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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi guys,

As the audiophile I am -I want to have the same balanced and clean sound as I am used to from my high-end home hifi system into my E46. I know that I can not get the exactly same high-end sound in my car or any other car. But I want come as close as possible to my home high end system. I wanted to know exactly what the E46 cockpit was doing the original sound signal from the speakers. What I did was to install a Real Time Analyzer (RTA) on my laptop and thereafter watched on the laptop what was really going on in the E46 cockpit. My reaction to what I saw was 1 - :yikes: 2 - :eek: 3 - :banghead: 4 - :tsk: 5 - :rolleyes: 6 - :( 7 - :bawling:.

What I saw was disturbing (see enclosed image) -the E46 cockpit or any car cockpit a asume, was totaly messing up with the sound. Now I know why even the world famous high end maker Mark Levinson needed equalizers in their notorious and very very expensive high end Lexus car system (http://www.marklevinsonlexus.com). When I saw the reading from the RTA in my car (see enclosed image) -I said to myself -ok K1, maybe now you why even a Mark Levinson system can not operate well under those condition without the help of an equalizer.

This lead me to want to correct the sound in the E46 cockpit so that it comes closer the reference sound. I can say that -just the small corrections I have made so far has been gone a long way -since I now know where, what and how much I should adjust my equalizer.

If anyone is interested in this project :dunno:-let me know and I will provide a step by step guide on how to correct the sound in the E46 cockpit.

Otherwise I will just continue with the project by myself and will not bother you guys with it on the board.

If you are interested on the other hand -you will need:

- a headunit with an equalizer (the tone control in the stock BMW headunit would most likely not be precise enough).

- a laptop with internal or external mic., internal or external speakers and with a cdrom.

- RTA software (the one I use can be downloaded for free on the internet, I can provide you with the link)
 

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K1 said:
Hi guys,

As the audiophile I am -I want to have the same balanced and clean sound as I am used to from my high-end home hifi system into my E46. I know that I can not get the exactly same high-end sound in my car or any other car. But I want come as close as possible to my home high end system. I wanted to know exactly what the E46 cockpit was doing the original sound signal from the speakers. What I did was to install a Real Time Analyzer (RTA) on my laptop and thereafter watched on the laptop what was really going on in the E46 cockpit. My reaction to what I saw was 1 - :yikes: 2 - :eek: 3 - :banghead: 4 - :tsk: 5 - :rolleyes: 6 - :( 7 - :bawling:.

What I saw was disturbing (see enclosed image) -the E46 cockpit or any car cockpit a asume, was totaly messing up with the sound. Now I know why even the world famous high end maker Mark Levinson needed equalizers in their notorious and very very expensive high end Lexus car system (http://www.marklevinsonlexus.com). When I saw the reading from the RTA in my car (see enclosed image) -I said to myself -ok K1, maybe now you why even a Mark Levinson system can not operate well under those condition without the help of an equalizer.

This lead me to want to correct the sound in the E46 cockpit so that it comes closer the reference sound. I can say that -just the small corrections I have made so far has been gone a long way -since I now know where, what and how much I should adjust my equalizer.

If anyone is interested in this project :dunno:-let me know and I will provide a step by step guide on how to correct the sound in the E46 cockpit.

Otherwise I will just continue with the project by myself and will not bother you guys with it on the board.

If you are interested on the other hand -you will need:

- a headunit with an equalizer (the tone control in the stock BMW headunit would most likely not be precise enough).

- a laptop with internal or external mic., internal or external speakers and with a cdrom.

- RTA software (the one I use can be downloaded for free on the internet, I can provide you with the link)
your right the sound systme is not as good as I would like it to be. I would be interested in ack doing this with his system... ack?
 

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King of Rear Clunks
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What kinda RTA plots are those? They don't look like traditional 20-20k full-spectrum white noise plots to me. :dunno:

And sound-off pros have shown that a flat full-spectrum RTA curve in a car doesn't necessarily sound 'good' to people.

People who want to listen to 'perfect sound' should really build an anechoic chamber.
 

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K1 said:
Hi guys,

If you are interested on the other hand -you will need:

- a laptop with internal or external mic., internal or external speakers and with a cdrom.

-
Wait just a minute....you call yourself an audiophile, and believe any of these tests can be preformed with the internal microphone on your laptop. :thumbdwn::banghead:

Where did you get your "audiophile" education??? working at radio shack maybe???:banghead:

edit: sorry, I did not notice you are from Denmark...maybe you stocked shelves at musicladen, probably never heard of radio shack.
 

