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Helix Soundbox Upgrade Information Post!

Jshayy

New member
Location
Portland or
Installed my Helix about a year ago and finally got around to programming it - bought a dongle on ebay because I could not get one from any dealership barring some sort of...."favor"...probably. Anyway, programmed to 57. I should probably preface this with stating that almost all of my music files come from hi-res 24/96+ FLAC or DSD and I convert them down to the maximum quality the car will play. I do have some 16/44 FLAC files and a few 320 Kbps MP3s in there as well. Sound quality does very much depend on the source file and more importantly the mastering of that song. I do consider myself an audiophile, just not so much for car audio any longer. :) All of my listening is inside where I have spent way, way too much money on headphones, DACs, amps, tubes, etc... lol

Before Programming:
  1. Timing. You could hear each speaker individually. It didn't sound bad at all, but basically like a head unit upgrade with stock speakers.
  2. EQ settings. I reset it before I flashed code 57, but before, my bass knob was maxed out, mids were at 75% and treble was at 45%.
  3. Muddy and weak bass, not tight at all, but can be boomy if the right frequency hits. Had to move the bass dial all the way up for the bass to be even remotely acceptable.
  4. Bright! Basically a treble factory - cold and shrill and definitely required me to mess with the EQ to adjust the sound to my liking.
  5. Mids were very much recessed, and even after an EQ adjustment, they were still recessed. Not warm at all.
  6. "Quality" and I say this with quotes due to lack of a better term. Certain frequencies seem to be buried and you'll miss some detail of some of the songs you'll play. Whether that be guitar strums or entire background instruments.
After Programming:
  1. Timing is definitely correct now and you wouldn't necessarily know it unless you've corrected for timing on another vehicle and know what it sounds like.
  2. Began with flat EQ settings. Huge difference at flat curve. The rest of my listening is relative to a flat EQ on the head unit.
  3. Bass tightens up quite a lot. Very punchy now, and very much less muddy. Still boomy where it needs to be but very much more controlled. Bass output seemingly increased by 5x with the programming.
  4. Whereas it was bright, now it is warm and the mids shine through everything. Sure, you can crank up the treble to your hearts content with the EQ. Treble actually sounds as if it's coming from the tweeters now if I were to try to source the sound.
  5. Like I said, very warm sound now. Midrange frequencies seem to be centered on the infotainment system screen, which is due to the timing correction.
  6. "Quality". Very much improved, and again, you wouldn't notice it if you didn't know for what you were listening. But in many songs, there are many background instruments that I just couldn't hear before and I knew they were there. Now this isn't perfect by any means and there is great room for improvement here, but for the price and considering these are stock speakers, its a hell of an upgrade.
As for soundstage, I really didn't notice a discernible difference between the two. Generally, before programming, the sound was weak unless I cranked up the volume at least halfway and at that point it was so loud, it was difficult to really figure anything out, except for the fact that I wanted to turn the volume down. After programming, the mids are focused on the infotainment system screen. So maybe a slight reduction in soundstage if you want to call that a reduction - it really isn't though. And finally, as for the distortion people are talking about. I never noticed any before, and haven't noticed any after. I've put the volume to 70% after programming and any louder I fear I will blow the subs and speakers, and my own ears. Like I said, generally before programming, the sound was weak and to get acceptable quality I had to turn the volume upwards of 60% to get decent quality. I hate distortion, so I do everything I can to avoid it, always.

So all in all its a great improvement and absolutely everyone that has a Helix should definitely have it programmed, sooner rather than later. No it isn't a $5000 audio upgrade, but for the $550 I paid total, for everything, it is well-worth the price and a no brainer. It punches well above it's price.
Wow, I don't have this experience at all and I'm trying to source the dongle. Rejected at 1 dealer so far. I may have to go to ebay.
I've got a 2018 GTI SE as well. I keep the EQ (+2 bass, flat on mids, -2 trebble)...Bass all the way up would be a disaster and all I would hear....a big boomy mess at any range. I don't describe it as bright...nothing is fatiguing to me. Also the speakers blend very very well together but my gripe is that the vocals seem to be behind me. I am not programmed yet but typically listen to the system 50-100% full volume and would never describe that as LOUD...anyway I'm really bored so will flash it and see (unfortunately it's a one way door).
 

ksurl

Go Kart Champion
Location
Socal
Car(s)
18 GTI SE DSG
Wow, I don't have this experience at all and I'm trying to source the dongle. Rejected at 1 dealer so far. I may have to go to ebay.
I've got a 2018 GTI SE as well. I keep the EQ (+2 bass, flat on mids, -2 trebble)...Bass all the way up would be a disaster and all I would hear....a big boomy mess at any range. I don't describe it as bright...nothing is fatiguing to me. Also the speakers blend very very well together but my gripe is that the vocals seem to be behind me. I am not programmed yet but typically listen to the system 50-100% full volume and would never describe that as LOUD...anyway I'm really bored so will flash it and see (unfortunately it's a one way door).
Rental thread is still going on this forum. Post there and dm snobrdrdan
 

Kramerica

New member
Location
New Berlin WI
Car(s)
2021 GTI SE
I have a 2021 GTI SE and am planning on installing the Helix (on top the spare) in the next few weeks. I bought my car new in May 2021. Sounds fine at lower/normal volumes, but would like a bit more thump and volume. The Helix seems like it will do the trick! And thank you Flipflp and everyone else for this wonderful thread!

