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Discussion Starter #1
So this evening I did a little research and played around with the parametric equalizer on the engineering menu. I understand the frequency and gain settings, but I am not sure what the grade setting does. The factory setting on most speakers is 3.0 so that is what I put these all too. I found a site in German that I translated on google that lists some interesting settings,

Google Translate

The settings I used for all four speakers is as follows:
50 3.0 +4
200 3.0 0
1000 3.0 1
8000 3.0 +4

The car seriously lacked lows and highs, but this helped a good amount. If anyone knows what the grade setting of 3.0 does it would be nice to understand that as well.

I think may raise the 8000 up to 13000 and just use the treable off the main menu to adjust according to music every day.

I also raised up the max volume off for entertainment on one of the menus. If I have the windows down and sunroof open on the highway, I could not hear the radio at all before. Now is much louder and is finally as good as the mach radio in my 2003 ford taurus. Wow a car that cost $10,000 more new finally sounding as good!

Hope this will help someone else who isn't happy with the stock audio 20.
 

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If it is a true parametric equalizer, the 3.0 should refer to the variable "Q" or bandwidth (range) of the frequencies the boost/cut applies to centered around the chosen frequency. 3.0 is a very high (pointy, peaked) slope, meaning that in the case of 8000 hz, you are only boosting that single frequency, and to a lesser degree, the frequencies just below and just above 8k hz, perhaps from 7.6k to 8.4k hz.
A low "Q" of 1.0 for instance may cover an octave, meaning gradual boost/cut starting at half the center frequency to twice the center frequency (from 4k to 16k hz in this example).
More educational would be to remove a front or rear door panel and examine the quality of the OEM speakers Mercedes puts into the W204 without the HK system (someone admitted that the OEM cost was under a dollar for ALL 8 speakers!). One can only imagine what a +4 boost at 50 hz with a Q of 3.0 does to the stock speakers (read torture).
By replacing the stock speakers with high quality/efficiency speakers such as the Infinity Kappa 60.9 or 62.9's, which have up to a 95 dB/1 watt efficiency, the Audio 20 amplifier can drive these to 110 fB peaks (100 dB average SPL).
As these speakers reproduce all frequencies relatively accurately, the parametic EQ can be set back to +0, and use the treble and bass controls to trim to taste.
 

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If it is a true parametric equalizer, the 3.0 should refer to the variable "Q" or bandwidth (range) of the frequencies the boost/cut applies to centered around the chosen frequency. 3.0 is a very high (pointy, peaked) slope, meaning that in the case of 8000 hz, you are only boosting that single frequency, and to a lesser degree, the frequencies just below and just above 8k hz, perhaps from 7.6k to 8.4k hz.
A low "Q" of 1.0 for instance may cover an octave, meaning gradual boost/cut starting at half the center frequency to twice the center frequency (from 4k to 16k hz in this example).
More educational would be to remove a front or rear door panel and examine the quality of the OEM speakers Mercedes puts into the W204 without the HK system (someone admitted that the OEM cost was under a dollar for ALL 8 speakers!). One can only imagine what a +4 boost at 50 hz with a Q of 3.0 does to the stock speakers (read torture).
By replacing the stock speakers with high quality/efficiency speakers such as the Infinity Kappa 60.9 or 62.9's, which have up to a 95 dB/1 watt efficiency, the Audio 20 amplifier can drive these to 110 fB peaks (100 dB average SPL).
As these speakers reproduce all frequencies relatively accurately, the parametic EQ can be set back to +0, and use the treble and bass controls to trim to taste.
I want to play around with this parametric equalizer, but I have no idea what I am doing.

@William - what would be the setting to make the bandwidth of frequencies wider in order to boost a higher range of octaves? Thanks in advance.
 

