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...lessons learned installing Kenwood, Alpine, Image Dynamics Audio Into a Double Cab

Discussion in 'Audio & Video' started by Subsea, Dec 29, 2010.

  1. Dec 29, 2010 at 4:14 PM
    #1
    Subsea

    Subsea [OP] Member

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    (I have been following TacomaWorld since last January but have not Joined. I began my audio installation into my double cab back in late January and finished around....oh....well I still have a couple things to square away. I found good help on this forum but not everything I needed to know. I'm sure my addition will still leave holes but I post it here to help wheover might be interested. This is my first post here so I may have to edit a bit to get it all properly displayed. Here goes....)

    I wanted to share what I have learned during the installation of my audio system into my 2008 Tacoma Double Cab with anyone interested and contemplating heading down the same road. Along the way I learned some things I liked better that what I had been able to learn from others as go-by’s and some things I wish I had done a different way. An important note is that my truck was originally equipped with the JBS (POS) sound system. I did lots of research before I purchased anything then had some life changes alter my plan. I decided to relate what I had learned to maybe help the next person wanting to upgrade his/her sound system.

    The information I’m giving should be viewed as an “add-on” to the very thorough and helpful work done by “Octane151” in this thread: (http://www.tacomaworld.com/forum/audio-video/40900-09-double-cab-complete-audio-makeover.html). His is an excellent writeup! Importantly, he as did I, installed his system based on TacoTunes-provided kit items such as speaker mount adapters, subwoofer, and wiring components. To say the word “TacoTunes” evokes a visceral negative response in many forum members….

    FIRST – I am in no way associated with TacoTunes, Mr. Marv, or anybody else. You’ll see in a moment why I chose the path I did, and that path might not be right for you – Buyer beware! If you are contemplating installing a new system and are new to this topic, then you need to DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH on suppliers. TacoTunes’ customers seem to be split about 50-50 on liking them or wanting to string them up on the nearest tree. I am not promoting TacoTunes or trashing them; that is not what this thread is about. I am merely sharing what I chose to do and how it turned out – good and bad. I’m laboring this point because what many will note immediately is that this is my 1st post on this forum and that raises eyebrows and a suspicion of “being associated with…….”; I am NOT.

    SECOND – A new reader on this topic needs to be aware that they will need some specialized components that they must either make or buy, that two “main/higher profile” providers are out there with components: TacoTunes and Mr. Marv (there are others too, but they seem more “custom,” not so much mainstream “product on the shelf” type outfits), and they need to balance their wants against their $$$, skills, and available time.


    What’s right for me may not be right for you. So why was my path right for me? Here is short version of my situation:
    Originally I was focused on “uncompromising sound quality”; then “life” took over – after years of trying to have a baby with no success that suddenly changed this past March – an ankle biter was on the way! This drastically impacted my priorities!
    -I am an engineer in my mid-40s and travel extensively for work. That means
    -- I don’t have free time; I need as much a canned solution as I can find,
    -- I do have a budget for and WANT and NICE sound system; if I was younger and back in school I could not have afforded this path.
    -After research, I wanted Image Dynamics (ID) XS65 speakers and Alpine PDX amps (primarily for “sound quality+powervs physical size”). Read on! – I’m not sure this was the best choice in the end.
    -New baby means I wanted to minimize impact to the truck – maintain maximum storage and not impact passenger comfort (such as mounting amps under the front seats, stubbing the toes of rear seat passengers…sometimes ME!...and I’m 6’ 7” tall.
    -I had to maintain access to at least some of the child restraint attachment points in the back seat. This nix’d the notion of a full width dual driver subwoofer.
    -My musical interest is quality reproduction of styles ranging from classic rock, classical, country, etc…not a subwoofer from hell intent on vibrating loose every fastener on the truck! The bass I was looking for was maybe better described by being pummeled by a baseball bat.


