Poor Audio System - Aftermarket Solution - Maserati Ghibli Forum
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post #1 of 140 (permalink) Old 03-09-2014, 03:32 PM Thread Starter
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Poor Audio System - Aftermarket Solution

I'm not going to spend much time complaining about the poor audio system in the Ghibli as we've beat it to death here on the forums.

I have the premium and the dealer did "fix" the Subwoofer which is causing the vibrations/rattling sound from the rear-deck. It's slightly better but still absolute junk. If you don't have a good ear, no offense to anyone, you may be fine with the system. For those who really enjoy music and have at least a decent ear, this post is for you. As I mentioned on the forum before, I was in the music industry as my first career and have spent time in many world-class sound studios recording.

Being in Chicago I went to ABT Electronics yesterday. They are the best electronics store perhaps in the US…very well known and a publicly traded company; but they only have 1 location. They specialize in high-end electronics from Sub Zero and Wolf kitchen appliances, to TVs, Washers/Dryers, Home Audio, etc. etc. I've worked with them for years and they are top notch.

I brought the car there yesterday and the installers listened to the audio system (laughed at it of course) and started asking me lots of questions and ran demonstrations of various systems to understand what my ear prefers…we all hear sound slightly different so keep this in mind as I list my speaker preferences for the Ghibli...it is subjective. They immediately recognized I have experience in sound quality professionally…again, keep this in mind; I'm picky to a fault.

They had a 2014 Maserati Quattroporte in the showroom (car dealers always have a high-end car in their lobby as an advertisement) and this car had the Bowers and Wilkins system. We gave it a good listen and put it through it's paces…it's certainly better then the Premium sound, but for $5K+ is a joke. They showed me the speaker material B&W uses and they are garbage compared to aftermarket. This should have been a $2K option as it is okay to live with.

Keep in mind, when upgrading your system from a stock radio, your choice of speakers and amps is as important as the installer you choose. A great installer can make a average system sound good and a bad installer can make a great system sound poor. The head installer at ABT has years of experience. He was working on a Rolls Royce Ghost when I showed up…had all the door panels off and was rebuilding. He just did Lance Brigg's Bentley a month ago…if you don't know Briggs, he is the star LB for the Chicago Bears. They work on high-end cars regularly, and my Maserati/Ferrari dealer said all their customers go there. I feel very comfortable working with them. They will use the best wires, parts and include sound damping material (DynaMat) around all the speaker housings in the doors and rear-deck (this will actually insulate the car doors also as an added benefit!).

My #1 goal is to get a good system without breaking the bank while not changing the stock UConnect system or functionality..blue tooth, streaming, nav, climate, etc. Not a problem and without a shadow of a doubt, this system (regardless of the speakers I end up with) will blow away any stock stereo system, even the Burmeister Audio system used in the new Mercedes S class ($6,500 option), which is pretty amazing IMO.

So here is what I'm doing. Keep in mind, the two main components to create a great audio system is the amp and speakers. I refuse to change the UConnect system or modify the look of the interior in anyway. They assured me, nobody will be able to tell you have a great audio system until you turn it on. They even said phone calls will sound amazing in the new system.

Amplifier
Type: Audison VOCE AV 5.1 5 channel amp w/ AV Bit In - $1800
This is a 1650 Watt amp distributed to 5 channels (speakers). 2 fronts, 2 rears and a independent subwoofer channel driving 600 watts to the sub. The AV Bit is a module that attaches to the amp and creates a purely digital signal…newest thing in Car Audio…creates an absolutely clear precise sound with no unwanted noise (the biggest enemy of any audio system). This is installed in the trunk of the car on the side of the trunk. It's about 2 inches in depth, 12 inches long and 6 inches wide. DOES NOT take up much trunk space especially since it is on the side of the trunk in the back.

Sound Processor
Type: Audison BIT Ten - $550
You need a sound processor if you want to keep your standard dash system, in this case UConnect Maserati system. The purpose is to clean up the sound from a subpar stock head unit (UConnect) and deliver a digital perfectly equalized sound signal to your amp. The installer will connect this to a laptop and use a 32 band equalizer to perfect the sound signal…the Maserati dash unit has a 3 band equalizer as we've all seen on the screen…again junk.

Speakers (main speakers)
Focal K2 165KR - $799 a pair
Focal Flax Cone PS165F - $499 a pair
JL Audio C5-650X - $340 a pair (normally $600 a pair)
So I've narrowed it down to the above 3 choices. These are exact matches to the current speakers. The speakers are component speakers, meaning a separate speaker in the lower door (6.5" speakers) and tweeters in the dash up front and in the rear seats on the doors. Technically there are 8 speakers but because they are components, they are controlled via the amp as 4 outputs (Front R, Front L, Rear R, Rear L). This is the same layout as the stock speakers. Below are the choices I've narrowed it down to.

Speakers Sub Woofer
Type: JL Audio TW3 10TW3-D4 - $255 single speaker
I do not want a big sub woofer box in my trunk nor do I listen to Rap or Dance music and need HUGE bass. I also need to maintain the trunk space. The solution is the new shallow depth sub woofers…meaning the speaker isn't very big…this is slightly less depth then the sub already in the car. ABT will create a small boxed enclosure so the speaker doesn't just hang there "naked" like it does today. The small enclosure will help protect speaker and creates a tighter crispier punchy sound from the sub. The stock system uses the entire trunk as the enclosure today…hence why the stock sub sounds muddy and vibrates the rear deck so much.

So, depending on which component speakers I choose…and all 4 options are excellent choices…any of them will vastly improve the premium system.

