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Did an audio upgrade worth 7 lakhs on my Volkswagen Taigun

I must admit, I did think a few times of forgoing the music upgrade this time around .

BHPian Yesterdaysnews recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

The Before:

I picked up a Taigun 1.5 GT Plus in the end of December '22. I really like listening to music and was never happy with any stock speaker set ups in any of the vehicles I have sat in/owned. The Taigun too, of course needed an audio upgrade and having been a customer of Speedfreaks and Karthik since early 2010s, it remains the only place where I'd go for audio overhauls.

I usually take my vehicles straight from the dealer upon delivery to Speedfreaks for audio work, but this time around, I couldn't and could give the car in only in August - 7+ months after delivery.

I had driven the car quite a bit - having touched 19,000 KM in these months. I really have enjoyed driving the car - and my listening habits have also changed - where I listen to music at much lower volume than before. Not having good audio setup in the car, I, for the most part could not bear listening to music on the stock speakers and had driven the majority of the 19000 km with music off.

I spend a lot of time on the highways, and have been munching 30,000 to 50,000 km every year. The last 19k km were the only time in a very long while that I had driven without music.

I must admit, I did think a few times of forgoing the music upgrade this time around - I thought I was concentrating better on the road, and on the sounds of the road. But boy, was I wrong! Driving with music is much better, and you experience much less fatigue, and are also more alert.

I initially wanted to go full out on the set up in the car - it would be a complete audiophile set up - only front speakers, no rear. I was looking the Audison Thesis range of speakers - Tweeters, Mid Bass, and Woofer. But the speakers alone would cost 8+ L - taking the whole install to 12-13 lakhs. Business hasn't quite picked up after COVID 19, and I was having major thoughts on spending that much money and I decided to cut back on the speakers. Karthik quietly said "I know you. You'll go back to Audisons soon enough, so we'll build the other components for it - and even if you decide you don't want the Audisons, the components will boost any interim speakers we go for."

I also wanted to try less dampening this time around - mostly to see what the effects really would be, and also the Taigun is a pretty quiet car, with decent enough dampening as it is. Karthik agreed, and said he'd do only the critical areas and we could relook at entire dampening later if needed. I was keen on getting some road noise in as well - having really liking to drive the 1.5 DSG.

I have learnt to let Karthik choose the components of my installs. He understands what I like, and knows what best suits me. A big draw back in my case is I prefer to stream music - as I listen to a vast collection of mostly Rock from the 80's and 90s, with a smattering of Tamil, Telugu and a little bit of very heavy psy trance like Cyberhen - PutarHhh Though Apple Musics lossless is good, nothing like playing from WAV or Flac files, from a DAP.

He decided the following for an active 3 way set up:

Head Unit - Stock

XCelsus 6.2i component woofer and tweeter, paired with the XCelsus XXM325 competition class mid range.

Helix P Six DSP ultimate - a high end 12 Channel DSP and 6 Channel Amp, with an extra component and controller to boost my streaming - Helix HEC HD Audio USB interface

A Helix M ONE X Mono amp to power the subwoofer.

DLS Nordica 12i Sub, an SQ competition series sub.

Dampening only "critical" areas as mentioned.

Custom Fabrication of speaker mounts in the A pillar, DSP and AMP pods, as well as Subwoofer.

During:

The whole team at Speedfreaks are a bunch of perfectionists and will rework a component even if something is off by a few millimetres. Though I love the outcome, I get frustrated when they sometimes redo hours of work when something is just a little off. And therefore I don't spend much time at Speedfreaks when they are working, though it is fun otherwise to watch them work their magic.

Here are a few pictures:

Doors with dampening. There's an additional layer that I have no pictures of:

Just the most critical area of the boot:

Fabrication of the subwoofer box while initial measuring:

Since there was a lot of fabrication to be done, work took quite a while -almost 2 weeks.

And when everything was done, a disaster struck.

The DLS subwoofer was carefully chosen because it is one heck of a tight and accurate SQ sub at its price point - Rs 50,000.

But unfortunately, after plugging in, the particular piece proved to be faulty, with the dust cap hitting the voice coil at very high volume on tracks with very high and crazy bass. But it was doing well at loud volume on most songs.

Karthik had gone to great lengths to source this particular sub for me, and couldn't get a replacement. That meant having to get a new sub woofer, and therefore re doing the fabrication of the sub box to precisely fit the new subwoofer. This would mean an additional 5 days or so, for the new Sub woofer to arrive, and fabrication to be redone.

I needed to make a visit to Karnataka, and need the car back, and since everything else was ready - save a diagram on the DSP and amp box, it was decided that the DLS sub would be put in an enclosure and not the original fabrication and the car would be delivered. I'd have to go back when I am back in Chennai, and get the subwoofer fabrication with the a new Helix sub installed.

And with that in mind, I was called in to finish tuning.

Oh my oh my oh my.

The A pillar Fabrication is just a class part. Pure art work.

The DSP and Amp box is an art work in its own right as well, but looking unfinished with the etched diagram not yet ready.

The fabrication of the new sub box will sit right under the DSP /Amp box, and will be lit.

Here are pictures:

It's a real pity that the photos really don't do justice to the amount of work they have done, and the way in which the fabrication really looks.

Of course, a lot of work has to be completed in the rear, and the DLS sub is sitting in an enclosure, and that whole set up will change.

And as for the music itself - there are really very, very few people who can tune set ups like the way Karthik can.

I wish there was way for me to show you guys how good the music is, and only way I can is to invite you over for a listening experience.

I know the guy who designed the new music system in the concert hall Music Academy, who has also designed the sound and speakers in the Hilton Chennai, and other auditoriums whose speaker and sound design is much talked about - and he was spell bound at the staging of the audio in the car.

I next had a very famous classical Violinist audition the system, and she too was speechless and said the way the system was reproducing her violin tones and sound stage was simply unbelievable.

This team at Speedfreaks - I tell you - for serious audio freaks, they are simple the one and only team to go to.

I am now running the speakers in, and when I go back to Chennai, I should have at least 40 hours or so of run in done. Which means it will be a good time to do a retune once the speakers have settled in, and also for the new sub to be fit in, though I am thinking that I am really going to miss the current sub woofer for its simply amazing.

I’ll post true after pictures once the setup is completely done.

The costs? I haven’t paid anything and ran away with the car for now.

What I do know:

  • Helix DSP - Rs 2,50,000
  • HEC audio + controller - Rs 40,000
  • Helix M One X amp - 50,000
  • Xcelsus Tweeter and bass woofer - Rs 40,000
  • Xcelsus mid range - 40,000
  • Nordica sub 49,000, will now have to go for a helix sub that’s about 70,000

So the components itself are close to 5 lakhs. Then there is the high end wiring, dampening, fabrication, installation, tuning - another 2 lakhs I’d think. Around 7 lakhs.

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