Newbie Audio Help. PLEASE! [Archive] - Honda Element Owners Club Forum

: Newbie Audio Help. PLEASE!


jnberr0
07-09-2003, 03:43 PM
OK, sorry if this topic has been approached before, but I have searched and found no specific answers for my issues. Here's my story:

I'm brand new to the site, and moreover, to all things Element-al (just picked mine up a few days ago). Anywho, I'd like to look into replacing the stock speakers at some point soon, but I really don't want to get into any hardcore audio system re-working (i.e. no new amp, no new head unit, etc . . .). Is this worth even attempting? Will I notice enough of a difference in sound quality? I'm adequately pleased with the EX's sound, but a little more separation and clarity would always be welcome. Regardless, any advice on this would be greatly appreciated. Also, any advice on top speaker choices for the E would be a HUGE help. I'm a big Polk home audio fan, but I understand Focal is a good choice for the E.

One other small issue: I'm in the process of finding the right cable to hook my Sony Minidisc player up to the AUX port. I understand a simple male to male mini-pug cable would work using the MD player's headphone outlet, but does this lose any of the MD's Digital sound quality? Is there any better choice of cable, something that could use the MD player's Optical Line In port?

Thanks for ANY help you guys and girls can provide.

P.S. Great Site! I'm definitely impressed.

pedsflightrn
07-09-2003, 03:53 PM
I personally found the sound in the EX to be very "muddy" and immediately had the speakers changed out. You do not need to deal with any other changes with the speakers. Your stock head unit, amp, and subwoofer will work fine. The only issue is finding speakers to fit in the element. If you are going to have someone else do it they can lead you in the right direction. Also eMass has some excellent posts to guide you in speaker choice. Just look through some of the old posts.

jnberr0
07-09-2003, 04:12 PM
Thanks for the info. I'm not at all an audiophile, but I too feel the stock EX system could stand to be a little clearer and tighter, especially with the types of music I listen to (AAA, Alt-country, whatever you want to call it!).

I've checked out a bunch of posts on the site, but almost all get into heavier audio system changes than I am looking to do. I'm just really looking at switching out the stock speakers and was wondering if the stock amp has enough juice to power them, and overall would the process be worth it. It's good to hear that the answer seems to be yes on both accounts.

eMass
07-09-2003, 04:59 PM
If you're only planning on replacing speakers then I'd recommend you check out http://www.crutchfield.com since they will guarantee fit and will also include speaker adapters and detailed instructions free of charge with your speakers. Even a pair of $49 dollar coaxial speakers will sound drastically better than the stock ones.

You will notice a substantial increase in sound quality with some high quality speakers specifically designed for low powered systems. The brands that seem to be good for this type of application are Pioneer and Polk. Focals generally require more power than the stock EX system can supply.

BTW, on the aux cable - a male to male mini 3.5 mm stereo cable is your best (and only) bet. You are correct in thinking that an optical connection would be cleaner but there is no optical input for the EX system - only the analog AUX jack.

Hope this helps.

ShaneS
07-09-2003, 09:01 PM
Watch out for cruchfield, they may tell you that 5 1/4" speakers will be the only size that will fit, many 6 1/2 ones will fit as well and look for a 92 db or greater efficiency rating which means that you will get more sound at a lower wattage input.

eMass
07-09-2003, 11:15 PM
Well there's nothing inherently wrong with 5.25" speakers, they just have a slightly harder time producing as much bass as a 6.5" speaker. Also, Shane is right about many 6.5" speakers fitting in the E.

I disagree however on the sensitivity rating a bit though, I think most people will be happy with sensitivity ratings at 90 or above.

jnberr0
07-10-2003, 08:42 AM
Wow! Thanks for the help. Just for giggles, what if I did want to purchase a small amp to drive the new speakers, nothing outrageous, just something small and tidy. How much would such an amp run and what would be the most efficient use of its power?

Also, I was planning on only dropping $6-800 total for this upgrade, including the install. Is that a pipe dream for what I am talking about (Focals or Polk all around, possibly a new amp)?

doofusdavid
07-10-2003, 12:16 PM
[quote:2dcca4bee9="jnberr0"]Also, I was planning on only dropping $6-800 total for this upgrade, including the install. Is that a pipe dream for what I am talking about (Focals or Polk all around, possibly a new amp)?[/quote:2dcca4bee9]

I have a somewhat related question. I just put a downpayment on an E that should be arriving towards the end of the month. I have some ok speakers in my existing car ('88 accord) that I was thinking of taking out and putting in the E.

