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08 Charcoal Black Tint TurboBack & sexy audio
08 Charcoal Black Tint TurboBack & sexy audio
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Old 03-22-12, 07:12 AM   #1
deraeler
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Cool 08 Charcoal Black Tint TurboBack & sexy audio

My 2008 STI HB is charcoal with black powdercoat wheels subtly pinstriped, with tinted glass all around, and black tinted taillights.

08 Charcoal Black Tint TurboBack & sexy audio-640x480x72_frontview-jpg

Back in '09 I was considering buying a new STI and doing a modest tune. Ironically when I started hunting up used Subies online I found a couple with the basic mods I already had in mind. Other than adding the Rally Armour mudflaps I can't take credit for the styling, although I can say with certainty that I had something very similar in mind - subtle, understated, and dark, with a catback tuned profile and stabilizers for rigidity. When I spotted this car it hit me like a hot marble that this was the one. I actually flew to Houston to pick up this car, as it had only 4k on it, the original owner was looking at a brand new Lexus IS 250 in his garage and na ew baby in the house. As he put it, it was "time to shift his debt". I drove it all the way back to NY state up through the Blue Ridge mountains, with stops at the New Orleans Jazz festival, Knoxville and Letchworth State Park, one of the sublime drives of my life.

The tune consisted of a Harmon-Motive Turboback exhaust with a Cobb AccessPort and custom map. Cusco lateral stabilizers front and back, and the aforementioned wheel paint and tints all around completed the mods.

Eschewing the stock BBS wheels for standard rims, dolled up with powdercoat custom black paint and a thin yellow pinstripe was a stroke of genius, I just loved it. I had never been overly impressed with Subaru's limited wheel offering, going gold wasn't my idea of custom/unique, and I didn't really want something off the shelf. This was a unique solution, without making an overly brazen statement and attracting too much attention.

08 Charcoal Black Tint TurboBack & sexy audio-485x288_crop_rearview-jpg

I love driving, and I've always felt the STI was a driver's car. While I doubt I'll ever race seriously, and have a long way to go to catch up with you tuners, there are some mods I plan to make and will continue to look at things to make the car quicker, but not with an eye on any prize. I'm planning on adding a short-throw shifter soon along with upgrading the bushings around it.

That said, the rest of this is in direct contradiction to that statement, as I've added weight....being a musician and music lover my second mod (after the RA mudflaps) was a custom audio system. I plan to post my desciption of that project here shortly for those interested, as its a rather unique project.

Next were the bike racks, as I'm a mountain biker. So even with my mods anyone out there in a stock STI can probably beat me to the next Stop Light...I just have a little more to do along the way.

08 Charcoal Black Tint TurboBack & sexy audio-dsc00320-jpg

Life's about choices, and balance. I love my STI and I hope that alone allows me the privilege of your company and counsel, and perhaps to share the occasional story.

Last edited by deraeler; 03-22-12 at 08:50 AM. Reason: pics
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Old 03-22-12, 07:29 AM   #2
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Default Re: 08 Charcoal Black Tint TurboBack & sexy audio

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Old 03-22-12, 09:07 AM   #3
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Talking Re: The sexy audio part

I'm just getting around to posting the pics and walk-thru from my Subie audio project from last year.

So, I'm the proud owner of an '08 STI hatchback, and while I've done some modest installs over the years, this was the first with such lofty ambitions. I wanted an SQ install that was stealthy, cost-effective, within my abilities, and retained my spare tire. I do enough weekend trips etc that being stuck out in the boonies without a spare was unacceptable. What's more I play in a band and am an active sports enthusiast, so I wanted to be able to get my gear in the car without a shoe-horn and grease gun. Believe it or not, after the install, I can get a 6-piece drum set with hardware & cymbals, all in road-cases, into the car with the two front seats empty.

