Nissan Frontier Forum banner

1 - 20 of 32 Posts

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
5,867 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)


Preface: If you started reading this to find out what wiring harnesses you need and which adaptors will let you keep your factory USB and steering wheel controls working and so forth… you’re in the wrong place. This series of guides will not cover any specific installation steps, parts lists, or harness guides. This is more about why all Nissan Frontier owners who enjoy listening to music in their truck should seriously consider upgrading their OEM audio components. A lot of this guide will be based on my own experiences with my Frontier, as well as leaning on everything I’ve learned and experienced over roughly 25 years of tinkering with all kinds of car audio as one of my hobbies. That also means a lot of this guide is MY OPINION ONLY so keep that in mind; this audio upgrade guide will only reflect my thoughts, explanation, and advice. In the end car audio is as subjective or objective as you want it to be =)

Intro: Your OEM Nissan stereo sucks.
a.k.a. Prepare to be disappointed.
So... you have a nice Nissan Frontier that you bought brand new (unless you bought it used, or “new to me” whatever you want to call it) and it has a working stereo system. Maybe you have the cool one with the big touch screen. Or better yet, maybe you have the Rockford Fosgate “premium” system with the powered subwoofer under the rear seats. Some of you might even have the newest and final 2nd-gen model years 2018-2019 fresh off the Nissan dealer lot, which came with their latest and greatest Nissan “Connect” infotainment system with factory navigation. So high tech, right? Well when it comes to actual sound quality, guess what?

Your OEM Nissan factory audio system sucks.



Now before some people get mad about what I just said, let’s start with this: if you really, really, really are satisfied with the “audio quality’ of the OEM Nissan Frontier sound system, then you know what? That’s just fine. Stop reading here, and do something else. Just understand that ignorance is bliss, and again - if you believe that the OEM Nissan Frontier sound system has “audio quality” then that’s where your standard is. Stop reading the rest of this, and enjoy your OEM stereo =)

However… if you wondered if you could improve it, or if you tell yourself “it’s good enough” (meaning you’re already trying to convince yourself that it’s fine but deep down inside you know it isn't), or if you want to upgrade to a nice sounding audio system that plays music the way it’s supposed to then guess what? The first thing you have to accept is that:

Your OEM Nissan factory audio system sucks.

This is because not only is the OEM Nissan head unit a really poor performing device when it comes to audio quality, but the way Nissan chose to configure the rest of the stereo system components themselves is annoyingly sub-optimal. To illustrate this point, take a look at the following… illustration:


Shown above is the OEM stereo system + how it is wired for most Nissan Frontiers since 2005. The only exception is that if you have the “premium” Rockford Fosgate system, you may have a wired subwoofer as well. But that doesn’t matter right now – what does matter is how the front speakers on each side are configured.

Ideally, a good sound system setup will have speakers at the height of the listener's ears, at equal distances from the listener on each side, balanced to “project” a listening experience where you feel like you’re listening to a live band on a stage in front of you.

Now take that description and apply it to the OEM Nissan factory stereo setup. If you’ve ever looked at how these components are in your actual truck, you already know 3 easily visible problems:

  • There are small 2.75” speakers in the dashboard up high near ear level… but they are farther than your front door speakers… and they are pointed up to the windshield.
  • There are 6x9” speakers in the front doors… down low… aiming sideways at your ankles.
  • There are a pair of 6.5” speakers behind me in the rear doors… that are actually closer to your ears than the front speakers… and they are aimed directly at each other.
And how about we add a few more problems, one of which wouldn’t know without digging into equipment details and seeing my diagram above:
  • The factory head unit limits high and low frequencies the higher the volume is set… in other words, the more you turn it up, the fewer frequencies you’ll be hearing from the speakers.
  • The front dash and front door speakers are wired in series, somewhere behind the dashboard where you can’t reach the connections.
  • The factory speakers run at a lower resistance than the industry standard to artificially make them sound louder.


