LIS­TEN UP

Pasmag (USA) - - Contents - STORY & PHO­TOG­RA­PHY BY DAVID MACKIN­NON

with David MacKin­non: Three Easy Steps to Awe­some

I used to have a sim­ple and ef­fec­tive up­grade path for peo­ple want­ing to im­prove the per­for­mance of their fac­tory car au­dio sys­tems. With the com­plex­ity and in­te­gra­tion level of the ra­dios that come in new cars to­day, my plan has had to evolve dra­mat­i­cally. In this in­stall­ment of Lis­ten Up, we will look at a mod­ern ap­proach to up­grad­ing your fac­tory au­dio sys­tem.

1 ONE

If you ask any mu­sic en­thu­si­ast what is lack­ing from most fac­tory-in­stalled au­dio sys­tems, their an­swer would be bass. Now, don’t start imag­in­ing a wall of woofers and banks of bat­ter­ies; that’s not what I’m talk­ing about. It takes a ded­i­cated speaker in an ap­pro­pri­ate en­clo­sure with an ad­e­quately pow­er­ful am­pli­fier to re­pro­duce the bot­tom oc­tave of the mu­sic we lis­ten to with any sem­blance of re­al­ism. Even the eight- and 10-inch “sub­woofers” many au­tomak­ers in­clude in their ve­hi­cles can’t hold a can­dle to what can be achieved in the af­ter­mar­ket. So, step one is to add a good qual­ity sub­woofer sys­tem to your ve­hi­cle. Hav­ing a sub­woofer in your sys­tem re­lieves the small fac­tory-in­stalled midrange speak­ers from the stren­u­ous duty of try­ing to make bass. This al­lows them to play midrange fre­quen­cies louder, and sound bet­ter!

2 TWO

Once you have a nice sub­woofer added to your sys­tem, you may find that the lit­tle am­pli­fier that is in your ra­dio can’t keep up ad­e­quately. Step two is to up­grade the am­pli­fi­ca­tion to the rest of the speak­ers in your ve­hi­cle. With more power, not only will they play louder, but the mu­sic will be more dy­namic. Think of it like hav­ing an ex­tra 100 lb-ft of torque at idle! Look for an amp rated at some­where be­tween 50 and 100 watts per chan­nel, and that is com­pli­ant to the CEA-2006A rat­ing sys­tem. If you want to com­bine this step with the first, there are some great five-chan­nel am­pli­fiers avail­able that will run your en­tire au­dio sys­tem.

3 THREE

Now that we have a solid foun­da­tion for the sys­tem, it is time to up­grade the most im­por­tant and crit­i­cal com­po­nent – your speak­ers. Any­one that knows me has heard me say a few hun­dred times: “You can have the best elec­tron­ics in the world, but if you don’t have good speak­ers, your sys­tem still won’t sound good.” Pick­ing speak­ers is much sim­pler than peo­ple think. A good speaker sounds good with all mu­sic, and at all rea­son­able vol­ume lev­els. If the sound of the speak­ers you are au­di­tion­ing changes as you turn them up, keep look­ing. If the in­stru­ments and voices you hear don’t sound nat­u­ral and re­al­is­tic, keep look­ing. If any por­tion of the spec­trum seems over-em­pha­sized or miss­ing, keep look­ing. Work with your lo­cal car stereo spe­cial­ist re­tailer to pick speak­ers that will fit into the fac­tory lo­ca­tions in your ve­hi­cle, but be sure to dis­cuss dif­fer­ent mount­ing op­tions. For ex­am­ple, you could re­lo­cate tweet­ers to the A-pil­lars to im­prove stag­ing and imag­ing.

THE CLAR­ION XC7520 IS A FIVE- CHAN­NEL AM­PLI­FIER WITH IN­TE­GRATED SIX- CHAN­NEL DSP. A GREAT SIN­GLE- AMP SO­LU­TION FOR AL­MOST ANY SYS­TEM.

THIS IS THE OUT­PUT OF AN AM­PLI­FIER IN A VE­HI­CLE WITH A FOUR- WAY SPEAKER SYS­TEM. YOU CAN SEE THE DIF­FER­ENT LEV­ELS USED TO COM­PEN­SATE FOR SPEAKER EF­FI­CIENCY AND LO­CA­TION.

THIS IS THE OUT­PUT OF A PRO­CES­SOR THAT CAN SUM FOUR SIG­NALS TO­GETHER AND UNDO THE EQUAL­IZA­TION THAT WAS AP­PLIED TO EACH SIG­NAL. BE­CAUSE OF TIME ALIGN­MENT, THERE ARE SOME NASTYSOUNDING IS­SUES AROUND 2 KHZ.

HERE'S THE OUT­PUT OF THE JL AU­DIO FIX- 82. THE IN­PUT SIG­NALS ARE AD­JUSTED FOR LEVEL AND HAVE HAD THE TIME- DE­LAY RE­MOVED. THE RE­SULT IS FLAT FRE­QUENCY RE­SPONSE ACROSS THE EN­TIRE AU­DIO BAND. THIS IS WHAT YOU WANT.

A PAIR OF AUDIOMOBILE SUB­WOOFERS IN A CUS­TOM UN­DER- SEAT EN­CLO­SURE IN THE BACK OF A QUAD- CAB TRUCK. A GREAT WAY TO ADD BASS WITH­OUT LOS­ING ANY STOR­AGE SPACE.

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