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Old 18th February 2014, 20:52   #1
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Default ICE for the Mercedes W124

Hey everyone! I have a long-ish list of questions which seem specific enough to warrant a thread

My '96 W124 has been around for a bit, and I've been itching to upgrade the speakers for a bit.

Current configuration:


HU - JVC KD X30 Media Player (No cd), with only one 2.5v Pre out. This car only has a single din slot! Since I don't plan to add a sub, I don't really need TA; and my amp has high level inputs so I'm okay with the limited features on the HU. It does give me some control on the LPF/HPF though.

Front - Boston SXi series 4" coaxials. Again, I have to live with a 4" slot and no modification options here.

Rear - Boston SXi series 6x9s, fitted from under the tray (since the provided apertures support a maximum of 6-6.5").

These Play Smart series from Boston turned out to be a disappointment. Little or no bass, overly bright highs, and mids that lack depth. Also, they distort really easily. I regret the day I bought them!

These are running off the HU, all fullrange. As can be expected, light 4" speakers can't really handle fullrange output, and the rears aren't great either. Worse, due to fitting constraints of the larger speakers, there is excessive sound/air leakage into the trunk.

Equipment available

A Sony 4 ch -xxx- amp. I don't recall the model, but it's one of their standard "600w pmpo" marked units that give out approx 60w rms x 4 at 4 ohms. It's being used in my Ritz to run a pair of Pio coaxs (A635s I think) and a JBL CS1100 in a ported box. I plan to get rid of the sub (and maybe the car too!) so the amp is available for the 124.

I know we're not really fond of Sony amps anymore, but this is what I have. Again, upgrades later. This'll do for now!

Current Requirements

I plan to shift the amp into the 124. HU remains as it is for now, until the next upgrade.

No subwoofer needed in this car - I need an elegant sounding setup without a lot of bass, but need clear lows (good speakers will suffice if driven by the amp).

So the 4 inchers will be powered by the front outs on the amp, using 80Hz hpf. Since they point up at the windscreen, they will provide whatever little imaging is possible.

The rear speakers need to run fullrange off the amp. This will (purists please don't kill me) be a rear-centric setup as the sound will come majorly from the rear. Can't help it with this car and a really shoestring budget!

Now, here's the problem.

Since the imaging is in the front, comps at the back make little or no sense. I would rather put in a good set of coaxials running fullrange, providing the lows + mids, with the fronts mainly adding in imaging through higher mids + highs.

1) Is this a good idea, or is it advisable to go for components at the rear? Maybe I can place the mids at the back and the tweeters upfront? Or would that disintegrate the sound?

2) I know many will suggest 4" comps in front, such as the Illusion Electras. Alas, I am on a shoestring budget, and don't want to spend a lot on 4 inchers.

Finally, some real questions.

Let's assume I go ahead with the plan. Sony amp, same HU, 4" coax in front, 6.5" coax at rear. No sub.

Problem - again, don't kill me, but this car has various (recurring) budgets that prioritize over ICE - so I'm looking to spend all of 3-5k on 2 pairs of coaxs. That's it.

I will settle for JBL CS-4s for the front. HPF'd above 80Hz, they should perform fine.

Mainly, I need reviews for the rears. And yes, I listen to everything except hip hop or metal. So soft rock, alternative, country, hindi/bollywood, classics. I like well formed mids, treble which adds life but not too bright, and tight lows. As less boomy as possible. And this car doesn't need a lot of lows, but I hate it when speakers distort at medium volumes with the slightest of drums / bass guitar / even heavy vocals! So I'm looking for a pair of coaxials for the rear that can handle a little good bass from a mediocre amp. Something with a heavier cone and magnet than most entry level coaxs (Think compo like midbass drivers but in a coax).

Here's what I have to choose from:

1) JBL CS 6 (coax) - I have been told they are too light for what I need. Mouthwatering at 1.7k though.

