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Who makes the best car speakers?

Discussion in 'In-Car Entertainment' started by audi5e, Feb 17, 2005.

  1. audi5e
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    audi5e Member

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    I know this is subjective, but I would love some views on who manufacturers the best quality car speakers. While I'm asking how about amplifiers?

    I hear names mentioned like Pheonix, or MB Quart, JBL, Boston Accoustics, Kenwood, Alpine, etc.

    How do say the Kenwood Dual Mag speakers compare to MB Quart??

    I am trying to do some homework on this as i would like to upgrade the speakers and install amps.
    the car is a 1994 100 audi. front speakers would be restricted by size to a 4-inch split system, the woofer in the bottom of the door and the tweeter up near the top.
    the rear ledge has what looks like space for 7X10 or 6X9 full range, and boot has enough room for the USS Nimitz to park, so space is not a problem.

    The HU is a Kenwood KDC 9527, this will be joined by a Music Keg shortly. I am thinking of getting Kenwood Amps since these can be controlled directly from the Kenwood HU.

    Suggestions, comments, or rude remarks welcome... :)
    #1
  2. AndyMac
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    AndyMac Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Personally I'd forget JBL (unless you mean JL Audio).
    MB Quarts are way too expensive, can they really be that good?
    I'd never spend £500 on 2 front door speakers so haven't ever heard them.
    If they really are that good then I don't want to hear them as I'd then have to buy them.
    With speakers the old 10:10 rule seems to apply, i.e. once you get to a certain level of quality (Alpine/Phoenix Gold etc) you then have to spend 10x the money to get a 10% increase in quality.
    Again I think the law of diminshing returns kicks in at about £120 for a pair of speakers.
    Regarding amps I always stick with Alpine as they are just so well designed and made and have never given me any interference grief even when running off Audi's **** pre-out wiring.
    A good amp is a good amp, whereas speakers are far more subjective (personal taste, style of music etc)
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  3. AndyMac
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    AndyMac Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    6x9's are generally frowned upon, I'd use 6.5" coax's. If you fit split comps in the rear you need the tweeters to be facing the rear passengers, i.e. in the rear doors or door pillars. If they face forward then they will mess up the soundstage for the front occupants.
    You can easily go mad with the wiring, but I always stick to reasonable quality for sensible money, £50 for an RCA lead is madness IMO unless you've run out of things to spend your money on.
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  4. Markb
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    Markb Active Member

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    Very hard to say what are the best as you have stated it comes down to your personal tastes and music choice.

    What's your budget? What music do you listen to?

    The only ones I would consider after either owning or trying are JL (XR series), Alpine (F1 Series), Boston Accoustics (Can't think of model), CDT Audio (Any of them), Diamond, Phoenix Gold or Rainbows.
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  5. Markb
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    Markb Active Member

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    [ QUOTE ]

    You can easily go mad with the wiring, but I always stick to reasonable quality for sensible money, £50 for an RCA lead is madness IMO unless you've run out of things to spend your money on.

    [/ QUOTE ]

    I would agree with that.

    I am going to be competing so that's why I can justify spending £150 on a 4M RCA.
    #5
  6. Markb
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    Markb Active Member

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    [ QUOTE ]

    how £15 RCAs can differ from £150 RCAs i have yet to experience /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wink.gif

    [/ QUOTE ]

    I will give you a demo when it's all in /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wink.gif
    #6
  7. AndyMac
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    AndyMac Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Pretty pointless unless you can switch between £15 RCA's and £150 ones. I've done exactly this with £12 RCA's and admittedly only £49 RCA's and there is no discernable difference other than the psychological one.
    #7
  8. imported_telf911
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    imported_telf911 Guest

    I know i'm a newbie, but i am a keen ICE enthusiast.

    My recommendations for speakers:

    CDT Audio (USA brand, stunning sound and excellent build quality)

    Genesis Audiophile (British brand, again awesome sound quality and built to exacting standards).

