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Discussion Starter #1
I'm familiar with home audio and I've done several diy projects but I've never done anything car related. However I recently purchased a Kia Forte sedan and I'm itching for an audio overhaul. For a stock system in a cheap car it's actually not bad at all but it's still far from what I'm used to in my home systems so I've decided to start putting a system together.

I've decided to try to keep the total system (speakers, amps, wiring, deadening, but no subs at the moment) under 600-700. I'm unfamiliar with car audio brands and was very underwhelmed with the choice of speakers available that seem like they'd perform well and under 250 for a set so I'm thinking about going with a diy route using drivers from Parts Express.

My parts list for drivers for the front so far are:
-2x Dayton Audio RS180-4 for the front midbass
-2x Vifa OX20SC00-04 for tweeters (I have no experience with these but they seem like a solid performer and easy to slip in the stock locations)
-I'm still thinking about crossovers. I don't know how it's usually done in car audio but right now I'm thinking about using a prebuilt dayton crossover at 2khz, for cost and simplicity.

Rears are just going to get a modest upgrade using Dayton Audio RS150 (same speakers as fronts but 6" instead of 7") with no tweeters.

I have no experience at all with amps but I remember reading something about the MB Quart ONX4.125 a few months ago when I was originally thinking about upgrading. It seems like its a solid performer for under $170 but if there's anything better suited for around $200 let me know.

I really want to keep the stock head unit since it's so integrated in my car with steering wheel controls, bluetooth, satellite radio. I'm thinking I'd need a line out converter, and correct me if I'm wrong, to splice into the stock speaker cable to run to the amp and then from the amp to the speakers. Do I need one for the fronts and one for the rears or is there a way to use one for both?

I'm probably going to mount the amp in the trunk. I know I need a wiring kit but I need help picking something that's high quality and able to handle the power requirements. At some point down the line I'm going to install a sub or two. Should I pick up another wiring kit and wire it at the same time or am I able to install one now and splice into down the line? What should I look for in choosing a wiring kit?

What's the best product to use for deadening and how much will I need? I though about the edead from Elemental Designs but haven't really heard any review on it. I'm going to do all the doors and some of the floor in my car. I don't think I'm going to cover the whole floor unless you think it's necessary.

So far that's what I have. Feel free to critique everything, give me options, or point me to any helpful advice. Also let me know of any crucial things that I'll need that I haven't mentioned.
 

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There's so many topics here, I'll start with the first in line of the signal path. HU. You can keep the OEM HU an use an Hi-Low converter. But, some of the issues you experience now are from the HU having a specific FR, EQ, distortion. To improve this part of the system you either change the unit for an aftermarket one or you use DSP to improve the signal. The other advantage to DSP is that you also get crossovers, T/A, and is adjustable for any speaker. Look into miniDSP.
 

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The ultimate car setup involves a DSP with advanced functions such as digital crossovers, time alignment and eq on each driver etc. One interesting idea is to buy a JBL MS-8 sound processor. It comes with all these features and more (e.g surround sound support), and it can tune itself automatically. At the current sale price of under $500 dollars its a steal, because the normal price is $700-$800. It comes with an 8 channel amplifier. Spend the rest of crash on DIY drivers. Drive around powering all speakers using the internal 18watt RMS per channel amplifier. Once you become familiar with all features and have saved more money, get an amplifier. You don't have to upgrade the car stereo because it has high level inputs for factory integration. However, if you need features like USB and Bluetooth connectivity, then getting a new stereo makes sense too.

It's kind of waste to spend too much money on speakers if you're going to run them with a passive crossover.
 

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I've decided to try to keep the total system (speakers, amps, wiring, deadening, but no subs at the moment) under 600-700. I'm unfamiliar with car audio brands and was very underwhelmed with the choice of speakers available that seem like they'd perform well and under 250 for a set so I'm thinking about going with a diy route using drivers from Parts Express.

I think in the long run you can be better off with a 5-channel amplifier as opposed to a 4-channel, unless you plan on buying more amplifiers in future. Why? A 5-channel amplifier can provide a solid basis for an active front stage (if you go with active crossovers, you need at least four amp channels for the front) and there is still a 5-channel that can power a subwoofer. I personally like either fully Class D 5-channels because they're really compact and run cool. A good example for a tight budget is Alpine MRX-V60. I also like hybrid Class A/B with a class D subwoofer channel. Those are bigger but they provide somewhat more power on the sub section while still running cool. A good example is Boston Acoustics GTA-1105 and Kicker's hybrid 5-channel. Of course, if you're interested in building your system one piece at the time, it makes sense to buy a four channel for the speakers first, and a mono block subwoofer amplifier later. The install will be more complex and a little more expensive, but you will have more headroom and flexibility this way.