2) JBL GT6 S366 (coax) - Heavier than the CS series. Sadly, JBL does not make 6 inchers in the GTO series any more! Are these any good? I have not been able to audition them as yet. ~2.3k street price.

3) JBL CS6-C (comps) - Again, should I put comps? And are these any good? They're cheap at 2.5k, and the GTOs are more than double the price.

3) Pioneer A635 (coax) - Very popular but I'm not sure of the midbass response. About 2.7k

4) Pioneer G624C (comps) - I'm skeptical about Pio's light flimsy G series, but maybe the comps are better? ~2k

5) Pioneer R1650S (coax) - Some new R series by Pio. Above the G series, cheaper than the A series. Build construction seems heavy and purposeful. Has anyone used them? ~2k

6) Infinity PR6502 (coax) - Is the primus series good for my requirements? Again, crazily tempting pricing (~2.3k). I never thought inifinity could cost that less

7) Infinity PR6500CS (comps) - The comps from the primus series. Seem really well built, for about 3.3k

8) Infinity 6502ix (coaxs) - The higher end ref series. RMS ratings are lower than the primus in a similar price range. Approx 2.8k


Not looking at Sony / Kenwood / JVC etc for obvious reasons.
Alpine's lower ranges seem to be equally dubious. Other premium brands (Rockford Fosgate, Hertz etc) will go over 4-5 k for one pair, and I'd rather redirect the greens towards maintenance work and other pending issues with my beauty! Boston is a no no for me now.

To be honest, I feel like picking up either the Infinity Primus (coax's or comps, depending on what the gurus have to say on the placement) or the JBL GT6 S366 right away. Just need to know what people who've used them feel. Will they give me the mids & lows I need?

Also, since I have 1 pre out and a 4 ch amp - should I just use the high line outputs and retain the fader, or use the pre-outs with y-splitters and lose the fader?

Thanks a lot for going through that insanely long post. Just wanted my needs to be as clear as possible!

Last edited by ayushagarwal26 : 18th February 2014 at 21:02. Reason: Missed some information
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Old 19th February 2014, 13:18   #2
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Default Re: ICE for the Mercedes W124

Quote:
Originally Posted by ayushagarwal26 View Post
My '96 W124 has been around for a bit,
HU - JVC KD X30 Media Player (No cd), with only one 2.5v Pre out.
Front - Boston SXi series 4" coaxials. Again, I have to live with a 4" slot and no modification options here.
Rear - Boston SXi series 6x9s,

A Sony 4 ch -xxx- amp.

So the 4 inchers will be powered by the front outs on the amp, using 80Hz hpf.

The rear speakers need to run fullrange off the amp.

Since the imaging is in the front, comps at the back make little or no sense. I would rather put in a good set of coaxials running fullrange,

1) Is this a good idea,

Let's assume I go ahead with the plan. Sony amp, same HU, 4" coax in front, 6.5" coax at rear. No sub.

I will settle for JBL CS-4s for the front.

2) JBL GT6 S366 (coax)
3) Pioneer A635 (coax) -
8) Infinity 6502ix (coaxs) -

To be honest, I feel like picking up either the Infinity Primus (coax's or comps, depending on what the gurus have to say on the placement) or the JBL GT6 S366 right away. Just need to know what people who've used them feel. Will they give me the mids & lows I need?

Also, since I have 1 pre out and a 4 ch amp - should I just use the high line outputs and retain the fader, or use the pre-outs with y-splitters and lose the fader?
I think you have answered your own questions but are not aware of it.

1. retain fader.
2. Use the JBL CS4 with any of the three 6" Coax listed in the quotes above (the 366 offers a great VFM option and the Infinity is definitely a step up if you want to pay the 500-600 more). I have not heard the Pioneer.

