Serious Audio Upgrade time - Alfa Romeo Forum
You are currently unregistered, register for more features.    
General Alfa Discussion Strictly Alfa Romeo talk only!

Reply
 
Thread Tools
(Post Link) post #1 of 52 Old 04-02-08 Thread Starter
Status: V8, baby. V8
AO Silver Member
 
Commanderfish's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: SW London
Posts: 5,559
Serious Audio Upgrade time

I really miss the quality after market audio I had in my GTV (Alpine head, 5x7" Infinity components, 6.5" Kenwood custom fits, 6 disc boot changer).

Well it's time for an upgrade. We're talking serious hi-fi, people.

I've done my research, and spent saturday morning with the guys at Sextons (Wandsworth Town). They have fitted various kit into at least 3 of our previous cars including my Golf Gti II. Each time they have advised well and provided good service and excellent fitting. To give you an idea of their trustworthiness, the workshop on saturday contained a Porche, a new Merc sports and one of those fast new Volvo estate things.

Now, like you I assume, I didn't want to risk messing up my lovely Brera's Blue & Me, steering wheel controls or spoiling the console appearance. The solution is a signal processor. This is a little box fitted behind the dash which takes the existing signal which normally goes to the door speakers, unites it and cleans it to provide a high-quality signal. Now we can plug in any amount of equipment without spoiling a single thing from the OEM factory install.

The signal processor feeds an amp mounted in one of the boot recesses (out of sight for security) and covered in matching carpet if desired. The amp is going to be an Audison 4 channel - serious quality.

The first two amp channels will feed a set of new-model Hertz Energy components (which are based on the £1200 Mille speaker design). 6.5" woofers in the doors with 20mm Neodymium tweeters in the dash. Crossovers will remove any cancelling signals. Sound dampening materials fitted to the door inners prevent waves bouncing off the door and back into the cabin, interfering with the speaker output.

Audison and Hertz are actually different parts of the same company. Audison have specialized in amps for many years and Hertz have specialized in speakers. They are seriously good quality, but like Alfas, you don't get many in this country because they are Italian and there are few dealers - sound familiar? Sextons recommend the Hertz speakers above their same-price alternatives (Alpine, Kenwood) because they say the sound quality is streets ahead of the equivalent manufacturers at the same price. As they're not taking any more money out of me, I'm inclined to believe them (oh yes I have checked the prices)...

Finally the last two amp channels will be merged, fed through a dash-mounted control knob, and finally put through to an 8" Hertz Energy sub in the boot. Now, I don't believe in subs. I always thought they were for Garys in Novas trying to pull girls with Croydon smiles on a saturday night in Essex whilst nauseating all the other poor road users (sorry for all the stereotypes, just trying to communicate a point). I'm not really into bass, I love rich mids and trebles. However, Sextons are trying to convince me that a sub improves sound quality by freeing the door woofers to deal with the mid-range (voice etc) alone. They tune the amp to stop the low frequency signals to the door woofers to do this, and let the sub handle the low freqs. If I don't like all the bass I have my dash mounted volume knob to turn it down.

Why an 8" sub? Firstly I'm not into deep booming bass. Secondly, the smaller the sub, the more accurate the sound reproduction; smaller cones move quickly and hence provide accurate reproduction. Bigger cones (12"/15") move slowly and reproduce sound less accurately, though they can make that big boom sound (which I don't like). The 8" woofer should give a punchy sound. It attaches by Velcro to the other side boot recess, so I can take it out for really big loads for which I drop the rear seats.

The sound quality in this custom set up should be fantastic. It should far exceed the Bose factory option, which I gather most people already like. She's going in tomorrow morning for a full day's fitting and amp tuning. Can't wait!!

Has anyone else carried out/considered a serious after market upgrade? How did it turn out? Any advice before she goes in tomorrow?

