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Mazda6 Accessories and Modifications

maltbmaltb Posts: 3,572
Mods:
Class I receiver hitch - custom job
$40 Whistler radar detector from Wal-Mart
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Comments

  • I had trouble finding an efficient 5x7 component speaker system to fit up front that wouldn't require an outboard amplifier, until I eventually found JBL's power series coaxial speakers have a detatchable tweeter. JBL's are typically very efficient, though, on a price/performance ratio, I typically like their sister company Infinity's car speakers better for their more natural sound. Nonetheless, I also bought JBL GTO 5x7's to go in the back, which have the swivel tweeter to aim upwards into the cabin. Both speakers are efficient and have a good low end for their size, so I should be able to get by without an amp and without a subwoofer.

    Having never heard them, I admit I'm gambling on the JBL power series being smooth in the mids and highs, but I really like the equivelant Infinity's in this price range, so I expect to be pleased. Keep in mind, I don't want it to be so good that I'll want an outboard amp. I had JBL components all around in my last car with a Rockford Fosgate head unit and was happy with that, but the car was very small and got loud quickly.

    My last system, courtesy of eBay, came only to $200. The four speakers I ordered for the '6 came to $133, shipped, courtesy of www.ikesound.com. I'm a pretty big audiophile and listen to mostly modern/classic rock, but don't like spending a lot on car audio. My home theater was hand-picked and cost many thousands of dollars. If I see the need, I may cut into the rear baffle and install a subwoofer in the car, but I hope not to have to do that. I have no doubt that with a voltmeter one could fairly easily figure out which pins on the back of the factory unit are pre-outs, but I just don't care enough to do this. Honestly, I detected a similar harshness in both the factory BOSE system and the base system, so if the head unit is the source of that, an amplifier wouldn't help anyway.

    The speakers I ordered are 91/92db efficient (1w/1m), and the stock head unit puts out 25w x 4. This should produce the same volume as a 50x4 amplifier if wired to 'normal' 89db efficient speakers. Bass extention should be solid to 50-60hz. JBL's systems in Toyota vehicles are some of the best around, IMO, as are their professional loudspeakers.
  • ashutoshsmashutoshsm Posts: 1,007
    ... my relatively basic home theater has JBL speakers as well. The N24's (4 of them) lack punch, but reproduce their entire range VERY well indeed. The N-Center2 is absolutely amazing, though. And coupled with a Yamaha sub, I have a system that I can't even play higher than, say, 1/3rd volume without risking inviting the wrath of my neighbours ;)

    BTW - I thought JBL (J.B. Lansing) and Altec Lansing were the twin companies - didn't know they had anything to do with Infiniti.

    Also, FWIW - I've heard the similarly rated Infiniti and JBL car speakers they have on demo at Circuit City, and prefer the cleaner sound of the JBLs (IMO). Of course, both were out of my price range and I went with 4 Kenwoods for my car :)

    Keep us posted on how the setup sounds, especially if you go tinkering with the interior and the head-unit to find pre-outs for your sub amp and subs. I know I'll need to do that (tinkering) when (if? !) I get the 6 hatch and add on XM satellite radio (naahhh, not Sirius - if they're even around that long)
  • is going to be alloy wheels. I'm probably going to get the OEM 17" wheels that come with the sport package for $125 each, or, for the same price, get the ultra-light 17x7.5", 16.5lb Rota Subzero wheels. The stock wheels have a 50mm offset, and Mazda themselves claims this high offset to be a factor (even if minor) in their advantageous handling. The aftermarket wheels are some of the very few that are similar in offset, but wider and weigh 4.7lbs less each (OEM 17x7's weight 21.2lbs). The aftermarket wheels would clearly be better performers, but the OEM wheels look much nicer. Any thoughts?


    ashutoshsm- Infinity and JBL are both owned by Harmon International, a la Harmon Kardon. You'll notice Infinity and JBL speakers often share a lot of technologies.

