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Need advice: Car audio upgrade for SQ with DSP under 2 lakhs

I'm looking for pure sound quality with adequate bass. I want tight and accurate bass and not the one where glasses and mirrors start vibrating.

BHPian gaurav9991 recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

I have got my first car XUV300 (W8-O Diesel) 1.5 months back and want to upgrade the sound system. I have been researching car audio for the last 2 months and reached a point where I'm stuck and need your guidance, hence starting this thread. I request everyone who knows about car audio to contribute with the suggestions/information.

Note: I am neither an expert nor experienced in car audio. So feel free to correct me in case I'm mistaken.

Budget: Within Rs. 2L

Current setup: Stock HU drives 6 speakers (2 tweeters on front doors + 4 speakers on doors) with average sound quality. How much average? -> Tweeters are playing bass frequencies so looks like there are no crossovers in place.

Requirements:

I want to retain stock HU, get a DSP to drive 3 way active front-stage. Since rear seats would be unoccupied 90% of the time, I'm not planning to add any rear door speakers. If anyone here has an opinion that rear speakers are a must then I would love to hear the reason. I have read those rear speakers, if not tuned properly, can easily mess up the front stage and if rear speakers are indeed needed then they should be used just for rear fill and must be driven in mono, not in stereo. Are rear speakers really needed in my case? In that case, I would have to consider them in the mentioned budget.

I'm looking for pure sound quality with adequate bass. I want tight and accurate bass and not the one where glasses and mirrors start vibrating. Looks like I have to go for a sealed sub. The boot space of XUV300 is just 257L and I don't want to compromise boot space for a large sub box. In fact, I'm considering an under-seat active sub. Will an under-seat sub make justice to the system? If not then I'll have to go for shallow enclosure sub.

Tuning: Adding a DSP won't add magic if not tuned correctly. Even if the input audio source is super clean and speakers/amps/wiring is top-notch, the listening experience might not be great due to various factors. It could be the speaker's position, it could be the way speakers sound, it could be opposite speakers canceling each other at certain frequencies. The best way to tune the system would require an RTA microphone and a skilled person who is good at tuning. Since SQ is subjective and I may not be able to tell if the entire system is performing at its best or not just by listening, I want to see the RTA showing a nice flat reading.

Here are the components I have shortlisted, please suggest if there are any better alternatives within my budget:

  • Helix DSP.3 (8 Channel output)
  • Front 3 way speakers: Focal FLAX EVO PS 165F3E (available at 71.5k on motorogue.in)
  • Helix M SIX amp (45k MRP) for front speakers. (How about class AB amp for Tweeters and midrange and class D for the rest of the speakers?)
  • Rear speaker - if really needed
  • Subwoofer - active/passive not yet decided
  • Damping, wiring, custom A-pillar pods, tuning

Thanks a lot for reading this lengthy summary. I have tried to include as many details as I could. Please suggest components for my setup. Let me know what prices to expect because MRPs and actual selling prices vary a lot.

And the most important thing - Please suggest a good installer + DSP tuner preferably in Pune otherwise in Mumbai.

Here's what BHPian a4anurag had to say on the matter:

Please change the HU as that would be the weakest link in the whole system. If the source is not 'clean'' no point in adding expensive equipment down the sound chain IMHO.

For space-saving needs, get a 10" single subwoofer in a sealed box configuration for tight and accurate bass reproduction. An under-seat subwoofer will never do justice in an SQ setup.

HU: Sony XAV-AX8000 or Pioneer DMH-Z5290BT(~30K)

DSP: Helix DSP.3 - Good choice.

Front Speakers: Focal FLAX EVO PS 165F3E - Never heard them but should be great if tuned correctly.

Amplifier: Helix M SIX amp - Good amplifier, should help the system sound better. The other option is Zapco ST-6X SQ (Class AB) amplifier would do great in terms of SQ too.

Rear speaker: Since the rear seats aren't occupied, suggest leaving this option for now.

Subwoofer: As suggested get a 10" subwoofer in a sealed enclosure with a monoblock. Audible Physics Avatar 10" subwoofer with Pioneer GM-D9701 mono amplifier.

Damping, wiring, custom A-pillar pods, tuning - Damp the 4 doors + boot lid. Do NOT compromise on the wiring part as it will make or break the system. Suggest a 4ga OFC power wiring kit and 16ga for speakers.

Here's what BHPian navin had to say on the matter:

I can empathize with the need to retain the stock HU and keep the stock look. I did the same.

An under-seat subwoofer cannot produce deep or tight bass. At best they can offer some mid-bass support for small systems. If you want deep and tight bass you will have to go for a boxed subwoofer. However, using a Speakon connector (from Neutrik), this box can be made easily removable if you are using the trunk for storage.

A rear-fill speaker does add some ambiance in a car. Remember in a car the front speakers are closer to the ear than in a home and there is less ambiance from reverberation as in a home. So a pair of Coax speakers in the rear door will help. If you do not have rear door options then a rear deck can work too.

Class D amps have come a long way but I agree with you, it might be safer (old school thinking) to use a Class AB amp for the midbass and tweeter and use the Class D amp only for the subwoofer.

I see you have chosen some good but expensive equipment. My advice would be to listen to the speakers and amplifiers before you spend your hard-earned money on them. Resale value on used electronics is terrible.

If you need more clarity, you should pick up the phone and message Ajay Kamath (Bass and Trouble) in Mumbai. He is a reasonable and honest option and has decades of experience in car, home, and pro audio.

Check out BHPian comments for more insights and information.

 
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