Subaru Forester Owners Forum banner

1 - 20 of 31 Posts

·
Registered
2009 Forester
Joined
·
7 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I just bought a 2009 Forester with the basic audio package. I'm not an audiophile by any means, but I've never had a car with such abysmal sound. I love music, and desperately need to upgrade this. I have lots of electronics experience (I'm a physicist), but little with audio or car audio equipment, so I don't know where to start.

I don't have a budget for this, but I don't want to spend more than I need to - I'm not looking for a top of the line system, just a better one. (For example, I previously drove a 1997 Honda Accord with stock speakers but an aftermarket head unit, an Alpine cde-9845, and I was satisfied. I actually still have that head, if its usable here.)

I've read some threads here, but still don't know what to do - I need help both developing a plan and picking parts. For instance, I know some people added an amp, changed the speakers, and kept the head. Others replaced just the head, or just the speakers. What, on this car, will give the greatest rewards for the least money and changes to the car? If the head unit is adequate, I'd prefer to keep it for its look, but I'm also not opposed to changing it. Do you guys have any suggestions? Thanks for any help you can provide.
 

·
Registered
2001 Forester Slushbox
Joined
·
1,777 Posts
Head unit sux,almost anything is better.
Speakers next although they don't sound bad for as cheapy as they are with a better head unit.

What and how you listen to it really determines what kind of set up you want.
 

·
Super Member
2010 Forester XT 4EAT
Joined
·
1,118 Posts
Being able to easily take out the factory stereo was another big selling point for me. I've changed out the stereo in every car I've ever owned. Stock always sucks and there's so many aftermarket choices that are so much better. Like frogstar said; get a new head unit first. Then when you do the speakers get the tweeters up front in the sail panel and you'll be a lot happier.
 

·
Registered
2009 Forester
Joined
·
7 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for your replies. Do you guys have any suggestions for head units? I'd like something that looks decent, and I have no need for navigation or DVD capabilities. I'd like to keep the AUX jack working. I've also considered adding the OEM tweeters; is that worth it and are they easy to hook up to an aftermarket HU?
 

·
Registered
2007 Sports X
Joined
·
21 Posts
The tweeters are easy to install (assuming the upgrade for the '09 is similar to the '07, which I've read they are). Hasn't saved the system from mediocrity but it's still leaps and bounds better with some crispness and definition, which the stock speakers lack on their own. I got mine for $38 shipped but I think the '09 upgrades are $70 on ebay. My GF has the '09 Forester and after hearing mine today wants to upgrade hers. :)
 

·
Registered
2012 2012 Legacy 3.6R 5 sp. auto
Joined
·
101 Posts
The tweeters are easy to install (assuming the upgrade for the '09 is similar to the '07, which I've read they are). Hasn't saved the system from mediocrity but it's still leaps and bounds better with some crispness and definition, which the stock speakers lack on their own. I got mine for $38 shipped but I think the '09 upgrades are $70 on ebay. My GF has the '09 Forester and after hearing mine today wants to upgrade hers. :)
I bought the tweeter kit from my dealer the first day I bought my new 2010 Forester. Makes a big difference and is easy to install and relativley cheap.
 

·
Registered
2009 Forester
Joined
·
7 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
Are they still easy to get working with an aftermarket HU? Is that even a good idea?

And what kind of HU should I be looking at? Places like Crutchfield have hundreds that seem to meet my needs...are there any particularly good models or manufacturers? Or is there a good resource on the web to help with figuring this out?
 

·
Registered
2007 Sports X
Joined
·
21 Posts
Are they still easy to get working with an aftermarket HU? Is that even a good idea?

And what kind of HU should I be looking at? Places like Crutchfield have hundreds that seem to meet my needs...are there any particularly good models or manufacturers? Or is there a good resource on the web to help with figuring this out?
I would focus on RMS rating more than total power output, and reviews.

