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PostPosted: Thu May 15, 2008 12:43 pm 
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I am going to chronicle my adventures in overhauling my 2001 Swift's car audio setup. Right now, everything in the car is bone-stock. As fun as it is to listen to Audio Cassettes that I dug out of my closet after 20 years, I really need to update the system.

Background on myself: I have been working with car audio for appx 10 years. I have done installs on about 20 different cars over the years. While I know the basics well enough, I am always open to feedback and suggestions. I am aiming for a practical upgrade for the swift that will be easy on my wallet and not overkill. My other car is a project RX7 that has an overkill system that I use for shows and cruising. Most of my serious car audio expenses go into that rig. The Swift is simply going to get a decent lift in overall audio quality. I would like to increase the quality of the Midrange tones, Highs, and add a "little" bass for a little car. I am using the car to commute, so I just want it to sound decent. I am also going to attempt to use most of the car audio spares that I have laying around my garage. I have three spare 12" subs that i am tempted to put in... but more on that in the goals synopsis.

Pre-project goals:
-Add Bass that compliments the music and is not overpowering.
-Upgrade all speakers to satisfactory levels of sound quality and power.
-Ditch tape deck and Upgrade to Stereo with USB input for Flash Memory MP3 playback.
-Install subwoofer enclosure in a convenient manner that can be removed quickly for use of trunk area.
-Hide Amplifiers in a practical manner that does not eat up trunk space.
-Run wires/fuses/cables efficiently for possible future upgrades.
-Spend as little $$ as possible because I just made myself broke buying the car in the first place.
-(sell stuff on eBay to boost funds for Swift upgrades)
-Diagnose and treat annoying "Ground loop Hum"

Shopping list:
-Purchase Head Unit with USB input for MP3 playback
*done*
-Purchase 2 sets of 6 1/2" coaxial or component speakers
*purchased one set 5-12 and received*
*purchased second set of speakers and decided to go with 5.25" speakers for the front. Received on 5-16*
-Purchase 4 channel amp to power speakers if Head unit does not satisfy
*will wait for a month* ... *found a good deal on ebay and purchased anyways on 5-19 recd on 5-20*
-Purchase Higher end Ground Loop Isolator if needed.
-Purchase better Battery & Maybe 1/2 farad Capacitor.
-Purchase better Sub Amplifier if deal pleases me on eBayyyyy!
*done*
-Clean Garage and round up all RCA/Power/Speaker/Fuses and take inventory.
*keep procrastinating*
-Need to get Mounting Kit for Stereo and Foam Baffles for Speakers
*done, stereo installed... baffles ready for action*

Spares on hand that do not require purchase.
-Subwoofer and Enclosure
-Cables (maybe)

I will post pics and write reviews on some of the audio components as I aquire them. Hopefully, the information will be helpful to someone that is on a tight budget like I am. I just got my set of 6 1/2" speakers in the mail yesterday, I will write a visual review later this evening.

Thanks for reading!
-jd


Last edited by Jack Daniels on Tue May 27, 2008 8:44 pm, edited 6 times in total.

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PostPosted: Thu May 15, 2008 6:17 pm 
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I would wait until you have everything installed before buying an isolator. You shouldn't need one if the wiring is done well and the RCA's are decent. No need to spend $100 of dollars on them...I've used $20 specials and they worked just fine.

If you can swing it port your enclosure to get a bit more volume for free. I don't know what size of sub your going to use so obviously the enclosure size may be too big if your trying to squeeze a 12 in there. 8's can make a surprising amount of bass though and still keep a sane enclosure size. if you need help getting a ported design I can help if you jhave the TS parameters of the sub.

Your amps may fit under the seats. This also gives you the bonus of saving a bit of money on shorter RCAs and also lessens the chance that they pick up noise. You could get a 4 channel and use channels 1-2 on the fronts, feed deck power to the rear fill, and bridge 3-4 to the sub and not have to get a dedicated sub amp. This lets you add the money you may spend on a sub amop to get a better 4 channel with a bit more power. If you upgrade in the future you'll have a better amp to begin with and it'll make your system that much better. Again...this is all dependant on just how loud you want it. Personaly I hate rear speakers in the back so if I ever ran them I amped the front and recommended deck power to the rear. Most customers liked the end result almost as much as the money saved from not buying a sub amp. if you need to be heard from a block away this option may not be feasible. A 5 channel may also be a better option giving you the 4ch and sub amp in one heatsink. They are more expensive and seem to be getting slim as far as options. You won't likely fit one under a seat.

