Amp, Sub and Dynamat Install (Long post/heavy-pic warning)

Discussion in 'Infotainment and Electronics (Nav, Audio, Video, Bluetooth)' started by mikes2017gt, Mar 19, 2017.

  1. mikes2017gt

    mikes2017gt Well-Known Member

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    #1 mikes2017gt, Mar 19, 2017
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2017
    This is a long read, but I wanted to detail my rationale for the equipment I chose and why I chose it. I also wanted to create a thread that might be helpful to those looking to install a sub and amp in their S550.

    The Shaker 9-speaker system sounds pretty good for a stock system and most folks are probably pretty happy with it. But, it’s missing real low-end. Without a true sub, there’s just no thump. Personally, I think Ford missed the boat with the upgraded Shaker system by not including a sub. I decided to remedy the situation and add one myself.

    Ford double-missed the boat by not even providing the wiring (power and signal) for a sub on S550s that did not come with a sub from the factory. I knew I was going to have to run a power wire up to the battery and find a signal to feed the amp. With the rear speakers right there in the trunk and the wiring harness nice and exposed it was a no-brainer to use a line output converter (LOC) to provide a preamp-level signal for the amp.

    I wanted the installation to be as clean and hidden as possible. Didn’t want to just bolt the amp to the sub box and have all that wiring exposed. Single-channel amps are small these days and as I don’t have a spare tire, there would be plenty of room in the spare tire well for the amp. I did want to keep my inflator kit and room for jumper cables, so the amp had to be small but still full-featured.

    I have the tools and experience to build a sub box and have built probably two dozen or so for myself and to sell over the past 20 years. But this time was different.

    For the sub box itself, I didn’t want a big box taking up the entire trunk (been there, done that) and blocking access to the spare tire well. Nor did I want the headache of securing said box so it didn’t slide around. I wanted something that would fit in the dead space behind the tail lights on either side of the trunk.

    I started doing some research and quickly found I had two choices; a JL Audio Stealthbox or an Audio Designs stealthbox-like enclosure. I’ve used JL subs in the past and loved them, but I’d never used a Stealthbox. The Audio Designs boxes look good enough, but I wasn’t going to use whatever brand of sub they sell with their boxes b/c I’ve never heard of that brand. I didn’t want to run the risk of whatever driver I buy not fitting the cutout of their box, either. So, though it’s expensive, I went with the JL Audio SB-F-MUSCPE/12TW3 Stealthbox. Box guaranteed to fit the space in the trunk and a driver guaranteed to work with the enclosure. Peace of mind isn’t cheap but it’s a good feeling.

    I knew I’d have to pull the panels in the trunk to run the wiring properly, so I figured it would be a great time to Dynamat the trunk. Not only does a lower noise floor make any stereo sound better, but I was hoping it would also tame the road noise the low-profile tires generate.

    Here’s a list of equipment I installed. Needless to say, I used a ton of zip ties, zip tie bases and various tools as well.

    5 sheets of Dynamat Xtreme Bulk pack (9-sheet kit…didn’t want to run out) http://www.dynamat.com/dynamat-xtreme-bulk-pak/
    PAC SNI-35 Variable Line Output Converter https://www.amazon.com/PAC-SNI-35-V...9961481&sr=8-1&keywords=line+output+converter
    JL Audio SB-F-MUSCPE/12TW3 Stealthbox http://www.jlaudio.com/car-audio-stealthbox-ford-mustang-coupe-15-up
    JL Audio XD600/av2 monoblock sub amp http://www.jlaudio.com/xd600-1v2-car-audio-xdv2-amplifiers-98604
    JL Audio XD-PCS4-1B installation kit http://www.jlaudio.com/xd-pcs4-1b-car-audio-amplifier-connection-kits-90355
    DB Link AGUFH1 AGU Fuse Holder (b/c the fuse holder that came with JL kit was too tall for where I wanted to install it) https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000P0UBPE/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s01?ie=UTF8&psc=1
    DB Link 80—amp AGU fuse https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000P0W5A8/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s01?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    And a pair of old RCA cables I had lying around.

    Onto the install. Removed all the trunk panels; very easy but there is a hidden plastic plug right next to the rear seatbelt mounts on either side. That was the only tricky part.

