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Distortion at low volumes

Car Audio, Video, & GPS

Car Audio, Video, & GPS
Talk about stereos, navigation, amps, subs, and all things car audio

Distortion at low volumes

  • I just installed a set of Alpine SPS-69C2 6x9's in a GrandAm with the Monsoon system.  I'm using a Clarion ProAudio DXZ735MP HU.  Since these speakers only have one input compared with the two inputs (tweeter & woofer) coming from the Monsoon system I just connected the woofer as I wasn't ready to cut any of the factory wires.  Everything hooked up ok but the speakers are distorting at a fairly low volume.  I'm assuming it has something to do with the Monsoon amp but I don't really know.  The factory speakers were 2 ohm (these are 4ohm) but they were blown when I got the car so I can't really say how loud they would go before distorting. 

    I'd be up for cutting and splicing the factory wires to bypass the Monsoon amp if that'll help but I wasn't sure the head unit would put out enough power to drive the speakers.  The HU is rated at 17W RMS and these speakers are rated at 50W RMS. 

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  • rocket:
    I just installed a set of Alpine SPS-69C2 6x9's in a GrandAm with the Monsoon system.

    Would help if we knew what year GrandAm it was, I found wiring info for Monsoon for 2001-2002, 2002 info here

    I'm using a Clarion ProAudio DXZ735MP HU.  Since these speakers only have one input compared with the two inputs (tweeter & woofer) coming from the Monsoon system I just connected the woofer as I wasn't ready to cut any of the factory wires.  Everything hooked up ok but the speakers are distorting at a fairly low volume.  I'm assuming it has something to do with the Monsoon amp but I don't really know.  The factory speakers were 2 ohm (these are 4ohm) but they were blown when I got the car so I can't really say how loud they would go before distorting.

    The info says the Monsoon system is 8 speakers with an 8 channel amp - it doesn't specify if the amp only sends bass to the woofers or if it only sends treble to the tweeters, or the wattage, but it is likely under 10 watts as opposed to 17 for the HU. 

    I'd be up for cutting and splicing the factory wires to bypass the Monsoon amp if that'll help

    That would be my recommendation - if you don't want to, you don't have to cut and splice the factory wiring - you can run new wire from the HU all the way back to the new speakers and leave the factory wiring intact.  This would really only make sense if you had concerns about the status of the existing wiring or if you thought you might want to put the car back to original and move your speakers to a new vehicle, or if the car was a lease vehicle. 

    but I wasn't sure the head unit would put out enough power to drive the speakers.  The HU is rated at 17W RMS and these speakers are rated at 50W RMS.

    There are some misconceptions running around here.  The speakers are rated for 2-50W RMS (250W peak).  They can take any power in that range.  They will sound better with 50W RMS, but they don't NEED it.  The danger is that while your HU is 17W, it will likely reach that at about 90% of the volume range.  If that isn't loud enough for you and you turn it up that extra 5% - 8% it will clip and distort and that can damage your speakers regardless of the power levels (within reason - a clipped 4W signal likely won't hurt them but a clipped 40W could and a clean 75 W signal likely won't either, but I don't think I'd feed them 200W RMS for long).

    I suspect they will be louder and cleaner from the HU directly - if they aren't you can always put the Monsoon amp back in the system and look for Plan B (which is probably a 50W amp).  The problem is the HU might not be loud enough (with any speakers, the 2W minimum are designed for use with a HU, as opposed to Polk or Kicker which are 6W minimum and really prefer to be amped), in which case again, the Plan B 50W amp comes into play.

    Hope This Helps!!! 

    2002 Ford Focus JVC KD-A815 Sony CDX-GT410u Sony XT-100HD HD Tuner Stock speakers, no amp, no subs

  • Yes, it's a 2002.  I'll try bypassing the Monsoon amp to start and if that doesn't work well go with a new amp.

     Thanks for your help.
     

  • Also, I am curious as to what the actual problem is.  I'm new to DIY speaker installs.  Is it the amp isn't giving enough power to the speakers or the signal isn't clear?  I don't understand how giving the speakers more power would make them clip/distort less.
  • We just had a long semi-related discussion in this thread.

    In reality - it could be either ...

    Look at it this way - the speakers simply vibrate in response to the Alternating Current signal that is fed to them from the amp.

    You need to understand the concept of clipping and distortion in an amp, the thread above and the ones it links to explains that.

    If the HU is not sending a clean signal (you are getting static on FM, the motors for the CD are not insulated and feeding hum to the pre-outs, the pre-outs are picking up magnetic fields from the power wires, etc.), that gets passed to the amplifier, made louder, and ultimately sent to the speakers, but with an aftermarket HU, that shouldn't be a very big problem.

    OTOH, if the amp isn't very powerful, it will distort sooner and make the speakers sound bad.  Let me try to explain it this way - I think my Ford HU was likely around 5W.  My Sony is 17W.  With the Sony, at volume 26 out of 34, it is putting out around 17W  - above that it distorts, but that's about as loud as I want to play it.  If I added a 50W amp (and speakers like yours), I could turn it up to 26 and the amp could be at 50W and it would be a lot louder (1.5x maybe, not twice as loud [10x the power to double the volume], but it would sound a lot clearer).  OTOH, the Ford HU started to distort at only 4.5 W or so, so the system was not loud and still sounded bad.

    Hope This Helps!!! 

    2002 Ford Focus JVC KD-A815 Sony CDX-GT410u Sony XT-100HD HD Tuner Stock speakers, no amp, no subs