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Discussion Starter #1
CHAPTER 1

I make the decision. For months, my 1997 Lincoln Town Car's engine light has been on. I chat with my mechanic - he scans and says it's the catalytic converter. 170,000 miles - decision time, and the decision is to replace the car with a new one. Voila - 2007 300C Hemi AWD with 17,000 miles on it. It includes an integrated NAV/UConnect/Sirius/CD BA6 system, along with many other niceties. I get my new toy early January 2008. I love it.

But memories of my town cars audio system:
Alpine CDA-9807 MP3/CD head unit
Boston Acoustics Pro-Series 5.5 Component speakers (front)
Boston Acoustics NX-97's (rear)
JL Audio 12" W3 dual 2-ohm sub in custom box (in trunk)
JL Audio 500/5 Amp (in trunk)

Dynamat Extreme (in trunk)

I attempt to convice myself. I say things like "It's one of the best auto OEM systems I've heard", "not bad", "love the integration, the blue tooth Uconnect, and someone even purchased Sirius for me" (it's been on since I got the car).

I go off to lunch one day, and I pass a Tweeter, and a banner says "Clearance Center". I swear Tweeter has the largest invisible people magnet of any retail location I see. I go in looking for a potentail purchase - "maybe I'll upgrade my 10+ year old home theater by replacing my Yamaha RX-V2070 and Yamaha DDP-A1 5.1 processor combo with an up-to-date system, like the NAD 175/975 combo, or the Outlaw 990/7700 combo. I mean, my cars system is so awesome.

But damn the thought of my town cars old system - I want it back. The installer happens to be in the store, so I start the ball rolling with the simple words: "Excuse me, I have a question about a potentail car audio system upgrade". The upgrade bug bites hard - and within 20 minutes of my innocent entry into Tweeter, I have committing myself to an upgrade. Money? Can I afford it? Of course not!!! I have a disease. I really should find a Shopaholics Anonymous Club, I honestly mean really. I need help. Having 2 kids who just graduated college means their student loans that I co-signed years ago are beginning.I just bought a new car that isn't the most economical car out there. Gas prices are jumping up - already $3.30 for 89-octane.

Just another "what have I done" moment to file away. I have drawers full of them. I may put a few of those moments up on eBay and see what the market will bear.
 

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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
CHAPTER 2

When I spoke with Elliot, we made a decision on the hardware package for my upgrade. I told him I had a JL Audio 500/5 amp, a 1-farad digicap, and Boston Acoustic NX-97 6x9 speakers. I thought to myself as the ball continued to roll, that it was too bad just a few weeks ago I gave up the Boston Acoustic Pro 5.5's to my wifes PT-Cruiser (the Alpine deck also ended up in there, with a JL Audio 300/4 amp under the driver seat, and a JL Audio stealth sub box in the back).

We talked for a while. I had done my research, and Elliot was a pretty sharp installer. We decided that the JL Audio Clean Sweep and summing unit was where to start. I had the 500/5 amp, digicap, and rear 6x9's to bring into the system. I decided on JL Audio's XR650CSI's for the front component speakers. Then I pick a date - March 12, 2008 for the install date.

I show up this morning at opening time - 10:00AM. I walked into the store, and Elliot was there, and he immediately says "There he is". I go up and shake his hand. He asks me where the car was parked, and I told him by the bay. He grabs the JL Audio components off of the shelf (NIB) and syas to follow him. We go into the bay, and he opens the garage door and tells me to drive the car in. Once inside, the work begins.

I start off by telling him I was a little nervous. Even though I had Tweeter install the Town Car system years ago, it was an easy installation and one that didn't alter the car much. The trunk in the 1997 town cars are huge. The spare tire is on a shelf in the trunk, and next to it was plenty of room to mount the 500/5 and digicap. I take the box out of the trunk which has the BA 6x9's, the digicap, and wires from the old installation in it. I figured I'd bring it in and see if he could salvage some of it. He thinks he can, and then I pull out the surprise to him - the 12" sub I never told him I had. When we spoke in the store when originally ordering the parts, I told him I had just installed the Kicker stealth sub in the trunk. I tell him I brought the sub in with a thought. I already have the stealth sub in the trunk because I really want to protect the trunk space being so used to a huge trunk (Town Car). My though is that 90% of the time I am driving locally without really using the trunk. So why not use the big sub most of the time. I tell him that I could use the stealth sub when travelling. I ask if there is a way to wire both of the subs up so I can chose which one to use. He suggests that I install a quick disconnect in the spare tire/battery area. I can plug the 12" one in, and leave it in the trunk firing backwards. When I need trunk space, quick disconnect and plug the stealth back in. But that begged my next question - I told him that when I researched the clean sweep it said there was a tuning CD in it. I asked him how could I tune both subs with the clean sweep? He respondes by saying he would tune it twice, once with the JL Audio 12" sub and once with the Kicker stealth sub. He would adjust the gain on the 500/5 for each sub and make a mark on the amp. In that way I could set the gain for the sub I was using. My last request was to dynamat the trunk and doors as I want to reduce any potential rattle, and also because it tightened the bass awesomely in the Town Car.