    Most people connect their ground wire to the bolt in-between the rear seats but I found a more convenient location; the spare tire hold down bracket. It has two 8mm threaded holes. The one on the right is used to hold down the inflator kit but the one on the left was unused. A wire wheel in the cordless drill makes quick work of the paint. After it was nice and shiny I wiped it down with Acetone.

    IMG_20170317_162936915%20Large_zpsd0wobbyk.jpg

    Mockup of the ground wire attached.

    IMG_20170317_155621201%20Large_zpshd9dwh84.jpg

    Cut out some of the Styrofoam on the inflator hold down block to fit over the ground wire.
    IMG_20170317_155550883%20Large_zpsp2nt7npg.jpg

    It still fits fine. I also cut the “wings” off the top edge of the Styrofoam block. Stock, it’s sort of shaped like a “Y”.

    IMG_20170317_155614886%20Large_zpscp59emkg.jpg


    I prepped the metal surfaces for the Dynamat by wiping everything down with Acetone. This ensures the Dynamat sticks and stays stuck.

    IMG_20170317_162353783_HDR%20Large_zpsujusfbpj.jpg

    IMG_20170317_162400577_HDR%20Large_zps3hota9nw.jpg

    No pics of the Dynamat install in-progress; you can Youtube that. Basically, you cut strips to fit the various locations and make cuts in the material to go around corners and odd shapes. It’s not as easy as it looks. Very time-consuming and messy (you will go through lots of disposable nitrile gloves).

    Essentially, I covered everything in the trunk except any grommets or all that bulky seam sealer.

    IMG_20170317_202208957%20Large_zps1znzqmhi.jpg

    Ground wire installed in this pic.

    IMG_20170317_202220683%20Large_zpszana4gwt.jpg

    Smaller pieces of Dynamat installed where I thought they would help.
    IMG_20170317_202232398%20Large_zpsjwji6tzi.jpg

    IMG_20170317_202240676%20Large_zpsjboofogi.jpg

    IMG_20170317_202256982%20Large_zpsetphqfef.jpg

    I never attach an amp directly to a metal surface; I always use a board. Cut a piece of ½” plywood to the size I needed, glued a strip of ¾” MDF to the back in order to make the board sit level in the spare tire well and spray painted it flat black.

    IMG_20170317_225731578%20Large_zpsus5iacye.jpg

    IMG_20170317_225800447%20Large_zpsbevrhfum.jpg

    IMG_20170317_225703099%20Large_zps1imzldy0.jpg

    IMG_20170317_225712471%20Large_zpsybsorvff.jpg

    Amp mounted to the board. I used the industrial-strength Velcro in the picture to secure the board to the spare tire well.

    IMG_20170318_130133702%20Large_zpszfnuufyp.jpg

    Now for the signal and power wiring. Used wiretaps to connect the LOC to the rear speakers.

    IMG_20170319_150059465_HDR%20Large_zpsn77ehjtv.jpg

    Connected the RCA cables to the LOC and ran them over the right side of the car. Later, when putting the trunk panels back I made sure to route the RCA cables away from the power wire.

    Now it was time to run the power wire from the battery to the trunk. Notice in this pic the ground wire is disconnected from the battery. This should be the FIRST thing you do when doing any type of electrical work on the car.

    IMG_20170318_160153357%20Large_zps1dhy0odl.jpg

    As most folks do, I ran the power wire on the passenger side, through the grommet hidden under the fender liner. Remove the front wheel, remove 98 of the 100 little plastic fasteners (not that many but it’s a lot!) and you have this.

    IMG_20170318_160119144_HDR%20Large_zpshukmtd3v.jpg

    And there’s the grommet.

    IMG_20170318_160127225%20Large_zpsnjtepapm.jpg

    Bottom, center of the pic are the two holes I used to run the power wire from the battery to the grommet and into the car.

    IMG_20170318_160139675%20Large_zps7zgep8lv.jpg

    I attached the power wire to the positive battery terminal like this. By the way, you have to disassemble the battery terminal to do this. I found out the hard way that there are two little metal wedge-shaped pieces that make the terminal “clamp”. And those little piece will fall out, down into the engine bay when you unscrew it all. This is why this part of the install took two hours…finally found all the parts.

    IMG_20170318_165703665%20Large_zpssunihfwm.jpg

    Terminal cover still covers everything, just like stock.

