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View Full Version : how much effect does a head unit have on sound quality?



blakgtp
10-06-2013, 08:23 PM
I'm going to put a system in my honda accord. I've had a few systems in the past so I'm not a total noob to car audio. One thing I want in this car though that I haven't had before is a double din touchscreen head unit. My last car had a clarion cz702 which is known as a decent sq head unit. But say I was to buy a head unit like this one: Pioneer AVH-X1500DVD 6.1" Touchscreen DVD/USB/MP3 Car Receiver (http://www.sonicelectronix.com/item_63981_Pioneer-AVH-X1500DVD.html)

apart from having much less eq options and not having the option to run active setups (unless i get a processor) would there be a noticeable different in sound quality between the two head units? I'm not a super picky sound quality guy, more of a sql guy, but I still would be hesitant to buy the double din if there will be a great loss in sound quality. What do you guys think?


-Also on a side note, I wont be using super high end speakers or amps. Most likely I'll have a $200 pair of components for front stage, and a $200 4 channel amp with about 100 watts per channel.


thanks in advance!

basswiigee
10-06-2013, 08:53 PM
a whole helll of alllottt!!!! but that pioneer is still decent, you probably won't notice... you'll just hate the fact when you go and try to use a feature and its not there.... make sure you got decent preout though... just incase you do ever decide to upgrade speaker/sub setup...

RoYALbLUE08
10-07-2013, 06:18 AM
Dude don't get the x1500. Get at least the x5500 or x8500. Much better units

oxsign
10-07-2013, 09:35 AM
^^^^^ Ditto^^^^^^ the 2v preouts is no good on this HU.

bbeljefe
10-07-2013, 10:21 AM
There's nothing wrong with 2 volt preamp outputs. I can't think of an amplifier I've ever experienced that couldn't be driven to its maximum output on that voltage.

As for sound quality, an inexpensive unit with a tv screen isn't going to have a lot to offer in that department. It's a simple economic equation... to get a tv screen in a cheap head unit, something else must be left out in order for the manufacturer to still profit on the sale.

winkychevelle
10-07-2013, 10:30 AM
There's nothing wrong with 2 volt preamp outputs. I can't think of an amplifier I've ever experienced that couldn't be driven to its maximum output on that voltage.

As for sound quality, an inexpensive unit with a tv screen isn't going to have a lot to offer in that department. It's a simple economic equation... to get a tv screen in a cheap head unit, something else must be left out in order for the manufacturer to still profit on the sale.

Yes 2v preout can drive an amp to its fullest but since the 2v outouts are so weak its hard to pick up the nuances and shadow sounds that are often quiet in the background.

older units had better preout devices that allowed for these nuances at such low preout voltage.

op for sq I dont suggest that unit mainly for lack of eq and time alignment.

it is on the other hand a decent screen and basic unit.

whitedragon551
10-07-2013, 10:43 AM
A headunit is where the SQ starts. It is the single most important part of the SQ equation. Install is a very close second.

blakgtp
10-07-2013, 12:05 PM
guys, I ended up ordering this head unit, and now I've read all your post (I know too impatient).

JVC KW-AV61 6.1" Touchscreen DVD/MP3/USB iPod/iPhone Car Receiver (http://www.sonicelectronix.com/item_67863_JVC-KW-AV61.html)


Do you think it will get the job done, or should I order a better one and just try to sell this one once it get it?




edit- keep in mind I don't care about features: bluetooth, running active setups, pandora etc.., I'm just concerned about signal and floor noise/quality of sound produced. If it's not a big difference in sound quality then I would definitely like to save a few hundred bucks compared to the high end units. If it will greatly hinder the sound replication though, I'd like to avoid that

Dirtrider4eva
10-07-2013, 12:13 PM
eh.

blakgtp
10-07-2013, 12:20 PM
eh.

it does have 4v preouts though

oxsign
10-07-2013, 01:28 PM
Yes 2v preout can drive an amp to its fullest but since the 2v outouts are so weak its hard to pick up the nuances and shadow sounds that are often quiet in the background.

older units had better preout devices that allowed for these nuances at such low preout voltage..thank you.

