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Old 11th November 2013, 17:17   #1
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Default The Downside of High-End Audio Installs

Like good music? Who doesn't!

To many of us, music is a way of life. Heading out to an audio shop to beef up the sound system is a logical move. The benefit of a high-end audio system is obvious = Pure sound quality. It's been 3 years since I got a tricked out ICE install, and every drive has brought an extremely pleasurable aural experience.

That said, have you ever thought about the disadvantages? The following 10 points might be worth considering before your car gets pro-audio gear:

1. Forget about the precise fit of panels & plastic parts:
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Size:  327.8 KB<br /> <i>Factory fit is factory fit</i>, enough said. Once your car is ripped apart in the after-market, you've lost that 'perfect fit' for good. In my Civic, I've had to deal with uneven panel gaps (around the climate control & handbrake areas), loose boot molding etc. The robotic precision of an assembly line is impossible to match at your local audio shop. <br /> <br /> <b>2. Risk of Theft:</b><br /> <img src=K.I.S.S.
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They say, the more parts you add, the more you've got stuff that can break down. Remember <a href=this thread? The problem drove me up the wall, requiring several visits to sort things out. That issue aside, something or the other does go wrong from time to time. Loose wiring, amps playing selective speakers and more. Fact : My car has visited the ICE shop more than the authorised service station!

4. Got the hardware. Have the software?
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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 passé. 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 (<a href=link). If I rip a CD, it's always the lossless way.

5. Reduced Boot Capacity:
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Amps & subwoofers eat into your car's boot space. The stock Civic has a rather useless trunk. With 3 amps and 2 large subs, things have gotten only worse. Of course, my sub enclosures can be easily removed when required. <br /> <br /> <b>6. Others messing with your equipment:</b><br /> <img src=image source):
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A pro-audio install is going to cost you big bucks. Think, well over 6 figures. Then, you'll have to budget for the add-on insurance cover, a security system and maintenance / repairs (inevitable down the road). <br /> <br /> <b>9. Cheaper, and just as enjoyable:</b><br /> <img src=Image Source : Various Team-BHP Threads. Thanks to BHPians for uploading & sharing!

Last edited by GTO : 12th November 2013 at 18:59. Reason: Adding point on alternator & battery life
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Old 11th November 2013, 17:21   #2
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Default Re: The Downside of High-End Audio Installs

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to ICE!
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Old 11th November 2013, 17:36   #3
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Default Re: The Downside of High-End Audio Installs

Very good thread GTO, I have to agree to most of the listed points here.

I for one am extra cautious where I park my car and is it safe there, however I do have parked my car on roads overnight without much to worry as well - the simple trick is don't play it loud around your area to make your system's presence felt - it helps.

One of the major reasons or an excuse for me to move out from my factory stereo (Swift Zxi) setup was a robbery attempt on the stock HU - its highly desired in the market as people want to keep the stock looks and search market for used factory HU's for fraction of a cost. After market gave me the edge of taking away the face plate every night out of the car.

One other factor you have to keep in mind is your car's battery health - it has to be maintained well to enjoy the sound.

Another one which I will like to mention is the keeda to constant upgrade your system - the idea to keep improving the sound stage is always tempting and quiet hard to resist.
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Old 11th November 2013, 18:46   #4
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Default Re: The Downside of High-End Audio Installs

How about lower Battery Life, due to these high end stuff. I recently felt this, atlease 6 month to an year lesser than company fitted audio system.
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Old 11th November 2013, 19:59   #5
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Default Re: The Downside of High-End Audio Installs

The most important point is as rightly mentioned, the loss of that robotic precision of a factory fit and the butchery attitude of after market technicians.
I hate such activity and more importantly their answers when cautioned on rough working.
And this is the reason why I don't even like to apply vinyl floor covering in rain prone Kerala. I have seen the mishandling of seats at many high end car accessory joints while doing such floor pan coverings..

Last edited by rajeev k : 11th November 2013 at 20:00.
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Old 11th November 2013, 20:22   #6
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Default Re: The Downside of High-End Audio Installs

Very well put together the disadvantages of one of the most sought after fitment let me add one more point from my side, it distracts the driver from driving. Let me put it straight how, high end music system= high volume music(90% of them like to show off don't they?) which in the end leads to distraction and contributes to road safety issues for himself and others on road.

Last edited by EFF-EIGHT-BEE : 11th November 2013 at 20:24.
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Old 11th November 2013, 20:41   #7
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Default Re: The Downside of High-End Audio Installs

Also high end music system would mean a bigger woofer = more vibrations = parts become loose on the long run.

