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Head unit for sound quality?

Discussion in 'Audio & Video' started by skierd, Apr 22, 2020.

  1. Apr 22, 2020 at 10:02 PM
    #1
    skierd

    skierd [OP] Well-Known Member

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    I’m tiring of the constant dropped calls and resetting of my stock head unit. I also think the audio quality sucks, and though I like the tuning provided by the DSP in my kicker Key amp I want to clean up my sound.

    What aftermarket head units provide a clean, better to best signal, for better sound, either with or without an amp? I’m trying to avoid adding a separate DSP, even better if I can skip the 4ch amp. Mostly concerned about Bluetooth connection quality, would like HD radio and wireless CarPlay. Don’t need satellite.

    I’ve seen JVC head units that claim to fix the sound from digital devices, is that just marketing speak? How are modern Alpine, Sony, etc compared to the android OD radios like Dasaita and such?

    Help! The last radios I’ve bought was an Alpine single DIN in 2002 lol.
     
  2. Apr 22, 2020 at 10:04 PM
    #2
    0xDEADBEEF

    0xDEADBEEF Segmentation Fault (Core Dumped)

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    What speakers are you running? Those usually make a bigger difference to me, but I haven't heard a stock unit in probably a decade...soo...
     
  3. Apr 22, 2020 at 10:07 PM
    #3
    nudavinci64

    nudavinci64 Taco Outlaw

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    speakers def for the win but pretty much any aftermarket HU. If you go with amps it will improve even furhter. Make sure you have a high Voltage output if possible 3-5V is common some are higher but 3 would be the go to. I used to build them and 5V back the day was the money with Clarion HU's.

    You can also get a DSP with better outputs to run off the stock HU. Audio Control and JL make some.
     
  4. Apr 22, 2020 at 10:29 PM
    #4
    skierd

    skierd [OP] Well-Known Member

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    Here’s my current setup in my SR:

    SR5 head unit
    Kicker Key180.4 amp
    JL C1-690x 2-way 6x9 front door speakers
    Kicker Subaru tweeters
    Infinity reference 6.75” rear door speakers
    Kenwood m300.1 mono amp
    Kicker 43TCWRT102 10” sub with passive radiator.
    Noico’d inner and outer door skins front and rear as well as back cab wall.

    Hoping to do the floors and roof, and MLV for the doors, floors, and back wall, and melamine foam for the roof this summer.

    I’m mostly happy with the speakers. The fronts are a little bright between the JL’s and the tweeters, if I were doing it again I’d probably just get a set of component speakers but live and learn. There’s a chance I’ll get Infinity 6x9 components, depending on what sales come up through the year and swap them out when I finish the doors.

    I like the auto-tuning of the Key amp. I dislike the hissing I get when I have the gains turned up at all. I also suspect the factory EQ is hard for it to fully fix, and it’s obvious the Bluetooth signal is mangled compared to a wired connection (though I’m not sure how much of that is my iPhone or the radio).

    The Kenwood amp is great, but will be replaced with something in the 500w RMS at 2ohm to properly power the sub. There’s also some negative interaction between the speakers and the sub, since the speakers have the key’s DSP applied and the sub doesn't sometimes my music feels out of balance with no real way to tune around it. I’ve mostly got it handled to where I don't notice 90% of the time, but I’d like to get both the door speakers and the sub on the same signal page.
     
  5. Apr 23, 2020 at 3:49 AM
    #5
    rob feature

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    The 2 best-sounding decks I can think of are single DIN - Pioneer DEH 80 PRS or P99. Guessing you want a double DIN touch screen though?
     
  6. Apr 23, 2020 at 5:22 AM
    #6
    cosmic65charlie

    cosmic65charlie I like to do fun stuff.

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    I’ve used Kenwood Excelon head units for years and they are excellent. Currently have a DMX906S in the Tacoma. Tons of audio controls and clean 5V outputs.
     
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  7. Apr 23, 2020 at 10:13 AM
    #7
    5nahalf

    5nahalf I build dumb things

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  8. Apr 23, 2020 at 10:47 AM
    #8
    rob feature

    rob feature Tacos!

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    Ya, forgot about that one. IMO though it's pretty forgettable considering the price and what it does. It's even more than the P99 and does far less. Not to mention the P99 is a beautiful head unit. The Sony looks like something you'd put in a boat.
     
