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Old 1st October 2010, 14:39   #1
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Default Alt Noise, due to shoddy installation by PowerZone, Chennai

Background:
I recently got my ICE installed from PowerZone, Chennai. I had the following equipments installed in my Fiesta 1.6S.

1. Alpine 9887
2. Infinity KAPPA 4
3. Boston Pro60SE
4. JBL GT5-12
5. Kicker RCA for the sub
6. Caliber RCA for the comps
7. 4g Caliber power cables

The installation looked superb and I was mighty impressed by the install quality (by the looks) and also the way the ICE was tuned perfectly to my taste. But, the whole installation hit a glitch. There was alternator whine (a mild one though like a turbo spool noise) audible from the right side of the car (prob the right tweeter) when I accelerate beyond 3K RPM.

Analysis:
I took my car to PowerZone yesterday to get the alternator whine diagnosed and rectified. We checked different things.

1. The RCA & Wiring run together through the left side of the car. Removed the RCA to the Comps, connected a different RCA (Scocshe with very little insulation though) through the inside of the car away from the Power cable. The whine noise increased a bit more to the audible limit.

2. The Amp was removed from the mounting point behind the rear seats and placed on the boot mat to check if it was picking up any unnecessary charge from the metal body part. The whine was still there.

3. A noise filter circuit was connected to the amp to try for any luck. It dint work either.

Suggestions from PowerZone:
The installer mentioned that the mild alternator whine is a common issue in the Harman family amps (Infinity & JBL). He mentioned the CA series of Harman to be good in this case. His explanation was like this, there is a mild charge from the alternator(in the range of mV) thats present in the car body which gets amplified when the engine is running on higher revs. This charge enters the amps and gets out to the speakers as whining noise. The solution they had earlier was to connect a small circuit at the point where the alternator is grounded to the chassis which will filter off any unnecessary discharge from the alternator and restrict the whining noise. He dint have much clue about this circuit since he has not used this for the past 3+ years. Any folks who can help me with more information on this circuit?

Solution:
Well, I dont have a clue about this part. He did some tweaks on the amplifier and the alternator whine went away. I wanted to know what settings he had changed, but he mentioned that to be an installer secret.

What did I lose from the Solution?
The Pro60SE used to provide a lot of detail and sound absolutely powerful. Now, it sounds more subtle and missing lot of detail. Sounds good for electronic type. Sounds too flat for rock/metal genre and any A.R.Rahman music where I used to hear every bit of mixing detail. It sounds good for Indian type of music, I have to keep the volume over half of the volume to hear the Pro60SE perform to its potential (not full potential). The volume efficiency has reduced by a good 40%.

Questions:
1. Is it true that the harman family amplifiers are this bad? @ Sam, I might need your help!
2. What is the solution in case the amplifier has this problem?
3. What tweaks my installer could have possibly done to the amplifier to eliminate the whine?
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Old 1st October 2010, 16:18   #2
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my replies in bold below..

Quote:
Originally Posted by anachronix View Post
Questions:
1. Is it true that the harman family amplifiers are this bad? @ Sam, I might need your help! No, they're NOT.. in fact, none of the reputed amps are prone to this problem. This is a classic example of installer befooling you! The "installer secret" is nothing more than reducing the gains on the amp.
2. What is the solution in case the amplifier has this problem? See below to 3.
3. What tweaks my installer could have possibly done to the amplifier to eliminate the whine?
There a LOT of threads here detailing the rectification of alternator whines. Please go through a bit. If you STILL need help, we're with you.
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Old 1st October 2010, 16:26   #3
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Arun, I called up a couple of guys who are using Infinity Ref and Kappa amps in their cars. None of them have any noise. One guy said the only Infinity amps that make this tell tale noise are defective ones. Either a manufacturing or a handling defect. The guy with the Ref amps got his install done at Power Zone only.

There is a simple way to check if the amp is defective. Ask Power Zone to install a spare amp (Focal, MTX, Auditor or Kicker..) if he has any. I am sure he will have a few. If there's no noise from these amps, then the Kappa is defective. Else it's an install issue. There is no noise of any sort from my Focal.

Your friend with the Linea got a Kappa 4 and Hertz install done there right? Is he facing any noise?

As for the secret, he must have just fiddled around with the crossover and gain. What else is there to do at the back.

EDIT: Since you said the noise comes only from the right side, there is an even more simpler check. Just switch the left and right channels and if the noise moves to the left (and right becomes clear), then you have an amp issue.

BTW your boston comps will perform to their full potential only after the damping. Did you get that done?

Last edited by Gilead : 1st October 2010 at 16:38.
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Old 1st October 2010, 16:43   #4
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Switch to another amp and see if the problem exists. The installer trick is nothing but the Gain setting (lowered sensitivity) like others said

Increase the Gain by yourself and see if the whine returns. Check for yourself.
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Old 1st October 2010, 16:53   #5
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I suspect bad Signal cables or Probably not so good Ground Cables (read as patched up / faulty)

Gain / Input senstivity being low is the reason why you fail to see the clarity / Bass reduced with your ProSE's.

Just try increasing it, your Sound will be back (ofcourse so will be the whine). So surely it cant be the Amp.
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Old 1st October 2010, 16:54   #6
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A faulty/damaged amp is simply the worst thing that could happen! Let me hope for the best for now.

I will do some adjustments to the master gain adjustment trick and see if I could bring back the whine! And then check if the whine is specific to a source channel!
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Old 1st October 2010, 17:56   #7
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Got this from the Kappa 4 manual.

