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Old 17th February 2012, 03:33 PM   #1
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Default New car audio system: critiques and questions

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Hey all. I finally purchased my car's new speakers the other day. What's your opinion of my rig?

Car:
1999 Mazda MX-5
Dual head unit, stock everything else

Speakers:
CDT Audio CL-62
CL 62

Amplifier:
Soundstream REF2.640
Soundstream - Reference Amplifier

Head Unit:
Alpine iDA-X305S with Bluetooth
Alpine iDA-X305SBT Package iDA-X305S digital media receiver and Bluetooth adapter at Crutchfield.com

I'm completely new to aftermarket car audio besides that cheap-o Dual head unit I have installed right now. I wanted to check with the experts. Does my set-up look good? I'm no audiophile, but I'd like to have a system that an audiophile could listen to and say "hey, that's not terrible."



My other questions are a little more logistical. I've done a lot of reading about setting up a car stereo system, but I have no hands-on experience myself.

1: do I have enough wire?
I bought 100 feet of 12-gauge copper wire from monoprice.
Product Details
At the time, I didn't know the head unit used RCA preamp outputs. Do I have to hunt for some more RCA cables to purchase - something like this:
Product Details
Or can I just buy the jacks and solder my existing speaker wire to it?
I'm sure this wire would be fine for the amp-to-speaker connections, but wouldn't mind someone confirming that.
I probably need to purchase some sort of electrical wire to power the amp - battery terminal to amp, amp to ground. What kind of wire do I need, and where can I find it?

2: Fuses
From the Crutchfield FAQ, I've read that fuses are important. Am I correct in assuming that the equipment I'm purchasing does not come with such a fuse? If so, where would I go to purchase one? Or is this one of those things that's more of a guideline than a rule? I'd rather be safe than sorry, but I've only read Crutchfield recommending fuses - which they obviously want you to buy.

3: Marine baffles
I've heard concerns about the moisture environment in car doors. I don't know if this is a big issue, but again, rather be safe than sorry. Do I need these?

Plans for the future:
Don't freak! I won't be neglecting a sub! That's why I made sure my head unit has sub pre-amps. Eventually I will be purchasing a class D mono amp, having the sub box custom made, and installing an 8" thumper in the passenger footwell. I'll probably stay with the Soundstream Reference model for the amp, but it's going to be a few months until I can get my hands on the sub so I haven't really decided what I want yet. I'm also still looking into soundproofing such as Dynamat, but I'm not sure it's worth it in a convertible - at least I can take the other components out and use them in future vehicles.
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Old 18th February 2012, 02:25 PM   #2
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Join Date: Aug 2011
Quote:
Originally Posted by jasongalambos View Post
DIY Audio forum post

Hey all. I finally purchased my car's new speakers the other day. What's your opinion of my rig?

Car:
1999 Mazda MX-5
Dual head unit, stock everything else

Speakers:
CDT Audio CL-62
CL 62
Not heard them myself, but the CDT products do get good reviews, should be man enough for the job and look well spec'd

Quote:
Originally Posted by jasongalambos View Post
Amplifier:
Soundstream REF2.640
Soundstream - Reference Amplifier
Again, not heard personally, but should be more than adequate.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jasongalambos View Post
Very nice stereo, for much better "hi-fi" buy the add on PXA-H100 processor, excellent results have been had (by myself) using some very mediocre speakers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jasongalambos View Post
I'm completely new to aftermarket car audio besides that cheap-o Dual head unit I have installed right now. I wanted to check with the experts. Does my set-up look good? I'm no audiophile, but I'd like to have a system that an audiophile could listen to and say "hey, that's not terrible."
Looks good. Installation is where 80% of the results will come from-screw that up and you might as well have bought flea market gear!


Quote:
Originally Posted by jasongalambos View Post
My other questions are a little more logistical. I've done a lot of reading about setting up a car stereo system, but I have no hands-on experience myself.

1: do I have enough wire?
I bought 100 feet of 12-gauge copper wire from monoprice.
Product Details
Yup, more than enough-did you forget your car wasn't a limo?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jasongalambos View Post
At the time, I didn't know the head unit used RCA preamp outputs. Do I have to hunt for some more RCA cables to purchase - something like this:
Product Details
Yes, buy some RCA cables, didn't look at the link, triple screened is best, nothing more needed than that so ignore Monster cables with time alignment (FFS!!!)