I know that Crutchfield will give you the honda wiring plug if you get speakers from them...what about if I just want to buy them? Any ideas for where to get them? I'm assuming they're pretty cheap.

I remember when putting the speakers in the accord that they didn't have the special honda wiring...my car is just that old.

I'm just trying to figure out cheap ways to upgrade until I've got some more money socked away to do some better stuff...eagerly awaiting a reply on the Amp question above too. Thanks!

David

bmduncan
07-10-2003, 02:13 PM
You can get the oem speaker adapters at circuit city or any decent car audio shop. They won't have one for the E specifically but I'm pretty sure all the recent hondas use the same one.

jnberr0
07-10-2003, 03:18 PM
eMass - Ever hear of Dynaudio speakers? Apparently, they are OEM in the new Volvo's and I've heard they are the proverbial pooh, but very hard to find.

eMass
07-10-2003, 07:34 PM
RE: speaker adapters

You can buy them from crutchfield or any car stereo shop as others have pointed out. Just ask for 1990 and up honda/acura adapters. Here's the link to crutchfield in case you want to go this route: http://www.crutchfield.com/cgi-bin/S-KK37HMrXtmn/ProdView.asp?s=0&c=11&g=103100&I=12071012&o=m&a=1&cc=01&avf=Y

RE: Dynaudio speakers

Dynaudio has a pretty good reputation in the home audio world but they're unproven in the car stereo world. They could be great but I have no experience with them.

RE: Amp and speakers on a $800 budget

There are lots of small, good, inexpensive amps out there but they'll be difficult to integrate into your existing system because you state you would not get a head unit. My advice to you would be to skip the amp and spend that money on a good high-powered head unit and speakers.

Somewhere down the road when you have more money, if you decide to add an amp, it will be mush easier and less costly.

If you decide to go with a head unit, you can certainly stay within your budget and you'll almost certainly get a better tuner, cd player, mp3 cd capabilities, anti-theft features, and as an added bonus - an extra storage space below your head unit! :wink: I typically recommend Eclipse, Clarion and Alpine as my top 3 head unit manufacturers. These days you can get a great head unit for $250!

If you are still set on adding an amp without a head unit, consider Eclipse, MTX, or Soundstream. They all make smallish, high quality 2 and 4 channel amps that will fit under your seats and should cost less than $300.

Hope this helps! :D

ShaneS
07-10-2003, 11:02 PM
Here is a very good head unit if you don't plan on adding an amp to power the speakers, it is the Alpine CDA-9813 and it has a very good built in amp that is a whopping 27 watts RMS per channel. I personnaly was going to get this head unit but I opted for an Eclipse model for its appearence, less frilly options and EMass's reccomendation for very clean CD sound.

By the way you can do better than $399 for the Alpine, I found it for $309 at a local car stereo place by me.

http://www.crutchfield.com/cgi-bin/S-AEdW1TWNCAb/ProdView.asp?s=0&c=3&g=62700&I=500CDA9813&o=m&a=0&cc=01&avf=N

jnberr0
07-11-2003, 10:00 AM
Ugh! Thanks, guys, for all the help. I kind of figured a new head unit may be unavoidable, but I'd really prefer to keep the stock one, mainly because I want to keep my E as visually stock as possible. I do like the Eclipse units from a quality standpoint, and I think they are visually the cleanest and best looking head units out there, but that's a big change. I guess I'll just have to decide how deep I want to get into this and then go from there.

Right now, I'm still leaning towards a straight speaker upgrade with a possible small amp addition. EMass - you say this type of upgrade would be difficult to integrate into the stock system. What exactly do you mean by "difficult"? Do you mean it will be a tough install, or is it a sound quality thing?

Thanks again in advance for everyone's help!

eMass
07-11-2003, 10:25 AM
[quote:7ffd8f8cec="jnberr0"]Right now, I'm still leaning towards a straight speaker upgrade with a possible small amp addition. EMass - you say this type of upgrade would be difficult to integrate into the stock system. What exactly do you mean by "difficult"? Do you mean it will be a tough install, or is it a sound quality thing?[/quote:7ffd8f8cec]
Both.

