he's right...$500 isn't going get you decent equipment all around
damn expensive hobby heheh
if i were you...i would start by replacing the stock head unit (cd player/radio), this will improve your sound alot as well as allow you to run low-level (RCA) signal wires to the amps you will purchase. low level signals have a higher voltage than speaker level outputs and thus reduce noise interference.
If you're absolutely stuck on keeping the stock HU you can buy an LOC (Line-out converter) which you tap into the front right and left (or rear) channels coming off the stock HU and converts to RCA outputs.
then i would add a 4-channel amp (or a 2 channel if you're not afraid to lose either balance or fade...run the amp at 2 ohm stereo so you'll get same power as a 4 channel amp at 4 ohms stereo) to run the factory speakers off of. If you're going to do the install one tip:
run the speaker wires off the amp to the rear deck speakers directly. For the front speakers...run the speaker wire to the front of the car, under the carpet/dash, and come out where the cd player is. Cut the speaker wires off behind the plug (leave enough room in case you want to connect them again later) and splice into them with the wire from the amp. Be sure to cap off the wires coming off the plug so they don't short out.
A good 50W X 4 amp will prob run you about $300, plus wire and labor if you're paying to have it done. We charge $60 to install a 4-channel amp at our shop ($80 if we didn't sell it to you), wiring kit w/fuse holder will run you about another $35 and another $10 or so for the RCA's.
so...about $400 for the amp + install. Now, since $500 is your budget buying and installing the LOC i mentioned earlier may be your best first step. The LOC is about $25, (we use PAC at the shop...Peripheral is a brand we don't like)...and like anything, you get what you pay for so don't expect to pay $10 for a good LOC or something [img]smile.gif[/img]
now...with the amp yuo'll have frequency crossovers so you can send different range of freq's to each pair of speakers. The rear speakers can handle more bass than the front so you can let them play a bit lower than the fronts. cross the fronts over a lil higher so they can be turned up without bottoming out on the bass notes.
then, as your next step i would say get a good deck, make sure it has 4v RMS
RCA outputs...some decks have 2V or less and can be susceptible to noise induction in the signal wires. Also...no HU is going to give you 50W X 4, even if it says so on the front (even by a reputable manufacturer) they are LYING! to an extent that is...it can do that power for half a second, just short bursts to add dynamics to the music. RMS (continuous) power output on most decks is around 15-17W per channel. but if you're using an external amp you can disregard the power #'s [img]smile.gif[/img]
stick with mid-series, name-brand HU's and you'll be fine. I personally run Clarion HU's, pioneer's are good, JVC's seem to have reliability issues (as do sony's), alpine's are nice, the newer Kenwood decks i've seen looked good to (personally don't like em tho), Blaupunkts have great sound but i don't like how they look or feel. Anyway, expect to pay around $250+ for a decent HU.
then, after you get the cd player i'd look into adding another amp and a sub. Due to the size and solidity of the caprices, i'd recommend at least a single 12 with a good 300W+. Sealed box is fine if you're worried about trunk space...if you can give up about 2 cubic feet (1 cube for a sealed, roughly) you can port it and get more low bass extension and output. the price range here can vary ALOT...
or, instead of the HU or sub, you could get new speakers installed in the front and back. A decent set of 2-way coaxials (meaning the tweeter is on a "bridge" and sits in the middle of the cone...helps with imaging and phasing) will run about $110 or so. Best thing to do is to go to a local shop and listen to some speakers they have...buy whichever you set you like since you're the one who has to listen to it daily [img]smile.gif[/img]
also, if you buy from a local shop you'll get OTC warranties alot of times as well as longer warranty periods if they install it. The Memphis Power Reference speakers we carry at the shop have a lifetime warranty if we install em...1 year if we don't (i think, might be 2). The Planet Audio amps have a 5 year warranty if we install, 2 if we don't. And so on...
anyway, feel free to IM or email me if you need any extra help [img]smile.gif[/img] Should have some free time after tuesday finally...get back to helping people with systems again lol. I am a rep for one audio company and i have plenty of references if you'd like to talk to other people i have helped design/build boxes and systems for [img]smile.gif[/img]