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No, no insult. In a thread below this one a poster put in stock oem tweeters. Now that I know I have wiring and a mounting location I'd like to add some middle quality tweeters but not Oem, Would be great if you knew of some better quality tweeters and midrange door speakers that would work well with the oem radio and not negatively impact the system as a whole. Lol......Disregard all above, I'm going to just go ahead and start off with a new radio unit double din style if I can find one that will function with my bluetooth as i listen to my phone playlist more than anything else. It seems from reading hours of material the biggest hurdle is trying to get all the oem functions to work with the new radio.
 

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Discussion Starter #22
No, no insult. In a thread below this one a poster put in stock oem tweeters. Now that I know I have wiring and a mounting location I'd like to add some middle quality tweeters but not Oem, Would be great if you knew of some better quality tweeters and midrange door speakers that would work well with the oem radio and not negatively impact the system as a whole. Lol......Disregard all above, I'm going to just go ahead and start off with a new radio unit double din style if I can find one that will function with my bluetooth as i listen to my phone playlist more than anything else. It seems from reading hours of material the biggest hurdle is trying to get all the oem functions to work with the new radio.
I replied in that other thread regarding the OEM upgrade, I was about to reply to your questions here but you just changed your post LOL
 

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Excellent & concise.
I am finding that writing this guide is a delicate balance between getting too technical in my explanation vs. trying to word it in too easy terms for those who might not be familiar with the topic.
 

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Discussion Starter #24 (Edited)

PART 3: You Don’t Drive From the Back Seat
a.k.a. Sound stage, and what rear speakers are really for.


Examine the 3 photos below, then ask yourself this: When it comes to audio, what do a Nightwish concert, an orchestra performance at the Sydney Opera House, and a play on Broadway have in common?




Answer: They all have an elevated stage (soundstage), and it’s centered in front of you.

To be fair, many people never put thought into this concept. Most people who just enjoy music will generally prefer the music to surround them from all directions – like if you were in a dance club, with speakers everywhere blasting music and engulfing your auditory senses in this “omnidirectional” manner. Turn that volume up and let’s party! If this is the type of person you are where you just want to be bombarded with sound, there’s nothing wrong with that – that’s a personal preference.

But if you are looking for improved audio performance, then you need to understand the point of creating a soundstage. Yes – we’re not talking about sitting in a perfectly square room with perfect speaker placement and a central seating area – we’re talking about a small enclosed cabin of a vehicle where most of the speakers are within arm’s reach and your sitting offset to the front and left. But just because we have more obstacles to overcome, it doesn’t mean you can’t get a pretty good soundstage in a vehicle, it just takes more work. I’ve experienced listening to music in more than a few IASCA and MECA competition-level car audio vehicles over the years where if I closed my eyes I could have sworn I was in the front row of a live concert – granted, this level of car audio is way beyond what I want to talk about here (and beyond what most people will ever even get a chance to experience themselves), but it was incredible.

So back to soundstage; in the ideal scenario, if you play quality music and close your eyes, it will sound like you’re literally in the center front row of a live concert (just like I mentioned above). The singer’s voices will seem like they are coming from in front of you, all of the instruments will sound like they are being played live (like if they were spread out on a stage), and it will have so much clarity that it will feel like each member of the band is right there on the hood of your truck! Note that I emphasized “front” – that’s because this level of audio clarity can be achieved without rear speakers.

Focus Forward
When most people start window shopping for new speakers for their Frontier, they tend to factor in the cost of rear speakers as part of their budget – they figure if they are upgrading their audio, they have to replace all of the speakers in the vehicle. But whenever someone asks me about this, I always recommend to bias the budget towards the front speakers if they’re looking specifically for sound quality. In other words, instead of buying 4-6 decent speakers for all 4 doors (and the dash location) of the Frontier, I tell people to consider allocating most (if not all) of the main speaker budget on a good set of 6.5” or 6×9” component speakers instead for the front:

This way you’re spending more money on improving the equipment that is in front of you – which not-so-coincidentally is the same place where your soundstage is supposed to be! (Fact: many of the best competition level SQ vehicle audio systems do NOT have any rear main speakers at all!)

Some of you reading this might say “That doesn’t make sense, how come good home theater audio systems have rear speakers then?” and the explanation is simple: home theater audio is designed around the fact that most cinema audio these days is 5.1 – or 5-channels of audio (front left, center, front right, rear left surround, rear right surround) + 1 channel for bass. That’s why you need 5 speakers and a subwoofer in your living room to enjoy cinema audio as it was meant to be. Contrary to that, music audio is 99% stereo – stereo as in 2-channels. Those two channels just happen to be front left + front right – not coincidentally, humans only have 2 ears, and they are… front left + front right.

