It's time for another blog post. A Christmas time blog post that has absolutely nothing to do with Christmas but everything to do with MK3 Audi TT system upgrades, how we went about it and the way the car has responded to our system design.
The car audio industry is relatively small, the specialist car audio industry (where we sit) is even smaller. Close nit, from the inside you get to know who's who and who's worth their weight. This particular project is the second of many referrals to ourselves from Tim and the team at Advanced In-car Technologies, (who have just completed the front acoustic parking sensor, rear cam and activated the optical parking display on this car) another specialist company who take care of the retrofit end of the market, we're extremely grateful for the confidence this company has in our own to handle their customers with the same professionality. Take a look - Advanced Incar
So, CC'd in from the guys above we received an email from Colin, the owner of this extremely well maintained Audi TT. We work on a lot of cars, old and new, and almost all have been apart before us, we've had cars directly from the dealer that have been apart, however, this particular car had never had a panel lifted, it's perfect. This gives us an accurate idea of the type of customer we're dealing with, it needn't make a difference as the standards don't shift but I'm sure Colin will agree he's very particular, the type of gent that likes to entirely understand something before committing.
It comes as a surprise to most that I personally really enjoy this type interaction as I'm very much the same, I'll happily be 40/50 emails/calls deep to ensure all I's are dotted and T's are crossed before committing or asking for a commitment to a final decision.
Before we press on I'd like to continue a little talking about Colin. Colin's wife is a Composer/producer of music, at home is a small studio for mastering/mixing down and all other wonderful things that come folded into producing music. "Hybrid Classical" I believe was the weapon of choice when I asked what was being worked on currently. Now I love music, it's up there with air on my list of "things I need" but I must admit I've never heard of Hybrid Classical, although I'd certainly like to! Anyway, I'm rattling on... My point here is, Colin and likely the most regular co-pilot are tuned in to good sound, not just music, but good sound which is always a pleasure to take on, we can impress most people at half steam, but the musicians and other industry professionals that pass through really give us a sense of satisfaction when they're impressed with what we can achieve in their car.
With the consultation booked, I wanted to check a few things out with the car just to make sure we could deliver on a few ideas we had discussed via email, the day soon came around and a plan was set in stone. Initial discussions were based around either a two-way or three-way system, all active of course and then a bass option for both. My questioning of the three-way location including speaker depth potential and whether or not we could supply a non-Bang and Olufsen midrange grill (we didn't want to use this branded grill to upset the OEM lines of the car) were answered with a little research, a thorough inspection and our guy Phil at TPS (Who gets nowhere near the credit he deserves in our VAG projects!) and all proved to be workable, so the spec was decided on there and then.
- Audison Prima AP4.9 Bit Amplifier
- Audison Prima AP4 D Amplifier
- Audison Prima AP1 D Amplifier
- Audison APBX 8 R - Subwoofer
- Audison Voce AV 3.0 - Mid-Range Set
- Hertz Mille Legend ML 280.3 - Tweeter Set
Cables and accessories incl sound deadening
We ordered the correct panels from TPS to cover our new Audison Voce 3" midrange and were ready to start the project. Up first, multiple rings were made to take care of the new speakers to go into place over the rather nasty plastic OEM units, these were pretty much all treated MDF of approx 50mm thickness, the midrange grilles were made from aluminium and all were passed through one of our routers to true them up.
Baffles made and treated, the speakers were test fitted for clearances and then installed - Note OEM speakers next to our speakers.
Fair one, I need to get better at collages... Here are some shots after the doors were wired, speakers installed and ready to be put back together, we applied Skinz 2mm Black Pro Sound Deadening to tighten things up in the doors a little, that whole section is plastic and will beat like a drum if left untreated, we really don't need the excess energy causing us snags, it will represent itself in the midbass reproduction of the system.
We like to build our systems in stages, completely finishing each stage before starting the next, with the speakers fitted and tested the door panels were treated and then refitted.
The grilles we ordered had arrived and were fitted as the door were built back up -
With this complete, moving onward we installed the tweeters in the factory locations. We were hoping the Hertz Mille Legend tweeters would fit without hassle into the OEM cups, this wasn't the case, so part numbers were taken and we set about modifying the removable OEM mount. This enabled us to kick the tweeters slightly more than the original fit. V. Important given the not-so-ideal original location. OEM / Mille Legend comparison.
