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Thread: Major stereo upgrade (long post).

  1. #21
    Driver's Ed Cocoabeans's Avatar
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    I really appreciate this post. You've given me some ideas and I just wanted to clarify some things:
    I already have the Bose system , but I wanted to add an extra sub-woofer in the trunk with an amp that I already own. I really like the DSP option (and I have heard a lot of good things about it), but since I already have a system in place with it's own amp and such, do you think I will need that as well? I just want a little bit more bass in the trunk, but it would be nice to have a few more musical options to be able to tweak...

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  3. #22
    GraySkies is offline [OP]
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cocoabeans View Post
    I really appreciate this post. You've given me some ideas and I just wanted to clarify some things:
    I already have the Bose system , but I wanted to add an extra sub-woofer in the trunk with an amp that I already own. I really like the DSP option (and I have heard a lot of good things about it), but since I already have a system in place with it's own amp and such, do you think I will need that as well? I just want a little bit more bass in the trunk, but it would be nice to have a few more musical options to be able to tweak...
    Hi CB,

    As I said at the beginning, I am not a stereo installation expert. Just a mechanically inclined guy who wanted better tunes. There seem to be a lot of discussions on here about the Bose system and what you can do with it, so I would keep looking and keep asking.

    I suppose on some level, it just depends on what quality of sound reproduction you are happy with. I'm sure you could do better with the bass using a speaker level input adapter and adding another amp and sub. There are certainly add-on EQ units you could put in the line between the adapter and the amp also, to give some ability to tune. I was just interested in a little more tunability than that, not just with frequency response, but also with time alignment. Stereo imaging and separation are pretty important to me in my listening experience...

    With my base model system, it wasn't just the lack of bass that bothered me, it was the "holes" or "peaks and valleys" in the frequency response over all. That's why I went with the DSP. It gave me the extra tuning flexibility that I wanted. If you are happy with the sound reproduction in the other areas besides bass with your Bose system, there is no real reason to go to the extra effort and expense.

    I will get back to adding to this thread soon. I have been on a 50 mile backpacking trip in Olympic National Park this past week, and just got back yesterday. Stay tuned...
    Last edited by GraySkies; 08-13-2018 at 02:59 PM.

  4. #23
    GraySkies is offline [OP]
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    Okay, so I finally have time to continue the build portion of this thread...

    In the last installment, we ended up with the Speedwire running through the console and up beside the seat, to get into the trunk:
    DSCN3877.jpg

    From there it goes up over the wheel well into the open area behind the taillight. You can see the Speedwire coiled up and tucked behind the body bracing in this photo. If you look closely, you can also see a bracket that I installed to a couple of existing studs in the trunk floor here (the black piece). This is the bracket that will hold my mounting board, so that it is flush behind the trunk interior trim panel. :
    DSCN3880.jpg

    I will re-state at this point that if you don't care about your electronics showing in the trunk, you can just mount your board directly to the body brace and have it easy wiring and concealing everything. Most of the gyrations I went through in putting in this mounting board were because it needed to be flush behind the panel, so I could put mounting screws through the panel, into the board.

    In this photo, you can see the stand-off I mounted to the body bracing, to allow solid mounting of the board while still keeping it flush behind the trim panel (it's the brown cylinder). Also, if you look close on the right side of the photo, you can see the extra bracket I attached to the panel tab, to secure that upper corner of the mounting board:
    DSCN3881.jpg

    Here is a more close-up shot of the bottom mounting bracket attached to the floor:
    DSCN3882.jpg

    Now it was time to fashion the actual mounting board itself. I made a cardboard template, and cut and tinkered with it a little bit, until I had a shape that fit well, but also had sufficient area to mount both of the electronic components (DSP and amp), and allow room for wires to pass through as well. In the photo you can see the attachment to the bracket at the bottom, and the attachment at the upper right to the trim panel tab. Also, you can just make out the head of a single fastener through the board, just below the trunk hinge. This is a large flathead screw that goes through the board and threads into the stand-off mounted to the body bracing, shown in a previous photo:
    DSCN3883.jpg

    So now I was ready to re-install the interior trim panel here, and lay out the amp and DSP to mark their mounting locations through the panel, into the mounting board. I used a long finishing nail, and had an assistant hold each component in place while I tapped the nail through the trim panel, into the board, to mark the fastener locations. Once this was done, I removed the board from the car, so I could mount the components to it and mark all the clearances and penetrations for wiring to pass through, and make sure my patch cables were the correct length:
    DSCN3885.jpg