Yes, the tweeters/front components and rear stock speakers would probably work fine with an aftermarket unit. The stock 6 disc is rated for 100 watts so I'm guessing the speakers exceed that by plenty (so they don't get blown). You're probably safe with 22Watts RMS / 50Watts peak per channel, which is pretty standard. Then make sure the fade is front heavy because the rear speakers are smaller and obviously more likely to get blown at higher volume.

Personally, I wouldn't waste a new head unit on these speakers though. I'd raplace the speakers before replacing the head unit.
 

·
Registered
2009 Forester
Joined
·
7 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
And if I were to replace the head and the front speakers, any suggestions for speaker choice? (Or head choice, for that matter.)
 

·
Registered
2010 2.5X Prem w/AWP
Joined
·
11 Posts
as far as replacing a head unit, there are a few considerations that I would focus on:
  • format size (single DIN vs double DIN)
  • music features - everything should have radio and CD, though look for ability to play MP3's from a CD, external inputs (ie USB flash drive), iPod control, ability to add-on satellite radio or HD radio; I use almost all of these, so they were important.. if they are not important to you, don't pay for a HU that offers them
  • other features - bluetooth integration (increasingly more states make it illegal to use handset as the driver), navigation (I never thought I'd want it until I got a car that had it, and I'd never go back... same applies to satellite radio for me)
  • amplifier rating - I'd caution you from putting too much stock in the differences between a few watts... remember that you have to double the power to increase sound by 3dB so the difference between 14 and 18 watts/channel is not major
  • high end features - if you're going to investigate the best sound available, having multiple outputs to separate amplifiers or processors, or the ability to have multi-channel equalizers etc would be important
as far as speakers, I think one of the biggest factors short of size (almost any 6.5" should fit without difficulty) is speaker efficiency; especially if you are planning on using the amplifier built in to the head unit, high efficiency speakers (ie 91-92 dB) will put out a lot more volume
a speaker efficient to 92db pushed with 25 watts should put out the same volume as one with an efficiency of 86 dB pushed with 100 watts
I also think it's vital to listen to speakers, as none of them completely faithfully reproduce sounds and have a slightly colored profile.. find which you like
 

·
Registered
2009 Premium X AT
Joined
·
863 Posts
First, IMO, there's no real way to really approach this completely... b/c I can't tell how much you want out of your system... but... At each stage test.... This is the order I'd recommend.

First... get the OEM Tweeter upgrade... That'll bring the music to ear-level. Simple, 5 minute install... Its all plug and play... Made my music much more enjoyable.. But I still wanted more from my system.

Second... If you like the way the system sounds, but you feel it lacks bass... Then I'm guessing your pretty easily satisfied with music... and all you need is an Underseat sub... I personally had a Kenwood KSC-SW10 Subwoofer... It was pretty good, But I still wanted more power. Btw, If you still hate your system, skip this for now and go to the next one...

Third... Head Unit... The stock HU only puts out about 4-6 watts RMS. A decent Aftermarket HU will put out anywhere between 15-22watts RMS. This should be your second install.. It'll free up some power for the stock speakers, and you may like the sound more. Also, take in to consideration whether you want a single or double din... I like the Double din idea since It'll look more stock-like.

Fourth... If you're still not satisfied, I would get new speakers for the doors. I'd recommend Coaxials for the rear and Components for the front. The combination of the Aftermarket HU and Aftermarket Speakers will help ALOT, since, lets face it, the Stock speakers fail. Combining the higher output power/clarity of aftermarket speakers and the higher output HU should make for a good combination. Personally, i use Alpine Type S Components in front and Coaxials in the rear. For the price, ($70 shipped new on ebay per pair), they put out a lot of power (80watts rms to be exact), and attached to my 50watt rms per channel amp, these sound AMAZING, and I don't even need the full 80. So now your HU should be able to fully output the proper sound to the aftermarket speakers.

