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2004 Honda Pilot
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Quick question for y'all. I just ordered a new head unit for my 04' EX Pilot on Crutchfield as I literally cannot stand using an fm transmitter any longer.The radio static is killing me!! I also ordered the JBL BassPro 12 to replace the factory sub. But I've been reading online that replacing the speakers in the Pilot may also yield a noticeable improvement. So what I'm asking is how many of y'all have gone the route of simply just replacing the head unit and does that make a considerable difference on the quality of sound in your Pilot? I've read some comments on different forums suggesting that just replacing the HU only gives more power since the RMS power is obviously higher than that of the stock HU; however, it doesn't really matter if you're just pushing out louder low quality music. But in my experience with my EX Pilot, the sound really isn't all that bad aside from the muddy sub (which will be remedied with the JBL sub), and the static from the fm transmitter. That said, I'll know soon enough if I should also replace the speakers, but I just wanna hear your take on how it was just replacing the HU and sub (or just the HU) and if that was all the improvement you really needed. Also, if there's anyone who's replaced the HU and then found that the sound was still crappy so they needed to replace the door speakers too, I wanna hear from y'all. Not really looking to do any modifications to add in any speakers; just trying to keep it looking as factory as possible.
 

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In my prior 2007 EX, I replaced the head with a touchscreen Pioneer unit which had bluetooth - this was before Android Auto was a thing. It gave me the features I wanted, but not much in terms of sound quality. I put in a mono amp and a 10" Pioneer shallow sub, so now the sound was 'drowning' in quality bass. The door speakers went next, I think I got JBL. Definitely sounded a lot better than OEM. Especially the highs got a big boost.
 

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I replaced the fronts and sub.

I鈥檓 running a Kenwood DMX907s with Sound Basics SB17 Poly cones for mids, and SB29 tweets fiberglassed into the door sails. Subwoofer is a Dayton HO 12 DVC. Dayton DSP and two JL amps, one for the front speakers and a mono for the sub.

The factory tweeters are garbage, running any speakers off a head unit only will get you improvements but make sure you match them correctly. Factory speakers will run fine off any head unit.

A lot depends on how much you鈥檙e willing to spend. If you鈥檙e willing to spend a little more get a decent amp and drive the new fronts at least. Most headunits can only put out so much power. It鈥檚 not about being loud as much as being able to drive the signal. The factory speakers aren鈥檛 terrible, I believe the mids are made by alpine, but they鈥檙e paper cones and will likely be showing their age and mine were starting to degrade.

If you want to improve midbass in the doors, sealing them will have a significant improvement. As will using some CLD to dampen vibrations and resonance. Some photos of my build.
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On my 2004 I just replaced the head unit. My hearing is not the best but I thought it sounded great with the stock speakers. I am sure that it would be better with new speakers but I just didn't really want to get that far into it.
 

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2004 Honda Pilot
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
In my prior 2007 EX, I replaced the head with a touchscreen Pioneer unit which had bluetooth - this was before Android Auto was a thing. It gave me the features I wanted, but not much in terms of sound quality. I put in a mono amp and a 10" Pioneer shallow sub, so now the sound was 'drowning' in quality bass. The door speakers went next, I think I got JBL. Definitely sounded a lot better than OEM. Especially the highs got a big boost.
When you say drowning in quality bass do you just mean that the bass sounded really solid but the rest was lacking? Normally, I'd think it worthwhile to spend as much money as needed on good audio in my car, but given the age, I think I'm just at the point of replacing things that can be reused in a new car (like the powered sub I got). I checked my door speakers and none of them appear to have blown so if I were to replace them it would be just because I was hoping to get better sound from them after replacing them. And from some of the reviews of speakers on Crutchfield, it seems like you gotta at least spend around $100 for a pair if you really wanna notice an improvement (assuming your speakers aren't blown).
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I replaced the fronts and sub.

I鈥檓 running a Kenwood DMX907s with Sound Basics SB17 Poly cones for mids, and SB29 tweets fiberglassed into the door sails. Subwoofer is a Dayton HO 12 DVC. Dayton DSP and two JL amps, one for the front speakers and a mono for the sub.