And just to make it a complete mess, let’s mention 3 more problems that affect most vehicle sound systems, not just specific to the Nissan Frontier itself:
  • You (the driver) are not listening from dead center – instead, your seating position is all the way forward and over to the left (in relation to the speaker placement).
  • The Frontier isn’t the quietest and most aerodynamic vehicle ever made (it’s a truck), so road noise and wind noise easily enter the cabin and drown out audio frequencies (engine noise too).
  • The cab itself is relatively small (even the Crew Cab version) which means sound can bounce all over the place.
Combine all 9 reasons I gave you above and the conclusion here is:

Your OEM Nissan factory audio system (obviously) sucks.

So how then, can we make it better? Yes, you can. It’s not a lost cause at all. In fact, there’s a lot of things that can be done to improve the audio quality of the Nissan Frontier… it all depends on how picky you are and how far you’re willing to go:

Just as an example, if you look at the current audio system setup I have in my Frontier (shown above), I went way, way down that rabbit hole! However, this is just me and how I do things. It took a while to build my system into what it is now, and I can confidently say that I am very, very happy with how my audio system is equipped, and (more importantly) how it sounds. Also, everyone I've demoed the audio system to compliments the audio quality, the defined sound stage, and the distinct separation of instruments. The voices sound real, the music is crisp, and yet at the same time, I can also shake the people in the car next to me if I crank the subwoofer control knob up.

Now then, to be completely honest - you don’t necessarily need to go as far as I did to get sound that you can truly enjoy, but the process of improving sound is best done when plans are made and steps are taken in the correct and logical order. If this is something intriguing to you, stay tuned :)

In the next part of this series (which is actually Part 1), I’ll explain what the most critical component in any car (truck) audio system is. Hint: where is your brain located?

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
If you have any questions or comments about this guide, please feel free to post them in this thread. I will try to answer all of the questions that I can to help you out.

Guide Posts Listed Below
Intro:
This post, you just read it.
Part 1: It All Starts with the Source.
Part 2: Speak(er) the Right Way
Part 3: You Don't Drive From the Back Seat.
Part 4: Dogs Underwater
Part 5: TBA
etc. TBD

(The full guide can also be read on project:KEIRA.)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1 Posts


Preface: If you started reading this to find out what wiring harness you need and which adaptors will let you keep your factory USB and steering wheel controls working… you’re in the wrong place. This series of guides will not cover any specific installation steps, parts lists, or harness guides. This is more about why all Nissan Frontier owners who enjoy listening to music in their truck should seriously consider upgrading their OEM audio components. A lot of this guide will be based on my own experiences with my own Frontier, as well as leaning on everything I’ve learned and experienced over roughly 25 years of tinkering with all kinds of car audio as one of my hobbies. That also means a lot of this guide is MY OPINION ONLY so keep that in mind; this audio upgrade guide will only reflect my personal thoughts, explanation, and advice.

Intro: Your OEM Nissan stereo sucks.
a.k.a. Prepare to Be Disappointed
So... you have a nice Nissan Frontier that you bought brand new (unless you bought it used, or “new to me” whatever you want to call it, same thing) and it has a working stereo system. Maybe you have the cool one with the big touch screen. Or better yet, maybe you have the Rockford Fosgate “premium” system with the powered subwoofer under the rear seats. Some of you might even have the newest and final 2nd-gen model years 2018-2019 fresh off the Nissan dealer lot, which came with their latest and greatest Nissan “Connect” infotainment system with factory navigation. So high tech, right? Well when it comes to actual sound quality, guess what?

Your OEM Nissan factory audio system sucks.



Now before some people get mad about what I just said, let’s start with this: if you really, really, really are satisfied with the “audio quality’ of the OEM Nissan Frontier sound system, then you know what? That’s just fine. Stop reading here, and do something else. Just understand that ignorance is bliss, and again - if you really believe that the OEM Nissan Frontier sound system has “audio quality” then that’s where your standard is. Stop reading the rest of this, and enjoy your OEM stereo =)

However… if you wondered if you could improve it, or if you tell yourself “it’s good enough” (meaning you’re already trying to convince yourself that it’s fine but deep down inside you know it isn't), or if you want to upgrade to a really nice sounding audio system that plays music the way it’s supposed to be then guess what? The first thing you have to accept is that:

Your OEM Nissan factory audio system sucks.