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Re: Re: Anyone interested in a soundtunning guide for the E46...? (long)

DougDogs said:


Wait just a minute....you call yourself an audiophile, and believe any of these tests can be preformed with the internal microphone on your laptop. :thumbdwn::banghead:

Where did you get your "audiophile" education??? working at radio shack maybe???:banghead:

edit: sorry, I did not notice you are from Denmark...maybe you stocked shelves at musicladen, probably never heard of radio shack.
Before we jump to conclusion, none of us knows what K1 has installed in terms of audio analyzing hardware and software on his laptop, nor do we know his background...Cut him some slack eh? At least he's being very professional and courteous in his presentation of his facts. We don't want another repeat of the clear coat disaster. :dunno:

I'd be interested in what he has to find out and say about our systems.
 

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You can have all the fancy software and stuff but without knowing how the fundamentals work, its all for naught.

RTA readinds are only as accurate as the quality and the calibaration of the mic to the RTA.

The AudioControl SA305x is the de-facto standard in the autosound RTA world, and even that needs a different mic depending on the SPL its measuring.
 

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I'd use the AudioControl EQT's if their still around. As far as SQ I think the stock unit needs some work too....

I'm not an IASCA member, but my friend is a world competitor in the PRO 601+ Sound Quality class. We've been at the past 2 years in Oklahoma and last year in North Carolina.

We didn't have our own RTA but we borrowed one from AudioControl the night before judging. A "very" helpful tool. The key is to have the least amount of spaces or I should say gaps between frequency intervals. No one gets it perfect, but getting close takes alot of tuning (3 nights in a packed garage)....

We'll instead of rambling on about IASCA ;) I just wanted to say a competitors RTA machine is close to 800 bucks and a good equalizer that can be hooked up to a laptop like the Phoenix Gold model we were using on my friends car could cost into the 2-3k range......

Let me know what you come up with I would be interested in the results.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Re: Re: Anyone interested in a soundtunning guide for the E46...? (long)

DougDogs said:


Wait just a minute....you call yourself an audiophile, and believe any of these tests can be preformed with the internal microphone on your laptop. :thumbdwn::banghead:

Where did you get your "audiophile" education??? working at radio shack maybe???:banghead:

edit: sorry, I did not notice you are from Denmark...maybe you stocked shelves at musicladen, probably never heard of radio shack.
I have been listening to high end hifi systems since 1992. My system at home is mainly made up by Accuphase (http://www.accuphase.com/ind_eng.htm) amplifiers, Accuphase, a cd-player, MIT terminator 2 (http://www.mitcables.com) speaker cables (which was by the way bought at Stereoexchange on Broadway (NY,NY) not very far away from radio shack by the way :), Infinity Modulus speaker system http://oellerer.net/infinity_classics/Modulus/body_modulus.html, Kimber (http://www.kimber.com/) audio cables. In total the system would if bought new cost at least cost $21.000. Maybe that is not audiophile enough for some of you guys:dunno:

I mention that you can use both internal or extarnal mic. -so that if someone do not want to spend a lot of money to get an expensive mic. can still join this project and gain from it -even though a sensitive and expensive mic. would have been even better.

Anyway for those of you would like to hear more about this -I will give you the details during this week. I can say that the matter about the flat full-spectrum RTA curve not sounding good is true. On the other hand -I am not looking for flat full-spectrum RTA curve, as I will explain latter. Also the RTA software does have pink noise generation and all other stuff. The gain matter can also be handled since the software can log the gain -so that one can get a consistent volume with every analysis. Remember this was only meant as a help -and will not cost any of you guys anything but some time:rolleyes:
 

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Re: Re: Re: Anyone interested in a soundtunning guide for the E46...? (long)

The HACK said:


Before we jump to conclusion, none of us knows what K1 has installed in terms of audio analyzing hardware and software on his laptop, nor do we know his background...Cut him some slack eh? At least he's being very professional and courteous in his presentation of his facts. We don't want another repeat of the clear coat disaster. :dunno:

I'd be interested in what he has to find out and say about our systems.
Ok, Ok, when I posted this last night, I was very pissed off at what my town just did to my driveway and street,

I appologize to K1, and anyone else for my bad attitude. (but I stand by my statement about worthless microphones in laptops, not to mention the noise they will pick up just due to an operating system and hard drive spin:) )
 

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Re: Re: Re: Anyone interested in a soundtunning guide for the E46...? (long)

K1 said:


I have been listening to high end hifi systems since 1992. My system at home is mainly made up by Accuphase (http://www.accuphase.com/ind_eng.htm) amplifiers, Accuphase, a cd-player, MIT terminator 2 (http://www.mitcables.com) speaker cables (which was by the way bought at Stereoexchange on Broadway (NY,NY) not very far away from radio shack by the way :), Infinity Modulus speaker system http://oellerer.net/infinity_classics/Modulus/body_modulus.html, Kimber (http://www.kimber.com/) audio cables. In total the system would if bought new cost at least cost $21.000. Maybe that is not audiophile enough for some of you guys:dunno:

K1, first, please see above appology, second I do not condider myself an audiophile, I just enjoy clean sound. In younger years I had the pleasure of working together with Claire Brothers Sound, Maryland Sound, as well as other smaller companys across America and Europe when touring with bands like MeatLoaf, J Geils Band, Asia, Southside Johnny, Loverboy, Bay City Rollers, and other bands.

At home I have three different seperates systems in my house. (living room, bedroom, and basement) I am mostly a fan of Yamaha, Phase Linear, and Denon. To my insurance company, my record collection alone is valued at over 15,000 dollars, and my tone arm alone cost me close to 2500 dollars 12 years ago (Black Widow tone arm)

Maybe, because my systems and collection pales by comparison to a friend of mine's ( a member of the E-street band) I don't think I'm an audiophile, my wife just thinks I have a "problem":) :)
 

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Re: Re: Re: Re: Anyone interested in a soundtunning guide for the E46...? (long)

DougDogs said:
In younger years I had the pleasure of working together with Claire Brothers Sound, Maryland Sound, as well as other smaller companys across America and Europe when touring with bands like MeatLoaf, J Geils Band, Asia, Southside Johnny, Loverboy, Bay City Rollers , and other bands.
HELL YEAH BAY CITY ROLLERS

S A TUR D A Y NIGHT.... gonna keep on rockin til the night is through... on saturday night, saturday night....

:thumbup:
 

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Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Anyone interested in a soundtunning guide for the E46...? (long)

EugieBaange said:
Black Widow? Ooooo.... impressive :thumbup:
Back when I used to follow the audio rags more than I do now, I remember reading the reviews.
What TT do you have it in?

I have it on an older Denon "DP" turntable (I think it's discontinued now) and I have 2 Stanton cartriges I exchange depending on the age of the vinyl, and how much acoustical feedback I want to tolerate.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Re: Re: Re: Re: Anyone interested in a soundtunning guide for the E46...? (long)

DougDogs said:


K1, first, please see above appology, second I do not condider myself an audiophile, I just enjoy clean sound. In younger years I had the pleasure of working together with Claire Brothers Sound, Maryland Sound, as well as other smaller companys across America and Europe when touring with bands like MeatLoaf, J Geils Band, Asia, Southside Johnny, Loverboy, Bay City Rollers, and other bands.

At home I have three different seperates systems in my house. (living room, bedroom, and basement) I am mostly a fan of Yamaha, Phase Linear, and Denon. To my insurance company, my record collection alone is valued at over 15,000 dollars, and my tone arm alone cost me close to 2500 dollars 12 years ago (Black Widow tone arm)

Maybe, because my systems and collection pales by comparison to a friend of mine's ( a member of the E-street band) I don't think I'm an audiophile, my wife just thinks I have a "problem":) :)
I accept your apology. I totally agree with you that a standard built in microphone on a laptop suffers from noise made by the operating system and noise made by the hard disk spin. Therefore a good external microphone would better. This noise is there and can be seen easily in the RTA readout.

However, as you will see latter on when we begin to analyze the way the sound in the E46 cockpit behaves; you will see that the E46 cockpit changes the frequency response curve in such a way that it is easily read on the RTA even with a standard laptop microphone.

Remember I am not measuring the difference in the frequency response curve of a $90.000 Infinity Reference Standard speaker system (http://oellerer.net/infinity_classics/IRS/body_irs.html) from one normal living room to another normal living room. This measure would require the best microphone in the industry, maybe something like the Danish Brüel & Kjær microphone (http://www.bksv.com/bksv) or something like that.

What I am measuring is the frequency response from a decent listening environment compared to the frequency response in the E46 cockpit. And if you do not know -you will see how severe the E46 cockpit changes the frequency response curve (from my preliminary analysis this seems to be worst in the area between 60Hz and 500 Hz).

