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View Full Version : Stereo upgrade questions - any stereo gurus here?


TallRedRider
12-29-2008, 06:25 PM
I plan on upgrading my 2006 X - 45 stereo. The stereo that came with it is the stock JL system with 2 speakers in the bow, 2 in the main cabin area, a 10 inch free air sub and 4 JL tower speakers. All of this is run off of a single JL e6450 amplifier.

The questions I have are these:

I for sure want more sub. Is the sub a little lacking because of it's nature or does it need more power? I looked up the specs on the amp and it is only getting 150 Watts or so. That seems pretty weak for most any sub. JL's website says that this sub can manage 250 Watts RMS. They have it bridged to channels 5 and 6 on the amp. I wonder if I will be satisfied with the same sub, but with more power or should I swap out both. I could also keep the sub and add a second sub...but I am not sure where to put it - where would you put another sub? I had a single JL 12 inch 12W3 in my previous boat and that was enough for me, so I am not a complete bass head, but I do like to feel a chest thump once in a while.

The interior speakers are probably adequate, but are run from the amplifier in parallel and the specs on the amp was 75 Watts at 2 Ohm, so at best the speakers are getting 37.5 Watts each RMS. .

The tower speakers are also very solid, but I am coming from an HLCD setup (NVS Tyrants) and so these seem a little inadequate. I have my own ideas for that...so we will see what happens.

So stereo gurus, how have you upgraded things? Where do I put another sub, I am not sure a 12 inch sub will fit in the current spot behind the driver. Or do I find a more powerful 10 inch sub?

Justjoe
12-29-2008, 07:41 PM
When I re-did the stereo on the 197, I added two four channel amps (one for the hull speakers, one with a switch for the tower) and dropped a 12" JL sub into the area under the glove box. I put a two channel Clarion amp and bridged it to run the sub, then mounted it on the back of the sub enclosure.

JimN
12-29-2008, 07:43 PM
Call JL and ask if that model can be mounted in a box (some aren't designed to be) and if it is, what is the best volume for the box? Also, ask if it needs to be vented. In some cases, the gains are similar to quadrupling the power.

You cancon tact JL's technical department either by phone or through their website.

I would try this before anything else- you may get exactly what you're looking for without having to buy more equipment.

That amp does 150W into 4 Ohms, so I think putting it in a box will help the overall sound a lot.

Go to the JL website and look for the setup procedure they describe. You'll need to burn a CD for the test tones but it's the best method I have seen without using an oscilloscope. They did use one when they came up with this procedure, BTW. It's on pg 12 of the amp's manual:
http://marine.jlaudio.com/pdfs/e%20Series%20M/e6450M_MAN.pdf

bobbyB
12-29-2008, 08:15 PM
I'll second what Jim said. Pay peticular attention to the specs/ box building instructions for your sub. I missread one thing and it sounded like crap. Spent just a little time doing what the company tech told me and it made huge differences.

For instance: volume of your sub box will greatly effect whether or not to port it.

Make sure your set up correctly so you can make an informed decision on upgrading or not. Good luck.

B

TallRedRider
12-29-2008, 09:04 PM
Thanks for the thoughts there. I am pretty sure the speaker is an infinite baffle speaker sub, so it is not designed for a box. I am not sure that means you cannot put a box around it, but I think it will be less bang for the buck.

I forgot to look up the specs for the in boat speakers, and they are recommending 100 Watts RMS to each speaker. I think that leaves me way underpowered inside the boat.

The way the manual says to adjust the gains is something I have never done...it has all been by ear. So I will go hang out with my volt meter later and download some test tones. There are some websites good for this. I will also see how many watts are coming out, not just the volts like they recommend and see how that compares. Here is a site for test tones if anyone is interested: http://www.wakeboatworld.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=32&Itemid=35

I already installed a Wetsounds 420 Equalizer so as to establish separate control for the tower and interior speakers and it includes a mic that transmits through the tower speakers only. It is good for instruction or taunting of a rider while they are still going. I plan on getting a thread boasting some pics one of these days once I have the install cleaned up a bit.

craig3972
12-29-2008, 09:20 PM
i boxed in my 10" on my 06 xstar and it made a huge difference - single best upgrade i did to the stereo. I subsequently drive two of those subs with a 1000w mono amp.