Brat Pack no.8
Commanderfish is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
Status: -
AO Silver Member
 
euroboy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Netherlands
County: -
Posts: 2,877
Re: Serious Audio Upgrade time

How much £££?
euroboy is offline  
Status: Busy busy busy!
Club Member
Membro Premio
 
Pud237's Avatar
 
Club Member Number: 71
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: United Kingdom
County: Cumbria
Posts: 44,883
Re: Serious Audio Upgrade time

Got a 1300W 10" Vibe subwoofer (10" ideal for rock music) and changed the head unit but never messed around with door speakers. It did sound very nice though, better than a standard Hardon Karmon BMW system, which is a £2000+ option
Pud237 is online now  
Status: -
AO Silver Member
 
Chill's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: United Kingdom
County: Lake District
Posts: 1,773
Garage
Re: Serious Audio Upgrade time

What make and model is the signal processor?
Chill is offline  
(Post Link) post #5 of 52 Old 04-02-08 Thread Starter
Status: V8, baby. V8
AO Silver Member
 
Commanderfish's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: SW London
Posts: 5,559
Re: Serious Audio Upgrade time

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pud237 View Post
Got a 1300W 10" Vibe subwoofer (10" ideal for rock music) and changed the head unit but never messed around with door speakers. It did sound very nice though, better than a standard Hardon Karmon BMW system, which is a £2000+ option
Wow if you've changed the head, do change the door speakers, factory speakers are usually really poor quality, your head has probably got bags more audio goodness to offer than your speakers can deliver! Also it's the cheapest job - £70 will get you good component speakers, £130 really good ones and £230 fantastic ones. All will be better than factory fits - even £35 coaxials.
Commanderfish is offline  
(Post Link) post #6 of 52 Old 04-02-08 Thread Starter
Status: V8, baby. V8
AO Silver Member
 
Commanderfish's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: SW London
Posts: 5,559
Re: Serious Audio Upgrade time

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chill View Post
What make and model is the signal processor?
I've lost the details, I did know this but didn't write it down!

Last edited by Commanderfish; 04-02-08 at 16:32.
Commanderfish is offline  
(Post Link) post #7 of 52 Old 04-02-08 Thread Starter
Status: V8, baby. V8
AO Silver Member
 
Commanderfish's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: SW London
Posts: 5,559
Re: Serious Audio Upgrade time

Quote:
Originally Posted by euroboy View Post
How much £££?
My equipment is coming to around £770 plus fitting and cabling.

You could go down the model and price range a few hundred quid from what I've chosen and still have a good system which would beat the Bose. But I personally believe that if you're going to do it, do it well. Also, things like amps and subs can be transferred to a new vehicle when you sell. I did this moving from my GTi to my GTV - really saves a lot of money which you wouldn't get back from selling the car with the equipment.
Commanderfish is offline  
Status: -
AO Silver Member
 
euroboy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Netherlands
County: -
Posts: 2,877
Re: Serious Audio Upgrade time

Cool, thats not 'too' pricey. I have been tempted to do a similar thing with mine, but with it being a lease car im not sure if its worth the hassle, even though I could move it all to something else later.

Ive put an aftermarket Alpine HU in there already. Tis a shame I couldnt spec the BOSE system for mine
euroboy is offline  
Status: -
AO Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Maidstone, Kent
Posts: 264

Member car:

147 1.6 Lusso

Re: Serious Audio Upgrade time

So your still relying on the DAC in the current head unit to be any good? Sounds like a bit of a gamble to me, especially considering how much your spending.

It'll still sound better than standard though
chrisnolan is offline  
(Post Link) post #10 of 52 Old 05-02-08 Thread Starter
Status: V8, baby. V8
AO Silver Member
 
Commanderfish's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: SW London
Posts: 5,559
Re: Serious Audio Upgrade time

Quote:
Originally Posted by chrisnolan View Post
So your still relying on the DAC in the current head unit to be any good? Sounds like a bit of a gamble to me, especially considering how much your spending.

