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Discussion Starter #1
So recently back into car audio after many years, and oddly enough at 42 years my priorities and tastes have a changed a bunch since 25 years... so that being said my goal is overall sound quality, and even more so beginning to actually learn about sound quality and what makes it amazing versus what makes it crumby...

So, Digital Signal Processors- brand new territory here for me, I'm going to post a few bullets, any thoughts would be greatly appreciated:

1. I am wondering about the sequence of components when a DSP unit is installed... is the DSP limited by the quality of head unit you have in your car? I have to assume it is not, otherwise manufacturers wouldn't have unit that are downstream of a OEM head unit and make claims about downstream sound quaility...

2. If the DSP is the magic in the process that cleans up and tweaks the signal, is that newly filtered signal only as good at the Amplifiers which give it the oomph for the speakers? I have always had Alpine Amps, but my father-in-law gave me an older Eclipse Amp and I switched out and ran my front components with... it was amazing the difference in the richness/ warmth of the sound.. not that the Alpine was bad, just very different.. will a DSP signal be dictated by the brand of Amplifier, or is it simply powering at this point?

3. Speakers- I have Boston Acoustics Rally 2 Ways in my front doors, I've always thought with some fiddling and (attempted!!) tuning with the rear dimmed speakers and sub, that all together it sounds pretty darn good... but I can tell there is vast room for improvement , not exactly sure how to accomplish that feat, but it is there. I assume a DSP will make a big difference with the flexibility to tune the sound, but again is this a spot where upgraded, better speakers make a world of difference? Are 3 way components even more important as you have more sounds control? I plan to upgrade my speakers anyway, they are 5.25 and I can get 6.5" in and I think one of my tweeters is shot, maybe due to no use for a long time and dry here in Colorado? Who knows.

4. There are ALOT of options for signal processors- How do you go about figuring out where to start? My father-in-law was a professional musician and has a sophisticated understanding of this stuff, but he works a ton and doesn't have a lot of time, but he said whatever I decide he will help me program it. He has had Audison DSP in the last and swears it was an incredible product- he didn't have Audison Amps and Speakers, or high end components but his car sounded incredible... so maybe components need to be quality but not bank breakers?

6. Files in I-Tunes sound very differences not just across genres of music, but also from musician to musician. Does a DSP clean up and do whatever needs to be done for these records to sound more homogenous? Maybe that is a weird description- for example downloaded Eagles sounds very different to me that Fleetwood Mac... maybe that's the recording, not the file/ file format?

Fun getting back into this and learning, thanks in advance for the help!
 

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So recently back into car audio after many years, and oddly enough at 42 years my priorities and tastes have a changed a bunch since 25 years... so that being said my goal is overall sound quality, and even more so beginning to actually learn about sound quality and what makes it amazing versus what makes it crumby...

So, Digital Signal Processors- brand new territory here for me, I'm going to post a few bullets, any thoughts would be greatly appreciated:

1. I am wondering about the sequence of components when a DSP unit is installed... is the DSP limited by the quality of head unit you have in your car? I have to assume it is not, otherwise manufacturers wouldn't have unit that are downstream of a OEM head unit and make claims about downstream sound quaility...

2. If the DSP is the magic in the process that cleans up and tweaks the signal, is that newly filtered signal only as good at the Amplifiers which give it the oomph for the speakers? I have always had Alpine Amps, but my father-in-law gave me an older Eclipse Amp and I switched out and ran my front components with... it was amazing the difference in the richness/ warmth of the sound.. not that the Alpine was bad, just very different.. will a DSP signal be dictated by the brand of Amplifier, or is it simply powering at this point?

3. Speakers- I have Boston Acoustics Rally 2 Ways in my front doors, I've always thought with some fiddling and (attempted!!) tuning with the rear dimmed speakers and sub, that all together it sounds pretty darn good... but I can tell there is vast room for improvement , not exactly sure how to accomplish that feat, but it is there. I assume a DSP will make a big difference with the flexibility to tune the sound, but again is this a spot where upgraded, better speakers make a world of difference? Are 3 way components even more important as you have more sounds control? I plan to upgrade my speakers anyway, they are 5.25 and I can get 6.5" in and I think one of my tweeters is shot, maybe due to no use for a long time and dry here in Colorado? Who knows.

