So, I apologize in advance for the long post, and any repitition or hard to folllow areas... I wrote it late at night, and had many questions!! Update:: (I think now I realize that I can for sure switch the video input on a
screen.. but still don't know about switching the object it controls... )
Anyways, I have questions from carputer, to possible 'car music server' / prebuilt and configured media center (the cable box kind - only mini), to possible display and control of pocketpc as if it had some sort of vga output, to optical signal receiving amps & elmination of ground loop from the source due to RCAS, to *please don't give me crap about wanting to keep my library as much FLAK as possible, all the way down to what Portable Player should I get next, high quality speaker opinions, and money-saving recommendations!!!
SOOO I have experience with 5 complete systems (replaced everything, HU to RCAs to preamp to RCAs to 1-4 amplifiers (my best with 2,600 Watts system total RMS and 235 amperage pull) to 14 gauge newly ran speaker wire all around to front components, plate or mid-woofer rears, and of course subs....
(remember I said intermediate / advanced... not trying to brag, but i do miss my 3rd system A LOT)
AND I have plenty of experience building computers, tinkering with electronics, custom fabbing all sorts of nice (stock appearing) mounts for amps, and stock looking boxes... some fiberglassing, but not anything I would put my name on yet
BUT I have little knowledge on combining my knowledge of cars, general electrical engineering, computers, and "high-end budget audio", as I call it -- into one.
First off let me tell you about my current system:
2006 Nissan Sentra SE-R
-Entry-level (IMO) Sony Xplod HU CDX-GT400 [went cheap here as I never use the HU, I always had an ipod... until thieves... multiple, theives...
-Maxxsonic's Hifonics HFEQ (Decided to go into this Pre-amp/EQ in one in order to bypass the HU when using ipod/mp3 player/stereo plug input, as it had 2 selectible inputs)
-Maxxsonic's Crunch GP880.4 880 Watt Ground Pounder 4-Channel Amplifier (4chx4ohm)
-Maxxsonic's MBQuart RUA 216 2-Way Component System, 6.5" mid-woofer & 1" tweet
-(2) Elemental Designs eD 7Kv.2 D2- Used at midwoofer Freq. (approx 400 hz - 150hz) in Stereo, Mount IB in rear deck, taking place of rear speakers
-Sub-woofer & amp: on hold while I rethink what I want out of my system:
most likely Elemental Designs Nine.1 amp + (2) Elemental Designs 13Ov.2 D4 subs
(due to the fairly high quality and low cost... opinions on eD's quality???)
**HIFONICS HFEQ SPECS**
**CRUNCH GP 880.4 SPECS**
**MB QUART RUA 216 SPECS**
**eD 7Kv.2 D2 SPECS**
WHY I AM NOT SATISFIED WITH MY CURRENT SYSTEM:
-My HU is decoration.... I should have combined the cost of the preamp and Sony HU to purchase a better HU like my previous clarion unit, with timing adjustments, dolby 5.1processing, etc, etc... I loved that unit. I thought that by going with a 9-volt pre-out w/ cross-over I would receive less interference (more voltage in my RCA signal means more resistance to interference.... NOT that true...). Although I still like how easy it is to tune my system from genre to genre, song to song....
-I like to stick within only a few different brands of audio equip, when possible.... you can see here it was Maxxsonics (owns 4 brands... www.maxxsonics.com) and elemental designs. The Crunch Ground Pounder Amp, is either a fake that I was screwed over on... or is put together horribly. The Monster Cable RCA's I have are high end, and have the slant cut for the ground of the RCA tip to provide a tight ground connection. This was so tight, that upon removing the cables... the metal RCA input came out inside of it. This outer ground connection on the amp only passes current by a mere fraction of the metal touching the ground posts within the amp, and our obviously not even clipped in that well. This may have caused my other issue with the GP 880.4 --- It used to send alternating current straight to all channels, but only when turning my car off.... they would all burp in an out approx 8 times rapidly upon turning off ignition. Also, the mosfet turn-on does not always seem to function properly, and ocasionally I get the 'pop' associated with turning on an amp instantly. I found the amp on maxxsonics that matched the power I needed.... but ordered it from an online company I had not previously done buisness with.... does anyone else have experience with the GP amps that have the side covers (to cover wire connections)?? Did I get a fake with just the shell of a Crunch amp, or is it just ****ty??