    So why did I choose the TacoTunes route?
    -Many people including Mr. Marv are fans of and/or use MDF for speaker adapters. I did not want MDF; I wanted plastic. TacoTunes offered the only plastic ones I found. Why? Partly just preference; partly because no matter what an MDF manufacturer says, at best MDF is “fungal- and water-resistant,” not “-proof.”
    -They had a pre-packaged 10” ID subwoofer setup that preserved the space behind the passenger seat – room for the amps, crossovers, terminal blocks, and cable service loops.
    -The purchased components such as terminal blocks and cables were high quality -- what I would have bought anyway.
    -They had the best price I could find on all the ID speakers (I bought the amps off Amazon).
    -I bet on the hope that their “kit” would have most of what I needed to do the job, vice me hunting and hoping, then buying more or what I forgot, etc….I wanted the “easy button.” For the most part that worked out as I hoped, but it wasn’t perfect: some items I would need were not offered in the kit, and some items were in the kit that I either didn’t need or were not the right pieces (specifically, hardware and terminals).
    -I read the flaming reviews of TacoTunes and confronted Rob with them. I heard and comprehended his explanations – some I buy, some reflected room for him and TacoTunes to improve if they want to be regarded as a respected supplier. I made sure he had stock BEFORE I placed an order and rather than me waiting a production run of speaker adapters. My expectations were properly calibrated and they met my expectations. My experience with them was acceptable; you decide what to do with Your money.
    -I did run into some technical issues though, all minor, all surmountable, and all aggravating.

    My Kit:
    FROM VARIOUS VENDORS:
    Head Unit: Kenwood DNX9960
    -- I would buy this again. It’s a good unit and far from perfect. The Kenwood/Garmin voice recognition could be better; the navigation, lane assist, etc, is quite good.
    Amps: Alpine PDX:
    -Speakers: PDX 4.100
    -Sub: PDX 1.600
    Steering wheel button adapter: SWIJACK
    -- Installation and programming was “ok,” certainly not insurmountable, but was a PITA. Connection required selecting the proper resistor then soldering it into the SWIJACK’s wiring, then splicing into the truck’s wiring. I have not used or seen reviews of the ACCESS unit, which I didn’t see when I was shopping earlier in the year, but I would have chosen it over the SWIJACK just based on ease of installation.
    -- One thing I’m still not clear on regarding either of those two units is the ability to multi-task buttons like the JBL system does. This may be because I botched the programming of the SWIJACK or that it simply doesn’t have the functionality (I could not find any info on this topic for the ACCESS unit). Basically what I’m talking about here is an ability of the unit to discern whether I quickly depressed and released the button vs pressing and holding, and then issuing the appropriate command to the head unit. My SWIJACK unit, at least as it is programmed now, does NOT make this distinction. Bummer.


    FROM TACOTUNES:
    FacePlate/mount: Scosche
    -- Metra & Scosche have fans and detractors. I found that with proper assembly and proper use of mounting clips, this scosche holds the unit secure on and off road, looks good, and certainly could be made better and more robust – I would have paid more for that.
    Wiring kit/adapter: None; don’t bother.
    -- Upgrading a JBL system was where I found the least information. The JBL head unit is supplied by tiny signal wires.
    -- Existing wires to JBL head unit are good for signals ONLY (eg: radio “on/off,” headlights “on/off,” ignition "on/off,” etc), too small to supply any meaningful power. Just plan now to tap into the vehicle’s wiring at the fuse block for head unit power.
    Speakers: Image Dynamics
    - Front: XS65
    - Rear: CTX65
    Sub: IDQV3D10V2 (10”)