It'll still sound better than standard though
Well that's what the signal processor is for, to take that signal and clean it up before amplification. It's not a perfect solution, but this way the factory install including blue & me is unaffected. These guys claim to have a lot of experience taking the signal from OEM products and feeding it to other material, let's hope they are right...
Commanderfish is offline  
(Post Link) post #11 of 52 Old 05-02-08 Thread Starter
Status: V8, baby. V8
AO Silver Member
 
Commanderfish's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: SW London
Posts: 5,559
Re: Serious Audio Upgrade time

Update: The 6.5" speakers DO NOT fit in the Brera/Spider (and presumably 159) door cards. They are putting in 5.25" Hertz Energys instead. This is exactly what happened in the GTV. It actually may be a good thing - the 5.25" cones will handle the mids nicely, whilst a sub can handle the bass. I was starting to think an 8" sub was superfluous with 6.5" speakers, but with 5.25"s the sub probably serves more of a purpose.

Also, the factory fit door speakers really were cheap crappy ones!

I'm still not certain I need a sub, they're going to put the wiring in in case I do, but see how the processor/amp/speaker install turns out first.
Commanderfish is offline  
Status: -
AO Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Maidstone, Kent
Posts: 264

Member car:

147 1.6 Lusso

Re: Serious Audio Upgrade time

Yeah thats fair enough mate. Obviously an ideal solution is to improve the source - but like you say, wanna keep all the cool stuff as well.

Def sounds like they know what they are doing. Hope it does well.

Now just gotta think about what I'm gonna do to the 147 - don't see the point of keeping the factory fit as some of those double din screens fit pretty well and have adapters for the CAN bus and controls. Hmmm, then there is speakers and amp. Argrrr too many decisions. Thing is, the interface on all those double din units looks terrible, I could do a better job!
chrisnolan is offline  
(Post Link) post #13 of 52 Old 05-02-08 Thread Starter
Status: V8, baby. V8
AO Silver Member
 
Commanderfish's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: SW London
Posts: 5,559
Re: Serious Audio Upgrade time

Hi Chris,

I know what you mean, I was looking at these: Car Audio Direct for car stereo, navigation and audiovisual electronics.

The low end ones look a bit crappy like you said; the JVC one looks good but is over £400!!! They go up to £1200 with full Sat Nav, but that is more than my entire install including sub, before you've even upgraded the speakers or paid for fitting!

So these double din head units, I see some of them have 4 x 50 watt output (doesn't say if it's RMS, it might just be peak), would you run your speakers off them or put an amp in as well? I had a good Alpine head with 4 x 40 watt RMS output in my GTV, that was plenty for the components and rear shelf. What I am saying is, would you just buy a good head and use that as an amp, or would you always install a seperate amp?
Commanderfish is offline  
Status: Busy busy busy!
Club Member
Membro Premio
 
Pud237's Avatar
 
Club Member Number: 71
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: United Kingdom
County: Cumbria
Posts: 44,883
Re: Serious Audio Upgrade time

Quote:
Originally Posted by Commanderfish View Post
Wow if you've changed the head, do change the door speakers, factory speakers are usually really poor quality, your head has probably got bags more audio goodness to offer than your speakers can deliver! Also it's the cheapest job - £70 will get you good component speakers, £130 really good ones and £230 fantastic ones. All will be better than factory fits - even £35 coaxials.
I want to change the door speakers on the V6.. Some decent components in the front, what about tweeters though? are the standard ones OK?

Once I've done that I can fit the HU and sub in from the JTD and it'll sound almost as good as the engine
Pud237 is online now  
(Post Link) post #15 of 52 Old 05-02-08 Thread Starter
Status: V8, baby. V8
AO Silver Member
 
Commanderfish's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: SW London
Posts: 5,559
Re: Serious Audio Upgrade time

Hi Pud, a component set is actually a set of 4 speakers; 2 woofers and 2 tweeters. So you'll get good tweeters with your component set. This is why it's really worth forking out for a good component set - it is actually two of the three sound stages; treble and mid. Subwoofer provides the third and final stage (but if you have 6.5 woofers at the back I'd say you don't need a sub - personal taste).

