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Discussion Starter #1
Haven't been around car audio for some time, for those reading this post and seeing this only my 2nd post, here's Mega's Intro

In any case, I was thinking of a mid level build, so maybe 2 to 3 steps above factory. I tend to be a value, bang for your buck, type of guy. Always get solid equipment in my different hobbies with an occasional high end item that I either bought used when I came across the right thing or used money I won from a tournament to take the sting of the high end price.

I tend to upgrade infrequently enough that when I finally do an upgrade, I can usually go with the "model" that was just replaced or even one generation older then that versus the latest and greatest.

So with all that said, I am struggling in selecting equipment as I am experiencing "Scope Creep" on the equipment I knew I need to buy but also as a result of learning the value of DSP these days on anchoring a system, that has really made it tough deciding how much to do and spend.

I am hoping to move forward with a simple phase 1 where I just improve the front factory speakers, figure out to DSP or not to DSP, and then move on to sub & amps after I finish my exterior and performance mods on the car so here goes:

2018 Mustang GT Base Radio - no factory amp and I have no idea how much power the radio puts out. I've looked but haven't found it yet.

Here's a good example of the Scope Creep I was talking:

PowerBass->Hertz Uno->Hertz Dieci->Hertz Energy (a local sound shop has a supply of Energy in stock and listened to them versus the Dieci and preferred them, didn't know they existed until I went into the shop)->and since that visit additional Hertz Cento components with crossovers as well as component drivers have showed up in my research (part me really loves the idea of buying the Hertz OE Tweeters and four of the C165 woofers but not sure how that would work without amps and at least an active crossover if I can't swing the full DSP. The above progression for a cost standpoint went from $125 to $430. The Energy are $250 at our local shop, $230 on eBay.

HZ Cento Pro
HZ Cento Woofer (not the same woofer as the pro)
HZ Cento 26 OE Tweeter (fits in factory pillar location better then the ones from the component 2 way)

So trying to reign myself back,

Are the Hertz Energy a good replacement for a radio driven mid level build that can also support a phase 2 when I add an amp and rear fill back in? Any other recomendations for a non amplified speaker upgrade or am I just kidding myself?

If I get the Hertz Energy for the front, how about a Hertz component woofer or using a second set of Energy and tossing the tweeter for the rears? On all small car like a Mustange what about running a 3 way with the woofer in the rear deck, the smaller mids in the lower door and the tweets in the pillar, can this even work?

Should a mid level system even have a DSP, if it does, what is appropriate? The DSR1 is reasonable but the time delay maxes out at 10ms, reading some of the rear fill threads that may not be enough, hard to say, the Mustang is not a big car. Helix, Audison, Audio Control are all to expensive. If I commit to the DSP, can I save some on the speakers sticking with a trusted brand but choosing based on fit and cost.

I actually like the idea of Audio Control's new D series amps with built in DSP but maybe too much for the mid level. I could use their mini amp for the front and run them at 75 rms per channel for front or get their other mini and run 50 rms per channel across all four channels. I am not trying to win any db contests, just want good solid sound with decent volume. If I passed on the DSP, I can almost go with a mini amp and front speakers for phase 1 but that comes with a caveat, I would tuck the mini amp up under the dash and given the cost of it and one or two more mini amps down the road, I would likely never go back and add a DSP. If I go with a DSP, then for phase 1 I get the front speakers (maybe the rears), do my sound deadening, and build a proper amp rack in the wheel well and run the power system with distribution blocks, etc, for the future DSP, AMPS, Sub, and rears if I don't have them yet.

I don't want to make this about a hard number so that's why I haven't given a budget. I'm afraid if I do, I will talk myself out of spending much of anything for a car I am only driving 3,000 to 6,000 miles a year, I work from home so I don't have a commute. But the hobbyist in me needs something to do and overspending some relative to use is ok to a point but it does not make sense for me to drop $3,000 into the audio, especially when I need some funds for my suspension, appearance items, etc

I apologize for being all over the place but I have been struggling with this because my brain always wants to be reasonable & value oriented but emotionally is hard to prevent scope creep and last but not least I have competing parts of a hobby competing for the same resource ($ in this case)

If you got this far, my sincerest gratitude

Mega Out
 

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First thing I would want to know, does the radio have a decent output signal?

