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Old 13th November 2013, 23:09   #46
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Default Re: The Downside of High-End Audio Installs

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Originally Posted by Rudra Sen View Post
And how I believe this! My player (or is it known as head unit these days?) doesn't have any option for connecting any external source. I still play original CDs. At 10th year after installing whatever I could have then.. It still sounds good to me.
For that same reason I have not upgraded my ICE. I still burn CDs with the songs I want, I don't have USB port.

I can't imagine losing the reliability of my Grand Vitara for better music.
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Old 14th November 2013, 00:26   #47
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Default Re: The Downside of High-End Audio Installs

These downsides are very valid but some cars have such poor OE audio systems that it's impossible to listen and enjoy music on an OE system.

A high end audio install with an amp, sub and the works will have these downsides in which case an intermediate upgrade works pretty well.

If the HU is well integrated and has decent features, just changing the speakers to a set of good components up front and coaxials in the back can make a big difference between poor and pretty good.

A speaker upgrade will not have any of the downsides except maybe for rattling in doors if the fitting is not that great.
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Old 14th November 2013, 07:52   #48
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Default Re: The Downside of High-End Audio Installs

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Originally Posted by Vid6639 View Post
If the HU is well integrated and has decent features, just changing the speakers to a set of good components up front and coaxials in the back can make a big difference between poor and pretty good.
Duster case is the standing example. HU is nicely integrated and has all the features, but OE speakers are outright pathetic. And what you said is what I did. Components in the front and co-ax upgrades to rear and the audio quality is perfect without any loss in reliability. No electricals were touched.

Last edited by ampere : 14th November 2013 at 07:59.
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Old 14th November 2013, 10:35   #49
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Default Re: The Downside of High-End Audio Installs

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Originally Posted by paragsachania View Post
If you are driving mostly with family, do you really need an upgrade?:
I dont know about others but my son who sits in the back prefers that the sound in his seat be "listenable". Of course he has grown up around good quality home audio so maybe his 'demands' are a little unusual.

My wife and me have quite a bit of music that we both like so it helps that we all enjoy a good system.

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Originally Posted by Vid6639 View Post
If the HU is well integrated and has decent features, just changing the speakers to a set of good components up front and coaxials in the back can make a big difference between poor and pretty good.

A speaker upgrade will not have any of the downsides except maybe for rattling in doors if the fitting is not that great.
Actually you need some sort of after market processor see post #14 on this thread. The rationale....
  • Most OEM speakers have limitations in their response
  • Most OEM HUs (I include the Honda City, Skoda Octavia 1.8 TSi, Camry, Accord, as cars I have tested) have some degree of EQ done to compensate for the limitation of the above mentioned speakers
  • If you change the speakers to those that do NOT have the same limitations the sound MAY sound unbalanced (either too much bass or too much treble or something to that effect).
  • Hence if one is changing the speakers (more so if one is adding amplifiers to the new speakers) an after market processor will undo all the processing done in the OEM HU and can also reprocess the sound to match the current speakers (I usually recommend running the calibration at 4-6 positions in the car so that one gets a fair average).

An incar processor eliminates 2 of the 6 challenges one has with high end installs - namely
1. Forget about the precise fit of panels & plastic parts:
2. Risk of Theft:

It cant do much about the other 4 -
3. Complexity = Things going wrong. K.I.S.S.
5. Reduced Boot Capacity:
6. Others messing with your equipment
8. $$$$$$$$$$ (image source):

using lossless is a no brainer in a car as one has all the ID3 tags available (an off the shelf CD does not) so challenge 4 is not specific to high end installs. So that eliminates #4. Got the hardware. Have the software?

I have yet to have any trouble with any manufacturer including HM, Opel, Skoda, Honda or Toyota when it came to a warranty so there goes #7. Bye, bye Factory Warranty:

that leaves #9. Cheaper, and just as enjoyable:
and as I said in post 14 nothing, yes nothing can compete with a good pair of headphones and a decent amplifier in the rear seat so #9 holds true for ANY install. Sadly only 1-2 people can enjoy this music together not a family.

