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Thread: Subwoofer and Amp install

  1. #1
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    Smile Subwoofer and Amp install

    I finally decided to upgrade the stock stereo to add a subwoofer. I enjoy how the car sounds, but also like to hear the music when I am just driving around. If you are considering upgrading to a subwoofer/amp, I would also consider putting in some sound deadener first as that made a fairly big difference in the stereo with no other mods. I currently have the Rossion OEM AVIC F700BT with Polk speakers (front only). My goal was to give a bit more mid range and lower kick but not make it a super powerful system. There are some folks out there (Bigwilly) with remarkable systems, this one is just for routine listening but I still wanted it to be high quality. I am doing the install 100% by myself and thought I would write it up in segments in case it helps anyone who wants something similar to OEM by themselves.

    There were a few criteria that I came up with when planning the system:

    -It had to look OEM
    -It had to be high end audio quality (but not necessarily ear bleeding loud).
    -It had to be as light as possible
    -It had to be at least partially removable in minutes
    -It could not require more than a regular seat adjustment to remove (slide seat forward)
    -It had to retain as much cargo space as possible
    -It would need to place weight as low and toward middle as possible

    Rossion offers an installed Polk amp and speaker package. You can get it with either one or two woofers. The amp is a Polk 500.4 and the speakers are MM series 8". See Polk site: http://www.polkaudio.com/caraudio/pa...a600_1#pa500_4 for amp details and http://www.polkaudio.com/caraudio/mm...php?s=mm840dvc for woofer details.

    Also see the pic of Charleysungs car with an OEM install (below). An enclosure is built that includes the amp and speaker. If you get the second woofer, it goes on opposite side. Take a look at amp: it is enormous and takes up nearly all width behind seat. Also turns out Polk just stopped making the 500.4 amps but you could probably find one online. A 500.4 will drive both subwoofers and speakers simultaneously too... not sure why you need such a killer amp to run one or two subwoofers.

    I just wanted to go with one (and the possibility of two) subwoofers. Subwoofer sound is monaural and it is common to put these in the trunk or locations other than in cabin. I saw no reason to run a multichannel amp. I finally settled on a Polk 600.1 which can still run two subwoofers if needed. Turns out it is smaller, cheaper and likely weighs less too. It also has a higher amp rating and can run 600amp x1 ohm, 400 x 2 ohm, or 300 x 4ohm impendance. Details are here: http://www.polkaudio.com/caraudio/pa...a600_1#pa600_1 Polk lists this amp at $400, but you can find it currently on ebay with shipping for $159 brand new: http://www.ebay.com/itm/POLK-AUDIO-P...item4ab1d2fd03 I looked at a few other amps, but kept coming back to this and it was hard to beat price wise. This thing is still pretty big, but smaller than the 500.4. I'll post pix and details of install in an upcoming post.

    Speakers: originally planning on the Polk MM's just like Rossion does. To my surprise, the Rossion's are only 8" woofers. These are definitely good speakers, but the response range and flatness is definitely less than a 10" (or a 12"). You don't necessarily need a 10" for the punch, but it should theoretically sound better. I also had to keep the enclosure small and as light as possible. Talked with Rossion about getting an OEM enclosure, but decided to go my own route. Turns out Pioneer makes an excellent high end subwoofer series that is specifically marketed as low profile and small enclosure. They are not kidding as I could not find any lower profile speakers with smaller enclosure volumes. MAKE SURE you look at recommended enclosure volumes before you buy woofer- you might still need a decent sized enclosure (which in our cars needs to be non vented to make as small as possible). I got a Pioneer TS-SW 2501S4 http://www.pioneerelectronics.com/PU...-SW2501S2%7CS4 . The recommended sealed enclosure on this is 0.45 cu ft. For sake of comparison: this is smaller than the box the speaker comes in. See pix of speaker and box. You can also find this speaker on ebay for approx $98 including shipping: http://www.ebay.com/itm/NEW-Pioneer-...item589413fb2a Turns out this woofer is a good match for rating on amp too. You can order it in a 2 ohm or 4ohm. Since I *might* do a second woofer and don't really need the kick of a 2 ohm, I went 4 ohm as it is 300 amp x 4 ohm just like amp (even though the Polk will drive 1/2/4 ohm). I also figured it might keep amp load down and reduce issues with cabin temps or alternator load (not sure if this even issue).

