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  1. #1
    Musicaholic Forums Moderator ForeverAutumn's Avatar
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    What's the sound set-up in your car?

    Factory stereo or full blown audiophile system? Dealer installation or after sale installation?

    I've been shopping for a new car and one of the things that's very important to me (as you will all agree, I'm sure) is the quality of the sound system. But since I lease my car, I can't be bothered with installing my own rig and I just live with the factory stereo.

    I was on a test drive yesterday and Images In Vogue's Can't Mistake My Lust for Love came on the radio. I haven't heard that song in years. Seemed like a good time to test the speakers. The poor salesman didn't know what hit him!

    While we're on the topic of cars...does anyone have any thoughts or insights on the Ford Escape or Subaru Forrester?

  2. #2
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    yes

    Autumn...........

    My opinion, but -- I think getting the car you want and making sure that this car has the "premium" sound system (if offered as an option) and then adding a nice powered subwoofer is all you will need.

    I've done this with 2 cars and the sound was every bit as good as another car where I installed a full-blown, kick-ass custom system.

    Usually, the manufacturer's audio systems are decent for mids and highs but weak on the lows -- thus, add the sub.

    But, you also must know, I'm a bit of a bass freak !

  3. #3
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    Make sure the sound system is "upgradeable".

    I bought a Nissan Armada last summer...and I love it. It's got the upgraded Bose 6CD
    sound system in it which, of course, sounds like crap. Unfortunetely there is no
    easy way for me to upgrade. The sound system, navigation system, DVD system,
    even the heating/AC system are all integrated into the same central console
    and tinkering with the head unit is bound to screw something else up (and probably
    void my manufacturers warranty as well).

    Now I'm stuck in my dream vehicle with a subpar (but listenable) car stereo.
    There is no way I would risk a complete gut and restart with all these compenents
    tied together...at least until my 3/50K warrenty runs out anyway.

    I've read some tricks on an Armada website about stuffing poly-foam around the
    subwoofer under the driver seat to add more bass. I may or may not try that.
    Skepitical about how much it will help. I've read on the site that the Bose speakers
    are wired in a bizzare series configuration that makes exchanging the drivers
    with normal speakers difficult...if possible at all.

    Before you buy anything, investigate these issues if they are important to you.

  4. #4
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    First I have a Subaru Outback Wagon. Aside from the problems That they fixed after a lawsuit, it is an awsome vehicle in the snow. The all wheel drive (one wheel at a time and don't let the salesman tell you any different) feature saved my life more than a few times. It will walk up a steep slippery hill. The Forester is pretty much the same car with a different interior. I find that most factory tuners suck while the tape or cd players are better.

    My Impalla came with a separate amp in the trunk but the factory speakers suck. I replaced them with MB Quart speakers and it now kicks nicely. The only setback is that the Impala and lots of other newer cars have all the controls and security settings(alarm) wired thru the radio. If you replace it your screwed.

    Good luck picking a new car!

  5. #5
    Musicaholic Forums Moderator ForeverAutumn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hyfi
    First I have a Subaru Outback Wagon. Aside from the problems That they fixed after a lawsuit, it is an awsome vehicle in the snow.
    Thanks for the info on the Subaru. One of my main priorities is having a car that'll get me safely through the Northern Ontario snowbelt in the winter. After slip sliding away in my Focus for the last three winters, AWD or 4WD is now mandatory. Although I like the drive of the Forrester a little better than the Escape, I strongly suspect that I'll be signing papers for the Escape later today (after one last test drive). It's a better match for my wallet.

    Oh yeah, and better sound system with a 6 CD changer in the Escape.

    Quote Originally Posted by 20to20k
    It's got the upgraded Bose 6CD sound system in it which, of course, sounds like crap.
    I test drove something with Bose speakers in it. I can't remember which vehicle it was now, I tested so many...Mazda maybe? Anyway, I was really disappointed with the sound considering that this was their premium sound system. It's a drag that you can't change it. It would be cool to drive your dream car with your dream sound system!