Second are you going for OEM speaker positions?

Third, if you get a DSP, and I would say it's a very good idea, will you be able to tune it or will you want someone to tune it for you?
 

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Personally, being a relative noob to "sound quality" car audio, I would highly recommend getting a DSP. I personally prefer separate DSPs (not integrated with amp) simply because I prefer having the ability to change/upgrade DSP's without having to change the whole amp. I started with a JL Audio XD600/6v2 amp (75W x 6 RMS) and a Rockford Fosgate DSR-1 DSP (which also provided OEM integration functions) but then after I got a taste of DSP, I decided that I wanted a "higher end" DSP, so I upgrade to a Helix DSP.3 DSP - and I was able to do that without replacing the entire amp. I just don't like the idea of being "stuck" with the DSP provided by the amp manufacturer.

Also - OEM integration is an important part of this upgrade, assuming your car has navigation, bluetooth, etc - and you are planning to stick the OEM radio (a lot of newer cars have radios that are REALLY integrated into the car functions, so it's not always possible to replace the OEM radio). If you want/need to stick with the OEM radio, you may want/need to get an OEM integration piece of hardware as well (such an a PAC AmpPro 4 device). I'm not familiar with your car and whether or not something like an AmpPro is available of it or not though.

Car audio is a lot different nowadays with a lot of newer cars since you can't always just replace the OEM radio like you used to be able to do.

All of this to say that I'd highly recommend some sort of DSP. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #4
First thing I would want to know, does the radio have a decent output signal?

Second are you going for OEM speaker positions?

Third, if you get a DSP, and I would say it's a very good idea, will you be able to tune it or will you want someone to tune it for you?
Thanks for the reply, I appreciate the questions and the time you took to read my post. Sometimes before I can articulate a plan, I need to ramble on with what is in my head and get some questions answered then that helps me move along in the planning (oh lord, I just had to delete a whole paragraph as I started going on with TMI)

So to answer your three questions:
  1. I am trying to get the output signal power confirmed, maybe 25 watts but not confirmed yet and unknown if that's RMS, however, this may not come into play until phase 3 now
  2. I plan on using the OEM speaker positions - in 2108 Mustang Base that's A-pillar, 6-1/2 or 6-3/4" both in lower corner of door and rear deck - 6 speakers total
  3. My preference would be to have a DSP I can learn to tune or one that uses speaker distances for tuning rather then a mic
As I continue to read, I am leaning more and more to getting a DSP and changing how I would phase my approach. So here goes:

Option 1 - DSP & Active System (this option satisfies the engineer in me knowing system will be set-up properly, I still don't know if I can tell the difference between a system with or without a DSP as my hearing has degraded some over the years). The downside to the DSP, right or wrong, is that t makes me feel like the overall system needs to be active (to fully leverage the DSP) which also adds to the number of channels needed (more $)
  1. Phase 1 - spend more effort on the backbone of the system, install DSP, quality 4 channel amp in the 50 to 75 RMS range, and maybe use the PowerBass ($130) upfront, the Cento Hertz Components ($290) or find some components researching the forum. Mount amp in trunk - use spare tire wheel well for amp rack that can hold DSP and upto 3 total amps in the future, distribution blocks, etc
  2. Phase 2 would add a sub and amp. Then see how I like the system as is and if I need rear fill then go to phase 3 but in Phase 1 run large enough wire for sub amp and additional future amps just in case. The idea of the amp rack in the wheel well is I would have enough room for a DSP and 3 amps. Sub would go inside trunk, likely a down firing enclosure so I can throw a golf bag and gear in at will without worrying about hurting the sub. I do not want to pull the amp out everytime I go play golf or go on a weekend get away.
  3. Phase 3 would add back in the rear fill - the risk here being I need another amp (installed in amp rack) UNLESS I can run the rear fill off the factory radio's rear channel.
Option 2 - No DSP & Active System (Mini Amp Option)
  1. Phase 1 - add a quality 4 channel miniamp in the 50 to 75 RMS range to drive front speakers sticking with the same speaker options of Option 1 above. Mount amp under dash
  2. Phase 2 would be to add a sub and miniamp or a powered sub and see how I like the system as is and if I need rear fill then go to phase 3, run large enough wire for sub amp and additional future amp just in case
  3. Phase 3 would be to add back in rear fill - the risk here now is I need another miniamp UNLESS I can run the rear fill of the factory radio rears unless the power difference is too large to balance with the front AMP. Mini amp mounted right under rear deck.
Option 3 - No DSP, Passive System, and stick to original Phase progression if radio power comes in at a minimum of 25 rms
  1. Phase 1 - replace all 6 speakers with efficient speakers that can be driven by factory radio
    1. Run fronts with passive crossover if I get a 2-way component (Hertz Cento) set-up OR the preference would be to
    2. Run fronts with components (Hertz Cento components or equiv) and use individual first or second order crossovers at each speaker to set the crossover frequency ( I would definately need help here)
    3. Run rears under either scenario with component woofer and again use individual first or second order crossovers at each speaker to set the crossover frequency
  2. Phase 2 - add sub and amp or a powered sub
  3. Phase 3 - add quality 4 channel 50 to 75 RMS amp to drive front and rears, likely a mini amp so I can install under dash since spare tire wheel well space will be occupied by the sub and its amp
Comments:
  1. Use the spare tire wheel well for the sub & its amp for Option 2 and 3
  2. Quality wiring and sound deadening
  3. As I wrote these options, I almost feel like I would probably be satisfied with the end result with any of the options as far as the actual listening experience goes, its just how do I satisfy that engineer in my brain that likes things done proper, translation, get the DSP
So a new question as a result of this as I am just going to start researching wheel well subs - my assumption is this will need to be a speaker that fires up to get any real benefit out of it
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Personally, being a relative noob to "sound quality" car audio, I would highly recommend getting a DSP. I personally prefer separate DSPs (not integrated with amp) simply because I prefer having the ability to change/upgrade DSP's without having to change the whole amp. I started with a JL Audio XD600/6v2 amp (75W x 6 RMS) and a Rockford Fosgate DSR-1 DSP (which also provided OEM integration functions) but then after I got a taste of DSP, I decided that I wanted a "higher end" DSP, so I upgrade to a Helix DSP.3 DSP - and I was able to do that without replacing the entire amp. I just don't like the idea of being "stuck" with the DSP provided by the amp manufacturer.

Also - OEM integration is an important part of this upgrade, assuming your car has navigation, bluetooth, etc - and you are planning to stick the OEM radio (a lot of newer cars have radios that are REALLY integrated into the car functions, so it's not always possible to replace the OEM radio). If you want/need to stick with the OEM radio, you may want/need to get an OEM integration piece of hardware as well (such an a PAC AmpPro 4 device). I'm not familiar with your car and whether or not something like an AmpPro is available of it or not though.

Car audio is a lot different nowadays with a lot of newer cars since you can't always just replace the OEM radio like you used to be able to do.

All of this to say that I'd highly recommend some sort of DSP. :)
Yes, I will be keeping my OEM radio. Plan is to use speaker outputs to drive the next component in line whether its a DSP or an amp. A common thing to do on the Mustang is to get the ODB module and use FORSCAN to disable to bass roll off. I will like do this, when will depend on what option I go with in the end (please see my 2nd post in this thread)

I AM leaning towards the DSP, maybe 75% of the way there) but the Helix would be way beyond the type of system I am looking for as great as it sounds. I get where you are coming from regarding running a separate DSP and amp versus an integrated product but for someone with no experience with DSPs I am finding it hard to dismiss the value in something like the new Audio Control D Series with DSP and 4 channel amp. Their software seems friendly enough but still functional enough and the 5 year warranty is appealing and important since you in essence you have two components. I looked at the JL but they were even more expensive the AC which is already pushing what I want to spend.

To be honest, I still have more DSP research to do, everything from Parts Express options to the DSR1 or the miniDSP, to who knows what else is out there.

Thanks!
 

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Nothing wrong with AudioControl. If you do go the AudioControl D-series amp/DSP route, here is a little secret... Most of the time, Sonic has "open box" AudioControl units available for a fraction of the cost - and they are usually brand new, un-opened amps! When I was deciding which amp to buy, I was considering the JL Audio XD600/6v2 or the AudioControl LC6.1200. I ended up getting both and sure enough, the AC LC6.1200 that I ordered as "open box" from Sonic was actually a sealed, brand new unit, just like the Sonic rep told me it would be. :) Honestly, I think its just a way for them to sell AC products below the MAP price that AudioControl dictates. In my case, I decided on the JL Audio, so I returned the un-opened, "open box" AC amp, but if I were in your shoes, I'd save a considerable amount of money and just order an "open box" version from Sonic.... Full warranty and most likely brand new - just for a lower price...

