LAMBORGHINI GALLARDO AUDIO UPGRADE

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_single_image image=”4142″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” onclick=”link_image”][vc_column_text]The Lamborghini Gallardo has seen a lot of changes since 2004. It has had the front and rear fascias updated twice, a convertible option, new engines, and more than a dozen special editions. One area that hasn’t seen much improvement is the audio system. The audio system uses the navigation system and speakers taken from Audi A4 from the early 2000’s. Many Lamborghini owners upgrade the sound system, and this one was no exception. The car was delivered to us even before the owner got the chance to drive it himself. We decided to keep the stock radio intact (but added Bluetooth) and stick to upgrading the sound.[/vc_column_text][vc_separator color=”custom” style=”solid” gap=”tall”][vc_column_text]Step one: get those doors off. The factory speakers are an oddly shaped 6.5″ woofer and half inch tweeter. In order to properly mount our speaker, a Hertz Mille 6.5″ woofer, we first have to machine this adapter out of 1.2″ ABS plastic. In the humid climate of Florida, wooden spacers simply won’t do. The second picture is the Hertz ML1600 woofer is the flagship speaker in the audison/Hertz family. It plays low enough to impersonate a subwoofer, and loud enough to make you think there are three drivers in the door.[/vc_column_text][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”4144″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” onclick=”link_image”][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”4146″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” onclick=”link_image” label=””][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][vc_separator color=”custom” style=”solid” gap=”tall”][vc_column_text]Next on the list, the tweeters. The stock location, behind the door handle, is bad enough but the opening will only allow for a half inch tweeter. The Hertz ML280 tweeter is 28mm, or 1 1/8″ wide. Trying to fit the tweeter in the stock location would be a mess, and would choke the output.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”4147″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” onclick=”link_image” label=””][vc_separator color=”custom” style=”solid” gap=”tall”][vc_column_text]Instead we opted to replace the defroster vents for the quarter windows and the Hertz tweeter is a perfect fit.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”4148″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” onclick=”link_image” label=””][vc_separator color=”custom” style=”solid” gap=”tall”][vc_column_text]Sound processor. The audison BitTenD processor allows complete digital control over EQ, crossovers, time alignment and speaker levels. The Processor is tucked away under the bonnet, but the controls are easily accessed in this panel we made between the sun visors.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”4149″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” onclick=”link_image” label=””][vc_separator color=”custom” style=”solid” gap=”tall”][vc_column_text]This owner previously drove a Murcielago which had rear speakers as well. When you drive with the top down, every little bit helps. We stripped the leather off the rear firewall of the car to prepare to add rear speakers.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”4150″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” onclick=”link_image” label=””][vc_separator color=”custom” style=”solid” gap=”tall”][vc_column_text]We created a template for a pair of Hertz Hi-Energy HL70 3″ midrange speakers and a new cabin light. This piece was bonded and smoothed into the original panel.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”4151″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” onclick=”link_image” label=””][vc_separator color=”custom” style=”solid” gap=”tall”][vc_column_text]Some quick stitch work and the panel is back in the car. A removable grille covers the speakers, and the purple LEDs below light up the cabin, along with other LEDs in the bonnet and under the dash.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”4152″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” onclick=”link_image” label=””][vc_separator color=”custom” style=”solid” gap=”tall”][vc_column_text]Subwoofer. The passenger foot well area is a large cavity that is also home to the fuse box, ECU and SiriusXM tuner. It takes a couple hours, but we relocate all of those items (without cutting a single wire) into the top of the dash so we have room for the subwoofer.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”4153″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” onclick=”link_image” label=””][vc_separator color=”custom” style=”solid” gap=”tall”][vc_column_text]The area is taped off and a fiberglass mold is taken from the floor.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”4154″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” onclick=”link_image” label=””][vc_separator color=”custom” style=”solid” gap=”tall”][vc_column_text]The rest of the enclosure is finished outside the vehicle, and the Audiomobile Elite 8″ is ready for installation. 8″ may not seem like much, but it is one of the few subwoofers that can fit in this tight spot and handle 750w from the amplifier.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”4155″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” onclick=”link_image” label=””][vc_separator color=”custom” style=”solid” gap=”tall”][vc_column_text]Finally, the amp rack. As a surprise for the owner, we had the amp color matched and airbrushed. We decided to use the tribal style bull logo Lamborghini used in the 80’s. Normally the amplifier is a solid black, but this makes it much more interesting.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”4156″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” onclick=”link_image” label=””][vc_separator color=”custom” style=”solid” gap=”tall”][vc_column_text]Fitment in the bonnet is tight, but the amp is secure and we fabricated this trim panel to conceal the wiring.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”4157″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” onclick=”link_image” label=””][vc_separator color=”custom” style=”solid” gap=”tall”][vc_column_text]The trim is wrapped to match the interior, and also hides a string of purple LEDs that light up the amp whenever the bonnet is opened.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”4158″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” onclick=”link_image” label=””][/vc_column][/vc_row]