-Although I have heard much praise about the quality of eD, I have blown 2 of the 7kv.2's. This could be at the fault of the amp.... although I blame it on my own error: A) for not having a subwoofer.... placed in an open air IB mount like the back panel, these little subs do not handle power well below 150-100 hz. Being used to equally loud bass with loud highs, I may have pushed the limits of what were intended to provide me with mid-bass, not sub-bass. Also, I can attribute another error (Recent - not the cause of previous amp problems) to accidentally wiring one sub with a 1 ohm load on one of the channels (GP 880.4) is not 1 ohm stable.... So, what do you guys know about eD??? Is it some good quality??
-And the last reason I am not happy with the current set-up: It does not compare to my previous system... I realize I am missing the vital sub woofer... but the highs and the mids are not as loud, and cannot be pushed as hard without distorting (I never sacrifice noticible distortion for more volume). My previous system made my ears ring!!
(The system I miss):
2002 limited v8 explorer
Some things not listed in the graphic system layout I created one day when I was bored:
optima yellow top (still in use) with 0 ga power running to a distribution block
(1) 0 GA > (4) 4 GA. Each of the smaller 2 channel amps (front and rear speakers) were mounted below the 2nd row folding seats, suspended by wire cables, with the Larger amps (~900 W rms @ 3 ohms digital for SQ 15" and 420W RMS @ 1 ohm A/B for (2) 8" subs) also suspended by cable on the back of the 2nd row folding seats. I was living w/ parents during this install... and nothing cound be modified in a permanent way (eveything had to return exactly to stock)... so this mounting was actually a pretty cool idea... The tweeters up front were locating in the side air defroster vents...Oh, and I had a 1/2 din center channel to make up the 5.1 system, which was clarion, with its own little amp... My explorer had a 3rd row seat, so the 15" sub's box had the min. required air space, but the angle was perfect and the friction from the triangle shape that the back of the seat made held that sucker in place good.... on each side were 8" woofers.... the 8" subs hit harder than the 15", mainly because I listened to rock with bass guitar and drum kicks being the primary bass, and also because the 15" was crossed over to play freq. below 80 hz. The 8" subs were high passed at the HU running off the Rear RCA signal, and then low passed at the amp. The cross over on the HU as well as the amp crossover allowed me to keep the frequencies of the two different subs from overlapping (although they did slightly, but not enough to cause noticible cancellation).
System layout (and specs if you can see them):
OOPS! no picture linking I guess...
THIS IS THE SYSTEM I MISS!!! Literally equivilent to being at a medium venue in the 3rd row from the stage (the venues that make your ears ring for a couple of days after)... I was definately doing some minor ear damage... after extending listening I wouldn't realize it until after exiting the car, but my ears would still ring slightly (and of course i almost never maxed it out unless I was demonstrating its max dB to someone)... and by max out, again... I don't mean distortion. The highs were as loud as the subs... and after hearing all the other systems that only put in a HU, and amp'ed sub-woofer, leaving stock speakers, or replaced the speakers all around but only amped the sub, I got tired of only being able to hear the bass and no words. So in contrast, my explorer was like a rolling concert... It was mostly audiobahn, with the exception of the head unit (clarion) and center channel (also clarion - not in system layout). I feel like audiobahn has lowered their quality these days in exchange for pure chrome and lights (which it had before... tooo) but thats just my personal opinion... maybe you guys have some input on audiobahn stuff?? regardless.. this system WAS LOUD, free from distortion, and kept its SQ even when it was LOUDDDD.
so, I am looking at new options, especially with my ever growing digital music collection
any input, even the unavoidable forum flaming, would be great....
and again, I'm sorry for the heavy repitition!!!
SOOOO now that my background info and what I like in my system is out of the way...
The next two posts are (also strung out) regarding some ideas I have had regarding a carputer or digital based music system for my next step in mobile audio:
In an older thread daspiderboris had some detailed pics of mounting a hide-away monitor in the top storage bin of a sentra, and I really like that idea.