    IMG_20170318_165919252%20Large_zps95zhfnyv.jpg

    Fuse holder wired up.

    IMG_20170318_171109133%20Large_zps1beufa28.jpg

    Used ½” wire loom to protect the power wire. Fuse holder fits nicely inside the battery box. You can see how the wire runs from the terminal, down the holder, back up and out of the battery box, underneath the positive cable.

    IMG_20170318_183034282%20Large_zpsqpj7h5yq.jpg

    Wire goes down into the fender.

    IMG_20170318_183041896%20Large_zps7fkr8ued.jpg

    Battery cover covers everything. Can’t even see there’s a power wire installed.

    IMG_20170318_213121398%20Large_zpshh1dippz.jpg

    Wire comes down through the fender and into the grommet. I gooped on some black silicone where the wire goes into the grommet as an extra measure against water leaking in. There were two holes in that bracket which made for a convenient way to secure the wire from moving around. Note the zip tie base for added routing support.

    IMG_20170318_175557549%20Large_zpsst2xhjmf.jpg

    At this point, I was about 10 hours into the install and very tired, so I forgot to take pics of routing the power wire through the car. Basically, I pulled off the passenger kick panel and fuse box cover and the passenger side sill plate and ran the wire to the back of the car.

    Time to install the Stealthbox. This took me about 5 hours, total and was the most difficult part of this entire installation. Though JL gives great instructions with plenty of pictures, it was not easy. It is very difficult getting the bolts to line up with the holes on the enclosure, especially the single bolt on the right, upper side of the enclosure. The Stealthbox uses the factory subwoofer mounting points which are present in the body of the vehicle, regardless of the whether or not your car came from the factory with a sub. Here are the instructions for the Stealthbox.
    http://mediacdn.jlaudio.com/media/m...t/live_1/SB_F_MUSCPE_12TW3_MAN.pdf?1478208742

    I found the magic trick was removing that rear bolt and threading it in from inside the box. Wish I would’ve figured that out waaay sooner in the process. As an added “gotcha”, JL was a bit sloppy on the QC with this Stealthbox. It might be hard to see in these pics, but there is a bunch of excess fiberglass resin around the mounting holes which prevented the washers and bolts used to secure the box from seating properly. I had to use a Dremel and a grinding bit to grind the resin down. This added an hour to the process. I got mad not only at JL but at myself for not noticing this until I was installing it. I had to remove it from the car to do the grinding.

    IMG_20170318_220921560%20Large_zpsvunudjlm.jpg

    IMG_20170318_220929194%20Large_zpsnxgmwalk.jpg

    Got the box installed, replaced the trunk panels, hooked wires to the amp, tidied up the wiring and here’s the end result. I left slack in the wires on purpose, so I can move the amp around if I ever decide to get a spare tire.

    IMG_20170319_132048025_HDR%20Large_zpskslsentr.jpg

    With the inflator kit and my jumper cables.

    IMG_20170319_132216851%20Large_zpsrqqw2b4r.jpg

    All buttoned-up. No exposed wiring at all and I still have a fully-usable trunk.

    IMG_20170319_132335382_HDR%20Large_zpsmyyzmbvr.jpg

    I am very happy with how it all turned out. I'm still playing around with the gain on the amp but think I've got it where it needs to be. As you know, all songs are recorded differently, so while one song may have the perfect amount of bass, another will be overwhelming and another, not enough. Pretty sure I've found a happy medium setting. I did buy the remote gain control but decided not to install it as running that cable would've meant taking apart the entire interior. As that cable has phone plugs on the ends, and is very thin and flexible, you can't just shove it behind/underneath trim panels like you can with 4-gauge cable. I can live without it.

    Though this is 12" sub with 600w behind it, it's not a dual-12" ported box with 600w behind it. It's a 12" in a small, sealed box. Definitely more on the SQ side of things vs. the Funk in Trunk from 300 yards away side of things, if you know what I mean. ;) And that's exactly what I was going for. Some real thump in the cabin without being obnoxious outside the car, and taking up the whole trunk in the process.

    The Dynamat also is a home run. After adding a Borla Touring catback exhaust, the noise in the cabin definitely went up. While not unbearable, I do have a 2-hour round trip commute every day, and do a lot of business on speakerphone while driving, so quieting things down inside was a goal. Worked like a charm. Highly recommend Dynamat Xtreme.

