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Thread: Bavarian Soundwerks presents: AMPLIFIER TUNING GUIDE

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    Bavarian Soundwerks presents: AMPLIFIER TUNING GUIDE

    Guys: I get an unbelieveable amount of emails and phone calls everyday asking about amplifier tuning, and the best ways to go about doing it.
    For those of you that I have already personally assisted, you have this document.

    For the rest of you, enjoy. This will help you get an overall balanced and full sound in your BMW.

    Disclaimer: Bavarian Soundwerks highly recommends professional installation of the products we sell. We provide these installation instructions free of charge as a guide to assist those customers who choose to perform the installation themselves. Additionally, they may serve as a guide to assist a professional installer in order to expedite the installation of the customerís new products. However, Bavarian Soundwerks makes no guarantee, implied or expressed, as to the accuracy or safety of these instructions. Use of these instructions constitutes a waiver of all liability including, but not limited to, damage that may occur to the readerís, userís, or customerís vehicle, its components, and/or the reader, customer, or installer.

    Tuning an Amplifier in Your BMW

    Tuning an amplifier properly has become increasingly complicated over the years. It used to be that all one had to do was wire the amplifier up, mount it, and they were good to go.

    Not anymore. Nowadays there are buttons for this, switches for that, knobs for something else. It can get quite confusing. We have comprised a complete tuning guide for you and your BMW. It will help you get the perfect sound from your new equipment, as well as keep it lasting for years to come.

    Testing the Actual Installation Prior to Tuning

    First things first, after physically completing the installation, make sure your amplifier is powered up properly. It needs to turn off and on with the key. The power light should turn off when you take the key out of the ignition. Test this out a couple of times to make sure. If it does not, and you are having trouble figuring out why, give us a call or drop us a line. Trust us, it wonít be anything major.

    Now We Begin. . .

    Now, go to the front of the car, and turn on the stereo. Put in your favorite CD (not a burned CD, but one that was professionally mastered and recorded), and tune in to your favorite track. We recommend using a very dynamic type of music, with many types of musical variations within the CD.

    Before You Start to Make Any Detailed Adjustments

    As for the physical adjustments of the amplifier(s) you are tuning, first make sure the gain(s) are turned all the way down. That is, the knob turned all the way down to the left. Next, set your appropriate crossovers. Crossovers basically tell the amplifier which frequencies to allow the speakers to reproduce. High pass crossovers are for interior speakers, and low pass crossovers are for subwoofers. Now, roughly adjust the crossover frequencies, setting the high pass crossover between 90 -150hz for the interior speakers, and the low pass crossover between 90-150hz for the subwoofers. Hertz (hz) are simply a unit of measurement used to measure a particular frequency. If you set the low pass crossover at 100hz, that means that frequencies above 100hz will start to roll off ( not be played at full output volume)at the predetermined slope of your amplifiers crossover, be it 12db, 18db, or 24db. (These are the most common crossover slopes, your amplifier may vary) All frequencies below 100hz, however, will be allowed to play through the particular output (speaker)

    By setting a high pass crossover at 100hz for example, this means that any frequencies below 100hz will start to roll off ( not be played at full output volume)at the predetermined slope of your amplifiers crossover, be it 12db, 18db, or 24db. (These are the most common crossover slopes, your amplifier may vary)
    All frequencies above 100hz, however, will be allowed to play through that particular output channel (speaker).

    Adjusting an Amplifier for Your Interior Speakers

    If you are adding an amplifier for your interior speakers as well as a subwoofer amplifier, you must first start the tuning process with this amplifier before adjusting your subwoofer amplifier, which will be covered later in the tuning process.

    Adjusting a four channel amplifier is very detail oriented. Again, with your gain(s) turned all the way down, begin to turn the volume of your source unit up until you reach its maximum volume.
    This will vary depending on the source unit you are using. If it is an aftermarket unit, the volume scale usually operates between zero and a certain number, say 62. If this is the case, you would turn the volume back down to about 59. Have your bass settings set completely flat as well. You should be able to independently adjust your subwoofer. Make sure the preliminary crossovers have been set (high pass) and the frequency roughly adjusted (90 -150hz) before you proceed.