This is because not only is the OEM Nissan head unit a really poor performing device when it comes to audio quality, but the way Nissan chose to configure the rest of the stereo system components themselves is annoyingly sub-optimal. To illustrate this point, take a look at the following… illustration:


Shown above is the OEM stereo system + how it is wired for most Nissan Frontiers since 2005. The only exception is that if you have the “premium” Rockford Fosgate system, you may have a wired subwoofer as well. But that doesn’t matter right now – what does matter is how the front speakers on each side are configured.

Ideally, a good sound system setup will have speakers at the height of the listeners ears, at equal distances from the listener on each side, balanced to “project” a listening experience where you feel like you’re listening to a live band on a stage in front of you.

Now take that description and apply it to the OEM Nissan factory stereo setup. If you’ve ever looked at how these components are in your actual truck, you already know 3 easily visible problems:

  • There are small 2.75” speakers in the dashboard up high near ear level… but they are farther than your front door speakers… and they are pointed up to the windshield.
  • There are 6x9” speakers in the front doors… down low… aiming sideways at your ankles.
  • There are a pair of 6.5” speakers behind me in the rear doors… that are actually closer to your ears than the front speakers… and they are aimed directly at each other.
And how about we add a few more problems, one of which wouldn’t know without digging into equipment details and seeing my diagram above:
  • The factory head unit limits high and low frequencies the higher the volume is set… in other words, the more you turn it up, the less frequencies you’ll be hearing from the speakers.
  • The front dash and front door speakers are wired in series, somewhere behind the dashboard where you can’t reach the connections.
  • The factory speakers run at a lower resistance than industry standard to artificially make them sound louder.


And just to make it a complete mess, let’s mention 3 more problems that affect most vehicle sound systems, not just specific to the Nissan Frontier itself:
  • You (the driver) are not listening from dead center – instead your seating position is all the way forward and over to the left (in relation to the speaker placement).
  • The Frontier isn’t the quietest and most aerodynamic vehicle ever made (it’s a truck), so road noise and wind noise easily enter the cabin and drown out audio frequencies (engine noise too).
  • The cab itself is relatively small (even the Crew Cab version) which means sound can bounce all over the place.
Combine all 9 reasons I gave you above and the conclusion here is:

Your OEM Nissan factory audio system (obviously) sucks.

So how then, can we make it better? Yes you can. It’s not a lost cause at all. In fact, there’s a lot of things that can be done to improve the audio quality of the Nissan Frontier… it all depends on how picky you are and how far you’re willing to go:

Just as an example, if you look at the current audio system setup I have in my Frontier (shown above), I went way, way down that rabbit hole! However, this is just me and how I do things. It took awhile to build my system into what it is now, and I can confidently say that I am very, very happy with how my audio system is equipped, and (more importantly) how it sounds. Also, everyone I've demo'd the audio system to compliments the audio quality, the defined sound stage, and the distinct separation of instruments. Voices sound real, the music is crisp, and yet at the same time I can also shake the people in the car next to me if I crank the subwoofer control knob up.

Now then, to be completely honest - you don’t necessarily need to go as far as I did to get sound that you can truly enjoy, but the process of improving sound is best done when plans are made and steps are taken in the correct and logical order. If this is something that is intriguing to you, stay tuned :)

In the next part of this series (which is actually Part 1), I’ll explain what the most critical component in any car (truck) audio system is. Hint: where is your brain located?

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
If you have any questions or comments about this guide, please feel free to post them in this thread. I will try to answer all of the questions that I can to help you out.

Guide Posts Listed Below
Intro:
You just read it.
Part 1: ETA 07.27.2020
Part 2: ETA 08.03.2020
Part 3: TBA
etc. TBD

(This can also be read on project:KEIRA.)
hey hey, gonna be installing my 2550 NEX in frontier 2013 crew sv sorta. or trying to at least, hoping maybe you can give a little insight? right now im trying to find the right harness and such. wanted a plug and play to avoid wiiring mess, but i feel its a skill i meed to learn, especialy in this day and age. idreally appreciate ir.

