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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I have found myself in a situation where I have spent a lot of money installing a head-unit, amp, and speakers in my wife's Saturn Outlook, and I find that I can not stand listening to the thing….Loud is not a problem. I can crank this baby….but what I end up with is lots of bad sound. The bass is shallow and the tweeters are noisy with poor tone quality. I am wondering if anyone out there has ideas to make the system sound good. My wife listens to Top 40 and Rock N Roll and NPR - so these are the sound targets.

Stock head unit has been replaced with a Kenwood DNX 890 HD navigation system. I added a Clarion XC1410 amp (4 x 50W) to power the main speakers. The Amp is attached through the high level outputs of the head unit, not the low level outputs.

This is a Saturn Outlook with a non-Bose system. (Same as GMC Acadia and Buick Enclave, and Chevy Traverse) This means two component speakers in the front (Midrange 6.5" in lower part of door, and tweeter in A-pillar) and 2-way speakers in the lower part of the rear doors. There is no center speaker, no third row speaker, and no sub. Factory door speakers have been replaced with Polk dB651 (6.5" full range). Factory Tweeters have been replaced with Polk dB 1001. Factory wiring is used (including the original factory crossover for the front component speakers - Honestly, I have no idea how to locate and remove the factory crossovers). The Polk tweeters also are hooked up through the Polk High Pass Filter (previously wrote Crossover here) that came with the dB1001s (1" / 4k - 23kHz bandwidth). All speakers are still in the factory locations.

I can think of a several ways to improve the sound, but I am not sure where to start. I have already spent a lot of time and money replacing stuff. My thoughts of next steps are below. I would like your opinion on which of these, if any, makes the most sense to start. Everyone I have spoken to has basically punted on the problem. The list below is not exhaustive so please feel free to give me better ideas….and if you think that the problem is my ears, please feel free to share (but don't elaborate).

1) Hook up amp through low-level outputs, rather than high-level outputs. (Sounds easy, but because the head unit compartment is so shallow, I don't have space to fit in RCA connectors behind the unit without cutting metal). Please only select this, if you think this the largest factor.

2) Rewire entire sound system to eliminate factory crossovers. (This is also a problem because the chimes and warnings and OnStar go through the left front speaker).

3) Dump the Polk crossovers that came with the tweeters?

4) Add subwoofer and let extra power going to the 4 front and rear speakers allows a more full sound. Any idea on a compact sub that would fit under the passenger seat?

5) Dump Polk speakers and purchase something else. (I have JL Audios in my other vehicle and I love them - but I listen to jazz and I am not sure they would be ideal for Top 40 / Rock N Roll.) I would appreciate any recommendation for new speakers if you think that is what I need. Also, if so, should I replace the tweeters first? or the 6.5" full range?

There aren't any audio shops in my town that will work on my vehicle. The guy who was recommended to me only does it his way, and has refused to work on my stuff before. I was told to keep away from the other shop in town. One day in desperation I tried to purchase a fuse box for my amp wiring. They guy tried to charge me $60 for a used one.…I ended up delaying the project and purchasing a perfectly functional a new one for $3 online.

Thank you for any insights.
 

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#2 is the first thing I'd do. Who knows what the factory crossovers are. Factory stuff typically sucks and it's set up for the factory speakers not your aftermarket ones. Swapping the speakers out probably wouldn't help.

To keep the onstar and chimes I'd just hook up a small 3" speaker under the dash or somewhere like that so its hidden. Doesn't have to be a good speaker, any old factory speaker would be fine. I've done something similar before for phone output from a factory setup.

The next thing would be running Rca's. But only after you run new speaker wires.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thank you. In my first message, I erred. I have installed the Polk HPF that came with the tweeters…I did not install a crossover with the tweeter. The only crossover is in the factory harness.

As I rewire the system, I will need to install my own quality crossover so that the treble goes to the tweeters and the rest goes to the full range speakers in the doors. Do you have recommendations? (The Polk speakers are not actually component speakers so there is no integrated crossover).

Thank you.
 

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So when you said full range Polk, do you mean coaxial? So you have coaxial and separate tweeters in the front?

Well I see lots of faults ,in your install so far, and you did address them mostly in your proposed options. There should be an adaptor kit available to keep the on-star and door chimes which comes with a small speaker in which to play through.

I'd get a conventional set of components with a properly designed passive crossover network. The factory crossovers (likely just a couple of capacitors) are set to limit the frequency range of the factory speakers. Your polks likely are 100% different.

