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DAI

Exile Tower Volume Controller

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DAI

I'm researching separating my ability to control the volume between my tower and cabin speakers.  Reread the 2015 thread on Exile MKII vs WS 420BT, but came across this during the research:

http://exileaudio.com/store/index.php/install-accessories/signal-processing/dual-zone-tower-volume-control-kit.html

I'm not a DIY audio expert, but is this too good to be true?  Educated thoughts?  Anyone have experience with it?

I have a 2014 23LSV with the factory stereo:

-  RF 8" cabin speaker pack

-  1 pair of 6x9 Alpha II Wetsounds w horns

-  Rockford 2-channel 500w amo for tower speakers

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MLA

Yes, its same unit that Roswell Wake Air released a couple seasons ago for $40. They are a simple line level potentiometer like a PAC LC1 or others, just a 2 zone in one housing. The only one real down side, is the long 6-chnl RCA run from the head unit to the helm and back to the amps. I would also consider an active dual zone volume controller, like the Kicker ZXM-RLC. Its not only line driver to boost the signal strength, but it also uses data cables between the knobs and control module. Module gets mounted close the head unit and amp, keeping RCAs short. The knobs can be surface or panel mounted.  

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DAI

What's the downside/risk to running that long of RCA wires in that setup?

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MLA

Already starting with a less than strong line level from the black box, then to send it through 28-30 ft of RCA. Although rare, but it does increase the chances for unwanted noise bleeding into the signal path. If you factor in the cost of quality RCAs, you are approaching the cost of an active zone controller like the Kicker. 

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David

The only difference between an Exile/Roswell dual level control and two PAC LC-1s is that the Exile/Roswell is concentric in that both control share the same axis verses the side-by-side dual PAC LC-1s. It's nice because it takes up less space. Keep in mind that all these are passive controls so a) you are typically adding long to and from transverse RCA runs that drop the voltage and may invite noise, and b) split the available source unit voltage in half once fed into the amplifier inputs. Good for some applications depending on the length of cables, amount of pre-amp voltage you're starting with, and the proximity and locations of the source and amplifier.

Another option are the line-driver/controllers. These are active devices very strong preamp voltages and do not extend the signal path. The long extension cable is strictly a control cable and carries no audio. The RCA path is therefore very short. Voltage is not divided or lost. Voltage is substantially increased. These would include the Kicker or JL Audio line-drivers/controllers. You could also include the Wetsounds 220 four zone controller in this category.

Then you have the amplifiers that have built in ports for remote level controllers. These would include the JL Audio XD/M/HD/MHD series and the Wetsounds SD series. Like the JL Audio and Kicker units, they do not incur a voltage loss and do not extend the signal path.

Then you have the EQs like the Audio Control or Wetsounds, etc. These are in a completely different class because they are so much more than a basic zone controller. With the WS420SQ you get dual zone EQs (two totally separate for tower and in-boat), a PA system, a three zone level control, and six channels of discrete line outputs with line driver type voltage. Smartly, both of these have no internal crossovers, or a defeatable crossover, and leave this job to the amplifiers where it should be.  

  

 

 

 

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DAI

OK, you both have convinced me to go the Exile ZDL MKII or Wetsounds WS-420 BT route.  After rereading the prior thread, does anyone have any updates on how they like or dislike either?  I lean Wetsounds, but I like the ability to 'lock' the controls on the Exile since I have my kids (3 and 4 years old) on the boat and they and their friends like to play with the knobs and buttons.  How is the BT quality with Wetsounds?  I've seen nothing but positive reviews with the Exile BT connection.

Edited by DAI

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David

The Exile BT has performed well. A number of brands import that same device. JL Audio is one that offers the same unit for $39. You can supplement the Wetsounds EQ with the outboard JL Audio BT unit. So you can go with the Wetsounds WS420SQ instead.

Here's what I like about the Wetsounds EQ. 1) Two totally discrete equalization circuits, one for the tower zone and one for the in-boat zone. So two fully independent EQs for the same cost as a single EQ, not to mention the exceptional functionality of dual EQs on a towboat. 2) No internal lowpass crossover (one/half a crossover). Once you understand the true operation of high and low pass crossover filters you understand their intended function. This is something that should be done solely on the amplifier, set with a degree of precision, and left alone after that. (I also like the Audio Control EQ because it has a fully symmetrical crossover that is also fully defeatable). 3) You get a PA system. I'm more audio oriented so it's not a big deal for me, but some really use this feature. Use it or not, the PA adds value. 4) The face is not cluttered with unneeded and unwanted features like a lowpass only crossover and a phase switch.      