    These are both speakers i have used or am currently using, but remember, theres no point spending shedloads on speakers if you're not going to take time to mount them well and ampify them.
    #8
  9. Markb
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    Markb Active Member

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    telf911

    Where abouts in Staffordshire are you from?

    Ah just read your profile it's Andy T off Talkaudio isn't it?
    #9
  10. imported_nadger
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    imported_nadger Guest

    also look out for a company called DYNE-AUDIO, they are a danish company. i use their 6.5 system in the front of a golf last year and they were truly awasome, they were supplied by a 6x30w soundstream granite amp, phoenix gold line driver, phoenix gold 215eqx and an alpine head unit, i cant rate these high enough!

    in what car hi-fi mag a couple of years ago these were described as "by far the best front end speakers we have ever had the pleasure of testing"

    others i would recommend
    JL Audio
    boston acoustics (personal experience)

    but i do have to agree with andy mac, you get to a cerain standard and then it just goes silly with the cost far outweighing the results
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  11. audi5e
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    audi5e Member

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    Thanks All, certainly a lot of makes to look at. Now to try and find local agents that actually have these speakers/amps for me to listen to. I see a lot of guys are going for the JL Audio stuff, so I reckon I'll start with that so I have a nice reference when listening to the others.
    #11
  12. god_thats_quick
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    god_thats_quick Numptie of the highest order

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    Just to clear something up hear, coming from more of a home Hi-Fi point of view than in car stuff, the company nadger mentions is Dynaudio and there drive units are probably the best I've ever heard (and I've heard a lot), they spend a lot of money on design and research go have a look at

    http://www.dynaudio.com/

    for in car stuff if you can't afford the Dynaudio stuff I would go for JL Audio or phoenix gold after fitting them in a mates car, sounded pretty good and that was only run off a sony head unit, I also quite like the infinity kappa speakers and MB Quart stuff seems very good but not sure it's worth the money.

    I would say though that you should find a local Ice shop you trust and let them demo different stuff and base your decision on that.
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  13. Bizzeh
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    Bizzeh New Member

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    The best things i ever stumbled across were Rainbow Audio...

    Ultra rare, and horrifically expensive to own aswell (£6.5k!!!)

    By my god they look worth it!!!.... still awaiting a listen to a set of the ultra reference sets!!
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  14. audi5e
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    audi5e Member

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    It is really interesting seeing all the different views, just shows how subjective the sound experience/interpretation actually is!

    There are makes mentioned here I had never heard of before... Still going round trying to listen to these different makes.

    Have also been trying to look into the specifications of each brand.
    #14
  15. AndyMac
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    AndyMac Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Just bear in mind that, unless you're getting custom door builds, you will be installing these speakers on a hardboard doorcard that isn't sealed or even secured to the door perfectly, coupled with the restrictive space behind the speaker and the poor listening position, throwing lots of money at it won't improve the perceived sound quality that much. The more expensive brands are assuming you will be installing high quality door builds, negating many of the issues above, in fact if you were gonna spend £500 on fronts, you would be better spending £300 on the door builds and £200 on the speakers, than installing £500 units into the OEM door cards.
    #15
  16. jdp1962
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    jdp1962 Grumpy Old Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Topical, this, as mine (A4, that is) goes for new speakers tomorrow. I changed the Concert HU out last year for an Alpine, & now it's the speakers' turn.

    I'm changing the front door to Kenwood 13cm components, and having the whole lot brown breaded. At the back, those wretched active speakers are being junked for Rockford Fosgate 17cm co-axials, cabled to the rear speaker outs on the Alpine.

    The whole lot will only cost about £350, but it will show a good margin of improvement relative to the modest investment.

