ERASE's determined w124 stereo journey. - Mercedes-Benz Forum
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post #1 of 43 (permalink) Old 10-22-2011, 10:56 PM Thread Starter
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ERASE's determined w124 stereo journey.

I hope that my findings help other W124 owners.

Some issues: They are notoriously frustrating for subwoofer installation because of the gas tank against the rear seats- making getting direct bass into the cabin difficult. We have an oddball sized dash speaker (4" drivers fit if they are not too deep and if the magnet diameter is small enough)

Our cars are great in that they are so quiet- and have decent leg room for kick panel installations. A few other nice things... w124 400E, E420, 500E, and E500 owners have their batteries in the rear making amplifier connections simplified. There is a Taxi console that can give us 2 single DIN spaces.

We have only 2 few airbags restricting our installations- the steering wheel and passenger side glove area. None in the doors.

While the car's acoustics are not as good as most coupes and hatchbacks or even the lowly VW bug... they are not that horrible in that not much rattles in out cars.


So some history. At the peak of Sound Quality competitions in the 1990's I bought a slew of gear to do a high end install in an Audi 5000S wagon. Tweeter ETC. butchered the car so bad in the installation it was totaled. (They moved the computer and destroyed it, wrecked my lights- ruined the charging system...etc.etc. which I suppose is the "etc." in Tweeter etc.)

I knew a ton about high end audio having sold it and been an avid enthusiast in pursuit of convincing reproduction of the musical event. I was asked to be a partner to Alan Goodwin of mostly to voice his systems. I have worked for Bang and Olufsen, owned 2 DJ businesses - one of which was audiophile sound quality, I've also done custom high end installs in Aspen, Vail, Houston, New York, The Virgin Islands, Washington DC, Miami, Naples, Greenwich, Yokohama, Tokyo and a bunch of obscure places. Budgets for systems I have done range from $2500 in vintage gear to $235,000. I regularly go to audio shows like RMAF, T.H.E Show, and host several high end headphone meets in California.

That being said... I dreaded learning about car audio and thought that you really could not come close to audiophile sound... I just wanted to pay someone else to the the work.

That strategy has proven to be a disaster. My first install resulted in my car being totaled. My second one has a list of over 15 items that the installer screwed up in doing my Jehnert door panels alone and running speaker wire......(my headrests up/down no longer work, my passenger side door handles stick, my body cladding clips were broken, they did not put the interior panels on right, I got headliner cancer because they were rough in removing the panels, The Jehnerts are not sealed right, they connected my head unit wrong + forgot to run several wires so they will have to take the car apart agin. A 4 hour job instead had me there from 8am until 10pm at night and cost me $811 for shoddy careless work. This fellow was recommended by a fellow MB owner with a nice system, I think this fellow can do good work- but he let his 20+ year old workers try to help. He also was not willing to take responsibility for his workers mistakes. I won't name the shop, as the guy is nearly out of business blaming it all on the head units that come in cars today. I believed him..I should not have.

So much for getting a stereo installed in Thousand Oaks...AVOID>>>>>

Too bad as he said he was a former IASCA (International Auto Sound Challenge Association) Sound Judge (I am not so sure about this now after seeing a qualified judge in action) ..and I had hoped he knew what he was talking about. He didn't. His car was ok sounding- played loud and clean, but nothing like good competition cars.

Luckily I finally found a good SoCal install shop in Anaheim.

At this point.. I really have hard time not learning everything... and if I don't know enough... well someone will hide low quality work.

To start I upgraded the alternator to a more current MB model alternator added about 60-75 more amps. No need to change pulleys.

List of my gear.

Nakamichi TP-1200 Tuner Pre-amp with remote Pre-amp module Special shop edition (Upgraded electronics- difficult to import from Japan- but I got it here) Unusual features- has ability for Aux in to the remote HU (which remotely controls motorized potentiometers and trimmed resisters for Bass treble, volume) as well as AUX in for the remote mounted pre-amp in the trunk area. Visco eleastic dampening and springs to reduce vibrations into the circuitry.