Pics here: My 2002 Nissan SE-R Spec V Carputer
I see how the monitor swings back into place to close the lid, but when swinging it backwards to close the storage.... does it latch in an up position somehow?? or does it rest on something? or just the foam on top of the vents...? anyone know?
Also... I was wondering if any of you would know some answers... or have input for me on my idea...
i'm sick of constantly trying to upgrade my audio system because i don't go with what i truely want in the first place, so its time to just go all out with a carputer... (orrrrr another option i was considering...... which is where i have some questions i'm quite clueless on)
1- building a carputer, probably with an extra mobo i have......
-Ideally, I would like to use the gps capabilities of my phone w/ garmin mobile... it is a sprint mogul with an upgraded rom, so it has an enabled GPS chip (that works even without cell service, and is free), and it also allows for new truely broadband speeds (averaging 500kbps up to 1mbps!!!, and sprint doesn't have a data plan like verizon yet for its phones, only the data cards.... soooo it can't tell the difference between using the phone as a broadband modem for the pc, or just using the SprintVision internet services..... which is only $15/month unlimited, instead of $ per kb, or $100 unlimited like other 'data' plans...)
so that covers an internet connection & gps chip.. i'm pretty sure the highspeed phone as modem can work via usb OR bluetooth, but I just hope the internal gps receiver can be used by an external program.
-Question: I always run into ground loop interference / altenator whine.... even with power down one side, RCA down the other... trying to keep signals away from power, using shielded and twisted cables... i just hate it, and i hate using cheap little boxes for ground loop isolation as the weak link in a oxygen free, gold plated RCA
(***audio is my MAIN focus here... none of my systems stay stock, in fact they are COMPLETELY redone, all aftermarket speakers, all powered by external amps... aftermarket HU, but no speakers ever run off the HU, only RCA outputs***)
So, my question, are there any amps out there that accept optical signals?
Optical = no electrical interference... I just didn't know if any company has tried advancing that far....
I know that there are optical to RCA converters, which I supposed could minimize the potential for interference.... especially if my source (carputer) and amp are both in the trunk!
BUT is there such an amp that will accept optical / Toslink signals?
OR do you have input on the best way to avoid high freq. whining that goes up in pitch & volume w/ RPMS (from altenator)..
-IF anyone else has installed a screen in the top storage bin... did you find out anyone the ideal size(s) for it?
-If I did include a carputer.... I do not think I would use any headunit. I have no use for CDs, and probably not even radio... I could add fm receiver to the carputer if I wanted to later. All I'd want is FLAC support, an easy to plan USB hub in the glovebox [for external HDD to hold my close to 100GB music collection, as well as plug in my phone if usb is better than bluetooth for internet (oh i could experiment with the quality of internet radio over my phone.... but liking my systems loud and powerful, OK quality wouldn't cut it... but with 500+ kbps, it should be good??), and other accesories (folding keyboard, etc etc)...], an aux input for other mp3 players, easily ran back to the line in on the comp...
Without a headunit, ideas for that space?? would it be easier to mount a touchscreen in this location? I have used 5.1 in my car before, and I actually loved listening to it with my music, the clarion HU had dolby music and dolby movie (no screen didn't use movie), it had 3 pre-outs, front, rear, and sub (or in 5.1, the R+L sub was Sub mono + center). a single din center speaker may be the best bet for the previous HU location. Or perhaps EQ + 1/2 din center... but I guess eq wouldn't be needed with carputer huh?? any ideas here??
oh, and if optical is used, whether it be to a decent DAC, or optical input on an amp (if it exists)... this would probably be acceptable to run from an onboard optical out from the motherboard and still maintain quality, correct??
I run optical out from the same motherboard (the extra one i mention has a faulty LAN port) in my desktop to the optical input in my home theater, and it makes my lowly entry-level 5.1 home surround sound great when i'm listening to higher bitrate mp3s and FLAC, considerable difference noticed between higher quality mp3s like v0,320 and lossless FLAC vs 128, and even some noticible difference with 192. I know a lot of people say FLAC in a car is stupid, but hey... I like it in my living room, and I take my car audio to a whole other level... its MUCH louder... regardless of road noise, and not the best acoustic environment... it is soo loud, that the better and clear(er) sound from high bitrate and flac would be noticed even more so at such levels, and I would assume this would also lessen the chance of distortion or clipping at these high levels that MAY be caused by lower quality?
any and all input is appriciated..... the next post is an alternative I have been consideringg as well.
ok, i typed a long explinated... then the browser refreshed... wow...
i really wanted input on this too, now i'm just ****ed... i'll try to summarize, if I can...
