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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
hello to all! i am a newbie in regards to mobile audio, and so far i have replaced the stock stuff in my 03 escape with the following; jvc arsenal KD-AHD59 head unit, 4 kenwood KFC-C688IE 3-way speakers for the doors, 1 alpine MRP-300 amp @ 50 watts rms per channel to drive the kenwoods, and i want to add a JL audio stealthbox, driven by an alpine MRP F500 (300 watts rms mono) amp. keep in mind that my focus is MUCH more on sound quality, rather than awaking the dead. i listen to old school hip hop, r and b, rock, and contemporary jazz. any suggestions? what would you change if anything? also i am trying to keep the set-up reasonably priced. any suggestions would be greatly appreciated! oh by the way, how can i get those steering wheel radio controls for the 03 escape?
 

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Hmm...I couldn't find any speakers with that model number. Do you mean the Kenwood KFC-C688ie? Those are the one I have along with a JVC KD-R600 head unit. Definitely a budget system here! :) Anyway, maybe I can at least give you my experiences so you know what to expect.

With the head unit at the stock settings, I personally thought that the speakers were very bright (ie. not much low, but a lot on the high end). While I did end up toning that down a bit with the head uint's EQ, it certainly was a welcome change from the stock speakers which sound "muffled" to me. I did have to play with the EQ settings for quite a while before I was happy with the speakers. The speakers won't rattle your windows apart, but they can get a little bit of thump when things are set right (I generally like a more balanced sound). I don't know if speakers break in or if it's just my ears, but I've been happy with the setup so far.

One other thing I would recommend is at least a little bit of sound dampening. Oddly enough, I first read about this in one of fourthmeal's threads in the other forums. I decided to try it on the doors using eDead V3 liquid stuff and some foam dampening stuff called Teklite, made by the same people as the eDead. Basically, the biggest draw for me is that it was inexpensive. I'm not sure that I'd recommend using the liquid stuff because it's actually pretty messy, hard to spread, and I think was harder to use than the Teklite (which comes in foam sheets). Using a peel-and-stick type of deadener I think would be easier. I put the liquid eDead on the two layers of the metal door frame and on the backside of the plastic door panel on all four doors. I then put the Teklite stuff on the outermost (closest to the outside of the door) layer of the door frame and on the plastic panels.

With the deadening, it seems that wind noise and noise from other cars was greatly reduced and tire noise was somewhat reduced. I bet I could reduce a lot more tire noise by deadening the metal over the fenders, but to be honest I don't find my Escape to be all that loud anyway. I do think deadening, if even just on the doors, is worth the effort, but I think I'd recommend against using a liquid deadener.

I hope this helps you out some.

-Jesse
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
thanx jesse, and yes you are dead on about the kenwoods. there is a definate high end brightness to their sound! i too had to play around with the HU settings, and now its a pretty smooth clear tone, with a snap of bass to it on certain songs. i will definatly be adding a jl audio stealthbox for bass (i hear that you cant go wrong with jl audio subs) and i may experiment with swapping out the front door speakers with either JL audio, polk, or maybe rockford fosgates. i am seeking a certain sound blend that will sound good on most songs regardless of volume level. and as far as sound dampining, i really like the dynamat extreme, and i have seen the door kits for reasonable prices on ebay, so i think i will try that also! thanx so much for your input!
 

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Good Choice on the Arsenal Head Unit, they are my favourite line of decks, and have been for a little while now. The stealthbox is a great idea, as it was engineered to work inside your vehicle, though I've found that smaller drivers (like 10's or 8's) seem to sound better than large subs in vehicle like ours, at least for SQ anyways. Having an amp that is 300W rms (possibly more than that actually, knowing it's an Alpine) is also a great idea, as is the sound deadening.

Let us know what you decide to do.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
thanks a million for your input davis! once again i am a car audio newbie, so i really wasnt that knowlegable about HU at all. the main reason i picked that particular JVC was due to the fact that it has the usb connection for my ipod! it is really cool that i can play my mp3s flawlessly from my ipod, or even a usb memory stick! and as long as the mp3s are not overly compressed, they sound DAMN GOOD on that unit. as far as the stealthbox, my info is that the one for our escape actually features a 10 inch subwoofer at 300 watts rms, as opposed to the competing mtx thunderform, which has a 12 inch woofer at 200 watts rms. even though the thunderform is cheaper (about 500 bucks with the amp included) my online research overwhelmingly says that the JL stealthbox is a better unit in terms of the SOUND QUALITY of the bass. i have only heard one guy complain about his stealthbox. (and this is after reading MANY reviews!) he claims he had it powered with an alpine amp, and yet the bass was not strong. i beleive that this guy probably does not have his low pass filter, or crossover point set correctly. in any event, i wish that there were some third party radio remote that can be attached to the steering wheel, becuase i drove a friends car with built in steering wheel controls for the radio, and i thought it was pretty cool! but other than that, i am getting geared up for some long summer drives, with some cool sounds! thanks again davis, and i wish you and yours happy driving!
 

