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Is350 Audio Upgrade.....

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I am the new owner of an '06 IS350, and have been into car audio for years. Mine doesn't have NAV, or the Mark Levinson sound system. I am having trouble getting reliable information in regards to the speaker sizes for this car. Even my local car audio shop told me the wrong size (and they are good). I know that there is a woofer, a mid, and a tweeter in each door. There would appear to be a speaker in the front of the dashboard, as well as one in the rear deck (I haven't pulled either to check yet). My concern, is what sizes are the speakers in the doors. If the woofer is in the range of a 6" or 6.5", I can run two pairs of components, and replace the tweet at the same time. Does anyone know what size the mid is? Also, if I were to run an amp with high level inputs (no rca cables), I would be able to eliminate the need for a processor. With that said, I would likely lose all bass going to the doors, as the 4 channel amp would have a cut off of around 150hz-250hz for mids and highs. If I was able to determine the size of the mids, I could run the mids and the tweets off of the 4 channel amp, and then run a separate amp for the four "woofers" at the bottom of the doors and get more bass/mid bass.

I have seen adapters on Ebay, which will allow you to run an aftermarket 6.5" speaker in the funky 3 hole factory spot, as well as an adapter for the tweeters. I don't want to tear this apart twice, and do NOT want to order my gear and then tear it apart, only to find that it is wrong.

I know that this is a complex issue, and any advice is greatly appreciated.

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So what exactly are you trying to do? The reason I ask is because I've pretty much been down this road a couple of times and there is alot more to it then what you have listed here as "problems and issues" your going to run into. Don't worry about the speaker in the front dash, you don't have one there. That's only a real speaker in the ML set up.

But, if your going to be changing out some speakers and adding a more powerful amp, then your going to need to to a full system replacement. If you do that, then your going to lose some of the intergrated functionality of the stock system as well. Which is why I'm asking what are you trying to do here?

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My goal, is to "upgrade" the sound system. I am not concerned with the control of the system at the HU, as I would do all of my tuning adjustments at the amp. Do the non-Mark Levinson models have an amp in the trunk as well? I was looking at a schematic today, which showed one. I have done systems in a half dozen vehicles, but this one is far more advanced and complicated. I am not looking a 15 in the trunk! I would likely run a 4 channel amp for the doors, which would push around 100-150w rms, and then another amp for a pair of 6" or 8" woofers in a sealed box in the rear. I am more into SQ than SPL. I do not want to rewire the entire car to do it though.

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Yeah, the amp is between the quarter panel and the trunk on the right hand side.

I've worked with a few people who "upgraded" thier sound systems in these cars and mostly they end up with a system that just gets louder, but definitely doesn't sound better. These new systems are so "sound engineered" and tuned for the best sound imaging that even just changing the speakers can result in a really bright or off sounding system. If you want to do it right, then I would get the OEM ML amp and stock head unit, along with the speakers and do an OEM upgrade with a seperate line in sub amp and 8-10'' sub. DCfish here on the forums sells all the equipment. I don't think your going to be able to get better sound by swapping your current 14 channel amp for a 4 channel amp and a bunch of cross overs, unless we're talking a top of the line Focal system or something and crazy money.

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Yeh, can't swing the focals! I was looking at Hertz component speakers and also would run a processor (JL Audio Clean Sweep, Audison Bit One) for sound quality. I am gonna back off for now and do some more homework. Thanks for the input.

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Yeah, the amp is between the quarter panel and the trunk on the right hand side.

I've worked with a few people who "upgraded" thier sound systems in these cars and mostly they end up with a system that just gets louder, but definitely doesn't sound better. These new systems are so "sound engineered" and tuned for the best sound imaging that even just changing the speakers can result in a really bright or off sounding system. If you want to do it right, then I would get the OEM ML amp and stock head unit, along with the speakers and do an OEM upgrade with a seperate line in sub amp and 8-10'' sub. DCfish here on the forums sells all the equipment. I don't think your going to be able to get better sound by swapping your current 14 channel amp for a 4 channel amp and a bunch of cross overs, unless we're talking a top of the line Focal system or something and crazy money.

I completely agree with you smooth, although to do a complete ML audio upgrade would be in the thousands of dollars, that would sound best and from what he was talking about, sounds like he's planning on dropping some $ into the system anyways. Good luck, I want to do the same but decided for the money, the OEM sounded just fine!

