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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have recently gotten back into car audio after not having any systems in any of my cars for about ten years. My previous systems were all SQ oriented systems.

My current build in a 2001 BMW E38. This is in excellent condition with only 75k miles. The interior of this car is ideal for SQ due to high quality materials and the car is relatively quiet. In my previous builds I went heavy on applying sound deadening but both were in trucks that were much noisier to begin with. I have not used much deadening in my current build as I just didn’t want to mess with that again.

in order to build a quality SQ system one has to understand and set some realistic expectations. What exactly is a SQ system versus a non SQ system. Is it defined by the install? Is it defined by how expensive the equipment is? The answer to both those questions is an absolutely not. It is obviously a combination of those two things but there is more to it than that. In fact, I believe a good SQ system could be built starting at $2,000.

in my opinion a good SQ system reproduces music as close to original without anything being added or missing to the presentation. How do we get to this type of system that’s capable of this reproduction?

The two most important parts to this complicated equation is the source material/equipment and having a high quality DSP. Having a DSP is one thing but knowing how to take advantage of all its features is a totally different discussion one that I won’t go into.

My source is Amazon HD music being output digitally into a EarStudio external DAC. This bypasses the ****ty DAC in my phone and provides a 24 bit 176khz signal which for anyone who doesn’t know is higher than cd quality. I use an Apple Camera Adapter from my phone to the EarStudio and then a 3.5mm to RCA output to my DSP. By all means stay away from Bluetooth all together.

Output device Wood Font Rectangle Audio equipment



As I stated a DSP is a must and then having a professional use an RTA to get all the irregualarities the cars interior plays on frequency response to try an obtain as flat of response as possible. The only way to know what frequencies to adjust is is by RTA or scope and them adjustments can be made.

The end result of these two simple areas of focus (signal in-source unit/signal out-dsp) will yield far superior results than this amp or that amp these speakers or those speakers. If you start witch some decent equipment for the rest of your system you can get a high quality SQ system.

I recommend the following parameters for equipment with putting your budget together.

$500 speakers-spend the most in this area and get best you can afford. Buy indivisual drivers since you will be running active.

$300-$500 amp-get a good 5 channel amp you will only need to run a two way plus sub active

$500-$750 DSP-get a good one that can do 8 channels

$500 subwoofer-Go with a 12 inch

Last area and I cannot emphasize this enough and it is essential that all amplifier channels are level match to maximize output and limit clipping and distortion. This is where the dynamics in music is going to come from. The quieter the amps output will yield lower noise floor and background noise and all you hear is the music because there is nothing to get I’m the way. Getting amps set correctly can be tricking and it took me a while playing with different settings in the DSP and amps or combination. I found the key especially when using the EarStudio referenced above was to max the output volume on my phone since there was no clipping.

These are just my thoughts and opinions but based on experience.
 

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Why use a dac when the dsp changes the signal back to digital? Just use a topping d10s and stay digital, you’ve added two conversions you don’t need and you have a digital source unit in the first place

other than that… welcome to the rabbit hole… what are you trying to sell? The dac maybe? I’d recommend going digital and using the dac in the dsp as you’re using that anyway… not really the greatest advice if I’m honest…

oh and Amazon will be upsampling everything to the maximum bitrate the dac can do, so you are losing quality right there, upsampling a cd quality track to anything over 44.1khz is not going to make any difference whatsoever
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Not selling anything just giving my experience. I agree with going digital into DSP via toslink but haven’t found a good source that can do that. The topping D10 looks interesting but I like the form factor of the EarStudio Even though it not toslink but RCA.

I think my point was missed and that is getting the highest quality signal as possible.
 

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04 Cadillac CTS- Helix V 8 Mk2, USB hec-RF Type RF X7
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Not selling anything just giving my experience. I agree with going digital into DSP via toslink but haven’t found a good source that can do that. The topping D10 looks interesting but I like the form factor of the EarStudio Even though it not toslink but RCA.

I think my point was missed and that is getting the highest quality signal as possible.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts/experience! Been reading up for the past month or so and believe I have a grasp on setting up SQ system (I’m a 1st timer). I just bit the bullet and got a helix v eight with usb hec so I’ll be digital all the way with 107 dB s/n. Haven’t even purchased speakers or sound deadening and I’m already at $2100. So only dsp and and power/grounds have been bought. Quality sound deadening and installation supplies are another $700-1000 (second skin products, 80 sq ft). Due to already blowing through my $2500-3000 budget, I had to decide where to compromise so had to scrap the dream of audio frog GBs and go with more budget friendly cdt. Being my first system I decided not to skimp on the dsp and chose the speakers for area to skimp. Hpefully this was the right decision. SQ is crazy expensive hobby!
 

