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(Makes me wonder if Subaru is trying anf failing spectacularly at making the speakers for their ever changing doors and dash, and Harman just the fit-many HU and amp. Doesn't seem like any way that any one in the audio buisness would produce and sell anything close to these, especially owners of the Infinity and JBL car speaker prouction facilities. That seems like what Im looking at.)
 

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Discussion Starter #22
Agreed on tweeter design. My favorite sound is a soft dome with a massive magnet behind it. The MB Quarts are an anomaly because they have neodymium magnets that are 10+ times more powerful than strontium ones. My tweeters can afford the small magnet size and still offer great performance, but there isn't a prayer that those tiny button magnets behind the stock dash speakers are neodymium.

Those 3" Polk coaxials you have are exactly what I'm hoping to achieve.
 

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Yes, Cruthfield said the dash out is also mid passed but they dont know where.

Ill try reasonable quality door drivers directly, and if not yet excellent, drop the dash lines in parallel.

After that, sub 8" driver upgrade, and if needed, last sub amp only on speaker level input line with adjustable gain/output. It will suceed. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #24
Here's a crazy question. Has anyone on this forum looked at the line-level feeds coming from the head unit to the amplifier under the passenger seat? Are the crossover frequencies established in the head unit or in the amplifier? There might be many more options available if there is even a single full-range line-level feed anywhere within the system. In my old '93 Miata, I found a set of wires inside the head unit that were line-level (pre-amp) and still controlled by the volume knob. Fader and balance controls did not work on those feeds, but it was enough to integrate an aftermarket amplifier. Just curious.
 

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Here's a crazy question. Has anyone on this forum looked at the line-level feeds coming from the head unit to the amplifier under the passenger seat? Are the crossover frequencies established in the head unit or in the amplifier? There might be many more options available if there is even a single full-range line-level feed anywhere within the system. In my old '93 Miata, I found a set of wires inside the head unit that were line-level (pre-amp) and still controlled by the volume knob. Fader and balance controls did not work on those feeds, but it was enough to integrate an aftermarket amplifier. Just curious.
I soon discovered all the other threads here with bits and puzzle pieces. Most memorable is one where someone posted audio testing of the 3 pairs of speakers with tones and indicated that none (not even rear door) appeared capable of receiving a full range. (Crutchfield on the other hand indicated that the rear doors of the 2012 HK does get a a full range signal to the coaxials. Not sure but will find out.). Otherwise, that the HK stock head unit is sending a speaker level signal to the amp, but with 1,000 Ohm impedance. :) Sounds about right for what I'm finding out overall, they tried and keep trying to reinvent the wheel here at 100 years in on car radio.

The HK system maybe all years to '19 at least is apprently designed around the idea of home theater 'surround' sound rather than car audio? Which its defenders describe as attempting to present a stage-like environment forward of the front seat. Then the more common Non-Nav head unit lacks the software controls to disable that DSP-ing ("bypass" control), so is stuck in a mode where any use of the fader control to bring up the normal car audio reinforcing rears-sub just leads to lowering the front two amp channels (dash and door), and amplifing a vague processed or even maybe a DSP delayed "fill" sound or echo simulation- "fill" seemingly a term invented to justify the error, perhaps.

So, Clunker, indeed 'is there even a single full-range line' anywhere in the system in this car?

SF
 

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More information today- I got a look at the front door speakers, and finally see something substantial. Big magnets, wide roll surround, nice material on the cone.

I went ahead with the replacement shallow mount Infinity Reference 6.5" EX series, knowing they would only get a 'low pass' signal from the HK amp, somewhere around below 200 Hz. Leaving the passenger side, I was able to do A-B comparisons with the Balance control (just don't try that with "Eleanor Rigby").

The originals have more bass than my replacements, but maybe a little extra hollow sound, latter not significant. However, there was a good difference in volume, reduced on the replacement Infinity. When on the A or drivers side, I could now hear the sub way back in the car for the first time really ever from the driver's seat. Not too bad either. On the B side, the bass pass volume was louder than the sub, eclipse it entirely. (None of this is adjustable by the user in any way, fader control must stay on the mid spot or everything goes in the bin immediately.)

Testing the Ohms then, the original is actually 1.5 Ohms or less, where the Infiinty sold as "3 ohms" measures up 2.7 Ohms. There's the volume reduction.

