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      09-26-2011, 02:40 AM   #1
seoulmandmd
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L7 HiFi to MS-8/JL/Technic - install for the DIYer

L7 stereo was OK, but my wife's base Lexus system is SO much better it's embarrassing. I got the audio mod bug and reading all the posts from Technic, VP, kaigoss, etc. Some of e90's finest.

I had a feeling after reading that I could pull this off as a DIY project, though I have never installed a car stereo before. Easier said than done, but doable.

Just want to share some notes for the DIYer that I found useful for this setup ...

PROPS FIRST:
-Technic for tons of free advice, willingness to help in any way, a great harness, and quick delivery.
-VP for answering all emails with lots of info in his own special style - still waiting for the subbox but assume it's 'in the mail'.
-jtsherri for really nice set of spacers for woofers (that are also 'in the mail').

INSTALLED:
JBL MS-8 DSP
JL 400/4 Amp
Technic harness

Not installed yet:
Underseat woofers - arriving tomorrow
VP Electricity sub box - arriving any day

I was so inspired by Technics install from a previous post that I wanted to replicate it:
http://www.e90post.com/forums/showthread.php?t=508793

Bought JBL MS-8, JL 400/4, Technic harness, ALL power / ground / speaker / signal / RCA cables / fuseboxes from KnuKoncepts - no kits, a couple battery tap parts from Tischer, and a lot of small electrical crimps, shrink tubing, etc from HomeDepot of all places.

The beauty of this install is that it is 100% reversible with no stock wiring and that all the components fit into the available trunk spaces. Go STEALTH!



Please, I know its ugly, but after I cleaned up the wires and when the stock trunk liners all go back on, it is invisible! I even ran the display cable up to the glove box.

So here we go ...
1) Get Technic Harness
I got the one with a LOC just for the remote signal. I was afraid I would not have the skill tap the remote signal from the head unit at the front of the car - the ONLY really good guaranteed place to tap from - other have tried other interesting wires here and there - I use the LOC because it was at least audio related.

Got the harness, cut it in half except the power and ground. Figured out the connections and crimped each wire to 18 inch 18 Ga speaker wire to the MS-8 Input harness.
MS-8 INPUT HARNESS
Channel 1: FR
Channel 2: FL
Channel 3: RR
Channel 4: RL
Channel 5: no connection
Channel 6: no connection
Channel 7: RWoofer
Channel 8: LWoofer

MS-8 OUTPUT HARNESS
Channel 1: FR
Channel 2: FL
Channel 3: no connection
Channel 4: no connection
Channel 5: SR - Rear and Side wired in Series on technic harness
Channel 6: SL - Rear and Side wired in Series on technic harness
Channel 7: Center
Channel 8: no connection

MS-8
Channel 3: RCA RWoofer to Channel 1 of JL 400/4 connecting to technic harness RWoofer
Channel 4: RCA LWoofer to Channel 2 of JL 400/4 connecting to technic harness LWoofer
Channel 8: RCA to Y adapter to Channel 3/4 of JL 400/4 running bridged to VP sub box.

2) remove trunk liners
Just pull out CD changer cover and battery cover. Remove the plastic useless storage insert and put on a shelf - not using again.

Get Carpet Tack Removal tool from HomeDepot!!! - screwdriver with a V-shaped end at an angle. I removed these plastic rivits with screwdrivers before to switch my tails; it sucks. This tool makes it cake. i still lost one center rivit down the side of the battery and had to retrieve it with a long stick with duct tape on the end - go, MacGuyver!

Twist out the cargo anchors carefully - the trim can break - but even if it does who cares.

I do not have fold down seats so the side liners were hard to remove - I pretty much had to pull in and out hard and they popped out - but they wouldn't go back in. More on that later.

3) Power and ground
Battery red housing is a large fuse assembly. If you can tap into it, it is a safe place for power and looks nice. Felt inside a couple open slots and felt metal in one. Used a Voltmeter and found 12V.

Bought a universal socket and flat type connector from Tischer to tap it - 61-13-6-925-176 and 61-13-6-920-092 ($2.98 for both) - was already paying for shipping on M3 front suspension parts - a dealer might charge you double. Crimped and soldered a 4Ga wire - hard but possible!!! Looks great when you are done - very OEM. Someone put their primary fuse far under the trim to hide it; I put it as close as possible - no burning batteries for me.

Factory grounding points abound - I picked one closest the amps on the drivers side - easy to unbolt and attach a ring connector.

Inline 70A fuse at the battery and 4Ga power zip tied to OEM wire harness up the side of the trunk then ran it under the foam in the front of the trunk and down to a distro box with 2 8Ga wires out with 25A fuse to the MS-8 per mfgr instructions (this guy now has 4 fuses in line! 1 at the battery distro, one on the main battery line, one at the audio poser distro box, and one in the machine itself) and with a 40A fuse to the JL per mfgr instructions.

