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Chevrolet Impala Audio



  • duraflexduraflex Posts: 358
    Doesn't your radio/casstte/CD have an amp mounted in the trunk?

    And if you are unhappy with the AM reception,
    as I am, please do let GM know.

    Venting are complaints on this forum alone will
    not bring results from GM.

    Although I can pull in big AM stations from NYC 90 miles away, my AM is exceptionally prone to interference from power lines alongside the road (where my wife's CAMRY is far less so). Also the direction the car is pointed affects my reception on AM and FM - particularly in fringe reception situations.

    I think the Impalas need a "diversity antenna" - saw that as an option on the upgraded Buick Regal Concert III radio system.
  • teoteo Posts: 2,508
    I live in "Flat-as-a-Pancake" Florida and the reception of FM stations still suffers at times. FM waves travel in a straight line (Same as TV VHF and UHF), so reception problems can be expected around mountains, buildings and other massive volume objects. AM radio waves travel in a different path, they follow the earth's curves so that's why we don't need exterior antenna masts to catch AM broadcastings, only a small ferrite antenna inside the receiver usually suffices. So if you have AM reception problems, as Duraflex stated, take it up with GM as well.

    Remember: The most Complaints filed with GM, the greater the chance to have our radio woes solved.
  • duraflexduraflex Posts: 358
    teo - Big thanks for your "" lead.
    I used it as you suggested hope others will as well.

    Generally, a stick or rod antenna on a car does a better job with AM (and FM) reception than an antenna built into the glass because, mounted vertically, the stick is not subject to directionality - it catches the waves from all directions equally.
    EXAMPLE: If you're driving north and the transmitter you want to pull your station from is due west and distant - you'll probably get it on the stick antenna - you may or may not get it from the window antenna - AM or FM. Such is my experience.

    Diversity antenna systems are supposed to resolve this issue - if and how they do, I don't know.

    "Boring" background for the technically-minded

    General notes on reception - yes, FM and TV waves basically do travel line of sight. This physical reality allows there to be a Channel 7 in NYC and a Channel 7 in Washington DC. They do NOT interfere with each other because they are about 240 miles apart. (AM stations on the same frequency are usually much further apart.)

    Good TV and FM reception is usually limited to about 50 miles MAX.

    Broadcast AM travels further - sometimes much further. Like shortwave, AM signals do bounce between a certain layer of the atmosphere and the curve of the Earth until their strength is dissipated by distance, frequency, wavelength and so on.

    As a result, AM signals can sometimes travel hundreds of miles (Shortwave, thousands of miles). AT NIGHT, I have picked up WHAS in Kentucky from over 500 miles away!
    The trick is the directionality of the antenna (and the sensitivity of the tuner). Yes, small table radios do have small AM antennas built in, usually mounted horizontally. Consequently, for distant or weaker stations, the radio must be rotated so that the antenna can "catch the wave" and receive the signal - and so it is with cars.

    Problem is you can't rotate a car just to get a radio station and still point the car where you want to go.
  • teoteo Posts: 2,508
    Very interesting post! Haven't heard anything from GM Canada, so I guess I'll be receiving some kind of reply on Monday.

    Well, the weekend is almost here! Please keep enjoying your Impalas and don't give up on the radio just yet..:)
  • duraflexduraflex Posts: 358
    Just rode in a 2000 Pontiac Sunbird - my wife's rental for the day.

    Lousy car (felt cheap all around and the brakes were dragging as we drove) BUT surprise, surprise - a really decent radio!!! Standard GM issue- AM-FM, with 4 speakers. No tape or CD. Don't know if it had an external amp.

    There was more than enough BASS and relatively mellow front speakers. TREBLE could be cut way back and everything sounded good - Sinatra, Oldies, CW, even the news!

    EXCELLENT AM reception from NYC (90 miles away) with a standard stick antenna on the right rear fender.

