April 2006 I did get the amp rack built and actually installed in the
car by early May. It came together pretty well with only a couple of
"hiccups". All the wood is 5/8" MDF.
- The first pic is the cardboard template for
the cover to establish how much space I actually could use.
Next is the puzzle pieces
:) I actually had to remake the bottom amp "shelf" after discovering
that it put the amp to close to the floor and the RCA cables wouldn't
fit. That's why I dry assembled and did another test fit. I routered
notches in both shelves for the cables. The piece on the right of the
rack doubles as a mount to the car and for the power/ground distribution
blocks. Only one extra hole was drilled for this mount. The odd bracket
on the left side was created to utilize an existing hole.
Once I got the fit right I
drilled the cooling holes in the rack sides (reasonably lined up the
Audiobahn's fan exhaust). Then it was assembled and screwed together
using Liquid Nails glue for extra strength. After one more test fit with
both amps installed it was ready for painting. I used a primer/sealer
first then 2 coats of Zolotone (trunk paint). The blue streaks were
added for a little color and match the amps blue lighting. The outer
sides and block mount were then painted black then the whole rack was
Now that the rack is done
it was time to build the cover. I had the template which I test fit
again with the rack installed in the car. Once I was happy with the
basic fit I cut it out of the MDF. The strip on top was required to fill
a slight gap. I spent a lot of time getting the fit just right. It took
much recutting, filing and sanding to get it the way I wanted it. I got
the fit right and then drilled the cooling holes and cut the amp
access/viewing window (which also lightened it by about 1 LB). I was
going to install a piece of plexi but clearances and simplicity changed
my mind. I made an access panel out of a piece of pegboard instead. I
figured it would help with cooling too. The cover is attached to the
rack with four screws threaded into nutserts in the rack.
Next up was carpeting the
cover with matching trunk type material. I took my time and even with
the many curves and sharp corners it came out tight and smooth. The thin
unbacked material is very easy to work with. The access panel was
covered in the same carpet and fits flush into a routered recess. It's
held on with thin strips of the hook side of velcro glued to the access
Over the next few weeks
(in between work and other projects) I ran the 4AWG KnuKonceptz power
and ground cables and installed the inline fuse holder. I also was able
to fabricate the brackets for the Clarion Subwoofer and install it.
After mounting the KnuKonceptz distribution blocks on the rack I ran the
cables (KnuKonceptz of course) from them to the amps.
Memorial day 2006. I
decided to take the long weekend to rip out the interior and at least
run speaker and signal wires. Hopefully I can get the Bass Shakers
installed and the front Orions.
Well, I not only ran
all the wiring I got the whole system all installed and fully
functional. Planning helps!
With the amps mounted
in the rack I set it in the trunk and one by one ran all the front
speaker and signal (RCA) cables to their intended termination point.
I ran the signal cables up through the center console and the
speaker wires down each side of the tunnel. The Orion crossovers for
the front speakers are mounted to the inside of the front console
"wall". I then ran the two sets of wire through the factory door
conduit to the Orion C63's.
The factory speakers
are molded with the speaker mount/baffle so I had to fabricate some
new ones to mount the Orions in. I just used the factory shape for
aq pattern and cut new ones out of 1/2" MDF. With a slight recess in
the mount holes I was able to use the original bolts. Tee nuts hold
the speakers to the MDF mount and a foam baffle keeps the speaker
dry as well as helping the bass. Aluminum faced sound deadener was
used on the door metal. The Orions have pivoting tweeters so they
were aimed toward the center of the car. Since the speakers are
mounted very low in the doors it's not as good as separate tweets
mounted higher but it works.
The Bass Shaker Pro's
were mounted to the bottom of each front seat. It is better to mount
them to the floor but I didn't want to drill holes through the
floor. Very hard to "fix" if the Shaker's were ever removed. I did
have to "massage" the seat pan a little to make them fit flat
though. You do feel the bass quite well! I will install a remote
Bass Knob on the A2002T to adjust the Shaker's bass.
The rear Orions are
mounted directly into the rear deck metal in the same type of foam
baffle as the front speakers. Their tweeters were also aimed toward
the center. The crossovers are mounted on the trunk bulkhead just
forward of the speakers. Sound deadener was used on both sides of
the rear deck as the Clarion SRV303 powered sub is mounted to the
underside between the speakers. Speaking of the Clarion, it puts out
decent bass but it needs the Bass Shaker augmentation. The whole
system sounds clean with defined bass but is definitely not a
"thumper" system! I may have to come up with a way to get a real sub
in there somewhere. Maybe a 10" Image Dynamics in a custom
fiberglass enclosure in the right side corner of the trunk!
