Project Time: 8-20 hours
Project Complexity: Hobbyist
Project Cost: Over $1000
New Car Sound Disappointment
After purchasing a new 2014 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport, I knew immediately the sound system was not going to cut it for me. Even though the vehicle’s ten-speaker “Dimension” sound system was designed to impress, I was very disappointed with the bass. Personally, I like tight, thumping bass in comparison to the muddiness delivered by the OEM system, which is equipped with a plastic-enclosed 8″ subwoofer mounted in the back side wall. The stock system could put out lots of volume, but no one would say that it was quality sound by any means.
Dayton Audio Solution
I challenged the speaker engineers and product specialists here at Parts Express to upgrade my car with all Dayton Audio speakers. They loved the opportunity. The Parts Express team collaborated to produce the best sound options using all in-stock products. I asked them to retain the existing speaker placements in order to make the car look as original as possible. The exception to this was that I knew the subwoofer would require a major upgrade, so we decided to utilize half of the back storage compartment to house the subs.
We began by investigating the stock speaker locations, cutout diameters, and maximummounting depth. A-pillar pods housed small dome tweeters: a perfect opportunity to try the new Dayton Audio ND25FN-41″ silk dome tweeter elements, which fit into the stock housing.
Choosing the door-mounted speakers was a balance of compromises. We believed that any of the Dayton Audio woofers would do a great job, but wanted to focus on value, midbass punch, and woofers that would integrate well with the ND25FN-4. The Dayton Audio Classic Series DC160-4 6-1/2″ woofer met all of the criteria and fit nicely into the door speaker locations.
Our subwoofer choice was a no-brainer since this was to be an SQ (soundquality) focused system.Dayton Audio’s Ultimax 10″ subwoofers are very easy to use, working well in small, space-saving cabinets while retaining top-notch sound quality.They handle anything the amplifier throws at them, and beg for more without losing composure.
We chose two matching Pioneer amps to drive the new speakers: the Pioneer GM-D8604 4-Channel 1,200W Max Power Class FD Mobile Audio Amplifier to drive the front separates and rear door woofers, combined with the Pioneer GM-D9601 Mono 2,400W Max Power Class D Mobile Audio Amplifier for the subs. We installed a StreetWires ZN1-1FCD 1 Farad 20/24V Capacitor to stabilize the input power feeding the amps.
Parts Express sells over 18,000 audio related products, but car stereo installation is not one of the services we provide. So, I went to the best local car installation provider (I highly recommend them — carstereomaxdayton.com) in Dayton, Ohio, and worked with Mark at Car Stereo Max to do all the wiring, speaker mounting, sound damping, and sub box construction. Mark and his guys did a first class installation job on the car and everyone here appreciated their laying the foundation for a great car sound system.
It’s all about the crossovers
Once the basic installation was complete, we took frequency response measurements of the left tweeter, left front woofer, and left rear woofer from the driver’s seat using the Dayton Audio Omnimic, the 2nd Omnimic test track, and with the amplifiers set to 1V of output for consistent test conditions. The Dayton Audio DATS system was used for measuring installed, actual impedance for crossover modeling.
Right away, we could see that the tweeters were overpowering the woofers. There were also dips in the response measurements associated with the reflections and time/phase alignment issues common in car audio. It wasn’t too terribly bad, but we knew we could do better.
We wired the tweeters to separate right and left channels on the 4-channel amplifier (wired to A-channel), then the woofers (wired to B-channel). This enabled us to correct the level matching quickly and easily by using the separate amplifier gain settings.
Once that was set, we combined passive crossover components with the 12 dB/octave active crossovers built into the Pioneer GM-D8604. The A-channel crossover was set to high-pass at 500 Hz, and each tweeter has a 4 microfarad capacitor in series. The net combination of the filters equals around an 18 dB/octave roll-off starting at about 2,800 Hz.
The B-channel was set to high-pass at about 80 Hz to allow some woofer punch, while keeping the deep bass out of the doors. Additionally, the front woofers were wired with a series 0.50 mH 20 AWG air core inductor from Jantzen to integrate well with the tweeters, while the rear woofers use a Jantzen 2.0 mH 20 AWG air core inductor in series. The Ultimax subwoofers sounded best with the amplifier low-pass crossover set to about 75 Hz.
5,000 songs never sounded so good
In the Santa Fe, I use a 32 gigabyte USB drive jam-packed with over 5,000 songs to help me roll down the highway every day. The completed installation’s audio quality is truly better than I hoped for, as it impresses me with each song that plays randomly on the system.
My USB drive highlights great music from the last six decades, up to and including today’s heavy beats from diverse performers like Imagine Dragons and Muse. With such a variety of music, the system had to be designed to play all types well. And it does just that!
The dual Ultimax subs produce bass that is strong, quick, and DEEP. Midbass output from the door speakers is very tight and keeps the soundstage right where it should be. I have always had a tough time really hearing the stereo separation in most cars, but this Dayton Audio SQ Car Install puts the sound where it should be. The tweeters hit with plenty of realism and overall the system just sounds great.
About the vehicle owner: Steve Sunshine
Steve Sunshine was once the E-commerce Director at Parts Express. Steve’s proximity to high-quality audio his entire adult life makes him strive habitually for the best sound possible in all listening situations.
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