firatly: got 7552 do i need speaker harnesses if im just gonna leave factory speakers in for now?
also: have amp and speaker box from budddy, almost installed, is there amything special i need for that? got a proper wattage wiring kit and fuses, it just hooks in the back of the radio?
do i need some kind of adapter for my speakers to make them ggo into RCAs? or are they included in the wiring harness mess?
i think thats all for now, thanks so much. James.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
5,867 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
hey hey, gonna be installing my 2550 NEX in frontier 2013 crew sv sorta. or trying to at least, hoping maybe you can give a little insight? right now im trying to find the right harness and such. wanted a plug and play to avoid wiiring mess, but i feel its a skill i meed to learn, especialy in this day and age. idreally appreciate ir.

firatly: got 7552 do i need speaker harnesses if im just gonna leave factory speakers in for now?
also: have amp and speaker box from budddy, almost installed, is there amything special i need for that? got a proper wattage wiring kit and fuses, it just hooks in the back of the radio?
do i need some kind of adapter for my speakers to make them ggo into RCAs? or are they included in the wiring harness mess?
i think thats all for now, thanks so much. James.
HEY HEY did you even read the very first sentence in this thread at all? :unsure:
 
  • Like
Reactions: xtremevol

·
Registered
Joined
·
130 Posts
HEY HEY did you even read the very first sentence in this thread at all? :unsure:
He read that sentence twice then asked!! haha
 
  • Like
Reactions: raine

·
Registered
Joined
·
677 Posts
Raine are you really spending that much time in your truck to justify the NES classic???? Is traffic really that bad in the state of kalifornication? 😜
 
  • Like
Reactions: raine

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
5,867 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
Raine are you really spending that much time in your truck to justify the NES classic???? Is traffic really that bad in the state of kalifornication? 😜
The SNES Classic was for my nephew/nieces. I did play StreetFighter II once while waiting in a drive thru though.
I was debating on swapping the SNES out for a Nintendo Switch dock instead :unsure:
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
5,867 Posts
Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)

PART 1: It All Starts with the Source.
a.k.a. Why you should always upgrade the head unit first.

There are a lot of people who own Nissan Frontiers that eventually get that audio itch. They want to upgrade to better sound, but many try to pinch the budget by coming up with all kinds of methods to keep some component from the OEM system to save a few bucks – and generally, it’s always the head unit, as in they want to keep the OEM head unit and upgrade to better speakers or something. For the uninformed, it’s easy to want to keep the OEM Nissan head unit, especially the more recent iterations. I mean, look at how good they make it seem! They even call it smart, giving you a head unit that’s all high tech with a fancy touch screen and satellite radio and other cool apps and stuff:



The problem with this is that the basic rule of dependency applies to car (truck) audio as well: every stereo system is only as strong as the weakest link - and unfortunately, the Nissan Frontier's OEM head unit is that weakest link (yes, even that Rockford Fosgate system you paid extra for when you picked a Nismo/Pro-4X).

Even Basic Aftermarket Sounds Better
To quickly illustrate just bad the Frontier’s OEM Nissan head units are, take a look at super inexpensive, simple aftermarket stereo as an example - I present to you the Dual XDM270:


Yes – the current price (quoted from Crutchfield as of this writing) of the simple little aftermarket head unit shown above is less than $25. It doesn’t have a fancy touch screen, it doesn’t have Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, it doesn’t do SiriusXM or Pandora. But when it comes to sound quality, guess what? This $23 basic head unit is capable of producing much better audio quality than your fancy OEM Nissan head unit!

“How can that be?” you wonder? Let’s take a step back from parts shopping and rewind to the basics. Diagram A below shows the four components of car audio and the direction that your music will take. We’ll call this the “Path of Audio”:

The path goes in only one direction (left to right) with the head unit being the “source” (or origin) of the audio signal – whether it’s AM/FM radio, CD/DVD, on-board music files from your connected phone, or streaming music from the Internet. The signal then optionally gets processed by a DSP (Digital Signal Processor, if equipped) or an EQ (Equalizer, if equipped) or even basic tone controls (i.e. “Bass/Treble” knobs, or “Hi/Mid/Lo” adjustments). From there it gets amplified (makes the sound louder), and finally the signal comes out from the speakers in your truck in the form of actual sounds that your ears hear.

