Recommendations for high-end car stereo upgrade <$1800 (no boom/sizzle)
September 10, 2008 12:04 AM   Subscribe

Seeking recommendations for high-end component car stereo upgrade for 2003 Passat for <$1800 (w/ iPod & keep steering wheel controls?)

I'm seeking recommendations for how to best upgrade my factory Passat stereo system. I'm a "high-end" sorta guy seeking smooth detailed sound over sizzle/boom

15 yrs ago I was up on the latest in high quality audio gear. It was simple, you bought A/d/S speakers, maybe a kicker solobaric sub and you ended up with a really decent high end system. Now... I'm out of touch.

I have a 2003 Passat b5.5 wagon w/ Monsoon Cassette/CD system & headsup controls on the steering wheel. I'm looking to redo my system with the following requirements. I warmly welcome your input.

My desired system:
* Utilize the kicker 10" solobaric sub in an enclosure - I already own this.
* BUDGET: Under $1800
* Direct connection of an iPod classic. FM modulator quality is probably fine. No need to display iD3 tag info. I can control the iPod myself manually.
* Highest sound quality possible! I want warm smooth highs, accurate mids. I loathe boom and sizzle and harsh systems. On my ADS system I padded the tweeters down 3dB and liked it better.
* I want rear fill. It's not ok, to just have fronts.
* Control the stereo volume from the Heads up steering wheel controls. I love those. (I can control iPod myself)
* Minimal installation hassle (i.e. can I use the stock headunit w/ a better amp and speakers down the path?)
* I'd consider built in GPS... if it didn't compromise the other "must have's"!
* ability to manually tweak the bass crossover point. I always seem to want to touch that depending on the music.

So, what do you think?

Brand recommendations? Specific speaker models?
Speak up. Most of the local (Seattle) places here want to sell me the latest sizzle system that burns my eardrums off. I need real advice.
posted by bmilner to Technology (3 answers total)
Talk to Crutchfield - they have folks available on the phone and online chat that can help with suggestions, through the website you can find what fits in the car - with the Monsoon system, you're most likely going to be replacing everything, I think the amps and speakers are tuned to the factory head unit. With an $1800 budget, you're going to be able to do a lot, but 'high-end' these days can mean a whole lot more. If the Kicker is several years old, you're going to want to make sure it's not degraded - depending on the surround material, it'll dry or degrade with age.

The steering wheel controls are going to require an adapter module (Crutchfield will have this), the iPod most likely will, some receivers have contol built in, but if not, most just require an additional module. Component speakers for your car range from $50 a set to over $850, but almost any of the brands are going to be quality. Check here for some info on speakers, you're going to want something soft for a tweeter (silk, poly) instead of ceramic or metal, that'll give you a mellower sound. Polk and Infinity tend to go silk/textile, JL and Boston tend to go metal. Don't forget an amp too.
posted by pupdog at 5:21 AM on September 10, 2008

Seconding Crutchfield.

I bought a stereo from them last week and impressed with the standard of service.
posted by WizKid at 12:24 PM on September 10, 2008

The thing about crutchfield is they seem to:
1. Only carry mainstream big-box kinds of lines
2. Describe every single speaker from $50 up to $500 as being least in the catalog

I will probably need to call them. I'm a high end sorta guy so I won't be into whatever mass market midrange-depleted system they can get the biggest markup on (I hear these all day in my local car toys). Might be worth a call though, perhaps they do actually sell some good components and have real decent salespeople. Thanks.
posted by bmilner at 9:48 PM on September 15, 2008

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