McIntosh MC4000M 6 channel 1000 watt amp (4x 100 2 x 300) or (2 x 200 2 x 300) or (2 x 100 1x 200 2 x 300) has EQ bay for parametric EQ modules to have either 4 channel 6 band parametrics

McInstosh MC440M 6 Channel 400 watt amp. (4 x 50 + 2 x 100) or ( 4 x 100) or (1 x 200 4 x 50)

McIntosh MEN 456 5 way 4 channel electronics crossover. Has high, mid, low, sub (sub is mono only but has two outputs) and full range (suitable for a band pass in rear?) This unit also has a parametric EQ Bay

McIntosh MEQ 452 4 channel 6 band parametric EQ module (has analog filters that use digital settings for memory but can be programmed into up to 4 memory presets)

McIntosh MEC 457 Equalizer controller (allows remote setting of crossover point for MEN 456 and MEQ 452 has 4 memories)

McIntosh MPM 4000 McIntosh Meters (illuminated single DIN meter chassis) I hope to take a source selector from a pre-amp and use it to be able to dial it to check any pair of amplifier channels. (Don any ideas on this??)

Dakota Digital Voltage meter display (matching fluorescent tube blue color to McIntosh Gear

Dakota Digital amperage meter display (matching fluorescent tube blue color to McIntosh Gear

Dakota Digital temperature gauges display (2- one for each amplifier) (matching fluorescent tube blue color to Mcintosh Gear

Big Yellow top Optima battery (not installed)

3 a/d/s RS-10 Subs (old school plastic cones) I might go IB instead though and sell these.

Tons of Phoenix gold connectors and power distribution blocks and fuses and relays.

Tons of Phoenix gold speaker cable and RCA cable. For my front channels ..I might upgrade the speaker wire.

Cell phone mute switcher (mutes stereo when calls come in)

Many micro valve switches so I can open a sealed box at a press of a switch to equalize the pressure inside a sealed speaker enclosure with the ambient pressure. (I go to the mountains a lot).

I have 3 Nakamichi Changers

Nakamichi CDC –110 10 disc changer (has digital out)
Nakamichi Music bank MB-9 (7 disc changer) (has digital out)
Nakamichi Music Bank MB-7 ( 6 disc changer)
(likely will not use these and will use a modified Ipod with 256gb of solid state memory running apple lossless files)

Apple iMod (modified iPod with 256gb solid state memory)

ALO line out dock.

Or I could also use a Mac Mini (or my Apple laptop) with Pure Music’s Channel D vinyl engine lets me play high rez 24 bit 192 files.

Apple Ipad will be used for NAV and for some music serving when some of the gear is out of the car being used for DJ or PA work.

Apogee Mini DAC (Has firewire input so can connect to Apple computer) Laptop is always with me anyhow.

Might buy Weiss INT 202 firewire to AES-EBU digital to another DAC.

Currently- I have mounted the MC4000M 1000 Watt amp to a lightweight high pressure laminate fiberglass board. All the wiring goes through the board very cleanly and wires route underneath and connect to a 65 pin connector with ( 2) 1/0 connectors , (15) 12 gauge connectors and (48) 24 gauge connectors for signal. I got special gold plated pins made and even can have things connect in a particular sequence depending on the length of the pins. The Pins are transparent and add no resistance by their special louvertac band designs. The 1/0 connectors can handle very high amperage.

IMG_1173 | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

The plan was to be able to put a different umbilical if needed to run an entirely different external system for parties…. Ie regular PA loudspeakers. The McIntosh MEC457 has 4 memories and one of these could be designated for PA use- I would merely put another umbilical on the end and one to power and ground and 12 volt turn on. I am a DJ too. I would like to throw outdoor parties and events.

The Amps can be removed for service or to lighten the car and make more room for cargo. They have custom high density foam cordura bags made for them.

There are two plates like the one shown- the second houses the MC440M and the MEN 456 with the MEQ452 Inside the MEN 456- there is room for another housing which could hold a few Daktoa Digital gauges or something else as there is a little left over real estate.

The second plate looks even cooler but is currently apart. I wired these myself.

This System was selected to have high s/n and low distortion and wide frequency response throughout. The McIntosh Amps have 110 s/n, the Nakamichi is the same, the only weak point is the 6 band 4 channel MEQ 452 which is I think 98 s/n… I could go with a fewer band unit or one with fewer channels to high a higher s/n ratio. I am a believer that nuance can be buried in noise- so s/n ratios can be important particularly if noise occurs in the midrange.

