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Audio - an "I must hate money" story

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Old 08-01-2011, 07:28 PM   #1
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Audio - an "I must hate money" story

Know the old saying about a boat being a hole in the water to throw money in? Ever think car/truck audio is a similar never ending story that mostly consists of the sound of money being sucked out of your wallet? I must hate money -- since I spread it around almost as fast as it comes in.

I started out, like most of us, with an OEM system. In my case it was the single CD, non-JBL system.

Having just bought the truck, didn't have much ready cash, but wanted more music at hand, so I bought a non-JBL 6-CD changer off a forum member at a fair price.

Just wasn't enough music at hand for me. I picked up a Grom unit and a 32 GByte USB stick (that wouldn't work at the time on 2011 models). So I sold the Grom to someone with an older model Tacoma and purchased the Toyota iPod interface along with a 64GByte iPod Touch. Bought a Blu-Logic Bluetooth box as well. BlueTooth since work requires hands free phone or loss of driving privileges (if caught); a bonus was the ability to stream audio from my phone when I wanted to hear new stuff, but without listening to the obnoxious local FM personalities.

So now I have spent a few hundred and have on hand a quite reasonable supply of music, but as many have observed, the OEM sound quality is somewhat lacking.

IMO the biggest bang for the buck comes from speakers, so I began to consider speakers. Add in that at this stage I decided to keep the OEM head unit, which may or may not have sound tailoring. To fix that I pick up an Alpine PXE-H660 unit - has the side benefit of I can do active crossovers (with the right amp). So more $$$ goes out for a JL Audio XD 600/6 amp and my on-hand, old school, Xtant X603 amp I planned to use stays in the closet. The XD 600/6 is used to drive a set of Seas midbass & tweeter speakers in an active arrangement using the Alpine to correct the OEM headunit frequency response, as an active crossover, and a TA/EQ device. The JL is set up so the tweeters are on channels 1 & 2, while 3 & 4, and 5 & 6 are bridged to drive the midbass units. 150 Watts RMS coupled to the 8-Ohm RNX motors in the Seas speakers (and some judicious use of damping/deadening products from RAAMAudio) produce a delightfully unexpected amount of bass. As a result, I decide to hold off on any sub arrangement until I've lived with the system for a while.

Then my lovely wife offers to upgrade the OEM headunit with a Pioneer Avic-X930BT. Can't turn that down can I? BTW, that should be here by Friday, just got the UPS shipping notice.

Note to self: remember in the closet along with the Xtant amp you also have have some old CDT Audio speakers (with 1" silk dome tweets) as well as some new & unused Vifa XT 25 ring radiators to try out if/when bored.

Did I mention I purchased a set of speaker baffles from forum member hookedontronics, but the depth of the MDF baffles wasn't enough for the Seas speakers I picked to clear the window. I really prefer not to use MDF, and my usual source of Corian dried up, so I sourced some 1" thick King Starboard (boating guys know that stuff). So I ended up making my own baffles (used a cutting board from Walmart for the tweeter baffles) and the LineX coated MDF baffles joined my growing collection of dust gatherers.

And I still haven't figured out what to do for a subwoofer arrangement....
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Old 08-01-2011, 07:32 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lbridges View Post
Know the old saying about a boat being a hole in the water to throw money in? Ever think car/truck audio is a similar never ending story that mostly consists of the sound of money being sucked out of your wallet? I must hate money -- since I spread it around almost as fast as it comes in.

I started out, like most of us, with an OEM system. In my case it was the single CD, non-JBL system.

Having just bought the truck, didn't have much ready cash, but wanted more music at hand, so I bought a non-JBL 6-CD changer off a forum member at a fair price.

Just wasn't enough music at hand for me. I picked up a Grom unit and a 32 GByte USB stick (that wouldn't work at the time on 2011 models). So I sold the Grom to someone with an older model Tacoma and purchased the Toyota iPod interface along with a 64GByte iPod Touch. Bought a Blu-Logic Bluetooth box as well. BlueTooth since work requires hands free phone or loss of driving privileges (if caught); a bonus was the ability to stream audio from my phone when I wanted to hear new stuff, but without listening to the obnoxious local FM personalities.

So now I have spent a few hundred and have on hand a quite reasonable supply of music, but as many have observed, the OEM sound quality is somewhat lacking.

IMO the biggest bang for the buck comes from speakers, so I began to consider speakers. Add in that at this stage I decided to keep the OEM head unit, which may or may not have sound tailoring. To fix that I pick up an Alpine PXE-H660 unit - has the side benefit of I can do active crossovers (with the right amp). So more $$$ goes out for a JL Audio XD 600/6 amp and my on-hand, old school, Xtant X603 amp I planned to use stays in the closet. The XD 600/6 is used to drive a set of Seas midbass & tweeter speakers in an active arrangement using the Alpine to correct the OEM headunit frequency response, as an active crossover, and a TA/EQ device. The JL is set up so the tweeters are on channels 1 & 2, while 3 & 4, and 5 & 6 are bridged to drive the midbass units. 150 Watts RMS coupled to the 8-Ohm RNX motors in the Seas speakers (and some judicious use of damping/deadening products from RAAMAudio) produce a delightfully unexpected amount of bass. As a result, I decide to hold off on any sub arrangement until I've lived with the system for a while.

Then my lovely wife offers to upgrade the OEM headunit with a Pioneer Avic-X930BT. Can't turn that down can I? BTW, that should be here by Friday, just got the UPS shipping notice.

Note to self: remember in the closet along with the Xtant amp you also have have some old CDT Audio speakers (with 1" silk dome tweets) as well as some new & unused Vifa XT 25 ring radiators to try out if/when bored.

