Sound System

 

 

Sound System

 

The car as I purchased it included a Nakamichi tape deck in the dash, with a Pioneer Amplifier mounted under the passenger seat, and a Pioneer 6 CD changer in the trunk. These were not original, but had been added at some point early in the carís life. The CD changer had a control that was velcroed to the dash. You can see it in the picture below.

There are two speakers in the footwells, two speakers on the rear deck, and two speakers that someone mounted in the back seat area, where the armrests used to be.

I had originally considered a DVD player in the dash, but the single DIN slot for the radio is too low and too close to the gearshift I think to be able to install a DVD player with a pop out screen. Every time I changed gears I'd hit the screen.

I also wanted to be able to play MP3s in the car. So I wound up buying an Empeg MP3 player from England. It has a large hard drive built in (I think mine is 36G), and can be removed from the car in order to connect up to a PC via USB to download tunes from the PC to the Empeg. It works quite well, the PC software is good, and I never really have any trouble with the unit itself. That's in contrast to the Aiwa MP3 CD player I had in my old truck. The Aiwa was quite tempermental and a piece of junk.

I ordered the Empeg in April of 2000, it arrived in October of 2000, and I finally got it installed in February 2001. Since the Empeg unit does not include a receiver, and it takes up the only DIN slot I had in the car, it looked like I was out of luck for getting a receiver. Trying to figure this out was the reason that it took me so long to get around to installing the Empeg.

Tantalizingly, Empeg also offered a separate receiver, a non-DIN reasonably small module that mounts under the dash and is plugged into the main Empeg unit. Empeg claimed their receiver was 3 months away, but it seemed to be a rolling 3 months. (It's from England . . .) Their receiver finally started shipping in September 2001, and mine arrived in late October 2001. 

So from April of 2000 until October of 2001 to get my stereo system delivered! No wonder they went out of business shortly thereafter!  (It's from England . . . )

One twist I considered in the interim was to mount the Empeg in the armrest in the back seat. This would free up the DIN panel on the dash to mount a receiver.  The problem was finally solved thanks to pro-active procrastination when the Empeg receiver showed up.

 

Empeg MP3 Player Install February 2001

I took out the Nakamichi and rigged up the Empeg to the amp first just using alligator clips. It seemed to work fine. Connecting up the wires was a pain though. The 228 wiring schematic I have shows 6 wires going into the original radio, but fails to describe which wire performs which function. Luckily, whoever installed the Nakamichi labeled the wires. First time I wired the Empeg all up, then slid the Empeg into its removable slot, it fired right up. Unfortunately it turned on the ignition and the headlights too! That was resolved easily by reversing the power and ignition wires.

I found out later that I required a special cable with a diode in it to prevent various minor problems I was having, which was a bit of an annoyance, though they did send one over from England for free.  (It's from England . . .)

I must of pulled out 25 pounds of stuff from the car in the process of taking the old radio out. There was the Nakamichi unit itself, the CD changer in the trunk, the CD changer control head velcro'ed to the dash, some kind of box between the control head and the CD changer that was tucked under the dash, an FM modulator to put the CD tunes on an FM frequency, a noise filter, and about 100 feet of extra wire. While I was at it I removed the built in radar detector head that was located just above the steering wheel. There were vestiges of an old alarm system in the car that also needed to be removed, plus I had to take the back seat out to get rid of the cable that ran to the CD changer in the trunk, plus there was the remote antenna for the radar detector which was mounted in front of one of the intercoolers. Itís all gone now.

 

Empeg Radio Receiver Install October 2001

So when the tuner module finally turned up, it was easy to plug into the Empeg unit via a pigtail connector.  Itís better than nothing, but not as nice as the base Empeg.  The main problems are that the sound level on FM is really low, and that AM reception is highly susceptible to external (i.e. not from the car) interference.  I have been informed that I need to put an antenna amplifier in to bring the FM level up.  Another problem is that the User Interface for the receiver is really awkward. It can only be accessed by a remote control, and this is made worse by the fact that the remote I was shipped is an older model, so the buttons donít  correspond to what they are labeled as. (It's from England)

In any case, theyíve stopped making these Empeg units,. No doubt they will be collector's items soon, just like the car!

 

Testing the Empeg Before Install

Empeg Installed

 Empeg/MP3 Impressions

The Empeg works great now and I am happy with it overall, though the receiver is not really up to snuff. The MP3 sound is great though, and I have over 1300 tunes loaded on it so far, with room for several thousand more.

The UI on it is pretty good, it seems like there are a hundred or more different ways to set the display up. It allows various playlists, sequential play through different directories, or random play through your whole database which is what I normally use. It also uses the tag in the MP3 tune itself to display the tune, the artist, the date, the album, etc. which is kind of nice. Although the info needs to be put in properly for it to be displayed properly.

There is a tremendous variation in the volume of MP3's that you can download on the 'net. One tune will be just right, the next one may blow your head off, and the one after may be so quiet you can hardly hear it.  This is an MP3 problem, not a problem with my unit. I could solve it by ripping my own tunes, and doing them all at a standard level.  Or more realistically, I am sure that there is software out there that will do level adjusting. It's not a big enough problem that I want to go through 1300 tunes . . .

Bottom line - It's different, it works well, it has a few not too serious quirks. (Kind of like a Maserati 228) I like it enough that I bought another one to put in my other car!

I also need to put a car alarm on the car. I am thinking of a Boomerang unit plus a standard Alpine alarm.