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Old 27th May 2014, 16:41   #1
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Default Tata Indica ICE: 2-way to 4-way DIY

ICE journey with Tata indica

Stage I

Dear BHPians!,

I am from Chennai.
This is a build log for my Tata Indica from a simple Sony/JBL setup to a complete DIY 4-way setup with Morel drivers and multiple amps.

The journey started somewhere in May 2013 when I was looking to change my Maruti 800 which had done exceptional duty for close to 12 years. After more than 100000 kms and with added bulk around my waist over the years, I wanted a car that gave a little more space.
I just had a Blaupunkt HU in the Maruti 800 with some 3-inch pioneer coaxials in the front in the stock location under the dashboard. I did not bother much about music in the car and used it only occasionally during long drives.

I was only eyeing at used cars and it so happened that my cousin was upgrading to Chevrolet Sail UVA. His 12-year-old Tata Indica (petrol) was in pristine running condition except for some dents here and there on the body. It had done only 50000 kms and I took it. Being old school Indica it was a sturdy beast.

I just moved the audio setup from Maruti 800 to Tata Indica before giving it away. So this was the first ICE (if you call it so) in the Indica.
A few days later I visited my car service guy for a small issue in the Indica and happened to listen to an ICE setup there. It was a Maruti Swift and sounded pretty good.
I had no idea what it was running except that the HU was a Pioneer and it had a 4-channel amplifier.

I guess the experience got on to me and the ICE addiction started.
I am not a complete noob, have some experience of audio as I had built my home theater setup a decade ago, but kinda lost touch with the technicalities.

I started with a blunder of randomly picking up a used Sony 4-channel amp and a 12 inch pioneer subwoofer and a set of new JBL 5.25 inch components and got them installed at a local shop.
It sounded out and out horrible, the tweeters were shrill, the midbass sounded hollow and the sub was overpowering. No amount of tone adjustment could set it right. I immediately realized that my choice of equipment was the culprit.

So I decided to go the scientific way by reading and understanding the technicalities of car audio setup. I went through a number of ICE forums, read user reviews of products and also a number of technical materials.
I learnt the nuances of staging, imaging, active/passive crossovers, 2-way/3-way/4-way setups, cabling, wiring, source quality and most importantly installation issues.

After deciding on the budget the first thing I looked out for was the HU because thatís were the SQ starts and of course the speakers. The choice of HU was easy.
I was not looking at video capability so the best 1-din around at that time (and even today) was the Pioneer DEH-80PRS CD receiver. It is 3-way active capable, has built-in TA, 16 band EQ, Burr Brown DAC on all its sources at a VFM price.
Tata Indica ICE: 2-way to 4-way DIY-deh80prs.jpg

After lots of deliberations, reviews and budget, I picked the Focal 165V30 components directly from Focal India distributor Prithvi Trading Corporation (Mumbai).
Tata Indica ICE: 2-way to 4-way DIY-focal-box.jpg

I also purchased a 2nd hand PHD 4-channel amplifier.
Tata Indica ICE: 2-way to 4-way DIY-phd-4075.jpg

I decided to retain the Pioneer subwoofer due to money constrain and decided to spend on a professional install.
Tata Indica ICE: 2-way to 4-way DIY-pioneer-subwoofer.jpg

After visiting half a dozen installers, I selected Speedfreaks (Anna Nagar). The owner Karthick Raj was a knowledgeable guy and we discussed the installation at length.

Since I did not want to add another amplifier at that point in time, it was decided to go passive with the 2-way Focal as the front stage powered by 2-channel of the PHD amplifier and Pioneer subwoofer bridged on the channels 3 and 4.

Since the Indica front doors do not provide space for stock fitment of the Focal 6.5 inch midbass it was decided to do a fiberglass enclosure in the doors.
I had in the meantime purchased felt sheets and aluminum foil and had done a DIY to paste the foil on the sheets.
Tata Indica ICE: 2-way to 4-way DIY-damping.jpg

By the time the FB enclosure was getting ready, the felt sheet was used to damp the car floor and the boot. Traditional self-adhesive bitumen sheets were used for damping the front doors.
The Head Unit and amplifier were installed and the wiring was completed.
Tata Indica ICE: 2-way to 4-way DIY-amp-sub.jpg

Tata Indica ICE: 2-way to 4-way DIY-hu.jpg

Tata Indica ICE: 2-way to 4-way DIY-doors-damping.jpg

The FB enclosure came out well and the midbass sounded quite good.
Tata Indica ICE: 2-way to 4-way DIY-left-midbass.jpg