Did I mention I purchased a set of speaker baffles from forum member hookedontronics, but the depth of the MDF baffles wasn't enough for the Seas speakers I picked to clear the window. I really prefer not to use MDF, and my usual source of Corian dried up, so I sourced some 1" thick King Starboard (boating guys know that stuff). So I ended up making my own baffles (used a cutting board from Walmart for the tweeter baffles) and the LineX coated MDF baffles joined my growing collection of dust gatherers.

And I still haven't figured out what to do for a subwoofer arrangement....
now you need to quit streaming such a poor quality source into it...
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Old 08-01-2011, 07:37 PM   #3
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Old 08-03-2011, 12:20 AM   #4
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Not too shabby. I'm about $3,000 into my system ($6,000 retail) and I'm about half way done =P. It's hard to put a price on the amount of time I've invested too, though.

As far as maintaining good SQ and adding a sub setup, If you're a capable box builder, you could probably pull off a couple JL 10w3v3's behind your seat. Especially (but not particularly) considering their price range, the 10w3 is an amazing sounding sub.
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Old 08-03-2011, 11:04 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shaneckc View Post
Not too shabby. I'm about $3,000 into my system ($6,000 retail) and I'm about half way done =P. It's hard to put a price on the amount of time I've invested too, though.

As far as maintaining good SQ and adding a sub setup, If you're a capable box builder, you could probably pull off a couple JL 10w3v3's behind your seat. Especially (but not particularly) considering their price range, the 10w3 is an amazing sounding sub.
i agree the w3 is one of the best subs for the omoney anywhere. you will be hard pressed to fit them behind a dbl cab seat though. check out the 13tw53
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Old 08-03-2011, 11:57 AM   #6
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Seems that it is fairly easy to get caught up in mainstream brands, and retail cost, and spend a ton of money.

Its a little funny to hear JL audio and "bank for the buck" in the same sentence. I think it is pretty much accepted in all audio groups that they are very expensive for the technology and quality. Not that its bad, but that it is expensive.

I dont even add up costs of my system any more, but then, I go through a lot of gear as well. Selling off Zapco DC amps frees up a lot of money for other stuffs .
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Old 08-03-2011, 12:47 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mattg43 View Post
Seems that it is fairly easy to get caught up in mainstream brands, and retail cost, and spend a ton of money.
....
I've been considering a Peerless XXLS 10", but that's based solely on reading, not hearing one. Care to share a recommendation for something in the $150-200 range (Peerless is ~160 at madisound)?
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Old 08-03-2011, 02:25 PM   #8
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I had 4 or 5 subs in my BMW (RE SE (original) SI Mag, SI BM, Alpine type R (original), Sundown something, the Peerless) before I got the Taco, including a Peerless XXLS 830500. It was hands down the best I put in the car. Blended well, easy to integrate, seamless, whatever you want to call it.

Keep in mind I was in a trunked car, firing through the ski pass, with the full processing form a Zapco DC amp, so I had lots of EQ, crossovers. Required very little work, and very little power. Fantastic sub, IMO.

Never used the 10" models, but I wouldnt hesitate to do so. Make sure it will work well in the box you are thinking about though. Some of them are pretty off the wall with box requirements.
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Old 08-03-2011, 04:22 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mattg43 View Post
Seems that it is fairly easy to get caught up in mainstream brands, and retail cost, and spend a ton of money.

Its a little funny to hear JL audio and "bank for the buck" in the same sentence. I think it is pretty much accepted in all audio groups that they are very expensive for the technology and quality. Not that its bad, but that it is expensive.

I dont even add up costs of my system any more, but then, I go through a lot of gear as well. Selling off Zapco DC amps frees up a lot of money for other stuffs .
i guess that depends on your definition of ton of money and what is a mainstream brand. zapco would be considered a fairly expensive mainstream brand. very good product too. i am not saying there aren't cheaper subs out there but if you read reviews of inexpensive subs (150-250) the jl w3 is usually at or close to the top and has been for a long time. they also stand behind there product very well i have had many times since i have been a dealer that they have honored warranty work on products that were pretty far outside the warranty period. obviously this is just my opinion and of course there are many others you can get 100s of right answers to the whats a good sub question.
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Old 08-03-2011, 06:19 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by platinumb View Post
i guess that depends on your definition of ton of money and what is a mainstream brand. zapco would be considered a fairly expensive mainstream brand. very good product too. i am not saying there aren't cheaper subs out there but if you read reviews of inexpensive subs (150-250) the jl w3 is usually at or close to the top and has been for a long time. they also stand behind there product very well i have had many times since i have been a dealer that they have honored warranty work on products that were pretty far outside the warranty period. obviously this is just my opinion and of course there are many others you can get 100s of right answers to the whats a good sub question.
True, for some a $1000 system is a ton, others dont blink at several times that, and others just write a blank check.

I would suspect that for most driving Toyotas, even 10% would be considered a substantial cost to drop on a sound system. I would venture that the $500 deck/speaker crowd is the majority of the US, $1500-$2000 mark would be fairly popular for those getting a "system"? I dont know, I have never worked in retail.

I have no issues with JL, or their quality. I think there is better equipment available, and if you get out of mainstream audio, or look into higher quality (not higher price...) gear, you can do better for much less. And if you are talking retail pricing then I dont think they are that much more than anything else. But almost everything else goes on sale, or you can get online for a lot cheaper.

Zapco can get a bit expensive, but then, thats the way my cookie crumbled on the last build. This one isnt shaping up much cheaper (and processors arent cheap anyways - but at least I dont have to buy new mids and tweets...) but I hope to keep it reasonable.
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