Right now I am building a system around MB Quart REF4.80 for the front speakers (4x80watt RMS power, highly underrated though) and MB Quart ONX1.1500D. Right now there is a good sale on the ONX1.1500D at soniceletronix and I picked up the REF4 amp for $100 before shipping from dpcauto. I was leaning first to go with a budget 5-channel Alpine, Kicker or Boston Acoustics amplifier, but then I found out that I can buy those MB Quarts for the same or lower price than MRX-V60, so why not? There is a little bit of a gamble here though because I have heard rumors that the consistency and quality of MB Quart amplifiers has gone down, but these models seem to have good feedback. For powering the front stage, I'd get the ref4.80 over onx4.125 because ref4.80 is a lot more compact. I have no place to install amplifiers with >20inches of length.
 

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The Dayton RS-180's have a break-up around 2k IIRC, & I wouldn't play those tiny Vifas below 3k.

Here's some 6.5" mids that would play up higher to match up better with those Vifas.

Tang Band W6-789E 6-1/2" Woofer 264-852

Peerless 830875 6-1/2" Nomex Cone HDS Woofer 264-1092

Aurasound NS6-255-4A 6" Paper Cone Woofer 4 ohm: Madisound Speaker Store

Silver Flute W17RC38-04 ohm 6-1/2" Wool Cone: Madisound Speaker Store


Sound deadener... take a look at Soundeadener Showdown & Raamaudio.

Amplifiers... the new Precision Power Phantom series look very interesting. Tiny class D, band-pass crossovers, & very respectable power output.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I took some of your advice. My current plans are:

-2 x Dayton Audio RS180-4 for the fronts.

(Dayton Audio RS180-4 7" Reference Woofer 4 Ohm 295-374)

-2 x Vifa BC25SC15-04 for front tweeters. These seem like they'd be a much better fit for the Daytons.

(Vifa BC25SC15-04 1" Soft Dome Tweeter 279-168)

-2 x Dayton Audio RS150-4 for rears.

(Dayton Audio RS150-4 6" Reference Woofer 4 Ohm 295-372)

-MiniDSP 2x4 for the crossovers.

(MiniDSP 2x4 RevB | miniDSP)

-Navone N-RHL4 This seems like the highest quality LOC out there.

(N-RHL4 a 4 Channel, 50 Watt per channel , Line Output Converter - $39.95 : Zen Cart!, The Art of E-commerce)

I'm going to use two amps. A MB Quart FX4.70 to power the RS150's and RS180's, and a MB Quart FX2.60 to power the tweeters.

And this is my wiring plans for everything so far.
 

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One rule of "thumb" that I have heard, and not everyone agrees it's the best rule, is that it probably doesn't matter what crossover points you use between the mid and tweeter if they are placed close to each other. In case with large drivers, like 5-8 inch, this means, they are next to each other in the kick panel. On the other hand, if you want to place your woofer and tweeter far apart from each other, which is the case in a lot of factory car setups with mid in the doors and tweeter in the dash or sail panels, it is better to choose a combination of woofer/tweeter that allows a crossover point that's as high as possible. Otherwise, the vocal range can be split between two drivers on each side, with high pitched sounds coming from tweeter and low pitched sounds coming from woofer. One good DIY driver that can be crossed as high as 4KHz, with a sharp slope, is Silver Flute wool cone driver sold by madisound. It's cheap and has good reviews.

The critics of the above approach say that, splitting the vocal range is overblown and can be corrected with time alignment between a tweeter and the corresponding woofer. On the other hand, they point out that a large woofer installed off axis in a door, will be beaming before it reaches 4-5KHz. I am using speakers using the first approach (high crossover point), and can't complain much right now. They sound good to me, but I had them for just a week in this setup.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
One rule of "thumb" that I have heard, and not everyone agrees it's the best rule, is that it probably doesn't matter what crossover points you use between the mid and tweeter if they are placed close to each other. In case with large drivers, like 5-8 inch, this means, they are next to each other in the kick panel. On the other hand, if you want to place your woofer and tweeter far apart from each other, which is the case in a lot of factory car setups with mid in the doors and tweeter in the dash or sail panels, it is better to choose a combination of woofer/tweeter that allows a crossover point that's as high as possible. Otherwise, the vocal range can be split between two drivers on each side, with high pitched sounds coming from tweeter and low pitched sounds coming from woofer. One good DIY driver that can be crossed as high as 4KHz, with a sharp slope, is Silver Flute wool cone driver sold by madisound. It's cheap and has good reviews.

The critics of the above approach say that, splitting the vocal range is overblown and can be corrected with time alignment between a tweeter and the corresponding woofer. On the other hand, they point out that a large woofer installed off axis in a door, will be beaming before it reaches 4-5KHz. I am using speakers using the first approach (high crossover point), and can't complain much right now. They sound good to me, but I had them for just a week in this setup.
Those do seem like really good speakers but would the wool cone be something I'd have to worry about in the car doors?
 

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Discussion Starter #10
No idea. Some people use in car doors them but I haven't heard any long term reviews. I assume it's ok.
From everything that I've read they seem like really good woofers so shat's what I'm probably going to use in place of the Daytons. And the best part is they save me $50.
 
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