Car Audio Sample Systems

This chapter is devoted to showing what can be done in various vehicle types with different budgets. Each system could be adapted to each vehicle but we will concentrate on one system and one budget per vehicle. Specific products are used only as real world examples and are not meant to be an endorsement of said product. Retail prices are used but could be considerably lower depending on your equipment source and the complexity of your installation.

Sample Sedan

The first project vehicle will be a typical four door sedan. For this example we'll use a 1996 Honda Civic sedan. This vehicle comes equipped from the factory with a standard DIN sized (7.5" wide by 2.5" tall) head unit. There are 6.5" speakers in the front doors and 6x9" speakers in the rear deck. Our budget for this system will be $1,500 inclusive of product and installation. The goals of the system are clean sound with a big bottom end and the ability to playback MP3 encoded CDRs. This will be a daily driver not meant for competing and the owner will install the system as is common in many budget systems.

Head Unit - replace the factory head unit with Kenwood KDC-MP225 (MP3 and WMA capability, CD changer controls and the ability to add Sirius satellite radio in the future) MSRP $200

Front Speakers - replace door speakers with Kicker Resolution RS6 series components. We will take advantage of the coaxial mounting option. MSRP $350

Rear Speakers - replace rear deck speakers with Kicker K69 speakers for better tonal matching as compared to multi-brand set ups. MSRP $150

Subwoofers - For a big bottom end we'll choose to use a pair of 12" subwoofers in a pre-manufactured box. We'll once again look to the Kicker line and choose the Kicker CompVR 12" dual 4 ohm woofers. MSRP $150 each. They will be mounted in a Q-Logic dual-sub hatchback box with a per woofer volume of 1.25 cubic feet. MSRP $140

Amplification - We'll power the system with one 4 channel amplifier. The head unit puts out 22 watts RMS per channel and will be used to power the rear speakers. The front speakers will receive 2 channels of the amplifier and the subwoofers will receive the other 2 channels. We'll use the Phoenix Gold Octane-R 8.0:4 which delivers 75 watts per channel or 250 watts bridged. Each of the front speakers will receive 75 watts and we will bridge the sub channels to the 8 ohm woofers wired in parallel (4 ohm total load) giving the subs 125 watts each. We will also take advantage of the built-in 12dB/octave crossovers, setting the front speaker section to high pass and the subwoofer section to low pass. MSRP $330

Installation accessories - We will purchase an all-in-one amplifier installation kit with one pair of RCA cables, 8 gauge main power wires, remote turn on lead and main fuse holder. Expect to pay $40 for the kit and another $10 for 16 gauge speaker wire.

This brings the total to $1,520.

Sample Pickup Truck

Our second project will be a standard cab pickup truck, one of the most difficult audio environments. For this example we'll use a 2000 Chevrolet Silverado with front bucket seats. This vehicle comes equipped from the factory with an oversized head unit. There are 4x6" speakers in the rear pillars and 6.75" speakers in the front doors. Our budget for this system will be $3,000 inclusive of product and installation. The goals of the system are super clean sound and punchy bass without affecting the passenger comfort of the small interior. A CD changer and satellite radio have been specified.

Head Unit - replace the factory head unit with a direct fit Pioneer DEH-P77DH. The unit has built-in controls for XM satellite radio and a CD changer. MSRP $300

CD changer - We'll use the Pioneer CD changer, CDX-P680, a 6 disc unit which will mount under the front passenger seat. MSRP $180

Satellite radio antenna and tuner - The Pioneer XM satellite radio tuner, GEX-P910XM will be used in conjunction with a Pioneer AN-91XM low-profile satellite radio antenna. MSRP $200 and $80 respectively.

