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  #1  
Old 06-05-2010
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The_Money_Pit The_Money_Pit is offline
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Default Inexpensive Surround Sound

What started my adventure to Surround Sound Town, were two things. One, my in-dash radio the lights went out, and the 6 disk cd player no longer worked. Two, I couldn't hear my TV when the front ACs are operating. I thought long about installing a super duper surround sound system. I am a big time audiophile, I love music, and I love watching movies. So at first I thought about purchasing a complete surround sound system(5 speakers, sub woofer, receiver, amplifier), but the biggest problem is space. I didn't want speakers dangling down in view, and finding a place for the home receiver, amps and sub was also going to be a problem. So instead I decided to do surround sound on the cheap.

Most TVs have audio out. Almost every new car radios have audio/aux in. Sooooo, I ran a line from the the audio out on the TV to the aux in on the radio. I also wired an inexpensive amp/sub and abracadabra I have the TV sound coming out of the in-dash radio speakers. On the radio I can switch between listening to radio, cd, or having the TV sound.

How does it sound? 10x better than trying to listen to the TV sound just coming out of the tiny TV speakers. It is very easy to listen to TV now with the AC on. It won't compete with a home surround sound system, mostly because the radio I purchased is only 2 channel w/ sub. They do sell 5 channel radios, so real surround sound is an option, you would only have to purchase one center channel speaker. But those radios are a lot more expensive.

My cost
radio ~$110 - in-dash CD player, presub out, back-light matches dash lighting
amp/sub ~$100
wiring ~$50

indash Sony head unit you can see the wire that I ran from the above tv to the radio, Note: I am sure you can find radios with an aux in the back so you don't have a wire poking your dash


closer shot of radio


8" sub


fits perfect behind captains chair, and out the way


amp for sub goes under couch


26" LCD also tied into laptop
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Last edited by The_Money_Pit; 07-13-2010 at 05:06 PM.
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Old 06-05-2010
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This is the route we're going. Lots of head units out there with multi-channel surround capability for under $300. The sub we'll likely cut into the couch base and the center channel is a easy add being in such close proximity to the head unit. We already have 4 speakers in the ceiling of our Safari, so 5.1 surround is quite easy. Now if we decided to do 6 or 7.1 that rear channel and chasing the wires back through the ceiling would be a REAL pain.

PS: Make sure to put a bracket and bolt down the sub, they can get heavy and you don't need it walking around on you going down the road. Just something to trip over in the dark if it comes out from behind the seat.
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'94 34' Safari Serengeti sold - Mom remarried @71 and they upgraded to a newer Coach w/Slides


(HDT Coach or BMC & Stacker for me in the future.)
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  #3  
Old 06-05-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Driver View Post
This is the route we're going. Lots of head units out there with multi-channel surround capability for under $300. The sub we'll likely cut into the couch base and the center channel is a easy add being in such close proximity to the head unit. We already have 4 speakers in the ceiling of our Safari, so 5.1 surround is quite easy.
I just thought of something. I think every TV I have seen so far only has 2 channel audio out. How are you going to get 5.1?
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  #4  
Old 06-06-2010
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Newer HDTV's have optical outputs (SPDIF/Toslink). Just have to find the right head unit to mate up and I'm golden. We put a 37" Panasonic HDTV in a few months ago. Not really sure if it has it (think it does, my Sony thats in front of me now does) regardless we are using a WDTV Live Media Player and I KNOW it has optical out. The WDTV allowed us to get rid of the DVD, VCR, TIVO and Amplifier and other than it's own power cord runs audio and video with one HDMI cable to the tv. Kind of a no brainer with RV's where less is more (as long as one understands how to RIP their stuff to a hard drive or thumb drive).
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'94 34' Safari Serengeti sold - Mom remarried @71 and they upgraded to a newer Coach w/Slides


(HDT Coach or BMC & Stacker for me in the future.)
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  #5  
Old 06-06-2010
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Default be sure to use a discreet amp for good sound

It's hard to find a car stereo that will accept (decode) 5.1 surround sound. You may have to just get a basic home theater receiver and run it off of the inverter.

Regarding use of the in-dash car stereo deck as an amplifier, be aware that you are definitely missing out on some sound quality if you don't use an external amp for the high frequency speakers too, like you're doing for the sub. Here is an excerpt from my website (www.subsolutions.com) that helps explain it:

... If you add a sub and just an amp to run it, the sound system will sound better because you’ve added some capacity to play more low frequencies. However, you will still have a problem. You see, right now you have TWO main problems keeping you from really enjoying your music. Lack of bass, AND, lack of clarity. The deck is actually fine, and, so are the door speakers (surprised?-the stock door spkrs are really capable of great sound). But they desperately need to have a "real" (discreet) amp hooked up between them and the deck. The little "BTL IC chip” amp built into the radio is simply unable to produce a clear enough signal to make the stock speakers sound as terrific as they can. It is a (very low cost) low-power, high-distortion amp (12 watts @ 1% distortion, minimum.), when what you need is a high power, LOW distortion one (a typical amp is like, 50 watts@ .1% distortion, max.....that’s 10 times cleaner! Way, way better). And, all you have to do to fix it (and have really terrific sound, instead of just some added bass), is to get a “multichannel” amp, instead of just an amp for the sub only. It only costs a tiny bit more for a multichannel amp (or an additional 2 channel one), and then you’ll have very clear sound from your door speakers – low distortion, wider stereo separation, much better signal to noise ratio, and enough power to play those musical peaks without constantly going into heavy (er) distortion. And, the funny thing is, that it makes your bass seem clearer too...
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Old 06-06-2010
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I haven't sourced the head unit yet other than to look at bluetooth and iPod capable ones (about $250-300) and most of those have 5 channel output but I guess I need to double check they'll take a full optical (5.1+ signal). I have a friend that writes for a couple of car audio mags so when the time comes I'll tap him (plug in beer keg) for some info... As far as amps and subs I already have a couple of 8" Kickers and a couple of amps from a previous car I sold so on that front I'm set. Even have a Nakamichi and Sony head unit if I wanted to use them they just don't have iPod or hands free capability. I also want to keep the system fairly small so current draw is minimal so running off the generator or 30 amp instead of the normal 50 doesn't cause issues.
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'94 34' Safari Serengeti sold - Mom remarried @71 and they upgraded to a newer Coach w/Slides


(HDT Coach or BMC & Stacker for me in the future.)
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  #7  
Old 06-06-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Driver View Post
The WDTV allowed us to get rid of the DVD, VCR, TIVO and Amplifier and other than it's own power cord runs audio and video with one HDMI cable to the tv. Kind of a no brainer with RV's where less is more (as long as one understands how to RIP their stuff to a hard drive or thumb drive).
How do you get cable, satellite, and antenna through your in dash radio?


- just wanderin
I reused the Kenwood eq and amp from the old system, and also replaced the speakers.
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Old 06-06-2010
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b&c, it looked, from the photos, as if you were not using the eq (not lit), and only had one, 2-channel amp (for the sub). So I was assuming you were using the radio's built-in ("dirty") BTL amp, and I was just making sure that you were aware that much better sound quality is possible with the use of a discreet amp. If you have another one there for the mids that is not pictured, then that is great for your sound. My apologies on the confusion. Yes, a power amp will draw more power than just the deck (~6 amps, instead of ~2 amps), but the sound will be so much better, I think you will feel it's worth it (especially with ~300 amp hours of house batteries in a coach). It is most especially appreciated when underway, and enjoying music at higher levels. I put in a "dual stereo" system on the dash of my coach for better imaging and more isolation (zoning) for when the driver wants to listen and the co-pilot and others aren't as interested. There are details on this in my coach photo page (below in my signature)

Fred
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  #9  
Old 06-06-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The_Money_Pit View Post
How do you get cable, satellite, and antenna through your in dash radio?


- just wanderin
I reused the Kenwood eq and amp from the old system, and also replaced the speakers.
Don't care about satellite or cable as all the network shows you can get off the web, usually in HD (Usenet is your friend) or if it's a movie then NetFlix it and rip it to the WDTV's attached hard drive and watch at YOUR convenience. Last I tried most movies via satellite are not in full 5.1 surround anyway. With a ripped DVD the 5.1 sound is still there. A $130 2 terabyte external drive will hold hundreds to thousands of hours of tv shows.

As for antenna the in dash radio has one for music and there is still one on top of the Safari coach for the tv's over the air (OTA) signals when a sports event is on. Sports is about the only thing that people don't tend to post on usenet but with a simple usb HD capture device (Haupagge or EyeTV) you can get that onto a computer and to the WDTV's drive as well... most importantly I haven't watched a TV commercial in years. Those commercials waste 20 minutes of my time for every hour of programming I might watch. And if you don't get a tv show off the web be patient enough to wait for the DVD box set via NetFlix 2 months after the season ends and rip those shows to your WDTV hard drive.

This works for me, I'm computer literate, know where to look. If your full timing and moving around where NetFlix can't get to you or don't have decent internet access this isn't going to work so well. If you have a decent DVD library at home and tend to watch a lot of them over and over then this alone may just be a solution to where you don't have to tote them around everywhere. Add a internet usenet account and news reader program (use google to learn more) and it gets even better.
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'94 34' Safari Serengeti sold - Mom remarried @71 and they upgraded to a newer Coach w/Slides


(HDT Coach or BMC & Stacker for me in the future.)
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  #10  
Old 06-06-2010
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what I like about my setup is

1. Everything that is hooked up to my TV the sound comes out on the radio speakers
- live broadcasts - sports, news
- sat
- antenna
- radio
- cable
- cd
- laptop (stream anything to TV and radio speakers)
- internet
- DVD
- PS3
- hulu
- Netflix
- harddrives
- usb
- mp3
- whatever

2. it is really inexpensive
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