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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello!

I am in the midst of planning for an audio setup for a 1995 Mercedes W124 that I am restoring. Let me share as much info as I can share to place this plan well:

Listening source: Bluetooth stream via Tidal and Spotify
Music preference: A wide genre but not too 'noisy' and hard bass
Equipment that I have and need:
0. Setup: Active - 2 Way active
1. Head unit: still looking for a single din unit**
2. Front speakers: considering a Helix P62C or Steg ME650CII / CIII (Speaker positioning - Midbass on the doors over custom panels, tweeters in custom A-pillar panel)
3. DSP: Helix DSP.3
4. Amplifier: Helix M4
5. Sub: I Was told the regular 12 inch may not work well due to the fuel tank being in between the rear seat and nearest possible sub placement. Hence considering spare wheel sub - still scouting for options
**May consider the Bluetooth module expansion for the DSP is it gives better streaming instead of hooking up to the head unit and perhaps I need not require an advanced head unit.

Other info:
I do not have much info on the Steg, besides Fred and Sound on YouTube that I have communicated with. I have had a first-hand experience with the Helix and they are pretty nice sounding speakers. The reason I am shortlisting both of these speakers as they are very similar in price point in the local market.

I would consider other options of the same price point, but having experienced the Hertz Mille Pro 165.3, the Helix P62C sounded more complete to me. While the Hertz and Steg are made in China, the Helix is made in Germany which I believe may have a better quality edge.

Appreciate all your response and also pointers on what I can do better.

Thank you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Pasting a reply from @GrM in the duplicate post.

First off regarding the “hallow” bass in your wife’s car, was any sound deadening done in the doors/wherever the speakers are located? You can put the best midbass speakers in the world in an untreated door and get very bad bass where as you can get decent bass with a $100 set of woofers in a treated door. The installation matters more than the equipment.

Are you considering possibly adding another amp/powering more speakers in the future? If not maybe look into a 4 channel DSP amp (or 5 channel to run the sub) as that’ll cut down on installation time and required space. Otherwise that DSP will serve you well as you’ll have the outputs from it to add more amplified channels in the future.

I would think getting the Bluetooth streaming module for the Helix would probably be worth it for you, I’ve heard that the sound quality of those isn’t bit perfect but it’s certainly good enough for most people and would greatly simplify everything (but you would need a remote for the Helix to control volume, if you didn’t already know that). You can also get a stand alone digital to digital converter to convert the digital signal from your phone into coaxial or toslink to send to the DSP, that option is cheaper than the Bluetooth/USB streaming modules for the Helix and would have much better sound quality (the Toppings D10 appears to be highly regarded here and it’s not much over $100).

And regarding the sub, I really can’t see how the location of the gas tank would have anything to do with the sub unless for whatever reason you’d need to drill through the body to attach it. But, I’m no expert on this and I would be interested to see what others who know more than I would have to say about this.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
First off regarding the “hallow” bass in your wife’s car, was any sound deadening done in the doors/wherever the speakers are located? You can put the best midbass speakers in the world in an untreated door and get very bad bass where as you can get decent bass with a $100 set of woofers in a treated door. The installation matters more than the equipment.
Agreed, to get the best of the speakers, I will have the doors treated and reassess.

Are you considering possibly adding another amp/powering more speakers in the future? If not maybe look into a 4 channel DSP amp (or 5 channel to run the sub) as that’ll cut down on installation time and required space. Otherwise, that DSP will serve you well as you’ll have the outputs from it to add more amplified channels in the future.
I am planning with a 2 channel active with sub (active or passive), and would think that if I need to upgrade to a 3 channel, I can have the amp added - again if I ever go this direction. I too work on planning the system well to avoid wastage.

I would think getting the Bluetooth streaming module for the Helix would probably be worth it for you, I’ve heard that the sound quality of those isn’t bit perfect but it’s certainly good enough for most people and would greatly simplify everything (but you would need a remote for the Helix to control volume, if you didn’t already know that).

