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TomV

Revel Standard to Ultima Upgrade

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I've been planning and sourcing used parts to upgrade my Revel 14-speaker system to the Revel Ultima 20-speaker system.

 

  1. Rear deck speakers
  2. Rear door mid-ranges
  3. 20 Channel Amplifier
  4. Molex BLK (PN# 347290120)12-pin power plug
  5. Wiring Diagram Manual
  6. Spool of 4 conductor 18-AWG wire
  7. OBDII adapter for Forscan

 

Ultima2.thumb.jpg.0f71d921c8b3eced00e04e2677068304.jpg

 

The rear deck speakers should be fairly straight forward to install. I believe the woofer connectors are the same. All I need to create are connectors and wire runs for the tweeters and mid-ranges straight to the amp in the trunk. You can see from the picture, how great the factory sub-woofers really are 😉 cough cough.

 

The rear door mid-range speaker will be the most challenging part. I will need to take the door panels off and cut a hole. Then fabricate some sort of a grill, more on that later. I also need to run new wires for the tweeter and mid-range. I will disconnect the passive crossover from the tweeter and use the existing wire run just for the woofer. I hope I can fish new wires into the door boot without too much trouble.

 

The amplifier should bolt in place of the current unit. The audio signal comes via USB, so it just plugs in. The power Molex plug is different shape, so I need to re-pin a new connector. The wiring diagram manual provides the layouts. The two 20-pin speaker connector plugs need complete re-pinning as well. They come apart and pins release with a tiny screw driver. I can reinsert them into the new positions as needed. Basically I'm adding 12 new pins and re-arranging the existing.

 

I also compared my MKZ Reserve I As Built File to a similar MKZ Reserve II that is very close to mine, except for the Ultima system and AWD. The DSP/Amplifier module data are identical. I think I just need to get the system to identify the new amplifier on the CAN bus. The ACM module also seems to be a little different. I might need to modify one line of hex values in mine to match. I will add more on this later, when I get to that stage.

 

 

 

 

 

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I'm going to need help from someone with an Ultima system with rear speaker orientations.

  1. Do the rear deck speakers have the tweeters inboard or outboard?
  2. How far down is the rear door mid-range from tweeter (center to center)?

I also picked up a variety of cheap grills off eBay for the rear mid ranges. None are perfect, but with some black paint and epoxied on studs I think they could work. I know the factory grills have no fasteners showing. I'm thinking of using a hole saw and/or dremel to very carefully cut the plastic backing from the rear side of the door panel. If I go very slow and not destroy the leather on the front of the panel, I can later slit the leather and fold it into the hole.

 

Here is a picture of what I have to play with. Maybe some of you have a better idea?

IMG_8334.jpg

Grills.jpg

IMG_8333.jpg

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Cutting into that door panel makes me cringe a little.  😬

 

The distance from the tweeter to midrange speakers, center to center, is 4 7/8 inches.  

 

Gywgznp.jpg

 

And here is a picture of the right rear deck speaker, not sure if it helps or not.

 

EjMQFt3.jpg

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Very helpful! Thank you! Is the rear deck picture taken from the backseat or through the glass? 

Edited by TomV

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Taken from the rear seat, interior.

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Can you source Revel grills for all of the exposed speakers?

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car-part.com

if there is a wreck, I'm sure there are grills...  😎

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I've thought about new door panels from a donor, but I'm not able to justify the cost. Ideally, I'd like to try to create a frame-less grill with black mess to match the lower grill, but I won't really know for sure until start the installation process. I still have some wire connectors coming, so it will probably be a few weeks yet.

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Well, I made some progress this weekend with my installation. It's not complete yet, still need to wire up the rear door tweeters and mid-ranges.

 

The new rear deck speakers are in. To remove the rear package tray, the rear air bag covers and plastic trim needs to come out. Disconnect the battery when doing this to play it safe so an air bag doesn't deploy by accident.

