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Justin Garrett

Advice needed to improve JL / Focal setup... not enough volume

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Hello, I have some questions about improving my brand new setup.

Current Setup:

Factory Honda Accord Head Unit feeding into a JL Audio Fix-82.
JL Audio VX1000/5i Amp with built-in DSP
Focal 165-KRX2 Component speakers, bi amped with amplifier channels 1-4 (front only)
JL Audio 12W6-v3 Subwoofer in a custom enclosure 
Full dampening in the trunk, doors, rear deck
Fast Ring isolation for the door woofers

I just had a system installed last week in my 2015 Honda Accord Coupe and am not quite happy with the volume / loudness available to me. I spent quite a bit of money on it, so now I feel like I need to keep going to get it where I want it. It really sounds beautiful and is time-aligned and tuned so the tweeters are not too bright. I was hoping you guys could help me get to the next level.

I chose to go for a front stage only and eliminate the rear speakers. From what I read this would give me the best sound quality. I was initially glad I went this way. It allowed me to spend more on two quality speakers instead of four mediocre ones. But now, with the windows down it’s just not loud enough on certain tracks.

The speakers are rated for 120W RMS Nominal and 240W Max @ 2 Ohms and I am feeding them 90-100W each to woofer and tweeter. I don’t know if they just need more power to get louder or if I need to add rear speakers. Each speaker has been tuned individually and I have been told that’s as much volume as we can get out of the tweeters before they distort.

The biq question is do I need more power to what I’ve got or do I just need more cone area. I am thinking with the rear speakers I could leave them off most of the time but use the pre-set tunes in the DSP to turn them on when it’s time to rock out. 

Please let me know what your opinions are!

Option 1

Add JL Twk 88 for DSP
Change amps to JL HD 600x4 and feed each component 150W @2Ohms
Maintain front stage only
Add JL XD 600.1 for Sub

Option 2

Change amps to JL Vxi 600.6 and 
Add K2 EC165 coaxials in the rears.
Add XD600.1 for sub

Option 3

Clarion NX807 optical output to
Optical input JL Twk 88
Channels 1-6 to AudioControl LC6.1200 (or Focal 6/900)
(1-4 active to KRX2 fronts and 5-6 to coaxial K2 165 rears)
Channels 7-8 to JL XD 600/1
Would send 200W to each component and to rear coaxials

Option 4

Add JL Vxi 600x2 to power the woofers in the doors with 225W
Use existing JL Vxi1000/5 to power tweeters and coaxials in rear

Thank you for your help
 
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Seeing as I've been down this path of adding or replacing amplifiers for more power to see how the sound changes on the same speakers, I can tell you with high confidence Option 1 means you'd spend a lot more money and get little to justify it. You have already been told a very important clue to all of this, which is the tweeters. Not that there is a problem, it's that if you want it louder and maintain the same balance from bass to the top end you're not going to get any more out of the tweeters.

It's very unlikely that the tweeters need any "help" with a different amplifier, head unit, or DSP. They're not getting anywhere close to the rated power output of your amplifier with music playing, so giving them a more powerful amplifier is a total waste of money. 

An approach that adds more speakers is the most logical one.

Or you could install pro audio style mid-woofers and bullet tweeters but that is totally counteractive to your apparent preference for good sound.

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@BarrySchanz on social

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1 hour ago, trumpet said:

Seeing as I've been down this path of adding or replacing amplifiers for more power to see how the sound changes on the same speakers, I can tell you with high confidence Option 1 means you'd spend a lot more money and get little to justify it. You have already been told a very important clue to all of this, which is the tweeters. Not that there is a problem, it's that if you want it louder and maintain the same balance from bass to the top end you're not going to get any more out of the tweeters.

It's very unlikely that the tweeters need any "help" with a different amplifier, head unit, or DSP. They're not getting anywhere close to the rated power output of your amplifier with music playing, so giving them a more powerful amplifier is a total waste of money. 

An approach that adds more speakers is the most logical one.

Or you could install pro audio style mid-woofers and bullet tweeters but that is totally counteractive to your apparent preference for good sound.

+1

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you need to make the decision if you want it to sound good to you, or be loud with the windows down so jerks can follow you home and come back and try to steal your shit  You want to enjoy the music you listen to or get lifelong hearing damage from shrill loud showoff crap? people go crazy and blow their brains out from tinnitus. Maybe you have a friend who has a super loud system with distortion and you think its cool when you hear it from time to time, but listening like that for long periods of time even non distorted super high volume systems will wreck your hearing.

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Thank you for your replies, this is basically what the manager at the shop said.  I like him and trust him.

I think my confusion is where the distortion is coming from, since there are so many variables.  I haven't actually heard the distortion but the guys at the shop have said thats all they can get out of it.  I am very new to this but I have tried to learn as much as I could and have become kind of obsessed.  I really didn't know car audio was this complex and fun. 