Fifth, If you feel it lacks bass, This is where you buy a GOOD sub. It's up to you where you want to have it mounted. Be aware that you will NEVER get the same amount of power out of an underseat sub that you will get out of one in the trunk. The Kenwood underseat sub will provide low end, but not what I would consider full-rich, accurate Bass. Next choice You have is a single All-in-one package... Which I have the Infinity Basslink. It provides the most accurate bass reproduction for music, comes with a wired remote where I can fine-tune the bass per song, and it sounds GREAT! Its not going to start and earthquake, but enough to make you feel your music a bit.

Sixth, If you feel your speakers are underpowered, Buy an amp. 4 channel, 50watt rms should be plenty... And hook that to your speakers... should get you the sound your looking for.

Seventh... If you're still Really not satisfied (Although by this point you should be)... You may have issues with rattling... Hence, Let Dynamat, Raamat, etc. kick in. Attaching it to the doors, trunk, etc. will cut out all of the rattling and help better bring out the music.

For the record, I'm in no way a pro... My fozzie has been subject to my experimentation as this is the first car I've ever done mods to... So this is strictly all just my opinion. I wanted my car to sound like a home theater system, So I did all the above, and am still working on the dynamat. I'm running an Alpine IXA-W404 iPod integrated HU, hooked up to Front OEM Tweeters, Alpine Type S components in front, Alpine Type S Coaxials in rear, and Alpine Tweeters in the trunk, all hooked up to a Kenwood KAC Amplifier, and an Infinity Basslink sub in the trunk.

Hope this helps!!!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
81 Posts
I have the tweeters installed and the OEM subwoofer as well. Important note on the subwoofer - they will install it but you MUST tweak the settings on it yourself. I know its not a great sub, but tweaking the settings makes a big difference.

Between the tweeters, tweaked subwoofer and putting the radio in "Circle Surround" mode (this made a big difference to me) I think the audio quality goes from poor to acceptable.
 

·
Registered
2009 Forester
Joined
·
7 Posts
Discussion Starter #15
Fourth... If you're still not satisfied, I would get new speakers for the doors. I'd recommend Coaxials for the rear and Components for the front. The combination of the Aftermarket HU and Aftermarket Speakers will help ALOT, since, lets face it, the Stock speakers fail. Combining the higher output power/clarity of aftermarket speakers and the higher output HU should make for a good combination. Personally, i use Alpine Type S Components in front and Coaxials in the rear. For the price, ($70 shipped new on ebay per pair), they put out a lot of power (80watts rms to be exact), and attached to my 50watt rms per channel amp, these sound AMAZING, and I don't even need the full 80. So now your HU should be able to fully output the proper sound to the aftermarket speakers.
Where did you mount the tweeters and crossovers?
 

·
Registered
2009 Premium X AT
Joined
·
863 Posts
Where did you mount the tweeters and crossovers?
The one downside to the Type S setup is that it doesn't include the crossovers. However, where the OEM tweeters mount, there are existing wires there... So you can easily splice them and connect the Alpine Tweeters. However, I believe you can disassemble both, and then just a lil super glue will get the alpine's in the oem sockets... What i did was connect the existing tweeter wiring and connect both in conjunction, so the oem tweeters remain, and I ran the wires to the trunk area and mounted the Alpine Tweeters here.
 

·
Registered
2009 Forester
Joined
·
7 Posts
Discussion Starter #17 (Edited)
What do you guys think of the Kenwood Excelon KDC-X494 (hxxp://signature.crutchfield.com/s_113KDCX494/Kenwood-Excelon-KDC-X494.html) HU? I've always had Alpines in the past, but I'm not in love with the look and feature set of any of the current models, and this one looks decent. The Alpine CDE-103BT (hxxp://signature.crutchfield.com/s_500CDE103B/Alpine-CDE-103BT.html) doesn't seem bad either - any thoughts on it? I can't find any double din units that I like, since I'm not interested in navigation or anything, so it looks like I'll go with a single. If you buy from crutchfield, do they give you the plastic container thing that fills in the extra slot?

