I'm finally going to replace my factory system in the Impala SS with components I stripped from my wrecked Monte Carlo Z34 and a new head unit.
I'm considering the Nakamichi CD-45Z or the Eclipse 5442(5441). The Nak retails about $450 vs $499 for the Eclipse. And actually, last years Eclipse (5441) is moving for $329 (and I would likely be able to get it for $300 at an authorized dealer with standard warranty).
I went to a couple places, one of which was a shop that sells Naks, McIntoch, and Eclipse, so they seem to focus towards the higher end. Interestingly, they were pushing the Eclipse over the Nak (this store didn't have the Eclipse 5441 close-out sale). From the sales perspective, I can see why they would want to sell the Eclipse since it costs more and they are out of stock on the Nak's (which take awhile to order, apparently Nak is having some supply/shipment problems).
They both have 3 pairs of RCA outputs
To me, the big selling point in the Nak is the 20 bit DAC. I haven't had the opportunity to hear a 20 bit DAC in a car stereo application, but I have heard them in High-end home stereo CD players (typically a burr-brown DAC), and they really pick out subtle detail that 1-bit DACs miss. I like the clean look of the Nak, and the minimalist approach to controls. I like removable faceplates. On the downside, I've heard that Nak can skip easy on CD-Rs and on scratched CDs (more so than other HU's). Also poor radio reception. I have an AT Flowmaster Cat-back and RAISS intake; so does that plus road noise effectively mean the detail and quality the Nak lets through will get washed out anyway?
The Eclipse 5441 appears to be a bargain at $300-$329. It has 5V output and low impedance (compared to 4V on the Nak, unknown impedance). Subwoofer controls on the face. Large display, motorized face. On the down side, it is a bit more flashy than the Nak (though not as flashy as other HU's), 1 Bit DAC, and non-removable face. Supposedly, Eclipse's security feature "ESN" locks/disables the unit , but what prevents some stupid punk thief from stealing it and messing up my dash anyway? Anyone know if this is really an effective theft deterrent?
This head unit will be feeding an older Kenwood 646 4 Ch amp (RMS 25W per channel into 4 ohms). This would be the lowest quality piece of equipment in the chain. The Kenwood amp will drive 5.25 and 6X9 Eclipse Point-Source speakers. I also have powered a/d/s subwoofer. It's a ported enclosure with an 8 inch driver and an integrated 80W amp. Overall, this system is not going to be very loud, especially in the Impala. In fact I hope I will be able to hear the subwoofer (the sub and kenwood amp were first purchased for the Beretta Z26 I owned prior to the Monte…great fit for the smaller Z26).
Future upgrades will involve replacing the Kenwood amp with something of more power and better quality (along the lines of 10W per ch) to get the most out of my HU and speakers, and of course a larger subwoofer. Don't know yet if I will go with a 5 channel amp (…like a Zapco something or other the high-end guy recommended) and ditch the Kenwood, or if I will just get a new 4 channel and try to use the Kenwood for the sub drivers.
Any comments on the Nak vs. Eclipse issue? Thoughts on future upgrades or things I should do with this initial install that will help with future upgrades?