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Old 11th August 2010, 11:37   #1
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Default Comfortably numb again in a Fiesta 1.6S

My ICE journey started way back in 2002 when I installed a Sony XPLOD Cassette Player and a gray market JBL ovals in my Indica in Bangalore. It sounded great back then and the Sony was one of the best SQ cassette players I have ever heard. Much better than Pioneer and Kenwood back in those days.

My Indica turned out to be a bit of a lemon and I was tired of frequent visit to T.A.S.S. I got rid of the car just after the warranty got over, but I retained the ICE. The same ICE then went into my new M800 and it still sounded great.

After a while cassettes were getting harder to find, so I replaced the Sony with a Pioneer MP3 player with USB. SQ went up by another level and I was happy with what I was hearing. The old JBLs at the back still performed flawlessly.

Then I bought the Fiesta in 2009 and it came with one of the best OE ICE in that price segment. Superb clarity, but hardly any bass. And the 2 DIN HU was extremely basic. It did not have a USB and the sound via the Aux did not sound good at all.

By this time, I was auditioning ICE installed by TBHP-ians and I was particularly impressed by the sound in Sathee46's and Bakiya's cars. These guys had put in a lot of effort into their ICE and they sounded superb. Since then I have been toying with the idea of upgrading the ICE on my car.

I am not an audiophile and what matters more to me is what I am hearing rather than how it sounds. But having been a drummer of a rock band, I could easily tell good sound reproduction from bad.

Around that time, a friend of mine had installed ICE worth 1.5L in his Swift. I went to audition it and I was extremely unimpressed. The components were all pricey but they were not gelling together well and sounded rather confused. I had heard much better SQ in 25K setups.

Then it struck me that the budget did not matter as much as getting components that were well matched and played together seamlessly to create good sound.

Then I started some serious research. I was going to settle for something in the 25K range myself when I got some good advice from Nitrous. I decided to up the budget and get something that would sound good and last for 10 years. A low budget set up would most probably mean I would end up upgrading again when the components started hitting their limitations.

My initial plan was to retain the OE HU for now and get a good aftermarket HU from abroad. I wanted to put component speakers, a 4 ch amp and a sub. After some deliberation and consulting with various people, I narrowed down to the following.

JL Audio XR 650 CSi component speakers.
Focal 4 channel amp
Infinity Ref sub woofer

The install started at Power Zone on Monday morning. I had been searching for a good ICE installer for a while and Power Zone seemed the most knowledgeable and most impressive. The installation was done meticulously and high level connectors of the Focal were used as I was retaining the OE HU.

I kept myself occupied by generally gaping, going to the 'nair shop' and reading brochures. I must say the Infinity brochure was a class apart. I was not surprised to see 'Created by Sam Kapasi, 2009' on the last page.

The install finished around 3 pm and we started listening to the sound. It was immediately apparent that the OE HU was a major spoilsport. Low bass was missing. The infinity was being driven only when bass came mixed with the stereo and completely missing the separate sub woofer track. When the gains on the rears were increased to drive the sub, the amp was cutting off. The installer tried all kinds of tricks including connecting a separate Scosche high level adaptor for the sub, but it did not make much of a difference.

We were wondering what to do and the only option remaining was getting rid of the OE HU and getting an aftermarket one. Several Ks were already down the line and I did not want to go home with a system that was performing less than its best. Started looking at HU brochures again.

The installer asked me if I wanted a bluetooth HU and I said no. The choice became obvious. It was the Kenwood KDC-X7013. What a beautiful SQ HU. Super clean is how I would describe it.

Pr_007 had joined me by then and he was kind enough to drop me home as I had some work to do. He picked me up again around 9:30 pm when the work was over. We went there and got in the audition. We were STUNNED! We could not believe how much difference the HU and low level connectors had made. The JLs were playing to their full potential and the mid bass and vocals were rocking. The sub was blending in beautifully as well.

I had described the kind of sound I had wanted just before I left at 4 pm and the installer had tuned it exactly how I had wanted it to sound. I was blown away. Songs from Enthiran which I had hated were sounding too good and the kind of effort that Rahman has put to create the futuristic sound was immediately apparent.

Then we started playing some hip hop and the bass started hitting us low and hard. We were grinning like fools and I knew then I had the sound that I had always wanted. Any kind of song irrespective of whether it is Tamil Rock, Hip Hop or Electronic now sound good to my ears. Even the GTO 948 now connected to the HU sounded perfect when playing the mids and highs. No low bass is sent to them. Peace!

I must thank Power Zone for the wonderful install. He had to re-wire my car twice but charged me the same install price that he had quoted previously. Saravana Prabhu, you rock dude!