It's really tough to install because all the wiring runs to a really small amp in the passenger side kick panel so to integrate the new amp your installer will have to cut all the wires at the factory amp (or head unit) and then run extension wires all the way to and from underneath one of your seats. Or he can run the wiring from the head unit but it's all line level not rca so you'll need an amp that supports line level inputs.

Plus, you'll have a slight sound quality issue because you'd be using line level instead of dedicated preamp rca connectors which have much cleaner voltage and signal.

Right now there are no adapters to just plug an amp in as a replacement to the factory amp and there probably never will be.

Also, if you ever decide that you do want a head unit, the installer will have to to a major re-work of the wiring to get it to work with the head unit - this would be expensive and have the installer tearing his hair out. You can certainly have an installer do whatever you'd like and they'd be glad to take your money, but IMHO it's kind of a waste.

Bottom line: it just ain't pretty. :(

jnberr0
07-11-2003, 11:10 AM
Fair enough. Totally understood.

Any logic in upgrading the speakers now and the head unit later? Or is it much easier to do them at once?

jnberr0
07-11-2003, 02:43 PM
At the risk of losing your patience, here are a few more questions:

1. What about the stock sub? Can or should this be upgraded along with the other speakers? I've heard a bunch about new subs, but those have all been mounted in their own boxes. I definitely don't want to do that, but I also don't a new set of door speakers to totally outclass the sub. Has anyone just swapped out the stock sub for a higher quality speaker, but kept it mounted in the same position?

2. I'm confused: How does the power work on the stock system? It is listed at 270 watts. How does that break down in terms of per channel wattage? Is the head unit powered or is there a separate amp, or both? If I upgrade to a new head unit, how will I be gaining power? Will I be able to still use the stock amp, to say drive the sub, while using the new HU to drive the door speakers?


Alright, I'm starting to feel like a moron. If anyone has any motorcycle questions, feel free to ask. Now THAT is a topic I know at least a little about!
Thanks!

eMass
07-11-2003, 06:11 PM
[quote:d3a7d5c28d="jnberr0"]Fair enough. Totally understood.

Any logic in upgrading the speakers now and the head unit later? Or is it much easier to do them at once?[/quote:d3a7d5c28d]

Absolutely! Just don't go buying high end speakers because they'll require more juice than your EX system can give them. If you underpower speakers with too little wattage, you run the risk of damaging the speaker because at mid to high level volumes you'll be sending a clipped signal to the speakers (aka - you'll be trying to push a big signal at low watts). This condition is exactly what kills speakers. I know, you're probably thinking, "I thought too much power is what kills speakers?". That is a common misconception, grasshopper. :wink:

In your situation, look for speakers with a high efficiency rating and low wattage requirements in the 10-40 RMS range. This will mean no clipping, happy speakers, and respectable sound. The downside is that if you ever get a head unit and amp these speakers probably won't sound very good with a lot of power and you'll want to replace them with speakers that can handle more.

At least with the speaker-only approach you won't be throwing much money away if you decide to add more components later. You can always use one pair of speakers in the rear, power them with just the head unit, and fade them way down so they don't interfere with the front sound stage. This is a great way to save bucks and is the generally preferred method of keeping the sound stage up front anyway.

Good luck.

eMass
07-11-2003, 06:29 PM
[quote:1ed4567645="jnberr0"]At the risk of losing your patience, here are a few more questions:

1. What about the stock sub? Can or should this be upgraded along with the other speakers? I've heard a bunch about new subs, but those have all been mounted in their own boxes. I definitely don't want to do that, but I also don't a new set of door speakers to totally outclass the sub. Has anyone just swapped out the stock sub for a higher quality speaker, but kept it mounted in the same position?

2. I'm confused: How does the power work on the stock system? It is listed at 270 watts. How does that break down in terms of per channel wattage? Is the head unit powered or is there a separate amp, or both? If I upgrade to a new head unit, how will I be gaining power? Will I be able to still use the stock amp, to say drive the sub, while using the new HU to drive the door speakers?[/quote:1ed4567645]

RE: the stock sub

No, in your situation this should not be upgraded. In fact, there are no comparable subs on the market that meet the stock requirements. The stock sub is 6.5" and dual voice coil. There are subs out there that are 6.5" but none are DVC as far as I know. JL Audio will soon be coming out with a larger subwoofer that replaces the entire sub enclosure on the Element and retains the factory look and feel. You'll need a real amp to drive it though.

