Thursday, December 30, 2010

Upgrading the Audio System

(Note: in the sequence of events, this should have been posted in July 2010)
Many people like to listen to the engine and road noise when they drive. I don’t. That’s why I really like my BMW525i. It is agile, smooth, plenty of power, and quiet. The audio system in the Bimmer is first class, too. Nice clear and full audio with two subwoofers underneath the seats. The Esprit, in the other hand, has one of the worst audio systems for an “upper class” car. It has no bass, and the tinny sound from the 4 small speakers is usually covered up by the engine and the road noise. This is fine on short trips, but I want to drive it more. I need to update the audio system.

In order to have good sound quality when I turn it up loud to cover up the road and engine noise, I need an amp. I got an small Kenwood amp for the 4 smaller speaker set. The amp fits nicely between the back window and the steering fluid tank, can’t even see it if you do not know it is there. The big problem is the bass boxes. We all know there is not a lot of room in the cockpit of an Esprit. A big bass box will not fit anywhere. Luckily I found the perfect place for the bass boxes.

I am well under 6 feet and so do most of my friends and families. I have to move the driver’s seat up in order to reach and press the clutch fully when driving. Therefore, I have an about 3 inches behind the seats. I found a pair of Fusion 8” powered subwoofers that can fit behind the seats nicely. I decided to use two power subwoofers in series so I can get the effect of a bigger subwoofer. I have Fry’s installed them for me. They did a good job and it looks nice (see pictures below).

The last and the most important thing to upgrade is the head unit. Since the Esprit only have a single din space for the audio head unit and I wanted a GPS display with the unit, I got a unit with a 7” retractable screen. It has built in GPS, Blue tooth, CD/DVD/MP3/Video/iPod control, pretty much everything I wanted. I installed this myself. It look simple enough, until I found out the screen can’t not pop out fully due to the end of the Esprit S4’s instrument panel is sticking out. I solve this problem by sticking the unit out for a couple of inches. It looks kind of ugly, but it does the job. Now there is another problem. Since it is sticking out so much and there is not much room to start with, whenever I shift into first, third, or fifth gear, my hand will touch the unit’s control knobs. This means I will have to drive with the screen folded in most of the time and pop it out when I am cruising (not shifting much) or when I really need the GPS screen (shift carefully). It is inconvenient, but workable. I may upgrade it to a double din unit in the future to correct this problem. I will need a pro to do it as it is required to move the air flow controllers down.

All these work and money is really making a different. Now the audio system is almost up to par with the BMW. Clear sound and deep thumping bass. The engine and the road noise are still there, but I can cover most of them with great sound and music. It is a total joy to drive the Esprit now. I would not have it any less.

(Next post: Oh NO! First major problem – the Timing belt broke and the engine went with it.)

1 comment:

  1. This is SUCH a cool blog, especially for people who are seriously thinking of following what Howie has done (and taking the plunge to become an owner!). Most sites don't tell you in detail what it's like for a real person to go through the day to day process of owning the Esprit.
    Don't leave us hanging! We want/need to hear more! :)