    Incidentally, if anyone has an A4 that they are looking to sell, and want to put the stock speakers back in, so they can keep the good stuff, send me a PM.
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  17. audi5e
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    audi5e Member

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    [ QUOTE ]
    Just bear in mind that, unless you're getting custom door builds, you will be installing these speakers on a hardboard doorcard that isn't sealed or even secured to the door perfectly, coupled with the restrictive space behind the speaker and the poor listening position, throwing lots of money at it won't improve the perceived sound quality that much. The more expensive brands are assuming you will be installing high quality door builds, negating many of the issues above, in fact if you were gonna spend £500 on fronts, you would be better spending £300 on the door builds and £200 on the speakers, than installing £500 units into the OEM door cards.

    [/ QUOTE ]

    AndyMac, that's a very good point. I know the rear ledge will need some shoring up to contain decent speakers. The front doors (C4 shape 100) already seem to have special speaker enclosures with porting. Seems to have come from Audi like this?
    I am not getting that bad a sound from the current Eurotec speakers (considering what speakers are used, the enclosures must be pretty good...)
    #17
  18. imported_Gibbsy
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    imported_Gibbsy Guest

    I'm quite suprised no one mentioned Infinity here, i used to have a full infinity set up in my old car, including the perferct 10" sub, sounded superb considering i had no custom door builds etc, and i have stuck with them as they are a good sound for a good price, just need to get the fronts sorted again.

    Now mayb the rest think they are **** i dunno but i rate them over alpine, kenwood, sony etc anyday. But thats because they are priced similar, the more expensive ones may be better but i havent heard them as i dont have that kinda cash.

    just my opinion
    #18
  19. clived
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    clived New Member

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    Just to join in on the Dynaudio praise, I had a set of their components in a Golf a few years ago and they were amazing - very tight bass. Needed a decent running in period though, so if they sound a little bright at first, don't panic!
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  20. audi5e
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    audi5e Member

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    what kind of materials are used on a rear ledge? What about porting?

    There have been some interesting names mentioned here, that I had either never heard of or had forgotten about. It is interesting that there are one or two companies that produce a range of products under different names. For example these guys seem to produce quite a few brands:
    http://www.harman.com/brands/index.jsp
    Becker, Infinity, Harmon Kardon, JBL, Lexicon, Mark Levinson, etc.

    How about the following setup?
    Kenwood HU KDC-PSW9527 (already installed.)
    Kenwood/Phatnoise Music Keg
    Kenwood XXV-02A 4 Channel amp (full control from the HU) max output 960W, 2 ohm stable:
    MB Quart 4" 2-Way QSD Series for the front
    MB Quart 6.5" 2-Way QSD Series for the rear shelf
    Kenwood XXV-03A Monaural amp (full control from the HU) max output 1600W, 1ohm stable:
    Phoenix Gold TITANIUM 12D ELITE Subwoofer X1.

    Suggestions, comments, alterations and really rude remarks welcome... :)
    I have owned Kenwood amps in the past and it was amazing to have full control over them from the HU, hence my choice for amps.
    I have listened to several makes of speaker and the MB Quart produced such a beautiful sound.
    The Phoenix Gold I am having to go on trust here as I have not had the chance to listen to one yet...

    This is just a test to see reactions, I will buy once I am happy. :)))
    #20
  21. audi5e
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    audi5e Member

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    Well from one grumpy old man to another.... :)))

    MY HAIR FELL OUT AGES AGO!

    Now bring on that Lexus!
    #21
  22. AndyTCAD
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    AndyTCAD New Member

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    I've got a set of Audiobahn Comps up front in my own motor & they sound fantastic but as previously mentioned above in various posts unless everything gels together (ie. enclosures, head unit, amping up etc...) any reasonably priced speaker should give a good enhancement over "standard" factory fit. I stress standard as the wife has just bought an A2 with the Symphony 2 :?: upgraded system already installed & it sounds great.
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  23. richard_green1
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    richard_green1 New Member

