Categories
Electronics

Product Review: Phantom Audio Retuned Amp for the 04-08 TSX

You wonder how good something like this is going to be. I mean, come on…stereo upgrades start with the speakers. Magnets. Cones…and did forget the wires. Glorious wires!

Amplifiers? Definitely going to be an aftermarket one. Something with a custom rack if I’m not going to cheap out and definitely a sub box. Otherwise, why bother with an amp?

To a performance enthusiast like myself, a subwoofer box (and by extension, an amp) sounds like something really awesome for people who want to slow their car down. An impressive stereo isn’t worth the weight penalty to me. Besides, the car has a stock amp and sounds really quite decent.

Well, mostly. On the occasion that I really crank up the stereo, when those conditions are right on a great day, great road, and the perfect song comes on… It’s not hard to get the TSX stereo up to max volume. But woah, better¬†turn the bass and treble down to avoid popping blasts and screeching, tinny highs. It’s just the way of life with a stock system.¬†The stock stereo pings like a J-series at full boil without a tune.

But, what if I told you that you could give your stock stereo and speakers a really stiff kick in the ass without adding an ounce of weight? Get that volume up all the way without having to “pull timing.” Get solid bass that’s deeper and gives that therapeutic vibrato to the bum?

Phantom Audio Retuned TSX Amp

Time to pop the blue pill because the Phantom Audio¬†tuning effect on the stock amplifier does just that and more. It seems like snake oil; a little unreal, but there is one word that encapsulates one’s reaction the first time they crank it up…

“Wow.”

It isn’t the sort of wow that comes after you’ve completely revamped the audio system with $4000 worth of gear, of course. But more like the wow, you got¬†when you reflashed the stock ecu computer with Hondata’s reflash. It’s an¬†“I can’t believe this seemingly small change made this much of a difference”¬†kind of wow.

People have attempted to capture the sound difference in videos. To me, YouTube isn’t able to convince much. You need to feel the bass and hear the highs. Recorded music only replicates real life, and a recording of a recording, compressed for YouTube, will surely fail to convey the true Phantom Effect. I’ll just have to articulate it the best I can…

The highs.¬†Crisp and clear the changes challenge you to turn up the treble at higher volumes. Forget the ear-piercing ring you’re used to. Cymbals don’t distort. It’s magical because treble tickles the ears and without great reproduction you won’t feel it. You just hear more.

The lows. Deep and full. You aren’t just getting the hits. You can feel and hear the different kinds of base sounds uniquely. A drum, bass guitar, or deep vocal tone all come across in ways that help you appreciate bass for more than just filler. Bass is something anyone can appreciate when it’s loud, but, like an undersized turbocharger, without proper execution you are just blowing hot air. You hear the speakers pop when you overdo the volume…But be careful not to kill the messenger.

Saving my favorite for last, because the midrange makes music warm and exciting. Any music with solid mids challenges reproduction of both low and frequency and there is a real chance your inadequate system is going to get really muddy. Such is not the case after the retune. The midrange fills every crevice of volume in the car with rich, chocolaty, midrange yumminess.

Thus, I am quite happy to have installed the Phantom Audio Retuned Amp in my #HTSpecTSXThe installation is so fast and easy…less than 10 minutes. If you love your TSX, too, and wish for the stereo to sound rich and alive, but aren’t looking to completely redo the stereo, seriously take a look, even before upgrading the speakers (yes this modification will work well with aftermarket speakers as well…but, the idea here is that the amp will give you a lot more than speakers will).

Need more info? Feel free to call or post below. I’ll be able to answer whatever questions you have!

Categories
Chassis Electronics Heeltoe Explains

Tein’s EDFC: What Is It, Why Get It, & How To Order It!

TEIN (rhyms like “vein”) is one of the foremost suspension suppliers for the aftermarket industry. With a wide array of coilover damper choices to suit all kinds of cars in all kinds of uses, there is almost a Tein kit for anyone. But one of their most innovative items is the¬† EDFC , or Electronic Dampening Force Controller. This simple electronic controller and motor package is designed to make adjusting your TEIN suspension kit’s ride and handling settings as simple as, well, doing nothing! We’ll explain…

What is the EDFC and why would you want it?

The EDFC is a kit that can be used with various TEIN suspension kits (most any kit which has the adjustable knob on the top to allow for you to adjust the firmness of the suspension) to adjust the firmness from inside the car using a cool electronic controller.

“Wow how cool!” most people exclaim upon hearing this. But the next comment is usually “but I don’t change my settings much. If i just ‘set it and forget it’ why would I get this?” Here is Heeltoe’s take on it…

Yes, many people will set their suspension firmness once and then leave it alone. So if you don’t see the inherent value here, we understand. But consider that the reason they are not changing it around is that doing so is a pain in the ass. If it were as easy as pushing a little button, we think more people would adjust their suspension settings more often to suit their mood and needs at the time. Not all roads are created equal, nor are all cars or drivers. The EDFC allows people to take control over how their car is riding and handling over different surfaces and will allow them to get better overall value out of their suspension investment.