That said the CHEAPEST upgrade one can make to ANY car audio system is DAMPING. Yes one has to be particular that the installer does not damage teh door panels while doing this but that said, DAMPING will redcude NVH as well as the metal resonances. It might also be used to damp out some buzzes and rattles.
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Old 14th November 2013, 10:55   #50
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Default Re: The Downside of High-End Audio Installs

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Originally Posted by tsk1979 View Post
I have another point to make.
Does it make sense to do a 6 figure install in a sub 15 Lakh car unless you are into SPL record breaking attempts.
Think of it this way.
You will use your install while driving. Any compact or D segmenter will have some noise insulation from traffic and road, but not much.
So with the background road drone, a 20,000 INR system, and a 20,000,000 INR system will sound the same.
Unless you are going to park it in your living room and then listen to music, worrying too much about sound quality after a level is pointless, because ambient noise will anyways drown out the subtle differences you will get after increasing sound level.
Yes I agree with you. 20K is a less. 50K should be the limit, beyond that it is very difficult to perceive and enjoy the difference in the sound quality due the ambient noise. If only cars came with Noise Cancellation window panes
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Old 14th November 2013, 10:55   #51
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Great thread, another aspect is that the system has no value when you decide to move on. The new owner of my Skoda did not want the amp and subwoofer. It is gathering dust somewhere. The sound system of my Jetta is not bad but there will be too much hassle in achieving perfection
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Old 14th November 2013, 12:02   #52
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Default Re: The Downside of High-End Audio Installs

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Originally Posted by GTO View Post
Good audio equipment is one part of the ICE experience. Do you have high quality music? Audiophiles insist on CDs but honestly, they're so passť. You got to have a digital library full of high bitrate, clean songs. The inconsistent quality of various online sources won't make the cut, no. For the record, I now primarily download from iTunes India. Be prepared to put in a lot of effort to bring your music collection up to speed. I even went as far as to equalize all of the 3,500 songs in my iTunes (link). If I rip a CD, it's always the lossless way.
I totally agree that CDs are a thing of the past. But the sound clarity and a sense of enjoyment when you listen to music on an original CD is different. It makes you enjoy the music even more. I am using the stock music system in my Figo and I still go out and buy original CDs whenever possible.

A song with a 320 bit rate playing on USB still doesn't match its quality when played on an original CD.
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Old 14th November 2013, 12:45   #53
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Default Re: The Downside of High-End Audio Installs

I've always wondered about the parity between spending on ICE vs that on home audio ... presuming the 'audiophile' would like to listen to decent quality both in the car AND at home.

I may be wrong but personally I feel spending 6 figures on home audio will result in a better audio experience than the same amount spent in a car. Hence I've always tried to maintain that balance. I'd rather not have an Audison setup in the car with a LG HTIB to come back home to.

Oh and precisely due to point #1 I stuck to the OE HU in the Civic. Just changed front components in stock locations, added an amp and a sub. No rears. I had learnt some lessons from the Baleno install.

The Figo is stock (just damping !) since it's 75% driver driven.
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Old 14th November 2013, 14:39   #54
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Default Re: The Downside of High-End Audio Installs

Good thread, I can relate to the points. I have decided to get a factory fitted audio system and upgrade the speakers, if required.
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Old 14th November 2013, 15:32   #55
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Default Re: The Downside of High-End Audio Installs

Yep, so true, GTO.

I remember that the Audio setup in my Safari TCIC added equal proportion of unreliability to the vehicle as it came with originally.

Yep the installation was not from a true expert but still blow fuses, burnt relays, overloaded and hence burning wiring necessitated a complete fuse box replacement over time. Speakers would go on and off over time and the door panel required to be opened up multiple times for it. The door vibration that comes with powerful speakers were not really sufficiently controlled with damping.