2013 VOLKSWAGEN JETTA AUDIO SYSTEM (PT 2)

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_separator][vc_column_text]2013 Volkswagen JettaWith the door speakers installed, it’s time to move on to the trunk. The enclosure for the Hertz subwoofer will take shape in the left side trim panel of the trunk. To prevent accidental damage to the vehicle, the trim panel is removed from the car, and temporary stilts are made to keep it’s shape on the table. The entire surface of the panel is covered in 3M high quality masking tape, and a few coats of mold release wax are applied. A Sharpie line marks the outside boundaries of the area we want to capture.[/vc_column_text][ultimate_spacer height=”10″][vc_separator][ultimate_spacer height=”10″][vc_column_text]2013 Volkswagen JettaFiberglass mat and resin are applied, over and over. For the subwoofer and the power it will receive, we need to build up a layer at least 3/16″ all over. Before taping the panel, we temporarily added 1.5″ to the floor of the panel and then taped over it. When the enclosure is removed, it will hover 1.5″ above the floor of the car so that the factory trunk mats can be reinstalled without modifications. When building enclosures like this, we also add a black pigment to the fiberglass resin so that if it ever needs service in the future, the enclosure will have a clean, uniform appearance.[/vc_column_text][vc_separator][vc_column_text]2013 Volkswagen JettaWith the back half of the enclosure removed, the front is built from 3/4″ MDF and attached. The seam between the wood and fiberglass form is sealed and reinforced with our own custom mix of chemicals we call “The concoction.” The trim panel is back in the car, and the enclosure is temporarily held in place with the telescoping rod. With fiberglass molds, there is always some shrinkage. We pack filler into the small gaps between the trim panel and enclosure for a perfect fit.[/vc_column_text][ultimate_spacer height=”10″][vc_separator css=”.vc_custom_1454975573068{margin-top: 5px !important;}”][vc_column_text]2013 Volkswagen Jetta

The enclosure is wrapped in matching carpet and bolted in place. We machined this grille from wood, plastic, aluminum and steel. The colors and design mimic the factory tweeter locations on the front pillars of the Jetta. A thin 1/8″ ring of polished aluminum around the grille shape really makes it unique. The grille is securely attached with a set of hidden plastic snaps, and is also easily serviced by prying off the entire grille cover. The red glow comes from the new trunk lighting. The original light was replaced with a pair of very bright red LED bulbs.[/vc_column_text][ultimate_spacer height=”10″][vc_separator][ultimate_spacer height=”10″][vc_column_text]2013 Volkswagen JettaThe power for the system comes from this Arc KS300.4 amplifier. Arc amplifiers are the choice of many professionals who compete in the sound quality arena. Next to the amp are the passive crossovers for the Hertz Mille components in the front doors. Everything is attached to a fully welded steel rack we built, which will bolt into the top of the trunk for easy service. In this picture, all of the components are prewired, leaving just a clean pig tail of wires that come out the side and quickly disappear behind the carpet on the side of the trunk.[/vc_column_text][ultimate_spacer height=”10″][vc_separator][ultimate_spacer height=”10″][vc_column_text]2013 Volkswagen Jetta[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

2013 VOLKSWAGEN JETTA AUDIO SYSTEM (PT 1)

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_separator][vc_column_text]2013 Volkswagen Jetta

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2013 Volkswagen Jetta

2013 Volkswagen Jetta

2013 Volkswagen Jetta

2013 Volkswagen Jetta[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]The first step in one of our custom installations is prepping the vehicle. Areas of the car that will see a lot of traffic, like the back bumper, seats, running boards, etc. are covered in tape or plastic sheeting to protect them during the entire installation. We use these wire carts to organize the equipment going into the car, and the parts coming out during installation.