    I have decided the best way to mount is amp on passenger side above ECU/Battery/Trickle charger and speaker enclosure behind driver seat. I am in the middle of both of these. Upcoming posts with enclosure build and more details to follow.
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  2. #2
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    Subscribed. Like you I will be driving on the road more often than the track, and the radio needs some enhancement. Luckily I have the latest Avic deck, but needs some mid/low kick as you mentioned above.

  3. #3
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    Default Polk 600.1 Amp install

    Tried a couple different options for amp install. At first I thought I would mount it into a recess in my existing ECU/Battery/tender cover. Turns out the amp is pretty heavy (approx 12 lbs) and still fairly big (13.7 x 10.2 x 2.6 inches including outer heatsink/cover). I was concerned that the weight of amp might pull a cover off with agressive manuevers, so I mounted it to firewall like my battery. I used painters tape to cover edges of amp for test fitting and made sure no conflicts with where I would put wires or other issues such as cover fitting and seat position. Basically, mount as low as you can but not too far inward as you will have access problems with gain screw and other jacks. The power connectors go on outer side (can be mounted either way). Screwed directly into firewall after drilling with 1 inch #10 black trim screws with collars. There should be nothing on the other side of firewall in this area, so safe to drill. You might hit a cross bar and have a hard time drilling, but that is only issue. Amp seems rock solid when mounted.

    There are various wiring kits you can order for amp install on line. For this amp (and most high end) it is recommended to use 4 ga. power wire. Turns out a lot of the amp kits say they are 4 ga, but they really aren't or are cheap. These kits are also super long (trunk mounted amp with engine mounted battery) and the speaker wire and RCA cables are also cheap. Because of this I decided to component it myself. I used regular old 4 ga. battery cable (2 lengths). It is heavy duty, lists itself at 100% copper and already comes with a battery terminal connector installed. I needed about 2 feet for + and - since my battery is in cabin, but suspect would need a 4-5ft. section for each if battery still in engine bay. Run cables through rubber grommet with ECU cables if so. Two cables cost me approx $9 total at Walmart. I also got a fuse (Scosche) socket that has different fuse options and installed in line next to + battery terminal. You are supposed to run fuse 10-20 amp above what the max amplifier runs. All the heavy wires were tinned using electrical solder. The #4 battery cable will just barely fit in fuse and amp sockets. I color coded + with red heat shrink just in case.

    The amp needs RCA cables and a 'remote' power signal cable from stereo head unit. You will need to remove two screws on the fuse box/tunnel cover in the back and the whole thing should pry up enough to get stuff under there. There is also one screw just to right of gear shift that needs to be released (see pic). I loosened face plate of stereo head unit just to get a little more give, but you may not need to remove stereo or even loosen if you are lucky and amp wires are visible from under dash. Mine were just barely retrievable. There are two RCA jacks labelled 'subwoofer' and a blue/white push connector labelled 'remote' you need to find. I ran a fairly large stranded copper wire from amp to connector and put a male push connector on end. The female end comes with a clear rubber protector. The RCA cable needs to be just 3 feet. I got some high quality gold plated off ebay for $7. Run all these as shown in pic. The RCA connectors will not be protected from contacts, so I put a little heatshrink on the exposed metal portions after connecting.

    There is a remote gain control that comes with this amp. Cable looks like telephone cord, ran it the same way as above. I played around with locations to mount the gain control and ended up just mounting to the trim screw on passenger side of gear shift. It is an easy reach and hides well up in there.

    Did a test run with uninstalled woofer, so far all is good. Don't forget to reenable your i-pod in AVIC settings and turn subwoofer 'on'. At first I thought I hadn't connected something correctly.. :P Next up: cover for amp.
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    Last edited by esrandl; 06-03-2012 at 05:54 AM.