 

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MLA
55 minutes ago, DAI said:

OK, you both have convinced me to go the Exile ZDL MKII or Wetsounds WS-420 BT route.  After rereading the prior thread, does anyone have any updates on how they like or dislike either?  I lean Wetsounds, but I like the ability to 'lock' the controls on the Exile since I have my kids (3 and 4 years old) on the boat and they and their friends like to play with the knobs and buttons.  How is the BT quality with Wetsounds?  I've seen nothing but positive reviews with the Exile BT connection.

Lock the controls on what? 

One issue I have run across with the exile, JL, Cerwin Vega and Metra BT is that they are a bit hot for a typical head unit AUX input. This can lead to poor SQ at higher volume levels. Not an issue if running the BT directly into the EQ, bypassing the head unit. 

With the original WS-420BT, some have complained about range. I have found this to be dependent upon the phone, to some degree. However, with the revised 420BT, the overall range is improved, regardless of the phone's BT transmitter. 

There is no comparison between the mkii and WS-420BT or SQ. 

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Jimmy Buffett
18 minutes ago, MLA said:

Lock the controls on what? 

One issue I have run across with the exile, JL, Cerwin Vega and Metra BT is that they are a bit hot for a typical head unit AUX input. This can lead to poor SQ at higher volume levels. Not an issue if running the BT directly into the EQ, bypassing the head unit. 

With the original WS-420BT, some have complained about range. I have found this to be dependent upon the phone, to some degree. However, with the revised 420BT, the overall range is improved, regardless of the phone's BT transmitter. 

There is no comparison between the mkii and WS-420BT or SQ. 

On the Exile you can depress the dials so they are flush and can't be turned.  I think this is what he means by "lock".  I like that feature.

I'm on my second season with the Exile ZLD and love it.  Ability to manage tone and control volume is excellent.  I also have the BT module and it works great.  Don't notice any sound quality issues.  Have not used the head unit since I installed the Exile ZLD as we just play from iPhones over BT.  Can't speak to the Wetsounds as I have no experience with it, but I highly recommend the Exile.

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MLA
6 minutes ago, Jimmy Buffett said:

Ability to manage tone and control volume is excellent.

Just imagine if you had the ability to manage that tone independent between the in-boat zone and tower zone? As of now with your zld, if you make a tonal change it impacts both the in-boat and tower zone. This is because the zld is a single EQ in one chassis where a single input was split AFTER the EQ. The WS-420 is two EQ's in one chassis. The input is divided through two EQs, so you can adjust the tone of the towers independent of the in-boats. Considering the WS-420SQ and zld are the same price, how could one recommend the zld over the WS-420SQ? 

If the external BT is connected directly into the EQ, post head unit, the high line level may not be an issue. However, if the BT is plugged directly into to the head unit, one may notice a sound quality issue. 

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Jimmy Buffett

I suppose two EQs could be better than one, but that's getting mighty complicated to tone your tower speakers different than your cabin speakers.  I'm happy with the Exile, and I'm sure the Wetsounds is a great product too.

My BT is connected directly to the Exile ZLD, not through the head unit.  We can't get radio stations and I don't own CDs, so I have no use for the head unit anymore.  

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MLA
Quote

I suppose two EQs could be better than one, but that's getting mighty complicated to tone your tower speakers different than your cabin speakers.

Not complicated at all! The Wet Sounds WS-420 has been a dual EQ in a single chassis since day one, like 8 or 9 years now. You have 4 tones to adjust. outer knobs control tower zone tones and inner knob controls in-boat tones. Highly beneficial when you have dominant HLCDs on the tower and want to tone them down for surfing or party cove, and NOT adjust the in-boats. The WS-420 was truly designed from the ground up as a dual zone marine EQ. 

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pauley71

So I have a new LSV, do most people take the output of the black box and run it to the WS-420 to maintain the sport knob functionality?  That would require 4 runs of RCAs at a minimum right?  1 over and 3 back?  Is power at the drivers helm easy to find?  I haven't even looked under the dash and my boat is 2 hours away.

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David
59 minutes ago, pauley71 said:

So I have a new LSV, do most people take the output of the black box and run it to the WS-420 to maintain the sport knob functionality?  That would require 4 runs of RCAs at a minimum right?  1 over and 3 back?  Is power at the drivers helm easy to find?  I haven't even looked under the dash and my boat is 2 hours away.

Correct. Four stereo RCA cables. With an active EQ versus a passive zone control, you are returning with three pair at a much higher voltage. This really helps. 