We then moved on to discussing mounting options. He knew I wanted to maximize trunk space. We first talked about desiging a custom shelf underneath the rear deck. He said he could mount the shelf to the rear deck steel beam, and run it back to the trunks rain gutter. It would hang down a bit, he said. Then, as we had discussed on the phone yesterday, we talk about mounting the 500/5 on the larger rear seat back, and the digicap on the small seat back. I wince a little due to my anal worries of putting a hole in Kit - I don't really have a name for my car yet, but an associate of mine got into my car, saw all the neat stuff it had, and called my car Kit (and she still does). We then figure the clean sweep and summing unit will fit underneath the spare tire in the well. Once we decided that the amp and digicap would be on the rear of the seats, I bring up my concern of when I need to put the seat down to carry larger items in my car. We almost simultaneously think about a shelf. So he brings me into his wood cutting area and shows me a shelf he just built for a customer, and he says it takes only 15 minutes to make. We decide he would make 2 shelfs - one for the amp and one for the digicap. When the seats are down, I will just place the wooden/carpeted boxes on top of the amp and digicap, and velcro will be used to keep them from moving. Then I can safely protect my equipment and pile things on top of it.

Even though I believe rear speakers in a good setup are least important for my needs (music listening should be mostly from the front), as I do not have video in the car, I decide to replace the BA NX-97's I was going to use in the rear with JL Audio 6x9's (I don't remember the model #, but it was in the $160 price range).

Finally he shows me the knob for the volume which also acts as an auxilliary input switch (yeah, I wanted one for my iPod). I tell him I read this will render the steering wheel volume useless, but he disagrees. He says my entire system will work as before, including the UConnect and NAV voice coming out of the left front speaker. Elliot says he will tune the clean sweep at a set volume. Using the steering wheel volume will do it's thing, but to be "optimal" I will return it to the set volume level. We decide to do an external mount (with velcro) under the dash to the acclerator side, and the little LED Aux input light will peep out of the trim by the shifter.

I also got the iPod hookup cable. It will be snaked to the front passenger side shift area, and 3-feet or so will be left out to place my iPod where I need it (I may call and extend the length).

We finish up our chat, and he goes to his computer to quote everything. It comes to a little over $1,600 for the new equipment I purchased and the installation.

My car is in the bay tonight, as Elliot needed two days to complete his work. I hope tomorrow night I'll be driving home in the 300C making my ears bleed. I truly believe this system will sound sick. Now I must wait to find out.
 

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Too funny Metal Man. At least I'm not alone! I'm sure, on this forum especially, that there are countless stories just like yours. It'd be great to see pics of what you get installed.
Dano
 

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Discussion Starter #4
CHAPTER 3

At 10:00AM this morning I give Elliot a call. I was thinking about the iPod auxilliary cable. I tell him that I wanted to extend the cable more than the 3 feet he suggested. I told him I have a windshield mount, and I want to make sure the cable is long enough to reach. I then mention about the possibility of hooking other items to the system. I have a PSP, and I said an iPod only connection would limit my possibilities. He says it's no problem to add a second auxilliary cable for that purpose.

I'm getting excited about getting the car after work.

Around 1:00PM I get a text message from Elliot. He apologizes but says he needs the car for another night. He says things are looking great, but it's going slower than he anticipated. All I said to him was "take your time".

Man - 3 days for this install. I'm getting moist.
 

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Man, I know this feeling well!

Anticipation is building for the final results.....This should be awesome
and you have some good choices for gear.
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
CHAPTER 4

The anticipation ended today, and at 3:15PM this afternoon I arrived at Tweeter for the pickup. Results? Good and bad (the bad I feel is equipment related), and tomorrow morning I will be going back to Tweeter for tweaking.

The good - in my estimation Elliot did a fantastic job with the installation. Clean, tight, and stealth. The amp and digicap mounted very nice on the carpeted boards he made to attach to the seats. We originally decided that the JL Clean Sweep volume knob would go under the dash, but instead Elliot made an executive (and correct) decision to mount the knob in the little plastic tray next to the shifter. My arm rests nicely on the console, and the volume knob is at my fingertips. The JL 12" amp kicks major butt, and no rattling thanks to the dynamat. The iPod plugged into the auxilliary input sounds fantastic. The other thing is I lost no integration with my NAV/UConnect/Radio. When I was researching the Clean Sweep I read several people stating the steering wheel volume knob could not be used. Not true at all. Even though Elliot set the radio at 20 when optimizing, I could use the steering wheel to make louder/softer. The Clean Sweep volume knob works better, but changing things on the radio is just like tweaking the system. It changes the sound signature (bass/treble/balance/fade/etc) but for some this might be a final tweaking step.

