If you want a complete DVD/NAV headunit then buy Kenwood
If you just want a CD player/iPod unit then buy Alpine
if you just want something cheap that makes a lot of power then pioneer
don't go by specs and features... what makes a "good" head unit from a "bad" head unit is how long it stands up over time... even a low end Alpine will outlast your car, you'll rarely get pissed off at the interface and even after years of use it wont eat your CDs and it will sound great the whole time... meanwhile a high end Sony or Jenson will likely have software bugs that will start pissing you off after the first week of use, they'll probably stop working completely after a year or two and if they do last that long they'll have some other kind of failure along the way (broken buttons, disc feeding mechanism, fan bearing failing, etc. etc. etc.)
Alpines sound awesome and interms of features/ease of use their CD/MP3 units are bar-none the best.... but their LCD units tend to be over priced and not work as nicely as the other stuff out there (I was woefully disappointed with their (Wxxx series DVD/NAV units) .. meanwhile Kenwood makes some above average sounding CD/MP3 head units but they're probably the best in terms of ease of use/features when it comes to the flip out/double din LCD units.
For speakers I'm partial to Alpine also, but MB Quart and JL Audio usually sound pretty good. To do it right go with components that have a legit crossover network. For cheap power Extreme Dimension are good.
Different speakers have different tonalities you should go to a store and listen, bring a CD with you (not your ipod an actual goddamn cd... and not one that's got reburned mp3s... a real
When looking at power ratings RMS Wattage is the only number that matters.
if using an external amp I prefer Alpine again
for subwoofers go with 2+ 10" woofers, either alpine or rockford fosgate. Sealed enclosure...
in my experience Sony, Kicker, Jenson, etc. typically blow but people love to use them anyway.
pyle, pyramid, legacy, etc. are all brands you should avoid like the plague.
use a 4x shielded set of pre-amp wires, run them on the opposite of of the car from where you run your power wires.http://onlinecarstereo.com/
is a good reliable place to buy stuff...
Crutchfield has probably the best customer service in the industry though (their prices have been a bit better as of late also)
of course there are deals to be had on ebay too.
ubernewb is a pro installer... he knows his shit inside and out and on the occasion that I ask him for advice on something he's always led me in the right direction...
get his advice and if he contradicts anything I've said here... take his advice over mine This post has been edited by twistedsymphony: Aug 3 2009, 06:05 PM