Question re 4' speakers/subwoofer in Avalon

Lynne_SJOMay 25, 2005

Hi guys:

I recently bought a new Lexus ES300 and hubby now has my Toyota Avalon. He/we listen to a lot of radio and CD's - jazz, classical, folk, classic rock, A tiny bit of modern rock, and talk shows. We have an Alpine stereo and an after market XM radio. Somehow, two of the original toyota-installed Avalon speakers blew, so we had all four replaced w Alpine 4" speakers, as this was the only size that would fit in the Toyota well size.

Needless to say, the sound is VERY disappointing. No bass at all. In fact, the installer instructed us that due to their small capacity, we should turn the bass to MINUS 2,or we could end up blowing the speakers again (we normally set it to zero or +1). He also indicated that the original speakers had great bass response because of some engineering tricks (My words, not his) that manufacturers use to fit small speakers in their cars while still getting good bass response.

Long story short, they are suggesting that we get a subwoofer installed in the trunk. When it comes to audio technology changes in the past 20 years, I am totally ignorant and have never owned anything with a subwoofer, unless maybe the new Lexus has one - I don't know. Thought they were for rap music. Little did I know!

Anyway, what to do think of the suggestion of this addition and do you think it will make a big difference in sound? If so, how does one select the "right" subwoofer for them and what kind of cost would we be talking about?

Thanks much,


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If you were pleased with the sound before the speakers blew, I'd consider very strongly replacing the Alpines with OEM speakers. A subwoofer can make a big difference in sound as it lets the smaller speakers handle higher frequencies while a bigger speaker (the subwoofer) handles the low "I-can-feel-it" frequencies as well as those a little further up the chart. But the cost will depend on the subwoofer you select and how integrated the installation is. You probably could go with a lower-volume subwoofer since I think your purpose is to fill out the sound, not rattle windows three blocks away (!). I don't know as any of us could tell you how much it would cost for your car. You're probably talking a few hundred dollars minimum; more if you want a particularly custom-looking installation.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2005 at 10:20AM
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OEM is what?

Would rather work w what we are stuck with now, as the Alpines came to $400 ($150/set + installation). We have used the same vendor for years and been happy with their service, I only wish they had warned me in advance that the new speakers would not even come close to the old ones. I told them "I don't want the most expensive set in the store, but if paying a few hundred extra dollars will make a big diff. tell me." They said the Alpines would work well and not sound noticably differnt than the other choices.

I am not a penny wise/pound foolish person and when shopping tend to look for the higher end of the quality continuum. What I hate most in purchasing consumer items are the sales people that automatically show you the cheap stuff and tell you how you don't need all those extra things like (in the case of computers) lots of RAM, a good video card, a large hard drive, etc.

Had I known how puny and flat the new speakers were going to sound, I would have waited and done more research before making the purchase.


    Bookmark   May 26, 2005 at 12:03PM
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OEM = original equipment manufacturer. Steve_o meant that if the original speakers were acceptable then maybe you should replace them with the exact same speaker.

Bass refers to the lower frequencies. To move enough air mass at the lower frequencies to get good sounding bass you generally need a larger speaker cone (say 8in. +). In other words a 4in. speaker and good bass response are mutually exclusive. 4 in. are usually good midrange response with smaller cones being the best for tweeters or higher frequencies. Bass is pretty much omnidirectional so a sub-woofer does not need to mounted up front but could likely be hidden in the trunk or rear deck. I don't know where your installer is from but I would try another dealer for speakers and suggestions. Also, although they will sound different installed in your car, I would recommend to always listen to a pair of speakers before you buy so you get a feel for thier sound output. Have someone interpret the specifications also that will quantify the speakers ability to accurately reproduce sound versus frequency (The speaker with good response at the lower frequencies will have stronger/better bass response.)

hope this helps

    Bookmark   May 26, 2005 at 9:59PM
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Please post the vehicles model year. I dont see a Toyota Avalon that has anything smaller than 5 1/4" speakers?? 4" speakers would be unusual.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2005 at 9:52AM
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Is that Alpine stereo in the Avalon? If so was the Alpine stereo installed at the same time as the speakers?

    Bookmark   May 27, 2005 at 10:52AM
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Thanks guys. The Avalon is a '96. When we bought it used a few years ago (Toyota Certified of course), it had the original radio, speakers, and CD player. The CD player was not working very well, so we replaced it with an Alpine, but left the original speakers, as the vendor (the same one we are dealing with now....) said "your speakers are great and if I were you, I would keep them." We agreed, as the origial system sounded fantastic. Almost as good as my 7-speaker system in my new Lexus.