The bad - I know things are close because the iPod sounds great. But the CD/Sirius sound flat. The right component tweeter doesn't work in balance with the left, thus it sounds like most of the music is coming from my left. Also, the entire left channel sounds louder and brighter as compared to the right. There was some weird sound changes, like the left became noticably less bright for a time. My guess is the summing unit needs adjusting and/or the clean sweep needs to be re-calibrated. Since I just paid decent coin to get this work done, even though I'm probably capable to doing this on my own, I feel more comfortable letting Elliot tweak it. Also, he forgot to make the two shelves for when I travel and want to cover the amp and digicap if my seats are down. And not really a bad, but if I'm listening to the iPdo (auxilliary) and the phone rings, I won't hear UConnect unless I remember to push the Clean Sweep volume knob in to switch back to the radio.

Based solely on the auxilliary input at this time, my new setup versus the OEM BA6 system is like comparing a MacDonalds hamburger to a Capital Grille rib eye steak. No contest (no offense to those people who idolize MacDonalds). I have learned to become a patient man, and this doesn't bother me (well, almost not), but I know it will be fine once its tweaked.

We'll see what tomorrow brings. I will take the ride tomorrow to Tweeter with the iPod cranking. And when I see Elliot, I'll just play a minute of a song on the iPod and tell him this is how I believe the CD/Sirius/Radio should sound.
 

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I am sort of an audiophile (tube amp guy, who builds his own home audio speakers) and I think my BA6 system's sound is decently balanced tonality wise not bright not muddy. Balance is an issue with this car, I note that the drivers display cluster hump causes some unbalance to the sound stage.

It's no high end install (to me, High End is Dynaudio, Focal, Rainbow etc) but for OEM I am amazed daily by the over all setup.

I've surely heard a lot worse! :)

Congrats on the new setup MetalMan, I knew from some of your prevuious posts, it wouldn't be long! :)
 

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Awesome write up!! Once you get the system dialed in it will be better than the Lincoln !!
 

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Discussion Starter #11
CHAPTER 5

A weekend of disappointment, but also of potentially zeroing in on the problem.

I decided to recalibrate the CleanSweep and summing unit. When I did so, the sound was spectacular across the board. I was quite happy. I listened for around 5 minutes, and then I went inside and had a great workout. A couple of hours later, I decided to go outside and listen to the system again.

Not entirely to my surprise, the sound was crappy again. The left channel was entirely distorted. Awful (except for the auxilliary input). I am guessing there is one of two problems - either the unit is plugged into the power correctly where the unit doesn;t hold memory, or the unit is defective.

The saga will continue.
 

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Quick question which may sound stupid, but did you happen to
check the battery voltage? And are you doing the calibration
with accessory power or is the car running?

I had similar results, but I quickly found out that with extended
key-off playing time, the sound quality deteriorated quite a bit.

It could be that the unit does not have battery memory and
thus loses the calibration, or it could be that the extended
key-off play is causing the voltage to drop. While the JL amp
is regulated, system voltage still plays a role.
 

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Discussion Starter #13 (Edited)
Quick question which may sound stupid, but did you happen to
check the battery voltage? And are you doing the calibration
with accessory power or is the car running?

I had similar results, but I quickly found out that with extended
key-off playing time, the sound quality deteriorated quite a bit.

It could be that the unit does not have battery memory and
thus loses the calibration, or it could be that the extended
key-off play is causing the voltage to drop. While the JL amp
is regulated, system voltage still plays a role.
I have not checked the voltage. Other than my digicap displaying 12-14, I realize the summing unit may be hooked up differently so I'm not sure if that helps. When you say your sound deteriorated, how did you solve your problem (or have you yet)?

I just got off the phone with tech support at JL Audio. According to them, both the CleanSweep and summing unit have non-volatile memory, thus it wouldn't make a difference how the units are powered. The technician believes it "could" be an issue with the head unit, which is something I don't understand. He said he had heard in some vehicles (not the 300C) that the OEM head unit could go into protect mode if the unit doesn't sense any speakers hooked up to it, but he stated that their equipments circuitry will reflect back to the head unit that speakers are attached.

I hope this doesn't turn into some long dranw out search for a probelm with no resolution. That would suck big time.
 

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I haven't done anything permanent to fix the problem yet, but I
can avoid the problem entirely by not having extended playing
time without the engine running.

Long term solution is as follows:

1. upgrade the big 3
2. add extended capacity, ie, extra battery for extended key-off playing time

In your case there is nothing special with regard to the radio. The
CAN-BUS computer senses when the radio is connected to the stock
amp, and thus allows the radio's own volume control to operate vs.
controlling the volume via the amp using CAN-BUS commands.