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Just general knowledge about car audio..

http://www.bcae1.com

Feel free to ask anything about car audio to me, I'll do my best to explain or suggest some options. Don't forget deadening, that is critical as these vehicles are rattly and noisy.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
thanks fourthmeal really appreciate your input! i am looking at the JL slash mono amps to power the stealthbox! is that a good choice? also i have seen some advertised as brand new on ebay for about 200 bucks below current retail pricing! is this ebay stuff fake? how can they afford to sell a premium item so cheaply? just curious, cause i would like to save a buck, but i dont wanna get burned.
 

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I can't validate whether something is fake or not, but I've had reasonable success with things on eBay. I've purchased most of my gear from an online store called Audiosavings, and each time they shipped FREE, 2 days to my door (here in Vegas), and in perfect condition. Most times a cheaper machine isn't a fake, it is refurbished. That means that the manufacturer fixed it BY HAND, which is usually a good thing.

I prefer to think of the amps as the least important in terms of sound quality, however. To a degree, in modern amps anyway, a watt is a watt. This means that the very expensive Slash amp you are proposing probably sounds no different than an amp 1/2 the price or less, provided they are both capable of powering the same amount of power without clipping (distortion.)

I'm not saying you are buying a bad amp by going with the one you want. What I am saying is that just because an amp isn't high-end, it won't be junk to listen to. Of course there are junk brands out there that do sound like poo, but most of them are pretty easy to spot.

What I like about the slash amps that makes them worth their cost is their ability to play the same power into virtually any ohm load. This alone makes them very valuable for most system builders because they are flexible.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
wow foruthmeal thats some good info! and it makes sense. a watt is "a watt" so if i am kicking out 500 bucks for a JL audio stealthbox, i really shoudnt have to drop another 500 on an a pricey amp to make it "sound good" i really only considered the slasher amp, becuase i saw it advertised on ebay FOR WAY LESS. but in any event, i will still shop around, and if push comes to shove, alpine has a reasonable priced mono amp, that should work great with the stealthbox! i will also definatly check out audiosavings.com! hey by the way, do you think i should invest in a capacitor for the sub amp? if i get the alpine, that would be a 300 watt amp for the stealthbox, and i currently have a 200 watt amp (50 x4) driving the door speakers? to me, thats a pretty low powered system, but i dont want to take chances of my headlights dimming while pumping out a little bass. what do you think?
 

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Capacitors are usually snake oil.

I have roughly 1500W* RMS real power available at any time, and even when I push my system really, REALLY hard, there is no dimming. The secret is to get a solid ground connection and use quality power and ground, and you'll be fine. Seriously.

In fact, I can prove to you that they actually CAUSE more system problems than if you don't use one. But for the sake of brevity and less expense, let's say you need not worry about it.

*Extrapolated from my 1200W sub amp (at 2ohms) and my 85Wx4 main amp (@4ohms). These numbers are not their peak ratings, these are standard musical output ratings at full power before clipping.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
hey fourthmeal, 1200 watts on the sub? that sounds kinda of serious! you dont encounter vibration prolblems or rattling? you MUST have sound dampining. (or perhaps a few pissed off neighbors) anyaways thats great! one less concern to deal with! thanks again fourthmeal!
 

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1200W potential, running a pair of DIYMA R12's. My 3rd install in my sig shows them off.

Actually the amp will push well beyond 1200W, but really it isn't all about watts since we're talking music here, not light bulbs.

At any rate, there's a volume knob on stuff for a reason...there's no way I'd listen to something at full power for any reason other than to flaunt some feathers, if you know what I mean. My system gets plenty loud but to appreciate music properly in full range with proper tonality, I always throttle down the subs to match the front end.

To add to what you were saying... you need deadening. You don't need to buy 100 sq. feet of dynamat though. Just follow my sig links to the info you actually need. That's why they are there.
 

