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post #16 of 49 (permalink) Old 07-31-2018, 04:44 PM
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Originally Posted by mstrjon32 View Post
You don't need to be in a cone of silence to enjoy a nicely tuned system, and unless you add a separate DSP to clean up the absolute mess of a signal coming out of the stock deck then a quality aftermarket unit is the only alternative.

I'm a big fan of having the single DIN unit in there as well as it provides easy to reach and useful extra storage space.
Not a cone of silence...just drive our cars with the top up...try to keep the sound out. IT AIN'T HAPPENING! Perhaps that is what Simon and Garfunkel meant SOUND OF SILENCE, ya think?

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post #17 of 49 (permalink) Old 07-31-2018, 04:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Robotech View Post
Blue Tooth, Pandora, Navigation, touch screen, DVD...few other features other than better volume came with it too...
This thread is about SOUND...not PERIPHERALS.
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post #18 of 49 (permalink) Old 08-01-2018, 05:19 PM
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I agree that speakers should be the first upgrade if you want cleaner sound that is louder. If features such as bluetooth, iPod integration and dash bling is desired, then a head unit replacement is best.

Replacing the stock speakers with better quality high efficiency speakers will net you more volume. I would guess that the sensitivity of stock Monsoon speakers are in the neighborhood of 83 to 86 dB. If the power required for a desirable volume is 100 watts with the stock speakers, assuming they are 85 dB sensitivity, then a switch to a more efficient speaker of 88 dB would reduce the amp requirement to 50 watts. Switch to high sensitivity 92 dB speakers and the power requirement will drop to 25 watts!
For every 3 dB increase in speaker sensitivity, power requirement is reduced by 50%

Higher quality speakers will also have less distortion, flatter and wider frequency response curve, higher power handling and better dispersion. They will make the music sound more realistic and easier to hear.

A convertible with top up or down is not a very good listening enviroment. Too much wind, tire and mechanical noise. Making the stereo louder is a good idea but to make the stereo sound better is wasted effort. As someone mentioned, spend your money on your home sound system. The result will be more satisfying.

I use a headphone amp between my iPod and head unit. With it, I can increase gain to the head unit which enable more volume out of the amp.

I don't know what people listen to in the Kappa but I always listen to hard rock and blues with my top down and the stock sound system is loud enough to compensate for my hearing loss.

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post #19 of 49 (permalink) Old 08-02-2018, 12:47 AM
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I invite any of you to come to Germany, have a beer, and listen to the stock speakers and amplifier in my Sky (roof up or down) connected to the high-end Pioneer head unit and then tell me that speakers should be the first upgrade.

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post #20 of 49 (permalink) Old 08-02-2018, 02:03 AM
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Originally Posted by mstrjon32 View Post
I invite any of you to come to Germany, have a beer, and listen to the stock speakers and amplifier in my Sky (roof up or down) connected to the high-end Pioneer head unit and then tell me that speakers should be the first upgrade.

My plane lands in an hour....
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post #21 of 49 (permalink) Old 08-02-2018, 01:04 PM
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Do you have Stella on tap?

Sure, a more powerful amp in the Pioneer head unit will make the stock speakers louder.
Installing higher efficiency speakers would net the same result if all you want is more volume.
Powering the OEM speakers with more watts than they were designed for may increase distortion which is not desirable. The speaker wires may not be large enough for the added power which contributes to degraded sound. The life of an overdriven speaker is usually shorter.

Other than providing features; bluetooth, iPod integration etc and more amplifer power, I don't think a new head unit will "sound better". The frequency response and distortion of an aftermarket head unit is not that big of an improvement to the OEM. What you hear as better is more volume.

One of the tricks used by Stereo Salespeople (back in the days when audio store salespeople were paid on commission) when demonstrating audio gear was to have the volume of the unit you want to sell slightly higher. Not enough to really be able to distinguish the difference. The salesperson would switch back and forth between units and the customer would select the item with the slightly higher volume as being better sounding. A lot of crappy stereo equipment with high markup was sold in those days because of that tactic.