Last edited by Car_Freak_911 : 11th November 2013 at 20:50.
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Old 11th November 2013, 21:24   #8
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Default Re: The Downside of High-End Audio Installs

Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
As a certain Sam Kapasi once said, it's not the audio system that creates the magic...it's the artist & track playing that really count!
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.
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Old 11th November 2013, 22:02   #9
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Default Re: The Downside of High-End Audio Installs

A very thoughtful post GTO. Something that we may have thought many times during our drives but never cared to recollect such details and convert that into such an informative thread on a subject like ICE

Quote:
1. Forget about the precise fit of panels & plastic parts:
This is the particular reason why I am thinking more than 100 times on not even upgrading to better components for my Ertiga's doors and being content with the best that I can get from the OE Music System set-up. (I am not even thinking of door damping or anything which will need removal and refitting or panels).

The panels are flexed when the installers try to open it for the first time after factory fitment. They are pulled & abused to say the least. They might be placed on the floor and dragged too!!

While loosening the screws, many times the installers also "slip" the screw-driver on these panels either leaving a scar on the panel itself or chipping off the powder coating on top the those screw making the interiors look ugly. They may not even secure these screw properly while you wonder which plastic is rattling.

When they put it back, there are a few plastic clips that do not secure in place and may even bend creating uneven gaps which never existed before. Not to forget the rubber hoses on door hinges which are fiddled around to pass those wires for speakers.

Even when the OE floor carpet is lifted to pass those wires to the boot area, most of the times it is not installed back like the way the manufacturer does.

If you are driving mostly with family, do you really need an upgrade?:

While we go gung-ho showing off the ICE set-up to colleagues, friends and enjoy those lonely drives with full volumes and crispier sounds, its not so late when we also realize that we are seldom making use of the functionality (Volume & amplification) whenever we are driving with family. Most of the back-benchers would not like Sub-Woofer Bass or high volumes is what I have noticed; At least not for a drive that can last at least 8-10 hours at a stretch. You remove the sub-woofer to make way for luggage and you regret later for having spent on it and not being able to use it when driving with family.

Again, continuous high volumes on long drives lasting 10+ hours is something that I have never been comfortable too. For Sedate volumes we have the OE Set-up anyways!

The OE speakers installed on the doors these days offer one of the calmest vocals and comfortable sound quality that satisfies all.

And those planks on in place of rear parcel trays; They never supplement the parcel tray when it comes to lesser rattles when they bounce when driving alone.

These are purely my personal views based on the primary fact that I mostly take up long drives with family. Hence, these may not be applicable to many of the readers.

Last edited by paragsachania : 11th November 2013 at 22:10.
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Old 12th November 2013, 09:55   #10
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Default Re: The Downside of High-End Audio Installs

Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
10. Other Points & Concerns:
  • Safety: Wiring, part & labour quality have to be top-class. Else, you are risking an electrical fire.
  • Tuning: Skilled tuning can make a world of difference to the sound quality. My installer knew just what I wanted, but it's hard to find that kind of talent.
  • Power to weight ratio: More weight, less go. Damping, amplifiers, speakers & enclosures add undesirable weight to your car. High-end installs can run over 50 kilos! In a car like the Swift, that's 5% additional fat to carry around.
GTO, those are excellent points. I have experienced the above three as well. Some installers simply rip through the panels, cut wires etc., simply because they're in a hurry as there are waiting customers. You'll start noticing rattles from nowhere in a short while. How annoying!When I removed the amps and sub from my Laura, I am seeing an increased FE to 12-14kph in the cities while it used to be 10-12!


Quote:
Originally Posted by sam003 View Post
How about lower Battery Life, due to these high end stuff. I recently felt this, atlease 6 month to an year lesser than company fitted audio system.
Battery life does suffer, in my experience. I've noticed in both my Innova and Fortuner that if the vehicle is not started for a couple of days, the batteries do weaken. When I switched ON the headlamps on the third-day, it was very dim. The Xenons would not even come up until the vehicle is started. So its clear the ICE has been eating up the battery despite being OFF.
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Old 12th November 2013, 11:23   #11
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Default Re: The Downside of High-End Audio Installs

Quote:
Originally Posted by nitinbose View Post
GTO, those are excellent points. I have experienced the above three as well. Some installers simply rip through the panels, cut wires etc., simply because they're in a hurry as there are waiting customers. You'll start noticing rattles from nowhere in a short while. How annoying!When I removed the amps and sub from my Laura, I am seeing an increased FE to 12-14kph in the cities while it used to be 10-12!




Battery life does suffer, in my experience. I've noticed in both my Innova and Fortuner that if the vehicle is not started for a couple of days, the batteries do weaken. When I switched ON the headlamps on the third-day, it was very dim. The Xenons would not even come up until the vehicle is started. So its clear the ICE has been eating up the battery despite being OFF.
Cant digest the FE going up just by removing woofer, must be some other issue, BTW you have quite costly cars as per Indian standard, may I know where you got the Installation done in Bangalore, as few of them are known for their work rest are JC road stuff.
Even battery going down so fast is more of issue with Installation and or poor electrical system.
Better get it redone with famous audio installer from Koramangala, near Jyoti Niwas College.
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Old 12th November 2013, 11:54   #12
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Default Re: The Downside of High-End Audio Installs

Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post

10. Other Points & Concerns:
  • Power to weight ratio: More weight, less go. Damping, amplifiers, speakers & enclosures add undesirable weight to your car. High-end installs can run over 50 kilos! In a car like the Swift, that's 5% additional fat to carry around.
True, but in the case of something like a Duster, it actually works really well! It adds a sense of weight and heaviness to what are otherwise considered flimsy doors. The real benefit though, is the reduction of road / wind / ambient noise. This improves the overall listening experience, IMO. D-BHPian Ampere will testify!