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You don't need tons of power anymore. Subs and/or speakers are so much more efficient, amps are more efficient, and the music sources are louder/cleaner now (digital media is often louder than a cassette or CD). You can make your stereo VERY loud with only 500 watts RMS or less. I had a stereo in my Focus before that was maybe 200 watts RMS total, and I scored 130.2 db my first time out to a stereo show with a regular music cd, stock head unit, stock 6x8's, and an amp putting only 86 watts RMS into each sub (2x 10" in a sealed box with seperate chambers).

I think that a stealthbox with 300 watts RMS will be Plenty loud enough, and you only need 25-50 watts RMS to your fronts and rears to have fairly loud, clean sound. To maximize on things, I'd look at speakers like the Infinity Refference, or JBL GTO series, as they are dual 2 ohm voice coils that were engineered to be driven with stock wiring, and with a smaller amp. Also, look at DVC subwoofers too. If you can get a single 10", load your amp down to 2 ohms (if it'll operate that way safely, which most do now), and you'll maximize the power, and get nice bass response too.

As the others have mentioned, dynamat the doors and the 1/4 panels, and you'll yeild higher SPL, and better sound quality, especially if your body and interior panels aren't vibrating.

Hope this info helps...
 

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Davis137 said:
You don't need tons of power anymore. Subs and/or speakers are so much more efficient, amps are more efficient, and the music sources are louder/cleaner now (digital media is often louder than a cassette or CD). You can make your stereo VERY loud with only 500 watts RMS or less. I had a stereo in my Focus before that was maybe 200 watts RMS total, and I scored 130.2 db my first time out to a stereo show with a regular music cd, stock head unit, stock 6x8's, and an amp putting only 86 watts RMS into each sub (2x 10" in a sealed box with seperate chambers).

I think that a stealthbox with 300 watts RMS will be Plenty loud enough, and you only need 25-50 watts RMS to your fronts and rears to have fairly loud, clean sound. To maximize on things, I'd look at speakers like the Infinity Refference, or JBL GTO series, as they are dual 2 ohm voice coils that were engineered to be driven with stock wiring, and with a smaller amp. Also, look at DVC subwoofers too. If you can get a single 10", load your amp down to 2 ohms (if it'll operate that way safely, which most do now), and you'll maximize the power, and get nice bass response too.

As the others have mentioned, dynamat the doors and the 1/4 panels, and you'll yeild higher SPL, and better sound quality, especially if your body and interior panels aren't vibrating.

Hope this info helps...
I'll agree with this statement to a high degree but I want to tune it a bit. Speakers are not necessarily more efficient today than a decade ago. In fact some of my most efficient speakers are ancient. Driver efficiency, however, isn't that important when our amps have indeed become much more powerful and efficient. An honest 500W of power a decade ago cost quite a bit. Today it is much cheaper. So in this way, I agree with you Davis.

I couldn't give a crap about how much I score, since it is a useless number. What really matters is tonality, accuracy, frequency response, musicality, and imaging. I turn down building systems unless the front is done either first or at the same time as the sub stage. Why? Because just adding a sub is futile. Yes you get your bass but that is only about one octave of the musical spectrum of audio. Would you wear tattered rags for clothes with a nice new hat? Hopefully not. Would you drive a beat-down piece of junk with a nice trunk-lid? Again, I pray not.

No, it all comes as a package. Sure you can build it slowly or all at once, either way is fine. But don't just slap some cheap Infinity's in the door and call it "good". You're doing your ears a disservice.

Lastly, and I don't know why this is not well known...DON'T buy Dynamat! They are the Bose of sound deadening...well known but not really that good for the money. I can provide a total package solution (using CLD, CCF, and vinyl barrier) for 1/2 the cost of a box o' Dynamat.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
man oh man this is good info! i truly wish that more folk here in new york would learn to appreciate the finer aspects of mobile sound scaping! this city is FULL of people who are only concerned with setting off car alarms, as opposed to high quality sound. as far as i am concerned, bass that sounds like an obese person who just ate a case of pork and beans, is just not what sq is about. fourthmeal, i saw some of your work, and if you are not doing this as a fulltime proffesion, i think you might be missing your calling my friend! ( much to the demise of car audio lovers everywhere!) anyway i have another question. i know this stuff is subjective, but when people add some good low end punch to their system with a good sub, do they generally tune the amp(S) driving their door speakers to kick out LESS BASS (since the sub is handling the majority of the low end)? and just out of curiosty, what is the most critical element in the mix for acheiving great sound? speakers? amps? sound deadning? and fourthmeal, what door speakers do you really like, and why? as far as the dynamat, it is REALLY alot of dough, (especailly for a guy like me who would probably wind up PAYING someone else to install it) so i am looking into alternatives for sound deading as well. these escapes are a bit noisy on the highway.
 

