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When Simple Becomes Complicated

3rd Gen Ram Front Speakers

I’ve written hundreds of proposals over the last 7 years for people with one big problem in common:

THEIR MUSIC IN THE CAR DOESN’T SOUND RIGHT FOR THEIR TASTES

Audio systems are simple to me, as they should be for someone who’s been around them in various shapes and forms since I was a child. The parts on this sound system lay-up, for example, flow together like a recipe for a course in a fine dining experience. Nothing is in excess, everything has a purpose and “seasoning” is available to the client.

3rd Gen Ram Front Speakers
3rd Gen Ram Truck Front Speakers

IF IT’S SO SIMPLE WHY THE NEED FOR A CONSULTATION

This calls for a case study:

K.M. wrote in asking about the possible effects of upgrading just two speakers out of six in his 2015 Chevrolet Silverado. He wants to change the recipe but it’s nice if you get it right in one shot, would you agree? 

I recently purchases a Kicker VSS system for my 2015 Chevy Silverado (non-Bose) truck.  Link is here:

http://www.kicker.com/PSICRE14

I spoke with a rep from Stillwater, and he said that the DSP/amp in this system is actually 50watts X 4 @ 2 ohm (or 30 x 4 at 4 ohm).  Hence, I was looking for a good set of 2 ohm replacement speakers.  My question revolves around the current factory door speakers.  In the 2015 Silverado, the door/dash are actually a pair of components – a 6×9 woofer in the door and a mid-tweet in the dash.  Am I correct in assuming the factory door speakers in this GM truck are most likely 4 ohm?  If I replace the woofers in the doors with CDT 2 ohm mid-woofer drivers, keeping the factory mid-tweeters (which may be 4 ohm) do I risk losing output?  

The quick approach to this to get something changed out today is to match the new speakers(the mid-woofers in the doors) to the ohms(impedance) of the factory door speakers. 2 ohms to 2 ohms, 4 ohms to 4 ohms. 

DO NOT OVERLOOK THE KICKER DSP AMP

Kicker PSICRE14 for 2014-2017 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Crew Cab/GMC Sierra 1500 Crew Cab with base audio, or 2015-2017 Chevrolet Silverado 2500/3500 Crew Cab & GMC Sierra 2500/3500 Crew Cab with base audio
Kicker PSICRE14

Unless you just want to try something different and risk spoiling the recipe. Which you could. After all it’s not a lot of time or money. The DSP means electronic signal manipulation. It’s digital wizardry to make factory installed speakers sound better, and as I’ve heard personally it works surprisingly well. Bravo to Kicker.

This consultation is proceeding now by e-mail. How do I approach a simple-yet-complicated question by e-mail? This could be you I’m replying to next.

Barry from Rubyserv. I was forwarded the message below, which you sent to CDT Audio’s support department.

I am writing you to provide you with a consultation. To be sure I am not wasting your time let me ask you, if Rubyserv(and CDT Audio) could fix one thing with your vehicle’s sound system what would it be? If we could show you a solution that would handle this fully would you be willing to look at a customized package?

Barry Schanz
Rubyserv
sales@rubyservsales.com
701-620-1124

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Installing 2″ Mid-Tweeters Into Dash Speaker Covers

If voices and instruments in your vehicle sound dull and lifeless, you need the right transformation. 

ONE SPEAKER PAIR DOES THE JOB OF FOUR SPEAKERS

CDT Audio 2 inch plastic bezel installation

2 Inch Speaker in Factory Grille

If there is no other speaker changed in the car at the same time you will need something extra to control the range and balance.

THE PERFECT SOLUTION

Option 1:
HD-2X
169.99 with a limited time promo offer of 119.99 today
Includes two 2″ speakers featuring a cast plastic/fiberglass frame with the locking ring fastener method
2 crossovers
1 volume control knob
CDT Audio HD-2X
Option 2:
ES-02BLX
199.99
Includes two 2″ speakers featuring a black anodized aluminum bezel for a premium fit and finish
2 crossovers
1 volume control knob 
ES-02BLX
2 Inch Speaker with Aluminum Bezel Mounting Demonstration

Demonstration of mounting method for 2″ aluminum bezel mid-tweeters
2-1/4″ cutout
Secure to panel with studs, washers and nuts

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Rubyserv Approved Demo Song List 1

A demo song list is mandatory for any serious music lover. If I asked you what you want to listen to today you can probably think of a song, a singer or band, or maybe a radio station. You immediately can tell “That’s the right sound” when you play it on a good set of headphones, on your hifi home system, or on a proper car audio system.