4) Install components.
Amp fits like a glove - it plops into the driver side area and doesn't move much - really nice - put a little velcro on the back.
MS-8 fits but at a slight angle - it also kind of locks into a place it likes. Only issue is the display cable gets a little bent and can only be removed when the MS-8 is lifted out.

5) Attach harness
Grab and slide the harness in towards the trunk on the OEM amp - can be stuck but not that hard once you do it. Attach technic harness - only one right way. Layout cables where then need to go.

Genius that the MS-8 input and output cables are the same adapter. Connected the wrong ones first.

6) Complete interconnections
Remote in from LOC to the MS-8 and remote from MS-8 to JL Amp.
RCA from MS-8 to JL Amp.

7) Fire it up
No sound at all. Very disconcerting. Just a big exclamation point on my dash. I was freaking. I tested some things with my voltmeter and had signal. I read the manual and the posts which say it just starts to acquire signal. It finally did and I figured out how to get it to do it consistently. If the JBL can't find signal. Put in their CD and crank the volume up until MS-8 sees the signal. If it doesn't, remove and restart. For some reason as the CD goes on, it didn't seem to work as well. No idea why. Once it acquires, you are golden.

Followed others advice and set the audio calibration gain at -35dB (after a few other less successful runs). Could not understand what this meant or how to do it until I accidently hit the volume key prior to calibration and realized what it was doing.

Read the manual first and the calibration goes pretty well!

Per kaigoss:
Front 2-way Center 1-way Sides 1-way
Crossovers:
Subsonic (hi-pass): 20Hz 24 dB/oct
Front lo/hi: 150Hz 24 dB/oct
Center lo/hi: 150Hz 24 dB/oct
Sides lo/hi: 150Hz 24 dB/oct

Success! Sounds amazingly good. Also sounds like there is no midbass. Was my amp fried? Were my connections off? Changed the calibration a couple times and turned up the output to -23 dB and played some songs with bass - now I get crazy bass! (for me)

8) Cover up - the HARDEST part
Well without fold down seats, I can't get the trim back on. I have to remove the seats. Sounds hard but it isn't once you figure it out. Not too many posts clearly explain how to do this from start to finish.

1) Grab rear bench at front and lift straight up - 2 large clips unclip - can't mess them up. Remove bench. You will see a cable on the passenger side that is not connected - this is OK it is the battery disconnect for shipping. Clean out the amazing amount of junk in the space there! I found 96 cents in spare change!!!!
2) Use Torx T50 on a ratchet to remove 2 bolts just hidden under the center arm rest - these are in VERY VERY tight. Don't know why.
3) Do not try and fiddle with the seat locks. Everyone says climb in the trunk (with all the exposed junk!) and put a screwdriver into a dark hole until it pops right. I did this a couple times. Your back hurts and the locks are very strong. I pulled out a weird plastic piece. It sucks. Once you see the lock mechanism, you understand them, otherwise you really won't.
4) INSTEAD, unratched the 2 bolts holding the seat lock in place for each side.
5) Pull the rear seat out and lift up to get the side hooks out.
6) Remove the seat locks now that you can unspring and even lock them in the open position. Put them back on with the ratchet easily from the inside of the car. No problemo. Now you understand where to put the screwdriver to re-engage it. Reassemble broken plastic pieces if you did like I did.

While I did this, I noticed that the battery power sends a large bundle down the passenger side of the car. I spent a bunch of time tweaking the MS with the wire going out the trunk and to the drivers seat. I figured maybe I'll run the wire to the glove box - never done that before.

Well the wire can follow the main battery bundle and then just lift up the edge of the plastic and push it under from the side of the rear seat along the side of the floor all the way to the passenger footwell. Ridiculolusly easy! Then drop the glove box and remove the fuse cover. Push the cable up the side and you can grab it with your fingers and into the glove box. I twist tied it to the back of the glove box with a strain relief look so it would not rip or land back on the fuses. Now the display can be pulled out to the driver seat! Nifty. I can now adjust it from in the car. The remote lives in the center console box, too. In retrospect, I could probably tap the remote at the head unit and run it back the driver side no problem now!

7) Put the rear trim back on. Now it fits as the rear seat is out. Have to coax the wiring as it does life up the trim in areas. I electric taped the metal edges just to soften it out.
8) Put rear seat back on - actually very easy. Drop in side clips and it falls back into place onto the seat locks. Now that they are clipped open, they just snap back closed with slight screwdriver pressure. Drop the bench in from the back and press down the front.
9) Put trunk floor cover, battery cover, and CD changer cover on - now system is invisible!! the trim does lift off a little bit, but I have an all-weather OEM trunk liner which makes that even less conspicuous.

