I have played around with Alpine's PXE-H650 processor for a while now, and thought I would try and demystify Alpine's setup instructions and add a few key points that are missing from the Manual. Compiled through a lot of trial and error, and insights from Alpine and forum users such as npdang.
INSTALLING THE H650
As per the Alpine manual. Key points that are missing:
1) For OEM Speaker Level inputs, the manual states that if you have a full-range output only from your OEM HU (No tweeters) then you must connect only to the L2/R2 wires in the auto-ranging input. This is incorrect, as it should in fact be wired to BOTH L1/R1 and L2/R2. So left OEM output goes into L1 and L2 and so on. Otherwise I could not get the unit to Power up when the head unit comes on. A big omission in my book.
SETTING UP THE H650
First things first, the install itself has to be stellar before setting up the H650. Do not expect the H650 to work magic on a poor install, so spend a significant amount of time doing this first. Here is what I did.
1) Install front component speakers, trying to optimise Speaker placement and aiming as space allows.
2) Correctly phasing speakers. I firstly connected just the woofers, and switched the polarity on the drivers side speaker to see which response sounds the best. I did not use an RTA to do this as the acoustic effect of incorrect phase can easily be heard.
3) Correctly setting up crossovers between the mids and tweeters if running active (or at least knowing your preferred crossover point prior to setting up the H650)
4) Knowing the limits of your OEM headunit. This is crucial knowledge for setting up the H650. What I did was play a 1KHz 0dBFS test tone (from AmpGuts) and slowly crank the volume on the HU until I heard extra harmonics. This indicates the HU clipping, so I dialled it down one click. This is the clipping limit of your HU. Remember this volume. Also make sure that your HU output is FLAT. Remove any EQ (Bass / Mid / Treble) on the HU and make sure Loudness if off, and balance and fader are equal.
Then on to setting up the H650
If correctly installed, the H650 should display "Enter to Setup". Before doing this, make sure you have the HU volume set to the level that you determined earlier in the install phase and stick the Alpine set up disc in your HU drive. Select track one and hit enter on the unit.
The H650 will then set input levels based on your correctly selected volume. When this finishes, it will prompt to start AntEQ. Skip on to track 2 and let this do it's magic.
After finishing AntEQ it will prompt "2 Way?". If you are running a passive front stage select the default "N" otherwise select "Y". If you selected "Y" it will ask for a mid / tweeter crossover point "Fc" which is where you choose your point, up to 5Khz, which is what I selected. If a subwoofer is installed, the default 80Hz is automatically chosen without prompt.
It will then display "Amp Gains / XOvers". At this point your master volume becomes active. This is where you can fine tune your gains. What I did was to ensure the HU was it's level identified above, and began cranking the master volume using the 1KHz test tone again. I was looking for H650 clipping but actually none came about. I then paused the CD and noticed that there is a slight noise floor in the H650. I dialled back the master volume a few clicks to remove this. I then adjusted my amp gains accordingly. I found that I could drive my PDX5 amp all the way to max gains on the front stage as the input signal was relatively clean, and the PDX5 is probably the cleanest part of the chain so it made sense to use this to it's best ability.
Once I was happy with the gains and clarity of the signal I moved on to the MultEQ. Tapping enter on the H650 prompts you to begin MultEQ. Before starting this I identified the exact position of the centre of my head in the driver's seat and made a mental note. I repeated this for passengers. Clicking on the H650's enter button then will eventually ask you to measure position 1.
At this point I lowered the subwoofer gain to just above the lowest setting. This is an important step that will become clear later. I also set the volume of the unit (using the master volume on the remote) to my usual listening volume.
Make sure that the microphone, IR remote eye, and LED are all within reach and set the eye and LED on a seat, clearly visible from the outside. The LED should be flashing green at this point. Put the mic in that position you remembered for the centre of your head in the drivers seat. I did this by lowering and moving the seat forward, using the head rest to put the mic on. You may find it easier to use a tripod. Anyhow, put the mic in position and turn the Car engine off and close the door.
If you are using the Auto Ranging input, you need to be quick, as the damn H650 will Power down again in 5 minutes!! Mic in position, and out of the Car with all doors and windows closed, point the remote at the eye and click "Front". The LED will turn to a constant green, and a series of chirps will sound through your speakers. The LED will eventually start flashing again, and then you must repeat the process in the following microphone positions:
2) Passengers head
3) Two inches to the right of the driver's central head position
4) Two inches to the left of the driver's head position
5) Back in the central driver's head position
The above worked well for me, and could be finished easily before the H650 automatically powers down. After measurements, click the "right" button the remote to finish setup.
The H650 will calibrate time correction, frequency response, and EQ for each of your speakers and save them to the unit.
You can now get back in the car, adjust the seat to the correct position, and enjoy!
Please note that the H650 will revert back to it's low master volume setting, so adjust accordingly. I find the imaging better using the remote only as my volume adjuster, although others prefer to use the HU. Either will work.
Also, make sure you crank back up the subwoofer gain to the level you desire.
Tuning is possible after MultEQ with the three band parametric EQ (Bass / Mid /Treble) on the remote. Use these but do not adjust the HU EQ settings. The H650 also stores two presets. "1" is the driver's seat optimised preset, and "2" is the passenger's seat.
Hope this helps anybody who was as confused as me by Alpine's poor documentation.