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2020 Outback Limited w/ option package 34
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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
The Harman Kardon system in my new Outback is fine for podcasts and FM, but it leaves much to be desired in power, timbral accuracy, and toe-tapping engagement when I throw well-recorded music at it via CDs or FLAC files. I know I'm spoiled, because I have high-value stereo equipment spilling into my living room, office, and bedroom, a lot of it on loan from high-end companies (I review home audio for a partial living). However, I know next to nothing about car stereo.

What could / should I change in the Outback with a $1,200-$2,000 budget? I listen to all kinds of genres, lots of jazz, Americana, rock, alternative, and so on. The only genres that leave me cold are country and EDM. In sound terms, I crave quality over raw power, and hate one-note bass. Tight and tuneful and accurate is the goal. Which are the best and most cost-effective audio upgrades in my situation? Thanks!
 

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Relevant thread:

 

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2020 Outback Limited XT Black on Ivory
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I've been eyeing my HK system for an upgrade for a while too. It's not bad, but not audiophile level either. I've contacted both Subaru and HK and neither will tell me ANYTHING about the onboard equipment. ( What frequencies are sent to what drivers, what RMS each channel produces, which Channel feeds what, even impedance of the speakers themselves are double secret.) They tell me it's proprietary. Search's on the net for those who may have tried before me ( Gen 5 or 6 HK systems) has come up a bit thin too. Even Crutchfield has little info to offer ( and little that fits in the 2 3/4" dash corners btw) I've come to the conclusion that it would be easier in the long run, AND give better results just to throw out everything in the HK system and start over from the amp out. i.e New Amp(s) ,DSP, speakers, crossovers, Sub ...... I'd likely do a new amp with a 2 or 3 way component set up front, coax's in the rear and a separate sub . Good news is that you should be able to do a nice job on that budget. Please keep us posted if you go forward.
 

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2020 Outback Limited w/ option package 34
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Discussion Starter #4
I think I want to buy component speakers (separate midrange speakers in the doors, matching tweeters in the left and right dash/windshield locations). I'm liking the looks and reviews of these Infinity Kappas: Infinity Kappa 90csx Kappa Series 6"x9" component speaker system at Crutchfield
The specs on those claim a frequency response down to 35Hz. If that holds true, I wouldn't necessarily need an aftermarket subwoofer.

If I do need a third-party sub, and want it to be unobtrusive, this Kenwood would merit my consideration: Kenwood KSC-PSW8 Compact powered 8" subwoofer at Crutchfield ... or this JL Audio sub, if it will fit the stock sub space in the Outback: JL Audio 10TW3-D4 Shallow-mount 10" subwoofer with dual 4-ohm voice coils at Crutchfield

For the rear door speakers, I'm thinking about another set of Infinity Kappas.

I'll start there ... and perhaps add a multichannel amp.

Thoughts?
 

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I bought and then returned Infinity Kappa tweeters because they were 2 ohm and in the non-HK system the tweeters are 4 ohm. Have you verified the nominal impedance of the stock HK speakers?
 

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2020 Outback Limited w/ option package 34
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Discussion Starter #6
I bought and then returned Infinity Kappa tweeters because they were 2 ohm and in the non-HK system the tweeters are 4 ohm. Have you verified the nominal impedance of the stock HK speakers?

Good point. Anyone know the ohm rating of the stock HK speakers?
 

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Good point. Anyone know the ohm rating of the stock HK speakers?
Checking the door speakers is somewhat of a hassle but the dash speakers can be accessed very, very easily as long as you have an offset screw driver or one of those mini screw drivers (even a regular stubby is too long).
 

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Good point. Anyone know the ohm rating of the stock HK speakers?
I've read elsewhere on the net ( but not confirmed personally) that the four door drivers are all 4 ohm. The corner dash coaxials are 6 ohm . Not sure on the center channel and sub, maybe 4 ohm as well. The Front doors and the dash coaxials are reportedly wired in parallel so as to provide a total load on that circuit of 2.4 ohm. IMO, there is the issue. It's hard enough to find a high efficiency speaker to replace the corner dash coaxials but to get 6 ohm is impossible without adding power robbing resisters. I'm thinking a Kappa component set (rated at 3 ohm), wired with crossovers might be a solution in the front but the jury is still out.
 

