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Maserati Quattroporte Audio/Visual Upgrade​

This is a report on the amazing work done on my 2006 Maserati Quattroporte ExecGT by Richard Chronister and his team at Auto Essentials (805-371-9983, 595 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks, CA, 91362, Richard Chronister [[email protected]]).

My initial goals for this project were:
  • World class sound
  • Digital iPod interface
  • Bluetooth interface for Treo phone
Later we added:
  • XM radio
  • Auxiliary audio/video input for laptop
  • Backup camera
A key challenge was to incorporate the solution into the car’s existing system, which includes a 6” video screen with integrated control over car features, navigation system, CD changer, and AM/FM radio. To the largest extent possible we wanted to preserve all the existing functionality, while improving the sound and adding the desired features. And of course the fit and finish of the beautiful Maserati interior had to be preserved or enhanced by the changes.

Sound system​
The sound system which comes from the Maserati factory is mediocre. It consists of a Bose amplifier and six Bose speakers. From the factory, the car has two 2” speaker locations on the sides of the dashboard, pointed up at the windshield, and two 6” component speaker locations in the lower front of the rear doors, plus an 8” subwoofer in the rear deck, and a 5” subwoofer at the feet of the front passenger. Yes, there are no speakers in the front doors! The 8” subwoofer in the rear deck is a shallow depth speaker with an inverted magnet. Although Blaupunkt and Bose are fine manufacturers, these components are not their top-of-the-line products. Furthermore the locations of the speakers are suboptimal, indicating that the audio system was designed as an afterthought. Certainly the engine, transmission, and other elements of the powertrain receive more attention at Maserati!

To implement a world-class audio system, we modified the car to add a number of speaker locations, and replaced all the speakers with components from Hertz (a division of Italian electronics firm Elettromedia). Three-way component systems were installed on each side in the front, with 8” mid-base drivers added at the lower front of the front doors, 2” dome midrange speakers mounted in the existing locations at the side of the dashboard, and 1” neodymium tweeters added to new nacelles incorporated into the triangle panels inside the front windows, opposite the rear-view mirrors. Two-way component systems were installed on each side in the rear, with 6” mid-base drivers and separate 1” tweeters in [modified] existing locations in the rear doors. Finally a new 10” subwoofer was installed in the spare tire (more on this below!). The doors were reinsulated with Dynamat Xtreme sheets, and new Scosche 14 gauge wire was run to all speaker locations. Speaker covers were fashioned from aluminum mesh and covered with black cloth, attractively incorporated into the existing door features. Please see the pictures for details; the tweeter nacelles in particular are a work of art.


New 8” mid-base drivers in front doors.\



New 4” midrange speakers in existing locations on dashboard,
New 1” neodymium tweeters in nacelles inside window.


View of all three front speakers, 8” in door, 4” in dash, 1” tweeter in nacelle.


New 6” drivers and 1" tweeters in [modified] existing locations in rear doors

There's a limit of four pictures in each post; to be continued in a reply...
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Maserati Quattroporte Audio/Visual Upgrade – part 2

Maserati Quattroporte Audio/Visual Upgrade – part 2/​

So about that subwoofer… the existing subwoofer location held a shallow 8” subwoofer, mounted upside down. There is no clearance for large speakers in the rear deck because of the presence of the car’s fuel tank directly under the rear deck (just behind the trunk). The front passenger footwell location which held a 5” subwoofer is good acoustically, but creating space for a more powerful subwoofer would have reduced the legroom for passengers, which was unacceptable. Eventually we decided to install a large subwoofer in a new enclosure fashioned to fit inside the spare tire, in the trunk. This necessitated moving the tire jack, tools, and air compressor from inside the spare tire to the [ordinarily empty] storage compartment under the spare tire, and a new spare tire holddown was fashioned. The subwoofer enclosure was made from fiberglass, insulated, and covered with aluminum mesh wrapped in cloth which matches the interior of the trunk. The enclosure replaces the spare tire cover and protrudes about 1” above the floor of the trunk. For situations where trunk space must be maximized, the subwoofer enclosure can be removed entirely (it is wired with a single quick-release connector) and the original cover substituted. The existing air vents between the trunk and the interior of the car provided for the original subwoofer were enlarged, and the opening in the rear deck was covered by the stock subwoofer grill, covered with black cloth. Please see pictures for more detail.


10” subwoofer enclosure, tipped up, showing bottom view.
Note single quick-release wiring connector.


Spare tire, showing new hold down bolt.
Subwoofer enclosure fits down snugly inside tire.



