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Old 01-05-2008, 05:42 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Toyota Camry '08 Sound System

I would appreciate any help on the following.

I've just bought a new '08 Toyota Camry LE, and while the car has many good things about it, I am EXTREMELY disappointed with the stereo system. Even my friends who have '07/08 Camrys agree with me that the sound is thin, muddy, distant, and cold. I've tried altering the Bass/Treble EQs and the front/rear balance but the general quality remains poor.

Brief history: My previous car was an '03 VW-Passat, which came with a 'MONSOON' system. That one was excellent, with a very rich and powerful warm sound.

Since listening to music is crucial for me, what are my options? I spoke to some of my friends, and they gave conflicting advice:

1) One said that the key issue is the head unit, the in-dash player itself. According to him, sound quality greatly depends on that; so I should look into getting an Alpine or Kenwood CD player.

2) Another (sales guy in a store) told me that the main problem is the speakers+amp. The head unit itself isn't the main issue, and I should really upgrade the speakers. He confirmed that many Toyota owners came to him complaining of a distorted and quiet sound.

As proof of his words, and an explanation for why Camry's sound is poor, he pointed out that the tweeters in a Camry are adjacent to the windshield (a very stupid location), whereas normally -- for a bright and 'close' sound -- they should be on the side doors, as they were in my VW-Passat.

3) Yet another option is to ask the dealership to install JBL for me. The JBL system comes standard with an XLE. But, the guy at my local dealership told me he's "never heard of anyone doing that for an LE" (I find it hard to believe that most people don't notice the bad stock sound, however). Will that be more cost/time-effective than other options?

Any comments, advice, or experience much appreciated. Thanks
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Old 01-05-2008, 09:17 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I would go with option 2 and keep the stock head unit if you want stock, if not...get ALPINE!

Will you be installing everything yourself or...what?

I drive a gen 4. Replaced head unit with alpine 9883, infinitys all around, w/ a fosgate 12' p1 sub all powered by a sony 5 channel amp (this was back when sony was good). My system sounds amazing, not only complimented by myself, but by others. And if I ever want to improve my bass, I can just amp the sub alone. If you need more specs, just let me know.

BTW my friend has an IS350 and his sis has a es300 (or something like that) w/ the premium sound system and they still can't touch my system.
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Old 01-05-2008, 10:45 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I thought the sound system was ok, but not great. Your third option is not something I would go with because there is a lot of wiring involved and you'd have to change out the speakers also. More work than it's worth IMO.

I'd try option two first. Replace the speakers and see how you like that first. If you intend to get a sub, you may consider replacing the front speakers and then eliminating the rear speakers completely and then amping the front stage also.

Although, unlike aenties, I would not get Infinity speakers. The tweeters are harsh if you are getting their component sets. BTW, if you are into SQ, the best location for the tweeters is as close the the woofer as possible because it helps with the imaging.

Audition the speakers before you buy. Some people really like MB Quartz QSD but I thought the tweets sounded awful because they are harsh. I like Arc Audio 6000 and Focal K2 components. I have the Arc Audio 6000 in my car with an amp that puts out ~150W RMS and they sound sweet.
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Old 01-06-2008, 11:58 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by touringcamry View Post
I thought the sound system was ok, but not great. Your third option is not something I would go with because there is a lot of wiring involved and you'd have to change out the speakers also. More work than it's worth IMO.
How can that be, if the JBL system comes as an "Option" on LEs, as shown here?
http://www.toyota.com/camry/models.html (click on "Interior")
If that's the case, some 'preparations' should already be in place, and it can't be all that difficult, can it?
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Old 01-06-2008, 10:21 PM   #5 (permalink)
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It is an option, but that's done at the factory.

If you go the JBL route, you're looking at replacing all the speakers in the car. You'll need to run an extra set of wires to the rear speakers.

If you take your stereo out, there is no wiring behind it for the JBL HU. The only wiring behind it is the wiring to connect the regular HU.
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Old 01-06-2008, 10:55 PM   #6 (permalink)
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touringcamry, by harsh you mean....crisp or bright?

I knew I could've gotten one of the audiophile speakers, but I'm not one myself so Infinitys were perfect for me. Some people like the 'clear crisp sound' of the tweeters on these. I have this set here, http://www.crutchfield.com/App/Produ...ppas&i=108637I but not at crutchfield, somewhere else for much cheaper, and it blows me away. Only thing I need to do now would be to add another tweeter somewhere closer to my height and it'll be perfect (to me).

OP, you should go check out audio stores, listen to the speakers for yourself and make your decision. Maybe what I like isn't what you're into, so don't absently listen to me! (lol, that sounds dirty)
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Old 01-07-2008, 12:47 AM   #7 (permalink)
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By harsh I mean the tweets are shrill or overly bright.

Some people like the way they sound. I just happen to not be one of them; if you like the way they sound, I have nothing against it. I was just stating my opinion about Infinity speakers.