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    Hi,

    Thought I'd throw my 2pence worth in.
    JL do make very good speakers and at the right price but- I spent 400 quid a set on JL 51/4 ref speakers front and rear and a 12" sub plus amps etc. and got an excellent sound. However that were in an M5, I 'upgraded' to Audi S6 and found the Bose sytem OK but in desperate need of attention. First I replaced the headunit, fitted a DSP (has a mic that attaches to the headrest which measures the reflection, tones, noise etc. in the cabin) and added the 12" Jl sub and seperate amp. The DSP has tuned the whole Bose system and additional sub to blend perfectly. The midrange is were it should be and the treble no longer hurts. Having the Bose sub and JL sub working together mean the JL runs below 80Hz and the Bose just above to take up the slack. What am I banging on about...sometimes the speakers you have just need a little attention to make them sound great.
    Like it says in this forum, don't spend a lot on speakers if you intend to mount them badly. My home speakers cost thousands, 90% of that cost went into the crossovers, stands and cabinet design, the drivers removed and fitted into my car would sound rubbish.
    Don't forget ambient noise will distort the sound anyway when driving, so unless you want to sit in your garage listening to it then I wouldn't go too far....or have I already, d'oh! I'll shut up now.
    #23
  24. m_o_w_g_l_i
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    m_o_w_g_l_i Member

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    [ QUOTE ]
    With speakers the old 10:10 rule seems to apply, i.e. once you get to a certain level of quality (Alpine/Phoenix Gold etc) you then have to spend 10x the money to get a 10% increase in quality.
    Again I think the law of diminshing returns kicks in at about £120 for a pair of speakers.

    [/ QUOTE ]

    I agree with the above, I found the same with Home cinema and HIFI. After unpteen years of listening to Iron Maiden on headphones as a lad, then listening to the incessant whine of Tornado and Eurofighter engines as an adult (adult? me? How dare you) my ears are sufficently buggered to not notice too much anyway. The bottom end of my hearing has gone so everything sounds bass light to me anyway.

    I personally like products by Alpine and Infinity, good value for money in my opinion.

    As an experiment, a few years ago I tested some Home HiFi interconnects, the expensive type that MUST be connected the right way round otherwise it will sound ar$e, you know the sort. I swept frequencies through these interconnects throughout (and above) its frequency range and got a very flat response from them i.e. there was no attenuation of amplitude. I then switched them round to the "wrong way" and guess what, exactly the same flat frequency response!!

    Just because some goomer says they are better, it doesn't necessarily follow that they are...
    #24
  25. AndyMac
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    AndyMac Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Good point, as an electronics type peron I've never understood how a cable can be uni directional (only used one way) unless it has electronic components buried in it. It just defies everything I learned at college, and as proven above makes absolutely no difference, apart from maybe a psychological one.
    Some speaker cable is the same, just a gimmick.
    #25
  26. imported_CurryMilkShake
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    imported_CurryMilkShake Guest

    I used to be an engineer at Naim Audio in Salisbury, back in my distant past.. very very expensive kit.. listened there to all manner of equipment, some good, some bad, some stupidly expensive and some very very cheap..

    Their own speaker cable was allegedly 'directional' .. I could never hear the difference even in a £30,000 fully active system.. even when all the other chaps were crowing about the subtle nuances it made, and claimed to be able to tell which way round the cable had been connected..

    My final test was simple, whatever set up I listened to. I would play 2 tracks. If, before the end of these two tracks, I found myself listening to the 'music' rather than analysing the sound quality, then regardless of its 'technical' attributes, it made it into my 'good' list.. and vice versa.. and I would strongly advise you apply a similar basis..

    If YOU like the sound and enjoy your music on it then its good, no matter what its specification or what someone else says.

    But bear in mind, that you need to listen to the entire system you are thinking of.. Speakers, amps, HUs whatever, can certainly sound different given different complementing components, for a variety of sound technical reasons..

    so try if you can to listen fully before purchase.. and then trust your own ears, noone elses!
    #26
  27. gizze
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    gizze Member

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    Directional cables is the biggest bag of nuts ever!

