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Discussion Starter #1
I've looked thru the last few months of this forum and things seem to focus on video, NAVI and speakers. My van (sans video & Navi) will be coming (oh please, oh please) next month and from everything I've heard and read I'll be wanting to upgrade the audio equipment as soon as I can. I've taken the speaker recommendations to heart but am now looking for suggestions on an upgraded head unit. My wish list includes:

Wireless remote - gotta be able to use the steering wheel controls.

In dash CD changer.

Good radio reception - we live in a fringe area outside NYC.

Clean interface would be nice. I'm much more Bang & Olufsen than video game in my old age.

Removeable face plate would be nice.

If any of you learned individuals could point me to a brand I'd appreciate it. It took too much research to get this far - I have no interest in researching audio. (WOW - I am old.)

Thanks,
Dave
 

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Dave,
What's your budget? If you are a B&O kinda guy, I would imagine pretty high. Do you want a single unit with in dash CD changer, or is having double DIN (or two units in the double DIN) OK? Are you picky on absolute SQ and plan on plunking down alot for speakers, amps, subs, etc... or is it features/ergonomics and just "better than factory" sound what you are looking for?
Give me an idea and I'll try to make my best suggestion.

-SJ

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DEP '01 EX no-navi
 

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Discussion Starter #3
SJ - My comment regarding B&O related to design esthetic rather than budget - "less is more" interfaces. I haven't picked a number yet but I'm not breaking the bank on this. No component amps etc. I'm not going to go nuts trying to get great SQ in a van whose biggest fans say is noisy! Especially since it will play Elmopalooza 1/2 the time.

So I guess I'm in the features/ergo/"better than factory sound" category. But I am hoping for significantly better 'cause the other 1/2 the time my wife and I listen to the good stuff and after dropping $30m I'll need a little soothing.

Thanks a lot.
Dave

To make your life easier - budget for the whole deal (head unit + speakers ) = $500 (MAX) but I'd prefer to have it installed for me since a cracked dashboard would make my life worth less than a Yugo with 140,000 miles.

[This message has been edited by Gettin'AVan (edited 10-22-2001).]
 

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Dave,
Sounds to me you want one of these:



It's a cassette/in dash 6-cd changer made for the Honda Accord V6. Can be bought from car-part.com or other auto part recyclers. Integrates with steering wheel controls, includes cassette, etc... It's a clean solution and you would probably spend around $200 for one. Then get some speakers and your are well within budget. Go aftermarket and you'll have to pay more for the unit, and then installation will cost a pretty good amount due to the integration of the steering wheel controls, etc...
If you were looking for more (and willing to spend more) I'd steer you on a very different path... My assumption is that you wanted everything, including the changer, installation, speakers, etc.. for under $500 and you wanted to pay someone to install it. Any Honda dealer could install this unit for you in less than half an hour, and since it is really straight forward, you might even venture to do this one yourself.
Let me know if this suits you or not.

-SJ

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DEP '01 EX no-navi

added in edit: OK, so maybe you want better SQ than that. If you need an in-dash CD changer, you're choices are alot more limited anyway. Alpine makes a single DIN 3-disk changer (busy control panel, no rotary control knob; a feature I think you would really appreciate!). Nakamichi makes a really nice in dash single DIN 6-disk changer, but beyond your budget. Then there there's the two single DIN option which is installation intensive and may not fit well anyway. Blaupunkt and Pioneer make some of these types, but again not your style or taste.

Ergonomically, you sound like a Clarion kind of guy... Look at the Clarion DX515, single CD head unit. No In-dash CD option, you'll have to go under seat. But this option would give you what you want (except in dash CD changer), and would just barely be in your budget if you pay someone to install. You'll have to shop around a little, and go with something like Pioneers for speakers to keep in budget.



[This message has been edited by shinjohn (edited 10-22-2001).]
 

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Discussion Starter #5
SJ, Thanks - a lot to consider.

I don't think I could talk myself into a Honda Accord unit even if it made all the sense in the world. It just wouldn't feel like I was really getting an upgrade to put in another Honda unit, you know? Now if it comes with the Tasmanian Devil that changes things...