The W126 is great car. It requires little additional damping. If I had this car this is what I would do (a little mad). if you want to modify the door to accept the 6" it might be an option - just use less exotic drivers.
  • Shoe-horn a pair of 6" woofers in the front doors. The Exodus Anarchy come to mind but even a Kicker can do here.
  • Drop in a pair of 4" from say Hybrid Audio in the dash and bi-amp the front channel.
  • Stick a pair of 6" (even the Bostons will do here) for rear fill.
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Old 19th February 2014, 15:33   #3
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Default Re: ICE for the Mercedes W124

Thanks Navinji! I was a little disheartened when I got no replies for my thread yet (I guess I should've expected that when I wrote out a long essay!), but your reply clinches it. I've read tons of your posts in the last few years and couldn't ask for a better advisor when it comes to sound.

I'm highly tempted to go with the latter options, but I love this car too much to shoehorn anything anywhere that messes the OE look. Any other car and I would've done it as no 4 incher can provide me the stage that a good set of 6.5 comps at the front would!

However, I'll go with your former suggestion. I just bought the Infinity PR6502 coaxials online at these crazy snapdeal prices (they turned out cheaper than the street prices quoted by my regular Palika Bhawan accessories guys), and I've kept the PR6500CS comps jotted down on a little mental note for later, when I have a car to match.

So that's it. CS4 in front (HPF'd at 80 Hz), PR6502IS for the rear (fullrange), 4 ch sony amp and JVC media HU, running off high level outputs to retain the fader. No sub for now.

I'm itching to install now, but will only shift the amp out of my ritz at the end of this month / early next month as I'm travelling most of the next week. Sigh! Plus the Infinity(s) aren't here yet.

Thanks a lot! I'll let you know how it sounds and post equipment / install pictures.
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Old 19th February 2014, 15:45   #4
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Default Re: ICE for the Mercedes W124

how about an under seat bass module? Since it's close enough, The bass won't sound weird. Question is finding one that fits under the seats and inside the budget.

Can you get one from abroad?
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Old 19th February 2014, 16:11   #5
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Default Re: ICE for the Mercedes W124

Quote:
Originally Posted by navin View Post
1. retain fader.
Quick follow up question. Isn't the output from the pre-outs way cleaner (I assume it would be the direct output after the DAC) than sound that has been processed by the HU's own amplifier? I mean to ask, using high-level outputs means lower quality of sound being fed into the amp - but is it enough to raise a concern, especially since the components in the setup aren't really high-end and the weakest link is, well, quite a lot of it?

If you feel I should go ahead, I will. If you suggest, however, then I can use the pre-out and set varying amp gains for fr/rr on the amp in order to achieve the fader's purpose.

Quote:
Originally Posted by greenhorn View Post
how about an under seat bass module? Since it's close enough, The bass won't sound weird. Question is finding one that fits under the seats and inside the budget.

Can you get one from abroad?
Definitely considering it - thanks for your suggestion! An 8" low profile active bass module would be great, but would start at around 15k I assume. I could bring one from abroad this summer but that's stage II of the upgrade process!

----

And for everyone else reading this (and Navin/Greenhorn too ofc) - a general product Q. Have you heard the JBL CS6 coaxs? I may want to put these in the ritz once I remove the amp, running of my Pio HU.

This car needs no better than OEM grade sound with a little body (think Honda / Mahindra XUV ICE) as its usually used for running around in places the bigger cars should ideally avoid. Typically driven by the driver, mostly without me in the car. The others in the family are happy with OEM sound
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Old 19th February 2014, 16:22   #6
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Default Re: ICE for the Mercedes W124

Quote:
Originally Posted by ayushagarwal26 View Post
... I love this car too much to shoehorn anything anywhere that messes the OE look. Any other car and I would've done it as no 4 incher can provide me the stage that a good set of 6.5 comps at the front would! ...
Crazy idea it may be, but there is another possibility of putting a pair of 6.5" components in the front:
- with a good adhesive, mount an MDF ring on the underside of the dash, concentric with the existing speaker mounting,
- throw away the 4" and mount the 6.5" mid-bass on the MDF ring
- surface mount the tweeter on the door pad periphery at an appropriate place
- hide the XO under the dash at some place convenient

Don't worry about the small aperture through which the 4" were playing, you will still hear most of the bass frequencies even if slightly diminished. The main front image will be defined by the tweeters.