    Thanks for reading and I hope this thread is useful to someone looking to install a sub in their S550.
     
    G4579, Ramn, DPE and 11 others like this.
  2. fordmustanglove

    fordmustanglove Active Member

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    wow amazing! now I see why pro shops charge so much
     
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  3. jordystang69

    jordystang69 Well-Known Member

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    excellent work
     
  4. scott_0

    scott_0 Well-Known Member

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    clean install for sure!
     
  5. Fenix

    Fenix Well-Known Member

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    Very nice install, super clean and tidy.

    If I may ask, how exactly is the ring terminal fastened to the battery post clamp? Is it just wedged in there?
     
  6. OP
    OP
    mikes2017gt

    mikes2017gt Well-Known Member

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    Thanks, Fenix. The ring terminal is secured two different ways.

    The battery terminals have a bolt of sorts that runs from side to side, but the body of the bolt is flat vs. round and fits through a slot in both sides of the terminal. If you completely remove the clamping nut, the terminal comes apart and you can pull the bolt out. You can also drop the little metal wedges down onto the exhaust manifold and it will take an hour just to find them. :frusty: LOL!

    So, I removed the flat bolt and slid it through the ring terminal (just happened to fit through the size of the hole in the ring terminal) and them clamped the battery terminal down like normal.

    Wish I took pics of this part! Hope the explanation helps.

    ps
    Looking at your sig, I see you're about to install basically the same Stealthbox/amp combo as me! Did you buy both already? I had my eye on the 300w amp, but experience told me to buy the more powerful 600w version. Very happy with it. Get the bigger amp if you can...for another $40 or whatever the diff is, it's worth it. LMK if you have any questions about your install; I'd be happy to help (virtually, anyway). :)
     
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  7. Legionofone

    Legionofone Well-Known Member

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    Just finished my install, FYI for a clean look on the LOC and no need to cut the factory harness apart you can just solder to the terminals on the speakers.

    For anyone that wants to run a remote gain control, you do have to take out the kick panels and side runner but that is it. You can tuck everything in under the carpet at that point so it will never fall out. I ran my gain control into my glove box you can run it in and mount it on the left or right side, gives my wife control over how much bass she wants!

    I mounted my amp on the side of my phantom box (from Audio designs) for good air flow, you can get a good ground by drilling a hole through an internal panel behind the right side, its all internal so you aren't punching holes anywhere and you can access the back and drop a nut and lock washer on it.
     
  8. OP
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    mikes2017gt

    mikes2017gt Well-Known Member

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    Soldering to the rear speaker terminals (or catching the signal there with wire taps) works just fine. But then you have more wire to run. I tapped into the wiring harness like I did to minimize how much wire I'd have to run...and avoid soldering upside down. :eek: Though cutting away the fabric wrapping the wires and putting those clamps on upside down wasn't fun or easy, either.

    The input wires on the LOC are about 6" long. Perfect length for connecting them where I did.
     
  9. Fenix

    Fenix Well-Known Member

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    Yes that helps a ton! I hadn't ever taken the positive side off to really get a good look at how it was assembled.

    I did purchase the amp already. I was looking around on the sonic electronix site and magically a $50 off coupon popped up on the screen for the 300w amp. I couldn't really pass it up for $255 shipped, even though it was a special order.
     
  10. Shouldhavegotthegt

    Shouldhavegotthegt Well-Known Member

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    I've been looking into dynamat for the trunk. It rattles like crazy with my Rockford 12. Did you do the the lid too or just the sides and spare tire compartment?
     
  11. OP
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    mikes2017gt

    mikes2017gt Well-Known Member

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    I did not do the trunk lid. I thought about it, but didn't do it. I didn't want Dynamat showing when I opened the trunk and by the time I removed the trim panel on the underside of the lid, I'd only be able to squeeze a small piece of mat in there. Didn't seem worth the trouble, but I can always do it later if I find the need to. I have 4 sheets of mat left over.

    I don't have any rattle that I can hear, even standing outside behind the car. I put a good amount of Dynamat behind the tail lights and my license plate is solidly attached to the bumper. If the license plate starts rattling, I'll put some Dynamat on the back of it.