2013 Volkswagen JettaWhen taking on a specific car for the first time, it is important to analyze the audio signals from the factory radio to ensure they will be suitable for aftermarket components. Most cars use some form of built-in EQ to make up for the shortcomings of the factory speakers. When the rest of the equipment is upgraded, the EQ curve is still there and can make the new gear sound even worse. This AudioControl RTA is listening to the audio signal between the radio and factory amplifier. The response after the factory amplifier has a heavy EQ curve, but as you can see to the left, the response out of the radio is flat. This is ideal for our purposes.

2013 Volkswagen JettaNow that we have found a level audio signal, it is time to see how strong it is. Playing a 1 KHz tone through the system and listening on the wires with an oscilloscope shows how strong the signal is, in volts. It also shows clipping-when the audio begins to distort-which in this vehicle is never. On a clean signal, the maximum volume level has no distortion. At the maximum level, it also has 4v of output, comparable to a high quality aftermarket radio.

2013 Volkswagen JettaThis Jetta was built with the “Fender” audio system, Volkswagen’s premium audio system. The speakers are completely different drivers than normally found in the Jetta. In the doors are dual voice coil 6.5″ mids that are riveted in place in classic VW fashion. What is different is these speakers also have a slimy layer of butyl rubber to give them a good seal. To remove the speakers, the rivets need to be carefully drilled out and the speaker pryed from the panel. The speaker has the mounting flange near the back of the speaker, so it sticks out about an inch from the panel.

2013 Volkswagen JettaWith the factory speaker removed, we cover the metal surface behind the speaker with Black Hole tiles. These thick brownie like squares disperse the back wave of the speaker to eliminate vibrations in the outside skin of the vehicle. We have removed all of the factory rubber slime on the back of the speaker, but and will use our own butyl rubber to seal the speaker to the door panel.

2013 Volkswagen JettaTo mount the new Hertz speakers, we machine spacers out of layers of ABS plastic laminated together. The rings are covered with a layer of butyl rubber to seal them and bolted through the original four holes. Then mounting holes for the Hertz speakers are drilled and tapped into the plastic. Finally, a set of hex head machine screws hold the speaker tightly. Finally, a ring of open cell foam is adhered to the front of the speaker, so the entire front side of the cone is sealed through the factory grille opening. This way, none of the sound is wasted in the space between the speaker and the door panel. It may not seem like much sound would be lost in there, but in a A/B comparison, the loss is significantly noticeable.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

BMW 540I (E39) SUBWOOFER ENCLOSURE

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Here is a quick look at our process for building a custom composite enclosure for a BMW 5-Series sedan. In this installation, we have made the most from wasted space, while still maintaining the original functionality of the car. The last part is very important to our process. What we do needs to sound good, and look good, but that is not enough. It still needs to be serviced by mechanics, and our enclosure covers the access to the car’s battery. When completed, just like the original trim, our enclosure is hinged at the bottom to allow full access to the battery and other electronics in the rear fender. The subwoofer never needs to be disconnected or removed to do it.

Let’s take a look at how we do it:

BMW 540 Sedan

This is the passenger side of the trunk, as it came from BMW. This space is not particularly useful for storage, but will make a perfect enclosure for our Focal subwoofer.

BMW E39 sedan

 

We could have wasted a lot of time recreating this exact shape out of wood, plastics or fiberglass, but the original panel already fits perfectly. We do not always modify original car panels, but very often in an older car like this, there is no reason to put it back to stock later. First we built up the forward edge with MDF, and then coated the entire inside with several layers of fiberglass mat and resin. The original carpet on this panel is polyester based, so our fiberglass will chemically bond with it, and in a short time this piece is incredibly strong.

