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#282105 - 26/05/2006 13:31 Upgraded 2000 Subaru Outback Install
cushman
veteran

Registered: 21/01/2002
Posts: 1380
Loc: Erie, CO
Some of you may remember my first install where I put the Empeg in my car with an FM modulator. I decided recently the sound quality could be a bit better, so I decided to upgrade. When I made this decision I didn't know what I was getting myself into!

After buying a cheapish Kicker amp and subwoofer, I started doing some more research on the topic and decided to go with some higher quality components. I knew I had to replace the factory head unit in my car, but I didn't want to have a flashy dash (no dolphins). The Nakamichi CD400 was the perfect HU for me, it has both AUX in and subwoofer out, detachable face and looks like a stock head unit. For amps, I got the Nakamichi PA-1004 and PA-1002 to drive the front speakers and subwoofer. For front speakers, I bought 4 MB Quart DKE-116 coaxials.

After weighing my options, I built a custom amp rack under the rear deck of the cargo area, just above the spare tire. This rack is hinged to provide access to the spare tire, and vented through to the cargo compartment. I have fans in the cover, but I need to slow them down a bit since they are too loud at full power.



I also built a custom subwoofer enclosure for just behind the wheelwell. The enclosure sticks into a compartment where the jack used to be and bolted in to a bracket that I made to hold it there. I bought some close-matching carpet at a car interior shop, and carpted the enclosure. I am glad I got some decent carpet since it allowed me to flex around the curves of the enclosure well.



All the wiring for the audio system is new. I wired 1/0 into the engine compartment, replaced all the engine grounds with 1/0 and installed a breaker by the battery. The amp remote line from the head unit is fused and runs through a relay to switch both amps and provide power to the fans. The speaker wire is all brand new, it was a pain to get it through all the doors, but enough WD-40 will fix anything. The interconnects are quad shield RG-6 with crimp-on RCA connectors, made up for me by a friend. Everything is crimped and soldered, then heat-shrunk or taped. The ground is a grounding block screwed to the floorpan of the cargo area. Even with all of these precautions, I still have a tad bit of alternator whine, but it's hardly noticable except when I crank the levels on the amps.

I'm glad it's finished, and it sounds great! I still need to dial the levels in, but so far I'm very happy with the install. Here's a pic of the completed dash with the Empeg and Nakamichi in place. After the pic is a link to the full gallery with construction pictures and installation steps. Almost everything I did in this install was a first for me, so I learned a ton (fiberglass, amp wiring, carpet, etc).



Gallery of the full install
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Mark Cushman

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#282106 - 26/05/2006 14:11 Re: Upgraded 2000 Subaru Outback Install [Re: cushman]
sein
old hand

Registered: 07/01/2005
Posts: 889
Loc: Sector ZZ9pZa
FM Modulator to amazing Nakamichi setup with custom sub and stuff. Dude, that is one hell of an upgrade. I bet it sounds great! Your handiwork on the rack for the amps is also seriously impressive.

Good stuff!
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Hussein

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#282107 - 26/05/2006 14:17 Re: Upgraded 2000 Subaru Outback Install [Re: sein]
cushman
veteran

Registered: 21/01/2002
Posts: 1380
Loc: Erie, CO
Thanks! And Happy Birthday!
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Mark Cushman

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#282108 - 26/05/2006 17:02 Re: Upgraded 2000 Subaru Outback Install [Re: cushman]
loren
carpal tunnel

Registered: 23/08/2000
Posts: 3824
Loc: SLC, UT, USA
NICE. And what sub are you running?
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#282109 - 26/05/2006 18:18 Re: Upgraded 2000 Subaru Outback Install [Re: loren]
cushman
veteran

Registered: 21/01/2002
Posts: 1380
Loc: Erie, CO
JL Audio W1v2 10". I needed a sub that would work in a small enclosure since I didn't have a lot of space there. The mounting depth for this one is shallow, too. Honestly I've never had a subwoofer before so I can't compare the sound in this car, but it is giving me what I want so far.
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Mark Cushman

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#282110 - 26/05/2006 22:35 Re: Upgraded 2000 Subaru Outback Install [Re: cushman]
loren
carpal tunnel

Registered: 23/08/2000
Posts: 3824
Loc: SLC, UT, USA
Nice. I am soon going to replace my a/d/s r10s sub with a JL 10w6v2 if I can find one local for cheap. I have a JL 500/1 amp and I haven't been happy with the a/d/s despite it's reputation for being a good musical sub. It always sounds muddy and slightly distorted, not tight and punchy, and I've had a local install legend check out the setup, wiring, amp config, etc to make sure it wasn't the install. Hoping it's the sub itself and not just the stage in the WRX wagon that's killing it.

Never should have left JL... I have always used their subs and LOVED them.
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#282111 - 28/05/2006 00:46 Re: Upgraded 2000 Subaru Outback Install [Re: cushman]
FireFox31
pooh-bah

Registered: 19/09/2002
Posts: 2491
Loc: East Coast, USA
That's a really nice install. I love how people run their amp wires SO perfectly!