A extra removable HU panel to carry vs. the integrated units of todays times.
Most installs loose the steering mounted controls though adapters are also available to make them work if one goes to a true expert. But Bluetooth speaker phones and steering mounted controls are a necessity at least for me.
MP3 music that is normally available does not sound that much better with a high end system and the effort of managing ones music is a bit too much for most. I used to do it at some point of time but no more.
We do install removable speaker boxes in the boot but rarely do we actually remove them and it is a hassle.

So as GTO suggest I would more or less suggest something similar.
1) Upgrade speakers to the best possible within the existing space and preferably with existing wiring and sockets.
2) Amplifier is the only addition that I am kind of ok with and to some extent tweeters if required additionally.
3) Go for the best model of integrated HU the vehicle provides and if the integrated default HU is not acceptable CHANGE the choice of VEHICLE rather than remove and replace.
4) Good quality original sound at max bitrate is essential but rare to get to.
5) And yes headphones for the rear benchers can't be beaten.

Example - EcoSport, Skoda Laura, Octavia III, Superb, VW Passat, Jetta come with sufficiently capable Head Units and even Speakers to some extent, the upgrade must be restricted to Speakers and at the most Amplifiers. The EcoSport comes with Amp out. Always go for the top (or Top-1) trim variant if affordable as the HU also tends to be better.

Last edited by ACM : 14th November 2013 at 15:35.
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Old 14th November 2013, 16:05   #56
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Default Re: The Downside of High-End Audio Installs

To be fair and honest my experience with an after market ICE is rather much better than what most have poined out here and I can list the reasons below.

1. No loose gaps anywhere, I can say the car looks stock for anyone who enters the cabin for the first time and thats how I wanted it to avoid the prying eyes.

2. No rattles(its a swift- whom am I kidding) but seriously damping has helped tremendously and the cabin is much quieter than a factory cabin so full marks to upgrading factory ICE decision.

3. Flexibility to remove the HU wherever I go, less worries for theft.

4. No issues with cutting of factory wires or scratching of panels. I have had no issue in terms of warranty from Maruti in close to 5 yrs now. Infact the service guys are excited and extra cautious to take care of the boot area where the amp are.

5. I havent lost the Steering mounting controls for Audio, just added the interface and it works flawlsessly.

6. I even got the Bluetooth handlfree functionality added with no extra frills added - its a feature with my HU - so it added more benefit from what I got from a factory unit which didnt come with Bluetooth.

I must say like any work in life where we intend to spend some more mulalh than usual, we do some homework - well most do and thats where the difference is I guess( I hope no one gets offended - apologies in advance)

I would certainly extend a lot of praise to the installer who did a very professional job with the installation and there have been no issues with the ICE. So do choose your installers wisely and ofcourse if possible do read a few installation thread on this forum, it really helps. A quick help - I always stand next to my installer and keep an eye to ensure the work is 100% correct in the first time itself and also I enjoy looking at how the installation is being carried out.
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Old 15th November 2013, 10:54   #57
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Default Re: The Downside of High-End Audio Installs

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Originally Posted by satan's_valet View Post
A song with a 320 bit rate playing on USB still doesn't match its quality when played on an original CD.
Please try ALAC or AIFF. I have not tried AIFF on an ipod but otherwise both of these are pretty close to CD.

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Originally Posted by invincible7 View Post
To be fair and honest my experience with an after market ICE is rather much better than what most have poined out here and I can list the reasons below.
You must have a good installer. I don't remember if GTO's install had too many gaps but I do remember his first reaction when he gave his car for the install.

He dropped of his car one morning and when arrived in the evening, I was with him. His eyes opened wide and his jaw dropped when he saw that the entire car had been stripped apart (for damping, wiring, etc..).
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Old 15th November 2013, 11:43   #58
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Default Re: The Downside of High-End Audio Installs

I have had aftermarket installs on some of the cars at home for years now. I think it is one of the few things that makes driving in Bombay traffic bearable. Once you have a good install, or a good system in the car there is no going back.