Subwoofer enclosure installed.
Note it protrudes about 1” above trunk floor.
This also shows Audison 2x60+2x170+1x750 amplifier.


The original spare tire cover, for comparison.
This cover can be used if maximum trunk space is needed.

The speaker systems are driven by two new amplifiers, made by Audison (also a division of Elettromedia). The 8” speakers in the front door, 6” speakers in the rear doors, and subwoofer are powered by a 5.1k amplifier, with 2x170+2x60+1x750 watts. The front midranges and tweeters and rear tweeters are powered by a 2.4k amplifier, with 2x130 watts. Tuned Hertz crossovers were used. The smaller amplifier was hidden behind the trunk panels on the left, in the original factory amplifier location. The larger amplifier was attached to the front side of the trunk, exposed to provide good cooling. Please see the pictures for more information.

…to be continued in a reply...
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Maserati Quattroporte Audio/Visual Upgrade – part 3/

Maserati Quattroporte Audio/Visual Upgrade – part 3/​

iPod interface and other new sources​
The key to incorporating new audio/visual sources into the existing car system was a video interface to the TV input of the existing system. (In the U.S. the Quattroporte is not sold with a TV, but apparently this is an option in Europe, and hence the stock A/V system provides for TV input.) The TV interface was linked to an Alpine vehicle hub, which switches audio/visual sources and provides a wireless remote control for them. An Alpine iPod interface and XM radio receiver were incorporated, as well as an auxiliary input for other audio/visual sources. The vehicle hub and associated electronics were located under the rear deck, above the fuel tank.

The iPod interface plugs into a standard iPod connector, and allows access to the iPod’s music via playlists, by artist, or by album. It supports a “mix” mode similar to the iPod’s shuffle. The remote can be used to advance to the next song within the playlist, artist, or album. The iPod interface cable leads through the glovebox, enabling the iPod to be neatly stowed while in use.


The iPod interface cable is in the glovebox.
This charges the iPod and provides a digital interface its music and video.


The iPod interface in action.
Menus are accessed through the remote control.


The Alpine vehicle hub remote selects the source used for TV input,
as well as controlling each source (iPod menus, XM channels).
When not in use the remote sits under the handbrake.

The only comment I would make about the iPod interface is that it seems quite slow accessing by playlists, artists, or albums. We’re working on that and there may be a solution.

…to be continued in a reply...
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Quattroporte Audio/Visual Upgrade – part 4/

Maserati Quattroporte Audio/Visual Upgrade – part 4/​

Bluetooth interface​
We installed a Parrot Bluetooth interface for my Treo phone. The interface provides a small panel with on-hook, off-hook, and volume controls. We placed the controls just under the tachometer, where they are easy to reach and relatively unobtrusive. A small microphone was added adjacent to the sunroof control on the ceiling.


The Parrot Bluetooth controller under the tachometer.
The black knob where the factory microphone was installed controls subwoofer volume.


My Treo had no problem pairing with the Parrot interface.

The Bluetooth interface interrupts the current audio source and uses the car audio system for phone calls, either incoming or outgoing. It also provides voice dialing (e.g. “call home”) for safe handsfree operation.

…to be continued in a reply...
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Maserati Quattroporte Audio/Visual Upgrade – part 5/

Maserati Quattroporte Audio/Visual Upgrade – part 5/​

Backup camera​
Lastly we installed a small PME backup camera in the license plate frame; this is supported by the Alpine vehicle hub. When the car is shifted into reverse, the camera is automatically activated. Note that because the vehicle hub interfaces to the car’s system through the TV input, it is necessary to select the TV input to see the backup camera.


The backup camera is pretty unobtrusive.


The view of my driveway, backing up.
My trashcans are now safe :)


I’m sure Richard and his team at Auto Essentials would add much more – all the problems they had to overcome, and all the weird and wonderful things they learned about Maserati Quattroportes, but from my perspective it came out great. I have a fantastic audio system now, better than anything which comes stock in any car, along with all the bells and whistles. And it still looks and drives like a Maserati.


Please feel free to contact me for questions or further information at [email protected].
 

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Discussion Starter #7
bluetooth = nice

The parrot bluetooth interface is very clean. The best part about it is that people can actually hear me speak; I've used other hands free setups where you had to yell at the microphone. I think this comes across just as clearly as my bluetooth headset, which I never use anymore. Anyway I can recommend it...
 

