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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
There has been a lot of talk about the lack of quality of the Forester's stereo system (this applies to '09 and newer) and most of it is justified, but for those who don't care to replace the factory system, there are a few ways to make it sound better than it does pre-configured from Subaru.

1. Speakers: To have any hope of decent sound, the ~$55 tweeters are a necessity and the subwoofer is a big help.

2. Tweeters: Be ready to attenuate the tweeters down about 5 notches when using an iPod (or adjust the EQ on the ipod).

3. Subwoofer: The subwoofer has some controls that will probably need adjusting. If you look under the driver's seat, you will notice two pots on the subwoofer's enclosure. As you are looking at it, the left pot controls the crossover frequency and the right pot controls gain. My subwoofer had both of them turned too low from the factory. To get the correct settings, you might have to do some tweaking. The subwoofer should not intrude into male vocal range nor should bass volume increase as low frequencies transition between the door spears and the subwoofer. Properly set, your system should have solid low-end that can be felt. It will not produce much below 50Hz, but it can make a big difference when the levels are right.

4. Door speakers: I think Subaru went a bit overboard with cheapness. Since the radio produces so little power, they seem to have installed a speaker whose main characteristic is efficiency. Such speakers make very little bass. Since I have the subwoofer, I have not attempted to change the bass tone control on the radio. I don't know that I would either since bass requires more power to produce than all other frequencies combined and we already suffer from a lack of power - also, the speaker probably has dramatic mechanical limitations. The midrange tone control on the radio will not help with the production of midrange from your speakers - it seems to be set at too high a frequency to do much other than make singers sound like they have a sinus infection.

5. Tone controls: Since CD, radio, and ipod seem to all sound different, unless you care to fiddle with these every time you switch sources, try to find something tolerable for all of them, or whichever one you use the most. Treble is the biggest problem area.

6. iPod integration: If you bought the ~$160 iPod integration, you may find the radio controls to be confusing. Keep in mind that the selections (buttons 2-4) are hierarchical. The selected playlist determines what is available when selecting artists and albums. If a playlist of favorites is selected, you are not going be able to find a song that isn't in the playlist. Make sure there is a playlist that includes everything in iTunes so you can play everything in your iPod.

This link has lots of information about creating playlists: Smart Playlists.com

Playlists are essential for making your iPod integration experience pleasant.

All said, the ~$450 I spent on the extras were probably not well spent. There are better sounding speakers, better subwoofers, and better radios that can be had on even a tight budget. However, with a little bit of attention, the stock stereo isn't nearly as bad as many think it to be. I've had passengers make positive comments about the sound, so all is not lost.

Good luck!
 

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'15 2.5i Touring
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29 Posts
Nice!! I just wish Subaru will start putting the Harmon Kardon system from the Legacy into the Foresters. Then we'd all be happier.
 

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2017 XT Touring CVT
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28 Posts
3. Subwoofer: The subwoofer has some controls that will probably need adjusting. If you look under the driver's seat, you will notice two pots on the subwoofer's enclosure. As you are looking at it, the left pot controls the crossover frequency and the right pot controls gain. My subwoofer had both of them turned too low from the factory. To get the correct settings, you might have to do some tweaking. The subwoofer should not intrude into male vocal range nor should bass volume increase as low frequencies transition between the door spears and the subwoofer. Properly set, your system should have solid low-end that can be felt. It will not produce much below 50Hz, but it can make a big difference when the levels are right.
I have the 2011 XT Touring with the subwoofer under the driver's seat. For the life of me I can't find any controls on it at all. The volume output is maybe half as loud as the door speakers, the only way I'm sure it's working is to put my hand on it and feel the vibrations. With the bass cranked all the way up the door speakers sound pretty good, but having the subwoofer working would help. Any ideas?

Thanks,
Chuck
 

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2009 Forester X Premium
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3,121 Posts
If you look under the seat at the front of the sub there are 2 holes in it.. one for the gain and the other the cutoff. Turning the gain up will increase its sound output, you'll need a small screwdriver to adjust these.
 

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2008 XS 4EAT
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9,878 Posts
The OP has not been on for over a year. :shrug: I do recall that the tweeter kits for the 03-08's were on sale for a while at Annapolis Subaru, (maybe the SH models were on sale too) one of our Supporting Vendors. Give Jackie a call or PM and see what her price will be. I'll guarantee that they'll be less than walking into your local dealer to purchase.
 
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