HD Radio or twice the Watts in car audio? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 15 Old 07-26-2010, 02:54 PM - Thread Starter
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Evaluating two options for a 1994 Ford F-150, standard cab:

Both units have AM/FM/CD, front AUX, and front USB:

1) Alpine CDE-100 ($100), plus a Alpine-KTP-445 with 45W/channel amp ($120)

or

2) Kenwood KDC-HD545U ($170) with 22W/channel, but it has HD Radio.

Either option would be driving a pair of door mounted Polk db651s, 6.5", speakers.

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post #2 of 15 Old 07-27-2010, 12:07 PM
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Personally, HD radio is WAY down on my list of priorities, so I'd pick the Alpine HU all else being equal.

But, I would spring for a REAL amp instead of that little add-on module. For that same price you could get 4 or 5 times the power with way less THD and feed it using the HU pre-outs instead of speaker outputs.
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post #3 of 15 Old 07-27-2010, 07:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bmaugans View Post

personally, hd radio is way down on my list of priorities, so i'd pick the alpine hu all else being equal.

But, i would spring for a real amp instead of that little add-on module. For that same price you could get 4 or 5 times the power with way less thd and feed it using the hu pre-outs instead of speaker outputs.

^^^
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post #4 of 15 Old 07-29-2010, 05:24 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BMaugans View Post

Personally, HD radio is WAY down on my list of priorities, so I'd pick the Alpine HU all else being equal.

But, I would spring for a REAL amp instead of that little add-on module. For that same price you could get 4 or 5 times the power with way less THD and feed it using the HU pre-outs instead of speaker outputs.

BMaugans,

Thanks for the advice. I was weary of finding a place to put a "physically" larger amp in a standard-cab pick-up truck.

What are the typical locations to install a "larger" amp in standard-cab pick-up?

My limited research seemed to indicate larger amps are normally placed in car trunks, etc.

XEagleDriver

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post #5 of 15 Old 07-29-2010, 11:40 AM
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I had a feeling that's why you were considering the add-on module. With a truck you've got a couple options: either under the seat or behind it. Most amp manufacturers offer at least one or two low cost options that will easily fit under the seat, but if you were to go with the behind the seat option, you can go as big as you'd like.
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post #6 of 15 Old 07-29-2010, 01:04 PM
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HD radio can be worthless in some areas of the US and a godsend in others. The sonic benefits may be hard to discern while driving but would be dead obvious while parked, especially with the engine off, with good component speakers especially, where the tweeters are mounted up high, more at ear level.
[now that would be a good decision if you ask me, but they are harder to mount. I hide my tweeters in my air vents so they are stealth, but of course there's a lot more labor needed to do that.]

You might want to consider buying the very affordable Sony XDRF1HD home tuner (which must connect it to an outboard amp or receiver, it itself can't drive speakers alone) to determine (at least at home) if the music you personally listen to in your neck of the woods would benefit from HD. In addition to state of the art reception capability, better sound quality, less noise, better separation, and wider frequency response, many stations multicast additional music so you get to receive extra stations completely unavailable to analog only units. The Sony is arguably the finest FM unit, digital or otherwise, ever made, even though it can be had for under $100. We have a thread dedicated to just it.

In A/V reproduction accuracy, there is no concept of "accounting for taste". We don't "pick" the level of bass any more than we get to pick the ending of a play. High fidelity is an unbiased, neutral, exact copy (or "reproduction") of the original source's tonal balance, timing, dynamics, etc..

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post #7 of 15 Old 07-30-2010, 06:34 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BMaugans View Post

I had a feeling that's why you were considering the add-on module. With a truck you've got a couple options: either under the seat or behind it. Most amp manufacturers offer at least one or two low cost options that will easily fit under the seat, but if you were to go with the behind the seat option, you can go as big as you'd like.

BMaugans and Zillch,

Thanks to you both for your time and assistance.

1) BMaugans, the under seat and or behind seat amp install options make a lot of sense.

2) Based on Zillch's input, I am not as interested in mobile HD radio since I have no intention of sitting in a parked, engine off, car in SC (temps today >101F) to discern the sonic advantages.
I may get the in-home XDR F1HD tuner, to see what Columbia SC has to offer in HD signals. At least I can use it in an A/C'd room with a cold beer!

If the HU comes with HD radio, great, but it will be below other features (i.e. front AUX and USB input, adequate pre-amp outs, solid CD performance, easy to use face plate buttons, some EQ ability, etc.).