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I am still working on this, but seriously, I have a 2003 Accord with a factory stereo that sounds better. Don't get me wrong, I am used to having lots of extra speakers, running huge amps, and have a great bass and mid-bass stage in my vehichles, but for a car with so many factory speakers (12 minimum) and a factory amp, I have heard so much better. I have spent hours tuning amps, crossovers, and head units, but only have four selectable fundctions on the factory stereo in the IS350 (bass, treble, fade and balance). Exluding the auto-tune function of course. But nothing that I have done with the tuning in this stereo makes it sound like a "high end" set up. I can put a cd in my other car and you would swear I had a 10" woofer in the back. The mid-bass is so lacking in the IS that I have to do something. I have tried CDs, as well as playing tracks through my Ipod on the aux input, but seriously disappointed.I have located the factory amp in the trunk, and am not ready to bypass it yet, but will be making some calls to some aftermarket tech lines regarding their experience with attempting to upgrade the factory system. I am not hating on it, as it does sound good, but let's just say that I really hope the Mark Levinson system sounds much, much better.......

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I am still working on this, but seriously, I have a 2003 Accord with a factory stereo that sounds better. Don't get me wrong, I am used to having lots of extra speakers, running huge amps, and have a great bass and mid-bass stage in my vehichles, but for a car with so many factory speakers (12 minimum) and a factory amp, I have heard so much better. I have spent hours tuning amps, crossovers, and head units, but only have four selectable fundctions on the factory stereo in the IS350 (bass, treble, fade and balance). Exluding the auto-tune function of course. But nothing that I have done with the tuning in this stereo makes it sound like a "high end" set up. I can put a cd in my other car and you would swear I had a 10" woofer in the back. The mid-bass is so lacking in the IS that I have to do something. I have tried CDs, as well as playing tracks through my Ipod on the aux input, but seriously disappointed.I have located the factory amp in the trunk, and am not ready to bypass it yet, but will be making some calls to some aftermarket tech lines regarding their experience with attempting to upgrade the factory system. I am not hating on it, as it does sound good, but let's just say that I really hope the Mark Levinson system sounds much, much better.......

I think everyone agrees that just about all factory sound systems are "anemic" when it comes to mid bass and lower frequencies. Which is why I was asking what exactly you were trying to accomplish. So here's a few tips for ya:

1) Ipod in the aux input sucks. It just sounds flat. If you want to get the full sound out of your ipod, you need to use an interface like a Vaitech or even the OEM ipod interface. That will give you a USB input and the before and after sound just for that is a huge difference.

2) Pull the stock bass speaker and use an inline power amp for the sub and get a bigger better sub woofer with an adjustable low pass filter, and phase control. Suddenly it's a whole new system! You don't need to boost the bass so much now freeing up the other speakers to produce upper frequencies much cleaner now.

3) test all your exsisting speakers to make sure your getting a full sound stage and replace them. I've never said OEM speakers are great speakers, but if you use a different set that has a different sound characteristic, you might end up terrible sound. Also make sure the voice coils are ok, and the speaker suspension is still good and stiff. The reason I bring this up is you said it's an 06, so 4 or 5 years of banging the max line with the volume knob may have over stressed the speakers over time. Which results in a tired weak sounding speaker.

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Okay, here's a quick update. I have ordered two pairs of Hertz XL165 component speakers for the IS350. These are the Hi-Energy series and have great SQ characteristics. They will be here next week, as will the speaker adapters that I got off a dude on Ebay. As for the adapters, two pair are for fitment of the aftermarket 6.5s in the funky OEM three hole mounting formation. The other pair are to mount the tweets that come with the component set. From what I can tell, the tweet adapters are supposed to allow you to run a tweet where the factory mid speakers are. Asked the seller, but never got a response. I order them anyway and will figure that part out when they get here.

I also have a JL Audio CleanSweep signal processor, which I may or may not install later (just doing the speaker upgrade for now). My new issue, is the wiring configuration that exists in the factory set up........ In the rear doors, the wiring schematic shows that there is one signal for each door, coming from the amp. That signal is split at each door, with one runnning just to the woofer and the other runnning both the mid and the tweet. If I were to eliminate the factory tweets in the rear doors, this would be a simple deal. I would simply take that single signal and run it into the crossover for the Hertz speakers, and then wire the outbound to the woofer and the tweeter (leaving the OEM tweeters in place, but without signal). The front doors are the isue, as there are separate signals for each door (two per door). One goes just to the woofer, and the other goes to the mid and the tweet. The output of the amp is a total of 6 lines, one for each rear door and two for each front door. My concern with this is whether there is a set crossover point in the factory amp, which sends only lower frequencies to the woofers in the front doors and higher frequencies to the mid and the tweet. If I utilized the woofer signal for the Hertz speakers, there would be little if any mid and high frequency signals to send to the Hertz tweeters. If I use the factory signal to the OEM mid and tweet, this may result in little if any low frequency signal going to the Hertz woofers.

Put simply, anyone ever installed component speakers in one of these, and if so, which line did you use for the front doors? Worst case scenario, I can connect to each and go with whichever gives the best sound quality. Definitely want to get the best sound possible, without running the processor if I don't have to.

Sorry for the length, and hope it isn't confusing. I am confident that it will make perfect sense to those who have tackled this before.

Thanks,

Dean

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