Quote:
Originally Posted by jasongalambos View Post
Or can I just buy the jacks and solder my existing speaker wire to it?
No, bad idea, you'll likely pick up loads of noise

Quote:
Originally Posted by jasongalambos View Post
I'm sure this wire would be fine for the amp-to-speaker connections, but wouldn't mind someone confirming that.
Yup, the speaker cable is more than enough

Quote:
Originally Posted by jasongalambos View Post
I probably need to purchase some sort of electrical wire to power the amp - battery terminal to amp, amp to ground. What kind of wire do I need, and where can I find it?
Get some 4gauge, OFC not CCA

Quote:
Originally Posted by jasongalambos View Post
: Fuses
From the Crutchfield FAQ, I've read that fuses are important. Am I correct in assuming that the equipment I'm purchasing does not come with such a fuse? If so, where would I go to purchase one? Or is this one of those things that's more of a guideline than a rule? I'd rather be safe than sorry, but I've only read Crutchfield recommending fuses - which they obviously want you to buy.
10000000% necessary, 4g cable will weld-if you crashed and severed the cable it could start a fire with you trapped in the car. Fuse should go as close as possible to the battery. AGU fuses come rated up to 80a, will be fine for your install (battery in boot?)

Quote:
Originally Posted by jasongalambos View Post
: Marine baffles
I've heard concerns about the moisture environment in car doors. I don't know if this is a big issue, but again, rather be safe than sorry. Do I need these?
Yes, not only will they not rot they also give you a better mount for the speaker-recall the 80% install figure, this is where it comes in. Also invest in dynamat or similar to stop panel resonance, cloased cell foam for rear wave and seal all holes in the door between the front and rear of speaker to prevent the rear wave canceling the front. The more effort you put in here the better your mids will sound. If you wish to protect the rear of your drivers without affecting the sound invest in some phonocar rain guard (open cell foam) to cover their rears-if you MX5 is the same as the ones I work on you'll need it!

Quote:
Originally Posted by jasongalambos View Post
Plans for the future:
Don't freak! I won't be neglecting a sub! That's why I made sure my head unit has sub pre-amps. Eventually I will be purchasing a class D mono amp, having the sub box custom made, and installing an 8" thumper in the passenger footwell. I'll probably stay with the Soundstream Reference model for the amp, but it's going to be a few months until I can get my hands on the sub so I haven't really decided what I want yet. I'm also still looking into soundproofing such as Dynamat, but I'm not sure it's worth it in a convertible - at least I can take the other components out and use them in future vehicles.
As said the dynamat or equiv is 100% needed for your doors, rest of the car it will largely be wasted on-the hood will let in loads of noise anyway. Sub is a must too IMO - though your plan for that makes good sense

You should end up with a decent system, you're not going to wow any audiophiles-you've got the wrong car for that-but you should be able to enjoy your system and get a great sound from it.
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Old 18th February 2012, 02:38 PM   #3
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Join Date: Aug 2011
Wow, what a great response! I'm about to leave to go adopt some kitties, but this was exactly what I was looking for and I wanted to thank you.

Also, I know my car's not exactly a limo, but decent grade speaker wire is always useful =)
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Old 18th February 2012, 03:36 PM   #4
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Join Date: Aug 2011
Quote:
Originally Posted by jasongalambos View Post
Wow, what a great response! I'm about to leave to go adopt some kitties, but this was exactly what I was looking for and I wanted to thank you.

Also, I know my car's not exactly a limo, but decent grade speaker wire is always useful =)
No problem, good luck with install, any Qs just ask, pm if you like.

I was refering to the length-100Ft of cable for a 3ft cabin-overkill!!
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Old 18th February 2012, 05:36 PM   #5
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Join Date: Aug 2011
3 ft cabin? vast overestimation =P
No I got 100ft so I could have a little (a lot?) to spare after I finish; I'm planning on setting up some home theater systems in the future as well.

Would you recommend picking up one of Crutchfield's amp wiring kits? They're a little expensive, but at least you know you're getting decent quality and I wouldn't rip apart my car only to find I neglected to order some essential wire.

As for the RCA cables, is there a good way of ballparking what length you'll need? I don't want to order a 9' cable when 6' would have been sufficient and have a big zip tie of cable flopping around in my trunk.
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Old 19th February 2012, 10:45 PM   #6
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Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Mar del Plata, a BIG seasonal getaway city, can see the Ocean from our residence.
Sounds like you've got things in good order.....for the "top half" of your system. The sub-woofer will be the wild-card..........
Most all (99%) of car systems I've heard really sound like crap on the bottom end..........It's the way car sub-woofers are designed & the "market" that drives the designs. I'm assuming your not the Hip-hop, Bonk, bonk, bonk. type.
You need to make some careful measurements of how much volume of space you have available for your sub-woofer. Car sub-woofers are designed for small enclosures, but sacrifice much in this endeavor. True Audiophile sub-woofers take up lots of space......but can be incredibly accurate. Perhaps one could find a multi-band sub-woofer equalizer to fine tune your sub.
Case in point ....my brother-in-laws "subwoofer" in his Renault. I ran the math for an enclosure but it was of the "car type"...small enclosure, & guess what?? It sounds like crap.....it has a "hot-spot" at one frequency.....the frequency that most Hip-hop music uses.
Just saying.........
Do it right!