I came across this...
since my main focus is audio, it may be an easier route...
first, let me explain my first attempts to use flac, I had a 60 GB ipod... and flashed it with rockbox... worked great. this ipod was stolen from my apartment...
so I decided to go with the new 160 over the 80 GB due to my increasing collection of FLAC files... little did I know that rockbox did not support the new classic model, thus no FLAC files.... so I found this little box, made for home media, but seems it could easily find a natural home in the senta, wether it be the lower storage if there was room, or even hidden away in the glove box. AND it plays FLAC files..
Now my new 160gb classic was stolen within a week again from my apartment (i'm moving out to the coast at the end of the month!!)
I know, many say flac is pointless in a car, but ever since I connected the optical output on my motherboard to my optical in on my home system... (EDIT:covered this in my last post )
So, for this 'alternative'... like I said, the main focus is audio... the FP1 has an ipod dock, and an option for USB HDD... at first I figured that pluggin the ipod in the dock would not play FLAC files, even though the media center supports them, because it seems the native ipod firmware would be in charged, just controlled externally... but looking at the GUI pictures... it seems like the media center MAY read all media files that IT supports from the ipod and arrange it in its own database. of course, if it didn't... I could always use the usb connection, and still have an Ipod dock for friends/family that would like to listen to their ipod selection...
of course, the touchscreen would remain the same in either case..
now, this would cover the audio controls, like a glorified headunit...
here are some advantages and downsides i see to using it (for audio only) vs a carputer...
-The interface seems like it would be easy enough to go through a large selection of music
-However I would miss my winamp, especially if I could get milkdrop 2 going on the touchscreen
-The device is made to be controlled with a touchscreen and/or remote, so it is already set up for media browsing
-With carputer I would have to find proper skins to run winamp on a small touchscreen efectively.
-The FP1 is a simple on/off with an easier power solution, and no worries about booting, opening programs, etc..
*IF* I still wanted to use the gps on my phone and posibly internet:
currenty, I use a window suction cup generic phone holder to hold my mogul when I need to use to garmin GPS on it.
this is something I really have no idea if it would work:
Does anyone know if it would be possible for a touchscreen to select between two video sources, but ALSO control both sources with the touch functions??
I know there is a program that allows the USB connected Pocket PC to display on a computer, and interact with it as if it were a seperate program, using the mouse to select what would normally be selected on the touchscreen, and displayed on a larger screen....
if I could use the FP1 for media, and then switch to a hardware solution for the software I just described, it would be amazing.... Somehow using the touchscreen to display and control the pocketPC. This would be all I would need, but I'm not sure if it is possible. I know some sort of hardware adapter, perhaps a custom circuit board project would do the trick, but I would need pointed in the right direction. This way I could switch my video source for the screen over to the GPS on my phone, or the phone's internet browser...
Seems this is unlikely, but if I still wanted to use the FP-1 to simplify my media in the car, and if it was possible to at least display a second video signal (oh i just figured there would probably be some sort of controller/selector for this, such as A/V switches).. anyways, I could use the FP-1 for my audio, and create a much MUCH cheaper and less demanding carputer that would simply be used to connect to the GPS of my pocketPC phone, and possibly the internet connection from using the phone as a modem. This carputer would not have the same booting concerns, as it would be turned on as needed for GPS and internet, where waiting a minute is not as much a concern as waiting a minute each time I want to hear my music library. It could also be an AUX audio source, to provide simple audio from GPS, the internet, and using internet radio as a radio substitute if I find the quality acceptable.
It seems the best way would be full out carputer, or using the FP-1 and lacking the gps, net, netradio, etc. IF there is some way to display and control the pocketpc from the touchscreen, then this combination of FP-1 for media (with a usb HD, or perferably portable mp3 player of some sort, which also supports FLAC, acting as a USB hd... so i could take it along with me w/ headphones as i leave the car) and the touchscreen display of my Garmin GPS from my phone would be ideal. Although, i'm not sure if simple hardware and circuits can accomplish that task, just because some software can...