I loosely call this a stealth install, because with back seats upright and the stock, retractable, tonneau/cargo cover in place the audio components are invisible from the outside (or inside for that matter) of the vehicle. I also have smoked-black window tint all around which helps. This, coupled with sensible use, prudent parking and alarms, constitute the primary defenses against theft. Unfortunately, if someone were to gain entrance and bypass the alarm, the components are fairly defenseless, although I'm currently working on adding retainer braces for this. So anyway, on with the show.


1.) Component list:

Audison LRX 5.1 5-channel amp
Audison BitOne active EQ
Hertz MLK280 tweeters (1-1/8")
Hertz ML1600 two-ways (6-1/2")
twin Earthquake SWS-12 subs (12")
Kenwood DNX9980HD head unit
AXXESS ASWC Steering wheel control interface
Alcyone Engineering 20-pin forward harness; 8-pin AUX harness
PAC SPR-200 / BG-12 Dual Battery isolator
Kole Audio KCEL-800 CapCell
Stinger SGJ-11 thermal sensor / fan controller, 2A output
(2) 2.5" fans, distro blocks, LED illumination strips, lighted switches, relays


2.) Design approach:

As I have Cusco lateral stabilizers installed on my shock towers, this presented a 3" high obstacle across my cargo area. I planned to design & build an enclosure that would both fit over this to conceal it, but provide a flat surface over which I could slide cargo. Additionally, the space around this would provide the ventilation area for the enclosure fans, pulling additional air from beneath the cabin floor. The space to the rear of the the stabilizer basically defined the space I had to work with for my sub enclosure.

Speaking of enclosures, I used WinISD to compute by sub enclosure specs based on the dimensions restrictions I had to work with. I had read good things about the Earthquake SWX shallow sub driver design. Initially I had thoughts of using a single 15" sub installed in the spare tire cavity with a fiberglass custom enclosure, inspired by Ryan Slade's 2008 subaru STI project (thanks to Ryan at sladeaudio.com). As noted above I opted to retain my spare, hence the change in design approach. I'm not sure about the rules here re: promo plugs, so I'll just say now I sourced some of my components through Slade Audio and highly recommend his services. Ryan fabricated my custom A-pillars that hold the Hertz tweeters and did an amazing job. This is the only element of this project I didn't construct myself.

I opted instead for a dual-12" sealed enclosure design. So after sourcing my components and supplies, this is kind of where my focus began - I had two enclosures to build. The sub enclosure would be removable to allow for access to the spare. I cut the stock floor cover at the crease (a firm, carpeted, fibre-board material with a crease that allows it to open for spare access). The forward segment fits snugly under my lateral stabilizer and component enclosure, and will not be removable. The rear segment will be removable to provide spare access. It was necessary to cut the piece to allow this.


3.) Sub enclosure

Things to note about the sub enclosure:
  • Stage-component-grade, padded lift handles
  • dual, isolated chambers
  • padded stand-offs around the cabinet perimeter deep enough to accommodate driver throw, while holding a fabricated steel mesh grille.
  • recessed banana-plug connector cup, side-mounted for unobstructed access, concealment, and ease of cable removal.
  • synthetic poly fill used as baffling inside chambers

You can see the handles mounted next to each driver on top.
08 Charcoal Black Tint TurboBack & sexy audio-img00017-20110403-2339-jpg

The grill has to be removed to use the handles. Actually the enclosure can be lifted out without removing it, it's just more cumbersome. I fabricated the grille from lightweight diamond lath/mesh, L-bar stock aluminum (mitered) for the edges, and U-bar stock aluminum used in the middle for added strength. The mesh is epoxied to the bar stock. I added smaller pieces of aluminum L-stock, ground down to fit underneath, and bent at 90-degree angles to reinforce the corners. Welding would have been ideal, but I don't have welding gear. JB Weld 2-part epoxy is the best I've come across. Note also in the background you can see the rear of the component enclosure fit over the lateral stabilizer in the cargo bay.

08 Charcoal Black Tint TurboBack & sexy audio-dsc00183-jpg

Here you can see the finished enclosures mounted in the cargo bay. The sub enclosure is canted slightly forward.