I'm also not sure how to choose speakers. I'm reticent to get components because I'm not sure about mounting tweeters and crossovers. I also have no idea what brands are good, what characteristics to judge by, etc. And suggestions?
 

·
Registered
2014 FORESTER CVT AUTO
Joined
·
9 Posts
2009 FORESTER STEREO

My 05 OUTBACK had a pretty good stock stereo. My 09 Forester stereo is so bad...even with the tweeters. ..... and then I made the mistake of test driving a 2010 OUTBACK.. OMG the HARMAN KARDON is awesome... NOW what do I do????

I need an EXCELLENT AFTERMARKET replacement for my 2009 FORESTER, short of trading in for a 2010 Outback. SUGGESTIONS??? MAKE, MODEL, STORE??? MUST BE 6 DISC WITH MP3 PLUG IN.

HELP!!!!
 

·
Registered
2009 Premium X AT
Joined
·
863 Posts
What do you guys think of the Kenwood Excelon KDC-X494 (hxxp://signature.crutchfield.com/s_113KDCX494/Kenwood-Excelon-KDC-X494.html) HU? I've always had Alpines in the past, but I'm not in love with the look and feature set of any of the current models, and this one looks decent. The Alpine CDE-103BT (hxxp://signature.crutchfield.com/s_500CDE103B/Alpine-CDE-103BT.html) doesn't seem bad either - any thoughts on it? I can't find any double din units that I like, since I'm not interested in navigation or anything, so it looks like I'll go with a single. If you buy from crutchfield, do they give you the plastic container thing that fills in the extra slot?

I'm also not sure how to choose speakers. I'm reticent to get components because I'm not sure about mounting tweeters and crossovers. I also have no idea what brands are good, what characteristics to judge by, etc. And suggestions?
Haven't had much experience with Kenwood units, but I got a chance to talk to some of the geeksquad ppl at best buy and they recommended kenwood units.. they say they're really easy to navigate in comparison to the alpine units... although I really like my alpine unit. When you purchase from crutchfield, you usually will be asked to enter your vehicle information, and on each product page, there should be a link that will tell you what they provide... with almost every HU purchase they give you a wiring harness and the appropriate dash kit.

As for your speakers, your best bet is to go to an electronics store and LISTEN. Thats the only real way you'll get speakers you'll like to hear. From what I hear, infinity is good, but I feel as though the high end can be a little sharp.... I like Alpine for the more bass-y feel.... And a lot of people on here prefer the Polk speakers... It all depends on your tastes. If you don't like the idea of mounting the components, you could always go to best buy and have them mount for you, or you could stick with Coaxial speakers.

My 05 OUTBACK had a pretty good stock stereo. My 09 Forester stereo is so bad...even with the tweeters. ..... and then I made the mistake of test driving a 2010 OUTBACK.. OMG the HARMAN KARDON is awesome... NOW what do I do????

I need an EXCELLENT AFTERMARKET replacement for my 2009 FORESTER, short of trading in for a 2010 Outback. SUGGESTIONS??? MAKE, MODEL, STORE??? MUST BE 6 DISC WITH MP3 PLUG IN.

HELP!!!!
A well thought out aftermarket system will blow away any stock sound system IMHO. You just need to find the right parts. Scroll above, I put some useful information there, as well as do some research on crutchfield reading user reviews, and take it from there.
 

·
Registered
2009 Forester
Joined
·
7 Posts
Discussion Starter #20
I bought a Kendwood HU and some Polk coaxial speakers. I went against components because I just couldn't find a way of mounting the tweeters that I liked, short of buying the oem kit and using their grills and mounts, but that's an extra $70 for a piece of plastic. Anyway, my parts haven't arrived yet but we'll see how it turns out.
 
1 - 20 of 31 Posts
Top