4. There are ALOT of options for signal processors- How do you go about figuring out where to start? My father-in-law was a professional musician and has a sophisticated understanding of this stuff, but he works a ton and doesn't have a lot of time, but he said whatever I decide he will help me program it. He has had Audison DSP in the last and swears it was an incredible product- he didn't have Audison Amps and Speakers, or high end components but his car sounded incredible... so maybe components need to be quality but not bank breakers?

6. Files in I-Tunes sound very differences not just across genres of music, but also from musician to musician. Does a DSP clean up and do whatever needs to be done for these records to sound more homogenous? Maybe that is a weird description- for example downloaded Eagles sounds very different to me that Fleetwood Mac... maybe that's the recording, not the file/ file format?

Fun getting back into this and learning, thanks in advance for the help!
1. Yes, the DSP is limited by the signal it receives, garbage in garbage out, as they say. The good news is that most head units are perfectly capable of producing a nice, clean, flat signal. OEM head units are a different story, they already have DSP taking place, so you need to buy a DSP that specifically has the ability to clean up that processing, not all DSPs do this.

2. Amplifiers should sound the same, they don't all the time, but they should. I am very, very skeptical of anyone that claims night and day differences between amps (unless we start talking tube amps). Just like head units, the amplifier is almost never the weak link.

3. Now that we've talked a bit about head units (much more true of aftermarket head units) and amps having little impact on the final sound, speakers play a big role. Speakers and a good tune (DSP is basically required in a car) are the 2 most important aspects, by far. The 2-way vs 3-way discussion is a long one, and it's really difficult to pick a winner without knowing the end goal, both configurations have advantages and disadvantages.

4. Picking a DSP will depend on your budget, how many channels you need, do you need a DSP that will do most of the work for you with auto tuning features, or are you willing to learn to tune a DSP by yourself? Are you looking for a system, or a hobby?

5. Different recordings should sound different, and trying to force them to sound the same is a terrible idea. They are all mixed and mastered by different people with different goals. An mp3 at 320kbps is nearly indistinguishable from the lossless (CD) version. What format are you downloading your music in?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Hey GI, thank you for the response above:

1. I've got a AM Alpine HU- so I think I'm starting off okay, won't be getting into a new car anytime soon, just for future consideration.

2. The Alpine and Eclipse sound different, but that may be because my Alpine has much more control over the HP/LP frequency point on each channel, where the Eclipse simply has HP/LP, but numeric dial in. They both sound good, just different.

3. Speakers- I find it is difficult to pick speakers, for the simple fact is isn't always feasible to listen to them in person first. side by side, or the listening environment is so different from the vehicle they will be in that the test listen isn't completely helpful. Bright speakers are probably ones that I would stay away from, so something that is warm and delivers and nice overall good sound- brand recommendation are always welcome.

I have to believe 3 way set-ups give you ultimate freedom to dial in sounds as you prefer, ans you don't have one speaker do the work of two- I have to think that is limiting being able to dial in- on the flip side, too much trying to tweak may not be a good thing either- I assume you can drive yourself in circles over things that may not even be audible/ or make a big difference.

4. So I will have components up front, 2 way, rear door speakers and I have 1 12" sub. So 7 channels? Currently I have a 4 channel running my Components, a 4 Channel running my rears and two, 2 Channel bridged running my DVC Sub in a sealed box.

Cost is always a consideration, but now I'm married no kids, I have some freedom to put some money into better components- yes, I'd think auto-tune would be great to have as you always want to be up and running, but the intent is to really learn this stuff so you can tweak this just how you want it to sound- starting from scratch, learning it and trial and error will likely take some time.

I'm a hobbiest, but want quality and performance. I enjoy the process, not just the final product of that makes sense...

5. I guess I was referring to how some songs are really loud when they come on, versus other that you really need to turn up when they come on... some sound tinty, others more warm and full.... I don't know much about file formats, I use I-Tunes to get music... and have thousands of CD's in cases in the basement.

thank you again- recommendation and thoughts as you see fit.
 

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I would recommend a really well done two-way unless you have the budget for a high-end DSP and tune.

The main purpose of three-way sets is to keep the wide-band 3ish" midrange up high and very close to the tweeter. So instead of hearing just 3000+ Hz at neck-level, you are hearing down to 300 Hz up there. Obviously this is very good, but budget in your set and tuning with that in mind rather than just the drivers being able to reproduce their own frequency range efficiently with low distortion.

