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Hey guys, I just got a 2014 Escape Titanium. LOVE the way it drives and all the extras. Only thing bugging me is that the sound system sounds a bit flat. I'm not all about the bass, I'm about the treble. I got the treble set up all the way, the bass down 3 bars, and the mid range up 3 bars. Still, I pop in Sonic Highways on CD and the drums sound like they are coming through a cheap pair of headphones. Is there anything I can do to help it sound better? Heck I was used to a 2004 Colorado with the basic system.
 

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Hey guys, I just got a 2014 Escape Titanium. LOVE the way it drives and all the extras. Only thing bugging me is that the sound system sounds a bit flat. I'm not all about the bass, I'm about the treble. I got the treble set up all the way, the bass down 3 bars, and the mid range up 3 bars. Still, I pop in Sonic Highways on CD and the drums sound like they are coming through a cheap pair of headphones. Is there anything I can do to help it sound better? Heck I was used to a 2004 Colorado with the basic system.


Not sure if you have the standard, 9 speaker, or sony system. Most FE's owners with any system can agree that the Sirius quality is terrible, and moving the fader 3-4 clicks to the rear will improve the sound to a good degree for all sources. They supposedly designed the sound systems in this gen FE to mimic that of a live performance. In my opinion, this sure makes it sound less than ideal.
 

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@jnutt - based on the 2014 build guide it looks like your Ti has the Sony System, it'll say Sony prominently on the dash.

There's a large number of threads about that system, suggest your search "Sony" using the forum search and sit back to do a lot of reading (warning - make sure that any post you read is about the Sony system, some folks don't make that clear one-way or the other but it is critical to know for reasons stated below).

My system is the non-Sony which I've studied and modified extensively but it is different from yours in many key respects so I can't give lots of specific advice about yours.

A few general comments ....

+ Glad to hear you are using a CD as your source for 'judging' the system, too many folks don't realize that many sources (radio, Sirius, phone/MPx on USB, etc) are compressed or otherwise 'compromised' and aren't good for judging what the system is capable of delivering.

+ You've tried tweaking the available EQ controls and still don't get sound your ears like ..... is it possible to completely defeat the DSP on that system (and then re-tweak the EQ) to see if that makes a difference?

+ Have you tried different 'occupancy settings' to see if that makes a difference ('driver only' vs 'all seats')?

Any DSP uses a variety of 'cues' from a recording to determine how it processes the sound. Different recordings can sound better or worse played through different specific DSP units, choices made by the recording engineer and by the DSP engineer affect this. Not saying anyone on either end does anything "wrong" or "bad", just that they make choices and when you listen critically you can her the effects of that sometimes. It is not possible to build a DSP that is "optimized" for all recordings it will be asked to play. It is possible that the specific recording you are testing just may not come through optimal on the Sony System. Have you tried other recordings with similar drum tracks to see if they sound any better? If so, that may tell you more about the particular recording than the playback system, even though the recording may sound better on another system (especially one that is not processing the sound).

If none of the above gives you any satisfaction, then there's the 'upgrade' options ..... Please be aware this is a lot more challenging with the Sony system because
1) The DSP and amplifier are a combined integral unit (the box under your cargo floor)
2) I'm pretty sure that the in-dash Sony head unit output is a constant-level nominal 4V; though the volume and EQ controls are in the dash and steering wheel, the actual modulation of volume and EQ is done in the DSP/AMP unit based on CANBUS signals from the front controls; as far as I know there are NO aftermarket DSP or amplifiers that readily accept those CANBUS volume and EQ inputs, so if you replace the OEM DSP/Amp you will lose those convenient OEM audio controls (you'll have to use the volume and EQ controls provided by the replacement DSP; a 'standard' aftermarket power amp alone won't work since they don't have provisions for adjusting volume/EQ 'on-the-fly', they expect that to be done by a variable-output pre-amp).
3) The Sony DSP includes active crossover and separate amp channels for the front tweeters, front midbass (front door speakers), front center channel (top of dash speaker), the rear door speakers and the subwoofer. The midbass/tweeter crossover for the rear doors is passive, splitting the frequency between those two using crossover components mounted at the speakers in the doors. All of the speakers are 4-Ohm nominal drivers (pretty much standard for car audio) except the top-of-dash center channel which uses an 8-Ohm nominal driver.

+ I've not seen any published info on the crossover frequencies and slopes that are provided by the Sony DSP; that info is needed to make good planned choices for aftermarket replacement drivers (speakers); lacking that you can try hit-or-miss replacement of the individual speakers with aftermarket components. The hit-or-miss aspect will be because particular aftermarket speakers may not be optimal for the crossover ranges sent by the DSP/amp and the relative efficiency of the speakers may be different from OEM which the DSP is 'tuned' for.

