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Audio build for beginner: Advice needed

6248 Views 27 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  jd31
Hi guys,
The time has come for my 2011 Jeep’s audio system to be upgraded. To put it mildly I am not quite knowledgeable about this stuff so I would really appreciate your comments here.
The proposed set up is as follows:
Front doors: Hertz HSK 165
Back doors: Focal IC 165
Amp: Alpine PDX-v9
Sub; JL Stealthbox or custom made enclosure with one of slim line Phoenix Gold subs (I have not decided which way to go yet.
I do not have any experience in this field so the installation works will be done for me. The guys I contacted with this request suggested installing PAC SOEM-4 4-Channel Premium Line-Out Converter. I am not quite sure if it is really needed as I have not seen that anybody mentioned this thing here. On the other hand the installers are one of the best in town and obviously know their trade. I also read a ton of woeful reviews for this converter with complaints about adding noise etc. So, I am a bit lost here if it is really needed and if yes what should be used instead of this particular model.

The guys also suggested doing doors deadening which I guess should improve sound quality. Could anybody please tell if the results of the deadening are really worth it?

Finally, I am wondering if anybody ever dealt with Phoenix subs. I understand that they are inferior to JL. However, it may be possible that in custom made enclosure it will be possible to go with 12” slimline sub which may bring sound to a better level. Just a thought…

Could please anybody help me with this questions? It looks like the project is going to blow a hole in our budget of almost $4K so I do not have room for mistakes.

PS I have Laredo with basic 6 speakers (no sub or Alpine gear) and factory 430 unit which I am going to keep.
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I know you said you went back to get everything re-tuned, but I'm in agreement with all those saying there's a tuning issue here. Regardless of whether or not it's a stock head unit, with that processor and amp driving those speakers, you should still be getting pretty nice sound from that gear.

That being said, like you mentioned, when you're dealing with high end equipment, unless you're listening to non-copied CD's or 192+ bit rate digital audio, great speakers are only going to make the imperfections in your music that much more obvious. Crap recordings are crap recordings no matter what equipment they're going through, but good equipment is just going to make it sound that much worse.
Well put. People don't seem to realise that MP3's are worse quality than CD's and of various and questionable quality. To find out how bad they are you can go to iTunes an select Bit Rate and Sample Rate when you right click in the titles columns or if you right click on the song and click the Summary tab where you will also see the Sample Size. High Resolution (that won't play from an iDevice) will be 24 Bit/96 to 192 kHz with a Bit Rate of about 3350 Kbps (that's from my Rush Sectors music). CDs are 16 Bit/44 kHz but iDevices only output 24bit/48 kHz( some say only 16 bit) so you have to use a DAC that bypasses the iDevices internal DAC with something like a Pure I20 or similar. Still. The best way to tune any system is with music you are sure is pure.
No, I know the difference between CD and Mp3. I was ripping CDs into MP3 and OGG at the end of the 90-s. Used spectrum analyzer to work out better format/bitrate etc. So, I am kinda familiar with quality difference:)

However, it is pretty hard to find a lot of of music on CDs. What is more, If I decide to buy all music I have in MP3 form on CDs and put them together then I believe I will need a small truck to carry all the stuff. I have got about 1TB of MP3s in my collection.

I have been playing with the new system for three days straight and the results are still very disappointing. Occasionally I can get decent sound on a few tracks but mostly the system lacks lows (which is understandable given sub size) and very highs (I am at a loss why). Mids are way too prominent, especially at high volumes. When I decrease them using Bit Ten the sound becomes terrible at low volumes. There is definitely no clipping (neither amp nor DSP).

Normally I listen quite loud music. I regularly wear headphones for a long time with volume at max without any problem. New build gives me ear fatigue after 5 mins of listening. Right tweeter is frying my ear even when it is not loud at all. It feels like my ears are bleeding.

