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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I purchased my NA without any sort of stereo or working speakers. I solved my dilemma by playing tunes through my Blackberry - but it just wasn't loud enough. This was my solution, and I thought I'd share.

I wanted a solution that was
  • Cheap
  • Hidden
  • Compact
  • Would play tunes without the need for a headunit
I really liked the clean look the car had without a headunit, and the fact that I didn't have to worry about someone trying to yank it out when I had the top down. I was quite content with the music selection the Blackberry provided (MP3's and free HQ streaming music online). I know others have run their music off of Ipods without a headunit before, so I knew I could do it too.

First I needed an amp. A friend of mine turned me onto these mini 2 channel amps sold on ebay. They're very compact - 5" rectangles. They can be had for about $17 shipped from somewhere in China. They have a high level input, so they'll accept audio sourced from any device with a headphone jack. Pics of the one I got:





Pretty basic. Not super powerful - there's no way it's anywhere near 500w (maybe 20w rms if I'm lucky). A few nice features - RCA inputs, USB charging port (so I can charge my blackberry and play music from it at the same time). High and Low pass filter (which I just set to off) and a gain level (which I just set to as loud as I could get without distortion).

Installation was pretty basic. I took the switched 12v wire from the stereo plug and ran it to the amp power wire, and ran the stereo plug ground to the amp ground. This way I get power to the amp when the key is on, and it shuts off when the key is off. Then I connected the speakers to the speaker wires on the amp. I just left the amp back by the original stereo plug. Since it was so small, it was easy to find room.

I then ran a USB cable and an RCA to Headphone cable under the center console and into the console storage. Plugged the blackberry in - and I had tunes.

Volume took a little tweaking. The blackberry is used for master volume control and the amp gain just fine tunes the sound. I set the blackberry to full volume, and then set the gain as high as I could get before distortion. That way I got full volume potential and could turn it down without touching the amp by using the blackberry.

Some observations:

This solution doesn't have the grade quality of an actual stereo system.
The volume doesn't blast, but you can hear everything clearly with the top down at 75mph.
Sound is somewhat "flat"- The lack of an equalizer hurts the range of sound.

For the $17 it cost me to implement, it's a nice cheap solution that took about an hour to install (counting the time it took to remove the console and stereo trim). I considered using a better amp, but that meant I'd need to source battery power for the extra current draw, spend a little more money, and it wouldn't fit behind the dash as well. The only time I'd consider upgrading was if I found one with a nice equalizer (that wasn't just for bass output).
 

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Lol should have read it instead of skimming through it. :oops:
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks - I wish I could capture the sound or describe it better. Here are a few pictures of everything installed. I guess there's not much to see, but I'll share pictures anyway - haha.



 

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Which berry do you have? I'm running a storm 1 through my pioneer. just blew the midbass in the door, i'm weight the pros and cons of keeping a stereo in the roadster. Good thread!!
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks for the kind words guys. I was testing different audio sources in the car today. There is a small depth difference between streaming internet radio in HQ and playing 320kbps MP3's from a laptop.

Which berry do you have? I'm running a storm 1 through my pioneer. just blew the midbass in the door, i'm weight the pros and cons of keeping a stereo in the roadster. Good thread!!
I have a Curve 8330 through Verizon. I haven't upgraded the OS yet. Apparently the latest OS has a graphic equalizer that I'd really like to play with. May help with that lack of "depth" I miss. I don't think it'd be possible to blow speakers with this little amp setup. I know I could do some damage if I upgraded to a larger amp. Typical headunits can provide 25w of RMS power. A cheapie fullsize amp (that would fit perfect beside the ECU under the floorpan) could do 75+w RMS power easy.

What speakers are you running? Your amp doesn't get too hot being stuck in the little cubby??
Speakers are actually OEM speakers from a Subaru Forester (they were what I had on hand). I will upgrade them to something better when I find a cheap deal on Craigslist/Ebay. Heat hasn't been an issue. It's really amazing how small this amp is. I'd say about the size of a 12oz can. It fits in the cubby with a lot of open space. Headunits have built in amps as well, and they handle heat tucked inside of a dash just fine. This really isn't any different.
 

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Are you going to add another cheap amp when you upgrade the speakers or are you going to try and run a larger one next to the ECU? It would almost be a shame to lose the USB port.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Here's a basic diagram of how the whole system works. I drew it up just to show that this is really that simple to install.


I like how the finish panel came out.
Thanks, previous owner installed that - blank plastic with carbon fiber vinyl overlay screwed to the stereo surround. I liked it as well, so I just left it. Really gives the interior a simpler look.

Are you going to add another cheap amp when you upgrade the speakers or are you going to try and run a larger one next to the ECU? It would almost be a shame to lose the USB port.
With these little ebay mini amps, I don't think there's any way for me to bridge them together. Each amp would require a source audio to amplify. I may be able to find an amp that's a little bigger and more powerful that will still fit in the cubby, or upgrade to something down on the floor if I look hard enough.

The USB port really isn't that big of a deal. It's just a 5V power source. I could pick up a 12v to USB charger for cheap online and keep my USB cable if I ever upgraded amps.

A buddy of mine picked up a set of Sony Xplode 3 way speakers for me to play with. While still junk, they're better than the OEM units I've been using. Hope to install them sometime this week or weekend and see if the sound quality/depth is any different with the mini amp.
 

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I am loving the clean look that came out of this. When and if the radio goes out in my 02, I think this will be the way to go.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Got the Sony speakers installed yesterday - what a difference! There's a bit too much treble, but bass depth improved significantly. Really helped the quality of the system, more so than I anticipated.
 

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Awesome! I've been wanting to do this exact thing forever. I pulled my HU awhile ago to put in gauges instead. I want to power these (375W) speakers I have sitting in the garagehttp://www.caraudiodeals.com/zxi63-p-1842.html. I know absolutely nothing about audio stuff but I can do the wiring.

Will that mini amp posted be okay to use for those? Any other mini amps people recommend for us audio ignorant?:oops:
 

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should be more than plenty, your looking at peak and not rms (which is 75watt for those speakers)
Thanks for the response. I'll probably pick one up. This is a great setup for a miata. Basic, easy, cheap, and you have music for when you are driving in a boring straight line on the highway.:slayer:

This look good for me?http://cgi.ebay.com/Mini-Hi-Fi-Audio-Amplifier-Amp-Motorcycle-mp3-ipod-DIY_W0QQitemZ260508922942QQcmdZViewItemQQptZCar_Amplifiers?hash=item3ca78ab43e#ht_3629wt_1230Or would the power supply be problematic?
 

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would it be possible to wire it to the headrest speakers and doors as well in parallel?

also, i have thought about retaining the stock HU for radio purposes, and just switching back and forth for radio/ipod. good idea?
 
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