  4. #4
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    Default Amp and battery cover

    I ended up cutting my existing battery/ecu/battery tender cover up to lengthen it and cover the entire amp. Just re-fiberglassed it, but basically the same. See http://www.nobleforums.com/showthrea...battery-tender for details on original cover. Rossion has the amp flush mounted with cover in OEM install and I did the same. Supposedly this amp puts out relatively low amounts of heat and this should be ok. Attached some black carpet material with 3M Trim Adhesive. Screwed in place with 1 inch #8 black trim screws to firewall. The only advice here is to wait until final install and amp has been fully adjusted before screwing it on for good. I have already taken cover off several times in order to fine tune amp adjustment screws (which you cannot get to with cover in place). The total install is nearly complete, but I still need to drive around a bit and tweak things before sealing it up for good. Enclosure and final impressions write up to follow shortly.
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    Last edited by esrandl; 06-06-2012 at 03:56 AM.

  5. #5
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    Nice job. Looking forward to seeing the speaker enclosure shots too.

  6. #6
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    Default Subwoofer enclosure build

    Enclosure build:

    I want to thank Shadowhusky for his pix and notes on prior thread, helped a lot and I stole a lot of fine points off his enclosure.

    I also looked online and found various good instructional web pages on creating an enclosure. Here are a few: http://www.crutchfield.com/S-TJH6dpZ..._building.html and http://www.termpro.com/asp/pubs.asp?ID=114 . Several sites suggested 5/8 inch thick FIBERBOARD (not so easy to find). The 5/8th inch thickness was also for much bigger enclosures than I was planning. I figured I could go a bit thinner for weight and to keep volume high with respect to weight so I went with 1/2 inch. This can be found at Home Depot in a 1/2 inch x 2ft x4ft sheet which is enough for this enclosure if you plan it well. They do not sell 5/8 inch. Because of concern for stability, I also used Liquid nails and some thin wood strips to strenghten all joints (as well as regular wood screws). It seems absolutely rock solid. You also want to avoid a symmetric enclosure if possible as it can lead to resonance issues. That's why you'll see these prebuilt boxes with speaker off to the side. Building it like an offset triangle is also good (which coincidentally is best fit for our cars).

    As far as specific fit, I made a cardboard mockup (see pic) that I measured volume until it was right height/width to give desired volume. I used styrofoam packing material to measure- see the pic with the enclosure filled, it took my measured volume of .45 cu feet. To create mockup I also moved seat back and forth and tried to make as narrow as possible so other items could fit next to woofer enclosure. I started by cutting the bottom which has an extension which goes all the way to the seat belt tensioner and with some trimming should fit snugly in the frame cut out. There are some cables and other minor irregularities in floor you will have to adjust for. The inner side of enclosure will also widen at top as console narrows. It seems to fit a bit better that way and reduces gap at top. See pdf file of measurements of my enclosure. When done and liquid nails hard, I resealed everything a second time with silicone caulk. I also added a high quality push connector for the speaker wires so I could remove enclosure short notice. Also caulked over wires on inside to prevent loosening and vibration. Covered with thick felt and 3M spray adhesive. May change to carpet later, but was concerned the carpet might make fit a bit off. I also did not cover the bottom (just spray painted with gloss paint) to ensure fit is perfect there. It seems to totally lock in and not budge, but still comes out relatively easy in under a minute.

    Polyfill/sound dampening: various recs on this, see this article for summary: http://www.klausaudio.com/subwoofer-...woofer-box.php . Pioneer also recommends some sound dampener with these woofers. I ended up getting 3/4 yd sheet thick Polyfill (not fluff) from Hobby Lobby for about $4. I folded back and forth and actually sewed a few seams in to help it stay in position. Gives a 1 -1 1/2 inch thick pad surrounding woofer. As near as I can tell, I do not have a resonance problem. When I measured the box, I came up with a pretty reliable .45 cu ft- but I forgot to include volume of woofer (0.08 cu ft) so the polyfill is also needed to fake the woofer into thinking the enclosure is larger.