So what I'm concluding there is that the 'muddy bass' signature of the system described all over this forum is what happens if you low pass a 6.5" super low Ohm speaker in a car door. It is trying to do bass frequencies that speakers over 8" begin to do, but in the 6.5" size without a tuned cabinet you get a 'loose' or 'muddy' (slow, lacking articulation/speed, etc) loud door speaker putting out poorly reproduced bass masking everything, then trying to push it back with a high mounted midrange. :)

Rather than leave the front doors asymmetric in keeping with the, shall we say, ongoing 'experimental' HK/Subaru effort, more listening indicates that:
1. This will work, a quality tweeter or combo mid and tweeter as Clunker is after on the dash
2. Replace front door with a higher Ohm speaker, a decent shallow coaxial cheaper than a 6.5 component to lower the volume of an amp-enforced 'too small' low pass fronts
3. Leave the stock sub alone, as you can now finally hear it after steps 1&2.

Then as a last step, get optoinally put some nice coaxials in the rear door and throw away the trash you find under that panel, or disconnect it. You won't be able to use them much with the fader control as explained above, but at mid-fader the Polk db652 I used sound good and are probably providing the majority of the mids from there in the setup described.

It is not 'awesome', but its certainly now listenable compared to stock and worth if as it takes about a half hour per door, and the cost is low. To go up to the level that most aftermarket car stereo have been easily able to do since, ah, the 70s, you would have to spend a lot of money and time and remove both the head unit, the amp, and then all the speakers except maybe the front doors and sub. If you would get back-up camera, wheel controls, or any proper integrations partly or fully back is beyond me, and there's where I would go to a really good shop and pay the big dollars for a complete 'sterilization' of the HK sound upgrade disaster.

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Answer seems to be "no".
Front door is low pass at amp/HU, capable of doing only up to 255Hz, sound gone by around 300Hz, and pretty rolled off by that point in terms of vocals.

Rear door is NOT full range, but high passed at 150Hz and above only :( Crutchfield was wrong. Rear door then can then have a lot of the voice mids 150Hz to 255Hz, but you cant bring them up by fader over -1 back without crushing the sub. Ridiculous, but 1,2,3 plus 4) rear door upgrades as above does work well, and/or a small tweeter in parallel cut in next to hk dash mids. 🙂
 

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OK, a bit of a 'Eureka' now it seems.

When I completed the swap of both fronts for Polk db652s, I noticed a complete failure in the effort. Not sure, but I think that the very low Ohm resistance of the front stock allows it to 'boom loud and loose', previously in my progress, just on the left side. With that gone entirely, I got a really pale thin sound overall. Especially with my Braun tweeter swap on the dash.

Back to the drawing board then, I:
#1 Restored the original high-passed HK stock full range dash 2.5s- this is an interesting speaker indeed, and I think the HK DSP ecosystem we are stuck with it unless you want to change the HU, depends on it. (They are still using it in the '18 Imprezza HK package, but now it is 8 Ohms, NOT the coaxial claimed in '17).
#2 Went to my front door Polk db652 swap with closed-cell foam weather stripping and coarse mesh pond filter media for backing (see pictures). Added that backing material and made sure the fronts were nicely sealed to the door, even an ugly ring of gorilla tape (see pictures).
#3 Replaced the rear doors then instead with the most sensitive and lowest Ohm 6.5" speakers I could find, the Infinity Reference 6.5ex (92db claimed, 3 ohm measured)

This worked nicely! But I still did not get the expected sound from a car stereo that I learned to love over the years, just overall a lack of power and especially drums. A great example would be any well-known Led Zeppelin track- the 2012 HK effort at reinventing the wheel still just not cutting it even with a lot of help.

OK, here's the thing, Now the front doors are tighter midbass as Polk db series (compared to say Subaru basket and Harman badge on it), but they are too low level in the balance that the HK amp enforces by DSP, and no real user adjustment allowed.

#4 I added a 4 ohm (3.9 sand cast, Madisound) on the restored front dash mids positive lead. (for 3dB reduction in level, no issue with active crossover as amp)
Eureka. (Needed if you upgrade the front doors to a faster quality cone, componenet or coax-essentially the same at this level audio.)

Now things are sounding and behaving in at least a semblance of what I expect from a reasonably good car stereo! The 3 band EQ then begins to work a little like normal, but each single notch step is important, and now the fader even sounds better a little back (see picture) as expected in a car stereo. Whew! Had just about given up before doubling down on this 'speaker only effort' (important for many of us for extended warantees, wives, desired full car function, you know minor stuff like that ;)

I get a decent bit of the 'punch' that was entirely missing stock, I get a whole car sound instead of just all dash. If there's any tiny bit of success by HK with this, the dash mid cone is indeed remarkable, and we all know full range drivers can be. ;) (No cross over in the key vocal range, for example, Epicure's '8" module' speaker).

OK, I am satisfied. Sorry about some 'red herrings' along the way, but fun to share the experience.