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Very cool! I have a QP Sport and am curious about the phone set up. In particular, did you use what I think are the spots for phone microphones that would have been used in the factory installed phone. Also, do you know if it is possible to retrofit a built in phone and make use of the sim card slot in the radio's control panel. I didn't order the phone at the time of purchase due to cost, but now I am thinking it might make sense. Regards,

Craig
 

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In particular, did you use what I think are the spots for phone microphones that would have been used in the factory installed phone. Also, do you know if it is possible to retrofit a built in phone and make use of the sim card slot in the radio's control panel. I didn't order the phone at the time of purchase due to cost, but now I am thinking it might make sense.
Craig -

We used a Parrot bluetooth interface because I wanted to continue using my Treo phone. I don't know anything about the factory installed setup with a SIM card, etc. - sorry. By using the bluetooth interface, as soon as I get in the car, the phone connects to the car, it works great. The sound from the phone interrupts the stereo and comes through the car speakers (there is a volume adjustment for it, see pic). A new microphone was placed on the ceiling adjacent to the sunroof dial (this location is much close to your head and hence works better than the dashboard). We decided to use the factory microphone location for the subwoofer volume knob.

Cheers...
 

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ipod interface

Maserati Quattroporte Audio/Visual Upgrade – part 3/​

iPod interface and other new sources​
The key to incorporating new audio/visual sources into the existing car system was a video interface to the TV input of the existing system. (In the U.S. the Quattroporte is not sold with a TV, but apparently this is an option in Europe, and hence the stock A/V system provides for TV input.) The TV interface was linked to an Alpine vehicle hub, which switches audio/visual sources and provides a wireless remote control for them. An Alpine iPod interface and XM radio receiver were incorporated, as well as an auxiliary input for other audio/visual sources. The vehicle hub and associated electronics were located under the rear deck, above the fuel tank.

The iPod interface plugs into a standard iPod connector, and allows access to the iPod’s music via playlists, by artist, or by album. It supports a “mix” mode similar to the iPod’s shuffle. The remote can be used to advance to the next song within the playlist, artist, or album. The iPod interface cable leads through the glovebox, enabling the iPod to be neatly stowed while in use.


The iPod interface cable is in the glovebox.
This charges the iPod and provides a digital interface its music and video.


The iPod interface in action.
Menus are accessed through the remote control.


The Alpine vehicle hub remote selects the source used for TV input,
as well as controlling each source (iPod menus, XM channels).
When not in use the remote sits under the handbrake.

The only comment I would make about the iPod interface is that it seems quite slow accessing by playlists, artists, or albums. We’re working on that and there may be a solution.

…to be continued in a reply...
COULD YOU PLEASE SPECIFY THE ALPINE VEHICLE HUB MODEL?

THANKS!
 

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Discussion Starter #11
We used the Alpine Vehicle Hub Pro (VPA-B222)... after I posted this article, we decided to switch from the Vehicle Hub to the Vehicle Hub Pro, which got rid of the remote control and replaced it with a little control "orb", which we mounted upside down underneath the steering column. This made controlling the iPod much faster and better, and I don't have a remote control loose in the cabin.
 

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Very Impressive! And thanks so much for taking the time to put together such a comprehensive report - that kind of participation really makes this board a valuable thing. I do have a question.

I installed an Alpine Vehicle Hub Pro a couple years ago in my 05 QP; integrated into my standard QP Nav Screen. Like you I first tried the Vehicle Hub, then upgraded to the Pro. The problem I have is that the Alpine VHP can only move through a list (song, artist or playlist) one file per click. So, given 6,000 songs no matter how the database is set up a specific song I might want to play can be 3,000 clicks away. I did the math and if I used playlists organized simply to give me the shortest route to every song (assuming I could make sense of the indexing) it could still be 800 clicks to get to some music. This was not solvable at the time still using the standard non-touch screen QP Nav screen. The workaround for me was to keep the iPOD accessible, unplug it, select the song using the very effective iPOD scroll wheel then plug back in. Not ideal, but workable. Did you solve this problem? and if so how?

Thanks much and enjoy your great car and new electronics! Your info on Bluetooth was useful as I'm just about to add Bluetooth.

Ken
 

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Which One

We used the Alpine Vehicle Hub Pro (VPA-B222)... after I posted this article, we decided to switch from the Vehicle Hub to the Vehicle Hub Pro, which got rid of the remote control and replaced it with a little control "orb", which we mounted upside down underneath the steering column. This made controlling the iPod much faster and better, and I don't have a remote control loose in the cabin.
WHICH OPTION IS SIMPLER TO INSTALL?
 
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