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I'm the owner of a new 2012 Subaru Forester, and would love some advice designing a sound system upgrade. My goal is to improve the SQ, which is pretty bad.. I listen to as much Jazz as electronica, and am not aiming to win any SPL contests. I'm a bit budget constrained and will tackle the system in stages as budget allows.

Here's an overview of the current OEM system:
* Clarion based OEM head unit. No line-level output, unfortunately. There is a balanced subwoofer output, but it's mono only.
* 4 x 6.5" door speakers (front/rear). These are especially crappy OEM speakers buried down near my feet. The front doors are pretty shallow without a spacer -- 2-2.25". I think I can add up to a 1" spacer.
* 2 x sail panel mounted tweeters. They are crappy 3/4" tweeters, but having them does move the sound stage up quite a bit compared with the tweeter-less configuration in the base model. I think I can fit a 1" better tweeter in the sail pods with a little work.

Constraints:
* Equipment budget for this phase is $300.
* Amp is a Pioneer GM-D9500F. It has both line level and speaker level inputs, runs 4 x 75 RMS, and can be bridged into 2 or 3 channels.
* I want to maintain the same integrated functionality of the OEM head unit: bluetooth music streaming, rear aux in, rear USB port w/iphone support, steering wheel controls. I generally stream all music from an iPhone and haven't played a CD in years.

My initial thoughts on phase 1:
* Put 6.5" drivers in the front doors, 1" tweeters in the sail panels, and leave the rear speakers as is (probably faded down to 0).
* Keep the OEM head unit (for phase 1). Yes, this is a huge compromise. It seems like getting an equivalent unit with all the connectivity functionality and steering wheel adapters would eat up my phase 1 budget, and I just hate the sound from the current speakers.
* Run the head unit speaker level output directly to the amp.
* Soundproof the front door panels.

Phase 2 & 3:
* Replace the head unit
* Possibly put a MiniDSP inline for tuning
* Add a subwoofer in the cargo area

I have a bunch of questions:
What do you guys think about the approach for phase 1 and in general?
Any specific recommendations for the drivers and tweeters?
Thoughts on a crossover setup?
 

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I recommend you do not use the GMD9500F. I went too "small" with my first upgrade with my new vehicle and trusted the Pioneer name.
In researching in great detail why my system sounded noticeably harsh and sometimes garbled / digital in the midrange frequencies, even at low to mid volume it was tracked down to the amp. Apparently this amp exhibits the worst tendencies of class D amplifiers and why many people do not use them for other than bass frequencies. i even verified this at the dealer where I purchased the system from- the garbled sound was apparent and the kicker low end class D also showed noticeable signs of midrange / vocal / guitar garbling and distortion- it was extremely irritating and once you noticed it you couldn't let it go.
I went with the JL HD900 because it sounded noticeably cleaner and got it for a steal but i realize this is not in your budget at the moment. Maybe a lower end JL audio would work for you.
I would not run that 9500F amp if it were free, seriously.
 

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I second the advice above with the pioneer amp... I've heard it isn't really anything great.

I have a MY09 Forester XT. My Phase 1 was pretty similar to yours. I ran the stock head unit but got the signal and put it into a 4 channel Rockford Amp. It was a P400.4. It went from there to a set of components to the front and I threw a set of cheaper coax's in the rear and kept the stock under seat sub. The sound was OK. Better than stock for sure but not really SQ worthy.

There are some really good lower priced amps like Arc Audio amps (well, they're lower priced considering their performance) that could really make a system soar... I don't recommend the RF P400.4. It's output was not that clean.

Some people on the forum subaruforester.org say that all they put into their system for "Phase 1" was an amp and it greatly improved the sound quality. It makes sense to me actually. If you give any speaker better signal and better power it will sound well, better :) hehe of course it depends on a lot of things but all things considered, a good amp can improve pretty much any system. I say, given your budget constraints, get a good amp for $300 and put your install of speakers on the shelf for now. Get them when you get your New HU as well :)

Good luck! Let us know what you decide to go with...
 

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I'd agree, clean amplification with so-so speakers will make a quicker, larger improvement to your listening experience than stock HU amplification with better speakers. I have an 01 Forester, I stuck a cheap Eclipse CD1200 in it since it's parked outside all the time and I don't want to draw alot of attention. It's getting CTX65CS in the front doors, still figuring out rear doors (4"), and an IDMAX12 in 1.375' that fits under the cargo cover.

I had an 09 Forester, and I wholeheartedly agree the first thing the system needs is more power. Maybe an Arc Audio KS125.4 Mini?

http://www.diymobileaudio.com/forum/diyma-sq-forum-technical-advanced/45713-arc-audio-ks125-4-mini.html

In other words, it's hard to say you have "too much" clean amplification. I'm going with the Massive D800.4 for the doors, and if that's not enough I might bridge it and run rear fill off the HU. Find the most powerful, clean amp you can for your budget, that should soothe you for a little.
 
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