  • mazda6smazda6s Posts: 1,901
    Where did you get the offset info from? Do you have the bolt pattern and centerbore specs?
  • I'm no audiophile but I like to listen to loud music with lots of Bass and no distortion. There is no practical way to replace the stock head unit so I went to my local car stereo shop and here's what they did. Mounted a Sony 80 x 4 + 300 watt amp behind the left rear seat back, installed a kicker 10" subwoofer in the trunk (with a quick disconnect mount so I can remove it if I need the space to haul something) 4 Alpine speakers in the doors and 2 swivel tweeters on the A pillars (they're tiny). The sound is awesome. The installation was a little scary - it was tough seeing all the door panels off, the panels under the dashboard removed, the glove box taken out, the seats taken out - and keep in mind that no one in the shop had ever even SEEN a 6 before. When all was done, you would never know that the whole interior was practically disassembled and put back together. It looks and sounds great.

    NOTE: I also wanted to have a remote start feature installed but there is a part needed to bypass the car's built in security features and apparently that part does not exist yet so that mod will have to wait.

    Oh - and the car nuts at this shop...they went nuts over the car (a dark grey S).
  • ashutoshsmashutoshsm Posts: 1,007
    The Rota Subzeros and Circuit-8's are beautiful and strong, lightweight wheels! I got Konig Heliums (similar to the Circuit 8, they both are clones of the same high-end (forget brand) wheels) for my Protege.

    I think Rota also has a couple of 5-spoke models - the Tarmac and the Attack. Also quite light, and better looking for the Mazda 6's lines. Of course, this is all personal opinion - pick the ones you like!

    I actually downloaded images of each wheel I was interested in, and took a couple of digital picures of my car, and sat down with my PC and GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program - heaven!) and 'tried them on' for a few hours before I decided on the Konig Heliums :) (no 5-bolt version of them, although 17" is now available)

    Which tires do you plan to go with? What size do you need? I'd suggest keeping the steelies aside for winter (although its usually mild here in the MD/DE/VA/DC area) and getting summer/performance tires and enjoying yourself ;) I got Falken ZIEX 512 195/50-15 and didn't bother/need to change them this winter (my steelies have Michelin XH4 All Seasons) - very impressive All Season abilities on them Falkens!
  • My order (see post #2) was cancelled due to backordered items. I've rethought my strategy since then. I don't know if it's for the better, but it's certainly more interesting (and expensive).

    I have Kenwood 6"x8" components to go up front and two powered 6" Clarion super-compact subwoofers to put underneath the seats (just looking for low-end fill, not boom). I have speaker brackets that convert the 6x8" opening to a 5 1/2" round opening and have Cadence components to go in the back, also. If the 5 1/4" components sound better, I'll switch and put them up front. I'll probably not connect the tweeters for the back speakers to keep nice imaging up front.

    I did it all on eBay for under $300. The speakers are all 92db 1w/1m efficient and should have no problem playing loudly off of the stock head unit. This was the single most important thing I was looking for since I wasn't planning on adding an amp. I really like the sound of Infinity speakers, but only Kenwood makes an efficient 5x7 or 6x8" component speaker. I've heard Kenwood speakers before and thought them to be only slightly above average, so I may not keep these.

    The Cadence speakers I've never heard, so I took a risk. I saw they have what's called a Zobel circuit in the crossover, which indicates to me that it is a very high quality crossover. I've done a bit of DIY audio, and have built these circuits to control the rising impedance of the woofer.

    The subwoofers were $50 each. Talk about a steal!!! It was an impulse buy, and I bought two. They're made by Clarion and won an electronic's award when they debuted in the year 2000. It's a book-sized 120 watt, 6" subwoofer that goes down to 30hz. It should fit underneath my seat. I bought a discontinued model- the newer ones are even skinnier, use a 7" woofer, and play clean down to 20hz.