 

The standard Revel 12-channel amplifier simply unbolts and two inner studs slip out of the bracket. The larger Revel Ultima 20-channel amplifier uses two farther apart studs already in place on the bracket. As you can see in the side-by-side comparison, the Ultima is much more substantial.

 

I bought 4-conductor speaker wire and ran two runs to the rear deck tweeter/mid-ranges. The rear subs use the existing wire. I also ran two lengths of wire into the back seat foot well for now. The next step will be fishing it into the rear doors for the tweeter and mid-range install. The rear door woofers use the existing wires.

 

The Revel 20-channel amplifier required a different power plug and I re-pinned the connectors per the wiring diagram. I re-pinned all of the existing 12 pairs of speaker wires and added my 8 new pairs. The wiring diagram manual is essential for the re-pinning. Use a tiny jewelers screw driver to release each pin and move to its new location. My new add-on wires  don't look that pretty as I soldered onto some extra pins I found, but it's functional.

 

The last part of this weekends effort was to use ForScan software and modify the ACM module. When I compared the as-built data of an almost identical Lincoln MKZ  with Ultima system, only one line in the ACM was different. ACM 727-03-01 had a value of 46 on mine and 28 on the Ultima car. I'm not sure what this parameter actually does, but I changed it because I think it has to do with the number of speakers/sync.

 

So the audio system is playing right now, minus the rear door tweeter and mid-ranges. I plan to get to them shortly. It seems to sound pretty good, no worse than before, but I can tell there is lack of high frequency behind my head because I'm not finished. I do think it will be louder overall and I hope it sounds better when I get a chance for some extended listening..

 

Just wanted to update my project thread and post some pictures.

Rear_Deck.jpg

Revel14.jpg

Revel_Amp_Compare.jpg

Revel20.jpg

Edited by TomV

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Getting closer to finishing. Rear doors aren’t perfect, but it’s going to have to be for now. Maybe someday I’ll find the perfect grills. 

 

 

 

Hole Saw.jpg

Hole.jpg

Both doors.jpg

Edited by TomV
reduced image size

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Looks factory.  Nice work.👍

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Great job it looks awesome.

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Finished the install on Sunday. The entire process was fairly time consuming and I wanted to make sure everything was done properly. It took extra time to ensure that I didn't break anything and I soldered all the wire connectors for extra assurance.

 

Using the hole saw (without the center drill bit) was a little tricky to control, but the plastic was soft and I managed to cut it without tearing the leather. The mid-range drivers I used actually came from a Continental, so the 3 mounting locations are different from the MKZ.  I got two screws to existing structure and I used JB Weld plastic epoxy to glue a plastic stand-off for the third screw.  The Revel 14-speaker rear door tweeters have a capacitor in-line to block bass. This is because the rear woofer and tweeter were originally powered together of the same channel. Now that I have 3 independent channels to the rear doors, I soldered my new tweeter wires before the capacitor. I left the original connection hanging there in case I ever return it to stock.

 

Pulling the interior trim isn't too bad, most just popped right off. Fumbling with the door connector in the jam wasn't fun because there isn't much room to access it from behind. I did manage to unplug the inner connectors and pull the large connector out. I used a dremel cut off wheel to grind an area where no wires were.  Made it just large enough to slip my new speaker wire through. Then I reassembled everything in reverse order.

Rear Mid Range.jpg

Door Jam.jpg

Rear Door.jpg

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HI TomV.  Congratulations and nice work. How do you like the sound?

 

Thanks for the write-up, it will certainly help others. And good luck.

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Now for all those wondering how it sounds and was it worth all the fuss?

 

To sum it up, it's worth it for the audiophile type that desire the cleanest most accurate sound. The average listener however probably won't notice much difference, as the Revel 14 speaker system sounds very good and both systems could benefit from real sub-woofer.

 

I’ve invested about $400 for the Ultima upgrade and am glad I did it. While it’s not a day vs. night comparison, I notice some improved clarity (maybe due to the class A/B tweeter amps) and believe it has an overall stronger sound stage.

