Major stereo upgrade (long post).
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Thread: Major stereo upgrade (long post).

  1. #1
    GraySkies is offline [OP]
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    Major stereo upgrade (long post).

    Hi all!

    I have mostly completed the installation of my stereo upgrades. I am still tinkering and fussing around with the tuning of the system, but so far I am very pleased with the results of the upgrades I have made, and wanted to start a thread to detail this installation, with the hope of maybe helping/encouraging someone else who might want to make the attempt. Edit to add: I've been alerted that this only applies to non-Bose systems, due to a different method of getting a signal out of the system...This initial post won't have many pictures, but those will be coming in later posts, depending on the level of interest.

    I do wish to make this disclaimer: I am not a professional stereo installer. I am a machinist, so I am very mechanically inclined, but before doing this install I have never attempted putting together a system like this before. If I can do it, any mechanically inclined, reasonably computer-literate person could do the same.

    So the details:

    The factory head unit is still providing the tunes. I use the USB almost exclusively, with a flashdrive that I keep plugged in to the car all the time. Almost all of the music I own is on this flashdrive, and the stuff I listen to most is all in lossless WMA format. I don't know if these head units will play FLAC files, but ripping CD's to lossless WMA is something I had available. Stuff I listen to less is in high quality MP3 format (300 kbps or better).

    - From the factory head unit, the factory speaker outs are spliced in with "Stinger Speedwire", which is a bundled cable that contains 9 wires covering FR, FL, RR, RL, and Remote turn-on signal. This Speedwire runs down the center console, under the rear carpet and rear seat, into the trunk (remote turn-on wire is not used. That function is handled by the DSP).

    https://stingerelectronics.com/catal...speedwire-20ft

    - The Speedwire feeds the input of a Digital Signal Processor. I chose to use the Audison Bit Ten, mainly by virtue of the fact that I scored a good deal on one. If you are not familiar with DSP, this is a unit that will take the factory speaker-level signal, analyze what sort of factory equalization has been applied to it, de-equalize that factory setting, and output a line-level eq-flat signal as input to your amplifier. Most of these units allow you to hook up a laptop computer and offer adjustments like full 1/3 octave EQ on individual channels, variable delay setting by channel to time-align your system (for proper stereo imaging), independent level controls, configurable crossover filters for each channel, etc. It makes the tuning of the system pretty complex, and I am still working my way through that part, but WOW are the results worth it! There are many different DSPs out there, with varying features, but I got this one for less than $200, and couldn't pass it up. It has all the functionality I need.

    https://www.audison.eu/products/bit-ten/

    - The Bit Ten feeds a JBL Club 4505 5-channel class D amplifier. This is not a super-powerful amp, but it is adequate for my needs. I only listen to my music turned up LOUD occasionally. Most of the time I am just looking for good clarity and enough power to bring that clarity up over the road noise. The ratio between full range output power and subwoofer output power is quite satisfactory. I can get the bass to kick me in the chest if I choose, although I do not choose to do that very often. I am just looking for quality sound reproduction (but if that includes bass that hits hard, so much the better!)

    https://www.crutchfield.com/p_109CL4...SAAEgJcXfD_BwE

    - I started with the basic model 6-speaker non-Bose system, which means the fronts are component speakers. For the front speakers, I decided to stay with components, mounted in the stock locations. I chose Focal ISS 165 component speakers, based on reviews I have read, and on the recommendation of a friend who is familiar with Focal from doing custom home-theater installations. These will handle a lot more power than I am putting through them, but so far I am pleased with what I'm hearing, even at lower power levels. In a perfect world, I would use separate channels for the tweets and mid-bass speakers, and EQ them separately. Unfortunately, the Bit Ten has a limited number of channels available. One option would be to use them for just front components and a sub, and eliminate the rear door speakers. I chose to use the Focal-supplied passive crossovers, and use my available channels to retain front components, rear door coaxials, and sub (the Audison Bit One has more channels, but was much more expensive).

    https://www.focal.com/in/car-audio-k...versal/iss-165

    - For the rear doors I used the Focal ISC 165 coaxial speakers, which are essentially the same as the fronts, but with the tweeter incorporated into the unit instead of being mounted separately. I enjoy having the rear fill, and I also carry passengers pretty regularly, so I wanted to retain this configuration.