What RCA connectors did you use? I'm shopping around for some for my install.
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FireFox31
110gig MKIIa (30+80), Eutronix lights, 32 meg stacked RAM, Filener orange gel lens, Greenlights Lit Buttons green set

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#282112 - 28/05/2006 02:01 Re: Upgraded 2000 Subaru Outback Install [Re: FireFox31]
cushman
veteran

Registered: 21/01/2002
Posts: 1380
Loc: Erie, CO
The cable is quad-shielded RG-6 with Stirling gold RCA crimp-on connectors, they were custom made to length by an audiophile friend of mine who had extra cable and connectors AND the tools to crimp them perfectly. Here's a link to similar connectors, it looks like the ones we used are discontinued. I was told these cables rival very expensive home audio interconnects but would reduce any noise along the cable since they are shielded so well. They were a pain to run and didn't bend easily, but I'm happy with them.
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Mark Cushman

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#282113 - 03/06/2006 16:38 Re: Upgraded 2000 Subaru Outback Install [Re: cushman]
Tolzidan
new poster

Registered: 03/06/2006
Posts: 1
Awesome install, I'm trying to do something simalar but to be used with a car computer instead of the dual amps. My first quick and dirty attempt at a box for the computer and amp turned out poorly and I was wondering if you could give me a couple of specs on the box you put in the spare tire well. The specs I'm most interested in are the total height of the box and what material you used (from the picture it appears the you used MDF correct?). Thank you for a response.

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#282114 - 04/06/2006 01:20 Re: Upgraded 2000 Subaru Outback Install [Re: Tolzidan]
cushman
veteran

Registered: 21/01/2002
Posts: 1380
Loc: Erie, CO
It's all made of 3/4" MDF, cut with a circular saw and a homemade guide, and the sides on a tablesaw. If you get a plywood blade, this works best for MDF and makes a clean cut. I think you should build it to the width for your specific trunk. I didn't actually measure, just used the actual depth as a guide. What I did was first roughly lay out the bottom piece, then cut it and laid it on the spare tire below with some 1/4" spacers so I would have some leeway from the tire. Then I measured from the bottom piece to where I wanted the top to be, and cut the sides. The top was then made using a bandsaw and cleaned up on a sanding wheel.

Everything is put together with glue and screws, and the top is attached with screw-in inserts (McMaster-Carr part #90192A117) that are epoxied into the sides. This gives me a good way to attach and remove the top repeatedly (for amp level adjustments) without damaging the MDF. Also, when screwing the MDF, it's good practice to drill the hole just slightly smaller than the threads on the screws (and longer than you'll need), use straight shank metal screws, and countersink the both the head and shank locations. This picture illustrates why:



When you tighten the screw (even a bit) it will raise the edge of the MDF enough to split it unless you are careful. This method works well for me, no split edges after using this for years. The glue will seep into the holes and make the joint even stronger, too. Don't use a drill to drive the screws, or you will definately split the MDF if you are not very careful. Split MDF makes a horrible joint.

I reinforced the existing metal piece in my car with some aluminum stock, cut to size. The aluminum can be cut on a tablesaw with a regular blade (buy a cheap one just for aluminum cuts) and drilled on the drill press. The hinge is a piano hinge from a hardware store cut to size and riveted to the aluminum stock. Then I attached the hinge to the rack with screws. Take it step-by-step and go slow, you can get it done. Here are some more pics of the amp rack:









How did your first rack fail?


Attachments
282559-screwmdf.gif (3686 downloads)

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Mark Cushman

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#282115 - 11/12/2006 03:20 Re: Upgraded 2000 Subaru Outback Install [Re: cushman]
cushman
veteran

Registered: 21/01/2002
Posts: 1380
Loc: Erie, CO
I can't go back and edit my first post, and I've rearranged my website - the images don't exist there anymore.

http://cushman.net/2006/11/06/subaru-outback-audio-install/

That's a link to the new install page. The images are now up on Flickr.
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Mark Cushman

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#282116 - 11/12/2006 03:25 Re: Upgraded 2000 Subaru Outback Install [Re: cushman]
cushman
veteran

Registered: 21/01/2002
Posts: 1380
Loc: Erie, CO
Quote:
The ground is a grounding block screwed to the floorpan of the cargo area. Even with all of these precautions, I still have a tad bit of alternator whine, but it's hardly noticable except when I crank the levels on the amps.

An update on the whine, I found out the custom RCAs that I had made were faulty somehow. The whine was traced back to them, I've replaced the interconnects with standard JL interconnects and NO whine whatsoever now! I was pretty worried that it would be something bigger.

One other issue that I had that I've resolved is the amp relay. The first relay I was using somehow shorted out and kept draining my battery every other day. I think it was because I put a lot of heat through it while I was soldering the wires to the pins of the relay, so I cut it out and replaced it with a relay plug instead. This winter I've had to replace my battery because I drained it to nothing so many times it wore it out. So, new relay and new Die-Hard Gold and I'm set.
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Mark Cushman

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