Braindead
10-07-2013, 01:36 PM
Jvc is yucky.
Haha jk, kenwood is a jvc brand, and my hu has excellent sq. you should be fine

cheapsunglasses
10-07-2013, 09:21 PM
SQ starts with source. A car is a horrible environment for audio. It's difficult setting up a four-walled room for optimum sound quality. Placement of drivers in the car is crucial and tedious. There's lots of absorption and lots of reflection.

I've never had a problem with a Kenwood amp over the last 10 years. They have been extremely reliable. I would go w/Kenwood amp over Kicker any day. I drive ADS comps and Kicker 8" subs with Kenwood amps.

phemps
10-07-2013, 09:57 PM
I think the only real difference in lower pre outs is the fact that you need more input gain on amplifiers to match source which raises the noise floor. Other talk is just talk

blakgtp
10-07-2013, 11:23 PM
ok. thanks guys you have put me at ease a bit. now I can focus on the most important part, the install!

mylows10
10-07-2013, 11:36 PM
ok. thanks guys you have put me at ease a bit. now I can focus on the most important part, the install!

Should have hit me up. I have some pioneer b stock avhx5500 decks for 275 plus shipping

Side Show
10-07-2013, 11:37 PM
^^ do you have any of the old prs decks with the p-bus port?

mylows10
10-07-2013, 11:40 PM
^^ do you have any of the old prs decks with the p-bus port?

Nope sorry did just get a dehx 980 mp tho. But keeping it

blakgtp
10-07-2013, 11:42 PM
Should have hit me up. I have some pioneer b stock avhx5500 decks for 275 plus shipping



****. oh well, you win some you lose some haha

mylows10
10-07-2013, 11:46 PM
****. oh well, you win some you lose some haha

Still might be one left

Dirtrider4eva
10-08-2013, 02:46 PM
pre-outs isnt everything. processing and abilities of the deck influence the sound immensly and the deck itself will have a distinct sound. Pioneers tend to be more bright. kenwoods flat. Eclipse warm, alpine cool but sharp. depending on the tastes of your ears you may prefer one to the other. i personally like the sound of my eclipse more than any kenwood or alpine i have had. I have yet to try an alpine yet. may down the line.

murph
10-08-2013, 03:19 PM
There's nothing wrong with 2 volt preamp outputs. I can't think of an amplifier I've ever experienced that couldn't be driven to its maximum output on that voltage.

As for sound quality, an inexpensive unit with a tv screen isn't going to have a lot to offer in that department. It's a simple economic equation... to get a tv screen in a cheap head unit, something else must be left out in order for the manufacturer to still profit on the sale.

Lol I'm sorry but, you must have never ran any os (amps pre-2002ish) amplification before. Amps from that age for example the Phoenix Gold MS series definitely want a higher preout voltage than 2 volts. When looking at Head Units having a quality DAC or DAC's are always something to look into.

bbeljefe
10-08-2013, 05:26 PM
Lol I'm sorry but, you must have never ran any os (amps pre-2002ish) amplification before. Amps from that age for example the Phoenix Gold MS series definitely want a higher preout voltage than 2 volts. When looking at Head Units having a quality DAC or DAC's are always something to look into.

I wasn't aware this conversation was about old school amps. And old school to me is mid 1980s, when I started in car audio.

jrdnhsnbrg
10-08-2013, 05:31 PM
pre-outs isnt everything. processing and abilities of the deck influence the sound immensly and the deck itself will have a distinct sound. Pioneers tend to be more bright. kenwoods flat. Eclipse warm, alpine cool but sharp. depending on the tastes of your ears you may prefer one to the other. i personally like the sound of my eclipse more than any kenwood or alpine i have had. I have yet to try an alpine yet. may down the line.

Ah, so I'm not the only one running an Eclipse deck! I've had my CD1200 for probably 4 years now, my dad originally had it installed in his car at the time and when he gave the car to me I kept it. Then I sold the car so I pulled the deck out and put the OEM deck back in. Bought my new car and threw the deck in. I love it :)

RoYALbLUE08
10-09-2013, 01:23 PM
my avh-p8400 gives me perfectly good crystal clear loud sound with 0 distortion. it only has an 8 band eq but running the speakers active its fine from my crescendo amp is fine. besides. wouldnt you need time allignment if your running front and back speakers?

not to mention i like to be updated with technology i dont like old school stuff so my headunit is very nice looking, very fast and responsive and has great features that i use everyday in it and a nice 7 inch screen that i mirror my iphone on it for navigation/internet browsing, etc.

