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The SQ Car Audio Thread V2

212509 Views 500 Replies 67 Participants Last post by  skills4lou
Welcome to Version 2 of the SQ Car Audio thread!


The last thread got buried and full of information. It's a bit daunting to sort through, so I've created a new one to make it a whole lot easier and to consolidate some of this information. Given the sheer number of questions I get regarding this, I figured I'd create a thread to answer them off the bat.

My mission here is to make competition-level sound quality feasible and affordable so you don't spend the thousands of dollars going through parts only to come back to this point. Read this thread, and you can build on my experience.


Getting Started
To start, you'll want a good idea of basic audio principles so you know what I'm talking about throughout this thread. For that purpose, I've created four basic Audio 101 "lectures" on my website, which you can find in the link below. Start from the bottom. If you have questions, post them here. Don't even bother thinking about SQ car audio until you've read these articles.

Audio 101 - The Xtreme Revolution


Expectations
I'm sure some of you came here thinking "The sound system in my Cruze sucks, what can I do to make it better? I want some great sound!" I hear that a lot, and I have an inbox full of these types of questions. Before we proceed, there are things I expect of you. If you cannot meet these expectations, you shouldn't be here.


  1. Cost. As a starting point, you should expect to spend $1000 if you want a good set of front speakers with MDF baffles, a proper install with door and trunk treatment, good wiring, and a good SQ subwoofer in a custom box. If don't have at least $1000 or don't want to spend that much, come back when you have accepted the cost of this endeavor. This applies to total installs, not to just a single subwoofer. Some of you will probably say, "but I can do it for so much cheaper than that!" Really? With a passive crossover front component set, a single 8" subwoofer, custom box, two amplifiers, sound deadening, and an AA-GM44 harness, you're right around $930, and we haven't begun to talk about wiring. If you can build the box yourself, you can save some money. Otherwise, I build subwoofer boxes and MDF speaker baffles at what most consider to be a very good price.
  2. Time. If you want a system installed within a week because you just got your tax return, your bonus, or birthday money and can't contain yourself, don't waste my time. It will take you time to choose the parts that are right for you. It will take you time to learn why they were chosen, and why you shouldn't have bought the ones on the shelf at Best Buy. Since you will most likely be installing this yourself (let's be realistic, most shops do shoddy work by my standards), you will need time for that as well. We have some members on this board who can perform high quality installs should you really not want to pull your own trim panels.
  3. Effort. You need to learn at least the basics of audio. If you don't want to put any effort in, don't expect me to help you. I know this doesn't apply to most of you out there, but I'm saying it as a fair warning to anyone who thinks they can have their hand held throughout the entire process. I'm making tools available to you so that you can learn, have true appreciation for what's going on, and put together an excellent system.
  4. Patience. This ties in the last two points, but it deserves its own point. If you order a box and baffles from me, expect to wait a while as I've never yet had a day where I didn't have a box in progress. If it takes me 2 months to get everything done, chalk that up as part of the cost of getting a competition-ready custom made subwoofer box built for cheap. If you find yourself not understanding how something works or how to do something on your car, don't get frustrated. Ask questions, and wait for an answer. Keep in mind that we all have lives outside this forum.