  6. #6
    Forum Regular nobody's Avatar
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    Mine's the factory stereo that came in my 20 year old Oldsmobile. It's actually not too bad sounding though and I hook up a portable CD player through the tape deck, which doesn't work to play tapes anymore anyway. It does its job, plays pretty loud and no real distortion. I bump up the bass a bit with the EQ. Nothing fancy, but it keeps me happy.

  7. #7
    Can a crooner get a gig? dean_martin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ForeverAutumn
    Factory stereo or full blown audiophile system? Dealer installation or after sale installation?

    I've been shopping for a new car and one of the things that's very important to me (as you will all agree, I'm sure) is the quality of the sound system. But since I lease my car, I can't be bothered with installing my own rig and I just live with the factory stereo.

    I was on a test drive yesterday and Images In Vogue's Can't Mistake My Lust for Love came on the radio. I haven't heard that song in years. Seemed like a good time to test the speakers. The poor salesman didn't know what hit him!

    While we're on the topic of cars...does anyone have any thoughts or insights on the Ford Escape or Subaru Forrester?
    I've been able to compare Mitsubishi's upgraded Infinity sound system to their regular sound system. My wife drives an Outlander with premium sound package. I have a Lancer Ralliart with regular sound system (yes, we're Mitsu homers). Both are '04 models. The openness and detail of the premium package is obvious compared to the more dull sound of the regular system. I'm not much on after-market systems, etc., but the Infinity premium system does provide more detail and air in the top end without being irritating. I haven't really tested the bass because it's my wife's vehicle.

    The Outlander's looks are not for everyone, but we (especially my wife) liked it better than the Escape and my wife used to work at a Ford dealership. We've had it for a couple of months now and we (especially my wife) love it. We were able to get the premium package - sound, leather, sunroof - because it was an '04 that had been on the lot for a while, plus I've had 2 other Mitsus. You might include the Outlander in your options - it was runnerup in most reliable entry-level suvs according to an article I read today. (It's not as fun to drive as my Ralliart, though.)

  8. #8
    Class of the clown GMichael's Avatar
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    My Acura came with a 100w Bose. It sounded good but lacked base. Added a sub (a 100w Rockford Fosgate) and now I'm very happy with it. I travel an hour each way to work and back, so I do more music listening in the car than I do at home.
    It's not a full blown "top of the audio world sound" but it makes me smile every day.
    WARNING! - The Surgeon General has determined that, time spent listening to music is not deducted from one's lifespan.

  9. #9
    Indifferentist Slosh's Avatar
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    I put a Pioneer CD-receiver and Infinity Kappa speakers in my truck when the factory cassette deck died. Pretty easy install. When I finally get rid of it (146,000 miles but that's nothing for a truck. Should go another 100K) I'd like to turn the speakers into two pairs of stand-mounts, if I could only figure out where to use them. Got some crappy sounding Polks in my dining room that I wouldn't mind replacing one of these days . . .

    My car has the factory Mazda 6-disc in-dash changer which happens to be made by Pioneer, also. I was going to replace the stock speakers when I first got the car a few years ago but now I really don't care. Sounds good enough for a car (at least in front with the A-pillar mounted tweeters).

    Ford sucks. If you're leasing then maybe but definitely not if you're buying (unless you enjoy spending hours at the service dept. ). My brother has an '02 Subie WRX with no problems whatsoever and he beats the piss outta it - daily. YMMV, of course.

    NP: The Notwist - Neon Golden

  10. #10
    Crackhead Extraordinaire Dusty Chalk's Avatar
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    My Suzuki has a surprisingly good factory stereo from Clarion. I think it's better than my after-market stereo that I had in the Honda wagon.

    About Foresters -- I kind of regret not getting the Forester that I had my eye on back when I was shopping for a car last year. I'd say get it. I still keep an eye on the magazines, and the Forester appears to be a good second-hand market buy, and that says good things about it, in my book. The only reason I didn't get it, is because I thought I might be commuting 40+ miles/day, and it would be "too much car" for that kind of driving. It ends up, I'm not, so for me, it would have been a nice compromise between car and minivan (I was also eyeing the Mitsubishi Expo, which is like a mini-minivan).
    Eschew fascism.
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  11. #11
    Close 'n PlayŽ user Troy's Avatar
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    I own a 2001 Forester.