08 Charcoal Black Tint TurboBack & sexy audio-dsc00179-jpg

I'd like to post the WinISD params here but that computer has crashed. I hope to recover the data and post it, perhaps along with the actual dimensions etc.


4.) Component Enclosure

Ok now for the component enclosure - things to note about this enclosure:
  • This box front is slanted backward matching the rear seat-back angle. With the rear seats up this sits snug against the seat backs.
  • The lift-top is piano-hinged with an additional bar-hinge on the right to support it while open.
  • Dual fan openings in the back house 2.5" fans mounted in opposing directions - one blows in, one blows out. These are wired in series with the temperature sensor which is mounted directly under the amp. when the temp rises above 100 degrees, blammo! we have increased air flow. Even though the Audison LRX is a digital/Class ABD amp (technically, combines Class A, AB and "auD") and produces less heat than traditional amp designs, as we all know, heat is our enemy in the electronics world...
  • Rear "shelf" sits over the lateral stabilizer bar sitting on the shock towers. The back rests just in front of the sub enclosure, and rises slightly higher to allow the hinge-top to open freely.
  • Routed channels in the bottom contain 12V wiring for the fans, lighting, and switches.
  • Two color-coded switches mounted on the back wall allow selective activation of Red and/or Blue LED strips mounted on the inside of the front pane for ambient/mood effects. OK, this is to impress the chics. Seriously, the blue in combination with the LED Volt Meter on the KCEL really makes for a pretty cool look. Too bad the KCEL battery is crap (more on that later).
  • A simple 12V relay on the right gates current to the component via the PAC isolator on the left. This isolates the aux KCEL battery from the car's ignition battery, preventing stranded music lovers looking for a jump.
  • Vertical separators (black) and triangular mounts for the BitOne have holes to allow wiring pass-thru beneath them. I need an elegant way to hide the red/black 12v wiring...even though its hidden by the components for the most part, it looks awful.
  • A low-voltage fuse block on the right protects the thermal/fan/lighting circuits.
  • Two bottom holes on either side provide cabling ingress/egress, and are hidden by the front panel.
  • Front panel has LED strips mounted to the inside, I'm working on an oval-insert for the opening that can be secured.

08 Charcoal Black Tint TurboBack & sexy audio-dsc00170-jpg

08 Charcoal Black Tint TurboBack & sexy audio-dsc00159-jpg

This shows the unit with components installed.

08 Charcoal Black Tint TurboBack & sexy audio-dsc00172-jpg


5.) Mid-Bass, Tweeter driver installs

A lot of others have covered this in exhaustive detail, so I won't belabor it here. As mentioned above, sladeaudio fab'd the A-pillars for me. This install is pretty simple, If any of you are worried about the airbags (as I was), this is really a non-issue - the trigger mechanism is in the front of the car, and a couple of screws removes the pillars once you pop off the covering plastic tabs. I opted to run my hands-free microphone wire up thru the driver-side pillar and mount the mic up near the roof. I routed this wire alongside my door speaker wires up to the head unit. I do wish the Hertz grilles were a little more protective - I narrowly avoided a disaster when I went to replace my registration sticker. My arm slipped when using my razor/scraper tool and I almost sliced my driver cone. Beware! Mesh screens may not look as good, but they do offer better protection IMHO.

The door installs were pretty painless thanks to the mounting rings provided by slade. For a couple extra bucks this saved me having to make my own - well worth it unless you're frequently doing these.

Be careful removing the door panels, this isn't tough especially if you invest in a panel removal tool - - this really cuts down on the potential for damage due to slipped screwdrivers etc. Patience and being methodical here is the key. remove the covering plastic tabs in the arm rests, and then the screws - be sure you get them all. I've read of others having trouble with the stock door tweeter enclosures, mine were pretty easy so Subaru must have listened and made the '08's better. Don't rush with the panels - these things are designed for easy assembly and reversing the process works as long as you take one at a time and pop each one with a specific, controlled motion. Be careful not to drop the little metal retaining clips in the arm rests down inside the door panel - carefully removing the armrests ensures these won't even come off.