The music source can make a big difference. Uncompressed CD's and high bit rate digital music is probably the best. Everything else is compressed and or digitized to a low bit rate which is not the best sound.

My music has been converted to Apple Lossless and FLAC which yields "CD quality" at about 50% reduction in bit rate. MP3 and MPEG4 (iTunes) reduce music files by 75% to 90%

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post #22 of 49 (permalink) Old 08-02-2018, 02:08 PM
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Originally Posted by syjos View Post
The music source can make a big difference. Uncompressed CD's and high bit rate digital music is probably the best. Everything else is compressed and or digitized to a low bit rate which is not the best sound.

My music has been converted to Apple Lossless and FLAC which yields "CD quality" at about 50% reduction in bit rate. MP3 and MPEG4 (iTunes) reduce music files by 75% to 90%
Amen. One of my main hobbies is high end audio and I have a very revealing system at home. I have taken several of the young guys that thought that MP3 was 'good enough' (which it probably is in a noisy environment like a car) and played them the same piece of music from an MP3 file and from a CD quality file as well as fro Spotify, and they had no problem at all hearing the CD file beat the others hands down. I have a terabyte or so ripped to FLAC on my server (I don't like the restrictions Apple put on their files).
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post #23 of 49 (permalink) Old 08-02-2018, 02:10 PM
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Originally Posted by syjos View Post
Do you have Stella on tap?
This is mainly a Bitburger and Schöfferhofer household. (And, Stella is Belgian...)

Quote:
Originally Posted by syjos View Post
Sure, a more powerful amp in the Pioneer head unit will make the stock speakers louder.
Installing higher efficiency speakers would net the same result if all you want is more volume.
Powering the OEM speakers with more watts than they were designed for may increase distorsion which is not desirable. The speaker wires may not be large enough for the added power which contributes to degraded sound. The life of an overdriven speaker is usually shorter.
I'm not using the amplifier in the Pioneer at all, in fact it's completely switched off. It's certainly not about more volume, though that is possible with the Pioneer, it's about the clarity of the sound at any volume. I haven't modified the stock amplifier or speakers, so it's unlikely that I'm overdriving anything.

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Originally Posted by syjos View Post
Other than providing features; bluetooth, iPod integration etc and more amplifer power, I don't think a new head unit will "sound better". The frequency response and distorsion of an aftermarket head unit is not that big of an improvement to the OEM. What you hear as better is more volume.
I'm absolutely certain that the new head unit sounds better, and not just a little better, dramatically better. My plan originally was to upgrade the head unit and then follow up with the speakers and amplifier, but the improvement was so dramatic I didn't deem it necessary to go any farther after installing the 80PRS. The signal coming out of that stock head unit is muddled, low resolution, low clarity garbage. The invitation to come and have a listen for yourself stands.

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Originally Posted by syjos View Post
The music source can make a big difference. Uncompressed CD's and high bit rate digital music is probably the best. Everything else is compressed and or digitized to a low bit rate which is not the best sound.

My music has been converted to Apple Lossless and FLAC which yields "CD quality" at about 50% reduction in bit rate. MP3 and MPEG4 (iTunes) reduce music files by 75% to 90%
Don't disagree. It's very easy to tell the difference between low and high bitrate compressed audio and uncompressed PCM audio.

Last edited by mstrjon32; 08-02-2018 at 02:45 PM.
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post #24 of 49 (permalink) Old 08-02-2018, 04:13 PM
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What exactly do you perceive as better?

I looked at the frequency response graph of a GM OEM head units pre amp and it is flat, meaning that the head unit passes the incoming signal exactly as recorded with minimal change to its output. The distortion at 4 ohms was minimal - less than .5% and signal to noise was 90 dB.

Nothing in the specs for the preamp would result in poor sound.