A quick analysis told me that the E46 cockpit amplifies this area by around 4 db compared to the reference sound. I will look closer at this and make more precise analysis in the following days -but just by quickly decreasing my equalizer to around -4 db in the 60 to 500 Hz range -I began to hear a sound which is much much more in the direction of the sound I have been used to hear from home hifi.
 

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B zzzz ZZZZZZZ zzzz
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Do you have the "Business CD" or the HK upgrade?

Yeah, let's fix this stock system!!! It's not "bad", just not as coloured/textured as some people would like. Most people I know have their stereo's Bass & Treble cranked to get the sound they like, Monst'a Rapper, & way too crisp. I've mixed live for anything from Handle's Messiah, to bands where the lead guitarist tells you his Fender Tube amp only sounds right when the volume is set at 10 and the Solo foot switch is in. Everyone has an opinion on what sounds right. But when I bought the car, I thought the system sounded a little "flat", not studio nearfield speaker "flat". I found that by turning down (yes, down) the treble by one to three bars, and turn up the volume (to make up the difference), I got a slightly more pleasant sound.

Before you go wild on mics, consider your audio card & software as well. The last 10% is 90% of the cost….

Considering your plot, not logarithmic on the frequency "x axis" (kinda skews the results, unless you're looking for a really low frequency feedback problem in a live system). And it appears to be a lousy excuse (not your fault) for a dBu or dBv on the y-axis (you look for noise on your recording console at -100 dBu). If it was dB SPL the 80 should be at the bottom, and the 120 at the top, and trust me, listening to music at 110-120 dB SPL would not only damage your hearing, but it gets kind of uncomfortable over a long period of time. But for a quick reference, it will do, of course assuming it is dBu or dBv.

Your audio card can be an Achilles heel as well. An old internal SB16 set at 8 bit, and a 16000 kHz sampling rate will not give the same results as a modern 24 bit, 96000 kHz with an external mic preamp.

You may be able to rent a good condenser mic (not a dynamic), and assorted cables & gender benders from a local pro sound shop, rather that shell out the $250 - $300. An AKG C1000S (it has an internal 9V for the phantom power supply, very handy for your portable application) is a little coloured (no more than most), but is essentially accurate for the purposes here. Just bear in mind, off axis sound (mic placement) will mess up even the most well prepared test (or recording), and all our speakers in the car are off axis measurements, in a small space with many angled surfaces of varying textures and density. Unless you go all-out and get one of those foam heads with the all the trimmings, and set it in your car seat, who knows where your ears are?

It is surprising (mind you the scale is a little deceiving) that the system is "flat", if that is, if you apply a +/- 10 dB tolerance. There are no really big dips or peaks like one can see in a set of speakers with lousy crossovers and miss-matched drivers.

A One Octave EQ would probably patch most of the mess in the bottom end. Too really catch that dip at 12k, and patch up the bottom end you would need a 1/3 octave, or a small parametric EQ. Unless you put in a sub, you won't get anything back under 175 Hz, unless you really push the existing equipment.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
little<>< said:
Do you have the "Business CD" or the HK upgrade?
I am slowly upgrading my stock non-HK system. Currently my is made up by the following components:

Headunit - Pioneer DEH-P 5100RB radio/cd player (eventually I will go for one of the top Alpine headunits with many line outs) (http://www.pioneer-eur.com)

Minidisk Changer - Pioneer 6 MD minidisc changer (installed in the glove compartment)

Speakers front - Infinity Kappa Perfect 6.1 (http://www.infinitysystems.com/caraudio/products.asp)

Speakers rear - stock non HK speakers

Amplifier - 4 channel Alpine MRV-F340 (http://ecominet2.alpine-usa.com/pls...340&p_category=40&p_subcategory=120&p_main=10)

Subwoofer - Infinity Baslink 250 watts RMS (installed in the trunk). (http://www.infinitysystems.com/caraudio/products.asp)

That's it...

little<>< said:
Your audio card can be an Achilles heel as well. An old internal SB16 set at 8 bit, and a 16000 kHz sampling rate will not give the same results as a modern 24 bit, 96000 kHz with an external mic preamp.
When I perform the analysis I use the highest sampling rate that the RTA software allows me -which is 96000 Hz (see enclosed image). I will get more into this -when I kick off the guide latter today or Friday.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
K1 said:

I am slowly upgrading my stock non-HK system. Currently my is made up by the following components:

Headunit - Pioneer DEH-P 5100RB radio/cd player (eventually I will go for one of the top Alpine headunits with many line outs) (http://www.pioneer-eur.com)

Minidisk Changer - Pioneer 6 MD minidisc changer (installed in the glove compartment)

Speakers front - Infinity Kappa Perfect 6.1 (http://www.infinitysystems.com/caraudio/products.asp)

Speakers rear - stock non HK speakers

Amplifier - 4 channel Alpine MRV-F340 (http://ecominet2.alpine-usa.com/pls...340&p_category=40&p_subcategory=120&p_main=10)

Subwoofer - Infinity Baslink 250 watts RMS (installed in the trunk). (http://www.infinitysystems.com/caraudio/products.asp)

That's it...