    Also, my sub is not a massive, two 12" box. I wasn't going for big SPL with this install; I just wanted the low end filled in nicely with a little thump and it turned out well.
     
  12. mumbles

    mumbles Well-Known Member

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    Nice job, and thanks for taking the time to explain your process!
     
  13. Legionofone

    Legionofone Well-Known Member

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    I have 0 dynamat in mine and only have a bit of a rattle if I hit the wrong frequency, seems ford did a pretty good job building the trunk area for a single sub.
     
  14. wildcatgoal

    wildcatgoal @sirboom_photography

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    Gotta jump in... that ground is probably not the best idea. First, a ground should be bolted. Can't tighten a screw like a bolt and the ring terminal can easily twist without a locking washer, causing loss of the connection intermittently - seen that 1,000 times. Second, that point may have additional/undesirable resistance for the amperage load of your system because it is a piece of metal tack-welded to the body. It is not meant to pass current. Having fixed quite a few systems where noise was eliminated just by improving the ground, I would not ground there. You check that ground path for ohm resistance with a good DMM (not Walmart)?

    Just want you to have the best experience as can be...
     
  15. OP
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    mikes2017gt

    mikes2017gt Well-Known Member

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    Thanks, @wildcatgoal . I appreciate you looking out for safety.

    Maybe I should've specified; though it has a screwhead, that is an 8mm bolt holding the ring terminal, and I did use a standard, split-ring lockwasher on top of a larger washer, on top of the ring itself. I used a large, flathead screwdriver and seriously torqued down on the bolt.

    I do agree though, that b/c that bracket is spot-welded, that it might not be the best place to ground. But, the bracket is solid. After all, it is designed to hold a spare tire and keep it from sliding around.

    I have zero hum or ground noise, even with my ear right up against the sub. Definitely thank you for the heads-up. I will keep an eye on the bolt and if it gets loose, I'll move the ground to the bolt in between the rear seats.
     
  16. wildcatgoal

    wildcatgoal @sirboom_photography

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    I don't mean a split ring, I mean the kind that look like a star that will dig into the ring terminal. I actually put them on both sides of the ring terminal and torque the bolt down until they're both pretty much flat. The Hulk can't move the terminal if you do that and the connection remains perfectly sound.

    Typically you will not hear ground noise with a sub since the frequency at which that noise is transmitted is not within the capable range of a subwoofer. You will, if the ground is subpar, experience mushy bass (like when listening to Bassnector type stuff or low-bass rap music especially and the bass comes but doesn't have any sort of hit or sounds "late"), potentially the amp cutting out, sometimes odd pops/booms, etc. If nothing like that is happening, well... lucky dog.
     
  17. Zcobra1

    Zcobra1 Well-Known Member

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    Great job ! Nice clean install, and frankly better than some "pro" shops.
    Congrats !
     
  18. Joemomma22

    Joemomma22 Well-Known Member

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    So being the noob that i am... How does the LOC work? whats it doing. what are the inputs and outputs? I see the RCA cables run from that to the amp, but that seems like an empty closed loop with nothing on the other end on the loc. Idk i've only done systems on older vehicles where you buy a new headunit with pre-outs built in going right to the amp.

    love the install. definitely bookmarking this page and copying when i do mine.
     
  19. Fenix

    Fenix Well-Known Member

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    LOC stands for Line Out Converter. These cars don't have any RCA outputs on the back of the head unit.

    It takes signal from a speaker wire (+ and -) and converts it to an RCA output which goes to the amp input

    The LOC can be spliced in and soldered or connected with wire taps
     
  20. 2016Gruv

    2016Gruv Well-Known Member

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    Line level signals are pre-amplification (very low voltage). A head unit with preamp outputs sends line level signals via RCA to an amplifier. Speaker level signals are post amplification, whether from a small amp in the head unit or an external amp. Because these signals are much higher in voltage, speaker cables are required to minimize voltage loss.

    You don't want to input a speaker level (amplified) signal into another amp (unless the amp is designed to accept them). The primary purpose of a LOC is to convert a speaker level signal (high voltage) to a line level signal (low voltage) so that another amp can be employed (e.g., powering a sub). Since most amps use RCAs, LOCs will output via RCA as well. Just trying to be clear that a LOC is not about interfacing dissimilar jacks/connections; it's about converting a speaker level signal to line level.
     
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