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Stock Head Unit - Make it Work?

Discussion in 'Audio & Video' started by mantis_fortress, Oct 18, 2017.

  1. Oct 18, 2017 at 7:38 AM
    #1
    mantis_fortress

    mantis_fortress [OP] Active Member

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    I hope you guys can help me make the first major decision on my audio upgrade journey. I would appreciate hearing about your opinions and experiences with some of the details I'm wrestling with.

    I have plans to replace all speakers and add a sub (or subs) behind the rear seat. I will probably use a five-channel amp, or I might use a four-channel and single-channel mono amp which I already own. I'm only including this info so you know my HU needs.

    I have the non-JBL, non-Entune system. However, I'm really happy with the features of the stock radio. I have no real desire for navigation - I'm fine using my phone. Perhaps more importantly, I really want to keep the factory look on the dash, keep steering wheel controls, and backup camera.

    All of the above points are important to me. But, sound quality might be more important. I keep hearing about how the Toyota HU "detunes" the sound to "protect" the terrible factory speakers. Is this true? How much of an impact does that have on final amplified SQ?

    Further, I'm finding a world of products that seem to address my situation. I've researched products like the LC7i and the ReCurve from *********. Does anyone have experiences using these? I understand they do a good job pulling signal from speaker wires and providing RCA input to the amp(s). But, do they correct the alleged Toyota detune problem? Will these higher-end products provide better SQ than a cheaper product like a Kicker KISLOC?

    As the cost of these converters and their associated wiring begin to add up, it raises the question of whether it's even worth it to salvage the deck. Should I just give in and accept that I need an aftermarket HU?

    Thank you for taking the time to read this!
     
  2. Oct 18, 2017 at 7:47 AM
    #2
    horstuff

    horstuff Re-member

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    New head unit ftw. Rarely if ever does fckng around with a stock unit substantially improve its ability to put out quality sound. You’ll get used to the new features and probably like them even more.
     
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  3. Oct 18, 2017 at 4:32 PM
    #3
    tony2018

    tony2018 Well-Known Member

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    Not only that, I like the comfort of a wireless remote
     
  4. Oct 18, 2017 at 4:47 PM
    #4
    mantis_fortress

    mantis_fortress [OP] Active Member

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    True. Thanks for the reminder on that.

    What I'm really trying to determine is if the SQ benefit is worth the $600+ investment, and the potential loss of functionality.
     
  5. Oct 18, 2017 at 4:57 PM
    #5
    horstuff

    horstuff Re-member

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    Think of audio equipment as a chain of gear... the weakest link will be how good everything sounds, no more than that. If you have expensive speakers and crossovers and boxes etc, they will be as worthwhile or as worthless as your weakest link. In this case, I believe your head unit will be that weak link no matter what you do to it.
     
  6. Oct 18, 2017 at 5:43 PM
    #6
    mantis_fortress

    mantis_fortress [OP] Active Member

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    Good point. Thanks for your input.

    Any suggestions on a solid HU that keeps function of steering wheel controls?
     
  7. Oct 18, 2017 at 6:00 PM
    #7
    horstuff

    horstuff Re-member

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    I do not. I’m not in the biz anymore. Any advice I’ve offered you is based on my years as a pro car stereo installer. That was a few years ago. The basics never change though. Audio is very simple... shit in, shit out. Starts at the top.
     
  8. Oct 18, 2017 at 6:35 PM
    #8
    mantis_fortress

    mantis_fortress [OP] Active Member

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    Fair enough. Thanks again!
     
  9. Oct 18, 2017 at 8:11 PM
    #9
    crashnburn80

    crashnburn80 Vehicle Design Engineer

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    Go Hawks!
    I did the new head unit, pulled it out and went back to stock. Too many things I didn’t like, including some loss of steaming wheel controls, loss of OEM mic, less compatible with iPhone unless plugged in, really annoying reverse cam warning message that had to click to clear or wait a very long time, poor/busy user interface and more.

    If you want to use the OEM unit with good sound quality you need more than a Line our converter, you need a full DSP. That is the route I have gone (though not done) using Audio Controls DSP + Amp in one. Not cheap, but top notch. It will maintain all OEM functionality, look like stock, but perform way better.
     
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  10. Oct 18, 2017 at 10:11 PM
    #10
    mantis_fortress

    mantis_fortress [OP] Active Member

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    This is exactly my concern, and what I want to avoid. It seems silly to first lose function, then to pay for and add aftermarket gear, like external mics and adapters, to get it back. I'm glad to see I'm not alone here.

    Thanks for the recommendation on the Audio Control product. I just checked it out. No kidding...it is not cheap! But, when you compare the cost of a decent HU and associated gear - which is well over $600 - it doesn't seem too crazy to spend $800 on a high-quality, 1200 watt, six-channel, amp and DSP in one unit.

    I'm interested to know your impressions on the amp/DSP when you pull the trigger on it.
     
  11. Oct 19, 2017 at 6:30 AM
    #11
    crashnburn80

    crashnburn80 Vehicle Design Engineer

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    I’ve got the amp/DSP, I had to wait 6+ mos to get it on pre-order as I got one of the first ones off the production line earlier this year. Now I just need speakers and sound deadening. This year I’ve been more occupied with house mods, so I’m hoping to finish the audio build in the beginning of next year.
     
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  12. Oct 19, 2017 at 6:40 AM
    #12
    JdevTac

    JdevTac Bawnjourno

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    I’ve been running an LC2i with a Sound Ordnance B8PTD powered sub and then a Sony amp running Rocksford Fosgate Punched speakers in my front doors.

    I’m “content” with the sound, but not satisfied. I play with the tuning and it sounds great for a few days but then it loses its luster and I want more. I also want to keep the stock look and features. I’ve read up on the Axxess steering control box and since it’s plug n play now with a metra harness, seems easy enough to retain stock features. I’m also a 2013 so my rear camera is in my mirror, not my touchscreen so that’s not an issue.