Dirtrider4eva
10-09-2013, 05:34 PM
my avh-p8400 gives me perfectly good crystal clear loud sound with 0 distortion. it only has an 8 band eq but running the speakers active its fine from my crescendo amp is fine. besides. wouldnt you need time allignment if your running front and back speakers?

not to mention i like to be updated with technology i dont like old school stuff so my headunit is very nice looking, very fast and responsive and has great features that i use everyday in it and a nice 7 inch screen that i mirror my iphone on it for navigation/internet browsing, etc.
i had a very similar unit. identical processing. sounds pretty good. a little bright up top. new tech isnt always greater than old..


Ah, so I'm not the only one running an Eclipse deck! I've had my CD1200 for probably 4 years now, my dad originally had it installed in his car at the time and when he gave the car to me I kept it. Then I sold the car so I pulled the deck out and put the OEM deck back in. Bought my new car and threw the deck in. I love it :)

im running a cd7000. before this i had some weird double din with a detach gps in it. it was a weird fun unit.
as for pre out voltage i vote 4-5V is perfect. my us acoustics amp cant handle 8 anyhow.

neo_styles
10-09-2013, 05:49 PM
my avh-p8400 gives me perfectly good crystal clear loud sound with 0 distortion. it only has an 8 band eq but running the speakers active its fine from my crescendo amp is fine. besides. wouldnt you need time allignment if your running front and back speakers?

not to mention i like to be updated with technology i dont like old school stuff so my headunit is very nice looking, very fast and responsive and has great features that i use everyday in it and a nice 7 inch screen that i mirror my iphone on it for navigation/internet browsing, etc.

I actually just traded off my 8400 DD in favor of a JVC KD-A95BT. While I do miss the 8-band EQ (and had finally gotten settings where they were sounding great), the SQ on this $200 JVC is leaps and bounds ahead of the Pioneer. In my experience, Pioneer decks always favor low frequencies, Alpine favors the high, and Eclipse love midrange. This JVC covers all three extremely well and its sense of staging and imaging just pushed it over the top. Its 5-band graphic EQ, though, leaves a little to be desired.

Adding my two cents in the equation (especially after this experience), the deck should really be the first thing you look at replacing when searching for SQ. You can have some of the nicest amplifiers and speakers/subs in existence, but great amplification is only going to amply a bad source. There's a reason the processing world is doing so well right now. Hell, for $350 these days, you can take a JBL MS-8 and make almost any consumer-level deck sound better. PapaGeno21 ; can vouch for this especially. He's seen tremendous gains in what his system is capable of after putting it in his system and he's by no means all about the essques.

On the other side of the argument, you can't take a great deck and poop amplification and expect to get good results, either. These days, it really doesn't matter if it's Class A/B, D, G, H, etc since there's great and awful examples of each in the industry. Swapping out my A/B Boston Acoustics GT-2125 for a Zed Leviathan was in itself a giant leap ahead for my sub stage. That Boston is now happily driving my passive components. But don't expect to get a Shark, AP, VVME, whatever budget amp and expect it to perform like a Sinfoni. It just won't.

jeffdachef
10-09-2013, 05:59 PM
I actually just traded off my 8400 DD in favor of a JVC KD-A95BT. While I do miss the 8-band EQ (and had finally gotten settings where they were sounding great), the SQ on this $200 JVC is leaps and bounds ahead of the Pioneer. In my experience, Pioneer decks always favor low frequencies, Alpine favors the high, and Eclipse love midrange. This JVC covers all three extremely well and its sense of staging and imaging just pushed it over the top. Its 5-band graphic EQ, though, leaves a little to be desired.

Adding my two cents in the equation (especially after this experience), the deck should really be the first thing you look at replacing when searching for SQ. You can have some of the nicest amplifiers and speakers/subs in existence, but great amplification is only going to amply a bad source. There's a reason the processing world is doing so well right now. Hell, for $350 these days, you can take a JBL MS-8 and make almost any consumer-level deck sound better. PapaGeno21 ; can vouch for this especially. He's seen tremendous gains in what his system is capable of after putting it in his system and he's by no means all about the essques.