Getting out of your comfort zone and trusting another’s list of reference songs is a great exercise. The list below was compiled by Barry Schanz in 2014-2015. 

Opeth – The Drapery Falls

Dave Matthews Band – Ants Marching

Meshuggah – Bleed

Mastodon – Oblivion

Imogen Heap – Headlock

Radiohead – Bodysnatchers

Radiohead – House of Cards

Radiohead – Airbag

Peeping Tom – Five Seconds

Tool – The Grudge

Dust Brothers (Fight Club OST) – Raymond K Hessel

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I Got More Than I Expected

It can be an unwelcome surprise to order something online and not get exactly what you expected. That was Dan Blacktowhite’s* experience with a Zapco limited production Z-LX amplifier. Open the previous part of this story in a new tab with this heading:

I Didn’t Get What I Paid For

If you haven’t read Part 1, the short version is Zapco had updated components inside the Z-LX amplifiers without making an announcement. On June 9 the Zapco official Facebook page posted the following:

Zapco Facebook update Electrolytic Capacitors
Zapco Electrolytic Capacitors FB update

Critical to the development of Zapco products is a continuous search for new technologies and better components to enhance sonic performance. Our engineers are audio guys, with years of experience in amplifier design, but also in car audio competition as both participants and judges in IASCA and USACi in the US and Europe and in CAN (Car Audio Nationals) in Italy.
Components are evaluated first on the relative specifications, and if they look good, they are evaluated in listening tests.
All parts are initially tested to verify the reliability of published specifications, but final choices are based on actual tested data and the listening tests.
There are many factories In the market producing electrolytic capacitors, some old and well known, some new and un-known. We look at, and we test, them all.
We continuously look for any better components that comes along, since it is impossible to improve without change.

Testing by our engineers showed the new Zapco capacitors to be superior to what we have been using in the past as below:

1) Higher operating temperature: Up to 105℃ instead of 85℃ (only Panasonic matched that value)
2) Better capacitance tolerance than the others: -10%~+20% instead of -20%~+20% (tighter tolerance is higher quality)
3) ESR and dissipation factors are the same in all
4) Max Ripple: better value than Elna capacitors, similar the other two
5) Max leakage current: same in declared values, but much lower in actual testing
6) Endurance the same (1000 hours) except the Panasonic that is 5000 hours. Note: the value of the endurance is with capacitor at the maximum rated data: ie. temperature, voltage, ripple current, etc.. In with normal use the average endurance is up to 5 times more
7) The new Zapco capacitors are little smaller than all but the Nichicon.
The superior numbers demanded further consideration, and after the listening tests we decided to make the change on all future Z-series LX production.

For more on capacitors and the actual numbers on these caps, see here https://www.zapco.com/zapco-electrolytic-capacitors

Zapco products sold by Rubyserv are shipped directly to you from Zapco’s warehouse. We are unable to guarantee that your Z-LX amplifiers purchased now will have the updated capacitors. However, we are committed to delivering maximum value in our products and services. We hope this information assists you in making a decision, whether that includes Rubyserv in your life or not. 

*alias

Shop Top Tier SQ Amplifiers at Rubyserv

Zapco Z-150.6LX at Rubyserv 1

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What Music Are You Listening To?

We asked one of our customers what music he’s listening to. Jovan, from Southern California, shared his current favorites. Listen and enjoy!

  •  WANT TO SEE YOUR FAVORITE SINGERS AND BANDS HERE? 
    Text 701-620-1124 with your first and last name and 3 (or more) artists.

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I Didn’t Get What I Paid For

All I know is I paid for this amp knowing it had those good parts in it only to find it did not. Zapco better have an explanation.

Zapco1

Zapco2

Dan Blacktowhite(alias) is a car audio enthusiast. He works hard to have some extra funds to be able to support his hobby with nice things. He has good taste in equipment with a bit of an adventurous streak, and he seeks out the best. This was his reaction after opening his new Zapco Z-150.6LX 40th Anniversary series amplifier and finding an unexpected surprise. 

What did Zapco set up as the expectation?

Zapco ZLX Internals - Rubyserv

Open an LX amp and you’ll find Elna Silmic II RFS caps and Nichicon KZ caps, designed specifically for high end home audio use. The Op-amps in the LX amplifiers are all Analog Devices OP275…

Did Dan get ripped off?

John Borges, Director of Sales & Marketing at Zapco, responded after comments began piling up after several days of speculation.

John Borges

First: I HATE SURPRISES. I was highly tweaked to discover yesterday that a change was made that I wasn’t expecting until the new version of the LX came out. But don’t panic! Listen to the amps!
I committed when we first brought out the new Z series in 2012 to continue searching new ways to make every run sound better than the last.

