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Car Audio Info Tricks Hints & Secrets To Great Sound!

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Take it from a guy who had a $3500+ Competition Stereo System in his car for 5+ years. Though $3500+ is not much for a car stereo system these days, back in 1995 through 2001, it was a big deal. Being only a 5 minute drive to the Crutchfield Store (Number one Car and Home Audio Store in the USA) I was able to get good deals from friends that work there (at store prices of course), and get quality products that were dependable. I had a stereo system that reached up to 154db. That would have been almost equaled to standing next to a jet engine, and that is no joke. Loud enough, that when at competitions, I needed to wear ear protection, and when in the car I could feel the air being sucked from my lungs. Friends have had nose bleeds due to the massive waves of air forcing through my car. I went through this new car of mine at the time, and sealed every floor board, firewall, hole nook and cranny with clear silicone caulk and added sound dampening material to it (called dynomat) which made my car almost like being away from everything when it was shut off because it was so quiet, and when it was on, it was like being right on stage next to the speakers feeling the air move with in the car. It was a huge rush. I could have gone louder, but did not want to risk blowing windows out of my car and having to replace them with Plexi Glass windows. I was able to jump not a penny, dime, nickel, or a quarter, but a Silver Dollar on the roof of my car almost a foot high, so with that much flex in my roof (WITH THE WINDOWS OPEN TO PREVENT BLOW OUT)and my headlights dimming from the power drain (even with the Cap) I could not afford to go louder, yet still winning commpetition after commpetition with room to grow. But it was not just about the Bass, it was about clean sound. Running a clean 1000 Watts from my Punch Amp to my Subs, and 800 Watts from a Kenwood Amp to my MB Quart and Boston Mids and Highs, it was fantastic clarity, and quality. You could not just hear my Bass from 5 blocks away, but you could also hear the words of the song as well, and feel the beats in your chest as if someone were punching you again and again, and that is some serious sound. I was running a Punch Amp (to full capacity), a Kenwood Amp (at mid capacity), 4 12 inch Bazooka Woofers in a custom box, Kenwood tweeters, and Boston and MB Quart Mids and Tweeters also. I had 2 guage wire with a 60 Amp Fuse under the hood, and a nice distribution block and cap in the back. I am one for clean, crisp, clear sound with absolutely no distortion. I can't deal with that distortion crap, not at all. I was raised to not allow it, and I will not let it be in any of my vehicles today. Since I have had my daughter, and have family cars, I have sold most of my stuff, and use some of the other stuff (woofers) for my home theater system which is something in itself. I still have my 2 Amps though and plan on using them again some day as I will never get close to what I paid for them and am not going to lose $ on them. Seriously though, if you are thinking about putting a system in your car, even a cheap system, CONSIDER EAR PLUGS as it is not a joke to what it can do to your hearing. Mine is partially bad, but not all the way, and I am thankful. You can still enjoy good clean sound at a respectful level of volume.

TIPS, TRICKS, AND HINTS TO GOOD SOUND:

1. Make sure you have a good clean ground. The best is to use a 3/8 Drill bit for metal, drill into your Spare Tire Well (avoiding the GAS TANK), and run a bolt (with a rounded head so it cant be taken off to easily)straight through a connector on your ground wire, and straight through your trunk, using 2 nuts to lock it in place. With a good clean hole, you will have no paint where you drilled, and have a very nice ground connection.

2. Be sure to run all of your wire before hooking up your Amps. Make sure and double check that you have not shorted any wires or cables by drilling through them, screwing through them, etc. ALWAYS hook to the battery last. The best way to do this is to hook up to the battery, hook up to your Amps, and connect the two by putting the fuse in to the inline fuse holder. This way if there are anyproblems, you will pop a fuse. Also there are now Breakers on the market. These are similar to your home breakers, and save money on fuses, since when the breaker trips, all you need to do is go under the hood and reset it. They are worth the extra $.

3. If possible, and you live in a bad area, bolt your speaker box down. Use the same technique as the ground wire, except take the speakers out of the box, drill through it into and through the trunk, and bolt down. Then replace your speakers, and instead of using regular screws, use Hex screws, or a different type (other than regular or philips) since most people that steal systems come prepared with screwdrivers. This may not prevent your box and speakers from being stolen, but will sure give them a hard time.

