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  #1  
Old 01-05-2008, 06:46 PM
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Default Toyota Camry '08 Stereo System

I would appreciate any help on the following.

I've just bought a new '08 Toyota Camry LE, and while the car has many good things about it, I am EXTREMELY disappointed with the stereo system. Even my friends who have '07/08 Camrys agree with me that the sound is thin, muddy, distant, and cold. I've tried altering the Bass/Treble EQs and the front/rear balance but the general quality remains poor.

Brief history: My previous car was an '03 VW-Passat, which came with a 'MONSOON' system. That one was excellent, with a very rich andpowerfulwarmsound.

Since listening to music is crucial for me, what are my options? I spoke to some of my friends, and they gave conflicting advice:

1) One said that the key issue is the head unit, the in-dash player itself. According to him, sound quality greatly depends on that; so I should look into getting an Alpine or Kenwood CD player.

2) Another (sales guy in a store) told me that the main problem is the speakers+amp. The head unit itself isn't the main issue, and I should really upgrade the speakers. He confirmed that many Toyota owners came to himcomplaining of a distorted and quiet sound.

As proof of his words, and an explanation for why Camry's sound is poor, he pointed out that the tweeters in a Camry are adjacent to the windshield (a very stupid location), whereas normally -- for a bright and'close' sound -- they should be on the side doors, as they were in my VW-Passat.

3) Yet another option is to ask the dealership to install JBL for me. The JBL systemcomes standard with an XLE. But, the guy at my local dealership told me he's "never heard of anyone doing thatfor an LE" (I find it hard to believe that most people don't notice the bad stock sound, however). Will that be more cost/time-effective than other options?

Any comments, advice, or experiencemuch appreciated. Thanks
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  #2  
Old 01-05-2008, 08:43 PM
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Default RE: Toyota Camry '08 Stereo System

We are in the same boat. We just bought an '08 SE with the standard audio system and I agree with your analysis of the sound quality. We did ask our sales rep about getting the JBL system but he said that there are so many differences that it would end up being very costly to upgrade. I am interested to find out whether a new headunit would make a difference, though.
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  #3  
Old 01-06-2008, 01:02 PM
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Default RE: Toyota Camry '08 Stereo System

ToyotaArkie,

If you look here, the JBL sound system is an "Option" for both LEs and SEs:
http://www.toyota.com/camry/models.html (click on "Interior")

Therefore, it can't be the case that it's so difficult to install on our cars.If it were impossible, it would be shown as"-".I intend to point this out to my dealership if they start saying things like that. Some wiring or placeholders should already be there...
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  #4  
Old 01-06-2008, 02:15 PM
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Default RE: Toyota Camry '08 Stereo System

Its harder than you think. Its a factory option not a dealer option. We can order a JBL system but the cost we would charge you is not worth it.
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  #5  
Old 01-10-2008, 06:09 PM
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Default RE: Toyota Camry '08 Stereo System

Please for the love of your ears, do NOT get the stupid JBL system! It's such a waste of money for speakers that just aren't that great! To answer an earlier question, the deck is more important than the speakers. Speakers will do what they do regardless, but you need a good deck to really get them to perform at their best! With a good deck you can take full control of the sound coming out and make adjustments that will get you the sound you want. Just getting good speakers isn't enough. I swapped my factory deck for an Alpine (which I've used in all my cars, families and friends) for over 12 years and IMO I believe they have the best options. Also when choosing a deck, the more volts you can get per preout the better. 2V is pretty standard but anything 4V and up and now we're talking! 3V would work fine, too.

You can get decent speakers for a decent price at any audio shop. 6x9's will fit in the doors and the rear deck and you can get those for pretty cheap. Of course if you really want to bring the sound out put an amp on them. Without the deck though, all you'll get is loud crap. With a good deck, it can make a huge difference.

Hope this helps! Check out my page at the link below for the stereo products I got. I did a complete overhaul of the sound system. I'm hoping to get pics up in the next week or two once the rain stops on my day off!

Seth
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  #6  
Old 01-10-2008, 09:05 PM
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Default RE: Toyota Camry '08 Stereo System

Thanks,

Let me ask you some questions: If I get a new deck, will that break the steering-wheel controls? I don't want to have anything broken in my brand-new car.

Also, what about the tweeter speakers? the ones next to the windshield. Should I replace those?

A sales guy told me I need to get a "clean sweep" and keep the deck, but replace the speakers and add an amp. Is that a good idea?
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  #7  
Old 01-10-2008, 10:01 PM
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Default RE: Toyota Camry '08 Stereo System

Quote:
ORIGINAL: Eugene08

Thanks,

Let me ask you some questions: If I get a new deck, will that break the steering-wheel controls? I don't want to have anything broken in my brand-new car.

Also, what about the tweeter speakers? the ones next to the windshield. Should I replace those?