BMW 5-Series

The way we layup the front is a bit of a trade secret. The technique is revolutionary, and yet so simple. If you want to learn it all, you will need to attend one of our boot camp classes at the store or through Mobile Solutions USA. I will give you a couple hints: 1. This is one piece 2. It comes right back off the enclosure 3. No fleece. I don’t keep a lot of secrets on how we build things, but the man who developed this technique makes his living by teaching others how to do it, and I respect his wishes not to give away the technique.

BMW E39

Once the fiberglass layer has cured, it is removed and trimmed with an air saw. This is probably the most dangerous part. Not the saw, it will barely cut skin, but the dust. Fiberglass dust from trimming these solid panels is like breathing in microscopic razor blades. We always wear face masks for this portion of the procedure. Next a series of 3 MDF speaker rings are laminated together and attached to the panel. First they are attached with CA glue just to keep it in place until the following layer cures. The green you see is a long strand fiberglass and body filler mix that dries extremely rigid. The top two MDF layers are enough to let the subwoofer pass all the way though, where it will sit and attach to the third. This will countersink the woofer 1.5″ inside the face of the enclosure, which will make more sense on the next step.

Alright, I didn’t get a picture of the next step. Here is what happens: We attach the two halves of the enclosure. This is done by covering the lip of the back half with a generous layer of the long strand filler. Then the two halves are clamped together until cured. Any material the oozed out the edges is sanded down and the enclosure is ready for upholstery.

BMW Sub Enclosure

 

Here is our enclosure installed in the car. The reason we recessed the woofer so far in was to make this grille insert. The grille is made from two MDF rings wrapped in black vinyl, with a piece of aluminum mesh sandwiched between them. By understanding the thickness of each upholstery material before we started, the rings are machined so well that the grille stays in place without fasteners. We will cover that topic in another post.

All of the raw materials used here to create this enclosure are available in our online store. Just click “Online Store” at the top right of this page.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

JEEP GRAND CHEROKEE SUBWOOFER ENCLOSURE

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Building a subwoofer into an SUV can be a bigger challenge than it looks. Most of them are full of wide open space, but the real trick to a professional installation is to add the bass response the client needs while retaining as much of that storage space as possible. In this case we utilized the storage compartment underneath the driver seat. There is a deep dish compartment under each side, but the passenger side was occupied with the car’s battery. Instead of building a big block that gets into the way of rear storage, we used up this dead space.

The first step was removing the plastic dish under the seat. This opened up a much larger area, and by using only wood we were able to capture .6 cubic feet of air space. We could have gotten more with a fiberglass mold and installed a 10″ subwoofer, but that would put this install over budget and behind schedule. The enclosure was sealed air tight, sharp corners rounded over as we always do, and wrapped in matching OEM style carpet. The subwoofer of choice here was the Kenwood eXcelon shallow 8″ subwoofer.

You are probably thinking an 8″ sub won’t cut it in an SUV… not the case this time. This 8″ Kenwood really delivers with only 250 watts of power going to it. In fact, we had to back the bass down quite a bit because of all the rattles in the truck. The dome lights were doing the Harlem Shake and the sunglass holder had to be coated with a layer of sound damping to control vibrations.

In the end, we had another satisfied client who had the sound she wanted, and only gave up a little bit of dead space she didn’t know was there to begin with.

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LEXUS ES300 – IPAD MINI INSTALLATION

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]SRQ Custom Autosound is Florida’s expert in integrating iPad’s into vehicles of all kinds. This time we have taken on a Lexus ES300 and placed the new iPad Mini in the dash. We can’t give you all our secrets, but we can show you how our process happens.

Then the vehicle first came to us, it had a new Pioneer AVH-P1500DVD as the source unit. This unit is not ideal for iPad integration, but we were able to add Bluetooth functionality to it so our client would not have to purchase a new unit. Here is how the car looked when we got started:

Lexus ES300 iPad Mini

 

The first steps were adding the Bluetooth, in this case an iSimple interface that translates Bluetooth audio into the AUX input on the back of the radio. Also, we needed to create the depth needed for the iPad Mini, while retaining the radio. Luckily we were able to remount the radio 1.5″ further into the dash using the factory Lexus brackets and not have to modify the A/C box behind it. Once everything was secured in place, it is time for us to fabricate the trim around the radio and what will cradle the iPad Mini.

