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Old 06-05-2014, 11:01 AM   #1
freetors OP
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Reccomend me a car stereo head unit

So now that I have our Subaru Forester's head gaskets fixed I would like to get a better radio for the car. The current radio's cd player is inoperable and I would also like to have aux inputs. I'm not an audiophile bass pumper, I never even turn the volume up loud so I don't care how powerful it is. IT's a double DIN by the way. I could go either single or double , it doesn't really matter. So to sum up what I want and don't want here's a list:

WANTS:
under $150
I don't care what brand
Bluetooth and usb connectivity
CD player
soft touch buttons (I hate the clicky feel of aftermarket radios)
OEMish looking (don't want the car getting broken into)

DON'T WANTS:
clicky buttons
Funky stylish designs (remember this is a car with tweed upholstery)
Touch screens
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Old 06-05-2014, 11:21 AM   #2
jdiaz
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WalMart has a Pioneer unit with all of that for $135.
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Old 06-05-2014, 12:47 PM   #3
Hesaid
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It's not what you want to hear, but after a couple of decades of working on cars, get a factory unit. The aftermarket ones are shitty and don't last or fit well. But most of their target clientele never notice and/or care, because they're swapping it out again for some other shiny bauble.

Whatever you do, install it yourself. The hack job that stereo shops do is only better than the big box stores in the sense that they make it look good on the outside, and break less interior trim trying. The electrical inside the dash is still a clusterfuck. If you lack the skills to wire it up, see if you can find someone who works on aircraft, or marine electrical (marine, like goes in the ocean, works for a living type boat, not ski boats, those are often the same meth/pothead losers that hack up cars), people who work on those things tend to take wiring seriously.

MV
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Old 06-05-2014, 12:50 PM   #4
jwhking1315
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Buy wiring adapter when you get radio. Half of the hassle solved by making it plug & play
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Old 06-05-2014, 02:47 PM   #5
freetors OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hesaid View Post
It's not what you want to hear, but after a couple of decades of working on cars, get a factory unit. The aftermarket ones are shitty and don't last or fit well. But most of their target clientele never notice and/or care, because they're swapping it out again for some other shiny bauble.

Whatever you do, install it yourself. The hack job that stereo shops do is only better than the big box stores in the sense that they make it look good on the outside, and break less interior trim trying. The electrical inside the dash is still a clusterfuck. If you lack the skills to wire it up, see if you can find someone who works on aircraft, or marine electrical (marine, like goes in the ocean, works for a living type boat, not ski boats, those are often the same meth/pothead losers that hack up cars), people who work on those things tend to take wiring seriously.

MV
Interesting. I was not aware that aftermarket radios are hit or miss. This would be the first aftermarket radio I've ever bought. I would buy another OEM unit but resale value on a used unit seem to be as much as a new aftermarket one. I will definitely be installing myself. I just don't trust other people to work on my vehicles.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jwhking1315 View Post
Buy wiring adapter when you get radio. Half of the hassle solved by making it plug & play
I will definitely buy a wiring adapter.
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Old 06-05-2014, 04:03 PM   #6
Drif10
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Recently installed a Kenwood 555 in my 4Runner. BT connection works very well, streaming my tunes and giving me handsfree in the truck. Price matches your budget, too.

Messed with a bunch of them, this one was the easiest to use, and to BT with. Hands free is very good, plus it has an aux in and a usb in the face.
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Old 06-05-2014, 04:49 PM   #7
josjor
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hesaid View Post
It's not what you want to hear, but after a couple of decades of working on cars, get a factory unit. The aftermarket ones are shitty and don't last or fit well. But most of their target clientele never notice and/or care, because they're swapping it out again for some other shiny bauble.
Ummmm, that's almost completely bullshit. I've been selling Pioneer, JVC, Kenwood, and Clarion for twenty years. You know the last time I had to do a return on any of them? About 6 years ago.

Get the right, quality kits and the proper wiring harnesses and they work well, look good, fit perfectly, and, in most instances, WAY outperform the standard factory unit.

All that said, on some vehicles it is a HUGE hassle to replace the factory unit. These days the factory unit often integrates a bunch of other stuff like Onstar, climate controls, etc. So what happens is you want to get a deck with USB and bluetooth and they're about $150.00. To properly install it and integrate it you end up needing $200.00 for kits.

What year Forester? Here's a good link to help you find the right kits for your vehicle. They make a decent kit and you can see what it dials up for your vehicle and then check prices online with their model numbers. www.metraonline.com
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listen mister, we didnt evolve porcelin shitters just so we could squat to take a shit, like monkeys.
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Old 06-05-2014, 06:46 PM   #8
freetors OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by josjor View Post
Ummmm, that's almost completely bullshit. I've been selling Pioneer, JVC, Kenwood, and Clarion for twenty years. You know the last time I had to do a return on any of them? About 6 years ago.

Get the right, quality kits and the proper wiring harnesses and they work well, look good, fit perfectly, and, in most instances, WAY outperform the standard factory unit.

All that said, on some vehicles it is a HUGE hassle to replace the factory unit. These days the factory unit often integrates a bunch of other stuff like Onstar, climate controls, etc. So what happens is you want to get a deck with USB and bluetooth and they're about $150.00. To properly install it and integrate it you end up needing $200.00 for kits.

What year Forester? Here's a good link to help you find the right kits for your vehicle. They make a decent kit and you can see what it dials up for your vehicle and then check prices online with their model numbers. www.metraonline.com
That's better to hear. Fortunately, my car is an '02 so there is like zero integration of the radio with the rest of the car. My dad's truck has a nifty little feature that I like called speed controlled volume. The faster you go the higher the volume gets. Why don't others do that?!
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Old 06-05-2014, 07:26 PM   #9
ABHooligan
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hesaid View Post
It's not what you want to hear, but after a couple of decades of working on cars, get a factory unit. The aftermarket ones are shitty and don't last or fit well. But most of their target clientele never notice and/or care, because they're swapping it out again for some other shiny bauble.


