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Discussion Starter #1
At what point does a nicely upgraded system be considered an SQ system? Is simply adding nice tweeters and mids with a DSP/Amp combo get you that level? Properly integrated subwoofer to the previously mentioned component set? Whats the minimum number of speakers in a system that will put you at that level?

I know..................too many questions but they all pretain to the same outcome.

Having said that I'm interested in an SQ type system for my MINI Cooper. It's a daily driver so nothing outrageous but I do want good sound quality. In the interest of simplicity can you go as simple as a two-way component setup in the doors and a sub in the back? It's my basic setup right now with Tang band 25-2176 tweeters mounted in the top of the door and some Dayton Audio 6" Reference in the lower part of the door. I tried using a three way passive crossover with the 6", 3" and the tweeter but it never sounded right. Much improvement when I switched back to the two-way crossover eliminiating the 3". Rear speakers are some CDT 6x9 mid bass types running band passed from 80Hz to 500Hz with a 12db slope and just to help the 6" speakers in the door a little. Amplifier is a Kicker iQ1000.5 controlling everything with the front speakers from the factory radio feeding the signal to the amp. The base model radio puts out a clean full bandwidth signal up to 4V so I have the gains adjusted accordingly. I like simple and I know only so much can be done with a minimum number of speakers. I'm made great improvements over the factory base system but that wasn't difficult as it sucked.
 

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If you want simple, with better SQ - dump the rear speakers entirely and throw away the passive crossovers and go active up front. Your amp has a pretty decent dsp built in, use it. Invest in a decent calibrated microphone and do some basic measurements. The rears band passed they way you have them now are likely really mucking up alignment - rear fill is stupid hard to get right, and rarely ever better sounding than a more solid front stage.

My $0.02 with the info so far...


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depends on the owners perspective. I have seen loud and proud people who claim their sound is so clean and crisp with ear piercing highs while the entire car turns into a vibrator.

to each their own.
 

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I think it means your not aiming to break windows or have your neighbors hear you bumpin too $hort from down the street. Finely tuned instead of just making you deaf. Having everything sound like it's coming from in front of you.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
If you want simple, with better SQ - dump the rear speakers entirely and throw away the passive crossovers and go active up front. Your amp has a pretty decent dsp built in, use it. Invest in a decent calibrated microphone and do some basic measurements. The rears band passed they way you have them now are likely really mucking up alignment - rear fill is stupid hard to get right, and rarely ever better sounding than a more solid front stage.

My $0.02 with the info so far...


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That was one of my thoughts. My initial setup was an easy amp swap to put the kicker in and that was a huge improvement initially with the control I gained with the eq and dsp. The rear 6x9's can go away easy enough.

Thanks for the input.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
depends on the owners perspective. I have seen loud and proud people who claim their sound is so clean and crisp with ear piercing highs while the entire car turns into a vibrator.

to each their own.
I know what you mean. I like to hear my sound stage on the hood of my car if possible. Loud is entertaining but I rarely crank it. I can't stand a shrill sounding tweeter. Much prefer a soft dome and then I tend to pad it down.

Thanks
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I think it means your not aiming to break windows or have your neighbors hear you bumpin too $hort from down the street. Finely tuned instead of just making you deaf. Having everything sound like it's coming from in front of you.
Correct. I like my hearing to stay where it is. And I like my neighbors.
 

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An "SQ" system to me is a system that can play aurally flat from 20hz to 20khz at decent volume without distortion. It will also have a good strong center image with well defined left and right boundaries at the same height as the center image AND sound like the subwoofer is up front on the dash. You should be able to have good up front bass WITHOUT having to cut the sub so much it may as well not even be turned on.

For your setup I'd get a calibrated mic like the Dayton usb mic and download REW (Room EQ Wizard). Look up Kyle Ragsdale's tuning tutorials o youtube and follow them. I learned to tune with rta through his video's and things turned out quite well my first try at it.