I wouldn't bother with a cap. There are a few threads in here that discuss them (and probably a few thousand if you google it) that debate the pros and cons. I'm part of the against group so any answer/opinion you get from me on the subject will be biased to that point of view :P. Read about them and then make an educated decision on whether or not you really need one. New battery may help but if yours is still strong may not do anything but lighten your wallet.

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PostPosted: Thu May 15, 2008 8:57 pm 
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Ok, yesterday I received the co-axial speakers that I plan to install in the rear kickpanels of the Swift.

Fusion FES-6025 Encounter Series 2 way speakers
http://www.fusioncaraudio.com
6.5" Size
Freq Response 65Hz to 20kHz
180 Watt Max

I decided to get Fusion speakers for the rear mainly because the Brand has always been very reliable to me. While there are a lot of enthusiasts that like the brand, there are not enough to make it hard to find a good deal on ebay. I scored these for $20 plus $10 for shipping and the guy has more for sale on eBay right now (brand new and factory sealed). The Encounter series is a mid-tier in quality and price. I have run the PowerPlant series speakers in my competition car and they were very durable and sound great.

Pics of the Encounter 6.5" speaker.

Image
Image

After opening the box and inspecting the speakers, the build quality is decent. One important design trait that these speakers have is that the Tweeter voice coil is tucked away in the center of the speaker and hidden. It is not run along the cone and "linked" to the tweeter. I think this makes for a much nicer look (not that anyone will see) but also reduces a slight amount of possible resistance of having an extra component of weight on the midrange cone.


In response to m:

Heh, too late, I already have a spare isolator kicking around (cheap kind). Mainly, I am considering getting a better one if the hum does not go away after the install. Hopefully that will not be necessary, because you are right. Good wiring = happy audio

Ported would be nice... I will highly consider that as the project goes further along. I have decided not to use any of my spare 12" woofers and I will be installing a single 10" in a small sealed box for now. I previously had the box (and sub) installed in my truck and the volume is matched closely for the sub's preference. Nicely, the sub is designed to be happy in a ported or closed box, so i could make the conversion pretty easily. I can appreciate both styles, Ported has a nice loudness, but sealed has a tighter punch. You got me thinking though... i have a great Old School Rockford 8" sub that sounds awesome, but I never bothered getting a box for it after I sold the old box many years ago. Gonna have to think about that one.

Underseat amps is a possibility. Gotta do some measurements. This will likely be the solution, but i am also playing with the thought of making a false floor and cooling system where the spare tire is located. Tough call though, i really want my spare tire available to me, but I wont ever be more than 40 miles away from home at any point anyways. Your input is valued, I most likely will be installing two separate amps. One 2 channel bridged for the one sub at 4 ohm and a separate 4 channel amp to run all the speakers. Right now I have a crappy spare sub amp that will do the trick for now & I am eBay shopping for a decent 4 channel amp for cheap.

Capacitors are always a good debate. I think that some installers depend on them waaaaay too much as a solution to power woes. I like them mainly for the extra kick they provide when the system is really being abused. However, as reality sinks in, I will not be abusing anything in this Swift so a cap is pretty unnecessary. If I end up adding one, it will be a simple 1/2 farad mainly for power "kick-in" on rare occasions. I read some of the threads and noticed that it is claimed that Caps can kill your alternator I would imagine that it is attributed to the added strain on the voltage regulator. And the battery is pretty new so it looks like magic 8 ball is saying: "All signs point to No... Do not get a Capacitor."

Thanks for your input... More info on the way as i get more components in the mail.


Last edited by Jack Daniels on Thu May 15, 2008 9:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Thu May 15, 2008 9:06 pm 
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As a quick consideration on the ported enclosures. You can make them "hit" harder than a sealed enclosure if you tune them right ;). Tunning will determine whether or not it pounds out really low bass or is tight and detailed on percussion instruments. Its all in the tune. There will always be tradeoffs but when it comes to smaller lower powered systems its hard to argue the extra 3db you can get from the ported enclosure vs the sealed.