I did listen to the Alpine speakers in the store prior to purchase, but they do sound very different in our car. Zero depth or bass, unless we turn it up to at least 2, which the vendor (and kid that installed it) recommended against. They said that that would eventually blow the speakers, since they are only 4" speakers. Of course I was clueless at the time about speaker sizes AND the sizes of speaker wells in autos. I just assumed and Alpine speaker is an Alpine speaker and trusted them to recommend the right ones, given my stated objective of replacing the blown speakers with something of equal quality.

After I listend to the installed results and was disappointed, they explained the reason and indicated that to get the bass response we were looking for (geeze - we listen to jazz, folk/acoustic, classical, and a tiny bit of classic rock), they indicated a subwoofer mounted in the trunk would do the trick.

Do you guys agree? Is it reasonable for me to ask them to actually hook one up and let me hear it before purchasing? This vendor has been good to deal with over the years and has always backed up their work and - at least up until now - given us good advice. I also happen to like the installer. Young kid, as they all are, but when I have questions, he takes me to his car and shows me what he is talking about - as we did when we bought the after market XM system. I don't really want to start over by going somewhere else, since we have spent so much $$ with them and this is a recent purchase. I believe that they owe it to us to help us achieve our originally stated objective and I think they will, if I get back there before too much more time passes - it has been about 3 weeks now, and I just want to do my homework here before going back to them for a resolution.


    Bookmark   May 28, 2005 at 2:47PM
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If all your dissatisfied with is the bass response. Then a subwoofer (actually a woofer) is the way to go. Note that the purpose of a subwoofer , as the name implies, is to get bass response below a conventional a woofer. Have your sound guy make sure that the frequncy range of the unit he is recommending crosses over the frequency range of your Alpines otherwise you'll end up adding low bass but still have a hole between the subwoofer frequencies and the low end response of your speakers.

my 0.02

    Bookmark   May 29, 2005 at 12:23AM
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I wonder if the original speakers were amplified and/or low-impedance speakers with an amplifier somewhere in the car.

The Alpine replacement speakers are not amplified and are not low-impedance speakers.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2005 at 9:52AM
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You didnt specify but I have to conclude that your '96 Avalon had the upgraded JBL 7 speaker sound system. This speaker system had a amplified subwoofer mounted in the rear deck of the car and likely made all the difference in bass or no bass. I would look into connecting the existing sub if its still there or finding an aftermarket subwoofer. Im guessing that the speakers you have installed dont play frequencies much lower than 100 Hz and you are missing about half of the music.

Another option would be to replace the pathetic 4" speakers with something bigger, there is plenty of room in the doors with a little modification to fit a larger speaker.

You might also consider a component driver, MB Quart makes a component system with a 4" driver and seperate tweeter that claims to get down to 59Hz not booming bass but about the best you can do at your size constraints.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2005 at 1:49PM
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We ended up having an Alpine woofer/subwoofer (don't know what the difference is) in the trunk and it has made all the difference in the world. No comparison and the radio now sounds as good as the factory one we replaced. If we had not liked it, the vendor had already offered to try and find a set of larger speakers and take back the Alpines if necessary. But the wells are pretty small and do not fit anything larger than 4 inches, that we have seen.

They recommended a subwoofer that was compatible with the power of the system and our music listening tastes, thank goodness. Even the basic folk guitar pieces we listen to - dylan, donovan, taylor, jansch, etc. sound entirely different, not to mention the jazz and classical, which are also amazing.

To Brian's question, yes, I think that this was the case (low impedence speakers with a hidden amplifier in the factory setup.) I had to try two places before we found someone that was convinced they could find the amp, since it was really well hidden. They spent hours and we even put the Toyota repair shop guy on the phone and no one knew where it was or could find it, so the poor installer spent the rest of his afternoon entirely rewiring the car.

The speakers did not give out until 4 years later - not too bad I guess.

Thanks again for the advice.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2005 at 7:23AM
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I am having the same problem with no bass on a 96 avalon, where did you find the amp??

    Bookmark   August 20, 2006 at 4:07PM
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"we even put the Toyota repair shop guy on the phone and no one knew where it was or could find it"

How sad it THAT? you would think he has access to every assembly/repair manual they print.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2006 at 2:53PM
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I'm looking for a replacement woofer speaker for my Avalon 2002.Could some one direct me to a comparable speaker.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2011 at 7:50PM
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