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@one.bofh: The purpose of a parametric equalizer is NOT tone control. A typical tone control such as the bass/treble in the Audio 20 media knob-controlled screen, is "hinged" meaning it is fixed somewhere in the middle of the frequency range (typically 1k hz), and either raises or lowers the frequency extremes, affecting to a lesser degree, all of the frequencies closer to the hinge. For instance, boosting bass with the standard tone control by +9 dB results in: 50 hz boosted +9 dB, 100 hz +6 dB, 200 hz +3 dB and at 400 hz about 1 dB.
The purpose of a parametric equalizer is to eliminate or boost individual frequencies, a typical example of use is to reduce microphone feedback in live sound reinforcement. In this application, the sound engineer increases the volume with all microphones active, until the first frequency "howl" arises. The offending frequency is identified, and reduced with a high slope such as 3.0 or 4.0, typically by 12 to 18 dB (some as much as 24 dB). Subsequently the volume is increased and the process repeated. In practice, 4 frequency bands of a parametric equalizer are sufficient for most professional sound reinforcement needs, such as live concerts, stadiums, churches and auditoriums.
In an automobile, since we are dealing with a closed environment with extremely reflective surfaces (glass) and extremely absorptive materials (upholstery, carpets, headlining), standing waves typically in the bass, or treble peaks, can be eliminated. Also, some frequencies that are "lost" can be individually boosted. The goal is to provide completely flat "audiophile quality" sound.
Sound for car interiors certainly has its challenges, the bad being a difficult acoustical environment, poor speaker placement possibilities, and high background noise. The great thing, is that once these defects are compensated for, very high quality sound can be obtained. Systems such as the Harman Kardon are custom-tailored to provide both parametric and regular equalization, combined with time delay compensation and 5.1 Surround Sound, they can provide quality and accuracy generally unobtainable in the best home entertainment systems!
That said, one should start with the four bands on the parametric equalizer by asking "What's missing, and what's excessive?". As far as the "Q" is concerned, from 0.7 to 1.0 will give change to a broad range of frequencies, similar to the tone controls available on the screen. If there is a frequency that offends you, such as a bass resonance or treble peak, it can be eliminated using a setting of 3.0 to 4.0, which only affects that particular frequency. If you are familiar with a 1/3 octave graphic equalizer, the adjustment of the 21 bands have a "Q" of approximately 2.0, to give an idea. So best of luck in attempting to obtain the sound you desire. However please understand the purpose of a parametric equalizer - it is a tool to correct specific sound response flaws one frequency at a time. Secondarily, it can provide "bass boost" over a wide range of frequencies usng a setting of 0.7 to 1.0, however this only duplicates the standard tone control´s function. Can the speaker and the amplifier handle all this "boost"? Parametric equalization generally has frequency elimination as it's goal.
Again, please take the advice in the previous post, and replace the OEM speakers with quality, high efficiency (above 92 dB/watt) drivers. Most find that no equalization is needed, neither parametric or tone control, and the sound quality can be nearly as good as the full HK system, except in the bass.
 

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Thanks for the very detailed reply. Much appreciated. I am satisfied with the sound I am getting out of the stock speakers - I am mainly listening to my iPod and the speakers are sufficient for that purpose. I am past the time when I used to listen to heavy techno and needed major bass in the car, so I think understanding what I am doing with the parametric eq options in the engineering menu will help me improve the sound a little bit, as well as keep me entertained along the way. Once again, thanks for the help.
 

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In theory no, as the Mercedes system effectively substitutes the iPod input for the Aux input (when you get an iPod interface, you lose the Aux). However, part of the Ipod interface kit should include an IPod amplifier. The one sourced from Germany provides a 6dB boost and has less than 0.5% THD. The China-sourced MB iPod amplifier actually has NO boost and 30% THD, its horrible.
The Audio 20 amp is actually quite good up to its 25 WPC. However, no amount of tone control or parametric EQ is going to make the sad stock speakers give you more bass. Just MUCH more distortion, some confuse it for bass.
Take a look for yourself, or if many are curious, I can post some photos of the stock OEM $0.10-a-driver originals vs. some reasonably-priced alternatives. One can substitute the front door speakers easily, the rear doors will require different drivers or some thought and effort to cut behind the grills located at the rear interior door handles.
The difference in sound quality is a galaxy apart. IMO no parametric EQ is needed, maybe just +1 or +2 of tone control bass, treble stays at +0.
 