You obtain all power and ground on the port side (with the black box and amplifiers) as a means to avoid noise. So that would add three wires to the transverse run for ground, power, and remote turn-on.

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DAI
13 minutes ago, David said:

Correct. Four stereo RCA cables. With an active EQ versus a passive zone control, you are returning with three pair at a much higher voltage. This really helps. 

You obtain all power and ground on the port side (with the black box and amplifiers) as a means to avoid noise. So that would add three wires to the transverse run for ground, power, and remote turn-on.

I've been mentally running through the install, the one area I'm drawing a blank in my visualization is the power hook up for the unit.  Can any describe how and where to go about this in more detail?

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shawndoggy
Just now, DAI said:

I've been mentally running through the install, the one area I'm drawing a blank in my visualization is the power hook up for the unit.  Can any describe how and where to go about this in more detail?

It takes three inputs: power (red), ground (black), and remote turn on (blue).  The easiest/safest/least likely to be noisy way to power the eq is to get some three conductor marine wire and run it from one of your amps to the EQ.  Connect red to the amp's power input (+), black to the amp's ground (-), and blue to the amp's remote turn on lead.  You can usually just wedge the wire in there with the existing wires.  It doesn't hurt to solder the ends of the wires to make them more solid so they jam in a little easier.  

 

14 hours ago, MLA said:

Just imagine if you had the ability to manage that tone independent between the in-boat zone and tower zone? As of now with your zld, if you make a tonal change it impacts both the in-boat and tower zone. This is because the zld is a single EQ in one chassis where a single input was split AFTER the EQ. The WS-420 is two EQ's in one chassis. The input is divided through two EQs, so you can adjust the tone of the towers independent of the in-boats. Considering the WS-420SQ and zld are the same price, how could one recommend the zld over the WS-420SQ?  

As a practical matter I find that I run both WS420-SQ eqs flat anyway, so no real bonus to two eqs that are eq'd identically.  If you have tower speakers with a vastly different sound signature I guess it can help, but that really hasn't been an issue since the release of the revs, which is five years ago now.  And it's not like those micro-dials are particularly easy to independently fine tune on the fly.  Back when the Exile unit had a fader between zones I liked it more.  Maybe after wetsounds finally figures out their radio boat link gizmo they can turn their attention back to the 420 and put zone control on a single knob like it should be.

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DAI
4 minutes ago, shawndoggy said:

It takes three inputs: power (red), ground (black), and remote turn on (blue).  The easiest/safest/least likely to be noisy way to power the eq is to get some three conductor marine wire and run it from one of your amps to the EQ.  Connect red to the amp's power input (+), black to the amp's ground (-), and blue to the amp's remote turn on lead.  You can usually just wedge the wire in there with the existing wires.  It doesn't hurt to solder the ends of the wires to make them more solid so they jam in a little easier.  

 

As a practical matter I find that I run both WS420-SQ eqs flat anyway, so no real bonus to two eqs that are eq'd identically.  If you have tower speakers with a vastly different sound signature I guess it can help, but that really hasn't been an issue since the release of the revs, which is five years ago now.  And it's not like those micro-dials are particularly easy to independently fine tune on the fly.  Back when the Exile unit had a fader between zones I liked it more.  Maybe after wetsounds finally figures out their radio boat link gizmo they can turn their attention back to the 420 and put zone control on a single knob like it should be.

Thank you very much.  I may post pictures and questions when I start the install (I did car phone installin the early 90s, but's have not done anything like this since).  What were your impressions on the WS420BT bluetooth quality vs the stock unit with RF head unit and dongle?

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shawndoggy

I never ran the WS420BT, just the WS420SQ.  I tried to use two different WS BT modules (the external ones with the knob controller).  For whatever reason, on both BT units, I picked up A LOT of noise.  Pops, hissing, crackling, etc.  I was not happy with the performance of those units in my application.  I tried an exile unit instead and it sounded 100% better.  Just music, no extra noises.    Dunno why that was, and I know lots of people have been happy with the WS unit.  

Vs. the black box, my finding was that the exile BT unit sounded much better than anything coming through the black box.  So I just basically quit using the black box and ran the exile unit through the eq and controlled stuff through my phone.  

On the new boat (axis) the kicker HU's BT is real good and I'm using that into the WS420SQ and I'm happy with it.

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MLA
5 minutes ago, shawndoggy said:

they can turn their attention back to the 420 and put zone control on a single knob like it should be

Like the new 4 zone WS-220 controller with no EQ? 

