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1985 Eldorado Convertible stereo help

20660 Views 89 Replies 11 Participants Last post by  scottelderado
Hi guys, I very recently became the proud owner of an amazing 85 Eldorado Biarritz Convertible. Factory Sable black with red leather. I just drove it back from south Florida to Washington DC and had no real problems at all. However, the factory Delco tape deck (the slightly better than base 5-EQ model, not the Bose system) is dead. The radio works, but not well. The factory speakers work okay, but the sound quality is poor. Generally, I'm all for keeping things original, but this stereo system needs an upgrade, like pronto. I went on Crutchfield's website and e-chatted with one of their salespeople: basically they said "we have no stereos/headsets that will fit without an adapter, nor do we have any speakers either, except for these from the "RetroSound" brand, because the speakers' depth is so small."

I figure I'm not the first person to deal with this. A few questions:

1. Could I get a newer Delco stereo headset that would fit and install without any trouble? Seems that's what this guy did (scroll down some):
If so, which Delco years have the correct mount and harness? Or should I just forget all Delcos and get an Alpine etc. with adapters?

2. Does any well-known brand sell speakers that'll fit 79-85 non-Bose speaker mounts? Or did any ever? Perhaps the convertible's speaker mounts are even smaller than a base Eldorado's?

3. Even if I upgrade the headset and speakers, I don't think I'll be satisfied. The speaker holes (two dash 4x6s with little depth and the shallow 4x10s in the back) are just too small. If I could find them at a junkyard or on eBay, could I mount the original Bose door speaker covers (from the 80s optional Bose system) on my doors, but with non-Bose speakers inside? Theoretically, that'd look pretty clean.

Thank you very much!
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That price seems a bit under the norm.

Mind if I ask what shop you are getting this quote from?

A car as old as your Eldorado would sure need sound deadening mat such as Dynamat, Aurilex, Roadblock, Audimute. The labor to install that alone would eat up most if not all of the quoted labor. I honestly think at that labor price they will be cutting several corners.

When I put a full system in my F150 back in 2001 to install the head unit, 2 amplifiers (one for the subs, and one for the components) 6.5 components for the front, 6x9 for the rears, sound deadening, Capacitor (used to provide a more stable power signal and take the load off the alternator and battery) and all the associated wiring it took a full 8 hour day.

Granted you are not going to that extreme I can promise you that you will not be happy with the sound quality if some form of sound deadening is not installed, and if a capacitor is not installed its very possible that you will start to see alternator failures, batteries with a very shortened life spam and other electrical issues.

Have you ever seen a car with a semi powerfull sound system and noticed that with every hit of a low frequency (Bass) the lights dim? If so that was because the audio system is drawing more amperage than the vehicle is capable of supplying. And that is where a capacitor comes into play, 1 farad per 1000 watts of system power is the recommendation.
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Ha! As I've never heard of the unit a "farad" before, I'm not getting all amped up to run to Crutchfield for electrical supplies. Here's the car audio place in VA:

My buddy took his Audi there and it sounded and worked great with a new amp, speakers, sub, etc. He's a car performance nut, and he would have noticed if they screwed up the rest of his electrical system. Good tip about the deadening mat and the capacitor. I'll be sure to bring those things up. I think they lowered the labor cost since I said I'd buy the sub and Focal components from them. I'm a haggler. Thanks cnyncrvr.
Caps are a waste of money in an automotive sound system. They're just ADDITIONAL load on the alternator.

- System off, caps fully charged, system on, volume up..... Not long after the bass starts, the cap is empty and pulling power for nothing.

If the alternator was powerful enough to run, system, AND power the caps while music was playing, they wouldn't be necessary in the first place.

...Plenty of technical explanations and sound tests by professional installers, explaining why caps are useless. Google.
There is also a substantial ammount from engineers and pro installers that advocate the use of caps. Most people how ever make the mistake of undersizing they're cap which is what leads to cap power drain. I know more about caps both in electronics engineering and simple audio that I should.
Sound deadening - Dynamat or its equivalent/Constrained Layer Damper:

Look up some videos on how to cover the holes on your inner door panels with it to make the door a sealed enclosure. Then look up some videos on how to cover every square inch of every panel with it, sometimes in multiple layers, and even more layers if you hear vibrations.....Then forget ALL of it.