    ISC 165 | Focal America

    - The 12" sub is an Infinity Kappa 1200W, mounted in a sealed enclosure in the trunk. This sub gets pretty awesome reviews, even though it's an entry-level sub and is relatively reasonably priced. I have NO complaints whatsoever about the quality of sound it's been producing for me. I would definitely recommend it if you are trying to keep your costs under control.

    https://www.infinityspeakers.com/sub...APPA1200W.html

    So for this initial post, I will just post a few photos showing the installation. I must make another disclaimer at this point. I am also NOT a professional photographer. The quality of some of these photos will leave much to be desired, and for that I apologize. I have learned a lot through this project, and will provide more detailed photos in future posts, but I'm already taking enough time and using too many words here, so I will call it for now...

    I elected to surface mount the tweeters. I am not as satisfied as I could be with this setup, and I may change this and mount them in the stock locations later. They are really bright, and I had to dial back the high end a bit to get them not to sound harsh. I did this because it was easy (I didn't have to make custom backstraps to mount them in the stock location). If I was doing it over, I would go ahead and put them in the stock location. They would still sound fine. This is also the ONLY thing in the interior that appears non-stock, or gives away that any modifications have been made (until you turn it on, of course):
    DSCN3913.jpg

    The hardware components are mounted visible on the side panel in the trunk. This was a personal preference choice for me, just purely because I like to look at them! For anyone contemplating a similar install, there is PLENTY of space behind that side panel to mount the electronics, and it would be WAY easier to hide them. Don't do it the way I did it unless you REALLY like looking at them. If you put them behind the panel, you don't need to worry nearly so much about the appearance of the wiring, mounting, and connections. I spent significant time on custom pass-thru trim pieces and such, just to satisfy my personal taste. This is NOT necessary in any way for system performance, but it's what I wanted for mine. If you do hide them, just make sure you permanently install a USB cable so you can fuss with your DSP whenever you feel like it without taking anything apart (the cable trailing down towards the camera is the USB cable connected to my laptop. Easy to remove when done fooling around)...
    DSCN3918.jpg

    The sub is mounted in a generic Sound Ordnance "bass bunker" enclosure I bought online. It's a sealed enclosure, stuffed with poly stuffing. I had to slightly enlarge the hole in it, since the Kappa sub is slightly larger than standard for a 12" sub. I also spent some time improving the sealing of the enclosure over how it comes from the factory. I felt like it was worth spending the time, if choosing a sealed enclosure, to make SURE it's truly sealed. It's just sitting in the trunk at the moment, but I'm going to mount some velcro on the bottom to keep it from moving too much, when I get around to it. I also have a protective grille to put on this, but that will take a bit of tinkering as well, because of the non-standard size and configuration of this sub. For now I am just being careful:
    DSCN3915.jpg

    So I hope this hasn't been too exhausting as a thread-starter post. If so, I apologize. I'm kind of a wordy guy, and I have long since quit trying to be brief when I write. It's a futile effort for me.

    I have a lot of photos of this installation, and will explain what I did and answer questions if anyone is interested. I will begin the follow-up on this soon with a more detailed description of how I spliced in the Speedwire, and installed it through the console and into the trunk. How much time I spend and how detailed I get will depend entirely on the level of interest and whether it will actually be useful to anyone.

    For now, thanks for reading!
    Last edited by GraySkies; 07-16-2018 at 02:23 AM.

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  3. #2
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    i really wish they made hooking up stereo mods more plug n play style. id really like to add some more low frequency sound from the hatch, as its sort of noticeable there are not 6x9s in the back of my hatch, it seems so front heavy with sound. im not looking to start ripping off panels and wiring cable across the car for thet. i envy your motivation to do this.

  4. #3
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    Very nice write up.

    Keep in mind guys, if you have a Bose then this how to will not apply to you.

    Bose systems use GM LIN from the HID in the dash to the amp in the back. It's data. You cannot tap into it for amp inputs.

    At this time I know of no interface that will tap into the LIN to give you amp inputs.