When I perform the analysis I use the highest sampling rate that the RTA software allows me -which is 96000 Hz (see enclosed image). I will get more into this -when I kick off the guide latter today or Friday.
The promised image is here :)
 

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isn't the need for a super high quality mic really overkill for an RTA? I've always been under the impression that what is important for an RTA is a CALIBRATED mic so that you can enter the calibration values into the RTA or computer application? yes, okay, so a calibrated mic might be of high quality but not in the same sense (to me anyway) as a high quality mic used for recording voices or acoustical instruments.


I gave up on car audio. there's much more bang for the buck when you throw the same money at your home theater/2 channel stereo.

for the record, the best system I ever had in a car (and it wasn't perfected - installer took some short cuts) was based on all McIntosh electronics including an 8 band parametric EQ inside one of the amps and Dynaudio speakers. the fronts were in custom made sealed enclosures inside the doors (should have been in the kick panels) and the sub enclosure was a monsterous sealed enclosure (built to Dyanaudio specs).

the system was outstanding, better than many people's home systems. it was not perfect, however because it was in a car. conservativly rated (by McIntosh) power for the system was 750 watts. the system was so clean that at high volumes, it didn't sound loud. you only knew it was loud when attempting to talk to a passenger who only saw your lips flapping. it was so detailed that I could hear flaws in CDs that I never heard before. I would go home and verify the anamoly on a high quality pair of headphones.

anyway, that system was $5000 with deep discounts on parts and a good deal on labor. it was great but I'd never do it again. staying with the stock HK. good enough for my car. I would be interested in any environment tweaks that I might be able to do to the stock system but it sounds like that won't be possible because of the difficulty of adding an EQ to an otherwise stock system.
 

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by the way...

all this talk about adding car audio electronics to our cars. I've never heard anyone discuss the added WEIGHT to our PERFORMANCE cars which will throw off handling. when I had the a/d/s/ system installed, I didn't notice the weight increase. however, when I pulled it all out, the reduced weight was significant and immediatly noticible. keep i mind that dynamat (for sound damping), MDF (medium density fiber board - used for speaker enclosures), added wiring and the electronics themselves are all very heavy materials especially in combination with each other. just something to consider.

another tidbit....
when Dinan developed the suspension on my car, the a/d/s/ system was installed (the added weight was in place). they didn't mention it so I don't know if they compensated for it in any way.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Here we go!

E46 cockpit sound analysis - Chapter 1

Chapter 1 - Downloading and configuring the Analysis Software

A description of the analysis software (Audio Spectrum Analyzer ("Spectrum Lab")) and its many features can be found here:

http://www.qsl.net/dl4yhf/spectra1.html

1 - You can download the software directly from here (the same link is also provided at the software's above mentioned main page:

http://members.aol.com/dl4yhf1/spectr_i.zip

2 - You will also need to have this DLL installed (if you don't have it already):

http://members.aol.com/dl4yhf2/vcl40.zip

Download it, and extract it and copy VCL40.BPL to your windows system directory (which in most case will be at c:\windows\system or into the directory of the application which needs it.

I have copied the DLL into my C:\WINNT\system\

3 - Extract and install the downloaded software.

4 - When the installation is finished -you should open the application and do the following. Right mouseclick on the shown graph and remove the tick from "Waterfall" in the menu. We remove the "Waterfall" graph since we are not going to use it for now. You can now maximize the application's windows for a better view of the spectrum graph.

5 - In the applications menubar -click on "Options" and then "Audiosettings". Now configure the "Audiosettings" tab, "FFT" tab and the "Spectrum display" tab as shown in the images below:

Set the sampling rate to the highest possible rate -which is 96.000 Hz. The higher the sampling rate the more responsive the spectrum graph will be -also you will be able to analyze a broader frequency range you can analyze. With the rate set to 96.000 we can with out any problem analyze the frequency range from 20 Hz to 22.000 Hz -which will be enough for this purpose.

(Continues)
 

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