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My budget audio install updated 3/22/15

 
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Old 08-29-2013, 06:27 PM
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My budget audio install updated 3/22/15

I took on this project with quite some trepidation, as it was completely uncharted waters. I upgraded speakers only in the Bose system of my turbo – with very good success. I had heard many comments of special EQing of the Bose system, special crossovers, etc. I would love to see a special white paper on the Bose system, but barring that I found none of the above. I found little high pass cross-over capacitors in the tweeters like any inexpensive speaker, cheap paper cones and lightweight magnets as you would expect from any stock system. I decided to convert only the speakers of the entire system and hope that the feed and power from the stock Bose amplifier would be adequate to drive the new speakers and integrate well enough with the existing subwoofer. I'm happy to report that it worked out very well. Shout outs to evhudsons, gasongasoff, and Shane at MDR Customs for inspiration and assistance on the project.

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Update: System originally installed on a 2008 997.1 turbo, later move to a 2011 997.2 turbo. Both with Bose audio systems. Yes, the .2 system does have a better interface and the Bose amp is noticeably better in the newer car.
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Component Choices
I chose to go with Focal, as they seem to offer a lot of different combinations and make a quality product. If the company makes a speaker set that costs $4000, their speakers that cost $200 are likely to be of decent quality. I chose the Integration IS165 6.5" two way component set and 2 sets of 100 CVX 4" coaxial speakers. I concede that this is a violation of a basic rule; be sure to match all of your components. The voicing should be similar given that they are the same brand, but one set is from the Polyglass line and the other from the Integration line. My conflict was that the 4" Polyglass speakers were cheaper than the similar Integration speakers! The coaxes were only $100/pr., down from $280 a pair. A three way component set for the doors would have been several hundred more expensive and not worthwhile in my view. Also an 8" two way component set wasn't readily available, although others may find this an option. I would also mention that more expensive speakers tend to be less efficient and a poorer choice for such a conversion, even though their quality may be better. In my conversion, I believe the Polyglass are slightly less efficient, but this isn't a scientific conclusion. Nevertheless, as the 4" speakers are only midranges in the doors and the rear fills, less efficiency is really not an issue. I was also a bit concerned that the 4" coax in the door would overboost the treble, but this is not at all the case.

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Revised: I updated the system using Focal IS 200s with 8" woofers in the doors. Was a huge improvement over the 6.5" and is recommended. Below are pics comparing the size of the 6.5's and the 8's. Pics also showing the install with the 8" woofers mounted on 3/4" MDF on the doors.
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The existing Bose system uses tweeters in the dash, a 4" midrange and 8" woofer/radiator in the doors, and 3" midranges in the rear panels with 1" tweeters. The tweeters in the dash and rear panels appear to be the same units. Although those speakers appear to be same, it seemed to me that the Bose amp was set to deliver more power to the front speakers than the rears with the fader set to zero, hence using the rears only as fill. While I considered not upgrading the rears or even just disconnecting them, the rear upgrade seems to have provided good benefit – although some may question the return given the work required for the install. The door woofers didn't look like a true woofer as can be seen from the pics below – they appear to be some kind of bass radiator. No doubt these contribute to the overall muddy bass of the system.





The Conversion
Tweeter install
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Revised:
Completely revised tweeter install. Go naked! As was posted by someone else on the thread, the key is to remove all of the Focal tweeter housing. The result is that the tweeters will simply drop into the existing dash mounting spots without removal of any material. The tweeters should be slightly supported with a bit of additional tape to support the slightly smaller size and to provide some dampening. Pics below of the naked tweeter compared to the stock unit.



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Oh, while we are at the front, disconnect the center speaker. I tried leaving it in, but it is more efficient than the Focal tweeters and will be blaring while the other speakers try to work. The center cover is interesting. It has a sensor mounted on it, so be careful. Also, the cover looks simple, but actually has quite a long tab at the front, close to the window. You really need a trim tool to lever that piece out. It doesn't take much force, but if you try to rip it out by pulling on the back, I suspect the tab will break. It should be levered straight up.

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Revised: Dropped in another Focal tweeter into the center speaker location with perfect results. Good center fill, same efficiency and an easy fit in the location.
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Door Install
This requires removing the door panel. Best DIY is found on Rennlist. Unplug the battery since this is near an airbag and you will save draining the battery since the door will be open for a long time. As evhudson also documented, you need custom spacers for the door woofers. Thanks to Shane for custom making a pair and selling them to me. I could have done it, but wanted to save the time. Removing the door panel is actually pretty easy, but GET THOSE TRIM TOOLS! Not sure why other people broke the door clips; I didn't break any and didn’t have any issues. Smooth, gradual, deliberate force unlocks them. Reinstalling the panel is a bit of a trick; the door must fit into the top trim and must be ”pushed" into it carefully. I also mention that the torx screw by the door pull is quite deep, my torx screwdriver didn't reach it, so I had to get creative.

