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      01-09-2010, 12:55 PM   #1
mineo77
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Talking Audio project complete! REVIEW MusicarNW Portland,OR

So my audio project was finally tackled and completed to the most perfection thanks to Ken(VP Electricity)and Tom at MusicarNW in Portland.

As many of you know i had a horrid experience at Mobilewest PDX over on the east side, i am still waiting to hear their explanation and refund for all the crap Ken and Tom pulled out of my car that was originally put in by Mobilewest in multiple attempts to install my stuff..but each visit got worse and worse and they finally delievered my car without a functioning stereo!

Anyway...for more complete photos check out: flickr at http://www.flickr.com/photos/kenneth...7623049180641/

goes through the project and documents how much stuff was messed up in my car.

I ended up going with:
Hertz Hi-energy 3 ways powered with 2 channel PPI 280
JL audio W3 10 with custom enclosure powered by a bridged PPI 280
Rockfort 360.1 audio processor to even out the levels (freaking sweet piece of equipment!)
Noise filter..since our batteries emit EMI noise like crazy due to a metal piece over the terminal
Custom sub knob from the 360.1

The sound is absolutely amazing. ken did a hell of a job squeezing out the best sound from the Hertz 3-way..and to me it sounds amazing. Very accurate with good depth.
The sub is mixed in well, the knob isnt 100% functioning yet, but will be soon so sub level is a bit turned down.

The gong is very reasonable, actually could probably go up just a bit on the processor gain (so you make your ears bleed) if you wanted to.

The quality of workmanship is steller. These guys put some quality time in the project and treated it like it was their own personal car. Both Tom and Ken where extremely informative, giving me updates all week, and honest.

Ken is a true audiophile and will make your head spin when he is trying to dumb down stereo function and tuning to you...but just let him do his thing and i PROMISE your system will sound PERFECT.

I will be adding more photos of the custom trunk inlay etc later, here are a few teasers. Visit the flikr site to see more
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      01-09-2010, 02:21 PM   #2
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Niiiiiice.....man you are going to make my suppressed audiophile rise up again....i have been keeping it in check since I got the 1er...but.....damnit...
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      01-09-2010, 05:03 PM   #3
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Thanks for the kind words

That darned bass knob! The 360.1 has a knob which we flush-mounted below the light switch, and we didn't really test it out until the end, with the sub enclosure in the car - and it seems that the knob itself, or the cable, is defective. I plugged a replacement cable and knob into the 360 and it worked flawlessly, so we need to pull the installed cable and knob and replace both of them Definitely did not have time Friday, sorry to say, so we will do it next week.

We also did not have matching trunk liner on hand. We wrapped the trunk floor/amp cover in black trunk liner, and we will re-cover the panel later on with the closest match we can get. He will post a pic of it later.

We didn't use the 360.1 because I am a Rockford lover, or because I think such things are always needed. We used it mainly because the PPI amps don't have a good speaker-level input suitable for full-range use, and because it gives us a 5-band user-controlled EQ (since the underseat woofers were on the same amp channels as the door mids and tweets, I was very concerned about relative levels among the 3-way speaker set). Also, since a sub level knob was desired, and the 360 comes with one, that helped too. As it turned out, the output of the BMW HU WAS pre-equalized, and the 360's de-equalization feature became very useful! (Most passive speaker-level LOCs test to have poor audio performance, rolling off the bass and the highs, and often being sensitive to EMI noise). the 360 is the same retail as the JL Cleansweep, but adds 7 bands of graphic EQ (5 for the front channels and two for the sub) and a sub level knob. It's not as cool as an audison bitone, but it cost less than a third as much.

Even after improving the amp grounds and using the 360 as a speaker-level interface, we had a slight bit of alternator noise. (There are three sources of RPM-related noise: Ground loops, inducted noise, and bad or conflicting gear. This car had the first two, and maybe the third as well!)

This last bit of noise turned out to be a ground loop between the amp and the 360. Since the amp and 360 were common-grounded, we didn't have a lot of things to try. I think the caps on the input of the PPI may be getting a bit old (more on this later). I ended up using a Jensen Transformers Iso-MAX (NOT the Jensen of car stereo - this company makes studio-grade audio transformers for companies like Audio Precision and Audio Research) in line between the PPI and the 360. The Iso-Max CI-2RR is a studio-grade ground isolator, flat as a pancake below 20 Hz. Check the specs here.

