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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hey guys, I need a bit of advice here.

My current audio setup as of right now:

Alpine CDA-9886
Two 12" RE Audio SEx subwoofers
Ultra Linear UL2800D 1600w amp, running the subs in 2ch at 600w (as advertised at least, eBay amp, gets the job done)
This wiring kit
JL Audio XR650 CSi Components

I got a Phoenix Gold Octane-R 5.0:4 amp to power the components. I have a few questions I'd like to be answered and statements I'd like evaluated regarding installing the amp.

What should I upgrade in my electrical system? Already planning on getting a Yellow Top but should I really take the effort to upgrade the "Big 3"?

What is the least necessary gauge power and ground wire I should use? I'm fine with using 4 but I'd use 8 if it's already overkill.

I have my subs' amp grounded to a bolt behind the backseat and it is working fine. Should I use the same ground for the amp or should I run both grounds back to the battery? I have heard of "ground loops" and I am not in the mood for that. Pretty sure Hans will say run them back to the battery but it doesn't hurt to ask. =P

Preface for the next question: My friend utilized my amp bypass harness and basically connected the crossovers and components with the stock wiring. Can I get away with just running the wires from my amp to the crossovers and get the same sound? If not then...

What is an optimal gauge of wire to use for the speakers? I am prepared to devote a weekend to rewiring the whole car.

That should be it for now, if I remember anything I'll ask. Thank you very much in advance for any help given.
 

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It depends on if you plan on upgrading in the future to larger equipment. For what you are using now, running a single run of 4 AWG for the main power and ground to the trunk will be sufficient (assuming you are using 100% copper cable). However, if you plan on going to larger amps in the future, save yourself the trouble of doing things twice and go with 1/0 AWG the first time.

Definitely run a ground wire back to the battery, and ground all audio components directly to that wire at a common point.


First off, purchase the following:


1. One pair of aftermarket battery terminals (The military style ones work well - just google "mil spec battery terminals")

2. Approx. 25 ft. of red, and 25 ft. of black (or whatever two colors you choose) 100% copper power cable from a reputable manufacturer (can be welding cable or audio-specific stuff). Use either 4 AWG or 1/0 AWG depending on the application.

3. A handful of crimp on ring terminals (8-10 should do it) for whatever size wire you went with.

4. An inline fuse holder and fuse of the right size for the wire/application.

5. Two non-fused distribution blocks.

6. A group 34 size battery from a reputable manufacturer.

7. A set of battery hold down clamps and tie bar to fit the larger battery (Available from most auto parts stores).


You will then run a single run of the positive cable (using the inline fuse) from the positive battery terminal to the trunk, where you will connect it to a distribution block. You will do the same with the negative cable, running it from negative battery terminal to the other distribution block in the trunk (you don't need a fuse on the negative cable).

You will then connect the power and ground wires for all the audio equipment (including the head unit ground wire), to those distribution blocks. This eliminates the potential for the most common type of ground loops.

You can use the leftover power wire and crimp connectors to upgrade your big three wiring, which is always a good idea.

That should get your electrical system set up properly. Of course, you will also have to get signal to the new amp, along with a remote connection.



As for the speaker wire, you don't need to worry too much about the size. Its an AC signal and not very strong. 14 AWG will certainly work, but you could use 16AWG or 18AWG and be alright. The larger the wire conducts better, but is more difficult to run into the doors.

The factory wire can be retained and you can just tap into it, like your friend did. Obviously you can run new, larger speaker wire if you like, but its not 100% necessary.


Hans
 

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Hey Hans, i'm just wondering why you take the time to run a negative cable from the battery vs finding a good grounding location in the rear of the vehicle. This is the second time, at least, that I've heard you say this to someone. I'm not bashing it, just wondering why you would take the time and materials to do this?

To the op, what I would do first is get your stuff installed before upgrading the battery. I'm sure you'll need it but it's going to depend on what you see after that's all done. I'm sure you've heard about or seen the effects that the geniuses at honda have given us with the ECU, and even after you upgrade the battery you're still gonna get some dimming effects. Let me just put it this way, heres what I would do.

