Why Does Installation Matter?

At Car and Home Stereo we have been installing exceptional car audio for over 40 years, in fact, when we started there were barely the beginnings of in-car entertainment. Over those years we have seen a tremendous amount of change in the products we use to create outstanding audio experiences. From 8 track cartridge to CD to full digital audio, graphic equalisers to digital signal processors and all the other innovations that have come along we have embraced and utilised these to realise the best possible sound for our customers.

All these fabulous products are available to everybody, there has never been so much choice but all this technology will not guarantee a great sound. That will only be possible with the correct installation and careful setup. Many times I have had a car in that has had a lot of money spent on it yet still sounds bad. From buzzing door panels to downright dangerous wiring I’ve seen it all. Usually from DIY installations but not always. It’s not necessarily the fault of the equipment but rather a combination of poor choice and skimped installation.

It is true that the majority of my work is completely invisible but makes such a massive difference to either the finished sound or the reliability of the whole system.  Application of sound deadening material inside doors will improve the acoustic performance, soldering all connections may take longer but will improve reliability, looming cable runs with fleece tape is expensive but will eliminate any cable rattles and retain the OE look.

It is also important that equipment and wiring are installed to the highest standards to maintain vehicle warranties and safety standards. I have seen microphone cables wrapped around airbags, power cables attached to car batteries without a fuse and any amount of speaker wires dangling over brake pedals. At Car and Home Stereo, we take installation very seriously and we never rush. The best results are not achieved by racing to finish and I would rather spend an extra hour or two to get the best possible sound. After all, you would want your £1000 Rainbow speakers to sound their best.

Of course the same care and attention is applied whether we install top of the range JL Audio speakers or entry level Audison upgrades and in fact, the performance boost from proper door treatment at the lower price range is more apparent.

We will always recommend appropriate enhancements and best installation practices are rigorously followed which may take a little longer and cost a little more but will ultimately lead to a far better sound and is that not what we all really want?

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Practicing Safe Sound

There are many ways to upgrade your car audio system and let’s face it, most cars need it. I’m looking at you BMW, VW and Porsche in particular! It is not always possible to upgrade the head unit but it is always possible to improve the speakers. At Car and Home Stereo, we carry speakers by JL Audio, Audison, Hertz, Rainbow and others. This means we can choose the right speaker to suit the car and the customer. We will carefully install your speakers with custom built collars and fittings as well as add sound deadening in the door to improve its acoustic properties. The end result will be a vastly better sound without any cosmetic changes to your car.

And that is where we are finished but before you leave, a word of warning. Please take the time to run your new speakers in. The running in period varies for different speakers but generally, we recommend around 10 hours play time. Running in means keeping the volume at a sensible level without any large bass settings and we will always advise what should be the maximum volume for this period.

If this procedure is not followed your speakers may not fail but they will not reach their full potential, let me explain why.

A speaker is a transducer that converts electrical energy into sound and at the heart of the speaker is a coil of wire sitting inside a magnet. It is bright, shiny copper.

coil speakers good copper

It’s not necessary to know how it works but the important point is that when you pass electricity through a wire heat is generated and the higher the electrical current the more heat is generated. Now, this coil of wire is crucial to the accuracy of the speaker and it is protected by a thin coating of lacquer. This lacquer is quite soft when new and easily damaged by heat but if it is gently warmed over a number of hours the lacquer will harden.

I bet you can see where this is going! If a new speaker is subjected to a lot of power and played loud the voice coil lacquer will boil causing short circuits. Now while this will not necessarily cause the speaker to fail it will mean that the voice coil is not a single continuous wire which leads to a ‘lumpy’ effect within the magnetic gap. This, of course, means that the reproduction of sound is not linear and your investment will not reach its true performance capability. In extreme circumstances, the lacquer is burnt and expands into the magnetic gap which will cause a scratchy sound. These failures are non-reversible, cannot be repaired and are not covered under any warrantee.

 

coil bad burnt copper

burnt copper coil

So that is why we advise the running in period, to gently warm the voice coil lacquer causing it to cure. This hardened lacquer can now stand the heat of high power and your speakers will really perform as the designers intended.

I cannot overstate the importance of running in, a speaker is more likely to be damaged in the first few hours of use rather than over the rest of its life. At Car and Home Stereo, we want you to get the best possible sound from our expert installation so just hold back on the volume for a few hours, you’ll be glad you did.

 

landrover defender stock

Upgrading the Defender

The Land Rover Defender is a true British classic design. Although, now sadly out of production, the longevity of the Defender means that they will be on (and off) our roads for a great many years to come.

landrover defender stock

It’s design hasn’t changed much in its 70 years and, despite continuous improvements to comfort the audio, performance has always been poor. A relatively noisy environment coupled with small speakers has always meant the sound in the Defender has a lot left to be desired!

As Macclesfield in Cheshire is a fairly rural community there are a lot of these vehicles about as you can imagine and over the years I have developed an audio upgrade package which is powerful and discreet.

The first challenge is the speaker size. Being only 10 cm without modification means that the bass performance is limited. Step forward JL Audio! As the undisputed leaders in subwoofer design, JL Audio are perfectly placed to design speakers that have a much better bass response. This is not to say that a 4 inch speaker can replace a subwoofer but JL Audio’s expertise means that you will get a massive improvement over the stock speaker.

c2 400 subwoofer

To bring the bass response up to the required standard we need to fit in a subwoofer. The irony is that although the Defender is a large utility vehicle, there is almost nowhere to discreetly install a sub box without compromising useful space. JL Audio is here to the rescue, again, with their amazing sub, the 6w3.

jl subwoofer

This astonishing unit is a true 6 inch subwoofer. It is optimized for a tiny enclosure of just 0.125 cu ft. I have developed a carpet trimmed speaker box that will fit just under the roll cage bar behind the front seat. One can be used but for best results we recommend one either side to create an effective 12 inch sub. This allows for a much smoother performance and really blends with the music.

installation

So now we have a sub we are going to need an amplifier. Again, space is limited but fortunately there is room under the driver’s seat for a compact unit. It makes no sense to just amplify the sub so we always install a multi-channel unit to power sub and speakers.