    If you are integrating into an OEM system, tuning becomes a bit more difficult. Most BMWís do not give a numerical readout of volume. You simply have to know how loud it is by the perceived volume, not a number. You will need to spend more time making adjustments in this situation. We recommend turning the knob to the right (clockwise) around five or so turns. Make sure the preliminary crossovers have been set (high pass) and the frequency roughly adjusted (90 -150hz) before you proceed.

    Front Speakers First

    Now, slowly begin adjusting the gains up (clockwise), blending in the front speakers first.
    Begin increasing the front gain until you detect the slightest bit of audible distortion in your front speakers. Take careful precaution to ensure that absolutely no distortion is present in your front speakers before proceeding. Distortion is when your speakers begin sounding muffled or crackled, if that makes any sense. Distortion will blow your speakers, and blown speakers are NOT covered by warranty. If any distortion is audible at any point in the tuning process, back the gain down (counter-clockwise) about 1/16th of a turn to the left, or until the distortion becomes inaudible again.

    Moving to the Rear

    Slowly begin to blend in the rear speakers by increasing the gain (turning the knob clockwise) until they become audible. You donít want them to overpower your front speakers, as you are trying to develop a soundstage in the front of your vehicle, arenít you? Blend them in until you can detect their presence clearly from the front seats, but your ears arenít drawn to the rear of the vehicle. This allows your soundstage to become more present, which is the primary goal of the entire installation, right? You want your rear speakers to be a part of the equation without a doubt, but not the focal point. Get it? When you go to a concert, where does the band play? Not behind you. Letís all take our part in making the worldís BMWís sound a little bit better. Thank you.

    You might make minor adjustments here and there, but for the most part, you can leave this amplifier alone unless you change any other components in your system. At that time, it will be necessary to readjust your settings to accommodate your new products.

    Letís Add Some Low End

    Now is the time, if you are adding multiple amplifiers, to tune your subwoofer amplifier. Remember to roughly set your low pass crossover around 90-150hz. For example, if you set your low pass crossover to 100hz, that means that all frequencies above 100hz will not be sent to that particular output channel (speaker).

    If you also amplified your interior speakers, it is important to overlap your crossover points to ensure that there no significant gaps in the frequency response of your audio system. For example, if you set your high pass crossover for your interior speakers at 110hz, you need to set your low pass filter for your subwoofer at a minimum of 110hz, but not more than 120hz to keep an overall tonal balance in your BMW.

    Again, with your gain(s) turned all the way down, begin to turn the volume of your source unit up until you reach the point where the interior speakers are distorting ever so slightly.

    Now, back down the volume until the distortion disappears and stop there. Head back to the trunk and slowly begin adjusting the gain(s) of the amplifier until you are content with the amount of bass being produced by the subwoofer without any audible distortion of the woofer. Also, make sure the clipping light on the amplifier is not illuminating. If it is, back the gain(s) down until the light ceases to flash. Now, as you adjust the volume of the head unit, the bass will adjust proportionately with the rest of your music.
    Last edited by Jason@BavSound; 11-29-2004 at 09:12 PM.
    Jason Seaver | Founding Partner | Product Engineer
    e: jws@bavsound.com
    Bavsound | Audio Solutions Engineered Specifically For Your BMW
    www.bavsound.com | 404.381.1800

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    Excellent comments!!!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jason@BavSound


    Now is the time, if you are adding multiple amplifiers, to tune your subwoofer amplifier. Remember to roughly set your low pass crossover around 90-150hz. For example, if you set your low pass crossover to 100hz, that means that all frequencies above 100hz will not be sent to that particular output channel (speaker).
    Just one fault I noticed right off. The above statement is false. If you set the low pass crossover at 100hz, that means it starts to rolloff at 100hz, not that frequencies above will not be sent to the particular output. Instead depending on the amount of rolloff Commonly. 12db, 18db, and 24db, at certain volumes 110, 120, etc will still be going to that speaker. This is a reason why, some people commonly pass at 60 or so if they want the speaker to just see 80 etc...

    So far good otherwise, no other comments.
    Dreams are what you make of them

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    I read another guide that tells to turn your volume to 75% of max, and then slowly turn the gain up. hmm

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    now that I think about it, your way is better, because it will allow me to listen to the music at a higher volume level on the headunit, therefore maximizing the loudness and potential of the subwoofer.