    I cut holes in the board for the wiring to pass through, and then I went ahead and used some plastic stock I had laying around to make trim pieces for the wiring, so the install would have a clean look. This is with the board installed in the car, behind the trim panel, and with the wiring installed and ready to connect:
    DSCN3901.jpg

    And here it is with everything installed and connected:
    DSCN3918.jpg

    So that's it for this installment. Next up: how I ran the speaker wires into the doors, routing through the factory boots and molex connectors. After that, the last installment will be how I ran the power and connected to the battery below the trunk floor.

    Thanks for reading!
    Last edited by GraySkies; 08-15-2018 at 02:30 PM.
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  6. #24
    Handbrake Released nightfallgrey2018's Avatar
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    Although I found the sound in my 2018 with base system pretty awful, I will endure it even if the torture is almost too much at times haha. Joking aside, I salute @GraySkies for the dedication on this project. I'm always amazed on how some people have determinations for going full length on a project.

    A big thumbs up to you for sharing this. I do not have the dedication you have and neither do I have the skills you have but I sure enjoy reading about this project of yours. Congrats!

  7. #25
    GraySkies is offline [OP]
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    Quote Originally Posted by nightfallgrey2018 View Post
    Although I found the sound in my 2018 with base system pretty awful, I will endure it even if the torture is almost too much at times haha. Joking aside, I salute @GraySkies for the dedication on this project. I'm always amazed on how some people have determinations for going full length on a project.

    A big thumbs up to you for sharing this. I do not have the dedication you have and neither do I have the skills you have but I sure enjoy reading about this project of yours. Congrats!
    I really found the base system to be quite intolerable. Listening in the car on the way home is an essential part of decompressing from my workday so I can sleep when I get home (I work nights).

    This is not a "thundering" system. I am not pushing that kind of power, and I only have the single 12. The bass still hits hard, though, and is tight and clean-sounding even at freeway speed.

    That together with the Focal speakers in the doors and tweeters in the dash, provides clarity and accuracy of sound reproduction that is really rather astounding for the relatively low cost of this system (I have less than $1300 into it TOTAL).

    It was well worth the effort to me. I am only at about 80% of where I want to be with the tuning,and I need to keep playing with it over time to achieve what I consider perfection. Even at 80%, though, it sounds FAR better than any other stereo I've ever had, either at home OR in the car.
    Last edited by GraySkies; 08-15-2018 at 08:48 PM.

  8. #26
    GraySkies is offline [OP]
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    I've got some time today, so I guess I will continue with how I got the speaker wires into the doors. Hopefully this will be a help or encouragement to someone in the future.

    Since my amp is in the the trunk, the speaker wires obviously need to get back to the doors from there. There are a number of ways to do this, and I simply went back up over the rear fenderwell and down into the back seat area. I removed the trim plates on the door sills, and just ran the wires along the sides, stuffing them under the carpet. After getting them up into the pillars for the rear doors, and into the kick panel area up front, I just snapped the door sill trims back in. I don't really have any photos of that part, but it was pretty simple. The door sill trims and kick panel/pillar trims all have to be installed in a specific order, but that will be obvious during the assembly/disassembly process.

    So to get my wires into the doors, I went through a void that exists in the factory molex connectors, and through the factory boots that go between the body and the doors. I will do my best to string these photos together in a coherent way to explain what I did.

    The molex connectors are essentially the same on all 4 doors. How you access the inside of them is different from front to back, but once you have accessed the inside, the rest is the same.

    On the body end (right side in the photo), the door harness boots have a plastic frame tucked inside the boot, that snaps over the molex connector. On the door side (left side in the photo), they have a rubber molded shape that squeezes into the hole cut into the door. So here is a shot of what the door harness boots look like:
    DSCN3926.jpg

    If you grab the tab on the boot at the body end, you can work the boot around and off of the black plastic frame that snaps onto the molex connector. This is what you will see (sorry about the blurry photos):
    DSCN3891.jpg

    In the above photo, you can see the black hard plastic frame around the outside of the connector. This frame snaps off of the molex connector and on assembly it tucks inside the boot first, then the boot and frame snap onto the connector together.