    Sound Mat: Ballistic by Metra
    -- TacoTunes warned me this was a new product and that they were giving me a discount to be a guinea pig. It has been through a summer of many 100+ days, and has now seen a dozen or more 10F-20F nights. So far no problems. I would use it again. One slightly negative nit is that I think, based on photos, some other brands are made with the foil “pre-wrinkled” somewhat. When I was installing the mat I realized what function that could have – to allow the mat to “expand” in order to stretch down into recesses/pockets. The flat taut aluminum foil of the Ballistic mat prevents it from stretching and adhering to the bottom of pockets in sheet metal stampings without first slitting it, so there are places where it “bridges” and doesn’t make full contact. I’m not sure what impact that has on sound or long term adhesion, if any.
    Etc:
    -Plastic speaker adapters:
    -- These worked fine but I did have a nit – they were not deburred on the corners so they were sharp edged. Not only is this dangerous to your hands but also just doesn’t look like a completed part. I used a deburring tool from Harbor Freight to break the edges; it worked like a champ.
    Etc:
    -Sub Enclosure:
    -- The basis for using this enclosure is to modify the truck’s plastic panel so this enclosure fits. The sharp upper corners of the enclosure tend to protrude into the rounded corners of the panel. I had to notch the panel’s corners and sand a fillet on the top corners of the enclosure – that would have been fine if only I had discovered it Before I had it all coated. The sub enclosure should have had this done already. No biggie; just a pain.
    -Wiring: all good quality, high strand count cabling, though I hate silicon jacketing. All high end stereo cables seem to have it though – it looks good but what a pain to strip/manage. I use teflon insulated wiring in my work designs.
    -Hardware and terminals
    -- This gave me my most heartburn with the TacoTunes kit. I guess by definition not a big deal, but it was a huge PITA!. It didn’t have all the fasteners I needed, and some were not suited for their intended purpose. The kit didn’t have nearly enough wiring splices to do the job (I’m not a big fan of splices anyway, usually insisting on soldering+heat shrink; but limited time and limited vehicle harness length made me compromise on this point – I used splices). The kit came with many crimp-on terminals but most wouldn’t work due to the combination of wire size they were made for vs the terminal size that the supplied wire (size) was intended to connect! Arghhh! I ended up just buying a whole separate supply of splices, terminals, and fasteners, to the tune of $50! I shouldn’t have had to do that! -- the kit was specifically for my vehicle, my amps and other components, and my mounting locations; the kit hardware was lacking, deficient.
    -Instructions
    -- I found their instructions very helpful yet not fully synchronized with my specific kit, so there was plenty for me to figure out.
    -- I recommend you ditch using the dremel or any other rotary cutter and instead use a vibrating cutter. I got mine from Harbor Freight and it cuts through this plastic like butter -- no blobs of melted spew, straight cuts, and clean ones...fast! Definitely a better tool. This is mine: (http://www.harborfreight.com/multifunction-power-tool-67256.html). I used the circular shaped saw blade. WAY better than a rotary cutter for plastic!!


    SETUP AND REVIEW
    After it was all installed I have to say the system sounds very good (which is what ANYBODY would say if they spent this much on their sound system, right? Of course they would!!). I found getting it to sound good was painful, and not much help out there to help me do it! How hard could it be?, you ask. That’s what I thought initially to, but it turns out at least for my tone-deaf ears, it was pretty hard! I just couldn’t get it to sound right. Oh yeah, it had gobs of power; it would make your ears bleed before it distorted – but it didn’t sound “right.” I tried every adjustment I could think of, and with this head unit, there are PLENTY to confuse and confound. No combination I tried really mattered…..at first….read on.


    A note about setting up amp gain. My Opinion: Forget about spending much time on this topic – many promote use of amps and meters and input tones – don’t bother…for “Gain”. Gain is nothing more than volume: If you set the amp on Max Gain then each time you increase/decrease your head unit’s volume control by one click you will get a proportionally Large increase/decrease in speaker volume – IE not much fine control. If you set the gain very low, then you won’t get the output the amp can provide. Then consider different media and different recordings on any given of those media – each media has different output levels and each recording is recorded at a different level. I suggest you follow the method of setting your head unit at ~75% max volume , play your favorite media, crank up the gain until the sound distorts, then back off just a little on the gain. With my system that will implode your head! Cleanly!

