What level does the factory premium stereo begin clipping?
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This is a discussion on What level does the factory premium stereo begin clipping? within the Electronics/Car Audio forums, part of the Interior Mods category; Title says it all, just want to know if anyone that has done the proper tuning on their radio, and ...

  1. #1
    Registered User melacon's Avatar
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    Question What level does the factory premium stereo begin clipping?

    Title says it all, just want to know if anyone that has done the proper tuning on their radio, and what volume they considered it to start clipping. The volume max is 40. I typically don't go above 30. Sometimes 31, once or twice, 32.
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    OMG WTF MainFrame's Avatar
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    I know the premium sound system on my 02 would play fine at 40, although it would start cutting the bass around 28 or something. It didn't have enough power to really make a difference whether it was at 30 or 40, and it never sounded that great at any volume level.

    I never went as far as testing it with a DMM to accurately see where it would start clipping because it was never good enough to warrant messing with.

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    Registered User melacon's Avatar
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    Yeah, maybe it doesn't really clip because the wattage is so low? I have replaced all the factory speakers with Infinity and Kenwoods 2-ways, and amp'd them with a Sony 4 channel. Its not that I have really heard anything bad, just wanted to get the best tune out of it as possible.

    I guess my next question would be this: If I got a line level converter to upscale the high level inputs to RCAs, would I notice an increase in performance/clarity? I have seen a module out there that you can even adjust the output voltage as far as 9v! Also, RCAs are always easier to deal with and no real chance of shorting out somehow. But they can let in interference from nearby wires, etc.

    It's just that in my train of though, I am still taking the crappy stock head unit signal, converting it to the "RCA" type of signal, then amplifying that mess. Adding another step seems like it would only introduce more potential problems. I want to get the most out of the stock that I can, since it is a lease that I will be restoring (aka ripping out lots of aftermarket crap) when I turn it in.
    USB Media Hub, Sirius tuner, Short shift kit
    V-LED Fog lights, DRL/Hi Beam, Low Beams, Red LED map lights, White LED dome light
    V-LED Front turn signals, License plate illumination
    Autolumination.com Rear turn signal, brake/tail lights, reverse LEDs, red Trunk light
    Rockford Fosgate 3sixty.2 Sound Processor, Sony Sony XM-ZR704 4 channel amp, 4x Infinity Reference 6032cf 6.5" speakers, Sony XM-ZZR3301 Mono Amp, Pioneer Premier TS-W2502D2 10" Sub

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    OMG WTF MainFrame's Avatar
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    I used a line level converter briefly on my factory HU. It helps, but you're right about taking the poor signal to begin with, and then adding even more steps in between. You're never going to get the clarity you would from a good HU with 4v preamp outs.


    If you do go that route, make sure you aren't sending too much voltage to your amp. I don't know how well most amps would handle a 9v input. Plus, in my experience it will sound the best with as little gain as possible to get the desired volume and balance from your speakers. As soon as you start trying to crank up the gain you run into clipping problems.

    There is a method of using a DMM to properly test your signal and find the highest gain you can use without clipping, but I usually try to stay modest with the settings and everything works out good.

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    Registered User melacon's Avatar
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    I've heard of the DMM thing, but work has yet to supply me with one since I just started

    This ain't my first rodeo (install), but my Pioneer 10" is coming tomorrow so I wanted to see if there were any other mods to make it all a little cleaner while I've got stuff tore apart. I think I've done all I can within reason.

    Thanks!
    USB Media Hub, Sirius tuner, Short shift kit
    V-LED Fog lights, DRL/Hi Beam, Low Beams, Red LED map lights, White LED dome light
    V-LED Front turn signals, License plate illumination
    Autolumination.com Rear turn signal, brake/tail lights, reverse LEDs, red Trunk light
    Rockford Fosgate 3sixty.2 Sound Processor, Sony Sony XM-ZR704 4 channel amp, 4x Infinity Reference 6032cf 6.5" speakers, Sony XM-ZZR3301 Mono Amp, Pioneer Premier TS-W2502D2 10" Sub

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    OMG WTF MainFrame's Avatar
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    I think I bought my DMM for like $12 from RadioShack..