Diagram B, below, shows what the audio path looks like in the OEM Nissan audio systems; note that while the standard system (B1) has the source, processing, and amplification all built into the OEM head unit, the premium level Rockford Fosgate system (B2) features an outboard, separate amplifier in between the OEM head unit and OEM Rockford Fosgate speakers:

Volume Limiting: The Worst Thing You Can Do to Audio Signals
Alrighty, so what’s so bad with the OEM Nissan head unit? Two words: Volume Limiting. Though this guide focuses on Nissan Frontier owners, a majority of OEM Nissan head units (yes, even the "Rockford Fosgate" and "Bose" systems in almost ALL Nissan/Infiniti head units since the late '80s) have a built-in "don't blow the speakers!" safeguard in where the head unit reduces the highest (high pitch tones) and lowest (bass) frequencies when you turn up the volume. Here’s a visual of what I mean:

The blue line above shows the frequencies as they are being played by your OEM Nissan stereo at low volume. When you raise the volume, you get the red line. Notice that while the middle portion of frequencies (a majority of the music and voices) go higher in volume level, the lowest audio frequencies and the highest audio frequencies (circled in yellow) get left behind. This is your head unit actively limiting the highest and lowest frequencies. Yes - it's purposely giving you weak bass and nonexistent highs by design.

The reason why they do this is simply to ensure you don't blow the OEM factory speakers (that alone tells you that your OEM speakers are inferior). Without diverting too far from the current topic, know that your OEM factory speakers are not meant to be powered by more than about... 2-watts. Because of this, when you raise the volume, not only do you have a smaller range of frequencies going to the speakers, but chances are since the OEM speakers themselves are very basic in producing a good sound, the result is loud – but bad quality – sound. Remember what I said about the “Path” of car audio? If your source is bad, nothing you do afterward will make it as good as it should be, like so:

The Head Unit is the Key to Sound Quality

So full circle now, remember that sub-$25 basic aftermarket brand name car audio head unit I mentioned at the beginning? That aftermarket head unit does NOT do volume limiting. That aftermarket head unit will produce a complete audio signal from the lowest lows to the highest highs, no matter what you set the volume to, and regardless of if your speakers can handle the signal or not. Aftermarket head units offer a wider frequency range to produce higher quality, richer sounding audio. When you turn the volume up with brand name aftermarket head units, this is what the frequency response looks like:

Once again, the blue line above shows the frequencies as they are being played by an aftermarket head unit. In contrast to what the OEM Nissan head unit does, here when you raise the volume, you get the red line… and the signal curve is identical. ALL frequencies go higher in volume level, and nothing gets left behind.

Beware the "No Name" All-in-one Trick
You might have noticed that I used the term "brand name head unit" earlier. This is because these days there are so many off-brand head units that seem to have the same features as the brand name models but at a ridiculously low price. Beware of these, because the saying "too good to be true" applies. For example, one of the more popular 2020 "flagship" models (I won't name the brand) touts a feature list that seems incredible for just $250: Custom software interface, double-DIN Full HD touchscreen, built-in GPS, Spotify, RCA pre-outs for use with external amplifiers, etc. Sounds great, doesn't it?

Except it isn't. What you're really getting for $250 is a heavily skinned mid-grade Android tablet in the shape of a car audio head unit. That "custom software interface? It's just a themed Android 8.0... which a phone and tablet operating system that came out in 2017! The "Full HD" touchscreen (1024 x 600) isn't even HD at all... it doesn't even reach HD 720p resolution (1280 x 720) and is nowhere near Full HD resolution (1920 x 1080). The built-in GPS? It's just the Google Maps offline app. In fact, the Spotify feature and any other "connected' feature of these head units actually rely on tethering to your smartphone for real-time updates and functionality. What about those RCA pre-outs? They're barely 2-volts, which is half of what most aftermarket head units produce. And finally, when it comes to audio quality, they won't tell you output frequency or sensitivity or sampling rates or signal-to-noise ratios - common specs you'll find on any brand name head unit. Why? Because the reality is that you're getting a low-end mobile device audio chip that was originally designed for use with... earbuds.

On the contrary, when you go with brands like Kenwood, Pioneer, Alpine, Sony, or even budget brands like Dual or Axxera you know you're getting a good source unit. Most of these brands have many different models to fit your budget, with the main difference being the number of features included for the price. As far as the audio output goes, any model in their lineup will produce the same wide range frequency signal for clean, complete audio.