I don't know if my lack of volume is because

1.  the signal from the stock radio (tapped after the factory amp) going through the Fix and then to the Vxi amp via toslink is not that great and so the amp is having to work too hard to boost it?

2. the tweeters are actually maxed out with a clean signal and cannot produce any more volume.  This seems suspect because these speakers are supposed to handle "extreme power" and I can pretty much sit there with the volume at MAX and its not uncomfortable.  For reference, the same shop just installed my old system that I had in my old 95 suburban into my fiancee's car, which is basically some kicker ds 65s front and rear running off head unit power and it gets louder.  It just makes me think something is not quite right.  Does my car sound better?  Yes.  But it's less loud when only playing through the main speakers with the subs off in each vehicle.

I guess I am just trying to make sure I am getting everything out of my $1300 speakers before adding rear coaxials.  So many people run just a front stage and seem to be fine.  I like to play my music loud but not earth shakingly loud.

I called Focal and one of their guys said those speakers should get really loud and sound really good.  They do sound really good, but they don't get "really loud" with the current setup

Edited by Justin Garrett
unclear sentence

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5 minutes ago, staan said:

you need to make the decision if you want it to sound good to you, or be loud with the windows down so jerks can follow you home and come back and try to steal your shit  You want to enjoy the music you listen to or get lifelong hearing damage from shrill loud showoff crap? people go crazy and blow their brains out from tinnitus. Maybe you have a friend who has a super loud system with distortion and you think its cool when you hear it from time to time, but listening like that for long periods of time even non distorted super high volume systems will wreck your hearing.

Staan, 

I understand your point, but it's not that loud.  That's what I'm trying to say.  I'm 38 years old and I'm not trying to impress anyone at stoplights.  But I do like to sing along with some music in my car because part of what is so powerful about music is the raw emotional experience.  And nothing ruins that experience more than the sound of my own voice.

Justin

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"Really loud" doesn't mean much but it should be effortless for a good amplified component system to get quite uncomfortably loud on the top end on music. 

I remember when I first heard my own car audio system go from "good but not that loud" to :omg:WOW. I think it would be fair to say I had been taught to set up an amplified system very conservatively as to prevent damage for the customers. The switch from quiet to "yeah that's more like it" loud and still clean was when I had the old Alpine PXA-H700 DSP and I tried a trick I found online to increase the volume level. The experts assured that it would not ruin anything. It wasn't until I had a transitional experience that I ever could play music in my own vehicle so that my ears were feeling it after shutting down the system. Oh, and no speakers were harmed.

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@BarrySchanz on social

Founder and CEO of Barry Schanz Enterprises, LLC

dba Rubyserv

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Ditch the factory crossover boxes and run active straight off the amp which has a built in dsp

It is highly likely that the tweeters are fighting multiple crossover layers of you used the boxes and they tuned the amp. 

 

It is also possible that the crossover box limits power to the tweeters so that noobs dont send goobs of dirty power to them

I would be curious if when they eq'd things if they boosted the low points or cut the high points. Ideally you shouldnt boost any unless you have goobs of headroom.

 

How are the tweeters aimed? Having them aimed at you or at the opposing headrest generally works well over hitting the windshield or firing across the dash at the other tweeter.

 

It is also possible the the polarity on one of the tweeters is reversed causing cancellation and making the tweeters sound quieter. This is commonly done to tame bright tweeters.

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bridge the amp and use the Focal xovers and go easy on the gain

Edited by nauc

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On 10/13/2018 at 12:13 AM, nauc said:

bridge the amp and use the Focal xovers and go easy on the gain

thank you but the speakers are 2 ohm so I can't bridge

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I had this same issue with my system at first. I have a Camaro with long tube headers and straight pipes, and obviously motor sound increases with speed. My fix was adding mids in the pillars with my tweeters. The vocals and mid is what I was missing with a 2-way. I know they can sound incredible, but 3-way allowed me to put 300 watts on my midbass, and 150 to each speaker in my pillars. Obviously, that’s available power, not actual, but by installing mids up high gave me exactly what I was looking for...

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I think for my next system I'll be looking at a 3-way front stage.  Wow, those pillars look amazing.  I have side curtain airbags there, so I like the idea of going 3 way, but it got too complicated.  

I ended up scrapping the Vxi Amps altogether and going with a 3 amp setup. The front stage is now fully active.

DSP: JL Audio TwK 88
Front Stage: Focal KRX2 Components, actively driven by JL HD 600/4
Rear: Focal Access 165 Components driven by JL XD 400/4
Sub: JL 12W6v3 in a custom enclosure driven by JL XD 600/1

My favorite tune right now of the 6 that I have on my DRC-205 is with the rears in Mono and bandpassed so they are basically just midbass drivers, and the focus and separation in the front is well-maintained.  Just with some extra punch for when the windows are down.  I'm still totally new to active and to tuning, so I'm only making small adjustments to what the guys at the shop gave me.  But I have to say, I think they did a bang-up job.  It sounds really good.  Love it right now.

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