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    Thread: The Most Lethal of Car Audio Related Diseases: Chronic Car Audio Indecisionitis – Diagnosis and Treatment

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      The Most Lethal of Car Audio Related Diseases: Chronic Car Audio Indecisionitis – Diagnosis and Treatment

      Came across this brilliant article on DIYMA and thought it would be nice to share it here. This article is written by Bing Xu, one of the most sough after installers in the ICE world.

      A car audio related disease...sounds a bit far fetched? Maybe...but the again, maybe not. If you are passionate about this hobby, chances are at some point or another, you have been nearly driven insane by it. Usually, the whole infection is initiated by a pretty innocuous task that most of us undertake before making any major purchases -- research.

      Let’s face it, we are ALL researchers at heart. Take the last vehicle you purchased for example. How many hours did you devote to reading reviews and comparison tests on various automotive forums and magazines? How many friends did you converse with regarding a particular choice? How many dealership visits and test drives did you go on before finally doing the deed? If you are like me, then the answer is probably more than you can remember.'

      So what’s the big deal about researching car audio? Well, let’s consider this scenario:

      Once again, you are looking to purchase a new car, except in this alternate reality, cars aren’t sold as finished products with a tidy list of options. Instead, body, drive train, interior, suspension and electronics are offered as individual modules, within each of these categories, there are hundreds of individual brand names to choose from. Making matters even more complicated, scores of assembly companies, each featuring different techniques and price points, are on standby to bolt the parts you have picked together into your new ride. Putting the final nail in the coffin, you have virtually no way of test driving a finished car for reference. How maddening would this be?!

      Welcome to the world of car audio! Just as the example above suggests, a car audio system is not sold as a completed piece of merchandise. On any given vehicle, there are probably thousands, if not tens of thousands of combinations involving products and installation procedures that can fit a particular budget. Within this mindboggling array of possibilities, there are choices that can make or break your dreams of acoustic perfection, not to mention the fact that many different combinations can deliver almost identical results.

      What can this colossal mishmash of options do to the research minded consumer? If there is any obsessive compulsive gene in you, researching car audio will likely unleash the monster in full force. One instant you have settled on a particular mix of gear, then the discovery of a new product causes you to switch to another; one day you have decided upon an installation method, the next a single negative review leads you abandon that path. Some of you may have even gone as far as purchasing the equipment, before turning around and selling everything for one reason or another. Days, weeks and months go by and you are no closer to making a final decision, you may even have a hard time sleeping as the endless specs, options and doubts flash by like a freight train.

      You, my friend, have officially been infected with car-audio-indecisionitis, one of the most common and deadly fallouts of car audio research.

      If it sounds like I know the symptoms well, it is because I am a survivor, having had my share of confused days and sleepless nights many years ago. I am sure many of you who are reading this can related to what I have just described; as I converse with quite a few of the infected on a weekly basis, trying my best to guide their way out of the quagmire.

      So here are some of my ideas to help cut through the lunacy that is car audio research and put you back on the path to realizing your car audio dreams.

      Be honest with yourself
      Before conducting any research, give yourself an honest evaluation. Determine how knowledgeable you are when it comes to car audio. Limit your examinations to information that you can readily understand and use in your decision making process. For example, the physical dimensions of an amplifier, along with its RMS output wattage, are much more useful to a novice than the type of resistors and capacitors used on its board. While we all want appear more knowledgeable, doing so in this case will often cram your brain full of terms and jargon that can only prolong your quest while offering little or no meaningful insight.

      Focus on your specific vehicle
      One of the most common mistakes people make is heeding advice regarding products installed in another type of vehicle. Learning about a speaker that is reported to sound great in one type of interior but won’t work well in your desired mounting locations; or craving a subwoofer that performs well in a SUV but can’t fit inside your trunk is, at the end of the day, counterproductive. Focus your energy on reading about your car and what products and techniques have succeeded within its physical and electrical confines. You can do this by visiting vehicle specific web forums, reading magazines, going to local car club meets, or breaking out a tape measure and acclimate yourself with your ride.

      Always keep the big picture in mind
      Before setting out, designate a concrete list of overall goals you would like to achieve with your system. While perusing the vast amount of information available, take a step back from time to time and ask yourself, “Is what I am learning about going to make any real difference within, or fit inside the limits of my goals?” For example, if your overall objective is for a clean sounding passive system with little emphasis on true staging and imaging, average amounts of sub bass and a stealthy, space saving installation in the spare tire well; reading about too many equally impressive speakers, digital signal processors, or subwoofer/enclosure combinations that have no chance of fitting won’t do you any good. Sometimes, new knowledge drives you to modify your existing goals, which is okay to a certain extent, but I strongly suggest restraining yourself to small and limited number of changes and concentrate on physically moving towards the big picture.

