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Old 05-02-2012, 08:29 AM   #1
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Still lousy audio after upgrades?

I regret to say this, but the sound in my 986 still sounds worse than the audio in my humble Honda Civic after upgrading various components in the car. Come on Porsche!

I still have the CDR-220 head unit but have replaced the following:

* Dash speakers with 4" Infinity Kappas
* Door speakers with 6" Infinity Kappas and custom enclosures
* Frunk amp replaced with Infinity Kappa amp

I had hoped that the sound would be much improved after the upgrade. When I listen to my iPod through the AUX input of the CDR-220, the sound comes out pretty good as I would have hoped (it could sound better still), but I also do a fair amount of listening to the FM radio, and I have to say… it still sucks. The FM sound is dull and lacks punch. It sounds like the audio has gone through some kind of weird and undesirable EQ, and the sound comes out unbalanced with almost too much midrange and needs more bass. In contrast, the audio in my 13-year-old Honda Civic, which runs an OEM head unit (manufactured by Kenwood?) with a pair of upgraded Infinity Kappa speakers sounds way better.

Is it the tuner in the CDR-220 head unit that still sucks? I'm interested in the collective wisdom of this form and what I can do to get this to sound better. (Keep in mind a fair amount of money has already been spent upgrading.) What can I do? Have I done something wrong or missed something in the upgrade process so far?


Last edited by ericinca; 05-02-2012 at 08:30 AM. Reason: General edits
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Old 05-02-2012, 09:00 AM   #2
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The tuner sucks. The stock radio in my 63 Chevy Nova sounded better.
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Old 05-02-2012, 09:12 AM   #3
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Sound Check

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Originally Posted by ericinca View Post
Is it the tuner in the CDR-220 head unit that still sucks? I'm interested in the collective wisdom of this form and what I can do to get this to sound better. (Keep in mind a fair amount of money has already been spent upgrading.) What can I do? Have I done something wrong or missed something in the upgrade process so far?
Probably... try replacing it with aftermarket receiver with multiple bass boost, that may solve your problem. I bought my Boxster with Kenwood head unit in it, im not a big fan of Kenwood but it made a big difference to the factory amp and speakers how it sounds so I decided to keep it. good luck!
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Old 05-02-2012, 09:14 AM   #4
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Lose the cdr 220. I switched to a Sony hu and the change was drastic. All 4 cabin speakers are Infinity and run directly off of the stereo, no amp. They sound great on their own, but I added an 8in kicker sub and 200w rms amp for the lows. Sounds amazing!
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Old 05-02-2012, 10:06 AM   #5
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One place where many auto manufacturer's cut cost is in the head unit, especially on pre-2005 cars, and Porsche was no exception. Also very few manufacturers put a top end sound system into a convertible (any convertible) because of the poor acoustics (no point in having a great sound system if you can't hear it over the engine and road noise).

If you really want top end audio, you're probably going to have to replace the entire system (head unit, dash and rear compartment speakers, door subwoofers, and amp) before you will be satisfied.

For reference, the base sound system in the Miata is 10 times worse than the Boxster but the BOSE upgrade in the Miata is much better than anything in the older Boxsters.
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Old 05-02-2012, 12:36 PM   #6
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I upgraded a year ago to a Pioneer Z130BT. Couldn't be happier. Also, I didn't see if you had the rear speaker (behind the seats) option. I also installed those, and it made a 100% difference...
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Old 05-02-2012, 01:08 PM   #7
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Unfortunately the tuner in the head unit is that bad. The radio is almost un-listenable. I was surprised that all the stock bits actually sounded pretty good when I hard wired my IPOD into the system and used that as the source. That is of course tempered with the fact that I never drive my car with the top up so I am not doing any critical listening.

You are correct that the head unit has some weird midrange boost which makes everything sound very muddy and unpleasant. The Ipod allows me to compensate for this somewhat but the real answer is to swap out the head unit. That way you can have better sound and better features. Now I just have to decide what I want to do about a subwoofer. I sure wish I was talented enough to put one in my center console like another forum member here. That was a work of art!
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Old 05-02-2012, 03:52 PM   #8
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Ok...sorry to hijack the thread OP, but how much does it cost nowadays to replace the hu? I remember going to a specialty sound place 10 years ago to add a cd changer and nothing would work with the hu and there was an option that would cost thousands of dollars.

I have lived with the not so good music for 10 years now.
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Old 05-02-2012, 08:18 PM   #9
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aftermarket

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but how much does it cost nowadays to replace the hu? .
Bestbuy installs it for free (harness extra) and a decent unit with front aux. starts at $99.
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Old 05-02-2012, 11:00 PM   #10
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Thanks for the all the collective great advice! It sounds like the general consensus is that the OEM head unit sucks. I'll have to look into a replacement head unit, and have read about many AVIC installs on this forum.

At the moment, I don't have the rears. I kinda like the storage compartment back there, even though it's small. Still, I hope I can get the new, existing speakers to sound better!

Last edited by ericinca; 05-02-2012 at 11:03 PM.
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Old 05-03-2012, 07:34 AM   #11
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not so fast

We all know that cheapskate oufits like Porsche and Ferrari were just trying to save a few bucks in their choice of the Becker units, unlike the extravagant no-limits audio fiends at Honda and your local Wal-Mart when they chose Kenwood, but seriously, listening to mp3s with their mid-fi reproduction in a convertible with moderate exhaust note... well lets just say your money would be better spent on a good listening room at home.
And if the fanciest or loudest thing about your car is the stereo,then whether it's a Kia or a Lambo you won't impress anyone much beyond the acne years.
The Becker is not intuitive, and it takes at least a little effort to adapt it to changing tachnologies.
But it looks right in a car where appearance matters, it has a great tuner section, and its absence signals to future buyers possible misplaced priorities. With the porsche frunk amplifier and the rear shelf speakers, it does a respectable job. And this from a guy who knows what a Butterworth crossover is, that mr Polk's first name is Matthew, and why Larry Schotz used to be famous among audio nerds.
Somewhere more than a decade ago, car manufacturers passed the point where it was easy to improve their systems without spending a small fortune. There are exceptions, but this is not one. Many stand to profit by convincing you otherwise, and many more would like you to validate the decision they were persuaded to make. Ignore the hype, heck ignore me too, use your ears, or insist on audiometric analysis if you want to go that far, but don't get harranged into wasting money on something that will devalue your car & perhaps sound worse than properly setting up what you have. Rear speakers and an amp+/-EQ are worthwhile IMHO, new head not so much.
It is your car, just saying...
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Old 05-03-2012, 08:52 AM   #12
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Methinks the op has used his ears...I certainly have. The Becker unit is pretty bad and losing it is not going to devalue the car by any significant amount.

I think most of us here are beyond the "check out my super loud stereo" years and are just looking for something that isn't painful to listen to and can be heard at all speeds with the top down. I like to hear my music when I'm doing 70 on the interstate with top down...just my two cents.
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Old 05-03-2012, 09:02 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by particlewave View Post
Lose the cdr 220. I switched to a Sony hu and the change was drastic. All 4 cabin speakers are Infinity and run directly off of the stereo, no amp. They sound great on their own, but I added an 8in kicker sub and 200w rms amp for the lows. Sounds amazing!
That's the best way to go in my humble opinion. I have the feeling that not only the head unit itself but also the frunk amp equally contribute to the problem. So getting rid of both of them sounds like the right approach.

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