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PostPosted: Fri May 16, 2008 1:24 pm 
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Update:

Today (5-16) Fedex threw a box on my porch. The package turned out to be the speakers I decided to fit into the front of the Swift.

Cadence ZXN-52 Z series 2 Way Speakers
http://www.cadencestore.com/ProductCart/pc/viewCategories.asp?idCategory=3
Size: 5.25"
Peak Power: 100w
RMS Power: 50w
Frequency Response: 55Hz-22KHz
Price paid: $24.95 + $12.00 shipping

Cadence Audio products have been pretty good to me also. I narrowed down my selection to this set because of several factors.
-After taking rough estimate measurements, 6.5" foam baffles were going to be a tight fit in the doors with 6.5" speakers. I decided to take a size step down and make a simple adapter to install 5.25" speakers and 5.25" foam baffles to boot. The baffle will provide enough enclosure and sufficient airspace to let the midrange move cleanly.
-Why am I using baffles? Because the car grew up in New Mexico and the weatherstripping along the door windows is cracked and rotted all to hell. When it rains, some water can get into the doors at this rate. (yeah i gotta find a way to fix that before rust problems happen) Baffles also keep the speakers clean of debris and (IMO) allow the speaker to hit accurately with a enclosure rather than bouncing air around in the entire door.
-The ZXN-52 speakers have a shallow mounting depth of 1.8" and allow for plenty of room for a baffle or (god forbid) if the windows roll down in that general area.

Pics of the Cadence Z series:

Image
Image

Out of box inspection yielded no bad surprises. Build quality is Awesome. Tweeter is totally separate from the midrange on a three legged stand, but is not angled like I had hoped (I was going to aim the tweeter toward the seats). Overall the beast is quite nice looking and built clean. My only main gripe that I failed to notice in the details of the tech specs is that the Speaker surrounds are Butyl Rubber based. Foam surrounds sound better in the winter because they do not stiffen (as much) in cold temperatures. So, I will have to go easy on these speakers when it is cold.

Tip of the Day: Rubber based surrounds on speakers stiffen up in cold climates. It keeps the speaker from moving naturally and makes it work harder (sounds softer too). If you own speakers with Rubber surrounds, do not hammer on your audio system in the cold or it will wear out the speaker and eventually cook it.


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PostPosted: Fri May 16, 2008 4:13 pm 
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Jack Daniels wrote:
Foam surrounds sound better in the winter because they do not stiffen (as much) in cold temperatures. So, I will have to go easy on these speakers when it is cold.



I've always experienced the opposite of this :huh:. Maybe it was because they were mids.

Always heard good things about Cadence stuff. I've used the baffles before and always worked a treat. Most (not all) benefitted from me cutting a hole in the side (but would be facing towards the bottom of the door when installed) to let the speaker breath. It kept everything protected from the elements as well.

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PostPosted: Fri May 16, 2008 5:03 pm 
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m wrote:
Jack Daniels wrote:
Foam surrounds sound better in the winter because they do not stiffen (as much) in cold temperatures. So, I will have to go easy on these speakers when it is cold.



I've always experienced the opposite of this :huh:. Maybe it was because they were mids.

Always heard good things about Cadence stuff. I've used the baffles before and always worked a treat. Most (not all) benefitted from me cutting a hole in the side (but would be facing towards the bottom of the door when installed) to let the speaker breath. It kept everything protected from the elements as well.



Hmmm... y'know, I just did some reading on other messageboards about advantages between foam vs rubber and it seems to be a mixed bag. I have had pretty good luck with foam surround based speakers in the winter as opposed to rubber. I guess it all comes down to the climate control of the vehicle and sub characteristics. So, many variables. I guess I shouldn't put my foot in my mouth and say that "Foam is GOD! Bow down and beg for mercy." It all really depends on the setup.


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PostPosted: Fri May 16, 2008 7:27 pm 
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I totaly agree. I've used everything from foam to rubber to fabric. JL still uses foam so it must be good for something ;). I don't think there is a clear cut winner.

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PostPosted: Sat May 17, 2008 7:07 am 
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Nice thread you got going here jack daniels.

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PostPosted: Tue May 20, 2008 8:51 pm 
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Thank you a1989Swift. Glad you like the thread.

