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New Audio System for a '94 Geo Prizm

Hey, I'm looking to upgrade my entire audio setup in my Prizm but I don't know where to start. I don't need anything too fancy but I do want the best bang for my buck. I listen primarily to techno/trance/house/industrial and rock so I'm looking for a system that can keep up with the demands of those genres.

I don't want to spend a fortune on any one item unless it is essential to improving the entire system.

As far as I know, I need:

4 speakers (2 front, 2 back)

1 amp

1 sub

I'd like to keep the entire setup under $700 at the high end (I'm more comfortable with ~$500) even if that means only decent quality. It's an older car so I'm not overly comfortable sinking almost a grand into it.

Am I forgetting anything?

Any and all help is appreciated.


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Prism POWER!

In reply to: New Audio System for a '94 Geo Prizm

Okay for your budget, you're in luck (kind of). Because the Geo's stock speakers are so small (4" in the front and 5 1/4" out back, I think) you won't even be able to spend a lot of money on your primary stereo speakers. You're looking at about $40 a pair, it doesn't really matter at this price point what brand you get, they're all about the same. Blaupunkt is a good brand with a low price.

Nobody listens to music with their ankles. So, if you really want good sound, I'd suggest that (at least for the front pair) you consider getting a set of component speakers with discrete tweeters instead of coaxial speakers with the tweeter integrated. This way you can move the tweeters closer to ear level (dash mount, or a-pillar mount) for a much, much clearer sound--especially considering the small size speaker you have to work with. If there's anywhere worth splurging, here is the place.

At this point, you've spent $80 on speakers ($120 if you took my advice and sprung for the components up front). Move on to the headunit.

A good headunit can be had for $99 and up, so it's really a matter of what features you want. If you're a CNET reader, you probably want some sort of MP3/iPod integration. There are plenty of good units in the $150 range, for example the Sony CDX-GT630UI. Again, at this price range almost every receiver sounds similar, so look for the one with the feature set that matches your needs.

Okay, speakers? Check. Receiver? Check. This puts you at $230-$270 depending on options chosen. Most people stop here and if you can live with the way your system sounds, you can hold here for a while whilst your checkbook cools off. When you're ready to move on, it's time to delve into the scary world of amps and subs.

If you're trying to keep price to a minimum, you'll want to look at a self-contained system. In our test Aveo, we use a Blaupunkt Velocity 2Go system which basically a pair of 6.5-inch woofers and an amp in a self contained deal, and it sounds pretty good in the little hatch. If you want more power look for the Blaupunkt THb 210A, which is a similar deal with a 120 watt amp and a single 8-inch woofer for about $250. Which should bring your total to $480-$520.

If you want to spend a few more buck and go through a bit more trouble, you could look for a non-powered sub, a speaker box, and an amp.

Of course none of this pricing includes installation costs (if you weren't planning on DIY), which can vary wildly, or the cost for installation kits for the receiver or wiring kits the sub/amp if you choose to go that route.

Hope that helps. Let me know if you have more questions!

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In reply to: Prism POWER!

That was so much more information than I was expecting, lol. It was fantastic and really hit the nail on the head. The only part that didn't really relate to my issue was the headunit search since I just put in a Pioneer BT-capable unit with iPod adapter last Christmas. Now I'm just looking to up the speakers.

However, the unit is temperamental and I'm considering swapping it out since I hate dealing with the menu system rather than basic buttons. I just need to ensure that I don't have to use an auxiliary-in setup for my iPod. I prefer the direct channel that I have now.

With that in mind, the price constraint only pertains to the speakers, amp and sub. I don't want to blow out my windows since the car is so old but I think your suggestions were fantastic and I'll definitely look into them.

I think that a sub and amp are good investments since I can move them into my new car if/when this one dies (knock on wood). Also, I hope it'll give my music more pop to the low end and clarify the mid- and high-range.

I don't need to max out my finances. The most bang for my buck will do just fine.

Thanks again for your help and I hope you have more to give.

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How big?