  9. Apr 23, 2020 at 10:49 AM
    #9
    rob feature

    rob feature Tacos!

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    I really dig Kenwood's head units too

    From what I've read about those Dasaita units they're noisy - at least on paper. Never actually heard one. If it were me pulling out my wallet, I'd stick with Pioneer, Kenwood or Alpine. Hard buttons are important to me too - I'd at least want a volume, track/album & mute functions that I could access without looking at the HU. If you get that with steering wheel controls then cool, but solely touch is a deal breaker for me personally - way too distracting to use basic functions.
     
  10. Apr 23, 2020 at 10:54 AM
    #10
    cosmic65charlie

    cosmic65charlie I like to do fun stuff.

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    Yeah, they are great. I have a single DIN Excelon that is still going strong after 11 years, now in my girlfriend's car after I upgraded my commuter to CarPlay. While obviously not a replacement for a true DSP if you need one, for most people they have everything you will need. The amount of audio and processing controls they include is impressive. The digital time alignment actually works pretty well as does the onboard crossover and equalizer.

    I put an Alpine ilx-w650 in my commuter car and while it works well for what I wanted, it's definitley annoying that it has no hard buttons. Especially the volume buttons since I don't have steering wheel controls in that vehicle.

    I stay away from those offbrands, most people seem happy with them but I know the components inside aren't near the quality of a high end unit from Kenwood, Pioneer, etc...
     
  11. Apr 23, 2020 at 10:57 AM
    #11
    5nahalf

    5nahalf I build dumb things

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    The sony is pretty bland looking, but it does sound pretty damn good.
     
  12. Apr 23, 2020 at 11:35 AM
    #12
    Shellshock

    Shellshock King Shit of Turd Island

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    I just put the ilx-w650 in my tacoma. im pretty happy with it so far. it definitely woke up the speakers I put in a while back as part of the $250 audio upgrade.
     
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  13. Apr 23, 2020 at 11:39 AM
    #13
    cosmic65charlie

    cosmic65charlie I like to do fun stuff.

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    I think it's a really nice head unit, probably the nicest of the "no frills" or "entry level" CarPlay head units. It works flawlessly and it was super easy to get into the car with that shallow design. I have it in my Impreza, which already had an amp, but I love how the Alpine Power Pack hooks right up and mounts on the back.
     
  14. Apr 23, 2020 at 11:39 AM
    #14
    PennSilverTaco

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    Alpine, Pioneer, JVC, and Kenwood are all pretty good...

    Avoid BOSS like the plague!
     
  15. Apr 23, 2020 at 11:41 AM
    #15
    CLVol1255

    CLVol1255 Well-Known Member

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    I’m really impressed with my Kenwood excelon ddx8905s model although it is the 2018 model and doesn’t have wireless CarPlay. Very impressed with dsp functions of it and the 5V preamp rcas. It’s not as sexy as some of the others but for SQ it’s great imo
     
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  16. Apr 23, 2020 at 11:41 AM
    #16
    skierd

    skierd [OP] Well-Known Member

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    yes, it’s going in my 2017 and I want to keep my backup camera, maybe even add a front one.
     
  17. Apr 23, 2020 at 11:44 AM
    #17
    PennSilverTaco

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    I’ve got a Pioneer AVH-1550NEX that I just installed...
     
  18. Apr 23, 2020 at 11:46 AM
    #18
    Shellshock

    Shellshock King Shit of Turd Island

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    Agreed. I pretty much wanted CarPlay and didnt care for anything else. Works great.

    It is nice being shallow with the mess of wires I have back there now (on the cleanup list for a future time). I have a front camera hooked up but the stupid thing had like 30 feet of wire I had to stuff somewhere.
     
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  19. Apr 23, 2020 at 11:49 AM
    #19
    PennSilverTaco

    PennSilverTaco Encyclopedia of useless information...

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    HD Radio is a crock of shit; My last head unit had it, and while it worked great when it actually worked, most of the time it didn’t actually work; It was extraordinarily sensitive in certain areas and would lose reception. Also, it was really hard to switch back to normal FM radio if the HD radio fizzled out...
     
  20. Apr 23, 2020 at 11:51 AM
    #20
    5nahalf

    5nahalf I build dumb things

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    Thats one thing I hate about HD radio, the constant going from HD to SD and the delay in broadcast makes it sound like the radio is skipping.
     
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