I marked the speaker mounting holes on the mounting rings, then marked separate holes where I would mount these to the doors. I drilled countersunk holes for the screws that would mount the rings to the doors. I ran my wire out of the door interior through the rings, and mounted them with some silicone sealer. I then connected the wires to the speakers and mounted the speakers to the rings, ensuring they mount flush to the rings and have a good seal. Foam rings can be used here if you need to get a good seal, but the supplied basket rings worked fine for me. Note the end-pieces come off the dash pretty easily and allow routing of speaker wire from the HU to the doors. I just left the stock tweeter in the doors, disconnected. I cut and re-used the tweeter speaker wires leading out of the dash for my A-pillar tweeters. To simplify fishing speaker wires for the door Mids through the dash, I used the stock tweeter wire as a snake, taping new wire to it along with a guide wire, and pulled it thru the dash to the HU. I then disconnected the mid wire from this guide, connected it to the HU, and then used the guide wire to pull the tweeter wire back thru the dash. Repeat on the other side and you've saved a lot of headache pushing/pulling new wire thru the dash.

The Hertz grilles can be made to fit under the door panels, but this isn't really necessary. I felt better having them on just in case of a hard boot impact or something to the door. They fit without restricting the driver or the panel install so I didn't really think twice about it.

This would have been the time to install deadener in the doors - see below for discussion on this.


6.) BitOne EQ console control, Power status LED

The BitOne uses a USB interface to a laptop for setup/config. I won't review this unit here but it works great for me. Once you've programmed 4 EQ presets, these become selectable from the wired remote control module. I opted to sacrifice my storage cubby area under the dash HVAC controls and install a fabricated ABS bezel that held both the BitOne control and the LED status LED for the PAC isolator. This LED glows green/yellow/red to indicate your secondary battery status.

I fabricated a piece of ABS to have a hole for the cigarette lighter, a second hole for the LED, and a velcro strip mount for the Bitone Control. I built a wood support brace to support the ABS from behind, which was attached to the console itself. I drilled a hole in the ABS (right thru the velcro strip) thru which the control cable for the BitOne module could pass. I routed this cable up from the back of the center console (from where it emerged from its route from the back of the vehicle along the center console hump), thru this hole in the ABS and attached it to the BitOne module. I attached the other half of the velcro to the back of the BitOne module, then affixed this to the velcro on the ABS bezel, which effectively conceals the cable and holds the module firmly enough for normal use. It's actually quite secure and looks pretty good. The fake cigarette lighter fits in nicely to cover the lighter/power receptacle.

Pic below shows this assembly.

08 Charcoal Black Tint TurboBack & sexy audio-dsc00191-jpg


7.) Head Unit, ASWC steering control

I opted to buy the 20-pin forward harness, the Axxess AWSC steering wheel control interface, and the AUX input wiring harness from ae64.com. David Carter is a big help there and can assist with any issues you run into. You could install the HU without the 20-pin, but I find it's a cleaner install and will simplify any future HU changes. The AUX harness allowed me to retain the use of my AUX jack in the STI's center console storage bin between the front seats. Alternatively I could have just used the aux in on the HU, but I figured it's there, so why not use it, and if you leave your player in the console it's cleaner - no wires running to the head unit etc., plus its accessible from the back seat.

The ASWC may take a couple of tries to ensure the LED codes are correct for your HU, and I think it would be tougher for a non-mainstream HU. My Kenwood wasn't listed on the AXXESS web site for instructions, but I followed the manual programming procedure and it worked.

I wasn't aware of the fact that the HD radio requires an antenna booster input, and that this is supplied by the powered antenna control signal wire/input. The Impreza/STI doesn't have a powered antenna, but there is a wire in the harness for this. The blue wire from the 20-pin harness (my after-market, ae64.com harness) needs to be connected to the ANT. CONT. input on the back of the HU.

The emergency brake input is used to disable video while driving. Connecting this to ground disables this safety feature - of course this is your call.