In reply to: Wow

Sorry it took so long to get back. Okay, so you're going down the sub/amp route. Here's what you'll need to look at when deciding.

A) Factor in the cost of the speakerbox. If you're going with a discrete sub and amp (meaning not an all-in-one deal like the Bazooka) then you'll also want to remember that you're probably going to need a box to house the sub. Boxes can start as low as $50 for a single 10" sealed sub box and shoot as high as $300 for a huge 12" dual sub bandpass box.

Even if you're only looking at using a single sub, take a look at the bandpass box for tighter, louder sound and because the Plexiglas offers a reasonable level of protection if you plan on putting other things in your trunk besides speakers. There's no point in spending a bunch of money on a sub, if you accidentally put a golf club or tire iron through it. For a single 10", you're looking at $120.

B) How much space do you have in your trunk? How much of that are you willing to sacrifice? This will be the primary determining factor for your subwoofer size. You'll want to take measurements of your trunk to make sure that your chosen box will fit.

I was once able to fit 2x12" subwoofers (in a box) in the trunk of my 1989 Toyota Camry, but honestly that was overkill and I had next to no trunk space left. Heaven forbid, if I got a flat tire, then I'd have to lug all of that equipment out on the side of the road to access the spare.

Again, for a vehicle of your size, a single 10" or 12" sub will do nicely, and won't take up a lot of space.

C) Less is more. Most OEM premium systems use 1x8" subwoofer, so a single 10" should sound pretty good at your budget and in your car. You should have no problem finding an SVC 10" that will handle 200 watts RMS for less than $100. Next, look for an amplifier that matches the speaker's power level. A single channel amp in the 200 watt RMS range can be found for about $100-150 bucks.

Both the sub and the amp will list max and RMS power, you want to make sure that your amp doesn't exceed either, but the RMS number is the most important one because that's your everyday realistic power rating. Rockford Fosgate is a good bang/buck brand for the amp and sub.

So you're looking at $50-129 for your box, depending on whether you go sealed, ported, or bandpass, plus about $100 for your subwoofer, and about $100-150 for your amplifier, depending on brand. Don't forget the cost of professional installation, or about $50 for an amp wiring kit, speaker wires, and brackets to bolt your box into place for a DIY installation.

All in all, adding a sub to your stereo should run you, at bare minimum $300. Also remember that car audio prices, particularly for things like speakers and amps fluctuate wildly, so take your time and really shop around for really good deals.

I hope this helps.

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In reply to: Prism POWER!

I'm an owner of Aveo. It's worse car I've ever seen. When I put a good sound, I very much regretted. Plastic quality is terrible inside. It would, I added a couple of thousand, and bought a Honda.

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In reply to: Aveo

We've an 2004-ish Aveo5 hatchback as our test car for headunits here in the CNET garage. I'm almost certain that it was chosen because it was the cheapest new car in America for its model year. It has its quirks. (super long shifter throws, extra smooshy clutch pedal, buzzing engine, lots of road noise, poor speaker placement, cheap interior panels, no power anything, etc.)

Oddly, it's grown on me. I wouldn't recommend the Aveo to anyone in the market for a small car (the Honda Fit is the best value), but I like our crappy, bright-yellow CNET Aveo5 (the Lemon). Perhaps it has a lot to do with the fact that I spend a lot of time down in the garage doing the installs and maintenance myself.

There's something about putting in your own wrench time on a car that creates an affinity.

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Aveo? Ha-ha-ha!

In reply to: Aveo?

I do not know. To begin with, where are you from? USA? Europe? I'm from Russia. We supply the ukrainian assembly Aveo. Car assembly is worse I had never seen. Oh! I'm sorry! There are even worse - VAZ assembly. But it is offtop. Now, attention! In the United States and Russia Aveo is about the same price (about $ 11.000)! For example a Honda Accord value is totally different. We have it is from $ 30 thousands and above, in the U.S. it is from $ 18 thousands. I do wonder who does buy some garbage called Aveo in the U.S.?
With regards to the the Chevrolet Aveo exterior will not argue, I like it very much. It was, I took it. And it is complete rubbish inside.

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