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Discussion Starter #1
Here's what I'm considering.
Headunit: Kenwood KDC-BT838U
Front Speakers: JL TR400-CXI (4inch)
Rear Speakers: JL TR525-CXI (5.25 inch)

Granted I could increase the sizes of the speakers one step up. I'm not sure what this will really achieve.:shrug: Would the larger sizes provide a little more bass? (not the fish)

The Headunit has 22Watts RMS. its pretty simple in appearance, but has built in Bluetooth and Ipod control. looks like a pretty decent little radio. I rarely use anything other than my ipod for music...so the Blaukpunkt needs to go. Bluetooth sounds like it might be useful...

Does this sound like a pretty good setup? I listen to rock of all ages, and some hard rock, and/or Metal. Its been years since I've done aftermarket stereo work in one of my cars, so I'm looking for advice. But at this point the option of an Amp is out.
 

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I kept the stock head unit and installed some JL speakers in stock sizes. The change was minor. Then I installed a Stealthbox subwoofer with a small Blaupunkt amp (other speakers are still driven by the head unit) and that made a HUGE difference. Far and away, a subwoofer is your best bang for the buck. Much better to spend money on a sub than a new head unit.

I know you say the option of an amp is out, but consider using one like I am in my system - an inexpensive bridged two channel amp driving the sub, with stock head unit driving the other speakers.
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Well I'm not a huge fan of the JL stealthbox...taking away usable space with a speaker goes against something in my blood. My wife is only 5'4" so that's not a problem for her, but my friends are closer to 6ft...and I don't want one of their massive feet going through a woofer. or even denting the grill up.

stealthbox is 500 bucks, where this headunit can be had for 200.00 and the stealthbox won't help me use my ipod, or bluetooth. :D

I figure if I change the HU and speakers and it still doesn't satisfy, then I can always add a sub, but I've never had an aftermarket sub in my cars, and don't feel the need for them. I guess I'd rather have the space than the boom.:shrug:


I guess the questions I have are
1 - is this a good deck?
2 - are these speakers a good option? are there others that might be better for same $? (like infinity Ref. series?)
3 - What is gained by increasing size of fronts to 5.25 and rears to 6.5?
 

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A head unit at 22w RMS is like a good quality 15w RMS amp. You will not get the true power out of a head unit. The stock speakers should be able to handle 30w rms. If you don't want to get a subwoofer then you need new speakers because the stock ones will not produce any good bass.

With some small modifications you can fit 5.25" in the dash and 6" in the rear, that will be your best bet for some low end. The next thing on your list should be the head unit. If you get a powered one it will do O.K. but you should really re-consider an external amp. It will make a world of difference. especially since you will not be getting a sub.

I started with a new head unit and speakers, then got the amp and then I got the JL Stealth box. The car absolutely rocks now. I didn't even bolt the sub in, just a few extra pieces of carpet, some velcro, and some quick disconnects on the speaker terminals and I can take the Stealthbox out in about a minute.
 

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Discussion Starter #6

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mrcarcrazy, thanks. I think you can get big performance gains out of the OEM stereo by just improving the speakers and bass response. That would also keep costs very reasonable.

Personally, I'd start by installing your selected speakers and see where you end up. If you want more, I'd go with either a compact powered sub or an amp. Why? Per my experience, the biggest issue with the factory system is bass response. That requires better speakers (and perhaps a dedicated sub if you stay with stock sized speakers) and more power (hence my choice of a sub unit with an integrated amplifier).

I did not swap out the OEM head unit (Blaupunkt Acapulco). The speaker upgrades, powered sub, and just dialing in the head unit resulted in a really nice sounding system...for my needs....and it was accomplished at a very reasonable cost.

The Elise / Exige has a terrible acoustic environment (the inside of a 55 gallon drum comes to mind), and throwing components and money at it will not change that.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Right on, The only reason I'm even considering a new HU is the lack of a decent ipod controller from Blaukpunkt (I see many negative reviews for the one you can buy from Crutchfield, and I've been told a few times that you can't control the ipod from the stereo...which is retarded), Then there's the issue of people (namely my wife) keep calling me while I'm driving, then these "people" get all cranky that I didn't answer the phone... My Bluetooth headset hurts my ear if I leave it on while driving, and its battery dies at the most inopportune times....SO I thought maybe a bluetooth headunit would fix all these issues (while not costing that much more than a new better bluetooth headset, which I feel like a complete goober wearing).

and that's my life story as to why I want a new headunit.

I'm having hell deciding on speakers, I was set on the JL's. but I'm now looking at the sensitivity, and thinking maybe I should go with a higher sensitivity speaker like Infinity ref series or the Polks that everyone here loves. but I just dunno...not sure what makes a good speaker a good speaker...

I'm by no means looking for a high end sounding stereo, I just want one that doesn't plain suck. (I feel the current system can't handle highs, mids, or lows. its just horrid and sounds "muddy" for lack of a better term.)




mrcarcrazy, thanks. I think you can get big performance gains out of the OEM stereo by just improving the speakers and bass response. That would also keep costs very reasonable.