Quote:
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As a certain Sam Kapasi once said, it's not the audio system that creates the magic...it's the artist & track playing that really count!
'Nuff said!
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Old 12th November 2013, 12:00   #13
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Default Re: The Downside of High-End Audio Installs

Very good thread GTO. Worth reading before venturing

I was so passionate on upgrading my audio since my Palio days, somehow the Vitamin M had to be routed to more convincing causes put forward by family. However I had been accompanying all my bachelor friends who shelled out thier fortune on music systems. Yes, 1.2+lakh worth install on a 1lakh worth Zen .

Onething I have noticed is the upgrade fever, anything new on market get auditioned and kept in wish list. Next annual bonus or unexpected cash is always gone. They never gets satisfied with what they have, just overgrow from what is installed even before 3 months of usage. Car is in garage on most weekends rather than a lovely getaway from city buzz.

I met some of them during my previous Bangalore trips and you know what. They realized the golden truths and are riding happily on better cars with stock audios, may be just some speaker upgrades of same size etc.

Strictly no offense on true music lovers upgrading ICE to quench their thirsts. Just high-lighting its a money pit if not moderated with head.

Last edited by jacs : 12th November 2013 at 12:09.
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Old 12th November 2013, 12:41   #14
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Default Re: The Downside of High-End Audio Installs

Thanks for thisw post GTO.

As a die hard audio fan and having spent 4 decades chasing the "holy grail" I would like to add a few points to ponder to GTO's original post.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
1. Forget about the precise fit of panels & plastic parts:
Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
2. Risk of Theft:

With current generation technology there is less of a need to tear up your dash or make too much a physical change to the car's interiors. Third party (after market) processors permit you to retain the stock look and can yet provide sound quality that will compete with the best head units. This also eliminates risk of theft (everything is hidden in the boot)

Companies like Audison, JBL, JL Audio, Alpine, Rockford Fosgate (and their hi-end division Brax), Audio Control, and Helix and many others offer you all variations and degrees of integration with the OEM HU. See links below for more information.

http://www.audison.eu/index.php?page=product&id=49
http://ms8.jbl.com/
http://intl.jlaudio.com/car-audio-oe...em-integration
http://www.audiocontrol.com/t34/1761...on/DQ--61.html
http://www.rockfordfosgate.com/produ...tails/3sixty.3
http://www.alpine-asia.com/product/S...essor/PXA-H800
http://www.helixhifi.com/products/pr...tem_id=454204#

Some like Brax and helix below and even the JBL MS8 above have an inegrated amplifier. the JBL amp is limited in power but the Brax amp below can drive msot any speaker, the Helix lies somewhere in between (but I believe it has been discontinued).

http://www.braxhifi.com/news/templat...eid=6&zoneid=1
http://www.helixhifi.com/products/pr...378&p_tab_id=3

Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
5. Reduced Boot Capacity:
Secondly with a system very similar to GTO's and while boot capacity has been reduced careful planning can ensure that even with a high end system the boot has enough room for 1 30" and one 26" suitcase. My family and I travel quite a bit and in my Octavia vRS (2004-2012) and Camry (2012-present) having room for 2 big carry-on bags was a requirement.


Quote:
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9. Cheaper, and just as enjoyable:
Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
4. Got the hardware. Have the software?
Thirdly if you are chauffer driven (I am) and would like to use headphones please stick to Apple's ALAC as it iPod compaitble and also get a small headphone amplifier. Companies like Ray Samuels Audio, Ordnance Amplifiers, Firestone Audio, FiiO, etc.. the list is endless here make small portable amplifers (for the fashion unconcious there is even one model that is made in an Altoids box). These amplifers are smaller than a pack of cards can be powered from the cigraette lighter socket and have an internal battery that will last anywhere from 10-40 hours. see links below.

http://www.head-fi.org/products/category/portable-amps
http://www.headfonia.com/the-usual-s...amps-compared/

Lastly Apple's iTunes will simply rip you rip an iPod compaitble lossless (ALAC) version of any CD you stick into your PC. You can even download such music from places like HDTracks.com

Oh and BTW the same beloved Sam Kapasi also said "who cares about engine-vengine" or words to that effect.

Last edited by navin : 11th June 2015 at 12:30.
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Old 12th November 2013, 12:47   #15
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Default Re: The Downside of High-End Audio Installs

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.
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