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  1. #1

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    Default Lack of volume and quality.

    Hello all;
    I am having no luck achieving quality sound, and a respectable listening level. If I keep the amp gain low, and turn up the volume on the head unit, the sound is flat and irritating. If I increase the amp gain slightly, it certainly increases the overall quality at lower listening levels, but clipping occurs when the head unit volume is increased. All of my equipment is less than 6 months old, and it has all been swapped out by the dealer, along with completely new wiring to try and find the problem, but to no avail.....at the onset, it would appear the speakers are unable to produce sound as adequate as a factory stereo.

    The head unit I am using is a Sony CDX-F7715X, which appears to be adequate. I have a Rockford P3001 driving a 12" Kicker sub, and a Rockford P4004 driving 2 sets of SR6500's.

    All of this is installed in a 1995 GMC Safari van. The rear SR6500's are installed in the back doors, as coaxials, with each door completely covered in damping material. The front SR6500 drivers are installed in the dash, with sound dampening baskets, and the tweeters are installed in the pillars.

    I know this sytem should sound much better, but it just doesnt...so I am wondering if the P4004 is underpowered, or is the head unit flakey?....or is it something I just don't see. Thank you for your time.

  2. #2

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    Coming from experience being a Circuit City installer, i put in millions(ok im exaggerating but you get the point) sony head units and never was a fan of the sound quality of a single one of them.

    If I was you, I would try swapping that head unit for an Alpine, Pioneer, Nakamichi or something a little better, see if that makes the difference.

  3. #3

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    Your head unit is clipping. Are you using pre outs from the H/U or speaker level outs?
    I smell ass, burning ass, glowing cherry red spanked ass.

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  4. #4
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    i've had an alpine headunit for the past 8 years- it's worked flawless except for the #2 button sticks. I think it sounds great, the amp sections in alphine headunits (at least back then) were definitely a cut above. As of today, I don't know. I haven't kept up with car-audio at all since i purchased it.

    I'll go back to the darkside that is home audio now..

  5. #5

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    The head unit is not the problem. There is no sound quality difference between head units other then their respective EQ's and tuning features.

    Sounds to me like youve simply got your gains set wrong. A gain isnt a volume control. All it does is match the input signal of the amp to the output signal of the head unit so that if your head unit is at 50% volume, your amp isnt at 90% power.

    This isnt the scientific way to set your gains but its the easiest and works pretty well:

    Disconnect the rear speakers from the amp. Now turn the front gain all the way down. Now stick in a well recorded CD and turn the volume up to about 75%. Now slowly turn up the front gain until you hear the speakers start to distort and then back it down a hair until it just stops. Now turn up the rear gain to a level that sounds right which will probably be a little below the front's settings.

    A few points:

    Remember that these speakers need a little while to break in, so theyll sound better after some use.

    Dont forget about the tweeters attenuator on the crossovers. Chances are, its going to sound better with them set at -3 db.

    Do a little tuning with your head unit. Experiment with bass, treble or the EQ if you have one.

    Remember that that amp is only 50 watts per channel which aint a whole lot so youre not going to be getting window shattering volume out of it.

    Try the gain setting and see how that works out.
    polkaudio sound quality competitor since 2005
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  6. #6

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    Default

    Thank you all for the extremely useful information. Although the Sony seems to be adequate, I have an Alpine DVA 9861 lined up as a last resort. I decided to start with MacLeod's advice, and do some serious amp/HU tweaking.....After reversing speaker polarities, and a few hours of running back and forth from the amp to the deck, I have improved the overall sound quality drastically, although it does seem the P4004 is underpowered, as was suggested earlier.

    When I have more daylight to play with, I will try bridging the amp, which I believe will output 200w X 2, and try it on just 2 speakers......that should give me some indication if the amp is underpowered.

    Thank you again for all of the advice, and thank you MacLeod, for making me look a little further than my wallet to try and source the problem.

    Have a great day.

  7. #7

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    Dont bridge the amp.

    For one, it will be OVER powering your speakers.

    Also, bridging the amp makes it run at 100% which means more heat and a lot more distortion.

    Stick with the 50x4 for now. You wont be the loudest in the world but it will still enough to make good sound. Those RF's are pretty underrated as are all quality amps so youre actually getting probably 60-70 watts real world.
    polkaudio sound quality competitor since 2005
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    polkaudio SR6500 --- polkaudio MM1040 x2 -- Pioneer P99 -- Rockford Fosgate P1000X5D

  8. #8

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    Woops....I guess I jumped the gun a bit.....i did bridge the amp, and tested for only a few minutes, and noticed no real difference at any listening level, it still lacked any punch and stage presence, so I quickly put things back to normal.

    I am unsure of the proper words to use to describe it, but it sounds like the highs and lows are pretty much where they are supposed to be, but all across the midrange spectrum seems muddy and distorted at pretty much any listening level.

    I guess what really has me stumped, is all of the CD's that previously sounded pretty darn good on Kicker components, now don't measure up on the SR6500's. I have pretty much tapped all of my friends for all of their pre-recorded CD's, trying to find the cleanest audio possible, but nothing seems to help the midrange.

    Is it possible that 4V preouts are not enough, and I am actually pumping out a dirty signal right from the source?

    I probably know less about audio equipment and proper audio setup than most people, but I know what distortion sounds like.....I just can't find it.

    Thanks again for all of the help.
    Last edited by dash; 09-30-2006 at 10:07 PM.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by dash
    Is it possible that 4V preouts are not enough, and I am actually pumping out a dirty signal right from the source?
    if you want to see if this is the case you could try a line driver if you don't like the results or it doesn't help you could always return it...
    i know this goes back to the wallet but sometimes they can make a big difference
    i have used this one before http://www.mobileaudiocontrol.com/pr...49&l1=5249&l2=
    there are others by phoenix gold, JL, i believe rockford has one

    the stuff will drive you batty but in the end its all fun..
    been messing with my jeep all week tweeking the front end myself:)
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  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by MacLeod
    The head unit is not the problem. There is no sound quality difference between head units other then their respective EQ's and tuning features.
    Mac- prove the hypothesis. I'll ship you an old Sparkomatic (postage paid) for use in your next competition. It don't have all the respective features, but it's bass/treble/fader controls will rock your world. There won't be any SQ difference from your 9855 at all ;) .

    I'm familiar with the "psychoacoustics" theory, and if you are comparing all top quality head units, you're probably right to a point. It helps justify spending top dollar to think "it sounds better".

    I had installed several head units in the 80's from various brands, for my cars and those of friends/family. The products ranged from Craig, Kenwood(s), Pioneer(s), Alpine(s),Concord, Sherwood, Lear Jet, MEI and JVC. I was able to get decent sound out of all but the last four using decent aftermarket speakers, with a big edge going to the Pioneer, Kenwood, Alpine and Concord decks.

    After bashing my head against the wall a few times, I went back to reading the specifications. The Sherwood- complex, feature laden- listed a frequency response of 20-20,000hz but would put out no bass, no matter what. Sound was tinny and irritating regardless of tone controls, amplification and speakers. I think Sherwood was extremely optimistic with their spec's. The JVC listed a frequency response of 60-16,000hz and sounded badly in the bands suggested by the frequency response. Midbass was strange sounding and empty, highs muted. The JVC rolled off some of my favorite frequencies by design. I then tried external amplification and eventually external pre-amp/EQ to improve the SQ...it didn't help a bit with these brands but made a big difference with some of the better ones.

    To be fair, car audio has come a long way since those days. The brands I had the best luck with still shape my shopping preference to a degree. Some brands (like JVC) have gotten much better and some (like Alpine) have slid downhill in the last couple of years. I've used pre-Xplode Sony (mid-range) H/Us, amps, speakers, and never really been satisfied with the sound quality. I'd have to say the Sony shouldn't sound terrible, but wouldn't have the potential to sound the best (given the equipment it's installed with). I believe Sony to be optimistic with their published spec's, too.
    -------------------------------------------------------

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by dash
    Woops....I guess I jumped the gun a bit.....i did bridge the amp, and tested for only a few minutes, and noticed no real difference at any listening level, it still lacked any punch and stage presence, so I quickly put things back to normal.

    I am unsure of the proper words to use to describe it, but it sounds like the highs and lows are pretty much where they are supposed to be, but all across the midrange spectrum seems muddy and distorted at pretty much any listening level.

    I guess what really has me stumped, is all of the CD's that previously sounded pretty darn good on Kicker components, now don't measure up on the SR6500's. I have pretty much tapped all of my friends for all of their pre-recorded CD's, trying to find the cleanest audio possible, but nothing seems to help the midrange.

    Is it possible that 4V preouts are not enough, and I am actually pumping out a dirty signal right from the source?

    I probably know less about audio equipment and proper audio setup than most people, but I know what distortion sounds like.....I just can't find it.

    Thanks again for all of the help.
    The voltage from the pre-outs isnt the problem. Honestly, I dont know what is.

    Is it possible you have the bass levels set too high. The SR's can be boomy in the midbass and because of their effeciency, dont require a lot of boost in this area. In fact, I have mine down -2 db at 80 Hz.

    Another thought, are your running them full range? I wouldnt run them any lower than 60 Hz.
    polkaudio sound quality competitor since 2005
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  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by MacLeod
    The voltage from the pre-outs isnt the problem. Honestly, I dont know what is.

    Is it possible you have the bass levels set too high. The SR's can be boomy in the midbass and because of their effeciency, dont require a lot of boost in this area. In fact, I have mine down -2 db at 80 Hz.

    Another thought, are your running them full range? I wouldnt run them any lower than 60 Hz.

    Yes, it is possible I have some levels set too high....please excuse my ignorance, but could you elaborate on "full range'?......are you referring to the frequency response controls on the P4004?.....both front and rear are set somewhere between 55 and 80 hz.....I'm old and half blind, so it's hard to tell exactly where those knobs are pointed, but it's between 55 and 80 for sure.

    I would certainly prefer not having to purchase a new head unit, as I now officially have more time than money.....the stereo is worth way more than the van it lives in. I will continue to exhaust all HU/amp tweaking avenues, and if I can't figure it out, perhaps a higher quality amp will need to move in. I will keep you all posted on any positive progress I may make.

    Thanks again.....cheers.

  13. #13

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    Your head unit is fine, especially if it worked just fine with your old Kickers.

    Youre looking at the right thing. On the amp it should say something like Low Pass Filter and be in the neighborhood of 50-200 Hz. Set this to 80 Hz if its not already. And go into the EQ (if you have one) and set all the low bass controls to flat (0 db) and see if that helps. If it gets rid of the boominess but makes it sound flat, then bump them back up a little until you get the best mix of both.

    Also give them time. They take a while to break in.
    polkaudio sound quality competitor since 2005
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  14. #14

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    how long have you been running the SR's? In my car, the difference between the first few days and a couple weeks into their use was night and day. They went from mediocre to excellent.
    Rega P3 > Parasound Zphono > NAD C320BEE > Polk LSi 15

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    First off, I have only had the speakers installed for 5 days, and I am starting to understand that a break-in period exists.

    I have finally achieved very respectable sound quality, after much button pushing. It turns out that the Sony isn't clipping, it's just kind of crappy. One thing I found odd about the Sony, is that the subwoofer is pretty much non-existent at any level, if the loudness control is set to off.....I can turn the sub control from one end to the other, and nothing happens, so I'm not sure how they made it work with the P3001.

    After setting the amp to 80hz front and back, with minimal amp gain, I achieved amazing sound, up to half volume, and with the HU base control turned off, everything but highs started to clip at half volume. I finally turned off the HU low pass, and set the HU high pass to 78hz, and every last bit of distortion went away....at all volumes. I then popped in some uncompressed Anita Baker and Sade, and it was pretty sweet.

    So, even though the Sony isn't actually faulty, it lacks enough tone control features to make it inadequate for my tastes. It is now time to start shopping for a quality head unit, this time for the right reasons.

    One more quick question.....what would be considered the proper gauge of speaker wire to be used with my system? There are 2 different sizes feeding my SR's, and both look pretty small.....I would assume in this case, bigger is better, no?

    Thank you all for your informative input, and I am open to suggestions for quality HU's under $1,000....I have read many specs on new HU's, but if I don't understand what the specs I am reading mean, then the info is useless, as most newer units have not yet been reviewed by anyone. If this is the wrong place to ask this, I will repost the HU question in the proper subforum.

    Thanks again one and all….cheers.

  16. #16

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    Probably the best head unit on the market right now.

    http://www.crutchfield.com/S-r19HuLW...00&I=099CD7000
    polkaudio sound quality competitor since 2005
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    Even though I'm a fan of Alpine head units, I'd consider any of these in the links below over anything in the '06 Alpine lineup. If you can find some New Old Stock Alpine '05 head units, a CDA 9853 or 9855 would be very nice. If you're not opposed to used, a CDA 9815 (from '03), CDA 9835 (from '04) would also be very nice, allow you to get the most out of those SRs...

    http://www.crutchfield.com/S-3L6TFu8...0&I=130DEHP980
    Pioneer DEH-P9800BT

    http://www.crutchfield.com/S-3L6TFu8...00&I=099CD5000
    Eclipse CD5000

    http://www.crutchfield.com/S-3L6TFu8...0&I=113KDCX890
    Kenwood Excelon KDC-X890

    http://www.crutchfield.com/S-3L6TFu8...0&I=113KDCX990
    Kenwood Excelon KDC-X990 CD player with MP3/WMA/AAC playback at Crutchfield.com

    No need to go near $1000 unless you like the DVD/screen models.
    -------------------------------------------------------

  18. #18

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    I love Alpine, but I too agree that their 06 lineup is pretty much crap.
    polkaudio sound quality competitor since 2005
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    polkaudio SR6500 --- polkaudio MM1040 x2 -- Pioneer P99 -- Rockford Fosgate P1000X5D

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by dash

    First off, I have only had the speakers installed for 5 days, and I am starting to understand that a break-in period exists.

    I have finally achieved very respectable sound quality, after much button pushing.

    One more quick question.....what would be considered the proper gauge of speaker wire to be used with my system? There are 2 different sizes feeding my SR's, and both look pretty small.....I would assume in this case, bigger is better, no?
    The SRs (and every other Polk speaker I've owned) do sound better after a few weeks of break-in. Depending on your listening preference, it may take longer than that.

    I'm glad your SRs have started to warm up for you. While I'm not the biggest fan of anthing Sony, it may be worth waiting and seeing before springing for a different head unit- give everything a month or two. Also, using uncompressed music for a "critical listening" session is a good call. You can use the same music you're familiar with to dial in the tweeter attenuation to your liking when they're all broken in (and possibly be happier still).

    As for gauge of speaker wire, 14-16 gauge should be enough. 12 gauge would probably be overkill, and anything smaller than 16 would be a handicap IMO.
    -------------------------------------------------------

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by MacLeod
    I love Alpine, but I too agree that their 06 lineup is pretty much crap.
    But these are definitely not crap...

    http://cgi.ebay.com/Alpine-CDA-9815-...em190037346774
    eBay: Alpine CDA-9815 Car Audio CD/MP3/WMA Receiver CLEAN (item 190037346774 end time Oct-08-06 22:42:49 PDT)

    http://cgi.ebay.com/Alpine-CDA-9835-...em140034085210
    eBay: Alpine CDA-9835 Like New MP3, XM, WMA ,Bass Engine (item 140034085210 end time Oct-04-06 08:09:21 PDT)

    http://cgi.ebay.com/Brand-New-Alpine...em270033881855
    eBay: Brand New Alpine CD/MP3 Player CDA 9855 (item 270033881855 end time Oct-03-06 22:27:16 PDT)
    -------------------------------------------------------

  21. #21

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    The 9855 is what I have and it pretty much rules! Best head unit Ive EVER owned.

    That 9835 looks pretty awesome too!

    I sure hope Alpine puts out HU's like these again next year and ease off on the Ipod only models they have now.
    polkaudio sound quality competitor since 2005
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    First off I would like to thank everyone for all of the great suggestions I was given, to help ease my search for a good head unit…..I read reviews and compared specs on every unit that was suggested to me. I have been heavily involved in other areas of electronic testing for the last 7 years, and I have to say the audio learning curve is very steep, and I couldn’t have made the decisions I have without all of the guidance I was given here.

    It all started Tuesday afternoon with an Eclipse CD5000. After spending about 16 hours trying to get it to sound right, I decided it wasn’t the deck for me. Aside from numerous small irritations like being unable to read any print on the face without reading glasses, navigation through the audio section is almost impossible without an engineering degree, and no matter what I did, it always seemed like something was still on, no matter how much I turned off……it was like there was always reverb or something equally as muddy present. I have no doubt that this is an outstanding head unit, I am just unable to use it.

    I returned it, totally disgruntled with Eclipse, and went with the Pioneer DEH-980BT. It was a pretty nice deck, with a lot of great features like Bluetooth and other kewl stuff I would never use….setup was fairly easy, and it has a nice display, but I honestly didn’t give it a fair chance…..every time I looked at it, I kept seeing my old Craig/Pioneer 4+4 8 track I had as my first car stereo, and it just didn’t seem to fit in with everything else….stupid I know, but it’s my money.

    So today, I returned the Pioneer, and finally settled on the Eclipse CD7000. As soon as it was installed, it just seemed to belong there. I haven’t even begun to tweak anything, or listened to more than 4 or 5 songs on it, but it sounds better to me, than anything else previously installed, so I guess it can only get better from here on in. Navigation is quite straight forward through all of the menus and sub-menus, and it’s display is as good, or better than the Pioneers in sunlight. I am quite certain I am going to be extremely happy with this unit, regardless of it’s higher than everything else in its class price tag.

    Thank you one and all……my SR’s seem much happier also..

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    Congrats- that's a supremo head unit.

    Glad you're happy with it, just sorry you had so many false starts with the others before settling on the CD7000. Eclipse has been making top-tier equipment for years.

    They all had the capacity to give you some great sound quality and "tweakability", but finding a balance for yourself between useability and a barrage of extra features is a science.

    I've always found it's better to have more features than you think you need initially and then grow into them, compared to a constant cycle of expensive upgrades as your expectations rise. I can clearly remember myself saying "but I won't need a sub in this system" and "time alignment? I'll never use that" :o .

    Without that "voice of reason" (my wife) constantly setting me straight, I'd probably be running an Alpine DVA-9965 right now.
    http://www.crutchfield.com/S-f9L4bCz...0&I=500DVA9965
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