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Eager Learner
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm no where near an audiophile, but I sure would love some better sound in my car. Problem is, my car has so much road nice, thanks to being a tin can Corolla (97). My 91 Camry was much quieter, due to obviously better build quality, materials.

"They" say that you can improve your car's stereo sound dramatically by replacing speakers first. They say it will make a world of difference over factory speakers.

I've also been recommended to put that 'sound mat' inside my doors and hood, to cut down on road/engine noise. I'm not sold on it. I might be better just tarring my car and blowing loose insulation all over/under it, just keep the windows and door handles exposed. :p

Any experience with car stereo improvements done on cheaper cars?

ps. Currently, it's crazy how loud I have to have the stereo to hear it right vs. the volume required when sitting still, car off.
 

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Zaphod Beeblebrox
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Personally, I just deal with it. I'd rather dump that cash into home gear.
 

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hawkman71 said:
I'm no where near an audiophile, but I sure would love some better sound in my car. Problem is, my car has so much road nice, thanks to being a tin can Corolla (97). My 91 Camry was much quieter, due to obviously better build quality, materials.

"They" say that you can improve your car's stereo sound dramatically by replacing speakers first. They say it will make a world of difference over factory speakers.

I've also been recommended to put that 'sound mat' inside my doors and hood, to cut down on road/engine noise. I'm not sold on it. I might be better just tarring my car and blowing loose insulation all over/under it, just keep the windows and door handles exposed. :p

Any experience with car stereo improvements done on cheaper cars?

ps. Currently, it's crazy how loud I have to have the stereo to hear it right vs. the volume required when sitting still, car off.
Don't bother?

Do you really want a $1500 stereo in a $1500 car? On top of that, there is nothing on earth that screams "do not buy me, someone monkeyed around with the electrical system!" like an expensive stereo in a cheap car. It's not going to add to yer resale value but actually detract. And don't think the insulation you blow in is going to stay put. It's gonna get all over your windows on rainy days, it's gonna blow out any air gap when you hit 45 mph, it's gonna be an f'ing mess.

Just deal with the crappy sound. Save yer pennies for a better car with better sound insulation.
 

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half-fast
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7,377 Posts
they are right about the speakers. They also will be right about some insulating material.

They know a lot, them.
 

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I used to be into car stereos a few years back. I had a business that dealt with modified import cars so I know a little bit about putting big stereos into small cars. My wife's Integra had the entire hatch filled with gear in custom painted fiberglass enclosures. My Maxima had a 5.1 surround system with TV's and 4 amps. To be honest with you, I wouldn't bother doing too much unless you plan to drop a lot of money into it. Better speakers will help, but the road noise will always be there. Nothing will make a world of difference when dealing with car stereos. It's always frustrating when compared to home systems because a car is just about the worst environment for music listening and you have to make so many compromises. Plus the gear adds so much weight to the car. I think all in, my wife's system was ~250lbs + 80lbs of sound deadening. It noticably slowed the car until we put a turbo on it. My car was probably a little more between the 4 amps, the 2 subs, TV's, DVD player, fiberglass, interior speakers, 3 caps, battery, etc. Eventually I got so frustrated with it all that I just ripped it all out. It never sounded as good as i thought it should. At idle or with the car off, it was perfect. But while driving, I could never overcome the road noice and such.

Sound deadening is expensive and very time consuming. We had a sponsorship deal with Dynamat so that took care of it, but it literally took an entire weekend to sound deaden a car. if you just buy a little bit and do the doors, it won't make a significant difference. A Corolla is always going to be buzzy as compared to a Benz so there's only so much you can do. I remember seeing a few Civics that were very quiet, but it took over 100lbs of sound deadening to do it. I'm not sure if you want to go that extreme.

Bottom line, get some decent speakers and it will help. But sound deadening is a waste of resources unless you're willing to go all the way and do your entire car. Anything less and it's mostly a placebo effect.
 

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I've upgraded sound systems in nearly all of my cars and some friends' cars. It makes a huge difference even if you just do the speakers; I've had a lot of experience building speakers and know that the performance quality of speaker is highly noticeable. Also, most cars don't have audio crossovers even though they have different size speakers, adding one will make adding new speakers have an even more pronounced effect.

I recommend using Crutchfield as a source for your parts. They have good prices and you can look for parts based on your car.
 

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Potatoes
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Personally I wouldn't bother. If you must, speakers. Cars aren't great listening environments, considering you're actually driving at the same time. Also the louder you have the music, the worse it will sound over a period of say 20-30 min. The hairs in your ear tire easily and as a defence mechanism they will start to temporarily desensitise- leading to a loss in high-end clarity initially and the mid & low freq's after that. Basically you wont be able to hear the detail anymore.

You can't polish a turd (unless your name is Jamie or Adam and you have your own show called Mythbusters)... so even if you put new speakers in, you'll still need to overcome the loudness of your car. Whilst the highs and mids might have more clarity with new speakers, you'll probably still have to listen to music so loud that it'll defeat the purpose.

If you want to enjoy music, stay home, get some speakers/headphones, plug in, drop out.
 

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Replacing the speakers with aftermarket speakers will produce a better sound, cleaner and more detailed, at lower volumes using the cars radio. Once you start to turn up the volume the radio's amp will not keep up and you will get more distortion, less quality, and the potential to damage your new speakers.

Using sound deadening material will not do much because you would have to cover so much of the car to make a difference.

There is no $99 fix for your situation. To "hear it right" says nothing. You also don't say what you can afford to do.
Were it me, I'd start with replacing the head unit and front door speakers. Most of today's head units provide adequate power to push a pair of speakers to a fairly loud level that is still listenable. If you want more power, component speakers, sub, etc. you will need to add an amp.

You always get what you pay for. A decent head unit will cost $150.00, speakers...decent sounding speakers $60.00 while components are higher. A reasonable amp will cost you a couple hundred. You can use the amp, 4 channel, to power the front component speakers and the rear channel to push a decent sub in the $150 range.
The nice part of a system like I describe is you can easily take it with you from car to car and if you buy good gear, and don't push it beyond its' limits, it will last a very long time.

It depends on what you want your system to sound like, listening levels, budget, etc. but it can be done.
 

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Just dynamat or whatever you are going to use right behind the speakers when you pull out the old ones. It will help with sound output and make things sound a little more solid without the work of pulling carpets and door panels. Do a new receiver and speakers at the same time. Don't buy from Crutchfield either, they do not have good prices, just go there to see what would work with your car and then go buy the same stuff from Amazon.
 

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Eager Learner
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164 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thanks for the thoughts and opinions folks. A lot to consider here. I don't even really have the money for any upgrades, except maybe to start with front speakers. I figure given the car has 100,000 miles on it, and given our financial situation, I'll probably end up running till the wheels fall off, or at least to 250,000...then I have perhaps 10 years left in the car. Ok, if things improve somewhat, I might try to pick up a little nicer car down the road...something with more legroom would even be nice.

I did have in mind replacing front and rear speakers, and the deck, and possibly adding an amp/sub down the road (something to take to the next vehicle as Kai Winters wrote).

You are probably right, I probably had in mind that I could polish this turd a little... :)

Bottom line is my stereo sucks - it shuts off sometimes when you try to push the buttons (I hate drop down faceplates).
 
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