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Old 12-06-2016   #1
 
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Default Budget Accord upgrade

Finished installing a 5 channel amp in my Accord today - not overly impressed at the moment.

Goal is to upgrade the factory system on a budget. Car is a 2008 Accord Coupe EXL and has a factory 5 channel amp and 8" IB subwoofer in the rear deck. Back in the early 90s I installed for a living so I have an idea of what to do, however I miss buying product at 30 - 50% of retail and my wife doesn't "see the value" in spending a lot of money when we have 2 children.

When I bought the car the audio was fairly week compared to my Lexus GX470 with Mark Levinson that I traded out of. This summer I deadened and sealed the rear deck and it made a world of difference with low hard hitting bass that shook the car and all the mirrors. With that the front doors had great kick and low bass but mediocre sound quality with harsh highs and weak sounding mid bass.

My plan was to add a sub with amp then mids and highs later. Once I started shopping I found that a decent 5 channel is less than a sub and 4 channel so I researched and went with a Zapco ST-X 5. Amp is rated at 4 x 80 plus 1 x 350 into 4 ohms with high level inputs (4 of 5 channels) and built in crossovers.

Another forum indicated the factory amp puts out full range with passive crossovers in the car and the head unit drives the amp with balanced differential outputs - unfortunately an amp that accepts these inputs was out of my price range.

My plan for now:

Keep factory head unit and speakers
Use high-level inputs on Zapco to maintain ability to fade and adjust subwoofer
Use 4 gauge power and ground
Add Alpine 12" Type R in .9 cubic foot sealed enclosure, dual 2 ohm in series presenting 4 ohm to amp

Installed the amp today running one channel to each corner and running the rear tri mode to the factory sub.

Not impressed and I have some tinkering to do.

Initially I ran the front doors full range but 80 watts is a little much for the woofers. Enabled high pass at 50 Hz, and while the woofers stopped sounding stressed I lost all low end kick from the doors. When I upgrade them I'll need to find drivers that can get below 50 Hz and handle 80 watts.

I might have made a mistake trying to run the rears and sub of the back channel of the factory system. I played with the sound before starting the install, running just fronts, just rears and just sub and remember the rear channels seemed to be for fill with no lows or highs. If this was programmed into the amp it would explain why it sounds so terrible.

As it sits I have no low bass and the factory sub should pound with 240 watts. I'll rewire in a few days and see if that makes a difference before adding sub.

-Eric



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Old 12-06-2016   #2
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I would find some used speakers for the front doors in the classified section if I were you. The stock speakers I took out of my Accord were pitiful.
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Old 12-07-2016   #3
 
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Default Re: Budget Accord upgrade

Quote:
Originally Posted by lincoln88 View Post
I would find some used speakers for the front doors in the classified section if I were you. The stock speakers I took out of my Accord were pitiful.
Thank for your reply!

I'll probably do that in the Spring to spread (dilute) what I'm spending and I'm in Iowa so it's too cold to be working on my doors without a heated garage.

I'm hesitant to purchase a sub or amp used as you never know how they were treated however mids/highs would be safer.

I would love to find an original set of Oz 6.5 components but we'll see what's available.

-Eric

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Old 12-15-2016   #4
 
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Default Re: Budget Accord upgrade

I made some changes for a dramatic improvement in sound quality.

The rear deck speakers are equalized for fill and they either have a bandpass filter or low pass allowing the 6.5's to naturally roll off. This didn't sound good when amplified to fill the front as I didn't put a coil on the 8" factory sub and the combination sounded terrible.

First I tried using the front channels to drive all four, then removed the rear 6.5s running just the 8" and finally scrapped the entire rear stage. It's now very cold in Iowa and was starting to get cold when I was messing with this so there's still potential but I'll leave things as they are until Spring.

Ideally, I would like to use the factory sub as a midbass covering from 50Hz to around 150 but I don't want to pull the stage to the back. As it's wired now, the sub can't handle 240 watts (tri-mode) and I don't want to destroy it.

Running just the front channel as high pass (guessing 60-70Hz) the sound quality was back to what I wanted. Honda has the tweeters a little hot so I've toned them down and what I've noticed is that music sounds much more spacious and airy with better staging after just adding an amplifier.