If you do NOT have the Sony system let us know, the upgrade path for amps and speakers is a lot easier for those since the non-Sony HU output is all speaker-level and the crossovers are all passive at the speakers (easy to retain OEM volume & EQ controls and easy to replace speakers with known crossover points).

Hope this helps.

Oh, and welcome to the forum!!!

:)
 

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Discussion Starter #6
@jnutt -

+ You've tried tweaking the available EQ controls and still don't get sound your ears like ..... is it possible to completely defeat the DSP on that system (and then re-tweak the EQ) to see if that makes a difference?

I will give that a shot. Not sure how one does that but it's worth a shot.


+ Have you tried different 'occupancy settings' to see if that makes a difference ('driver only' vs 'all seats')?

Any DSP uses a variety of 'cues' from a recording to determine how it processes the sound. Different recordings can sound better or worse played through different specific DSP units, choices made by the recording engineer and by the DSP engineer affect this. Not saying anyone on either end does anything "wrong" or "bad", just that they make choices and when you listen critically you can her the effects of that sometimes. It is not possible to build a DSP that is "optimized" for all recordings it will be asked to play. It is possible that the specific recording you are testing just may not come through optimal on the Sony System. Have you tried other recordings with similar drum tracks to see if they sound any better? If so, that may tell you more about the particular recording than the playback system, even though the recording may sound better on another system (especially one that is not processing the sound).

Weird thing is that some of my songs of the iPod sound great but not all. The one that sounds terrible is a CD and it's Sonic Highways by the Foo Fighters. If there is one band that is going to record the best drums it's Dave Grohl and Taylor Hawkins. I'll see if there is a way around that as well.

If none of the above gives you any satisfaction, then there's the 'upgrade' options ..... Please be aware this is a lot more challenging with the Sony system because
1) The DSP and amplifier are a combined integral unit (the box under your cargo floor)
2) I'm pretty sure that the in-dash Sony head unit output is a constant-level nominal 4V; though the volume and EQ controls are in the dash and steering wheel, the actual modulation of volume and EQ is done in the DSP/AMP unit based on CANBUS signals from the front controls; as far as I know there are NO aftermarket DSP or amplifiers that readily accept those CANBUS volume and EQ inputs, so if you replace the OEM DSP/Amp you will lose those convenient OEM audio controls (you'll have to use the volume and EQ controls provided by the replacement DSP; a 'standard' aftermarket power amp alone won't work since they don't have provisions for adjusting volume/EQ 'on-the-fly', they expect that to be done by a variable-output pre-amp).

Was not planning on messing with the amp, just trying to get some better front speakers. The ones I had seen for a good price and great reviews was the Kicker 40C5654. I put in the info for my car and it said it would work. Dunno if this would actually improve the sound though.

Kicker 40CS654 6-1/2" 2-way car speakers at Crutchfield.com

Whole system here

http://www.crutchfield.com/p_2064CSS654/Kicker-40CSS654.html?tp=106


3) The Sony DSP includes active crossover and separate amp channels for the front tweeters, front midbass (front door speakers), front center channel (top of dash speaker), the rear door speakers and the subwoofer. The midbass/tweeter crossover for the rear doors is passive, splitting the frequency between those two using crossover components mounted at the speakers in the doors. All of the speakers are 4-Ohm nominal drivers (pretty much standard for car audio) except the top-of-dash center channel which uses an 8-Ohm nominal driver.

+ I've not seen any published info on the crossover frequencies and slopes that are provided by the Sony DSP; that info is needed to make good planned choices for aftermarket replacement drivers (speakers); lacking that you can try hit-or-miss replacement of the individual speakers with aftermarket components. The hit-or-miss aspect will be because particular aftermarket speakers may not be optimal for the crossover ranges sent by the DSP/amp and the relative efficiency of the speakers may be different from OEM which the DSP is 'tuned' for.

If you do NOT have the Sony system let us know, the upgrade path for amps and speakers is a lot easier for those since the non-Sony HU output is all speaker-level and the crossovers are all passive at the speakers (easy to retain OEM volume & EQ controls and easy to replace speakers with known crossover points).

Hope this helps.

Oh, and welcome to the forum!!!

:)
Thanks for the help!
 