For the HU itself, I opted to run the external connection cables to the glove box. These include the USB connectors, component Audio/Video outputs, Ext. SW control, iPod input, etc. There is sufficient space to route these connectors into the glove box, and this gets them out of the way. I honestly don't know where else you might put these to have convenient, frequent access to them.

On this (Kenwood) unit, I've had good luck with thumb drives, but SONY USB-powered hard drives don't work. I'm not planning to use external video, the dash screen is sufficient...I have no reason to run video to the back. I don't have an iPod so I can't comment on the iPod control, but I understand these work well for other users of this unit (need to buy Kenwood's iPod KCA-iP302V adapter cable though).

The rear backup camera would be a nice addition, but considering the added cost of the Kenwood camera module and the additional install hassle, I opted to wait on this.

The Bluetooth implementation is quite good and I stream audio from my phone frequently. Fidelity is better than I expected, but obviously not as good as USB, CD, etc.

I don't want to turn this into a review of the Kenwood unit, believe me I could write pages. Worth mentioning however is my major complaint with the touch screen - it sucks for navigating between songs on virtually any device. Double-taps aren't seen (try seeking back 2 songs..) and moves between menus are cumbersome - an awful thing to attempt while driving. The wireless remote is indispensable for this and well - for most operations. Additionally, when using screen touches near the bottom of the screen it's easy to inadvertently hit the buttons on the bezel (ie: Mute/Attenuate, Volume, Source, etc.). Call me old school but I miss the old knobs that just always seemed to work well. If I ever lose the remote I'll be quite bummed about it. (Are the Pioneer units any better?? - love to get some feedback on this.)

I leave the HU volume set at level 31, which provides an optimal output level for my components and was where I ended up when I did my BitOne configuration/input matching. The BitOne module has a manual volume control knob which I use. The remote will work in a pinch (ie: from the back seat).

For the component control and speaker wires (ie: all the low power wires) I ran these to the back on one side of the center console hump, then to one side of my component enclosure. I ran the hi-power wires down the other side of the console hump and to the other side of my component enclosure (I made two large access holes in the bottom of my enclosure for this purpose). I found I got enough EMI isolation without having to route my wires along the kick panels/doors. Removing the rear seat bench allowed these to be routed separately, and I used/drilled grounding points under the bench for short-run grounding wires from my component enclosure. I used separate grounding points for low-power and high-power connections, and appear to have avoided any ground-loop issues. Ensuring I had clean, bare-metal contacts, good quality wire and short ground runs seems to have done the trick. I admit this was a big concern going in, with the number of ground points I needed and the complexity of the wiring in the enclosure.


8.) Sound Deadening
Due to budget limitations I'm going to revisit the sound deadening this year. Doing this the "right" way can get a little pricey. The logic behind using tiles on large flat surfaces, coupled with strategic mat application seems logical and apparently has been quite effective for some.

Sounddeadenershowdown.com seems to have this nailed and will likely be my source for these components. Any input others may have re: success or failure with their own deadening practices would be welcomed.


9.) Power

Just a few notes on this -

I was able to get away with 4ga for my long distance runs and 8ga for short. I used a set of Tsunami distro/fuse blocks, with my main power fuse right next to the battery, mounted right on top of the plastic Subaru fuse block compartment. A few screws hold this nicely in place, and this particular fuse holder has a voltage meter which I find really useful, esp. since I store the car in winter months and I frequently need to check the status of my battery/tender. (For longer periods I disconnect the battery). It does look cool too, but it's under the hood so this is truly secondary. I plan to buy a top-notch battery when it's time to replace my stock Subaru battery - in fact many people recommend just doing this instead of implementing a backup/standby battery solution. I like the peace of mind of knowing I won't get stranded if I'm forgetful - the PAC isolator is a real safety net. fyi - I've used a premium battery in my other vehicle and it's served me extremely well (it's my truck and only warrants so much investment in audio :laugh:, otherwise I'd add a second battery to it too).