Thanks again,
XEagleDriver

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post #8 of 15 Old 07-30-2010, 10:29 AM - Thread Starter
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Ordered a simple car audio system to upgrade the truck, am looking forward to installing!
1) A JVC KD-HDR20 head-unit, which at only $99 even has HD radio!
2) A pair of Polk db 651s, 6.5" speakers for the doors.
3) A set of Dynamat Xtreme less-resonant baffle material (only $5 with the speaker purchase, so what the heck).

I will report back in a couple weeks with the results of the new HU and HD radio.

After installation, assuming I like these improvements, the next phase will be getting an inexpensive amp for about $100 or so. Such as:

JVC KS-AX4302 (2-channel, 100W RMS) or

Kenwood KAC-7204 (2-channel, 170W RMS)

Last car amp I bought was in college (many moons ago), so advice or recommendations are welcome.

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post #9 of 15 Old 07-30-2010, 07:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by XEagleDriver View Post

Ordered a simple car audio system to upgrade the truck, am looking forward to installing!
1) A JVC KD-HDR20 head-unit, which at only $99 even has HD radio!
2) A pair of Polk db 651s, 6.5" speakers for the doors.
3) A set of Dynamat Xtreme less-resonant baffle material (only $5 with the speaker purchase, so what the heck).

I will report back in a couple weeks with the results of the new HU and HD radio.

After installation, assuming I like these improvements, the next phase will be getting an inexpensive amp for about $100 or so. Such as:

JVC KS-AX4302 (2-channel, 100W RMS) or

Kenwood KAC-7204 (2-channel, 170W RMS)

Last car amp I bought was in college (many moons ago), so advice or recommendations are welcome.

Cheers,
XEagleDriver

Both amps can drive those speakers easily. Might I suggest getting a 4 channel amp. Reason is it will allow you to more easily add a sub woofer which in my experience adds the most to a vehicle system. That solid foundation that door speakers just are not going to cover or give. The 4 channel shouldn't be that much more physically larger than a 2 channel.

Both Kenwood and JVC make such amps. Also look at Clarion, Rockford Fosgate, Eclipse (Fujitsu Ten the parent company has gone to just OEM) etc... Really depending on budget you could find just about anything.

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post #10 of 15 Old 07-30-2010, 08:58 PM
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+1 on sub. Four channel add flexibility, true, but getting one for the same price means a big cut in power. 4 ch amps that are 100w x 4 or 170w x 4 (good luck) on the other hand are really big bucks and huge in size (no under seat option probably)

Look for closeout amps of the previous year or two. They are just as good and trust me there have been no "advances" for years. I've bought both Rockfordfosgate and Alpine amps for 50% off simply because they were last years units but obviously just as good and under full warranty.

In A/V reproduction accuracy, there is no concept of "accounting for taste". We don't "pick" the level of bass any more than we get to pick the ending of a play. High fidelity is an unbiased, neutral, exact copy (or "reproduction") of the original source's tonal balance, timing, dynamics, etc..

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post #11 of 15 Old 08-01-2010, 10:40 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by m. zillch View Post

+1 on sub. Four channel add flexibility, true, but getting one for the same price means a big cut in power. 4 ch amps that are 100w x 4 or 170w x 4 (good luck) on the other hand are really big bucks and huge in size (no under seat option probably)

Look for closeout amps of the previous year or two. They are just as good and trust me there have been no "advances" for years. I've bought both Rockfordfosgate and Alpine amps for 50% off simply because they were last years units but obviously just as good and under full warranty.

m.Zillch & cubdenno,

Thanks again for all the help!

I like the closeout amp idea a lot, I am not a "newest/greatest" audio consumer, I look for max value and reasonable cost with better than average sound.

A bit confused though? Where in the world would a sub go in a standard cab truck?
Don't they require a fairly large enclosure or trunk space??

XEagleDriver

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post #12 of 15 Old 08-01-2010, 01:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by XEagleDriver View Post

A bit confused though? Where in the world would a sub go in a standard cab truck?
Don't they require a fairly large enclosure or trunk space??

Unfortunately you are correct. There are some companies that make under seat subs but I don't know how effective they are. Many smaller subs are nothing more than secondary woofers, as opposed to a real sub woofer which can do octaves below what those 6.5 inch polks can do. Of course the makers of such designs wont be 100% upfront about that!

here are some pictures


You might want to ask in some truck forums what others do and what they recommend.