I have not selected my speakers as of yet.

I have the 3 a/d/s/ RS-10 subs… but IB might be better.

In the Front door panels:
I was hoping to use these door panels for Midbass from – they make a pre-fabbed w124 door panel that houses (2) 6.5 inch woofers with matched crossovers for my car. Likely will put dynaudio 650's in there or switch to a sealed enclosure and run scan speaks.


In the rear deck

If I go IB Dynaudio mw190’s IB configuration (2 )

Or the a/d/s/ if there is a way to not lose all the trunk room.

I do not have time alignment. Not sure if I even want it- I think if speaker locations are chosen carefully ie run a string from your ear to the center of each cone and have these distances equal – then only crossover delay would be introduced.

I also will buy a 3d 720p projector so I can create my own drive in movie. Airport express will allow people to stream music to my car.


Step 1. I bought Rainbow 120SL's. They played considerably louder with better HF extension, but they did not image and create depth as much as I would have liked. The OEM drivers soundstaged better. Sold them at a loss after a few hours of playing.

Step 2. I put the Jehnerts in (boght them from Don Amman of Unexpected Creations - I high recommend giving this guy your business... he seems to be one of the most trustworthy people I have met in the car audio business.) and they sound amazing for what they are. If you have $1150 to spend on speakers and door midbass enclosures for your car and do not want to go the subwoofer route...I think this is the best possible solution. I think the bass is pretty good- especially if the door speakers only run as midbasses and you have a dedicated sub. The Midrange leaves something to be desired..

You need a special mounting baffle to mount the Jehnert 4" driver.

So I looked into Midrange shootout tests

4" Midrange Shootout on DIYMA (16 Drivers, including Dynaudio, HAT, Scan-Speak, etc.)

on a site dedicated to car audio sound quality. They use a lot of home drivers in their car- and very esoteric ones. I decided on the Scan Speak 4.5" midrange because I THOUGHT IT WOULD FIT, and because Scan Speak makes the drivers to good speakers like Proac, Sonus Faber, Ovation, Reveal, Wilson and so on.

So as it turns out... this speaker...

Is even a better fit than the Jehnerts in our stock dash locations in our w124's. It's basket fits with no modifications. SERIOUSLY!!!!

Yet...The Jehnerts rely on some ring speaker putty to secure the speaker basket to an adapter made of particle board. So If I were to use this high tensile speaker putty with my 12M's theoretically I would have the same quality if not better quality seal. Using a few threaded clips will do an even better job.

I tested this in my home reference system and I was astonished at the sound quality , detail, imaging , and coherence. What a driver!
Photos to come.

Last edited by ERASE; 12-10-2011 at 10:46 PM.
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post #2 of 43 (permalink) Old 10-22-2011, 11:45 PM
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This sounds like a venture determined to pump out heart beats!

Names like McIntosh and Nakamichi are simply shivering.

I am planning an "amateurish" installation in my w124.
Already did the R129, quite complicated with its small cabin, and thin doors.

The only way to put a subwoofer was a complete box in the trunk.
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post #3 of 43 (permalink) Old 10-23-2011, 11:16 AM
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Sounds like this will be amazing...
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post #4 of 43 (permalink) Old 12-10-2011, 10:33 PM
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Any updates?
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post #5 of 43 (permalink) Old 12-10-2011, 11:34 PM Thread Starter
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Ok a few cool things...

first off..

Wired the car with Analysis plus speaker cable... this is nice stuff! its the Oval stuff.

I sounds really really really good.

True high end cable.... if you can believe it is hard to get real copper wire for car audio nowadays... it is all tin coated crap. So I had to use high end home wire.

$1200 yeeeeeouch.. for 80 feet...but after hearing it... worth every penny compared to the installer cable I tested it all with.. It's like a speaker upgrade. Better transients, cleaner bass- and oddly it seems to play louder without distortion.