I have a hard time believing that there's 0 space for RCAs in your dash. I don't recommend cutting out metal to get them in. If so, and your amp takes high level in, then leave that as is. I really don't like this option but I doubt this is your issue considering everything else.

I would add a sub for sure, but it won't resolve your current issues. I suggest fixing this all first, get it sounding good, then add a sub. Don't expect the lower frequency range without a sub but you should get crisp highs, clean mids, and some solid Midbass.

Did you do this install yourself? Also, I don't suggest focusing on what you spent. I highly doubt anyone here suggested what you have so far, and for what you likely spent I'm sure most members here would have made better suggestions. What you spent has no bearing on what you got. It might be time to cut your losses, sell what you won't use, and plan a system that you will actually like.

Jl components are good, especially if you like them. Try top 40 in your car to see how they sound. Il bet they are 100x better than what's already in the outlook. There are also many other options out there if you don't like the JLs.
 

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What Dave said is spot on. I missed that you are running coax (full range) speakers & tweeters. I thought they were components. Either run a component set or run the coax by themselves. No need for multiple tweeters, that setup would probably be ear piercing.
 

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A guy shows up to the shop one day, tweeters in dash, tweeters in doors and separate tweeters / mids in rear doors. It was so bright I couldn't be anywhere near the thing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thank you again for the insight. For clarification:

1) The first change I made to the vehicle before upgrading anything else was to swap out the front speakers in the door panels. The original speakers in that slot were mid ranges. I was advised to replace them with 2-way coax speakers (Plk dB651) because we had no clue of how the factory cross over was set - and we didn't want to miss any of signal. The factory wiring for the front speakers is definitely component with the high frequency sound going to the tweeters in the A-pillar, and the mid/lower frequency sound being routed to the front doors. I have listened to the speakers in the front doors and there isn't much of any treble coming out of them…..and because the speakers are directed at my calves / ankles, I am pretty sure that any amount of treble coming out of them isn't making it to my ears.

2) I have ordered right angle RCA connectors. I will check to see if they work for hooking up the amp to the head unit.

3) I don't mind spending money to fix the problem. I just don't have much of an appetite to spend money for more speakers / different amp / new head unit if that is not the problem.

4) I did do the install myself - and so I know exactly where everything is. Funny - I have used the same retailers to advise me on my wife's car as on my own car, and the result is 100% different.

If you would like to add anything else, I am all ears. I do appreciate your input.

I know exactly how I will hook up my chime speaker. Thanks for the tip.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
To follow upon the fixes:

1) The Kenwood DNX HD890 Head Unit has lousy sound. There was a massive improvement when I wired the amp directly to the low level/line level outputs of the head unit rather than the high level outputs which also passed through the GMOS adapter for the door chimes. (Front sound quality which went through the GMOS adapter, and rear sound quality which did not pass through the GMOS both improved). Unfortunately, this was not enough to get sound quality where it should be.

2) Eliminating the factory crossovers, and rewiring the speakers to the amp made almost no difference. In the process I wired only front Polk Coax and eliminated the tweeters in the A-pillars. This eliminated the concern of having too many tweeters in the system. This did not noticeably impact the 'brightness of the system".

By making these two changes, two improvement were made. I eliminated the shallowness of the sound in the lower frequencies; and lot of the noise was pulled out of the tweeters. However, I still don't have great sound quality. Women's voices sound especially horrible on the Polks. Won't ever buy those again.

Have ordered a new set of front speakers. These will be after market component speakers. I am hoping that they will solve the rest of the problem.

Will let you know when I have the correct components installed….might have to try a few out.
 

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I picked up the 165AS and have really been happy with them. I've not seen a whole lot of reviews on them, but they seem to be a solid set of speakers for under $350
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Okay - So I am done for now. The two big issues were as follows:

1) From the Kenwood Unit, I needed to hook up the amp via the line level output. The high level output had wretched sound quality. I am unlikely to touch a Kenwood head unit again in my life. (Did it this time because my wife wanted Garmin Navigation. There was no options).

2) Polk speakers are either junk or don't match with my head unit / amp. I am leaning towards 'junk'.

Other notes:

A) Rewiring the speakers did not make much of a difference.

B) A sub would help, but I have plenty of bass now.

The Focal 165AS are awesome. My wife likes that aluminum tweeter - and it is her car. The sound is shockingly clean. Works will with Top 40 / Rock. (I am still partial to silk dome when I listen to Jazz….but this aint my car).
 
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