Ford Fiesta ST Forum banner
21 - 31 of 31 Posts

· Registered
53 Posts
I think losing ALL ability of using SYNC would inevitably lead to some sort of problem. Of course, I can't think of what. But that's really gutting a lot function for the car!

· Registered
37 Posts
I think losing ALL ability of using SYNC would inevitably lead to some sort of problem. Of course, I can't think of what. But that's really gutting a lot function for the car!
I didn't mean the whole thing. Just the part on the top holding the screen. It seems like an aftermarket radio would fit there but I'm not really sure.

Sent using Tapatalk

So, I am new to this forum, not to the Fiesta ST. I am vigorously working on an audio system for this vehicle and thought I would share my thoughts.
First, just for some background on myself, Competed IASCA 601+ Expert 1998-1999, my car at the time was in Car Stereo Review April 1999, Car Sound of Japan, Car Stereo of the UK. Received full sponsorships from Pioneer and A/D/S. Judged Sound Quality for IASCA for 12 years, and owned two of my own shops. No Bragging here, just want to put what I am getting to say into perspective.

For anyone who is curious about how this car sounds from the Factory on a scale of 1 -10 with 10 being the best you have ever heard, it is a 2. I have judged 1000's of vehicles. Sony could not make a good sounding system if GOD himself reached down and touched the electronics with is finger. Sony would find someway to screw it up. That is a fact.

As for RAMMAUDIO or Rick, he is one of the more knowledgeable guys out here and he knows audio, but he is never going to make the sacrifice necessary to make exceptional sound in this car because he wants to race his car, and good audio cannot be had without some weight. Make no mistake when he gets around to it, I expect it will sound awesome, but not as good as it could.

Money vs Good Sound vs Great Sound vs the Finger of GOD Sound.
Good sound is not free, Great Sound is not cheap, The Finger of GOD Sound will cost you a 2nd mortgage.
I understand there may be some people here that purchased this vehicle because it was affordable fun and there may be some others that purchased it because they saw it for what it could be. Two different people, with two different wallets.

Great sound can be had in this car for modest money but you have to know how to get to it and get around the BS from FORD and SONY.
Adding a subwoofer and amp to an already bad situation does not improve the sound in this car. What it does is add more low frequency information to a system that didn't have any. That's why you think it sounds better. The human ear likes everything more from 200Hertz and down. That is the midbass region to subsonic region of a sound wave.

If money is an issue and you want to keep the factory controls but improve the sound, you cannot just add speakers and amps. Why? Ford spent over $1 million tuning the sound system in this car. The tuning that takes place is done taking into account, the factory amp, speaker location, and the speakers used. Every speaker has its own acoustic signature. Ford did not just grab speakers off a shelf, and slap them in the car. Speakers were tested to help alleviate the terrible speaker location they had to deal with. Then through crossover manipulation, EQ manipulation, time alignment and or phase manipulation they made the system do what it does. If you just replace the speakers in their factory locations, you have messed up the tune that was there, and while it may appear to sound better, because you are in fact replacing junk with better quality stuff, you have taken what I was classifying as a 2 out of 10 to a 3 out of 10. The entire system has to be retuned for what you have done. So if you thought your speaker upgrade sounded good? Imagine what it could it sound like if it was properly tuned.

So, There are options.
The best option for keeping the factory controls is the JL Audio FIX82 OEM Integration piece. This will not only correct any EQ curve that is in the system (WHICH THERE IS, WE HAVE MEASURED IT), but will correct any time alignment, and processing and take it back to a 20K-20Hertz flat line audio curve. Now what to do with it? Precision Power sells a piece for now called a 88R processor. You can find it on Ebay for about $300.00. You will not find a better processor cheaper anywhere. I have one, Rick has one. The JL Audio piece has Fiber Optic output or TOSLINK, the Precision Power piece has TOSLINK in, this allows you to grab the speakers from the factory up front and send it to the back via fiber. (AKA no Noise). Most OEM systems modify the curve as volume goes up and down. The Fiesta ST is not one of those systems. the Curve is consistent regardless of volume.

If you go this route then you need to retune the system. I will post in a second post how to do that. This includes setting up the amps, making sure the amps are getting enough signal voltage, and how to properly tune an car audio system with a processor. It does not entail setting up a smiley face on an EQ.

The precision power piece is one of many. There is the Audison Bit One, Soundstream make a piece, Rockford Fosgate has the 360, JBL, makes a piece, Masconi makes a piece(I have heard this one used in a Focus ST). They are all in the $500-1000 range. So that is why the Precision power piece is so important. It can be had very cheap.

