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You've had enough of your bike's stock sound system. The sound level is acceptable when you're parked. But on the open road, with the wind in your ears, the motor & pipes roaring and traffic noise in general requires you raise the volume. It's important to know that increasing your system's volume without adequate power amplification will drive your equipment into distortion. Distortion promotes overheating of the voice coil and ultimately, you will trash your speakers.
It's Official... you need an upgrade.
Sure you can go with a whole new system but how do you know what is enough and what is too much? Here's a few things you should know:
JL Audio IPX-6 Rated Amplifiers are Virtually Waterproof
The Motorcycle Sound Saga
1. Any system (Source Unit - Amplifier - Speakers) is only as good as its weakest link.
2. In order of priority, the most important components of your system are:
a. Speakers (includes woofers)
c. Source Unit
d. Digital Sound Processors
(when Original Equipment of Manufacturer units are retained)
3. Match your speakers wattage rating to power as best you can afford. ALL AMPLIFIERS WILL DISTORT AT THEIR HIGHEST LEVEL OF VOLUME. Buying an amplifier that has a bit more power than you may need or use gives you better dynamic headroom even at lower volume levels. Doing this prevents you from over-driving your amplifier output reaching the volume level you want without the distortion.
The Harley Davidson Logo is the property and trademark of Harley Davidson Motor Company with no affiliation Soundcrafters, Inc.
First, the Realization
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The Steps (no matter if you do it all at the same time or not).
Late model Harleys have an audio equalization curve programmed in the radio, reportedly to maximize the sound in a Bike environment. Hmmm.
Pictured top left, you can see that the Acoustical Spectrum readout on a Real Time Analyzer (RTA) is all over the place. Accentuated highs frequencies (led lights to the right), level midrange and a degraded bass response (lights to the left). There are dips and peaks WAY MORE than 3dB per octave which is optimum.
The bottom RTA graphic depicts a response curve that is relatively flat across the spectrum. This is desirable and achievable with a digital sound processor.
1. Upgrade Your Speakers. Coaxial 2-way speakers do a great job on a bike. Component speakers with separate tweeters are secondary in choice. Adding a subwoofer system is a great compliment to the sound but please, consult with us before you do that. In this area it's is easy to get into "trouble" unless you are well versed in acoustic principles.
TO THE RIGHT - ARC AUDIO MOTO 602
Designed Specifically for Harley Davidson
2. Install an Amplifier or Two. With great power comes great responsibility. Depending on the speaker system of your choice and our recommendation, the level of power and number of channels that is right for you will be suggested. Optimum for a four speaker system with subwoofer is a 5-channel amplifier. The Arc Audio MOTO 600.4 (a 4 channel amplifier) is most versatile and was designed primarily for the Harley Davidson Motorcycles. (notice the angle on the top of the amplifier designed to fit in the fairing.
3. Identify the performance of your source unit. Factory installed source units (AM/FM/CD players etc.) have a modicum of power, insufficient to produce high quality sound and volume levels on the open road. These outputs are essential to a clean signal going to the amplifier(s). Changing the source unit to one that has pre-amp outputs will yield the cleanest signal to the amplifier(s). Now listen, some factory head units, especially on new models, are multi-faceted in their features. some have Navigation, Bluetooth and other specialized amenities and it makes no good sense to change it.
This is where DIGITAL SOUND PROCESSORS come into play. Harley radios now have equalization circuitry that changes the volume and tonal settings in accordance with your speed and anticipated noise levels. When you amplify this type of radio, this built in circuitry must be altered either by the dealership "flashing" the radio's computer, or the use of a digital sound processor. DSP's will alter the output of your factory source unit and allow for the limitless ability to tune a system to its peak performance.
Does it sound like we know what we are talking about? Ride down to the shop today, as long as it isn't raining, and let's discuss. Ride Safe.