Last Friday finished modifying my sub enclosure and installed it on Saturday. The Alpine Type R 12" is an amazing driver and well exceeded my expectations. I was shocked at how low it plays in a box less than 0.9 cubic feet (sealed). It moves quite a bit of air and sounds accurate with rap, heavy techno and jazz. This isn't dialed in either as we're below zero now and I don't want to push it when it's this cold unless I can drive around long enough to warm the trunk up. Last weekend I had my rear seat down and it was almost overpowering my mids/highs yet far from clipping. Monday I needed to put the seat back up (children) and the temp plummeted - the combination significantly impacted bass output. I know I have more gain and clean power available, but with the cold temps I need to wait. Additionally, while I initially wanted to keep all the rear speakers, pulling the 2 6.5s and 8" would open the rear deck up nicely allowing more output from the sub into the cabin.

-Eric
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Old 12-15-2016   #5
 
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Default Re: Budget Accord upgrade

Some amp pics: Zapco ST-5XII "Studio X" amp
80 x 4 + 350 x 1 into 4 ohms, high level on channels 1 -4, built in crossovers

Very impressed with this amp and look forward to dialing it in when the weather warms up - currently @ 7 degrees and Saturday night dropping to -14 so not a great time to tune without a heated garage.

Currently running factory 6.5s and tweeters and 12" Type R. Open and airy with decent staging with powerful and controlled sub.

-Eric














Last edited by llebcire; 12-16-2016 at 08:00 AM.. Reason: Removed duplicate pics
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Old 12-15-2016   #6
 
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Default Re: Budget Accord upgrade



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Old 12-15-2016   #7
 
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Default Re: Budget Accord upgrade

Install was pretty straight forward: Power down driver's side and signal down passenger. Using high-level inputs I thought I'd try audio sensing turn on and it works, however I'll be running a dedicated remote lead soon as there's been a few quirks.

4 Gauge wire with a 200 amp anl fuse - this is too much for 4 guage and I'll be changing to 100 amp shortly. Fuse holder is attached to factory wiring close to the battery with 3 zip ties - not many places for a large fuse holder under the hood and I wish I would have chosen a standard glass fuse as they're smaller.





Factory grommet above the accelerator was perfect size and I didn't need to drill (this was before split loom)


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Old 12-15-2016   #8
 
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Default Re: Budget Accord upgrade

Wire comes in above accelerator and is tucked behind ductwork then below carpet



Passed under factory OS pedal and as the mounting is metal I slipped 1/2" tubing over the wire for additional protection however there are no sharp edges





Easy shot down the side of the car

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Old 12-15-2016   #9
 
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Default Re: Budget Accord upgrade

Ended up running more wire than I would have liked down the passenger side: 4 wires from the factory amp to the Zapco plus 4 from the Zapco to the factory amp harness and 1 from the amp back for the sub. I soldered everything and it was very easy to access the wiring under the glove box near where the factory amp is.





I soldered both the battery and ground


Then cleaned the metal and used the lower seat attaching bolt for my ground - some don't like this method but I've always done it



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Old 12-15-2016   #10
 
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Default Re: Budget Accord upgrade

Lastly, the sub box.

The Alpine 12" Type R has a recommended sealed enclosure of 0.85 cubic feet (gross) and I found a box @ 0.9 on Amazon for $35 shipped (Prime). The box was described as 1" MDF which is perfect as 1" won't flex, the box is the correct size and has an angled rear to help with cancellation.



I thought the description was a little odd mentioning 3/4" but I asked and a recent buyer confirmed it's 1"


Sure enough!

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Old 12-15-2016   #11
 
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Default Re: Budget Accord upgrade

The box seems well built with decent quality components for $35 shipped







However - when I removed the terminal cup to solder my wires and trim away the carpet for a better seal I was presented with 5/8" - apparently only the front panel is 1". Damn.


Last edited by llebcire; 12-16-2016 at 07:58 AM..
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Old 12-15-2016   #12
 
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Default Re: Budget Accord upgrade

I was planning on minimal bracing for standing waves and ended up bracing the entire box - braces are glued and screwed



Sealed everything with caulking and trimmed the carpet so the gasket has a better seal



Insulated




Used the entire package



Wired in series for 4 ohm and installed



Mentioned earlier the sound is amazing! Assuming a combination of the driver, amp, how sealed the box is, the bracing and the insulation.

