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  • Bass withdrawals - new car

    So I got a new car after my 191k mile Murano started behaving like a pending maintenance nightmare. I knew that in the latest models a radio head unit swap isn't easy and sometimes impossible, and in my 2019 Mazda CX-5 that's definitely the case. I've got the non-Bose 6 speaker setup in it.

    First listening impressions... not bad but definitely low end weak. So I brought out the little mic and audio tools to see what was happening. Turns out it's not as bad as I thought, RTA attached. The horizontal lines are 15dB windows. The bass is usable to about 40 and drops fast below that. Tone controls are boosting the highs, I like the clarity, and the bass control mainly raises that whole lump centered around 80Hz. There's a pretty big depression at 500 though, which I'd correct if I could.

    Main takeaway from this... I like my deep bass way too strong in the car. I knew that and am really compensating for driving noise and vibration, but this really drives it home.

    I'll be living with this for quite a while it seems. There is very little information on this car, it's too new for a freely available service manual. I'm hoping to locate and intercept the speaker level wiring some day, where I'll insert a DSP and re-amp the speaker with compensation and a proper sub.
    Electronics engineer, woofer enthusiast, and musician.
    Wogg Music
    Published projects: PPA100 Bass Guitar Amp, ISO El-Cheapo Sub, Indy 8 2.1 powered sub, MicroSat, SuperNova Minimus

  • #2
    Same thing happened to me 18months ago when I retired my Flex that had a great Focal/JL system in it and got my company-leased MB C300. After playing with the tone controls and a little audio adaptation, it has become liveable.

    I have not changed the head unit in the last 3 cars I have owned - opting for outboard options after the factory deck. Unless the factory piece is missing some major component (navigation or something) I see no point in changing the radio. When I was still installing as a side gig on weekends it stunned me how many people were still pulling decks out of brand new cars. So many better places to spend that money.

    Comment


    • #3
      I hear ya. No way would I want to deckswap in my '15 Outback. In fact, the car's energy management system would likely disagree with me adding a subwoofer. I'll deal with the 12 speaker HK setup and rear-quarter subwoofer likely just fine. What I miss is the lower bass, but I suspect there is a limiter on the system somehow to prevent possibly unfavorable driver operation.

      Later,
      Wolf
      "Wolf, you shall now be known as "King of the Zip ties." -Pete00t
      "Wolf and speakers equivalent to Picasso and 'Blue'" -dantheman
      "He is a true ambassador for this forum and speaker DIY in general." -Ed Froste
      "We're all in this together, so keep your stick on the ice!" - Red Green aka Steve Smith

      *InDIYana event website*

      Photobucket pages:
      http://photobucket.com/Wolf-Speakers_and_more

      My blog/writeups/thoughts here at PE:
      http://techtalk.parts-express.com/blog.php?u=4102

      Comment


      • #4
        ^ Most likely. When I thought I was going to put stuff in my MB, I bought a JL Fix82 as it will correct for all of the factory EQ garbage.

        Comment


        • #5
          I've pondered lots of things since I drove it home last weekend, usually at about 3AM instead of sleeping. The first step would be locating the amp and tapping the speaker wires, which is scary since I have avoided doing any actual wire modification in all my head unit installations for the last 20 years, there's always been a factory harness adapter available.

          Process thoughts have included:
          Hooking up the speaker level outputs to an o-scope to sweep the low end and see if there's any factory roll off happening and how steep.
          Non-destructive disconnecting the speakers to test if the factory unit senses the loss of impedance and starts throwing codes, KEtheredge87 found that happening in his Subaru I think. Then if it does, seeing what value of resistor is needed to trick it into clearing codes.
          Once those steps pass, painstakingly building a harness with an 8 pin connector that would allow me to install a jumper back to factory. Solder and shrink tube everything.
          Then I can figure out how to mount a DSP408 and 4 channel amp to power the factory speakers, preferably a tiny class D type. I've found ~20WRMS sufficient to keep up with a sub when steep high passed at 120Hz in the car, I don't go for crazy SPL. Challenge - tap ACC voltage somewhere for remote turn on.
          Then I can figure out the primary wire run and mounting for a sub.

