Hi All. Just found this forum and it's exactly what I've been looking for. I'm new to car audio, and I need some advice on completing a system. Sorry, this is long...
I'm a serious audiophile, don't want need a big bass bumper, just full sound. My requirement was a data link to my iPod, so i got an Alpine 9847 with iPod interface, and JL TR 6x9 and 4" for my Bronco II.
I love the new setup, everything sounds great at moderate volumes. But I want a few more db as my truck is loud, and the speakers are distorting at higher levels. And I'd like to have more punch in the lows = sub.
So now I'm in the market for an amp. From what I've read, I should probably choose between Alpine and JL. The nitty gritty questions:
1. (For Alpine Users) Alpine has the Bass Engine. There's little documentation on BE. Does it require an AI-link? So since I have the iPod interface, I'd need to get some sort of AI-link port interface for the two?
2. I've heard nothing but good things about JL. Is it even worth having the Bass Engine, or just go for highest quality with JL and set the freq. levels on the amp?
Staying Within Budget ~$300 for now I'm finding 400 watt 5 channel Alpines new with warranty on ebay for around $290. 50x4 + 200W bridgable sub.
JL is considerable more expensive, so, I could only get a 4 channel, and run the fronts from the deck amp; possibly adding a second sub amp sometime down the road. (the sub i'll be using is a never used AlumiPro 10" given to me by a friend.)
It depends on the type of distortion you're referring to. 4" speakers generally don't require or handle a ton of power, and with lots of power they will distort easier, especially if they aren't crossed over in the 150-200hz region. 6x9s also distort at higher volumes due to their oval shape, which results in a weaker cone due to unbalanced stress points, adding cone flex and driver distortion. If you're referring to the distortion in the form of amplifier clipping, then you should look into amps, as there are great budget amps for $300 on ebay and on other sites. That Alpine 5 channel will work, also look into MTX, JBL, Cadence, and older PPI models, they are all over the place and cheap for the power and quality they provide. Remember that adding a little amplifier power won't provide substantial increases in volume levels, doubling the power results in a 3db increase, you would have to multiply the power by 10 times to add 10db, which is percieved as double the volume to the human ear. An external amplifier will be cleaner and handle clipping levels better, but you won't get huge benefits in volume by just stepping up to a 50x4 amplifier for the components. What model Alumapro sub is it that you have? Usually getting louder necessitates more/larger drivers and power for them, especially front speakers, a good pair of 6.5" component speakers will get loud and sound great even at high volume levels. Usually 100 watts RMS and above is a good base level of power for front components, assuming they can handle that power. As far as the Alpine head unit, Bass engine is simply a parametric equalizer, the same as the equalizer on the JL amp. Which one you use is just whatever you prefer, personally I'd rather adjust it on the head unit since it is so close and can be fine tuned from the driver's seat. Bass engine is internal and already in your head unit, it requires no external processors to connect. The only interface you'll have to use is that for the I-pod.
By the way, IMO the best thing for you to do would be to do things one at a time. An amp for the speakers, then an amp for the sub, or vice versa. Or 6.5" or 5.25" components up front, so on and so forth. You'll get best results doing things piece by piece as you can get better quality stuff and also you'll have plenty of time to plan your next upgrade out.
Thanks for the help, Jonathan. Around 3db more of clean volume would suffice for my needs - especially if i get a little more punch with a sub. Using a crossover to eliminate the lower freqs. from my current speakers will help a lot.
I'm not trying to rush into a lot at once, I just need to figure out which direction is best to go.
I think i got a little confused because the Alpine amps list Bass Engine as a feature, so I thought I may need the amp and the head unit together to control the parametric eq from the HU.