Avoid Multiple Full Range Speakers Up Front
Since we’re discussing audio in the Frontier, there’s one more topic I’d like to touch on – many Frontier owners see the extra dash speaker location and assume that they will get improved sound quality if they installed a full-range speaker as they would have done in the doors AND install a full-range speaker in the dash (as opposed to just a tweeter form a component system). However, the problem here is that this “more is better’ line of thinking is detrimental to an improved soundstage and/or a waste of money. Here are two bad reasons why:

  • Bad Reason #1: Detrimental to Proper Soundstage – As explained earlier, soundstage is about directionality. If you have a full range speaker in the dash and a full-range speaker in the door both playing the same midrange voices in your music, then your ears won’t be able to localize where the voices are coming from. It will not sound like a live band on a stage in front of you. It will sound omnidirectional, and the only way to try to ease the soundstage back to in front of you is to limit the lower frequencies the dash speakers play and limit the higher frequencies the door speakers play… which brings me to reason #2:
  • Bad Reason #2: Wasting Money – If you paid for multiple-driver full-range speakers for both the front doors and dash locations, but then use crossovers or filters to limit their frequency output to achieve some sort of pseudo “component” system, then what’s the point of buying full-range? You basically just paid for 2 full-range speakers and then you’re only using half of each.
What Rear Speakers Are Really For
So – if sound quality means focusing on improving the soundstage up front, why do all vehicles have rear speakers? There are only two reasons: space, and back seat passengers. If you go way back to when car audio was still in its infancy, you’d see vehicles with these large rear speaker enclosures (with 2, 3, or 4 drivers in each) bolted to the package shelf area under the rear window, or the sidewalls of a hatchback, or the back wall of a pickup truck:

This method was super popular back then simply because there was more room back there to install more speakers. As far as the second reason, car manufacturers started putting dedicated rear speakers (in the rear doors of a 4-door or the rear side panel of a 2-door) so that they can sell it as an added feature (“look! Music for everyone in the vehicle!”) on the equipment list.

That doesn’t mean though that you can’t let your rear passengers enjoy some music too. When it’s just for entertainment (and not focusing on ultimate sound quality) a decent set of rear speakers can make your passengers rock out like you are up front. I upgraded my rear speakers for the benefit of my rear-seat passengers, but the secret to still retaining my soundstage and sound quality when I’m driving is that I disable the rear speakers when I’m driving solo or with 1 passenger up front. I only activate them when people are riding in the back.

Take it Personal
In the end, just think about your quest to improve your Frontier’s audio like this: who are you buying these aftermarket speakers for? You. Who is doing this work to hear the improved sound? You. Where do you always sit in the truck? You sit up front. Except for certain specific (rare) circumstances, your method of choosing aftermarket speakers should be focused around making the sound as good as possible to the person in the driver’s seat. This means selecting speakers that enable the possibility to have a good soundstage and to do that you have to set your sights initially on front speaker quality, as opposed to full vehicle speaker quantity.

In Part 4 of this series, regardless of if you listen to EDM, Hip-Hop, Top-40, Rock, Classical, or even Country, you will need more than just door speakers. Hint: Even guitars play bass.

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If you have any questions or comments about this guide, please feel free to post them in this thread. I will try to answer all of the questions that I can to help you out.

For links to the rest of the guide, see the table of contents by clicking here.
(The full guide can also be read on project:KEIRA.)
 

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This thread is really insightful. I find it amusing that with the advent of digital music storage devices I often hear more and more songs adding in a track that sounds like record player scratch from the good ol' days. Not sure why a lot of audiophiles prefer an overpriced turntable to digital formats, but I'm the farthest from an expert. Lol. I'm hoping you can do a quick tutorial on ohm preference in one of your write-ups. Keep up the great work!
 