Also, great components are far cheaper than great amps and subs.
Commanderfish is offline  
Status: -
AO Silver Member
 
Monty's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: United Kingdom
County: Cambridgeshire
Posts: 2,917
Re: Serious Audio Upgrade time

I went for replacement JLs in the rear and Diamonds up front. Replaced HU with a Blaupunkt Casablanca.
Monty is offline  
Status: -
AO Silver Member
 
Alfie GTV's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: United Kingdom
County: Wiltshire
Posts: 2,275

Member car:

2002 GTV T.Spark

Re: Serious Audio Upgrade time

Wow all above my head I have a sony X-Plod and thats just about all i know Oh and i have speekers aswell
Alfie GTV is offline  
Status: Coffee with MILF
AO Platinum Member
 
Al Faromeo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Netherlands
County: Limburg
Posts: 26,051
Re: Serious Audio Upgrade time

Quote:
Originally Posted by Commanderfish View Post
...I'm still not certain I need a sub, they're going to put the wiring in in case I do, but see how the processor/amp/speaker install turns out first.
Be certain to give the sub a good listen before you decide against it - I'm sure it will work in a car as well as it does at home if it is well-tuned.
I listen to classical and Jazz music a lot, at home, and used to be perfectly happy with my set-up (with a good amp, CD player and stand-mounted speakers).
Adding a sub adds depth and width to the image, frees up the mids and the higs, improves dynamics and just generally gives the music a lot of 'air' for lack of a better word.

I think you should definitely give it a try!

*..._______
*./________\
./OO__V__OO\
|=_-_____-_=|

It is far easier to come to a compromise than it is to dispose of a body
B'dum tsch ®

Last edited by Al Faromeo; 05-02-08 at 13:00. Reason: tf
Al Faromeo is offline  
(Post Link) post #19 of 52 Old 05-02-08 Thread Starter
Status: V8, baby. V8
AO Silver Member
 
Commanderfish's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: SW London
Posts: 5,559
Re: Serious Audio Upgrade time

Thanks Al! That's basically what the sales guy at Sextons was saying, but I never trust sales guys 100%, even though this is an outfit I trust. It's really useful to have your perspective, especially since you're not some crazy raveydaveygravey.

I will definitely check out the sub. However, I spoke to the engineer doing the install this morning and even he wasn't sure if a sub was necessary for someone listening to rock in that particular car. He wants to see how the rest of the system plays first.

They are going to demo the system to me with and without the sub. I may decide tehre and then either way.

Since they have put in the wiring already, I could even come back at any later stage and get a sub. Or some other alternative?

Anyone else have input: to sub or not to sub?
Commanderfish is offline  
(Post Link) post #20 of 52 Old 05-02-08 Thread Starter
Status: V8, baby. V8
AO Silver Member
 
Commanderfish's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: SW London
Posts: 5,559
Re: Serious Audio Upgrade time

Quote:
Originally Posted by euroboy View Post
Cool, thats not 'too' pricey. I have been tempted to do a similar thing with mine, but with it being a lease car im not sure if its worth the hassle, even though I could move it all to something else later.

Ive put an aftermarket Alpine HU in there already. Tis a shame I couldnt spec the BOSE system for mine
Hmm, I reckon if the car's on lease and you've already changed the head, just put some decent 5.25" components in the doors, forget about the amp and sub.

If you've changed the head, that's great but you're probably missing most of the quality it can deliver since the speakers are the other big limiting factor.