    I still have some useable room on the side of enclosure that I can fit a small first aid/repair kit in or other similar sized small bag. The enclosure does not restrict seat range in any way and there is a fair amount of room left with seat forward but you would need to put a grille on the woofer to prevent damage if you used that space. It might be possible to slightly narrow enclosure and make it a hair thicker (front-rear) for more storage room on side. I would mock it up in cardboard to confirm first if you are considering that. I suppose you could also just go a hair smaller too, Pioneer suggests .45 cu ft is optimal but it could be less (like .35). Having said that, this is probably the shallowest subwoofer size and the smallest enclosure size you can find for a 10 inch subwoofer.

    The removable enclosure/subwoofer assembly weighs 21 lbs.

    I thought I had woofer tuned, but I have been driving around and it turns out how you tune it in the garage with engine off is not exactly what you want for driving around. Almost have it nailed, will write up tuning and final impressions shortly.
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    Last edited by esrandl; 06-09-2012 at 06:39 PM.

  7. #7
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    Default Tuning amp and final impressions

    Drove around quite a bit today and tried to tune amp/subwoofer for best result. Multiple sites online show how to do this, Crutchfield has a good one: http://www.crutchfield.com/S-5F6MsQy...rs/tuning.html

    I ended up NOT using any bass boost on the amp or on head unit to start (and didn't end up using either later). I left remote gain knob centered and then played with gain on amp unit. The car is pretty loud and there is a fair amount of low freq noise from exhaust, etc. I ended up just idling car and making adjustment with doors shut. You will probably under adjust the gain if you do this with car not running. When running you are competing with a lot of other low freq stuff. Then I adjusted Low pass filter/freq response on amp. Again, just keep tweaking back until just the bass you want to hear/feel is left. In the end amp side LPF was slightly to the low end of midrange on amp (I have no idea what freq). I then tried to set low pass filter and high pass filter on head unit. Best effect is either: 63hz or 80hz for both. At 80hz you get a bit more 'bump' with some freqs that are just barely above bass drums. Above that you get a lot of 'bump' with just normal music sounds and to me that is just annoying. I ended up sticking with 63hz and cranked the gain a tad on amp. The real low drum beats kick, but not a lot of augment elsewhere. I then made changes to equalizer, etc on head unit at that point. I listened to a lot of AC/DC and techno to set amp today..

    Impressions: 1) I totally overdid the amp and woofer. I can blow the doors off car if I want to but it is just annoying. Probably a 400.1 and a Pioneer 8 inch subwoofer would have been fine for casual driving. The amp and woofer would weigh less and the enclosure would be smaller too. 2) You absolutely HAVE to have a remote for the amp. I had no idea there was such a difference in music but Techno and some other stuff has a massive base line and you need the remote to tone it down (unless that's what you want). Took me a while to find a good gain setting on the amp with the remote knob in the middle so I could adjust as needed. Once you get the cover back on it's the only easy way to change subwoofer settings. Yes, you can go into the head unit menus but that is painful for quick changes. 3) A subwoofer makes a noticible difference, but it still doesn't make the car audio perfect. There is just a lot of ambient noise in car. I hate to say it: you would probably get more mileage out of sound deadener than stereo mods. Incidentally, the car does sound great parked in my garage.. but that's not the point. 4) some of the issues with stereo are not due to lack of subwoofer. The car needs a few more speakers in rear. Rossion does not do that as a routine install, but Bigwilly has that and I suspect you get more of a 'surround sound' effect than just the music coming from the front speakers.

    All in all, a fun project that does work well and I pulled it off pretty cheap. It does give the concert hall type bass effect but doesn't radically make the stereo sound better. Then again, it's just a subwoofer- not sure why I was hoping for a broader response. I do have some sound deadener and it does sound reasonable at this point so I am going to quit screwing with it. Plus- it's a Rossion, not a Lexus.. at some point I have to realize what I am driving

    Hope this helps!
    Last edited by esrandl; 06-09-2012 at 06:10 PM.

  8. #8
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    Yeah Lexus can only dream of a car that drives like this...

    But their stereos are indeed nicer

  9. #9
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    It looks great. I wish I would have tried for a smaller enclosure. just to give myself a little more room for storage.

  10. #10
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    Esrandl, so do you think you would have been just as pleased if you had added some mid range speakers behind the driver's seat, as opposed to a subwoofer?

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