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    Registered User melacon's Avatar
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    Yeah I know. I've been meaning to buy one for a while, being an electrician by trade.
    USB Media Hub, Sirius tuner, Short shift kit
    V-LED Fog lights, DRL/Hi Beam, Low Beams, Red LED map lights, White LED dome light
    V-LED Front turn signals, License plate illumination
    Autolumination.com Rear turn signal, brake/tail lights, reverse LEDs, red Trunk light
    Rockford Fosgate 3sixty.2 Sound Processor, Sony Sony XM-ZR704 4 channel amp, 4x Infinity Reference 6032cf 6.5" speakers, Sony XM-ZZR3301 Mono Amp, Pioneer Premier TS-W2502D2 10" Sub

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    The Fruit mangostick's Avatar
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    to properly get the data you're looking for you need a Oscilloscope. Clipping happens when the amplifier starts to square off the wave instead of properly modulating because its running out of juice from the power supply. Gotta have power to make power, especially clean power. Picture a little skinny kid pushing a fat kid on a swing.. sooner or later the skinny kid is gonna run out of snot.. and he wont be able to push the fat kid any farther... this is where the "clipping" happens.

    now if you're talking about how far before you speakers run out of excursion.. thats different, thats not clipping. That means its time for a better x-over

    The power supply in the factory radio is minuscule at best (pull it out and have a look in there.. its absolutely tiny.) Certainly not enough to deliver any sort of solid signal at any high volume, definitely not enough to drive speakers with + if you're going to use it as a line level source.. its already amplified, so you already have loss and signal quality degradation.

    Amping a poor signal with your rather nice amp and speakers doesn't do them any justice.

    Honestly though, why go through so much trouble to use the factory head unit? Especially when something that looks and works much better can be had for a reasonable sum... and make your components sound that much nicer.
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    OMG WTF MainFrame's Avatar
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    An oscilloscope is really the correct way to do it, but I think you can fudge it with a DMM just fine. IDK how much oscilloscopes run.

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    Registered User melacon's Avatar
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    Many reasons:

    Its a lease, so it all will have to be undone.
    I lose stock functionality.
    Lots of extra work and money to regain functions like steering wheel control, Sat Radio, etc.
    "Wasted" money on the factory features I had put in, like said Sat radio/Media hub.
    USB Media Hub, Sirius tuner, Short shift kit
    V-LED Fog lights, DRL/Hi Beam, Low Beams, Red LED map lights, White LED dome light
    V-LED Front turn signals, License plate illumination
    Autolumination.com Rear turn signal, brake/tail lights, reverse LEDs, red Trunk light
    Rockford Fosgate 3sixty.2 Sound Processor, Sony Sony XM-ZR704 4 channel amp, 4x Infinity Reference 6032cf 6.5" speakers, Sony XM-ZZR3301 Mono Amp, Pioneer Premier TS-W2502D2 10" Sub

  12. #11
    OMG WTF MainFrame's Avatar
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    The next car I buy new I'm telling them that I don't want a radio, period.

  13. #12
    The Fruit mangostick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by melacon View Post
    Many reasons:

    Its a lease


    oohhhhh.. ok, nuff said On that note I think you're on the right track with a good line level converter and using the dmm to keep your amp input voltage around 3.5-4v.

    other than the lease issue, was gonna say.. you can get all the oem functionality with a aftermarket unit but since you're leasing.. eahhhmm.. yeah I wouldn't swap it out either. It does suck that the factory radios aren't more feature rich though.. I still think the factory standard radio looks better in the dash than my avic F700 does. But, that's a matter of personal preference too. I like the minimalist approach.



    good O-scopes aren't cheap. pc based types go from $200-$1k and bench style ones have a range from a grand to $4k in no time flat.. add some logic or a signal generator and they get upwards of $10k really fast.

    there are some hand held ones on the market for right around $200 though.. and that would work perfect for this sort of application. I've been eyeballin em.. just need to justify paying that much for something I'll use once.. maybe twice a year if that. lol then again though if I have it I might find other uses for it

    Quote Originally Posted by MainFrame View Post
    The next car I buy new I'm telling them that I don't want a radio, period.
    pretty much.. honestly I'd have been better off getting my wrx that way.
    Last edited by mangostick; 05-04-2010 at 09:08 AM.
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