No, we don't hate Sony products - we just doubt their longevity, and find other brand products better. As far as that amp is concerned there is nothing wrong with it (it has already passed the infant mortality window) - something is better than nothing.

You could definitely do with a better pair of 6x9s behind - most of them cost 3-3.5K.
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Old 19th February 2014, 17:09   #7
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Default Re: ICE for the Mercedes W124

dont put the CS series in front. They are decent, but for such a critical requirement like yours, they will totally suck. You want better mids and highs, and the CS series have neither. Cough up for a better 4" (not necessarily a comp) a good 4" with sufficient sensitivity and Low end would make a world of difference.

For rear fills on a budget, the CS series are okay
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Old 19th February 2014, 20:05   #8
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Default Re: ICE for the Mercedes W124

Hmm... okay. So here's what I'm thinking - I have a pair of 4" Boston Coax (Ssi if I'm not mistaken) in front as of now. They are running fullrange, and on the HU output which is far from clean, so they distort easily. I keep the EQ rather flat and bass as low as I can to keep them alive.

I'll start the installation with the amp and Infinity coax at the back. Let's see what the current 4 inchers sound like once they're given a cleaner signal (and HPF'd). If the CS are no better, why would I buy them to replace a similar pair?

Then, if I'm not happy, then the search begins again - this time for 4 inchers.

DerAlte - Thanks for your idea. However, the 124 doesn't even have enough under dash space for such an installation. The under dash area is not clean / flat at all, and I seriously doubt that a 6 inch cone can be put in.

I tried with 6x9s at the back, from under the parcel tray (so sound would pass out of the 6" apertures). In principle it shouldn't be too bad, but the under tray area again is not at all flat and the boot hinges interfere with the speaker baskets, making it terribly difficult to put 6x9s. I still went ahead, and there's huge air gaps leaking all the sound into the trunk. This means I play the rears at way higher volumes than intended, so that some sound reaches the cabin, thereby damaging them (as the HU signals at high volumes can't really be trusted).

That's when I decided to stick to the OEM sizes. I would love a size upgrade, but with this car, it's really not that doable!
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Old 20th February 2014, 11:12   #9
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Default Re: ICE for the Mercedes W124

Quote:
Originally Posted by ayushagarwal26 View Post
Quick follow up question. Isn't the output from the pre-outs way cleaner

Q. Have you heard the JBL CS6 coaxs? This car needs no better than OEM grade sound with a little body
Quote:
Originally Posted by ayushagarwal26 View Post
I'm highly tempted to go with the latter options, but I love this car too much to shoehorn anything anywhere that messes the OE look.

So that's it. CS4 in front (HPF'd at 80 Hz), PR6502IS for the rear (fullrange), 4 ch sony amp and JVC media HU, running off high level outputs to retain the fader. No sub for now.
Quote:
Originally Posted by ayushagarwal26 View Post
Hmm... okay. So here's what I'm thinking - I have a pair of 4" Boston Coax (Ssi if I'm not mistaken) in front as of now.

I'll start the installation with the amp and Infinity coax at the back. Let's see what the current 4 inchers sound like once they're given a cleaner signal (and HPF'd). If the CS are no better, why would I buy them to replace a similar pair?

I tried with 6x9s at the back...huge air gaps leaking all the sound into the trunk.
Yes try the Bostons first. Make sure there are no air gaps between the speaker's basket and the dash. That will affect LF and Mid-bass performance adversely which is what happened with your 6x9 install.

The W126 is a nice car and I fully understand your resistance to modify it's doors or any other part of the interiors.