You can also get a stand alone digital to digital converter to convert the digital signal from your phone into coaxial or toslink to send to the DSP, that option is cheaper than the Bluetooth/USB streaming modules for the Helix and would have much better sound quality (the Toppings D10 appears to be highly regarded here and it’s not much over $100).
Yes, if the Helix Bluetooth expansion module gives better quality, I would consider that option, but needing that extra remote is a little turn-off as I prefer to have the setup neat and as simple as possible.
I will read up more on the Toppings D10 - may be just the thing I need.
 

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Only issue with the Toppings is changing volume as it entirely bypasses the head unit. Im not entirely sure how you’d adjust volume other than via the phone or a remote for the amp. So that could be problematic. Helix makes two different remotes, an elaborate touchscreen (called the “Director”) and a dial with some LEDs (the “Conductor”). The latter might be something you could live with.

JL Audio has a dial remote for their VXi amplifiers that is fairly small, especially compared to Helix Conductor, so would be less noticeable (but it is gray with black rubber on the dials, the Helix rotary knob is black, both have LEDs). But JL doesn’t havethe ability to stream Bluetooth directly, you’d need a stand alone Bluetooth module or something like the D10 if you don’t want to use the car’s stereo as a source (which would probably be the best option in a high end German car, at least BMWs have stock EQ curves that are problematic when adding amps so I’d assume Mercedes would be similar).

Since I can’t see how you’ll get around needing a remote if you’re going to be streaming via Bluetooth or a USB digital to digital converter, and since you’re not partial to installing a remote you may want to look into the JL remote v. Helix’s rotary remote to see if you could live with one of them. But if you want a stand alone DSP Helix’s are much better than JLs (they only have one option, the VXi is a DSP amp, but they [the VXi] do have processed outputs to send to a sub or another amp). And it sounds like you’re better off with a stand alone DSP incase you might want to amplify more than 2 sets of speakers in the future.




There is also this option, but unlike the DRC it can not control master volume and sub independently. It can do one or the other or both together, but not in relation to each other. But, it’d be quite easy to hide.

 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
JL Audio has a dial remote for their VXi amplifiers that is fairly small, especially compared to Helix Conductor, so would be less noticeable (but it is gray with black rubber on the dials, the Helix rotary knob is black, both have LEDs). But JL doesn’t havethe ability to stream Bluetooth directly, you’d need a stand alone Bluetooth module or something like the D10 if you don’t want to use the car’s stereo as a source (which would probably be the best option in a high end German car, at least BMWs have stock EQ curves that are problematic when adding amps so I’d assume Mercedes would be similar).

Since I can’t see how you’ll get around needing a remote if you’re going to be streaming via Bluetooth or a USB digital to digital converter, and since you’re not partial to installing a remote you may want to look into the JL remote v. Helix’s rotary remote to see if you could live with one of them. But if you want a stand alone DSP Helix’s are much better than JLs (they only have one option, the VXi is a DSP amp, but they [the VXi] do have processed outputs to send to a sub or another amp). And it sounds like you’re better off with a stand alone DSP incase you might want to amplify more than 2 sets of speakers in the future.

There is also this option, but unlike the DRC it can not control master volume and sub independently. It can do one or the other or both together, but not in relation to each other. But, it’d be quite easy to hide.

As for the factory Mercedes setup, I am not too concerned as it will be a complete setup with nothing original from the car that will be used.

Thank you again, but I would really like to keep the setup simple and avoid additional remote control as much as I can. How bad of degradation are we expecting to have with a head unit with advance Bluetooth capability to avoid having to go through the additional conversion and remote?
 

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The EQ curve on most, if not all, new stock stereos is optimized for the particular equipment. Once you start changing equipment you have to compensate for that using the DSP. And the EQ curves do often times change based upon volume.
I personally don’t have experience with these cars but there were some people on here talking about newer BMW head units, one person was saying that they’re so bad he doesn’t like (or won’t, I forget which) install aftermarket systems in them using the stock radio because of how difficult it is to compensate for the stock EQ curves. But that’s the extent of my knowledge regarding new high end German vehicles, bare in mind it is 2nd hand and it is based upon people’s opinions.