Lexus ES300 iPad Mini

Using MDF, we started with this base plate that frames out the radio and relocated hazard switch. The client said we could lose the hazard switch if we wanted, but at SRQ Custom Autosound it is important to us not to lose any functionality of the car whenever possible. This trim is slowly built up with precision cut layers until we have a single piece that frames the radio and cradles the iPad. The iPad Mini is held into this cradle using a dozen magnets concealed in the top of the frame. The iPad Mini can be easily removed using the finger groove on the right side. You can faintly see the circles where three more magnets are embedded that will secure the trim around the iPad Mini.

Lexus ES300 iPad Mini

Lexus ES300 iPad Mini

Now all that is left is the trim that will frame out the iPad Mini and help keep in locked in place. This trim is machined from a piece of 1/4″ PVC. PVC is an excellent choice for this application. It is more durable than wood, less surface imperfections than ABS plastic, and bonds easily with the glue that locks the magnets into the back side. PVC does create a very sharp edge when machined, so we use a 1/16″ radius router bit to make all the edges safe to handle. The trim is secured in place with three magnets matching the three in the trim around the radio. Grabbing this plastic frame in the corner without a magnet allows it to come out easily.

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MASERATI GRAN TURISMO – IPAD INSTALLATION

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]We weren’t the first group to install an iPad in a car, but I will wager we were the first to do it in a 2013 Maserati Gran Turismo C. It takes a lot of guts to tear into a car this new and valuable to try something no one has done before. It also takes a lot of faith on the part of our client, a local dentist who has trusted us to customize his rides for nearly a decade.

This installation is special for another reason: this is the first documented installation using the new iPad Mini kit from Mobile Solutions. If you have read our blog, you have seen that Mobile Solutions, and it’s president Bryan Schmitt are the premier fabrication training facility in the US. We are lucky enough to host Schmitt annually to train our technicians and others from Florida’s top shops in the latest tools and techniques. Mobile Solutions designed this universal iPad Mini kit as a time saving solution for technicians to quickly and accurately integrate the iPad into a variety of applications.

The iPad Mini kit is made from several layers of CNC machined PVC with embedded magnets. The magnets are strong enough to hold the iPad at any angle, and automatically align the cover piece when it gets close to the cradle. The thick border around the iPad can be easily machined as needed for a proper fit in any application. Many technicians are used to working with ABS plastic, but PVC machines easier and will bond with a wider range of materials easier than ABS. I encourage any technicians or do-it-yourself guys to check our Mobile Solutions if you plan to install an iPad Mini.

Now on to how we integrated this kit into the new Maserati. The first step is removing the factory dash from the vehicle. Although the radio is designed to slide right out the front of the dash in seconds, removal of the LCD screen above it was not so easy. Every piece of the dash, from the wood grain, glove box, switches, even the plastic around the steering wheel, had to be removed first before the center portion containing the LCD screen could be removed. This process was nearly two hours, and as always every piece and fastener we removed was cataloged in a plastic bin so that later everything would go back in it’s place.

Maserati iPad Dash

A long night of dash disassembly

With the dash removed, two important questions are left: “How to secure the iPad?” and “How to integrate the audio?” We will start with integrating the audio. The factory radio in the Maserati has no display on the front, information is shown on the instrument cluster and on the LCD above it. The important controls for the radio are also available on the steering wheel. To us, that means we can relocate the radio inside the dash and run the controls from the steering wheel. There was one important feature that was not present on the wheel, the button that switches the radio from AM/FM to Sirius. To overcome that, we soldered to the circuit board inside the factory radio and created another button on the back side of the steering wheel to accomplish this.

The factory radio also has a 3.5mm auxiliary jack in the glove box. By tracing the wires to the back of the factory radio, we were able to wire our own audio cable directly into the factory radio. We also added a high powered charger with Apple’s Lightning connector to keep the battery in the iPad fully charged.

