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Discussion Starter #1
Most sedans seem to have the rear speakers factory-eqipped into the rear deck, but the Outback has them in the rear doors. Maybe some of that is to simplify parts-sharing between sedans & wagons?

Are there any stereo buffs on here who know which location is "technically" better for listening experience? I've always read that front components should be in the same plane (as opposed to a woofer in the door & a tweeter in the dash) but I've never heard anything about rear speakers being in the same plane as the fronts.

The factory subwoofer in my sedan is in the rear deck (don't know where they put it on the wagons), but I've always been told that low-bass is non-directional & that subwoofers can be placed anywhere.

Anyone know the factory power rating for the non-McIntosh CD changer system in the 03-04? I just remember thinking the stock system was quite nice at first, but then I ran the stereo in my other car for the first time in months. With a 4x100 amp I adapted to the stock head unit, front components w/ crossovers, & rear-deck 3-ways (all just mid-grade stuff on sale at Crutchfield) it sounds so much better- louder, cleaner, & better bass even without a separate subwoofer.

I'm wondering if the speakers, the power output, or both is the weak link in my Outback.
 

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2004 Outback Wagon, 2.5 litre
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"Most sedans seem to have the rear speakers equipped into the rear deck, but the Outback has them in the rear doors. Maybe some of that is to simplify parts-sharing between sedans & wagons?"

You are absolutely correct.

"Are there any stereo buffs on here who know which location is "technically" better for listening experience? I've always read that front components should be in the same plane (as opposed to a woofer in the door & a tweeter in the dash) but I've never heard anything about rear speakers being in the same plane as the fronts."

I went through all this with my last car, an Acura sedan. The worst place for rear speakers is in the doors. The best place is the parcel shelf so the sound reflects off the rear window. In my Acura, I moved the separate tweeters from the upper front door panels to the dashboard and was very pleased with the result. It turned the entire windshield into a sound plane, and raised the staging of the music from my waist/chest up to my head/ears.

"I've always been told that low-bass is non-directional & that subwoofers can be placed anywhere."

Again, you are correct, sir.

The weakest link in any system (especially factory systems) is the speakers. But because speaker selection is linked to amplifier type, quality, and power, you should address both at the same time.

There is no point in having any tweeters mounted behind the driver. For correct staging, all the highs should be in front of the listener. The rear speakers are for fill and bass only.
 

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2007 outback MT
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I agree with MrED. Sound does reflect off of the sloped window better, however the only difference you will notice, is from the rear passengers point of veiw. Most car sound systems are stereo or 2 channel (right, left) Not front and rear. So even if you change the speaker location the only effect it will have on you, as the front passenger, is that the music will sound like it is coming from the center of the cabin. However mounting them on the rear shelf will not effect how the music was intended to be heard.
You can also think about being at a concert. Most times there are only speakers in front of you, not behind. Another point is that the rear speakers dont have a separate tweeter, and therefore are mostly intended for midrange, which consists mostly of vibration not of air molecules but of the car frame and such.
 

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18 horizontally opposed cylinders of fury
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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for the feedback guys. I'm satisfied to optimize the sound for front seat passengers at the expense of rear seat folks- I rarely have passengers, & when I do we're talking not listening to music.

Compared to my other car, with modest upgrades for relatively little cost, I'm getting increasingly unhappy with both the power & clarity in the Outback. Wish I could listen to a McIntosh-equipped VDC model for a couple days!

I'm particular about stock appearance, so the head unit must stay- besides, as a head unit, I think its fine. With proper amplification & good speakers I'm sure it will be a very good system. I still couldn't find power specs even in my showroom brochure, but for some reason 80 watts total comes to mind- on par with OEM systems but inadequate overall.

I have never dismantled the center stack, so I've never seen the wiring & I can't speculate on the difficulty of introducing line-level converters to feed an amp. Plus, who knows how OnStar is wired into the head unit.

I'll take a look to see if its even possible to mount parcel shelf speakers.