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    Quote Originally Posted by haibane
    Just one fault I noticed right off. The above statement is false. If you set the low pass crossover at 100hz, that means it starts to rolloff at 100hz, not that frequencies above will not be sent to the particular output. Instead depending on the amount of rolloff Commonly. 12db, 18db, and 24db, at certain volumes 110, 120, etc will still be going to that speaker. This is a reason why, some people commonly pass at 60 or so if they want the speaker to just see 80 etc...

    So far good otherwise, no other comments.

    Sortof.

    If it is set to 100Hz, that is the point at which the signal is 12dB (for 12dB/octave rolloff) lower than the unfiltered signal. If you set both the highpass and lowpass to the same cutoff, you don't get full signal to both drivers, but 12dB less to each. This can still result in a 'lump' in the frequency response though depending on what type of crossover design it is. Linkwitz-Riley crossovers give flat response if both points are set to the same value, Butterworth filters will give you a lump at the crossover point.

    If there is a lump it will be pretty easy to tell as certain frequencies will really jump out at you.

    Tune by ear -
    If you like it: leave it!
    If you don't: fiddle a little!

    Jos

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jos
    Sortof.

    If it is set to 100Hz, that is the point at which the signal is 12dB (for 12dB/octave rolloff) lower than the unfiltered signal. If you set both the highpass and lowpass to the same cutoff, you don't get full signal to both drivers, but 12dB less to each. This can still result in a 'lump' in the frequency response though depending on what type of crossover design it is. Linkwitz-Riley crossovers give flat response if both points are set to the same value, Butterworth filters will give you a lump at the crossover point.

    If there is a lump it will be pretty easy to tell as certain frequencies will really jump out at you.

    Tune by ear -
    If you like it: leave it!
    If you don't: fiddle a little!

    Jos
    Good point, but basically what I said lol.
    Dreams are what you make of them

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    Quote Originally Posted by Silver00Spike
    now that I think about it, your way is better, because it will allow me to listen to the music at a higher volume level on the headunit, therefore maximizing the loudness and potential of the subwoofer.

    bad idea, headunit clipping is not a good thing.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Silver00Spike
    I read another guide that tells to turn your volume to 75% of max, and then slowly turn the gain up. hmm
    that's because most head units will distort at very high levels. that 75% is a good rule of a thumb to use. unless you have got unit that doesn't distort. Rockford Fosgate's unit don't distort (that's what they claim) so in this case you would set the vol to 100%. on my Alpine (max vol #35) I set it to 29-30 (82-85%) for amp tuning as a precaution

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    Quote Originally Posted by Roffle Waffle
    now that I think about it, your way is better, because it will allow me to listen to the music at a higher volume level on the headunit, therefore maximizing the loudness and potential of the subwoofer.
    I would rather adjust my system at the volume you stated. For example, an Eclipse head unit's max volume is at 80, I usually use 65 as a baseline to adjust my system.
    Its never a good idea to adjust the system with the head unit maxed out. The head unit also has its limits and could create a distorted signal to go through the rca's.
    On top of that, not all cd's are recording equally. Some cd's will max your system at a lower head unit volume number than others. For example, with Fleetwood Mac, I can turn up my system very high just to get the same amount of volume from a different cd. If you adjust your system with the volume level maxed out you will not have any more head room for the cd's that are recorded low.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jos
    Sortof.

    If it is set to 100Hz, that is the point at which the signal is 12dB (for 12dB/octave rolloff) lower than the unfiltered signal. If you set both the highpass and lowpass to the same cutoff, you don't get full signal to both drivers, but 12dB less to each. This can still result in a 'lump' in the frequency response though depending on what type of crossover design it is. Linkwitz-Riley crossovers give flat response if both points are set to the same value, Butterworth filters will give you a lump at the crossover point.

    If there is a lump it will be pretty easy to tell as certain frequencies will really jump out at you.

    Tune by ear -
    If you like it: leave it!
    If you don't: fiddle a little!