    I can't figure out how to get the door panel off. I found several anchors that pull out (on the left and right sides of the door) with a hard tug, removed the tweeter assembly, the door handle panel, and undid the screw behind the light lens. The door panel won't budge. I haven't even tried the back doors yet. I'm told there's a hidden screw underneath the power window panel that I missed, but the door was so solidly held on, I'd bet there's several screws and/or anchors I was missing. I pulled much harder than I was comfortable doing. Any suggestions?

    As for wheels, I found the ADR Concept Pro's are very similar to the Rota Subzero's. TireRack just put up a picture of the '6 for you to see different wheels on, and it is helpful. I think the Rage Vigors (from 1010tires.com) look good, but look heavy. Lastly, I like the BSA 291's. I'd rather have a set of aggressive all-seasons than a set of summer and winter tires. I'm in no rush to get wheels- not until the summer at least- and am still seriously thinking about getting the OEM 17s. If you're selling, I'm interested.

    There are a few Photochops of the said tires here.
  • Pictures @ http://mazda6.mredwards.net/

    I installed Kenwood 6" x 8" component speakers in the rear. It was a perfect fit. Once installed, the speaker sounded ok, but honestly not much better than stock. Why?

    The rear speakers are driven by a tiny, tiny amplifier. The stock amplifier is not 25 watts to all four channels as reported- the rear speakers are probably in the neighborhood of 2.5 watts. They pale in comparison to the volume of the front speakers, which I originally attributed to poor rear speakers. I specifically picked these replacement speakers because they were very efficient, meaning they should play loudly with even a small amplifier. Apparently the factory speakers are also very efficient, and despite my effort, the new speakers play about equal volume with the front loudspeakers with the fader set to +7 to the rear (out of 8).

    I only was able to hook up one speaker until rain resumed. Underneath the passenger's seat, seen above, fits a small powered subwoofer that will be run with speaker-level inputs. It is not yet hooked up. The subwoofer is a very tight fit- I had to move the seat as far forward as it would go, push the subwoofer in from behind the seat, and then move the seat back into place. It is now firmly in place without any mounting brackets.

    I'm so unimpressed with the volume of the rear speakers that I'm considering adding an amplifier or just selling my rear speakers. They're so quiet, there's no point in having them right now.

    I have Cadence 5 1/4" components that will go up front (with 6x8" mounting adapter). I may swap them with the Kenwood's- whichever sounds better will go up front, but I expect the Cadence speakers to have a clear advantage.

    The rear door came off pretty easily. There's a screw on both door handles- the one that opens the door and the one you'd grab onto when shutting the door. The latter is hidden by a cosmetic piece, but it pry's up. Be gentle, and pry the door off. You can see [in the picture on my web site] around the sides and bottom of the door where you need to snap the anchors out. Once they are undone, you need only lift the door panel upwards.
  • maltbmaltb Posts: 3,572
    sux about the rear speakers. I was hoping that would be a miracle cure for such a weak output. I'll try to comb over some manuals for a pin-out and see what else there is to play with. I'm curious how your bass speakers turn out. Keep us posted.
  • Malt, I consequently ordered a discontinued Pioneer amplifier (30x4 watts) and will hopefully have time to install it this weekend. Cost was $60 on eBay- not a huge setback, but an inconvenience.

    I also plan to tap some pins in the back of the head unit to find a pre-out. I'll be using a radio shack voltmeter. Any information (no matter how insignificant) would be helpful, if you have any diagrams.

    I've only seen pictures of the back of the unit- I haven't taken apart my dash yet.
  • I had been thinking about getting a remote car starter for my parents at Christmastime, but was told by someone that they are not good for cars. Wears something out (can't remember what), or something. Is that true? Or do they not hurt your car?

    Also - would you be better off just getting a Manufacturer remote car starter installed by a dealer ($300+ when I checked for my parents' Grand Marquis), or are the "discount" ones you see at Circuit City, Target, Sam's Club alright?