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Why use a dac when the dsp changes the signal back to digital? Just use a topping d10s and stay digital, you’ve added two conversions you don’t need and you have a digital source unit in the first place

other than that… welcome to the rabbit hole… what are you trying to sell? The dac maybe? I’d recommend going digital and using the dac in the dsp as you’re using that anyway… not really the greatest advice if I’m honest…

oh and Amazon will be upsampling everything to the maximum bitrate the dac can do, so you are losing quality right there, upsampling a cd quality track to anything over 44.1khz is not going to make any difference whatsoever
So the camera kit for the iPhone goes to USB which goes to the Topping which then is used to pass through the digital signal to the DSP via optical or spdif cable ?
Can we not feed the camera kit USB directly into the USB HEC input on the DSP (assuming Helix) ?
 

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So the camera kit for the iPhone goes to USB which goes to the Topping which then is used to pass through the digital signal to the DSP via optical or spdif cable ?
Can we not feed the camera kit USB directly into the USB HEC input on the DSP (assuming Helix) ?
Correct on the optical or spdif… and you can… but the topping route sounds better and the topping is also cheaper and doesn’t have the charging issues that can arise from the hec usb connection
 

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04 Cadillac CTS- Helix V 8 Mk2, USB hec-RF Type RF X7
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Correct on the optical or spdif… and you can… but the topping route sounds better and the topping is also cheaper and doesn’t have the charging issues that can arise from the hec usb connection
I debated and compared going this route (topping). Unfortunately optical is capped at 96khz, so if you want highest possible you’re stuck going spdif. The only 2 helix with coax in is the ultra and the pro. I needed 10 channels so the pro fit the bill, but also needed 8 channel amp for components. After calculating in high quality audioquest coax cable($$$) for topping to helix, high quality amp that was better than 107 s/n, high quality rca cables… the v eight won and also has AOC coprocessor for the conductor which is half the price of director and much easier to integrate during install. Besides I have iPhone 12 and charge via MagSafe mount so helix not playing well with apple wasn’t a dealbreaker.
 

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2004 Rav4 JL900/5 NVXvad2 MiniDsp 8x12(Dirac) LPG26NA GS25 RS180-4 Um12
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Comment to follow. For all the effort I’m putting into driver position and psychoacoustic thresholds, I’ve completely ignored source quality…
 

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Just going by what I’ve heard about audio cables from from the audiophile crowd. Must be all hype!
There is a lot of lore in the digital cables that many can convince themselves that they can hear.

Maybe you can provide some input as to whether those snake oil salesmen are onto something?
(Or did I just show my hand?)
 
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04 Cadillac CTS- Helix V 8 Mk2, USB hec-RF Type RF X7
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There is a lot of lore in the digital cables that many can convince themselves that they can hear.

Maybe you can provide some input as to whether those snake oil salesmen are onto something?
(Or did I just show my hand?)
Well I personally don’t have experience with cheap vs expensive audio cables as this is my first go at a SQ system. My only experience with signal cables that can relate are with LTE cables. Signal strength from LTE internet is also measured in dB. The difference between cheap Chinese Wilson antenna lmr400 cables vs USA made times microwave cable is night and day. These are the same type of cables that HAM radio guys run that have 10s of thousands of $ in their equipment. I know when I built my 4g LTE internet setup I opted for the times microwave cables although they were 4x as expensive as the Wilson cables. I didn’t want to waste my high end equipments signal capabilities to be bottlenecked by cheap cables. My LTE signal is the same as if I was standing right next to the LTE tower except I’m 8 miles away from it. I’ve measured it, so that’s my experience. Lmr400, coax, rca… they’re all the same type of cables, center electrode and ground on the outside. By all means buy your cables from Walmart! It’s all the same, right? Why would I bother with a cable that could be so susceptible to outside frequency, cable jitter, or poor craftsmanship when I have a better alternative like USB that has plenty of data to back it proving it’s better for signals? Besides it’s a way cheaper alternative and more reliable. I’d rather choose the best option available and not be bothered with wondering if it’s a power cable ran too close or some other outside frequency is causing interference.
 