NOISE-CANCELING SIGNAL INPUTS

Kappa amps use differential-signal inputs with high common-mode noise rejection for all speaker-level and line-level outputs from source units. Because noise from the vehicle’s alternator and other electrical components is radiated into the positive and negative leads of each signal input equally, amplifying the difference between the leads effectively cancels out the noise, leaving only the music.

Like any other premium amp, the Kappa has ways to deal with alternator noise even if its introduced via the install. Let's hope for the best!

Switch the channel sources or use another amp and update us.
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Old 1st October 2010, 20:13   #8
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^^ As Panky mentioned, most premium amps have good effeciency in handling noise. I dont have any doubts about that.

When a reputed (or supposed to be) installer says its a common issue with Harman, it got me a bit curious to know the facts. Its disgusting when he wants to get around the problem reducing the gains and make me feel good while he did nothing!

@Mi10, I guess its more to do with the Caliber wiring kit that I have used in my car. I need to get better power cables.

Unfinished job in my car, need to find a good installer and get the wiring redone with good quality materials.
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Old 1st October 2010, 22:02   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by anachronix View Post
Unfinished job in my car, need to find a good installer and get the wiring redone with good quality materials.
Arun on a totally different note - Is it fair to suddenly term him a "bad" installer. You still have not ruled out the possibility of a faulty amp and/or faulty wiring right? Can he be blamed if the wiring kit is not of proper quality?

When he was installing the comps on my car that day, his brother was telling me about how they lay the rca and ground wires on the same side because insulation is good enough to prevent any issues cause of them touching. Would placing them on either side help?
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Old 1st October 2010, 23:02   #10
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Beyond skill and sense of finishing quality, almost all installers have heuristic knowledge (as opposed to systematic training). In this case, heuristics have not been so benevolent on the installer. His reputation is built on his skill - no one has ever questioned the knowledge part. He has no clue of ground loops, good shielding practices etc. He is only assuming everything ends with the insulation of the wires and good brand name.

The power cables are not at fault - even good Indian house-wiring cables will do. RCA cables *may* have an issue, especially if the power cables are running beside it.

Just ask him to run the power and RCA cables on opposite sides of the car, and do the amp grounding properly (scraping the mounting area till bare metal shows).
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Old 1st October 2010, 23:15   #11
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Have you tried this:
http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/produc...r-whine-2.html

or whatever similar is required? Worked for me. YMMV but may see if a similar jugaad works for you or not.
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Old 2nd October 2010, 08:57   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DerAlte View Post
Just ask him to run the power and RCA cables on opposite sides of the car, and do the amp grounding properly (scraping the mounting area till bare metal shows).
Each car is unique but without seeing teh car I'd have to agree with DA.

If you are placing the amps in the trunk run all power cables along one side of the car and the RCA/spealer wires along the other side. This serves 2 purposes (a) it keeps the RCA wires away from the power cables this is especailly true in a car where they will be running alongside for the length of the car (b) the carpeting wont bunch up if you use heavy gauge of wire since the wire is distributed on either side of the car.
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Old 2nd October 2010, 11:10   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pras.oct25 View Post
Arun on a totally different note - Is it fair to suddenly term him a "bad" installer. You still have not ruled out the possibility of a faulty amp and/or faulty wiring right? Can he be blamed if the wiring kit is not of proper quality?

When he was installing the comps on my car that day, his brother was telling me about how they lay the rca and ground wires on the same side because insulation is good enough to prevent any issues cause of them touching. Would placing them on either side help?
I havent termed him as a 'bad installer' anywhere yet. Its only that I need to find a good installer or may be a better installer who has more knowledge in troubleshooting. The power cable was of his choice and I spoke to him today morning as well while he mentioned the Caliber cable to be of good quality.

He reduces the gain settings in my amp to control the whining noise and tells me he has done something which is an installer's secret. He made me believe that he has done a tuning better than what he did the first time after installation while I compromised a lot on the output quality. I have lost the trust, it doesnt make sense for me to go back to this guy again!

As DerAlte & Navin mentioned, its a good/safe practice to run the power cable & RCA through different sides of the car. I have mentioned this a lot number of times to him, but he is sure that this will never cause any issues.

Quote:
Originally Posted by phamilyman View Post
Have you tried this:
http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/produc...r-whine-2.html

or whatever similar is required? Worked for me. YMMV but may see if a similar jugaad works for you or not.
I will check this for sure mate! Thanks.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DerAlte View Post
Just ask him to run the power and RCA cables on opposite sides of the car, and do the amp grounding properly (scraping the mounting area till bare metal shows).
Quote:
Originally Posted by navin View Post
Each car is unique but without seeing teh car I'd have to agree with DA.

If you are placing the amps in the trunk run all power cables along one side of the car and the RCA/spealer wires along the other side. This serves 2 purposes (a) it keeps the RCA wires away from the power cables this is especailly true in a car where they will be running alongside for the length of the car (b) the carpeting wont bunch up if you use heavy gauge of wire since the wire is distributed on either side of the car.
I still feel that running the power cable & RCA through the same side is causing all the trouble! I am planning to get this fixed first before I check the amp for any fault.
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Old 2nd October 2010, 13:05   #14
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I have used Infinity & JBL amps in my cars. No alternator whine at all. The sound has zero interference from any other car component.

Rgds,
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Old 2nd October 2010, 15:26   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by anachronix View Post
I still feel that running the power cable & RCA through the same side is causing all the trouble! I am planning to get this fixed first before I check the amp for any fault.
Yeah, This may be the culprit. Teknokrat guys also had done this type of crap in my swift. The whine noise is very very slightly noticeable to me. Do you get the noise while the system is on & the car is off ?
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