EDIT: So I just checked and while they do have the "open box" version available for the D-series amps, they also have a 20% off sale on the versions listed as "new" right now, so if you order soon, they won''t be much, if any (didn't calculate) difference between the "new" and "open box" versions...
 

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Oh - something else to consider... :) I know that you are trying to keep costs down, but since you have a 6-speaker vehicle, you may want to consider a 6-channel amp - especially if you go the DSP route - that way you have complete, independent control over every speaker. If you use a 4-channel amp for 6-speakers, they you can't have separate time alignment, level control (and other things) for each of the speakers. Just something to keep in mind.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Oh - something else to consider... :) I know that you are trying to keep costs down, but since you have a 6-speaker vehicle, you may want to consider a 6-channel amp - especially if you go the DSP route - that way you have complete, independent control over every speaker. If you use a 4-channel amp for 6-speakers, they you can't have separate time alignment, level control (and other things) for each of the speakers. Just something to keep in mind.
Thanks for the Sonic tip, it certainly makes it interesting and would make me chose a path, helpful since the mini amps I have been eyeing are the Audio Control ones, they just got affordable to the point I could do Option 2 Phase 1 and 2 OR

Do I go all in, and get the Audio Control D-6.1200 given the price break or go with the D-4.800 taking those savings and much nicer price point for today and go with my Option 1 Phase 1 above and take the chance I will never need the rear fills. With the D-4.800 and some nice front components I could have a significant upgrade for $1000 plus install materials and an easier install and integration not needing to mount passive crossovers.

Hmm....well I have just under 3-1/2 hours to decide. I would feel rushed if I was trying to pick speakers but somehow this feels like a very solid backbone for a system that I can build a whole system around, my wife is going to think I am crazy. I better take some time and look their site some at speakers and other options.

Thanks again!
Mega
 

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Well, we will see how it turns out. I usually spend more time researching options but I had seen enough during the week to know I liked Audio Control though I am not sure how everyone else feels about them.

That said, when I went through my spreadsheet and looked at all the scenarios, I really felt the like the best value was the new D-6.1200 Amp with the built in DSP.

Without getting into all the numbers, let's just say, everything else was too close in price and risked being higher, sometimes a lot higher, if I wasn't happy with their comprimises and had to come back and add additional gear to match what the D-6.1200 could do for me.

They only way I could have save enough in my upfront investment enough for it to matter was to go from the D-6.1200 to their mini amp line with no DSP (requiring two amps to match the 5 channels I can run the D-6.1200 at) and if that didn't turn out it could have got costly so I decided to mitigate some risk

My comment above about seeing how it turns out has a double meaning. Even though Sonic's site said there was time left in the Cyber week special (countdown timer), when I went to checkout with 15 minutes left it said the code had expired, probably a west coast east coast thing. In any case, to show good faith, I ordered the amp at full price, sent the help desk explaining the situation, attached some photos, and let them know if they can apply the discount, I will keep the order, if they can't apply the discount, please cancel the order. I'm in no hurry to pay full price.

So if I get the amp I will

Set it up as a 5 channel amp, running an active front channel, and bridged subwoofer and then see how I like it with NO rears & with a DSP

I would like to keep my new front speaker cost to $300 to $500 range but in reality I am eyeing the Hertz Cento separate tweeter and woofer for $290 as these tweeters seem like they would fit the A pillar better then the ones from the Centro Pro series but I still need to do more looking and hear some suggestions

For a sub, I may have to go on the cheap for now, a down firing Pioneer that was last years model. I saw it linked on a build recommendation on this site and it may be worth saving money here for now and then upgrading in a year if I am not happy, can you say Black Friday 2020.

If I don't get the amp, I will start on sound deadening, amp racks, power distribution, etc getting ready for my main build. Maybe throw in my old Pioneer GM-H100 two channel amp if it bench tests ok (just pulled it out of long term storage)

Either way, I will look at it as it was meant to be and not fret if I don't get it and if I do, maybe sweat it out a bit as I will worry the wife see's the delivery and asks how much I spent. She's retired now so I can't always hide my packages anymore... I'm sure some of you resemble that remark...
 