As for ergonomics there seems to be two camps in the audio world. The first desires a control and monitor light for each individual transistor. The second yearns for one button labeled "push this to hear exactly what you want the way you want it". I have moved from the former to the latter camp over the years.

I can live w/out the in-dash changer. I just know that my friends who have the under-seat or trunk changers load them up once in a blue moon and always end up listening to the same stuff. I assume I can have the wiring put in for the changer now and get the unit when my budget allows.

I wish I felt more confident about taking the dash off! To a lesser extent I feel the same way about the speakers. If I mess anything up on this long-awaited new van I will freak. Any opinion about going to a place like Best Buy rather than having an independent guy do it? My wallet says Best Buy but my brain says go to an independent with good word-of-mouth.

Dave

(How do I know that I'm going to blow my budget?)
 

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I installed the Blaupunkt Heidelberg and love it. In fact, it looks almost factory in the Honda dash. Has 25W RMS per channel, detachable face plate, Digital EQ. In fact, the entire unit from the antennae is completely digital - no analog tuner. Has one of the best radio reception specs on the market - 7.8 dBf. Check out the specs at http://www.crutchfield.com/cgi-bin/S-o9YWhXfZYpv/ProdView.asp?s=0&c=3&g=300&I=023HEiDELB&o=&a=
It's on clearance for $199 at Crutchfield - a very good price. I noticed Fry's sells it too but not sure how much. You can also add Blaupunkt's in dash 5 CD changer or a 10 CD changer under the seat (like I did).



[This message has been edited by carln (edited 10-23-2001).]
 

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Hey Dave,
Understand how you feel regarding the Honda unit, kinda figured so that's why I added to my post. Though that Taz is pretty cool huh? (That pic is from another Odyclub member)

Anyhow, I am with you on the ergonomics. Most of today's head units for cars (I think) are unecessarily busy. Dot matrix displays with graphics, a million little buttons, etc... they look cool and add pizzaz to the unit (i.e.- people buy based on looks, for a large part) but this stuff doesn't really add much value.

So, I added the Clarion, which is an example of one of the cleanest designs. The Blaupunkt shown above is another simple design, but guessing on your tastes, I thought the Clarion is closest to what you are looking for. Am I correct?

As far as install, I would HIGHLY recommend going to someone independent you trust. Best Buy and places like that are not great on quality control. You're asking for trouble from a place like that IMHO. That's precisely why I do all my audio install myself. I know I'll do a great job, and I get peace of mind. The Ody is VERY easy to work on, and if you are doing just a head unit and some speakers, I'd say it'd be no sweat in an afternoon for any DIYer. The only kinda tricky thing would be installing/programming the steering wheel interface. Lots of people have installed head units into their Odys, and posted pics. I don't have the link off hand for pics on installs, but dlh2 has some nice ones, maybe he can repost the link. Also, check Chuck's pics for how to install speakers. REALLY, REALLY easy.

Well, best of luck, let me know what you decide. And yeah, I ALWAYS go over "budget" when purchasing electronics gear. Isn't that just one of the truths to life? If you decide to DIY though, I think you can save a ton of $$ buying online and not paying for installation.

-SJ

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DEP '01 EX no-navi

Dorhn's Fototime Gallery; Pics of head unit install, rear hatch 6x9s, Pioneer 1695s, and CB radio (did I miss anything?)....

http://www.fototime.com/inv/0D9372C5F75B16A


[This message has been edited by shinjohn (edited 10-23-2001).]
 

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carln, I looked at the Heidelberg and it looks pretty neat. Lots of power. I also saw that the Blaupunkt Casablanca was on special for the same price of $199.

Any reason you did not consider the Casablanca? It looks like it has more features. Are the additional features just more complications and frills that one really doesn't need? Just curious.

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2002 TW EX; Weathertechs; Splash; 4X Pioneer 1695's; Hella Supertone Horns; Hitch w/ Transmission & Power Steering Coolers; 2001 Five-spoke Alloy Wheels.
2000 Honda CBR 929 RR
 

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I notice that some of the head units advertise that they have a metal-oxide semiconductor field effect transistor (MOSFET) in the amplifier. I assume the others have a junction FET (JFET).

A brief review of my electronics text tells me each one is more suitable in certain situations, but I've forgotten more than I ever knew.

