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Focal sub woofer audio upgrade performance

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#46 Hassen

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Posted 09 August 2014 - 09:37 AM

Added on my list of albums to get along with Lianne La Havas that I only heard of yesterday. Any more music recommendations, send them my way. Still breaking in the speakers. Loving them so far :)

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#47 Hassen

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Posted 16 August 2014 - 10:03 PM

Small update. I have had the new setup for a few weeks now and I think the speakers are well broken in. Still not 100% satisfied as on the motorway, the ambient noise levels are quite annoying. Apart from that, I am very happy with the sound quality in the car. 

 

I have a few questions though:

 

1. My current amp is rated at 70W rms x 4 channels. My Front Speakers are rated at 80W rms (Focal 165KR). Will I notice any improvement by upgrading the amplifier? Reading up online, suggestions was to have an amplifier pushing around 120W rms to extract the most of my speakers. If this was true, any 4 channel amplifiers that you guys could recommend that will not break the budget? 

 

2. Been doing a bit of research online after hearing about the Audison Bit Ten processor. Very tempted to get one. Any thoughts about it? 

 

 

Next planning to try to record the current system in 1080p and also get more Silent Coat to lay on the floor of the car.



#48 FOCA

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Posted 18 August 2014 - 06:35 AM

Small update. I have had the new setup for a few weeks now and I think the speakers are well broken in. Still not 100% satisfied as on the motorway, the ambient noise levels are quite annoying. Apart from that, I am very happy with the sound quality in the car. 

 

I have a few questions though:

 

1. My current amp is rated at 70W rms x 4 channels. My Front Speakers are rated at 80W rms (Focal 165KR). Will I notice any improvement by upgrading the amplifier? Reading up online, suggestions was to have an amplifier pushing around 120W rms to extract the most of my speakers. If this was true, any 4 channel amplifiers that you guys could recommend that will not break the budget? 

 

2. Been doing a bit of research online after hearing about the Audison Bit Ten processor. Very tempted to get one. Any thoughts about it? 

 

 

Next planning to try to record the current system in 1080p and also get more Silent Coat to lay on the floor of the car.

Hi! -

 

The Focal 165krs are very high end speakers, they have the flattest frequency response of any car speaker i have seen, they seem to be built for quality, and although not inefficient at 91db, the cone material is optomised (and probably the overall design) for sound quality rather than efficiency (or maximum loudness)  they are 4 ohms, 80w nominal and 160w peak - the kapton former and quality construction means the power ratings are probably conservative, and they could be driven hard (but not into clipping) for long periods with no trouble BUT - you won't notice a big difference (as much as you might think) between 70w and 120w as the increase is less than 3db

 

Are you using the passive crossovers on the front speakers? - active crossover(s) and seperate amps can increase power, as well as reduce  intermodulation distortion and the distortion introduced by the passive crossovers (generally clipping/ overload distortion and phase distortion) - if you used the 70w for the tweeter and 120 for the woofer (190 in total - you would need an active x-over though) that would noticably increase power (and quality) - dont forget to check the power output realative to the ohms (varies)  

 

It is possible to fit an infrasonic filter to cut the low bass on the front speakers - this can increase power handling/ headroom on the amps and speakers + reduce multi-point phase distortion from the various different low-bass sources, - the sub would handle all the low bass, the speakers and sub x-over would have to be matched and carefully set/ selected and the sub would have to be powerful  

 

If you could describe in detail your complete setup and the way it is wired

 

I have found a low cost but high-power (not super high-end but decent) amp manufacturer online but have lost it again (cant even remember the name - nothing id heard of before but the specs were good) :(  - i will see if i can find it again

 

Processors are great but you are only as good as your weakest link and if you have any underlying deficiencies (like its not loud enough, or the bass isnt deep enough) it will still show through, best to get the core system sorted then add a prossesor (in my opinion)



#49 Hassen

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Posted 18 August 2014 - 12:13 PM

Thanks for all the info Foca. I knew you were the right person to ask.

 

Once I am home, I will post the wiring diagram for the current setup and it's a lot easier to explain then. Using the passive crossovers that came with the speakers and they are doing a good job so far.  2 amp setup - JL Audio JX250.1 for the sub and Blaupunkt GTA470 for the front and rear speakers. Both front and rear speakers are rated at 80W rms and subwoofer is rated at 300W rms

 

As for processors, that's what I thought so and I think  I need to beef up the whole system before investing in one. They are not cheap and that Audison Bit Ten was £300! 

 

Would be great if you could find the name/brand for that amp. I just feel that at the moment with 70W rms for a speaker that is rated at 80W rms nominal, it's just not extracting the best out of it. Plus, the amp that I have is a bit old and it would be nice to get something a bit more efficient. So far, with my research, one of the contenders is the Alpine PDX-F4 (100W rms @4ohms) would seem to fit the bill but it's not cheap either. 

 

Any more advice/recommendations would be greatly appreciated. Pictures of the current setup in this thread :)



#50 Hassen

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Posted 18 August 2014 - 12:17 PM

And, in regards to the Focal 165KR, I just couldn't resist getting them while on holidays in Mauritius as in the end they were cost price. Previously wanted the Focal PS165 but these were a big jump from the polyglass ones. Very happy now that I have them. Makes a big difference :)



#51 Hassen

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Posted 18 August 2014 - 02:50 PM

So found a few amps and wouldn't mind some advice about them:

 

1. Infinity Kappa Four

http://www.sonicelec...KAPPA-FOUR.html

 

2. Polk Audio PA D400.4

http://www.sonicelec...-PAD4000.4.html

 

3. Alpine PDX-F6

http://www.sonicelec...ine-PDX-F6.html

 

 

Am I right in thinking that my current speakers would handle anything from 120-150W rms without any trouble given that they are rated for 80W nominal and 160W max power? Guessing that getting closest to the 160W mark would be ideal?

 

Thanks



#52 FOCA

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Posted 18 August 2014 - 04:00 PM

Ive made up a chart to give you an idea of the sound pressure levels from the front speakers for the power in 

 

91db -( 98)- 1w

 

94db - (101)- 2w

 

97db - (104)- 4w

 

100db - (107)-8w

 

103db- (110)-16w

 

106db- (113)-32w

 

109db - (116) - 64w

 

112db - (119) -128w

 

So if you measure the output of the speaker at 1w at 1 meter you get 91db, each doubling of power means a 3db increase, because humans can hear wisper quiet sounds to very loud sounds we cannot tell the difference between different levels of loudness in absolute terms and with 64w in its 109db, and at 128w 112db, going from 64w to 128 sounds a big difference, but you will not notice it (as much as you might think) in absolute terrms, (only realative to other sound/ noise) this may be enough to drown out the high-speed noise, if not you will be dissapointed, and this could be an expensive upgrade

 

in brackets are the db chart for speakers with 98db (1w at 1meter) efficiency (like the ones i use (not in my car - they have 136db potential!), in fact i have 100db ultra-high efficeincy ones)  - the 98db ones are louder at 32w than the 91db ones at128w -

 

So if you want to go louder you really need to go for more efficient speakers as you only have another couple of decibels more potential from the front speakers whatever amp you use

 

 

 

Active vs passive - in the passive (2way) system one amp is used to power the woofer and tweeter, a passive x-over is connected between the amp and speakers  the low frequencies are fed to the woofer and the high frequencies to the tweeter because the amp has to handle all the frequencies intermodulation distortion is present, the passive x-over has to handle the full power from the amp, and losses occur, other distortions like phase are introduced

 

in an active 2-way system 2 amps are used (one for the tweeter, one for the woofer) the amps are connected directly to each speaker, so there is no passive x-over to overload, lose power, or introduce distortion, headroom and power handling are  increased,  the crossover is electronic, and splits the sound before it is fed into each amp - so fine control of realative volume and frequency are possible (easily and without power losses) - some amps have (midrange) x-overs built in (sub x-overs are common)

 

Often the woofer gets a more powerful amp than the tweeter

 

So basically an amp upgrade is not going to make a big difference (i will try to find those amps for you anyway) to loudness and you need to do something more radical like replace your speakers with more efficient ones (they are nice speakers- your just never going to have your ears bleeding though), fit infrasonic filters and integrate the frequencies with the sub, and/or go active

 

     



#53 Hassen

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Posted 18 August 2014 - 09:43 PM

I had to read all that a few times but I think I got it all now. Great to be learning new things. From what I gather and want to achieve, there will be very little difference for a fairly big outlay on a new amp. I am looking at a SQ setup rather than an SPL as you might have gathered. So, I think I am reaching the limits of what can/need to be done for the current setup. Major thanks for writing all this down and explaining it in simple terms. Really appreciate it :)

At some point, if I get the itch and money, I will probably get the Audison Bit Ten just to see what's the fuss about because I keep seeing it being used in builds for Soundman Car Audio, which I am addicted watching these days!

 

https://www.youtube....oundmancaraudio

 

Also, today, I spent a bit of time trying to tune the car to my liking as I thought there wasn't enough bass while driving. After about 1 hr of messing with knobs and using an rTA app, I was able to tweak it to my liking. That is until I get bored and decide to mess with it again :P



#54 Hassen

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Posted 18 August 2014 - 09:48 PM

Small update: Hyrule had the nice heater knobs and he very generously posted them to me for me. Absolute legend! Got them today and installed them without any trouble. Definitely brings up the interior. Also, the tactile feel for the knobs is much nicer than the previous rubber/plastic ones :)

 

Tools used:

IMAG2013_zpshqvpmqzh.jpg

 

Stock heater knobs:

 

IMAG2011_zpsa1wzhlnf.jpg

 

Stock knobs off:

 

IMAG2014_zpsmfcur3mp.jpg

 

New shiny knobs: IMAG2015_zps16goh04i.jpg

 

New knobs lit up:

 

IMAG2017_zps6iqtsdfy.jpg



#55 PaulR1993

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Posted 19 August 2014 - 04:04 AM

Love those knobs much better than stock I have the same but red.

Little things big difference


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#56 FOCA

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Posted 19 August 2014 - 01:08 PM

I had to read all that a few times but I think I got it all now. Great to be learning new things. From what I gather and want to achieve, there will be very little difference for a fairly big outlay on a new amp. I am looking at a SQ setup rather than an SPL as you might have gathered. So, I think I am reaching the limits of what can/need to be done for the current setup. Major thanks for writing all this down and explaining it in simple terms. Really appreciate it :)

At some point, if I get the itch and money, I will probably get the Audison Bit Ten just to see what's the fuss about because I keep seeing it being used in builds for Soundman Car Audio, which I am addicted watching these days!

 

https://www.youtube....oundmancaraudio

 

Also, today, I spent a bit of time trying to tune the car to my liking as I thought there wasn't enough bass while driving. After about 1 hr of messing with knobs and using an rTA app, I was able to tweak it to my liking. That is until I get bored and decide to mess with it again :P

Yes, the db is the sound pressure level - so increasing the amp power from 64 to 128 only increases sound pressure level by  3db - not much in absolute terms but it may make a difference in realative terms (eg the extra db may help to drown out road noise) 

 

i found a budget "non premium brand" amp with a similar spec to the premium brand ones you listed (which are very good/ well chosen) -

 

http://www.ebay.co.u...=item51c2036260

 

it has 4 amps, all with 150w rms into 4 ohms, so would get the maximum out of your front speakers, you could use only 2 of the amps in passive mode, use the other 2 for something else (rear door speakers or extra shelf speakers) or configure the amp for active (the amp has built-in x-overs) using all 4 amps for the front speakers - this would optomise the front speakers

 

The specs on the amp is as good as the premium brands, imo, but at a lower price (perhaps you just pay for the name)

 

PS - the amp has class AB operation - less efficient than class D (class D is probably ok/ better for subs) but the sound quality is better - this is a high fidelity amp suitable for your high-end full-range speakers   



#57 Hassen

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Posted 19 August 2014 - 08:33 PM

Cheers FOCA. Had a look at the link you sent and it does look promising and would definitely suit the speakers. Have to read up a bit about Boss Audio systems. My plan would be to use the external crossovers that came with the speakers and use the amp to power the front speakers in passive mode and my rear 2 Vibe slick speakers. Here is a diagram of how it is currently wired:

 

Wiringdiagram_zps37e45b1a.jpg

C.O = Cross Over

T = Tweeter

 

Any way I could further improve this setup? Any suggestions how to tweak the setup? 

 

At present, I have left the cross over as Flat for the front speakers and let the passive crossover do the work in separating the frequencies. The gain is set at about 3/5 of the way and the Bass Boost is at 1/2 way.

 

As for the subwoofer amp, the gain is set at 3/4 of the way and the Bass Boost is at 1/2. So far no distortion in the sound until I reach 25-27 on the volume on the receiver. By then, I can't stay inside the car lol :)



#58 Hassen

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Posted 19 August 2014 - 09:25 PM

Found another amplifier that is within budget. Infinity Kappa Four 4x125W rms

 

http://uk.infinitysp...kappa-four.html

 

Any thoughts/advice? Found it cheaper on Ebay shipped from Italy. 



#59 FOCA

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Posted 21 August 2014 - 03:35 AM

   The budget (£118) Boss audio amp has a higher spec and better sound quality than the £350 infinity - t hat is because the Boss has a class AB output stage and the infinity is class D

 

Class AB has a better sound quality than class D

 

I dont think there is much you can do without changing components - what is the sub crossover frequency? the levels are meaningless - try changing the subwoofer crossover frequency, and phase - check the realative and absolute phase of all the speakers    

 

The vibes are just cheap speakers and not up to the quality of the focals - the system might sound better with the vibes  turned down

 

Listen to a pro studio setup or a high-end domestic hi-fi then listen to the same music i your car to set up the EQ - if you do this it might work better with different music/ tracks if you find youself changing the EQ for different music tracks all the time    

 

 

Passive crossovers are not as good as active ones - details are in my previous post(s) - if it was my setup i would ditch the passive x-overs   - i would be happy to suggest x-over frequencies  

 

Audio proccesors (the bit ten) are for shaping high-end systems - it would be the last thing you buy after you already had everything else - it cannot fix many deficienceis in the system - There is a saying "you can't polish a !Removed!" (i dont mean your system is a !Removed! - it means sometimes, any amout of  E-Qing, prossesors, graphics and fiddling cannot fix some things + it also makes things more complicated )

 

If you are (reasonably) happy with the system as it is why change it - you could spend 10x as much to get it 10% better - it just depends what you want    



#60 Hassen

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Posted 21 August 2014 - 01:45 PM

What you said makes perfect sense and I don't think I will be changing components. I like the Focal very much and I'm trying to get the most out of them, that's the reasoning behind me asking all the questions. 

 

The sub woofer cross over frequency at the moment is at 80Hz. Reckon it should be higher? I can definitely hear the bass, but it doesn't "thump" as much as I would like it to. If that makes any sense to you :)
I have all the speakers wired properly in phase and made sure to double check them.

 

As for the Vibes, I totally agree, they are cheap and do tend to muddy up the clarity of the sound coming from the Focals. I tend to turn them down low and can barely hear them. Maybe at some point, when funds allow, I will get a set of Focal PS165 for the rear. 

 

With regards to listening to hi-fi setup and then eqing the car system, thats exactly what I been doing to my car. I also got a test cd disc that was about 1hr long with different frequencies etc. I should probably post the link in here. It was a free cd that had a torrent link. Is that allowed on the forums btw?

 

With regards to passive/active x-overs: If I were to go active, I am guessing, and correct me if I am wrong, that I would need all 4 channels on the Baupunkt amp to drive the 2 woofers and 2 tweeters up front? I would then leave the rear Vibe speakers to be powered by the headunit amp.

 

I totally agree with what you saying about the Bit Ten. I think I should get the basics right and then see if it needs anything else. And agreed about the money spent. Like everything in life, you get to a point that you get diminishing returns and very little to show for it. 

 

Next step, when funds allow, would be to get more Silent Coat for the floor and also, Dodo mat-a CCF and MLV layer for the floor pan as well. This should in theory reduce the road noise coming from ambient surrounding and tyres, which would help make the car a better listening environment. I reckon that will probably happen sometime next year now :)



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