Given that you have the summing unit, it is likely that you are
after the stock amp, thus there is likely no interaction with regard
to the head unit.

Some things that were noted about the cleansweep itself. Its
calibration is based on a set level from the input source. If
that source volume is fluctuated and not returned to that "sweet spot",
it is likely that the sound will not be as good as the level where
the calibration was done. This is also important because the EQ
of the sound is dictated by the stock amplifier and that frequency
response is likely to change as you change the volume using
the radio controls.

I find that while it may be "OK" to change the volume and use
the Bass/Treble/Fader of the radio, this is likely not the optimal
way to use the cleansweep, regardless of what installers tell you.
And unless this has changed with the latest versions of the cleansweep
this may be where you are getting the sound quality problems.

Experiment 1:

1. Set the head unit volume level as appropriate
2. Calibrate the cleansweep
3. Make sure you have the SQ you expect
4. Do not touch the radio volume control, only use the cleansweep's volume knob
5. Leave the system set this way
6. The next time you come back, fire the system up and check to
see if you still have the same problem or not.
 

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Discussion Starter #15 (Edited)
I went back to the installer this morning for him to take a look. We both believe, at least at this point, that there is an issue with the summing unit. We were experimenting with various head unit volume levels at the head unit while playing track 1 of the calibration disk, and at no time could we get a level green from the low pass on the summing unit. He is going to put another summing unit in the car tomorrow with the assumption the one I have is defective.

I'm not sure if there is cross-talk between the CleanSweep and summing unit. Even though the auxilliary is working, there could be a seperate circuit for it in the CleanSweep. Actually, I think a fuse was blown because when I left the installer this morning, nothing works anymore.

Experiment 1: (This is what I did on Sunday - it's when I got to #6 that it failed) [Note - the summing unit is installed after the head unit and BA6 amplifier, since all of the UConnect stuff is in the amp]

1. Set the head unit volume level as appropriate
2. Calibrate the cleansweep
3. Make sure you have the SQ you expect
4. Do not touch the radio volume control, only use the cleansweep's volume knob
5. Leave the system set this way
6. The next time you come back, fire the system up and check to
see if you still have the same problem or not.


The only thing I'm having difficulty with is why after I calibrated, leaving the motor running, that I could listen to everything just fine. All it takes is for the ignition to go off and then back on, and it all goes away.

This will get fixed, somehow.
 

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I think you are on the right track with regards to the summing unit.
If I'm not mistaken, I don't believe the aux input actually connects
to the summing unit. I believe the aux input actually connects to
the Cleansweep itself, which could explain why you get good sound
always from your MP3 player.
 

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its the crappy cleansweep

everytime you touch the volume controls on the HU or steering wheel, you HAVE to re-calibrate the cleansweep......

the cleansweep calibrates optimal sound at the EXACT volume you have it on when you first initalize it.......pure garbage if you ask me

exchange it and go with the PacAudio "add-an-amp harness" or go with an audiocontrol LC6 or 8............

these 2 methods will allow to retain ALL factory controls.........even being able to control the volume by the radio or steering controls!!!!
 

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Discussion Starter #18 (Edited)
CHAPTER 6

I am hoping my enthusiasm isn't premature, but it appears the problem has been solved. Based upon the research and testing I had done over the weekend, and based upon Elliot's feelings, we both believed it was the summing unit that was at fault. Elliot picked up a new summing unit, installed it, and everything works great.

What frustrates me is the conversation Elliot had with JL Audio. When I spoke to tech support about this issue and explained everything in the best detail I could, tech support believed the problem must be with the OEM head unit. When Elliot did the swap today, he spoke with JL Audio a couple of times to ensure the hookup and settings were correct. With everything working, he grilled JL Audio enough and found out the following - upon giving JL Audio the serial number of the swapped out "broken" summing unit, he was told that the particular model he originally put in was manufactured in 2006, and that there was a known issue with the potentiometer (sp?) in the summing unit of that particular batch. JL Audio "supposedly" verified, after Elliot read off the serial number of the unit he put in as a replacement, that it was a newer (2007) manufactured unit and the issue was gone. Based upon my early tests, I am hoping this is true.

While the car was in the shop at Tweeter, Elliot hard wired my Escort X50 Advanced, so no more cigarette adapter plug hanging around. He also put in a bass knob to the 500/5 amp, but wouldn't you know the knob is defective (hmmm) and he had to order another one and will replace it next week.

Within the next week or so I will take pictures of the install. Of course you won't see the front or rear speakers, but I'll show you what I can. But for now, all I can say is I have all my OEM integration with a sound 1000% better than the BA6 system.
 

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I thought it was odd that JL would blame the head unit, especially
since in your case the summing unit is not even connected to the
head unit.

glad to see things seem better once the summing unit was replaced.
 
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