Even a set of £70 Alpines would be a big improvement from the factory speakers, but depending on how long you're keeping the car, it might be worth investing £140/£240 on some higher level Focals/Hertz/Alpines etc.
Commanderfish is offline  
(Post Link) post #21 of 52 Old 06-02-08 Thread Starter
Status: V8, baby. V8
AO Silver Member
 
Commanderfish's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: SW London
Posts: 5,559
Re: Serious Audio Upgrade time

Okay the upgrade has been done!

First impressions: you get in the cabin and you cannot tell the vehicle is not factory stock. A perfect install job - the beautiful interior of the Brera is unspolit. Blue & Me still functions perfectly.

But hiding in the boot, taking its feed from the new Audicontrol LC6i signal processor, is the new Audison SRX-4 4 channel amplifier: 4 x 65 watt RMS (about 4 x 160 watt peak). Here it is, hiding snugly on the back of the right rear passenger seat, (which still folds down correctly):

amp 001 on Flickr - Photo Sharing!
amp 003 on Flickr - Photo Sharing!
amp 002 on Flickr - Photo Sharing!

Now the signal from the factory head may not be divine but it turns out its not bad either (it's the same head in the Bose if I'm not mistaken). The signal processor cleans it up and sends it to the amp. The amp powers 5.25" Hertz Energy components in the doors which sound GREAT. Apparently the 6.5" factory fits, in addition to being cheap and nasty as expected, were sitting in little plastic dishes touching the doors - that's seriously not good for the acoustics!

The door skins are now insulated with sound dampening water absorbent material which prevent the sound bouncing back into the cabin and thus interfering with the intended speaker sound.

The whole system sounds alive, the nasty distorted tones which prevented me from turning the music above about 9 is gone, there is endless clear tone. You can turn it up to 20 without your ears bleeding (it goes to 40, should be good for the motorway!). Put on something acoustic and it sounds like the guitar and singer are sitting right in front of you in the same room. Perfect.

I've tweaked the user EQ settings and this has ironed out the remaining imperfections from the factory head (for some reason the 2500 hertz band which I usually turn up a bit was unduly harsh and the 500 and 1000 hertz bands were a bit loud).

I have two spare channels on the amp and these are linked to a little control knob hidden in the RHS cubby. This then runs back to a spare connector next to the amp. They demoed an 8" sub to me (they had tried out several different ones themselves, there was a pile of them next to the boot), and whilst it did move the sound stage backwards a bit, all it did for me was add a bit of bass and a distracting vibration which I really didn't enjoy - I know this is personal taste. I also knew this vibration/noise would really upset my fiance which would be a nightmare because she'd be constantly asking me to turn the music down. (I turned the home cinema sub at home to max and she HATED it. I don't blame her it's not my thing either).

So, I am now considering whether to leave the whole set up as it is, or have a new shelf custom made to match the existing one and add either a pair of 6.5" speakers or one or two 6 x 9" speakers. This is to move the sound stage back and add some bass, without that sub-vibration.

Do you think that would help or is it just a waste?
Commanderfish is offline  
jug
Status: -
AO Silver Member
 
jug's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: United Kingdom
County: Durham
Posts: 3,681
Re: Serious Audio Upgrade time

6x9s arent suitable for any situaiton, they're only good for kids in corsas who dont have much money and do not understand ICE. keep away from them. its one of the golden rules of ICE.

generally it isnt a good idea to fit rear speakers, the ICE lords will laugh at you, but if you do you should fit the same speakers in the back as you have in the front, then people will laugh, but not point and laugh.

if it was my car i would use adapter plates to fit 6.5" mids in the front and back, and also have the 2" tweeters in the front and back. if they are all the same spec and all run off the same amp at the same level and you use the same crossover setting front and rear then you will minimise the loss of sound quality and clarity, even without adjusting the time correction (i would adjust time correction if possible, but since you dont have a proper headunit i guess you cant?). its the best way to have front and rear speakers. if you must break the ICE rules at least break them carefully.