    It makes about as much difference as a digital interconnect, I was having a play around the other day swapping the direction of the interconnects between a Dac and my pre amp.
    Now this is pretty high level stuff, a Meridian 500MKII transport (£1200) into a Mark Levinson 360 Dac (£4000) back into Meridian 568.2 and Cinepro 3K6 (£8.5K) and I could not tell the slightest difference. Also tried a £300 digital cable against the shoestring freebie I got in the box with the transport and again, no difference.

    It amazes me the amount of people on the avforums who spend £120 on a dvd player and then another £100 on cables for it, do they really think it is going to be half way as good as a costing £200 with a £20 cable on it!?

    Car speakers - My favourites are Genesis A16 and just put some Rainbow SLC-265 in the A6 and they are great for my taste, very warm midrange and a a very smooth but extremly detailed top end. If you like a sharper sound though they are not the ones for you. As Andy said, if and amp is good and gets it right it has got it right, simple as that, but a speaker is a very personal thing.
    #27
  28. FactionOne
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    FactionOne Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    I'm with the others who like Dynaudio gear;

    I've got more experience with their studio reference monitors than their car audio products (although I've nothced up a few listening-hours in Dynaudio equipped cars); but their quality, engineering and attention to detail has been plainly evident in both.

    I used to have a project studio set-up at home; but I removed it about a year ago; however there are some items remaining; - a reference amp; a fairly decent Tannoy sub and my beloved Dynaudio Acoustics BM-15 passive near(/mid)fields. The most visibly obvious characteristic of their seriously clever-design is their voice-coil segment; from the outside the voice coil portion of the driver is clearly massive compared to most other speakers; and the engineering behind the scenes just gets more complicated. Their detail and accuracy is unbelievable - and response curve is really flat for the money (mine are now available for bargain £750) - it really is amazing how well they show-up a bad mixdown!
    I decided that just for listening to music and watching the odd film there was no way I was going to get better without spending a hell of a lot of money, and I certainly could never go backwards from this set-up.

    If a theif had me at gun-point and told me to take my choice between him stealing my Audi or stealing my Dynaudio monitors it would be a seriously hard choice. 'nuff said. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wink.gif I know they're the first brand I'll be considering for speakers for a long while to come; and they'll have to do something seriously wrong for me to try someone else I think. I'm even considering re-fitting the car with Dynaudio now as we secured a nice deal at work yesterday.

    Go Dynaudio!!!

    Regards,

    Rob.
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  29. gizze
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    gizze Member

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    See, now I persoanlly don't go wow! when I hear the Dynaudio sound, I find it really dry. I love things to be neutral don't get me wrong, I use Dunlavy monitors at home, and they are very, very neutral too, but not dry like the Dynaudio stuff.

    I had a pair of Contour monitors for about 6 months a few years ago, and although very good they never really excited me, they always sounded like they were hiding something.


    Just goes to show that you really need to hear this stuff for yourself.
    #29
  30. FactionOne
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    FactionOne Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    Just out of interest; which Dynaudio's did you find dry?

    Regards,

    Rob.
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  31. AndyMac
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    AndyMac Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Also you can't really compare home HiFi with car audio as a neutral sound in a car will sound terrible as you have a whole bunch of road/engine/wind noise sapping a whole load of frequencies. You need a system that can overcome this and still sound natural.
    My favorite beef with the so called audio snobs is the bass/treble thing.
    "If the system is setup correctly then you don't need Bass or Treble" what a load of b0llox.
    Yes in an ideal acoustic environment with a perfectly produced CD then maybe that's true, but in real life you haven't got those things, so you need something to compensate for the room and the wide ranging SQ on a whole host of different CD's.
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  32. Dean_T
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    Dean_T Active Member

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    im glad i dont have SQ ears, makes things much cheaper /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/laugh.gif /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/laugh.gif
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  33. gizze
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    gizze Member

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    I found the contours that I had were dry, don't get me wrong, at the time I listened to loads and ended up with them so I do like them, but some speakers I have heard recently have really, really impressed. Some of the stuff coming out of China at the moment is really impressive, and I love the way a pair of £1000 chinese speakers can have $500 ribbons in them! the British companies stick £50 tweeters in there and still charge you twice as much.