    You have to grab outputs after the Bose amp unfortunately that means grabbing a signal that's already processed.
    2018 Cruze RS Hatch Diesel A9

    Factory retrofits: 120v inverter.
    Future retrofits: Auto HVAC, auto up driver window, turn signal mirrors, auto dimming interior mirror.

    1st Gen: How to make your ECO take 15.6 Gallons of fuel properly:
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  6. #4
    GraySkies is offline [OP]
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    Actually, Crunch, running the wiring was easier than I thought it would be.To do what I did, you need to remove the side panel on the center console, the rear panel on the center console, the back seat lower cushion, the side panel in the trunk, and the 4 door cards. The method of attachment for all these panels is user-friendly and I did not experience much breakage at all in doing all this.

    Of course, it's all about how much it's worth to you...

    We benefit greatly from the fact that the battery is mounted in the trunk, so running power is super easy. That's often one of the complicated parts of doing an install like this.

  7. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by crunch21 View Post
    i really wish they made hooking up stereo mods more plug n play style. id really like to add some more low frequency sound from the hatch, as its sort of noticeable there are not 6x9s in the back of my hatch, it seems so front heavy with sound. im not looking to start ripping off panels and wiring cable across the car for thet. i envy your motivation to do this.

    Do you have the Bose or non Bose?

    I just upgraded my hatch 2 weeks ago and can offer advice maybe.
    2018 Cruze RS Hatch Diesel A9

    Factory retrofits: 120v inverter.
    Future retrofits: Auto HVAC, auto up driver window, turn signal mirrors, auto dimming interior mirror.

    1st Gen: How to make your ECO take 15.6 Gallons of fuel properly:
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  8. #6
    GraySkies is offline [OP]
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    Quote Originally Posted by firehawk618 View Post
    Very nice write up.
    Keep in mind guys, if you have a Bose then this how to will not apply to you.
    Bose systems use GM LIN from the HID in the dash to the amp in the back. It's data. You cannot tap into it for amp inputs.
    At this time I know of no interface that will tap into the LIN to give you amp inputs.
    You have to grab outputs after the Bose amp unfortunately that means grabbing a signal that's already processed.
    Yeah, that's unfortunate that they decided to go that route. Makes life more difficult.

    If I had the Bose setup, though, I probably would have just been satisfied with it and not attempted to mod the system. I had a loaner with Bose when I was getting my new engine, and while the system I have now sounds quite a bit better than the Bose (and is fully tuneable), the Bose system in my loaner was "good enough", such that I would have put these resources elsewhere if I was so equipped.

    For what it's worth, most of the commonly available DSPs will handle the signal from the Bose system speaker wires as input, and will still be able to mostly do their thing.

  9. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by GraySkies View Post
    Yeah, that's unfortunate that they decided to go that route. Makes life more difficult.

    If I had the Bose setup, though, I probably would have just been satisfied with it and not attempted to mod the system. I had a loaner with Bose when I was getting my new engine, and while the system I have now sounds quite a bit better than the Bose (and is fully tuneable), the Bose system in my loaner was "good enough", such that I would have put these resources elsewhere if I was so equipped.

    For what it's worth, most of the commonly available DSPs will handle the signal from the Bose system speaker wires as input, and will still be able to mostly do their thing.

    Yeah I agree that the stock Bose is pretty good in the hatch. I don't know how it sounds in the sedan. The little 5" woofer in the hatch really helps the lower frequencies.

    I get why they did the LIN thing. It really saves wiring and eliminates any chance of electrical interference but as we know, it makes adding devices a lot more challenging.

    If someone comes out with an interface that goes before the amp it will make upgrades quite easy and clean.
    2018 Cruze RS Hatch Diesel A9

    Factory retrofits: 120v inverter.
    Future retrofits: Auto HVAC, auto up driver window, turn signal mirrors, auto dimming interior mirror.

    1st Gen: How to make your ECO take 15.6 Gallons of fuel properly:
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  10. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by firehawk618 View Post
    Do you have the Bose or non Bose?