Tata Indica ICE: 2-way to 4-way DIY-right-midbass.jpg

We sat in the car to finalize the location of the tweeters. A location roughly 4 inches up on the A-Panel firing at the opposite passengers headrest produced a good staging and was least bright and most detailed. With break-in, the speakers, especially the tweeters were expected to mellow down further.
The location was marked and A-Panels were removed for building the fiberglass pods for the tweeters.
The tweeter pods came out well and an RTA was done followed by fine tuning.
Tata Indica ICE: 2-way to 4-way DIY-pods-before-finish.jpg

Tata Indica ICE: 2-way to 4-way DIY-pods-over.jpg

Tata Indica ICE: 2-way to 4-way DIY-tweeter-post-installation-final.jpg

After about 70 odd hours, the setup started to really shine. The staging was quite good and wide and not fatiguing as many think is the signature of Focal tweeters.
It is an inverted metal dome tweeter and needs proper positioning and EQ to make it to shine.
The midbass was the real winner and was playing from 80hz to 3 khz from where the tweeters took over. However the Pioneer subwoofer was a real let down and just did not blend with the front stage.
So the first upgrade due was the subwoofer.

Stage II to follow.
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Old 28th May 2014, 15:09   #2
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Default Re: Tata Indica ICE: 2-way to 4-way DIY

Beautiful setup, and a wonderful DIY effort! Congratulations, @gkannan, and wish you years of wonderful music while driving.
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Old 28th May 2014, 16:01   #3
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Default Re: Tata Indica ICE: 2-way to 4-way DIY

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Beautiful setup, and a wonderful DIY effort! Congratulations, @gkannan, and wish you years of wonderful music while driving.
Thank you sir...@DerAlte this was just a beginning and this is how the setup was after the 1st install in September last year which I put up with till about the end of the year but I had by then realized I was seriously missing the midrange drivers and a pure SQ subwoofer.
I slowly but steadily made the progress with major changes which I will record in the next few posts.
After the 1st install by Speedfreaks, the only route I took later was DIY.
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Old 28th May 2014, 17:13   #4
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Default Re: Tata Indica ICE: 2-way to 4-way DIY

So since the 1st ICE attempt, which came out to be quite satisfactory, I dug into my music collections for prolonged listening. I mostly kept the sub off as it was quite SPL in nature and eating into the SQ.

The front stage was well imaged but I would still have preferred it a bit more upstage.

After 100 odd hours the tweeters did mellow down and the midbass opened up. 'Hotel California' sounded more dynamic and it was easier to single out the instruments. In the meantime, I got hold of an IASCA competition CD from a friend with detailed written manual and pictorial representation of the instruments in each number.

The staging matched to about 70%, the let down was mainly due to the subwoofer which was pulling down the stage and also impinging and overlapping on the lower midbass octaves making it sound muddy.

In the Focal passive crossover, the toss was between crossing the tweeters either 6 dB/octave low-pass and 12 dB/octave high-pass at 3,700 Hz
or 12 dB/octave low-pass and 18 dB/octave high-pass at 5,000 Hz. Each had its own advantage and disadvantage.
The vocals were superior at 5khz but it affected depth and staging, at 3.2 the vocals were a little sharper but was more upstage and I settled for 3.2 and EQued it to my taste. Either way the tweeters sounded best by setting the attenuation switch to -3db.

After the break-in, I went in for another RTA to the installer and that's when I got to listen to a fully 4-way active setup with Clarion HX-D2 head unit. It was an unforgettable experience and became my benchmark for future upgrades.

The one thing I immediately realized was the need for midrange drivers on the dashboard. It was clear in my mind that 4-way is the best way to go, especially in a car with the midbass on the door.

In the last few years, for some practical reasons I have relocated my residence close to my work place, which in fact is at a walking distance.
So whatever little driving I do, happens mostly on weekends.
So most of my music listening in the car is in my parking lot (i.e with the engine switched off). This was obviously causing a battery drain, so I needed something to keep the battery charged even as I listened to music.

After some online research I purchased the handy CTEK external battery charger.
The battery is charged through a dedicated cigarette lighter adapter which is directly connected to the battery.
The charger helps me to not only save on petrol but also unnecessarily idling the car for along durations.
It has a number of added features to charge drained batteries and also to prolong battery life.