I am open to many suggestions, including what I should choose for my next portable digital audio player. I have always liked the ease of navigating large libraries with ipod's click wheel, and most importantly, the storage capacities offered by ipods that is hard to find in other DAPs.... I DO NOT like the way ipod's have to hide everything, create its own database, and prevent simple drag and drop adding of files... its apple's proprietary everything and anything that I feel weakens an otherwise good ipod. Also, video, pictures, is not a concern at all. Of course, another huge feature i'm looking for is support of flac files.
So: Large storage, interface to browse large libraries with various methods, and FLAC support are my main concerns.
If the ipod classic is supported by rockbox again soon like the previous models, then it may be the best option (although theft of ipods is still a concern... i think you could have a $500 portable media player next to a $150 ipod nano, and the nano would be stolen)... another benefit would be an option for digital output, which is available with ipod, but only though the USB connection...
Some I have been considering strongly are the products by COWON america,
-great sound quality
It seems the iAudio X5 is the largest hard drive offered, at 60 GB, however it offers a USB host feature, which I believe can be used to play media directly from other usb storage, can anyone confirm this?? There is also a 'sub pack' which attaches to the bottom, offering USB 2.0 (seperate from USB host), and additional line outputs.... could the USB or additional outputs be used for digital output??
A great player that supports flac AND has 120GB drive...
now I just need almost $900 to buy it.... if only someone could take this and change it into a normal audio player instead of a DJ mixer... still a neat idea.
As for speakers, at the moment I am considering Elemental designs, at least for the mid-woofers and subs, as they are priced extremely well for the quality. Things like Alpine's Imprint, and the awesome 5.1 digital processors as well as center speakers provided by alpine and clarion are what I wish for, but are unrealistic with my budget (most likely $2000-$3000 max, but it will depend as things progress)
Like I said, all ideas are greatly appriciated... from what mp3 (FLAC!) player can do the job, to audio or carputer solutions, to some suggestions of those lesser known companies with audio that can compete with the big dogs at a fraction of the price and doesn't cost an arm and a leg.... I think I need as much help as I can get!!! I'm so frustrated with my system right now... I've been installing for a while, I just need a fresh idea, and don't have money to throw away (especially paying someone for something I can create!!)
AND I'M SORRY FOR SUCH LONG POSTS, please don't kill me!
And I meant external as in the software running on the PC using the GPS signal from the phone.... I *THINK* it may be possible because I remember that in order for the GPS to work with google maps, you had to change the location to something like COM port 4?? ... some COM port... and that makes me think that I could hook it up to a comp, and some software could access the GPS chip???
Anyways, the rom I am running is also from xda-developers, also DCD's... I forget the exact name... it was when the rev. came out with the broadband speeds and the GPS chip unlocked, oh and it has the touch skins w/ WM 6.1 ... the touch skin makes the phone MUCH more user friendly
EDIT: hey, you answered your own question...
"External program as in a program on the phone that isn't from sprint?"
I said I used the garmin mobile
off to work, i'll check in from there. hopefully you guys won't mind reading an essay and can give some great ideas... looking around the forum has already given me some stuff to think about
Hmm... as far as I know there's no way to "tap in" to the GPS from a PC. Might wanna ask over at xda though. I know I had to mess with com ports to get iGuidance to work on the pda, but I don't think the com ports are accessible from the "outside".
Yeah, I grabbed DCD's 3.0.2 i believe. Right after the rev. A was released. The touch skin is pretty bad ***.
I dunno wtf garmin mobile is sorry. I know it's navi soft... but don't know what it runs on.
garmin mobile is like any other Garmin GPS software, they pretty much all look the same... Except it runs on a windows mobile pocket PC instead of a box stuck to the windshield.... Oh, and it downloads the traffic for free... extra bonus.
(so it runs on the phone and isn't from sprint).. i'm gonna mess around with the GPS and see if I can get anything on my laptop to use it.
Ahhhhhh... I see now.