Taking part in a Car Audio sound challenge is not an undertaking for the casual car audio buffs. There must be two willing parties to make it happen and then there is a need to beat the other contestants with an extra ‘X’ factor. The owner and the installer. The owner must be willing to invest money and loss of usage of the car for weeks if not months to enable the installer to work on the car and give it the winning ‘Edge’.
The owner of the Integra gave the installer Acoustics Auto Sound, Messers Chia and Mok all the time to prepare the car for Sony’s Sound Challenge. Convincingly, this car trounces all the others and walked away with the trophy. Now displayed proudly in Acoustics Auto Sound showroom in 6th Avenue along with all the others won over the years.
The Integra’s installation is quite a straightforward install. Sony’s Flagship CDX-90 head unit fronts the system. The optical digital signal from this head unit is then fed into an XDP-4000X DSP processor/crossover. This is one interesting box of tricks. It is a crossover with high/mid/low or front/rear/sub settings. It has a 10-band equalization and 10 preset X-over frequencies. Most important, there is Sony’s proprietary Time Alignment. This Time Alignment takes into account the restrictions posed by Car seating position. It helps to recreate a more natural soundstage and frequency response as heard by the occupants in the car.
From the XDP-4000X it output to three Sony Xplod amplifiers, a 60-watt X 4 XM-604EQX driving rear co-axials XS-GT6933 and a second feed the front tweeters XS-HF78. A 75-watt X 2 XM-752EQX drives the front mid/bass while a second XM-752EQX drives a single 12-inch subwoofer, the XS-L1230. The Xplod series of amps utilises MOSFET switching power supplies and comes with built in equalizer plus high/low pass filter. If this installation would stand any chance against the best in the industry then it will be the attention to details that squeezes out the very last ounce of performance from this setup.
To secure a good soundstage, installing the front speakers would merit as much attention as can be afforded. In general, it is never a good idea to separate the tweeters too far from the mid/woofer
Despite the ankle height location of the mid/bass unit and the door pull location of the tweeters, Mok has been able to integrate the sound from the tweeters to it. Thanks to the XDP-4000X which affords some X-over overlap between the mid/bass and the tweeter. The rear fill XS-GT6933s was set at 3dB lower than the front channels.
The single 12-inch sub-woofer is driven with a 200-watt in bridged mode XM-752EQX. The Sub is loaded into a cabinet, the woofer is not designed for free space applications. The woofer uses aluminum alloy cone and rubber surround. The woofer looks impressive ‘naked’ in the boot but I would suggest some protective cover. Otherwise the boot is as good as redundant. I would not dare put a set of golf clubs in for instance. The amplifier deployed is capable of a peak power of 400 watts, enough to handle the current demands in driving the low frequencies.
This is one car where clarity and dynamics are in unison. This install manages to straddle the fine balance between how loud the system can go with no apparent loss of clarity till the very upper limit is reached. The system has been very well tuned to integrate the various drive units to sound a coherent whole. Listening to the various preset equalization, I found Mok’s personal setting the most natural, the bass rich and deep without overpowering the midband and the highs. Due to the DSP, the soundstage has a very natural spread, although not very deep nor wide as the best I have heard. Focus on the lead instrument or vocal is impressive, thanks to the CDX-C90 and XDP-4000X combination and Sony’s time alignment feature.
However, what really detracts from my enjoyment is the er…structural integrity of the Integra. A multitude of parts is buzzing away whenever deep bass notes hits. While it is not the fault of the system or the install, it sure does irritate this listener.
Overall a good install, I like the system but not the car, a score of 8/10 for this setup.