On the other side of the argument, you can't take a great deck and poop amplification and expect to get good results, either. These days, it really doesn't matter if it's Class A/B, D, G, H, etc since there's great and awful examples of each in the industry. Swapping out my A/B Boston Acoustics GT-2125 for a Zed Leviathan was in itself a giant leap ahead for my sub stage. That Boston is now happily driving my passive components. But don't expect to get a Shark, AP, VVME, whatever budget amp and expect it to perform like a Sinfoni. It just won't.

would love to know where one can get a jbl ms-8 for 350 new.

neo_styles
10-09-2013, 06:01 PM
would love to know where one can get a jbl ms-8 for 350 new.

Keep your eye on Harmon direct's eBay page and their website. They're technically refurbs, but it really doesn't matter. Also keep watching the DIYMA classifieds. Seems like a BNIB one pops up every week over there.

jeffdachef
10-09-2013, 06:02 PM
thanks!

RoYALbLUE08
10-09-2013, 06:16 PM
i had a very similar unit. identical processing. sounds pretty good. a little bright up top. new tech isnt always greater than old..



im running a cd7000. before this i had some weird double din with a detach gps in it. it was a weird fun unit.
as for pre out voltage i vote 4-5V is perfect. my us acoustics amp cant handle 8 anyhow.

never said the newer units are better than the old. just said im a tech guy and i like having newer stuff. the screen resolution, menu, layouts, themes, colors, features of the headunit, and style of it is what i love about my 8400.


I actually just traded off my 8400 DD in favor of a JVC KD-A95BT. While I do miss the 8-band EQ (and had finally gotten settings where they were sounding great), the SQ on this $200 JVC is leaps and bounds ahead of the Pioneer. In my experience, Pioneer decks always favor low frequencies, Alpine favors the high, and Eclipse love midrange. This JVC covers all three extremely well and its sense of staging and imaging just pushed it over the top. Its 5-band graphic EQ, though, leaves a little to be desired.

Adding my two cents in the equation (especially after this experience), the deck should really be the first thing you look at replacing when searching for SQ. You can have some of the nicest amplifiers and speakers/subs in existence, but great amplification is only going to amply a bad source. There's a reason the processing world is doing so well right now. Hell, for $350 these days, you can take a JBL MS-8 and make almost any consumer-level deck sound better. PapaGeno21 ; can vouch for this especially. He's seen tremendous gains in what his system is capable of after putting it in his system and he's by no means all about the essques.

On the other side of the argument, you can't take a great deck and poop amplification and expect to get good results, either. These days, it really doesn't matter if it's Class A/B, D, G, H, etc since there's great and awful examples of each in the industry. Swapping out my A/B Boston Acoustics GT-2125 for a Zed Leviathan was in itself a giant leap ahead for my sub stage. That Boston is now happily driving my passive components. But don't expect to get a Shark, AP, VVME, whatever budget amp and expect it to perform like a Sinfoni. It just won't.


thats the difference though. a single din and a double din. the double dins nowadays arent purely meant for sound quality, rather they are for entertainment. i coudlnt switch out my 8400 for anything on the market right now that would offer me what i want(dont need a navigation unit because i have my iphone that i mirror onto my headunit)

the 8400 for me has everything. it produces very good sound (for me and everyone else that hears my system)

has tons of great features that i love and use everyday seamlessly. such as mixtraxx, iphone mirroring/app mode. its probably the best looking double din on the market and has a fantastic screen resolution. if there was something has all of these features along with a really good sound processing software with time allignment and all thast good stuff then i would consider switching it out but for now im keeping it as i love all the entertainment that it offers

neo_styles
10-09-2013, 06:21 PM
never said the newer units are better than the old. just said im a tech guy and i like having newer stuff. the screen resolution, menu, layouts, themes, colors, features of the headunit, and style of it is what i love about my 8400.