There is absolutely no reason not to use the stock stereo as a source unit and see if you like it. You don’t need perfect, just good enough for you. Who knows what that is until you start messing around with equipment. If it’s not good enough for you then you can always look into different options later. That course of action has the benefit of giving you a better idea of what you want, knowing what you do and don’t want to change etc. Everything’s a learning experience.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thank you @GrM ,

Based on your reply, the equipment is the issue, I believe you are referring to the stock/factory head unit that comes with the vehicle. As the car I am working on is a 26-year-old vehicle, I have an option to build everything from ground-up and that eliminates the concern on factory-biased EQ. The picture I would like to paint is that I have an absolutely fresh start with this setup, with only one contention, I will need to use an aftermarket single din head unit and I don't fancy an LCD pop-up or Android units.

Probably the biggest regret was letting the Pioneer 80PRS go years back when I had one or else that would have been a good unit to do the job perfectly.

While the audio poison does run deep, I would like to set everything up for me to use for a while, it will be too costly to keep changing equipment. As far as tuning the DSP, I can live with that as once the system is installed, I will need a retune when the speakers/amplifiers have run in.

Again, based on the info shared, I am happy to scout a good head unit with Bluetooth capability to keep the system integrated and neat. Apart from that, I will have to look for speaker options. Have anyone had experienced the Stegs?
 

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Ah, I assumed it was a newer car. Disregard everything I said about stock EQ etc., especially if you’re putting in an aftermarket head unit. [(Edit: I don’t know anything about Mercedes of that vintage 2nd hand or otherwise. Just 2nd for newer BMWs, but it’s a good educated assumption that all luxury cars of a similar age would be similar in this regard). Where are the people who have experience with these cars?].This sounds like a fun project, I can’t say I don’t envy you. It’s a blank canvas (especially in comparison to the newer models).

I think what you initially mentioned for amps/DSP and head unit should be great especially since you’ll be keeping it around for a while. You’ll never out grow Helix. But if you’re going to be tuning the DSP yourself maybe download the software for Helix and a couple of others so you can mess around until you have a clear preference. I’m partial to Helix (but I don’t own one).
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thank you @GrM.

I am exploring my options with having a single 12 incher in the trunk, or rear speaker shelf if I can have it properly and neatly installed while getting the benefits of it.
 

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I have a 500E… not wanting to hack up the car I went a certain direction… Alpine HU for all the sound shaping, power pack to run the cabin… if you want a period correct look with BT you should contact Becker… they have an ebay page, they’ll retrofit period correct head units with BT… I went with a 10” in a custom box in the driver side trunk well with a mono amp where the trunk mounted changer used to live… it’s plenty for me… stick with stock rear deck speakers for fill, then you can get creative with front soundstage… Rainbows and Jenherts are the favorites for front, but both difficult to source and not cheap… but start with the Becker eBay page… I ended up with Kicker 5.25 in the doors and 4” in the dash, running with the stock door crossover hardware… I saw no need for aftermarket… but guys on the 500E Board have pushed this farther with the JLAudio DSP amps… but for my money, start with sound shaping from the head unit… the next buyer can always reinstall the 25year old bits if they want.

GL, hope this helps.

Cheers,

maw
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thank you Maw,

I am not keen to go the Becker route and will opt for a headunit potentially from Alpine.

Its good to know that the 10 inch sub was sufficient, that was one though I have to to use the side pockets, having a 1 cbft enclosure there would cut if just fine for the 12 incher i have. Noted on the rear fills as well.

I have a query, you have installed a 5.25 inch on the door and 4 inch in the dash, i presume you are running 3 way?
 