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Thinkng about it, what CAN make a difference in quality and clean bass is to have Apple lossless input. Many MP3s are coded far less than the highest quality 192kbps, and the difference between even this highest quality MP3 and Apple lossless is easily discernible.
Takes more space, but my iPod Classic already has 5000+ tunes on it with some room for more, all in lossless format from the original CDs. The iPod Classic also has a great D/A convertor chip, almost as good as the version 3 iPod from years ago.
These things make more of a difference than any adjustment of the parametric EQ (and I havent even checked, maybe it is ALREADY optimized for the acoustic characteristics of the W204, so why fool with it?). Make sure you write down the current settings in case you want to set them back.
 

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Mercedes OEM speakers vs. ?

For those interested, here is a pictorial comparison between the Mercedes C Class original non-HK speakers vs. a high quality/high efficiency speaker (in this case the Infinity Kappa 60.9). This is the best thing one can do to improve the sound in the C Class.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Wow! Thanks William for all the explanations about this. I was driving today and the overall sound sounded odd, almost muddy. I will play around with this some more know that you have explained the slope. I think I may have the first setting way to low for such a small driver. The stock driver can probably not get down below 200 Hz in the first place.
I have an Epiccenter bass processor in my other car, and they call it the sweep, but it works in the opposite direction I believe. Don't want to spend the money or time just yet on new speakers as I am moving next month and have a baby coming along in 6 months.

BTW, My iPod is much louder than the radio, but I do hear a whining sound that goes up and down with the engine. Not something I would expect from a Mercedes branded iPod kit that came stock with the car.
 

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In the iPod instruction manual that was supposed to come with the iPod Interface Kit, there was an EQ recommendation for the iPod, however can't remember what it is. This will be researched and published. If the iPod is louder than the radio, then you should reduce the volume of the iPod with the "Boost" setting active. Dont exceed "8".
Ignition noise in the system - and the muddy sound. This may be caused by two things a) you got a China-sources iPod preamp (will post a picture tomorrow) instead of the Germany-soucred amp, and b) any oxidation in any of the cable connectors, or the socket of the iPod itself, can act like a capacitor, causing pick-up and transmission of the ignition noise into the Audio 20. If the radio has no noise like this, then this could be a cause, although if you have the China manufactured iPod amplifier, just replacing this should solve both problems at the same time. Will post more tomorrow.
 

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Muddy sound from IPod Integration Kit & Amp

@MonavieChef (and ANYONE with an iPod Integration Kit and iPod Amp): The muddy sound from the IPod Integration Kit/Amp and horrible stock MB OEM speakers forced this W204 owner to refuse to drive it for more than 6 months. I am just now getting to the 5k mile mark after 11 months! Please refer to the speaker post and pictures above.
As for the iPod Amp, which goes between the iPod and the Integration Kit electronics box, an iPod Amp was purchased from the MB dealer in San Diego, (about $65) as some threads suggest the low iPod volume level could be caused by the lack of this amp. When the MB dealer in Mexico installed the Germany sourced iPod Amp, turns out that the original installation in fact DID have the iPod Amp ONLY A TERRIBLE ONE SOURCED FROM CHINA which had half (-6 dB) the volume and 30% THD, hence the muddy sound MonavieChef describes.
CHECK YOUR IPOD AMP, if its from China, get the one from Germany, it has less than 0.1% THD and functions properly. While checking which iPod Amp you may have, at the same time take a spray can of TV contact cleaner and spray the contacts on the connectors, as dirt and oxidation is a major source of ignition noise getting into the audio system, as mentioned in a previous post.
Chinese and German iPod Amp photos below:
 

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As for the iPod EQ settings you can select on the iPod itself (you have to unplug the iPod from the connector to be able to access this option), the Mercedes iPod Integration Kit instructions recommend that the EQ be set to "POP". After the above amplifier was substituted, and the stock Mercedes OEM speakers were replaced, using this EQ setting and NO tone controls, sound equaling and actually cleaner than the Harman Kardon system was obtained, except for the bass. 110 dB peaks can be achieved from the Audio 20 system with proper speakers and input.
 

