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Would you change the amp or speakers first?

Old 10-14-2016, 12:58 PM
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Default Would you change the amp or speakers first?

My car audio system sucks, it's only half bad at volume but when on low or regular settings it has zero punch to it, no quality whatsoever, no bass, no high's no bite, nothing crisp about it, clear isn't a word I'd think of using.

It's a Lincoln MKZ, has speakers in both front and rear doors, back deck, front deck and are mostly component speakers with separate tweeters.

I went to 2 audio shops in my area and wasn't impressed with either place, so I'm asking you, what 1 item would you change first to look for the biggest improvement and why?

I may end up changing both the amp and speakers but am looking to save money if I can. Just an FYI the current speakers handle the power of the unit when it's cranked up, even has some decent sound when you get the thing pumping.

I'm thinking amp first, cheaper and it may supply the low end bump I'm looking for, Ford is my next stop to learn what speakers are where and in what sizes, sadly Crutchfield doesn't even list my car with rear deck speakers so I can't turn there.
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Old 10-14-2016, 12:59 PM
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Old 10-14-2016, 01:01 PM
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Old 10-14-2016, 01:01 PM
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Old 10-14-2016, 01:08 PM
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Speakers. An amp will only make the shitty sounds louder.
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Old 10-14-2016, 01:37 PM
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Thanks guys. Looked around online and found what I think is the answer to my speaker sizes but I can't be completely sure, seems there are 6"X 8" in all 4 doors 2 6" x 9"s in the rear deck and possibly a 4" in the read deck as well as one in the front dash.

I'm thinking changing out the 6" X 8"s and 6 X 9" will do the trick but will also address those 4" ones and the tweeters too. I'm hoping the amp doesn't have enough power on the low end to get any sound into those speakers at low volume, I may just do it all together. At least now I have a good idea of what size speakers to shop for.

I'm partial to JBL but will be looking at Kicker, Pioneer, and Polk as well. back in the day I wasn't impressed with Alpine or Sony so unless someone can tell me they've changed a bunch they are out.

I'm figuring an amp with between 600-800 watts. Watts certainly aren't what they used to be so I figure divided among 6 good size speakers the power will be divided well without going crazy, these 2000 watt amps are crazy IMO and not what I'm looking for. I don't think I need a sub woofer, rock is my music and as long as it's crisp, clear and has power I'm good, some grunt is always welcome but I don't need a disco in my car.

Anyone know if a 5 channel amp would do the trick or should I be looking at 6 or something else?
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Old 10-14-2016, 01:45 PM
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My first concern would be the quality of the signal coming from the radio. Do the local stereo shops have the equipment to measure signal quality/distortion?
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Old 10-14-2016, 01:51 PM
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Originally Posted by mikefloyd View Post
My first concern would be the quality of the signal coming from the radio. Do the local stereo shops have the equipment to measure signal quality/distortion?
Didn't ask them that, problem there is this, the radio, climate controls, navigation, and every other think known to man kind is all hooked together, speakers and amp it is.
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Old 10-14-2016, 01:58 PM
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Originally Posted by YFMF View Post
Didn't ask them that, problem there is this, the radio, climate controls, navigation, and every other think known to man kind is all hooked together, speakers and amp it is.
They should still be able to test it at whatever output they'll be using for your amp and then the output of the amp going to the speakers. It sucks to replace things that aren't the problem.
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Old 10-14-2016, 02:01 PM
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On speakers, I am partial to Infinity as replacements - they are very efficient, so they do well with most stock amps.
I haven't played with custom stereo stuff since I did the 4 "6x8' + 2 8" subs and added a 12" sub, with three amps in my 2007 Shelby GT500. Unless you need to push a lot of bass, 50-75 watts per speaker of good clean power is usually enough - on bass, a good dual voice coil 12" sub need at least 500 watts. That GT500 system had a 50w x 4 amp for the 6x8's, which also had 6db/oct bass blocks at 200hz, 100w x 2 for the 8" subs with bass blocks at 100 hz, and 350w x 2 with a high limiter set at 150hz for the sub. The system was about $2,200 in components and about 15-20 hours labor for a custom shop.
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Old 10-14-2016, 02:20 PM
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Going against the grain here and saying install a new head unit first.