Here we must address the acoustic issues in the vehicle because of the speaker layout and the rather boxy interior of the Defender the sound staging is challenging to say the least. It is essential to install some sort of signal processor or regardless of the quality of the installed equipment, the sound stage will be poor.

I now always use the Audison Prima AP9Bit amplifier. This amazing unit has a full digital signal processor coupled to a powerful 8 channel amplifier in a very compact chassis.

Audison

This amplifier can be configured in any way I need depending on the complexity of the installed system. In the Defender it can be a 5 or 6 way for one or two subs. I can then configure the signal processor for the car acoustics and the personal musical tastes of the owner. The software is very powerful, providing  full spectrum equalization on every channel with very fine time alignment available to place the sound stage where it needs to be.

audison speaker amplifier

As a musician I can appreciate the subtleties of sound and this software allows me to bring out the finer details of the music even in a challenging environment like the Land Rover Defender. I am often challenged by owners who say you can’t get a good sound in a Defender but I guarantee that I can. I have installed many of these systems now, both for private individuals and for local dealerships, the feedback is always the same, that they just can’t believe how good this sounds. One customer even came back to tell me that the sound was better than in his Bentley GT!

It is true that the kit described above is extremely good but without the ability to carefully tune it the results would be arable at best. That is where I can make the biggest difference, my experience and exacting standards mean that this great equipment can be enjoyed to its true potential and I feel that this is true value.

 

Whatever you own, Land Rover, Lamborghini, Lotus or any other car with a challenging audio performance I can make it better, give Tim a call on 01625 432707 or email sales@carhomestereo.co.uk to start your journey to better sound.

 

Sharp and Sleek Bose Soundtouch Speakers

We are proud to introduce the latest addition to the Bose Soundtouch family, the Soundtouch 300.
This innovative sound bar offers a level of flexibility and performance that has never been seen before.

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Bose has always been a technology led company and over the years have developed a range of home audio systems that have revolutionised the way we see, and use Hi-Fi.

The Bose Soundtouch platform has taken the wireless, networked audio market to new heights of performance which, coupled with its elegance and simplicity of use has made it the market leader.
The Soundtouch 300 is the first in a new range of home theatre systems that feature amazing performance, stunning looks and an unrivaled feature set.
The new black glass top has been engineered by one of the most famous automotive glass producers in the world while the sleek design draws from years of in house development.

At the heart of the system  is the new sound bar.

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This can connect to your TV via HDMI or optical ensuring complete compatibility.
It contains the now famous Bose AdaptIQ software to ensure the best possible sound in any room regardless of size or shape and once connected to your home internet network you can stream all your music to it via WiFi or Bluetooth.

But of course it doesn’t end there as there are also a couple of optional upgrades.

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If you enjoy the power and performance of modern films you should add the incredible Acoustimass 300 sub. This relatively small unit can be mounted anywhere in the room as it utilises a wireless connection to the sound bar. All it requires is a mains connection. The AdaptIQ software can perfectly integrate the sub into the acoustic environment.

The second optional upgrade is the Acoustimass 300 rear speakers.

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Again these use a wireless connection to the sound bar so no more trailing cables to the back of the room. These will add a true surround sound experience to your movies and music!

This is the first of a whole new range of amazing products from Bose that will once again place it firmly at the top of everyone’s must have list.

At Car and Home Stereo we will be stocking the full range of these systems and we would welcome you for an audition at our showroom on Sunderland Street in Macclesfield, Cheshire.

 

 

If you would like to know more, please don’t hesitate to call us on 01625 432707.

Why Sound Deadening?

In the pursuit of great sound it is essential to consider all aspects of audio reproduction. JL Audio, Audison and others make tremendous speakers which have been carefully designed for accurate music reproduction, unfortunately we have to fit them into less than perfect environments!

The average car door is an acoustic nightmare. A thin, unsealed metal enclosure fronted with hard plastic fittings, often with a loose polythene moisture barrier as well.car-door- explodedCrucially, we want the full, uncoloured response from the speaker we are installing. Unfortunately the design of the door is working against us. Fundamentally, a speaker is a transducer converting electrical signals into pressure waves. Sound is generated from the front of the speaker and from the back.

This is important as the sound from the back of the speaker is playing into the car door. Some will be reflected back into the speaker cone causing distortion of the front signal. Some will be reflected into the door card creating unwanted resonance and annoying vibrations. The louder you want to play it, the worse it will be. speaker distortion

 

Some car manufacturers do apply a token amount of damping but this is just to prevent the panel from rattling, we want to optimise the enclosure for sound reproduction.

The answer is sound deadening. Quite different from sound proofing, sound deadening is about the control of pressure waves inside the door. By applying special materials we can eliminate unwanted resonances and reflections.

There are lots of different products out there but by far the best are Dynamat and Skinz. Dynamat Xtreme is the lightest and most efficient panel treatment I have ever used. It’s damping properties are second to none meaning less needs to be applied. All sound being radiated from the back of the speaker is absorbed and converted into low level heat. This of course stops unwanted vibrations and ensures that you only hear the sound from the front.dynamat door A liberal application of Dynamat behind the speaker prevents reflections.

I believe that it is essential to consider sound deadening whenever a speaker upgrade is installed. Otherwise you will never achieve the full benefit.