A CLD dampens panel vibration. It DOES NOT block or contain sound waves, and a door will never be a sealed enclosure capable of holding the pressure of sound waves. Vibrations are two surfaces hitting each other, not a job for a CLD.

A CLD does it's job with only ~25% of the flat areas of a panel covered (which translates to well under 25% of complete coverage).

See my thread on my interior swap to see what a floor and doors look like when CLD is used properly.


cnyncrvr said:
There is also a substantial ammount from engineers and pro installers that advocate the use of caps. Most people how ever make the mistake of undersizing they're cap which is what leads to cap power drain. I know more about caps both in electronics engineering and simple audio that I should.
So after you've installed your 5th cap and 3rd alternator (yes I'm exaggerating) to have sufficient cap capacity and the power to keep them from depleting, what is the advantage to the end user besides lights that don't dim? Besides the placebo effect of "oh yeah, that sounds better!"? The couple of "experiments" I've seen/read, using professional sound equipment to "hear" the difference, have shown no improvement in SOUND.

Want lights that don't dim? Get HIDs.
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You keep talking about sound quality, a cap is not meant to in any way improve the quality of sound. A cap in an audio system is simply a current storage device. When the current stored in a cap is not needed it simply acts as a passthrough, when it is needed it supplements the current supplyed by the battery and alternator by releasing the charge it holds.

The most simple way to explain this is that if you have a amplifier that under normal conditions does not strain your electrical system the cap will do noting more than act as a pass through for the currrent being supplied by the vehicle electrical system. How ever when a situation presents itself IE surge of bass that draws more current than the electrical system can provide the cap releases its charge untill it is either fully drained or the current requirments return to normal. This serves to prolong the life of the alternator as well as not starving the rest of the vehicles electrical system of current.

Now with that said, If you have a system that continuously draws more current than your vehicles electrical system can supply a cap will do absolutely no good.
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Well yeah, we're talking about SOUND systems. Anything added to it should either improve or support sound quality. I see no need of buying capacitors and possibly upgrading an alternator to keep the lights from dimming at red lights. I've seen no evidence of prolonged alternator life with a cap, provided the alternator isn't being overtaxed by the system to begin with.
You have seen no evidence? So are you saying you have no actual experience and your oppinion is based strictly on your "Google" reading or hearsay?

Actually dont bother answering that. This thread was not meant as a debate about caps, sound deadening and the like. I wont continue to hijack this thread by arguing with you. Should you want to continue this topic feel free to get some actual experience with such products and then post about it and Ill be glad to debate with you.
Actually I'm not going by "heresay". I never had an alternator issue when I had a nearly $4,000 system in my Accord. Granted, one example amounts to nothing. However, that install got me into audio to some degree. I'm a lurker (mostly) on a few car and home audio forums. I have installed 3 full systems (nothing extravagant) for friends and family. And I have a friend who has his own audio/video/security install shop, who was a judge at SEMA twice a few years back, whom I've talked extensively with. I am NOT a professional installer by any means, but you don't have to be a master of a given field to learn facts about it.

Given that no 2 alternators or batteries will fail at the same time, individual experiences are not evidence of caps extending any components life. Unless someone got, say, 20 identical cars, with identical batteries, alternators, and audio systems, and ran half with caps and half without, under identical conditions, and there was clearly longer component life in the cars with caps, I see no evidence of an advantage.

I don't see it as a hijack, just trying to save the OP money. As I posted, plenty of reading to be done on the subject, just takes some searching.
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Since your oppinion is not based in anyway on experience you have no business telling somone not to buy something, or that something is a waste of money. Again get some experience before you decided to argue and debate something.

Spending money, and or installing systems in no way means that you know anything about the components being installed or how they function.