Not everyone has Wet Sounds Rev speaker. Some out there still running a very hot tweeter'd tower speaker and do find a need to dial down the compression tweeter for surfing or party cove. Using an automotive based EQ that's foundation is derived from front/rear fade, isnt really dual zone if you make a change to the tower or in-boats and it also impacts the other zone just the same. Adding a little mid-bass and taking away a couple dBs on the higher ranges on an 8, 8.375 or 10 inch speaker has a greater effect on a 6.5" in-boat. 

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David

IMO, the Wetsounds dual zone equalizer is a huge benefit. I think that I am more particular than most when it comes to the proper tonal balance. In fact, short of distortion, having the correct octave to octave balance is most important to me. I like the music without the stereo equipment getting in the way.

For tower speakers, especially with HLCDs, different brands and different sizes sound completely different. Some brands stubbornly cling to maximum highs. I've got to fix that for near field listening.

For in-boat speakers I like to bring down the upper mid position just a notch with most speakers having hard dome tweeters. For most speakers with soft dome tweeters I like to add a tiny bit of upper highs when at speed versus at rest. Speakers high on the dash sound very different than the same speaker in a lower position. Coaxial speakers that are side-by-side in the same coaming pocket usually lose a little highs off axis. It's nice to compensate for these and other variations even if the corrections are modest.   

Although all this is fine tuning with better speakers I find it very useful. And while its a boat versus a car or home stereo, I still hear the benefit.  

We all have our own subjective preferences, but if you don't share the above experience and feel there's no need for tonal controls, then you should really just go with a pure and simple zone control like the WS-220.

Btw, to Shawn, having a concentric pre-level passive fader with opposing wipers after the output stage is very different from having a concentric zone control before discrete output stages. Exile switched when they went from splitting a single stereo output into two zones and changed over to discrete outputs like the Wetsounds has always had. So for both brands I suspect that this is predicated on the existence or non-existence of parts availability.    

 

 

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shawndoggy
26 minutes ago, David said:

Btw, to Shawn, having a concentric pre-level passive fader with opposing wipers after the output stage is very different from having a concentric zone control before discrete output stages. Exile switched when they went from splitting a single stereo output into two zones and changed over to discrete outputs like the Wetsounds has always had. So for both brands I suspect that this is predicated on the existence or non-existence of parts availability.    

If I can have a computer in my pocket and they can get the white stuff in the twinkie, I'm sure that two EQs can be controlled with one knob.  I understand the "ain't nobody done it that way before" argument, but it also seems like a problem that is probably solvable.  

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David
1 hour ago, shawndoggy said:

If I can have a computer in my pocket and they can get the white stuff in the twinkie, I'm sure that two EQs can be controlled with one knob.  I understand the "ain't nobody done it that way before" argument, but it also seems like a problem that is probably solvable.  

I totally see your point now. The twinkie was an excellent parable.

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DAI

Thank you everyone for your help.  My 3 year old daughter made the decision for me today and decided to go with the Exile ZLD and Exile BT dongle.  I let my daughter sit in the drivers seat of my truck for a minute (off obviously) and came to find the truck turned to 4L, wipers all the way on, 4-way flashers on, and probably a couple other items I'll find next time I drive it.  Knowing her fondness to play with buttons and dials made the ability to recess and 'lock' the controls on the Exile EQ the winner for me (plus the > $100 difference in price), even though I'll be giving up the ability to adjust the tone independently between the cabin and tower.  Now hopefully the equipment arrives before the weekend and I have a project to get started on.

Thank you again everyone and I'll likely be posting questions during the install.

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Jimmy Buffett

LOL.  Great way to make a decision.  Kid proof it.  

I may have misread the installation instructions on the Exile BT, but when I first installed the BT module I installed the positive wire on the BT to the positive wire on the ZLD.  That caused the BT module to be always on and the LED to blink constantly.  Moving the BT module positive wire to the Remote wire on the ZLD solved that issue so it was only on when the dash switch was activated.  

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DAI
5 hours ago, Jimmy Buffett said:

LOL.  Great way to make a decision.  Kid proof it.  

I may have misread the installation instructions on the Exile BT, but when I first installed the BT module I installed the positive wire on the BT to the positive wire on the ZLD.  That caused the BT module to be always on and the LED to blink constantly.  Moving the BT module positive wire to the Remote wire on the ZLD solved that issue so it was only on when the dash switch was activated.  

Every other at home decision is based on the kids, so why shouldn't this one. 

As for the BT, I'm hoping it's a good upgrade compared to the BT that came stock in the boat.

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