This is why aftermarket head units almost always are superior to OEM, and thus for the final time, we bring up the “Path” of car audio: If your source is good, you can ensure that anything you do afterward won’t be held back. :cool:

In Part 2 of this series, I’ll discuss why it’s easy to pick the wrong aftermarket front speakers for your Nissan Frontier. Hint: Without separation, you’re just wasting money.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
If you have any questions or comments about this guide, please feel free to post them in this thread. I will try to answer all of the questions that I can to help you out.

For links to the rest of the guide, see the table of contents by clicking here.
(The full guide can also be read on project:KEIRA.)
 

·
Registered
2004 Nissan Frontier XE KC KA24DE
Joined
·
2,547 Posts
hey hey, gonna be installing my 2550 NEX in frontier 2013 crew sv sorta. or trying to at least, hoping maybe you can give a little insight? right now im trying to find the right harness and such. wanted a plug and play to avoid wiiring mess, but i feel its a skill i meed to learn, especialy in this day and age. idreally appreciate ir.

firatly: got 7552 do i need speaker harnesses if im just gonna leave factory speakers in for now?
also: have amp and speaker box from budddy, almost installed, is there amything special i need for that? got a proper wattage wiring kit and fuses, it just hooks in the back of the radio?
do i need some kind of adapter for my speakers to make them ggo into RCAs? or are they included in the wiring harness mess?
i think thats all for now, thanks so much. James.
HEY HEY did you even read the very first sentence in this thread at all? :unsure:
tenor.gif
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
5,867 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
@raine is this why my ears seem to think the sound quality is better when I plug my phone in ('11 RF system) and play music on Aux with the phone volume turned up louder?
...compared to what, though? If you're talking "vs. Bluetooth" that's a different subject.

However, I'm pretty sure the AUX jack in both OEM standard and OEM RF still passes through the head unit circuitry (because the head unit volume knob still works with AUX) so it's possible that the middle frequencies are still being "boosted" when you turn the volume up.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
5,731 Posts
Compared to the FM radio. In my '11 you can't play music through Bluetooth, only calls. You have to be plugged in. The volume on the phone works separate from the knob on the head unit.

Not being an audiophile by any means (and having partially damaged hearing from machinery) it's hard to explain properly. It just sounds more what I expected from "ROCKFORD FOSGATE audio system".
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
5,867 Posts
Discussion Starter #12
Compared to the FM radio. In my '11 you can't play music through Bluetooth, only calls. You have to be plugged in. The volume on the phone works separate from the knob on the head unit.

Not being an audiophile by any means (and having partially damaged hearing from machinery) it's hard to explain properly. It just sounds more what I expected from "ROCKFORD FOSGATE audio system".
A few things to note here:

1. FM, just like Bluetooth streaming, is "over the air" in that the actual source of the music is transmitting a signal to a remote receiver (as opposed to sending the signal through physical cables).
There is always background noise (hiss) and signal compression involved with any "over the air" transmission, and thus the actual quality of what you hear is degraded (even with aptX). If you want to hear this noise for yourself, you can try the following experiments:

Bluetooth: Bluetooth was originally designed for convenience, not for sound quality. You can easily hear the background noise that is present in any Bluetooth connection by setting the volume output to low on your transmitting device (i.e. phone) and setting the volume knob high on the receiver (the head unit);​
FM radio: Do you know why most mainstream radio stations keep the sound going (via continuous music or the DJ talking nonstop)? To keep you from hearing the background "hiss" that all FM stations have. The easiest way to hear this is to tune to a channel that plays classical music; classical music has a lot of silent moments, and the hiss will be easy to hear during these moments when you turn the volume up.​

2. When using AUX you have a "hard-wired" connection to the receiver, so no chance of introducing "over the air" transmission noise. On top of that, the actual quality of the signal is not compressed for transmission - signal quality is just dependent on the transmitter (your phone's output quality)

3. EXTRA FUN FACT: In terms of outboard sources from worst to best sound quality, Bluetooth is actually at the bottom. AUX generally gives better SQ than Bluetooth... but USB gives the best SQ of all three because with AUX your digital phone is outputting an analog signal, to travel through a 3.5mm analog cable, into your head unit that is then converting that signal back to digital to play it through your sound system. Everytime a signal is converted from digital to analog and back degrades sound quality.