    When I do get my 6, I'll probably want a car starter. And since Mazda doesn't offer them when configuring the car, I need to know what my best option would be (or whether to even do it). I'm in Michigan, so coming out to a warmed-up, heated car in 10-degree weather would be nice, especially if I end up NOT getting the heated seat comfort package.
  • Guys, i'm sure you know that the JDM Mazda 6 (2.3L inline4) cranks out 178hp. or 18 more than USDM. I know part of it is due to our crappy gas supply. Any idea how tune it up to their counterpart in JDM form?

      thanks in advance!
  • ashutoshsmashutoshsm Posts: 1,007
    ... with the more stringent emissions requirements in the US. This is the case with many other Japanese cars - the rated HP drops due to addition of a cat, or something like that.
  • skyrayskyray Posts: 156
    So, who's gone through with adding an amp and replacing the speakers on the stock stereo? Would love to hear about it.
  • ...but I'm still waiting on a bracket for the front speakers. I'll report once I'm 100% finished.
  • Got my brackets for the front speakers today. I've got all the parts!!! Woohoo!!! I've also secured a deal for the 17" OEM wheels w/ tires.

    I'm having trouble getting the faceplate off, so I can't check for a way to make pre-outs. I'm prepared to take the head unit apart if I can get to it!!!

    Has anyone gotten their faceplate off? There's two screws at the bottom, and one "secret screw" accessible only from the glove box. I think I've undone the secret screw, but maybe I unscrewed the wrong one? I dunno, cause the darn thing won't pull out. I'm surprised I haven't snapped, as hard as I was tugging.

    image
  • maltbmaltb Posts: 3,572
    check your work e-mail
  • The one other thing I might as well ask you about- the panels that run along the bottom of the door ways. They just pull up, but in doing so I've snapped one of the tabs that keeps it in place. Perhaps it was because of the cold weather. Is there a special tool for this? They tend to come up more easily in some places than others.

    I keep feeling confident about how I go about working on cars until I break something :-(

    Luckily, that tab didn't make much of a difference.
  • maltbmaltb Posts: 3,572
    You just need to make sure you pull them straight up. I have never had one snap but they do feel like they will with the amount of force it takes to get them off.
  • stretchsjestretchsje Posts: 699
    I have a American made 2003 2.3l Manual Mazda6 with the standard stereo system.

    The stock stereo was miserable when I bought it. After a bit of use, it began to sound a little better. I may have been becoming accustomed to its muddy sound, but I also think the speakers opened up a bit with some use. The stereo ships (and sounds best) with the bass, midrange, and treble all raised on the factory equalizer, with treble getting the highest boost. There's no one area that the stereo isn't good at- it's all of them. No highs, limited lows, lack of clarity and presence- it's all there. It's the kind of sound you get from a typical FM radio station, only you're listening to a CD. Then again, if you only listen to radio- the stock stereo will do you fine.

    My standards are higher.

    The '6 is a very quiet car, and the stock stereo had plenty of volume with the windows up. In fact, the car is so quiet, the speed-sensitive volume control is virtually useless. That is, until you roll down the windows. Roll them down, and you're inviting wind noise into the equation- something the stock stereo cannot compete with. The stereo is only adequate with the windows up, though if the stereo were capable of playing louder, the speed-sensitive volume would be very useful to compensate for wind noise.

    Let's make it better.

    I purchased an amplifier, four component speakers, and a line-out converter. Here's what I've found:

    - The line-out converter can be used to produce marvelous sound, but it begins to break up around "14" or "15" on the stereo's dial. A line-out converter converts your existing amplifier's output, so you are amplifying its distortion if it produces some. I suspected the distortion was coming from the stock amplifier, so I adjusted the gain on my aftermarket amplifier so "15" is as loud as I wanted to go.

    - The stock speakers are extremely efficient. I replaced them with very efficient speakers- 92db with 1 watt of power (at 1 meter), and they were significantly quieter. Because of this, replacing the factory speakers without adding an amplifier will probably not produce enough volume.

    - The line-out converter will make engine noises if it is grounded. Do not connect the ground wire- it is not needed. Even more annoying is the whine when the wipers are used. Do not ground the line-out converter!