    Been all over the West in it, it's got nearly 100k on it . . . and I don't commute. I burned through the factory tires in only 30k. The brakes suck. I overheated the rotors on a banzai run down a freeway offramp in the first month I owned it. The brakes have pulsed and squeaked ever since. Ditto the clutch. I overcooked it hot rodding in the hills.

    When I complained to the dealer, after the inspection the service mgr pulled me aside and confidentially asked me if I was letting my teenager drive the care because the car was "Showing signs of abuse." I smirked and told him it was just me driving it. He told me that "Just becasue Subaru is hot in WRC racing, your Forester is not a rally car fer pete's sake! Take it easy!"

    Under normal conditions, it's probably gonna last fine. The 4wd is excellent. Cuts thru snow like a hot knife. I've breezed down some hairy rocky/sandy desert roads that would have trapped my previous 2wd Nissan Pick up, but the Nissan was more durable. The Suby has a lot more creature comforts tho . . . It IS the nicest vehicle I've ever owned . . . fwiw.

    The stereo was crap. Utterly WORTHLESS. A buddy has a 2004 Forester with the premium stereo. It's crap too.

    I installed a $200 deck and a couple of hundred watts of amps under the seat. I run a big 'ol subwoofer in the back between a couple of boxed 3 way 6x9's. Really cuts into the storage space (which I never really use anyway), but it sounds humongous. Makes the mirrors vibrate . . . on the car next to me.

    Personally, I'd avoid the Ford. Underpowered, more expensive (if you option it up like a comparable Forester) and Ford's reliability is notorious. If I had to replace the Forester today I'd buy a Honda Element. Ugly, but utilitarian as hell and you just know it's gonna run forever like ALL Hondas do.

  12. #12
    Musicaholic Forums Moderator ForeverAutumn's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the feedback!

    I don't think that Mitsubishi sells cars in Canada. If they do, they do it under another name.

    While I did like that the Forester drove more like a car than the Escape, for a lower selling price it had a higher lease price! Go figure. In order to make the Forester fit my budget I needed a four year lease. I really only want a three year lease. Give it back before it needs tires and (hopefully) brakes.

    I don't think that I would ever buy a Ford, but I've had great luck with leasing them. The one Ford that I owned, I loved...until it started to spend more time with my mechanic than it did with me...somewhere around year seven. I traded it in around year eight. Aside from that I've leased two additional Fords with no problems.

    So...after giving all of your advice careful consideration and...after looking at my budget...I'm the proud owner of a 2005 Ford Escape XLT. It has a 6 cylindar, 200hp engine (which Ford claims has the same hwy fuel economy as the 4 cyl) and 4WD. I pick it up on Saturday.

    Truly, it had the best stereo of all the cars that I test drove. In-dash 6 CD changer with 4 speakers. And pretty decent bass without the subwoofer. It's a much better system than what's currenly in my Focus. And the Focus system is an upgraded (factory) system.

    Edit: I checked - there are three Mitsubishi dealers within 15 kms of my house!! I guess I just never noticed them. I can't say that I've noticed many Mitsubishi's on the road either.
    Last edited by ForeverAutumn; 05-20-2005 at 04:21 AM.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Troy
    I own a 2001 Forester.

    Been all over the West in it, it's got nearly 100k on it . . . and I don't commute. I burned through the factory tires in only 30k. The brakes suck. I overheated the rotors on a banzai run down a freeway offramp in the first month I owned it. The brakes have pulsed and squeaked ever since. Ditto the clutch. I overcooked it hot rodding in the hills.