On the contrary, with USB your digital phone sends an unconverted digital signal directly to the head unit - so if you're using an outside audio source, to get the best sound quality you should use USB (if available), second best option is AUX, and if worse comes to worse, use Bluetooth.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,170 Posts
decided to make some tea (not popcorn) for this GREAT write up @raine!! Nice work and easily explained! Always have been an audio person myself and looking into a new HU... but AFTER i get that front plated bumper done...
 
  • Like
Reactions: raine

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
5,867 Posts
Discussion Starter #14
decided to make some tea (not popcorn) for this GREAT write up @raine!! Nice work and easily explained! Always have been an audio person myself and looking into a new HU... but AFTER i get that front plated bumper done...
Thank you... BTW tea and popcorn doesn't taste that great together 🙃

Since I enjoy responding to car audio threads whenever I can, I figured I might as well do a write-up and just link people to it later instead of typing the same explanations over and over and over LOL 😆
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
5,867 Posts
Discussion Starter #16 (Edited)

PART 2: Speak(er) the Right Way
a.k.a. Components are the way to go.

When it comes to upgrading the Nissan Frontier’s speakers, you’ll see many owners jump the gun and go with what is quick and easy: check the OEM door speaker sizes on the Internet, head to their nearest Best Buy (lol), and buy whatever bolt-on speaker the salesman talks them into. They get home, check the forums for how to install, and when they’re done… they feel like they have really good audio now, or at least convince themselves they do because hey – if they just spent money and took the time to install brand name door speakers – it has to be better sounding… right?

Probably yes, but not by much. Swapping the door speakers was a good start, but at the same time, you also made the mistake of not taking advantage of your Nissan Frontier’s OEM speaker arrangement! Before I get to that, let’s take a quick look at the OEM speakers, and why you made a good decision by wanting to swap them out to begin with.

Multi-Driver Speakers = Partial Upgrade
Take a look at a few quick differences between the OEM factory Nissan speakers that came with your Frontier vs. a typical multi-driver upgrade from Kenwood:



The OEM factory speaker was made to the bare minimum, to output sound at the lowest cost possible. The undersized magnet is just strong enough to move the cheap paper speaker cone. Most importantly, there is no actual tweeter for highs! The OEM speaker uses the same cone to produce high frequencies as it does the midrange. Think about that – if you’re using the same cone to produce high and midrange, what happens when the music has both at the same time? Your single cone speaker cannot produce two different frequencies at once, so it ends up playing something blurred in between. That means your audio is no bueno.

On the contrary, a multi-driver speaker like the Kenwood 6×9”s above feature multiple high-frequency drivers (the tweeter and supertweeters up top) and a separate “middle/main” frequency driver (the large woofer cone down below). Separating these drivers means they can play separate frequencies at the same time, for more audio clarity and cleaner sound. The highs will be crisp and the midrange will be more defined.

But WAIT – even though having multiple drivers in one speaker assembly makes installation a snap, the downside (and why I called it a “partial upgrade” is that with this type of configuration, the multiple drivers are all compromised to work in a shared space. Take a look below for a visual example:

Notice how you have both high frequencies (in red) and mid/low frequencies (in blue) trying to push the sound out from the same space? This causes what is referred to as “frequency interference” and the result is compromised sound clarity. To visualize why this is not ideal, imagine that you are sitting in a chair, and there is a 20-piece orchestra in front of you… but the orchestra members are all sitting in a straight, single-file line with one person behind the other. Yes, you’ll still hear all of the instruments playing, but the sound will be all jumbled together with no depth or clarity.

So How is a Component Speaker System Better?
Enter the “Component Speaker System”. A component speaker system uses separated drivers to produce separate portions of the sound. Similar to the multi-driver speaker above, a 2-way component system is also made up of a tweeter and a midrange driver. However, a component system differs from a multi-driver speaker in that the drivers are completely separate components (not attached) and can be mounted in separate locations. The advantage of a component system is that you can mount each driver separately where each driver can best do their job without interference from the others, as illustrated below:


Completely separate component systems can work seamlessly together for a wider frequency range that in turn gives your music more clarity (imagine the same orchestra, but with everyone spread out across the stage) and without overlapping frequency output as they would with the multi-driver design.