Now, if you are like me and cant stand the thought of spending a bunch of money on speakers and amps, only to be feeding the new gear from a factory source, you have to be creative. One guy had a system installed in the glove box and just bypassed everything. Metraonline sells steering wheel adapter controls which will allow you to tap into the Factory steering wheel controls to control the new aftermarket radio. Why anyone would have paid for the factory nav system is completely beyond me. You have a phone with a variety of nav systems that will walk circles around the factory nav system. By-Gons.......Yes I know, if you get the Recaro seats, you got the nav.

With the aftermarket head unit, now the system just becomes another regular install. You still have to tune the system, but no more crappy factory head unit. If you are one of those people who wants to argue about how I'm wrong and how you think the factory system sounds good, please don't embarrass yourself. Its not even close to sounding good. Im not trying be a butthead. I am trying to share 20 years of experience to anyone who wants it or who is curious. I do come off a bit arrogant, but when you have spent what I have spent on audio and car audio, it is how it is, but I am very reachable and will help anyone tune their car for free. Most of the time, with what I am getting ready to share on how to tune, you could do without ever listening to the system while you were tuning and get it 95% there. In other words you could be deaf and get it right.

Tuning a sound system in a vehicle 101

The car is an acoustic cavity. Each car has its own unique audio signature and you can see it on a Real Time Analyzer or RTA(which I will be talking about here). To see the curve in your vehicle, you can download on your iphone, a program called RTA by Studio Six Digital. This is by no means the one I would tune with but it will suffice if you don't have access to an audio shop with a real one. You can buy one for about $350.00 or you can get the serious one for about $1000 from Audio Control. Anyway, turn it on, go through the calibration. Then go to iTunes, and in the store search for pink noise. This is a recording of every frequency played at the same time. Put that on a cd, put in your cd player, turn the volume up and turn on the rta. You will see a curve, each frequency will be moving a lot, but within its own space and you should see a curve from left to right. That is the acoustic curve of your car with you in it. (Now why would I say that), because it matters when you are tuning.

Most of us audio people tune our cars without being in the car, because the body affects the curve. However, if we know were going to get judged by 1 or two judges, we will tune with the seats where they need to be, and with one or two people in the car so that the tune matches what will be in the car when it is judged. For you, normally, its either 1 person driving, or you can tune it outside the car, and it will be ok.

This curve is very important, because when adjusting the processor it is going to change, but the curve also shows us problem areas that we are going to have to deal with. Have you ever heard a base note in a car that just shook the windshield? That is coming from one of two places. Either from way too much sound pressure, or from the resonant frequency of the car. If you look at the RTA, the bar that is the highest using pink noise is the resonant frequency of the car. If ported subwoofer enclosures are your deal, you want to design an enclosure and port that stays away from this frequency. Ported enclosures based on diameter of the port and length of the port play 3db louder at the resonant frequency of the port, if that is the same frequency of the car, your bass at that frequency will be louder than everything else and will not be balanced, and you will not be able to fix it with the EQ.

Now, When you install your speakers, they need to be installed solidly. (Your saying, im screwing it into the factory location, isn't that solidly?), no. its not. If you hold a subwoofer in your hand, and turn it on, and play something that can move the cone a lot, It will be difficult to hold it steady in your hand. Now imagine mounting that in your car. The energy of the cone moving has to go somewhere. That is why home enclosures (The really good ones, are so heavy). You want all of the movement to come from the cone. If the transference of energy gets passed along to the metal in the car door, it becomes resonance. this is also distortion and unwanted artifacts being added to the music. This is where adding sound deadening to the door adds weight to the metal, and makes it harder for the speaker to transfer its energy. Us guys that do this professionally, will coat the entire vehicle from top to bottom. Even the trunk, It makes a big difference.

With amps and speakers installed, we need to check a couple of things. First The more signal voltage and the more power voltage that gets to the amp the better. What am I talking about? The battery on its best day, will only produce 12.7-13.5 volts continuously. If you read the specs on your amp, it will give you two power ratings. One at 12 volts and one at 14.4 volts. You want 14.4 all the time. It may require an upgraded alternator, but why buy an amp to get 100 watts per channel only to let your alternator force you into 75 per channel?

Signal Voltage. This is at the RCA input. Your amp will tell you how much voltage it can take. Most are 4 volts. Some are 5, 6, and 8. One or two are 10. :). The more signal voltage you can get into the amp the better but only up to what the amp will allows. If we use the signal level out of the factory radio you are doing good to get 2 volts. Now your new amp you installed is wasted. To get the snappy crisp highs, tight midbass and chest kicking sub-bass, requires a minimum of 4 volts at all times. You do this by adding a line driver for each RCA. The line driver allows you step up the voltage so you always get what you want and get your moneys worth out of your amp.

