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Old 08-11-2005, 10:09 PM   #2
Scooby Guru
Member#: 32636
Join Date: Feb 2003
Chapter/Region: MWSOC
Location: Dayton, OH
2004 Impreza STi


In the end it is all a matter of personal preference on what sounds best (and that is the most important statement I can make in this whole FAQ). You should always bear in mind that speakers commonly sound somewhat different in a car than they would on a sound board in a store. For that reason it is always best to find someone locally who has that pair of speakers installed in their car that you are considering and listen to them that way. It is possible to get used to hearing speakers on a sound board and knowing how that would translate in a car; as I got very used to doing this while working for a couple local car audio stores.

Wiring -
There are two basic options, reusing the stock wiring or running new wire. The thought is that the stock wire is very easy to reuse and is good for at least about 80 watts. If running from an aftermarket head unit, it will simply tie in using the stock wiring harness connector. If you are running from an external amplifier then the stock wiring can be reused by running the speaker wire from the amp to the wiring behind the head unit, and at that point it can be spliced into the speaker. Wiring harness for connecting the stock speaker harness to an aftermarket speaker make for a nice clean install and prevents you from needing to chop off the stock harnesses and splicing more wiring. For those who are running significant power or prefer to be more thorough, new wire will need to be run from the amplifier through the door jam grommet and to the speaker. I have included links for removing door panels and running wire after the Installation section. For all of the information you will ever need concerning wire, including some wonderful calculators showing how much power can be carried by certain lengths and gauges of wire can be found here…

Installation -
Of primary concern with installation of speakers in a Subaru is the depth the doors have available. Most speakers will require some sort of speaker ring in order to move the speaker further out from the door. These can be made out of plywood; but if you aren’t ready for that level of DIY, then you can always either a) go to a local speaker shop and ask for a set (they can build them pretty cheaply and quickly) or b) order some perfectly made Subaru specific speaker ring from IAPerformance. There is a wonderful pdf showing examples of what size and depth of speakers will fit with the adapter rings on the IAPerformance website listed below (the link to the pdf is toward the bottom of the page). In that pdf there is also some very good information regarding the mounting of the woofer in the doors. It shows how to trim the back side of the door panel to prevent the cone from hitting the panel if needed. And Stephen (aka EastCoastScooby) also sells door pin extensions to help getting every last ounce of room for some of the really large speakers.

If dealing with a component set of speakers, installation of the crossover and tweeter also have to be considered. The crossover can basically be stuck anywhere you find room. Most people install them inside the doors since that can make the wiring easier at times. You can also mount them under the seat or in the trunk for easier access (very nice to have when troubleshooting problems. Check some of the pics in the following links for ideas on where a crossover may fit.

The tweeters are the most crucial part of the install with regard to sound quality (imaging, depth, and clarity among other things). The stock location makes the install easier; however it is also one of the worst spots for sound quality. The sail panels (the small triangular panel at the front top of the door) is a better choice, but still not ideal for most situations. One of the best spots is the A-pillars (the plastic between the windshield and the side windows). Below is a link showing a nice install of the tweeters in the A-pillars. Other spots include the kick panel area, near the top of the dash, or custom mounted lower in the door next to the woofer; these are usually reserved for advanced installers.

Speaker Adapter Rings (plus much more)…

Door panel removal and speaker install…

Another door panel removal and speaker install (thx gharari)…

Install photos: running new speaker wire into the door…

My New Door Panels (full built custom door panels)…

My completed install

A-Pillar Project

For a more complete write-up on trying to obtain wonderful imaging and sound quality…
Component Tuning: Imaging and Goals;f=4;t=020202

Passive setups, Active setups, and Bi-Amping -
This is one last concept I thought was worth mentioning in this post. Basically it is a matter of where the crossover function happens, before or after the amplifier. For a passive setup the signal is amplified and then run through the crossover, while an active setup has the signal already crossed-over before being amplified. The passive setup is the most common and usually the cheapest. The downside is that it wastes a lot of the power to amplify the full signal only to later ‘throw it away’; and the common passive crossover (those included in a component set) aren’t of very high quality and can degrade the overall sound quality of the signal before getting to the speakers. A passive setup is usually sufficient for the majority of people with an aftermarket car audio system. An active system requires either a higher end head unit that has crossover ability built-in, or a separate powered electronic crossover. So besides the obvious negative aspect of increases cost, there is also more complexity in getting the settings correct for everything to sound up to its potential. The term bi-amping simply refers to using a separate channel of power from an amp for each speaker (both woofer and tweeter separately). While this is most commonly done only with active setups (and is virtually required for them), there are some passive crossovers that allow for separate amplified signals for the woofer and tweeter each (Alpine Type-X crossovers for example). This does seem to improve the sound quality over the regular passive setup, but still lacks some of the control that an active setup may provide a more experienced person.

General comments -
Choosing speakers for your car depends on a lot of factors. Primarily it becomes a matter of what sounds best to you. The general consensus of what most people think sounds good does seem to follow the old adage “you get what you pay for”. But some people are totally satisfied with the cheapest of speakers. My common recommendations have always been the following… If just using the power from the head unit, stick with some efficient coaxial speakers. If you will be going with an external amplifier then a set of component speakers typically yields the best results. But remember that the quality of sound is 90% install and 10% product. Sealing and deadening the doors, placement of the tweeters, supplying appropriate power through proper design all increase the sound quality tremendously. And it is for these reasons that I will not bother naming brands specifically in this buyer’s guide and FAQ. If you do have any questions about the quality or sound of a certain model of door speakers feel free to start up a new post and ask, as there will be plenty of us happy to try and help.
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Last edited by offset; 01-30-2009 at 03:04 PM.
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