Future Prospects:
I could imagine just a bit more drum impact perhaps, but maybe those days are gone- and having
finally restored some.🤔 I realized eventually after reading everything about all these very similar sounding HK amped configurations described that one can perhaps still tap the 'speaker level' off the existing sub line from the amp, and get the sub range (though does it also jump around with volume and potentislly even car speed like the six other channels?). (There is no full range stable HK amp output in a 2012 OB HK that is usable/correctable even the direct HU output for it.) Otherwise tomorrow I will open the stock +HK sub enclosure and stuff it with tennis shoes and pond filter media and FatMat the back metal- but not expecting much there.

Hope this helps others take a more direct route, I recommend it, cost about $200 to swap all the door speakers, and $20 for the resistors and foam and tape. The doors on the '12 are excellent to remove and replace, just like one would expect from excellent Japanese engineering.
-SF

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Last step, is there actually really a sub in the back?

I dug out the sub- DO NOT follow Crutchfield instructions here! The 8" cone is mounted from the back of the metal body plate- you will damage it by just unscrewing the 4 x 3/4" head screws on the front of the cone, and trying to pull or pry it out forward.

So this part of the HK package is again interesting. I finally am wondering if those tiny lightweight magnets in the rear doors and dash speakers are neodynium. This one looks odd enough to be something unique- which matches the claimed 'dual coil' 2 ohm parallel 1ohm design. (I had looked at 8" drivers for further speaker replacement improvement, but a dual voice coil X 2Ohm or 1 Ohm sub is a rare bird indeed.)

I was looking to add just a little more fast accurate bass achieved to a limited extent with Polk db652 in the front door and Infinitry Ref 65ex in the rear, and thinking that the cargo corner sub does sound right except that you have to be outside the car standing in back to hear it. :) Comedy of errors HK/Subaru. So I added some thick commercial carpet padding and butyl rubber matting (FatMat brand, black face) behind the sub its t large quarter panel cavity wall.

More importantly, I covered the inside face of the plastic grill panel (except for the round grill itself) with this rubber FatMat stuff, extending all around the body panel. This was the only notable change in sound, now when I "crank it" (and quickly turn it back down due to otherwise pleasing mid-centric dash sound distorting) I no longer have the plastic 'buzz' that mine had and at anything above quiet listening. You could probably just dampen the backside of the enclosing panel alone, and get 90% of this final step.

Overall, I'm really pleased by the new sound. With the dash reduced as described, and the front door less-efficient 4 ohm Polks, I now hear good tweeter highs from the rear doors, even with fader control +1 to front, thereby avoiding HK DSP imposed starting at fader -1 (rearwards).

(There is still room for a bit further accurate mid-low bass enhancement perhaps, so I may amp the sub higher independently using its own speaker level inputs, as there are two excellent large wells in the back under the cargo floor, and I already ran circuit breakers and 10ga back there for the hitch. Probably use an auto on/off 2 channel amp like Pioneers GM, and elevate the sub maybe 3dB of so. With that, I'd guess this will become a little above a 'pretty good' car audio system .)

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OK that got intense quickly. definitely some interesting stuff here. Thanks. Here I was thinking this system sounded pretty OK until y'all started making me criticize it. Still really thanks though. But to kinda summarize and keep simple........ seems like replacing the trash rear door speakers with a good 6.75 inch coaxial is probably the right place for someone to start? Since the front door driver seems ok quality and gets no highs no point? Then from there consider trying to get a tweeter mixed in with the dash speaker? And lastly maybe replace the sub if unsatisfied there? With this logic do I need to pay attention to ohm resistances of the speakers or just get what's available/fits space/fits budget?
 

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Discussion Starter #31
Ohm resistance is pretty important with this system. Not sure why car manufacturers decided to stray from mainstream audio parameters, but everything used to be approximately 4 ohms. Now, some stock speakers have as little as 1 or even 0.5-ohm resistance, even though aftermarket stuff is still based on 4 ohms. As a general rule, the lower the impedance/resistance, the higher the wattage and volume. Unwanted artifacts that hitchhike with that higher power are poor signal-to-noise levels and higher distortion. One of the biggest problems with inconsistent resistance is that it can change crossover frequencies. For example, placing an inline capacitor on a tweeter that is rated at 4 ohms will have a substantially different result on a tweeter that is rated at 2 ohms.

In my personal opinion, the rear doors are the least important component of the entire sound system (unless you spend a lot of time in the back seat). They are arguably the worst sounding speakers in the car, but I am much more concerned with sound that is in front of me and whether I have low frequency bass that does not overpower everything else. Just my two cents. All of this experiment is still a work in progress, and thankfully Sydsfloyd67 and I have been collaborating efforts outside of this thread. After a health scare with my dog last weekend, I will be back on task this weekend, and I should have a verdict on whether the custom coaxial dash speaker design was worth the effort.
 

