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Discussion Starter #1
I just read Captain Stereo's thread even as I was just about to post almost exactly the same thread. I think it might be really useful for me to still post, as I'm thinking that our systems and our needs, as well as our cars are different enough that between the two of up, we might really amass some great novice setup info.

Ok, so I have an 08 Kia Spectra5 (hatch). I've been attempting to tune the system, and if I'm being honest, apart from the obvious added bass hit and depth from adding the sub, I'm not sure it sounds better at this point than the simple head unit + Alpine S series in the doors (and that's it) that this all replaced. I have absolutely no 'stage' at all. All program material sounds liek it's coming from the speakers in my doors, except for once in a while sounding a little centered because it's coming out of both channels. You know how one of the terms peole use to define what they're hearing is how a system sounds 'open?' Well my system sounds exactly not like that. Dynamic range is good, but apart form that literal meaning, the sound is very compressed' if that makes sense. And like the other guy, I'm looking for some input. This is the system.

Clarion CX609 head unit - flat, front pre-outs going to:
Cadence CEQ773: 4ch out going to 4ch amp, and sub out going to:
AudioControl Epicenter, going to:
Soundstream RUB1.400, no boost or ss filter, xover at approx. 80hz, powering:
Image Dynamics ID12D4V3 in a 1.3 cu ft sealed box
Front speakers are HAT Imagine 6.5: components in OEM door spots. powered by:
Soundstream RUB4.600 (have killed off the rear fill for now, so running ch 1 and 2 only

Ok, so what to do? I feel pretty certain that all of the imtermediate places there are to screw things up in this system are contibuting to my trouble, so this is my plan:

I am going to forego rear fill totally for now, and go active with my 4ch amp, powering those front HATs. When I do this, I'm going to bypass the EQ and the Epicenter by running the 4 ch of output on the HU straight to the amps (the sub amp has a pas-thru). Then I will have just the HU, the front speakers bi-amped and crossed over by the 4 ch amp, and the sub powered by and crossed over by the mono amp, and that's it.

I will endeavor to tune this to my satisfaction, and once I reach what is to me a solid baseline, I will add in the Epicenter and do the same. Once, that's 'done' I'll add the EQ back in (or maybe I won't...who knows at this point).

What do you guys think? Is this a good plan? the last phase would be to re-introduce rear fill for the same reason as Captain Stereo...kids in the back seat.

Maybe you guys can bet on who will reach 'satisfactory' first :)
 

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So from all the stuff i asked him last night what have you done?
How long have you had this installed?
 

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sounds good except for the epicenter. even if I was a basshead, I didnt like how those change EVERYTHING to have bass that sounds the same, lol.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
So from all the stuff i asked him last night what have you done?
How long have you had this installed?
I didn't have any of the extry-cool sound isolation vinyl stuff, but the door is sealed with an aluminum/rubber adhesive-backed material (not D brand), and the mids are solidly mounted with no air leakage. The tweeters are hot-glued into the OEM door spots.

I have had the system installed for 2 weeks.

I didn't have the time today to run the extra speaker wire to go active, but I did spend about 45 min on equalization and I was able to realize a vast improvement. I was laboring under the idea that if the installation isn't terrible, the system shoudl be at least 'pretty good' when totally flat. And maybe that's true and I have installation issues, but it sounds bad flat (see my OP).

My changes included moving the hpf to around 50hz (is probably too low, will go up to 80 or so on my next attempt), moving the sub xover down to roughly 100hz, and doing what amounted to a broad band midrange cut at the EQ.

What happened is that I remembered how I used to set up my home EQ when I was a kid, so I tried it. It's probably a terrible method, but I was desperate. The process is:

1. Adjust all bands flat
2. play known src material
3. start at high end, and adjust over full range + and -, find what sounds like a sweet spot, and move to the next band down
4. repeat for all bands
5. sit back and listen. If there are identifiable issues, do it again, until it seems ok.
6. Change src material and do it again. Do it for maybe 4 or 5 different sources. By now some sweet spots and problem areas should be revealed.
7. Start back with src material 1 and do it again.

So I did this, and it really is much better...to the point where I think that with EQ, xover settings, and ultimately time alignment I think I'm going to be ok.

Note: I left the Epicenter off for all of this.