-Eric
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Old 12-15-2016   #13
 
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Default Re: Budget Accord upgrade

Total cost so far:

Amp: $130
Wiring: $20 amp kit, $12 speaker wire
Box: $35
Sub: $50 - friend had it and never used it so it's new
DIY LOC: $2

So minus my labor $249

Next steps:

Install remote turn on wire

Pull rear speakers to allow sub to breath, may start with just the factory sub and reconnect the rear 6.5s for rear fill

Deaden front doors

Replace front components/crossovers

Toying with equalizer install, possibly in cubby hole under HU

-Eric
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Old 04-11-2017   #14
 
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Default Re: Budget Accord upgrade

Been running setup since December and last week realized the rear speakers are out of phase which explains why they never sounded good and I haven't used them since the first day.

Spent months researching budget 6.5" components going on what I read from others​ who own them or have heard them. Not easy but there doesn't seem to be many car audio shops around any more. Initially wanted to find a pair of Oz Audio 180s from the 90s (Superman) but there didn't seem to be any around. Was leaning towards a $130 set of Polk Audio or possibly Silver Flute woofers with Seas tweets when I got back into the Oz kick with their new Vector series components. After talking with one of their engineers (Atrend) pulled the trigger but they were out as they're revamping the line.

Back to square one and I purchased a set of Morel Maximos from Crutchfield for $150 shipped and they included mounting rings and wire harness adapters. I will use both and I'm going to use the factory wiring and replace the factory crossovers with the Morels.

Using ideas from KHA (Rich) I'll be deadening the doors and adding a layer of compressed fiberglass sealed with plastic. With the trim rings I'll be using non-hardening model clay to seal and isolate the speakers so the trim rings will just be holding the speakers in place.

Tweeters posed a challenge as they don't fit in the factory location easily but I have a plan.

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Old 04-11-2017   #15
 
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Default Re: Budget Accord upgrade

Here's a pic of the factory tweeters - my goal is to be able to easily return everything to stock if I trade the car:

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Old 04-11-2017   #16
 
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Default Re: Budget Accord upgrade

What I decided to do was create a new grill leaving this one untouched. The factory tweeter (metal) snaps out of the back then the grill pushes out the front.

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Last edited by llebcire; 04-11-2017 at 10:07 PM..
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Old 04-11-2017   #17
 
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Default Re: Budget Accord upgrade

Started by copying the grill with 1/4" ABS and I may redo them with 1/8" as I thought I'd need the extra depth for the protective dome on the tweeter.

Cut approximately a 29mm hole for the tweeter, rounded the edges to minimize defraction, flushed 2 6mm machine screws in and used ape tape (hanger strap) to secure the tweeter.

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Old 04-11-2017   #18
 
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Default Re: Budget Accord upgrade

My next step is to cover with black grill cloth and most people won't realize the grills aren't stock. I may redo in 1/8" later as they'll be lower profile but ultimately the only modification to the factory housing was 2 small holes. They aren't perfect as while I can typically come up with ingenious solutions to problems I wasn't blessed with expert craftsmanship - I rate them a B on one side and B+ on the other.

Question: when mounting the tweeter should I position the dome protector so that the side nearest me is open? Like a quarter turn clockwise? There's a few shots from a quick mock up below.

Thanks!
-Eric

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Old 04-14-2017   #19
 
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Default Re: Budget Accord upgrade

Decided to pull my rear deck, add more sound deadening and 1/4" CCF to help with any rattles or buzzes. Won't know if it made a difference until tomorrow or Sunday but the rear deck on 2008 Accords Coupes have a reputation for noise.

I've removed the factory sub for air flow but the sub output is still diminished by the rear seat and it's day and night when it's down. I thought about removing bracing from the rear seat but with leather it may not make a difference.

-Eric

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Default Re: Budget Accord upgrade

I have a 12 accord and the first thing I did was rip out the factory woofer so allow bass to port up from the trunk.

I also ran the factory head unit for well over a year but I used the Audiocontrol LC7I for integration and that is a piece of beauty, give it a shot man!

Ultimately I did a lot more to my car (you can see photos on my page) but for now I'd recommend the LC7I for SURE if you're running the factory head unit!
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Default Re: Budget Accord upgrade

Quote:
Originally Posted by celicaboy84 View Post
I have a 12 accord and the first thing I did was rip out the factory woofer so allow bass to port up from the trunk.

I also ran the factory head unit for well over a year but I used the Audiocontrol LC7I for integration and that is a piece of beauty, give it a shot man!

Ultimately I did a lot more to my car (you can see photos on my page) but for now I'd recommend the LC7I for SURE if you're running the factory head unit!
This is an incredibly relevant post - thank you!