The Scan Speak 12M's are awesome.... just great! I get convincing depth and sound stage even with a paltry 100 WPC running everything passive into a 2 ohm load..And that is with the Crossover that came with the Jehnerts ...a decidedly ...well mid level quality crossover.. with my custom Chapman crossover... it will sound world's better.

I took the Jehnerts and jammed them as far forward as possible towards the start of the windshield.

Most car audio buffs will tell you to try to avoid early reflections... particular 5 ms RELECTIONS as they smear the sound stage and cause all sorts of issues when they combine and compete with the DIRECT sound..In fact our brains block/erase the second sound reflections (this takes lots of brain audio processing power...every wonder why your head hurts after being in a loud restaurant or starbucks for 2 hours?)

So short term reflections cause listener fatigue when combined with the direct sound. I noticed that the “premium” stock system in our 1994- 1995 w124’s was not really fatiguing but just wasn’t perfect sounding.. but the fact that it was not fatiguing gave me a clue.

So in an effect to eliminate the time delays associated with tweeter’s (as Jehnert gives you tweeters to install- our original drivers had a whizzer cone) I decided…. Since I can not eliminate the reflected sound completely (5 milliseconds means nothing can be reflected until after 5 FEET!) I decided… since here was not much attenuation from glass reflection….. to eliminated one of the sources of the time differences… My solution.. was to eliminate the DIRECT sound as much as possible and try to make it ALL RELECTIVE SOUND. I am happy to say that this strategy has worked better than expected.. making it all sound like direct sound without reflection. Pretty damn cool!

I jammed the tweeters to be as close to where the front windshield meets the glass and used “blu-tack” poster putty (never hardens or melts in the sun) to mold around the tweeter to make it flush with the dash and fill in around that. This also dampens the vibrations caused by the Midrange driver. It cuts down on sound diffraction too ..(The enemy of good sound) So the windshield now acts as an acoustic lens extension. The putty really helped make this work..and my sound stage is as taller than the top of the windshield and goes much wider than the boundaries of the car!

Now... the Jehnerts door seapkers need some "souping up" I will put these drivers in with a quasi aperiodic membrane with a deflex pad.

Scan Speak, 18W/8545K

Scan-speak-18w8545k system resonance is 28hz and as I will cross over at least an octave higher... I won't have to worry about it. YAY! No peaky midbass hump!

As for the subwoofer... well I may sell my beloved a/d/s RS-10's (dreading this as they will be nigh impossible to replace if I do another car that could use them) as they will not work with the enclosure I purchased from Pifcat. (they need 1 cubic foot each)

Pifcat sold me a Z-box (Z-Box (the brand) made custom fiberglass interior speaker enclosures for Porsche in the 1990's. This one came out of a AMG HAMMER that was an auto show example. Pifcat sold it to me for $ probably cost $2000 back in the day to make. It is dusty with all the upholstery peeling off...good… easy to srip and reupholster in Black Mercedes leather… a local mercedes upholstry place does a great job.

My installer will add some extra airspace to it. I will be using this woofer.

SB, SW26DAC76-4

which seems to roll off after 100hz at between 3 and 6db per octave.. which is fine as our cars exhibit a good amount of cabin gain to compensate for this roll off to still sound about “Flat”.

Last edited by ERASE; 12-24-2011 at 04:51 AM.
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post #6 of 43 (permalink) Old 02-23-2012, 12:49 PM
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Any photos of the system installed in the car? The description alone sounds incredible!

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post #7 of 43 (permalink) Old 02-23-2012, 02:40 PM
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wow , you made my day, reading now in the morning )) yeaah, photos would be great man!
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post #8 of 43 (permalink) Old 02-24-2012, 01:53 AM
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everything you've said so far sounds stunning, i would love to see some pics of this set up/installation! what I would love even more is to experience what this sounds like, must be incredible
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post #9 of 43 (permalink) Old 02-24-2012, 05:50 AM
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part number alternator

Please post the part number of the MB alternator you installed. Thanks.
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post #10 of 43 (permalink) Old 02-25-2012, 06:37 AM
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FYI - link to the ScanSpeak 12M that ERASE used in the dash. I really want to try these in my Jehnert setup but the $650/pair pricetag is a bit of a downer:

Detailed thread about installing a 143A or 150A alternator upgrade in your W124:

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