Now we come to setting the gains on the amp. This is complicated. You want the gain set to its maximum level before distortion kicks in. how do you do this? You need a scope, and a audio track playing 1hertz tone. When you hook up the amp to the scope, you will see the wave change on the scope. When it becomes distorted, you back that down, and your good to go.

Now, most people like to do the EQ at this point and I think that is probably one of the most misunderstood audio tools ever created. The EQ is the last item adjusted. You want to adjust everything before having to mess with the EQ. So what are you adjusting for are small corrections after everything else has been fixed. Start with the crossover before you play anything. You don't want to blow up a set of speakers. Once they are set, then play your pink noise again, and look at the curve. Pause it. Now, using the level settings in the processor and with a db sound pressure meter hanging from the rear view mirror, cut off everything but the tweeters, get a measurement, and then do the same for all of the midrange, midbass and so on, you want to adjust everything to be very close in output to everything else. The sub will be a little different but everything else should be very close. This will really help with the imaging. What your trying to do by adjusting the crossover, and levels is to have no more than 3db variation between each frequency. Adjust your crossover points, and slopes to try and get this as close as you can. Once you have done that enough, there should only be 5-7 frequencies that are still out of place.

Now using the EQ, look at the bands on the RTA. You never want to add gain to a frequency. Why? Because you are adding something that was not originally there in the recording. Use the adjacent frequencies and lower the gain to bring it into line. When done you should have a really smooth curve. Everyones curve will be different because not everyone will use the same speakers, not everyone will sound deaden the car the same. But the curve should be smooth.

When you look at where the sub is playing, it may be way out of wack. You can try to lower that frequency, but if it wont go, this is where you have to listen. If it sounds out a bit, you can try adjusting the crossover, putting a pad over the sub, adding wool inside the enclosure, but if all else fails, you may have to add a little gain to the adjacent frequencies to smooth it out. If you have to add more than 3db then just leave it alone.

Tuning a Car Stereo 101 Part 2

What are we trying to achieve?

There are multiple parts to a sound environment.

They include

The overall musicality or tonality – This is the highs, mids, midbass, and subbass. Are they balanced with each other? Nothing should stand out, and this requires some work with the level settings, and a sound pressure meter.

Sound stage – Where do all of the musicians exist on the stage

Sound width – How wide is the stage

Sound depth – how deep is the stage. Does the singer appear to be standing in front of the drums, or standing on top of them.

Sound height – Does the stage sound like it is in the middle of the dash, below the dash, above the dash.

Position to Sound Stage – Where are you in the crowd. Front row, 3 rows back, 10 rows back (Preferable).

Linearity – This one is so important. As the volume is turned up or down, does any of the above change? If it does, your system is not tuned correctly. Everything above should stay the same no matter what volume, and a properly tuned vehicle, will sound good without adjustment listening to any music.

Time Alignment. This is bad thing all around and if not properly used, can completely screw up everything you did in tuning the vehicle. When you adjust time alignment, you are in fact messing with the phasing of the speaker. As a speaker wave dissipates it moves in and out of phase in relation to the listener in degrees from 0-180 and back. When you are adjusting time alignment, you are in effect telling the signal, to stop and start at different times on that channel to allow the signal to reach you at a different time than other channels. When you do this, the signal is delayed, but it also affects the phasing when it reaches you. It is such a tool, that you can make a subwoofer in your trunk sound like its coming from the engine compartment in the front of your car. It is very complicated to setup, but not impossible.

The precision power piece will allow you to select milliseconds or centimeters. So will most of the other units. You want to select centimeters and get out your tape measure. You want to measure the distance from the center of each speaker to the center of your head, if you want to sit in the center of the stage. If you want both you and passenger to be like they are sitting a little of center for each, use the space between the headrest for the measuring point. Key those numbers into the spaces for each channel you are trying to setup.

You are not done, This is the 95% point.

Most of the time the car audio guys that compete, will tear the car apart to make sure the speakers are in the best location as far away from the listener as possible. This makes the time alignment setup 10000 times easier. As you move the speakers away from you, the difference between the measurements of the left speakers and right speakers will be much smaller. And for a point to use for a reference. There should not be more than 7” variation between the distance of the right speaker to your ear and the left speaker to your ear. If you have components, Measure the right tweeter, then the left tweeter, then subtract. If it is more than 7” the tweeter is in a bad spot, and so is the woofer and the kicker, is the tweeter and woofer on either side should never be more than 7” apart from each other. That is why you will see some guys install the tweeter and midrange in the floor together in the kick panel.

Speaker placement is everything, and it truly affects the overall sound of the vehicle.

Going through this process can make just about any speaker selection sound above average. However, no matter what you choose, junk in is still junk out.