MB Quartz are high end speakers that cost about the same or even more than my speakers, but the tweets sound overly bright, but some people like them. I like the sound from silk tweets because it's much smoother - but some people will say that they're not bright enough. So what does this mean? Test the speakers before you buy them to see if you like the sound because speakers sound different depending on their design and get the ones you like. Unfortunately, it's hard to find a place where you can test MB Quartz, Focal, Arc, or Diamond speaker - basically any non-mass market brand.
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Old 01-07-2008, 12:52 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by touringcamry View Post
Unfortunately, it's hard to find a place where you can test MB Quartz, Focal, Arc, or Diamond speaker - basically any non-mass market brand.
True dat! I was looking for some around my area and found none, just wanted to see how these sound compared to my speakers.
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Old 01-07-2008, 08:40 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I went to my local audio store, told them about my problem, and here's the estimate they came up with (this is WITHOUT the head-unit, which they told me I can keep, that's not the issue):

1) Clean Sweep

1 JL Audio CL441DSP JL CLEAN SWEEP.............299.99

2) Speakers

1 POLK AUDIO MMC6500 * 300W.....................299.99
1 POLK AUDIO MMC690 * 300W.......................199.99

3) Amps

1 ALPINE MRPM450 ALPINE MONO AMP..............199.99
1 ALPINE MRPF550 ALPINE 4-CH AMP.................249.99

4) Install Materials......................................... 173.96

5) Custom Install (Labor).................................484.96

GRAND TOTAL w/tax: $2000
---------------------------

Should I do it? The store chain is called "Tweeter" and that's where I got the estimate from. First off, what's a "clean sweep"? Is it the removal of my existing hardware?

PLEASE, help me!

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Old 01-08-2008, 12:48 AM   #10 (permalink)
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The factory HU has built-in undefeatable equalizer settings to compensate for the interior of the car and the performance of the speakers. If you put a Clean Sweep device between the speaker outs on the HU and the aftermarket amp, it will flatten the output or basically reverse the effects of the EQ settings on the HU.

I haven't tried those Polk speakers before, so I can't comment on how they sound. Listen to them first with some CDs that you bring to see how they sound and see if you like the sound first. I bought some Polk db6750 speakers for another car and the tweeters were a bit too bright for my liking.

$300 is about what I paid for my Arc Audio 6000 6.5" components along with two wood adapters for the front doors. These are some sweet sounding speakers. For that price, you could probably get some Focal K2s or CDTs components also.

Arc Audio's website is way out of date but I promise you that they make some great stuff. Their Arc subs, XXK, and 6000 components are some of the best stuff you'll find. Even their KS line, that replaced their KAR, amps are sweet. The Foose (FD) and SE are probably way more than you want to spend. The XXK amps are almost legendary for their build quality and sound but they are no longer produced - the FD line more or less takes their place. The KS line is their value line but also excellent stuff.

Are you willing to do your own installation? The wiring isn't difficult, but it can be a lot of work because you have to remove panels and what not. If you've never installed these things before, it might take you two days or so to run the wires. My amp is mounted behind my back seat and a shop mounted a piece of MDF and then the amp to that for $25. The back of the fold-down part is not flat and filled with holes - which is why the MDF is needed. I don't know your plans though. An amp kit from KnuKonceptz is about $50.

Why do you list a 4 ch amp and a mono amp? Are you getting a sub? If you are getting a sub, you may want to consider removing the rear 6x9s completely because it helps with the imaging from the front speakers. Then you can get a good 4 ch amp and bridge two of the channels for the sub or get a 2 ch for the front and a mono amp for the sub.

Arc Audio 6000, Focal K2, CDT components ~$300
Arc 12 dual 2 ohm sub ~$200 + $120 for a custom box = ~$320
Arc Audio KS300.4 amp ~$300-$350 This amp outputs 4x90W RMS @ 4 Ohms, and 2 x 350W RMS @ 4 Ohms bridged which is enough for the components and bridged for a single 12.
KnuKonceptz 4 ch amp kit plus some more speaker wire ~$65 shipped
MDF plates for the front door ~$30-50 or less if you have some plywood or MDF and access to a scroll saw
Clean Sweep $300

= ~$1400 for equipment if you self install
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Old 01-08-2008, 07:55 AM   #11 (permalink)
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thanks. But I am not going to self-install.
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Old 01-08-2008, 12:30 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Guys, what's a "clean sweep"? Do I absolutely need it?

touringcamry, you're including the clean sweep in your total, but yet you're saying I shouldn't do it...
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Old 01-09-2008, 12:21 AM   #13 (permalink)
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The first paragraph in my previous post describes the function of the JL Clean Sweep.

I never said not to get it. The Clean Sweep compensates for the (low) quality of the stock speakers. I never upgraded a stock system like what you are doing so my suggestion would be to do some more research on it.
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Old 01-09-2008, 08:31 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Clean sweep is when you/they don't replace the STOCK head unit...everything looks stock, until you look closely under panels.
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Old 01-10-2008, 03:50 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Some more q's...

1) Touringcamry, you said you got your Arc Audio speakers for $300, how many did you get for that price? 2? Left/right side door speakers? What about the tweeters next to the windshield, did you get those?

2) The thing with my stock HU is that the radio gives a good enough sound, but the CD player is terrible (with all kinds of CDs). How can that be?

3) If I replace my HU (which I'm tempted to do), will I break the steering-wheel audio controls?
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