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I saw room for further improvement in treble, and added Polk 3/4" silk dome component tweeters to the 'front doors' on the black kick panels as shown below. This is good because you don't have to struggle with wiring through the hinges. IMG_4253.jpg Alp.jpg Settings.jpg I wired them in parallel with the dash HK mid-tweeter that I put back in, splicing before the 4 Ohm sand cast resistor in series used to attenuate the dash volume (see above). They came with polk crossovers, so I used those and dropped the tweeter -6db with jumper setting "0", and pushed them up under the dash. (You can find these tweeters and crossovers new on ebay and amazon, they are from db6502 component sets.)

This worked great, keeping the tweeter as close to the woofer I found as important in the car as it is in a home speaker.

Finally, I tapped into both the HK stock sub voice coils in back with speaker wire, and added an Alpine pw-S8 self-powered sub in the tray under the cargo floor in parallel (wiring looks like both sub voice coils are also in parallel, presumably 4 ohms then, and could be changed to serial- I'd not measure the resistance of those but need to.).

OK, that's it. The HK amp itself just does not have any 'power', and is largely just an unwanted DSP that cannot be adjusted, controlled, or easily removed from this setup.

With the system described, I finally get the best sound with every EQ and balance set to flat/0.

(y)

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    ps. Dont use any source other than USB (best) or a modern iphone. Everything else sound like crap through that hk system, even an ipod touch 5, somehow.
 

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OK that got intense quickly. definitely some interesting stuff here. Thanks. Here I was thinking this system sounded pretty OK until y'all started making me criticize it. Still really thanks though. But to kinda summarize and keep simple........ seems like replacing the trash rear door speakers with a good 6.75 inch coaxial is probably the right place for someone to start? Since the front door driver seems ok quality and gets no highs no point? Then from there consider trying to get a tweeter mixed in with the dash speaker? And lastly maybe replace the sub if unsatisfied there? With this logic do I need to pay attention to ohm resistances of the speakers or just get what's available/fits space/fits budget?
The first thing I'd recommend is adding a sand cast 4 ohm in line with the stock dash mid-tweeters. Got those from Madisound. Just pop those out using a multi screwdriver tip alone in your hand, no need to do any cutting up there which is pleasing.

After that, change the front door speakers because they are lacking in controlled bass and too loud at very low resistance. Any good coaxial will be fine there for price and better woofer cone than stock (is all the signal it will get). Be sure to get closed cell foam weather striping and imitate the stock speaker in making a seal between the front rim and the door housing that will touch it. (If you put any sound deadening in the door, it has to be waterproof as rain gets in there, I used coarse pond filter media as shown above.)

Next most important is a toss up between efficient low ohm rear coaxials, and adding a self powered 8" sub in the well under the cargo floor. If you get the front correctly tuned as above, then you will want to hear the rear speakers and the stock HK/Subaru speaker in the rear door is a joke. The Inifinity 6.5ex ones are 93db efficiency and 3 ohms, so that brings up their presence while still keeping the EQ fader exactly on the center mark (important). (Didn't try amping the stock sub directly but that's an option too. You can add any stuffing in the rear sub panels and behind it as water does not get in there. DO NOT try to pull the stock sub cone forward, just leave it in the metal mounting and undo the entire metal plate it is mounted in, and work on the back of it.)
 

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I had a chance to listen to another two relevant car stereos last couple days for comparison- the first being the HK-package/HK amped one in the 2018 Impreza, as delivered. Then the 1998 Avalon XLS upgrade stereo in the car it replaced.

I can say for sure that the limited modification I described above in post #33 for the 2013 HK Outback,
  • PLUS adding Polk Audio 3/4" silk dome tweeters (from db6502 components, including crossover at '0' tweeter setting for -6db attenuation) propperly positioned at the front door kick plate panels close to the door woofers as shown above.
Is as good as the success that Toyota had with their luxury car stereo upgrades back when cars rarely had battery issues. ; ) The '98 Avalon has what I thought as good as the best car stereo I had heard to date, just simpler.

It's easy to loose your perspective once you go down the road of trying to 'fix' a modern "upgraded" car stereo package perhaps, as the longer you work on it, the higher your expectations rise.

(In comparison the '18 Impreza HK package corrected many of the clear problems of the anemic OB '13 HK. It has pretty big warm bass, and really nice detail and imaging at all conventional volumes, but is only 'great' on a subset of genres as others have described. Say Jazz, adult contemporary, etc. It is lacking entirely when it comes to the fast midbass and drumming that you so often find in classic rock. Turning it up to try to add some just distorts and fails. For that I'll first try just adding the same Apline-SW8 powered sub under the drivers seat, and see it that can fill out the missing "punch", Not sure about the rather amazing dash soundstage they did achieve there with a different updated dash single-cone, that was a line that I found I could not cross with the Outback- but it can now fit a standard 3.5" coaxial like the db352. Exploring that in another forum here: Model Year 2018 and Newer - Harman Kardon amp bypass)
 
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