The Stuff You Need

First, you need a Tein suspension kit which is EDFC compatible. We try to list the EDFC parts needed under compatible TEIN damper kits, but if you are not sure if yours is or not, please contact us for help

Second, you need an EDFC controller kit. As of this writing, the options are the EDFC II, EDFC Active, and EDFC Active Pro.

  • EDFC II: A 1/4 DIN unit that allows adjustment of the front and rear suspension firmness from the driver’s seat with a push of a button. Change settings in 16 or 32 increments for fine damper control with up to 3 memory settings.
  • EDFC Active: With the use of an optional GPS sensor, this more modern unit will actively adjust firmer or softer based on the vehicle speed and acceleration. Plus, easier to install with partial wireless connectivity.
  • EDFC Active Pro: The full capability of this kit allows the driver to program the suspension to adjust each corner of the car individually to suit different g-loads, accelerating, decelerating, or cornering. It also will target varying speeds as well as offering auxiliary inputs

Third, you need an EDFC motor kit. There are various motor kits available and they are always selected based on the damper-shaft size. We try to list the EDFC parts needed under compatible TEIN damper kits, but if you are not sure what motor kit you need, please contact us for help.

There’s some Optional Stuff

The one main optional thing everyone would think about is the Anti-Tangle Kit. This is only needed for cars with STRUT suspensions. So, you wanna know the difference. This article will help you understand the difference between shocks and struts.

The EDFC Active GPS kit is needed in conjunction with the EDFC Active and EDFC Active Pro if you want to utilize the “Active” functions of those controllers.

A Brief History Of the EDFC

TEIN first released the EDFC in 2002 and such as system was largely unheard of in the aftermarket. The kit consisted of a two-part package. There was a controller kit and a motor kit. The motors were designed to replace the adjusting knobs at the top of each damper, and were hard wired with supplied harnesses to a central controller that could be mounted to the dash or wherever.

Original Silver EDFC in it's display-box.

This is the very first unit offered, it was silver in color and featured front and rear controls for individual adjustment. Another neat feature was that while the suspension kits were normally adjusted to 16 points with the hand adjustment, fine motor control allowed the dampers to be adjusted to 32 points, offering finer tunability.

In 2006, the EDFC got an update. The silver case was replaced with a black one…

Black gen 2 EDFC case

This more detailed image shows that the EDFC also offered up three memory settings. Our suggestion to customers was always that you could have a “Commute” setting, a “Fun” setting, and a “Mother-in-law” setting. Also, all EDFCs had been backlit with a green light.

More importantly, TEIN also changed the motors and harnesses. The motor on the left was the original motor, and the smaller one on the right was the newly released one.

Teein EDFC motors compared

These changes were hugely welcome, as the large motors made the installation in tight spaces a bit difficult. With the smaller motors, it would now be possible for the motors to be installed on the dampers before they are installed in the car. It probably would seem a lot more of a benefit if you’d done the job a few times in various cars. We definitely liked it.

Furthermore, the plugs on the harnesses were all smaller as well. Fishing EDFC wires through the interior is no harder than running stereo wires…but honestly any help in making things smaller is a definite improvement.

The most recent version of the standard EDFC is the EDFC II.

Tein EDFC II Controller

The EDFC II is functionally the same as its predecessors but it is aesthetically it is stepped up with LED lighting.

Sadly, the EDFC II was discontinued in 2020.

But the EDFC Active…Oh So Advanced

When the EDFC Active was released the whole EDFC concept seemed thrust into the 21st century.

EDFC Active from TEIN, with dimensions.

The features here are numerous, and so we are going to refer you to our EDFC Active product page for more details, but here are some bullet points:

  • Wireless Control: Instead of running wires from each motor to the controller, the front and rear motor pairs wire to shared wireless modules that communicate with the controller. So the system is not completely wireless, but installers no longer need to fish through the firewall or the interior.
  • Optional GPS kit allows active functions: With an options GPS kit, the EDFC Active can automatically adjust with speed or g-force (accelerating or decelerating). You can program the EDFC Active to vary the front/rear dampening balance as you are speeding up or¬†slowing down¬†to set positions at varying speeds. That’s awesome!
  • Variable color display: You can change it to match your interior color.

Those features are super awesome. And the EDFC Active uses the exact same motors as the EDFC II.

And then TEIN got really bonkers with the EDFC Active Pro, in which the ante is raised even further. With varying speeds and g-loads, the driver can now program the dampening force to adjust at each corner of the car., and it can do this based on lateral g-forces! So it can firm up the outside wheels in a turn, and even have the rear firm up a little more if, say, more over-steer is needed.