MV
I gotta agree with josjor on this one-this is bullshit. My old Scout is using a semi-cheapy Pioneer unit that has been in several of my cars, including a couple of off-road trucks, for the past ten years. Most of the other cars I've owned have had good aftermarket radios too that last and last.

On the other hand, I've had an OEM Ford fail because the display screen died, my OEM Honda radio stopped playing CD's just out of warranty, and my OEM Mercedes radio quit altogether (and it wasn't a fuse). Care to guess how much M-B wanted for a factory head unit? And these vehicles still had the new-car smell.

Are the OEM speakers better than aftermarket too?
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Old 06-06-2014, 03:17 AM   #10
ddavidv
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This is really simple. Go to Crutchfield's web site. Find what fits your car. Siphon it down to what you want to spend. Read the customer reviews. Buy the one that best fits your needs. They will send you the correct install kit, harness and instructions to install it yourself. I'm not a shill for Crutchfield, just a happy customer who has bought 3 or 4 units from them over the years and has always been pleased as punch. Never had a problem with any of them, and I never bought anything but inexpensive models.

One of my cars was a '02 Forester, so I can tell you one thing specific to that car: it has an amplified in-glass antenna. One thing the instructions do gloss over is the fact you have to power the antenna amp, or you'll have NO reception on the radio. There is a wire on aftermarket radios you use to connect the amp (I think it's for a powered, motorized antenna) that makes it work. Found that answer at Forester.org (excellent site BTW).

The only failed radio head units I've had were OEM ones (Subaru, Jeep). Even a bottom end a/m radio will have more features than you'll ever use.
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Old 06-06-2014, 07:23 AM   #11
Hesaid
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I never said that the aftermarket stereos wouldn't or couldn't sound better, or that the speakers fell under the same category. But the OP did say he wasn't particularly concerned with bass, or audiophile quality. Said he never even turns it up loud, so I wasn't factoring improvements in sound into it.

But I stand by the reliability claims. Most factory units will last ten years easy, and I'm just not seeing that from the aftermarket. They usually don't fail completely, but maybe the seek up button stops, so you can only seek in the other direction. Or the preset 6 button stops working. But by the time these things start to happen, the owners are getting lax about the car in general. It's their kids car now... Or they're going to trade it... Frankly, they were kinda already starting to think these sort of thoughts when they got the aftermarket radio in the first place, "cars old", "I only use it for going to work", ""I don't want to spend a lot on a 9yr old car".

Personally, we've just about stopped seeing them altogether. You lose so much functionality on newer cars when you take out the factory unit, if the factory unit is even a radio. Mostly now it's just a control panel with the actual unit hidden away in the truck. But, I also work on just a few specific makes nowadays, I figure not all vehicles are as complex.

I do agree with the getting the right harness advice. Even if it's pricey and has to be ordered.

MV
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Old 06-06-2014, 07:36 AM   #12
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Depends on tatse, but be careful of the units that light up with boy-racer graphics. You probably don't need them in color either. OEM have made it difficult, my Silverado requires another unit to handle the the chimes that were built in the factory unit. Pain in the ass (and now they insist on foisting proprietary software with their hardware - it's going to be a mess).

Better to not buy on ebay, you are probably getting a refurb with no warranty. 5 or 6 years ago I bought 2 identical Kenwood units. Kenwood requires the use of their software to load your music on the flash drive or the unit won't show your titles. That was a pain and required Windows. One unit soon stopped worlking intermittently until I stopped trying and the other is no restarting every 20 minutes or so. They also had a slightly awkward control knob.

$100 buys most everything you want, if you have a Fry's nearby, you can fiddle with the knobs before you buy.
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Old 06-06-2014, 11:30 AM   #13
josjor
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I've got the previous generation of this model and it's been excellent. http://www.crutchfield.com/p_130X660...S.html?tp=5684

I've had it about two years now without a hiccup. The previous unit was a Pioneer that had been in there for about 8 years. The only reason for the upgrade was the aux in and bluetooth.
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listen mister, we didnt evolve porcelin shitters just so we could squat to take a shit, like monkeys.
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Old 06-07-2014, 05:08 PM   #14
Jimmy the Heater
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I have only had 2 aftermarket units go out on me in the dozen or so that I have had over the years. One was a Kenwood that died after about 2 months (didn't bother with the warranty because I didn't like the unit anyway but it was in the car when I bought it) And the other one was an Audiovox Heavy Duty that lasted for 8 years in my dusty farm tractor. I wonder how it lasted that long in that environment.

Factory units on the other hand I don't think I've ever had one last for more than 2 years. Something always goes out in them, CD stops working, display goes out, buttons fall off etc.

Don't get me wrong, I love the way a factory unit matches the interior and lighting perfectly and I HATE the super bright blue LED's that most aftermarket units have. But they just aren't reliable for me and features get outdated so quickly that aftermarket is the way to go.


Ok, that out of the way, I love my previous version of this JVC. http://www.crutchfield.com/p_105KDR9...T.html?tp=5684

The lighting can match the cars, it has BT and it has been rock solid reliable even with all the gravel roads that I drive. I'm not totally sure what you mean by clicky buttons but if you find a JVC at a stereo shop, try it out to see if it works for ya.
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Old 06-07-2014, 06:55 PM   #15
andruboz
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had a Dual that was a piece o'crap -single din size so i had a stupid shelf under it that was good for nothing. replaced it with the cheapest jvc double din that had hd radio. $150? much better.
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