Today: much better, still needs significant work.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
sounds good except for the epicenter. even if I was a basshead, I didnt like how those change EVERYTHING to have bass that sounds the same, lol.
I'm not a bass head at all. What I like about the Epicenter is that it allows for bass to have a percussive feel and extra 'bottom' to it even at low listening levels, on 'musical' music. I admit that I might have lacked that in the past because of areas of my systems that were lacking, and the possibility exists that when I'm done with my quest here I won't want it any more.

Example: When I was done today I played Flim & The BB's Tricycle at low levels, and I added a small bump of Epicenter and it made a huge positive impact on my listening experience. Am I likely to turn it on when listening to Dubstep or the next Eminem CD? No chance.

We shall see. :)
 

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I first play with crossover points and amp gains to balance it out for the best image and overall dynamics. I run only the front speakers first on their own to get the very most out of them in terms of sheer output, low octave range and staging. I will then bring up the sub level and set the crossover point to get it to blend with the front speakers. If I am using rear fill I will then turn it up until it is noticeable and back it off until I don't notice it in relation to the fronts. What I mean by notice is that it has no negative impact on the front image. My experience with rear fill is that when properly executed it helps with stage width and depth.

My next step is to tune by ear using the EQ using reference material that I am familiar with. After that I use an RTA to see how the curve looks. Then I will tweak the EQ, crossover and amp gain settings if necessary. Hopefully at this point it is starting to sound really nice and I can abandon the never ending quest for obtaining the perfect sound of audio nirvana. Otherwise, the next step is joining a support group with others that seem to endlessly suffer the same affliction. In all seriousness, the next step seems to take me about a month of small tweaks with what seems like every setting to get it just right. :D
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I first play with crossover points and amp gains to balance it out for the best image and overall dynamics. I run only the front speakers first on their own to get the very most out of them in terms of sheer output, low octave range and staging. I will then bring up the sub level and set the crossover point to get it to blend with the front speakers. If I am using rear fill I will then turn it up until it is noticeable and back it off until I don't notice it in relation to the fronts. What I mean by notice is that it has no negative impact on the front image. My experience with rear fill is that when properly executed it helps with stage width and depth.

My next step is to tune by ear using the EQ using reference material that I am familiar with. After that I use an RTA to see how the curve looks. Then I will tweak the EQ, crossover and amp gain settings if necessary. Hopefully at this point it is starting to sound really nice and I can abandon the never ending quest for obtaining the perfect sound of audio nirvana. Otherwise, the next step is joining a support group with others that seem to endlessly suffer the same affliction. In all seriousness, the next step seems to take me about a month of small tweaks with what seems like every setting to get it just right. :D
Thanks for that.

Ya this is a great approach..what I need is a mentor for the initial tune, as I have no direction at all with regard to xover freqs and gains. I am satisfied that the cains are in the ballpark w/ regard to measured input/output, but I have done nothing about improving front stage because I don't know how.

One thing that stymies me is that when I turn the sub off to work on the front, they sound subjectively bad because so much sound is missing because they're crossed over. So, I turn down the xover freq to a point that I am certain it's too low (40Hz) to get it to sound full, but now I'm not really tuning the system, I'm tuning as if all I have is the door speakers.

I'm gonna get there...I swear it! :)

A second round of EQ has gotten me to a place where I'm pretty happy-ish with it, but I _know_ that it could be so much better.
 

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Unless you have really big drivers, 40 hz is way too low. Remember, the reason that you have a sub is to have the proper speakers playing the information that they were designed to play. You want the front stage to play as low as they can, but loudly and cleanly.

I usually start at about 80 hz and go up or down from there in small increments until the fronts blend with the sub in the most seamless manner. I approach it this way because I want to keep the bass as upfront as possible. I really think that the key is to get the sub to play as high as it can without being able to localize it and still have lots of visceral impact. Let the sub do what you bought it for, which is it's ability to move lots of air and produce the lowest octaves. This is something that small door mounted speakers just can't do.

It is fine to tune parts of the system individually, but remember that you are going to run it all together and it will sound it's best when the sum of the parts functions as one cohesive unit. You want your sound to be linear at all volumes and not just good at a low or high volume and maybe even not at all.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Unless you have really big drivers, 40 hz is way too low. Remember, the reason that you have a sub is to have the proper speakers playing the information that they were designed to play. You want the front stage to play as low as they can, but loudly and cleanly
I understand...that's why I said that I was certain it was too low. I was talking about doing that as an intermediate tuning step that didn't work.

I appreciate the info in general though...I'm going to give it another shot once I've got the wires run to go active in the front.
 
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