My commuter car Honda civic did the speakers first with zero improvement.

Wife's Toyota with the factory JBL system, a new head unit woke that thing up like night and day.
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Old 10-14-2016, 02:30 PM
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I second what iwhitevt said. It starts with the head unit. IF it hasnt been replaced yet, start there. You'd be amazed under most circumstances how much better stock speakers sound when hooked up to a solid head unit. 99.99% sure that car has a suped-up stock system though so if you decide to start with a new head unit you'll likely need an amp bypass harness. I recommend www.crutchfield.com, there extremely helpful.
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Old 10-14-2016, 03:14 PM
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When you guys say head unit your referring to the receiver? If so it's not about to happen. It's all interconnected to the nav/gps. climate control etc. not about to ruin the car over sound.
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Old 10-14-2016, 03:23 PM
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Go to Crutchfield and see what fits your car. Ford is notorious (and most manufacturers) for using cheap paper speakers.
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Old 10-14-2016, 03:36 PM
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Originally Posted by jrolin1 View Post
Go to Crutchfield and see what fits your car. Ford is notorious (and most manufacturers) for using cheap paper speakers.

They don't even list me as having rear deck speakers, but thanks.
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Old 10-14-2016, 05:20 PM
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Originally Posted by YFMF View Post
When you guys say head unit your referring to the receiver? If so it's not about to happen. It's all interconnected to the nav/gps. climate control etc. not about to ruin the car over sound.
In most cars post 2014 or so, the head unit does lots more than just play music - often it does climate control, cell phone, etc. In those cases, the head unit isn't replaceable.
I guess you could use some sort of second unit that is hidden in the truck, but I haven't really seen that except some of those crappy ones sold for classic cars.
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Old 10-14-2016, 05:35 PM
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Whatever you path you go down, I would highly suggest AGAINST most of the brand names mentioned in this post so far (if you truly value sound quality). Everybody knows these brand names because a major portion of their budget is marketing. Check out this website:

http://www.woofersetc.com/

They sell a lot of the brands mentioned above, along with some lesser known brands. And when I say "lesser know" I mean in the minds of the general population. I'm partial to Image Dynamics for some pretty amazing sound quality for the price. If you have the coin, look at Rainbow.

I replaced everything in my Benz except the head unit with Image Dynamics. It destroys the factory Harmon Kardon system and most everything still looks stock, which was exactly my goal!
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Old 10-14-2016, 07:00 PM
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Originally Posted by ChrisW21 View Post
Whatever you path you go down, I would highly suggest AGAINST most of the brand names mentioned in this post so far (if you truly value sound quality). Everybody knows these brand names because a major portion of their budget is marketing. Check out this website:

http://www.woofersetc.com/

They sell a lot of the brands mentioned above, along with some lesser known brands. And when I say "lesser know" I mean in the minds of the general population. I'm partial to Image Dynamics for some pretty amazing sound quality for the price. If you have the coin, look at Rainbow.

I replaced everything in my Benz except the head unit with Image Dynamics. It destroys the factory Harmon Kardon system and most everything still looks stock, which was exactly my goal!


My problem with these "better" brands is this, finding a place to hear them play real music so I can compare sounds. Also I know these numbers are subjective and it depends on a great deal but speaker brands that I mentioned have greater frequency responses then the "better" brands you name.

Now do the brands you mention look beefier, yes, do they sound better (subjective) but very possibly yes. That said, unless I can hear them play somewhere I won't take the gamble with my money. I can afford the extra coin as some of their product isn't that much more expensive (some are crazy priced), but going in blind just isn't for me.

I'll reach out to the web site or a few of the brands and ask if they have a retailer in my area I can check out their product line in and go from there. This will be a Christmas or Birthday gift to myself so I have some time to shop around.

Thanks.
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Old 10-14-2016, 09:20 PM
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[QUOTE=iwhitevt;9570701]Going against the grain here and saying install a new head unit first.

My commuter car Honda civic did the speakers first with zero improvement.

Wife's Toyota with the factory JBL system, a new head unit woke that thing up like night and

I did the same in my truck a world of difference! !
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Old 10-14-2016, 11:23 PM
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Where are you located?
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