Final list

Kenwood KDC-X7013U Head Unit
JL Audio XR 650 CSi Component Speakers
Focal Solid 4 Amplifier
Infinity Reference 1260W Sub Woofer
JBL GTO 948 Coaxial Speakers (I installed these 2 months ago and they are rocking only now)

I must thank a lot of people on this forum for patiently answering some of my atrociously noob-ish questions. Among them, Nitrous, sathee46, Bakiya, Pr_007, Mi10, Invinsible, Greenhorn and Naughty. Thanks guys!

Some pics from the install.
Attached Thumbnails
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Comfortably numb again in a Fiesta 1.6S-ice-016-50.jpg  

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Old 11th August 2010, 11:43   #2
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A special word about the JL Audio components. I have never seen such a beautifully constructed speaker before and they sound just perfect. I was lucky to find them in Chennai. Thanks Pr_007 for the tip. I am particularly eager to see what my fave songs from Agni Natchathiram (80s music- Ilayaraja) sound. Looking for some high quality recordings.

I used Cadence 4 gauge wiring and a pair of Kicker RCAs. I had a look at Scosche, Monster and another brand and the quality of the Cadence was a class apart.

I have a pair of sexy looking metal finish Kicker stickers. I am not putting them on my car, so if anyone wants them, please PM.

I will not be putting up the prices here, so please PM if anyone wants the details.

Some more pics.

The Kenwood HU. TA has be done in such a way that the front seats are in the 'center' of the music. That's the way I like it. This is probably the best HU in that price segment. Comes in exciting color schemes, but I have set it to a blue that matches my car color.
Comfortably numb again in a Fiesta 1.6S-ice-020-50.jpg
Attached Thumbnails
Comfortably numb again in a Fiesta 1.6S-ice-022-50.jpg  

Comfortably numb again in a Fiesta 1.6S-ice-023-50.jpg  


Last edited by Gilead : 11th August 2010 at 11:59.
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Old 11th August 2010, 12:12   #3
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That's a nice install in a even nicer car. Congrats!! I am sure the system must be rocking. How would you describe the sound of your JL components? Are they laid back or a bit attacking in high frequencies?
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Old 11th August 2010, 12:21   #4
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Hey Congrats, Vijay (ok, once again ) I guess you ll try to spend more time in the car now. (Your 1.6S will be moving at tortoise speeds now..lol kiddin)

What you said about budget and SQ is totally true. My last setup where i spent nearly 80 odd K's didnt really do justice. Infact my earlier 28K set up gave me superb SQ.

A note on the Kenny (i have the X693), they are a real beauty. Exceptional SQ at that price point. Simplified tuning options and amazing display too. I am sure you ll enjoy it to the maximum.

BTW, whats your enclosure size ?
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Old 11th August 2010, 13:37   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SPARKled View Post
That's a nice install in a even nicer car. Congrats!! I am sure the system must be rocking. How would you describe the sound of your JL components? Are they laid back or a bit attacking in high frequencies?
Thank you. The JLs have been tuned to produce a laid back sound. I can't stand the 'chill chill' high frequency sounds. The mid bass and vocals are just too good.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mi10 View Post
Hey Congrats, Vijay (ok, once again ) I guess you ll try to spend more time in the car now. (Your 1.6S will be moving at tortoise speeds now..lol kiddin)
Dude, I was just about to post something like this! I normally used to rip my car. But the last two days I have indeed been driving like a tortoise to prolong the time spent in the car. Bikes and share autos hardly bother me when I have Vijay Prakash, Benny Dayal and Akon crooning in my car. lol


Quote:
Originally Posted by Mi10 View Post
What you said about budget and SQ is totally true. My last setup where i spent nearly 80 odd K's didnt really do justice. Infact my earlier 28K set up gave me superb SQ.
True. Quite a few myths that I had built up in my mind were busted during my ICE search. I auditioned a few forum favorites and I did not like them at all. It took a while to get the right combination but the effort was worth it. Thanks again to Power Zone and Chandru Auto at GP Road for making it possible. Lesson learnt: be grateful for the advice you receive, but trust your ears ultimately.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mi10 View Post
A note on the Kenny (i have the X693), they are a real beauty. Exceptional SQ at that price point. Simplified tuning options and amazing display too. I am sure you ll enjoy it to the maximum.
Yeah, a lot of credit goes to the Kenwood for the clean output. I do not know anything about the tuning options and I am not even going to open that menu. The display looks awesome in the night, but not too clear in the day. I have to get used to it as none of my previous HUs have had a proper display before.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mi10 View Post
BTW, whats your enclosure size ?
It's 1.25. Thanks for the Agni Natchathiram songs. If you could bring them in a USB when we meet, I'll copy them.

Last edited by Gilead : 11th August 2010 at 13:39.
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Old 11th August 2010, 13:52   #6
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@Gilead, that is a wonderful write up and happy driving in your new sound station.

I hope you pay attention to the road also when driving.
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Old 11th August 2010, 14:10   #7
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nice one Gilead.

As for replacing the OE HU is concerned, wouldnt it be possible to have OE HU + Aftermarket HU together just for the heck of it.