Already… Ready for Components
Okay, let’s think about your average regular passenger vehicle with standard audio. For example: in something like a 2019 Sentra, the vehicle will most likely just have 2 front speakers (one in each door panel) like shown below:


Look how far the speakers are positioned relative to where your ears are! I’m pretty sure you don’t drive with your head jammed under the steering wheel. So already this simply illustrates that even if you install good aftermarket multi-driver speakers in these OEM locations, you know what gets to hear most of the good tunes?

Your ankles.

Now compare the above with the more ideal 2nd Gen Nissan Frontier’s front speaker locations:


The advantage of the Nissan Frontier’s OEM audio configuration is that from the factory it already has two extra/higher speaker locations up front! Instead of having just a multi-driver speaker in the lower door panels (like many cars and trucks with standard audio), Nissan Frontiers have those extra speaker mounting locations up high in the corners of the dashboard which just so happen to also be closer to your ear level height. In other words: the Frontier already has provisions to install a component system! While not exactly perfect (the dash locations are aiming upward, not directly toward you), it still means you can get many of the advantages that a component system offers by swapping the OEM door panel speakers to an aftermarket component midrange driver and the dash panel speakers to an aftermarket tweeter. But what exactly is this advantage? It has to do with frequency directionality. Yes, another car audio term that sounds complicated, but I’ll explain what it means next.

What the Hell is “Frequency Directionality”?
Without making it too complicated – lower frequencies (like bass) don’t radiate in much of a specific direction; in other words, the human ear generally cannot pinpoint the physical direction from where low-frequency bass is coming from (this is why you don’t necessarily hear the bass, but you feel it). Midrange frequencies (like voices) start to have a direction – meaning if you listen hard enough, you might be able to pinpoint where the speaker is that is putting out these middle frequencies – think of these like a spotlight. Finally, high frequencies (like high pitched bells) that are very directional. They have to be aimed in the direction your ear is – think of high frequencies like a laser pointer:



The above illustrates a few key audio things that you might not have realized or noticed before:
  1. Anything producing low frequencies can be put anywhere because the low frequencies will radiate outward like waves when you drop a rock into a lake. This is why it doesn’t matter where a subwoofer is installed – it can be in the trunk or the back of a hatch or under a rear seat – regardless, you’ll still hear (and feel) bass.
  2. The midrange is where most of the music will be. Voices, guitars, pianos, – these mid frequencies are “the meat” of the sound, and they start to require direction. That’s why midrange speakers are generally aimed directly at the listener, or as close to the direction of the listener as possible (like speakers in the doors).
  3. Finally, tweeters are the highest of the high frequencies. They are usually high-pitched sounds like bells or cymbals and are very directional. Because they’re very directional, you’ll want tweeters aimed towards where your ears are to hear the sounds clearly.
So, in conclusion, this is why component systems are not only better than multi-driver speakers – but because your Nissan Frontier is ready for you to easily install them. Having the right speaker setup upfront is critical because it is the foundation for what ultimately is the goal of upgrading your audio system: a proper sound stage. :)

In Part 3 of this series, you’ll learn what a proper “sound stage” is, as well as why rear speakers are NOT for sound quality. HINT: No one faces away from the band.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
If you have any questions or comments about this guide, please feel free to post them in this thread. I will try to answer all of the questions that I can to help you out.

For links to the rest of the guide, see the table of contents by clicking here.
(The full guide can also be read on project:KEIRA.)
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
6,057 Posts
Excellent & concise.
 
  • Like
Reactions: raine

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
5,867 Posts
Discussion Starter #20
Great job, I see you don't give product recommendations, that blows, you know we all worship your every word..................lol
Not sure if that was an insult LOL :unsure: :ROFLMAO:

I thought about making some recommendations but I'm writing this more as a "but why though?" type thing, as opposed to a typical installation guide/buyers guide. If I reference a specific product it will most likely be either 1. because I have it in my truck LOL, or 2. I'm using it as an example for what I'm writing about.

Although whenever someone specifically asks for some actual part# suggestions I won't mind helping out when I can:)
 
  • Like
Reactions: RobFrisco415
1 - 20 of 32 Posts
Top