I spent 3 months over there with the Italians last year working on the new DSP and the next version of the LX amplifiers. We did a lot of testing on caps, op-amps, and other things to see how they affected SQ and noise. When I left we had pretty much settled on some new caps, replacing the OP275s with a new TI op-amp, as well as some changes that I can’t share at this time.

Since then I’ve been consumed on the new DSP and wasn’t aware that they decided to make a change in the current LX. But that change is consistent with the commitment we made in 2012. A new run of amps and an opportunity available to make improvements and they did it.

I will get you more info on the Caps and other items shortly. But we will continue to make changes as we find new ways to put better sound quality and reliability into our products.

I sincerely apologize for the lack of communication. Our marketing and communication have never been very good and it is certainly past time to correct that.

But again: Listen to the amps!

Thank you,
John

Rubyserv is proud to offer Zapco car audio products, including the full Z-LX line-up of amplifiers. You will be delivered current models, always.

Shop Top Tier SQ Amplifiers at Rubyserv

Zapco Z-150.6LX at Rubyserv 1

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Car Audio SAQ – Should Ask Questions

questions Tony Robbins quote

Should Ask Questions

I’ve listed some questions I think people ought to be asking car audio experts. 

Q: Is speaker replacement on my new vehicle necessary to get the sound improvements I want?

A: Most times the answer to this is “yes”. 

As some car makers push the limits with more and more speakers in their premium audio packages, it does naturally get more complicated to decide how to proceed. Call Rubyserv at 701-620-1124.

 premium audio package example

 

Q: I want more bass, but do I need to lose all my cargo space?

A: Bass is still the most popular part of car audio that people are drawn to, the go-to first upgrade, and for many people louder = better. The myth that bigger = louder still lives on, but a lot of work can be done with a less massive subwoofer put into a better engineered and constructed(ie. more efficient) enclosure.

Let’s break this down into 2 simple cases. Sealed or ported.

Case #1 The Sealed Subwoofer Enclosure: Sealed enclosures are the easiest to design and build. If space is really tight we will probably have you run a sealed enclosure. It generally is more costly to try to get significant bass out of sealed subwoofers as compared to case #2, the ported subwoofer. Power(amplifier watts) and number of subwoofers must go up rapidly to get louder.

Case #2 The Ported Subwoofer Enclosure: The port and the subwoofer split the job of making sound. Watt for watt, this is the best bang for your buck. The space required is larger than a sealed enclosure. All ported enclosures need to be designed carefully to make the speaker sound a certain way. 

Ported subwoofer enclosure
10″ Subwoofer in a ported enclosure

 

Q: Is there something else I need to do while I have the car apart?

 Q: Will I need to upgrade the charging system?

A: The alternator powers the vehicle when the engine is running. The battery supplies power to start the engine. There are several large gauge wires that are responsible for carrying power throughout the vehicle to fuse panels and other central areas of distribution.

battery
Battery

There are special charging system testers that some shops will have. At minimum a shop should be able to test with a volt meter if your alternator and battery are good. If you can get a computerized diagnosis with a printout that’s even better.

Learn More: How To: Size Your Audio System To Your Electrical System

Rubyserv
701-620-1124
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YouTube | Rubyserv

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Digital Signal Processors – What and Why?

DSP Software on MS Windows

We want you to have an outstanding audio experience in your vehicle, and the speakers and amplifiers form a solid foundation. What about when you want to take it to the next level? What do you need to do to go all the way? You will need a Digital Signal Processor, or DSP for short.

Have you wondered any of the following?

  • How do I add amplifiers to my (Bose, Sony, Alpine, etc.) system the right way?
  • I want good imaging and staging. What do I need?
  • Can my car sound as good as my home stereo?

 

imaging and staging Rubyserv
Imaging and Staging – Put the band on the dash

The folks at BestCarAudio.com have put up an excellent article to introduce DSP. Here is a teaser:

A Hostile Environment

If we were to take a full-range home speaker into an open field and measure the frequency response, we’d see a fairly flat and smooth response curve. If you take that same speaker into a small room and measure the response again, you will see peaks and dips at various frequencies. This change in frequency response is not caused by the speaker, but by the room itself.

Digital Signal Processors Take Your Audio System To The Next Level

DSP Software on MS Windows
DSP Software on MS Windows

Let Rubyserv help you decide if a DSP is right for you. Most of the software requires a laptop or tablet running Microsoft Windows. You will also want a calibrated microphone and some form of audio analyzer to make measurements. We use Room EQ Wizard and recommend Dayton Audio microphones.

