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    Member 130 Rep Points antarctica24's Avatar
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    Stage 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 audio upgrade suggestions

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    A forum member asked me to put this together, so here it goes.

    I was able to listen to another ST today. It was a Focus, but that really doesn't matter because everything was upgraded. The breakdown included, grabbing the tweeter and midrange and sub wires and summing into a Mosconi 6to9 processor. He has Focal speakers up front and a JL Audio W13 in the trunk. No rear speakers. Amps are JL Audio.

    The Mosconi piece is a little different in that it has an input EQ and an output EQ. So when you hook it up, you run an RTA pink noise sweep, make corrections to the factory stuff, then use my instructions for the rest of the tuning.

    I have listened to this vehicle with my material many times and today, the sky opened up and provided me with some much needed information regarding the performance of the Ford system.

    In another post, I brought up a new piece of software which is available on both Android and Iphone, Ipad called Teac HR Player and gave instructions on how to set it up. A lot has happened since I made that post this morning. I went back to the audioshop to listen to his vehicle again with this player.

    Test 1: Direct hook up of my iphone to his vehicle through FORD USB port. Played several tracks using ITunes.

    Test 2: Same setup, but this time, used Teac HR Player.

    I have said in a previous post, on a scale of 1 to 10, the FORD system is a solid 1 maybe a 2. And as the strength in any chain is always only as good as it weakest link, His system sounds good, not as good as it could, but it is a solid 6.5. And for me to give that rating is rare. When I do critical listening, I do it as if I were judging the vehicle.

    Test 2, easily took his system to a 7.5. The difference between the two was very audible, taking his over all music quality to a 7.5.

    Test 3, The Mosconi has a unique Bluetooth board that allows you to connect your wireless device directly through Bluetooth bypassing the Ford System.

    Wait for it, hear it comes, NIGHT AND DAY. Easily a solid 8.5 in tonality out of 10, maybe an 8.8. I could not believe what I was hearing. Now here is the stupid part, Crap in is crap out. We were listening to AAC files converted into ITunes being upsampled to DSD 5.6Mhz. Which honestly should not have made any difference, but as I said before, you could hear the difference on my factory speakers, and in listening to this in my car, you could really start to hear the limitations of the Ford Factory Speakers.

    So lets begin.

    STAGE 1 AUDIO UPGRADES:

    TEAC HR PLAYER. PERIOD. Use the instructions I put in the other post, "Come out of the cave and step into the light"

    CD's are recorded at 44.1khz. DSD is recorded at 2.8mhz, 5.6mhz, and 11mhz. LIGHT YEARS AHEAD OF CD. These files were SACD files or Super Audio CD.
    COST, not a lot.

    Many may here this and decide they are done, it was that good. If you listen to online music like Pandora or spotify, there is another option You can buy a OPPO Portable DAC. You plug your lightening port into the DAC or with a special cable your android into the DAC, then use the line out and plug it into the FORD 3.5mm jack in the armrest. You still use the TEAC player for recorded stuff and now your Pandora stuff will sound good as well. The DAC sells for $299.00.

    STAGE 2 AUDIO UPGRADES:

    This is addition of sub, and small amp. Not a lot of tuning required here, amp should probably have a volume knob for adjusting the level of the sub at the amp and you can mount it upfront so you can adjust it on the fly. The amp will also have or need a built in crossover. Price for this upgrade varies a lot on the amp and sub. There are lots of 100 watt amps, that will more than power a 10" sub in this vehicle. Remember there is no truck to block anything. And to be quite honest if you don't want to spend a whole lot of money, don't. Any 100 watts amp, and most 10" subs will suffice with what you are trying to accomplish.

    STAGE 3 AUDIO UPGRADES:

    Speaker replacement. This is very subjective subject matter. Everyone has different wallets, everyone had different ears, and different tastes. What I can tell you from judging over 1000 cars, and listening to some of the best stuff ever created from all over the world. The best sounding speakers come from Germany, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Israel and Italy. The French have no business making speakers. Sorry. My Opinion. The Germany made speakers 9 out of 10, always sound so nice.

    As I stated in my tuning post, you do this upgrade with risk, if you do it with the factory amp. The factory amp is not a 4 ohm amp. It is something like a 8 or 10 ohm amp. When you put a 4 ohm driver on this amp, you are creating a load that the amp was not designed to work with and you will burn it up.
    So, with this upgrade should come an external amp. A sub is not necessary but it sound nice, so a 5 channel amp will work. If you want to keep the back speakers, you get a set of components up front, this is a tweeter, and midrange(more than likely a 6.5"), 6.5" for the rear doors, and a sub. You can use a passive crossover for the front, that is for Channel 1 and 2 on the amp, Each rear door speaker gets a channel 3 and 4, and the sub gets channel 5 unless you like a lot of bass and want two subs, and then you can just wire the sub in parallel or series depending on what the amp will allow.

    I also have stated, replacing the speakers, changes the tune, which would mean you need someway to tune the system, however there is another option.

    JL Audio makes a piece called the FIX82. What it does, is remove the tune from the factory radio and get you back to flat unturned. You then just send the RCS's to the amp, and your good to go. No processor necessary. It will not sound as good as it could unturned, but it will work if you don't want to go that far.

    Picking out speakers is a bit of a challenge, because nothing will sound right on a sound board compared to how it will sound in the car. There are those who pick their speakers based on specs called Thiele Parameters. Specs are good and tell a very specific story, but I have also found that some experience and special fabrication of the speaker enclosure, and send the parameters out the window.

    Metal dome tweeters are normally too bright. They create a lot of sibilance. Lots of SSSSSS sound. Yes you can tune it down, but if you have to tune it down to make it sound better, it was not the right speaker to begin with. Silk is another variety and a favorite of mine. Silk is never too bright and is soft. No it will not play to 32,000 kHz, but you cant hear that high so move past it. Normally humans can only hear up to about 17K. As you get older this gets worse. Everything above that makes the audio sound airy.

    Woofer material works likes this. The lighter the material, the faster the speaker, the better it will sound. Images will be tighter. The slower the speaker the fatter the images. This rule has never failed. ever. A cone needs to be light and stiff. Light for speed, stiffness for less distortion. If you put a speaker in your hand, put your fingers underneath the basket lifting up on the cone from underneath but above the spyder assembly (The wavy looking piece), and lift with two fingers on one side of what you are holding. If the entire cone moves at the same time rising. YOU HAVE YOUR SPEAKER. If the cone goes lopsided, PUT IT BACK. Another very important aspect of speaker selection is Voice Coil size. This is a papertowel spool wrapped( you know the cardboard tube) in copper, silver, or aluminum wire. The bigger the spool, the more power handling capabilities the speaker will have. Copper will be cheaper than silver, and Silver will be cheaper than Aluminum. What the basket is made out of matters too. Plastic is better than metal. Why? Because as the speaker is vibrating, it will create its own resonance and the basket will resonate. When it does, if you hear it, which you will, you have now added something to the music that wasn't there. So why do companies do that? Because of cost. A typical speaker of any quality cost about $50.00 to make in a one off scenario. How do I know that? Because I have had some made for special circumstances.

    Subs are all about excursion (how far the cone will extend beyond its resting position), power handling, and that is about it. Some do it better than others, and JL Audio would have you believe their W7 is an engineering feat. Yeah Yeah Yeah. Subs also don't make their own power. So please do not describe your sub as "I have a 1200 watt wanna be sub". Just state the size, and everyone will get where your coming from. And if you think you bought an amp that is generating 1200 watts. So if that is what your amps says, take the total number of watts and divide that by volts. In this case, 1200/12. That would be 100 amps. There should be a 100 amp fuse in your amp. If there is not, then it is not a 1200 watt amp. Then there is the whole problem of powering such a thing on an alternator that is only 115amp.

    So here are my choices. Pioneer (This is not a country I had listed, but and however, this is the best brand for the money). You will not find a better sounding speaker for less money anywhere on planet earth. PERIOD. I have judged plenty of cars, with all Pioneer Systems, and the systems were exceptional. Audison, Diamond, Morel, Scan-Speak, Dynaudio, SEAS, Helix, again, I am a audio snob, remember. There are many many other brands that sound great, but these would be my go to brands.

    For the record let me be specific, I could load up a Fiesta ST with speakers from Radio Shack and a processor and I could make it one of the best sounding systems you had ever heard. What it comes down to is, how much tuning did I have to do to get there.

    For the most part, you really get what you pay for, but Pioneer is an exception. Very nice silk tweeters, and very fast midrange drivers.

    AMP Selection
    I know I said any old amp will do with the sub, and that is true. But it is not the whole store. How much you can make the amp use its useable power makes a difference in how it sounds. When selecting an amp for your tweeter and midranges and midbass, makes a big difference. I used to play my amps at about 75% volume with pink noise to get them hot before a judge would listen to my car. Electronics just work better that way when making sound. Most amps you come into contact with will have a CES rating on their power. This is their real power rating at 12 volts and 14.4 volts. So with a 100 watt amps, 14.4 would give you 100 watts, and 12 would give you something like 75. Then there is signal voltage. This is how much voltage is coming across the RCA. The input stage of the amp cannot take more than what it is rated at. So if you are looking at an amp with a 4 volt signal rating, you want your head unit, to be 4 volts. The better choice is a amp that will take 8 volts, and a head unit that could put out 8 volts. They don't make them anymore, but man. More signal voltage is better. Just trust me.

    STAGE 4 AUDIO UPGRADE

    This is a 4 way setup

    This consist of a dedicated tweeter, midrange, midbass, and subbass speakers. Generally it is 8 speakers 4 per side, each speaker having dedicated amp channels, and a processor for tuning. Setting this up is extensive, and it is not about just installing the speakers in the car. This requires planning, sound deadening, custom wiring, fabrication for subboxes. Etc. Anyone wanting to do this in their car, I am more than happy to help them out in planning the system. This is what I am getting ready to do in mine and I will share every aspect of what I do, so anyone who is interested can follow.

    After a long and hard consideration and money was no object here, I went with Morel MW4 hybrid midranges (There will be 2 4" speakers on each side of the dash), and I went with Morel Titanium Hybrid 6.5" midbass drivers. These speakers were chosen because of their history, and the power handling capabilities. You can buy without listening to any speaker from the countries I listed without any hesitation that they will sound good. These are from Israel. Think Finger of GOD manufactured by Jesus. I couldn't resist. My tweeters that I want are pricey. They are $549.00 per set. They are Scan Speak and used for the home environment but are 4 ohm like my amps which are Alpine PDX V9's. Subs are more than likely going to be A/D/S which does not exist anymore. But stay tuned.

    STAGE 5 AUDIO UPGRADE

    This is where you get anal. Building sealed enclosures in the door for midbass drivers (You will see what I mean), Custom making your RCA wires from cryogenically treated cable (Us audio snobs believe it makes a difference, so as long as we know it was done that is all that matters). Single strand speaker wire instead of multi-strand (think of the bandwidth capabilities of coax). Multi-strand was invented to make installation easier because it is flexible. Using exotic materials to make your sub-Box, A lot of people like Birch, But trust me there are a lot of better materials. THIS IS A TRADE SECRET SO SORRY CANT SHARE YET. Printed speaker enclosures for the dash for the midrange and tweeter. Using High end DAC's for processing music. These are all the things that give you that little extra 10-15% of sound quality. When you are competing against others, it is necessary, but when you are competing against yourself, it is twice as important. I am building this car to challenge what I did in my Fiero. Only time will tell.

    I hope this helps, If anyone has any questions or needs some assistance, let me know.

    One more word of advice, I said at the beginning of stage 3, that everyone has a different set of ears and different taste. But one thing to note here, when I was judging at sound quality events. I was not the only judge listening when were going around doing cars. 100% of the time, judges would remember specific aspects of different cars, but the odd thing was every judge remembered the same thing. Good Sound is subjective. Great sound is not and neither is finger of GOD Sound. When you hear it, you know. I remember every car that I heard that stood out and so does every other judge about the same exact cars.

  2. #2
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    Wow this is an amazing post. Thank you man.

  3. #3
    Member 130 Rep Points antarctica24's Avatar
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    Your Welcome

    Quote Originally Posted by Based View Post
    Wow this is an amazing post. Thank you man.
    If you need any help, drop me a PM.

    Bryan

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    Sweet post. Wish you were closer I'd hire you to do install lol

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    Hi Antarctica, thanks for your useful insights so far. I am wondering about your note to be careful with using aftermarket speakers with the factory amp.. There are a few used fiesta ST speakers for sale on eBay which indicate that they are 4ohm speakers in the stock ST. Therefore is it correct to assume there should be no issues with overheating of the stock amp, on replacing the factory speakers with other 4ohm speakers?
    Cheers

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    Member 130 Rep Points antarctica24's Avatar
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    If the speaker says it is 4 ohm, and you replace with 4 ohm you are good to go.

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    Member 29 Rep Points Kazz's Avatar
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    HUGE disclaimer: I know nothing other than I'd like some small improvement in sound quality in my car. But I have a (number of) question(s). First, are you using Apple's CarPlay in all of this? Thanks.
    2016 Fiesta ST - stock (for now) on 93 octane
    2003 Evo VIII - 400 awhp on 93 octane
    2000 Celica GT-S - 187 fwhp on 93 octan

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    Member 130 Rep Points antarctica24's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kazz View Post
    HUGE disclaimer: I know nothing other than I'd like some small improvement in sound quality in my car. But I have a (number of) question(s). First, are you using Apple's CarPlay in all of this? Thanks.
    I'm not but you can tell me what your wanting to do and I'll help you out.

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    Member 29 Rep Points Kazz's Avatar
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    So you have your music on your phone and don't use the radio, etc.? I like to listen to the local airwaves, a couple of podcasts, and will be getting some of my music collection into the car one way or another (phone, usb flash drive, disc, etc.). I'm guessing the TEAC HR Player doesn't work in the CarPlay interface.

    What year is your FiST? I don't think I have a 3.5mm jack in my '16 model for the OPPO DAC.

    If I'm reading what you've posted correctly, iTunes through USB sucks, Teac HR Player through USB is better, OPPO DAC for streaming is as good as TEAC HR Player or better, then the Mosconi.

    My Google search can't find a Mosconi 6to9 Processor, but finds a Mosconi 6to8 Processor - is there a difference (also, it only seems to be overseas from the U.S.)?

    The Mosconi connects to the speaker wiring how?

    the speaker replacement, amp, and sub are straightforward, thanks.
    2016 Fiesta ST - stock (for now) on 93 octane
    2003 Evo VIII - 400 awhp on 93 octane
    2000 Celica GT-S - 187 fwhp on 93 octan

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    Member 130 Rep Points antarctica24's Avatar
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    Guest-only advertisement. Register or Log In now!
    Quote Originally Posted by Kazz View Post
    So you have your music on your phone and don't use the radio, etc.? I like to listen to the local airwaves, a couple of podcasts, and will be getting some of my music collection into the car one way or another (phone, usb flash drive, disc, etc.). I'm guessing the TEAC HR Player doesn't work in the CarPlay interface.

    What year is your FiST? I don't think I have a 3.5mm jack in my '16 model for the OPPO DAC.

    If I'm reading what you've posted correctly, iTunes through USB sucks, Teac HR Player through USB is better, OPPO DAC for streaming is as good as TEAC HR Player or better, then the Mosconi.

    My Google search can't find a Mosconi 6to9 Processor, but finds a Mosconi 6to8 Processor - is there a difference (also, it only seems to be overseas from the U.S.)?

    The Mosconi connects to the speaker wiring how?

    the speaker replacement, amp, and sub are straightforward, thanks.
    Ok lets see if I can help here, My Fist is 2014.

    First its the 6 to 8 and Aerospace processors. http://mosconi-america.com/

    If you had the 3.5.. jack it would be in the in center console. Anything compressed in your words sucks. The teac player upscales the music, and it makes a big difference in the way a ITunes or MP3 sounds. So the Teac is an upgrade for iTunes as you would have it. For the DAC, it is all in the converter or Analog to Digital Converter. So the first issue with the OPPO is the voltage out. If your not getting at least 4 volts, your missing out, right? As for Quality, you are either a fan of the Sabre Dac or not. I like the AKM dac. But that is neither here nor there. The oppo is not going to perform better than the Mosconi piece for no other reason than the power supply and the dacs in the Mosconi pieces are much better. That is an industry opinion not mine. Im not dissing on the Oppo piece. I almost bought one, but the voltage out was not enough.

    If comparing the Oppo Dac to the Teac player, your oppo dac wins. If comparing ITunes or MP3 to Teac Teac wins. If you get a DSD file and run it through your Oppo which is supports, You are on cloud 41. DAC's are funny creatures. The converter, the digital clock correction, and power supply, all control the quality of the DAC. Some are closer in relation to each other than others. AKM is newer than most, but it is getting a lot of praise. Analog Devices some good some not so good. Burr Brown which I am sure you have heard of, the ESS Sabre in the Opp, and Wolfson.

    This is your daddy DAC
    http://www.msbtechnology.com/dacs/reference-features/

    I consider these people to be the Finger of GOD people when it comes to DAC's. When I had my ODR piece, the RS-P50 from Pioneer. I got them the schematic to the processor, and went it and changed the input stage to accept 10 volts of signal, upgraded all of the input and output stage caps, and the DAC. I spent $4K having the piece modified. At the finals when I was competing Expert, the VP of Engineering from Pioneer came over, to listen to the car because at that time I was being sponsored by Pioneer. He sat in the car for an 2 hours, and when he got out he wanted to know what I had done. He asked me when the show was over could he buy the piece from me. At the time I told him no, but that at the end of the season I would contact him. They paid me the $4K I had invested in the piece.

    While I would never invest $39K in a DAC for the car, I would easily buy the $7K version.

    This is the one I bought
    xDuoo XD-05 32bit/384KHz DSD DAC Portable Audio Headphone Amplifier (Black)

    because it has the AKM dac.

    The mosconi has a high level and low level input. You can use the Mosconi 6-8 without the JL Audio piece because it has a Input EQ as well as output EQ. The difference is with the JL audio piece, you put a disc in and run the disc and the JL piece will listen to the signal and make all of the corrections to bring the signal back to flat. With the mosconi piece, you would use an RTA, like the audio control piece or one you buy on your phone (less sensitive, but will do the job), so you make your adjustments on the input EQ to make the system flat, then retune to account for the acoustics of the car and new speakers.

    As for replacing the door speakers. Straight forward somewhat. I am not a fan of factory wiring. However, if you choose to use factory wiring, then replacing the door speakers is a no brainer. If you want to use aftermarket wire, you have to make modifications to the molex plug in the door.


 
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