    I just upgraded my hatch 2 weeks ago and can offer advice maybe.
    non bose 6 speaker. this being my first hatchback car, i can actually notice the lack of sound from the rear due to the lack of the two speakers that sit behind the rear seats in a sedan. i actually think the stereo sound pretty good, but would like to get a small sub or 6x9 for the rear to fill the car with sound better. i actually looked up some slim fit 8" subs but then looked up how to install and im not about to spend hours ripping paneling up and routing wires through the whole car just to fill the car with sound a bit better.

    really impress with your OP though, good posts like that are why i come here.

  11. #9
    GraySkies is offline [OP]
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    So the initial step in this install was tapping into the stock speaker wires. There are not too many videos on youtube yet that show how to remove the factory head unit, and the ones that are there are not of particularly high quality, but here is the one I found the most helpful:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rKjT...ature=youtu.be

    The main thing I would mention about taking out the head unit is this: the open/close mechanisms on the vents that are on either side of the display are pretty fragile. Be very careful when removing those. I also highly recommend acquiring a set of plastic trim tools like this:

    https://www.crutchfield.com/p_126CR6...nel-Tools.html

    These tools were very helpful to apply gentle prying pressure where needed, and they are very smooth and didn't scratch any of my dash or door trim in use. Using any metal tool is NOT recommended.

    So once I had the head unit out, there were five plugs on the back. I removed them all so I could set the unit aside out of the way while I worked. As I pulled the unit out of the dash, this is what I saw (back of the unit, looking down from the top):
    DSCN3860.jpg

    The brown plug, second from the left in the photo, is the one we are interested in. That is the one that carries all the speaker signals. Here is the pinout diagram for that plug, to get the wire color codes:
    IOA X2(BN) Pinout.png
    Once you have removed the display and unwrapped the black fuzzy harness tape, you can isolate the speaker wiring harness and get ready to tap in. The speaker wires are easy to recognize, even without the pinout, because they are the ones that are in twisted pairs:
    DSCN3862.jpg

    Before I started cutting into the wires, I pulled the side panel from the console (on the passenger side), so I could run the Speedwire up into the area where I would be working. There are no screws on this panel. It's all held in by clips. Start at the forward top edge and gently pull your way around to get the whole panel out. You can see the blue cable here in the photo, which is the Speedwire:
    DSCN3875.jpg

    After feeding it in through the side of the console, you can just reach up behind the display area and easily run it to the area you need:
    DSCN3863.jpg

    The Speedwire is in standard auto aftermarket wire color codes:
    Blue with White Stripe....... Amplifier Remote Turn-on
    Green............................. Left Rear Speaker (+)
    Green with Black Stripe...... Left Rear Speaker (-)
    White............................. Left Front Speaker (+)
    White with Black Stripe...... Left Front Speaker (-)
    Purple............................. Right Rear Speaker (+)
    Purple with Black Stripe...... Right Rear Speaker (-)
    Gray............................... Right Front Speaker (+)
    Gray with Black Stripe........ Right Front Speaker (-)
    Unwrap each pair to access the individual wires:
    DSCN3865.jpg

    The first splice:
    DSCN3868.jpg

    All the wires spliced (again, apologies for the poor quality photo):
    DSCN3870.jpg

    If anyone is interested in details of how I spliced these, let me know. I can go into that further if desired.

    Once you reach this point, you can re-wrap the harness and put the head unit back in. I wrapped it with fuzzy black tape like stock. You can find this tape on Amazon:

    https://www.amazon.com/Tesa-Wire-Loo...34072467&psc=1

    That's all the time I have at the moment. Next time I will post some detail about how I routed the Speedwire through the console and under the back carpet into the trunk. It was MUCH easier than I thought it would be, and I didn't have to take the carpet out.

    Thanks for reading!
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    Last edited by GraySkies; 07-16-2018 at 01:37 PM.
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  12. #10
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    I cannot edit my past posts. When I reference the LIN I actually meant MOST bus lines. Most = Media Oriented Systems Transport.

    in other words it's a data link from the "head unit" to the amp
    2018 Cruze RS Hatch Diesel A9

    Factory retrofits: 120v inverter.
    Future retrofits: Auto HVAC, auto up driver window, turn signal mirrors, auto dimming interior mirror.

    1st Gen: How to make your ECO take 15.6 Gallons of fuel properly:
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