2017 CX-5 Touring w/ Bose System; Time to Upgrade!

Good morning everyone!

I'm in the process of upgrading my 2017 CX-5 w/ Bose System and want to provide a sort of build log in case others feel the same way I do about the system. My biggest gripes are that the system sounds messy and the bass is sort of lacking in terms of clarity and oomph (of course, it's a 5" driver!) Modding the subwoofer actually makes a wonderful difference. Thanks to some members of this forum, I completed a DIY mod to the subwoofer. Bass is tighter, cleaner, and more defined. It does make you realize that the front stock woofers are pretty muddy though. They kind of ruin the sound coming from the tweeters and center channel, IMO. I'm making an effort to upgrade the Bose system because it's really not THAT bad, although bad enough for me to want to make minor tweeks. Below is a link to Musicar's work on a Mazda 6 w/ Bose. My upgrades and progress is going to revolve around the Match PP86DSP. It should be delivered today, but I won't be installing for another 2 weeks. Basically, I'll be retaining the factory amplifier and speakers and adding a DSP/Amp after the Bose amp to give a lil more juice to the speakers. Here is the article from Musicar on my future plans for the Bose System.


List of Modifications and Product Used;

- Dampen Bose Subwoofer - Poly-fil + Soundskinz Pro
- Dampen Front Doors - Soundskinz Pro
- Lubricate door seals
- Install DSP/Amp - Match PP86DSP
- Install Spare Tire Subwoofer - Cerwin Vega VPAS12ST

This past weekend, I was able to dampen the front doors, although just the sheet metal portion.I have not dampened the door cards yet, although I have it in my schedule to do so. I won't be supplying photos for door card removal, etc. I basically removed the sealed plastic panel holding the harnesses and regulator and dampened all the sheet metal inside as well as providing a layer of damping material between the speaker housing and the sealed plastic panel. What I did want to talk about was the difference that it had made: An extremely noticeable one!!!

Note; No graphs or science can be provided. I'm not a professional, but I do car audio as an extremely passionate hobby. I've installed custom systems in my own/fiancee's cars as well as friends.

The clarity of music is definitely better. The higher frequencies are much clearer and the vocals are actually quite amazing! Tweeters are not too bright and provide a neutral to slightly warm tone. The center dash speaker definitely shines more as well. Keep in mind, I was not able to define those details in the speakers PRE-dampening. A lot of the muddiness from the woofers was reduced providing clearer sound from the components. If there is any modification to do to the Bose system, it's to dampen your doors. I still have to dampen the door cards, but I would imagine the sound would be top quality afterwards. There's a slight muddiness that is profound after dampening the sheet metal, and I'm sure it's from the door cards.

So how do the woofers sound after sheet metal dampening? Much better, although there is a little bit of muddiness left to address. The midbass is really nice and clear. Bass notes are punchy and tight. Overall, the listening experience has gone from okay, to pleasant enough. Goal is to reach smile inducing sound every time I drive!

This experience is compared to a 6.5" MPK component set from Hertz and a 150W 12" Subwoofer from Kicker in a hatchback, totaling less than 500W. Using Pioneer's 4200NEX, I don't feel like I need 1000+W systems, as a DSP or built in DSP really helps sound quality. Crossovers, time alignment, and EQ is what set's the system apart.

I still have to dampen the door cards and lubricate the door seals. I will update this post once I do it. Also, once the DSP/Amp is installed and the appropriate parameters are set, I'll chime in as well. I can honestly say that I think Bose did a decent job with this system, especially with it getting included in the cost of the Preferred Equipment Package! Another note, I don't think Mazda did as much as advertised when it came to sound dampening. Sure, it's pretty quiet in the cab when parked or going at lower speeds, but the doors don't have any dampening material, minus some poofs of polyfil-like material. This is all to say that I'm not trying to get whisper quiet. If the cab gets quieter, that's just a cherry on top for me. Reducing vibrations to a minimum to provide clarity in audio is what I'm trying to achieve.

TLDR; Dampen your doors at least, if you have the Bose System.
 
I dampened the door cards yesterday and took the CX-5 for a little drive to test out the difference. I would say 80% of the muddiness is gone from the woofers after a decent dampening job! I did receive the amplifier, but the dealer did not include the appropriate harness........ Yay...

So I won't be able to install the DSP/Amp until the harness arrives. I'll be posting pictures for that install, as it's going to be a speaker level install. I think some people here may find it useful.

