A Christmas time blog post that has absolutely nothing to do with Christmas and everything to do with a MK3 Audi TT Audio System Upgrade. We will go through how we went about it and the way the car has responded to our system design.
MK3 Audi TT Audio Upgrade - Introduction and Background
The car audio industry is relatively small and the specialist car audio industry (where we sit) is even smaller. From the inside you get to know who's who and who's worth their weight. This particular project is one of many referrals from Tim at Advanced In-car Technologies. They had just completed the front acoustic parking sensor, rear cam and activated the optical parking display on this car.
The Importance of Understanding the Owner
We received an email from Colin, the owner of this extremely well maintained Audi TT. So good infact, that upon inpsection, not a single panel had been lifted. In short, this gives us an accurate idea of the type of customer we're dealing with.
It needn't make a difference as our standards don't shift but I'm sure Colin will agree he's very particular. The type of client 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 to 50 emails/calls deep to ensure all I's are dotted and T's are crossed before asking for a final decision.
A Mutual Understanding
Before we press on I'd like to talk more about Colin. Colin's wife is a Composer/Producer of music. At their home is a small studio for Mastering/Mixing and all the other wonderful things that come with producing music.
"Hybrid Classical" I believe was the genre 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.
Colin and his regular co-pilot are well-versed in good sound. Not just music, but good sound ,which is always a pleasure to take on. We can impress most people at half steam, however 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.
Car Audio System Brief - Speakers and Amplifiers
With the consultation booked, I wanted to check a few things with the car to make sure we could deliver on the ideas for this MK3 Audi TT Audio Upgrade. The day soon came around and a plan was set in stone.
Initial discussions were primarily around a two or three-way system. All active of course and a bass option for both. My thoughts were on the location of the three-way and speaker depth potential. Because we needed to know if we could supply a non-Bang and Olufsen midrange grill, as we didn't want to use this branded grill to upset the OEM lines of the car.
We answered those questions with a little reseach and thorough inspection. Phil at TPS (who gets nowhere near the credit he deserves in our VAG projects!) proved to be hugely helpful. So, we decided on the equipment there and then.
Equipment Kit List
- 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
Into the Workshop
We ordered the correct panels from TPS to cover our new Audison Voce 3" midrange and were ready to start the project. We made multiple rings of 50mm treated MDF to go in place of the rather nasty plastic OEM units. After that, we made midrange grilles from aluminium and passed them through one of our routers to true them up.
With the baffles made and treated, the speakers were test fitted for clearances and then installed. Note OEM speakers next to our speakers in the pic below.
Door Sound Deadening and Equipment Installation
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 as it would certainly represent itself in the midbass reproduction of the system.
We build our systems in stages and completely finish each stage before starting the next. With the speakers fitted and tested, the door panels get treated and then refitted.
Meanwhile. the grilles we ordered had arrived, so we fitted them as the doors were built back up.
We were hoping the Hertz Mille Legend tweeters would fit without hassle into the OEM cups. However, this wasn't the case, so we took part numbers and set about modifying the removable OEM mount. This enabled us to kick the tweeters slightly more than the original fit. Very important given the not-so-ideal original location.
OEM / Mille Legend comparison pictures below.
System Integration - Amplifiers and DSP
Now onto the amplifiers and integration aspect of the MK3 Audi TT Audio Updrade. 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 this factory system, we therefore choose to integrate at "high level" using the OEM speaker outputs as our systems input. 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 however). We spec'd the Audison AP4.9Bit as our control amplifier. This line of DSP amps have 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 and an Audison AP1D on sub bass duties.
Discretion is Key
Part of the original brief on this MK3 Audi TT Audio Upgrade was absolutely no visible signs of the system. This was for security reasons and not to spoil the original, classy lines of the car. The amps were all installed underneath the front seats and presented 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
With it powered up and 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.
Passive Subwoofer Box
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 we discussed the bass section of this system late on in the proceedings. However, for what Colin uses the car for this "quick release" bass system is perfect.
A 4-way push-fit connector plugs in to the subwoofer. We made some self-adhesive carpet feet for the supplied velcro to bite with and keep itself stable on the rubber floor mat. Above all, this sub package lends itself to an OEM look with its tough carpeted finish and classy embroidered Audison logo.
Similarly, whilst on the subject of the subwoofer, I find the APBX subwoofer enclosures from Audison to be one of those rarities that needn't sound the way they do for their price point because 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.
System Tuning and Final Tweaks
With the subwoofer installed and the car completely back together it was time to sit and tune the system. However, it was at this point we actually kept the car back for 24 hours. During final checks, we discovered 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. Above all, it's not the problem that defines us, it's the solution!
With this complete we moved onto the tuning stage. Originally I questioned the OEM location of the midrange, nearly talking Colin out of his ideal 3-way system into a higher end two way. On my mind was how the tweeters would interact with their relative location to the windscreen. In conclusion, 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. 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.
Results and Conclusion
Most importantly, Colin is extremely happy with the upgrade in performance of this system. He assures me his wife 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.
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 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.
For example, 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!
If you a have an Audi TT that you would like to have a system done in, please contact us to discuss. You'll be amazed at what we can do in this car.
- 01489 877987