    - Use a line-out converter rated for 25 or more watts. I tried two- one of which was rated to a mere 15 watts. This did not attenuate the signal enough, and produced an audible pop when seeking new tracks on the CD player. I switched to an 80 watt converter, and it removed all these sub-harmonic artifacts. Or, at least, it attenuated them enough that I couldn't hear them.

    - Do not use the rear output. It is useless. The rear speakers are attenuated so that a loud "beep" comes from them whenever a button on the console is pressed, but little music comes from them. You are best splitting the signal to your front speakers twice, the "beep" is much quieter in relation to the music.

    - The stock speakers cannot handle a bigger amplifier than the stock one. Give them more power and they will begin to break up, though a better amplifier will sound much cleaner.

    - The stock speakers are 6" x 8" in all four doors. The tweeters appear to be ~3/4" mylar domes with a single capacitor as a crossover. To use the stock housing will not take a tweeter with an outside diameter of over 1 1/4 inches (if that). For mounting larger tweeters, you will need to cut. I'm currently experimenting here.

    - When mounting a tweeter behind the factory housing, it will sound harsh. This is due to the tweeter playing through two speaker grills- its integrated one and the factory one. The difference is not subtle. The only solution is to not mount your new tweeters behind the factory mount's grill. As mentioned, I'm currently experimenting. I expect a 1 5/8" circular hole and some black epoxy will do the trick.

    - Smaller (and round) woofers tend to have better off-axis response as they extend into the upper frequency range. This allows them to blend more seamlessly with the tweeters, which are mounted a far two feet above them near the windows. Since the factory woofers are 6" x 8", I replaced them with 5 1/4" woofers in the front and used a mounting adapter.

    - The mounting adapters I used were thin and flimsy. VERY thin and flimsy. One of the utmost important things in quality sound is isolating vibrations, so I did my best to stiffen them. I used a pair of the brackets on each side. Once the woofer was mounted in the bracket, I used sealant to around the inside of the woofer frame to make sure I had a good seal between the woofer and brackets. Once the entire fixture was mounted, I covered it with dynamat sound insulation.

    - I used dynamat sheets, but the doors were too abnormal and curvy for this. I'd strongly recommend using the spray-on dynamat instead, assuming it works as well. Hindsight is 20/20...

    - I filter the bass out of the front speakers and matched the crossover frequency to a small subwoofer. The subwoofer resides under the passenger's seat, so phase issues are not too problematic. The woofer plays clearly into the passenger compartment rather than fighting to be heard from the rear (where most woofers are placed). The rear speakers, which are larger, run full-range.

    - I have the rear tweeters mounted on the rear deck, but this sounds weird for rear passengers. I may disconnect them completely to keep the soundstage up front. My front components allow tweeter level adjustment, and the tweeters can be set to play loudly to adjust for the second set of woofers.

    - I removed the dash and cut the wires coming from the stock head unit. The speaker outputs are the 8 wires on the top of the head unit wiring harness (four to each side of the latch). I spliced these, and ran connections to and from the amplifier to this splice. It was rather simple to run wires from the dash, alongside the 5-spd, and out near the parking brake to the amplifier under the seat. My line-out converter is mounted right next to the shifter, and I ran RCA outputs thereon out. Speaker wires come back in from under the seat and back into the dash.

    - It's apparent after examining wiring diagrams and seeing the actual wiring harness that the premium Bose option would replace the factory amplifier outputs with preamplifier outputs. For those with the bose option, you could run the exact same wiring, but skip using a line-out converter. The Bose system appears not to have a preamplified subwoofer channel.
  • ashutoshsmashutoshsm Posts: 1,007
    And as I get more and more interested in considering the sedan and not waiting for the hatch, I have a questio for you ... you wrote ...
    - It's apparent after examining wiring diagrams and seeing the actual wiring harness that the premium Bose option would replace the factory amplifier outputs with preamplifier outputs. For those with the bose option, you could run the exact same wiring, but skip using a line-out converter. The Bose system appears not to have a preamplified subwoofer channel.

