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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Stereo Upgrades

Hi All,

Long time no post.

I've been planning some upgrades to my basic stereo install and thought would post some stuff for comment and advice from experienced installers on this board.

The reason for the upgrade is to get a general improvement of SQ (I listen to a very broad range of music) and eventually an integrated Media / Navigation system to make those long road trips with the family more enjoyable.

I've planned the upgrade in 3 stages, firstly due to time constraints (I have a brand new 8 week old baby boy at home keeping me busy), and secondly due to slow adoption of stereo component products here in AUS. I've peiced together a system with parts readily available from local stores in my home town (very limited selection of products), from reputable brands that I've used and had good experiences with in the past.

I've laid out the plan using (very) basic diagrams, as I'm not very good at explaining things - and to get my head around the physical connections etc... These diagrams do not take into account power connection and distribution etc... Also, I plan to install the amps under the front seats to save boot (cargo) space and hide any hole caused by mounting if the amps are removed at a later date...

Firstly a quick diagram of my existing system.



Stage 01 of the upgrade, which is mainly for an SQ improvement - as well a much needed upgrade to the tuneability of the head unit. I've read on the crutchfield forums that if you want to run the rears off the internal h/u amp and other components off external amplifiers you need to connect the rear pre-outs from the PX-H100 back into the rear pre-outs of the head unit, does anyone have any experience with this?



Stage 02 of the upgrade adds a second amplifier to the mix and a small subwoofer (have had 10" JLs in the past and been more than stisfied with the bass). I hope to build a custom enclosure that will take up minimum space in the boot (cargo area) but also removable for times when maximum storage space is required (only once or twice a year). I plan on scouring the boards for some examples (anyone have any pics of smaller boot installs at hand? most pics I've seen are massive boxes with dual 12" etc...). Please note that due to expense of local replacement dodge parts, I don't want to cut or modify interior trim unless absolutely necessary as replacement parts would be more expensive than actual stereo components...



Stage 03 includes the upgrade of the head unit to a multimedia setup and the addition of pre-made replacement headrest monitors (Local Option Audio models shown - with their insane Caliber show car). This will have to wait until a new Australian equivalent of the INA-W00BT is released, as the current models are aging and have limited and expensive upgrade options (e.g. optional NVE-M300P nav unit is $999.00, KCE-400BT unit $350.00).



Any feedback and advice on the above would be greatly appreciated as the caliber is not a common car over here - and local feedback / advice is hard to come by.

Current system photo



Also, I have a 08 Nav bezel and Metra double din / single din kit in the mail on the way form the states. which should be installed shortly and offer an improved look over the current scosche kit with the "ears". Yes I know my steering wheel is on the wrong side...

Thanks in advance.
 

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I'm Loving Stage 3! :smileup::smileup:

:rep:

PS. Dont forget to fill out your profile so we know what kinda Cali you gots...
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I'm Loving Stage 3!

PS. Dont forget to fill out your profile so we know what kinda Cali you gots...
Yeah can't wait to get some screens in there and some decent sound happening.

Will have to wait for new Alpine models to be released over here though.

Just updated my profile, but the Australian ST trim level wasn't an option. From what I gather it's like the SE but has power windows and the better trip computer - I just put it in as SE Plus.
 

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looks like an awesome plan! and good to take it in stages to i guess the $$$ will fly anyway.

:rep:for the good diagrams!
 

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Just updated my profile, but the Australian ST trim level wasn't an option. From what I gather it's like the SE but has power windows and the better trip computer - I just put it in as SE Plus.
Yeah not all Global Caliber configurations are shown. You can edit the Vehicle description field to accomodate variations and deselect trim, also helpful to show Aus in the location.
 

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Stage 3 needs some tweaking.

I wouldnt touch an Alpine PDX amp. The 4 channel specifically introduces alot of floor noise and PDX amps in general dont sound that great.

Id also do away with rear fill. Take the crossover out of the front components and run each tweet to its own channel and each mid to its own channel and run active.

Secondly Id pick out a 5 channel amp. Something like a Memphis Big Belle, Baby Belle, XA5000, or another similar amp just to simplify wiring.

Last issue I have is why JL? You can get subs and speakers that sound just as good or better for WAY WAY less money. Unless your getting some kind of used price on new equipment I wouldnt touch JL. Its way over priced for what you get.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Stage 3 needs some tweaking.

I wouldnt touch an Alpine PDX amp. The 4 channel specifically introduces alot of floor noise and PDX amps in general dont sound that great.

Id also do away with rear fill. Take the crossover out of the front components and run each tweet to its own channel and each mid to its own channel and run active.