thats the difference though. a single din and a double din. the double dins nowadays arent purely meant for sound quality, rather they are for entertainment. i coudlnt switch out my 8400 for anything on the market right now that would offer me what i want(dont need a navigation unit because i have my iphone that i mirror onto my headunit)

the 8400 for me has everything. it produces very good sound (for me and everyone else that hears my system)

has tons of great features that i love and use everyday seamlessly. such as mixtraxx, iphone mirroring/app mode. its probably the best looking double din on the market and has a fantastic screen resolution. if there was something has all of these features along with a really good sound processing software with time allignment and all thast good stuff then i would consider switching it out but for now im keeping it as i love all the entertainment that it offers

Don't get me wrong. I really liked my 8400 and so did those who received demos with it, but I felt it was, for the most part, lifeless. I think I used MIXTRAXX for about an hour, the iPhone mirroring for a month or two, but the rest of the time it was just there to play CDs or tracks from an iPod. Figured someone could take advantage of the tech I wasn't using.

PapaGeno21
10-09-2013, 06:29 PM
I picked up my MS8 in minty condition used off CACO for 310 shipped.

They are out there.

murph
10-09-2013, 06:47 PM
OS Head units > New ones

Dirtrider4eva
10-09-2013, 09:45 PM
i gurantee a cd7000 or cd7200, alpine 9887, kenwood excelon would all put any jvc deck to shame in sq. and EQ bands mean little. i have all my bands at flat.

FamousMassacre
10-09-2013, 09:58 PM
cz702 has an awesome DAC

whitedragon551
10-09-2013, 10:32 PM
pre-outs isnt everything. processing and abilities of the deck influence the sound immensly and the deck itself will have a distinct sound. Pioneers tend to be more bright. kenwoods flat. Eclipse warm, alpine cool but sharp. depending on the tastes of your ears you may prefer one to the other. i personally like the sound of my eclipse more than any kenwood or alpine i have had. I have yet to try an alpine yet. may down the line.

Completely disagree. Every Eclipse Ive had was always lacking depth and was always very analytical and anemic in its sound. Alpine's have always had a warmth to them.


i gurantee a cd7000 or cd7200, alpine 9887, kenwood excelon would all put any jvc deck to shame in sq. and EQ bands mean little. i have all my bands at flat.

I can name atleast 2 JVC decks that are great decks that rival CD7000's and 9887's. JVC KDAR8500 and JVC SH1000 are great headunits that are both active capable with good DAC's.

SounDrive
10-09-2013, 10:34 PM
i gurantee a cd7000 or cd7200, alpine 9887, kenwood excelon would all put any jvc deck to shame in sq. and EQ bands mean little. i have all my bands at flat.

You do realize that JVC and Kenwood are the same company, right?

NoLoud4U
10-10-2013, 09:12 AM
my avh-p8400 gives me perfectly good crystal clear loud sound with 0 distortion. it only has an 8 band eq but running the speakers active its fine from my crescendo amp is fine. besides. wouldnt you need time allignment if your running front and back speakers?

not to mention i like to be updated with technology i dont like old school stuff so my headunit is very nice looking, very fast and responsive and has great features that i use everyday in it and a nice 7 inch screen that i mirror my iphone on it for navigation/internet browsing, etc.
No

NoLoud4U
10-10-2013, 09:16 AM
I run my 117 flat and it sounds very well balanced. Pioneer is always top and bottom heavy to me. I'm a alpine HU fan for life but I wont be swapping out my 117 till they make a better unit. I really dont see that happening so I take care of it

Dirtrider4eva
10-10-2013, 11:12 AM
You do realize that JVC and Kenwood are the same company, right?
so is toyota and lexus, nissan and infiniti, honda and acura.

Completely disagree. Every Eclipse Ive had was always lacking depth and was always very analytical and anemic in its sound. Alpine's have always had a warmth to them.



I can name atleast 2 JVC decks that are great decks that rival CD7000's and 9887's. JVC KDAR8500 and JVC SH1000 are great headunits that are both active capable with good DAC's.

i can agree to disagree on the eclipse debate. in my opinion the eclipse has a precise and accurate sound. However i will state i have never played with an alpine 9887. only lesser models in other cars on different equipment. The JVC units you listed i've yet to hear as well, but it seems 9/10 jvc decks seem cheap. any of them that i have been in contact with locally have sounded animated, if that makes sense. My HU plays through a zed us acoustics amp that does have a warm/softer sound in contrast to other amps i have used with this unit, so that may be why i believe its warmer sounding.