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So I have a 2015 King cab, SV. I actually really happen to like the stock head unit. It has a screen with a decent interface, Pandora, a backup camera, etc. I'd like to keep the stock look. However, I'm not super impressed with the sound system. I want to upgrade the speakers. As of right now, I don't plan to install an amp.

My main objection to buying an amp is complexity not cost. This is going to be my first install. I watched the videos in the tutorial. I feel comfortable doing the speakers but I feel the amp might be tricky.

How much better can my system sound with just quality speakers? I plan to do both the front and the back as well as the tweeters on the dash.

My main goal is to increase the volume without hearing distortion. I also want to increase the bass. A crisper, cleaner sound would be nice too. It doesn't have to be the greatest system in the world but I would like to hear a noticeable improvement if I'm going to spend the money. If it turns out that I will need an amp to get what I'm looking for, I will go ahead and do so. If that's the case, I might have to pay someone to do the install but I'd like to avoid that if possible because I always learn from projects like these.

Anyone have speaker recommendations? In the past I went with Alpine and Kenwood. I like both. My friend had a really high end JL Audio setup which was really impressive. He spent a lot of money though.

My goal is to spend under $450 total.

Thanks for your suggestions.
 

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Others with more experience than me will likely chime in soon but I did my speakers first, then added a small amp, and finally switched out the head unit in my 2014 P4X. I didn't notice a difference in sound quality until I switched the HU, at which point it was drastic (in a good way). IMHO changing the speakers won't get you the results you're looking for no matter how much you spend on them - the HU is definitely the weak link in regards to sound quality.
 

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This has been said in other threads before - Swapping the speakers only will not give you an improvement equal to the cost, because the weak point in sound improvement in the OEM system is the source - meaning the OEM head unit. Sure, if you swap to better aftermarket speakers you might get rid of some higher volume distortion that the OEM speakers put out, but that's all you'll be getting - higher volume.

Sound quality might seem "better" because it plays louder and doesn't distort as quickly, but it's not. In fact, at higher volumes with aftermarket speakers it might sound worse, because the factory unit will still attenuates both high frequencies and low frequencies (to keep from blowing the OEM speakers).

With that said, even if you add an aftermarket amp into the mix, I'm sure you can figure out by what I just explained above that there will not be much improvement except more volume - because you're still using the inadequate OEM head unit as the source.

Short version: Anything after the source is only as good as the source.

So if you're budget is only $450, you can get a decent set of front components and a pair of rear coaxials. Do a 2/1 ratio with your money - $300 for the front stage (which is the most important anyways) and $150 for the rear. The Kenwood Excelons or Alpine Type-Rs are pretty good, both are available in 6.5" components for around $300 on Crutchfield, less elsewhere. You can also pickup a matching pair of 6.5" coaxials for the rear. The front components will require some small re-wiring, but it's basic and very easy to do. After installation the music will sound a little better - emphasis on "a little". Still better than stock, but not as good as it should be.
 

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My main goal is to increase the volume without hearing distortion. I also want to increase the bass.
Regardless of what upgrades you make to the original speakers, adding a subwoofer will go a long way towards meeting both of those goals.

Basically, the subwoofer does all the heavy lifting on the low notes - which in turn greatly reduces the power demands on the amplifier in your factory head unit, and relieves all the other speakers of any need to produce notes which are lower than they can handle without requiring a lot of power.

Result: Cleaner, louder sound.
 

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Regardless of what upgrades you make to the original speakers, adding a subwoofer will go a long way towards meeting both of those goals.

Basically, the subwoofer does all the heavy lifting on the low notes - which in turn greatly reduces the power demands on the amplifier in your factory head unit, and relieves all the other speakers of any need to produce notes which are lower than they can handle without requiring a lot of power.

Result: Cleaner, louder sound.
Well... that would work - if you had a way to route the high and midrange frequencies separately to just the main speakers, and only the low frequencies to the add-on subwoofer. You would also need the ability to give a clean, complete signal at any volume level - meaning the high highs and the low lows won't be attenuated when you turn the volume knob up. Once again: the factory head unit does neither; it sends a limited full range signal to all of the speakers in the vehicle, and it has built-in high and low frequency attenuation at higher volume levels to protect the OEM speakers from blowing.

If you add a powered sub and use the sub amplifier's built-in low-pass filter, the subs will play what they're meant to play: low freq. only, which is good. Bass will be nice and clear. However the main speakers (aftermarket or stock) will still be getting the full range of the signal, not just high and midrange. They will still try to play those low frequencies being sent to them through the full range signal, and will distort at higher volume.

Again: to get cleaner sound, you have to start with the source. No offense but when people add an aftermarket subwoofer to a standard factory sound system, it might seem to sound "better" because your ears are suddenly hearing low-end frequencies that they didn't hear before because the stock system couldn't output those frequencies out. At the same time it makes the overall volume of the system louder, but of course it does - you just added two large amplified speakers to the mix! But louder is just louder, and it doesn't automatically make the sound clearer.
 

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I had the 2014 SV with the 6 speaker setup and it sounded OK. My SL has the Rockford-Fosgate head unit with 10 speakers and a subwoofer. While not perfect I was amazed at how much better the sound is in the SL. No need for an upgrade in this truck (at least for me). Good luck with whatever you decide.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks a lot for the input. I'm going to save up some more cash and redo the head unit as well. I didn't realize that the HU was that significant.
 

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I had the 2014 SV with the 6 speaker setup and it sounded OK. My SL has the Rockford-Fosgate head unit with 10 speakers and a subwoofer. While not perfect I was amazed at how much better the sound is in the SL. No need for an upgrade in this truck (at least for me). Good luck with whatever you decide.
The reality is, in the end "sound quality" is up to what the owner thinks "sounds good"
::wink::
 
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