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No. The 500E system was crossed over from the factory between the doors and dash, so all I’ve done is set the low pass filter in the head unit. I don’t know the frequency of the factory Xover door to dash — capacitor roll off and such. I would guess somewhere in the 500Hz range based upon the sound. I suppose you could wire an external crossover, and if it wasn’t a 500E I would have probably gone that route. Minimalist was my highest priority there. Rainbow dash speakers are available from the Becker eBay site. Door woofer fitment is severely constrained (less than 2” depth) without butchery, so that’s the physical limitation you’ll face in building this system. If you’re running a lesser W124 Series you have more freedom. Of course, that’s where the Jennhert door boards come in handy if they’re still available. If you can find a great slim mount 5.25” woofer for the doors, that will be money well spent. When I did my system years ago I settled for Kicker coaxials in the doors even though I knew only the woofer would be receiving signal.

I think you have to decide whether sound or factory presentation are your main concern. If the latter, there will be some inevitable compromises (door mid woofer and rear deck fitment). The question then will be how much of that you can make up with good to great head unit sound shaping (50%), subwoofer (20%), dash speakers (15%) and amplification (15%). Amplification isn't a huge deal here because you can't get speakers physically able to handle a bunch of power anyway without completely refabricating the door and rear deck speaker spaces.

GL, hope this helps.

maw

PS, the main reason I went Alpine back then was for the convenience of the power pack to run the cabin. If you’re going to use a DSP amp in the trunk somewhere, then yes you’ll be running 3 way. If I had to redo the system today I’d go that way, “maybe”. Again, stock speaker locations are physical limitations — e.g., if you want different rear desk speakers finding something with a small enough magnet or slim enough fitment will be the issue, in addition to hoping you don’t damage the factory plastic housings that are now 30years old, likely brittle and hard to replace.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thanks for asking. I am not looking to go the completely purist or minimalist route but I am working hard to not butcher the class of a W124.

Here is my plan, aftermarket Alpine HU, or Kenwood as an alternative, criteria would be RCA output of 3 x 4v min. Front 2 way active, kick bass on tne door as clean as possible with tweeters possibly in the A-Pillar (embedded). DSP and 4 channel amp in a rear custom panel backing the fuel tank. As for the speakers, I am more or less decided with the Helix P62C, More.i listen to it, more I like it, and feeding it with a better amp and dsp will enhance it further.

Monoblock to power up the 12 inch sub, have not decided if it will be similar to your setup or backing the fuel tank, sharing space with the amps and dsp. I am not keen to use the side pockets to not disrupt the airflow as there are side vents on both sides.As i need only 1 Cbft, i am sure the installer can be creative to use the space well.

Thats really what I have in a nutshell.
 

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That's all sensible. It'll be interesting to see how you get the Helix in. Custom door cards come to mind. The problem with most W124 (not sure about '95, mine is '92) is the door woofer firing into the front seat cushion. They used the front of the door card for storage space and put the speaker aft of it, when it should have been (and has been on basically every car since then) the other way around. My W220 doesn't have this problem, and the Helix would fit just fine in the front door -- 6" opening and practically infinite mounting depth (but I'd need 2 Ohm, courtesy of Bose).

The only other thing I would advise to think about is 4" coaxial in the dash instead of tweeters in the A-Pillar. You'll get better sound with the upper midrange and tweeters together (500Hz - 20 kHz) in the dash, because of the soundstage created with your dash and windshield. It's the ONE piece of the system MB got right from the factory -- everyone's opinion, not just mine. I'd even say put the dash speakers in with your head unit, amp and sub before you decide how much hackery you need for the doors (mid bass) or rear deck (coax). In my 500E, the front dash and sub literally save the system at the volumes I'm generally listening (lots of acoustic and live Jazz, Reggae, Electronica + some classic rock, hip-hop, R&B, World). That's why I went with a tight, efficient, musical 10" sub instead of a 12".

GL

maw
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Yes, the door cards will have to be customised to mount the kickbass. Will be using the space at the lower far corner and unlike what was in the factory location that is blocked by the seats. Part of the door card storage will make way for the speakers. Will probably add some ring spacer to clear the window if needed.

On the dash, I need to understand, are you suggesting to put in a 4 inch in the dash location, and or without a tweeter?

I am unsure on midrange, fullrange speakers much. Will have to learn them up.
 
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