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Car audio - want to replace with Sony, Kenwood, or ??

2156 Views 20 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  seapahn
I would like to replace the factory radio with something that I can hook up my iPhone and/or XM tuner to and was wondering if anybody has suggestions? I noticed Quadratec has some wiring harness adapters for Sony (and maybe some other brands) available. There are hundreds of choices out there and it is a little overwhelming. Don't want to spend more than ~$150 or so.

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$150 is going to be tight. I picked up a Sony deck for about $150, a wiring harness for $10 and a bezel for $4 all from best buy.

This one would serve you well

There are some Sony nay-sayers out there. I've been running their HU's for 10 years now and have had zero issues. I really like them.
I got the DEH-P6200 BT from pioneer at Cructhfield. This is a little over the 150 I think. Very good radio and I also wanted the bluetooth. The bluetooth works great with my iPhone. It pairs up automatically every time and the sound quality is great with the top on. It has a small microphone that you can mount just about anywhere. It has drawbacks of course. Very small control buttons that are impossible to read. I have learned to use it well by braille! It also has a USB port in front so you can charge your iPhone or iPod and also operate the same through the radio controls. Cructhfield includes all you need for install and the directions for install are good. I'd buy the same again. I do like the Vault case Quadratec sells. It is not bulletproof, but it looks like a deterrent.
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Thanks Ian and Bob for the recommendations! Pioneer was a primero brand many years ago (and may still be top-shelf) and I always thought highly of their products. I have been a Sony fan for a long time (sometimes when it wasn't warranted) and I was closely looking at their car audio products. Some of the reviews on Amazon complained about the display being difficult to see in bright sunlight, but maybe this was addressed in the Explod line.

The nearest Best Buy is an hour's drive away (probably a good thing :cheesy: ), so it's a little tough to shop in person. I'll take a closer look at the Pioneer line.
I think my Pioneer from Crutchfield was about $220.00 delivered. I bought the install kit with it along with some cool connectors for the wiring. Even though a wire harness comes with it you still need to splice some wires.
Not sure if you have HD in your area but I just picked up one of these and it's a very nice unit. With free shipping, wiring harness and trim plate, it's a great deal.

Or this one

Or if you want a more traditional style with station buttons, this one would work as well.

This one has free speakers as well

And Alpine is always a safe bet

Personally I stay away from Sony car audio as they are very hit or miss. And Crutchfield is great as they include basically everything you need to install for free. And if there are issues or you are not happy they pay shipping both ways and will exchange or return anything. Highly recommend.
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I don't know if it is the same today, but Sony and Alpine internals used to be made side by side. A Ford/Mercury type relationship.

Alpine makes a good HU, but their controls are impossible. Whoever thought them up should be shot...slowly.

Another company that makes a great HU is DUAL. They are cheap and very functional.
Wow - good selection of candidates Tigger, now I'm in more of a quandry! The one with the included speakers won't work - the speakers won't fit. You all did know I was kidding with my $150 limit :wink: - the more I look the more I think about 'supersizing.'

Pioneer is looking pretty good to me and I like the sat-ready models, I can buy a 95 buck XM adapter and not worry about where to place my old XM Roady and antenna (as in moving it from vehicle to vehicle.)

Nope - no HD radio in our area - like the Best Buy store, the closest station is an hour's drive away.

I'm also wondering about spending 300 bucks or so on a new head and XM tuner when the factory radio is very hard to hear due to wind and road noise at highway speeds. I keep thinking that a nice system with XM/iPod would be extremely enjoyable while doing trails though.

I did order a wiring harness adapter to cobble on to whatever radio I purchase.
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Actually a lot of us had 6.5" speakers in the pods. Just takes a very slight amount of adapting.
Upgrading the head unit won't make a huge difference if you don't replace the speakers as well. They are a weaker part of the system than the stock head unit is.

If you order from Crutchfield they include the wiring harness for free.
Tigger said:
Upgrading the head unit won't make a huge difference if you don't replace the speakers as well. They are a weaker part of the system than the stock head unit is.
Wow, I kept the stock speakers and noticed a huge improvement in sound quality. I don't know if it's the loudness modes or the power or what, but it sure sounds good. Of course I did not have a huge complaint with the sound of the old stereo. On the new one I can really feel the bass blasting my right hip. Wasn't like that before. I even moved my .45 more to my backside as I am afraid my Meatloaf Bat out of hell may make it go off.
Crutchfield has an amazingly functional web site - I continue to be impressed with its well thought design, they are not however very price competitive on lots of items. It is easy one-stop shopping and if they were close in price to Amazon, I would not hesitate to use them.