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How hard is it to replace the stock MB speakers with the Infinity Kappas? Can an average person who has installed basic car speakers do it themselves or is it more then just a swap out of parts? Any cutting or drilling required?
 

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The front door speakers are relatively easy to replave - you may need to enlarge the hole in the door frame for the tweeter though, not a big deal. Here is a link for the 60.9s wth Amazon:
Amazon.com: Infinity 609CS 270W (Peak) 6-1/2 x 6-3/4 Two-Way Component System Speakers (Pair): Automotive: Reviews, Prices & more

The rear door, the easy way is to get a coaxial and it fits right in. The BEST way is to get the above speakers and put the tweeter behind the grill next to the inside door handles, its more work but even front seat passengers will get much better sound. Here is the Coaxial link:
Amazon.com: Infinity Reference 6032si 6.5-Inch, Shallow Mount High Performance 180-Watt Two-Way Loudspeaker (Pair): Automotive: Reviews, Prices & more
 

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Hi Folks,

I am an audio engineer by day, and my new ( second hand) little A-Class has an Audio 20, that sounds like it has been setup by someone who is going deaf as the top end is outrageously hot. I am about to either look at getting the whole system replaced, or perhaps buy an inline EQ unit to get the system listenable, as at present it is very fatiguing.

I have managed to get into the Engineering menu, but cant find the said Parametric EQ parameters. If these exist, it would make my week.

Thanks in advance for your help.
 

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@sydneytc: In the Sound menu, try reducing the typical hinged Treble shelf control as a first option, which should appear on the bottom of the screen when you play a CD or use AUX.
As for the parametric equalizer, 4 bands with centers every 500 Hz, Q in 0.5 steps to 4, and +/- Gain in dB, is accessible through the Engineering Menu using the buttons "Hang-up", "1" and "#" all held down at the same time for a second or two.
Here is the hierarchy of screens in order of access, truly impressive, wish I had a 4 band DIGITAL parametric equalizer when I had my professional sound company!!! (Although 3 bands correctly adjusted in pro sound is good for 40 dB or more of feedback reduction. albeit with narrow Q's and -18 dB of attenuation per band - notch filter?).
 

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Hi William,

Thanks for the prompt response! Sadly though, those screen shots look like a different unit than what I have. I have the Audio 20. I can get into the mode, but it doesn't offer much. Is there perhaps something I have wrong.

Got keen this afternoon and have done some rudimentary tests on the system. Phase checks out all ok, and some impulse response sweeps show severe peaks around 1-2.8k, and another at 6.5k. The tone controls seem to offer very subtle results, and sadly not really a remedy.

Am determined to solve this issue one way or another.

Thanks,

Tony
 

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@sydneytdc: I agree completely with your measurements of the stock OM speakers. The peak centered around 2.3 kHz is the phase interference of the woofer and tweeter at the crossover point, determined for the Tweeter with your typical (read CHEAP!!!) NP cap. As for the 6.5k Hz peak, that is just a resonance in the plastic-domed tweeter.
Yes, a parametric eq would certainly help here, the Treble attenuation would only sacrifice all frequencies about its hinge in order to tame that bothersome 6.5 kHz peak.
Another thread mentioned that since the Audio 20 does everything in the digital domain (i.e. converts AUX A/D) suggested that an update by the MB dealer could possibly provide the parametric EQ function. The Audio20 in my August 2009-manufactured had it, it would be quite a feat if this complex transformation could be applied with a ROM update, not with a dedicated section of a chip.
The A-class, small on the outside, HUGE on the inside, my sister had one in Luxembourg. Nice car.
 
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