Your oppinion is in no way factually based and is completely hearsay. This will be my last post about this.
You provide nothing to support your claims that a cap will extend component life, then tell me I'm wrong because I have no experience? ...Yeah, all the professional installers who's posts I've read on major forums, with legitimate reasons not to install caps, and the opinion of my friend who has judged custom audio installs at SEMA, are all completely heresay. Only those who have personally done something at a professional level could possibly know something about it. I better remember that next time my friend wants to paint his car with a spray can. I'm not a professional painter with years of hands on experience, so I couldn't possibly know it will look like crap when he's done...

By that logic, this whole forum is pointless, since very very few members are professional technicians.

Guess this is a moot debate then, since neither of our information is good enough...
A saw your post on the delco radio and the amp capacitor, the delco radios normally fail due to two reasons the IC amplifier will fry due to a shorted voice coil in the speaker, as the cones disintegrate the voice coils touch ground and short the speak terminal that blow the Amp IC. In the delco radio 1 amp IC feeds both the front left and rear left speakers and controls the fade. other IC feeds the front right and rear right again with fade control. the front speakers on delco have a higher cone resistance not 4 ohms like most aftermarket speakers. measure your factory speakers.
the second failure on the radios is the internal capacitors especially on the PA board just under heat sink start to fail due to heat. if you open up the radio and solder in new capacitors you can resurrect the radio. a telltale failure on radio is popping sound out from right speaker. also purchase 105C temp rated capacitors for better future proofing. The AM FM tuner board is not a bad receiver with good front end sensitivity and IC decoder modules. Some units even have AM stereo. You can add a bit better speaker upgrade by using aftermarket speakers but remember they are 4 ohms a helpful fix is to add an aftermarket amp to help speakers I used a pioneer gateway amp ND-G500 basically just connect to speaker out connector then your speakers go to this amp the amp also allows for a navi system upgrade or voice over internal speakers or a blue tooth for phone if navi unit is installed. the internal amp on the pioneer are Mosfet and rated to drive 4 ohm loaded speakers. Pretty basic install and units are now pretty cheap to get Ebay. Keep your caddy radio stock it will give it more value in future and collector plates require the factory look radio.
The amp capacitors used say 2 Farad type are only used for one thing, as PA current supply filter. They are installed as close to the large PA on the power wire to smooth out the high current frequency pulses coming from the PA switcher power supply. It creates large current spikes when increasing the 12V supply to the 20-80V supply inside the amp. the PA creates a large current harmonic on the power wire to the PA, the large cap just supplies these current spike and filters out any noise back to the cars charging/battery system. Just a big filter.
Some car's ECM's do not like the noise created by high power PA's and start to do strange things.
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Thanks Limo1, you're right that my Pioneer aftermarket speakers are 4 ohm. But I pulled the original radio out and replaced it with a modern Kenwood (blasphemy!) before I installed the new speakers. So if you're saying the Delco radio probably blew my speakers, I would guess not. I did keep my original Delco stereo in case I sell the Eldo some day, but that's not on the horizon. The only problem with the factory stereo, by the way, was the tape deck: it engaged the tape, but didn't play anything. Actually I think it continually clicked or something. I believe I read this is a common problem. AM/FM Radio worked fine. Until/if I sell my car, I'm sticking with the modern stereo with Bluetooth, telephone microphone, CD player, preamp outs, USB charger, etc. I'm not a purist when it comes to the stereo. Thanks!
need help guys...saw this link on google images of a 1985 eldo door with a speaker box/pod. MG_8462.JPG. is that a part i can buy and install speakers? like the look.. recently priced adding speakers to my 85 eldo in the door and the guy wanted to sell fiberglass custom pods....i think it would ruin the old school look of the interior....let me know any info on that pic and door speaker box.
thanks Tony
No pic. Upload it to photobucket and post the IMG code here.
Tonyvas1969, I just finished my stereo project last week and I have some good info for you. Short answer: No, you don't need the pods. See linked pic: [URL=][/URL]