Since there was such a problem with noise in the original install performed elsewhere, I used this isolator in this iteration without including it in the cost. I was NOT delivering this car with any audible RPM-related noise if I could help it. It was a white whale...

The gong volume is a function of amp gain. If the amp gain is up very high, the gong will blow you out of the car. When I set the 360 output gains high and the PPI gains low, the gonng became tolerable. That wasn't my goal at the time, but I sure am glad it worked out that way!

The system had one channel louder than the other when it came in. I used a 1K test tone CD track and tested the output of each channel on both amps. One amp's two channels were within 0.003 volts of each other, the other amp's two channels had .7 volts difference - on a 7V output signal (about 10% off). This 10% accounted for the audible volume difference, so we used that amp on the bridged sub, where a slight difference in gain per channel will not affect the sub audibly. This solved the problem. I think it was related to the gain mismatch on one amp - the caps may have been getting old?

The 10" sub was inaudible when the car came in. Turned out the sub amp was connected, via a passive LOC, to the R outputs of the HU. As my post elsewhere shows, that output has NO bass. Sub pounds now.

Our first plan was to put the Hertz 3W passive xovers and the 360 in the tray to the L of the battery. Usually, 6" is far enough to avoid picking up EMI (electromagnetic interference) off of a power wire and hearing it through the speakers. Passive crossovers pick up noise on their tweeter inductors on the circuit board (with the amp OFF, even), and processors can pick it up if certain traces on the board pick up noise acting as antennae. Well, they ALL had noise - R xover, L xover, and 360 - depending on how close they were to the positive battery terminal. Thinking about it, the big red plastic cover for the battery terminal/distribution block has a big flat piece of metal under it acting as a buss bar for the various power taps, and I can only guess that it also acts as a bit of a broadcast antenna for EMI. Regardless, moving the involved components over to the driver's corner of the trunk, where the BMW amp would be if there was one, eliminated the EMI noise issues.

I have to say that the Hertz HSK163 speaker set sold to mineo by the previous shop is a nice speaker set - we've installed it into Porsches, for instance. But it's really for cars with a 70mm 3" midrange, like the new 911, not for cars like the new BMWs where a 100mm 4" mid can be used. The difference in area between a 100mm speaker and a 70mm speaker can be a 100% difference, which really affects output level.

Also, the crossover from the 6.5 to the 3" happens at 500 hz. This is much higher than you need with a 4" system. In my E90, I run the 4" Morel Hybrid Ovation mids down to 175 hz. With a 500 Hz xover point, that's almost two octaves of music moved from the door speaker to under the seat, and those are frequencies that I think get lost in the seat. The region from 200 to 500 is critically important for vocals, for example, and for this reason, I would not recommend that anyone buy the speaker set that this shop sold for this car. For a similar setup, I would really recommend a 4-channel amp, with a 6" on one set of channels and a 4/tweeter comp set on another set of amp channels. I would probably use the Morel ADMW6 and the Dotech 4 2-ways comp set in a similar MSRP range. Slightly more excursion on the 6.5, larger motors on the 6.5, the 4", and the tweeter, and a 4" driver in the door.

It's a lot smoother-sounding - there was a good bit of brightness/harshness we eliminated at 2.5k (turns out to have been coming off of the top end of the 3" mid, NOT the tweeter), the 160 Hz range we tuned down to control excursion on the 6.5, and there was a peak in the car at 630 which we tamed with the EQ as well. Also, the sub was in a pretty small enclosure, and there was a good bit of a peak which we tamed with the 63 Hz control on the 360. This let the sub still bump hard when needed, but made a wider range of notes audible from the sub with various kinds of music and various songs. I think the only EQ slider we boosted at all was 25 hz at 3dB

Anyway, I'm glad we were able to clean up the install to such a degree, and I'm glad we were able to remove all the RPM-related noise and to get the system sounding as good as we did. The trunk is usable, the folding R seats are usable, and it looks much better. Hopefully we will see some pics of the finished trunk floor soon
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      01-09-2010, 07:04 PM   #4
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OK, pics with captions:

Initial amp board from trunk side:



From cabin, 1 seat down:


Our new amp rack in process:




Initial center console reassembly



After we were done:




Initial power wiring at battery:





Our power wiring:




Initial wiring behind HU:



Our HU wiring:




Initial underseat wiring:



Our underseat wiring:

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      01-09-2010, 10:11 PM   #5
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I keep saying the same thing... some installers simply do not know what the hell they are doing.
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      01-09-2010, 10:24 PM   #6
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I keep saying the same thing... some installers simply do not know what the hell they are doing.
I must disagree. Most installers.
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      01-09-2010, 10:52 PM   #7
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I agree...but learned the hard way unfortunately
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      01-10-2010, 08:52 AM   #8
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Quote:
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I must disagree. Most installers.
I cannot disagree with that, sadly.

By looking at those photos it really amazes me the lack of tidyness, not so much the lack of knowledge and selection of devices to perform this job. One thing is not knowing what to do, but other is when you do not know what to do and you are a slob. And giving this car back to the customer with a nasty whine noise like that's part of the install is mind boggling.

That tells me that the installer did not even try to know anything at all.
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      01-10-2010, 10:50 AM   #9
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Quote:
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I cannot disagree with that, sadly.

By looking at those photos it really amazes me the lack of tidyness, not so much the lack of knowledge and selection of devices to perform this job. One thing is not knowing what to do, but other is when you do not know what to do and you are a slob. And giving this car back to the customer with a nasty whine noise like that's part of the install is mind boggling.

That tells me that the installer did not even try to know anything at all.
In that vein, most installers don't have the gear to test the HU output and see that the R channels have no bass content. But after you hook up the sub to the rear, and it has no bass, you don't just deliver the car.
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      01-10-2010, 08:24 PM   #10
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As promised here are some pics of the install. As it stands i am in attempt to recoup some $$ from the Hertz speakers since they are not a very good fit for our cars and putting in the Morel 4" comps with an add on ADMW 9 underseat - should add even more depth and balance to the system.

Custom trunk liner installed with battery cover removed


Trunk new install


Custom trunk liner installed


Custom liner


Underside of custom liner


Box of misc wires and crap pulled from previous installer - note the cheap butt connectors


Sub knob install - nice and clean and easy to reach


close up of sub knob...camera focused on my pedals oops (they look nice too)
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      01-10-2010, 09:25 PM   #11
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on Wednesday, I hope to get that panel covered in matching liner
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      01-10-2010, 09:26 PM   #12
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You are soooo lucky to have Ken close enough to you to actually handle the install himself. I'm sure the newly-set-up system is rocking, I envy you. Looks beautiful, and I'm sure it sounds even better.
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      01-14-2010, 12:43 AM   #13
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Audio update

Ok, so i just picked my car up from upgrading the speakers. The Hertz 3-ways were definitely NOT right for the car. Ken installed Morel dotech 4" comps with ADMW9 underseat...all i can say is HOLY CRAP this sounds so freakin good. I cant even begin to describe the difference. I am SO happy with my car audio. Ken's rec are top notch and i wish all you could sit in my car and experience his work. Truly amazing.

I will post some final pics this weekend.
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      01-14-2010, 01:23 AM   #14
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Thanks for the kind words... yeah, the Hertz 3W kit is definitely wrong for the 1 or the E90.

The midbass out of the 9 (sorry, I think a 200mm driver is an 8", but anyway) is really good sounding - I have it crossed over like 60 to 150 or so. The 150 Hz xover is a passive that comes with the ADMW9 - it has an output for the 2-way mid/tweeter comp set. We are not able to drive the 8 with dedicated amp channels, and the 360's midbass slider is at 160 Hz, which is gonna affect the 4", so I can't use that to drive the 9" - and it still has killer midbass on an 80x2 amp!

The 4s come in at 150 and really play louder and clearer than the 3" - I have pics of them side by side, front and back, and there's not much comparison.

