Factory Head Unit/New Speakers

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I have a speaker that was intermittent in my Lucerne and now it's out in one of my doors. I really don't want to spend the money on a new head unit so I've been looking at Crutchfeild for some new speakers but researching other forums people are saying it won't sound any better and maybe worse without a new head unit. By the time you spend the extra money to retain the steering wheel controls and chimes it gets a little spendy. So I would like to hear from anyone that has replaced speakers and kept the factory head unit. I think I've narrowed it down to some Infinity Reference speakers, 6532ix for the doors and 9632ix for the rear. Crutchfeild mentioned they are designer for factory amps with little power.
 
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5,933
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Connecticut
It's impossible to definitively say one way or the other without knowing the specs of each head unit. Be wary of reviews that state "this sounded worse/better than the factory stuff" because there are a lot of factors that influence how a system sounds. I can tell you that I replaced the factory crumbling paper speakers in my Jeep Wrangler with some Polk Audio speakers and it definitely sounded more clear, and a new head unit also helped but it put out more power to the speakers than the stock cassette player was rated for. Do you know what speakers the car has now?
 
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Since I haven't owned the vehicle since new I'm assuming they are stock. On the Buick forums they say GM put in some real junk from 2005 to 2012. I think it sounded ok for a factory setup, it does have some components in there now, at lest some tweeters in the pillars. One thing I can't find out is the watts the base system has which would help, it does play loud enough for me and then some.
 
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Martinsburg West Virginia
I have done this before with those head units and they do pretty well. The trick to it all is to match the speakers to the head unit. Obviously the factory radio isn't a powerhouse, so putting in high power speakers won't get good results. It all really depends on what kind of sound you are looking to get out of it. The factory speakers of those days were terrible, so if you were fine with them, then any replacement speaker would work for you. If you just want something basic, I would suggest the lower end Pioneer speakers that bestbuy often has on sale for $34.95 a pair regardless of size. Those have lower power handling so they would be pushed pretty hard by the factory head unit. Just stay away from anything with whizzer cones, that really wouldn't be an upgrade over factory honestly. Make sure they have actual tweeters. Just stay with any name brand speaker , so you don't have to replace them again after a while. Crutchfield also has a house brand line of components that is supposed to be pretty decent for the price. I bought one of their amplifiers for a beater and it was actually very good.
 
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Bay area CA
need to determine whether it's the head unit's amp to the failed speaker, or the speaker is blown. if you can, pull the head unit, swap the left/right outputs to check if the "silence" swaps. if you replace one speaker, do the same for the other channel and use your equalizer to rebalance the sound (level wrt to other channel, frequency response, etc)
 
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Long Valley, NJ
I'm sure that it depends on the car. I replaced the door speakers on my 2008 Mazda Miata with JBL GTO units while retaining the original head unit. While installing the speakers, I also lined the doors with a DynaMat type damping material. Overall, the sound is significantly better than stock. Tighter bass and improved high end. I would definitely recommend upgrading the speakers even if leaving the factory head unit. But dont cheap out on the speakers and try to find a quality set that match the OEM speaker impedance and have a high sensitivity rating.
 
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Originally Posted by Sluggo0018
I'm sure that it depends on the car. I replaced the door speakers on my 2008 Mazda Miata with JBL GTO units while retaining the original head unit. While installing the speakers, I also lined the doors with a DynaMat type damping material. Overall, the sound is significantly better than stock. Tighter bass and improved high end. I would definitely recommend upgrading the speakers even if leaving the factory head unit. But dont cheap out on the speakers and try to find a quality set that match the OEM speaker impedance and have a high sensitivity rating.
The Infinity's I'm looking at have a sensitivity of 93db and are described as 3 ohm combined with the speaker wire for a true 4 ohms and have 60 watts RMS so they could handle a new head unit if needed down the road. https://www.crutchfield.com/p_108R6532IM/Infinity-Reference-REF-6532IX.html?tp=78072 The matching 6x9's are similar with a little better frequency response. https://www.crutchfield.com/p_108R9632IM/Infinity-Reference-REF-9632ix.html?tp=91
 
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When a door speaker doesn't play or is intermittent, consider it could be broken wires where they cross from the door to the rest of the car. Especially on the driver's door since it is opened a lot.
 

