolted a circle of 20mm MDF to the top and sealed it, then installed two 6" 6 ohm Bose speakers (woofers) that he pulled from a bin at his work. Wired them up, strapped it to the spare wheel and the tiny thing goes hard. Takes up absolutely no extra space at all, took one hour to build, can be removed in seconds and cost us $5 and a few scrap parts.

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I have parcel shelf speakers and since disconnecting them my nice door speakers sound much better.

 

I could probably just play with the fader settings if I wanted them back on the system.

 

Amp powers splits in the doors and sub (4ch amp with bridged channels for the sub), rears run off the deck. Ipod connectivity and an old ipod nano in the glove box.

 

 

I also did dynamat in the doors (double skinned - back of the liner and replaced the rain guard with sound dynamat) and it helps a bit.

 

 

the most road noise comes from the rear of the car. you want to sound deaden the parcel shelf if you can.

 

Sub Box is more important than the sub itself. an 8" in a good box is better than a 10/12 in a shit box.

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I replaced my entire sound system with the following in my 180. I used Kenwood for my speakers, Alpine amp and Sony Explod subs.

 

- Kenwood head unit running all my speakers.

- 6.5" front speakers with tweeters. I highly recommend tweeters as they make a world of difference with vocals.

- 4x6 rear speakers

- 6x9 rear speakers in a rear parcel shelf made to run across the rear. These speakers only run vocals and no bass to even out my subs.

- Twin 2000W 12" subs in the boot running off a 1200W amp. This is complete over kill for a basic sound system but I enjoy it where the bass vibrates your entire body and makes it hard to breath.

 

I found Kenwood to be a affordable brand and their quality isn't too bad. I bought everything except my Sony subs (bought US Audio subs) from Elizabeth Autobarn and bargained them down, their always happy to lower their prices for you. The twin 12" US Audio subs are a good band for your buck as that is what I originally bought, just make sure you don't crank them too hard or they will blow up. That hopefully gives you an idea anyway.

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set yourself a budget, and then you can determine what you want.

 

if you just want some good sounding tunes, look at a faily basic head unit.

 

grab your self a set of 2 or 3 chanel 6" speakers, you may need to make door spacers / cards to suit.

 

kenwood make some faily decent stuff at a decent price - or so they used too, I have alpine these days.

 

You can spend anywhere from under 100$ on a head unit to 600$ +

 

You can buy some 6” speakers for under $100 for a set of 2, or spends $1000

 

I would stick to your main brands that have been around forever.

 

I prefer alpine, and having it all amped. Plus a sub in the boot to fill the bass missed from speakers.

 

If you give us an idea on how much you wanna spend,

What features?

Do you need to Bluetooth calls with a mic?

Do you want to play music from your phone via Bluetooth?

Do you want to plug in your iphone/ipod and control it from head unit?

 

After those points are considered you can be pointed in the right direction of what fits your purposes.

 

Then there is this little amp that bolts up to alpine gear and sits behind the dash...

My dad bought a cheap alpine head unit, some alpine type r splits and the following amp. It sounds f**king wicked in his patrol ute.

http://www.alpine.com.au/showItem.php?item_id=162

 

also, shop around online, you will find a lot cheaper prices around then going through ripoffbarn (auto barn)

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Alpine want you to buy into their ecosystem though - a lot of their head units have basic 2 band EQs and the only way to get better quality is to buy their burr brown 10 band graphic EQs and 24-bit processors and other shit. My IDA-X100 head unit didnt even come with bluetooth - it was a $300 option. but it still had all the buttons and settings in the head unit....

 

splits in the front, cheap, low volume 6s in the rear (if you must have something there at all) 4ch amp with a bridge and a sub.

 

done.

Edited by Varvs

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Very true Varvs. Bose are another company that's shocking when it comes to features in their units too, although I don't buy Bose products for a variety of reasons.

 

The thing is, if all you want is a digital EQ and Aux input, some of the cheapass headunits on the market are absolutely loaded with features. The equaliser in the $70 JVC unit I put in my Honda ages ago is as comprehensive as the one in my old Pioneer unit that cost far more new, it sounds clean and really has no issues. Sure, the screen is small and it's just a black-and-red blob, but the hardware itself is fine and it has a volume dial. Can't ask for more.