Yes there can be small problems sometimes, like right now in my Accord since a week or two my music system sometimes decides it doesn't want to come on. But then again its been 3 years since the install without a single issue.

I think the issues also largely depend on the installer, and the knowledge and quality of work done. Many a times issues crop up due to a bad install.
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Old 15th November 2013, 12:48   #59
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Default Re: The Downside of High-End Audio Installs

The moment you add a sub, your front/rear sound balance goes for a toss. If it sounds right for you, your back seat passengers are getting their heads pounded. If it's manageable for them, you are probably not getting your money's worth of bass.

Tuning - this Needs to be emphasized a lot. Anybody can install high end equipment, but especially for SQ installs, getting them to sing is an entirely harder job. HPF/LPF/TA, parametric EQ, Automatic tuning, deciding which crossovers to use (HU vs Amp vs Speaker), where to position them, which amps and speakers sound well together, You need an experienced installer to take care of this. For people living outside Delhi/Mumbai/Bangalore/Cochin/Chennai - Options are rather limited.

Regular maintainence - Congratulations, you decided to drive 200Km to the expert and get your ice installed and tuned, but that's only half the journey. During your service, your local ASC might end up disconnecting and reconnecting wires the wrong way (I've lost track of how many times I've recieved my car after a service with speakers in the back wired in the wrong polarity. If the battery gets disconnected, then the HU settings get reset, and you'll need to set it properly again. RCA's might be loose. I know how to troubleshoot and fix these things, but if you don't, you end up with an underperforming setup.

Lack of flexiblity - If you've installed component speakers (especially 3 ways) on door pads, or ORVM pods, or AC vents, then removing and refitting them is going to be beyond the scope of most ASS. If you've put something in your rear tray, or a sub, if you need to transport something big, and you need to remove them, god help you!

If you've set up an overly complex setup ( carputer/Tablet connected to HU via BT/Tablet or some sort of interface directly to an amp) - then setting it up and configuring it each time is a headache. Or you might want to change the configuration to suit your modes. This might even happen with your audio settings on your HU. depending on the genre, you want it to shine, so you might end up changing the audio settings (not just eq) with every song or CD

UPGRADITIS - I am so surprised nobody has mentioned it. You install your megabucks setup, think its awesome, and then you read a review, or hear xyz's cars which have the new kryptonite tweeter which has a slightly better high end. It starts you thinging. If you sell your current comps for about 80% of what you bought it for, and throw in another 5K, you get your ultimate listening experience again...... Until the next sub comes along which seems to have that thump which you feel you've been missing so far. Another 10K seems quite reasonable.

You start listening to audiophile soundtracks, or if you have an SPL setup, the ones which have monster bass. Eventually, that will be all you will have with you in your collection, until one day you are on a road trip with your friends, and you hear 'Pehla Nasha' on the radio, played through the crappy OE speakers, and it sounds so beautiful, all those memories start coming back, and you realize you havent played it in a long time in your car. Apparently even the flac has recording flaws which are painfully obvious when you're listening to on your system.

And then you wonder. Was it worth it all?

Last edited by greenhorn : 15th November 2013 at 12:57.
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Old 15th November 2013, 21:01   #60
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Default Re: The Downside of High-End Audio Installs

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Originally Posted by Car_Freak_911 View Post
You don't face any problems like skipping of tracks or the music completely getting stopped when you go on speed-breakers or potholes?
Even I have a nine year old Head-Unit which plays only CDs and I face that problem. But when the car is stationary, the sound quality is really good.
Did a small study on different CDs that I use and found out that it isn't the player but the CD is the culprit.
Played different CDs while on the move and the ones I had burnt long back using Nero in PC played well but the recent ones that I burnt using Roxio in my laptop had that problem. Not exactly sure about this but this may be the reason. If ever someone face the problem, do try burning the CD in a different software.
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