- Unless someone can point me in a less expensive direction, I'll order this week from Murrieta.
- Looks like shipping is free until 12/31.
- Will I be able to get the 10% rebate (until 12/31) from this order?

- I think I saw one other person install on a 2021, despite the part not officially working for that model year. I'm not really concerned, but should I be?

- In a previous car, I had installed a switch on the dash to turn my subwoofer on and off. I really enjoyed that feature. Is there any way to install a subwoofer on/off switch or a bass 'level' knob? I know about the dealer demo switch, but I'd like to just turn the bass down easily and not disable the entire Helix setup. I find the controls for getting to the equalizer on the radio to be cumbersome. A physical knob or switch would be much better.

- I listen primarily to SXM Radio direct from satellite, and once in a while high-quality mp3s. Will the SXM be OK with the Helix? Seems like there have been mixed reviews.

Just got the trim, pin removal, and radio removal tools for Christmas this morning. Looking forward to using them!

Thanks everyone, and I'll be sure to post some pictures and a report once I've got it complete. I'll also be renting the dongle too.
 
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snobrdrdan

former GTI owner
I'll also be renting the dongle too.
 

Prost

Just finished watching Fast&Fuzzynuts
Location
Los Angeles, Southern California
Car(s)
2019 VW eGOLF SEL
- Unless someone can point me in a less expensive direction, I'll order this week from Murrieta.
- Looks like shipping is free until 12/31.
- Will I be able to get the 10% rebate (until 12/31) from this order?
I got the Helix from VW of Murrieta for $421 (additional 10% off from their "normal price" of $468) when they are running the special from 12/12-15, shipping is free (I believed till 12/31) and I apply for the VW 10% ($42) rebate too and got approved after couple days (rebate will come 6-8 weeks), so after all the tax and rebate, not bad for $420lish out the door. Took me couple hours on Christmas eve to install it to my eGolf and currently awaiting the dongle rental from Dan to arrive to finish the programming (already better compare to the base system without the programming).
 

aegis

Go Kart Champion
Location
Ontario
Car(s)
MK7 GTI
Anyone ever have issues with the Helix not outputting anything during extreme cold? Just got the car back from insurance work during our first cold snap of the season and it's barely outputting (if at all).

Green light is powered up, drove the car up to temp for about an hour and no improvement. I power cycled the amp with the car off and still no improvement.

Quick Google shows some people having power performance in the deep winter, is this normal?

Cheers,
 

khail19

Drag Racing Champion
Location
Reno NV
Car(s)
Mk7 GTI
Anyone ever have issues with the Helix not outputting anything during extreme cold? Just got the car back from insurance work during our first cold snap of the season and it's barely outputting (if at all).

Green light is powered up, drove the car up to temp for about an hour and no improvement. I power cycled the amp with the car off and still no improvement.

Quick Google shows some people having power performance in the deep winter, is this normal?

Cheers,

Subwoofers (and most larger speakers in general) do not like super cold temps. The spiders and surrounds get stiff and don't move freely. Usually playing music for 15 minutes or so will warm them up and they will play normally. Tweeters aren't really affected because the cone or dome moves so little to begin with.

Weird that you drove for an hour and it still wasn't working.
 

aegis

Go Kart Champion
Location
Ontario
Car(s)
MK7 GTI
Weird that you drove for an hour and it still wasn't working.
Yeah, a bit paranoid since it started when I picked it up from the shop for body repair. The trunk cover was clearly moved but they didn't have a reason to go in the trunk. I'd like to rule that out but it's odd driving around didn't solve it.

I tried messing around with the wiring at the back of the head unit but no change.
 

khail19

Drag Racing Champion
Location
Reno NV
Car(s)
Mk7 GTI
Any chance the subwoofer level on the head unit is turned down? I don't see why they would mess with it though.
 

aegis

Go Kart Champion
Location
Ontario
Car(s)
MK7 GTI
Any chance the subwoofer level on the head unit is turned down? I don't see why they would mess with it though.
Checked that as well. Power cycled the Helix unit with the car off. I even changed the output settings in long coding (internal amp to external, etc) and tried a few other OBD things and didn't change anything..

If it's just the cold weather I would let it go but I need to know if I need to raise hell with the shop or not, so it's a bit frustrating.
EDIT- Chalking this up to cold weather. Performance comes back when it warms up past 0 Celsius. Will just have to deal with lower performance in the winter.
 
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ksurl

Go Kart Champion
Location
Socal
Car(s)
18 GTI SE DSG
Anyone who did the stacking on top of the spare have a squeaking sound when you go over bumps? I’m guessing something is rubbing.
 
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