    I assume someone provided the wiring diagrams. How nice. My question is - considering the Bose option gives you a Sub, better amp and a 6-CD changer, would it be advisable to get the Bose option to start with, and perhaps replace speakers, if needed, down the line? The pre-outs are already available, and a better amp, if needed, could drive front speakers and the stock (Bose) sub. The financial equation is not greatly changed, not to mention the fact that the system will not need immediate changes. I basically plan to hold out until Satellite radio add-on options become available, preferably XM ('coz Sirius sucks ;) ) and would prefer to change everything at one go when the satellite (radio) picture (awful pun!) is clearer.
  • stretchsjestretchsje Posts: 699
    assume someone provided the wiring diagrams. How nice. My question is - considering the Bose option gives you a Sub, better amp and a 6-CD changer, would it be advisable to get the Bose option to start with, and perhaps replace speakers, if needed, down the line? The pre-outs are already available, and a better amp, if needed, could drive front speakers and the stock (Bose) sub. The financial equation is not greatly changed, not to mention the fact that the system will not need immediate changes. I basically plan to hold out until Satellite radio add-on options become available, preferably XM ('coz Sirius sucks ;) ) and would prefer to change everything at one go when the satellite (radio) picture (awful pun!) is clearer.

    Awful pun.

    In theory, that's a terrific idea. Unfortunately, it's one I cannot answer. I've heard lots of terrible things about how Bose integrates their systems. I've heard they run on 1 ohm loads, which means aftermarket speakers would be getting about 1/4th of the system's rated power. I've also read that some Bose systems share a common ground. These are things you'd have to change in your design.

    If, that is, what I've read is true. I have no substantiated evidence that these Bose traits apply to this car.
  • stretchsjestretchsje Posts: 699
    I posted incorrect information earlier.

    The stock 16" alloys are 16x7", 55mm offset.
    The stock 17" alloys are 17x7", 60mm offset.

    Both are 5x114.3mm bolt patter (5x4.5")

    My 17" OEM alloys + tires arrive this week!
  • stretchsjestretchsje Posts: 699
    Me? I only wanted alloy wheels. Today, I got 'em. They're used from sport package equipped '6 and cost me $500 (with tires, before shipping). That's about the same price my dealer wanted for them, but without tires. The 17" tires are Michelin Pilots.

    image
    image
    image

    I post this here to show off. Er- I mean, I post here because SO many people complained about the option packages! Well, looky what I did to my $17,201 car. With about a thousand more dollars, I have a better-than-Bose stereo system and the Mazda 17" alloy wheels for less than what Mazda charges for their respective packages. Ask your dealer about aftermarket options and work around the screwy packages!

    The steering seems to provide much more feedback with these wheels. The ride feels stiffer, yet more controlled. I'd even say more comfortabe- the shocks do a better job controlling bumps than the 16" mushy tires did. I haven't noticed any tire noise, but I haven't driven them on the highway yet either. So far, there's nothing I miss from the standard 16" wheel/tires.
  • ashutoshsmashutoshsm Posts: 1,007
    And while I agree that the exterior looks about as good as the SP (I like the front air dam, am non-committal/un-opionanted about the side sills and thoroughly detest the spoiler) - I am absolutely in love with the sport interior (black, adn the elctro-luminiscent gauges).

    My car has a beige interior - and while I DID get it used, which may explain the current crappy condition - I know my next car's interior will be darker :) I wish they offered a dark grey, slate grey (like the exterior color) with the sport package. That, with a Lapis Blue exterior, would be (my idea of) ideal :)
  • I have ordered a red 6S with Sport Package. Has anyone had the wheels polished? I like high polished wheels better than chrome. The price in Arizona is about $100.00 per wheel.
  • dinu01dinu01 Posts: 2,586
    Dude, what a nice car :)

    Seriously, that's the way to go> Base 6, add alloys and a system and you're in business.

    Dinu
  • mazda6smazda6s Posts: 1,901
    Dude, all you need now is the sport grill!
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