Yeah I have a similar back ground. Been into car audio since the 90s and got back into it about 10 years ago. Have had some pretty decent equipment since. From budget friendly to some of the best. I started back into with some cheap sound ordnance amplifier (crutchfield special)with an alpine sub. Alpine was great, sound ordnance sucked. But crutchfield has great customer service. They are a little high, so I started shopping with Sonic Electronix and they have been pretty good also. Crutchfield has better custom service, Sonic has better prices. There is also alot of new manufacturers in car audio. CT Sounds, Sundown, Incriminator Audio, Crescendo, and DD Audio. DD is what I have in my mustang now and its awesome! I have all DD in my stang. 4 speakers, 2 amplifiers and 2 redline 608 subwoofers and it's the best, loudest system I've ever owned. Love me some DD! Prices are high though. Up there with JL. But their quality matches up with JL, but they can handle more power. DD is famous for their subs in the competition scene. Sundown is another name I would be proud to own. Anyways, have fun exploring and building!