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On the right track? 2017 XLT System upgrade path

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Old 10-06-2017, 12:35 PM   #1
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Default On the right track? 2017 XLT System upgrade path

Hi all.. first post! I'm so glad I found this forum as it has really helped me flesh out how to install my system - now just trying to figure out WHAT to install.

I have: 2017 XLT, 8" non-sony, Nav, 7 speakers. Coming from a '14 FX4 with the Sony, this system is so garbage it's embarrassing.. and the Sony wasn't that great!

From a previous vehicle, I had some Kicker gear that has gone unused for quite a while. I'm looking to reuse as much as possible.

Musically, I listen to just about everything, depending on my mood and if the kids are in the vehicle or not. From Nora Jones to 80's hair metal (I'm 46 lol). I like just about every genre of music so I want to build a system that is pretty versatile. I'm not concerned about having lows that can be heard for miles, but would like it tight and punchy.

The gear I would like to use/get is:
Speaker amp: Kicker SX700.4 (175x4 at 4ohms RMS) - Reuse from old system
Sub amp: Kicker SX6501. (certificate says 750x1 at 2ohms RMS) - Reuse from old system
Rear Fill: Kicker KS 6" coax (they are old and new in the box)
Front Components: Kicker 44KSS6504 (not 100% sure on this!)
Sub: JL 10TW3 ported, under the rear seat (dealer said THIS is the sub to get, no questions)
Level converter: JL Fix86


I don't want to do a simple line converter as I'm sure if I don't have some ability to tune the sound I will be disappointed - I'm especially concerned about having really bright front tweeters. So I'm pretty much set on getting the JL Fix86. The dealer I stopped at highly recommended it as a way to flatten out the sound from the stock HU, but it can also massage it a bit. Is it true that I can tune the sound somewhat with the Fix86? I'd rather not shell out the extra cash for a DSP right now, but having the option to add one later is good.

Regarding the front separates, I thought I'd stick with Kicker since I had it prevously, but I'm not against changing it up. What to get?? I'd like to stay in the $250 price range if possible, unless I'm convinced that the sound improvements going higher is HUGE for the money. What's the break point for cost/sound quality these days? I'd obviously like to get the most bang for my buck, and if going to $400 gets me a lot more, I'll consider it. The dealier I stopped at HIGHLY recommended I go with JL C5s for the front - but they are over $500!! He said it would be a massive, noticeable difference, so he had me thinking.. ugh! The C2 also have silk tweeters and are in the $250 price range.. are they better than the Kicker?

I need some thoughts and convincing on what speakers to go with. I'm tempted to go C2 and eventually upgrade to the C3 or C5 and move the others to the back. Are there other recommendations around the $250 mark (or near there) that get really good reviews? I think I want to stick with silk/natural tweeters since they will be bouncing off the windshield.

Eventually I'll probably replace the monstrous Kicker amps with someone more compact as well - will having a full JL system have any sound benefits?

Thanks all for your help!
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Old 10-06-2017, 12:56 PM   #2
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I would stick with the fix86.( I just bought it but haven't installed it yet). I think you can do better than the kicker speakers. I'd but more money in the fronts. and the rears are just a fill speaker so you can get a decent set of coaxles for around $150. I was thinking about running jl speakers, but ended up spending a little more and went with focal component fronts and coax rear. still waiting on a few parts to come in, but I knkow I will be happy with the setup.
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Old 10-06-2017, 01:41 PM   #3
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I'm planning on staying with the fix86.

My real question is what to get for the component fronts. So many choices it's paralyzing!
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Old 10-06-2017, 06:44 PM   #4
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I have a 10TW3 and it thumps pretty hard. The C2's are sweet from what I've heard at a dealer. I bought Infinity's before I decided to get nuts. Currently running through the FIX86 to an Arc Audio XDI850.5 and quite pleased, but will add the TWK88 later just because I want the adjustments. You can't go wrong with the JL Audio components.
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Old 10-06-2017, 08:57 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by gintyfab View Post
I would stick with the fix86.( I just bought it but haven't installed it yet). I think you can do better than the kicker speakers. I'd but more money in the fronts. and the rears are just a fill speaker so you can get a decent set of coaxles for around $150. I was thinking about running jl speakers, but ended up spending a little more and went with focal component fronts and coax rear. still waiting on a few parts to come in, but I knkow I will be happy with the setup.
+1 on this!
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Old 10-11-2017, 11:30 AM   #6
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+1 on this!
I'm definitely going with the Fix86.

But.. what are good 6.5 components in the 300-450 range? I'm clueless there.

Is there a sweet spot for speakers as far as cost vs performance? Like huge sound gains until X dollars then it's small increments over all. I was originally thinking $250 for a set but if huge gains will be had up to 400 or 450, I'll suck it up and spend.

I listen to all music but really want clean, clear and smooth.
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Old 10-11-2017, 01:26 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by JKoop View Post
I'm definitely going with the Fix86.

But.. what are good 6.5 components in the 300-450 range? I'm clueless there.

Is there a sweet spot for speakers as far as cost vs performance? Like huge sound gains until X dollars then it's small increments over all. I was originally thinking $250 for a set but if huge gains will be had up to 400 or 450, I'll suck it up and spend.