    Now, back to the quality of the sound. Ultimately what I learned:
    -I setup the XS65’s crossovers (front speakers) per the ID recommendations. I will probably go back and tweak that setup now that I have the right tools.
    -Some combination of the head unit’s preamp-outs, the amplifier’s processing, and the speaker’s reproduction yielded VERY unflat sound reproduction (like, “midrange” is all over the map!....I ultimately learned).
    -The rear speaker reproduction is vastly different from the front and vastly impacts what you hear. I know this might be obvious that it happens; I was just ill prepared for how much of a difference would exist.
    -I suggest you borrow (although I used this situation to cleverly justify why my wife needed to let me buy a new Toy!) or buy a sound analyzer to setup your system. I bought a PAA3 by Phonic; I’ll use it at elsewhere and at work too….that’s my story!...
    -What the analyzer revealed is a saw-tooth looking equalizer pattern to flatten the front speakers, and the 6kHz band can’t be flattened with my setup – no way – it still needs another 7db and some of the lower bands required full deduction! The rear speakers on the other hand needed almost all bass removed, zero midrage adjustment, and full increase across all treble bands.
    -It was the zig-zag of the front speaker’s setup that confounded me. I just couldn’t get there via trial and error, especially the midrange.
    -But now the system really sounds “awesome”….at (what I, an old man consider) high volume levels, and it sounds “good” but not “rich” at “normal” volumes.” That is why I say maybe I didn’t pick the best speaker setup for me, and I have no suggestions what would have been better suited. High volume is OK some of the time; but not what I was really aiming for.
    That's my story. Below (I hope) are photos & notes I thought might be helpful)...

    [​IMG]

    Back of truck with JBL components:
    [​IMG]

    Here's a tidbit I didn't find in other posts...
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

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    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


     
  2. Dec 30, 2010 at 9:38 AM
    #2
    DevL

    DevL Well-Known Member

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    Did you attempt phasing? I found rear subs and rear coax have a cancelling effect in phase and created a muddied, boosted midbass out of phase. My solution was a combination of a 24db crossover on the rear at 80hz, volume reduction on the rear, and leaving in phase with boosted sub level. I got best sound quality up front with phase reversed on my left tweet and right mid and tweet. Getting phasing correct makes a world of difference in clarity.
     
  3. Dec 30, 2010 at 9:44 AM
    #3
    Flynn Diesel

    Flynn Diesel Well-Known Member

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    Holy first post! Nice set-up. Welcome aboard. :woot:
     
  4. Dec 30, 2010 at 1:14 PM
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    Jiinx

    Jiinx Active Member

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    Nice write up :)

    How much was the replacement plastic insert for the back where the JBL sub was, and where did you end up ordering it?
     
  5. Dec 30, 2010 at 1:17 PM
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    HomerTaco

    HomerTaco Grill Sergeant Vendor

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    SCORE! Nice 1st. Post...
    Well Done!:thumbsup:
     
  6. Dec 30, 2010 at 1:19 PM
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    2009Silver

    2009Silver Well-Known Member

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    Great first post! Welcome!
     
  7. Dec 30, 2010 at 1:34 PM
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    Sprink669

    Sprink669 Well-Known Member

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    Great post! Can you give us a ballpark of what all of that cost? I wanted to be in the $1000-1200 range.
     
  8. Dec 30, 2010 at 5:55 PM
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    DevL

    DevL Well-Known Member

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    Just his head unit would exceed your budget.
     
  9. Dec 30, 2010 at 6:12 PM
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    HondaGM

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  10. Dec 30, 2010 at 7:13 PM
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    ItalynStylion

    ItalynStylion Sounds Gooooood

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    First off, welcome to Tacoma World and congratulations on becoming a dad!


    Excellent work and write up. One of the more thorough I've seen in a while. It's nice to see people taking pride in it.

    I think your setup is more than capable of very good sound. I know you said that you enjoy it but think there is a little more left on the table. If you want, we might be able to figure out how to get it running 100%. It really is all in the settings. There's so much to play with and tweak it's sort of overwhelming.
     
  11. Dec 30, 2010 at 8:51 PM
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    ToyoDrew

    ToyoDrew Well-Known Member

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    How noticeable was the noise reduction once you sound deadened your Taco? Others have said that deadening the doors made the biggest improvement, which I see you did...where else did you apply it?

    Thank you for sharing with the community, excellent writeup, and congrats on the little one that is one way.
     
  12. Dec 30, 2010 at 8:58 PM
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    stmpjmpr

    stmpjmpr Well-Known Member

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    I feel like I just read thru one my trng procedures from work. great write up .
     