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First, thanks for the props. I'm not in it for the fame, I just like helping people with stuff I know about. I used to install home theater and car audio systems semi-professionally and I actually have done it under a corporate banner (Ultimate Electronics) when in Kansas City, before UE was bought out by Mr. Wattles and downsized to reduce debt. Now I have a much more stable REAL job with good income and nice short hours. It gives me time to work on side projects like system builds and still make stable daily income. Win-Win. Anyway, let's get to answering your questions:

You asked what people do to their systems, but unfortunately people do all sorts of silly dumb things to their system because they know no better. And because I don't follow the typical approach to car audio design, I suggest to just let these people do their own thing. Here's how I do it, however -

Start with deadening the car down. Doing this in the doors will increase the undistorted bass response capable by the door. Sealing the door off (if necessary) will improve bass response as well by reducing cancellation. Remember that deadening doesn't mean buying tons of constrained-layer damper a.k.a. deadening mat (CLD.) You should have SOME mat, but also closed-cell foam (CCF) and a bit of mass-loaded vinyl barrier (MLV.) The right solution involves using the right product to quell not only the resonance, but also road noise and other distortions.

For the sake of this conversation, I'm going to focus on the fact that we are talking about a small SUV like the E/M/T. Now I own the '08 version, which is slightly different from the older models...so consider this information universal and flexible. I'm going to copy-paste from a post I made on here just a few days ago regarding door damping...

This door is pretty robust and will hold 6.5" speakers with ease. The door panel (the metal) is flat and is easy to make an adapter for, which some cars simply don't let us do easily (us being audio installers.)

The best material to make a baffle out of is cutting board plastic, known also as HDPE. You can make them out of MDF wood and/or strong plywood, but it is a smart idea to use fiberglass resin, undercoating spray, or something extremely waterproof as a top layer since your doors are "wet" and wood doesn't like that.

To make a baffle, all you do is pick a material relatively thin (so it doesn't contact the plastic door skin), usually 1/4" thick will do. The idea of a baffle is to take the stock speaker shape and size and build an adapter to a more "appropriate" size, like a 6.5" round shape for example. The easiest way to do this that I have found is to make an oversized outline of the original speaker's shape, cut out with a jigsaw. Then, take the intended speaker's inner mounting diameter and trace that in the center-most area of your cutout. Then, simply cut the inner diameter's shape out. I recommend cutting a little bit smaller than expected, and trim out more if you need to. You can always cut more, but you have to start over if you go too big!

A door must be properly deadened to enjoy the full benefit of any speaker. Hell, even stock speakers sound much better with a deadened door. The short version for everybody who's new to this stuff...here goes: Get some butyl mat deadener (Secondskin, RAAMmat, and maybe yes, the Dynamat Xtreme stuff if you don't mind overspending), about 10 sq. feet per door on average. Now, for a bit of glossary terminology to understand what we're doing here... A door has an outer metal skin, and inner metal skin, and a door "card" or plastic skin. Clean very thoroughly all the metal and plastic you can in the door, both the inner and outer skins. Focusing on the flat metal portions the most, stick on your deadening mat. I recommend taking 1/4 of the mat you have for the door card, and split the 3/4 left in half again, and use one half in the inner metal, and one half in the outer metal. You don't need to deaden metal that is creased or curved aggressively, this metal doesn't resonate. Only flat or smooth curves. You don't need to cover 100% of the area, either. I do recommend that you double up around the area you are going to install a door speaker, however. Use a wooden or hard rubber roller and/or a thick plastic spreader to press the mat to the metal. Good mat sticks REALLY, really well (to clean metal.) For the plastic door card, the rules are a bit different. I recommend sticking much smaller pieces of mat to the flat sections of the plastic, and try to use the mat as a way to stop things from rattling.

Once you've laid and rolled down your mat, there's a bit more deadening (actually damping) to do. Use a closed-cell foam such as Ensolite or Overkill on the inner skin and/or the door card. This stuff IS waterproof and makes a good replacement barrier for the factory clear plastic. Just use a strong spray adhesive and stick it to your deadened door. Overlap your intended speaker installation spot, then cut out your needed shape after the stuff is stuck on to the door. You'll also need to cut small parts out of the foam for wires and cables and such. Once you have your door properly damped, install your speaker baffle, and your speaker (and of course solder up the speaker!)