The RCA (pre out) signal is cleaner but losing the fader is a significant loss. if the passengers in the rear want to have a conversation which the driver wants to listen to music only a fader can help. My mom and her friends used to do just this when they wanted to have a conversation and did not want prying ears.

Quote:
Originally Posted by greenhorn View Post
dont put the CS series in front. They are decent, but for such a critical requirement like yours, they will totally suck.
Greenie, Mr. Garwalji mentioned that his application is not critical and a little better than OEM (OEM + body which probably means OEm with a bit more mid-bass balance) is more than sufficient for this application.

That said the Bostons are probably a bit brighter than JBL's CS. Bostons used to tend to favour a kinda of lushness. I dont know if the ones Mr. Garwalji has are similar.
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Old 20th February 2014, 12:43   #10
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Default Re: ICE for the Mercedes W124

My standards for critical are lower
In My opinion, the CS Series speakers have absolutely no presence beyond their trademark metallic treble. Yes, they will sound better than OEM, but for someone who is looking for proper sound from up front, a good set of 4"ers might be an easier options than trying to shoehorn 6.5"ers under the dash
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Old 20th February 2014, 14:32   #11
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Default Re: ICE for the Mercedes W124

Quote:
Originally Posted by ayushagarwal26 View Post
... the 124 doesn't even have enough under dash space for such an installation. The under dash area is not clean / flat at all, and I seriously doubt that a 6 inch cone can be put in. ...
Take a pic with a decent camera (with flash) - perhaps you will be able to imagine better. No, no dash is clean / flat - they all have ribs and other strengtheners. However, one can work around / reckon with such intrusions when carving the spacer. Also, the area below the speakers location is likely to be open.

Quote:
Originally Posted by greenhorn View Post
... a good set of 4"ers might be an easier options than trying to shoehorn 6.5"ers under the dash
It is easier to shoehorn a decent pair of 6.5"ers than to search and locate 'good' 4"ers. The last time I had encountered 4"ers (for a Santro), I landed up using a pair of Pioneer 4" whizzer cone speakers: cheap, yet the best sound among all that were available in the market in Delhi. JBL CS 4"?
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Old 20th February 2014, 16:14   #12
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Default Re: ICE for the Mercedes W124

That's a lot of inputs to go by Thanks!

I'll stick to trying the bostons first, and then see if I need to move up to 6 inchers and if I can fit them. Definitely worth a try.

If not, CS4 is my last resort option (don't worry, I will look for better 4 inchers before (and if) I put in CS4s). I'm willing to put in, say, an extra grand over the CS4 price if I find something I really like (within the limitations of a 4" cone ofc).

As for the critical requirement - I think I haven't put it clearly. In the 124, the fronts are critical as they provide the only imaging possible, running at HPF. The rear fills will provide body as there's no sub. No matter what I do, I will have to fade a little to the rear. Not ideal, but no option, unless 6 inchers fit.

On the other hand, The OEM grade sound I was talking about is not for the Mercedes at all. It is for my driver-driven Ritz, which needs a basic setup - 4 x 6.5 inchers for the doors, once I pull out the amp from it (for the benz). Coaxials only, components not needed. I hardly ever drive this car, unless I'm going to a crowded marketplace or to pick up, say, groceries for a family errand, where I'd rather park a hatchback than anything bigger!

The 6 inchers here will run off a Pio HU - IIRC, the DEH-P3150. A simple low end usb/aux/mp3 kind of thing. Fronts are not critical here, and sound can come from any direction (I'm okay with centered sound from all 4 corners of the car with fader and balance at 0). I just need a little more body than the nippon dual cones that maruti provides. Hence identical coaxs front and back.

Extra information on the Ritz (little irrelevant, just if someone wants to know) - Currently there's a useless nippon pair upfront, and a pair of pioneer A693 6x9 coaxs on the tray. There's also a 12" CS series JBL sub in the boot, in a ported enclosure (~1.7 litres, port tuned to 30Hz). I power the rears and the sub from the Sony amp I keep mentioning. Strange setup, but that's what I knew about car audio 5 years ago. And it worked for me! Shh. The Pios go to a friend, the nippons will be given away, and the sub goes into the classifieds.

