View Full Version : What to look for in a HU (Noob)

03-14-2005, 07:30 PM
I haven't been studying very much. I haven't researched at all really, since this is really the first place I've been. I'm a total noob to this kinda stuff because I don't have my liscense. It interests me though. I'm getting my liscense in a few weeks, and the stock system on my 98 Camaro is god awful. I'm looking at getting a new HU. I know Alpine is a good company, but what are some other ones? What should you look at when buying a head unit? I definately plan to get a CD changer, Subs, Amp, andCrossover if needed(Not exactly sure what it's for.)

Thanks for future help.

03-15-2005, 08:31 AM
You should really spend a couple of hours reading this place: www.bcae1.com , It'll learn you alot about the hobby & science. Making it more enjoyable for you.

Pioneer Premier

IMO, Best decks out right now.

Do you want to get into each ones features?


03-15-2005, 09:34 AM
*high signal to noise ratio/strong preouts
*look at models w/ at least 3 preouts
* strong processing(dac's) and dsp features of choice
* ergonomics

03-15-2005, 10:16 AM
Low output impedance ;)

03-15-2005, 10:17 AM
Kenwood don't forget about them.

03-15-2005, 03:21 PM
And others mentioned above.

Features to look for![U]
Built-in Equalizer (EQ) with more than 3 bands.
RMS? You want 20 watts RMS x4 minimum. Pay no attention to MAX power x4.
These are often times overrated. RMS = continuous power flow, essentially..

Auxillary inputs? whether you will need them or not.
2 or more Pre-Outs ( for connecting HU to amplifiers)[3 is standard]
Pre-out Voltage. Standard is 4, Eclipse Heads pack 8. This is goood..
Removable Faceplate. Hard for the G's to tell if your HU is worth selling.
Does it play CD's packed with MP3s? Cannot play DVD movies or media.
Does it play JUST MP3s? or does it play CDRW type CD's too? You want both of these.
Does it play WMA encoded music files?
Does it come with a Remote control? These are cool to play with.
Color display or no? what kind? research which type of display lasts longer.
Does the HU color clash with your dash? If you have a black dash, dont get silver..
And finally I think...
Is your HU "XM" or "SIRIUS" ready? Sat radio = great stuff.. if you can foot the bill..

And like NjccBflo said, visit www.bcae1.com to learn all about the Car Audio basics, and extreme customization details.

Hope that helps..

03-16-2005, 02:35 AM
I would look for everything listed above and also look for pre-out volts. May want to check out the eq features to see how much tuning you could do

03-16-2005, 06:38 PM
I want a an LCD, 5" I think, and I want a fairily good quality one. I'd like to get new subs, an amp, etc. What plays a factor in how many amps/subs/etc. you can hook up to it?(The HU)

BTW What should I read at that site? I looked at the HU page, but didn't really gather anything that helped me.

03-17-2005, 12:30 AM
I want a an LCD, 5" I think, and I want a fairily good quality one. I'd like to get new subs, an amp, etc. What plays a factor in how many amps/subs/etc. you can hook up to it?(The HU)

BTW What should I read at that site? I looked at the HU page, but didn't really gather anything that helped me.

Well, Id use the Search function, which works pretty good, and type out words of things that your curious aboot.

Um, an LCD TV screen HU? Please verify if you want to be able to play DVDs on it, because usually the Head Units with the LCDs built in have DVD playback, and support CDRW's and MP3s, all that good stuff. But not a good quality one for under $500. Not that i know of at least..

Um. Generally you'd want one amplifier per subwoofer. If your subs are 500 watters, then youd want a 500 watt amplifier. Depending on the brand and whether the sub is one of the TOP models of that Good brand, you can sometimes use a more powerful amp for your subs. say a 600 watt amp for your 500 watt subs. Hope that wasnt too confusing..

If your looking at a budget system, people usually go with one sub. For this, youd need a simple box built just for your particular subwoofer, unless you buy a combo from a manufacturer (sub in box = one pricetag) Youd also need one amp. With a good power rating as close to the RMS that your sub can handle.