I'll try the stock speakers first. I'm not a rabid audiophile, so the factory speakers might be okay.
No matter what head unit you get or where you get it from, it will sound so much better than what's in there now. Plus you will have iPhone connections and XM/Sirius. Can't beat that.
I've always had Alpine in all my cars...The only thing is you control your iPod/iPhone through the H/U. Not a bad thing but make sure you get the CDA-9886 or higher! It comes with a better display for scrolling & searching through the menus
I have always been happy with Alpine. Only complaint I have is the ipod scroll on the HU itself, kind of slow and not user friendly (easier to just disconnect the ipod, my unit is older). Alpine units have lots of extra goodies and put out amazing sound if you ever decide to upgrade w/more power.

If you have a cool grand... ... player.asp

More realistic... (Keep in mind those prices are MSRP on Alpine's site) ... head-units
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Okay - got 'er ordered!

We had an Alpine on the boat and it was a great performer for years in a very harsh marine (saltwater) environment. Always liked that unit.

Okay - more money spent stimulating the economy (and the family CFO in a negative fashion). I was going bonkers trying to choose a head - so many good choices! Finally decided on a Pioneer DEH-P4200UB which was within my budget (that's a first) and it will do everything I need it to do. It doesn't have Bluetooth, but that's okay - My Garmin Nuvi has it (and I really don't care for Bluetooth for the phone - rather hold it up to my ear.)

I also ordered the XM head for the Pioneer and to my surprise there is a $30 rebate off the $99 price (and I get three months free XM - yea and yipee.)

I was reading a thread about the powered subwoofer on Jeep Forum and I discovered that A) I do have that option, and B) mine sounds like crap so I'm going to order a Bazooka WF621 dual coil woofer that will fit the console with some Dremeling. Going to keep the UPS guy busy this month :)
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Whatever you buy, once you go Crutchfield, you'll never go back (to Best Buy or whoever)...
Crutchfield had the same price as Amazon for the head, plus you get all of the other goodies. Ordered from Crutchfield Sunday, Shipped Monday, due here Friday. I'm very impressed. :D

Broke down and ordered a couple of 5.25" Polks (and adapter) for the front speakers. Later I'll probably do 6.5" for the roll bar.
Yea! Just finished the Pioneer and XM tuner install!! It went great and I was very glad I went with Crutchfield - they included a required Chrysler antenna adapter which I was totally clueless about. I think they have made a friend for life.

The Pioneer head seems intuitive to operate and while fairly feature-rich, it isn't that complicated to run. The faceplate easily snaps out and in (I found out what that button operated!) My iPod (iPhone) worked well and can be controlled from the faceplate or the remote.

Very pleased with my purchase.
Got the fronts replaced

The new 5.25" Polk speakers for the fronts arrived today and I got right to work. Changed out one speaker and did not move over the factory high-pass filter (bass blocker) to the new Polk and tried the sound alternating between the factory radio and the new Polk. I was amazed to not hear a huge difference between the two - I thought the factory speaker assembly sounded pretty darn good and the Polk was way too bassy.

Then I thought it would be better to move over the bass blocker to the Polk since I wanted it primarily for mid-range to highs. Installed the filter and tried another test (and did a little tweaking on the Pioneer head) and while not a humongous difference between the old and new, the new Polk did sound noticeably 'richer' - it is difficult to quantify the difference. The factory speaker sounded rather flat compared to the Polk. I thought the front speakers were 4x6 ovals, but my Rubi must have an upgraded sound system.

Installed the other Polk speaker and made another test and there is a definite discernible difference between the old and new speakers. Having said that, the factory front speakers are pretty darn good considering their size, I think the air-tight enclosure is an immense help for the sound of the little guys. The Polk would undoubtedly sound much better with a similar enclosure.

This was another incremental improvement in the sound system. Too bad I don't have a magic switch to compare the original audio system (with the bad sub-woofer) to the new head, new Bazooka sub, and new Polks for the front speakers.

(Sorry about the picture quality - they are with my iPhone, I was too lazy to grab the Nikon)


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I also did a stereo upgrade all Alpine System. I did not notice a big difference in my speakers until I added the Alpine plug and play amp. all I can say is wow what a huge difference it really woke up my new speakers. Some after market speakers need more power to really enjoy the benefits. Also you may think about adding some type of packing material behind your front speakers.
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