          Sounds like an excessive amount of work. I should just build more home speakers

          I did test drive a 2017 Escape that had the 10 speaker setup with sub in the back. That would have been better, but went with the Mazda as generally a better car.
          Electronics engineer, woofer enthusiast, and musician.
          Wogg Music
          Published projects: PPA100 Bass Guitar Amp, ISO El-Cheapo Sub, Indy 8 2.1 powered sub, MicroSat, SuperNova Minimus

          Comment


          • #6
            I have a 2013 Dodge Avenger, the factory setup actually sounded pretty good, it came with four 6x9 full rangers. I like the factory head unit, it has nice sized controls and I found the specs for the amp chip and it was probably about as good as any head unit could be (limited to 12 volts, after all).

            I thought about a DSP along with some new drivers, but ended up just mixing and matching speakers until I found the sound I was going for. I spent a lot of time on it, but now it sounds really good to me. It makes my daily commute much more bearable, even enjoyable.

            I'm sure you will have your new vehicle sounding great when your are done with it.

            Comment


            • #7
              I had the quad 6x9 in the ol' Magnum, with the 6-disc in-dash, and I loved that stereo. I really miss the 6 disc in-dash, but I guess most modern people no longer spin discs. I could add a bunch to a flash drive, but it takes so much time.

              Later,
              Wolf
              "Wolf, you shall now be known as "King of the Zip ties." -Pete00t
              "Wolf and speakers equivalent to Picasso and 'Blue'" -dantheman
              "He is a true ambassador for this forum and speaker DIY in general." -Ed Froste
              "We're all in this together, so keep your stick on the ice!" - Red Green aka Steve Smith

              *InDIYana event website*

              Photobucket pages:
              http://photobucket.com/Wolf-Speakers_and_more

              My blog/writeups/thoughts here at PE:
              http://techtalk.parts-express.com/blog.php?u=4102

              Comment


              • #8
                So... new plan. I have an old Bazooka EL8 gathering dust and figure that will be an easy addition to bolster the bottom end. I've used it in a couple cars before, and while not super loud it's very impressive for it's size and power. I affectionately refer to it as a bass burrito. It's a far cry from a fully re-amped DSP solution, but will make me happier with this car in the long run. Definitely not going for SPL, just some more oomph.

                Bonus:
                The EL8 only requires 7.5A of power, easily supplied by tapping the 10A cigarette lighter jack already in the hatch. No primary wire run!
                Not inserting or re-amping the factory speakers = a lot less wires to tap, just the front L and R for a signal and a accessory power wire to turn on the sub with the ignition.

                I'm planning on using one of the Dayton sub DSP controllers to tweak the output, and will rig up a 5V USB power cable with a little regulator off the accessory power. That will let me smooth out the low end and blend with the factory speakers. I'll back the bass control off the factory set and use the sub level to bring it back to where I want it. Not nearly as good as a proper high pass, but it'll do.

                Line level conversion... I did some looking into this and the existing circuits for conversion are plentiful. After some analysis though, the - side of the speaker connection is actually not used one little bit in the circuit. The reason for this is that the factory amp output is floating and bridged, so 2 signals from 0 to 12Vish in opposite phase. As soon as you reference the output to chassis ground, the - side of the speaker connection is just dumped to ground through the resistors. I really only need to tap the + wires for L and R and reference the chassis ground to get a good signal. That means a capacitor coupled L pad to ground is all I need.

                Install requires:
                3 small wires to the hatch: R+, L+, and Acc power. I'll use cheapo speaker wire ~20ga for the signal and 18ga for Acc power.
                USB power adapter off the Acc power in the trunk hidden behind a panel, and my L pad line converter to a 1/8" plug into the DSP unit
                1/8" plug to RCA to the sub
                Chassis ground bolt and a tap of the power outlet in the trunk with a short 12ga wire
                Clever strap down system to keep the bass burrito in place, likely a couple 1x2 strips bolted in with a ratchet strap slot to crank it down.
                Done!