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.... If there is one band that is going to record the best drums it's Dave Grohl and Taylor Hawkins.....
Oh yeah I sure agree. Again, the way any particular DSP 'processes' any particular recording isn't necessarily a reflection of 'bad' or 'good' by the recording engineer. Remember that the recording engineer is mixing for best playback as an un-processed stereo system (in the case of 99.99% of music audio CDs). They build-in timing delay and sound-wave phase choices based on that through careful selection of mic placement and post-studio manipulation. It is they way the particular DSP further manipulates those 'cues' to provide the '(usually)enhanced multi-channel surround and staging effects' that can make things sound weird in some cases. Most of us with any DSP (JBL MS-8 in my case) will find a rare album or track which just doesn't sound 'good' or 'right' when 'processed' by our DSP but sounds stunning when the DSP (or at least the 'surround effect' part of the DSP) is defeated. On most aftermarket DSP's the 'surround effect processing (called "Logic 7" on the MS-8) can be defeated separate from the EQ and crossover processing; again, not having the OEM Sony System I don't know what can or can't be discretely defeated on that system.

.... just trying to get some better front speakers. The ones I had seen for a good price and great reviews was the Kicker 40C5654. I put in the info for my car and it said it would work. Dunno if this would actually improve the sound though.

Kicker 40CS654 6-1/2" 2-way car speakers at Crutchfield.com

Whole system here

http://www.crutchfield.com/p_2064CSS...54.html?tp=106
Let's take a look at how each of those might be implemented with your Sony System:

First, what your Sony System has for the front side channels (let's just stick with the left side knowing that it is replicated for the right side with different wire colors)....

DSP/Amp module> white(+) and white/brown(-) wires > front left door woofer
DSP/Amp module> green/orange(+) and Grey/orange(-) wires > front left A-pillar tweeter

Things to note in the above ...
* the DSP has internally determined the frequency each speaker should receive (the "crossover" function)
* the wires to the front door woofer only transmit the limited frequency range appropriate for bass/midbass reproduction
* the wires to the A-pillar tweeter only transmit the limited high-frequency range appropriate for a tweeter

Now the 40CS654 2-way (coaxial) speakers ....
* These are intended to reproduce the entire frequency range from 40Hz to 20kHz; that is, they are intended to be attached to a source that provides that full-frequency signal range
* They do that with a single component including a woofer, a tweeter and a built-in crossover between those two drivers

So even though they may physically fit in your doors, some things to consider ....
* Your OEM system does not have a single output covering the full 40Hz-20kHz range for either the front left or right channels
* Your OEM system does not send very high-frequency signals to the door woofers; it is quite possible that the tweeters in the 40CS654 may not play at all for lack of receiving a signal in their range
* If the midrange signal to the doors does encroach on the 40CS654 tweeter frequencies (we don't know the crossover points in the OEM DSP), then you will have two crossovers one-after the other in-play (the one in the DSP and the one in the speakers); that can cause some odd outcomes because of the inherent way crossovers also affect signal phase ('stacking' crossovers with overlapping ranges is generally to be avoided in audio system design).

Personally, I would not recommend the 40CS654 for your application.

Then the 40CSS654 component speakers ...
* The separate woofer and tweeter components in this set are analogous to the separate OEM woofer and tweeter components in your Escape
* Each driver is intended to receive a signal limited to the frequency range appropriate for that driver
* The included separate crossover boxes are intended to receive a full-range signal from a single source for each side and split that signal into the frequency range appropriate for each driver; again, your OEM system does not have a single full-range output for the front channels, this function is already provided by the crossover built-in to your OEM DSP/Amp.
* You could install the Kicker tweeter in place of your OEM tweeter, install the Kicker woofer in place of your OEM woofer and connect each directly to the OEM wires without using the Kicker crossover. In other words, replace the speakers themselves but rely on the OEM DSP/Amp to provide the crossover function. While the OEM crossover may not be exactly the same range for each speaker as the Kicker crossover it is likely (IMHO) that everything will be 'safe'. You'll likely need to re-tune your EQ and the sound will likely be different due to the differences in efficiency and tonal characteristics of the new speakers. Only then can you decide if 'different' is 'better' for your ears.

Using the 40CSS654 divers without the included crossover (as long as you have an alternate crossover to protect the speakers, the function your OEM DSP will likely (IMHO) adequately provide) is a perfectly legitimate thing to do, lots of folks do that (e.g. I used similar a similar Alpine set, without its included crossover, with my MS-8 DSP providing the crossover function).

OR, you could browse Crutchfield's selection of individual tweeter and woofer components by Kicker and find a tweeter and woofer you like (perhaps the same as sold in the 40CSS654) and maybe save the cost of the crossover you won't use (or maybe not, sometimes bundle-pricing is weird that way ;-).

Please be aware that while lots of nominal 6 1/2" woofers are an easy swap for the Escape (lots of threads with pics about that) almost any tweeter swap (both A-pillar and rear doors) will likely require a bit of 'innovative fitting'. The bare OEM tweeters are the same OD as many aftermarket BARE tweeters but use a specific snap-in mount. With a bit of judicious trimming of the plastic behind the grille (not seen when finished) and the help of a hot-melt glue gun it is fairly easy to install BARE aftermarket tweeters as replacements but it would be surprising to find a true 'drop-in' replacement.