The trunk is huge, so a subwoofer box is certainly an option. Of course, then I'd have a single off-center hole where the rear deck subwoofer is now.

hmm, I wonder what's on sale at Crutchfield this week? ;)
 

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2007 outback MT
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Never shop crutchfield. You can almost always find a competitor that sells the same thing for half price. Also if you are really thinking about changing any of the other components besides door speakers i would highly reccomend replacing the head unit. Look around because im sure there are some other units which would fit the theme of your dash. Also taking apart the center console may be a bit harder than you think. I know it was for me.
 

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Tokyo's between my toes
2001 Wintergreen Outback 5MT
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Just to chime in as my usual rube self, you should listen to the stock 98 setup when the rear seat is folded down and the rear door speakers are muffled. You're pretty much left with the front door speakers, though mine has the optional little tweeters, too.
 

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02 OB sport, 2.5, 5MT, WRX seats/catback/rear bar, Hellas, Home Despot CAI and roof rack
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"Never shop crutchfield. You can almost always find a competitor that sells the same thing for half price."

hmmm...i wouldn't say never. no one else offers as much help with fitting the equipment, which for many non-mechanical types is pretty valuable.

that being said, i was able to assemble a killer system on ebay for abt $600....MB Quart separates, MTX amp that actually tests at abt 800w total into 2 ohms, 4x114+1x400, still debating sub to buy.

using the WRX 6-Cd chgr head unit for theft discouragement and ease of use, and i'll let you know abt line level converter wiring once i get there. factory units might even have some sort of preamp out, at least for sub. they had something to run the Kenwood Woox along with the 4 spkrs. i may find out tonight or early next week. yeah, for same $ you could get a Sony etc with way better specs, but i'd rather the thief just go elsewhere rather than break in and find not only pricey stereo gear but tools, the Valentine 1 and occasionally the Smith & wesson. and nothing says "not worth stealing" like facotry head unit....

awc is right on the imaging issues too. the biggest single thing contirbuting to sound of high end factory stereos in new cars is multiple tweeters, intelligently placed. separates sound better and fit easier in Sub.s be sure you look at Innovative automotive (iaperformance.com) website...they make adaptor stuff that makes job easy and fast. and their foto gallery has INVALUABLE fotos of install process, esp mounting crossovers under door panels.

and if you don't have a 4-claw parts grabber pickup tool or better yet 2, get them before you start stringing wire. best tools i've ever found for fishing wire under carpets etc.

bw

bw
 

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18 horizontally opposed cylinders of fury
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Discussion Starter #8
Crutchfield is pricey unless things are on sale. Combined with the free adapters & stuff, & reliable support, I never feel like I overpaid for sale items.

I would gladly replace the head unit, but nobody makes anything that matches the conservative dash styling in this (or most any other) car. The rest of my dash is simple & angular & illuminated in one color. Some silver head unit with curvy buttons & a color screen saver just isn't for me.

Most people have wagons, so here's a pic of the rear deck showing the off-center factory subwoofer; the speaker is the same size & shape as the grille:



There's space to fit a matching speaker on the pass. side. Looking inside the trunk, there's already a hole, but its only about 4" diameter. The middle seat belt reel is attached under the rear deck in a way that might interfere with fitting a bigger speaker.

I basically want to repeat what I did on my Galant VR4. People complained about the stock stereo (radio/tape/CD in a 91, worth saving I thought) but the head unit was fine. The speakers & amp sucked. After a little engineering, I found that line-level outputs already existed, so I just adapted them to RCA cables & installed an amp in the trunk with real speakers all around. Its very loud & clean & looks 100% stock.

I think my first step is some exploratory surgery on the console & head unit... :D
 

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Ed--

sounds like we're doing the same plan on stereo here. i swapped in the 6-Cd changer Sub head unit from an 02 WRX this weekend; once i figured out how to pull dash trim panel (with help of iaperformance.com web site gallery for fotos of process), head unit swap was 15 minute job. there's a single multi-pin plug that seems to be the same for all recent Sub.s.