    Here is the frame, removed from the connector. At the right end, you can see the hook that just hooks into the void above the connector, and the tab on the left that snaps in to hold the boot in place:
    DSCN3893.jpg

    Here is a view from the inside, on the same connector. This is for the back doors, in the pillar between the front and back seat. These are very easy to access behind the plastic trim panel. You can see the end of the hook protruding through, where the red arrow is at the top of the connector. That void just under the hook, above the connector, is where my wires will pass through into the boot (you can also see my speaker wire at the bottom, coming towards us in the photo):
    DSCN3889(2).jpg

    So here's the photo again of the outside of the connector, with the boot pulled back:
    DSCN3891.jpg

    To unplug the connector, you need to pull down the purple lever. It is a bit fragile, so be careful, but as you pull the lever down it will unplug the connector and allow you to pull the harness loose. Here it is with the lever pulled down. The connector pulls apart easily at this point:
    DSCN3892.jpg

    And looks like this (I've reinstalled the plastic frame in the boot here, although it's upside down... oops):
    DSCN3896.jpg

    And here is the body side of the connector, after removing the plug. Again, you can see the voids at the top and bottom, that we can make use of for passing our wires through:
    DSCN3895.jpg

    At the door end of the boot, you can access the wires by first pushing the whole boot-end into the door, then kinda squishing the boot-end and pulling it fully through the opening:
    DSCN3897.jpg

    Where the harness exits the boot into the door, it is fully wrapped with tape. You can unwrap the tape and bundle your speaker wire with the factory harness, if you choose to. I chose to cheat a little... I stuck a stiff wire through the boot, and poked through the rubber just before the start of the factory tape wrap. Here you can see the tape wrap, with my wire sticking through before it. After pulling the speaker wire through here, I dabbed the hole in the boot with a bit of sealant before reinstalling the boot-end to the door:
    DSCN3898.jpg

    To reinstall the door end, just push the whole works fully back into the door, and then pull it back out just until you can work the slot in the rubber back in around the edges of the hole in the door.

    The only difference in the front doors is that the inside end of the molex connectors is much harder to access. You will have to do this by feel, rather than by sight. In this photo, I have removed the glovebox, and I am sticking my hand in at the right side of the opening, near where the HMI module is. The inside end of the molex connector is right at my fingertips:
    DSCN3887-1.jpg

    The bit of speaker wire visible by my palm is the leg of this wire that will run up to the tweeter in the dash. To feed the dash tweeters, I once again just fed a stiff wire down through the top to poke out below the dash, and taped my speaker wire to it to pull it up through.

    The inside end of the connectors up front here is covered by a big piece of gray foam insulation. To get the wires through and into the void in the connector, I stuck a piece of stiff wire through to this area from the outside, through the void in the connector. I then just poked a hole through the insulation to the inside, and taped my speaker wire to it to pull it through. It's not too difficult. Here is the front boot, with the speaker wire in it, but the wire has not yet been fed into the door, or the door boot-end reinstalled:
    DSCN3886.jpg

    The driver's side is similarly difficult to reach, and I used the same technique to pull the wires through the insulation. On the driver's side, the inside of the connector is accessible without removing anything, although it's tough to get your fingers in there.

    Once you have fed the wires into the doors, it's just a matter of opening the door panels up and installing your speakers and hooking them up. I used Raul Romo's youtube video for removing the door panels, linked here:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cVVBwdUyv84

    Here is a last photo of the door, with the door panel removed and the speaker wire trailing out through the speaker cutout. You can also see the factory speaker harness, with the white plug, also trailing out of the opening. I left all of the factory wiring in place, and it will be easy to return to stock if I ever want to:
    DSCN3910.jpg

    I used the Scoshe speaker mounting brackets, and I applied NVX sound deadening mat to the insides of the door skins and door beam while I was at it.

    So that's it for getting the speaker wires into the doors! The next, and last, installment will be how I hooked up to the battery to run power for the electronics in the trunk. Stay tuned...




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    Last edited by GraySkies; 08-26-2018 at 04:39 PM.

  9. #27
    GraySkies is offline [OP]
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    So... final installment. Hooking up the power for this setup was relatively easy, being that the battery is in the trunk. I didn't even need to find a switched 12V line for this, since the DSP can use a speaker signal from the head unit for remote turn-on, and can then send out a remote turn-on signal to the amp based on that speaker signal.

    So All I needed to do was run a positive and negative wire directly from the battery to the DSP and from the battery to the amp.