Now for fabrication. The iPad Mini kit is almost a perfect fit for this dash right away. Using our table router, the kit is shaped little by little until it slips into the factory opening easily. The edges are sanded, the dash is taped up and the gaps are filled with body filler. A little finish sanding and this piece is ready for paint. To secure the cradle to the dash, we built mounting tabs from other pieces of PVC and bonded them to the cradle. Finally the cradle was painted with House of Kolor’s Hot Rod Black and reinstalled. I wrapped up the fabrication in a paragraph because it was really that quick for us. The fabrication was only 10% of the time spent on this installation because the kit from Mobile Solutions made it that easy.

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BUICK GRAND NATIONAL TRANSFORMATION

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]The Buick Grand National is a unique vehicle. Only available for a short time in very limited numbers, the Grand National is easily recognizable and very valuable almost 30 years since it hit the streets. This car is a very desirable example, made in the last year of production, and in excellent condition. The vehicle was previously owned by our neighbors at S/S Motorsports, who tripled the horsepower and added many upgrades to the body and suspension to handle the power. The new owner fell in love with the car right away, with everything except the sound system.

Most Regal’s of this time came with the same audio options: a pair of 3.5″ speakers in the dash, and a pair of 4×10″ speakers in the rear. Those have to be some of the worst choices for quality sound ever. This car had the rare “Concert Sound II” option which added a set of 4″ speakers to the doors. With almost all of the audio systems we design, it is important to us and the client that the original look of the car is not lost is a sea of electronics and speakers. Obviously we have to make changes, but those changes should reflect the lines and style of the car they are in.

Our first step was removing the old equipment and seeing what room we had to work with. The radio was easy, with the factory cassette player yanked in favor of Sony’s top-of-the-line mechless headunit. This piece does not have a built in CD player, instead the operator inserts their phone or other USB device into the front of the radio. As CD’s begin to go the way of the cassette tape, these unit will continue to increase in popularity. You can also see the two gauges added by S/S Motorsports when they upgraded the engine.

To upgrade the door speakers, another set of 4″ speakers simply wouldn’t do. The largest speaker we could fit without cutting into the original plastic door panels was a 5×7″. The extra length of the speaker did pose a problem for the original Concert Sound II grilles. We carefully removed the badges and carpet wrapping, and rebuilt the grilles to fit the Focal 5×7″ speakers. Then the grilles were wrapped in the same carpet and the Concert Sound II badge was reattached. Only a true critic of this classic would be able to tell that these grilles are 3″ longer than normal. The 4×10″ speakers in the rear were completely rotten from age. Our original hope was to install a pair of 6×9″ speakers in their place, but that would have either caused us to modify the drip rail of the trunk lid or not create a tight seal on the speaker. Neither of those were acceptable options for us. Without a tight seal between the front and rear of the speaker, the bass frequencies from the back side work their way around and cancel out the bass coming from the front side. Instead, we installed another set of Focal 5×7″ speakers that, with a little help from Stinger RoadKill, sealed tightly to the car without cutting of the chassis.

For amplification, the 5-channel HDP5 from Hertz was a great choice. The tiny footprint (smaller than a sheet of paper) and huge power output of 900 watts was just what we needed. The subwoofers are also from Hertz. Then Energy line of subwoofers allowed our client to enjoy the bass the way it should be, without overpowering the system. Then enclosure is a sealed design, using multiple layers on the front baffle to give it dimension. The amplifier is flushed into the right side of the enclosure to conceal the wiring. As always, we covered the trim in matching materials, and for an extra effect, we fabricated thin rings wrapped in black vinyl that cover the mounting screws on the subwoofers.

The finishing touch was when the client told us he wished these cars were available with cup holders. We fabricated this two-tone solution that attaches solidly to the car and fits the lines and colors.

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MORE THAN JUST AUDIO: NISSAN 370Z

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]We get asked all the time, “What else do you do here?” It is often tough to give a response to this question, because there are so many other things we offer at SRQ Custom Autosound than car audio. You may already know that we offer full in house upholstery service, but there is much more. This Nissan 370z is an excellent example of some of the restyling we can perform on your vehicle. Of course we also installed a top shelf audio system in this Nissan 370z, and we will cover that as well.

