Erin Blanton's 2000 Honda CR-V
An affordable system that rocks ... pink subwoofer box and all!
Erin Blanton wrote about mobile A/V gear at Crutchfield for several years, and worked as a Sales Advisor in our contact center before that. She left Crutchfield to open her own toy store, Pufferbellies, in nearby Staunton, Virginia, which continues to keep her busy.
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I figured that the logical place to start was with the head unit. I picked the Alpine CDA-9805 for a few reasons: first, it's XM-ready, and will control Alpine's TUA-T020XM XM Satellite Radio tuner. Second, it has three sets of preamp outputs (there's that upgradeable thing). Third, the green-and-amber illumination looks pretty sweet with my dash lights. Fourth: the CDA-9805 is (you guessed it) relatively affordable. Retail price: around $170.
Radio from space, and a space for the radio
For XM reception, I needed a tuner and an antenna. The Alpine TUA-T020XM was a no-brainer it integrated perfectly with the CDA-9805 receiver and would easily fit under the front passenger's seat. I picked it up as part of an FM modulated system that retailed for around $150. (This Alpine tuner is no longer being made. However, you can now get an "XMDirect" tuner that works with Alpine head units when used with a special adapter. Together, the adapter and the tuner are retailing for around $150.) The antenna was a little tougher. I considered an on-glass model, but the cosmetics just didn't appeal to me. In the end, I chose the Terk XM3 magnetic-mount antenna, and placed it on the rear roof, above the brake light. It's small and unobtrusive, and the reception is excellent. Price: about $50.
I decided that to save money, I would just replace my front speakers. The CR-V has 6.5" speakers in the front doors and in the rear cargo area but since I don't tote around too many passengers in the back seat, I figured I could unhook the back speakers and let the fronts take care of business. I chose the Polk Audio EX365 speakers. They were a pretty easy fit, requiring only a little bit of cutting to install. Plus, they sound great. A huge value for the money (retail price: $70).
Amping it up
To get the loud-and-clear sound I was craving, I knew that I would have to use an amp to power the speakers. Even though my Alpine head unit has relatively high power, the CR-V does have some road noise to overcome. Plus, I like to drive with the windows down, so I tend to crank the volume pretty high. (Especially when I'm listening to the 90s channel on XM! Hey, it reminds me of high school.)
Alpine to the rescue again the V-Power MRP-F240 4-channel amp was within my budget (priced at $199.99), and the power output (although not mind-blowing at 40 watts x 4) was enough to get the job done. I installed it under the driver's seat using an 8-gauge Scosche amp wiring kit. The amp's two front channels power my front speakers, and I bridged the rear two channels to power my subwoofer with 100 watts RMS. Speaking of the subwoofer ...
Bring the bass!
With the speakers, head unit, and amp in place, it was time to pick out the sub and enclosure. I chose to stick with Alpine (because you can never have too much of a good thing) and picked up a 10" Type-E SWE-1041 subwoofer (price: $89.99). With savings on my mind, I decided to build my own box. It turned out to be a lot of fun, and I did save some cash!
I thought about carpeting the box, or painting it, but I wanted something a little different and (yes) a little girly. I decided to let my inner arts-and-crafts freak free, and decoupaged the box with squares of pink scrapbook paper.
How do I feel about the finished result? Love it! The system gets more than loud enough for my tastes, and sounds clear even when it's cranked. The 10" sub rounds out the lows to perfection ... and I can't let a day go by without telling at least one person how much I adore my satellite radio. All that for a total retail cost of around $800 (including box-building materials and amp wiring) in my book, a bargain.
Even though I'm pleased with my system, I definitely have some upgrades in mind. I've got my eye on a set of Polk/MOMO component speakers for the front doors (the tweeters should fit nicely into the sail panels), and plan to pop the current Polk speakers in the back when I install those components. I also want to switch to a 5-channel amp with some more juice for the components and for my subwoofer. The pink sub box, though, is here to stay.