4. Mount your Amps out of sight (like under your front seats). Make sure there is PLENTY of ventilation, or if the Amps have fans, you will probably be good to go. Also use a difficult type of screw to mount these as well. If they are going to get stolen, they are going to get stolen and you can't prevent it, but you for sure want to give the thieves a hard time, and also reduce the chances of you becoming a victim, not to mention buy some time, and maybe be able to catch them in the act.

5. A buddy of mine did this, and it really looked cool. Never sport your stereo where you may end up leaving your car parked for a while (movie theater, grocery store, etc) as it advertises that you have money invested into a stereo system, and makes for a PRIME target. You can get a factory stereo that will fit your car at a junk yard really cheap. Take the plastic face and knobs off of it CAREFULLY, and glue the knobs to the face. Create some kind of a mounting plate that will be removeable so you can use your real stereo, and use this Factory Looking Face to make it look as if your stereo is still factory. Most people who steal stereos do not want a $35 or so factory stereo.

6. Get a Lightning Cap for your stereo system if it is over 200 total watts. Add up the total wattage of your Amps, and get a cap that is rated for higher than the total watts of your system. This will prevent you from having to buy an alternator for your vehicle in less than a year. A $150 Cap is better than a $150-$250 alternator and $30 an hour labor charge every year.

7. Home Theater In A Car! Sounds good right? Well it is, as long as you obey the laws. Never drive with a TV or DVD player playing a movie on a monitor up in the front seat area of your vehicle. First off it is Unsafe, and second, it is against the law. Only TV's in the back can be on while a vehicle is in motion. A TV can be on in the front area as long as the vehicle is stopped, in PARK, and has the EMERGENCY BRAKE ON! I don't make the laws, I just do as they say, and this is what they say. They may be slightly different state to state, but are pretty much the same when it comes to TV's in a vehicle.

8. And last but not least, NEVER play your system at a level where distortion is heard (jumbled words, fuzzy bass, etc) as this will shorten the life of your speakers dramatically. Subwoofers are for LOW BASS, Tweeters are for HIGHS, Mids are for Some BASS, and some HIGHS (but with no distortion) and Mid Bass is for MID BASS. Make sure you use the correct speakers for the desired sound. ALSO make sure you use the correct OHMS for your system. NEVER hook up 8 Ohm speakers to a factory stereo system (it is just stupid for one, and you will not get quality sound for another), Use only 4 Ohm for FACTORY STEREO SYSTEMS (this does not include systems with Amplifiers). Systems with Amplifiers can use 2 Ohm, 4 Ohm, 8 Ohm and so on, depending on what your Amplifier is rated and can handle, not to mention how you wire them (Series, Parallel, etc). If you follow these basic guidelines, you will have yourself a nice stereo system for years to come, and prevent damage to your EARS (Don't play it too loud), Car, and Stereo Speakers and components (Amps, Head Unit, Wire, Speakers, etc).

9. As for speaker placement. If you have a hatchback, place your box with subwoofers facing up towards the glass. That way you will het another 4db (which is a pretty large amount) gain, because the glass acts like a bandpass enclosure. If you have a trunk, face the speakers towards the brake lights. For some reason, subwoofers give off more sound when deflecting off of something, and if you do this (face them towards the brake lights) and have rear fold down seats, put them down, so you get the full sound. All my friends and I have NEVER had good sound with the speakers facing the front, but you are welcome to try anything you want. You never know, since all cars are different, and are being made better these days.

10. Wondering how to mount Subwoofers in a box? Well there are plenty of ways. You can do it the basic way, facing out. You can do it with the magnets on the outside of the box, and the speaker screwed to the box facing in (ported boxes only). Or you can have one speaker facing out, and another on top of that facing it, but have to wire one normally, and the other that is facing it must be wired backwards, so it moves with the speaker facing out, and not against it. It is harder to explain than to show, but your local stereo store can help you out. 4 speakers would be ideal for this with 2 on each side, but remember that there is chance for the speakers on the outside to get damaged since they are not able to be protected.