The PAC isolator works great. Unfortunately, the KCEL-800 is a crappy battery or "capcell". It's been well documented that Caps don't really help, they only assist with momentary surges and don't really do that very well. Perhaps this changes for really high-power installs, as I see them used everywhere in comp systems, but if you do some research you'll find there's some really good evidence out there against their use. Bottom line there's no substitute for a really good amp and batteries. What I really wanted was a backup battery, but the KCEL seemed like a good compromise solution as I was exhausting my budget. I wanted the volt-meter display and the battery, didn't much care about the Cap, but as it turns out, I don't even get 10 minutes of backup time with the system running at low volume. The PAC LED goes yellow the moment I switch off the ignition. So the plan is to save up some denero for a decent backup battery. My enclosure doesn't provide enough space to add a battery without replacing the KCEL. I'll have to re-run a wire or two because the KCEL provides two sets of terminals on top. This is nice as you have an IN side and an OUT side, which is basically how I designed my wiring. Since most batteries only have the two pos/neg terminals, I'll need to re-do this. The KCEL battery performance degraded fairly quickly. I hear their higher-end batteries are pretty good, but I can't say much for this one. I can only imagine the KCEL-3000 and KCEL-400 models are even worse. Live & learn I guess.

The most important issue with this install (or any install for that matter) is the power management, IMHO. (So why did I skimp on a CapCell? doh!) I was getting significant power-on pops until I sourced my power to the PAC not from the harness, but from the yellow wire inside the under-side of the steering column. A tech from PAC clued me into this and it did the trick. I just can't recall if this was accessory or constant power..I'll have to document this next time I have it open.

Lastly, I still have a power-OFF pop that's really annoying, however as long as I turn off the HU prior to turning off the ignition I don't get the pop. I thought a Stinger pop-stopper would fix this, but as best I can tell I'd have to gate all my speaker wires thru this device for it to work. Seems like it will be too much hassle, but more research is needed here. There must be a way!


10.) Conclusion

See above for a pic with the seats up, to prove it worked...
I've hit my quota so more pics will have to wait, maybe if enough folks like this they'll bump my quota

Thanks to everyone for their input - you know who you are, to Ryan at Slade Audio, Jerry at Thunder Audio & Video, David Carter at ae64.com, and Larry Frederick at Audison...

And of course Subaru, for an absolutely amazing vehicle and a regular dose of adrenaline....Hertz and Audison for superb components and a regular dose of aural fantasmagoria...

Thx for reading....

pz

Last edited by deraeler; 03-22-12 at 09:31 AM.
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Old 04-12-18, 11:37 AM   #4
deraeler
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Default Re: 08 Charcoal Black Tint TurboBack & sexy audio

Just an update - funny I get no posts here, but people do come and check it out on occasion - LOL.

Hope y'all enjoy it, please feel free to leave a note.

I dumped the Kole K-Cel - that was junk...not using any sort of Capacitor.

Just an Optima Yellow-top battery up front and a Stinger in the back.
- clean power is the key.

I also upgraded my LRX amp - it's still an Audison but is their LRX 7.1 multimedia version (discontinued). I got a great price on it new and it works great with my (new, see below)7.1 setup.

The Bit-One has been a champ, although I lost two input channels on it a few years ago.
The remaining channels are more than I need and it's worked great.

I made room on the side of my cargo area by building two aluminum rails to which I mounted my Stinger battery. The rails are held in place by the weight of the subwoofer enclosure, and partially by the heavy duty wire. It sort of hovers over my sub on the side. I also added a Volt-meter here, as mentioned above I like to keep tabs on the batteries when in storage etc.

By adding the secondary battery I eliminated the K-Cel which I admit was really ultimately there to serve as a wiring junction given its input and output terminals - it made the enclosure wiring more logical. However with this change I completely re-did that wiring, it's far cleaner now, and the Stinger secondary battery is working great.

Lastly, I had a nice set of Boston Acoustic separates from my old truck that still worked and sound great, so I added these in the rear doors, with an Alpine amp added in the enclosure. A little bit of re-work but well worth it, it's awesome.

Last edited by deraeler; 04-12-18 at 12:07 PM.
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