Secondly Id pick out a 5 channel amp. Something like a Memphis Big Belle, Baby Belle, XA5000, or another similar amp just to simplify wiring.

Last issue I have is why JL? You can get subs and speakers that sound just as good or better for WAY WAY less money. Unless your getting some kind of used price on new equipment I wouldnt touch JL. Its way over priced for what you get.
Thanks for the advice WD, I'm definately scrapping the alpine amps - have heard too many bad things about them. Unfortunately product selection is really limited over here... I know I'll probably get flamed for this but I'm currently considering Kicker ZX series amps, they seem to have the features and power I want - with a A/B class amp for the splits and D class for the sub (thinking 10ZX350.4 bridged up front & 10ZX400.1 out back). They're no arc audio, audison or memphis - but way easier (and cheaper) to get in my home town. Will do some more investigation and listening and update my spec if once decided. One quick question though - would I be able to go full active with the 350.4 once I get some better cross over settings from the PXA-H100?

As for JL Audio, I've used their gear in the past (currently have a set of TR650-CSi installed from a previous car & and have used their subs for years), and they are one of the only quality brands available near me. I'm heading out today to listen to some Hertz HSK 165.4s which I can get allot cheaper than the JL C5-650s and they have solid reviews online, will see how I go?

The speakers in the back in my diagram (the ones currently in the front) are just for my son, so I can fade the music to the back and mute the front so his wiggles and hi-5 songs don't drive me insane through the front stage. These will just run off the head unit and will be faded off 99% of the time.
 

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The Hertz HSK's are good stuff.

Before I decided on my Eclipse XA5000 I was looking into the 10ZX700.5 for my single amp needs. Ive read mixed reviews on Kicker's SQ, but Im almost positive they would sound better than the Alpines with a lower noise floor. Just make sure you deaden, deaden, and deaden some more, have the wires tied off nicely, everything terminated properly with a secure connection, and the rest should take care of itself.

90% of the time its the install. Even if you have the greatest gear in the world, but cant install properly it will sound worse than cheap gear installed the right way.

I just re-read the OP. If your not sure on which way your teetering on the dash change you can check out my build log. I also switched from the "ears" to the double din dash.
 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
Things are moving along nicely, went out and listened to some Hertz HSK 165.4 speakers today on my lunch break. They sounded awesome! They were demo'd off a focal solid 2 (w/ 75W RMS) and were very nice. So nice I picked up a set on the spot (such a good price too - literally half the price of the JL C5s in AUS). The tweeters are nowhere near as harsh as the JL TRs which is good since they're going in the sail panels. I still cant believe how smooth they sounded and plenty of mid bass from the woofers as well.

Since the speakers sounded so good on just 75W I think it'd be pretty safe to run them off the Kicker 350.4 bridged with the gain down real low?

I managed to get the tweeters in position after work tonight, will have to get some photos in the morning, luckily the silver insert in the tweeter matches the dash! I'm a graphic designer by trade and things like that would really (really) bug me on my daily commute...

I also made up some MDF spacers on the weekend to replace the flimsy abs plastic scosche ones the JL TRs were mounted in. The back speakers are now in - with the tweeters mounted in the same plate (pics posted below - they are now painted matt black / will have to get photos of them installed tomorrow when it's daylight) - they actually sound allot better and are the only speakers in the car at the moment. I will have to re-do the front ones with thinner 6mm ? MDF (I used 16mm originally) as there's no where near as much clearance on the front doors under the speaker cover. Plus now I have the HSKs I can customise them to fit more exact.

Also, I used closed cell foam weather stripping (4mm high x 9mm wide) to create a sort of gasket around the speaker basket, it compresses down to just under 1mm once fully tightened, would this make an air tight seal? or is there a better method? speaker gaskets are non-existent here...







 

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Discussion Starter #11
The Hertz HSK's are good stuff.
I just re-read the OP. If your not sure on which way your teetering on the dash change you can check out my build log. I also switched from the "ears" to the double din dash.
I went with the navigation dash and metra double/single din kit.

$120 (very cheap - direct from US ebay store) later the dash arrived today at the local post office.

The metra dash kit arrived the other day and norrowly escaped total destruction caused by my two english staffordshire terriors. Damn post man keeps throughing packages over the fence and into the yard with the dogs... Luckily it escaped without a scratch but the US postal box was torn to shreds (hence why the nav dash was delivered to the post office).

The photo below is how the package was found in the yard, my wife just shook the contents out onto the bench to see if anything was damaged, In another 10-20 mins this thing would be on it's way to digestion.

 

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Very nice. When I get my Eclipse SC6500 comps my first thing is to do up some 6x9 adapters.
 