                I just tested the thing rigged to cigarette lighter output and a signal from Audio Tools in the phone, just to make sure it didn't die in storage for years. The response is solid down to 40 and drops like a rock below that (the sub amp is high passed right there). It'll do 100dB in the 40 - 50Hz range, plenty for my purposes and all without breaking over 7.5A of battery draw.
                Electronics engineer, woofer enthusiast, and musician.
                Wogg Music
                Published projects: PPA100 Bass Guitar Amp, ISO El-Cheapo Sub, Indy 8 2.1 powered sub, MicroSat, SuperNova Minimus

                Comment


                • #9
                  I had an issue when adding a sub to my 2013 Honda Accord. Active noise cancelling turned the sub output into a 'wubba, wubba' machine, the bass was just pulsating during every song. The rear mic in the headliner was listening for noise to cancel, and that made the subwoofer just go nuts. I tapped into my rear two speakers to connect to the sub. Just a warning in case you decide to do similar and your ride has some kind of noise cancelling in it. I had to unplug that harness from the back of the stereo head unit which was a nightmare.

                  Best of luck!

                  TomZ
                  Zarbo Audio Projects Youtube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEZ...aFQSTl6NdOwgxQ * 320-641 Amp Review Youtube: https://youtu.be/ugjfcI5p6m0 *Veneering curves, seams, using heat-lock iron on method *Trimming veneer & tips *Curved Sides glue-up video
                  *Part 2 *Gluing multiple curved laminations of HDF

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Yikes! Thanks Tom. According to Google the Mazda doesn't have that feature, fingers crossed.
                    Electronics engineer, woofer enthusiast, and musician.
                    Wogg Music
                    Published projects: PPA100 Bass Guitar Amp, ISO El-Cheapo Sub, Indy 8 2.1 powered sub, MicroSat, SuperNova Minimus

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Active noise cancellation - get used to it. Lots of cars have it already. Pretty much every new car will have it soon...

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Just another nail in the coffin for aftermarket audio in cars. Luckily, they're also getting pretty good at designing these systems to be reasonably full range and relatively even in response. Otherwise I would have been fed up with the factory system much earlier.
                        Electronics engineer, woofer enthusiast, and musician.
                        Wogg Music
                        Published projects: PPA100 Bass Guitar Amp, ISO El-Cheapo Sub, Indy 8 2.1 powered sub, MicroSat, SuperNova Minimus

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Cawes
                          I'm only planning to put on a stereo system. I don't know which one to choose yet. I have a 2020 ford mustang. I want this to be a weekend car to ride and listen to music with my friends. For everyday driving, I have a Toyota that never lets me down.
                          You are a one trick pony. Your programmer needs to up his game.
                          Francis

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Finally got this done this past weekend. It took 3 afternoons to lock it all down, mostly due to the lack of wiring diagrams. I had a diagram of the Bose equipped system, but not the standard system and once I got to the amplifier the wire colors were not matching up.

                            Day 1 - find the wires. The amplifier is located on the passenger side kick panel, which was pretty easy to get to. Pull out the glove box, remove the floor trim and kick panel, and a cover under the glove box. Then I had to pull out my Oscilloscope and look for signals while playing some sine tones through bluetooth. I used a needle to get a connection into the harness referenced to chassis metal. After many attempts, I located a R and L front speaker wire and an accessory 12V line. I targeted the brown and yellow wires, and the purple to tap from this harness connector.

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                            I also swept the sine wave a bit to see if the response was altered. It is, there is EQ applied to the speaker outputs from the factory with the tone controls set flat. There's actually a good amount of bass boost built in to flatten the factory speakers, and no high pass roll off. signal was strong down to 30 and below. The wires I tapped are one side of a class D amp output, so they're riding on 6VDC and have a good amount of very high frequency switching noise visible on the scope. With some test clips I ran one of them to the woofer through a line converter I had on hand to make sure the sound was clean, and it was just fine. For the 12V accessory line, I'm not sure what capacity I have but I only need a handful of milliamps so I didn't worry.