Also another thing to consider with a DSP is that time alignment is maybe the most important thing they do. Some head units do this themselves these days, but I don't believe any are capable of that many channels independently if you want to do a 3-way plus sub, so that means you really need a nice DSP which is $$$.
 

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I would recommend a really well done two-way unless you have the budget for a high-end DSP and tune.

The main purpose of three-way sets is to keep the wide-band 3ish" midrange up high and very close to the tweeter. So instead of hearing just 3000+ Hz at neck-level, you are hearing down to 300 Hz up there. Obviously this is very good, but budget in your set and tuning with that in mind rather than just the drivers being able to reproduce their own frequency range efficiently with low distortion.

Also another thing to consider with a DSP is that time alignment is maybe the most important thing they do. Some head units do this themselves these days, but I don't believe any are capable of that many channels independently if you want to do a 3-way plus sub, so that means you really need a nice DSP which is $$$.
Ehh, TA is important in a car, but so is having independence left and right EQ. I do think that 2 -way is what a lot of people should start with, but even with plenty of experience 2-way has a lot of benefits.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I would recommend a really well done two-way unless you have the budget for a high-end DSP and tune.

The main purpose of three-way sets is to keep the wide-band 3ish" midrange up high and very close to the tweeter. So instead of hearing just 3000+ Hz at neck-level, you are hearing down to 300 Hz up there. Obviously this is very good, but budget in your set and tuning with that in mind rather than just the drivers being able to reproduce their own frequency range efficiently with low distortion.

Also another thing to consider with a DSP is that time alignment is maybe the most important thing they do. Some head units do this themselves these days, but I don't believe any are capable of that many channels independently if you want to do a 3-way plus sub, so that means you really need a nice DSP which is $$$.

I think at this point you are right, I think I'm going to get a new set of 2 way components for the front. I have the doors well sound deadened, and built some custom expanders so I can put in 6.5" speakers instead of the 5.25 that are stock- even though the actual doors panels will easily fit 6.5 speakers. I will also get the foam surrounds that go around the speakers to try and get the most sounds quality out of the stock door panel positions.

I'm going to try and do some custom fiberglass pods for the tweeters that are on the door- there are some clipped in plastic pieces that pop off that I can do much better position with. I have bought two extras so I can experiment with the fiberglass, filler and fabric work. I figure if I can be successful with that, I could also do a custom pod for the mid range speakers in the door- I'm going to buy an extra door panel on ebay to experiment with, it involves modifying the door panel permanently so if it goes awry no loss to the actual vehicle. Its an old car, more of project car than anything especially with learning endeavors. I'm thinking the Type R 6.5.2, may do the Alpine X in that line, but haven't considered if its worth it at this point- I'd like to hear them and some other brands first. But right now, I'm gonna focus on getting the best sounds I can get at first with everything where it exists right now...

I think I've decided to do the Alpine DSP. All my gear is Alpine, and its has served me well over the years.... it gives me plenty of stuff to figure out, and
seems quite expandable for future addition of gear (if I do do a 3 way set at some point). My wife didn't balk at the price, I think she just happy I have something to keep me busy... keep me out of her business.

Some other DSP/ Install Questions for you guys:

1. In theory, I have:

- (1) 4 Channel Amp I will bridge to run the front mid range of the component set- they are 100 RMS rated and that Amp is 100w RMS per channel bridged. that would be the Front Left/ Right RCA from my HU to the DSP.
- (1) 2 Channel Amp I will run the rear speakers off, attenuated as a lot of people seem to do for rear fill. those would be Rear Right/Left RCA from my HU to the DSP
- (2) 2 Channels Amps I have bridged and running a DVR Type R Sub- so Sub RCU to the DSP from my HU
- 2 Tweeters that could be run off the DSP that has 25 watts per channel.. but how do you get signal to these when front/ rear and sub pre-outs on the HU are already used? Does the DSP let you combine RCA signals from another channel, say the Front coming off the HU?


2. I currently have 4G power cable coming off the battery to the trunk. I have 4 amplifiers, all combined pushing 1200 RMS- do I need to upgrade the power cable to a thicker gauge? It seems to run just fine, but the more I research the thresholds seem to indicate I may be on the cusp of bigger cable... maybe not, I'd like to not do that if possible...

thank you as always.
 

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Does the DSP let you combine RCA signals from another channel, say the Front coming off the HU?


The short answer is yes. Not just combine, but assign whichever inputs to whichever outputs I believe. Usually independent crossovers and EQs for each output channel too.
 
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