My thoughts on the Bose System up to this point;

After a dampening job, I believe the woofers may be the first thing to get changed for me whenever I decide to do it. I don't think anymore dampening will fix the muddiness. However, it's really not too bad for now. The bass from the front woofers is super tight, punchy, and enjoyable at volume 40-43 via the stock headunit and lower. Any higher and the muddiness starts to make a presence. Pleasant enough is now pleasant. Not yet smile inducing, unfortunately. That may require a better subwoofer. The tweeters and center channel speaker are really not that bad if you prefer a neutral sound. I do prefer warm and neutral sounding to bright or tinny sound from the highs. I'm hoping to do an 80hz HPF on the front woofers to see if it helps the system once the DSP/Amp is installed. It does feel like the woofers are playing lower than I'd prefer, although it does help our baby 5" subwoofer.

For those who want to upgrade audio on a budget with the Bose system;

An 11ft roll of Soundskins Pro is about $100. I used about 1 and 2/3 rolls to dampen both my front doors. $200 worth of materials will really bring out the Bose system. When considering swapping out the speakers, people are going to be bottlenecked to the power output of the Bose amplifier. The choices in speakers will be limited to efficient speakers. Most are paper cone, like Hertz Dieci series. Focal makes an Integration series too. Granted, they're coated with fine materials, but it's just to put things in perspective because the Bose drivers are paper cones as well. Keep in mind that speakers mentioned above are rated at 50W+, when the Bose amplifier is pushing about 20-25W.

Pricing for efficient speakers may be cheaper than $200, but will not sound good without the appropriate power output. At a minimum, people should power their speakers to the RMS rating for best results. Not to say that some speakers sound good underpowered either. It's just a good rule of thumb I've learned from a few installers I've worked with.

Remember, car audio is PURELY subjective.
 
So, good news! After almost 2 months, I finally installed the Match PP86DSP as well as the spare tire subwoofer. I have yet to tune the system or EQ it yet. Unfortunately, I am unable to provide pictures. I sort of zoned in on the install. Had some wedding planning drama this weekend. It was nice to forget it all doing the install. However, should anyone want to tackle a project like this, I will be more than happy to provide info to which wires I tapped into for the Bose amplifier.

TLDR;
I think a DSP/Amp added to the Bose system is going to be the best mod without replacing speakers.


I won't go into detail as to how I routed each wire, however, ground points I used were the seat bolt under the driver seat and the bolt for the cargo hook thing in the trunk. I used a file to chip away some foam (where the spare tire tools are) to lay the ground wire into for the subwoofer.

I gotta admit, I'm a big fan of the heat shrink solder thingies. Since I was basically splicing into factory wiring with varying gauges, solder was the way to go. Just needed a heat gun that I had laying around from wrapping vinyl on phones. It worked wonderfully.

Concept;

I wanted to utilize Bose's processing as a preamp for the Match DSP/Amp to retain surround sound and improve it. I also wanted to use the DSP/Amp as a Preamp Output to the Subwoofer so that I don't have to worry about any ruined frequencies. Long story short, with just the DSP/Amp installed, I can honestly say it sounds a lot better on the minimum gain setting. I'll be tweaking some things through the DSP software to fine tune some things and hopefully get it to where it needs to be. I have toyed with the center channel a little by only increasing gain and will have to admit, with only 2db increase, it feels a lot more alive. That was probably the only thing I did in terms of tweaking things. I'll be putting a high pass filter on the front woofers to see if it'll blend well.

Before this upgrade, the tweeters seemed to have trouble at higher volumes pushing out clear vocals. They became muddy when listening to Wagakki Band. I use this as a reference because the singer can hold out at high octaves without giving out. Plus, she has a pretty strong voice. Now, with 50-75 watts being pushed out to these speakers, things are already much clearer, even at lower volume levels. The highest volume level I was able to go without increasing gains on the dsp/amp was 41. It was pretty loud, no distortion.

As far as the subwoofer goes, I'm having trouble tuning it to my liking. Time alignment has been set appropriate. The plan is to dampen the trunk at some point. I believe most of my issues with this upgraded setup is going to be fixed through tweaking DSP settings. I think digitally decreasing the gain and then increasing the analog gain may allow me to fine tune the settings a bit. It may be why the subwoofer has yet to appease me, considering that the analog gain setting is literally at the lowest...

Will keep you all updated and will show pictures of the finished install, sort of. I still have to hide a few wires.
 
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Here's a schematic and selection for the wires.

Harness Wires (1).png

Any green wire from the selections in this harness is going to be the negative. I also did not hook up the subwoofer lines. From the factory, the wires from the harness are going to go directly to the speakers of the Bose system. Knowing this, I took the leads from the harness and fed them into the inputs of my DSP/Amp, and then connected the outputs of the DSP/Amp to the remaining leads to the Bose speakers.

