Let me start out by saying I am sharing this information for the like minded individuals out there that wanted to improve the OEM alpine system on a budget. I wanted to improve the sound of the Alpine system in the WK2 through the least invasive means. So I basically upgraded the speaker and stopped there. The fact that I performed these incremental upgrades one at a time allowed me to identify what were the benefits from each individual change.
Now for some hard facts and impressions:
Speakers and positions I have replaced in successive order
• Dash center channel Speaker : Polk Dxi350
• Rear door: Focal Integration IC 650 coaxials
• Front door: Focal Integration ISS 690 components
Current EQ settings:
• Highs =+2
• Mids = +4
• Bass = range from (-2 to +2) depending on type of music or mix job.
Upgrade # 1
How long (1 year +)
Dash center channel Speaker: Polk Dxi350 (single speaker swap)
• A noticeable increase in highs in the front area
• Improved sound during speaker phone conversations
Comments: Initial sound was improvement over previous no playtime was required for sound to improve.
Installation: Bolt in replacement with wiring adapter makes this a 100% reversible swap. Crossover was not used or needed for this swap.
How long (3 months)
Rear door: Focal Integration IC 650 coaxials
Pros: Improved highs and mids to the entire cabin with greatest effect at the rear seating area ( cleaner overall sound)
Cons: The highs from rear speakers were overpowering the sound from front sound stage (this was remedied by directing tweeter towards the floor and reducing the EQ settings for the highs.) With the tweeters aimed upwards the highs would have been annoying to rear seat passengers since the signal to these speakers seem to be full range.
Comments: The addition of these speakers in the rear doors did result in improved sound overall however they made the front door speakers seemingly sound worse with flatter highs and muddy mids. Initial play of the speakers showed an EQ adjustment was needed along with repositioning of tweeters.
Installation: included a modified adapter speaker ring to retain the 3 original mounting points for a secure installation and wiring adapter for a 100% reversible mod.
How long (3.5 days)
Front door: Focal Integration ISS 690 components
• Better transition of highs and mids (The sail panel tweeters and the tweeter from the center channel match up so well and play in unison, when the vocals are great you feel like you are in front of a stage)
• Improved definition of the mids
• Tighter smoother less boomy bass response
Comments: On initial play the newly installed components sounded horrible, there was a lack of highs and the mids sounded just as muddy as the speakers they replaced. After letting them play for 45 minutes with the EQ set to O for all three frequencies the sound improved incrementally. Switching the system off giving my ears a break I used my control album ( one I had been listening to all week to find the difference in sound) and began to tune the EQ. The outcome of this combination is that the sound has now surpassed the OEM components. The largest benefit with these components is that now 6X9's are not trying to compete with the subwoofer for boominess so now you can actually hear the sub from the front seats, prior to this the sub seemed to only supply bass to the rears seat passengers.
• Tweeter: The component tweeter was installed behind the OEM grilles. The outer diameter of the tweeter matched the inner diameter of the tweeter grille. The fit was snug and took a few dots of hot glue to lock the tweeter into the grille. For wiring I used the crossover that came with the tweeter I did this because I realized that the OEM tweeters also had a crossover. I removed the protection resistor from the wiring since it was not needed with this moderate powered system. I also cut off the OEM connector from the alpine tweeters and added them to the new shortened wiring I made for the focals. For the Tweeters I would not say it is 100% reversible since I cannibalized the connector.
• 6X9: The component woofer was a straight forward bolt in and all the holes lines up; there was no need to use the supplied spacers. For wiring, the speakers were hooked up without the included crossovers since the amp took care of the frequency control, this made the upgrade quite easy.
Summary: The Key to acceptable performance of the Alpine system is tuning the EQ as best you can and swapping out the speakers. Power output remains the same for the system with the useful volume still comes in at volume setting 16 to 18 just like before. Cranking up the volume between the volume settings 20 to 26 will more than satisfy if not be too loud for most. There is now a noticeable improvement in clarity even with the windows down that was not there before. Prior to this the windows had to be up to hear certain details in the music. To compare the sound before versus after I have been listening to the same album to make it easier to compare the differences in sound. If I had to go back and do any fine tuning to the speakers I would probably find a component speaker with high a frequency response to do away with the tweeter in the rear doors or I would find a coaxial speaker with a tweeter attenuator. I feel there is no need to replace the D pillar surround speakers. The least investment possible and positive results makes me happy. I hope this little post helps someone that is contemplating the same thing.
Here is a photo of the OEM tweeter grille.
I painted the bezel aluminum, the grille gloss black and the added the "Focal" badge from the tweeter grille.
Here is a photo of the 6X9 grille here I simply added the "focal" badge that came from the coaxial set.