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Just read part 3 with some tea and coffee cake... Bravo again, @raine for the excellent write up
 

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Discussion Starter #28
This thread is really insightful. I find it amusing that with the advent of digital music storage devices I often hear more and more songs adding in a track that sounds like record player scratch from the good ol' days. Not sure why a lot of audiophiles prefer an overpriced turntable to digital formats, but I'm the farthest from an expert. Lol. I'm hoping you can do a quick tutorial on ohm preference in one of your write-ups. Keep up the great work!
From what my brother tells me (he's super home audiophile) they know vinyl isn't as "clean sounding" as digital due to all the cracks and pops you get from a needle riding in a groove... but that's part of what they want to hear because being able to hear all these tiny "errors" shows how good their equipment is (since their mega-priced equipment is sensitive enough to pick up those things and play them.) As for a "quick tutorial on ohm preference" it wasn't part of the plan, but since you're asking for my opinion I can do that in oh... 3 sentences:

1. I prefer to stick to 4-ohm. 4-ohm is the general standard for mobile audio and compatible across the board. :cool:
2. If you're using aftermarket parts at 2-ohm to get the output you want, IMO you bought the wrong parts. :unsure:
3. However one exception: the only place I'd do 2-ohm is subwoofers, because we all love bass :giggle:
 
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Discussion Starter #31

PART 4: Dogs Underwater
a.k.a. Why a Subwoofer is a Good Thing

Here’s a common phrase/excuse/comment/misnomer I hear a lot when recommending the addition of a subwoofer:

“Yeah, I don’t need a subwoofer, I don’t listen to rap music and I don’t need to shake the windows of my neighbors and people driving beside me.”
Why do a lot of people assume that having a subwoofer means ten 12” gigantic speakers powered by 4000 watts and you have to only listen to Rap or Hip-Hop? I have no idea, but they are probably basing their assumptions on stereotypes - not realizing that a subwoofer is an important ingredient in any good audio system.

Moving Air
A subwoofer is just a speaker that is designed to play low-frequency bass. It does this by manipulating air pressure to create low-frequency sound waves within the listening area (your truck). The physical feeling of a bass tone is unmistakable because you will more likely feel bass as opposed to just hearing it. That rumble or kick you feel is air pressure around you changing with each sound wave generated by the movement of the subwoofer’s cone. That’s why subwoofers are generally 8” in diameter or larger – more surface area means more air can be moved. That's pretty much it! There's no magic in how a subwoofer works – so that said, let’s focus more on the “why” as opposed to the “how.”

Low Frequency is Slow Frequency
As mentioned earlier in this guide, all speaker types have a specific purpose – and they are separated by what frequencies they are meant to play. To keep it simple, let’s divide the frequency range of music into three distinct sections: High Frequencies, Midrange, and Sub-Bass. In the image below I included a basic but very capable 3-way audio system consisting of 3 different speakers, placed where they are each designed to produce sound in the audio spectrum:

The tweeters are responsible for the high-frequency sounds, the midrange takes care of the voices and the bulk of the music in the middle and the subwoofer handles the low-frequency bass. For an easy real-world example that displays this behavior, think of your Frontier engine: at low RPM you are moving slow and the engine is making a low growl, but at high RPM you’re moving fast and the engine noise has a higher pitch, right? That’s basically how sound works – just look at it as speed differences in how the speaker moves: the faster the speaker moves the higher the frequencies it can play, and vice versa.

Why Your Door Speakers Can’t Do It
So what’s keeping your mid-range door speakers from producing the low frequencies that a subwoofer can produce? Answer: because of everything else your midrange speakers are in charge of producing. Remember how I said that frequency is the speed that a speaker moves to produce sound? To cover the wide range of frequencies in music, you need different drivers to accurately produce good sound, because a speaker is simply a physical mechanism that is moving at a certain speed.

Try this experiment: stretch your arms out in front of you, and clap your hands together loudly, like once every second. Your hands represent low frequencies (like a subwoofer), and the farther you swing your arms back, the louder you can produce sound, right? Now let’s make your fingertips represent high frequencies (like a tweeter). Hold your palms together and just tap just your left and right fingertips about 5 times a second (higher frequency). No problem, right?

Okay – now try doing both at the same time… Yep.

A single speaker driver cannot physically move in multiple frequencies at the same time. Music has multiple frequencies layered over each other. To compound the problem, if you ask a speaker to produce too wide of a range of frequencies, it will affect sound quality and reduce the performance of that specific speaker. Now let’s go back to your mid-range door speakers. Aside from the obvious fact that they are called “mid-range” for a reason, your midrange speakers are the ones that are primarily in charge of producing the bulk of the sound you hear. Mid-range speakers cover most of the audio spectrum except for (you knew this was coming) the highest frequencies and the lowest frequencies – which are what tweeters and subwoofers are for, respectively.

You already learned that component speakers separate the higher frequencies by way of a separate tweeter – the tweeter can produce all of the high frequencies so that the mid-range (which is then limited by a crossover to not receive the high frequencies) doesn’t have to. That said, the subwoofer comes into play for the same reason but on the low-end side of the audio spectrum. With the addition of a subwoofer, you can delegate most of the low frequencies to the subwoofer instead of trying to get your midrange to do it - because it can’t if it’s responsible for crisp and clear midrange.