    AMAZING - I'm not crazy after all and GM can still produce a good radio with good speakers in a less expensive car. So why not in the Impala?
  • teoteo Posts: 2,508
    The Sunbird/Cavalier are two cars that belong in the Stone Age. However, if you go to their respective forums the Radio unit that comes with these cars is object of constant praise. Delco radios have a very good reputation same as the Infinity systems offered in Chrysler cars. I still firmly believe that the problem in our Impala upgrade stereos is the AMPLIFIER.

    I can't stress this point enough: We all need to flood GM with complaints about the sound quality of the RDS radio. If we are to see some results in the form of a Recall or some other corrective action in part of GM we need to bug them and bug them and bug them....
  • duraflexduraflex Posts: 358

    This morning, after a half hour of listening to the "Impala sound" while my wife and I were cruising in the country, a thought came to me. We parked and were about to go into an auction when I impulsively took my hand to the perforated trim panel of the left front door speaker. Working from the front right edge, I carefully pryed it off and out and removed it from the face of the speaker(s). And there they were.

    Yes there are actually two - count'em (2) SEPARATE speakers in the door!!! One is about 6-1/4" and the other is a separate tweeter about 1-3/8" mounted at 2 o'clock to the side of the larger speaker. (Tweeters produce the very highest pitch sounds)
    The face of the 6 incher is "permanently" covered
    with a black gauze-like material (presumably to keep out dirt and particulate matter that would audibly rattle around in there).

    Later, when we got home, I explored further. The bigger speaker is held in with TORX screws, size T15. I carefully removed the big speaker to look behind it. It is marked 4 ohms, Chevy front left, made in Mexico.

    The face of the tiny tweeter is wide open. Both speakers are mounted in a plastic frame.
    The big speaker is fed from a wire with a special connecting plug. The little guy has wires soldered to it that feed off the bigger speaker next to it.

    There is NOTHING behind the speakers. By default, the inside of the big metal door of the car serves as the sound chamber. UGH! No wonder it sounds bad.

    There is no molded shell or surround of any kind behind the speakers. Learning this, I will definitely be ordering the waterproof foam baffles from the Crutchfield audio catalog. (only $8 per pair!)

    BUT WAIT, there's more! I suspected that the little tweeter was also a culprit in the shrillness of the sound so I folded several layers of a flannel rag over it - effectively MUTING only the little tweeter. BIG DIFFERENCE, Much Better.
    The shrill was gone. It's particularly noticeable on female vocals like Whitney Houston.

    By using the fade and balance controls, I had isolated all the sound to the FRONT LEFT ONLY.
    In manual tone mode, I played with the Treble and Bass and what a change. I intend to try it for a few days and if I still like it I will simply snip both wires leading to the tweeter and wrap them with electrical tape. And there the tweeter will sit - very quietly. If I ever want it back, I'll simply resolder it.

    DISCLAIMER: This is what I have done.
  • jojo28jojo28 Posts: 11
    Ok-You got rid of the shrill --- what happen to the BASS. The front speakers definately need more BASS. Do you agree???
  • humahumahumahuma Posts: 17
    I would like to offer to be the focal point to
    Chevrolet about our Delco Radio problems. I just
    sent the following to Chevrolet. I will post a response as soon as I hear from Chevrolet.
    Most likely it will take them several days.

    On behalf of my peers who have purhased
    2000 Impalas, I would like to make an
    offical complaint to Chevrolet. We are
    extremely disappointed with the sound
    quality of our Delco Radio/Casette/CD/RDS
    with auxilary amp (feature code Up0).
    We feel there are two major flaws.
    1) Lack of bass
    2) Poor radio reception
    We want to hear from Chevrolet what the
    plans are to correct these problems.
    I strongly recommend you reference
    WWW.EDMONDS.COM and select Town Hall.
    Then under Topics enter IMPALA RADIO to
    see for your self the details and deep
    concerns about our Delco systems.
    You'll find there is a growing number of
    dissatisfied owners. Just by the fact
    that there is seperate topic just on Impala
    radios should be a indication that this is
    a serious concern of many customers.
  • luckyjdrluckyjdr Posts: 10
  • cookie00cookie00 Posts: 29
    Geez duraflex, you crack me up! Very brave of you to go digging around in your speaker box! But your findings are very interesting. Seems the car could really benefit from some new (read: better) speakers and some form of insulation around the units. I really can't wait to hear what Chevy has to say to you who have posted complaints. Good Luck!
  • teoteo Posts: 2,508
    At the Chevy Impala III topic, someone claims to be very happy with the sound quality of his RDS Upgrade Tape/CD stereo system. Chimp00 claims to have plenty of midrange and bass response. I asked him to come over and share his truly unique happy RDS radio experience....let's see what he has to say.
  • duraflexduraflex Posts: 358
    Last week, I called GM(USA)and wrote GM Canada where the cars are made.