The factory tweeters are garbage, running any speakers off a head unit only will get you improvements but make sure you match them correctly. Factory speakers will run fine off any head unit.

A lot depends on how much you鈥檙e willing to spend. If you鈥檙e willing to spend a little more get a decent amp and drive the new fronts at least. Most headunits can only put out so much power. It鈥檚 not about being loud as much as being able to drive the signal. The factory speakers aren鈥檛 terrible, I believe the mids are made by alpine, but they鈥檙e paper cones and will likely be showing their age and mine were starting to degrade.

If you want to improve midbass in the doors, sealing them will have a significant improvement. As will using some CLD to dampen vibrations and resonance. Some photos of my build.
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First and foremost sweet build! But yeah I've heard pretty bad things about the factory tweeters in the dash for sure. I've seen some folks who just disconnected them altogether cause the highs were too much, and they're not worth replacing since they point at the windshield anyways (which is a terrible idea if you want good highs but that's another story...). Your build looks really great, but in my case I'm not looking to do any modifications for the door sails (even though I imagine it sounds 100x times better than those tinny speakers in the dash. I guess what I'm really curious about is how much of a difference did replacing the mids make in your case? Was it pretty noticeable or was the biggest difference replacing the tweeters? Last question: how hard was it and what was the process of installing the speakers in the door sail? Just for the sake of curiosity. Also how much did doing that specific work cost (for parts and speakers)?
 

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The mids and tweets work together. Replacing one may have some benefits in those frequency ranges it鈥檚 capable of producing. I did everything at once. The reason for multiple speaker sizes is that different sizes are better at producing certain ranges of frequencies. Simple swap honestly sounded terrible until I tuned them.

The DSP is used to control crossover frequencies which allow certain frequencies to go to the driver that are best suited for it. It has a parametric equalizer for adjusting curves at each individual driver, and delay to basically slow down the signal to speakers closest to you so sound reaches your ears at the same time from both sides.

I used a calibrated microphone to tune them to a target curve. I fine tuned things after to my own personal preference. Tuning can really transform how things sound. My initial impressions were that it sounded terrible. After a few weeks of tuning, things sound better than any factory sound system I鈥檝e ever been in.

My recommendation for someone just wanting to do bare minimum is go with a coaxial speaker in the door and just unplug the factory tweeters. It鈥檚 basically a two or three way speaker that has tweeter(s) in the center. They generally don鈥檛 do as well on the lower end frequencies as most factory speakers which is why many times people will be disappointed expecting more bass. They are generally tuned with the expectation that you will be running a sub to make up for that. The next step up is a component system with passive crossovers. Basically two out three speakers per side with small electronic box that is designed to split the frequencies up to each speaker. Passive crossovers are specifically designed for their intended speaker and should not be used on any raw driver.


As for how I built the speaker adapters and tweeter mount. The white adaper rings for the mids are 3d printed abs that I designed after cutting the sheet metal to fit the larger driver. I also used nutserts to secure them. They barely fit behind the door card and took some trimming.

Tweeters didn鈥檛 come with a grill so I designed and 3d printed a ring that accepted the tweeter with a universal 3鈥 grill. I also designed and 3d printed a laser pointer adapter for the tweeters and attached it and pointed the speaker by testing where it sounded best. Used wooden dowels to temporarily affix with hot glue. Draped with speaker cloth and loaded with fiberglass resin. Once cured, multiple layers of chopped fiberglass and resin. Then lots of sanding, body filler, more sanding, high fill primer, then sprayed matte black paint.



As for price, it was definitely more than I planned. Tweets+mids for fronts were ~$300. Amp for front ~$600 used. DSP ~$150. Various cables, screws, connectors ~$150-200. Then cost of sandpaper, body filler, fiberglass and resin. ~$100 Subwoofer driver was ~$200. Wood, glue, and fabric ~$70. Amp for sub was new ~$500 but I had $300 crutchfield gift card. Various connectors for the sub, ~$100. Definitely not the cheapest build but I鈥檇 call it a frugal sound quality build.


I also removed the entire interior, laid CLD, CCF, and MLV sound deadening everywhere. Doors are also sealed.
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