  13. Dec 31, 2010 at 1:16 AM
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    A7XT

    A7XT Reppin UWYO

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    Awesome write up and congrats!
     
  14. Dec 31, 2010 at 7:08 AM
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    Subsea

    Subsea [OP] Member

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    What I know now is that you are at LEAST partly spot-on! -- dohhh!!...I just checked phasing on the drivers and the back left is out of phase. I'll fix that today. Alternating phasing on the purposefully on the other drivers/tweeters is not something I've tried yet. I will try your setup (thank you for the beta!) and report back. Thanks again!
     
  15. Dec 31, 2010 at 7:12 AM
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    Subsea

    Subsea [OP] Member

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    For weeks I looked all over my area and the web for a used/junk yard one. No joy. I also tried to figure out how I could use the JBL panel without it looking like monkey-butt, but couldn't see it. So, to do the job in the small time window I had, I had to cough-up the ~$200 and buy one through my local dealer.
     
  16. Dec 31, 2010 at 7:19 AM
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    Subsea

    Subsea [OP] Member

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    Thank you for that offer! I will fix my obvious problems, try DevL's phasing setup, and will PM you after that to see what is left to tweak -- plenty I can see! Patience though; I travel extensively and my life is not my own!...so this will bee a "weeks" type venture for me rather than "days."
     
  17. Dec 31, 2010 at 7:51 AM
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    Subsea

    Subsea [OP] Member

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    Thank you and thank everyone else for kind words and wishes. I will say this: being a 20-something year old dad was a skosh easier than a 40-something! The good part though is that now I finally have someone my age to play with!

    I only have anecdotal information regarding your 1st question: I drove the truck for a week or two with only the driver side deadened. It gave the weirdest sensation -- kind of like driving with your hand cupped over your left ear...genuinely a "dead" sensation compared to what my right ear was receiving. So I can definitely say it made an audible difference and I suspect would make an even greater one if I had followed Mr. Marv's recommended practice for application (see his sticky tutorial). As for coverage, I deadened the doors, including each door's pillars (especially the front where the mirrors are). I also applied it to the aft wall, aft sides, and aft "seat shelf". Based on what I learned from my old Jeep, I suspect applying it to the floor boards, rockers, and even the roof would make noticeable differences as well -- but not sure it would be enough to justify the significant extra weight that much deadener would add.
     
  18. Dec 31, 2010 at 12:45 PM
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    DevL

    DevL Well-Known Member

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    My total vibration dampner was only about 35 pounds which IMO is nothing. The 65 pounds of mass loaded on the other hand is where i would have been more concerned. I ended up not doing my back wall because it did not need it IMO. Just vibration dampner there... a crap ton of it.

    I have also since found the key was to put my mids in phase and tweets out of phase... opened up the right side mid where I had less output there. So now only my front tweets are out of phase. I will still keep running through all the possible combinations till I get it right. THen there is all the SRS stuff on my head unit (focus, 3D, trubass), time alignment, EQ, I have crossover slopes I have been playing with etc. and what works for MY speakers wont necessarily work for yours because not only is speaker placement an issue (Tacoma specific) but the drivers have their own characteristics. Now that I have no boominess/muddiness to my midrange and both tweets are clear they are less crisp and more muted on most tracks. Its a real pain to get right and I dont know what order to do my tuning other than phasing/polarity comes first.
     
  19. Dec 31, 2010 at 6:38 PM
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    flyby08

    flyby08 Well-Known Member

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    great write up! i just finished phase 1 of my installed a few weeks ago and there are a few item you have that i was looking for and had to find the hard way. And congrats on becoming a dad.
     
  20. Dec 31, 2010 at 6:45 PM
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    SOSHeloPilot

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    U.S.A.
    Vehicle:
    2016 SR5, AC/LB, 4x2, V6, Auto, w/Tow, SiriusXM, Stock
    UnderCover SE, Bed Mat, Tint, Weather Techs & DashGoPro
    .

    Great DIY write up with many good pics too ... thanks ... :D

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