Thoughts On Vehicle Soundfield Improvements

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timbre4

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After spending a few weeks with it, I wanted to share my observations on changes to rear speakers in two Pioneer DVD-A vehicle systems.
We have an Acura TL with ELS DVD-A that remains stock in terms of audio; these two vehicles are older so I can do what I want with them!

I put an engine in my son's dormant Toyota 4Runner and that gave me another vehicle to run around in. This vehicle is home to a Pioneer AVP-7800 DVD-Audio head unit, initially with the stock speakers. Not the best arrangement but it was okay for a while. Then the right rear speaker started giving in to it's age. These are barely 5" drivers buried near the bottom of the read door panels in proprietary mounting hardware. So I tore into these one day thinking I'd get my spare Polk Audio 6.5" thin mount speakers in place. after drilling a few holes, I got them mounted. Sadly, this didn't really help the imaging problem and if I turned them up they'd start to rattle. Wasn't too happy with this, had to think of a better solution.

I rarely have any passengers in this vehicle and if I do, it's front seats only. What if I were to put speakers on the back seat, aimed at me? Then I came across some passive Tannoy near-field monitors sitting on a shelf in storage for several years. Hey! So I grabbed some wire and set them on the rear seat with tweeters widest apart. The outboard processor box (with amplification) for the Pioneer head unit is on the floor behind the RF seat. I disconnected the rear pair of speaker leads going to Toyota factory harness and spliced the outputs to the Tannoy speakers. As soon as I dialed in settings using my Beck - Sea Change DVD-A, the soundfield suddenly came in to sharper focus! Every subtle little nuance between channels were now resolving at such an exciting level as to cause me to re-evaluate some surround album POLL votes. I'm really pleased with this change.

Prior to this, my first Pioneer AVP-7600 system in a 4 door Honda Civic had been pretty good. The headache was the Polk Audio 6.5" rear speakers bottoming out despite rolling everything off below 100Hz. First pair worked great but later sets would not work well. Out of frustration, I spliced in a pair of small CSW Movieworks speakers I had sitting around. They sat in the back seat, but facing straight up. It sounded better but not what I now know it should be. They were not anchored in place so sudden braking was not so fun. After the success with the 4Runner, I started wondering if I should buy something close to the Tannoy monitors for this car. Then I remembered I had a pair of CSW Indoor/Outdoor speakers doing nothing and they were closer to the size of the Tannoys. Fairly soon I had something approaching the 4Runner soundfield. But they fall forward because they lack the bigger wooden cabinets the Tannoys have. So for now they sit facing up until I can devise a mounting bracket so they can face forward properly as well.

The biggest thrill I got out of this was making this change allowed my surround recordings to more fully resolve as intended. I honestly thought I knew these recordings well, yet I marvel at how much more detail I'm hearing. The reverbs and pans resolve instead of tapering off as incomplete. Cheap thrills indeed, renewed my faith in all the efforts made to increase the joy of this hobby.
 

HomerJAU

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I’ve done some testing of surround in cars and unfortunately some have rears at bottom of the rear doors and that ruins any rear imaging as that puts the sound on the floor just behind the front seats.

I was looking at a new 4WDs recently but there is now a ‘Covid tax’- 2nd hand 2020 models are going for 10k more than 2022 models as 2022 models are not available unless you want to wait up-to 9 months for delivery.

I am now going to rent one for a month for an outback holiday in May/June. Around $1k per week is still a lot cheaper than paying 10k over retail price + taxes, insurance and rego fees. Maybe one day I can buy at retail pricing or even attempt to negotiate a discount. Just before Chrismas I had a new car dealer phone me to say he had an unexpected vehicle in stock. He was asking $1k more in his emailed offer than the price on his website, for the exact same car.
 
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par4ken

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I’ve done some testing of surround in cars and unfortunately some have rears at bottom of the rear doors and that ruins any rear imaging as that puts the sound on the floor just behind the front seats.
Agree, that is the biggest obstacle to getting good surround in a modern vehicle. The old cars always had rear speakers mounted on the rear deck, the trunk acted as a large cabinet giving good bass. The stereo effect from those rear mounted speakers was good in the front even without using front door speakers. The rear door mounted speakers are obviously intended to provide stereo to rear seated passengers only. I like my car stereo to sound balanced front to rear, imaging more from the sides and top (with mono source). That arrangement is near perfect for quad. Today if you sit in the front and adjust the fader to the rear all you hear is low muffled sound from those rear speakers.
 

timbre4

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Maybe one day I can buy at retail pricing or even attempt to negotiate a discount.
Right. The chip shortage for new cars has cannibalized the used car market for now. We've been looking but I can't make the value judgement (extra $$$) with current prices. Hopefully things normalize a bit in the next year or two.
 
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