Like many of our new clients, this one came to us after having a terrible experience from another store. They attempted many of the same style changes that we executed, but the quality of their workmanship was not up to par. Luckily for everyone the other store was able to strip off what they had done and refund our client, so we could start with a blank canvas. Our clients original goal was to spice up the exterior of the car with some carbon fiber accents. Originally this included the roof, emblems, and pillars behind the doors. The other store that attempted this had jagged cut marks, wrinkles and bubbles. We took our time over an eight hour day and got every detail just right.

Nissan 370z

Roof and antenna wrapped in carbon fiber print

Nissan 370z

Upper part of grille wrapped in carbon fiber print

Nissan 370z

Rear diffuser wrapped in carbon fiber print

During the other store’s attempt to wrap the roof, they tried to wrap the roof and the antenna without removing the antenna. This had a tragic result. We took the time to remove the entire top half of the car’s interior so that we could properly remove the antenna and then wrap the two pieces separately. While we had the interior apart, we also wrapped the headliner and sun visors in black suede. We found several panels on the inside of the car that could also benefit from some carbon fiber accents.

Nissan 370z

Center console accented with carbon fiber print

Nissan 370z

Window switch panels wrapped in carbon fiber print

 

Nissan 370z

Ring around shifter accented with carbon fiber print

 

 

 

 

 

Nissan 370z

Smoked tail lights with clear reverse lens

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While all of this was happening, we also took the time to smoke the factory tail lights, while leaving the reverse lens clear.

For audio upgrades, we replaced the stock radio with Pioneer’s flagship radio, the AVIC-Z140BH. The factory amplifier was removed and replaced with an Arc Audio KAR series that powers the Hertz Hi-Energy components up front and the JL Audio 13TW5 subwoofer in our custom made enclosure. In all, by the time this audio system was completed, we did not have to drill a single hole into the car, and only had to modify one little piece of plastic in the car. We are able to create an amazing audio experience and still be able to return this vehicle to stock when it is time to sell it. No one else in our area can do that.

Nissan 370z

The bottom half of the subwoofer enclosure.

Nissan 370z

Subwoofer enclosure for JL 13TW5

Nissan 370z

Bottom side of the subwoofer enclosure

Nissan 370z

JL Audio 13TW5 hidden in hatch floor

Nissan 370z

Factory carpets conceal subwoofer and amplifier

Nissan 370z

Dash and AC Controls wrapped in carbon fiber print

Nissan 370z

Amber LED lights in foot wells

 

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LABOR & LABOR : APPLES & ORANGES

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As a retailer, we are shopped daily for the best price on a particular product. We are often shopped for the best price on the installation of those products as well. I will demonstrate in this blog entry that unlike a Pioneer video headunit, all installations are not created the same. The subject of this comparison is a late model Mercedes Benz E55 AMG sedan. Our client originally had all of his equipment installed at another Sarasota retailer, and left satisfied. Why wouldn’t he? To be honest, when we got our hands on the vehicle, it sounded great.
The car has a Clarion headunit and Phoenix Gold speakers, amplifier and a pair of Rockford Fosgate 10″ subwoofers. Our store doesn’t sell any of that equipment, but it is still all good quality gear. The reason that we encountered this vehicle was because of a small problem after the installation. After getting the car back, the Airbag light was on in the dash, so the client took the car to have this fixed. The dealer was unable to clear the light, and that is when the concern came in. The dealer, who is familiar with our work and has complete trust in our ability, brought the car to us to see if we could find where the other retailer had caused this fault that would not go away.

After a quick look through the installation which seemed OK on the surface, we found numerous problems behind the scenes, and provided an estimate and redesign of the audio system. After seeing examples of our work and the testimony of the dealer, we began work on rebuilding the car. I have a soft spot for European cars and I really did not feel that the original installation lived up to the image of an AMG Mercedes. Without selling the client any new equipment, we changed everything else to make the car look better, sound better and work better.