Below are schematics that have been shared in this forum that helped out immensely! Thanks to all the members who have shared the wiring diagrams within the threads!

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What was really nice about this project thus far was that I planned this build over a year ago. I felt maybe it was completely out of my league, as playing with factory installed amplifiers get scary. Musicar Northwest is a professional installer and in no way can I say that I am an industry professional. However, their venture yielded fruit that inspired this project! With confidence, I can say that as long as your "premium" speakers are 2 ohms or above, procuring a DSP/Amplifier that is stable at 2 ohms will suffice. As crazy as this sounds, you might be able to utilize just a multi-channel amplifier (rated 50 watts @ 4ohms) to increase the output/clarity for the Bose system instead of overhauling all the speakers for better performance. These days, there are plenty of multi-channel amps with hi-level input that are affordable.

I won't lie though, this project took a span of three days, granted the drama, meeting my brother's boyfriend's family, and a Sunday BBQ.
 
Here are some pictures of the completed install.

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I mounted the amplifier under the driver seat. There's a little L shaped depression under the driver's side. I used cardboard to make a template to cut MDF. Then used some spare slivers of MDF as risers for the amplifier to route some wires under. Super snug fit. I just used velcro. Most of the fit is friction anyway. I'll be velcroing some cloth cover to hide everything. Still some cleaning up to do, as you can see the USB cord. I'm still EQ'ing the speakers, so I won't be removing it yet. Ground for the amplifier went to the bolt for the driver's seat.

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The Cerwin Vega VPAS12ST!!! I had to use the other spare tire threaded rod vs the black one with a hex bolt. There was still a gap when fully tightened, so I used metal washers and a foam spacer. I'll be redoing this, as I have some rubber spacers to add. Once I get some wire loom in, I'll be cleaning up the wires.

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Ground goes to the cargo hook bolt. I've always used them without fail. I also filed a little channel in the foam to route it and keep it level with the cargo board that goes on top.

I'm still in the tuning process. The subwoofer sounds amazing without the cargo board on top. However, with it, I am unsure of how I like the sound. It is plenty powerful, but requires some pretty good tuning to make sure it sounds good. There is rattle due to the cargo board. In the process of fixing that. I'll probably end up dampening the board, the entire truck, and the spare tire. That's another $100 to ensure better sound.

I have to admit, EQ'ing just the front woofers + tweeters and the center channel has made a huge difference. I'm using the JBL curve to start the tuning phase using an RTA. Trying to get the signals from 250-5k on a flat line has improved the sound immensely already. Still have to do the 4 rear speakers, but it's getting close! I'm that much closer to smile inducing sound!
 
EQ Update:

It's difficult getting the curve that I'm aiming for with the current tools I have. No dedicated microphone, as I'm using my phone and Audio Tools. Best curve I can do is from 20-100 +5db with a gradual drop to flat at 250. It stays flat until 1k hz and slowly drops down from there at a total of -3db at 8k hz. Sounds great though!

Regarding the subwoofer, I do have it tuned to where I like it. It comes with 20hz bass boost. To get the right sound to where my ears weren't getting distressed, I lowered gain to increase the bass boost to about 1/3 from none. I got to say, this set up is competing with my Hertz setup in my fiance's car pretty well.

Comparison between a full custom set up vs Bose enhanced w/ DSP/Amp + Cerwin Vega VPAS12ST

Scion iM Build:
Headunit: Pioneer AVH 4200 NEX
Amp: Hertz ML Power 4 D-Class Four Channel Amplifier
Components: MPK 165P.3 Pro
Sub: Kicker CompRT 43TCWRT124

The headunit, amp, and components have been my primary setup for a few different cars. I've had a JL Audio W7 work with it as well with it's own mono amp. However, this is my current setup and I'm favoring it. DSP is done using the headunit since it's built in. Also, I've equalized it for a similar curve to the CX-5's Bose system as closely as possible.

The above build has great clarity, crisp highs, amazing midbass response, clean and clear bass notes as well. Tweeters are ever-so-slightly bright at times, but neutral sounding for the most part. No muddiness at all and has been an absolute joy to listen to through all genres except for heavy metal. The only times I've heard better was when this system was in a 2003 Audi A4 with a JL Audio W7, to which I will reference at 10/10 with the Scion build at 9/10. It gets plenty loud retaining detail where I prefer it.

