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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've done installs on loads of cars over the years but the game has moved on a fair bit and I have to say my latest audio upgrade project on my new mk3.5 focus ST has bit me in the ass big time. So I wanted to post this to forewarn other peeps who are blissfully unaware of the potential nightmare that is altering fords audio system.

Currently my system is very modest;

Vibe power box 65.4 ISO power micro amp

JL C1-650x co-ax rear speakers

Ford Stock components front <- will come back to this one

Fully sound deadened front and rear doors

Some unorthodox wiring and setup of the amp to get it to sound good

I also ended up buying, trying, taking back out and now will need to sell;

JL Audio Cleansweep DSP - lovely bit of kit but not useful on our cars

JL C1-650 front component speakers

First the good stuff.

The vibe mini amp is lovely bit of kit. Around £120, its a low power class D amp small enough to fit behind the aircon controls, below the radio on the mk3 focus and its designed to power off the stock radio loom. So no need to run big power wires to the battery which is a pita to do. Still it manages 60w RMS x4 channels. Which works well with the stock speakers or lower/mid range aftermarket speakers. The other good point is this amp doesn't need an ignition live or an RCA adaptor. It takes the speaker level inputs and auto switches on/off based on signal detection.

This is important as it solves 2 problems;

Headache #1 the focus doesn't have a switched live/ignition feed behind the radio! The wiring diagram shows one but on the m3.5 its dead.

Headache #2 the ford head unit can stays on and work with the ignition off so even if you tap ignition live from the footwell fuse box, its still not ideal.

The whole unit can be plug and play, all you need it a parrot ISO T-adaptor lead to connect the ford OEM radio plugs to the ISO end of the vibe amp loom.

Next a necessary evil.

Sound deaden your doors. Its cheap, £20 flash tape from Screwfix does the whole car and it makes everything sound better. Much more mid bass, less road noise. Okay its a pita, its messy stuff, you have to strip the doors down, ya de ya but seriously just get it done ok.

Where it all went south, The bad stuff, the Ford OEM head unit (mines Sync3)

So wanna amp up your audio output from the stock head unit? Or worse you wanna fit a sub and tap the rear speakers to feed an audio input? Guess what, not happening easily.

The OEM head units have a volume based EQ. I've spend £££ on a JL Cleansweep DSP to try and get around it and have had to reluctantly give up, take it back out and will need to sell it on ebay

On the front this EQ increases bass at lower volume and rolls it off as you turn up the volume. Its designed to stop the not so powerful stock speakers and amp clipping. I was able to test this extensively using the JL Cleansweep.

The rear channel is worse, its not a good full range signal as best as I can figure, mid bass and sub bass is heavily eq'd out. The JL clean sweep was able to sort it out but the difference between the stock output and cleaned signal is dramatic. So if you wanna wire in an amp and boot sub, tap the front speakers not the rear!!! The stock rear speakers are really **** paper 25w things. I guess ford took out all the bass as the speakers were useless.

So why did I ditch the cleansweep?

1. It needs you to use an aftermarket volume control rather than the stock volume knob. I really hate that idea, I wanted an OEM look.

2. The ford volume based EQ on the front channel is actually your friend at lower volume, as it picks up the low end, it only becomes an issue as the volume passes about 10, the bass roll off makes it all go harsh after this. The clean sweep flattens the signal so at low/normal listening volume you actually loose some bass.

3. It needs an ignition live, as said above its not a nice fit with the oem head unit as the audio is off when the ignition is off but the head unit can stay on.

Getting it to sound right, its a hack but it works.

1. Fixing the signal - In the end I altered the wiring to the vibe amp. I fed the front and rear vibe amp inputs from only the front channel out on the head unit. That way the front and rear speakers now get a full range signal. As the rears are aftermarket and the doors are sound deadened, they can play mid bass! Downside, you loose the fader control.