Barry Schanz
www.rubyservsales.com
701-620-1124
Facebook | Rubyservsales
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Clarifying 2-Ch Stereo Vs Surround Sound in the Car

car surround sound

Beware of false information.

There are 2 misconceptions about surround sound in cars that need attention if there is any chance of this wonderful concept to ever become widely accepted in this industry.

1. Misconception #1 – Multichannel surround sound in the car is only worthwhile if you have specially made recordings. DVD movies and audio qualify. Because DVD Audio is a dead format there is no good reason to build an aftermarket surround system.

2. Misconception #2 – If you decide to add surround sound to your car any 5.1 DSP will get the job done.

These 2 points go hand in hand. Really effective multichannel audio reproduction in the car needs a DSP which creates a discreet center signal and rear speaker signals which add ambiance and increase the illusion that you’re listening in a bigger space than the car’s interior. The center signal and the way the DSP steers sounds is critical. Today this requires on-chip software which has licensing attached. The associated license costs are one reason proper multichannel DSP options are sparse today. Lack of understanding of how this technology works and lack of understanding of how to sell, install and tune these systems is another major hurdle.

I will use the term “multichannel” in place of “surround sound” at times.

Stereo vs Surround Sound

Stereo has been around since before most of us were born. Multichannel surround sound in the cinema came about in the 1940s; multichannel in the car is much newer and is the focus of this post. Before we can talk about multichannel we have to have a basic understanding of how this differs from the stereo sound that we all have grown up around.

The source is Between Monophonic, Stereophonic and Surround Sound.

Stereo or Stereophonic sound is created by two independent audio channels or speakers and provides a sense of directionality because sounds can be heard from different directions.

Multichannel sound, also known as surround sound, is created by at least four and up to seven independent audio channels or speakers placed in front of and behind the listener that surrounds the listener in sound. Multichannel sound can be enjoyed on DVD music discs, DVD movies and some CDs. Multichannel sound began in the 1970s with the introduction of Quadraphonic sound, also known as Quad. Multichannel sound is also known as 5.1, 6.1 or 7.1 channel sound.

car surround sound

Multichannel Music in Your Car 

Multichannel sound reproduction is found in many premium factory sound systems, or it can be added with a DSP. The scope of this discussion is the way multichannel in the car is useful for getting better sound for 2 or more seats, not just 1 seat at a time. Some factory premium systems have a setting for the listening position, and if you’ve tried this you have probably heard a significant change in the sound. Some aftermarket multichannel DSPs do a good job of this; others fall short. Aftermarket head unit manufacturers have tried 5.1 surround sound, although a “listening position” setting is much more common.

Improving the sound of music for more than just the driver’s seat requires 2 front left and right speakers, a center speaker, 2 rear left and right speakers, and a subwoofer. Some form of multichannel digital signal processing is required, and the DSP needs a way to “upmix” 2 channel audio into 5.1 “better stereo”.

If you have questions about multichannel audio or anything else on the topic of car audio, feel free to contact me.

Barry Schanz
@BarrySchanz

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New 2015 Car Audio Products by CDT Audio

QEX 10″ and 12″ Super Small Box Subwoofers

CDT Audio QEX-1020 10" Subwoofer
CDT Audio QEX-1020 10″ Subwoofer

 

QEX-1020 and QEX-1220

Sealed from 0.1 to 0.25 cubes.

Ported from 0.25 cubes to 1.0 cubes plus the vent.

500W RMS

Dual 2 ohm

Fiberglass cloth cone

MX-69S Shallow Convertible 6″x9″ Woofers

Measuring in at under 3″ for mounting depth, these were requested by us to fit virtually every vehicle that comes equipped from the factory with 6×9 speakers in the doors.

CDT Audio MX-69S
CDT Audio MX-69S

What makes have 6×9 speakers in the doors?

  • Toyota
  • Lexus
  • Dodge
  • Chevrolet
  • Chrysler
  • Jeep
  • Nissan
  • Mitsubishi

Did we leave out your vehicle make? Let us know. As you can see, this 6×9 speaker really opens up our vehicle coverage, which was already substantial.

The new subwoofers and shallow 6×9 sets will be listed on our CDT Audio web store after CES in January. Until then, please contact us for further details. Bear with us as there may be a delay in replying due to the holidays.

Welcome to CDT Audio Factory and Dealer On-Line Store

 Rubyserv
513 4th Avenue
Langdon, ND 58249
www.513electronics.com
701-256-5123
888-613-1633 Toll Free