You can get a good sq setup with what you have. If you have the Tang tweeters I think you do start with crossing them at 2500hz 24db slope. Cross those 6" speakers around 125hz on bottom and 2500hz on top 24db slopes on both ends. Then cross those 6x9's from 40hz up to 125hz with 24db slopes. They're getting a mono signal so you don't want to cross them any higher than the 120hz range and many will even say that's too high but I'm keeping your current mids up front in mind with my suggestion. Start at these cross points with eq roughed in for tonality and get back with us in a few days. Your ears will need to process what's going on before you can truly make up your mind on if it sounds good. I think it will sound MUCH better than your current configuration;)
 

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You must spend at least $10,000 for your system to be considered SQ.


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This post made me laugh. Last month I sat in a few purpose built SQ cars with systems that most likely well exceeded the 10 grand mark. Hell one of them might have had more than that just in amps:eek:While they were impressive they just aren't something I would consider practical for the common man. The systems that impress me the most are the ones that were built and tuned by the owner on a tight budget but still sound great. This forum did start out as a forum for people who wanted to stretch their dollar as far as possible but still get great results from science and wise equipment choices.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
An "SQ" system to me is a system that can play aurally flat from 20hz to 20khz at decent volume without distortion. It will also have a good strong center image with well defined left and right boundaries at the same height as the center image AND sound like the subwoofer is up front on the dash. You should be able to have good up front bass WITHOUT having to cut the sub so much it may as well not even be turned on.

For your setup I'd get a calibrated mic like the Dayton usb mic and download REW (Room EQ Wizard). Look up Kyle Ragsdale's tuning tutorials o youtube and follow them. I learned to tune with rta through his video's and things turned out quite well my first try at it.

You can get a good sq setup with what you have. If you have the Tang tweeters I think you do start with crossing them at 2500hz 24db slope. Cross those 6" speakers around 125hz on bottom and 2500hz on top 24db slopes on both ends. Then cross those 6x9's from 40hz up to 125hz with 24db slopes. They're getting a mono signal so you don't want to cross them any higher than the 120hz range and many will even say that's too high but I'm keeping your current mids up front in mind with my suggestion. Start at these cross points with eq roughed in for tonality and get back with us in a few days. Your ears will need to process what's going on before you can truly make up your mind on if it sounds good. I think it will sound MUCH better than your current configuration;)
Your the second one to mention a calibrated mic. I'll try your suggestions before eliminating the 6x9's. Its all part of the fun.

The Tang Band tweeter I have will cross over lower than most normal tweeters. Some people cross as low as 1800Hz but I believe that's pushing them.

Thanks for the suggestions. I'll get back soon.
 

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So there's 2 ways I look at this question. One is the way many on here have described, with is the definition of an ideal SQ System. My definition for your question, "At what point does a nicely upgraded system be considered an SQ system?" is as soon as you define your goal as reaching that ideal SQ system described by others in this thread.

That's to say that when you choose to upgrade your equipment, you have 2 options, although they can sometimes be combined. That is you can aim for a well staged, flat/house curve response, with clarity and low distortion, or you can aim for loud at all costs. Most people, even on here fall in between with a lean towards the former. As you make decision and purchase equipment and decide what you like and don't like about a stereo you can move further one direction or the other. However, I don't think there is some magical line you cross where a stereo is all of a sudden an SQ System. There are things that will ruin SQ in a system but then if you like it that way, your goal isn't SQ.

Everyone starts somewhere, if your goal is SQ and all you can afford is a nice set of components and a small amp. Great, you have an SQ system, it might not be the pinnacle, but that's your goal and you've started down that path. Even people with 10's of thousands on here are still chasing the rabbit down the hole by upgrading and changing to get more SQ out of their systems.

Josh
 

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Once it accurately reproduces the signal, it becomes an "sq system"

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This.

The point of SQ is to have a system capable and configured to reproduce the music faithful to the original recording, with minimal distortion, and with the instruments / vocals placed on the "stage" where they were located during the recording.

If you can close your eyes (not recommended while driving) and picture the vocal dead center with instruments in their respective places left / right, that is a sound quality system.

The system should virtually reproduce what you would hear if you were standing in front of the artist(s) performing live. Or as well as possible in such a poor environment such as a car.

Separate tweeters and mids are better than coaxials for SQ since their locations usually enable you to raise the stage to the approximate level it would realistically be.

For the separate drivers, you need to run active to have proper time alignment to get the image and phase correct between them.