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2020 Outback Limited w/ option package 34
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Discussion Starter #9
I've read elsewhere on the net ( but not confirmed personally) that the four door drivers are all 4 ohm. The corner dash coaxials are 6 ohm. Not sure on the center channel and sub, maybe 4 ohm as well. The Front doors and the dash coaxials are reportedly wired in parallel so as to provide a total load on that circuit of 2.4 ohm. IMO, there is the issue. It's hard enough to find a high efficiency speaker to replace the corner dash coaxials but to get 6 ohm is impossible without adding power robbing resisters. I'm thinking a Kappa component set (rated at 3 ohm), wired with crossovers might be a solution in the front but the jury is still out.
Confirming that the door drivers appear to be 4 ohm. At least when I check the Crutchfield site, the speakers that that company recommends/approves for an 2020 Outback with the HK stereo include these 4-Ohm-rated Alpines: Alpine R-S69.2 R-Series 6"x9" 2-way car speakers at Crutchfield
 

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I think they're getting a heavily equalized signal so I can't evaluate the speakers. I also bought them on Amazon instead of Crutchfield where they were $100.00 cheaper and knock-off Alpines are known to exist, so I'm not 100% sure if mine are genuine :unsure:

edit: I was wrong - I did buy the speakers from Crutchfield. It was the Infinity Kappa tweeters that I bought and returned on Amazon. I totally forgot so I guess I got the real ones relief
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Was it worth the upgrade?
 

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Was it worth the upgrade?
Yes, but in my mind it's half measures unless I install the KEY amp. Very tempted to do it but at this point the sound is "good enough" since I'm not a critical listener. Kinda torn about this right now, plus I've been more focused on the suspension side of things recently.

The good thing is that installing decent aftermarket speakers first will at a minimum lay the groundwork for future improvements, and for some it may be sufficient. If not, then it's ready for the next step.

Realize that I didn't have the HK system so my door speakers were not the same as yours.
 

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Discussion Starter #15

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I can't remember the post but someone said that the rear channel didn't get full spectrum signal (low cut? high cut?) so before you stick subs in the rear doors you may want to try a test signal and see if it reaches back there. Even with the KEY it can only equalize frequencies that are fed to it and if upstream the low frequencies are not present, the Key can't help there.

Also not sure if the subs in the rear doors will be shallow enough for installation - did crutchfield say they fit?
 

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I can't remember the post but someone said that the rear channel didn't get full spectrum signal (low cut? high cut?) so before you stick subs in the rear doors you may want to try a test signal and see if it reaches back there. Even with the KEY it can only equalize frequencies that are fed to it and if upstream the low frequencies are not present, the Key can't help there.

Also not sure if the subs in the rear doors will be shallow enough for installation - did crutchfield say they fit?
Good news is that the HK system has a sub. It's just on life support. I would be looking to steal the signal from there IF I could find it.
 

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My 2017 Outback Premium came with a non-HK, no Nav, 6 speaker system that I recently upgraded. I bought a used OEM radio FB856US for $65 to get navigation and I upgraded to an aftermarket amp with coaxial speakers and a self powered sub under the driver's seat. At a volume level of 20 it will blow your mind with clean undistorted sound. Even at lower volume I can hear bass and treble that was not possible before.

The rear door speakers are fillers and don't produce much sound but that's just the way Subaru configured them. I wouldn't spend a lot of money on those speakers but the front door and dash speakers provide a good sound stage. The sub brings it all together. I love it but my Dept of Domestic Tranquility doesn't. I'm 72 but she says this system belongs in a 20 year old's car. :rolleyes:

Some of these parts I bought new and some were used (rear speakers @ $4.25 and the sub @ $70). I used Metra speaker adapters and a homemade wiring harness. Amp was wired to the battery but it wasn't necessary as it only has a 10 amp fuse.

Sorry but I didn't take pics of the install.

Parts list:
Front: Dash- Kenwood KFC-835C 40-Watt 3.5-Inch Round with whizzer cone, 4 ohm
Door- Kenwood KFC-6966s 45 Watt 6x9 inch oval 3-way, 4 ohm

Rear: Door Pioneer TS-A1676R 50 watt 6.5 inch round 3-way 4 OHM

Amp: Pioneer GM-D1004, 4 channel (2 ohm stable)

Sub: Rockville S8P 100 watt 8 inch subwoofer with internal amp 14.1" x 8.3" x 2.8", 2 ohm

I offer this info because I think you can achieve great sound at reasonable prices. You don't have to spend a thousand bucks. 💰 Carefully match your components, install 'em and enjoy! 🎼
 

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Discussion Starter #19
I offer this info because I think you can achieve great sound at reasonable prices. You don't have to spend a thousand bucks. 💰
It all depends on what one is after. As I said in my original post, I'm spoiled when it comes to home audio, as I frequently have high-end speakers and amps in my home systems that vary from several thousands to several tens of thousands of dollars each. I just don't suppose I'd experience much sonic bliss from $400 in aftermarket car audio components, but I could be wrong... In my case, I think it's wise to set the aim (and the budget) a little higher. What are "unreasonable" prices to some may not be to someone else. Different strokes for different folks!
 

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What I don't understand is that if the audio manufacturer is using heavy EQ in the head unit why don't they EQ it for reasonably flat response, instead of mangling the frequency response as if it were a 10 year old playing with a 10 band EQ for "sound effects"

It would sound better if they just let the natural limitations of each speaker do what it does. I far prefer the natural roll-off of a speaker than having roller-coaster EQ applied to it.
 
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