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HCFFHC
2017 Forester 2.0XT
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253 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Thinking of going with Pioneer TS-G690 in front using Metra 82-8146 adapter and Pioneer TS-G650 in the rear and then adding the Kicker dash tweeters.

Has anyone done an upgrade other than the factory Kicker upgrade? How does it sound?


I will be keeping the factory head-unit, no amplifier, no sub
 

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Premium Member
2017 Forester XT CVT (High Torque)
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254 Posts
This is probably pretty far from what you are looking for, but I hope it helps. I thought I could live without an amp and I was wrong. I tried the stock and Kicker before upgrading to OEM Audio+ Reference system. It’s an all-inclusive upgrade that costs $1200-1500 dollars.

I first upgraded to the Subaru Kicker 2-way speakers and Kicker tweeters. It was an improvement from the stock system, but the doors were too bright and the rear 2-way speakers seemed louder than the front. This interfered with imaging (too low), and I had to turn down the treble with the EQ to compensate. Also, the bass was disappointing without an amp, I’m sure it would have been much better if I had one. The Kicker tweeters were pretty awesome, though.

Without an amp, you really need very sensitive speakers that don’t take much power, like the stock 8-ohm speakers. The problem is that when you put 4- or 2-ohm speakers on the stock wiring, there isn’t enough power to supply even 2-way speakers, much less 3-way speakers. You first split the power 3 ways, then the crossovers convert some of the signal to heat before it reaches each speaker.

I got the full OEM Audio+ 500Q Reference system, which comes with a DSP amplifier, subwoofer cabinet that installs in the rear driver side cargo cubby, silk dome tweeters, and optionally door speakers. Before I installed those speakers or the sub, I tried just adding the amp to the Kicker speakers. It was night and day, I had been missing out all along. Even just adding a ~140 watt mini-amp behind the radio would be a big improvement with the Kicker speakers.

The OEM+ speakers are 6x9” neodymium 1-way full-range speakers in front, the rear are 5.25” 2-way speakers. I LOVE having separation between the tweeters on the dash and the front door speakers with no tweeters. I would highly recommend you choose a nice 1-way (“full” or “mid-range”) speaker and a good set of tweeters for the front. 2- and 3-way speakers are great if you don’t have separate tweeters, but quality component speakers sound better than all-in-one.

The door speakers handle the mid-range, the tweeters handle the high, and subwoofer handles the low. OEM Audio+ actually claims that their system sounds great with the stock speakers. Why? Because the door speakers actually have the easiest job, filling out the middle. They spent hundreds of hours in a lab with a Forester outfitted with over a dozen microphones, so I trust them on this.

So my advice is to get tweeters and an amp and sub or subwoofer/amp combo that fits under the front seat and enjoy your music. Later, you can upgrade your front door speakers with some nice mid-range ones and the back with some 2-way ones (the back door speakers are the least important, some people leave them, remove them, or replace them with 5” woofers/subwoofers).
 

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HCFFHC
2017 Forester 2.0XT
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253 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I just removed a Skar SDR12d2 and Skar RP800.1. Was overkill and not what I was looking for. I found myself with the bass knob off 99% of the time. Even when I showed it off I didn't turn the bass knob over 1/4. And it drowned out the mids and highs. I actually dont mind the factory sound, just want a little crisper, cleaner sound.
 

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51 Posts
I'd have an issue with different sonic signatures between the Kicker and Pioneer speakers.

We replaced the OEM HK speakers in my kids' 2019 Forester Touring with Kickers from Crutchfield. The OEM HK speakers are junk. It was obvious weight was the #1 priority that Subaru gave HK. The spiders were plastic. The 6 speakers were around $150 from Crutchfield and included the Metro adaptors and wire harnesses. We didn't have the issues that the above poster had but we do have the HK amp as OEM.
 

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Premium Member
2017 Forester XT CVT (High Torque)
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254 Posts
I just removed a Skar SDR12d2 and Skar RP800.1. Was overkill and not what I was looking for. I found myself with the bass knob off 99% of the time. Even when I showed it off I didn't turn the bass knob over 1/4. And it drowned out the mids and highs. I actually dont mind the factory sound, just want a little crisper, cleaner sound.

One thing to keep in mind if you are replacing the speakers without an amp is the “sensitivity” of the speaker will give you an idea how efficient it is. A speaker with an 88db sensitivity will require around twice the amplification of a 91db speaker to produce the same volume.