    Jos
    If you set your sub amp cutoff at 100 hertz, I believe that the amp starts cutting off the frequency at 100 hz so you would get the full 100 hertz out of the speaker and then the rolloff would be at 12db/24db etc. from that point. I am not exactly sure though but I can double check.

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    *deleted upon request*

    moved to here *advanced*
    http://forums.bimmerforums.com/forum...d.php?t=359551
    (guys, if any of what I wrote is confusing to you do NOT ask jason about it. He is a busy man and does not have time to explain whatever I was trying to say )
    Last edited by eric77; 05-17-2005 at 01:41 PM.

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    None...the bank does though.
    I apologize if I overlooked a comment thats applicable to my following statement, but am I the only one concerned about the crossover freq choosen in this tutorial? Personally, I think 100 hz is too high for subs. I tune mine to about 70 with great results. When you start getting into the 100 hz range, I find that the sound becomes a hint directional, and it seems to pull the focus from my front stage. Again, I tune my sub to around 70-80, with about a 10hz overlap in the front stage crossover settings. Just my $.02, spend em how you like.

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    Last edited by eric77; 05-17-2005 at 01:43 PM.

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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jason@BavSound
    Again, with your gain(s) turned all the way down, begin to turn the volume of your source unit up until you reach the point where the interior speakers are distorting ever so slightly.
    Now, back down the volume until the distortion disappears and stop there. Head back to the trunk and slowly begin adjusting the gain(s) of the amplifier until you are content with the amount of bass being produced by the subwoofer without any audible distortion of the woofer. Also, make sure the clipping light on the amplifier is not illuminating. If it is, back the gain(s) down until the light ceases to flash. Now, as you adjust the volume of the head unit, the bass will adjust proportionately with the rest of your music.
    you mean the gain from just the amp that is powering the subwoofer right? not your "mid-amp" as well
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    That was great that he took the time to do that write-up!

    A few things to note, distortion will NOT blow your speakers.

    Get test CD that they use in competition (Autosound) and from there you can see if your headunit clips and at what volume. (all settings at flat)

    Through that cd you can also set your amplifiers to max gain with a test tone to insure distortion free music.

    I would not bring the sub past 90hz on the lo-pass side. Anything above 70hz can be localized by the ear.

    For richer mid-bass(male/female) voices up front (depending on the speakers you have) i would bring the high-pass of the fronts down to 60hz.

    -Nate
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    Quote Originally Posted by HK_M3
    A few things to note, distortion will NOT blow your speakers.
    This is a hotly debated topic - and I would disagree with you.

    I say 50 hz is the localitization point, myself...

    I'm not arguing, but I am letting you know that some of those "facts" are points of contention.
    VP Electricity

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    Quote Originally Posted by el.duderino
    This is a hotly debated topic - and I would disagree with you.

    I say 50 hz is the localitization point, myself...

    I'm not arguing, but I am letting you know that some of those "facts" are points of contention.

    I can't tell you for 100% that distortion does not blow your speakers because I have not personally done a test but the majority of manufacturer's and autosound say it doesn't.

    Aso for localization, that depends on your car and that rattles created, but any frequency below 70hz should not be able to be localized.

    -Nate
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    Nate is correct, as I understand it distortion and clipping is confused for what destroys your speakers: heat. It is not the clipping itself, but rather the clipped signal when amplified can cause the power exerted to a speaker to be greater than what it's thermodynamic threshold allows.
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    Distortion is a lack of control, which creates heat and destroys the speaker. I can't believe it could ever be debated past one single post, it is fact.
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    Quote Originally Posted by one
    Distortion is a lack of control, which creates heat and destroys the speaker. I can't believe it could ever be debated past one single post, it is fact.
    this is one of the first lessons that I learned as professional car stereo installer. underpowering a speaker and sending distortion to it will destroy a speaker faster than poking a screwdriver through it.

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    What would cause the radio , when tuned to an am station to 1, have an intermittent whine - increases in pitch as speed increases and 2, sound like an bell curve looks at a steady speed. Doesn't happen all the time, the whine is there much more often than the oscellation..

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    Quote Originally Posted by one
    Distortion is a lack of control, which creates heat and destroys the speaker. I can't believe it could ever be debated past one single post, it is fact.
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