I had suggested in an earlier thread that MC could easily build a fiberglass enclosure for that sub at a very low cost. MC already puts quite a bit of effort into there stereo installation - An optional sub box would be a big bang for the buck. Just like in Dodge or Chevy trucks

JimN
12-29-2008, 09:22 PM
75W vs 100W isn't exactly what I would consider "way underpowered". You'd get about 1dB more with 100W and that's not worth doing.

Setting levels by ear is never the best way because by the time you hear distortion, you're creeping up on 10%THD.

The way JL shows, and my conversation confirmed it, was found by watching an oscilloscope for the point where clipping began, backing it off to where it was clean again, shutting the amp off to disconnect the speaker wires and turning it on to measure the voltage and as I said, it's the best way I have ever seen to do this without an oscilloscope.

Eagle Lake Rebel
12-30-2008, 12:51 AM
With ch 5 & 6 bridged you should have plenty of power for that sub. First thing you should do is check the phase of all your speakers to make sure MC wired it up right. My sub sounded weak too and then I looked at the amp and found that the sub was wired out of phase with the rest of the tower and interior speakers. Next go to your local JL shop and get a "bass knob" that plugs directly into your amp. That will help put a little more a$$ in your sub. An easy way to close in your sub is to put a divider in the storage area that runs to the top of the bottom of the seat. there are several other things I would do (and did) that made my system much better without having to spend a ton of $$ doing it. Send me a PM with a phone # and I'll give you a call because there are all kinds of things can be done it just depends on what you want to spend and if you want to do everything at once or set up a system that allows you to build it up as time and $$ allow.

TallRedRider
12-30-2008, 01:38 PM
i boxed in my 10" on my 06 xstar and it made a huge difference - single best upgrade i did to the stereo. I subsequently drive two of those subs with a 1000w mono amp.


Where did you put the other sub? With most boats, you can put it at the driver's feet, but MC has a bunch of electronic stuff in the way.

75W vs 100W isn't exactly what I would consider "way underpowered". You'd get about 1dB more with 100W and that's not worth doing.


The specs on the amp say it puts out 75 watts at 2 Ohm. Those channels are wired to 2 speakers so they are getting 37.5 Watts each. I think more power will probably make a difference for them. Especially since JL recommends 100 watts per speaker on the website.

With ch 5 & 6 bridged you should have plenty of power for that sub. First thing you should do is check the phase of all your speakers to make sure MC wired it up right. My sub sounded weak too and then I looked at the amp and found that the sub was wired out of phase with the rest of the tower and interior speakers. Next go to your local JL shop and get a "bass knob" that plugs directly into your amp. That will help put a little more a$$ in your sub. An easy way to close in your sub is to put a divider in the storage area that runs to the top of the bottom of the seat. there are several other things I would do (and did) that made my system much better without having to spend a ton of $$ doing it. Send me a PM with a phone # and I'll give you a call because there are all kinds of things can be done it just depends on what you want to spend and if you want to do everything at once or set up a system that allows you to build it up as time and $$ allow.


I suppose a simple divider would be a poor man's ported box. Thanks for the idea.

I almost wonder if the wires are out of phase, because I am serious when I say the sub is inadequate. My Clarion 10 inch sub in my old boat hit harder than this. JL quality is not usually on par with a cheap clarion sub, so something has to be up.

The Wetsounds 420 has a bass knob on it, so it sort of works the same. I suppose the JL bass knob would be worth trying to see if it makes a difference.

JimN
12-30-2008, 02:48 PM
I almost wonder if the wires are out of phase, because I am serious when I say the sub is inadequate. My Clarion 10 inch sub in my old boat hit harder than this. JL quality is not usually on par with a cheap clarion sub, so something has to be up.

I think I would start by checking the levels on the amp first. Who knows who set it up? Mounting the woofer in a panel is OK if the front is isolated from the back but when there are gaps and it's a small panel, you will have major cancellations.

I doubt the woofer will handle excessive power in its current mounting method. Did you look up the recommended setup for that woofer model number on the JL site?

TallRedRider
12-30-2008, 03:36 PM
I think I would start by checking the levels on the amp first. Who knows who set it up? Mounting the woofer in a panel is OK if the front is isolated from the back but when there are gaps and it's a small panel, you will have major cancellations.

I doubt the woofer will handle excessive power in its current mounting method. Did you look up the recommended setup for that woofer model number on the JL site?