NO2

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939
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Michigan
I really like the Focal integration line. I have their higher end K2 speakers in the front, and Integration speakers in the rear. Focal is an audiophile oriented French speaker manufacturer, and the clarity of sound is really outstanding. The integration speakers have higher sensitivity so the work pretty well with a factory head. I listened to lots of car speakers over the years, and these are the best that I've heard ever since Advent stopped making car speakers in the 90's. If you end up replacing the head, there are several very good Carplay/Android Auto units. My BiL retrofitted his old 2003 Accord with one, now everyone in his family wants to drive it instead of their new and otherwise superior vehicles. Most of the focus in the past decade has been around window rattling bass in the aftermarket, and not much toward higher quality sound. If you listen to acoustic, classical, country, rock or vocal pop the Focals are a great fit. I'd lean more toward the JBL or Infinity stuff if you are more into hip hop, metal, etc.
 
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Cincinnati, USA
Those who say it may sound worse, are (should be) stating it in the context of using more massive drivers that need more power (less efficient) and running out of stock head output. GM was putting low end junk speakers in vehicles for decades, so it is pretty easy to find an upgraded part from a major brand. Whether you can tell much difference acoustically isn't just about the speaker but also its position, the housing/chamber it's in, the grill, and in the case of your door speaker that failed, maybe degraded wiring. A bad environment can make a good speaker sound worse than it otherwise would. Unless your goal with the *upgrade* is significantly higher volume, you'll get over 2/3rds of the benefit from replacing just the speakers. This assumes nothing is wrong with the head unit, they too can suffer from PCB/solder cracks, heat stressed capacitors, poor antenna connection, etc. Either way, it is clear you need something done about the speaker that doesn't work. Fix the wiring or replace the speaker(s) and go from there. In general you are best off buying front and rear from the same manufacturer's product series/family, not trying to tweak their balance with tone or level controls on the head unit, which may still be needed but shouldn't be a part of the plan yet if there are matching components available.
 
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Middle of Iowa
Originally Posted by Papa Bear
I would rather have great speakers on a good head than good speakers on a great head.
this! spend your budget on speakers...if your HU can output 10 watts clean, it will be just as good as anything else. What you have to be careful with is the impedance of the speakers. Some factory speakers are crazy different impedance, so the standard 4 Ohms speakers you would want to drop in there might not be compatible with your factory head unit.
 
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virginia
Our 2005 Ford Focus. Installed Boston Acoustic's front and Infinity rear door speakers. Sounds wonderful on the stock HU. 1000X better than factory spks. You will be pleased w/the results. Both sets cost less than $100 and I installed them myself.
 
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Northeast Nebraska
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Originally Posted by sparky123
Our 2005 Ford Focus. Installed Boston Acoustic's front and Infinity rear door speakers. Sounds wonderful on the stock HU. 1000X better than factory spks. You will be pleased w/the results. Both sets cost less than $100 and I installed them myself.
First thing I searched for was Boston car speakers and found out some sad news, they are no longer making them. So I have to ask having the Boston and Infinity together which one do you think has the best sound? Also which model number are your Infinity speakers?
 
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2,031
Location
Wisconsin
Infinity Reference are great, have them in my truck and bought them for our Highlander (not installed yet). Powered in the truck with a small amp, will use factory power in the Highlander. Is your problem the speaker, head unit, or wiring? If not the speaker, new speakers wont help.
 
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Northeast Nebraska
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Originally Posted by wallyuwl
Infinity Reference are great, have them in my truck and bought them for our Highlander (not installed yet). Powered in the truck with a small amp, will use factory power in the Highlander. Is your problem the speaker, head unit, or wiring? If not the speaker, new speakers wont help.
Don't know for sure but an installer thought it was the speaker since the tweeter works on that front side ruling out the head unit but it could be a cracked wire. This installer only has Kenwood and JL Audio and didn't sound like he wanted to install speakers I didn't buy from him so I having my mech install them. I would do it but don't have a warm place and just want it fixed.
 
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Canada
Originally Posted by Papa Bear
I would rather have great speakers on a good head than good speakers on a great head.
+1 great head isn't all it's hyped up to be.
 
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6,101
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New England
Speakers matter more then head unit. Car acoustics is pure luck unless they have an upscale radio tuned for interior by an audio engineer.
 
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North TX
I did it on my '08 RAV4. It worked out very well. As money allowed I followed up with s JL Audio Cleansweep, JL 100 watt per channel amp, and a Bazooka sub I had from the previous vehicle. The initial results were undoubtedly positive but the additions after the speakers brought it all to life. I paid a pro shop to do all of this and tune the amp, I don't have the smarts for all the wiring.
 
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