Personally, I'd start by installing your selected speakers and see where you end up. If you want more, I'd go with either a compact powered sub or an amp. Why? Per my experience, the biggest issue with the factory system is bass response. That requires better speakers (and perhaps a dedicated sub if you stay with stock sized speakers) and more power (hence my choice of a sub unit with an integrated amplifier).

I did not swap out the OEM head unit (Blaupunkt Acapulco). The speaker upgrades, powered sub, and just dialing in the head unit resulted in a really nice sounding system...for my needs....and it was accomplished at a very reasonable cost.

The Elise / Exige has a terrible acoustic environment (the inside of a 55 gallon drum comes to mind), and throwing components and money at it will not change that.
 

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I added the Blaupunkt iPod controller. I can control the iPod through the stereo, but the menu is cumbersome to navigate and slow....so I understand why people complain. It is no biggie to me, because I use it infrequently. Got it for my wife to listen to the iPod when we take the Lotus on roadtrips.

If you are a big iPod user, then a new HU makes good sense as well as getting Bluetooth connectivity as part of the package.

Speakers can be evaluated to some degree based on the published specs, but ultimately what matters is how they sound to you. You may want to check with other Lotus owner in your area that have speaker upgrades or go to a car sound shop to listen and compare.

Crutchfield's site provides good tutorials on understanding speaker specs.
 

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...i just put db501s in front this afternoon, everything else still stock, and i'm honestly dumbfounded at the difference from the craptacular blaupunkt four-inch speakers - the polks are a dramatic improvement in sensitivity, frequency response, and distortion, all three...i'm very eager to hear the end result once i've replaced the rears and headunit as well as added a subwoofer, amplifier, and tuned everything into a proper four-way system, because if each step makes this big an improvement, i expect it will sound outstanding in the end...

...i originally ordered db501 two-way speakers to use as front tweeters and midrange drivers with db6501 components for the rear woofers (intending not to use the component tweeters and and crossovers), but i'm so delighted by how well the db501s match my storm titanium elise mounted under the original blaupunkt trim rings that i've decided to order a set of db5251s for the back woofers instead, to use the same installation treatment without modifying the stock rear panel...

...chuck risen's presently finishing up my db840 subwoofer enclosure which, along with a becker grand prix head unit and genesis profile amplifiers, i think should integrate nicely with the stock interior after everything's installed...
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
Speakers can be evaluated to some degree based on the published specs, but ultimately what matters is how they sound to you. You may want to check with other Lotus owner in your area that have speaker upgrades or go to a car sound shop to listen and compare.

Crutchfield's site provides good tutorials on understanding speaker specs.
LOL, there are 2 of us w/in 2 hrs of me....we live 5 mins apart from each other....but yeah I had to drive 1000 miles to get my Elise and get it home. I live in a place that closely resembles hell....our "stereo shops" are so crappy its insane. they don't have much wired up, and expect you to just trust their "professional opinions"...which I can't do.

I've read through the Crutchfield info a cpl times.

...i just put db501s in front this afternoon, everything else still stock, and i'm honestly dumbfounded at the difference from the craptacular blaupunkt four-inch speakers - the polks are a dramatic improvement in sensitivity, frequency response, and distortion, all three...i'm very eager to hear the end result once i've replaced the rears and headunit as well as added a subwoofer, amplifier, and tuned everything into a proper four-way system, because if each step makes this big an improvement, i expect it will sound outstanding in the end...

...i originally ordered db501 two-way speakers to use as front tweeters and midrange drivers with db6501 components for the rear woofers (intending not to use the component tweeters and and crossovers), but i'm so delighted by how well the db501s match my storm titanium elise mounted under the original blaupunkt trim rings that i've decided to order a set of db5251s for the back woofers instead, to use the same installation treatment without modifying the stock rear panel...

...chuck risen's presently finishing up my db840 subwoofer enclosure which, along with a becker grand prix head unit and genesis profile amplifiers, i think should integrate nicely with the stock interior after everything's installed...

hmmm...I may just play it safe and get the Polks. the other Lotus here has them, and they seem to sound pretty good...but his music tastes are quite different than mine. (I just really hate the "grills", and the PO of my car thought it smart to remove the Blaukpunkt grills from the OE speakers.

Thank you!
 

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i am not a professional car audiophile, but I have dabbled in home audio...

I went with 4 JL Audio 5.25" TR series speakers all around. I can clearly hear music very well at speed now with the stock HU driving them.

my car had Polk Audio 4" speakers in the front, and stock speakers in the rear... plainly put, they sucked donkey dicks in hell. The setup I have now is 10000 times better.

the sub will fill in a much needed frequency gap, however, you may not want or need it once you replace with 5.25" all around or 5.25" up front and 6.5 in the rear.

I would not recommend staying with 4" speakers up front. the mod is so easy (even for a mechanically challenged chap like me) that you'd be foolish to not try it out.