The four channel
KnuKonceptz cables were run up to the Navone N-774V four channel
Line Output Converter. It's zip tied to the console bracketing. The
other side of the converter was wired between a Metra OEM radio
harness and vehicle harness to the OEM radio and indash changer.
Using both harnesses allows keeping the factory radio wiring while
be able to wire the speaker leads to the LOC. No cutting or splicing
of the factory wiring was required so it can be put back to stock if
needed (but who wants that!). All this wiring was soldered.
With everything wired
up and installed all that was left was tuning. All gains were
adjusted starting with the LOC then the amps. When all sounded good
I mounted the amp rack back into the car and installed the cover.
The whole system looks and sounds great and I did get it done well
before my wife's birthday.
We took the Camry on a
short vacation to the Napa Valley (for her birthday!) and I got to
listen to the system for an extended period and over a wide range of
music. I even tried the MP3 player through the cassette adapter and
it even sounded quite good. It was quite hot that week but even with
the trunk packed I observed no amp overheating problems or any other
glitches. I also have observed no noise problems so my grounds are
solid and all wiring is routed well. I'm sure the use of twisted
pair wiring helps as well.
So with good planning,
use of quality components and a realistic idea of the outcome I
achieved my goal, A good quality sounding audio system. My wife is
happy with it as well.
That said, with a
speaker upgrade using separates in the front and a real subwoofer...
Nah, I better just go on to my next audio project in the Dak.
Well, I couldn't leave
it alone. The Orion's just didn't sound right to me. I thought the 3
ohm VC's would be cool because it effectively gave me more power to
the speakers. That worked but they just didn't sound clean enough.
Plus bringing the high soundstage up would be better.
I found some JBL 9602
6x9 coaxial's on craigslist to kind of match the P632 6.5"
components I had and wanted to put in the Camry (they were
originally purchased for my F150 upgrade). This way the main
speakers are all 4 ohm now and all JBL as well.
The 9602's in the rear
were just a drop in replacement. Luckily the wiring from the amp to
the Orion crossovers was long enough. I did end up making a adapter
plate out of 1/2" MDF to match the factory speaker holes. It gave me
a little more height too as the JBL's were a little shallower than
I pulled one of the
inner mirror covers off and measured out where the tweets would fit.
I wanted do it without hacking too much of the cover while still
getting decent placement. Since they swivel it wasn't too critical.
I did have to move them fairly far forward to clear the mounting nut
for the mirror. On the cover, once I cut away some of the "bracing"
I whipped out the hole saw and popped the tweets in. The stock JBL
wiring on the tweeter was just long enough to mate up to the
original Knu Koncepts wiring I ran to the Orions. I was being lazy
and didn't want to run all new wire just to the tweets :)
Once that was done I
popped in the JBL mids. Just a simple swap. The JBL crossovers went
in the same place as the Orion crossovers.
The initial fire up of
the new speaker setup sounded pretty good. After a little amp
tweaking they sound much better than the Orions ever did. Even
though they're only 4 ohm it's loud enough. I knew it was right when
my wife (her car after all) noticed the difference in sound and said
it sounds much better.
I also finally found a
gain control knob that works with the Audiobahn amp for the sub
system. Right now it just tweaks the Bass Shakers but a change is
coming in the sub system too.
That change is an
Earthquake SWS-8 8" shallow mount subwoofer (e-bay of course!). Now
I need to build a box for it. It'll mount to the same mounts the
Clarion is mounted to now. Stay tuned!
Just for grins I threw
a 12" Image Dynamics in my test box and wired up in the trunk.
Without the Bass Shakers wired it sounded sweet and it wasn't even a
tuned box. Couldn't talk the wife into it though :(
Got the new small sub
box installed. Constructed with 5/8 MDF. I could have used 1/2 for
more volume but I had 5/8 in my "stock". Outside dims are 14.5 x 9 x 3.375
and volume is about .10 cu ft not including sub displacement. You
can see it's stuffed full of cotton batting. It's actually slightly
bigger than Earthquake's recommended size of .07 cu ft so I guess
I'm good with my box. Since it's pretty much
hidden I opted for not painting the MDF grill black before
stretching the grill cloth over. The grill pops
on with home audio style grill mounts. Holds on tight so far.
Tri-moded with the Bass Shakers it sounds much better and has much
more bass than with the Clarion powered subwoofer.
I think the system is