 

Same unit I've seen advertised for $50 recently.

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I just replaced the head unit and speakers in my car, factory speakers all perished from age or popped by my old head unit. Not really fussed on tons of speakers, amps and subs anymore so just went with a pretty basic double DIN Alpine head unit (with BT/USB) and four Alpine Type-S speakers. Whole setup cost me under 600 bucks and sounds fine, just used all the factory cabling and avoided pulling half the car apart. Yeah there isn't a lot of low end bass, but doesn't bother me much. Anything is better than having blown speakers for a couple of years :doh:

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Why bother posting in an audio thread then?

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Ive also got blast pipes. But can still hear my music. Ive got 2x 6" speakers in the door trims. And 2x 6" in the rear trim behind the seats. Not running an amp or sub. My other 180 had the 2 front speakers. 2x 6x9 on the parcel shelf. And ran sub and amp.

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Look at this guy who doesnt understand how music works.

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Yeah. I always have atleast a decent headunit and a pair of splits. Can't stand not having music for cruising.

I also like listening to the engine when having a blast but lets face it, it's not like a highly strung N/A with ITB's, we all know sr's sound agricultural.

 

I also prefer BOOM tis, BOOM BOOM tis to Untz Untz Untz.

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Yeah. I always have atleast a decent headunit and a pair of splits. Can't stand not having music for cruising.

I also like listening to the engine when having a blast but lets face it, it's not like a highly strung N/A with ITB's, we all know sr's sound agricultural.

 

I also prefer BOOM tis, BOOM BOOM tis to Untz Untz Untz.

 

No SR in this car I've got a 1JZ it's much nicer :P

 

Alrighty guys thanks heaps for the responses... I picked up a JVC mechless headunit that will do everything I want for $80. I investigated the doors further and have discovered... lots of dynamat... shitloads of dynamat. And now it comes back to me... Storytime:

 

Back when I first got the car, all those years ago, the sound system was very poor... it was noisy (as in, signal noise), boomy (rumbly bass, which I don't like) and just all around unimpressive. Since I really just wanted to drive fast, I ripped it all out (to save weight and to sell the amp/dvd-player) and sold the components to a mate of mine who put it in his boat (a Ford Falcon). At the time, for reasons I cannot fathom now, I threw the front door woofers in the bin but left the tweeters in place and kept woofer/tweeter splitter box thingo. Why didn't I bother to check what these parts were? I have no idea. Turns out I had a pair of high-end MB Quart 6" component speakers. Live and learn :(

 

Anyway, I have been recommended the Alpine Type-S 6" component speakers for the doors and some kind of 6" for the rear too... My thoughts are as follows: buy a good value amp, get the alpine type-S's for the front... and have a good hard think about what, if anything, to put in the rear.

 

I won't end up getting an amp because even the cheapest $50 speakers at the store were cranking out more than enough bass for me. I really don't like big bass.

Edited by mUnky-matt

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i got type-s coaxials, cant be bothered with the x-over box and tweeter if i wont have a decent amp to power them. much easier to wire up

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Varvs ease up mate, you need a Valium lol.

 

I listen to a lot of doom/stoner metal. low notes and big drums. All sound benefits from a sub, because smaller speakers just cant pump that much air.

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These look really promising for the fronts:

 

http://www.soundmast...eakers/CSVS607/

 

$50 for 6.5" components with very good response.

 

Still can't find an amp (4-channel) with good enough value for money factor...

 

Also, just to elaborate some more... the dude in the shop cranked his $50 head-unit with $30 fusion speakers to it's absolute glorious max of 22ish W RMS and it was still louder than I'd ever run a sound system in a car. That said, I will still probably bow to collective wisdom and get an amp.

 

I should also add that the dude I'm talking about is actually the guy at Car Gear audio or something like that on Magill rd in Adelaide - he did the sound system install for Benji's RB26 sil80.. the one featured in such prestigious magazines as Hot 4s etc.

Edited by mUnky-matt

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