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Discussion Starter #1
I needed a way to play high resolution music files through my old head unit, also a media player with lot's of versatility. Car audio Digital amps/processors are very expensive then there's no way to organize or view the music, just a thumb drive. I have a laptop under the seat which is powered through a charger. The media player is Foobar, on the dash is a mimo touch screen that clones the laptop screen. I can bring up a virtual keyboard on the mimo and player functions can be hot keyed.
Next song, volume, replay gain, quit screen, pause ect. I have to power it up every time which is the only issue. I can turn it off at the touch screen and put it in sleep mode when I leave the car. I works well and sounds decent but needs speakers.
Replacing the front speakers with new 4 ohm is the next step, I'm told I will lose 20% or so of volume. A new external amp may be the next step.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Many of my files are 24 bit up to 192 kHz thus the processor, your phone is limited as to what it can play. Your dash octopus hardly looks simple
 

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08 Toyota Camry 2AZ-FE R9K Tuned
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I'm not as attuned to sound as many other people, I just think "this sounds good" and "this sounds bad". The phone may not be the best but it is as simple as you can get it without swapping the head unit. I already got AUX and plenty of USB ports for charging. Plug in two wires in and I am good to go. The only way to make my setup cleaner than what I already have is to add ratcheting mechanism's but the issue with that is that those have no where to go. Plug-in-play and call it a day. Anything more than that only means I am spending too much time and I am already spending too much time just plug-in-playing.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Fair enough, I'm just trying to put together a digital system without spending a fortune not that it will ever sound as good as very high end systems but much better then stock. For example an Audison digital car audio system is 5 grand
 

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Just throwing this out there food for thought. I have built some pretty clean sounding systems in the past. Worrying about a digital system running through your stock (Nakimichi?) head unit is going about it the wrong way. I'm not sure of what your system is, as in digital to amp or analog to amp but you need a highend head unit with adjustable preamp out to match up with reasonably clean amp setup driving some highend mids and tweets and a sub or two. Basically get all the weak links out of your system which is pretty much everything from the OEM head through its amps and on the the speakers
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Paulbot, I appreciate your expertise, I'm still trying to figure all this out. I looked at head units with the ability to play high resolution files, I've converted all my files to FLAC from WAVE (24 bit and 16 bit) to save space. All the head units that claim to play FLAC will play them however a 24 bit / 192 kHz for example plays at 16 bit / 44.1 kHz. Sony makes a true high-res digital media head unit for $1500, not an option. (Sony RSX-GS9)
What I have is all stock, just using the laptop with a mini DAC through the CD changer port, now I can at least play my FLAC files . I've bought 6.5" Infinity Kappa 60 csx's for the fronts I've yet to install. I realize I need to by-pass the oem amp with a new amp to power new speakers. I really wanted to keep the old head unit if nothing but to play the radio.
You mentioned a high end head unit, is it not possible to use my laptop as the head unit and run it through a new amp? Isn't this basically how these high end digital systems work? My goal is to replicate the very high end digital systems for considerably less money.
All the amp choices and configurations is getting confusing to say the least.Other then that my plans are to sound deaden the car, doors, floor and trunk area with CDL tiles, foam and MLV.
 

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Well I'm not an expert, just an enthusiast. I do understand how it all works. First thing I have to ask you is can you actually hear a difference between a FLAC recording and the same file converted to a high bitrate MP3 through your current setup? An objective listen is required. I ask because your stock radio, amp and speakers are not capable of reproducing the harmonics gained by such clean recordings.

You may hear them with the next step up in headunit, with solid line out to a good 4 channel amp with a crossover, a good set of component speakers and a nice 12" sub. IT will be a maze trying to pick out something to meet your needs. Then you'll have to figure out where you'll mount your tweets.

current setup is an 01 es300 were I took the Nakimichi head unit and stuck in a Pioneer AVH-X3700BHS It ran me about 280, Bought an harness to use the built in amp running a set of cheap Boston components for the front door, and a Rockford Fosgate 10" ported sub in the trunk. And it just sounds decent to me.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
If I convert a quality 16 bit CD album into a high bitrate MP3, on a first listen perhaps one doesn't notice. I've listened to songs I know well on MP3 and small nuances are missing, not until I play them side by side I see the difference.
High Resolution, like you said one would need better equipment for an objective opinion. I do like the the re-masters the small independent labels put out, stuff you wont find on CD, they just happen to be 24 bit. Thanks for the feed back, I'm going to install the front speakers when I get the time, projects take time and life's projects get in the way.
 

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You're overthinking this... The car is not an acoustic studio with sound dampening walls, it's a thin metal shell with all kinds of vibrations. If you really wanted to achieve high audio quality, you'd need to rip the interior apart and add multiple layers of insulation all-over, and put in acoustic-dampening glass that doesn't exist for this car for best results. And don't even get me started on the kind of noises you'll have to factor in once the car is at speed...
You'll have to settle for good enough, frankly, if you want this project to go anywhere. Look into Kenwood - an Android Auto/Carplay compatible deck with 24/32bit DAC and FLAC support can be had starting around $250 used on eBay. Here's one I have: https://www.kenwood.com/usa/car/navigation_multimedia/dnx574s/spec.html
It also has 4v pre-out voltage, which is excellent (typical is 2.5v, some of Kenwood's Excellon units out out 5v), and HD Radio support, and a ton of other features.
Pair something like that with decent speakers, throw in $100-200 worth of insulation inside, and I don't think you can do any better in that car.
 

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Well put, slavie. The Infinity Kappa 60 csx solaratoyota has will be a great start to an audio system. Add another piece like a good head unit whenever funds become available. Your laptop won't put out a pre-amp level signal for an amp, I don't think.

I don't think you said which year camry you had. Hopefully not the gen when they started putting the 3.5" speakers in the dash.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I appreciate the input from all, thank you. Paulbot my car is a '99 Solara, 61/2 " speakers and tweeters in the front door.
Can you please explain the purpose of the "pre-amp level signal for a amp"
cheers
 

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In your current stock JBL setup, the head unit puts out non-amplified signal (~3-4 volts) to the amplifier, and the amplifier, well, amplifies the signal to about 20v that the speakers require to produce good volume. If you connect the non-amplified 3-4v to the speakers directly, you'll barely hear any music. If you were dealing with large commercial sound stage (concert, etc), that 20v signal would now be the mid-amp and would be feeding another amplifier that would be cranking that 20v to 50v, 70v, or even higher voltage to drive larger and larger speakers.

The higher you amplify the volume, the more distortion and noise you introduce. The quality of the components will dictate how much. Better quality amp + better quality head unit = less distortion, and vice versa.

When you play DIGITAL music from your laptop, a Digital-to-Analog-Converter (DAC) translates 0's and 1's into low voltage ANALOG signal that goes out your laptop headphone jack to the stereo, then it gets sent to the Amp. The DAC in your laptop is probably not very good, unless you're using a quality external USB one, so you're definitely loosing a lot of definition right there.

By going with an aftermarket HU, the DAC is now in the HU directly, and is very likely much better quality than the one in your laptop. You'll also eliminate several connections and components, reducing noise and distortion along the way.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Slavie, an explanation I can understand, thank you so much. I'm using a USB 2 external DAC from cambridge audio that will accept ASIO . It's meant for headphones but does work, it does sound better then the same song played on the stock head CD player. I find when I set the output in Foobar to ASIO/DAC is the best or cleanest sound so far.
 
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