The science of audio is complex with the way our brain processes music and sound. What we actually hear is easily influenced by outside influences. I've been involved with A/B blind testing of audio equipment and most subjects could not differentiate between similar sounding gear. When subjects are non blind tested after reading manufacturers advertising or after they were asked to listen for certain tonal features, they tend to hear things that they were told that they would hear. The non blind test subjects tended to favor brands they already owned or chose equipment that were perceived as a higher tier brand. Remember the expensive "audiophile quality" speaker wires that were must haves and most of the subjects couldn't tell the difference between cheap zip cord and the expensive wire in double blind tests?
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Last edited by syjos; 08-02-2018 at 11:35 PM.
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post #25 of 49 (permalink) Old 08-03-2018, 11:51 AM
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Originally Posted by Robotech View Post
Blue Tooth, Pandora, Navigation, touch screen, DVD...few other features other than better volume came with it too...
Driving with a girl recently: "You're playing a CD? You *burned* a CD? Does it stream? (I gave her a look at this point) Just how old are you???" ...young girls are so adorable

To get through college in style I owned a mobile audio and security shop in L.A. back when Viper Alarm was new. I used to hang out with Darrell Issa, judged IASCA, dragged in factory vehicles to sound offs, oh the parties, spiffs, and booze. I had 100's of T-shirts. Yeah, I'm old!

My 2003 Vue has a cherry sound system that was cheap and easy to setup. However, my 2008 Sky reminds me of trying and trying for years to get my VW Cabrio in L.A. to hit hard. Best solution was to board up the trunk access behind the back seat and put in two 10's with a Carver M120 running bridge-mono, each. Rear seats got 3 1/2" drivers in the panel with satellite tweeters at each upper rear seat corner, firing forward (or rear passengers would lose one ear's hearing). Doors got 5 1/4" with satellite tweeters in the doors. The tweeters, doors, and rear panels were driven by a single Carver M240.

The car totaled out at (RMS) 240w to each 10" and 60W to each corner of everything else. The 10's were Kicker free air's, 3 1/2's were Kicker, the 5 1/4's with matching tweeters were Polk Audio (super voice clarity), the rear tweeters were, hah, Magnadyne.

When I bought my Sky last year naturally I had fantasies about applying all the hard lessons learned in setting my my old Cabrio, but...

...I figured out it has the Monsoon system. I decided to only change the speakers, excluding the sub. I like the OEM look, don't want to deal with the systems integration they do these days, and the sound is acceptable. My Cabrio had a ton of hacking, chopping, laying of power lines and signal coax, and all the attendant debugging and fine tuning. I'm just not up for that again. Rather spend that time enjoying using the car, and save on the hassles. I can always "go Cabrio" on it someday if I like.

That said, I must agree that changing the speakers to the Infinity Kappa series (appropriate name!) only improved sound moderately. However, the Kicker 3 1/2" 2-ways I put in the rear panel made a big difference in imaging. Probably more sensitive, and, the addition of those tweeters helped.

The one problem I had was the inability to crank the volume of the amp anywhere near clipping on MP3 CD's. I solved this by increasing the dB of my MP3 tracks with a s/w tool called MP3Gain. It sets a parameter in the MP3 files rather than re-processing the track itself. Then, I noticed that I can increase the dB setting 6db higher for playback in my Vue (Pioneer MP3 player) than in the Sky's OEM player. The Sky will make clipping sounds at the pre-amp end at any volume setting. This kinda tells me the DAC's in the Sky's player aren't "as good" in some way, but that's not my area of expertise so I can't be more specific. I just bun CD's for both cars at the lower level so I don't need to produce two sets.

Last edited by ZPM; 08-03-2018 at 11:58 AM.
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post #26 of 49 (permalink) Old 08-03-2018, 11:56 AM
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...the monsoon amp seems to have a pretty clean sub cutoff around 100hz and is super easy to EQ since there aren't too many variables in it.
I've always wondered! Thanks!

It'd be great to get full specs on the amp the Monsoon system uses. I've been told it's about 300w total (RMS), but no breakdown as to power per channel. Also, I've only been told there are passive crossovers in it, but not if they're 3dB, 6dB, 12dB or at which frequencies they crossover.
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post #27 of 49 (permalink) Old 08-03-2018, 12:50 PM
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If anyone is interested...I have the Cobalt USB radio sitting in my garage...it will give u a total of 2 amps of sound...enough to rip your speakers....pick up only.
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post #28 of 49 (permalink) Old 08-03-2018, 01:31 PM
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What exactly do you perceive as better?