      Don’t place so much emphasis on live demos
      Up to this point, it may surprise some of you that I have not suggested demoing products in person. Truth be told, I am not a huge believer in live demos when it comes to car audio for a couple of reasons. First, demoing a product on the sound board will never give you an accurate idea of how it will perform in your car. Secondly, auditioning speakers in a vehicle carries many variables that can detract from its true usefulness. The shape of the interior, the other equipment used in the chain, the quality of installation, and the final tuning all play a huge part in determining the sonic outcome. In the end, only a listening session in an identical vehicle, using virtually the same products, installed in a very similar fashion, and tuned by a good set of ears, can supply you with a somewhat accurate impression of the products involved; an extremely rare possibility at best. Instead, I often find people feeling disillusioned after a live demo, when an excellent product they had in mind, suddenly seemed lackluster due to poor installation and/or bad tuning. I am not saying live listening isn’t useful, but make sure you pick cars with proper installation and setup, and keep in mind the other variables that can affect the end result. At the end of the day, if every other indicator suggests a product is fantastic, don’t let one poor sounding vehicle dissuade you.

      Having faith in quantity and quality of opinions
      Having stated my views on live demos, it is therefore my belief that most of the research and decision making process will be centered on reading and digesting opinions. These come in the form of forum threads, magazine reviews, and conversing directly with your peers. Obviously this is not ideal, however, in the real world we live in, subjective reviews is often what we depend on the most when making decisions. Of course, opinion over-dose is exactly what causes car-audio-indecisionitis; so here are two suggestions to help you utilize opinions in a more efficient and accurate manner. Before all else, you need to find reliable sources of information. Car audio enthusiast forums, selected local shops and participants of a car audio meets and competitions can generally provide you with more accurate information than your average Joe.

      Having secured some dependable sources, my first suggestion is to have faith in quantity of opinions. When learning about a particular product you have In mind, if an overwhelming majority of opinions are of the positive variety, trust that numerical percentage and do not allow the small number of dissident reviews change your mind easily. In the end, every product, regardless of how fantastic it is, will have its detractors.

      My second suggestion is to have faith in quality of opinions. Locate a person or group of people that are experienced, knowledgeable and open minded. Many such gurus offer great tips and pointers everyday and can easily be found after spending some time in a forum or your local car audio scene. Ask them specific questions regarding your ideas and product choices, and value their inputs when making your final decision.

      Get it done!

      In the end, there is simply no substitute for experience when learning about car audio. Once the system is physically installed, you can immediately glean real world, first hand impressions and conclusions about what you like and dislike. All the suggestions mentioned above cannot guarantee you the perfect system on your first try, rather, they are meant to maximize your chances to start off on the right foot and build a solid foundation. So always keep that in mind, and when you find yourself slipping ever deeper into the black hole of information overload, remind yourself that getting the system set up will give you far more valuable feedback than any amount of second hand research. Take a step back from the precipice and forge ahead towards the actual purchase and installation phase. GET IT DONE!

      In conclusion, I am fully aware that no amount of guidance can alter basic human nature. Many of you will still suffer from indecisionitis despite reading this. However, it is my hope that some of you, can take a few of these ideas to heart and avoid getting stuck. I am a pretty obsessive compulsive person myself, and by following these values, I have managed to avoid that most maddening of disease over the past decade.

      Until next time, take care.
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      Great share rahul,very practical,don't know about diagnosis but I could give a sure shot treatment mentioned below...
      Throw out karanbhatia out of the forum lol
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      Quote Originally Posted by hareshjethwani View Post
      Great share rahul,very practical,don't know about diagnosis but I could give a sure shot treatment mentioned below...
      Throw out karanbhatia out of the forum lol
      There are lot more than him. the Army of Zombies is rising
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      I've never had this issue. for me upgraditis is the worst disease.

      How I manage Research/Indecisionitis

      1. Fix a budget. engrave it in stone (maybe add a 5% tolerance if you find out about an upgrade that has positive marginal utility -most upgrades fall into the diminishing marginal utility region)

      2. Fix an installer. More often than not, it helps if you have a good relationship with your installer, especially if he is head and shoulders above the rest. This will also mean that you have a limited portfolio of brands to choose from, and within this portfolio, you'll receive more or less impartial and objective advice.

      3. Become a fanboy of certain brands. I'm for example of fanboy of alpine HU's and hertz speakers. I would rather listen to my mobile rather than spend my hard earned money on a pioneer and JBL combo (even if said pioneer is a P80RS). I know its not rational, but it helps, doesn't it . Once you've narrowed down your choice of brands, then choosing the models is easy as the manufacturer has already made the rest of your work easy

      4. Prioritize. If you are looking at n permutations and combinations of speakers, HU and amplification and rest of the stuff, establish priorities and then use them to make decisions. for ex, when choosing between a sub and amp combo, the sub matters more, so choose your sub first, and then the amp that will go best with it. My order of priorities is
      installer>front comps>Head Unit>Sub>front amp>damping>sub amp>wiring

      5. Other prejudices (yes I'm aware they are prejudices). For speakers, I look for something that has high sensitivity, if am not amping them, silk/ textile for tweeters as opposed to metal, paper/woven cones as opposed to plastic ( IMO mother nature makes the best stuff). No class D amps (nothing I cannot repair with a soldering iron and a multimeter)

      Please note that these are not a solution to find the best possible combo, but a heuristic to arrive at a reasonably good one, without much confusion.
      Last edited by greenhorn; 20th Apr 2012 at 06:07.
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