After completing the install, the stereo sounds unbelievably better with STOCK speakers. Technic mentioned the HiFi speakers weren't too bad. I agree. Even the woofers sound OK and the stock center channel is really clear. I can't imaging how much better it could get with better speakers. I will play around then install the SWS (SSMB Kicker cannot be bought! They are no longer availble and those on sale disappear too quick.). I got a good deal on SWS but the stock ones sound plenty good to me so I know the SWS aren't the best, but might be good enough for me.

I love how the HU controls all work. The JBL automatically defaults to good settings. I just tweak it once in a while - from the driver's seat! I know VP doens't like to install the display but it was really easy to run the wire to the glove box. It is a little tacky looking so I would never mount it. This is really how the system should have sounded from the factory.

I guess I could get a coax center and other speakers, but for now, I'm pretty darn happy with the improved spatial resolution, clarity, and sound presence. I am listening to songs I love for the first time again! So happy I did this and have already recommended this to a couple others.

Total cost: $1200 in parts (JL, MS-8, technic harness, connects) (+$300 in additional tools and things I bought along the way), 2 hours figuring out the harness and the inputs/outputs, 5.5 hours of install time in the hot sun on my driveway, and 2 days of no trunk space.



TECHNIC, VP, kaigoss .... I am your disciple ...
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      09-26-2011, 05:11 AM   #2
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very nice work and great write up.

I'm going to be going a similar route JBL MS8, etc very soon.

Thanks!
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      09-26-2011, 05:57 AM   #3
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You know that you should raise the MS8 volume to -6db for normal listening, right? Calibrate at -35, listen at -6.

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      09-26-2011, 12:57 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kaigoss69 View Post
You know that you should raise the MS8 volume to -6db for normal listening, right? Calibrate at -35, listen at -6.

actually at -6db i can hear noise from the outputs
i had to turn mine down to about -15db so the noiseis inaudible
on my next install
i will keep them at -20db and whip out my old 6 channel line driver and see if that creates less noise
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      09-26-2011, 02:24 PM   #5
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Thanks for the props!!!
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      09-26-2011, 07:27 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kmarei View Post
actually at -6db i can hear noise from the outputs
i had to turn mine down to about -15db so the noiseis inaudible
on my next install
i will keep them at -20db and whip out my old 6 channel line driver and see if that creates less noise
What noises? Distortion? - I hear nothing, even at 0db.
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      09-26-2011, 07:32 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kaigoss69 View Post
What noises? Distortion? - I hear nothing, even at 0db.
It's not noise as much as a faint hiss
But my tweeters are very sensitive, and I can hear it if my fan is set to a low speed
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      09-26-2011, 07:59 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kmarei View Post
It's not noise as much as a faint hiss
But my tweeters are very sensitive, and I can hear it if my fan is set to a low speed
Sucks to be you!

I hear nothing. Zilch. Nada. Maybe because I have no tweeters, maybe because my hearing isn't as good as yours, maybe both.
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      09-26-2011, 09:00 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kaigoss69 View Post
Sucks to be you!

I hear nothing. Zilch. Nada. Maybe because I have no tweeters, maybe because my hearing isn't as good as yours, maybe both.
Well maybe your hearing is better than mine
Except since you don't have tweeters, the sound isn't being generated
So maybe I should just remove my tweeters
Problem fixed
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      09-26-2011, 11:57 PM   #10
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I tried going to -6dB and it was too loud for me and I could have sworn there was a little little bit of noise. I'm happy at -15dB for now.

My new problem - which I might start a new thread - is a loud POP when the system shuts down!!!!!

Thoughts?

Is this harmful? If not, I guess I can live with it. If it is harmful, then need to fix it!!!!
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      09-27-2011, 05:21 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seoulmandmd View Post
I tried going to -6dB and it was too loud for me and I could have sworn there was a little little bit of noise. I'm happy at -15dB for now.

My new problem - which I might start a new thread - is a loud POP when the system shuts down!!!!!

Thoughts?

Is this harmful? If not, I guess I can live with it. If it is harmful, then need to fix it!!!!
What do you mean "too loud"...... the volume is controlled by the head unit. If it is too loud, turn the head unit down.

Also, if you have hiss at -6dB, then I suggest your amp gains are too high.

The pop you will have to live with, I haven't found a way to get rid of it. I've gotten into the habit of turning the MS-8 volume way down before I exit the car.
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      09-27-2011, 08:39 AM   #12
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Sweet write up, I'm currently piecing together my system. Can't wait to be bumpin
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      09-27-2011, 11:10 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seoulmandmd View Post
I tried going to -6dB and it was too loud for me and I could have sworn there was a little little bit of noise. I'm happy at -15dB for now.

My new problem - which I might start a new thread - is a loud POP when the system shuts down!!!!!

Thoughts?

Is this harmful? If not, I guess I can live with it. If it is harmful, then need to fix it!!!!
i uninstalled my MS-8 since i'm selling my car
but i recall one of the options under settings was the turn off delay?
i think the default was 2seconds and you could make it longer?
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