2. Fixing the eq - Normally you set the gain on an aftermarket amp with the head unit volume 3/4 up or at 75%. Now on our ford unit we know at that volume the volume based EQ is screwing things up. We want to avoid turning the volume past half way. So it works better if you set the gain on the amp with the head unit volume lower at around half or just less (about 12 on the display). This will stop the bass EQ cut but keep the bass lift at low volume. A word of caution though, the mk3.5 pipes the symposer engine sound through the audio system. On my first attempt I set the amp up with the head unit volume low at around 5. It sounded great on the driveway but when I drove the car all of the sudden I had a thundering V8 engine drowning out all the music when I opened up the throttle lol! So yeah the sweet spot seems to be about 10 to 12 on the head unit volume dial, then set the amp gain to loud at that volume. On my vibe amp that's slightly over half gain on the front channel and slightly below half gain on the rear as I like a slight front fade.

Finally - Ditching the JL C1 front components.

Really surprised and disappointed with these. I've ran JL C2-650s in my old fiesta and they were lovely. The C1s are the model down so £100 cheaper but they just lack bass and are a bit harsh sounding. Once I got everything setup I swapped them back to the stock speakers and the ford 50w stock front component speakers just sound nicer, more natural. So another ebay bargain for someone.

Sorry for the log post, hopefully it'll save someone time and money.
 

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Hello stranger!

I'm just about to begin a new audio project in my 3.5 and after researching it seems many stay clear from installing big audio systems.

I will try and start a build thread to help source some more information

steve
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Hello stranger!

I'm just about to begin a new audio project in my 3.5 and after researching it seems many stay clear from installing big audio systems.

I will try and start a build thread to help source some more information

steve
What you doing on here matey, did they run out of MR2s to buy lol. Still miss mine but I need 5 seats these days.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
This is the correct parrot ISO T harness for the mk3 focus that allows connection of any aftermarket equipment with a standard ISO plug. In my case the vibe powerbox amp.

CT10FD09 Ford Car Parrot Handsfree Bluetooth SOT Wiring T-Harness Lead - £16

https://www.dynamicsounds.co.uk/ct10fd09-ford-b-max-c-max-edge-fiesta-kuga-parrot-sot-t-harness-adaptor-lead.html

Vibe powerbox 65.4 mini amp - £130. I got mine from Halfords before the lock down, got it slightly cheaper.

https://www.incarmusic.co.uk/vibe-powerbox-65-4m-class-d-4-channel-520-watts-car-speaker-amplifier.html

Speakers are a personal preference so won't link those. In the past I've had good results from JL audio (except the C1 series lately), Rainbow and Focal.
 

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I've has a few MR2s and just sold my current SP260.

I have the audio equipment, just the integration of the factory loom to work with amp, but think I've sorted it now.

Im going to run a 4 Channel amp with components up front and a sealed 12" sub

Did you sound proof the doors or boot?
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I've has a few MR2s and just sold my current SP260.

I have the audio equipment, just the integration of the factory loom to work with amp, but think I've sorted it now.

Im going to run a 4 Channel amp with components up front and a sealed 12" sub

Did you sound proof the doors or boot?
nooo you sold the SP260, I'd have loved to get behind the wheel of one of those again, probably nearly kill myself again though!

Anyway back on topic, I don't do subs unless I have to these days. I've deadened front and rear doors fully and there's enough mid bass for me. Enough to start shaking stuff at high volume.

I have sold on the JL C1-650 fronts though and put JL C2-650s instead. I'm about to do the rears too C1-650x to C2-650x, just waiting on the speakers to arrive.
 

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Morning mate, sorry to bother you so long after you posted this. I’v read it many times and even asked the place that sells the harness you posted about whether it fits my vehicle and they said “I believe it will as long as you do not have any amplifier or SYNC Ford Stereo” but the website actually says in the comments 8.2” inch SYNC 2! I bought a 2016 ST-3 with I believe Sync 2 in it, would the harness you posted fit my vehicle as I’m guessing it did yours and you have a 24 pin OEM connector? I just need to put some extra amp through the after market speakers I replaced the awful paper ones with!

Any help is appreciated!
Thanks 🙏
 
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