Car Audio Question

I want to upgrade the sound system in my car since I like more bass when listening to music.

I am not looking to upgrade the whole system or spend a lot of money so I think I want to just install a sub-woofer. After some googling, I think my best option is to get an active sub-woofer, because then I can basically just wire the sub to the car stereo without having to upgrade the car’s existing amp.

Does anyone have any experience with these kinds of things?

Here are some details:

-My car is a used 2000 Toyota Avensis Liftback
-The stereo faceplate is detachable and has a Toyota logo on it. I assume it came with the car. Says Pioneer on the back
-It also says 4x35 Watt amplifier or something similar and I assume it’s way too wimpy to power a sub-woofer on its own.

Well, if you just wire sub in you can look forward to free light music - your lights will dim every beat. Both amp and stock alternator are not good enough to just wire anything, you will need a capacitor setup and a bunch of other stuff. Probably at least $300 if you buy used and DIY. Easily 1000$ for someone else to do it for you.

My advice - learn to live with what you have. 12-year old Toyota is not a good target for a stereo project.

Would that really be a problem? I am not talking about a huge sub-woofer and the existing speakers are relatively tiny. Anyway, I guess I need to have someone local take a look at the details.

You can get a surprising upgrade in a lot of older cars just by upgrading the main speakers. A lot of times those are just paper cone speakers and don’t support low frequencies (they also don’t age well). Getting newer speakers with composite materials, that support lower frequencies will help a lot in getting more bass.

Okay. I guess I will consider that too. Do you mean upgrading into 4 more modern 35 W speakers? Wouldn’t anything else require a new amplifier?

This is a very good advice. I will second going this route.

His car is likely only has 2 main speakers, replacing them with similar, but modern versions will likely improve sound.

… but if your are looking to turn your car into BOOM BOOM rattle box, that won’t do it. You will need dedicated sub, and a whole bunch of electronics to support it.

It might be possible to upgrade alternator on the cheap - are there any higher wattage Toyota alternators that would be direct swap-in? Look at Toyota trucks, if you can swap in used one with higher wattage you might be able to get around “dimming” issue without capacitor setup. Assuming your wiring harness could take it.

I’ll third this advice since I have done this my cars previously. I have found that upgrading even the “deluxe” stock speakers was the best bang-for-the-buck. I don’t know if you have something similar in Finland, but crutchfield.com has a good selection guide to help you isolate compatible components based on car make, model, and year. The differences between U.S. and European models may be a problem though.

I spent some time fiddling with the stereo and noticed that the bass boost function really delivers. I am now getting surprisingly good sound out of the four stock speakers in the doors. I left a message at a local audio shop and they gave me lots of info about both my car and their products and services, but I think I will postpone any upgrades for now.

Thanks for all the advice.

Good news. It’s amazing how much you can get out of modern car stereos, once you figure out the Byzantine controls and bizarre, buried features. Car stereos have replaced VCRs as representatives of the impenetrable mysteries of life.

I once was one of those guys who you could hear coming from a block away due to the thumping car stereo. I did it on the cheap.

I bought a used Alpine 60 watt two channel amp for about $60. I made a crossover for the two 10 inch subwoofers, and powered them with the Alpine. I forget if my stereo had a subwoofer output or I just used the two rear speaker outputs to connect to my subwoofers. I then put the subwoofer box in the trunk, wired the Alpine to the same power as my stereo and I was done.

I didn’t do it right, and that amp was not the right kind of amp or had enough power for what I was using it for, but it worked in that I got the result I wanted- a car stereo thumping far louder than anyone needs.

All I’m really interested in is hearing the entire spectrum of low frequencies and not have the lowest tones disappear in Drum&Bass and other bass-heavy music. I suspect I will add a subwoofer at some point, but at least I’ll be getting decent sound in the meantime.

So! I ended up getting these two babies installed and I am very pleased overall:


Unfortunately Bluetooth audio sucks on my old HTC Desire, so I’ll have to experiment more with that when I get a phone upgrade. For now I’m using the aux input and all is good. The subwoofer enclosure is sealed but comes with a removable plug, which I have yet to experiment with.