And lastly (written in good spirit, just so you know. Text can be misleading!) - my name is Agarwal, not Garwal Also, please don't call me Mr. Agarwalji - I'm younger in both years and experience, and go by Ayush! Heh!

Last edited by ayushagarwal26 : 20th February 2014 at 16:18. Reason: Missed info again!
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Old 20th February 2014, 17:17   #13
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Default Re: ICE for the Mercedes W124

Quote:
Originally Posted by ayushagarwal26 View Post
As for the critical requirement - I think I haven't put it clearly. In the 124, the fronts are critical as they provide the only imaging possible,

On the other hand, The OEM grade sound I was talking about is not for the Mercedes at all. It is for my driver-driven Ritz, which needs a basic setup - 4 x 6.5 inchers for the doors

Extra information on the Ritz (little irrelevant, just if someone wants to know) - Currently there's a useless nippon pair upfront, and a pair of pioneer A693 6x9 coaxs on the tray. There's also a 12" CS series JBL sub in the boot, in a ported enclosure (~1.7 litres, port tuned to 30Hz). I power the rears and the sub from the Sony amp I keep mentioning.
Ok Ayushji,

If the sound you need from the W124 is critical I would consider looking at the JL or Infinity 4". They cost a bit but might be what you are looking for. I believe the JL model is 400x and the Infinity Ref4002. Since you have the Bostons on hand try them first.

For the Ritz (given that you have room for 4 6" coax) you can try Infinity Ref or Alpine's SPE series. You may end up with a more balanced sound in the Ritz than the W124!

Lastly I think you mistyped, the subwoofer box must be 1.7 cu. ft.
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Old 20th February 2014, 20:13   #14
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Default Re: ICE for the Mercedes W124

Yes! I meant cubic feet. I'll definitely be on the lookout for the infinity's and JLs. I believe the Infinity ref would suit my budget more than JLs and also keep the sound signature intact considering the rears match.

I'll keep updating this thread as things move along.
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Old 25th February 2014, 18:54   #15
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Default Re: ICE for the Mercedes W124

I went through the same exercise when i was putting in a system for my w124. eventually I went with the following set up:

MB Quart Discus component speakers. 4" dia recessed. Front grille mount (6500/- pair, bought on ebay usa with shipping and duties)

Butler Audio Tube Amplifier TDB 275 for the front speakers (36k bought on ebay usa site with shipping and duties)

El cheapo pioneer sub 10 inches with pioneer 4 channel amplifier (total 6000/-)

Pioneer Blue tooth head unit (7500/-)

No rear speakers (I had alpine speakers at the back that I gave away)

I am not much of a bass head. Highs and mids are very important to me. So I did not spend too much on the bass part. I got a passive Low pass and thats it.

The MB quarts with the tube amp are an absolute joy to hear. With good cd's the system really pleased. The system remained unchanged for 7 years. Only recently I had to replace the amplifier with as 1 channel blew. I have sent it back to the dealer and they have promised to repair or replace. In the meantime a nice MB quart amp has taken its place.

Head unit has also been replaced with an alpine unit. It is better than the pioneer but lacks bluetooth

I have never felt the need for rear speakers. The subwoofer is kept really low too. The system is a joy to hear even now after so many years. Fabulous soundstage, no fatigue and superb for the genres of music i listen to

The biggest challenge in the merc is the limited space in the dash for a good pair of speakers. Components are highly recommended as you can angle the tweeter as required. If you can find MB's you will very happy with the sound quality

Had you been in Mumbai I would have been happy to give you an audition

Please do not cut the rear shelf in the 124. It is solid steel and it will weaken the frame

Good luck on your build
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