In my next post, we'll move straight to system recommendations.
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XR, great information . I’m learning a lot. I stumbled upon this thread as I searched for info on car audio.
I purchased a 2014 cruze just 2 weeks ago. I think the Chevy Cruze is a very underated car. I would like to do an upgrade to the stereo system, as the stock system in the LS is lacking. Last time I bought a fairly new car was in 2000 & I installed a system at the same time, which I thought was pretty good. Man things have changed since then. Consider me a noobe. I want to keep the factory head unit, install 2 amps that I have & upgrade the speakers. The amps I have are small. One is a Kicker IX402 & the other is an Alpine 3519. I’ve had these amps for years & haven’t put them to use in a very long time. Was looking for your expertise on a few things. I would like to keep the install as simple as possible. I plan on purchasing the speakers you recommended & also the sound deadening. Do you think the factory speaker wiring would be adequate given the low wattage amplifiers? Although the front speaker channels are wired in parallel so that would be an issue. I’m looking for crisp clean sound, not super super loud. Not sure I want a Sub. I never thought it made sense to have a loud obnoxious thumping going down the road like most of the young kids have. Very annoying.
I recently purchased a Pac AA-GM44 LOC just to get a look at the harness. I did not want to use the LOC in this kit. I noticed the wiring to this LOC is just spliced into the harness & still utilizes the factory speaker wires. In other words, the way it is wired, the head unit still feeds directly to the speakers. Not exactly what I expected. I think the Pac unit was designed as a means for adding amps to the system while retaining the factory speaker hook up. Doesn’t make much sense the way the harness is laid out.
I was looking into DSP’s as I never heard of them before. Apparently these units are the way to go. I have no laptop or any other means to set one up. I was looking at the kicker front stage & the audio control DQ-61. I understand these two do not require a laptop interface to set up & I won’t have to break the bank to own one. I’m leaning towards the DQ-61 from everything I’ve read about it. What I was planning on doing was cutting the wires on the PAC harness & running some 9 wire from the head side to either the Kicker front stage or DQ-61, whichever one I decide on, & then wire up the amps & then more 9 wire back up to the pac harness to feed the speakers through the factory harness. Basically creating one big loop. Does this make sense? Do you see any problems with anything in this set up other than the front channels being wired in parallel?
I’m sure I’ll have more questions as I continue to research this stuff. Your write ups have been a great inspiration. Thank you for that.
Rich.
 

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Also, any thoughts on the JBL GTO 19T tweeters for the a pillars? Noticed it specs out at 3 ohms to work well with OEM wiring.

Also will be looking to purchase some door speaker baffles from you as I just received my silver flutes today. You still making those for the cruze?

Rich.
 

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XR.
Could you elaborate on tuning the mini DSP with a desktop computer? How is that achieved? Do you remove the DSP from the vehicle & connect it to the desktop PC? WIFi capablty? What software is needed? I really suck at using computers for the most part. With that being said I'm in the market for a new computer as my windows 32 bit vista operating systemis becoming very outdated & giving me trouble. I may decide on a laptop or a smartphone in the very near future. Not sure what fits my needs yet.

I already purchased the silver flutes. You stated I could not use these speakers/drivers without a DSP. Why is that? Is it because they do not have a crossover built into them? I was under the impression that the Kicker front stage & the DQ 61 were DSP's in their own right. Maybe I misunderstood.
You mentioned 4 channel amplifiers. I have 2, 2 channel amplifiers, as mentioned in the previous post. I assume this is = to the 4 channel amplifier. I'm still not sold on a sub woofer but I am open minded on it. Doesn't make sense to me to have a driver in the trunk when I'm all the way in the front. I understand that low frequency's are hard to pinpoint where their coming from. But then again I'm not well versed on the subject.

Also, do you still have the MDF baffles available for the silver flutes for the front doors of the Cruze?

Thanks for your input.
Rich.
 

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Definitely interested in the baffles. No hurry though. Holidays are coming. Will be a long time before I dive into this project. Too many irons in the fire so to speak. My 97' Lumina, 3.1M engine, I will be diving into very soon. I don't have to tell you about these GM 60 degree v6's & coolant leakes. I really should dump the car but I have a love hate relationship with it. I guess I love to hate it. This will be my 3rd time into this engine. First 2 times were intake gaskets now I have to go deeper & do the head gaskets. She's on borrowed time which is why I bought the Cruze.

Let me know on the baffles sir.

Rich
 

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So about the DSP unit. If it has 4 channels of output, how does it control a subwoofer if I decide to add one later on with another amp? I see in the miniDSP manual that it does control a subwoofer but I'm not sure I understand how. I would thinkit would require a 5th output for it to be completely separate. How can it control it seperately without the 5th channel? What am I missing in my understanding?

You have convinced me, along with the price, to go the mini DSP way. I realize I need to purchase 3 items. The MiniDSP, the isolator & the advanced plug in. I'm not sure what the plug in is. I assume the plug is needed software & not a physical item.

This is all brand new to me so there will be a huge learning curve. Hopefully, before this time next year I will have a stellar sound system in my Cruze. I will officially make it my New Years resolution. LOL!

Rich.
 