Yes. They say that it should be mounted in a free air application (without a box) and recommend 250 Watts RMS to it. How much difference another 100 Watts would make is what I am wondering here, but I guess I won't know until I hook it up to an amp rated for the speakers I am running. I am not talking about excessive power here, just what the manufacturer recommends. The gain on the amp for the sub need to be turned pretty much at least 75% of the way up, just to tell the system has a subwoofer, and after that it just sounds kind of mild. I have the Lo pass settings all done according to JL's recs as well. I'll report back once I have some more information and check the wires and such.

The amp has not been set up with a DVM the way that they say in the manual, just by ear. I suppose the only thing setting the amp up the way they recommend is it is going to get quieter, since I already have it set up just under where I hear audible distortion. I am sure that watching the voltage is only going to make me turn the gains down further.

JimN
12-30-2008, 04:43 PM
Yes. They say that it should be mounted in a free air application (without a box) and recommend 250 Watts RMS to it. How much difference another 100 Watts would make is what I am wondering here, but I guess I won't know until I hook it up to an amp rated for the speakers I am running. I am not talking about excessive power here, just what the manufacturer recommends. The gain on the amp for the sub need to be turned pretty much at least 75% of the way up, just to tell the system has a subwoofer, and after that it just sounds kind of mild. I have the Lo pass settings all done according to JL's recs as well. I'll report back once I have some more information and check the wires and such.

The amp has not been set up with a DVM the way that they say in the manual, just by ear. I suppose the only thing setting the amp up the way they recommend is it is going to get quieter, since I already have it set up just under where I hear audible distortion. I am sure that watching the voltage is only going to make me turn the gains down further.

If you want loud, thundering bass at a level higher than what most people consider "normal", I'm not sure this woofer is the right one for you. I would look into something that will work in a small enclosure, so you don't take up a lot of space. Infinite baffle is one thing but when the panel is small and the air pressure from the back of the panel can get to the front, it stops being infinite baffle and starts being a bad installation.

If you want to test this woofer's capability, cut a hole in a piece of MDF (if you have some), mount the woofer and place it over an empty garbage can with the woofer outside, so you don't need to seal a hole for the speaker wires. If you get strong bass, you're losing response because of cancellations. If the edge of the can isn't flat, use foam tape to help in sealing it.

It's hard enough to get good sound but being outside makes it even harder. If you're losing energy because of cancellations from a leaky mount, more power won't fix this. If you can get the same model that was in your last boat, it may be enough if it's in the right enclosure. In a large panel, a "free air" woofer can sound good. When leaks are present, it can't.

Their method of setting the levels isn't about less or more, it's about setting them correctly. Trying to get high volume from a small amp is like trying to tow a school bus with a stock VW beetle.

craig3972
12-31-2008, 02:23 PM
[QUOTE=Go Red;565471]Where did you put the other sub? With most boats, you can put it at the driver's feet, but MC has a bunch of electronic stuff in the way.


I repositioned the electronics stuff so as to allow a sealed box with the 10" JL at the drivers feet (2006 xstar). Sub works well in that location and it was easier to install than the factory location under the passenger seat.

The sub model that comes with your boat is a M10IB5 - rated for infinite baffle and sealed. JL offers another model M10W5 - rated for sealed and ported enclosure, that is dimensionally the same but has better low frequency response.

exact enclosure dimensions are available on the JL website - look for the owners manual for the sub.

These subs work really good with a lot of power. they are only rated at 250w but can handle more especially if you put them in a sealed box. be careful to break-in the sub before you turn up your gain on the sub amp.

TallRedRider
01-01-2009, 01:07 AM
[QUOTE=Go Red;565471]I repositioned the electronics stuff so as to allow a sealed box with the 10" JL at the drivers feet (2006 xstar). Sub works well in that location and it was easier to install than the factory location under the passenger seat.

These subs work really good with a lot of power. they are only rated at 250w but can handle more especially if you put them in a sealed box. be careful to break-in the sub before you turn up your gain on the sub amp.

Tonight I put in an Arc Audio 900.6 amplifier. All I can say is: PROBLEM SOLVED! I have the entire system on that amp and it sounds so much better. I cannot say enough about how this has improved my system.

The sub now pounds as good as any 10 inch sub out there. Very nice full sound now. The system is now much better sounding. It is now getting 550 Watts...YIKES! But the gains are turned way down, only about 1/4, so hopefully that will stop me from blowing it up.

I do not know how it is on the X-star, but there is so much electrical stuff behind the wall at the driver's feet that there is no way I could dare move it. The brain of the whole boat is there.