That's a Focal ISS165 component speaker setup, with the 6.5. woofer in the door. The tweeters are in the factory dash mount.
Pro car audio shop installer thought he might have to build custom pods, but turns out there was an opening in the door that was big enough to accommodate the magnet of the woofer. No cutting the steel needed. Just needed a standard ring/spacer to create the required depth. Hole is pictured in the 1985 Fisher Body Manual, I think. Figure 5-85. At $250, the Focals are pricey, but the component setup (i.e. separate woofers and tweeters) suits the Eldo well, because the dash speaker ports are tiny, at least in the convertible. And the Focals really sound awesome. However, speakers with similar sized magnet diameters should fit too. Specs here: . "Magnet: 3" 9/16 (90mm)"


Can't seem to find the Focal woofer depth. You'll have to dig around online. [Edit: listed mounting depth is 2", 50mm.] Those Focals sound great, but they don't provide a lot of bass, nor do the Kenwood 4x10s in back, but you might be able to get away with it if bass isn't all that important to you. I got a JL enclosed subwoofer. See pic: [URL=][/URL]

So here's the final system:
Head unit/stereo: Kenwood KDC-X896 Excelon
Front component speakers: Focal ISS165 (custom mounted woofers in doors, dash mount for tweeters)
Rear speakers: Kenwood KFC-415C 4x10" (standard mount in convertibles)
Subwoofer: JL Audio CP112-W0v3 ( Note: we tried the smaller 10" JL Audio CS110-WXv2 sub, but it didn't provide enough bass for me. That trunk/spare tire/retracted top really eats up sound.
Amplifier:5-channel Alpine MRX-V70 (mounted in trunk, behind carpet/cardboard. Installer said available space in there was great)

Overall, the stereo just kills now, even with the top down doing 65 on the highway.


p.s. I bought the factory Bose door pods for Eldos (not offered on convertible) to use as a nice looking shell for the speakers. Ultimately, in-door mount pictured above looks way way better in my opinion. And the Bose pods didn't have much interior space anyway. You could paint the speaker grills to match the carpet if desired. I preferred black.
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Hey Scott...thanks for all the great info. you feel the focal is better than a JL Audio alternative? Just curious as you went with JL for thsub. Also, like the way your doors came out. Likely to go that way as the pods are hard to come across.
Hey Tony, when I first went to the car audio store the guy played various speakers on like a wall of speakers. He said "I think you'll like the Focals best" and he was 100% right. It was really no contest in terms of sound quality. There were a bunch of speakers, but I'm not sure I heard any JL component speakers. So I'd recommend listening for yourself. I got the JL sub because it wasn't very expensive and did the job. I was just interested in filling out the sound in the car.
I don't know if you have a convertible or not, so you might be able to get by with the bass from 6x9s in the back. You might not even really need a component system if you don't have a convertible. You might get by with good 6.5" speakers in the door and better ones in the back.
I honestly don't think the Bose pods look good, even factory installed. I actually have some Bose pods, with no speaker guts if you want them. They're "Dark Carmine" color, or dark burgundy. My stereo installer said the installation in the doors was easy, btw. So if the guy keeps pushing custom pods, show him the photo of my install above, or go somewhere else.
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So those are the bose pods up above? I just got my Eldo running correctly and I'm going to move on to sound/interior next. I want door pods. I'm probably going component. Although, I'm not a convertible. What did you pay for your Focal's? JL Audio's price point is good and I've felt good about their products in the past.
p.s. Tony, note that I have a 5-channel amplifier. I don't even know if you can power a component system without that, i.e. with just the head unit power. Really no idea.

Machinist, no, the factory pods aren't pictured. That's a custom, but simple, install. Factory pods are visible in pics here:

I paid $250 for the Focals, $130 for the door/dash installation. The Focals are really, really good. At first I was thinking, "I don't really need to spend that much," but after hearing them compared to others, I was sold immediately. Lifetime warranty from the car audio store with free labor for any problems. Btw, I paid $250 for the JL subwoofer, plus $20 for the grill, which is an accessory.


p.s. Machinist, finding the right color pods, as I tried to do, isn't easy or cheap. I never actually found the right color for my Eldo, regular "Carmine"/burgundy/"whorehouse red."


edit: I checked my receipt and I paid $220 total for the component speaker install. There was an extra $90 charge for the door installation, in addition to the basic $130 for installing a component system. Ain't cheap, but I'm happy with it. And custom built pods would have cost hundreds, I believe.
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