__________________________________________________ ______Rick.....
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Old 20th February 2012, 09:47 AM   #7
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Join Date: Aug 2011
Quote:
Originally Posted by jasongalambos View Post
3 ft cabin? vast overestimation =P
No I got 100ft so I could have a little (a lot?) to spare after I finish; I'm planning on setting up some home theater systems in the future as well.
lol, it's always good to have some lying around

Quote:
Originally Posted by jasongalambos View Post
Would you recommend picking up one of Crutchfield's amp wiring kits? They're a little expensive, but at least you know you're getting decent quality and I wouldn't rip apart my car only to find I neglected to order some essential wire.
I've never used them so couldn't comment. Stinger, Kicker, Knu all do decent kits

Quote:
Originally Posted by jasongalambos View Post
As for the RCA cables, is there a good way of ballparking what length you'll need? I don't want to order a 9' cable when 6' would have been sufficient and have a big zip tie of cable flopping around in my trunk.
Buy 5m with removeable ends, and then shorten to fit-or buy off the roll and make your own-no one round here will pay for that so we only stock 1m or 5m!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Ellis View Post
Sounds like you've got things in good order.....for the "top half" of your system. The sub-woofer will be the wild-card..........
Most all (99%) of car systems I've heard really sound like crap on the bottom end..........It's the way car sub-woofers are designed & the "market" that drives the designs. I'm assuming your not the Hip-hop, Bonk, bonk, bonk. type.
You need to make some careful measurements of how much volume of space you have available for your sub-woofer. Car sub-woofers are designed for small enclosures, but sacrifice much in this endeavor. True Audiophile sub-woofers take up lots of space......but can be incredibly accurate. Perhaps one could find a multi-band sub-woofer equalizer to fine tune your sub.
Case in point ....my brother-in-laws "subwoofer" in his Renault. I ran the math for an enclosure but it was of the "car type"...small enclosure, & guess what?? It sounds like crap.....it has a "hot-spot" at one frequency.....the frequency that most Hip-hop music uses.
Just saying.........
Do it right!

__________________________________________________ ______Rick.....
To be fair, that ain't the gretest woofer you've pictured-about 50 worth of teenage boomer. There are numerous reasons that car subs work out of very small boxes-key one is cabin gain, my sub's enclosure has an F3 of around 74Hz and the sub only plays from 63Hz and down-but then I designed my sub around the cabin gain of the vehicle.

Other than cabin gain on our side, we don't have much space-so small encloures are a real bonus-most car subs have heavy cones and big motors-recall Kicker's 1st Solo-Barics? These are what started the ball rolling, basically an isobaric sub but without the 2nd driver, to say you can't get SQ out a small subwoofer enclosure is narrow minded-my enclosure is 0.126cf for a 10" and it is very articluate, handling everything I throw at it with aplomb!

The majority of the boost tends to be centred around 40Hz, so that's why poorly designed systems sound boomy. There are a few "correct" ways of building a sub for a car IMO:
Small sealed: use the cabin gain to your advantage
Large ported: Tune VERY low, EQ out the cabin gain
IB: Again good EQ needed, most natural sound if possible in your car
BP:Either tuned very low-but then you have bandwidth issues, or tuned high to use cabin gain
Horn: Not generally worth it for the size, I'd follow ported procedure if space allowed

MX5 won't really get any cabin gain, so more careful consideration is necessary. I have seen plans online for a double 8" enclosure on the shelf behind the seats and have seen fibre glass boxes in the foot well-see what the guys on MX5 forums are up to.
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Old 21st February 2012, 11:19 PM   #8
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In an MX-5 (I own one) you need to think about how you drive the car. Do you run top-down all or most of the time? Do you have the hardtop installed and keep it installed? Stock or modified engine?

If it's a nice daily driver, air, automatic, mostly used around town, maybe a sub might be worthwhile. There is space in the trunk, if you never use the trunk, for a small sub behind the passenger seat. Most of the area there is taken up with fuel lines, etc and what's left is not much more than 1 cu ft so you won't be able to go too crazy, but it will work. You can also try the drivers side fender to install a similar sized sub unit.

There will be cabin gain with the top up, none with it down. So, really you are going to have two very distinct listening environments and two distinct frequency response curves. Were it me I'd forget about tuning for the cabin gain, that way you can drive with the back window zipped out or the side windows down, and get at least one consistent frequency balance out of it.

If it's top down, manual trans with modified engine, forget about the sub. Buy some shakers for under the seats instead. In fact, even if you do install a sub and it's a "nice" car, consider the shakers. Will help the experience with an open car and lots of potential wind noise.

