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Simple Speaker Upgrade for Alfa 159?

Hello All

I've just bought a 159 1.9 150 bhp model and am finding the audio reasonable. However I wonder if I could improve things without the complexity of a new HU, amp, sub etc?

Has anybody simply changed the front speakers and got decent performance from the existing HU? - if so which product do you recommend? I spoke to an ICE specialist who suggested buying coaxials and effectively running two sets of tweeters at the same time? Or would components work better? Finally, is the door unit and dash tweeter replacement job straightforward?

I'm looking for purity of sound rather than huge volume or crazy bass!
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When i enquired about improving the sound i was advised the easiest way to improve sound was to swap the hu
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I swapped the Head-unit, and installed the door speakers and small sub from my last car, and it sounds fantastic. However I think you'd notice a huge difference just changing the front speakers - and I didn't even spend much. The rear speakers aren't so important if the upgrade is primarily for your enjoyment!

I'm not sure what power the amp is in the stock head-unit, but it won't be as much as an aftermarket unit - so I'd say the HU and door speakers would probably be the best to change. I also don't know how 'into' your music you are - so a lot of people would say spend a fortune of component speakers. I spent about 40 on them and they were huge upgrade from the stock ones and I'm very happy, but it's all very subjective.

The sub gives a great punch but I do quite like my bass, and obviously you lose some boot space in the process.
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Take a look at this thread in the ICE & Blue & me section of the forum:

It details an option to upgrade the system using the factory head unit. I'm looking to do this upgrade at some time when / if the money becomes available.
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Standard sound system in 159 is pretty good. I use a bass level of +2 and treble +1 and at volume 21, Bush Chemists ft King General and RnB sound bloody awesome.

If you’re interested in upgrading it then bear in mind your head unit has low level pre amp outputs ideal for a 4ch amp setup. Your head unit has built in integrated circuit (IC chip) that do most of the high power amplification and it suffers from poor frequency response and distortion.

Best way forward is high power discrete transistor amps (75w – 100w for midrange+tweeter setup and 200w+ for subwoofer) and they give far superior sound and frequency response. Look out for class AB Phoenix Gold amps, you should be able to pick these up pretty cheap from ebay. I repaired 2 of these, one was a 4ch 75W amp, which gave very warm bass through just a dinky 20W tv speaker at mid level . Even better, get a 4ch crossover and use a low power 20w or 30w amp to power your tweeters separate from your bottom door speakers rather than using the passive crossover units. Just a thought. if you do choose to go for amps then just don't go crazy on the bass and gain settings, keep them low for a better sound quality and adjust frequency response so you at least get most of the sound from 30Hz to 20khz.

Speaker wise if you’re on look out for some then, either JBL or MB quart (prefered).

I know you said “simple” . just can’t help giving advice when it comes to car sound system setups.
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I've changed speakers in two of my recent cars that have a similar door construction to the 159. Those two cars were a 2003 FIAT Stilo and a 2010 FIAT 500. All three cars have a sheetmetal inner skin to the door, and the speaker mounted in a plastic pod that's sealed to the door. This gives excellent acoustics (the speaker is boxed in). It gets the most sound out of the speakers.

The standard speakers have a lightweight paper cone, thin foam surround, plastic basket, and tiny magnet. You will be surprised at how good the standard speakers sound, given what they are made of. They probably cost about 1 each to make.

Aftermarket speakers have a polypropylene (metallized, etc.) cone, strong rubber surround, pressed steel (or in some cases, cast alloy) basket, and a much bigger magnet.

To fit each replacement speaker, you'll probably have to cut the original speaker cone out of its pod, so that the pod becomes a mounting for a 6.5" speaker. You'll also find the replacement tweeters are inevitably bigger than the standard items, so you'll need to carve away the standard mountings from the trim and devise your own.

However, the sum of all this work and expense is usually less sensitivity and less warmth to the sound, even if you get more bass and a brassier top end ('brighter' tweeters). It's like the difference between a party speaker and a home hi-fi speaker. It is hard to improve on the original sound without losing something else in the process.

In my 500 I went all-out with Infinity speakers and a Pioneer amplifier - lots of wiring etc. - I definitely got a lot of sound but I wouldn't say it was really any more useful - and there were clicks and pops etc. as the equipment turned on and off, plus a bit of breakthrough interference now and then. Spent ages adjusting the equalisation but always had certain resonances that affected the vocals (making them hard on the ears).

The Stilo was an even bigger mistake as I ended up with a huge amount of bass and midrange from the rear speakers - the fronts seemed to become less effective. You generally want the sound stage from the front, otherwise you end up hearing only the rear speaker closest to you.

In the 500, I also fitted an under-seat subwoofer of the slim and active type, along the lines of what FIAT offer as an upgrade option. This was worthwhile and I would stop there if I were doing the upgrade again. Best return for the money!

So, what I'm saying is that I would not upgrade the speakers in my 159 - it's just not worth it - I might add a slimline subwoofer, but even then, it will be turned down quite low.

The Bose speaker upgrade for the 159 might be nice to have, if it can be acquired from a wrecked car at a reasonable price. Even the Bose speakers will seem a lot weaker than anything aftermarket - and they will give that warm and well-balanced sound.

It's a personal thing to decide how far you want to go, but I've been there and wouldn't go there again. Over to you...


'00 GTV V6, '08 FIAT 500, shell and parts for a '71 FIAT 850 Coupe
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