The biggest issue with OEM Integration is the factory equalizers and time alignment, as stated in OEM Integration Part II. Manufacturers are now using digital amplifiers that are connected directly to the OEM head unit. This now means there are no wires to access behind the head unit to use a high-level adaptor. Now you must access the wires after the amplifier. As stated in previous posts, this is where a good quality high-level adaptor works well. But what if the factory speaker leads have a crossover built into it?
I will use the example of the 2014+ Dodge Ram with the Alpine system. You can change the factory head unit with an Integration Module, for example, a PAC module, and it works well. Many consumers like the factory look and feel, but this system uses a digital amplifier that utilizes factory crossovers going to the tweeters, midrange, and subwoofer. Warning “technical stuff incoming”; since the factory midrange is crossed over from 3k to 100 Hz, you cannot get a full range signal (20K – 20 Hz). This is what you need to integrate an aftermarket amplifier properly.
Now that I made your head hurt, what does this mean to you? It would help if you had an equalizer or amplifier that can add the entire channels together (tweeter, midrange, and subwoofer) and give you a full audio output range. Two companies have been already using this technology for the last six years: Audiotec Fischer (Helix/Braxx in North America) and Audison. Both these manufacturers have deep European roots and have been integrating with these systems in Europe’s premium sound systems in luxury automobiles.
These equalizers/DSPs have the ability to integrate perfectly with the Dodge Ram 2014+ and similar systems. They use a dedicated microprocessor or minicomputer to manage the factory speaker wires coming from the amplifier. Then you can add your own equalization, time alignment, and crossovers to any amplifier.
The Helix DPS/DPS Pro piece also uses a dedicated microprocessor on the EQ’s DSP side. This feature allows you to program different equalization curves at different volumes. If you remember PART II of OEM Integration, I talked about the Chevrolet adaptive volume control that switched the amount of Bass and Treble at different volumes. For example, at a volume level:
00-10: Equalizer curve “A”
10-20: Equalizer curve “B”
20-30: Equalizer curve “C”
Now we can make sure we get a clean full range signal no matter what the factory head unit throws our way. This makes our jobs easier. These equalizers retail for over $1000.00, but both have unique feature sets that are worth exploring. Both companies now have taken it one step further.
Audison created a 35 watts x 8 channel amplifier with a built-in BIT ONE equalizer, and Helix built a 125 watts x 6 channel amplifier with a built-in DPS Pro equalizer. These two amplifiers are opening a whole new world for applications. Having the equalizer and amplifier in one compact size makes it ideal for today’s vehicles.
In an upcoming blog, we will go through some of the tools needed to simplify these installations.