                            Day 2 - tap the lines. This was a bit scary, I haven't had to cut wires in a factory setup in forever. With very little space and wire to work with, I used crimp on connectors to join the cut factory wire with a new tap. After pulling this off, the factory radio still worked without compliant, so win!

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                            Day 3 - trunk work.

                            Didn't capture a picture of the situation behind the lining. It was pretty straightforward, the 10A accessory jack in the back is plenty of current for the Bazooka el8 (requires 7.5A max), so another cut and crimp on the 12V line was sufficient. There was an electrical ground back there as well to tap into, which I used for the speaker signal reference ground and a ground for a little 5V USB adapter to power the Dayton DSP-LF unit. The amp ground wire was too short, so I filed a chassis bolt point that is for cargo hold down to bare metal and used that for ground in the right spot.

                            I did have to cut a small hole in the interior wheel well cover to pass the harness for the sub, and a hole for wires in the little corner cubby in the floor for keeping the DSP unit and the line converter so I could adjust levels and service if needed.

                            To mount the sub I cut a couple pieces of 1x2 to bolt through the floor cover. That lets the tube sit in for stability, and with beveled edges and a notch cut underside to pass a ratchet strap I can lock the tube down safely.

                            DSP tuning
                            that little Dayton DSP-LF unit was used to better integrate the sub to the factory speakers. Using my iMM6 and Audio Tools I watched the RTA zoomed in on the bass and tweaked the phase and delays to get as good of a transition between 100-300Hz as I could. The sub has a built in low pass at about 120Hz, so there wasn't much I could do for the 200Hz area which was showing a bit low. The factory tone control seems to knee above that, so turning down the bass and cranking the sub exacerbated the mid bass hole. Ultimately the bass tone control stays flat now, with the sub gain punching up the low end. I added a couple PEQ to flatten it further via DSP.

                            I'm only 1 day in to drive testing, but so far this is a nice improvement. There's something about decoupling the bass you hear from the vibration you feel in the door panels that is satisfying. This is no SPL cranker of course, but will do quite nicely.
                            Electronics engineer, woofer enthusiast, and musician.
                            Wogg Music
                            Published projects: PPA100 Bass Guitar Amp, ISO El-Cheapo Sub, Indy 8 2.1 powered sub, MicroSat, SuperNova Minimus

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              That Dayton DSP-LF is a bit of a headache for this use. There is some sort of magical sequence of events that needs followed to save a preset on the thing.

                              First, I'm not using this quite as intended. By tying power to the Acc line, the unit is shut off when the car is. In it's intended use in a home it remains powered at all times. That clears whatever changes you've made on the fly, and loads the last saved pre-set. This isn't a problem if your preset is good, but adjustments are more difficult than I intended.

                              Second, the ability to store updated presets is full of issues. About 19 out of 20 times I attempt to save a preset, the unit disconnects during the transfer. That corrupts the settings and forces a factory setting reload and re-boot. This has happened countless times and is by far the most frustrating thing. I think it has to do with conflicting Bluetooth connections. The last time I was able to save a preset was only after disconnecting all other bluetooth items from the phone. This is difficult in the car, since it automatically forces reconnect within a few seconds so I have to locate and use an alternate device to adjust the settings.

                              I almost said eff it and returned the thing, that was right before I got the settings to save finally. I'm making another attempt at some adjustments today after having this thing in place for a week. It's super close to where I want it.
                              Electronics engineer, woofer enthusiast, and musician.
                              Wogg Music
                              Published projects: PPA100 Bass Guitar Amp, ISO El-Cheapo Sub, Indy 8 2.1 powered sub, MicroSat, SuperNova Minimus

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