Subwoofer in the Rear Doors = Not Really
What about running a pair of 6.5” subwoofers in the rear doors, so that you don’t have to add a subwoofer enclosure under the seat? Nice idea, but not worth the trouble. Note that I said “subwoofer enclosure” – remember, a subwoofer needs to move air to create bass waves, and it does this by being mounted in an enclosure that separates the air at the back of the subwoofer cone (which is inside the enclosure) with the air at the front of the cone (your vehicle cabin). This separation is what makes a subwoofer work. To illustrate this, take a look below:

With the above in mind, now take look at what the rear door of our Nissan Frontier trucks looks like when you remove the interior door panel:

See the problem? There’s no separation between the front and rear sound waves if you were to mount a subwoofer in the rear door. You can try to close all these door panel holes, but what about the large, wide hole at the top where the window slides in and out? You can try to build a small enclosure behind the rear speaker area… but aside from the fact that it would be a pain-in-the-you-know-what to build a box inside a door panel, once you’re done you’ll notice that now you have this tiny enclosure that just gets in the way of the window when you roll it down.

Smooth Subwoofer Integration
A simple, low powered aftermarket subwoofer system will add low frequencies to fill out the music you’re listening to. Remember, a subwoofer integrated for sound quality does not have to be so loud that it overpowers the main sounds that are being played! That means it doesn't need to take up much room either, and luckily many compact, powered "all-in-one" subwoofer enclosures are practically plug-and-play:

Any of the small amplified subwoofer systems shown above can do the job of blending in lower bass tones that you never knew were there until you added the subwoofer!

The best integration of subwoofers are the ones that do not call attention to themselves, but they fill in the lower frequencies that your midrange speakers were never producing in the first place. And again – this has nothing to do with Hip-Hop or Rap music. I’m talking about things like bass guitars, or a trombone, or the low octave voice of a Blues or Jazz singer. Yes, you can hear some of these sounds coming out of your midrange, but they won’t have any impact until you hear it in an audio system that integrates a subwoofer.

The OEM Premium Rockford Fosgate Subwoofer (if equipped)
Speaking of integration, although most 2nd-gen Nissan Frontiers do not have more than 6 speakers from the factory, certain model trims were equipped with the optional “Premium Rockford Fosgate Audio System” upgrade. This 10-speaker system includes a subwoofer enclosure under the left-rear passenger seat:

This molded enclosure houses a pair of 6” subwoofers powered by an external amplifier, and for what it’s worth, it actually does a decent job with producing bass. If cost and space are a concern, those with the RF system have a possible bang-for-the-buck option with regards to bass: they could upgrade the rest of the audio system, but integrate the OEM Rockford Fosgate subwoofer into the plan to handle the bass frequencies.

The Cars (Trucks) That Go Boom
Last but not least, a few words for those of us who are torn between wanting to increase sound quality with a subwoofer but also want the ability to bump on the weekend cruise. Hey – if you want big subwoofers, go for it! There's nothing wrong with wanting some bass kick because don't forget – you can always turn the subwoofer level down when it comes to playing music specifically for sound quality.



For example, I have two 10” JL Audio subwoofers in my Frontier powered by over 500-Watts. Most of the time when I listen to Metal or EDM I have my bass level adjustment knob in the 40-60% range. If I want to get the attention of the people next to me at the stoplight, I play some Rap and turn the bass knob up to around 80%. But if I’m doing a sound quality demo, my bass knob gets turned all the way down to… oh, about 10%. When it comes to playing my system with sound quality in mind, I only use a small fraction of available system power for my subs, which coincidentally is related to the next part of this guide.

In Part 5 of this series, I’ll explain why using a separate, higher power amplifier is much better than the one that is built into your head unit. HINT: Stronger muscles do less work.

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If you have any questions or comments about this guide, please feel free to post them in this thread. I will try to answer all of the questions that I can to help you out.

For links to the rest of the guide, see the table of contents by clicking here.
(The full guide can also be read on project:KEIRA.)
 

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My rule of thumb with subwoofers is that you can more effectively turn down the bass if you have too much than you can turn it up if you don’t have enough. I generally go with slightly more than I think I need and let the equipment work more within its comfort zone rather than under sizing it and possibly pushing it to the point of distortion or clipping when I want more bass. Two 10”s in our trucks is more than most people will need, but when turned down to blend with the music they can sound amazing.
 
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