Author Topic: Really poor sounding stereo.  (Read 930 times)

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Offline Ste7en

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Really poor sounding stereo.
« on: August 20, 2018, 10:04:21 PM »
Our Mazda 3 2.0 SE NAV Fastback has one of the worst sounding car stereo systems I have ever heard.

It sounds like it is mono and coming from somewhere behind the centre console, you have to really crank it up to hear it as well.

Doesn't appear to be a Bose system as there is no badging.

Thinking about treating it to new speakers when we get it back.

Any recommendations regarding this route? I really just want a quick, easy fix that won't cost a fortune.

Offline StevenRB45

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Re: Really poor sounding stereo.
« Reply #1 on: August 21, 2018, 04:54:01 PM »
Might be worth chatting with autosounds when they do your camera. They built the I.C.E. in my last car and it was very good indeed.

Probably not the cheapest though, but worth a chat to see what the options are as the problem could the quality of the head unit not the speakers themselves so an upgrade may not solve it.

Will say Mazda oem audio tends to be pretty good though so are you sure it's all working as it should/hasn't been set to something random like balance 100% left channel and 100% rear fade?

Offline Ste7en

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Re: Really poor sounding stereo.
« Reply #2 on: August 22, 2018, 10:39:35 AM »
Thanks for the reply. I'll have a chat with the Autosounds guys when I get the car back (five weeks this Friday!)

I'm not sure about getting a new head unit as I assumed the whole 'infotainment' system was integrated. I figured that a speaker upgrade could be the easiest and cheapest option.

I've been through all the settings and it all seems okay, no really odd settings. Unless I'm missing a 'mono' option somewhere :)

Offline StevenRB45

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Re: Really poor sounding stereo.
« Reply #3 on: August 22, 2018, 01:34:47 PM »
It's been a while since I've messed with this stuff (autosounds did my stereo on 2009!) but I believe you can keep the stock HU.

My understanding is the factory headunits in many cases have a built in equaliser that you cannot adjust. This takes into account the spec of the speakers fitted as standard, any frequencies that are likely to cause the doors to rattle, that sort of thing basically to get the best sound out of the cheapest possible parts. If you put new speakers in that will still apply, but you can get a unit (the name of which is escaping my brain I'm afraid) that takes the output of the stereo and effectively undoes the factory equalisation so if you then fit new speakers you can tune it to suit them.

Having said that the sound should not be mono so when the car comes back adjust the sound front to back and left to right all the way to ensure all speakers are working.
« Last Edit: August 22, 2018, 01:41:33 PM by StevenRB45 »

Offline red_imps_2003

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Re: Really poor sounding stereo.
« Reply #4 on: August 24, 2018, 03:25:33 PM »
This is far outside my area of expertise; I am no audiophile. I would note, though, that I noticed a marked difference between the sound in my 2009 (early mk2) Mazda compared to the Focus (LX trim, so the most basic available) that preceded it. I actually found it quite a disconcerting experience in a way I had not noticed in the transition between previous cars I have owned or rented.

I wouldn't describe it as 'quieter' in the way you are experiencing (although it was a bit different having to set the volume at 20 rather than 10 or so, which probably just reflects a different range or calibration). What I found odd was that, rather than sounding as though the sound was all around me and coming from within the centre of the cabin, it was quite marked that the sound in the Mazda appeared to be coming from much lower down, as though well beneath my head rather than around it. Almost from the footwells, I would say.

I have no complaints about the overall quality of the sound and I am not one for sharing my appalling taste in music or...er...Radio 5 with anybody unfortunate enough to be passing by, so I have never tested the limits of the volume range, but this 'low down' effect bugged me for a while in the early days (must have been a week or two). I have not noticed it for some time so my perceptions have re-calibrated to a new 'normal' but it would be interesting to see how things sound when I next have cause to use the stereo in another vehicle.

Despite the odd 'direction' of the sound, I was just glad to finally have a radio with decent medium wave reception, that doesn't silence for half a second every couple of minutes, and, most of all, doesn't subject me to a sound like a fax transmission for 30secs every time I switched the engine off. There was clearly an issue with the shielding on that one I was far too tight to investigate, but boy was it nice when I was shot of it!

Hoping you can amend your hardware to something that works better for you without too much expense.
So I was stood there trying to work out why the cricket ball was getting larger and larger...and then it hit me.

Offline Ste7en

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Re: Really poor sounding stereo.
« Reply #5 on: August 26, 2018, 09:40:47 AM »
It's been a while since I've messed with this stuff (autosounds did my stereo on 2009!) but I believe you can keep the stock HU.

My understanding is the factory headunits in many cases have a built in equaliser that you cannot adjust. This takes into account the spec of the speakers fitted as standard, any frequencies that are likely to cause the doors to rattle, that sort of thing basically to get the best sound out of the cheapest possible parts. If you put new speakers in that will still apply, but you can get a unit (the name of which is escaping my brain I'm afraid) that takes the output of the stereo and effectively undoes the factory equalisation so if you then fit new speakers you can tune it to suit them.

Having said that the sound should not be mono so when the car comes back adjust the sound front to back and left to right all the way to ensure all speakers are working.