    I guess what I’m getting at is I’ll be changing out the HU at some point. I don’t feel like buying a $500 sound processor to fix the issue.

    For reference, I threw a $150 Sony HU in my 2002 4Runner with stock speakers and the clarity of sound is overall much better than my Tacoma with all the stuff I listed a few paragraphs above. Much cleaner audio when listening to CD or Bluetooth. So I’ll be going that route in the near future.
     
  13. Oct 19, 2017 at 6:51 AM
    #13
    PETEREDGE

    PETEREDGE Well-Known Member

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    I kept my head unit changed all speakers and added the ALPINE KTP-45,then added a Fosgate mono amp and a 10" sub. IMO it sounds really good and clear and didnt lose any stock functions.
     
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  14. Oct 19, 2017 at 7:18 AM
    #14
    mantis_fortress

    mantis_fortress [OP] Active Member

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    Does something actually change in the sound after those few days? Or, is this just chasing the car audio dragon? ;)

    If it was $500 to just get decent SQ with a DSP, I wouldn't do it either. But, there's products like the Audio Control LC-6.1200, that offer DSP capability and an excellent amp in one package for about $700. This makes it more of a reasonable option to me.
     
  15. Oct 19, 2017 at 7:35 AM
    #15
    JdevTac

    JdevTac Bawnjourno

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    I get what your saying. But that’s still like buying a $500 kit then buying a $200 amp. Ive hit the point where I’d rather take the plunge and buy an aftermarket HU for like $2-300 and get sound quality I’m happy with, and be done with it. That way I can just put that extra difference into speakers/sub+box/amps rather than have OEM sound and then have to buy majority of the rest. Plus the stock stereo can be sold for a decent price to recoup a lot of that too.

    I mean I know there are TW users who have even went with the massive price tag of OEM Audio to retain everything, but I just can’t see dumping $1500+ into sound to be left with the stock touch screen
     
  16. Oct 19, 2017 at 8:15 AM
    #16
    mbrogz3000

    mbrogz3000 Well-Known Member

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    In the Tacoma - a get a new head unit. If it was a Lexus or Mercedes or BMW, maybe I'd look into JL Audio's new FIXit signal integration units to achieve a flat signal with the dash integrated stereo. The FIXit is roughly $400. And then you need the TwK to be able to EQ, time delay, setup outputs etc. which is another $400.

    Makes sense to just start off with a feature-rich head unit in the Tacoma.
     
  17. Oct 19, 2017 at 12:27 PM
    #17
    mantis_fortress

    mantis_fortress [OP] Active Member

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    Which HU did you find at this price range that exceeds factory SQ and has equivalent features?
     
  18. Oct 19, 2017 at 7:06 PM
    #18
    crashnburn80

    crashnburn80 Vehicle Design Engineer

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    The speaker setup is good, I ran the same speaker setup off my previous build but used 2 B8PTDs, but the line out converter off the stock deck is the culprit. You need a DSP for good signal.

    Apples to oranges. I've also done the same in my 2003 Tacoma. The single DIN non-integrated head units of the past do not suffer the same complex system integration issues with steering wheel controls, factory microphones and backup cameras as the modern trucks do.

    Agreed it isn't the cheapest route. But you are also not factoring the steering wheel control adapter that is only going to partially work, and the dash kit that will not look as factory as stock, even the high end Scosche I ran. And a $200 amp also isn't going to have anywhere near a signal to noise ratio over 100 like audio control, it is likely going to be significantly lower. Valid point on recouping some cost by selling the OEM head unit.

    I went through multiple steering wheel control adapters and did not like the loss in functionality. Some things worked, some things didn't. Somethings might have been dependent on the mid-level Kenwood Excelon head unit I was using. Things like using up/down on the steering wheel would change frequencies rather than presets. 94.1->94.3->94.5 made channel surfing impossible. Cycling mode/function used to do am/fm/xm/bluetooth(if active)/usb(if active) so it would be very quick, on the new deck it would do every input whether or not it was active, and it had far more inputs so the button became worthless. Some buttons didn't work anymore. Had multiple people tell me the hands free phone calling had become way worse and I was harder to hear with more background noise. My iPhone would link to the factory deck and do everything. In the aftermarket Kenwood deck, it had to be plugged in to do anything, granted I didn't get an Apple CarPlay deck. Reverse camera was not as fast switching, had warnings that you had to touch the screen to clear, and when switching back into drive the stereo would briefly have a blue "no input found" screen before switching back to stereo.

    To me the OEM deck looks fine, and doesn't attract unwanted attention. I prefer just to have the function of more power and better sound while looking stock, I don't care about increasing the screen size 0.8". I did it and it wasn't a huge difference. If you are looking for flashy features, larger screens a more versatile build platform, or don't care about maintaining all the stock features/controls then it easily makes more sense to replace the head unit as a cheaper option for better sound processing.

    If keeping the OEM head unit sounds more appealing, might want to check out this open box special on the Audio Control D-4.800 DSP/Amp:
    https://www.crutchfield.com/p_161D4800/AudioControl-D-4-800.html?cc=02&tp=115
     
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  19. Oct 19, 2017 at 7:12 PM
    #19
    tony2018

    tony2018 Well-Known Member

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    There are extra's that cost you to keep your factory steering wheel controls and mic. Sometimes you will have to do modifications to keep the oem mic.
     
  20. Oct 19, 2017 at 7:55 PM
    #20
    Purpleman

    Purpleman Well-Known Member

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    If you get an amp with hi level inputs you don't have to get a line out converter.... If you want to have complete tuning ability, just get a dsp.
     
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