Update 5-20-08

Today UPS threw a box on my porch. 'Lo and behold it is the Amplifier that I have choosen to run the four Coaxial speakers in the swift.

Hypnotic HYP50.4 Amplifier.
http://www.hypnoticusa.com
4x50w at 4ohm
freq response of 20hz to 28Khz
Signal to Noise Ratio >95db
20A power fuse x 2

Never heard of Hypnotic? Well that makes two of us... But when i saw this amp pop up on eBay i could not help but do some research and check the company's website. They seem to be pretty legit, but rather unknown. After some reading of reviews and tidbits of their reputation I decided to take a gamble and win the amp ($40 plus ship, not a big gamble) I have a huge respect for companies that make amps that are built right and do not use inflated numbers to make the amp sound powerful. 50w per channel? Some people would scoff at that number, but a well-built amp putting out a really clean 50w is much better than a garbage amp that claims to put out 300w per channel.

When the amp arrived today i read the manual and carefully removed the 6 screws on the base of the amp to see the guts. The manufacturing process looks extremely clean. All connectors are solidly attached to the board. The dials are huge industrial grade metal dials that look bulletproof and even the power LED has it's own braided/shielded cable. Capacitors and circuitry are all clean and appear to be solid.

Needless to say, i like the look of the amp too. It is really clean and to the point. I have a good feeling that it will put out some pretty decent tones, but that will be determined when it is installed.

Pics:

Image
Image
Image
Image

I got feisty on eBay and purchased a basic Sub Amp for the install. I was originally going to use a low end Lightning Audio Amp that i had kicking around in my garage (i think i won it on ebay for a $1 at some point)... But i kept looking a the lightning audio amp and thought "Its really ugly... It's not really powerful... It will probably sound like ass..." So I decided to skip using that amp and I have another amp on the way that i think will fit the bill nicely. Will review it when it arrives.

Thanks for reading!


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PostPosted: Thu May 22, 2008 8:06 pm 
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Received selected Head Unit for the Swift Yesterday:

Logic Soundlab CD500i CD/FM/USB/AUX Stereo
http://www.logicsoundlab.com/CDi.html
• 70W x 4 MP3 Compatible CD Receiver
• New Generation Smart USB Port
• Front “AUX IN” Input Jack
• 5 Volt Preamp Output
• PLL Synthesized Tuner
• Dual RCA Outputs plus Subwoofer Output
• Auxiliary / Mobile Video Input
• MP3/CD-R/CD-RW Compatible

Basically, I really wanted to get a USB-input based Deck. All my music is digital now and i really (barely) have a need for a CD player. I thought about taking my iPod on the go, but i really don't feel like losing that player. My evil plan is to categorize some of my music into several USB drives and use them like mix drives. (i.e. drive for rock, drive for techno, drive for soundtracks... etc etc.) The cost of pocket drives is dirt cheap now and you can fit quite a few mp3 tracks onto a simple 1 gig drive. I scored a couple of 1 gig Sony drives for $4.50 each today and those will be designated as music drives.

When i searched the market for a good (cheap) USB compatible deck, I was not presented with a lot of choices and a lot of them just looked waaay too glitzy for my tastes. When i saw this Logic unit, i really like the simplicity of the design and overall low-key style. And price was important too, I kinda only wanted to spend less than $100 on a deck (yah, cheap ass me)

pics:
Image
Image

I hooked it up to my testing battery and played with the unit for a bit. Build quality is decent, yet not amazing. The faceplate does not like to be removed easily and the plastic notches that keep it in place on the side do not look durable at all. So, I will not be removing the face because it only cost $60... if someone wants to steal it, fine. The screen quality is nice and readable. Button and dial illumination is a nice Deep blue (not as bright as the picture made it look) Cable quality for the RCA connections is surprisingly very nice. Remote is cheap and basic. Overall It seems like a good unit for little money. Nothing really special, I really only bought it for the USB port.

Today i stopped at the audio store and got foam baffles for the front and rear. I picked up a Dash kit for the stereo and wrote up a gameplan while on my lunch break.

My first mission is to map out the car and take measurements to see if the amps will fit under the seats. After that is in order, I will install the deck and start running some wires.

