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Unread 06-04-2009, 12:19 AM   #1
NCUNLIMITED
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What Should Come First Head Unit Or Speakers???

Looking to upgrade in stages, can't afford to do it all at once. A buddy of mine told me to start with the head unit because a better head unit will put out more power and the speakers will be louder. What do y'all think?????? Thanks in advance for your help. I have an 05 Unlimited with factory head unit, sound pods, and dash speakers no sub

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Unread 06-04-2009, 01:57 AM   #2
spatulahunter
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Your buddy is right, if you arent doing an amp for your speakers than it makes way more sense to start off with a head unit. The factory speakers will sound better with more power. If you run aftermarket speakers off of the factory radio then you will sometimes even get worse sound because they have such a small fraction of the recommended power going to them.
If you have any questions on head units post the models you are looking at on here and we can give you some feedback on them
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Unread 06-04-2009, 09:20 AM   #3
TJ311
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Agreed. I upgraded my head unit first to a Pioneer which helped the factory speakers a good amount. And here's what I did recently that might help you. After I upgraded the head unit, I decided I wanted to upgrade the speakers as well. I went to Best Buy and bought some 5.25" Alpine S-series for the sound bar and then went to Wal-Mart (they were cheaper there) and bought some 4x6 Pioneers for the dash. I bought speaker brackets and the quick connect wire kit from Best Buy all for like $20 (you have to ask for those in the audio center). I also, took an old throw pillow my girlfriend had laying around (I got her permission first ) and cut it open because it contains polyfill which is what installers use for speaker enclosures (you can also get it at fabric stores or even Wal-Mart I think), and stuffed it in and around the front dash speakers and filled my sound bar with it too. It made a big difference.

I ended up removing the Alpine 5.25" that I had in the sound bar though because they were a little too "bright" and put the stock back in. They sound much better and saved me about $90. Polyfill makes a huge difference in my opinion.

So to sum up, replace head unit, replace dash speakers, and then fill both areas with polyfill. You'll be much happier.
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Unread 06-04-2009, 10:15 AM   #4
NCUNLIMITED
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spatulahunter View Post
Your buddy is right, if you arent doing an amp for your speakers than it makes way more sense to start off with a head unit. The factory speakers will sound better with more power. If you run aftermarket speakers off of the factory radio then you will sometimes even get worse sound because they have such a small fraction of the recommended power going to them.
If you have any questions on head units post the models you are looking at on here and we can give you some feedback on them
Quote:
Originally Posted by TJ311 View Post
Agreed. I upgraded my head unit first to a Pioneer which helped the factory speakers a good amount. And here's what I did recently that might help you. After I upgraded the head unit, I decided I wanted to upgrade the speakers as well. I went to Best Buy and bought some 5.25" Alpine S-series for the sound bar and then went to Wal-Mart (they were cheaper there) and bought some 4x6 Pioneers for the dash. I bought speaker brackets and the quick connect wire kit from Best Buy all for like $20 (you have to ask for those in the audio center). I also, took an old throw pillow my girlfriend had laying around (I got her permission first ) and cut it open because it contains polyfill which is what installers use for speaker enclosures (you can also get it at fabric stores or even Wal-Mart I think), and stuffed it in and around the front dash speakers and filled my sound bar with it too. It made a big difference.

I ended up removing the Alpine 5.25" that I had in the sound bar though because they were a little too "bright" and put the stock back in. They sound much better and saved me about $90. Polyfill makes a huge difference in my opinion.

So to sum up, replace head unit, replace dash speakers, and then fill both areas with polyfill. You'll be much happier.
Great advice I appreciate it especially considering my second choice was going to be to get the soundbar speakers first

So a new head unit and dash speakers it is. I'm not looking for an earth shaking SYSTEM just want to be able to hear it when the top and doors are off.
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Unread 06-04-2009, 11:44 AM   #5
gily25
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If the speakers are in working order adding a new head unit is usually the first push. You may decide that it's all you need or you may decide that now you want to add a sub before the speakers.

When you do replace the speakers buy all 4 at once (unless you absolutely can't afford it, then do the dash first).
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Unread 06-04-2009, 12:22 PM   #6
hyperboarder
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I got my head unit through Crutchfield, easy to install and probably saved me a bit of money in the long run. Great customer service too. Still running stock speakers and I'm content.
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Unread 06-04-2009, 01:24 PM   #7
Jerry Bransford
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Just to be contrary, I am of the school that mediocre OE speakers will continue to sound mediocre with even an excellent amplifier. A sound system will never sound better than its speakers. The current speakers were designed to work around the power limits of the OE amplifier so adding more watts isn't likely to help much at all. I've been an audiophile/electronics guy since the 60's so I've heard all the arguments.
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Unread 06-04-2009, 01:29 PM   #8
pointech
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Another opinion is mine...it doesn't really matter. As I get older I like my factory head units more and more and have found they they do sound good with upgraded speakers (as long as you don't buy speakers that require too much power).

Either way you can't go wrong.
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Unread 06-04-2009, 01:49 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerry Bransford View Post
Just to be contrary, I am of the school that mediocre OE speakers will continue to sound mediocre with even an excellent amplifier. A sound system will never sound better than its speakers. The current speakers were designed to work around the power limits of the OE amplifier so adding more watts isn't likely to help much at all. I've been an audiophile/electronics guy since the 60's so I've heard all the arguments.
Actually, I'm right with ya on that one Jerry...

OE Systems are either too mild to show a noticable benefit, or too specific to easily be melded into (the Infinity 6-ohm Grand setups come to mind). So generally, you're best upgrade all around is both. But doing one or the other:

Replacing speakers, you'll get a better SQ potential from the paper OE fluff they put in, but still limited to OE power and source potential.

Replacing source, you can usually get more power (sometimes even as much as from 5-7W to 15-20W RMS) which can increase the potential perceived volume possible from the unit, and you can usually, on better units, shape the sound a bit more to also help a little with SQ. But you're still playing it through OE paper fluff stuff...

The catch here is it can become vehicle specific to which way is better if you must limit to one or the other. In stock non-upgraded Jeeps with their whopping 7W of output, people are more likely to notice the benefit of a new source. However, the OE speakers are not meant to handle much over that also so you're effectively overloading them... However, if they fail... really... so what... By then hopefully you can swing $50 or so for some good budget replacement speakers all around.

In the end, neither one is going to blow your pants off. You have to pick SQ over SPL if you're going to limit to one upgrade. (I also did my speakers first way back when... but tend to wait and do a fully planned install all at once.) But if you know exactly what source you want, you might be happier with that simply because it then does the options and features you want. So...

There's a bit more to it that which one is simply better. It's which is better for what reason for what scenario for what person. Generally, you're going to hear 'head unit' (source). But being an SQ extremist, some of us will do speakers first, or all at once. In the end, your system is only as good as it's weakest link.

You can put a Viper engine in a Pinto... (like putting a new source unit in a stock system) But if you don't put the whole drive line in with it, it's going to explode. On the flipside, you could put the whole Viper driveline on the Pinto engine and it will run fine, though overkill extreme. Little harder to push (same thing as putting powerhouse speakers on a stock or mild aftermarket source) but as long as not abused, would last forever. OR you can put them both in, engine and drive line (like putting in source, amps and speakers) and have the scariest Pinto in history. How's that for a different way to look at it?
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