I've been​ vacillating on what to do for months: use balanced into Three.2 or high level into LC7i. I need better control of the sub channel and both will do that with the Three.2 adding an EQ to the mix. I've only replaced my 6.5s with the Morel drivers and will do the tweets in a few days but I'm not hearing the warmth I thought I would as vocals still sound thin. Someone on the driveaccord forum said the factory amp has equalization built in and the HU is clean and I want a little more control.

I know the LC7i has Accubass but I think that's in the sub 70 Hz range so won't do what I want, however I noticed the factory system has quite a bit of bass by a volume of 14 which is too much when I have my family in the car.

Decisions!

-Eric

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Default Re: Budget Accord upgrade

Quote:
Originally Posted by llebcire View Post
This is an incredibly relevant post - thank you!

I've been​ vacillating on what to do for months: use balanced into Three.2 or high level into LC7i. I need better control of the sub channel and both will do that with the Three.2 adding an EQ to the mix. I've only replaced my 6.5s with the Morel drivers and will do the tweets in a few days but I'm not hearing the warmth I thought I would as vocals still sound thin. Someone on the driveaccord forum said the factory amp has equalization built in and the HU is clean and I want a little more control.

I know the LC7i has Accubass but I think that's in the sub 70 Hz range so won't do what I want, however I noticed the factory system has quite a bit of bass by a volume of 14 which is too much when I have my family in the car.

Decisions!

-Eric

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--When I started with my Accord I ran Hybrid Audio and LOVED them!!! They have a very flat response and everyone said they were the best sounding speakers they had ever heard. (Ran em off a Fosgate 400.4 at that time). If you are after some killer rich vocals, give them a listen. There's tons of great brand out there so I'm just throwing my experience in. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised by their sound. I only use 2 sheets of sound dampening per door and it suffices just fine.

I personally like a much brighter sound so I swapped out for Hertz spl mids and tweets. and had some pillars fiberglassed.

--The LC7I accubass actually works wonderfully. It actually just keeps a linear increase of bass and eliminates the roll off at any bass frequency. I was hitting 143.2 DB at 42hz with a set of 12s off a factory head unit and an LC7I. I had that choking bass that I always wanted.

--Now as far as the family man issues, we are the same there as well
I have a 13 and 7 year old girl. I actually had a fun solution that the audio shop I work with came up with. We ran a toggle switch from the remote turn on to the front (wherever you want it). From there if I had kids or wife I could just click the woofers off and run mids and highs only.
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Default Re: Budget Accord upgrade

Forgot to post an update.

Tweeters are done and sound great, however from an imaging stance they would probably benefit from alignment. Covered them in speaker cloth and they look pretty good, not perfect, but the casual observer wouldn't realize they aren't factory.

Before:


After:

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Old 5 Days Ago   #24
 
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Default Re: Budget Accord upgrade

Quote:
Originally Posted by celicaboy84 View Post

--The LC7I accubass actually works wonderfully. It actually just keeps a linear increase of bass and eliminates the roll off at any bass frequency. I was hitting 143.2 DB at 42hz with a set of 12s off a factory head unit and an LC7I. I had that choking bass that I always wanted.
Interesting and I appreciate the input. I may be living in the past but can't seem to wrap my head around speaker level inputs being comparable to line level, although I realize that AudioControl is a company that could make speaker level sound good.

The OEM head unit seems to play games with the bass and it only sounds good (to me) at high volume (28-32 on the HU) and at lower volume, such as when the family (well wife - kids like volume) is in the car the bass is overpowering even when I dial back the sub on the HU. I believe the AccuBass will help and I would benefit from the remote level control. I thought about adding a Three.2 to the dash but there really isn't room and I'd like some control. The other option would be to add the LCQ-1 as it appears to be the LC7i combined with an EQ - I will they had and LCQ-1 with a crossover as I'd like to run active on the mids/highs and although my Zapco has a built-in crossover there isn't a bandpass option for the mids.

Iíve read, on the DriveAccord forum, that someone competed and won national amateur class using the stock premium head unit as it provides balanced line level outputs Ė that AudioControl can accept Ė and the outputs arenít equalized. The poster stated he had measured the outputs and they were full range and that the factory amplifier applied the equalization as well as bass control at higher levels to protect the factory speakers. This is what has me wanting to use the balanced outputs instead of line level and Iím also thinking about using JL Audio, Kicker Front Row, etc. to accomplish this. Maybe I just need to convince myself there wouldnít be an audible difference using AudioControl to interface with the factory system.

-Eric
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