Originally Posted by alec231236
Newbish question here, considering I know virtually nothing when it comes to audio-
I have the base, single cd stereo, would an amp liven it up? Just one? Or would I have to replace speakers, head unit or add a sub woofer?
if you're going to be upgrading piece-by-piece, the biggest bang for your buck and easiest install by far will be upgrading your headunit. an aftermarket one will have a small amplifier built in (the watt ratings are usually listed in RMS per speaker). you'll have to get a wiring harness, which will tie the thing into your factory wiring; and a snap-together kit to replace the trim panel.
once you've upgraded your headunit you probably won't be able to help yourself and will crank it up to the point where you blow a couple of the factory speakers. so that'll be your next step. this is a little trickier because ford chose weird sizes (5x8 & 8", it's probably the front 5x8's that'll go first), and door speakers are annoying to get to.. but you can make things easier by getting a standard size speaker and an adapter plate (or if you're crafty, make the plate yourself out of thin plywood). be sure to replace your speakers in pairs- ie, you don't have to do all of them at once, but whenever you do one, do both sides. most speakers are sold in pairs, so this is probably obvious.
if you have the doors open, might as well throw some sound/vibration deadening material in there- dynamat is a brand name, goes on like a sticker. frost king brand duct insulation is a similar, lighter-weight material sold at Lowe's and other hardware stores- it's not as effective, but it's 1/5 the price (1 $18 roll should do both doors).
so at this point you're under like $300 and you have an entirely new, kickass sound system.
- if you feel like it doesn't have enough thump, you can pick up a sub amp + subwoofer (or a powered subwoofer if you're willing to pay a premium for simplicity); and a speaker-to-line level converter ($15 at walmart), which will get spliced into one (or both) of your rear speaker wires and then run to the amp. make sure that you take the 2 minutes to tune your sub amp to the rest of your system, so that bass hits still sound like music rather than kidney punches. note that most sub amps require running a new fused power line from the battery to the trunk. if you already have the wiring for a Shaker 1000 maybe you can tap into that?
- if you feel like the system with new headunit & speakers still lacks overall volume/ clarity or gets distorted at your favorite volume, that's when you'd want to add in a speaker amp. if you've already put in an aftermarket head unit, you'll run a set of RCA cables from there to the new amp, and you'll need to run new speaker wires from the amp back to the front speakers. if you have both sub & speaker amps, you'll use a power distribution block to split battery power, and will probably replace that line converter with a sub-out from the speaker amp.
if you haven't already seen http://www.crutchfield.com
, their prices aren't the best but they have a TON of useful information.