i dont know how you can live without a sub, i can only assume your mids are not making use of a suitable crossover. either you have no bass at all, or you're sending bass to the mids, either way its a big no no and something you should rectify. a flat dbA curve depends on the mids been able to produce good midrange volume, they cant do that if you are sending frequences below 120hz to them. for my mids i use a low pass filter that begins to drop at 160hz and cuts off completely by 100hz, thats the most bass you can possibly force through your mids. that is why a sub isn't optional, it is needed. mids are for midrange, dont try to use them for low range as well.
jug is offline  
Status: Broken again...
AO Platinum Member
 
GhostyDog's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Right Side O The Pennines
County: West Yorkshire
Posts: 25,672
Re: Serious Audio Upgrade time

CF, good thread, and nice write up, I'm probably going to do something similar at some point. I have an Audison VR 404 XR that will become the core of the system, I'd really like to stick with the stock HU though to keep the stock look of the dash, is this a bad idea in your opinion or would somehting like the signal processor you have give me good output.

Here's my amp details

Audison VR 404 XR In Car Amplifier - Alfa Romeo Forum

It's not for sale any more btw
GhostyDog is offline  
(Post Link) post #24 of 52 Old 06-02-08 Thread Starter
Status: V8, baby. V8
AO Silver Member
 
Commanderfish's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: SW London
Posts: 5,559
Re: Serious Audio Upgrade time

Hi Ghosty,

Well the reason I didn't change the head is that it would most likely have lost my Blue & Me functionality, which is really valuable. If it weren't for that then I would have considered a new head unit to improve the signal. I'm not overly familiar with the insides of the 147 but I remember from Top Gear that they look pretty cool and have the aluminium centre console. I think it's up to you to decide whether keeping the front totally stock is more important than perfect audio. If you do you, need to get a signal processor to feed the amp. Remember the signal processor merely cleans the signal up a bit, it doesn't make the source signal perfect. For the perfect clean signal, really you would change the head to something serious.

If the signal from your head is reasonable (i.e. not total sh*te like a lot of factory fits) then you can get away with leaving the old head. The Brera/159 factory heads are a bit better than an average OEM product (MILES ahead of the GTV factory head actually, that was atrocious), which is the second reason why I risked keeping the factory head. I don't know what kind of quality you get from your 147 head but it is probably the most important factor when considering which route to go.

I'm a bit of perfectionist and I know the signal from the Brera head is far from perfect, but with the signal processor cleaning it up, it's pretty good. Sextons reckon its one of the better OEM intergrations they have achieved. We'll have to do a meet sometime so I can show you the results. Are you doing Ace Cafe this month?

Your Audison should be a pretty solid, clean, quality amp, I would stick with it too if I were you! Audison have been making quality amps for about 20 years apparently.
Commanderfish is offline  
(Post Link) post #25 of 52 Old 06-02-08 Thread Starter
Status: V8, baby. V8
AO Silver Member
 
Commanderfish's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: SW London
Posts: 5,559
Re: Serious Audio Upgrade time

Hi Jug,

Good tip on the 6 x 9s, thanks.

The components have good crossovers installed. Basically I don't have much bass in the current system, but the peculiar thing is I LIKE that. I don't appreciate bass much. It doesn't do it for me like it does for so many other people.

In my last system (GTV) I had 5 x 7s in the doors and 6.5s in the back shelf, I guess you're going to say that is not ideal, but it used to give this fantastic imaging on drum rolls and things where it felt as if the roll started at one end of the car, and moved gradually around your body to the other end. I loved it.

That's why I was thinking of adding the same model speakers with crossovers but in 6.5" size to the rears. This is not for car shows, just for my own enjoyment. Do you think it would ruin the clarity? If so is there any point putting another set of 5.25"s in the back? It would move the sound stage backward but little else. It's a 2+2 car so no one really sits in the back.
Commanderfish is offline  
Reply

Go Back   Alfa Romeo Forum > Misc Lounges > Community Discussions > General Alfa Discussion

Tags
audio , serious , time , upgrade

Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page



Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

 
For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome