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"Alternative" Sound Quality

Old 08-13-2011, 04:17 PM
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"Alternative" Sound Quality

It seems that most of the discussion of sound quality in mobile audio revolves around soundstaging, imaging, and maximizing frequency range. This is not surprising as that is what most home audio enthusiasts tend to gravitate towards as well. I don't think there is anything wrong with these priorities (I don't really have any right to tell anyone else what to like or dislike) but over the years in my home system I have come to prioritize timing and timbre over all else. There is a small but significant community of home listeners who have similar priorities (now defunct magazines like Listener and active web zines like 6moons serve this community). I have built a home system around vintage Altec Lansing Horn Speakers, Vacuum tubes and vinyl that achieves these things for me. To me Johnny Cash is Johnny Cash and an important artist because of his timing on songs and the timbre of his voice as opposed to the details of the acoustic space at Folsum Prison. With an infinite budget you might be able to get the timbre, timing, tone, soundstaging, imaging and frequency extremes but last time I checked I have not won a lottery recently so there will always be compromises and decisions.

I am working on putting together a system for my new Hyundai VeraCruz and I am wondering if there are any car audio enthusiasts out there that share a similar set of priorities. I am interested in how you have translated them to the car environment, how it has affected your system selection, what resources you used to research your system, what brands seem to sync with these priorities, what brands don't, did it change your approach to tuning the system and any other tips that you are willing to share. Specific product info is fine but so is general musings on the achieving these types of results in a car.

If this doesn't float your boat, that is fine with me but please don't post telling me how misguided I am, how my priorities are skewed or that my car is the wrong colour for sound quality (gotchya).

In case anyone cares my home system is:
Altec Lansing Valencias with custom homebrew crossovers with Mundorf Silver in Oil caps and Alphacore Inductors
Analysis Plus Silver Cables
Sonic Euphoria PLC transformer based passive line stage
Don Garber Fi Yph phono stage
Scarlet Audio Heat tube amp
Cambridge Audio 840c
Oracle Delphi MkIV with heavily modded RB300 arm and Grado Reference Cartridge
Power by Bybee and Furman

The Car (work in progress so missing a number of things)
Hybrid Audio L6se, L3se, L1R2
Audison 5.1k for the L6Se and L1R2 and the sub
Audison Vrx or Thesis (depends on what I can find and some price negotiation) for the L3Se
HU ???? but likely a Pioneer P99rs
Sub wide open but leading contenders are Morel Ultimo, Scanspeak, Focal Utopia or Hertz Mille
Custom A-pillars and sub boxes but overall a stealth install
Plans for dampening and sound blocking

Dan
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Old 08-14-2011, 08:28 AM
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I know where your coming from. Cars are terrible at getting just about anything right unfortunately. When I tune my car, I do my best to get a little of everything, but I do spend more time on imaging than other aspects (for good or bad). A basic tune on a car will take you an entire afternoon. This is the easy part. The real time consuming part is the small tweaks after that. Just like in a home system, you can spend days, months or years trying to get it just right. Your install and cabin will have a great effect on your final outcome.

If your willing to drive little, I would suggest you come to the Canadian IASCA Finals in two weeks. There will be a few cars with listening to, and lots of this to discuss. You will see what some of us have done and what that work has achieved (again, good or bad). Details can be found in the Eastern section.
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Old 08-14-2011, 11:05 AM
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That would be the Eastern Canadian IASCA finals in two weeks.

The Western Canadian IASCA finals are in one week, on the 21st.
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Old 08-14-2011, 03:00 PM
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You will never come close to achieving in a vehicle what you can do in your home, set your expectations low and you won't be disappointed, how did you choose the car audio products you want to use
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Old 08-14-2011, 04:23 PM
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It really isn't a fair comparison. A good quality home system will always be better than a good car audio system. However, the average home system isn't particularly good, or isnt set up correctly. My car system rivals many home systems in almost every aspect.
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Old 08-14-2011, 04:30 PM
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Why even be part of this forum?

If you believe that car audio is so bad and generally have nothing but negative, derogatory things to say, why do you even participate in this forum. I am so tired of every forum on the web becoming the home for every grumpy, negative person to vent there frustrations on others. As I said in my post, I am not overly interested in being berated for the choices I have already made, the priorities that I have in music (or in life) or the size of my shoes.

Constructive criticism is one thing (one thing most people can't seem to manage to provide) but never ending negativity doesn't do anyone any good. The only point of any of this silliness is to have fun. I repeat "The only point to any of this silliness is to have fun". If you are not here to have fun, please get out of the sandbox as the rest of us don't enjoy getting sand kicked in our faces by the local bully.

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Old 08-14-2011, 06:47 PM
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nowhere in your original post does it indicate that you have this first clue about building a good sounding car so i hope you do a good job, or have someone who is good at it do it for you, however it does indicate that you have some home audio experience which is great to have a good reference. My response was to help you set a realistic sound quality goal as to not be disappointed when it doesn't rival the high quality home audio system you say you have. It's sounds like you have high expectations for your system based on what you indicated you want to put in your hyundai, good luck with your build and I hope it fulfills your expectations
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Old 08-14-2011, 06:52 PM
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Originally Posted by fozzz View Post
It really isn't a fair comparison. A good quality home system will always be better than a good car audio system. However, the average home system isn't particularly good, or isnt set up correctly. My car system rivals many home systems in almost every aspect.
The original post left me not thinking for a second that his home system is close to average, it does hover indicate that he has an above average system that should provide him with sound better than he will ever achieve in his vehicle
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Old 08-14-2011, 07:33 PM
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No clue?

I readily admit that I am not a master fibreglass fabricator nor a class A mechanic nor a master car audio installer with 30 years of experience building systems in the Bentley's of the ridiculously rich and famous but I suspect most of the people on this forum don't have such a hallowed resume either.

Most of the folks on the forum are average folks that started somewhere with something and built over time with help from local shops and friendly non-judgmental more senior amateur installers giving them hints along the way. But apparently there is no point starting unless you already know everything so lets just turn it to AM talk radio on the factory setup and be done with it.

What precisely would one need to have "the first clue" about putting a car stereo together? I guess 30 years of music lessions, performing live music, listening to live music, sampling a ridiculously wide variety of home gear from basic to stratospheric, interacting directly with a number of trusted high end home dealers socially and professionally as well as numerous amp, speaker, turntable and cable designers doesn't count for anything. I guess that learning the basics of electronics to build my own crossovers from scratch or working directly with Art Noxon of ASC on the acoustic design of my home theatre including sound deadening/proofing the walls with sound damp and mass loaded vinyl and extensive sound absorption treatments didn't teach me anything. I guess extensive reading on whatever info I can find online (granted much of the info on the net is crap) and talking with dealers, distributors and manufacturers about their products has no value.

I am not claiming to be an expert. Never said that anywhere in my post. I do know the kind of sound I like. I understand certain basic facts about my preferences. For example I have listened to a great many speakers over the years and I know I prefer speakers that don't chop the all important midrange into bits. Ideally a full range speaker like my Quad ESL 63 (currently being restored so not part of my current active system hence not listed before) or my custom home brew TJ Jordan full range speakers are my favourites but then you loose dynamics which are also important so my current two way horn/cone speakers with the horns covering from 500hz up are the best compromise. Hence the selection of the L3SE. A L4SE would be even better but it doesn't fit as well.

I know that I like paper cones better than plastic. I would have preferred Alnico magnets (yes I have heard the difference) but the only maker using those is PHASS and they are almost impossible to find.

I get the need to get the speakers out of the stock door locations and try to maximize and equalize the distances manually before resorting to digital manipulation. I know what a 12db, 24db, etc crossover is. I know what phase shift is. I get that the install is at least as important as the gear and that the tuning is the other critical third. That said you can't polish a turd so starting with crap gear is a crap idea. I get that gear pricing is a mix of reputation, performance and design.

Ideally I would be able to go around and listen to all the contenders in high quality sound boards or even better in high quality installations in actual cars but there are basically no full service car audio retailers within a couple of hours of me (I have gone to the best of the local and they try their best but the market is just way to small for them to stock much). I could drive all over North America hitting up the last of the great brick and mortar retailers but I have a job and a family so that is out.

I am a pretty well educated guy with a better than average understanding of the basic principles of science and engineering yet I prefer to focus on the subjective first and use the concrete measurement/design only to facilitate my subjective desires.

Your right I don't have the first clue! If being judgmental, setting the goals at the lowest common denominator and taking oneself way to serious is what it takes to have the first clue, I prefer my ignorance.

Last edited by Djeickme; 08-14-2011 at 07:37 PM.
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Old 08-14-2011, 07:53 PM
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There are smart people that do incredible things to help humanity everyday, doesn't mean they can build a high quality car audio system. Your right, reading online, looking at pictures of stuff other people have done etc doesn't make you good at installing car stereos. I can look at pictures of alot of different things, I could read all about and maybe even talk to someone has built it, doesn't mean I can. It's would seem by what your saying that you know what it is that brings you sound happiness and thats great. I mean you can hear the differences in magnets and thats pretty great as well. Your lengthy resume like posts indicate that you aren't a stupid person and that's great too. I hope that you achieve your goals of building a car system that makes you happy
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