RE: stock amp power

The head unit is NOT powered - and there is a separate 6 channel amp located in the passenger side kick panel - it measures about 5" X 7". While it's true that the overall system is rated at 270 watts - that number is very misleading. The 270 watts is a peak maximum number, not what it usually puts out. It probably puts out 130 watts nominally and most of that (approx. 80 watts) is used for each voice coil on the sub (40/40) - by the way it's an Alpine sub! That leaves you with about 50 or 60 watts for the remaining 4 speakers. You can do the math from there.

Go to a store and take a look at even a simple 2 channel 150 watt amp. The first thing you'll notice is the size - it will be at least twice as big as the stock amp and for good reason - it takes a fair amount of circuitry to deal with that kind of power. And that's just a 2 channel amp! Have you ever seen a real 6 channel amp? They're usually a couple feet long! Also have an installer show you the how big a power wire that they'd need to power a regular amp - when you compare all of this to the factory amp, one can only conclude that the factory amp is a joke! :D

And yes you can use a head unit to drive the speakers and still use the factory amp to drive the sub. You can even use the factory amp to drive everything if you buy the right head unit. That's far easier to integrate than just adding an amp since there are adapters and wiring harnesses on the market specifically for this purpose.

For reference, here's a couple of pics of the stock amp these are from element-j's site...

http://www.ecnet.net/users/gallery/element-j/images/head_unit/3.jpghttp://www.ecnet.net/users/gallery/element-j/images/head_unit/1.jpg

Chip
07-13-2003, 06:43 PM
Is it possible to bridge the two sub channels to a SVC sub? Also, is there any way to shoehorn an 8" DVC sub in the stock enclosure?

eMass
07-13-2003, 07:46 PM
[quote:f8cac37fa1="Chip"]Is it possible to bridge the two sub channels to a SVC sub? Also, is there any way to shoehorn an 8" DVC sub in the stock enclosure?[/quote:f8cac37fa1]

The answers to your questions are:

I don't know - and - I doubt it - respectively. :wink:

On the amp: (I don't know) - Not all amplifiers are capable of being bridged and if it can be bridged successfully you also have to take minimum impedance into account. If you can bridge the amp and each channel is 4 ohm you will create a 2 ohm load and not all amps are stable at 2 ohms & I seriously doubt any factory amp could handle that load.

You could fry the factory amp immediately and I suspect this will be the case simply because OEM manufacturers design to an exact specification (which is likely 4 ohm) and generally do not provide for any use outside the intended one - that's why people buy aftermarket amps. More power and flexibility.

On the sub: (I doubt it) - While I have not tried shoehorning an 8" sub into a 6.5" hole - besides the obvious hole size and depth issues - you may run into the same principal as above - the enclosure was specifically designed for that specific sub - the 8" sub would be too big to play in that enclosure space anyway and in the end an 8" sub isn't that much better than a 6.5" anyway so why bother?

My advice to you would be to wait for the JL Audio Element Stealthbox and install it in place of the existing sub and enclosure. You'll need an amp - but that could be installed under a seat. I would also suggest getting a head unit to power your door speakers. The whole deal would probably cost less than $800 bucks.

Yes, I know that's a frustrating snowball of an approach but such is car audio - it's expensive to start and exponentially more expensive as you continue - but that's what it takes to build a even a basic system with decent sound and a sub.

I also know that I'm rambling. Shutting up now. :wink:

jnberr0
07-14-2003, 03:50 PM
eMass -

Thanks once and for all for all your help. I just spent my first real weekend tooling around in my E and I'm still just moderately pleased with the stock system. I'm thinking I will go the new head unit/new speaker route. I listened to some Focals and Polks this weekend. They both sounded great, but the Focals sure seemed to have a more complete sound, much more "musical" (I hope I'm using that term correctly). Of course, this was in a listening booth at a local audio shop here in Louisville, so it was enough for me to get a better idea of what my options are.

Bottom line: Focals, classy new head unit, small amp is probably the route I'll take. Looks like I better start saving some money!!

Thanks again.