You need to have comfortable overlap between drivers so you don't have holes in the frequency band. You need decent drivers that don't have frequency breakups and ample power for them.

You need as much EQ control you can get your hands on, to improve the left / right image and overall curve.

If you can do a minimum of 2 way active plus sub, you can get very good SQ.

Like others have said, ditching the rear speakers is a big step toward a realistic stage.
Artists don't perform behind you.

A mic and REW is really necessary to get the system tuned properly.

I got the Umik-1 with Cal files from cross-spectrum, and it is fantastic.

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when system is capable to reproduce music as it was ment to be heard from the artist/mixer, with all dynamics, details, transparency, timbre, ambience, well defined stage/imaging.....
 

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There are already a lot of good answers, but my take on what separates an "SQ" system from just a decent aftermarket upgrade is in the staging.

It's pretty easy, and inexpensive, to get decent overall tonality from a basic upgrade. This can make listening to music much more fun in the car, you can dramatically improve output, dynamics, and clarity with a pretty basic aftermarket system (most of the time). The hard part is getting a system with proper stereo imaging, and a good stage. Having a nice sound stage takes a decent sounding system to a much more accurate, and enjoyable level.

The thing is, most people don't even know what staging and imaging are. Partly because they listen to music that doesn't have much of a sound stage to begin with, and partly because they don't even know what they're listening for. The illusion of a "stage" is what makes stereo what it is, and in order to take advantage of the stereo illusion you need to jump through some hoops in a car. Stereo is easy at home with a fairly symmetrical room, and speakers placed equal distance from the listener, but in a car it's much more difficult. You need to compensate for the terrible acoustics, highly reflective surfaces, asymmetric layout, and different distance from the listening position to the speakers. A DSP is pretty much necessary in order to fix what the car does to the stereo image.

One thing to note, sometimes having great staging in a car can go to waste. Depending on your listening and driving habits, you may not need to take your system to that level. It's really important to me to have great staging for my critical listening, but that doesn't happen in a car often for me any more. My commute is a bit of a nightmare, and I have to be much more focused on traffic these days than I used to, which really takes away from my ability to listen to the music in a way that justifies a perfect sound stage. Eventually I'll finish my current build, but it won't be anywhere near as complex as previous builds.

A simple 2-way front, with subs, and some active processing can take you pretty far away from a basic aftermarket system that has good dynamics, and tone, toward a nicely imaging "SQ" system. There are diminishing returns, systems really start to get more expensive and complex as you really chase the perfect soundstage. If you're listening and driving habits allow for it, then having a true "SQ" system can be really satisfying, but there are plenty of options for very satisfying "middle of the road" systems.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Thanks to everyone for your replies. It has helped me focus more on what my actual wants are. Being minimalist myself I'm going to go for a simple two-way front with sub with active processing. Parts-Express.com has everything I need that I don't already have.
 

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Thanks to everyone for your replies. It has helped me focus more on what my actual wants are. Being minimalist myself I'm going to go for a simple two-way front with sub with active processing. Parts-Express.com has everything I need that I don't already have.
That should do the trick. One recommendation I have for a 2-way setup, don't skimp on the tweeters. The tweeters in a 2-way do more work than in a 3-way, you need a tweeter that can play pretty low, those are usually bigger and harder to install, or more expensive. It's worth it though to find something that can play cleanly down to about 2.5khz.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
A DSP is pretty much necessary in order to fix what the car does to the stereo image.


A simple 2-way front, with subs, and some active processing can take you pretty far away from a basic aftermarket system that has good dynamics, and tone, toward a nicely imaging "SQ" system. There are diminishing returns, systems really start to get more expensive and complex as you really chase the perfect soundstage. If you're listening and driving habits allow for it, then having a true "SQ" system can be really satisfying, but there are plenty of options for very satisfying "middle of the road" systems.

You pretty much summed up my thoughts. This is the route I'm going to take as it will make the system even more impressive considering only 5 speakers will be used. I have the DSP/Amp and front speakers. Only need to run wires to the door and I'll need to(want to) upgrade my sub. Current sub sounds good considering what it is. Will probably get another Dayton Audio Reference Series sub to match the front door speakers and build a more permanent sub enclosure into the side of the hatch area.

Thanks for your insight
 
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