    Only Canada responded - essentially saying to get lost - you're USA, call USA - not our problem.

    At this point, I hold little hope that GM will offer a replacement amp or speakers. What have the rest of you heard? I believe there will only be a recall if everyone who is dissatisfied lets it be known to their dealers and to GM.

    PS to cookie00:
    I'm glad I amuse you - now call GM will you please.
  • cookie00cookie00 Posts: 29
    Dura, and all the radio buddies. I did call. I was inspired to today, by a letter I got in the mail. (anyone else get this one?):
    Its from a fella named Don Parkinson at Chevy, thanking me for my purchase and explaining the many wonderful features of the RDS radio. Uh... yeah...Included the 800 customer service number, but no number for Mr. Parkinson, or an e-mail either. The letter is signed by him and calls him the "Brand Manager, Chevy Impala"
    That was very interesting to me. So I called and asked "Ashley" (who by the way, has never even SAT in an Impala) if there was any way to contact Mr. Parkinson. She didn't know of any way. But I did my complaining schtick about the radio and the speakers (I believe it's a speaker/antenna problem, much from Duraflex's account) and got a Case #. She said there's no way to find out if anyone else has the same problem. Hmmmm, interesting computer software that wouldn't or couldn't sort by "type of complaint" maybe she just doesn't have access.

    I may root around and see if I can find an e-mail address for this mystery "Brand Manager."...
    Good luck all.
  • duraflexduraflex Posts: 358
    In post #15 you said you were going to get your Impala stereo looked at by someone you knew personally at a car stereo store.

    Have you had a chance to do that yet ? If so, what did they think?
  • chimp00chimp00 Posts: 7
    As I mentions in Impala III, I think the radio (CD Only) sounds good.
    The following is what I posted at Impala III this AM.
    I have the RDS radio cd/cass in dash.
    8 spkr system with trunk mounted amp.
    No cd changer.

    I drove my brother-in-law to work this AM.
    I had him listen to the CD (Queen, Another One
    Bites The Dust - heavy, heavy bass). He said that
    it has a lot of 'kick'. Setting are as follows;
    Volume - 3/4 full
    Balance - middle
    Fader - 2 positions from center (toward the front)
    Bass - 3 positions short of max
    Treble - 2 positions from center (max side)

    Galaxy Silver LS - loaded sans leather &
    hole-in-the-roof. Built on February 7.

    I'm glad to hear that TEO had a better response from the GMCanada site than DURAFLEX. Being a Canuck myself, I certainly don't agree with the treatment you received from GMCanada.

  • teoteo Posts: 2,508
    I will try your settings!
  • duraflexduraflex Posts: 358
    Considering that your car was built in Feb 2000,
    could it be that you have a different or improved radio than the rest of us?

    Is it possible GM started putting in better speakers or a better amp?

    My car was built 01/00. Since I plugged up the separate front tweeters (post #42), I can stand it but it still isn't right. Now waiting for baffles from Crutchfield (See post#45 from luckyjdr).

    So Dave, how's your radio reception - AM and FM?
  • chimp00chimp00 Posts: 7
    I only ever listen to the radio in the city, reception is very good. Any highway driving, I plug in a CD.
    I listen mainly to one FM station, which rarely transmits properly or in stereo (stereo signal flashes on & off intermittently - Noticed that in my old car and home stereo) All other stations are good also.
    But, this particular station seems to come in clearer in the Impala than my 97 Civic Si [sold it to buy the Impala :) ]

    I haven't even set the AM stations.
    Does anyone know if the Impala radio has a signal or light that lets you know the station you are tuned to is in stereo?