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Ok. So here is where you lost me. I thought that the tweeters in the A pillars were designated as the left & right front channels & the left & right front door speakers were now designated as the rear channels. This would account for the 4 channels. What did I miss? I believe you do not have your front tweeters & front door speakers connected in parallel on the front channels like the factory has it. I'm assuming the MiniDSP only has 4 channels of output. Left & Right, Front & Rear. This is how I'm picturing it. If the door speakers & tweets are connected in parallel on the front channels only, then I don't understand how it would be possible to cross them over independently. But then again I can't see running the sub off the left & right rear channel all by itself. I Would think you only need 1 channel for the sub. Hope I'm making sense. I hope I can do this in less than a years time, but I can certainly understand how it may take that long.

Rich.
 

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Thank you. I did read your 101 tutorials on your site. Also been reading through the MiniDSP manuals. What I still kind of not understand is how the hi pass & low pass can work with the speakers connected in parallel on the same line with the same signal at the same time. My understanding is the MiniDSP sends the altered signal to the amp and then the amp sends that altered signal to the speakers. If you have 2 speakers, a woofer & a tweeter, on the same line, then both of these speakers will receive the same altered signal. NO? So if that altered signal was altered for the tweeter I don't understand how it can be altered for the woofer at the same time. This is me assuming that the woofer & tweeter on the same line are both unfiltered by a crossover after the amp. I was assuming that there was no crossover on either speaker & that the MiniDSP was performing as an adjustable crossover.
You mentioned a capacitor.
"Quote :
"The tweeters are wired in parallel to the front door speakers but have a capacitor on them as a high pass 1st order filter." End Quote.
If the tweeter has a capacitor then I don"t understand how we're able to adjust the crossover point for the tweeter. I'm assuming that the capacitor is the filter/crossover & that it a is fixed & non adjustable point. I know you talked about adjusting the crossover point of the tweeters through the DSP in your install which is why I was assuming there was no physical crossover attached or in line to the tweeters after the amp.

Wow, my head is spinning.
Grasshoppa want to learn.
Rich.



 

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So in simplest terms. If I disconnect all factory speaker wires at the speakers & run new wiring to each new speaker, front doors & A pillars, from the 4 channel amp then that acounts for all 4 channels. So in this configuration we would be losing the front to rear fade option which we don't want anyways for the front stage, which is the actual goal. My confusion was lying in the fact that the PAC unit has 4 RCA outputs & the DSP has only 2 RCA inputs. We will be using only the 2 front RCA outputs from the PAC to the DSP. We leave the 2 rear RCA's from the PAC disconnected. We can always use the rear RCA's from the PAC for future expansion if decided. Think Subwoofer here. I believe this is correct. Correct me if I'm wrong please. Sometimes I overthink things.

I should be ordering the DSP & tweeters soon.

I know this thread is old. Are you still recommending the vifa tweets? Was wondering if a different tweet has been recommended. The a pillar trims are not too expensive. I may buy a set and modify them with some home brewed pods.

Later,
Rich.
 

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Thank you XR.

Can you give recommendations on quality budget friendly RCA (patch) cables & speaker wire. I want absolutely no floor noise or buzzing other than what's in the recordings of the music. As far as wiring it all up I have a good handle on that. I do plan on running extra cables for future expansion. I'm liking your recommendation on a small conservative sub.

Here's some food for thought. How about 2 front stages? We can create a front sound stage for our rear passengers. We can put some tweets in the back behind the driver & in front of the rear passengers. We can isolate the back from the front with some sound barrier. Think plexi glass here. Just kidding.
Thanks.
Rich.
 

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Any problem with running their kits with the Bassik RCA's? Their higher end kits, such as the KFX-AKF4-4 and the other KFX kits are out of stock. Looks like they've been out of stock for a couple years judging by the expected delivery date. My guess is they're discontinued. The available in stock cheaper kits only come with the Bassik RCA's. Possibly could purchase the better RCA's seperate.
Any thoughts on this?

Rich.
 