CX-5's Bose enhanced w/ DSP/Amp + Cerwin Vega VPAS12ST;

Pretty darn close to my custom set up. I'd give it an 8/10 from a 4/10 (stock). There is DEFINITELY more clarity than stock Bose. At times, it almost rivals my custom set up.... until I focus in on the bass... I still have to dampen my trunk, but the notes don't play as well as my Kickers, of course. It's a spare tire subwoofer. Lol. However, it has brought back smiles to my face after all the work that's done to it. I've heavily EQ's the center channel and raised it's gain a little. +4.25 db over the other speakers and it sounds really good. When I listen to vocals on some particular tracks, it definitely sounds better than my custom setup. This is most likely due to having the center channel at the front of the CX-5. Tweeters are definitely on the neutral sounding side. Front door woofers lack a little mid bass after crossing them over at 80hz HPF with -12db slope. Rears do a wonderful job filling in. Even opening the trunk and listening from the rear is pleasant enough.

The Centerpoint feature now makes a difference. With the Match PP86DSP, I can route different inputs to different channels. I used the rear left and right inputs and routed them to the rear pillar speakers, as the channel for them was only 1 combined. It's pretty impressive, but I can now say my vehicle has surround seeming sound. xD When I play tracks with nature sounds like water, birds, wind, etc. it gets pretty intense if I close my eyes. In no way am I saying it's a true surround sound setup. It's definitely more surround seeming now. I'm sure if I watched a movie in the CX-5 without the stupid audio lag from bluetooth/Android Auto, I may just enjoy it like in the theatres without the old cloth smell of their seats.
 
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South Carolina
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12 MZ5 13 CX-5
EQ Update:

It's difficult getting the curve that I'm aiming for with the current tools I have. No dedicated microphone, as I'm using my phone and Audio Tools.
AHH!!! Bro, look into picking up a UMIK-1. They aren't very expensive at all and interface perfectly with Room EQ Wizard (REW).

My DSP is the uber affordable Dayton Audio DSP-408 (first DSP I've ever played with, by the way), and I've been having terrific results with the combo of the UMIK-1, REW, and the DSP.

I have a Helix P-DSP on the shelf that's going to go into my CX-5. I built my wife's Mazda5 minivan first, just to get some experience with sound deadening and tuning.

Speaking of sound deadening, DO IT. I gutted the wife's van down to the sheetmetal, and did three layers: Killmat, Noico closed cell foam, and finally mass loaded vinyl. Massive difference in comfort just riding down the road, plus, the lowered noise floor really brings out the stereo even more than before.
 
The UMIK-1 is on my list for after the wedding day. Well it's pretty affordable and I've had my eye on it for awhile. Maybe I'll just start taking the Scion to work and get the mic. xD Funds are tied. Tbh, the only reason why I was able to comfortably get the Match DSP/Amp is cause... Stimicheck. Hahahahahaha. Honestly, once the wedding is over, I'll be making some mods to the CX-5 that I've put on hold for awhile.

Btw, I believe the Helix P-DSP uses the same software that I'm using with my Match. Gotta admit, big fan of Audiotec Fischer products. The software's really good. Helix has always been at the top of my list when it comes to DSP/Amp products. I was surprised to discover that Match is basically a sister brand. Still top quality stuff though.

I've heard the Dayton Audio DSP works really well. It's my belief that DSP is the singular piece that makes the most difference. Best bang for buck piece of equipment IMO. Since I've had the Pioneer 4200NEX, I HAVE TO HAVE DSP, even in a more basic form like the headunit. It does have TA, Crossover with varying slopes, and an okay EQ. I think only 13 bands. But it does plenty for a < 1k watt system.

Can't stress enough..... TIME ALIGNMENT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! xD Literally the biggest factor in a DSP for me.

Speaking of sound deadening, DO IT. I gutted the wife's van down to the sheetmetal, and did three layers: Killmat, Noico closed cell foam, and finally mass loaded vinyl. Massive difference in comfort just riding down the road, plus, the lowered noise floor really brings out the stereo even more than before.

I'm using just Soundskinz Pro and it's plenty for me. I've dampened my entire CRV (before the timing chain gave out... sad.) and it made a huge difference. The CX-5 will get that job one day. It really does suck saving for a wedding. x.x...

How's the process and learning audio tuning via the minivan? Fun right?!??!?!? If you haven't already, DIY Mobile Audio is pretty dope resource, although they're SUPER hardcore over there. I just lurk and learn.
 
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South Carolina
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12 MZ5 13 CX-5
Did some more tuning today. Red is before, green is after. The difference is absolutely breathtaking.

I used the JBL curve as a baseline.



Before and after tuning.JPG
 
Mine are looking very similar except for the lower end. If you can get the 315-600 to be more gradual, you may find it more pleasant! At least for my ears it was.