Anyway, the woofer mounted on a 3/4" spacer easily fits onto the door. You could even mount an 8" speaker here. One complication – drilling the mounting holes. If you are familiar with drilling into thick plates, the holes need to be exact and if you are even slightly off all the screws aren’t going to go into the door. I don't own a drill press, so this was very challenging. A good tip is to tape your existing speakers to the spacers and drill the holes.

Very good news is that a 4" coax will drop right into the door. However, you need to cut off two of the mounting tabs as seen below. Even the Focal Polyglass speakers use plastic baskets – if you use more expensive drivers, the baskets will be metal and will be much harder to cut. The tweeters on the coaxes clear no problem. The hole is perfectly sized, I only used a bit of foam tape to seal the mount to the door. If you use a Dynaudio or something with a round mounting plate, it will really be difficult to fit it in. I guess people just stick it on top of the mounting ridge you see below. I guess just seal it to the door with hot glue or something.









Rear Panel Install
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Completely revised rear panel install. Previously removed the rear panel, which required quite some work. On the recommendation of some others, remounted my rear speaker panels in a new car without removing the rear panel. Just requires cutting down the mounting panel to clear the tabs for the speaker covers. I've left one pic of the prior rear installation and now below is a pic with the ABS panel mounted from the front.











Remounting the car panels is pretty easy. Rear tip of the panel goes in first with the guides going into the bottom while the top part goes under the window trim. Yes, all at once! Don't forget to connect the speaker cables before the panel goes in! Without the factory speaker clip, there is not a lot of spare wire to work with. When I had these pieces off I marveled at the leather work in the car. Sometimes I thought the pillars were simply vinyl, but everything is beautifully crafted leather. Made it more challenging to work on everything because the stuff is not as durable as vinyl.

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Revised: The Subwoofer mod
Also see Post 670 for additional tips on the subwoofer mod!
The Bose subwoofer enclosure is limited to 5.25" drivers. There is no chance to use even a 6.5", would be a huge improvement. Removing the subwoofer is as simple as removing the port caps with a trim tool and unscrewing the one Torx bolt on each side. The unit then slides out and you disconnect the harness. Opening the enclosure requires removing about 30 tiny Torx screws - be sure to get out the power driver for the task! I swapped in a set of very reasonable Dayton Audio woofers spec'd to 50hz, i believe. Details of the particular drivers are in the pic below. These added much tighter bass and at least as much volume. Highly recommended as a $50 substitute to trying to spend $500+ on a powered subwoofer. Pics below comparing the drivers and showing the installation in the enclosure. The Bose unit as a D class amp that says "100 amps" on the outside! The sub amp easily powers these new speakers, so I didn't change the amp.



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Results
A bit surprisingly, like every quality speaker, the Focals need to be broken in. With high end audio gear, I just leave it on for a couple of days playing quietly. Well, can't exactly do that with a car. After several days of driving, the speaker drivers have finally been run in for a couple of hours. The sound improves significantly, so don't make any initial conclusions about the quality of the sound.

Part of what prompted this conversion is already having a NavTV and Tooki Bluetooth installed in my car. Without these, I might have considered a new head unit. However, the Dension is also a fine option. Also consider that a new head unit will be $2000 plus installation and that doesn't include any speakers! If you are using only an FM modulator for an iPod, I'm not sure you want to bother with this conversion. Also, I hope you have ripped or downloaded music using at least 256k conversion and hopefully are using lossless files like FLAC or AIFF. If these terms are Greek to you, you can improve your sound quality simply by improving your sources. It will take your music to a higher level.

Assuming good source material and decent input, this system can really work. Bass "slam" is greatly improved. Deep bass is still there from the sub, but is not over present. Treble is bright and delicate, but not glaring. Best of all, the Bose amp generates very high volume levels through these drivers without clipping; I was quite surprised. I thought there would be clipping well before I got to high volumes. Note that the efficiency of these drivers is all about 90db. Of course this system will not generate the bass of 2 10" subwoofers, but that wasn't my goal. I wanted more refined highs and bass slam that I could feel, even at low volumes. This simple conversion really delivers. I don't have satellite radio, internet radio or Bluetooth streaming (although that should be possible with a new Dension). I don't need those things at this point, so I'm totally satisfied. I would also note that while such sources are convenient, the digital conversion rates make them poor quality sources. Unfortunately, the Bose PCM FM section is not exactly top quality; I'm not sure how much better the aftermarket head units perform.