Original amplifier installation

The first problem we found right away was the amplifier installation. With the car totally assembled, no one would know what is happening behind this trunk panel, but that doesn’t make it right. The amplifier is a Phoenix Gold 1300.5 5-channel amplifier that runs the speakers in all four doors and the subwoofers. In this case, the amplifier is screwed into the block of wood you see behind it with two screws and that is all. The block of wood is not mounted to anything, the whole thing is more of a wedge fit, I cannot imagine this is how Mercedes would have done it if they wanted an amp there. You can see a pair of noise filters dangling from the amplifier as well, which were only needed because the signal cables used on this installation are the cheapest wires on the market.

Original Fuse Holder

Whenever we add an amplifier to a vehicle, there is a fuse inline that protects the battery from explosion in case there is an accident where the battery cable becomes pinched. The rating on that fuse is important too. The fuse needs to be big enough to allow the power needed by the amp to flow through it, but not needlessly big that it will not serve its purpose in an accident. The Phoenix Gold amplifier is 1300 watts, and can easily consume 120 amps of electricity when played hard. The fuse in this installation was only 60 amps, which creates a bottleneck limited the current flow to the amp and its potential.

Here is a view of the package tray behind the back seat of the E55. This looks pretty good on the surface, and I have to say it is some of the best fabrication work I have seen from this retailer. However, some serious corners were cut during their installation that do not make this worthy of the vehicle. The surrounding panels in the car are all gray suede from the factory, but this new package tray panel is wrapped in black speaker box carpet. The suede panels that are on either side of the tray originally tuck into this tray, but those locations were covered over and the suede panels were simply smooshed to the side. All three of the headrests for the rear seat were permanently removed to fit the box for the two Rockford subs that is suspended from the package tray.

This is the view of the enclosure from the trunk. In principle this is a great way to funnel all of the sound from the subwoofers into the car and eliminate trunk rattle, but not with these subwoofers. This is typically done with shallow woofers so that the enclosure is only 2-3″ thick, this one hangs almost 9″ from the rear shelf, and makes it very difficult for storage. Again, the wrong color carpet is used to wrap the box and raw metal is exposed above the box.

Here is the body of their box separated from the package tray. It is also separating from itself. The numerous layers of wood that are stacked where the subwoofers were mounted were not glued to each other, only nailed. There were leaks between the layers, and anyone can see how sloppy the holes cut for the woofers are. This box with the subs weighed in over 60lbs, and was hung from the package tray by a dozen wood screws. The package tray is only a 1/4″ piece of wood, and would likely not survive the weight and vibrations forever.

This is the radio installation. Like many vehicles, the factory radio is ergonomically shaped to the dash and requires a mounting kit to make an aftermarket unit fit properly. This is the dash kit made by Best Kits, the same one we would use. Some parts of this kit were cut off, then glued back on, and there are several gouges from screwdrivers on the kit. It just looks terrible.

Here is our radio installation. We took this beaten and battered dash piece and brought it back to life. We also made it an exact fit to the Clarion radio with fiberglass filler, then applying a texture and repainting.

Here is the process where we created a new package tray for the E55. This one incorporates the Mercedes star as part of the grille over the subwoofers. We used aluminum mesh to match other accents in the vehicle, the correct AMG suede and finally the center piece of the trim is a charcoal acrylic shape that keeps the car looking classy and really pops. We also reshaped the sides of the tray so that the factory pillar covers now fit as they were intended by Mercedes.

You have to look closely to see the Phoenix Gold amplifier hiding in there, but it is. Bolted securely to the structure of the vehicle, the amplifier is easily accessible, but will no longer fall back and forth in the fender.

Finally, this is the view of the completed trunk. Our new enclosure for the subs is twice the size of their box, but because we made better use of the space available, almost the entire trunk is still usable. Also, the enclosure we built was first modeled using the best computer programs, something that allowed our enclosure to play 6 dB louder than their box. 6 dB is substantial, otherwise they would have to add six more subwoofers or 1500 watts of power to get that much more output. We were able to do it with physics and good planning.
This is not a unique example, we encounter a similar situation almost every week. Before you trust someone to put your vehicle under the knife, ask to see detailed examples of their work. We can show you this level of detail on over 100 vehicles, and no one else can. For 2011-2012, SRQ Custom Autosound was recognized as one of the top 50 car audio retailers in the nation. Owner Ryan Pepsin was also recognized as one of the top 15 installation technicians in the country.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]