Infinity makes a very nice set of Kappas - I was looking into them because they drop their impedance as they heat up, which means you can safely drive them with virtually any head unit. I went with the JL Audio because they are a known commodity and definitely fit in the Elise.

Kenwood - eh - not a fan. they sound like a kid stereo. look into the Eclipse CD3200 - a much higher output, cleaner, truer sounding, and a feature packed unit for a very reasonable price. Alpine is also a frontrunner...

Good luck.

PS - I listen to rock, punk, metal, R&B, jazz, and some hip hop - and this setup sounds very nice for my taste. a little more bass would be great, but I'm happy with what I have.
 

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...the greatest hidden caveat in speaker selection i've found is the available depth behind the rear speakers - sadly, it eliminated all my first choices from contention...
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Eclipse can't be purchased anywhere around me...I was actually looking for them specifically but the small "car audio shops" here stopped carrying them when circuit city started b/c "we can't compete with their prices"...and now circuit city is gone. so No more eclipse. I like seeing a headunit before buying it (I wanna push buttons first)

Alpine was a front runner, but I couldn't decide if I liked the user interface...then I found this kenwood unit that comes highly recommended by online reviews...and it has everything I want built in.

okay, I think I'll increase the speaker size. bigger is usually better. :p

guess I just have to decide on the brand. I may go with my original thought of JL after you said that.




i am not a professional car audiophile, but I have dabbled in home audio...

I went with 4 JL Audio 5.25" TR series speakers all around. I can clearly hear music very well at speed now with the stock HU driving them.

my car had Polk Audio 4" speakers in the front, and stock speakers in the rear... plainly put, they sucked donkey dicks in hell. The setup I have now is 10000 times better.

the sub will fill in a much needed frequency gap, however, you may not want or need it once you replace with 5.25" all around or 5.25" up front and 6.5 in the rear.

I would not recommend staying with 4" speakers up front. the mod is so easy (even for a mechanically challenged chap like me) that you'd be foolish to not try it out.

Infinity makes a very nice set of Kappas - I was looking into them because they drop their impedance as they heat up, which means you can safely drive them with virtually any head unit. I went with the JL Audio because they are a known commodity and definitely fit in the Elise.

Kenwood - eh - not a fan. they sound like a kid stereo. look into the Eclipse CD3200 - a much higher output, cleaner, truer sounding, and a feature packed unit for a very reasonable price. Alpine is also a frontrunner...

Good luck.

PS - I listen to rock, punk, metal, R&B, jazz, and some hip hop - and this setup sounds very nice for my taste. a little more bass would be great, but I'm happy with what I have.
 

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Have you considered Pioneer for the head unit?

I was also looking into a head unit and decided to buy this http://www.crutchfield.com/p_130P7000BT/Pioneer-DEH-P7000BT.html?tp=5684&avf=N

Good reviews

IMO ...the Kenwood KDC-BT838U's interface is not very user friendly compared to the Pioneer. I imagine using the 2 wheels to navigate within the Kenwood interface would be cumbersome. The Alpine units are nice but you have to buy the ipod and bluetooth adapters separately. Unlike Kenwood or Pioneer where it's built in.

Good luck
 

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Discussion Starter #16
LOL, I just logged back in to ask for thoughts on that exact headunit.

Do you have it installed? any pics?



Have you considered Pioneer for the head unit?

I was also looking into a head unit and decided to buy this Pioneer DEH-P7000BT CD receiver at Crutchfield.com

Good reviews

IMO ...the Kenwood KDC-BT838U's interface is not very user friendly compared to the Pioneer. I imagine using the 2 wheels to navigate within the Kenwood interface would be cumbersome. The Alpine units are nice but you have to buy the ipod and bluetooth adapters separately. Unlike Kenwood or Pioneer where it's built in.

Good luck
 

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By far the best "bang for buck" is to convert the fronts to 5.25s. Jim_Clayton sells some adapters that make it a breeze.
4inches is just too small to make decent sound without going with high end speakers. Good 5.25s can be had for a reasonable price.
 

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Discussion Starter #19 (Edited)
By far the best "bang for buck" is to convert the fronts to 5.25s. Jim_Clayton sells some adapters that make it a breeze.
4inches is just too small to make decent sound without going with high end speakers. Good 5.25s can be had for a reasonable price.
okay, I'll do that. would you also increase the rears to 6.5 inch? is it a worthwhile thing to do? I figure it should be, but I'm not too knowledgeable about car audio.

I ordered it on Friday so no pics. sorry

No worries. Def. post up pics once you get it installed. and a review. I'm especially interested in how well the bluetooth works with the top down...I'm most curious if the motor/wind noise will be too great for people to hear me

EDIT: just found that Pioneer is bringing out their 2009 lineup. this looks nice online...so now to wait for it to show up in a store...when does spring end?
Pioneer USA - Premier CD Receivers
or
Pioneer USA - Pioneer CD Receivers
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Hey guys. Last Min Question.

I'm ordering the rings from Jim C here for the 5.25 fronts. but on the rears is it worth the hassle/ money to goto 6.5's? or should I just do 5.25's all the way around?
 
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