    When I complained to the dealer, after the inspection the service mgr pulled me aside and confidentially asked me if I was letting my teenager drive the care because the car was "Showing signs of abuse." I smirked and told him it was just me driving it. He told me that "Just becasue Subaru is hot in WRC racing, your Forester is not a rally car fer pete's sake! Take it easy!"

    Under normal conditions, it's probably gonna last fine. The 4wd is excellent. Cuts thru snow like a hot knife. I've breezed down some hairy rocky/sandy desert roads that would have trapped my previous 2wd Nissan Pick up, but the Nissan was more durable. The Suby has a lot more creature comforts tho . . . It IS the nicest vehicle I've ever owned . . . fwiw.

    The stereo was crap. Utterly WORTHLESS. A buddy has a 2004 Forester with the premium stereo. It's crap too.

    I installed a $200 deck and a couple of hundred watts of amps under the seat. I run a big 'ol subwoofer in the back between a couple of boxed 3 way 6x9's. Really cuts into the storage space (which I never really use anyway), but it sounds humongous. Makes the mirrors vibrate . . . on the car next to me.

    Personally, I'd avoid the Ford. Underpowered, more expensive (if you option it up like a comparable Forester) and Ford's reliability is notorious. If I had to replace the Forester today I'd buy a Honda Element. Ugly, but utilitarian as hell and you just know it's gonna run forever like ALL Hondas do.


    Those cheapy Foresters are great for a run down to the Haight for CeeDees and Pizza.

  14. #14
    BooBs are elitist jerks shokhead's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 20to20K
    I bought a Nissan Armada last summer...and I love it. It's got the upgraded Bose 6CD
    sound system in it which, of course, sounds like crap. Unfortunetely there is no
    easy way for me to upgrade. The sound system, navigation system, DVD system,
    even the heating/AC system are all integrated into the same central console
    and tinkering with the head unit is bound to screw something else up (and probably
    void my manufacturers warranty as well).

    Now I'm stuck in my dream vehicle with a subpar (but listenable) car stereo.
    There is no way I would risk a complete gut and restart with all these compenents
    tied together...at least until my 3/50K warrenty runs out anyway.

    I've read some tricks on an Armada website about stuffing poly-foam around the
    subwoofer under the driver seat to add more bass. I may or may not try that.
    Skepitical about how much it will help. I've read on the site that the Bose speakers
    are wired in a bizzare series configuration that makes exchanging the drivers
    with normal speakers difficult...if possible at all.

    Before you buy anything, investigate these issues if they are important to you.
    02 Altima 3.5SE black/black I dont mind the Bose at all but you could do something with the speakers. There is an amp between the rear speakers but i'm not sure if its for everything or just those. Are you use to the torqe steer yet? There a bose link also that shows upgrades for there stuff.
    Look & Listen

  15. #15
    Can a crooner get a gig? dean_martin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ForeverAutumn
    Edit: I checked - there are three Mitsubishi dealers within 15 kms of my house!! I guess I just never noticed them. I can't say that I've noticed many Mitsubishi's on the road either.[/I]
    Congrats on your new ride! I think I was composing my Mitsu post at the time you mentioned your need for 4WD or AWD. I don't think the Outlander comes with either. I don't think you can get it w/a 6cyl. The engine in ours is the Mi-tech 4cyl that has more power and pick-up than the 4cyl Toyota Highlander we also considered and was almost on par with Toyota's 6cyl. The Outlander may not have been a good fit for your driving needs. We don't get much snow down here.

  16. #16
    Musicaholic Forums Moderator ForeverAutumn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dean_martin
    We don't get much snow down here.
    Lucky you! I have absolutely no use for snow or cold weather. Someday I'll live in the desert. That's my goal.

    I didn't really want the 6 cyl engine. It's gonna be a killer on gas consumption in the city. But the 4 cyl just didn't have the power to pull the weight of the car and accelerate to my satisfaction. Put a couple of passengers in there and the air conditioner on and you may as well just ask your passengers to get out and push it up a hill.

    I once had a little Ford Escort with about 85hp. I had four people in the car, trying to drive up a hill and with my foot right to floor...couldn't get the poor little car past 40km/hr.

