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Rav4 stereo upgrade

Car Audio, Video, & GPS

Car Audio, Video, & GPS
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Rav4 stereo upgrade

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Hi,

I am contemplating an upgrade for my 2011 Toyota Rav4 base model without the JBL stereo.  After reading the car stereo proving ground article, I think I would like to upgrade the head unit on my vehicle.  I want to add ipod control and hope that the modest increase in power of an after market head unit will improve the sound.  Budget for the head unit is flexible; the head unit by itself just isn't that expensive.

I am not that excited about replacing the factory unit because it is easy to use while driving; it doesn't have tiny buttons or incomprehensible menus.  Unfortunately, it also doesn't have ipod controls so I operate my ipod through the accessory jack and can't control it from the head unit.  Because I want something easy to see while driving, I want a double DIN unit.

I am contemplating the Clarion CX501 http://www.crutchfield.com/p_020CX501/Clarion-CX501.html?tp=5684 .  It appears to be well laid out and would be easy to operate while driving.   In particular, I am looking at it in terms of future upgrades.  Although I may never do it, I would like the option of upgrading the speakers to components, adding an amp, and adding a subwoofer.  Since this model offers 4 volt preamp, six channel preamp outputs and sub preamp outputs, I think this offers me the best upgrade path.  Is this correct?  Is there any downside or other features I should consider? Thanks!

Verified Answer
  • Comparison.

    That is going to be a VERY tough call.

    • I really like my JVC deck, but I'm a gadget geek and I found it hard to get used to.  The Clarion seems better to me for someone who values the ease of use of the factory radio.  Big Teddy pretty much feels to opposite of me and I trust his opinions as well.  (But it doesn't help you a whole lot, I know ...)
    • I had a bad experience with HD radio, but it might have improved since then, and I'm sure it varies with your location and market.  The good news is JVC has a menu setting for analog only, so you can try it out and if it isn't right for you, you haven't lost anything.  I rarely used FM rather than HD when I had my Sony (except for sports), but I didn't look for it or miss not having it when I replaced the Sony.  YMMV.
    • I like having two USB ports on the JVC, but with an iPod, that's less of a concern.
    • I haven't used BT, but reviews of JVC say their's is not the best (and I think I've read Clarion's was pretty good), but in general the external microphone is a benefit.

    It's really hard to pick one deck over the other in this case and it might come down to personal preference.

    Hope This Helps!!!

    Anyone else have suggestions?

     

    2002 Ford Focus JVC KD-A815 Sony CDX-GT410u Sony XT-100HD HD Tuner Stock speakers, no amp, no subs

All Replies
  • Looks like a good choice given your concerns, but I don't have first-hand experience with Clarion.

    My only comment is that I wouldn't base a decision on 4-volt pre-amps.  They are a plus, but without them you typically just have to go a bit higher on the gain on your amplifiers - not a huge deal (and doesn't mean ANYTHING if you never use them).

    Hope This Helps!!!

    Anyone else have suggestions?

    2002 Ford Focus JVC KD-A815 Sony CDX-GT410u Sony XT-100HD HD Tuner Stock speakers, no amp, no subs

  • Clarion HU's are great. Good sound and well built. My only problem with them are there menu system. It's confusing as all get out (at least on some of there older models haven't played with newer ones or double din). I actually never had problems with figuring out HU controls and menus until I put a Clarion in my brothers truck. But if you buy from CF and don't like it you've got 60 days to send it back and exchange it for something else. JVC has some nice double din heads, as well as Alpine, and Pioneer. Soundstream also has some great heads (possibly some of my favorite double din heads on the market right now). Take a look at these. All are great heads and you can add GPS to them which is nice.

    GMC Sonoma, JVC KD-A95BT, 2 Pioneer TS-D601P in doors, 2 Pioneer TS-G4644R in dash, 2 JL W3v2-D2 10 inch subs, Lightning Audio B4.250.2, Soundstream TX1.1300D

  • If the pre-amp voltage isn't important, maybe I should consider the JVC KW-HDR81BT http://www.crutchfield.com/p_105KWHR81B/JVC-KW-HDR81BT.html?tp=5684 .  It has similar features plus HD radio.  I've never used HD radio but if it doesn't cost me anything it would be worth checking out.  Is there any other thing that I should consider that might sway my decision between the Clarion or the JVC (or other?)?  I don't currently use a blue tooth phone but will be replacing my phone soon; is the difference between an external and integrated microphone significant?  Integrated seems cleaner.

  • Comparison.

    That is going to be a VERY tough call.

    • I really like my JVC deck, but I'm a gadget geek and I found it hard to get used to.  The Clarion seems better to me for someone who values the ease of use of the factory radio.  Big Teddy pretty much feels to opposite of me and I trust his opinions as well.  (But it doesn't help you a whole lot, I know ...)
    • I had a bad experience with HD radio, but it might have improved since then, and I'm sure it varies with your location and market.  The good news is JVC has a menu setting for analog only, so you can try it out and if it isn't right for you, you haven't lost anything.  I rarely used FM rather than HD when I had my Sony (except for sports), but I didn't look for it or miss not having it when I replaced the Sony.  YMMV.
    • I like having two USB ports on the JVC, but with an iPod, that's less of a concern.
    • I haven't used BT, but reviews of JVC say their's is not the best (and I think I've read Clarion's was pretty good), but in general the external microphone is a benefit.

    It's really hard to pick one deck over the other in this case and it might come down to personal preference.

    Hope This Helps!!!

    Anyone else have suggestions?

     

    2002 Ford Focus JVC KD-A815 Sony CDX-GT410u Sony XT-100HD HD Tuner Stock speakers, no amp, no subs