Price - less 10% discount (going to try for 15%)
Most expensive - $3,782
Least expensive - $2,956

Installation Fees - expecting around $800 with materials

TOTAL w/ installation
Most expensive - $4,582
Least expensive - $3,756

Hopefully this is helpful for some of the members here!
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post #2 of 140 (permalink) Old 03-10-2014, 01:01 AM
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Love it, gonna swing by abt soon

Last edited by vuem5; 03-10-2014 at 11:51 PM.
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post #3 of 140 (permalink) Old 03-10-2014, 01:23 AM
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Hey anderson, thanks for taking the time to share your expertise! This is indeed helpful.

What do you think about just replacing the subwoofer? Would that be enough to improve the bass to "acceptable" levels?
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post #4 of 140 (permalink) Old 03-10-2014, 02:09 AM
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Dayum! You don't mess.
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post #5 of 140 (permalink) Old 03-10-2014, 10:11 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by ugggh View Post
Hey anderson, thanks for taking the time to share your expertise! This is indeed helpful.

What do you think about just replacing the subwoofer? Would that be enough to improve the bass to "acceptable" levels?
You can certainly try that, but you will most likely need an enclosure built around the Sub at a minimum plus insulation to keep the rear-deck from vibrating. It certainly wouldn't hurt to try just replacing the sub…it should be fairly easy if the install bracket is the same size as the existing sub.

My concerns go beyond the sub…the rest of the speakers and as such the sound is garbage IMO.
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post #6 of 140 (permalink) Old 03-10-2014, 10:12 AM Thread Starter
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Love it, gonna swing buy abt soon
Send me a note if you are serious, maybe if we get ours done at that the same time they will give us a discount…I can certainly wait a few weeks if need be? Anyone else in Chicago on here that might be interested?
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post #7 of 140 (permalink) Old 03-10-2014, 10:14 AM Thread Starter
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Dayum! You don't mess.
The write-up or the system? lol The system is not over the top as some high-end systems could get in the $10K+ range quickly, but it is better then any factory system you will get from even the best systems like the Burmeister systems Mercedes and Porsche use….and for less!
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post #8 of 140 (permalink) Old 03-10-2014, 10:55 AM
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Wow,

The speaker list almost exactly matches what I was thinking: Focal components plus the JL 10TW3 shallow sub. Instead of one big amp, however, I was planning on a slew of smaller amps. My reasoning is that with one big amp, you will need an amp rack, of some sort. A big amp also needs proper cooling, even if it is class D. I did not want anything exposed in the truck, I want to keep it as close to stock as possible in that aspect.

With a slew of small class D amps, they can be tucked away in nooks, behind/under the dash, and can be hidden away since each smaller amp does not have substantial cooling needs. The only exception would be the sub amp, which if a class D 500 watt amp is used, will need to be exposed. However, it's much easier to find a mounting location for a 500 Watt class D amp, than one big amp.

I am kind of bummed out that JL doesn't make a shallow mount subwoofer designed to be run free air. Free air subs are a fairly common approach. It is not at all unreasonable for a subwoofer to use the trunk as the enclosure. I took a peek and the existing subwoofer is mounted on a tall-ish stand/adapter, so there appears to be plenty of space to build a small enclosure for the sub.
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post #9 of 140 (permalink) Old 03-10-2014, 02:12 PM Thread Starter
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Wow,

The speaker list almost exactly matches what I was thinking: Focal components plus the JL 10TW3 shallow sub. Instead of one big amp, however, I was planning on a slew of smaller amps. My reasoning is that with one big amp, you will need an amp rack, of some sort. A big amp also needs proper cooling, even if it is class D. I did not want anything exposed in the truck, I want to keep it as close to stock as possible in that aspect.

With a slew of small class D amps, they can be tucked away in nooks, behind/under the dash, and can be hidden away since each smaller amp does not have substantial cooling needs. The only exception would be the sub amp, which if a class D 500 watt amp is used, will need to be exposed. However, it's much easier to find a mounting location for a 500 Watt class D amp, than one big amp.

I am kind of bummed out that JL doesn't make a shallow mount subwoofer designed to be run free air. Free air subs are a fairly common approach. It is not at all unreasonable for a subwoofer to use the trunk as the enclosure. I took a peek and the existing subwoofer is mounted on a tall-ish stand/adapter, so there appears to be plenty of space to build a small enclosure for the sub.
Look at the Audison amp I'm referring too…there are several reasons I'm leaning this direction. Audison is top-notch and cutting edge. Typical Pioneer, MTX, Alpine, etc. amps are simply a step below.

They can side-mount the amp in the trunk…I would rather have that then a bunch of different amps tucked under various parts. One amp versus 3 or 4? More components = more wiring and more problems.

The Audison is a top of the line amp…nothing comes close in price or performance from my experience, especially since it is a digital amp using Coax cables…dramatically reduces the need for wiring. Analog amps don't compare to digital amps.

The amp cooling with a digital amp is not as much as a problem as it is with analog amps from my understanding. I've never heard of overheating with an Audison amp or the typical hissing sound, sound cut-out that you hear about with most amps.

You can certainly use a free air sub but you loose the shallow mount effect and compromise space in the trunk. The shallow mount JL sub with an enclosure I'm being told will equal the same space as the free air sub does today…and frankly a sub with an enclosure in my experience always sounds better then trying to use the trunk as the enclosure. The trunk simply is not a good acoustic environment to begin with.
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post #10 of 140 (permalink) Old 03-10-2014, 03:08 PM
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I know of Audison, I've had their equipment before, but it's been a while so I am not familiar with their current product line. This amp in particular is a really interesting piece of gear. It has a Class A section, a Class AB section, and a Class D section.

The reason I would prefer free-air because installation would have been much simpler as it then only need a mount adapter. JL could have used the same shallow mount design as the TW3, but just with much stiffer surround and suspension for mechanical damping.
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