Insofar as Crutchfield's online "will it fit" system .... they're a great company but not infallible. I encourage you to call their tech line, explain the outputs on your Sony system and quiz them in detail about how they think that will work with the components you are considering. Yes, I see they say the components with "fit your car" but I'd question the distinction between 'physical fitment' and total installation compatibility. At least they have a generous return policy but it'd be a shame to waste time and effort finding things aren't as straight-forward as you expected once pieces are in-hand and doors are dis-assembled.

Sorry if I'm making this difficult, not trying to and certainly don't want to discourage you, just want to help you understand what you're dealing with so hopefully you can get where you want to be with minimal mis-steps.


;)
 
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And just FYI for anyone tripping on this thread who may want to do more than just change speakers on their Sony System (or even just that) ....

While not perfectly identical to our Escape the Sony System in the Focus is so very similar that there's lots of very valuable information to be gained on this Focus forum where there are some really serious audio system modifiers at play Focus ST Electronics

Sorry, that's not an AutoGuide forum (hope linking doesn't violate any rules) but it is a good resource for info (being judicious as one should be when considering any interweb forum info).

Late edit to add one other resource that folks may find interesting is here http://www.independentrecording.net/irn/resources/freqchart/main_display.htm which shows the frequency ranges of various instruments and voices. Kinda nifty if you're wanting to understand what sounds need what speakers for reproduction or to guide playing with EQ to try to 'draw-out' certain instruments that may seem to be 'hidden' in your system.
 
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Discussion Starter #9
It does seem hit or miss on the CD's. Picked up an STP album and it sounds good. I think it just may be the way the song is recorded, as stated here before. I did look at switch the model I have with the CT4T-18B849-AA. Can get them cheap (enough) online. Out of curiosity, emailed the dealership. Guess he says I would have to change the speakers too and it would cost $2000. Seems a bit steep to me. I guess I'll live with what I got.

[FONT=&quot]"I did some checking on the audio system on the ford escape. The part number you gave me is a good part number and list price comes out to $365.27. However I have done some research and if you upgrade the amp, you should upgrade the speakers as the impedance of the system would be different. [/FONT]
[FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]I spoke with your service department and they are weary of installing parts not designated by ford to be installed on the vehicle. They informed me a good deal of custom wiring would be required. Needless to say they recommended going with a aftermarket audio system designed to work with the factory radio. [/FONT]
[FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]I have priced out installing an aftermarket amplifier with audio interface module to work with the factory radio. Also included in this price is upgrading the factory speakers with Infinity speakers of the correct impedance designed to work with the amplifier. This would also require running power and ground wiring to the amplifer and new wiring to the speakers. The total price to do this is right at $2000.00. I can also add a powered Infinity Subwoofer to the system for $500 more."[/FONT]
 

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Before taking the dealer's word as absolute, please do more research. If you decide to venture into system mods there's tons of info available. Honestly, not sure I'd rely on a Ford Dealer for that, deviating from stock really isn't something most of them are especially 'expert' at pursuing (setting aside Motorcraft mod parts, which are not available for audio systems).

One source that you may find very helpful is the FocusST forum where there's many more folks than here modifying the virtually identical Sony System in the late model Focus.

Focus ST Electronics

Another source of great info when the goal is SQ (sound quality) more than SPL (loudness) is in this forum but it can be harder to find the numerous threads specific to the late Focus Sony System 'builds' (again almost all of that transfers; there's very few Escape-specific threads here)

Car Audio | DiyMobileAudio.com | Car Stereo Forum

Though modifying any car to improve SQ can be expensive, there's lots of improvement that can usually be had for well under $2k, and of course the sky is the limit.

Don't overlook the values to be found with factory refurb / used / take-out equipment, especially aftermarket amps / processors and 'desirable' OEM modules from reputable sources. Personally I'm wary of Ebay but I've had tremendous positive experience buying from sellers on the above linked DIY Mobile Audio classifieds .... the sellers there with seem intent on maintaining their good reputations and they are constantly trying / buying / selling different gear in their cars.

Just as an example ... being extremely 'frugal' I track this kind of stuff .... my admittedly radical non-Sony mods include 8-channel DSP, 12-channels of amplification and 13 speakers (nothing is OEM beyond the head unit). With taking time to do judicious shopping I've got $2,200 into it vs $4,500 'street price' vs $7,200 MSRP for everything including all the little bits-and-pieces to make it all work (with me providing all the 'free' installation labor). This is a pure 'SQ' system, not at all meant to 'entertain' anyone outside my car ;-)

Have fun !
 

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The Focus site has lots of great info, btw, On the Sony system, Ford only changed/revised/depowered the amp, not the speakers.
 
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