As I said, I will help anyone who wants it, free of charge with any aspect of making the Fiesta ST sound great.

Tuning a Car Stereo

Tuning a Car Stereo 101

What audio tracks to test with?

It could be said its all in the recording. And whoever said that would be correct. 1000000000% of the time. When you get to the 95% of your tuning, you need some music both that you are familiar with and not but at least you can trust the recording.

Before you start this process, go inside your house. If you have speakers place them in a way that you can sit dead center between them, play the music I am going to list here, or music you are intimately familiar with over and over and over again with no interruptions. Close your eyes, and see the music between the speakers. What will happen provided you don’t have some sinus thing going on, is you will start to see the band, where they are on the stage, how deep the stage is. Now, with the exception here, 99% of all speakers in this situation are not going to penetrate the wall that is behind the speakers. I have only experienced this 2 or 3 times in my lifetime. It is depth created by the finger of GOD. This is so impressive you have to just get down on the knees and thank GOD for the experience. I so mean it. This should not be taken lightly. In addition, if the stage goes beyond the outside of the left and right speaker, more taking to the knee is required and much thanks to GOD. This phenomenon occurs when the speakers are installed in a cabinet in a time correct position relative to each other driver without electronics. That means the sound coming from a tweeter on the left speaker in relation to the midrange in the same cabinet are time aligned and the right cabinet and left cabinet reach you relatively close to the exact same moment. In addition, the cabinet is not making any noise of its own because of transferred energy from the speakers. If you go to a home audio store, Best Buy, and ask to demo a speaker and they close the door, and you start to listen and then get up and walk up to the speaker and place your hand on the box, if you can feel the music, you should not be buying that speaker. The enclosure is making its own noise and it is artificial and ruining the experience.

Now for the tracks.

For testing your subwoofer.

  1. Superman Soundtrack with Christopher Reeves First opening scene. Planet Krypton. This song plays well beyond 20 hertz. If you want a good time watching your sub, at the end this song your sub will look like it is going to jump right out of its enclosure. There is also some distortion in the track at the end, but its ok. Its there on purpose. This will also help you find rattles in your vehicle.

  2. Anything with a pipe organ. Great Subwoofer tracks.

  3. There is a pipe organ track on a CD by a group called Spies. Oh My.
For Testing your midbass.

  1. Pop Virgil, The Stanley Clarke Band, This is a bass guitar. If your speakers can deal with this track you are good to go.

  2. Ate Heye Lo! – Blue Chip Orchestra This is a Indian tribe dance song put to a good solid beat.

  3. Amuseum – James Newton Howard, Good solid kick drum

  4. Shakin Hands – Nickelback – Really nice kick drum

  5. Hollywood Swinging – Brian Culbertson
For Testing Midrange

  1. In the Mood – Glenn Miller and his orchestra. This will show you what a really good set of midrange and tweeters can do. You should be able to distinguish between the cymbals and the horns. If you cant, you have more tuning or better speaker selection to do.

  2. Tennessee Waltz – Eva Cassidy – She should sound like she is in the car with you.

  3. I can see clearly now – Holly Cole Trio – The stand up bass should be in the passenger floorboard standing right through the roof of the car, and she should be singing on the hood of your car near the grill.

  4. Good Enough – Evanescence- I should not have to say anything here.
For testing tweeters

In the mood - Glenn Miller and his Orchestra. This one really is the go to track.

For overall dynamics.

Twist of the Fates – Star Wars Attack of the Clones. If properly tuned and powered, this should hit you like a brick wall. I have never heard a more powerful track ever recorded. It has everything in it.

Star Trek Main Theme – Michael Glacchino From the first redo of Star Trek with Chris Pine.

Hunt for Red October – Main Theme with the Choir, it’s long but good

Carol Anne’s Theme (end Title) – Poltergeist – This is a children’s choir. This is the song that sent me over the edge when listening to a set of Wilson Audio Sapphires. The soundstage went way beyond the outer boundaries of the outside of the speakers, and went straight through the wall behind the speakers. The stage the children were standing on was huge and I was front and center. It brought tears to my eyes it was so intense.

What do you do to compensate for road noise?

Sent using Tapatalk
Sound deadening. Generally, the trunk area because it is exposed to the rest of the car and there really isn't anything back there but a covered panel. Then you have the doors, and then the floors. When you do the floors, you'll put down the sticky stuff, then padding, then your carpet. You should be able to lower the noise floor 3 db. That is like doubling the power in your amp.

· Registered
37 Posts
Thanks. I do a lot of freeway miles so I'm thinking that road noise is my biggest concern at the moment. Such a big difference in sound between sitting still and moving at freeway speeds even with the sounds off.

Sent using Tapatalk
21 - 31 of 31 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.