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S1 Audio SystemThe first thing to ask yourself is, do you want to try and fit a high quality audio system in such a small car because you won't hear much in the way of quality audio whilst on the move? It will inevitably be a compromise due to the size of the car and the limited number of places in which to put the speakers. I've had my Elise S1 for several months before I felt a need to fit a CD/tuner and I then found that it detracted from the driving pleasure, so it spent most of the time off.
If you are going to install a head unit, then make ensure you've ordered the radio fitting kit option on specifying your car. This includes the aerial, wiring, a pair of Alpine speakers, and most importantly two new dash strips in which to fit a CD/radio/tape head unit. Newer S1 Elises had these two dash strips pre-fitted so you have a simpler task to fit your radio and you won't have a spare dash strip to keep in the garage.
The Alpine SPE1620 speakers sound OK considering their position behind the seats. They are cheap and a better quality speaker will improve the sound quality. One thing to bear in mind is that if you replace the Alpine speakers, make sure the coil magnets on the new speakers will fit in the space behind the panel, because it isn't that deep. You can add spacers to resolve this problem. You will never get much bass response since the enclosure behind the speakers is small. If an accurate volume measurement could be made then a decent tuned port could be designed for a good set of speakers with known characteristics, but I haven't had the time to solve this one yet.
Head UnitI wanted a CD player and a tuner in my Elise and I ended up buying a Kenwood KDC-4070RA from my local dealer who matched the cheapest price I found on the Internet (£145 from Car Audio Design).
It is at the budget end of the market but stands out in terms of performance and sound quality. My key considerations were:
Radio ReceptionRadio reception can often be a problem in the Elise S1. It is usually down to three things:
TweetersTo improve the high frequency content and improve stereo imagery I was going to add two satellite tweeters (£15 from Maplin). I've since decided that the existing sound is good enough in this respect so I'm not going to bother. The plan was to put these up under the rear screen above the existing pods. They are fitted in parallel (they have a built in high pass filter) with the main speakers and provide very good sound without requiring any holes or damage to the car. They a light enough to be fixed with double-sided tape.
Sub-BassWith the existing alpine speakers and the Kenwood head unit fitted the most obvious improvements to the sound quality will come with improved bass response. I initially came to the conclusion that I'd have to fill the boot to get any reasonable bass performance, but a shelf mounted, active sub-woofer will perform adequately in a small car like this. It is best to wire it up with connectors and fix it with latches or velcro to allow easy removal. Most people fit them on the shelf behind the cargo net.
A popular choice is the Pioneer TS-WX10LPA (£250) which sounds very good for its relatively small size (451W x 184H x 148D mm). You can switch off the blue, internal neon light! Elise owners reports on this sub-bass system have all been very good.
Other InformationIf you intend to mount anything (e.g. a CD auto changer) on the shelf behind the seats. Be very careful, the fuel tank is below it.
If you have any question then please e-mail me. Other owners audio installations that I found useful and are worth looking at on the web are:
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Copyright © Rob Collingridge 2009 - Last updated 30 Jun 2005