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Car audio – Tuning

Car audio - Tuning 1

Car audio

I ask this article not to consider the incriminating actions of installation companies. I just live by the principle of “Gods do not burn pots,” so I believe that any person with minimal knowledge in the field of electronics can carry out the independent installation of music in their car. In most cases, it will turn out no worse, and the money saved can be spent on equipment of a higher class. I want to warn you right away – it’s better to spend money on music once, albeit in stages, but to get what you wanted, than to achieve the desired periodic change of components. In addition to time, it will also require large material costs..

The process of building a music system in a car consists of the following steps: listening and selecting components, noise and vibration isolation of a car, installing selected components in a car, setting up an installed system. Let’s consider each stage in more detail..

1. Listening and component selection.

To begin with, you need to decide on your musical preferences, as well as on the budget of the purchase itself. In practice, there are few systems that can play material of any genre, and they cost a lot. We will focus on mid-budget systems, costing up to $ 1,500, so we can pretend to be universal with a stretch.

Listening in an anechoic chamber devoid of overtones and resonance is considered ideal. In practice, this is unlikely to be encountered, so the listener should be prepared for the fact that the sound of the same components will be very different, for example, when listening to a stand and in a car. A machine, if it’s not a hole in the penny, is like an acoustically enclosed space, therefore, it has certain nuances of transmitting the sound path. But we’ll talk about this later.

It is also worth mentioning that the most cunning sellers often stuff their stands with an acoustic padding pad, while even a cheap speaker starts to play more colorful. Another trick is connecting the radio to the speakers through the high-voltage inputs of the amplifier. At the same time, sellers demonstrate to the buyer free line outputs, and assure him that the radio is connected directly, without an amplifier. Do not believe it. The real power of the built-in amplifier of the radio rarely exceeds 20 watts, this is not enough to create a powerful, high-quality sound.

The main thing in choosing components remains the so-called “teamwork”. Those. the head unit of one company can be perfectly combined with acoustics and amplifiers of other companies. There are so-called accumulated “bundles” that provide a good sound result in advance.

I recommend listening and selecting components to be carried out both at the stand and already in ready-made installations, taking into account my own musical preferences. Only in this way can you hear the various nuances of the sound of the components.

The choice of components should be approached no less thoroughly than to listen to them. In addition to the signature features of the sound of a brand, there are many other criteria by which one or another equipment should be selected. In addition to the banal overall dimensions, it is advisable to pay attention to the presence of at least two pairs of line outputs, the presence of a dimmer, as well as the appearance of the device itself, its combination with the overall design of the interior and the dashboard. I deliberately do not list the sound features of certain head units, speakers and amplifiers, because the perception of the sound path of each person individually and, therefore, my opinion cannot claim to be objective.

The next question is the availability of MP3 and WMA decoders. The main advantage of these formats is the compression of musical compositions, on the basis of this, it is possible to record 8-10 times more songs on a regular disc. The main disadvantage of listening to music in this format is that when compressed with any, even the highest bitrate, songs lose in quality. The frequency band is greatly reduced and the listener gets a strongly altered composition at the output. To hear the difference, just compare the sound quality of a piece of music when playing a CD and radio. As you know, all FM radio stations, except for the frequency of 100.9, broadcast in MP3 format.

Acoustic selection should be given no less, if not more attention. In addition to musical preferences, when choosing it, one must determine both the size of the purchased acoustics and the place of its installation. Currently, the most popular is the installation of acoustics in the podiums on the doors; installation in floor drawers for seats is gaining more and more popularity. When installed in the door, the main advantage is the relative simplicity of this installation. When installed in boxes, the listener receives a stronger frontal bass, however, the calculation and manufacture of the box is a rather time-consuming task. Therefore, when choosing acoustics, we will a priori focus on the fact that she will play in ‘freeair’ – i.e. in open space, which, in essence, is the door. The size and installation depth of the acoustics play an equally important role when buying – it often happens that the door, its internal filling and casing have to be long and painfully adjusted to the purchased components.

My recommendations when choosing acoustics are good 2-component speakers from a well-known brand. The subwoofer is selected according to the same criteria, the most significant of which are the sound feature, diameter and installation depth.

An amplifier is an integral part of any well-built system. There are a large number of amplifiers on sale, so I will give the main criteria by which it should be chosen:

The price for the channel should not be lower than $ 45-50. It is desirable to have developed cooling fins on the front panel (radiator) and / or built-in fan. It is desirable to have a smooth adjustment of the low-pass and high-pass filters, phase adjustment, remote bass level adjustment. Overall dimensions of the amplifier. Choose an amplifier only among the products of renowned manufacturing companies. Such, as a rule, are made of better components, have protection against overload and overheating, provide better sound. It is also worth paying attention to the “bundles” mentioned earlier, as often correctly selected amplifier and acoustics can fix the blemishes of the sound of the head unit.

No less important role is played by the wires with which you are going to connect the components of your system. They are divided into power, acoustic and interblock. Power wires provide power to the head unit and amplifier. The cross-section of the power wire should be approximately 4 Ga, the acoustic – 8 Ga, but this is not the standard, but rather depends on the estimated rated power of the installed system. Interconnect wires are sold in a standard cross-section, they differ only in the length and presence / absence of a control wire. It is believed that expensive wires better convey certain fragments of the musical path. This is relevant only for wires of the highest price category, which for obvious reasons we will not consider. Well proven wires Daxx, Stinger, Belsis.

Many add a capacitor to their system. When choosing a capacitor, you need to consider that for 500 W of rated power of the system, a capacitor with a capacity of 0.5 F. is enough. It is better to focus on models with automation in order to avoid problems when connecting. In principle, a capacitor is installed in the system in order to avoid bass sagging during peak loads, when the energy of the battery and generator becomes insufficient. I personally have not seen this, and I did not notice the obvious advantages of using a capacitor in the system..

Before purchasing components, you must select the scheme by which you will install the selected components. I will give the most common schemes:

Head unit – front – subwoofer – 4-channel amplifier to the front and subwoofer. This is a classic wiring diagram, which carries out approximately 80% of all installations. It is based on budget, ease of setup and installation. It is also important that such an installation saves space in the car due to the compact arrangement of the components. A feature of the sound is the low power of the system. However, the sound quality at the same time loses slightly, and by the ear of an inexperienced music lover it is absolutely imperceptible.

The head unit – front – rear – subwoofer – 5-channel amplifier to the front, rear and subwoofer. The basis of this connection scheme is the one described above, while preserving its advantages and disadvantages. Added to this is the rear sound, the absence of which passengers sitting on the back often complain about. I note that in setting up such a system is more complicated than the first and it is not always possible to achieve the desired result. I do not recommend such an installation for passenger cars of small and medium (business) classes.

Head unit – front – subwoofer – 2-channel amplifier to the front – 2-channel amplifier to subwoofer. This scheme is suitable for lovers of powerful, assertive bass. Turning on the subwoofer with a bridge to a two-channel amplifier, we get a obviously greater power than in the above options.

Head unit – front – subwoofer – 4-channel amplifier to the front – 2-channel amplifier to subwoofer. In this price category, this scheme will be at the top, both in cost and in sound quality. It will allow you to abandon the crossovers included in the set of front speakers and use the crossovers of an external amplifier. Those. implement the so-called per-channel amplification. This will significantly affect the quality and sound power of the system..

After the selected components are purchased, before installing them in the machine, you should make noise and vibration isolation.

It is no secret that over time, many details of the interior of the car become loose and begin to live their own lives. If you install music in a car without performing a set of noise-vibration isolation works, very soon the door trim, dashboard and, in general, all interior elements, will begin to introduce extraneous sounds into the music path. The reason for this will be the increased sound pressure, especially at low frequencies. To avoid this, there are certain materials, both Russian and foreign production. For me personally, the price / quality ratio is more suitable for products of the Ivanovo company Standardplast.

We will need two types of materials: “Vibroplast” – for vibration isolation and “Visomat” – for noise insulation. The thickness of the materials is selected based on the design features of the doors. Sizing can be carried out at an ambient temperature of +15, or when using a building hair dryer. We disassemble the door. We attach a vibroplast to the inner surface of the door’s outer panel, with pieces of about 15×30 cm each. We have butt joints. The rods of the lock button, opening the door, can be drowned by putting on them the washer nozzles cut along the tube. After the entire inner surface is glued, a layer of visomat is laid on top. Butt welds.

After that, we proceed to sizing the part of the door located directly under the skin. We glue all the technological holes with vibroplast, while the door opening traction should move freely. The visomat should not be glued on top. Then proceed to sizing the inside of the door trim. We glue the visomat, we place the butt joints. Putting the door in the reverse order.

Similarly, we glue the second door, roof, luggage compartment, floor. Putting the whole salon together and enjoying the noticeable silence.

3. Installing music components.

Installation of the system is reduced to installing the head unit in a regular place, making podiums for speakers, placing a subwoofer and amplifier.

Installation usually begins with laying power wires from the engine compartment to the passenger compartment. After selecting the wire cross section according to the table for the total power of the amplifier and the head unit, we pull the plus and minus wires from the battery into the passenger compartment through the technological holes in the engine shield. The wires passing through the metal should be dressed in a piece of plastic or rubber tube, in order to avoid short circuit to ground. The positive wire must be connected through a flask with a fuse, at the rating the corresponding fuse on the amplifier, the flask itself should be located no further than 30 cm from the battery.

After passing the power wires into the cabin, through the power distributor we start them on the head unit and amplifier. We solder the power wires to the wiring harness of the head unit, let the positive wire through the fork fuse, protect the soldering place with heat-shrinkable cambric. We connect the block to the head unit, interconnect cables to the linear outputs of the head unit and install it in a regular place according to the attached instructions. Crimp the ends of the power wire going to the amplifier with terminals.

Proceed to the manufacture of podiums. There are many ways to make podiums yourself on the Internet. Personally, I do this:

From plywood, 10-12 mm thick, I cut out the base of the future podium, which will then be rigidly attached to the door trim or to the metal of the door through the trim. Then I make an adjusting ring, the inner diameter of which is equal to the diameter of the rubber suspension of the speaker. I fix the spacer ring on the base so that the axis passing through the center of the resulting structure is directed at the opposite listener. I fill the resulting structure with mounting foam, waiting for it to dry completely. Then with a knife and sandpaper I give the workpiece the desired shape. To give a fortress, I glue the resulting part on top with fiberglass impregnated with epoxy glue. After drying irregularities, smooth with putty and fiberglass, sand until a smooth surface is obtained..

Further decoration is a matter of taste and conformity with the general style of interior design. The resulting blank can be painted, pasted with carpet or vinyl. For gluing with carpet or vinyl, it is convenient to use special glue available in aerosol cans. Permatex glue is very convenient in work. Apply glue with a thin layer on both surfaces, wait a minute and firmly pressing the material to the workpiece, glue it, rolling irregularities and air bubbles with a wallpaper roller

We firmly fix the resulting podium on the door, similarly make another podium. We install midbass speakers in the podiums, let the wires pass through the doors. If there are no rubber couplings in the door and the rack, we drill two holes, and we place the hole in the rack higher. We fix special rubber couplings into the holes, pass wires through them.

We begin the installation of tweeters. Tweeters, coupled with midbass speakers form the so-called “sound stage.” We place them on the lining of the pillars of the windshield, approximately at eye level, with a turn to the center of the windshield. Thus, we force the speakers to play on reflection, forming the width and height of the sound stage. In other words, the left tweeter plays on the right passenger seat, the right on the driver. We produce podiums for tweeters using a technology similar to the manufacture of podiums for mid bass speakers. We connect acoustic wires.

We begin to lead to the amplifier acoustic, interconnect and power wires. Power wires must be laid separately from the acoustic and inter-unit. Their mutual intersection at an angle of 90 degrees is allowed. It is advisable to lay each group of wires separately, including from the standard wiring of the car.

We connect the wires to the amplifier, connect the subwoofer. If the subwoofer is supposed to be used in the case, and it was bought with the finished case, then for cars with a sedan body, we deploy a subwoofer with a speaker to the back of the rear seat, and for cars with hatchback and station wagon bodies, towards the fifth door. If you purchased a separate subwoofer head and plan to make your own case, it is important to know that there are two types of cases for subwoofers: “stealth” – a case that repeats the shape of the luggage compartment, usually built into a niche, and a “box” – a case of arbitrary shape, shape resembling a cube or trapezoid. The sizes of the boxes, their internal volume are calculated in a special program JBL Speakershop, available for download on the Internet. In it, it is possible to calculate the length and diameter of the port, if it is supposed to produce a phase-inverter housing. The “stealth” case is manufactured using the same technology as the podiums for front speakers, with the exception of longitudinal stiffeners, which serve to strengthen the structure. The case “box” is made of two layers of 10 mm plywood, bonded to each other. The walls of the box are assembled on self-tapping screws with a step of 5 cm, the internal seams are coated with silicone sealant. If the internal volume of the made case differs from the necessary one, then it can be reduced by putting foam pieces of the required volume inside, or increased by shoving the fluffy acoustic padding pad at the rate of 10-15 g per liter of volume. The resulting case, similar to the podiums for front speakers, can be glued with carpet or vinyl using special aerosol glue.

Having connected all the wires, making sure that they are connected correctly, turn on the head unit and proceed to configure the installed system.

4. System setup.

After connecting, the installed system must be correctly configured. By tuning is meant setting the cutoff frequency for the acoustics and subwoofer on the amplifier, setting the incoming and outgoing sensitivity, tuning the sound processor (if any).

A priori, we assume that the filters in the amplifier are much better than in the head unit, therefore, we will perform the adjustment with the settings set to “0” on the head unit.

Step one. We set the filter for the subwoofer channel to the “LPF” position on the amplifier. The crossover cutoff frequency is set in the range of 50-70 Hz.

Step Two We set the filter for the front channel to the “HPF” position on the amplifier. The crossover cutoff frequency is set in the range of 70-90 Hz.

On this filter settings when using passive division, i.e. with the participation of the crossovers included in the kit, completed. If channel-by-channel amplification is used to the front, then we separately configure the tweeters. We set the high-frequency channel filter on the amplifier to the “HPF” position, and set the crossover cutoff frequency to approximately 2.5 kHz.

Step Three The sensitivity is set as follows: on the amplifier we set the setting to “0”, on the head unit we increase the volume to the maximum value. Then we turn the sensitivity control on the amplifier upwards, until noticeable distortions appear in the sound of the system. A little decrease – sensitivity is set.

We get into the car, listen. If when you turn on the radio, clicks are heard in the subwoofer, and crackling in the speakers means that there are pickups. We look at how all the wires are laid, if necessary, lay them in another place. If the bass is localized at the back, i.e. tied to the subwoofer, then connect the subwoofer in antiphase. To do this, if the amplifier has a smooth phase adjustment, turn the knob 180 degrees. If there is none, swap the “+” and “-” wires for connecting the subwoofer to its block.

If something does not suit you, the indicated adjustment ranges can be slightly adjusted according to personal preferences..

If the installed system has a sound processor (a separate device or a built-in head unit), we proceed to configure it. The setting will be reduced to adjusting the time delays for each channel (especially relevant for channel-by-channel amplification of the front speakers, but it also makes sense for passive division).

Consider an example of why this is necessary. The driver sits in the car to the left of the center center line. Accordingly, the sound of the left channel reaches it faster than from the right. This situation can be corrected only by setting a time delay for the left channel, thus giving time to the right channel signal to reach the listener. When properly configured, the sound should come from the center of the dashboard at the level of the windshield.

In the same way, you can “pull the bass on yourself.” If the method for eliminating bass localization described above did not cope with it, then localization can be eliminated by setting the left and right channels of the front speakers to the same delay. Thus, the signal will come to them later, respectively, the bass will lose its binding to the rear of the car.

This completes the settings of the installed system. Enjoy listening.


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