  17. #17
    Forum Regular Woochifer's Avatar
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    Used the factory installed tape player on my Integra along with a cassette adaptor and portable CD player until a couple of years ago. I finally upgraded to an in-dash CD player because my car got broken into twice and both times all that the perps stole was the portable CD player (both times I did not hide the cassette adaptor well enough, so they broke into the car, pried open the glove compartment, and took the CD player).

    The factory audio system did not sound all that great until I pulled out the OEM speakers and dropped a couple of the Boston Acoustics Rally speakers into the front door panels and moved the front speakers into the back (the factory installation had Pioneer dual cones up front and a pair of single cone speakers in the back). It really came to life after that.

    Right now, I'm using a Pioneer in-dash CD player. Bought it for $100 at a warehouse sale and it came with free installation. Not sure how much longer I plan to keep my car, so I didn't want to spend too much for a stopgap audio system. Pretty good unit for the money, and the way that Pioneer configures their car audio series, the entry level units basically add features as you move up, but use the same "4 x 50 watt" MOSFET amp throughout. (the owner's manual has a rather comical set of measures for how they came out with those output numbers)

  18. #18
    Music Junkie E-Stat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ForeverAutumn
    Factory stereo or full blown audiophile system?
    I use the pretty decent 8 speaker 5.1 DVD-A factory system found on Acura TLs. While I would characterize myself as an audiophile, I believe that the car environment itself is severely limited to providing any sort of lifelike sized or three dimensional image as one can achieve at home. Beyond a certain point, why bother?

    I have zero interest with rap-style bass mud or ear bleeding levels.

    rw

  19. #19
    Forum Regular Woochifer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ForeverAutumn
    Truly, it had the best stereo of all the cars that I test drove. In-dash 6 CD changer with 4 speakers. And pretty decent bass without the subwoofer. It's a much better system than what's currenly in my Focus. And the Focus system is an upgraded (factory) system.
    I just rented a Focus last week, and my main complaint with its audio system was how the CD player would put a gap in between songs and would not play beyond the first song on one of the Enhanced CDs I had. Since I had several mix CDs with me, that hesitation between songs was really annoying. The sound quality was about on par with what typicaly comes with basic entry level cars nowadays. I noticed that Focus system could play MP3s, so maybe the pausing had to do with that MP3 compatibility. Anybody else have this issue with their car system?

  20. #20
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    FA, glad to see you venture off the Rave Recording forum and spread your wings. I have a Chrysler Town & Country. I have and had replaced many factory systems but I like the Infinity system in this van. Like everyone else has mentioned everything is integrated, DVD, CD, Navigation, but the sound is satisfying. So I recommend the Chrysler higher level sound system, it's the best I've heard so far. I find all the Chevy systems I've heard lack midrange badly. The coolest upgrade for factory car stereos and won't mess anything up in a lease car is the Bazooka tube. It's a powered sub, plug and play. It is cylindrical though and is supposed to be strapped down in some installations so could cause cosmetic damage from screws. Now that I think about it, the power cord has to be ran as well, so make sure some one knows what they are doing when it's installed. I used one for a long time in a VW Golf.

    My car before that was a Malibu and I took out everything and replaced it with a Sony ES head unit which went to a 4 channel Infinity amp driving 2-way Kappa components in the back, 6 1/2 and a 4x6 plate in the door. The sub out went to a Precision Power amp bridged mono driving a single 10" Infinity Perfect Sub in a sealed enclosure. This wasn't a system to be heard down the block but that sub hit like a sledge hammer. No flabby rumble here. I don't know if I'll go that elaborate again. Maybe if it was only my personal car and I spent a lot of time in it. I'd also have XM if I was in it enough.

    I would vote for the Escape just because I know they make a hybrid.

  21. #21
    Musicaholic Forums Moderator ForeverAutumn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Peabody
    FA, glad to see you venture off the Rave Recording forum and spread your wings.
    I can't take the credit for this little adventure. My wings were spread for me (read: the moderator decided to relocate my post even though I was interested in hearing what my RR friends, specifically, had to say...yeah, I know, I know...we must be organized or our world will fall apart).

