Saab Car Stereo
Some times I wish that I didn't care about car stereos, that I could be happy with any old factory radio. Unfortunatly for my wallet I have grown accomstomed to amazing sound quality, both at home and in the car. This is a traight that clearly runs in my family, starting with my mom with her Denon + Paradigm Reference + Sunfire equipment. The car stereo bug hit me almost immediatly after getting my first car. Over the next couple of years I put together a killer system for my 1998 Ford Contour. Well that car burned up and so did all the stereo equipment in it, but not my desire for great sound.
Enter one of my later vehicles, a 1995 Saab 9000 Aero. From the factory this thing came with a casette + CD head unit and a 10 speaker Harmon Kardon speaker setup with a factory amplifier. You would think that would keep me happy for a while. Of course I eventually plan to add a computer to the Saab so I needed a new head unit with an aux input (an adapter for the existing stereos were too expensive and I would not consider an FM transmitter). After much research I ended up buying a Clarion DXZ765MP. It has all the features I wanted, such as 4 volt pre outs, great frequency range, and a low price since its last years model.
Of course I never trust factory speaker wire when hooking up after market head units. I have actually fried an after market head unit in a system that had feedback from the factory amplier to the head unit. Since then I always run all new speaker wire rather than assuming where the speakers wires go. After getting everything installed the factory speakers sounds like crap. The fronts were passable with the volume all the way up but the rears were horrendous. The new head unit did not put out nearly the same power as the factory amplifier I bypassed.
Now I could try to wire the factory amp back into the circuit but instead I took this opportunity to replace it with a kickin vintage amplfier, a US-Amps 4300x. This beast is 75 watts x 4 channels at 4 ohms at 12 volts. It is an older model that is 100% made in the USA and a powerhouse (thank you ebay). I promptly installed the new amp and viola, the factory speakers sound kick ass, much better than with the factory amplifier and worlds better than just Clarion deck power. In fact, the system sounds so good that I would consider keeping the Harmon Kardon factory 10 speaker system. That is my way of rationizing spending money on this amp.
Eventually I plan to add a sub to the setup. I dont care about SPL any more and will probably go with a single 12" sub to try to keep the weight down. I will of course give it rediculous power so that it is plenty punchy. The sub amp will probably be a nice vintage monoblock PPI or US Amps amplifier.
Given the monkey designed electrical system in the Saab once I install the sub amp I will probably have to upgrade my alternator. Hopefully that will be the end of the car stereo upgrades I can sit back and enjoy years of trouble free use out of my new equipment like I did with the Contour stereo.
- Kenwood Excelon KDC-X692 head unit
- Kenwood KCA-BT200 Bluetooth unit
- US Amps 4300x amplifier for interior speakers
- Alpine PDX600.1 sub amp
- Paradigm PDR-10 subwoofer (just the woofer, don't ask)
- Factory Harmon Kardon 10 speaker system (front is a component 1" tweeter + 4" mid, rear is a coax 6x9 + 1"? tweeter with a seperate 4" mid bass)