Soon, i will get dirty and start taking apart panels on the car and the floor to do some simple soundproofing.

be well
-jd


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PostPosted: Fri May 23, 2008 6:34 pm 
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Nice update Jack. Nice radio and amp. You think it will really put out 300w per channel? I f you really want a good amp, check out beyma:
Beyma Car Audio
I have seen some killer street cars with loud audio systems and they all use these amps and speakers.

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PostPosted: Sat May 24, 2008 11:35 am 
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a1989swift wrote:
Nice update Jack. Nice radio and amp. You think it will really put out 300w per channel? I f you really want a good amp, check out beyma:
Beyma Car Audio
I have seen some killer street cars with loud audio systems and they all use these amps and speakers.


I had never heard of Beyma until now. Thanks. I like learning about different companies in car audio. It is like an odd hobby for me.

And no. I do not expect the amp to put out 300w per channel. I expect it to put out the standard 50w per channel that it says it will do. I was explaining in my post that i would rather have it put out 50w of clean sound rather than 300w of lousy/loud sound. Some cheap companies (Pyramid and Legacy come to mind) Inflate their numbers to sound loud, but the circuitry is cheap and sounds pretty bad. Every now and then I will purchase a "cheap" company Amp and be surprised by the output. I have purchased quite a few cheap amps over the years and it is a hit or miss affair.


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PostPosted: Sat May 24, 2008 1:14 pm 
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lol, well I have boughten Power Acostic amps and they have never failed and they are cheap. I suggest that if you want big power with good clearity, chose Beyma. There amps keep on moving.

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PostPosted: Tue May 27, 2008 8:42 pm 
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a1989swift wrote:
lol, well I have boughten Power Acostic amps and they have never failed and they are cheap. I suggest that if you want big power with good clearity, chose Beyma. There amps keep on moving.


I hear that! I had a Amp that was made by a brand called "SPL" that was cheap and reliable. I later found out that SPL is actually made by Power Acoustik. The thing was a monster. It was 2 feet wide by 1 foot deep and claimed to put out 1200 watts.

Update today:

Ran into a unexpected snag in my upgrade plans. I ordered a wiring harness to plug the aftermarket stereo into the existing plug in the Swift. I wired up the harness to the stereo plugs and went out to attack the dashboard of the swift for the first time. Lo and behold, i took apart the stereo/dash area and removed the factory tape deck to find that the plug in the car was completely different from the harness plug that was shipped to me. Ok, so i swore a couple times and thought that the place i ordered it from made a mistake. Ambitious, I drove to my favorite stereo store and asked for a harness. The guy (Joe) looked it up and handed me a harness. It was the same one that I had received in my online order. I looked at it and told him it was wrong. We double checked all the guide books and they all referred to the wiring harness that he had right there. But, there was no way it would fit my car, the dimensions of the plug were way off. So, we asked the expert of the shop (Justin) and he got me the right harness. I asked him what the mix up was and he told me that 2001 North American Swift was the year that GM made the car entirely in North America (mine's from Canada) and that GM used wiring and parts that were available to them. Sounds reasonable... and I am glad I didn't decide to order another harness online.

Ok, armed with a new harness I was ready to rock. I drove home and re-crimped/wired my new harness and opened up the dash kit that i got for the car. I had to finesse the kit with my dremel tool to get it to fit appropriately and nicely. The kit stated to snap off 4 tabs to fit it into my dash, but i ended up snapping off 8 tabs and dremeled the two lower corners because they would not properly clear the molding of the dash plastic. In total, it took about 2 hours to make it look nice. The stereo works great, but the stock speakers make it impossible to judge sound quality. Some basic before/after pics below:

Image
Image

Also got a package today... pretty much the final component needed for the install. Basic Subwoofer Amplifier:

Xtant 121m (monoblock)
http://www.xtant.com
125w at 4 ohm
250w at 2 ohm
freq response 5Hz to 50kHz
signal to noise ratio >100db

This was kinda a gamble on eBay. Xtant makes really good stuff. The guy put it up for auction with no specs and with a description like: "Works fine, was in storage for several years." The picture was kinda blurry, but I couldn't resist getting a Xtant amp for a good price.
I installed some Xtant subswoofers in a friends car a few years ago and they sounded amazing and were really rugged. Well, after opening the box, the Amp is in excellent shape. I was surprised to find that it does not have a protection fuse, but the Xtant manual online recommends running a separate fuse instead (in line on the power wire, but dedicated to the amp alone). Inspection inside was good too. pretty clean design and appearance. The second pic below looks horrible because it is a P.I.T.A. to take a picture of an amp that has chrome on it because it just reflects everything. And yes, my ceiling does look that bad. :P

Image
Image

My next plan is to dig into the doors, soundproof them, and install the Cadence speakers. I might dive into that on Thursday.

thanks for reading.