Is the MOSFET a big deal in a car audio unit?
 

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by sinbad:
I notice that some of the head units advertise that they have a metal-oxide semiconductor field effect transistor (MOSFET) in the amplifier. I assume the others have a junction FET (JFET).

A brief review of my electronics text tells me each one is more suitable in certain situations, but I've forgotten more than I ever knew.

Is the MOSFET a big deal in a car audio unit?
</font>
Most car audio receivers have mosfet output stages. In fact, most manufacturers use the exact same chip, thus very similar power ratings across the board... Notice they all seem to limit at the same threshold? That's because the amp stage is limited by the 12V (14.4V) supply. There's no stepping up beyond that.

Anyhow, in general, mosfet amps tend to me more efficient than some other topologies, but that's not always 100% true. I wouldn't see mosfet outputs as being anything more than a marketing buzzword in this case.

-SJ

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DEP '01 EX no-navi
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Hi SJ - OK, I am being seduced by two things -
1 - The tremendous savings to be had by self-installation. I think I'm going to tackle it. Yikes.

2 - The deep discount of the Blaupunkt units. The interface isn't that busy and any price that's 50% off retail gets my attention. A rotary control would be nice but there aren't too many buttons and the screen appears to be 1 color. Is there anything you don't like about the unit?

Now I've got CD-CHanger and speaker decisions to make...

Dave
 

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Gettin'AVan:
Hi SJ - OK, I am being seduced by two things -
1 - The tremendous savings to be had by self-installation. I think I'm going to tackle it. Yikes.
</font>
Sweet! We'll be here to support if you have questions.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
2 - The deep discount of the Blaupunkt units. The interface isn't that busy and any price that's 50% off retail gets my attention. A rotary control would be nice but there aren't too many buttons and the screen appears to be 1 color. Is there anything you don't like about the unit?
</font>
Keep in mind Crutchfield is not the only online place to shop. A quick look around shows etronics with the Clarion for $154.95.

However, if you think the interface is fine, the Blaupunkt is a great option for you. FM sensitivity is great, and the 4 volt pre-outs are a great thing to have for future upgradability. The only downside I can see is that CD performance (from past experience) isn't outstanding with Blau. Look even at the specs for S/N, Clarion specs 4 dB better. Specs aren't everything though. In this case, weigh the features/price/looks and make your best judgement based on your preferences.

BTW, the Blau does have a rotary control, just a little different than Clarion.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
Now I've got CD-CHanger and speaker decisions to make...

Dave
</font>
Well, the CD changer follows the brand of the head unit, so it will be a Blau changer with the Blau deck, etc... now go find you some speaks!

-SJ

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DEP '01 EX no-navi
 

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Hey Guys, I'll chime in with my two cents. I've installed both a Pioneer and a Blaupunkt in my Ody. The pioneer sounds fantastic and has gobs of power (no need for an add-on amp in my case, even with the 6X9's I installed) but it's complicated to the point of overkill. Not user friendly at all and very hard to operate while driving! It does have some features I like, like being able to design different equalization curves for the front and rear speakers. But it's missing one feature I think is very important - station scan. It's surprising how few aftermarket units have station scan these days. Even the more expensive units! The Blaupunkt unit on the other hand is a very basic unit. It has an OEM look and is very easy to operate. Not a lot of frills, but it does have a loudness contour, station scan and pre amp outs. Think I picked it up for about $120 locally. I have some shots of both in my pics.

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View My Pics
http://www.fototime.com/inv/36F6F83A8CFDFA6

[This message has been edited by dlh2 (edited 10-24-2001).]
 

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by sinbad:
carln, I looked at the Heidelberg and it looks pretty neat. Lots of power. I also saw that the Blaupunkt Casablanca was on special for the same price of $199.

Any reason you did not consider the Casablanca? It looks like it has more features. Are the additional features just more complications and frills that one really doesn't need? Just curious.