I listen to all music but really want clean, clear and smooth.
I'm sure I'm stating the obvious but, careful assuming spending more means better sound.....it doesn't. The quality of the install carries a lot of weight in sound quality. You can spend $500 on a set of speakers and have them sound like crap vs spending $150 on speaks and have them sound amazing. Plan to spend money/time using the appropriate speaker mounts in the doors, use sound deadner and seal holes in the door (with the exception of the drain holes), use speaker foam to seal the mounting surface on the speaker to the mount. Tuning the system and speaker phase is also important.
Stick with a good brand and install properly and you will be happy.

IMO, there is a law of diminishing returns when it comes to car audio sound. Eventually you don't get more quality...you just have less money in your pocket.

I'm sure others will disagree, but unless you are planning on entering sound competitions....
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Old 10-11-2017, 03:35 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by microbe0511 View Post
I'm sure I'm stating the obvious but, careful assuming spending more means better sound.....it doesn't. The quality of the install carries a lot of weight in sound quality. You can spend $500 on a set of speakers and have them sound like crap vs spending $150 on speaks and have them sound amazing. Plan to spend money/time using the appropriate speaker mounts in the doors, use sound deadner and seal holes in the door (with the exception of the drain holes), use speaker foam to seal the mounting surface on the speaker to the mount. Tuning the system and speaker phase is also important.
Stick with a good brand and install properly and you will be happy.

IMO, there is a law of diminishing returns when it comes to car audio sound. Eventually you don't get more quality...you just have less money in your pocket.

I'm sure others will disagree, but unless you are planning on entering sound competitions....

Right.. I'm curious to know what that breakpoint is for money/quality and diminishing returns.

Also, good point about the proper installation. I fully intend on sound deadening the doors and sealing the holes. I haven't explored the speaker foam, but I will. I also plan to get good quality adapters as well. This will be a GOOD install. So questions around speaker quality are assuming it's a decent install. No, I'm not looking to compete. I just want good sound.
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Old 10-11-2017, 04:05 PM   #9
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Right.. I'm curious to know what that breakpoint is for money/quality and diminishing returns.

Also, good point about the proper installation. I fully intend on sound deadening the doors and sealing the holes. I haven't explored the speaker foam, but I will. I also plan to get good quality adapters as well. This will be a GOOD install. So questions around speaker quality are assuming it's a decent install. No, I'm not looking to compete. I just want good sound.
Well determining the break point unfortunately is usually based on budget limitations and desired system specs (i.e. do you want loudness or sound quality as your system target) since most of us don't really get a chance to listen to all the brands/price range of speakers. I wanted sound quality so I picked the middle range speakers, a higher end sub, a DSP and a higher end (for the brand) amp. I started looking at the mid level products (Alpine S-Type, R/F Punch, JL C2s ect...) for a given brand when I started my research in building my system. I looked at each spec and compared it to the amp I wanted and went from there. I made sure I balanced out what I was installing. Does not make sense to power $500 speakers with a $100 amp and vice versa (unless your plan is to upgrade later).

An example of diminishing returns (for me) would be products like the Alpine X-Series ($500+), Focal ES series $1000+and the JL C5 series ($800+).

No doubt it can seem daunting, but like I said if you stick with a good brand, you cant go wrong. Have a budget and stick to it. You may be surprised how much extra you will spend on ancillary materials once you start installing.
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Old 10-17-2017, 02:36 PM   #10
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Well determining the break point unfortunately is usually based on budget limitations and desired system specs (i.e. do you want loudness or sound quality as your system target) since most of us don't really get a chance to listen to all the brands/price range of speakers. I wanted sound quality so I picked the middle range speakers, a higher end sub, a DSP and a higher end (for the brand) amp. I started looking at the mid level products (Alpine S-Type, R/F Punch, JL C2s ect...) for a given brand when I started my research in building my system. I looked at each spec and compared it to the amp I wanted and went from there. I made sure I balanced out what I was installing. Does not make sense to power $500 speakers with a $100 amp and vice versa (unless your plan is to upgrade later).

An example of diminishing returns (for me) would be products like the Alpine X-Series ($500+), Focal ES series $1000+and the JL C5 series ($800+).

No doubt it can seem daunting, but like I said if you stick with a good brand, you cant go wrong. Have a budget and stick to it. You may be surprised how much extra you will spend on ancillary materials once you start installing.
I ended up demo'ing some ARC Audio Black 6.5" components and really liked them. The $700 price tag was not something I could swallow so I considered the Hybrid Audio Imagine.. but when I looked at reviews of the Arc Black series I found out that these drivers are really SB acoustics drivers rebadged.. literally! So I just ordered the set of mids and tweets for about $190 shipped. WIth the $500+ I saved, I decided to go active and ordered a JL Audio TWK88 DSP. I'll run the Mids and tweets off their own amp channels and later add a small 2 channel amp to power the rears for fill if I want it, or for when the family is in the truck. The beauty is with this DSP, I can have different presets for different occupancy. I'm looking forward to playing with it!

So very true about how the ancillary materials add up! The money goes fast!
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