Decent system under $500, is it possible? - Chevy Impala SS Forum
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-04-2003, 03:54 PM
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I have very little experience with car audio.....and since i'm on a budget I would like to see if its possible to get 4 speakers, amp, and 2 subs for under $500 total and sound decent?

I already have Pioneer cd player head unit which I plan to keep. What stuff is recommended?
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-04-2003, 05:10 PM
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No, it wouldn't.

You can get 4 GOOD speakers and a GOOD 4 channel amp for around $500 though, then save up for another amp and a pair of subs for later.

Getting ALL that for $500 you'd either be getting junk or stolen goods.

My personal suggestions BTW for $500 would be:

Alpine MRV-F340 amp (4x55, though mine rated at 4x60 in testing)- $239.99

Alpine SPR-694A 6x9s- $119.00

Alpine SPR-176A 6.5" components- $149.99

Ok, technically that's $509, but it'll sound fantastic.

All prices above from

Then later you can get yourself a good sub setup.
post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-04-2003, 06:14 PM
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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 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 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. 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 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 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]

good luck!
post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-05-2003, 08:38 PM
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I can help out with the watts! I have a BUNCH of bazooka el1500 monoblock amps, el2150 2channel amps, and el2100 amps, that work well. The el1500 RMS 500watts into a two ohm load. I will warrenty 'em also! Super cheap. They wont hold up to spl meets, but for a daily driver they can do ear damage.

Go to for details.

I realize this is not the wanted/sale section, but lowpro might not cruise that section.
post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-06-2003, 01:52 PM
91 Buick Roadslayer wagon
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It sounds like you won't be doing any of the install,so keep in mind that you'll probably be paying a shop somewhere around 100-150$ or more ,so in reality you're going to have less money for the components. Use your Pioneer head and get yourself a decent four channel amp and four decent 2 way coaxials,separates will cost more,and they cost more to install.Put your sub amp and subs on the backburner till you can save more $$,be sure and have the shop install an extra set of RCA cables,that is if your HU has four RCA outs, you should able to tap into the other amps power cable and remote wire, so when you do get your sub amp and subs the wires are already there waiting,if your HU has two RCA outs, forget the extra RCA's and use Y adapters to jump the signal to your sub amp. It's a bitch having to pull all of the interior stuff up again to properly run these a second time. Good luck!
post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-06-2003, 02:27 PM
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<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>originally posted by Knightshade:
Getting ALL that for $500 you'd either be getting junk or stolen goods.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

I'd say this is true 95% of the time.
By pure luck you can stumble across deals at swap meets (most stuff is junk, but you can get some quality old school amps for CHEAP) or local ads in the newspaper. In high school I got a two month old pair of Kicker 12" Comps in a box from a friend (paid $500) for $200 because he didn't plan for car insurance bills.
Keep an eye on local want-ads for stuff for sale. Sometimes people buy stuff without planning for future bills, and have to sell their audio stuff quick because they're in a pinch. SOmetimes its hard to tell if the stuff is hot, though.

Circuit city has stuff that once used to be display models that goes for good prices. (Best way to get speakers) You can often get a warranty with these items for $20-30, which means you can take the speakers home and hook them up, crank the volume and blow them, return them to Circuit city where they'll be replaced under warranty. Bingo, brand new speakers.

Knightshade and ELemental have given good advice you should follow, but I want to add that if you install yourself you could pull of a decent system if you look hard enough for quality used stuff for $500. But there is a 95% chance you could find junk or hot goods if you don't have a lot of experience with this stuff.
post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-07-2003, 11:23 PM
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You can get the best deals on ebay. Here's a decent setup for a bit over:
2 Kicker comp vr 12s $200 shipped
2 sets Infinity kappa 2 ways $172 shipped
Kicker 300.4 amp, front 2 ch running 2 ohms to the mids/highs, rear channels bridged @ 4ohms for the subs. $185 shipped

This adds up to $557, and you'll also need some wiring, which will run you about $100 more. This setup will sound pretty nice and not leave you too broke.
post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-09-2003, 12:02 AM
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someone from this forum emailed me today (won't say who cuz i didn't ask em if i wasn't a bad email or anything like that) asking why i suggested PAC over Peripheral.

I said that the reason i said that was not so much my personal opinion but rather the "head" installer at our shop. he's been installing for over 15 years and does all kinds of custom work...everything from fiberglass work to plexiglass to vinyl-wrapping and so on.

he has alot of experience and he personally dislikes Peripheral. I do not know his reasoning but when he comes back to work (off this week) i will ask him why and post the reasons here.

Sorry for any misunderstanding...but i've come to trust his opinion on alot of equipment, especially those that i have little experience with.
post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-09-2003, 03:21 PM
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thanks for all the advice, i'm more convinced towards getting a 4 speakers with 4channel amp setup, but i'm still looking at all options. I'm just wondering if that set up is enough to shake? I want the car to be able to shake a bit, I heard 200-300 watts is needed.
post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-09-2003, 07:14 PM
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if you want the car to shake...forget replacing the stock speakers and buy a good 300W amp or so (bigger is better, especially with such a large vehicle and a large trunk combined with thick foam seats and solid rear decks). Put the sub you get in a ported box and let 'er rip [img]smile.gif[/img]

don't buy a cheap, overrated amp either or you'll have to buy an amp twice. Some amp manufacturers like to put inflated power ratings on the front of their amps. Rockford Fosgate is the newest addition to this garbage form of just cuz it's mainstream doesn't mean it's really making the power. Those advertisements are for PEAK power which it can only deliver for less than a second, a short burst to make the music more dynamic, and in some cases the amp won't even make that at peak output.

look for an amp's RMS (root mean squared) power rating...this is it's continuous power output. Be sure and check at what voltage it does it at too...if it's 12.6V you're fine, even ~13V is ok. But many times if they're rated at 14.4V or higher they'll never see that voltage and actual output will be reduced

brands to avoid:
Power Acoustik
Profile (profile and jensen are decent entry level amps, but they're rated power is a lil inflated, nowhere near as bad as pyramid and others tho)
and pretty much any amp you can buy in Best Buy/Circuit City/Sears/Walmart that advertises peak power right on the top of the amp. The RF amps i mentioned are available at Walmart...avoid them. Stick with the Punch or Power series [img]smile.gif[/img]

decent brands:
RF (exception is above)
Alpine (rarely see em used on subs myself...)
Memphis Audio
Planet Audio
Lanzar (the OPTIdrive series)
most Pioneers and Kenwoods (unless it boasts some huge power rating on the front)

if you're unsure...remember, you get what you pay for.
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