To demo, check out the bass slam from Forurplay's "Secret Garden". Steely Dan's "Aja", of course. The intro from Rush's "Digital Man". Or even Disturbed's "Droppin' Plates". Maybe Bela Fleck's "Flight of the Cosmic Hippo". See if your system has an over glaring midrange from the sax on Spyro Gyra's "San Juan". A new system always makes me reach to the back shelves and listen to tunes I know well. Hopefully you will enjoy the same experience.
 
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Last edited by ryem3; 07-29-2015 at 07:56 PM.
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Old 08-30-2013, 07:14 AM
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Amazingly detailed - thank you for adding such a content rich post!
 
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Old 08-30-2013, 09:02 AM
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Nice job!
 
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Old 08-30-2013, 11:22 AM
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Focal does great systems . Well done
 
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Old 08-30-2013, 12:03 PM
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Thank you. I have been waiting for this.

One question: What was your reason for buying the 6.5 Focals vs 8"? Focals did not make 8"s?

Thanks.
 
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Old 08-30-2013, 01:00 PM
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Originally Posted by cab83_750 View Post
Thank you. I have been waiting for this.

One question: What was your reason for buying the 6.5 Focals vs 8"? Focals did not make 8"s?

Thanks.
Excellent.
Yeah, I guess the thread is too long, I answered your question! 2 way 8" component sets were not available, although they may be available now or may be avaliable from a mfg other than focal.
 
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Old 09-01-2013, 01:44 PM
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Awesome thread! I'll be using this once am ready to upgrade. Thank you !
 
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Old 09-01-2013, 07:13 PM
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Nice work...I bet even the "budget" focals sound great!
 
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Old 09-02-2013, 10:37 AM
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Originally Posted by SoCal GT3 View Post
Nice work...I bet even the "budget" focals sound great!
Indeed, that was my hope and it proved correct. There are advantages to going less expensive for a speaker only upgrade. The speakers tend to be more efficient, so you will get higher volume with stock amplification. The crossovers are often more simple high pass filters, similar to the stock speakers so equalization will not be dramatically different. With different crossovers it tends to drive the need for an equalizer to tune the whole setup. High End speakers will need more amplification, so then you need to add an amp add well.
 
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Old 09-02-2013, 12:10 PM
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Did you fit the ISS or ISN variant?
 
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Old 09-02-2013, 12:28 PM
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Originally Posted by markiii View Post
Did you fit the ISS or ISN variant?
IS165. The ISS just came out.
 
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Old 09-02-2013, 02:55 PM
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This is exactly what i was looking for. Can you make a list of the what speakers you got like the focal integration and what, after doing the install, you would have prefered to have. Eg. 8inch instead of 6.5 inches. Like any diy sometimes you get parts that "can do" and just do the install. But given a choice one could have chosen better if you get what i mean. Bt this is really a good one. Will for sure do this soon. Thank you
 
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Old 09-02-2013, 03:46 PM
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Originally Posted by markiii View Post
Did you fit the ISS or ISN variant?
Keep in mind the ISN165s are like $650! Crutchfield still has the IS165 for $180!
 
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Old 09-02-2013, 03:57 PM
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Originally Posted by slicky rick View Post
This is exactly what i was looking for. Can you make a list of the what speakers you got like the focal integration and what, after doing the install, you would have prefered to have. Eg. 8inch instead of 6.5 inches. Like any diy sometimes you get parts that "can do" and just do the install. But given a choice one could have chosen better if you get what i mean. Bt this is really a good one. Will for sure do this soon. Thank you
No problem. Would I do it differently? Not sure. Maybe I would have used all polyglass, but maybe the output would be too low. Not sure. I think for a budget install it's important to take advantage of the best bargain as well.
From Focal's own literature, their integration stuff is probably the best for the job. It is engineered to drop into a stock system.
I have found about audio that bigger drivers do not always mean better base. Smaller drivers have more speed and more travel, often resulting in better punch than a big driver that travels very little. Base from the 6.5" focals is very good, I don't think there would be much benefit from an 8", but I could be wrong. Make no mistake here, this system will NOT have power that other cars will hear. However the sound is very good and it is a dramatic improvement from the stock Bose system.
 
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Old 09-02-2013, 06:08 PM
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im now seriously thinking about this upgrade but like i said experience is the best teacher and rye has the best experience now.
i really hope you do not mind the questions brother but you have heard the difference in the sound. i have a 997.2 and would like to follow your lead as the bose system sucks. would the is200 work better as it has 8" drivers? are the focals the best option in your opinion. bucks vs quality wise.
the 100cvx looks like a good option unless after the install you would have saved oney by just using 1 set for the doors and a different cheaper option for the rears. please allow me to learn from your experience.
 

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