Thursday, July 5, 2012

Audio Upgrades, 3M VentureShield

Hello?  Yes, this is dog.
The interior of the car is apart and the guys at CAS Design are mid-way through the audio upgrade process.  The dash and doors are disassembled, and the head unit is out.  Looks like our amplifier (a JL Audio 500/3) is going to fit under the driver's seat, which keeps the weight (although it's only 4.8 pounds) low and central in the car.  The amp delivers 60 watts to each front channel at 4 ohms, and 180 watts to the sub channel.  (360 watts to a 2-ohm sub, if we chose to do that.)  I figure that'll be plenty of power for the car's small interior volume.

So cute!
The stock amp is about the size of a pound of butter, and weighs only a little more (1.6 pounds with its mounting bracket).  It's so small it fits in my hand.   (If you had to order a new one from Subaru, though, it'd cost you nearly $300!)  I have no idea how many watts of power it makes.  Five?

The stock speakers are pretty decent-looking for an OEM part.  The cones are plastic, not paper, and the tweeter is a metal inverted dome design.  Curiously, the whole OEM system (front speakers and the tiny stock amplifier) are rated at 2 ohms.  A lot of OEM Toyota systems are two-ohm; I'm not sure if that is for weight or cost reasons.

The new speakers are a two-way setup (KR-165) from Focal.  I will eventually add a rear sub, but for now we're just changing out the head unit and the front speakers, and adding amplification.  The amp is a three-channel -- two of the channels will drive the front speakers, and the third will be for the future subwoofer in the back.  The Focal speakers have cones made of aramid fiber -- think Kevlar and Nomex.  Aramids are very strong, light, and heat resistant. 

Dash explosion
We used a Metra kit to fit the double-DIN Pioneer head unit in the dash.  (The Metra part# is 95-8202.)

We put a layer of Dynamat in the doors, and replaced the stock plastic vapor barrier with Dynamat as well.  That's a total of about five pounds of Dynamat, but the solid "thunk" when the doors close, not to mention the tighter response from the door speakers, is worth it to me.

The other thing we're having done is the installation of 3M VentureShield on the front end of the car.  VentureShield and products like it are a clear adhesive that sticks to the car, and prevents stone chips.  We generally do it on all our new cars.  On this car we had Dave at Proshield cover the front bumper, the headlights, side mirrors, and sections of the front fenders and hood.

When are you going to start?'s done?
The VentureShield is custom cut by a CNC plotter to conform perfectly to the car, and is nearly invisible, especially when it is new.  As it ages, it will yellow a little, especially if it sees a lot of sun, but I'd rather a slight yellowing rather than the blast of sand and stone chips I would get from driving in this area.

The picture to the left is AFTER the installation of the VentureShield.  I couldn't see it at first look, and it was almost impossible to capture the seam on camera.  Dave did a really nice job, so call him to protect your car.

Stay tuned for more updates on the audio system.

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