Before reinstalling the door panel, there's a bit more work to do. Most likely you'll have to remove a bit of plastic off the door card. It depends on the vehicle and speaker you've chosen, but look for a plastic lip on the door skin and see if it will interfere w/ the new speaker. If so, trim the little lip down and you're good. Lastly, and this is a BIG one...you need to create a "gasket" to seal the speaker from the door skin's inner material. To do this, some people like to use weatherstripping tape. I prefer to use a bit of Ensolite lightly rolled into a loose tube, then I take that tube and wrap it around the speaker itself, securing it with the spray adhesive. I don't think it matters much how you do it, so long as you seal that speaker's output to the door panel instead of letting errant sound bounce around inside the door skin. That would create some nasty peaks and resonance in your output, and that's no good my friends!

You'll have to clean up the spots where the door skin reattaches to the door. I recommend an exacto knife and a careful hand to cut only the needed material out. Once this is done, just install your door skin and you're good to go.


OK, so that covers doors. Trunk we can talk about in a bit, but the concept is the same. Deaden flat resonant areas w/ mat, cover the whole thing in MLV and/or CCF, and things should be much quieter.

With regard to bass in the doors, it is important to mention that if your front speakers can indeed play low bass without distortion, you should LET them. That will help keep the illusion and image of a sound stage up front by the dash, where it needs to be. At no point should any part of your sound system drag your acoustic attention backwards. It is all about balance but if you want to over-simplify a bit, we can. The simple side of it is that if you can get your front stage to play nice and low, then your sub can cross over much lower as well. By doing this, most subs will remain "invisible" to your ears. What occurs then is that you simply melt into the musical experience, just like you are supposed to. There is more to it than this, but we're sticking with basic concepts for now. For a rough number, I start crossing subs over to the mids at about 100hz, and work my way down until I reach distortion point of the mids...then work my way up until it goes away and I still have some mid-bass. A dead door is what makes or breaks this, as well as a door that seals the speaker against the door skin.

With regard to the most important part of an audio build...the unequivocal answer is THE INSTALLATION. The second (less of a cop-out sounding answer) is deadening, followed closely by the processor or head unit, followed directly behind by the front speakers.

Your question about what speakers I like is loaded, because I like a certain sound that you may or may not appreciate. Speakers have their very own personality and it shows. However, I've had great luck with the Pioneer PRS720's, and Alpine SPX-17PRO's. In other threads on this forum I've presented a simple form that has sliding scales regarding what the OP likes and dislikes with his/her music. That scale has always been my "go-to" for picking out the right speakers for the job. For someone who may want a more in-your-face speaker, I choose something different than someone who wants something more laid-back. And that matters, because there is no such thing as right or wrong w/ most of these sound signatures. Usually with a proper budget and an understanding of what the OP wants (by use of that form), I can typically create a solid solution.

And as for your deadening query, I believe I answered that correctly with my solution to use a more tailored approach with CLD, MLV, and CCF. The overall cost is much lower than just grabbing a ton of mat, and the results are better too.

What's next? :)
 

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Hello All,

New member here, I just bought an 09 Escape Ltd w/ Nav last week. I came across this thread when I searched for "stealthbox".

I am talking with a local shop in Kennesaw GA that has done a lot of custom work and seems to be pretty solid called Area-41.

Here is what I am looking at getting done:

Peripheral PCH8 processor
Alpine PDX-5
Alpine SPR-17S Front
Alpine SPR-57C Rear
JL Audio SB-F-ESCP/10w1v2 Stealthbox

I want to retain ALL of the factory functionality, including volume control from the HU. But the "audiophile" system is a joke.

I did my own install on my 2004 Mazda3 Hatch, but I am getting a bit older now and don't think I really have the patience to go through all of that again and I am also a little scared to take apart the new ride :)

So I am going to have this installed, and I am getting quoted somewhere near $2400 tax included.

Any thoughts good/bad/indifferent?
 

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As I posted to you in PM, this is an option but it leaves a lot to be desired, not to mention the very high asking price.

I gave my response, but would you prefer it explained in thread or in PM? Just like you found my posts on here, perhaps it is better to break it all down and explain some of it on a thread, so others can learn from it.]

Just let me know.
 
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