Now theres typically two types of amps.. Mono (one) or Multi (many). One subwoofer requires only one channel, so a mono class amplifier would be used. It IS possible to wire two subwoofers to a slightly more powerful amplifier. Then there are the multi-channel amps. Generally... one channel per speaker in your car. So 4 new speakers = maybe a 4-channel amplifier. Most head units come with a built in 200-220 watt amplifier for 4 channels, so you get around 20-30 watts RMS to each speaker, which is plenty loud.

There are amps with more than 4 channels. For instance, I just finished an install on a friends Camaro that utilized a 5-channel amp, 4 channels for his new speakers, and one for his subwoofer. The amplifier has to have a Subwoofer-dedicated channel for the sub though. Not a good idea to get a 5 channel amp that is JUST for speakers, and connect 4 speaks and a sub to it.

A good rule of thumb when matching a Subwoofer to an Amplifier is to not pay attention to the MAXIMUM power your sub can handle, but instead, the "RMS" or nominal continuous power. So if your subs RMS is say.. 500 watts. but its MAX power rating is 800 watts... then a 600 watt amplifier would be perfect. Just a little over the RMS. Some people would argue, and alot would give their subs a little more juice. It all depends on what kind of music you like, and the brand of sub your after. Try searcning "Clipping" or "Damaging Subwoofers" on bcae1.com for info on destroying your subwoofer by applying too much, or too little power.

Quick lesson, just about any HU you choose shouldnt have any LESS than 2 pre-outs. These are RCA style male ports. you connect female style RCA cables (like the ones you use for your N64, playstation, etc...) and run them from the back of your HU, and usually under your carpet and what-not all the way back to your trunk where your Amplifier should be, and plug your cable into the amp. For your amplifier, however powerful it may be, you will need to run a power cable from your battery to the amplifier. This should be I/0 (zero gage) or 4 ga.

So you get Power to the amp, and sound from the HU's preouts. Then you hook the necessary speaker cable to your subwoofers. It'll say in the instructions what size of cable to use, or it may come provided.

You'd want your installer (if you choose to pay one) to fiddle with your amplifiers settings and EQ and get it just right.

Hope that helped, however.. i cannot see a budget system being built like I THINK you want, with an LCD screen in the picture...

I... dont really know what to suggest in terms of equipment to you..
I suppose I could if you really asked me.. But there are more qualified people here that could probably suggest better system components than me. Im all about brand names and quality. people have chewed me out about that.. but I was too stubborn to settle for a budget system. I saved up forever to get my system all at once.

Hopefully you can learn enough to have a good idea of what to look for in your stuff.

shopping list for you,

-Head Unit
-Subwoofer (dont go with too much bump, you might need a better alternator)
-Amplifier (to be determined after you select your sub)
-Some In-line fuses (later, after youve chosen your sub)
-Power and possibly speaker cable

Some Manufacturers to check out..
www.directed.com (Orion and Precision Power)
Just to name a few...

websites to look at?
www.Caraudio.com (front page)

~Peace, im tired..

03-17-2005, 09:54 AM
Well, I was planning on spending around 450 for the HU. I have about 2 grand to spend on the entire system.

I haven't read through the entire post, but thank you very much for the info.

And as for the subs 2 in the trunk and two in under the seats. Was gonna go with 2400 w amp in back powering 2 1200 subs and then 2 600 w subs under the seats with 1 1200 w amp powering them.

03-17-2005, 12:19 PM
Well at least we have some elbow room..
2 1200 watt subs.
2 600 watt subs under seats?? in a honda?
1 2400 watt amp.
1 1200 watt amp.

enclosures?? sealth boxes?

Which seats did you want to mount the lower-power subs under?

03-18-2005, 10:28 AM
Okay number one, I've got a 98 camaro.

I know next to nothing about enclosures. I know you want like, more or less cubic inches of air, but that's about it.