    I totally agree with you on the bass/trebble thing Andy, I use Meridian and that digitises everything, if you live in a perfect room for acosutics then yeah somthing with a real simple signal path will always win, but who does!? And definitely not in a car.
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  34. FactionOne
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    FactionOne Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    That'll teach me to read posts properly before asking daft questions (something I normally manage to do)! Sorry fella, I somehow totally missed you mentioning the exact product line in your orignial post?!? /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/bang.gif

    I must admit I've only heard the Audience line from the "Dynaudio" division; so I couldn't possibly comment on the Contours. I thought the Audience setup I heard was pretty good in terms of bang-per-buck and wasn't noticably drier than the others I heard around similar money; not particularly brighter either; but certainly more detailed. It's a shame the Contours weren't any good for you. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/crazy.gif

    I've got more experience with the "Dynaudio Acoustics" division; I've had two pairs of BM5s; currently have a pair of BM15s and I've had plenty of listening time on a really OTT Air setup at a mate's studio where I do some music-tech engineering work. He's got two Air Base 2's; four Air 20's; and one Air 25. Obviously he had to have all the networking and PC interface toys to go with it; and since then can hardly stop fiddling with EQ and room-setup params on it long enough to actually make a tune /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/bang.gif

    Still, that really is an awesome sounding setup; but then you'd bloody well expect it to be. I personally would've bought a more economical system and something like say a 12-month old S4!

    I'm with you and Andy on the acoustic-layout issue too btw; I used to put a lot of thought into where I laid out my monitors; and where needed installed bass-traps and the like; but when I moved all the studio kit out of here I figured it wasn't that critical now I wasn't actually doing mixdowns on the setup anymore, it would just be used for playback of other stuff. To be honest the difference really isn't that pronounced - you can tell the difference immediately as you move them - but you also realise very quickly that whichever speaker you buy, it'll behave largely the same when you move it from a good spot to a cr@p spot; and at the moment I'm breaking all the rules with placement; left speaker is in a corner at 45 degrees; and the right is about 4' away near a window. I still prefer monitors to have as accurate a response as possible though; even if I'm not in an environment of optimised-acoustics, because I'd rather know that any EQ I've done is probably compensation for room characteristics alone (and I can always sort of 'calibrate' for that). I suppose that's on the picky side of things though - but also I guess because although I don't do any mixing-down on my home setup anymore, I do sometimes reference mine and friends' here from time to time; and that's when the flat response of a reference monitor becomes important here; that puts me off anything that could colour a sound.

    On another tangent (briefly /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/angel.gif) - Have you ever seen/heard these? http://www.everything-but-the-box.com/ - My boss ended up with two pairs of their Terra-II Pro AS speakers - and I've had one here to test for <u>months</u> (but they only lasted hooked-up for about 2/3 weeks in total) - I'd be interested to hear other peoples' opinions, they've won loads of awards, but I just found them to be really bright and lacking in punch (they claim the clever cabinet and baffle design mean that the little driver doesn't sound like a little one); but I found that the only way you got a round sound was to sub-assist them and raise the crossover on that to about 130Hz - making the stereo image suffer a lot. I suppose you could always run two subs with them but I don't see how they've bagged awards based on reviews with one or no subs accompanying them.

    Regards,

    Rob.
    #34
  35. gizze
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    gizze Member

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    I think I would prefer the commerical based Dynaudio monitors to the home stuff by the sounds of things, I know alot of people used Dunlavy's SCM-I in the studios, when I was trying to find andother SCM-I to replace my SC-I as a centre speaker I kept coming across forums reccommending them for eactly this.

    Never even heard of those speakers you posted a link to, but to be honest once I got the Dunlavys I stopped looking for upgrades, well on the speaker side anyway! /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif
    I just don't trust any magasine reviews anymore I would rather hear from people who have tried the things themselves, and even better people who have tried them and got rid of them!
    #35

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