11. Also another little neat trick if money is tight, or you want to save trunk space for haulling your groceries (yeah right), is putting the subwoofer (best if it is 15 inch, which fits great diameter wise, but you must check the depth) in the spare tire well. Yes, you lose a spare tire, unless you put it in the back seat...LOL...but gain some bass. You will need an amp and everything for this, but you will not need to buy a box, which only really saves you about $50-200 depending on size, shape, etc. You use batting (the stuff you find in Walmart fabric area for stuffing pillows) to put in the well as a dampening material, either cut your trunk carpet (I suggest not to so you can sell the car later) or buy closely matching carpet and put that in place of your trunk carpet and glue it to the plywood for a clean looking installation, then mount the speaker to a peice of plywood and make sure it is 3 inches bigger around than the tire well so it does not slide all over well trying to mount it. Now put the speaker in the well facing up (making sure you wired it already) put about 2-4 drywall screws in to keep it in place (drywall screws work the BEST when screwing ANYTHING to the metal of your car. They go in almost instantly! Now run a bead of clear silicone around it, wait for it to dry, and crank it up. If this is your first install, it is best to try it out before you put the silicone on to make sure all your connections are correct. I hope I was of some help, and was able to provide you with some info you may have been looking for. I will be adding more later on, so keep checking back. Good luck, and be safe!!!

12. Do you have a an Amp and Speakers at the same wattage rating (ex. Amp 500 Watts and Speakers 500 Watts rated), and are getting distortion? Well chances are the Amp is too much power. Usually the speakers say the wattage on the box and or speaker and what you see is PEAK wattage (which means when the bass gets to a point where you will get a good beat or hit, and it draws more wattage). You will need to look at the fine print and see what the constant power rating is (may be 250 Watts or a bit higher).  You may want to get bigger speakers or a smaller TRUE power Amp.

TIPS, TRICKS AND HINTS TO MAKING A SPEAKER BOX:

1. Use Fiber Board. The thicker the better, but no need to go any bigger than 3/4 inch. (1 Sheet per dual 12" sub Box) Marine Grade fiber board is great, but if you chose to use this, it will cost more and may put your box over price of a purchased box from a store.

2. Stop at a local craft store (I think even Lowes or Home Depot is carying this now) and get 3M spray glue in a can. 1 can will do an average size speaker box with 2 12" subs, so if you are building a bigger box, use 2 cans ore more. Look at the size box you are building and do the math (1 can per dual 12" subs box).

3. At Lowes or Home Depot they should have charcoal gray indoor outdoor carpet (LOOKS just like Box carpet). Get about 6' per a 2 12" subs box.

4. Purchase 1 tube of silicone caulk. Color does not matter since it will be inside the box. Can also use wood glue but not as flexible with the change of air pressure from the subs.

5. Purchase 2" drywall screws. Normally other places do not use thes, but I always did to give extra support to the box.

6.Purchase two 3 inch Ports if you chose to have a ported box (OR use 3 inch PVC cut in 5 inch lengths), speaker wire and terminals for the back of the box. If your not using ports, just skip buying them, but do get the 2 terminals. (A ported box will give you deep lows and more bass....excellent for Rap, and a sealed box will give you more Hit....excellent for Rock and even pretty good for rap. Honestly, I believe you get more Subwoofer life with a sealed box due to less Air Flow which does not let the Sub flex back and forth too much (A.K.A Excursion)

7. Build the Box how you like. You can use a devider inside the box to seperate the chambers (especially if it is ported) and if it is not ported, you really do not need one, but can use it if desired.

8. Be sure to PRE-DRILL your holes before putting in the screws, or else the fiber board will just crumble. Make sure both chambers (spots where the back of the speaker will sit in when the box is all done) are of equal size (MAY HAVE TO DO RESEARCH on the internet or in the directions with the speaker to see what the cubic feet per side should be, and then look on the net to get a calculator to translate that to the size of your cuts).  Try just looking up something like cubic foot converter or calculator.

9. Cut the terminal holes, ports, and speaker holes with a Jig saw. CUT THE SPEAKER HOLES 1/2 INCH SMALLER for speaker lip to set on and for you to screw your speakers in to.

10. Screw box together

11. Seal all areas inside box where wood meets each other with caulk.

12. Cut and Dry Fit carpet to box. (May need help with this)

13. Spray glue on box. Use a good bit.

14. Lay carpet on box the way it will stay as you will have a hard time removing it when glue dries.

15. Cut X's Over speaker openings and port and terminal openings. Take each triangle of the X and cut it off 1/4 inch away from edge.

16. Put terminals in, Wire speaker to back of terminal through the inside of box. Put subs in box, and screw down. Now you have a cheap inexpensive box, and built like you want it.

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