The Dotech tweeters are the weakest of the three drivers, in my opinion - they Hybrid and Elate tweeters sound a lot better, but at a higher price. Fortunately, I had two EQ bands on the 360.1 to use on the tweeter, and we were able to get it to sound pretty good in that OE pod. The treble is probably the weakest point in the system, but it's not bad - and the Morel is at least as good as the Hertz, maybe a little smoother.

I will post more details and pics sometime tomorrow.. my back is killing me tonight, so I am gonna climb into a hot shower with a beer (if you haven't tried it, do not mock what you do not understand : )
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      01-14-2010, 06:24 AM   #15
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So the 4" mid can play down to 150hz? Would you recommend that x over point for focal 100krs too?
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      01-14-2010, 07:04 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VP Electricity View Post
Thanks for the kind words... yeah, the Hertz 3W kit is definitely wrong for the 1 or the E90.

The midbass out of the 9 (sorry, I think a 200mm driver is an 8", but anyway) is really good sounding - I have it crossed over like 60 to 150 or so. The 150 Hz xover is a passive that comes with the ADMW9 - it has an output for the 2-way mid/tweeter comp set. We are not able to drive the 8 with dedicated amp channels, and the 360's midbass slider is at 160 Hz, which is gonna affect the 4", so I can't use that to drive the 9" - and it still has killer midbass on an 80x2 amp!

The 4s come in at 150 and really play louder and clearer than the 3" - I have pics of them side by side, front and back, and there's not much comparison.

The Dotech tweeters are the weakest of the three drivers, in my opinion - they Hybrid and Elate tweeters sound a lot better, but at a higher price. Fortunately, I had two EQ bands on the 360.1 to use on the tweeter, and we were able to get it to sound pretty good in that OE pod. The treble is probably the weakest point in the system, but it's not bad - and the Morel is at least as good as the Hertz, maybe a little smoother.

I will post more details and pics sometime tomorrow.. my back is killing me tonight, so I am gonna climb into a hot shower with a beer (if you haven't tried it, do not mock what you do not understand : )
very nice.

btw, i just tried the hot shower and beer thing. was indeed enjoyable
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      01-14-2010, 11:56 PM   #17
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PHASE 2

After a few days of listening, he decided to get the speakers we would have used - Morel Dotech 4 comps in the doors, and ADMW9 200mm under the seat.

This setup sounds relaly good, but in this application, it has a few limitations:

The Dotech tweeters are really intended for off-axis mounting, and I find them a little bright and harsh compared to the Elate MT-23 or the Hybrid MT-22. But I had two treble bands in the EQ to use to control them a bit, and we were on a budget. I ended up cutting 2.5K and 10K to get them to smooth out. They should smooth out some more after break in.

The ADMW9 comes with a passive 2-way xover at 150 Hz. Would this work OK for the 4"? Would we get enough output from the ADMW9 without putting it on its own amp channels and driving it harder than the Dotech comps?

So we embarked on this yesterday. It was harder than I had thought...

The 3" and 4" are really close to the same size






And the mounting for the 3":



Hot glue comes out:





Dotech goes in:


So the mid is now bolted in and I damped the backside of the plastic door panel a good bit too. (Replacement nuts are metric 5.8 at Home Depot - two stainless for 0.51. They lost all the BMW nuts.)

Turns out the Morel 4 is going down to 150, or whatever the ADMW passive is actually filtering at, just fine, no midbass issues I could hear.


Here is what their enclosure mod for the 6.5 looked like:



The top is a layer of 1/8" ABS with a sheet of VMAX on top:









This was infuriating. Anyone who's worked with 1/8" ABS knows that it flexes when you push on it with your finger, much less have a cast-frame 6.5" midbass driver screwed to it vibrating at 120 Hz. Total fail. I think that the baffle leaked like a sieve in addition to the flex. Also took over an hour to clean up the enclosures enough to work with them.

The OE 6.5 looks like this:






The 8" is a shallow design, but the 6 is just an upside down cheapo 6.

Here is what we did to put a Morel 200mm in:











The ring is 3/4" MDF, there is a gasket in place underneath, and the screws are countersunk to let the driver sit on top of them.