-jd


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PostPosted: Wed May 28, 2008 7:46 am 
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Nice update. I have never seen or heard about that company, are they old? The radio looks real cool in the dash now.

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PostPosted: Wed May 28, 2008 10:00 am 
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Xtant came out quite a few years ago. They originaly passed surveys around at competitions asking competitors what they wanted from an amplifier and then basicaly designed one from what they said. Pretty much always got rave reviews when tested and were THE amplifier to have in SQ circles for some time. They were one of the first companies to succesfully make a Class-D full range amplifier that, again, gained much respect from competitors and reviews. I believe MTX owns them now and uses their proprietary cooling technology in their own amplifiers. The one in the pic looks like an early generation amp...did the heatsink edges open your fingers :P.

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PostPosted: Fri May 30, 2008 7:52 am 
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Oh, I get cu up all the time with the cooling fins on mine.

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2008 12:42 pm 
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This is all still in progress btw. Nothing new to update because I broke my ribs playing football and need rest. I'm almost 100% now and i will put more work into this soon.

thanks for reading
-jd


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 29, 2008 1:37 am 
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hey man it looks to me like you're on your way. you seem to have an idea what you're doing and you have some half decent stuff, especially that xtant.

might I suggest spending a bit of money on a deck and ripping out that isolator if you haven't already done so?

isolators are only filters, especially the cheap ones and they cut all low and high frequency to your speakers, so all you hear is super high treble and midrange.

you can check it out for yourself. if you hear noise you hear noise but try listening to your system without the isolator and compare it to the actual sound with it. you'll hear the difference. the reason I suggest spending more money on your stereo is because a better deck is gonna put higher voltage through the rca's which inherently reject noise. also obviously build quality is higher and special attention is put into making sure that noise isn't a problem. I'm not saying splurge but like a 150 dollar deck is gonna take care of all that and end up sounding great anyways. it seems like you're changing things up all the time too so maybe it's a constant work in progress? or maybe you're never satisfied with it? lemme know if I can lend my experience to help you out :)


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 29, 2008 1:45 am 
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Hmmm... y'know, I just did some reading on other messageboards about advantages between foam vs rubber and it seems to be a mixed bag. I have had pretty good luck with foam surround based speakers in the winter as opposed to rubber. I guess it all comes down to the climate control of the vehicle and sub characteristics. So, many variables. I guess I shouldn't put my foot in my mouth and say that "Foam is GOD! Bow down and beg for mercy." It all really depends on the setup.


nothing wrong with foam but I must say that after a few years foam surrounds literally desintegrate and there's nothing left to keep the speaker cone linear. it's also a lot more fragile than rubber. very easy to tear.


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 29, 2008 2:39 pm 
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150dollarcar wrote:
nothing wrong with foam but I must say that after a few years foam surrounds literally desintegrate and there's nothing left to keep the speaker cone linear. it's also a lot more fragile than rubber. very easy to tear.



There are plenty of treated foam surrounds that will last just as long as rubber will and there are also lots of foam surrounds that are just as durable as rubber.

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 29, 2008 6:15 pm 
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there are also lots of foam surrounds that are just as durable as rubber.


Now you're just making things up. :roll:

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 29, 2008 9:57 pm 
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Mike Mike Mike....


Even when I was actively playing with audio there were quite a few subwoofers with "screwdriver proof" surrounds on them.

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 30, 2008 7:32 pm 
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Location: ajax, ontario, planet bullsh**
m wrote:
150dollarcar wrote:
nothing wrong with foam but I must say that after a few years foam surrounds literally desintegrate and there's nothing left to keep the speaker cone linear. it's also a lot more fragile than rubber. very easy to tear.



There are plenty of treated foam surrounds that will last just as long as rubber will and there are also lots of foam surrounds that are just as durable as rubber.



name me one speaker that uses foam surround that is as durable and lasts as long as rubber.


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