My Q is the OTHER jack in back of head unit for multi-pin plug which is currently unused in my car. i looked but didn't see any wiring harness plugs back there that might go into it. it's not needed for basic head unit operation and i suspect that it's for either an add-on CD changer or the factory sub. or????. any ideas? any idea on where to get plug (somehow i doubt Sub parts guy has it or that Crutchfield will want to sell me one separately.)

i'd love to find preamp outs on this thing, as i've never done the line-level converter thing before and suspect that i'd get a cleaner signal taking it direct from preamp instead of converting an amplified signal back down to preamp level. since the amp unexpectedly turned out to test at >2x(!!!) the advertised wattage, this is an issue...

bw
 

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2007 outback MT
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That extra plug is for an additional cd changer. The reason that your amp turned out to be less than half the wattage is because when they advertise the tell you what the MAX wattage is, however if you read closely they tell you the RMS wattage or average wattage. This wattage usually ends up being half of the max.
 

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Luke--

actually it's the other way around sort of...it turned out to be over twice the wattage i expected. and yes, i'm aware of the difference between RMS wattage and the more commonly advertised (lied abt) peak wattage. and the other Big Lies of not mentioning at what voltage (12.5, 14.4, or something in between) the rating is based on or what % of THD it's at (with most of the high power front ends, as opp to separate amps, i think they rate em at abt 10% THD!), or of listing the level falloff in dB for the stated freq range on speakers

problem is that MTX rates amps way less than they actually make...i bought what i thought was an amp making a reasonable 25wRMSx 4 channels + 1 for sub at 100wRMS into 4 ohm loads, flat across audible bandwidth, rated at 12.5V and abt .04%THD. however, they individually test each one beforeit goes out door and include test results.....this one made 57 wRMS/channel for front 4 into 4 ohms and 208wRMS for sub channel! into 2 ohms, it makes 91/ch into fronts and just under 300 to the sub. oops..... (beat me, whip me, make me buy high end speakers......)

it's refreshing in the world of the car stereo big lie (remember when Crutchfield did their own in-house spec testing instead of blindly accepting the mfgrs' bogus claims???! ) to find a company that lies in the OTHER direction, even tho it's made the stereo installation a lot more complicated. i LIKE overbuilt and expect that i'll make many of my future amp purchases be MTXs.

thx for info on other jack too, BTW. seems weird that they'd set it up for another CD changer when they already have 6 CDs in the dash unit. but i guess we're stuck with the line level converter approach.

bw
 

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Discussion Starter #12
hmm, there have to be line-level signals somewhere inside the head unit. As soon as I get time I'll see if I can figure it out.

I once repaired a Toyota factory stereo for a relative, the single internal amp chip had fried. If I find something like that inside this unit, then in theory I should be able to just trace & meter some pins until I hit the 4 channels.

or I might just toast the thing, ya never know! :D

as far as amps, I used a Lanzar 4x100 in my Galant. I never heard the name, but web research was positive. It was so affordable from autotoys.com that I figured I could take the risk of it sucking. I've had it for 4 years & I just love it!! Clean & loud with good tweakability & no superfluous crap like neon lights. I plan to use Lanzar again for whatever I do with the Outback, & may even try the 5-channel model if I decide on a boxed subwoofer.
 

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ed--

not sure if this is of any use, but... found it somewhere on this site or on iclub.com site. i'm pretty sure the pin listings for at least the main plug are accurate since recent Sub factory head units all seem to use same plug as far as i can tell.

bw
 

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18 horizontally opposed cylinders of fury
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Discussion Starter #14
That's a very helpful diagram, thanks. That plug for external CD controller looks like it could theoretically be adapted to function as a line-in.

cptoversteer said:
Do not take apart this unit or attempt to make any changes yourself
well, shoot, that's exactly what I'm intending to do, lol

From my limited experience doing invasive surgery on factory headunits with integral amplification, I expect I'll find an IC amp chip in there... which means that I should be able to find the 4 channels feeding it (typically at that point, electronically speaking, it doesn't matter if the source is radio/CD/WB/OnStar). Best case scenario, I can bug off those lines & create some RCA outputs.