You can't see it in the last pic, but the grille used is there to keep the carpet off of the driver. The grille is a little too tall right at the carpet edge, over the cone. The seat rail hits it and the seat won't bolt back in. If you slightly dent the grille in with your thumbs, you can install the seat and there is no clearance issue with the driver. These grilles were not in the ADMW box, they were what come with an Elate 9. Not sure what comes with ADMW now, these had been on the shelf a while - for all I know they come with grilles now. Glad we had them.

So the final was I loved the midbass from the ADMW9, I loved how they went in, and I think I am going with these in my own car. I lowered the HP on the amp to 50 or so. Drums moved up front!

I was really happy with the Dotech 4 comps, they were louder than the Hertz by a great margin, and the 4" played so much lower with so much authority... he really liked the sound. The midbass was hugely improved.

Here is the final RCA and speaker wiring:

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      01-19-2010, 12:43 AM   #18
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Great write up and thanks so much for the info!

I am in the middle of deciding wether or not to re-do mine. I was thinking of going a 3-way setup like this too. So you don't recomend going with a 8-3-1 setup? really needs to be 4" in the middle? I am thinking of going Dynaudio 3-ways but the mid is 3'. Also maybe the DLS 3-ways but they too are 3' mid-range.


How deep are those 4"? They look pretty big! No problems depth wise fitting them in?
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      01-19-2010, 12:54 AM   #19
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Quote:
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Great write up and thanks so much for the info!

I am in the middle of deciding wether or not to re-do mine. I was thinking of going a 3-way setup like this too. So you don't recomend going with a 8-3-1 setup? really needs to be 4" in the middle? I am thinking of going Dynaudio 3-ways but the mid is 3'. Also maybe the DLS 3-ways but they too are 3' mid-range.


How deep are those 4"? They look pretty big! No problems depth wise fitting them in?
i will defer some of those question to VP elect since he did the install, but from what i discussed with him there was no prob with depth for the doors. I have to say after having the 1-3-6.5 and changing to 1-4-8 was a HUGE difference, esp with the 4's in the door. the 3" sounded flat and that there was a huge hole is the system. I cant emphasize enough that dont do the 3", you WILL be disappointed. I have to say the Morel system is nice cause you can do the 2 way comps with the add on ADWM's which have there own xover's and seem to have more tunability (is that even a word?).

Just my 2 cents...but i can only encourage you not to make the same mistake i did.
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      01-19-2010, 12:56 AM   #20
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Quote:
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Great write up and thanks so much for the info!

I am in the middle of deciding wether or not to re-do mine. I was thinking of going a 3-way setup like this too. So you don't recomend going with a 8-3-1 setup? really needs to be 4" in the middle? I am thinking of going Dynaudio 3-ways but the mid is 3'. Also maybe the DLS 3-ways but they too are 3' mid-range.


How deep are those 4"? They look pretty big! No problems depth wise fitting them in?
It's not so much diameter as it is how low they can play.

By the way, cone drivers and dome drivers are apples and oranges in that a 3" dome has very different characteristics than a 3" cone.

If you look at the xover point of the Dynaudio 362 xover, it is listed at 900 Hz. This is almost an octave higher than the Hertz system, and the Hertz system crossover is too high. You want a speaker that can play down to 150-200 hertz, and no 3" dome can do that, they have less excursion than a 3" cone, so they move less air, and will attain less volume.

So while Dynaudio drivers sound great, the 3W set with the 3" dome is absolutely wrong for our cars unless the door panel is redone and a 6.5/7" midwoofer is installed in the bottom of the door.

Just man up and buy Esotar 100mm cone mids at $1400 the pair
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      01-19-2010, 02:24 AM   #21
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Hahaha, mate that would just about be double the cost here in Australia!

Maybe I might look into getting a set of 4" splits, then change the subs... but not many options for good 4" splits here. Maybe DLS might have something. Stupid BMW speaker sizes!
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      01-19-2010, 12:43 PM   #22
ismelllikepoop
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whats the price difference between the hybrid ovation and dotechs, and are the tweeters that much better? i've found the dotech to be mellow esp compared to hertz that i've heard but have no experience with the ovations.
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