Front Speakers - replace door speakers with MB Quart Premium series PCE 216 6.5" component speakers utilizing a coaxial mounting configuration. MSRP $450

Rear Speakers - replace rear pillar speakers with MB Quart Premium series PCE 210 4" component set mounted in a custom adapter plate. MSRP $350

Subwoofer - To satisfy the cargo space requirement we will choose the JL Audio StealthBox enclosure that will fit into the stock center console. This enclosure comes with one W3v2 series 10" woofer. MSRP $500

Amplification - We'll power the system with one 5 channel amplifier from Phoenix Gold Octane-R 9.0:5, rated for 50 watts x 4 channels + 150 watts for the subwoofer channel. The front speakers will receive 2 channels of the amplifier and the rear speakers will receive the other 2 channels. The subwoofer will be powered by the 5th channel which delivers 150 watts mono. We will also take advantage of the built-in 12 and 18dB/octave crossovers, setting the front and rear speakers sections to high pass and the subwoofer section to low pass. MSRP $600

Installation accessories - We will purchase an all-in-one kit with two pairs of RCA cables, 8 gauge main power wires, remote turn on lead and main fuse holder. Expect to pay $50 for the kit and another $10 for 16 gauge speaker wire.

Installation - Head unit $35, amplifier $35, speaker installation $60, CD changer installation $40, satellite radio installation $100.

Total cost for the system is $2,990.

Sample SUV / Minivan

Our final project will be a large, open vehicle such as an SUV or Minivan. For this example we'll use a 2002 Lincoln Navigator. This vehicle comes equipped from the factory with an oversized head unit which will require a mounting kit for a DIN sized head unit. There are 6x8" speakers in both the front and rear doors. Our budget is a little more towards the high end and will be $5,000 inclusive of product and installation. The goals of the system are clean sound with an accurate but not overwhelming bottom end and the ability to play widescreen DVDs in their native 16:9 aspect ratio. Video monitors must be viewable to both the front and rear passengers. Cargo space is an issue as the owner frequently hauls large items. This is the family car so ease of use is essential.

Head Unit - replace the factory head unit with a Kenwood Excelon KVT-915DVD in-dash CD/DVD player. The unit has a built-in 7", 16:9 aspect ratio monitor which will satisfy the front viewable criteria and has built-in controls for Sirius satellite radio and a CD changer. Its all in one design will also allow control of the entire system from one central unit. MSRP $2,300

Front Speakers - disconnect door speakers and install Rockford Fosgate fanatic X 5.25" series components into Q-Logic kickpanel pods. MSRP speakers $230, pods $150

Rear Speakers - replace rear door speakers with Rockford Fosgate fanatic X 5.25" series components mounted in a custom adapter plate. MSRP $230

Subwoofer - To satisfy the cargo space requirement and for added security we will choose the JL Audio StealthBox that will fit into the stock rear side panel near the rear hatch. This enclosure comes with one W6 series 10" woofer. MSRP $500

Rear video - We'll use a single overhead video monitor installation although we could choose to use a dual head rest monitor setup. We'll use the Kenwood 7" LZH-70W unit which has a true wide screen and will give accurate playback of DVDs with the native 16:9 aspect ratio. MSRP $700

Amplification - We'll power the system with one 5 channel amplifier from Kenwood, model KAC-X650D, rated for 65 watts x 4 channels + 200 watts for the subwoofer channel. The front speakers will receive 2 channels of the amplifier and the rear speakers will receive the other 2 channels. The subwoofer will be powered the 5th channel which delivers 200 watts mono. We will also take advantage of the built-in 12 and 24dB/octave crossovers, setting the front and rear speaker section to high pass and the subwoofer section to low pass. MSRP $750

Installation accessories - We will purchase an all-in-one kit with two pairs of RCA cables, 8 gauge main power wires, remote turn on lead and main fuse holder. Expect to pay $50 for the kit and another $20 for 16 gauge speaker wire.

Installation - Head unit (with mounting kit) $50, amplifier $40, overhead monitor installation $100, speaker installation $60.

Total cost for the system is $5,180.

You'll notice that none of these systems take into consideration a security system. This is something I always recommend when installing a high dollar stereo. Expect to pay about $150-300 depending on the model of the alarm and the features desired.

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