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Discussion Starter #1
Well, I'm done upgrading my stereo setup. Sounds a lot better, but a few disappointments as well.

I bought the car used, and it had an Alpine deck and Eclipse 3-way door speakers. The sound was wimpy and very "honky" - with a cardboardy, paper-cone sound that made me very aware that I was listening to small speakers.

I decided to add John Wayland's shoebox subwoofer and Eclipse 4-channel amp, and to seek out some better sounding door speakers.

I ordered the sub, amp, and metal mounting plate from John, and bought a pair of Kenwood Excelon component speakers to replace the coaxial (or is that triaxial?) Eclipses in the doors. The Excelons sounded better than the same Eclipses at my local store, and were only $199 - good enough for me. Finally, I got a Monster cable kit consisting of a 4-channel RCA cable, a power wire, fuse holder, remote turn-on lead and ground wire, as well as a few crimp-on spade lugs.

The shoebox sub was a snap. I followed John's great instructions and it went in easily. I used a length of leftover audiophile-grade cable I found lying around to run up to where the amp would be located, under the passenger seat. Luckily I found an old fish tape of my dad's, which made passing the wire back from seat area to subwoofer easy.

Passenger seat came out easily. Running the wires under the carpet to the cutout hole under the passenger seat was a pain though. Next time I would use the fish tape, but I was too lazy to dig it out of the basement again. I did run into some trouble with the bulk of all the wires. The door channels have a trough in them for wire, but the run forward comprised a pair of 14 ga. speaker wires, a fat 4-channel RCA cable (Monster), an 8 ga. power wire and a smaller remote turn-on lead, all of which was a bit much for the raceway. It all managed to fit, but the real problem was trying to fit the amp mounting plate down on its holes with all the wires running under the carpet. Eventually I realized the wires should be distributed as flat as possible in the area behind the front seat beam, instead of being crammed up against the backside of the beam. I also should have used a much thinner wire for the subwoofer.

The power wire was straightforward, and I didn't have to disconnect the battery - just piggybacked the lead off the battery's positive terminal, and screwed on an additional metric nut (size unknown, just lucky to find one lying around) to secure it. One note is that it is much easier to access the rubber grommet holding the heater control cable (which is where the power wire passes through) from the driver's side than the passenger side. Tape the wire to a coathanger, apply a little dishwashing soap (organic of course) and through she goes.

Door speakers were the scariest part. I knew I'd have to figure out a way to mount the crossovers, and would probably need to take the door panels into a shop to get holes done for the tweeters. I followed the instructions on this site for door panel removal, and discovered the crossovers would fit well just rear of where the existing speakers are. I test fit one by taping it in place and reinstalling the door panel (loosely), then drilled and used plastic inserts and sheet metal screws to hold them. One note here, if you drill through the white sticky putty stuff Honda used to hold the plastic sheet in place, it'll make a mess of your drill bit. Also, make sure the window is rolled up when you're drilling. I hit mine and was lucky not to break it.

Finally, the tweeters. I decided to mount them in the "fabric" area above and rearward of the existing speakers. Close enough to the mids (which replace the existing speakers) for a tight image, but high enough to make it past someone sitting in the passenger seat. Fortunately I'd gotten a good tip on hole-sawing for tweeters: do it with the drill in "reverse" - that way you basically burn a hole through the plastic/fabric. Otherwise the teeth of the hole saw will grab the material and shred it - not good. The holes went smoothly and everything went together - and back together - well.

Moment of truth - how did it sound? Well, there's no denying there's plenty of bass now. The Alpine deck has separate sub outs, so I can dial the sub level to wherever I want it. The big disappointment has been in the sound of the door speakers. At the store the Kenwoods sounded much better than the Eclipses, but in the doors they have their own characteristic "honk". I find myself wishing I could notch out somewhere in the 1k or 2k range to diminish it. I also wonder if I shouldn't just put the Eclipses back in. I'm thinking I might put some quick-disconnects on the wires coming into the doors, so I can swap speakers quickly and hopefully have enough memory of the sound to make an accurate appraisal.

Is it possible 6" door speakers are going to honk no matter what? Or perhaps I can tweak the settings on the deck and amp (I am rolling off quite a bit of lows on the front speakers after all - perhaps it's too much). Further experimentation will tell. Also, since most of my playback will be via iPod, perhaps I can use one of the iPod's EQ settings to diminish the honk. (BTW, I'm eagerly awaiting Alpine's iPod interface, which will bring most of the iPod controls to the front panel of the deck - and charge the iPod while it's connected. Way cool!)

Anyway, that's one person's experience. If it's of use to anyone planning a stereo upgrade - great. And thanks to John Wayland and Mark Elvin for useful tips included in the above.

Cheers,
Bob
 

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Nice review. Very similar to my installation, also of Kenwood Excelons, JVC deck, and shoebox sub.

On my installation I was flummoxed by the OEM wiring going from the deck through the doors and to the original speakers. Very brittle aluminum wire. Had a hard time even stripping it for connections to the new speakers as it would just break. I wanted to replace it but couldn't find an easy way to pull out the original wiring. Did you keep them?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I kept them - butt-spliced an extension on to run to the crossover. I think mine were copper, but looked pretty oxidized, even where freshly stripped. I just sort of rubbed the bare ends to clean them off a little. They weren't break-prone though. Mine's an '00 - maybe they switched at some point.

Do you experience the honkage as well? Any tricks for de-honking?

- bob
 

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No honkage detected here, but that could be to faulty measuring equipment (my ears).
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Update - I did some more fiddling. I'd set the amp's high pass filter to roll off all the low end below 200 hz, which contributed a lot to the front speakers sounding tiny. I was asking the sub to do all the bass work, and it just isn't designed for the defined upper bass frequencies around 200. Rolling the highpass down to about 100 made a significant improvement, and now the sub just fills in the foundation. Much cleaner.

Second improvement - I hooked up the iPod and went through all the eq settings. No surprise - the "small speakers" setting notched out the honk quite well. Nothing like a good dose of honk notching, I always say. I'll really be happy if/when Apple updates the iPod so you can create your own global eq settings.

So at this point, I'm pretty happy.

- Bob
 
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