So far the plan is to cover tweeters with a tissue and wait a month in case they really need breaking in (I do not believe it). If it does not help then I will have no option but to consider replacing either front speakers of the HU. Very nice result for $5K.
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Again, if you bought a HU, you will have a clean signal path to the amp powering the speakers and Sub. Also, The HU processor will equalize just about any input and allow you to tune, add eq, DSP, etc.

I went the same route you did at first but with an Audiocontrol LC7i, but was not pleased. The moment I spring for a Kenwood Excelon HU I have never looked back. Adding cloth will do nothing.

Also, a HU will give you power output options to the speakers to minimize the harshness out of the tweeters since they are mounted so high.

You sir can do what you want to try to get this to work, but it sounds like you won't like it anyways. My last bit if advice, spring for a quality HU with an equalizer and you will be much better off at enjoying it, but hey, don't take my word for it, I've only gone down this route already....
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Well allow me to jump on the bandwagon, if I may. I've been researching all of this for some time now. A little background, I have have a 12' GGC Laredo with Focal PS165's in front, Focal's in rear (can't remember which ones but they match the front's), Alpine PDX V9 Amp, and a LOC by Scoche, and a TON of Dynamat sound deadening and open cell foam (huge difference). I previously had an LC7i LOC. It was picking up a lot of noise and buzz and it sounded terrible... I mean worse than stock. My installer went with the LOC from Scoche and it still sounds terrible. I have done every bit of tuning that I can, I've spent hours on it and the bottom line is you WILL NOT get the sound you are looking for with the Stock HU. I wanted the "clean" look and the good sound... let me save you the time, you WILL NOT get good sound from the stock HU. I am not relegated to the fact I need to shell out another 700-800 for a new HU but I've already gone this far and I can't stand that the sound is still so bad. But, what you will get is RCA outputs from the aftermarket deck you select. I can't wait to get the new HU installed in mine so I can get back to the sound I expected from the beginning.
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Thank you for your input guys.

Yes, I agree with you. Stock HU is just outrageous. After using the system for one month I sort of got used to the sound (or speakers really broke in) but it is still nowhere to what I would expect from $5K system. Some tracks sound not too bad (if recording is of very good quality like MJ). However, most of my stuff (I am deep into the 80-s) sounds just pathetic. Very upsetting thing is that different frequencies get louder in not linear way when increasing the volume. Mids prevail and it is impossible to adjust them with HU 3 band equalizer. Lack of bass is also quite obvious but this is explained by inadequate sub.

I have been toying with the idea of putting one of Pioneer headunits in but I do not want to lose any of the features of the stock headunit (like USB port in the armrest which is essential for me). I am also very reluctant to have a new mic with cables flying around.

Most probably I will leave it as it is now and try to work on my other car (Dodge Journey) instead. It is absolutely impossible to replace the HU there as LCD display and HU are two separate parts sitting at different places. This time I will opt for cheaper components but I am hoping to get similar (if not better sound).

My assumption that there is a certain threshold (may be about $2K) after which it becomes pointless to throw money into the system unless you replace the headunit. Getting more expensive speakers, sub, doing deadening etc will not give much difference because of headunit’s bottleneck.
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I ran a new mic wire up behind the drivers side a pillar and clipped the mic at the top. Don't see the wire. I also ran the new USB wire from my Kenwood through the center stack and had it come out the same place the the USB hub is. I also ran the second USB cable to my glove box for access for updating. No wires are seen. And again, I retained all the stock functions of the steering wheel controls via a PAC unit. Stop trying to convince yourself otherwise. Lol
I ran a new mic wire up behind the drivers side a pillar and clipped the mic at the top. Don't see the wire. I also ran the new USB wire from my Kenwood through the center stack and had it come out the same place the the USB hub is. I also ran the second USB cable to my glove box for access for updating. No wires are seen. And again, I retained all the stock functions of the steering wheel controls via a PAC unit. Stop trying to convince yourself otherwise. Lol
^^^ this here. I did the same, albeit through an installer. Everything integrates perfectly.
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