Thanks StevenRB4. Pretty sure I sat on the drive adjusting all the levels etc. just trying to get it to sound okay. I checked various balances and the sound did pan around the cabin. I'm just not used to having a system in a car that you have to turn up so loud just to hear it while driving. It is almost like there is a hidden mute button somewhere I've overlooked... which wouldn't surprise me :)

Offline Ste7en

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Re: Really poor sounding stereo.
« Reply #6 on: August 26, 2018, 09:45:55 AM »
This is far outside my area of expertise; I am no audiophile. I would note, though, that I noticed a marked difference between the sound in my 2009 (early mk2) Mazda compared to the Focus (LX trim, so the most basic available) that preceded it. I actually found it quite a disconcerting experience in a way I had not noticed in the transition between previous cars I have owned or rented.

I wouldn't describe it as 'quieter' in the way you are experiencing (although it was a bit different having to set the volume at 20 rather than 10 or so, which probably just reflects a different range or calibration). What I found odd was that, rather than sounding as though the sound was all around me and coming from within the centre of the cabin, it was quite marked that the sound in the Mazda appeared to be coming from much lower down, as though well beneath my head rather than around it. Almost from the footwells, I would say.

I have no complaints about the overall quality of the sound and I am not one for sharing my appalling taste in music or...er...Radio 5 with anybody unfortunate enough to be passing by, so I have never tested the limits of the volume range, but this 'low down' effect bugged me for a while in the early days (must have been a week or two). I have not noticed it for some time so my perceptions have re-calibrated to a new 'normal' but it would be interesting to see how things sound when I next have cause to use the stereo in another vehicle.

Despite the odd 'direction' of the sound, I was just glad to finally have a radio with decent medium wave reception, that doesn't silence for half a second every couple of minutes, and, most of all, doesn't subject me to a sound like a fax transmission for 30secs every time I switched the engine off. There was clearly an issue with the shielding on that one I was far too tight to investigate, but boy was it nice when I was shot of it!

Hoping you can amend your hardware to something that works better for you without too much expense.

Thanks red_imps_2003. It does sound like it is coming from somewhere below and behind the central pillar. It is really odd.

It makes me wonder though, as you have probably explained my problems much better than I have. Having to crank up the audio just to hear it and then it sounds like it is coming from somewhere 'down there'. I'm staring to wonder if those upper dashboard 'tweeters' have somehow been disconnected.

Offline StevenRB45

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Re: Really poor sounding stereo.
« Reply #7 on: August 27, 2018, 01:28:56 PM »
If that's the case you can move the sound around the cabin with the bass and treble settings. More treble = more sound from the high mounted tweeters, more bass = more sound through the door bins due to the respective frequency ranges of the speakers. Also turn "loud" off then tune it, I'd totally forgotten about doing that given it was 4 years ago but it gives the stereo a really muddy sound.

Offline Ste7en

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Re: Really poor sounding stereo.
« Reply #8 on: August 27, 2018, 03:16:19 PM »
If that's the case you can move the sound around the cabin with the bass and treble settings. More treble = more sound from the high mounted tweeters, more bass = more sound through the door bins due to the respective frequency ranges of the speakers. Also turn "loud" off then tune it, I'd totally forgotten about doing that given it was 4 years ago but it gives the stereo a really muddy sound.

Awesome. I'll check for a 'loud' setting when I get it back. Cheers!

Offline StevenRB45

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Re: Really poor sounding stereo.
« Reply #9 on: August 27, 2018, 03:30:56 PM »
I was out in mine earlier and had a play with it and could not find "loud" anywhere (perhaps I'm remembering a previous car) but you can definitely move the sound around with bass and treble. Got mine set to +2 treble and +1 bass. It's the poor man's centre point adjustment for if you haven't got the bose.

Was sure I'd switched it off but now can't find it, oh well.
« Last Edit: August 28, 2018, 08:41:08 AM by StevenRB45 »

Offline Engineer Andy

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Re: Really poor sounding stereo.
« Reply #10 on: August 27, 2018, 08:16:57 PM »
Does the gen3 car have a mid-range setting like my gen1?  I find it sounds much better if, like Steven, I set the bass up a bit, the treble a touch more, but the mid range down a bit, rather like we used to do on old home HiFis with graphic equalisers in the classic 'U' shape.  In theory, the better the system, the less the need to adjust the frequency profile.  I suspect there's a fault with the system (head unit or speakers/wiring) if sounds awful even after fiddling, unless there's some setting that completely changes everything.

I always find that playing a decent quality CD is the best way in getting the sound right - MP3s and the radio (especially DAB, which I find 'dull' when compared to a decent stereo FM signal as the UK's low bit-rate DAB-1 is not as good as the 2nd gen version on the continent) isn't as good as they are lossy formats or are subject to variations in signal quality due to the weather and location.  My gen1 car's stereo is actually quite decent - it isn't even the range-topping Bose version either.

Worth having it checked out by someone with more expertise than a main dealer if it persists, assuming its not under warranty where Mazda will have to replace it FOC.

Offline Ste7en

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Re: Really poor sounding stereo.
« Reply #11 on: September 02, 2018, 09:00:01 AM »
Thanks Engineer Andy, I'll get it looked at I think. I may be missing something. Like how to turn it off :)

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Re: Really poor sounding stereo.
« Reply #11 on: September 02, 2018, 09:00:01 AM »