Mazda offered in-seat speakers in Miatas and as far as I know they all have the foam moulded to accept them. Most guys make up their own kit but there is an aftermarket one available. Two smallish speakers fit inside each seatback headrest, close to each ear in the driver and passenger seats. Helps a lot when the top is down and you're at speed.

Be careful you don't try to overcome wind noise with the door speakers and the amp by cranking it top-down at speed; you could be blowing speakers that way. Find a sound level that's loud and clean when at rest, and don't turn it beyond that when underway.

To be honest, this is not a car where the ultimate HiFi experience is likely. Mine is the only vehicle I own that has no stereo at all; I like it that way. But a decent sounding system can be had; do the fundamentals right, get it so it sounds "nice" and don't worry beyond that.

There is a bit of a mismatch in the gear you've selected, although not one I'd panic over. The Pandora radio isn't going to be the best sounding source; the Soundstream amp is capable of very good sound quality. Put at least a few uncompressed songs on your iPod/iPhone and listen to them to get an idea of the system's true capability.
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Last edited by Johnny2Bad; 21st February 2012 at 11:43 PM.
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Old 21st February 2012, 11:30 PM   #9
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Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Mar del Plata, a BIG seasonal getaway city, can see the Ocean from our residence.
An F3 of 74 Hz?? My home subs really don't get started till then.....I understand cabin gain & how one could use it to an advantage....but I'd bet the Db gain and F vary from car to car....trying to dial that in must be really trying.

__________________________________________________ ______Rick..........
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Old 22nd February 2012, 09:24 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny2Bad View Post
In an MX-5 (I own one) you need to think about how you drive the car. Do you run top-down all or most of the time? Do you have the hardtop installed and keep it installed? Stock or modified engine?

If it's a nice daily driver, air, automatic, mostly used around town, maybe a sub might be worthwhile. There is space in the trunk, if you never use the trunk, for a small sub behind the passenger seat. Most of the area there is taken up with fuel lines, etc and what's left is not much more than 1 cu ft so you won't be able to go too crazy, but it will work. You can also try the drivers side fender to install a similar sized sub unit.

There will be cabin gain with the top up, none with it down. So, really you are going to have two very distinct listening environments and two distinct frequency response curves. Were it me I'd forget about tuning for the cabin gain, that way you can drive with the back window zipped out or the side windows down, and get at least one consistent frequency balance out of it.

If it's top down, manual trans with modified engine, forget about the sub. Buy some shakers for under the seats instead. In fact, even if you do install a sub and it's a "nice" car, consider the shakers. Will help the experience with an open car and lots of potential wind noise.

Mazda offered in-seat speakers in Miatas and as far as I know they all have the foam moulded to accept them. Most guys make up their own kit but there is an aftermarket one available. Two smallish speakers fit inside each seatback headrest, close to each ear in the driver and passenger seats. Helps a lot when the top is down and you're at speed.

Be careful you don't try to overcome wind noise with the door speakers and the amp by cranking it top-down at speed; you could be blowing speakers that way. Find a sound level that's loud and clean when at rest, and don't turn it beyond that when underway.

To be honest, this is not a car where the ultimate HiFi experience is likely. Mine is the only vehicle I own that has no stereo at all; I like it that way. But a decent sounding system can be had; do the fundamentals right, get it so it sounds "nice" and don't worry beyond that.

There is a bit of a mismatch in the gear you've selected, although not one I'd panic over. The Pandora radio isn't going to be the best sounding source; the Soundstream amp is capable of very good sound quality. Put at least a few uncompressed songs on your iPod/iPhone and listen to them to get an idea of the system's true capability.
The only bits I'd disagree with here is what I've highlighted in red-those speakers/mods are bloody awful and perhaps the worst "investment" anyone could make. Yes, they give you a source of sound right by your ears, but at the expense of quality, image, stage, tonality-just about everything goes out the window with those, may as well stick a boom box behind the headrests, at least you'd get some "bass" from it!

The IDAX305S is a great unit, yup Pandora won't be as good as ipod/USB, but I'm sure the OP would know not to compress the crap out of his music

I have seen a Honda S2000 with 3x 12" IB, for an SQ+ system, you could do similar-depends on your goals.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Ellis View Post
An F3 of 74 Hz?? My home subs really don't get started till then.....I understand cabin gain & how one could use it to an advantage....but I'd bet the Db gain and F vary from car to car....trying to dial that in must be really trying.

__________________________________________________ ______Rick..........
I was lucky enough to find a HK graph of my cabin gain, but it's really easy to work out with a smart phone and pocket RTA. Measure a sub outside the car, remeasure inside and the difference is your gain. My car is a mini, so has a tiny cabin and thus a huge gain-ever noticed why SPL guys go for Honda CRX? Cause there's nothing to it! Smaller the car, higher the SPL.
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