 

The best part is that I find myself desiring to make time just to listen to it. I took an afternoon drive and listened to some CD's that I ripped to .flac format on a USB drive. Some of my cd's sounded phenomenal and made me smile. Other recordings were just okay and I’m not sure if it was the recording itself or the lack of a true sub-woofer. I haven't tried satellite radio yet, but this amp is supposed to have the Clari-Fi music restorer in the DSP programming, so that might be a bonus.

 

The only downside, at least to me, is the system lacks intensity from the rear. Seems like Revel engineers setup the DSP so that wherever you sit, front or rear seat, you have music coming from in front of you like at a real concert. This system has the same problem my prior one did, if you fade all the way to rear, it sounds like an old transistor radio with very little output.

 

The Quantumlogic surround settings are the way to shift the sound stage rearward. With it "off", I mainly hear the front speakers. When on "audience" I hear a bit of the rear doors, but the front sound stage seems to shift lower towards the dash rather than the windshield. Using "on-stage" definitely moves the sound towards the rear, but seem a bit unnatural to me.

 

There are two settings I keep switching between to find the sweet spot. It is either Quantumlogic "off" with fader 1 notch towards to rear, or  Quantumlogic set to "audience" with fader at defaults. What are you others setting your system at?

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Hi Tom. I have the Revel Ultima system. If I recall correctly, I have the settings at Audience, with the fader one notch to the rear. 🎶

 

I'll check next time I am in my car.

 

Good luck.

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@TomV while you have your door panels off, did you install any type of sound deadening material to your doors? If not yet, will you plan on doing so to check if there is an even better improvement in SQ? just curious..

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Actually, the outer door skin already has about a 10” x 12” piece of sound dampening material on it from the factory. 
 

I didn’t add anymore to the rear doors because the system has low output back there. The fronts however I plan to add some. 

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Thanks for your reply. Please do share once you have completed your sound dampening install.

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Couple question for Ultima system owners:

 

1). Can the Clari-Fi feature be turned on or off for compressed music sources? 

 

2). The wiring diagram shows the tweeters illuminate with the ambient LED lighting. Below are Ultima tweeters for a Continental. There are extra blue/violet wires that look like they illuminate the "R" for the Revel Logo?

Conti_tweeter1.PNG

Conti_tweeter2.PNG

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On 8/13/2020 at 8:25 AM, TomV said:

Couple question for Ultima system owners:

 

1). Can the Clari-Fi feature be turned on or off for compressed music sources? 

 

2). The wiring diagram shows the tweeters illuminate with the ambient LED lighting. Below are Ultima tweeters for a Continental. There are extra blue/violet wires that look like they illuminate the "R" for the Revel Logo?

Conti_tweeter1.PNG

Conti_tweeter2.PNG

 

The 'R' illuminates, but I believe it's just with the interior lighting at night.  It's white, just like the lock/unlock lighting, and does not change color with the Ambient Lighting.  But that extra wire would be for that function.

 

And Clari-Fi can't be shut off, as far as I remember.  And if it can be, I don't know about it, and wouldn't shut it off anyway.

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I'm happy to report the Clari-Fi feature really does help Satellite Radio sound much better.

 

Harman has an interesting website that discusses this Clari-Fi technology.

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Hi Tom. Sorry it took so long to get back to you. This past weekend was my first time in the car at night in quite a while.

 

Anyway, concerning this question of yours..."2). The wiring diagram shows the tweeters illuminate with the ambient LED lighting. Below are Ultima tweeters for a Continental. There are extra blue/violet wires that look like they illuminate the "R" for the Revel Logo?"

As fusionff believed, the "R" logo does illuminate, but only in white (like the window and door lock switches), not the chosen ambient light color.

 

I did not have time to check the "Clari-Fi" settings.

 

Good luck.

Edited by bbf2530

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ForScan differences in ACM / Revel based on hardware level.

ACM_Compare.JPG

Edited by TomV
added more ForScan details

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Deleted

Edited by djcwardog
Later info

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