A sales guy told me I need to get a "clean sweep" and keep the deck, but replace the speakers and add an amp. Is that a good idea?
Some aftermarket head units WILL let you your steering wheels controls.
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  #8  
Old 02-15-2008, 10:32 AM
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Default RE: Toyota Camry '08 Stereo System

Maybe some of you remember this thread. I'd like to give you an update onwhere I am right now, and ask for your advice once again.

I changed the entire system: I got a new head-unit (Alpine CDA-9885), new professional speakers (all 6 of them - Polk), and an external amp, Alpine 4-Channel. The CDA-9885 is hooked up to the external amp; there is no internal amplification, for maximum quality. In short, everything about my current system is now top-of-the-line. I spent close to $1500 on this ordeal!!


Don't get me wrong, the sound is very clean and crisp, but... it's not warm,or mind-blowing in any way. I really miss the warmth, I guess that's the best way to put it. The people I showed my new system to all liked the clean sound, but they said, "It sounds like a very good stock system, but nothing more," and I agree.Of course, this is a 1000x better than what I had originally in my Camry. But in my VW-Passat that I had before this car, even the original Monsoon system was much warmer and more pleasant than this!!! Even the stock systems in other cars, like Nissan, sound better than what I have now! How could this be?

I showed the system to my Dad and he agreed with me that the sound was clean but cold, and said, "I get the feeling that in its natural state, music isn't very pleasant, so some systems add an artificial 'warmifier' to make it warmer." So, is this the problem of the CDA-9885, or the positioning of the speakers in the Camry(they're far away from each other), or what? Alpine CDA-9885 is a very good unit, it was recommended to me as "best sound quality".
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  #9  
Old 11-30-2009, 08:05 PM
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The audio is a real problem for sure. Having gone recently from an 05 to an 09 now, I can say it has gotten even worse.

Having been a long time Linn/Naim hi fi owner and enthusiast (some of the best sound in the world for the last 40+ years), and also being a senior electrical engineer, I feel qualified to comment a bit here.

You are correct- the stuff you put in is not very good at what it's supposed to do either. Sad truth. If you replace the head unit with another expensive Alpine, the result will likely just be the same disappointment. Except now you're out even more cash of course.

There are big, big problems in trying to make sense of
the audio world in general. And it's getting worse as the years go by. As you have found, you can dump all the cash you want into a name brand system and get ~ nothing rewarding in return. It's a real mess. If you seek guidance from "experts" at like Crutchfield for example, they'll just (politely) steer you into the same mess. They don't get it either.

The only way to know if a system will be good is to listen to it. Forget the oft quoted specs, they are essentially meaningless (again, as you have found). The system you replaced would likely "measure" nearly as good as the one you have now.

Bottom line- trust your ears only. If it sounds bad, it is bad. If it sounds good then it is good. Your ears know the difference, and they tell you immediately.

Tunefulness and musicality are what matter here, and we cannot measure this.

The problem is, especially in car audio, the deck is stacked heavily against you in being able to audition a system or components beforehand.

In my experience, the problem lies about 65% with the Camry factory speaker, and about 35% with the head unit. I replaced both, seperately.

The factory speakers are so bad now they use plastic baskets for example. Cheap and easy to make, but horrid for trying to reproduce small musical information via tiny speaker cone movements. Both speaker and head unit have problems with tuneless and musicality in their own right, but together the result is even worse <ack>.

Tunefulness and musicality is what it's all about. It's not about measured specs. And worse, even fewer mfgrs understand that or follow it either.

If you want to try and get yourself off the expensive upgrade treadmill and learn more background into the real truth about audio, search old articles about Linn and Naim hi fi. Like alot of other "truth" these days, these audio truisms are nearly lost and forgotten now. But it is still the truth, and a few people do still care. And your audio system still sounds like cr*p if the truth is ignored. No matter how many bits, or MegaHertz, or diamond cones, or thousands of Watts rating, or stiffening caps, or...

Bottom line- if you want to make sure the result is good, the only way is to audition the stuff beforehand, somehow.

Speakers- spend alot of time listening, even if they are just mounted in a board at Best Buy. Be sure to use the best sounding source available. One or two of them will have better tunefulness and musicality than the others. They'll sound better. Select those.

Source and amplifictaion- I get it home and plug it into my very critical home audio system and audition there. I use a PC silver box power supply to provide the 12v power. Of course, if your home system is also cr*p it's a moot point really.

But the correct priority chain is- 1) source 2) amplification 3) speakers.

The source is most important, because if it does not get it correct there, nothing downstream can fix that. Unfortunately few get it ~ right anymore. Tuneless cr*p is pretty much the order of the day here.

The downstream stuff can also ruin the sound. But the job of those pieces is to faithfully reproduce what is fed to them from upstream. Nothing more, nothing less. Your task is to select the pieces that do the best job of that. Unfortunately few get it ~ right anymore.

TurboTR
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  #10  
Old 11-30-2009, 08:13 PM
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