To my credit, I've successfully reassembled every head unit I've ever dismantled... knock on wood :D
 

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Ed--

you're a braver man than i. rebuilding engines and engineering turbo conversions doesn't scare me, but getting into a head unit....!!! i feel too clumsy to get in there and solder things....it also looks like 2 of the pins in jack for sub would work for preamp-level line-out connections. any idea where one might get the multi-pin plug? or i guess you could solder right to the pins.

on line level signal converter front, i can report that once the various gain levels (amp and signal converters) are optimally adjusted, these things give a clean enough signal for prodigious volume levels. my neighbors love me, i'm sure, as a result of the adjustment process.... you'd think they'd never heard Beethoven, bluegrass, or Phish at 120+ dB. around here, all you mostly hear is norteno with a little rap and mainstream R&R. converters do take up a little space (each is abt 1/2 the size of a pack of cigarettes) but seem to fit. at abt $30 for both, this seems like a reas approach for using factory front end with aftermkt amp requiring preamp-level signal in.

one other idea i wanted to pass along: to extend the tiny little adjuster knobs on end of amp so you can adjust them even while the pass. seat is in place, slip short sections of clear vinyl tubing (with a mark corresponding to screwdriver slot in knob for reference) over the ends of knobs. vac tubing wd prob work also.


bw
"huh?? what'd you say?? i can't hear you...."
 

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Discussion Starter #16
So I had enough time today to tear apart the dash just to see what was involved in removing the head unit. Good grief!! Have any of you done this on a Legacy/Outback?

I'll be doing it again & will take pics then, but I had to remove the fake wood trim from around the shifter & the center stack (naturally there's a couple very hidden screws). I ended up removing the piece to the left of the steering wheel too, so I could remove the entire piece that includes the left outer vent, the guage cluster surround, & the 2 center vents. This might not be necessary if you don't have OnStar, but- everything in the center stack:



is all held together by the same left & right mounting brackets, plus the OnStar phone module sits on top of the climate control. Its about 1 inch thick, & it basically fits snugly under the center vents behind those strips of wood & plastic.

All of this must come out as 1 piece so you can access the side screws & separate the components. I did not get this far due to the OnStar coax cable & the breather tube for the climate control. It appears that the stereo extends down behind the OnStar button panel, making it closer to 3-DIN height.
 

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smoke em if you got em

well, high decibel bliss lasted <2 weeks. the London Philharmonic seems to have cooked the MBQuarts despite the fact that amp shd be feeding them less than rated power and absence of any audible distortion even at big volume. live and learn; replacements will likely be Infinity Kappas, Polks or rockford Fosgate to see if they survive big wattage any better.

may make my next car stereo a little more moderate.....:eek:
 

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97 outback sport,2.2l ,5 sp. gun metal grey forrester S wheels with 215/50/16,v4 wrx STi coils and struts(jdm) , 0'3 wrx rear sway bar,cobb tuning front sway bar, 03 wrx dual piston calipers and roto
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i would suggest buying ( for ease of installation ) 1 male and 1 female subaru harness from metra ( available thruough crutchfield or your local stereo shop )
the wire colors are universal and make it easy for a diy person to wire up to line level converters without having to cut into the oem harness.
if youi do a proper level match with y our amp you will get pretty good fidelity and low THD...( relatively speaking ) nothing beats a clean aftermarket preamp section

distortion or clipping is what will blow speakers...i have been running far more "rated" power to speakers for years than they were "rated" for and have NEVER blown a speaker up...i'm not talking small amount more either...
ex. jl audio 10w0 with 400 plus watts from an Xtant amp the sub was rated for 125w continuous..
boston acoustics pro 6.5 with 150w rms/side...no blown drivers...keep it clean and your speakers will live long happy lives
 
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