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Looking awesome! It's nice to follow your work :) Gives me inspiration for the future!

Looking good with Jack&Coke ;)
 

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Discussion Starter #14
As promised, installed (mounted) tweater and rear 6x9 plates

Apologies for the poor quality photos, they're off my phone.









Also, I popped the molex plugs out of the door in the front left door and there appears 2 gaps around the sockets large enough to run 2 sets of 16 gauge speaker wire for the splits. My old splits just had an in-line resistor (I think?) that acted as the crossover so I could run them off the stock speaker wires... But with the hertz speakers I want to mount the crossovers next to the amp (easier to go full active later) so I need to run new wires from the amp into the doors.

I have a heap of good quality wire from a previous install so I thought I'd try and run that. I want to avoid drilling because of the Dodge parts availability issue in AUS.

Has anyone had any luck with feeding decent sized speaker wire around the molex in the door? I've seen some pretty elaborate & impressive stereo installs on this site so I'm guessing people aren't dropping cross overs in the doors and pushing 1000+ watts through the stock wiring?
 

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I plan to run 16 awg through the door jams and down the sides of the car for my install. I think you can just pull pretty hard on the rubber and it should pull out. Wait for verification though.
 

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I plan to run 16 awg through the door jams and down the sides of the car for my install. I think you can just pull pretty hard on the rubber and it should pull out. Wait for verification though.
I've popped off the door jams yesterday, and they're the [email protected] molex kind that's a pain to work with. Similar to these (from this handy link refereced previously on this board somewhere http://www.the12volt.com/installbay/forum_posts.asp~TID~78731~PN~1):





From memory, I think there's enough room in the gaps around the plug (you'll see what I mean when you remove yours) to avoid drilling out the blank pins and go for a less intrusive route like below:





Will be having a go at these on the weekend, and should try to get some pics of the molex while I have it apart (it's actually 2 seperate plugs - and the bottom one is almost empty except for 2 or 3 wires - the top one is full with what appears to be the stock speakers, retractable mirrors and electric window switches?).

But hopefully no drilling will be required...
 

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Hmm... There should be enough room. If not Im sure it wouldnt be to hard to solder some wire to an empty pin and solder some onto the other connector keeping it factory for the most part. From there the wire can be bundled with the other OEM wiring in the trunk space and everything is plug and play from there on out.

You have the OEM wire with the OEM pin that plugs into the back of the 6x9s or you can go aftermarket and the wire is already ran depending on if your selling, upgrading, or if the potential buyer is interested in that sort of upgrade.
 

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Hmm... There should be enough room. If not Im sure it wouldnt be to hard to solder some wire to an empty pin and solder some onto the other connector keeping it factory for the most part. From there the wire can be bundled with the other OEM wiring in the trunk space and everything is plug and play from there on out.

You have the OEM wire with the OEM pin that plugs into the back of the 6x9s or you can go aftermarket and the wire is already ran depending on if your selling, upgrading, or if the potential buyer is interested in that sort of upgrade.
When I sell this car (probably not for some time) I'll take my whole stereo except the JL TRs - they can stay as they're cheaper than replacement sail panels in AUS. When I installed my Kickers and JL splits I cut off the stock speaker wire about 2cm from the speaker and the plug is still attached to the back of the speaker, if I were to sell the car I'd just resolder the rears back in (and heat shrink), and hook the TRs back up in the front to the bullet connecters I already have on the stock wires. Would probably just leave the other wires I'd run in, as they'll be hidden and if someone want to do an install, it's one less thing they have to worry about :)
 

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I think Ill probably take my entire system too. No way Im leaving my SC6500's in the car unless the new owner is willing to pay a premium for them and the amp.
 

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Did a quick mockup today of a sub box I had in mind, It's really (really) small. The manual for the woofer listed 0.65ft3 as the required spec so I used an online sub volume calculator to finalize the measurements. I wanted the angle on the back to be flush with the back seat and also firing up a little towards the back.

It's very similar to the sub box in one of my old installs (Mazda Protege 5 / SP20 - with 10" W0). The idea is that it's the same width as the 40% side of the folding seats, enabling the 60% side to be folded down without having to remove the box. It could also strap into the rear seat child restraint latches hidden down near the seat belt buckles looped in (hidden - shown below) from the boot (AUS car restraints only use the anchors on the back of the seats). It's also short enough to hide under the privacy cover for the cargo area.



It's still really rough but it's probably the most practical solution for my car as I fold the back seats down every weekend for the dogs.



Then if we need the whole boot for a road trip I can just take it out and unplug it (the sub amp will be under a front seat for this reason).
 
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