In certain cars some of the OE features come along with HU so in order to retain them wouldnt it be possible to have OE HU + aftermarket HU running simultanously.
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Old 11th August 2010, 14:31   #8
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Congratulations, Gilead.
You can copy my tiny music collection during one of the meets.
Quote:
Originally Posted by MutantX
In certain cars some of the OE features come along with HU so in order to retain them wouldnt it be possible to have OE HU + aftermarket HU running simultanously.
Its called a Audio Signal Processor.
Eg. Rockford Fosgate 360.2 , Audison BitOne, Alpine PXE-H660 , JBL MS-8


For cars like the Fiesta, the factory unit isn't steering controlled and doesn't feature Bluetooth as well. So, one could rather just get the aftermarket HU console rather than going the processor way.
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Old 11th August 2010, 14:33   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pr_007 View Post
@Gilead, that is a wonderful write up and happy driving in your new sound station.

I hope you pay attention to the road also when driving.
Thank you. Hope to see your car re-ICE-ed in the near future. What are you doing with the kappas?

Quote:
Originally Posted by MutantX View Post
nice one Gilead.

As for replacing the OE HU is concerned, wouldnt it be possible to have OE HU + Aftermarket HU together just for the heck of it.
No, you would have to be nuts to run both together. My OE is a double din HU, so where will I have the place to run both? lol

Quote:
Originally Posted by MutantX View Post
In certain cars some of the OE features come along with HU so in order to retain them wouldnt it be possible to have OE HU + aftermarket HU running simultanously.
There is a neat solution for this. What you need is a processor like JL Audio CleanSweep or JBL MS-8 that can attach directly to the OE HU while increasing the SQ manifold.

EDIT: I see Nitrous beat me to the processor bit. The JL Audio processor is available for $300 compared to the $800 for the MS-8. I didn't know when JBL became so pricey!? And I wonder why it's not carrying the Infinity or Harman tag for a price like that.

Nitrous: Thanks.

Last edited by Gilead : 11th August 2010 at 14:41.
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Old 11th August 2010, 14:43   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gilead
The JL Audio processor is available for $300 compared to the $800 for the MS-8. I didn't know when JBL became so pricey!?
Never heard of the Gti series from JBL?
That said, The MS-8 has been receiving rave reviews all over the world. It did take its time to come though.

PS: MS-8s coming soon to a car near you. Purchase made already.
*seals lips*
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Old 11th August 2010, 14:57   #11
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Congrats Vijay, that is a very neat setup. Can't wait for an audition. You did a very good thing by replacing the stock HU. Enjoy the music
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Old 11th August 2010, 15:17   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nitrous View Post
Never heard of the Gti series from JBL?
That said, The MS-8 has been receiving rave reviews all over the world. It did take its time to come though.

PS: MS-8s coming soon to a car near you. Purchase made already.
*seals lips*
Cool! Can't wait to hear it. Power Zone has installed pretty much all the processors that you had listed (and the JL processor) on high end cars, but he has not done an MS-8 yet. I guess the JBL product is fairly new in the market. I hope it's worth the hype and the price.

Quote:
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Congrats Vijay, that is a very neat setup. Can't wait for an audition. You did a very good thing by replacing the stock HU. Enjoy the music
Thank you Sathish. The HU should have been the first to go. Looking back, it was rather foolish to have thought I could make do with the OE HU.
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Old 11th August 2010, 15:22   #13
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How much for that Headunit and Subwoofer?
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Old 11th August 2010, 18:35   #14
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Superb equipments. Waiting for audition
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Old 11th August 2010, 18:35   #15
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Gilead, nice detailed writeup.

Few more details will make it a ready reckoner, at least for Fiestians. Since you have gone thru all the trials & tribulations, request some further info:
  1. Fiesta Specific
    • Front/Rear speaker size/diameter? If I am looking to replace the stock OEM speaker, and keen on an exact fit in the avlbl space, what are the sizes I am looking at?
    • Have noticed a small tweeter like speaker on the fiesta at the front,bottom corner of front side windows -what are those and is that part of a front speaker setup or separate?
  2. Can you provide a consolidated master inventory of items required for the setup you did? Maybe except from the insulation tapes which Pwoerzone may provide, anything and everything which is required for such an ICE setup. Basically, if I am going around shopping, what items should be in my shopping list, so that I get this items and just land up at Powerzone (or any installer for that matter) and get the install done? This should include necessary as well as optional accessories like high quality cables,enclosures etc.
  3. I know that your front/rear speakers are of different brands (JL & JBL), and you have sourced them at different points in time. Apart from the timing reason & maybe discounted price you may have got, is there any specific reason of going in for separate makes/brands? If I plan to purchase all stuff together, is there any issue if I get all JBL or all JL or XYZ brand (for speakers only)...or is it that some brands are good in front and others in rear?
Hoping to have an audition asap.
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