I looked at the frequency response graph of a GM OEM head units pre amp and it is flat, meaning that the head unit passes the incoming signal exactly as recorded with minimal change to its output. The distortion at 4 ohms was minimal - less than .5% and signal to noise was 90 dB.

Nothing in the specs for the preamp would result in poor sound.
This is typically German way of thinking. "The data suggests that it passes the signal exactly as intended and thus it is perfect!" (Even if it actually isn't ideal!)

It's hard to put "better" into words in terms of audio quality, but the bottom line is that the 80PRS provides a clean signal and the tuning controls to dial in the sound perfectly to your taste. This includes a pretty brilliant "Auto EQ" function that establishes baseline equalization and time alignment settings using a microphone (attach the microphone, start the program, shut the door, and it does the rest) as well as a 16-step equalizer and high pass filter with slope and amplitude adjustment in passive crossover mode--which is what I'm using because it is just plugged into the stock system. I do realize that there are passive crossovers built into the system already, but I've tuned them a little farther than the stock setting to dial down the base in the front channel and get a clearer sound in the midrange from the front woofers.

With the clean audio processing and these controls on the 80PRS I was able to get the system sounding superb. It's almost as if a team of sound engineers from Monsoon (or whatever) carefully designed the amplifier and speaker system using high end tuning equipment, and then a separate team decided, OK, great--now let's just take this garbage off-the-shelf head unit that we pulled out of a Malibu, didn't tune at all, has a 3 band EQ (with an unreadable screen in sunlight, to boot!) and slap it in there to save costs. You can unlock what's actually a pretty decent system with the 80PRS.

And, believe me, my plan was to not spend long with the stock system before replacing it all with a fully active crossover setup with a new amplifier, tweeters, and woofers. It turns out that it just isn't necessary for any comfortable (or even mildly uncomfortable) listening volume.

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Originally Posted by syjos View Post
The science of audio is complex with the way our brain processes music and sound. What we actually hear is easily influenced by outside influences. I've been involved with A/B blind testing of audio equipment and most subjects could not differentiate between similar sounding gear. When subjects are non blind tested after reading manufacturers advertising or after they were asked to listen for certain tonal features, they tend to hear things that they were told that they would hear. The non blind test subjects tended to favor brands they already owned or chose equipment that were perceived as a higher tier brand. Remember the expensive "audiophile quality" speaker wires that were must haves and most of the subjects couldn't tell the difference between cheap zip cord and the expensive wire in double blind tests?
I don't doubt this at all, but I promise you, it's not a placebo effect. The difference isn't subtle, it's dramatic. I wish you were here so you could give the system in my car a listen.
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post #29 of 49 (permalink) Old 08-03-2018, 01:37 PM
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When I bought my Sky last year naturally I had fantasies about applying all the hard lessons learned in setting my my old Cabrio, but...

...I figured out it has the Monsoon system. I decided to only change the speakers, excluding the sub. I like the OEM look, don't want to deal with the systems integration they do these days, and the sound is acceptable. My Cabrio had a ton of hacking, chopping, laying of power lines and signal coax, and all the attendant debugging and fine tuning. I'm just not up for that again. Rather spend that time enjoying using the car, and save on the hassles. I can always "go Cabrio" on it someday if I like.
No one on here believes me (except Robo) but you don't need to rip the car apart or change speakers to get the Monsoon to sound good. Buy a Pioneer 80PRS and get the Axxess Basix integration kit to connect it to the car and keep your chime without getting in between the HU and the system, do a little bit of tuning, and you'll be amazed. I can send you the settings I'm using in my car if you like! Though, if you're using the Infinity drivers you'll definitely need to dial it in for your setup.

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post #30 of 49 (permalink) Old 08-03-2018, 02:11 PM
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I have been eagerly watching this thread since it started and I have to say that at this point I’m just as confused as when I started reading it! With all the technical stuff aside if I could be assured that if I just changed the door speakers I would hear an improvement I would be happy with that. I agree with a previous posting that if I did change the head unit it’s more apt to be stolen and the thieves would go right through the convertible top to get it!
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