    Nice to hear from you anyway Mr. P.

  22. #22
    Musicaholic Forums Moderator ForeverAutumn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woochifer
    I just rented a Focus last week, and my main complaint with its audio system was how the CD player would put a gap in between songs and would not play beyond the first song on one of the Enhanced CDs I had. Since I had several mix CDs with me, that hesitation between songs was really annoying. The sound quality was about on par with what typicaly comes with basic entry level cars nowadays. I noticed that Focus system could play MP3s, so maybe the pausing had to do with that MP3 compatibility. Anybody else have this issue with their car system?
    Hey Wooch. My system didn't add any time between tracks. It also couldn't play MP3s, so you obviously had a different system in your rental. My complaint wasn't the CD player itself, it was the quality (or lack of) of the speakers. I've owned two other Ford cars previous to the Focus and my hubby drives a Ford Pick-up. All three of those cars were less expensive models than my Focus, yet the Focus had the worst sounding speakers. The Escape sounds pretty nice though. It was ready early so I actually got to pick it up this afternoon.

  23. #23
    Suspended topspeed's Avatar
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    Congrats on your new toy! The Escape is a terrific little ute and the V6 gives it surprising acceleration. In my past two SUV's, I've augmented both factory stereos with this Infinity Basslink, a powered sub that hits hard and sounds waaaay better than Bazooka Subs. They have a new Basslink II which has a square 10" driver and passive radiator, but I don't know if it actually sounds better. Look around on the web and you can usually find them for around $200 or less. They have built-in crossovers and eq's along with a wired gain module so you can really tune them to blend in pretty well. You won't win any spl contests of course, but it does add a lot to the lower octaves and will surprise you with its sound quality.

    E-stat's TL has the best OEM stereo I've ever heard. Designed by grammy winner Elliot Scheiner, this thing w/ DVD-A's is very, very good...unless you're in the back seat and then you're screwed. My car came with a truly pathetic stereo from HK. Seriously, when you pay a fair sum for a car, a good stereo should be mandatory. Because I enjoy the steering wheel controls and the incorporated BlueTooth, I've left the HU alone and just added a JL Audio sub driven by a Precision Power amp. It fills in the bottom end (because there simply wasn't one before) and only takes up .75cf of my admittedly tiny trunk. Far from audiophile but it keeps me happy.

    BTW, because you lease your cars, if you do decide to upgrade I'd suggest using Circuit City. They will tear out anything they install for free. Therefore, about a month before you turn your car in, just take it in and have the stock equipment put back in. I've moved systems through three cars using this service.

    Again, congrats on your new ride (or "whip" if you're down wit dat). Post some pics!

    Hope this helps.

  24. #24
    Silence of the spam Site Moderator Geoffcin's Avatar
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    Hey wow, 200 hits on this thread already...

    Quote Originally Posted by ForeverAutumn
    Hey Wooch. My system didn't add any time between tracks. It also couldn't play MP3s, so you obviously had a different system in your rental. My complaint wasn't the CD player itself, it was the quality (or lack of) of the speakers. I've owned two other Ford cars previous to the Focus and my hubby drives a Ford Pick-up. All three of those cars were less expensive models than my Focus, yet the Focus had the worst sounding speakers. The Escape sounds pretty nice though. It was ready early so I actually got to pick it up this afternoon.
    And several other AR regulars who are into your thread, and posting too!

    Still, you gotta make me feel like a piece of **** for moving it. Well it's back, so I hope your happy now.
    Audio;
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  25. #25
    Loving This kexodusc's Avatar
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    I scammed some Infinity Kappa's out of a jazzed up Honda Civic at a police Auction for dirt cheap...still have the lame factory deck in the car though. Not the greatest little speakers and I hope nobody here ever considers paying retail for them...but they were a big step up on the supposedly upgraded stereo package in my Honda Accord.

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