In A/V reproduction accuracy, there is no concept of "accounting for taste". We don't "pick" the level of bass any more than we get to pick the ending of a play. High fidelity is an unbiased, neutral, exact copy (or "reproduction") of the original source's tonal balance, timing, dynamics, etc..

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post #13 of 15 Old 08-01-2010, 03:16 PM
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Well, it depends on the model of truck. My brother has a standard cab chevy silverado. We put a 10 behind the passenger seat. Seat is up two clicks from being all the way back. Same enclosure fits perfectly in my friends Dodge Ram. Seat goes all the way back. A small enclosure for an 8 will fit. .75 cu. ft with a port.

I am not a fan of those small underseat subs. Just seems to me that performance-wise they are a waste of money

The Tangband 6 1/2 " sub has some very good results. Small enclosure with good output to 35-40 hertz.

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post #14 of 15 Old 08-04-2010, 08:31 PM - Thread Starter
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The JVC head unit and Polk speakers arrived today. I fly to CA on Sunday to receive the truck, then drive x-country back to SC, and will install once I get home.

It will be a long drive with just AM/FM (don't own any cassettes anymore!). I am tempted to at least take the HU with me and install in CA before driving out, but that is probably asking for more frustration than it is worth.

Besides, it will be good for my 20 year old son to see how x-country travel was possible in the stone-age days prior to iPods!!

Cheers,
XEagleDriver

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post #15 of 15 Old 08-14-2010, 11:03 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by XEagleDriver View Post

Ordered a simple car audio system to upgrade the truck, am looking forward to installing and just finished installing!
1) A JVC KD-HDR20 head-unit, which at only $99 even has HD radio!
2) A pair of Polk db 651s, 6.5" speakers for the doors.
3) A set of Dynamat Xtreme less-resonant baffle material (only $5 with the speaker purchase, so what the heck).

I will report back in a couple weeks with the results of the new HU and HD radio.

Here are my initial impressions on the above equipment:

Overall, I am very pleased with this inexpensive set-up, it really delivered the goods in improving the sound in my truck.

1) The installation of the HDR20 and db651s went very smoothly. The Crutchfield supplied instructions and adaptors did the trick (kudo's to them).

2) The Dynamat product was also easy to use. I did not do any kind of comparison with/without it, since I did not want to install the speakers twice. FWIW, the Dynamat did seem to acoustically deaden the door in the area applied (subjective opinion). At the $5 price I would definitely use it again, at the MSRP maybe/maybe not.

3) I first installed the HDR20 and tested it with the OEM speakers and noticed cleaner highs/mids. Speakers would distort at higher volumes.

4) Then replaced the OEM speakers and the sound improved even more, and was capable of higher SPL (subjective, not measured).

PROS:
- The JVC user interface was easy to adapt to, is well thought out and logical. Setting radio presets is not a "while driving" friendly endeavor, best left to doing during red lights and in parking lots.

- The HD Radio stations in my area were exceptional in town, but faded when I drove ~25 mi outisde of town (before you lose standard FM reception). However, the radio automatically reverts to the concurrent standard FM station.

The available HD stations in Columbia SC were all noticably better than standard FM and are:

MUSC, 90.5, an eclectic university station
WLTY, 96.7, classic rock
WCOS, 97.5, country
WOMG, 98.5, oldies
WNOK, 104.7, pop
WEKL, 105.7, Top 40 (a 100kW station from Augusta GA)

- Ability to disable AM radio (doesn't even scroll thru as a source)!

- Easy MUTE (-20db attenuation) with a momentary push of POWER button. To turn the unit OFF, you push and hold the POWER button. This is a nice way to skip commercials, but you can still hear well enough to know when music is back.

CONS: (both very minor)
- The "Aux In" (Sansa Fuze mp3 at full volume) was noticabley lower in volume than CD or FM, which were reasonably well matched. I mitigated this by selecting setting the AUDIO/VOL ADJUST menu for the AUX IN source to +6db. This may be an Sansa/mp3 issue and not a HDR20 issue.

- Having the DEMO as the first item under MENU is a little bit annoying, since you turn it off to work the HU normally, but see it every time you select MENU (should have been the last item IMO).

Hope this info helps someone else down the road.

XEagleDriver

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