There are some very sensitive speakers in the $100-300 per pair range. Some of the more expensive speakers actually have lower sensitivity, as they are designed to be always amplified.

Another trick is to use a lower impedance speaker. A 2.7-3 ohm speaker is going to pull more power from the stereo. With stock wiring the real impedance will be higher. Infiniti uses this trick, as does JBL to get the most from OEM stereos. You probably shouldn’t go lower than 2.5 ohm with stock wiring and no amp.
 

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2019 Convenience / EyeSight CVT
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53 Posts
I went with Infinity Reference series 3.5" dash and 6x9 co-ax for the front doors (rears left stock). This combination did the trick for me without extra amplification, wiring or cutting. Sensitivity of 91 & 93 db filled out the soundstage more completely and modestly added the missing bottom end. This will work for me three years (leased) and then I will upgrade the HU, add amplification and component speakers thereafter.
 

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2015 Forester2.5i Premium CVT
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1,301 Posts
I recently had my system replaced, taking out the stock Clarion 6-speaker stereo and installing a Sony XAV-AX5000 and Focal speakers. Focal makes some very high-end car speakers and these are not those; thy are nevertheless some very good sounding speakers from a high-end audio company that has accurate precision audio as its promary mission.

The speakers are the RSE-165 component speakers (in the front doors and dash)
https://www.crutchfield.com/S-wI2LdeNEHEC/p_091RSE165/Focal-RSE-165.html
and the RCX-130 coaxials (in the back doors)
https://www.crutchfield.com/p_091RCX130/Focal-RCX-130.html?skipvs=T

As with any non-Subaru speaker, adapters will be needed for the door installations; these are included when you buy from Crutchfield. The in-dash tweeters will require some fabrication to install, as only the Kicker upgrade is a direct fit. I don't have the exact details of what my installer did, but it was included in the price so it couldn't have been too complicated. I expect they simply used the existing speaker as a template to make an adapter plate for the new Focal tweeter, which is much smaller.

These Focals are a good choice for use with the internal amplifiers of a head unit; with 4 Ohms impedance and 91.5dB (front) and 90 (back) sensitivity, they will get the most out of a modest amplifier, while producing clean, punchy, and credible bass for most music, if not for dance parties or that the drivers of adjacent cars can feel. For the prog-rock, jazz, Americana, Celtic, and such that I listen to, even cranked up when I'm alone in the Forester, they sound like very good hi-fi bookshelf speakers, similar to the trusty Definitive Studio Monitor 350s I use in my office 2.0 system. They can get down into the bottom octave of a bass guitar or double bass without booming, distorting, or creating false overtones.

I don't know that using the Kicker tweeters with a full-range coax in the door is going to work without adding some sort of crossover. The Kickers (as I understand them) have a simple high-pass filter which works simply because the Subaru speakers (even the Kickers) are so lacking in high-end response that the tweeters simply reproduce what the doors cannot. With real full-range speakers, adding the tweeters may make the sound so harsh that you'd have to use more detailed equalization to tame it than your OEM head unit is capable of. And in any event, the mis-match will make itself known audible in other unpleasant ways. True component speakers like the Focals include a crossover that blends the dash with the door properly.

This is all predicated on no need for more bass than the door speakers can comfortably provide when powered by the head unit alone, and a head unit with adequate power. I don't know what the power output of a 2017 HU is; the Clarion in the 2015 was pretty wimpy compared to the Sony, even though the Sony is typically average for a replacement HU.
 

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2016 forester
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29 Posts
I'm in the process of upgrading my HU and speakers in my 2016. I bought kenwood dmx906s and KFC-1696PS speakers as well as the ksc-sw11 subwoofer for under the driver seat. I also ordered the subaru kicker upgraded tweeters.

I've only replaced the 4 door speakers so far. Even just doing those has improved the sound a lot. I can only suspect that the rest of the upgrades will make it sound even better.

The install kit supplied by Crutchfield was fine for the fronts. But for the rears, they sent a universal install kit that is crap. It's too thin, and you need to actually drill holes and use those clips that have those sharp teeth in them to fasten the adapter to the door. I chucked that set and cut a couple of spacers out of MDF. I may someday design a set and print them on my 3d printer since MDF will absorb moisture and rot away after a few years if those back doors get damp enough.
 

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HCFFHC
2017 Forester 2.0XT
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253 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Well I ended up going with the Subaru Kicker upgrade. Love it, but I agree with others that it needs an amp
 
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