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Old 08-10-2007, 12:31 PM   #1
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One Step Forward, Two Steps Back (Radio)

I purchased my 98 986 about 1 month ago. The car has run flawlessly and I could not be happier; except for the radio.

The previous owner replaced the stock radio with an Alpine head unit, the CDA-9883. He also claims to have replaced the stock speakers with a pair of Infinity Kappa 42.7i's and a pair of Sony GT1325A's.

Regardless, the radio sounds TERRIBLE!!! There's virtually no bass whatsoever, and the overall sound is flat and tin-y; The FM reception is atrocious and there is absolutely no AM reception.

During the PPI, it was disclosed that the stock amp was no good. Apparently the previous owner, knowing he was going to sell the vehicle, went the cheapy route and just put a new head unit in (and may have changed the speakers) as opposed to replacing the bad amp for approx. $800.

He simply removed the bad amp so that the (allegedly new) speakers now are being powered solely by the Alpine head.

The local audio place suggests that I keep the Alpine, install a new amp and speakers for $700. I really don't want to spend that much money.

I'm also of the mindset that I would like to possibly go back to the original head unit and keep everything in the car original. Of course I would have to reinstall
a stock amp (perhaps one from eBay), as well.

What can I do so that I can have a decent sounding system without spending a relative fortune?


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Old 08-10-2007, 12:54 PM   #2
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From what I've read of the radio threads in this forum, there are a lot of people who are unimpressed with the stock radio. You may have to spend the bucks to get the sound you want.

I have a CDR-220 and to my admittedly middle-aged ears, it sounds pretty good when the top is up or I'm not moving. But mostly I drive with the top down and my conclusion is that over about 30 mph (top down) it won't matter how much stereo you've got - it sounds mostly like wind.

On the bright side, with this car, the wind and the exhaust are music to my ears!
- Jim

2000 Boxster S, Speed Yellow, Michelin AS/3 tires, 60,000 miles...
... and climbing.
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Old 08-10-2007, 01:42 PM   #3
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I don't know how many options you are going to have for what you are looking to spend - maybe we differ a bit on preference, but I would consider $700 to be cheap for good audio.
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Old 08-10-2007, 03:35 PM   #4
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Are you really ...

going to get that good of sound in a convertible with the top down and the engine and air intakes right behind your ears? Do you really want to crank it up considering that your ears are only guaranteed for a certain number of vibrations and increasing the loudness only hastens the time till you'll need a hearing aid?

Lets assume you have good speakers. And a decent radio with 10 by 4 amplification. How much more do you want? And why not settle for a decent mid power amp, and not tempt yourself to crank it up (not to mention how silly you'd sound to other cars that pull alongside with high volume)

Got speakers in the rear? Consider those as their sound gets less lost in the wind.
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Old 08-10-2007, 04:01 PM   #5
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You can find the OEM factory amps for cheap on eBay. Hopefully the wiring is still there and you can just unplug your old one and install the other one.

Does your car have the Hi-Fi option? If so then there should be small little 5.25" subs in the door. While they aren't thumpers,they get the job done. Focal makes an expensive but quality direct replacement.

Another option is to install the rear speaker kit,it helps to fill in the sound but it won't do anything on the bass side.

*Who cares about the radio in the end,the engine and exhaust sound bada55. If you can't hear your engine or exhaust then your driving too slow and you belong in a Chrysler Sebring convertible.
-99' Zenith Blue 5-spd...didn't agree with a center divider on the freeway
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Old 08-11-2007, 06:58 AM   #6
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This is really a question of "how much does it matter to you?" If you really want good sound in a convertible, though it is generally an oxymoron, it can be done but is definitely not cheap. I have the advantage of a $7k audio install in my car courtesy of a friend's shop that cost me 1/3 of that, and it is incredible, and yes, it still sounds great top down at 65mph.

Getting back to reality for most of us, if you already have a decent head unit (the factory is not great), keep it. The factory amp is really not great, and if its already gone, I certainly would never advise anyone purchase one again. Get a decent amp for a few hundred dollars and call it a day. As for speakers, if you want real bass in the car you're going to need some kind of sub and an amp to power it. The focal 5 1/4's ARE impressive, however keep in mind you now only have the 4" driver in the dash (assuming you went that route) doing all mid-bass duty and to me that doesn't fly so well.

I would either do 6 1/2's in the doors (very easy to modify) and run them full range (you'll get OK bass out of that) or run 6 1/2's in the doors and add a sub in the passenger footwell for real bass.

Given that you dont want to spend $700 (which is cheap in audio land) I would say get a decent amp from someone like Zapco, or JL Audio or equivalent, and run a 6 1/2 component set full range as that will be the best bang for the buck.


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