Tata Indica ICE: 2-way to 4-way DIY-ctek.jpg

Tata Indica ICE: 2-way to 4-way DIY-ctek-charger-only.jpg

To be continued!
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Old 29th May 2014, 11:37   #5
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Default Re: Tata Indica ICE: 2-way to 4-way DIY

Quote:
Originally Posted by gkannan View Post
The staging matched to about 70%, the let down was mainly due to the subwoofer which was pulling down the stage and also impinging and overlapping on the lower midbass octaves making it sound muddy.

I got to listen to a fully 4-way active setup with Clarion HX-D2 head unit...It was clear in my mind that 4-way is the best way to go, especially in a car with the midbass on the door.

So most of my music listening in the car is in my parking lot (i.e with the engine switched off).
Remember DA's comment that the "absence of a subwoofer should be noticed but it's presence should not be" or words to that effect. You have just experienced the same. A poor sub actually detracts from good sound than adds to it. Now that you have heard it, I am sure you will find a way to achieve it. You seem to have the passion and persistence to do so. Keep at it.

If you are going fully active it also makes sense to get a DSP so you can time align each of the drivers. I know this goes against the KISS policy of having as few components in the signal chain as possible but in the car where there is glass and the location of the speakers cannot be changed much, a DSP offers a good alternative.

Why confine your listening sessions to the car? Why not build a competing system at home? Oh and I forgot now that you got the audio bug "Welcome to the dark side"; it is a one way street and there ain't no going back (I've been on this street for almost 40 years - damn I AM OLD!).

Last edited by navin : 29th May 2014 at 11:38.
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Old 29th May 2014, 12:42   #6
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Default Re: Tata Indica ICE: 2-way to 4-way DIY

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Remember DA's comment that the "absence of a subwoofer should be noticed but it's presence should not be" or words to that effect. You have just experienced the same. A poor sub actually detracts from good sound than adds to it. Now that you have heard it, I am sure you will find a way to achieve it. You seem to have the passion and persistence to do so. Keep at it.

If you are going fully active it also makes sense to get a DSP so you can time align each of the drivers. I know this goes against the KISS policy of having as few components in the signal chain as possible but in the car where there is glass and the location of the speakers cannot be changed much, a DSP offers a good alternative.

Why confine your listening sessions to the car? Why not build a competing system at home? Oh and I forgot now that you got the audio bug "Welcome to the dark side"; it is a one way street and there ain't no going back (I've been on this street for almost 40 years - damn I AM OLD!).
Neither am I any young and nearing on half a century.
I built my first home stereo setup more than 25 years ago and my first home theatre speakers with Peerless drivers more than a decade ago.
Priorities changed and I was away from music for a long while but the passion remained.
Today the car offers me some privacy and solitude for an hour a day in the evening after office as I listen to music and hold on to a book.

The setup depicted above was just the beginning, it has since taken quite a few changes and addition in equipments. I will record the changes with photos in the next post.

Going active is my ultimate goal but would ideally like to do it the HU way rather than with a DSP or use a optical source if I end up using a DSP.
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Old 29th May 2014, 13:47   #7
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Default Re: Tata Indica ICE: 2-way to 4-way DIY

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Neither am I any young and nearing on half a century.... I built my first home stereo setup more than 25 years ago and my first home theatre speakers with Peerless drivers more than a decade ago.
Oh great, welcome to the old man brigade then. I built my first speakers in the early 70s and my last 2 pairs only about 2 years ago.
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Old 29th May 2014, 16:26   #8
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... some privacy and solitude for an hour a day ...
Quote:
Originally Posted by navin View Post
... welcome to the old man brigade then. ...
Old men need their quiet time (usually away from their little old ladies), as much as the little old ladies need a sink for their chatter (usually the same poor old men)!
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Old 29th May 2014, 16:56   #9
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Old men need their quiet time (usually away from their little old ladies), as much as the little old ladies need a sink for their chatter (usually the same poor old men)!
Yeah an old man and his three women separated by nearly seven decades.
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Old 3rd June 2014, 11:54   #10
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Default Re: Tata Indica ICE: 2-way to 4-way DIY

The setup with the 4-way active Clarion Head Unit which I happened to audition was quite an experience. But I did not have the mullah to even think about it at that point of time.
The guy was running a Digital Designs 12-inch subwoofer in a custom designed enclosure. It was fast, tight, up and deep in the dash and was blending well with the midbass. His midbasses were Morel Hybrid Ovation 6, the midrange 3.5 inch Morel CDM88 domes and the tweeters the Morel MT22. The midrange and tweeters were fitted in custom made fiberglass enclosures on the dash.
The winner here was clearly the midrange. It was vocal centric and laid back. He had crossed it from 600 hz to 6 khz at 12db slope. This was the first time I had heard a dome midrange and I really liked its tonality.