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Any thoughts on mounting the Mini DSP out back in the trunk near the amps for easier access when tuning? I usually mount my amps & power junction block on a nice piece of finished oak board and secure it to the trunk floor. Locating the Mini Dsp out back would also change the cable length requirements. Not sure if one way would be better than the other. Just looking for ideas as I may try something different. Would rather not have to pull the interior to access the MiniDSP if possible. Possibly mount everything to the underside of the rear shelf to retain trunk space. Any good source for pictures of installs in the Cruze? I haven't really looked at my cruze much since I bought it. Been very busy. Had it for about month now & barely put 400 miles on it so far. It's too nice to be driving it around here right now with the snow & salt. Milking the Lumina for all it's worth right now with the crappy snowy weather. Lumina registration & inspection expires the end of this month & the engine will be coming apart. The Cruze will start to see regular duty soon.

Rich.
 

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Also, any brands of RCA cables to avoid? I see many different brands. I will stay with OFC wire for sure. I see Amazon sells a lot. There is a very inexpensive brand ,"Kabeldirect", that looks good on paper & also in the pictures. Any info on those? Just trying to avoid buying a headache down the road.

Rich.
 

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XR

Been gathering items. Still a long way to go.
I received my minidsp & isolator from Madisound. It comes with a coupon code for the plug in. It will be a long while before my install. Do you know if there is an expiration on that code? Would it be beneficial to download it to my current windows Vista 32 bit computer now, before the install takes place, & use it later, if that's at all possible ,or should I just wait? I also just received an android smartphone for Christmas. Would that give me options for this application? I also tried downloading, to windows vista, your xml files for the speakers. This does nothing but show a massive amount of text lines. It's crazy. Is this because I have not downloaded the plug in program yet? Sorry for all the questions. Not computer savvy at all.

R-
 

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Successfully loaded the plug in to my PC.
I have no clue what to do next. I can open your xml tune file on my pc by clicking on the link. It only opens in my web browser in a separate tab. There is no option to do anything else with it. I get this message when opening the file.
"This XML file does not appear to have any style information associated with it. The document tree is shown below."
The document tree is very extensive. What is the process to load this into the plug in?
I think I may have figured it out.
Please correct me if any of this is wrong.
On the system settings tab in the plug in program, there is a load button. I clicked on the load button and opened the file from the downloads folder where the file was automatically saved to my pc. Took a while to find it, but it appears the file was successfully loaded into the program.

Feel like I'm in way over my head with this. Been searching for a tutorial on this plug in software as I have no idea where to even begin. Should be a fun process ounce I get the basics down.

Happy New Year!
:partytime:
 

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How much will it affect the tune if we installed the tweeters more on axis via some custom integrated pillar pods in the same location? I'm sure the original tune is tuned with the reflections of the windshield.
R-
 

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This is kind of what I was referring to for pods but utilizing the 1 set of viffa tweetes without the added tweets on the mirror cover. How much trouble would it be to tune them in on axis like this? Need to get a mic & RTA?
Just wanted to post this as I think this is a really sweet install on the pods. Looks very clean.

Link to pod install.
Chevy Cruze A-Pillar Build - Car Audio | DiyMobileAudio.com | Car Stereo Forum

R-
 

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Now that the baffles are on the way, I will be getting much closer to starting my install. I will be doing the big 3 upgade as well. I saw no mention of a capacitor in all the reading in both SQ install threads. Is a capacitor not really necessary? I will be running the Alpine 8" inch type R sub. Still searching for an AMP for this Sub. Not sure if I should stick with a class AB amp or go to a class D amp. Biggest concern is clean accurate sound. Class D seems to be the most popular for subs, for obvious reasons, but is it the best for sound quality. Still learning.
R-
 

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Got baffles today. :th_dblthumb2::th_dblthumb2: Very nice! Thank you.
This will be a very meticulous install for me. :hellno: hacking allowed.
This may seem like a trivial question. As i have no experience with MDF, should a pilot hole be drilled for the six screws mounting the speaker to the baffle? I'm under the impression that MDF is not very durable and I want to insure that the screws anchor in nice & strong without splitting the material or being too loose & having the speakers come loose over time with repeated door closings.
 

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Looking at different amplifier options, what affect will it have on the front stage if we used a lower wattage rating amp, say 20-30 watts rms for the tweets, and a higher rated amp on the silverflutes? Would this need to be adjusted for in the DSP Tune?
I understand the tweets don't need a lot of power. What is the RMS rating on the silver flutes? All I can find listed is 80 watts but that doesn't specify RMS or MAX.
 
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