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I think you'll be happy with the AudioControl - they have a very good reputation. Glad to hear that you went with a DSP (Amp/DSP combo, in this case). In my opinion, a DSP is one of the most important parts of a modern system. With a parametric EQs, time alignment and electronic crossovers, they just give you so much flexibility to fine tune your system.

Personally, I tried a "fronts only" setup and I just didn't like it. To me, the rear speakers just add something that gives the system a "fuller" sound. Since I lower the level of the rear speakers compared to the fronts, you don't actually hear them specifically and the sound stage still comes from the windshield, but they definitely do add something. If you find yourself missing the rear speakers, you may be able to run them off of the head-unit amp - so that is always an option - especially since you'd want to run them at lower levels anyway. However, you'd have no DSP for the, so no way to set time alignment, etc. Everyone is different though - you may be perfectly happy with a "fronts only" system - it just wasn't for me.

I think you made a wise decision with the AC D6.1600 though - I think you'll be very happy with it.

And yes, I too still try to 'hide" some packages from the wife. :) She'll eventually find out about them, but I usually try to "introduce" them to her when she's in a good mood at least... ;-)

Just beware of the rabbit hole that is car audio. I too started off trying to be "economical", but I quickly started to fall down the rabbit hole. My Helix DSP.3 alone probably cost more than all of the components of my previous few systems combined (head-unit, speakers and amp!) - but the results were so worth it. Absolute audio bliss every time I drive my car now. :) Of course, the Paypal credit card with 6-months-same-as-cash didn't help. :)

Please keep us updated on your install - would love to hear how things progress!
 

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Not suggesting you spend more money, but have you considered purchasing some door panels out of a S550 with a Shaker Pro system... that would get you 3.5" mid openings in the top of the door for a 3-way system?
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Not suggesting you spend more money, but have you considered purchasing some door panels out of a S550 with a Shaker Pro system... that would get you 3.5" mid openings in the top of the door for a 3-way system?
Thanks for the suggestion & I actually have, so far panels are running from 200 to 250 each from a parts recovery outfit (I've only looked at one vendor so far). It is something I may do way down the road. Before I bought door panels, I would upgrade my factory bezel and screen to go from 4.2" to 8". Funny, I thought the cost of that was too high and it is depending on the package you chose but I almost could have done it with the money I just bought if I got the bezel and screen (which would have came with the same radio so a hot spare) from the same part recovery outfit and then bought the wiring harness retail. The screen update also allows me to get the different driving modes the base model doesn't have. In the old days, I would not have hesitated to cutting a hole in my door panel to add the mids, the hole in the sheetmetal is already there.

I made the right choice, I rather fix the sound first, then the video. I am also putting sound over my Shelby 350 track spoiler but that's ok, I haven't convinced myself I need that spoiler look.

My build will be a slow process, I am old, overweight, and stiffer these days but with cardboard on the ground and a handful of Motrin, I can do some work. I just need to pace myself and set realistic expectations of what I can finish any given day. The good news is that gives me a hobby along with the detailing and driving the actual thing that will take up some calendar time.
 

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Just beware of the rabbit hole that is car audio. I too started off trying to be "economical", but I quickly started to fall down the rabbit hole. My Helix DSP.3 alone probably cost more than all of the components of my previous few systems combined (head-unit, speakers and amp!) - but the results were so worth it. Absolute audio bliss every time I drive my car now. :) Of course, the Paypal credit card with 6-months-same-as-cash didn't help. :)

Please keep us updated on your install - would love to hear how things progress!
To be honest, if I had done a better job storing my vintage equipment, I would have been very willing to go down the Helix route and just reinstall my old equipment. I'm sure it would have worked just fine. I do realize even though I have a DSP it is limited being an integrated DSP/AMP. I can drive my 6 channels and use the line out to drive another amp with the DSP and process the signal that amp sees but not what that 2nd amp puts out. That's just one of areas where a standalone DSP with 8 or 10 channels shines over the integrated solution.

And BTW, Sonic customer service got back to me and applied the Cyber Week deal so I am going down the rabbit hole with the D-6.1200, now to hide that delivery...
 
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