However my hunt for a subwoofer continued. I kept reading around forums and there were multitudes of recommendations for SQ subs and enclosure designs.
My eye was however on the Morel Ultimo SC which was available new at around 27k which was way beyond my budget.
One of those days a friend from one of the forums informed about the availability of Morel Ultimo 12 2 subwoofer at a cracking price. It is the premium model from Morel. But the problem was it needed power, lots of power. It just coincided with another offer of a Celestra monoblock at an attractive price. It was versatile combo and I purchased both of them.
However I made a mistake of agreeing to my installerís suggestion of a 0.95 cu.feet sealed enclosure. I had worked out around 1.15 cu.feet as ideal for my car based on companyís recommendation and a software.
The subwoofer was performing well with the celestra amp, but the enclosure size definitely needs to be increased.

Tata Indica ICE: 2-way to 4-way DIY-morel-ultimo1.jpg

Tata Indica ICE: 2-way to 4-way DIY-morel-ultimo.jpg

With a 4-channel and monoblock, I next decided to go 3-way active.
Thatís when I got a rude shock.
In passive mode, the rear out RCAís was used to power the components and the sub-out RCAís to power the subwoofer. We had till then not used the front RCAís which output the tweeter signals in active mode.
The left front RCA out did not output any signal and was a dead duck.
With lots of circumspection, I gave it to a service guy for repair. He could not isolate the issue but added on a problem. On reconnecting the HU, we found that alternator noise was leaking into the unit.
It was the age-old infamous Pioneer PICO fuse issue. I luckily managed to get a detailed 80PRS service manual online.
I opened up the unit and located the PICO fuse and shorted it and bingo the noise was gone.
But then I had a handicapped HU limited to being run only in passive mode.

I resigned to my fate, though the ICE was more than satisfactory, my ears were longing for a dome midrange and on how to set it up with this handicapped head unit.
It was around November, the guy whose 4-way active setup I had auditioned put up his Morel CDM88 midrange on sale. A new one was retailing for 500USD and I negotiated with him for 12k.

Next challenge was a way to add them to the existing setup.

To be contd.
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Old 27th March 2015, 19:21   #11
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Default Re: Tata Indica ICE: 2-way to 4-way DIY

Hi gkannan, if you're reading this, please do post the next episode!
Would really love to hear how it turned out!
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Old 28th May 2015, 13:26   #12
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Hi gkannan, if you're reading this, please do post the next episode!
Would really love to hear how it turned out!
His setup is totally different from what has been mentioned in his initial post.
I auditioned it two weeks back and it was one very good SQ setup i have listened to. He now has an Eclipse 7200 HU and Dayton Audio 7" Midbass drivers in the door pads along with Dayton Audio Midrange Drivers. Might you could audition his car if you have some time
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Old 28th October 2015, 02:38   #13
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Default Re: Tata Indica ICE: 2-way to 4-way DIY

After a few changes, I am now running a custom 4-way quasi active setup.

List of Equipments:
Head Unit: Eclipse CD7200mkii 3-way active
Signal Cable: MX Reference
Amplifier: Two numbers 4-channel Pioneer GM-X944
Speakers:
Tweeters: Hybrid Audio L1V2
Midrange: Dayton RS100.4 wideband midrange
Midbass: Dayton RS180.4 7 inch midbass (to be replaced by Audible Physics 6.5 inch Vector)
Subwoofer: Infinity Kappa 10 inch
Speaker cable: 16awg, Subwoofer cable: 12 awg.

The midrange and tweeters are housed in a custom 1.8 liter fiber glass enclosure in the dash
The midbass is housed in a pod on the doors with extended spacers.

Subwoofer low passed at 80hz/18db powered from a bridged connection from the amp
Midbass bandpassed between 80/18db and 315/12db
Midrange bandpassed between 315/18db and 9 khz/12db
Tweeters high passed from 9khz

Timed aligned on a flat EQ as of now.

Some pics: The midrange and tweeters are completely on-axis to the driver ears (left to left lobe and right to right lobe)
Attached Images
          
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