</font>
I bought mine earlier in the year and the Casablanca was not on sale. I like the extra features, but wanted a unit that matched the black dash of the Odyssey. To me, the silver finish of the Casablanca is too much of a contrast with the black dash. But, that's just my tastes. I bought the Heidelberg and the CDC-A08 10 disc changer for $400 including tax locally. I got them to match an internet retailers price.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
SJ - With the dawn of a new day a couple of things occur to me:

- I shouldn't fall prey to the ploy of deep discount = good deal. Some times deep discount = inflated list price. This issue isn't "is this a good sale", it's "is this the best available at the price point".

- As for specs I don't think 4 dB of S/N is going to be that meaningful in a noisy van though I could be wrong. I'd be more concerned with that in my living room. If by CD performance you are referring to skipping then that's a real concern. What didn't you like about your CD? Good FM sensitivity is important to me as I mentioned above.

- I had assumed I'd be buying from Crutchfield since they are reputed to be good at supplying diagrams and having appropriate connectors available. Maybe everyone else does too.

- I had hoped to get an in-dash changer but the Blau 5-disc gets a big-ol' warning that it is not guaranteed to fit, will not come with instructions and if it fails the secretary will disavow any knowledge of your actions. Maybe I should just live w/out the changer - there's certainly enough other things to spend $ on.

Thanks so much for your time!

- Dave
 

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When I meant CD performance, I meant sound quality. While this is subjective, I think Blau tends to sound somewhat flat in my experience. Would you notice the difference? Probably not, if your overall budget stays ~$500. I mentioned the spec since it is a piece of data; I agree and don't shop on specs alone, but they add data to your decision.

Let me say one more thing that perhaps wasn't something I made clear: differences in SQ are not going to be noticable to most people in the sub-$200 price range. FM performance, CD sound, etc.... That is why I recommend more that people just buy a brand that is pretty reputable, and shop on feature content, appearance, and ergonomics more. I'm not trying to cop out here or even go back on anything I've said, just trying to simplify a little bit.

Of course if you (or anyone) wanted to spend ALOT more money, there are big differences b/w products, and then you must be much more discriminating about what kind of sound you are looking for...

Hope I'm not leaving you totally confused.

-SJ

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DEP '01 EX no-navi


[This message has been edited by shinjohn (edited 10-25-2001).]
 

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Discussion Starter #17
No, not confused at all. If this were a whisper-quiet Lexus I'd be a lot more concerned but there are way too many posts under the heading of "wind howl" (2002 forum I think) for me to get too worked up over subtle differences between units.

Is it advisable to run wire/s to where a changer and/or subwoofer would go somewhere down the line?

- Dave
 

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It's really hard to "pre-wire" for a CD changer or sub, unless you know exactly what you are planning.

The CD changer comes with its own interface cable. Unless you have that, you can't pre-wire. You could buy just the cable, but what's the point if the changer comes with one?

As far as a sub, depends on the approach. Do you get an all-in-one solution or go with components? (separate amp, etc..) Then, you have to worry about where you are actually gonna mount the thing. There are LOTS of options on how to do this.

Go one step at a time... When you do the head unit and speakers, the only things you mess with are the center trim panel and the speaker grills. With the other stuff, it could be a little more involved, removing other panels, perhaps seats, etc.....

-SJ

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DEP '01 EX no-navi
 

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Of course Honda has an in-dash cassette tape player that may be installed under and run by the factory head unit.

If I get an after market head unit, is there an in-dash cassette player that will work with the after market head unit?

Crutchfield catalog shows a head unit with a combo CD cassette player, and some head units have an AUX input that will accept input from a portable cassette tape player.

Any other solutions?

I need a cassette player to be able to listen to business-related tapes while driving.

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2002 TW EX; Weathertechs; Splash; 4X Pioneer 1695's; Hella Supertone Horns; Hitch w/ Transmission & Power Steering Coolers; 2001 Five-spoke Alloy Wheels.
2000 Honda CBR 929 RR
 

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Sinbad,
Why not a cassette head unit with under seat CD changer? This combo, for those wanting tape and CD, IMO is the cheapest, most effective way to go. Only thing is no CD access up at the dash. No biggie though, install the changer under the driver seat facing forward, and you can easily just reach under to pull out/install the cartridge. Buying an external tape tends to be expensive and a sub optimal solution. It's up to you though...

-SJ


[This message has been edited by shinjohn (edited 10-25-2001).]
 
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