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I debated and compared going this route (topping). Unfortunately optical is capped at 96khz, so if you want highest possible you’re stuck going spdif. The only 2 helix with coax in is the ultra and the pro. I needed 10 channels so the pro fit the bill, but also needed 8 channel amp for components. After calculating in high quality audioquest coax cable($$$) for topping to helix, high quality amp that was better than 107 s/n, high quality rca cables… the v eight won and also has AOC coprocessor for the conductor which is half the price of director and much easier to integrate during install. Besides I have iPhone 12 and charge via MagSafe mount so helix not playing well with apple wasn’t a dealbreaker.
I suggest you look at the sample rate of the dsp before making yourself look any dafter while chasing sq… I’ll give you a clue… it’s 96khz, so optical is as good as it gets, anything more is down sampled, so yet another conversion that you don’t want…

so optical with one conversion at the end of the dsp with a topping via optical vs your dac then input adc then down sampling, then dac at the end of the dsp… food for thought 👍🏼
 

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Just going by what I’ve heard about audio cables from from the audiophile crowd. Must be all hype!
Pretty much, you have listened to lots of people but really don’t know much… the audiophile crowd often count on aural memory which is not very good, measurements however are objective and accurate

Have you seen a test of high end leads vs a 3.99 usb lead and the jitter that results? Or the differences… I have… there is no difference in a digital usb cable despite manufacturer and reviewers claims… digital either works or it doesn’t you don’t get different sound from two usb cables one at 60 and one at 2.99, the makers manufacture them as people will buy them thinking they are better

 

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Well I personally don’t have experience with cheap vs expensive audio cables as this is my first go at a SQ system. My only experience with signal cables that can relate are with LTE cables. Signal strength from LTE internet is also measured in dB. The difference between cheap Chinese Wilson antenna lmr400 cables vs USA made times microwave cable is night and day. These are the same type of cables that HAM radio guys run that have 10s of thousands of $ in their equipment. I know when I built my 4g LTE internet setup I opted for the times microwave cables although they were 4x as expensive as the Wilson cables. I didn’t want to waste my high end equipments signal capabilities to be bottlenecked by cheap cables. My LTE signal is the same as if I was standing right next to the LTE tower except I’m 8 miles away from it. I’ve measured it, so that’s my experience. Lmr400, coax, rca… they’re all the same type of cables, center electrode and ground on the outside. By all means buy your cables from Walmart! It’s all the same, right? Why would I bother with a cable that could be so susceptible to outside frequency, cable jitter, or poor craftsmanship when I have a better alternative like USB that has plenty of data to back it proving it’s better for signals? Besides it’s a way cheaper alternative and more reliable. I’d rather choose the best option available and not be bothered with wondering if it’s a power cable ran too close or some other outside frequency is causing interference.
But we do not hear in the MHz, and HAM or microwave cable is a bit of different beast, and they are 1000x times apart, like 20kHz is 100-1000x lower than MHz.
 
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Pretty much, you have listened to lots of people but really don’t know much… the audiophile crowd often count on aural memory which is not very good, measurements however are objective and accurate

Have you seen a test of high end leads vs a 3.99 usb lead and the jitter that results? Or the differences… I have… there is no difference in a digital usb cable despite manufacturer and reviewers claims… digital either works or it doesn’t you don’t get different sound from two usb cables one at 60 and one at 2.99, the makers manufacture them as people will buy them thinking they are better

Ya there’s definitely an over exaggerated hype around the hi res crowd from my short time reading about it. I do believe this was the article that swayed me towards going usb route. The difference had to be zoomed in so much and would be unnoticeable to the ear. All I was getting at is I don’t buy cheap things for high end equipment because it’s usually cheap for a reason and usually has no longevity. The topping may very well be a good route but it’s also another piece in the chain that could fail and also requires more interconnects(usb in plus optical or spdif out). From everything I’ve read about helix stuff, it’s all extremely reliable.
 

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2004 Rav4 JL900/5 NVXvad2 MiniDsp 8x12(Dirac) LPG26NA GS25 RS180-4 Um12
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With a high resolution streaming service, above average stereo system and good tune, how much better is going beyond phone usb to receiver? I believe I’m closing in on an entry level competition quality system and it seems time to begin thinking about source quality and signal transmission. I don’t particularly enjoy adding/spending on more components unless the returns are a decent price/performance balance.
 

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My headunit is a low to middle tier pioneer from around 5 years ago.
 
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