Car Audio Experts–I need help!

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by cwright, Apr 1, 2006.

  1. cwright macrumors 6502a

    Jan 5, 2004
    This is driving me crazy... I've spent so much money on my car stereo and it still doesn't sound right! Here's my (long) story...

    For about 2 years I've had a decent setup–Polk Audio speakers (5.25" front, 6.5" back), a 10" JL sub with a 150 watt amp (75x2 bridged), and a head unit that sent about 23 watts RMS to each speaker channel. Everything sounded great, but...

    In the past few months I started to notice that the highs were not very good. I got alot of hissing and shrill distortion on the 'S' and 'T' sounds. I asked the guys at the shop I bought everything from and they said replacing just the tweeters probably wouldn't help that much–that I'd be better off buying an amp for the 4 main speakers.

    A few weeks later I decided I was willing to spend the money to fix the problem (It was really getting on my nerves). So I went all out, and bought a 60 watt x 4 amp, a new Polk 6.5" component system (DB6500) and new Polk 6x9's (DB690). Got everything installed–and the high's still distort! It's just as bad–if not worse!

    Now, don't get me wrong–the speakers are AMAZING. I can crank them extremely loud and it's still crystal clear. Even the instrumental highs (cymbals, etc) are amazingly detailed and accurate, a huge difference. BUT the vocal highs are still terrible! Why??

    I hear this kind of distortion on every single song. Some are worse than others. The best example (or worst, I guess) would be 'The Red' by Chevelle. The long 'S' sounds at the beginning are almost painful! To be sure it wasn't me, I tested it in the car with both an MP3 file and the uncompressed file (the retail CD). Then I played the same song on my Klipsch 2.1 speaker setup in my room–and it's perfect! No shrill highs whatsoever...

    Does anyone know what the deal is? This is driving me crazy...
    I know that speakers require some break-in time, and I've certainly given it alot of time before posting this. I've been using the new speakers for about 8 hours total now, at varying volumes and lots of different types of music. But I'm not hearing any improvements yet.

    Sorry for such a long backstory there. I'd appreciate any help from the car audio experts out there...
  2. aquajet macrumors 68020

    Feb 12, 2005
    I'm not a car audio expert, but...

    So, you've got a new amp driving four new speakers, and the highs still distort. Am I correct in saying the only thing still original is the head unit? I would look into that. There could be something wrong from the source.
  3. cwright thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jan 5, 2004
    I guess you're right. I'll look into it–maybe the treble settings are too high? I kinda doubt it, but I'll find out.

    Still though, does anyone know if it's normal for speakers (particularly tweeters) to take a few days to 'break in' to the point where they sound their best?
  4. Takumi macrumors regular

    Dec 15, 2005
    Gunma, Japan
    Unfortunatly the car audio market is aimed at Doff Doff. This is especially true for American and Japanese made speakers (Polk, JBL, Klipch, Sony, Pioneer, Fusion.) the vocal mid and high range (especially female vocal's) are largly rejected in favour of the base line and the snare drum.

    You also have to remember that the car is a terrible sound stage, and can never be expected to perform as well as a home system.

    If you want quality in the vocal ranges you will need to look towards europe and their brands (Focal, Rainbow to name 2.) You will alos need to take great care in how the speakers are mounted, how the soundwaves off the rear of the cone are dampend, and if yo get really serious to the phase response of the speakers,


    P.S: Polk Audio make some very nice home audio gear. Just buy that and put it in your home
  5. Poeben macrumors 6502

    Jul 29, 2004
    It can be argued that a speaker's response will change slightly after a 'break-in' period. There is absolutely no need to 'break-in' speakers, although there are a few exceptions. That said, if it sounds bad now it's going to sound bad in a week. Check all your components--head unit, ALL the wiring and connections, x-over, equalisers etc.
  6. Togglehead macrumors 6502

    Mar 16, 2006
    Ok i think i can help here. Im an audiophile myself and a huge installer of car stereos.....

    There are a couple things you need to think about when building the system in your car. I will ask several questions to help determine what you can do to eliminate this issue, as it would drive me nuts too....!!!! From these questions hopefully you will see what it takes to get the right system in your vehicle.

    1. Type of car? (Year, make, model, hatchback, etc....)
    2. Brand and model headunit?
    3. Brand and model amps?
    (the brand of amp an headunit, which you never mentioned, is probably one of the most important things. Your speakers can be top of the line....but if you drive mid to low range wattage through them..they will still sound like garbage)
    4.Type of sub enclosure?
    5. and last but not least, what kind of system do you want? Clarity all around? or sheer volume (db)


    There are a lot of factors that go into tuning your system next. Such as crossover levels, gains, bass boosts, balance.....all sorts of things.

    The sound stage we're offered is terrible as someone said....every car is different. Im STILL tuning my car, as its so damn little inside i cant get sound to travel right.

    At first bet is on your headunit....but there are a number of things that it could be...i mean....if you dont drive enough watts to the speakers it can cuase that too. Such as, only pumping 60w into 200w good.....give them at least 160w...just turn the volume down if theyre too loud....;D

    You dont need a lot of watts to make a car sound great....its all in how efficiently you use it.
  7. Togglehead macrumors 6502

    Mar 16, 2006
    break really......some studio monitors tell you to, and its not a bad idea as it cant hurt....but its unnecessary....

    warm up, however, is valid. Everytime you turn a speaker SHOULD give it a few to "warm up." some time to get the voice coils used to moving again, before you really pump em.


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