Wrapped up it was onto the amplifiers and integration aspect of the system. This Audi TT uses the VW MIBii system, out of the four available systems when specifying this car, this is the second one. A non-amplified factory "tech pack" system with 8 speakers. Due to the nature of the factory system we choose to integrate at "high level" using the OEM speaker outputs as our systems inputs (bear with me)... To get this right we need a piece of kit that can really deal with a high level input and control any possible pre-equalisation and sum any active channels (not in this case). We spec'd the Audison AP4.9Bit as our control amplifier, this line of DSP amps has exceptional characteristics when it comes to integration.
With our loom installed (custom made, not shelf supplied) we fed the AP4.9Bit input signal (assigned by ourselves) to another 5 active channels with DSP control to an Audison AP4D (bridged for midbass to supply 260WPC) and an Audison AP1D on sub bass duties.
Part of the original brief was absolutely no visible signs of the system, for security reasons and mainly not to spoil the original, classy lines of the car. The amps were all installed underneath the front seats and present no issues with the functionality of the car. This space is actually a lot tighter than it looks, but it works!
Wired up and individually fused, the units are also fused at the amp and at the pick up for power which comes from the OEM distribution box under the bonnet, this passes through a watertight OEM grommet. in this looming are - 14x output speaker cables, 4x input speaker cables, 3x 8AGU power, 3x 8AGU earth, 5x channel link cables, laptop cable, remote cabling, 1x RCA, among others.
Powered up, Calibration done it was time to test we had all input/outputs correctly assigned and in correct polarity. This passed first time. We put the interior of the car back together ready for system tuning.
We added the Audison APBX 8 R 8" passive, down-firing subwoofer, the only part of the system to pop it's head up in the car. Of course, we could make this bespoke but the bass section of this system was discussed late on in the proceedings and I think for what Colin uses the car for this "quick release" bass system is perfect. The subwoofer is plugged in with a 4-way push-fit connector and we have made some self-adhesive carpet feet for the supplied velcro to bite with and keep itself stable on the rubber floor mat. This sub package lends itself to an OEM look with its tough carpeted finish and classy embroidered Audison logo.
Whilst we're on the subject of the subwoofer, I find the APBX subwoofers from Audison in their specific enclosures are one of those rarities that needn't sound the way they do for their price point, they perform incredibly. Every now and again a product comes along that could easily cost twice what it does for the sound it produces, and this is one of them.
With the subwoofer installed and the car completely back together it was time to sit and tune the system. It was at this point we actually kept the car back for 24 hrs as we discovered we had a higher than usual level of noise. Triple checking our installation didn't answer any of our questions so we mic'd the car with one of our "sniffer" mic's and found a high level of electromagnetic noise on the car's grounding, our system was picking this up and reproducing it. With a swift relocation of some of our signal looming we have a silent system. It's not the problem that defines us, it's the solution!
With this complete we moved onto the tuning stage, Originally I was questioning the OEM location of the midrange, nearly talking Colin out of his ideal 3-way system into a higher end two way and always on my mind was how the tweeters would interact with their relative location to the windscreen. With an hour or so listening and fine tuning the system we ended up with the midrange driver 180 degree out of phase both left and right and our stage was above the dash without any locatable speakers when listening. The car stages very well, you can reach out and pick instruments easily. Bass is powerful yet not overbearing, a great result from this, all wrapped up in a super clean car.
Colin is extremely happy with the upgrade in performance of this system, he assures me his wife has also mentioned how much deeper and detailed the new system is compared to the flat OEM sound. This means we've done our job, right? We'll see how much better it gets once the new speakers have eased up and a 30 day retune has been done!
Looking around there doesn't seem to be much info or advice on previous systems in the mk3 TT platform, having completed this and being quite familiar with all MQB chassis cars (Like our mk7 Clubsport), we're super confident in making these otherwise special cars sound excellent.
Cost wise, a system to this level can be expected to be in the region of £3,400 as a drive in drive out upgrade, a turn around of approx 3 days with a road test and tuning. There are, of course, varying stages to this system and this one is close to as far as you can go with Audison's AP level kit. Installation is guaranteed for life and our extended Four Master 2 year warranty on registered products will keep the peace of mind you should have after becoming a part of Studio Incar. The sub-standard B&O retrofit will cost approx £3,000 incl of VAT and will come nowhere near this level.
Please, enjoy the rest of the images, and SHARES/LIKES/COMMENTS are, as always, utterly welcomed!
Carl - Studio Incar