    Running the negative was easy. I used 4 ga. stereo power wire, which is really flexible. Bought it on ebay. Used a ferrule termination on the ends, and then used a setscrew terminal on the battery end. The bolt on the negative terminal of the battery is already conveniently angled. I installed a longer bolt here, and once the setscrew terminal was installed on the wire, I just hooked it up to the bolt on the negative battery cable terminal:
    DSCN3905.jpg

    The positive needed a little more attention, since this end needed to be fuse protected as close the battery end as possible. I ended up using the Blue Sea Systems terminal fuse setup, which is actually made for boats but worked great here. It provides an attachment post with a fuse integrated into it (photo is from their website, I used a 90A fuse on mine):
    DSCN3907.jpg

    The tab on the left goes on the battery terminal, and the power wire for the amp attaches on the stud at the top. Then the protective red rubber cap can be pushed over the top. So here is how I installed that:
    DSCN3908.jpg

    I did need to trim the factory battery post cover a little to fit over it:
    DSCN3909.jpg

    I then installed the power wire onto the stud, with another ferrule/setscrew terminal setup. On the amp end, I just used ferrules and inserted them directly into the screw terminals on the amp.

    So here, again, is the finished installation of the amp and DSP. You can see the power wires at the bottom left of the amp, and attaching between them is the blue remote turn-on wire from the DSP:
    DSCN3918.jpg

    And here is my sub with the protective grille installed:
    DSCN3923.jpg

    All that remained was to plug in the laptop and start tuning:
    DSCN3902.jpg

    My initial time-alignment was set using this method:

    Audison bit ten tuning - time alignment | Audio Judgement

    This method uses a freeware program called "Room EQ Wizard", available here:

    https://www.roomeqwizard.com/

    This worked great for me. The time alignment made a world of difference right away.

    For the EQ tuning, the real-time analyzer portion of the "Room EQ Wizard" freeware proved to not be very intuitive for me. When REQ Wizard graphs the octaves, it presents them not as even "bands" on the graph, but represented by the actual frequency spectrum bandwidth they take up. That means that each octave over on the right end of the scale is really wide, to the point that getting a meaningful bandwidth on the screen and still being able to read it, was difficult. Each octave on the left end of the spectrum is very narrow, to the point that you really had to zoom in on a small section at a time to be able to make adjustments. Very tedious and time consuming to make incremental changes for me, and I never figured out a way to represent the octaves in even-width bars in the display settings of REQ Wizard, to make it more intuitive.

    I ended up ordering "TrueRTA" software, and it made the tuning process MUCH easier, and completely intuitive. I ordered the "level 2" software, which has a 1/3-octave RTA, with a nice, easy to read display. The Audison DSP adjusts in 1/3-octave intervals, and TrueRTA displays in 1/3 octave intervals with a nice, high-contrast, even-width bar graph that would all fit on the screen all at once. This made things so much easier for me that the $40 was money well-spent. Made it possible to see the whole curve together in real time. The display in REQ Wizard is more technically correct regarding how the audio spectrum is ACTUALLY distributed in the real world, but it required more "interpretation" and "translation" to adjust my 1/3 octave EQ to a nice frequency curve, and led to much frustration. I guess I am not a "natural" when it comes to audio tuning. TrueRTA alleviated all those issues, though, so problem solved.

    TrueRTA is available here:

    https://trueaudio.com/rta_abt1.htm

    Initial pink noise tuning, with a Behringer ECM8000 microphone, gave a good starting point, and the rest has been done by ear, to my taste.

    So that's about it. It sounds GREAT. Over the last couple of months I have pulled out the laptop and tweaked that initial tune a few times, as I zero in on my "perfect" sound. Still some room for improvement where I am now, but for 90% of the music I listen to regularly, it has made up for ALL of the shortcomings of the stock system, and totally justified the time and effort.

    Thanks for reading!
    Last edited by GraySkies; 09-02-2018 at 04:04 PM.

  10. #28
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    Thank you for the excellent post. I was able to follow your guide. Here is my set up.



    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  11. #29
    GraySkies is offline [OP]
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    Looks sweet, JS. How does it sound? I had to tweak mine quite a bit to get it sounding good...

  12. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by GraySkies View Post
    Looks sweet, JS. How does it sound? I had to tweak mine quite a bit to get it sounding good...
    Thank you very much. It sounds good now, but you are right. It took a few days to tweak the sounds correctly.


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