But then, it can be adjusted differently if the corner is a faster or slower one! OMG, there is so much capability with this unit. Truly innovative!

That’s a lot of info on the EDFC

But with a purchase like this, sometimes it’s best to chat over it. Feel free to call for a consult at any time!

Categories
Electronics Universal Fit Blogging

Crank up your Acura’s audio system with a tuned ELS amplifier from Phantom Audio

Audiophiles are an interesting subset of the automotive world.¬†They’ll go to no end to get the perfect sound from their car’s sound system. Yet cars are not exactly designed as great places to listen to music. So to achieve that perfect sound a slew of aftermarket componentry must be used installed in the dash, doors, trunk, and wherever else space can be found.¬†Those wishing to keep their car’s interior simpler¬†and more factory-like run into an issue with adapter kits and extraneous wires being run throughout the interior. Sub-boxes take up valuable trunk space, and wiring up aftermarket amplifiers is nearly impossible to make like factory.

But as it turns out, some cars are designed to have great audio. And their components are generally up to the task of providing outstanding audio. Just a little “tweak” is needed to substantially bring out even more sound.

Here is the factory ELS sound system layout in a 2004-08 Acura TL:

Impressive array, yes?

With all these speakers, the amplifier has to be really sophisticated. The factory amp is the best way to utilize all these speakers and locations, especially with the way Elliot Scheiner laid them out. Much like how Hondata has found amazing success in re-tuning factory ECUs for optimal engine control, Phantom Audio tackles a re-tune of the factory amplifier to turn the standard ELS sound system into a thing of wonderment.

Retuning the factory ELS amplifier construction requires a lot of knowledge and experience. As an audio and auto enthusiast for more than twenty years, Jesse Levi Kelley of Phantom Audio decided to tackle the task to make the factory amplifier create sound better than one could possibly expect. He’s got the experience and know-how to do amazing things with cars’ systems with a strong eye on quality and factory integration. Phantom Audio exists as your go-to solution for audio componentry that melds perfectly with your car’s factory design.

Phantom Audio’s first product¬†is a series of tuned amplifiers for the¬†ELS system in 2004-08 Acura TL models and 2007-09 Acura MDX. 2004-08 Acura TSX amplifiers can also be tuned by Phantom Audio even though they are not branded as ELS. The¬†amazing ELS audio system¬†creates the perfect sound stage with sophisticated speaker placement and calibrated sizing. However,¬†the amplifier internals suffer from cost-cutting¬†by the manufacturer.¬†With huge respect paid to Elliot Scheiner, Phantom Audio opens up these amps and re-tunes them with specially selected combinations of upgraded capacitors to provide¬†considerably better sound that one would even believe possible.

Early adopters have taken to YouTube attempting to capture the extended frequency range and improved bass they experience with a tuned amp. Check out this user’s before and after videos for an idea of what to expect from your Phantom Audio tuned amplifier.

Here is a video from “before” the amp tuning in an otherwise stock Acura TL:

Now, here is the same car after the amplifier is installed:

These videos hope to convey the “after”:

  • Volume is significantly better. At 10 volume level, it sounds like it did at 20 before.
  • Treble is crisp and clear, even at high volumes.
  • Bass is clean and strong, can actually feel the bass at high volumes.

Another user had access to a studio-grade microphone for their video. To get the full effect you really need to be listening with a desktop and decent speakers:

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How to order: Find PHANTOM AUDIO on Heeltoeauto.com

The ordering process is simple.

  1. Navigate to Heeltoeauto.com and select your vehicle from the Vehicle Selector.
  2. Use the Electric / Audio System category path to find the re-tuned amps for your car.
  3. You may find different levels of amps for you application. Phantom Audio offers a “Signature Series” amplifier and a “Bass-Plus” for some applications. Check out the products for details on what is right for you.
  4. Read Heeltoe’s pricing includes a core charge that is refunded once your original amp is sent in, see individual product listings for details and restrictions on cores.

For you Radio Shack geeks out there, know that¬†what Phantom Audio does to these amps is more than a simple capacitor swap. He’s mixed and matched different capacitors from all over the globe and strategically installed them in each of the amplifier’s channels to give the tweeters, center channel speaker, door-drivers, and a subwoofer the optimal frequency range.¬†He also polishes the amplifier cases¬†prior to shipping as a nice finishing touch.

This new product is one we are extremely excited about.¬†In addition to offering TL ELS Amp Tunes, Phantom Audio can wave a wand over your 2004-08 Acura TSX or 2007-09 Acura MDX’s amps. We at Heeltoe believe in Phantom Audio’s capabilities, so¬†we’re sending in the amplifiers from our HTSpecTSX and HTSpecMDX for Phantom Audio tuning!

As products come available we’ll announce them for our loyal fans. Meahwhile, get that order in for a Phantom Audio re-tuned amp NOW!