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Audio System Questions


Active Member
October 2, 2011
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City, State
Year, Model & Trim Level
1996 4dr 2wd Explorer
I have 96 Explorer with the premium audio I believe with the 6 CD changer, I know that if I get a new stereo I'll have to ditch the CD changer which I don't have a problem with.

First off, I need some suggestions for a new HU and some speakers, all together I would like to keep it around $200, and possibly upgrade in the future. So any input on some fairly cheap good equipment would be really appreciated.

Secondly, I'm not sure if I would have to rewire the whole audio system with like 12 or 16 gauge or if I should just leave it as is for now.

Lastly, I have the 4 door with the amp in the rear quarter panel, but what I'm not to sure about is if I should power the speakers through the factory amp, ditch the amp completely, or wait even longer to buy an amp.

I'm going on a 2 week road trip in August so I would like to get this stuff together by then. Any help/input is really appreciated. Thank You!

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Anything that cheap is a downgrade from your factory system. Your only good option at that point is trolling ebay and finding a deal on some more expensive stuff.

To be honest the main reason I want to switch out the stereo is because the cassette player which I use for the ipod hookup only plays out of the right speakers.

Just get an aftermarket stereo then. You can get a decent double din unit with bluetooth for under 200 bucks. Right now, crutchfield has a clarion CX609 listed in their outlet store for $179. That would include all your mounting hardware and harness adapter, and that system looks a lot like the factory system, so no worries about some cheesy out of place flashy looking stereo. It also has variable display colors, so you can match the rest of the dash lighting.

There are some other options, or you can get a single din option for a little cheaper. I don't recommend going much cheaper than that, because honestly, you get what you pay for, and I recommend getting something with bluetooth, because it is just a great feature to have. You don't need to upgrade speakers, they sound just fine on a system without an amp, and with the aftermarket system, you will be bypassing the factory amp.

Edit: on second thought, it might not have the installation gear. But you can get the harnesses and installation kit on ebay for cheap.

Alright thanks for the input, you think I'm better off going for the clarion than an alpine then?

Actually I just realized I had a $50 gift card for amazon so I'll probably buy it on amazon, and because I really don't know anything about these kinds of things would you mind just throwing out a few different ideas for what I could buy?

whatever you want. I just pointed that one out because it wouldn't look out of place in an explorer. I am just real big on trying to make things look as much like they belong in a vehicle as possible, so that was reflected in my recommendation. It just very similar in style to an OEM radio. You can go with other things, there are a lot of good stereos out there. Just don't buy anything cheap, you get what you pay for.

Honestly, for 200 bucks, you can sometimes score used in dash DVD units. I've seen Pioneer U310BTs and F700BTs go for under 200 bucks on ebay. Just make sure you read the description carefully so you don't buy a unit that doesn't come with all the components. F90BTs sometimes go cheap too. Used doesn't necessarily mean bad.

amazon card? CX501 starts at 150 on amazon, 179 for new ones. JVC KW-XR810 is 170 bucks. There are others on there too

when you install your aftermarket stereo, be sure to buy the factory amp bypass harness, i couldnt believe the difference when i bypassed mine

I have a pioneer head unit with two Memphis 12's on a 1100 watt boss amp an ive only spent about 350-400. Just save up for a little longer. Mt system out beats alot of the kids at my school that have spent $1000 dollars getting theirs done "professionally"

If anyone is wondering I think I'm going with the Alpine CDE-122, can someone maybe list what else I'll need? I believe I'll be bypassing the factory amp and I'm curious if anyone has any tips and maybe other parts I'll need such as what size wires I should run and things like that.

Aftermarket stereos have internal amps.

Oh I see, why wouldn't you just get a stock replacement radio if you're just concerned with a tape player not working??

His adapter is probably also transmitting a mono signal instead of stereo. If he is doing everything from an iPod, he is better off with an aftermarket stereo, since most these days come with iPod control, and he can go directly into an Aux input instead of transmitting from a write head to a tape's read head.

What is so bad about the factory amplifier??

It kills the sound quality, it kills the bass and the top end of the highs, at least it did in my explorer

That's interesting, you would think it would make it sound better being that its an amplifier but I suppose aftermarket radios have better amps built right into them.

the factory amp is matched to the factory speakers, and it does not use them to their full potential

I installed a $99 Kenwood unit and the speakers make it sound a lot better than it should! I worked as an R&D tech at ESS so I know a little about sound systems. Speakers will make a FAR bigger difference in sound than the electronics. Cheap electronics sound better with good speakers than expensive electronics with bad speakers!

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Well I just bought an Alpine CDE-122, putting it in this week hopefully if I have time, rewiring it 16 gauge, so when I do buy better speakers it'll already be done.