  • teoteo Posts: 2,508
    My car was also built on 01/00. I took delivery on 2/21/00, delivered to my home (From

    If, beginning 2/00, GM started installing better Speakers/amplifier, then it would mean that they are fully aware of the problem. Could this be covered by one of those famous "Secret Warranties"?
  • teoteo Posts: 2,508
    The RDS Radio display doesn't have the common "ST" indicator.
  • jojo28jojo28 Posts: 11
    I again recommend to all who are serious about solving their poor radio sound ( poor bass and poor receiption) to go back to their dealers showroom and ask them to let you hear the sound in one of their new impala cars that is equipped with AM/FM cassette 6-speaker system and NO amplifier. You will be amazed at the sound!!!! It has very prounced bass and presence of sound coming from the front speakers. This is the standard base radio for the impala LS. It does't have a CD. Nor an amplifier. At this point have the salesman to compare the sound in your car. My salesman was amazed!! And was not aware of the difference. --- Now go to the service department and show them the same. Tell them they have a problem in the radio system that has an amplifier and that you want your system "Checked Out". At this point you can procede to complain with an official inspection request to check your sound system.
    I have done all this and now I am at the point where I am requesting the "Area Rep. (Chevrolet Motor Division)" to give assistance.
    Again press your complaint with the service department- then keep going higher.
  • cookie00cookie00 Posts: 29
    I have had personal e-mail contact with the Chevy Brand Manager for Impala. I have sent him my comments and questions about the radio, and directed him to this site. I sure hope he reads what's on here. As soon as I get some answers from him, I'll post them here so you can read what he had to say.

    So far, I had only introduced myself and asked him if he was, in fact, the person I was looking for. He said he was. Now let's see what he has to say about the radio, and such.
  • teoteo Posts: 2,508
    Can you share with us the E-Mail address for Don Parkinson, brand manager for the Chevy Impala??

    If different owners send him the same complaints for the sound quality of the upgrade RDS stereo system, he might do something about the situation and mediate to find a workable solutions. Remember that product managers can excercise a lot of "influence" in the products that they have under their belts. Since the Impala is selling well, I am sure Mr. Parkinson wouldn't want unhappy Impala RDS Radio owners to voice their complaints here in the Internet. In marketing, this just makes plain sense.
  • cookie00cookie00 Posts: 29
    Of course I thought of that. But the Edmunds host for this topic was not too keen on my listing a personal e-mail address for this person. I can see their point. This forum is accessable to a huge amount of owners and could cause quite a flood of e-mail to what might be Don's personal e-mail account.

    I asked him to please visit this site. I also asked him if he'd mind if I passed his address on to others. We'll see what he says. He actually wasn't that hard to find, a little Web searching and I scored!

    I'd give him a chance to visit us first. If he doesn't I'll have you that are interested in e-mailing him send me your e-mail addresses and I'll pass it along privately.
    You, Teo, would be great to talk with this guy. I bet he'd be happy to hear from you. You seem like such a fan!

  • jreimannjreimann Posts: 11
    Don't quote me on this but I think I've found some replacement speakers that should work for the front speakers. Check this out. And by the way this is a great site for buying auto audio stuff. My brother just installed 2 pairs of speakers and a stereo he got here and they included everthing he needed to install it right out of the box.. TS A1795
  • duraflexduraflex Posts: 358
    On behalf of the disgruntled among us, thank you. Maybe you can charm Mr.Parkinson into addressing our complaints. The "upgraded" radio-amp-speaker combo is my only real gripe with the car.
  • cookie00cookie00 Posts: 29
    A brief reply from ol' Don today. He's sorry to hear of my displeasure, it's really a very good radio he says.

    He's turned me over to a fellow named Les, hopefully Les is more...?

    Whatever (trying to be funny). Also, he didn't reply to my invite to visit us all here. I hope he does. For many reasons. One, to see what issues we might have with the radio/amplifier/speakers etc. and Two, to read the raves we have about the car in general.

    Now if only gas would get back to a normal price (like under a buck fifty) life would be perfect.
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