I think you would be ok with a 4 ga set up but i would suggest going up to 0 ga for your main and running 4 out of a distro block to your amps. You're going to be pushing close to 2000 watts of power, which you may not get all the way to, but you don't want to have to worry about, A) suffocating the amps for power, and B)worse pushing the limits of the power wire and risking a fire or something. I know that's kind of over the top but if you're using that much power you really should feed it properly. just a suggestion.

Yes do the big three, making sure that whatever size wire you use from the battery to power the system you use for the big three. I noticed a difference right away when I did mine.

I've ran 12 ga in my car for all my mids and highs, which is overkill, you can go with a 14 ga would be fine for your application. Or even go 12 ga to the crossover and then 14 ga from the crossover to the speakers. if you don't want to buy two separate wires for the two separate gauges, then just use one or the other will be fine. I try to stay away from the stock cables as much as possible so that I don't suffocate the power to the speakers, much like the power to the amps. Bigger is better in most cases, and after market is almost alway better in this application than stock, unless you don't have the moeny. You may not hear a big differnce but your amps will love you for it.

There's a big difference between a ground for a sub and a ground for mids and highs. You're going to get more chances for engine noise out of the mids and highs cause you're working with higher frequencies and that's where you're going to have it more likely to come through in your system. Don't get me wrong you can still have it coming through your subs but it's goign to be a lower chance and when its lower sound or engine noise, it's going to be less audible with the lower frequencies vs the higher frequencies. Make sense?

In my set up I took the extra step to run a cable down to the frame of the car and tap in a screw hole and screw the cable to the frame. I'm not saying you need to do this, and some people on here have used an area under the back seat for a grounding spot and it's worked apparently very well. But with my set up I've had zero noise and zero issues.

As far as poping and ground loop issues, I agree to a sense with Hans in that you should ground your head unit separatley from the stock wire. I've done this as well. I wouldn't run one to the rear of the car from the head unit space, because the longer you make the ground, the more potential you have for problems with noise, but there are a couple of places in the space behind the head unit you can use for grounding. The two bars inside the space can be used for grounding, and you can run one somewhere under the center console if you want too. I ran mine under the passenger seat, the brace on the front side where the seat bolts to, is a good one. You just simply scrape off the paint and screw it in. I used 8 ga, and ran it to a terminal strip, but that's because I am running numerous wires, but then connected the head unit ground to that. You could still use an 8 ga to run to that area, or I suggest a 12ga. Either way you should be good.

I think I've covered everything. If not I'll edit or just repost. I agree with Hans in that you need to do this porperly and do it right the first time. Don't make it so you have to go back in later on and waste money on more cable and more time chaning things out. In this case, if you run new 0 ga wire, use the old 4 ga for the amps from a distro block. Get fuses for the big three and the system for near the battery. Do things right the first time, and avoid second or third times!

If interested here's my build log for my car. Over the top for most people but it works for me. http://www.8thcivic.com/forums/i-c-e-electrical-security-navigation/194364-2006-ex-sedan-not-si-build.html

And of course it never hurts to ask questions.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Man... I am overwhelmed by the effort you guys put into your posts to help me out.

After reading all this, these are my stances, questions and comments:

- I'm going to purchase pretty much everything Hans listed. I knew I was going to have to purchase quite a few things but it's nice to have a definite list to read back to. Also going to get the largest gauge of wire necessary, including replacing the power wire with 0 gauge. Still undecided on running a ground back to the battery, I was under the assumption that shorter ground is better.

- I'm a tad undecided on if I should still use the stock wiring. When I installed the components, I tried visualizing how I would run new speaker wire through the doors but I couldn't figure it out. Hopefully I can find something online or just play around with it and get it done.

- Can I do the Big 3 myself? I'm very responsible with power, such as always disconnecting my battery before I do any work I think would affect the car power-wise. I pretty much did my audio install myself as well with supervision from my friends/family.

Thanks a lot for your help guys, means a lot to me.
 

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Man... I am overwhelmed by the effort you guys put into your posts to help me out.

After reading all this, these are my stances, questions and comments:

- I'm going to purchase pretty much everything Hans listed. I knew I was going to have to purchase quite a few things but it's nice to have a definite list to read back to. Also going to get the largest gauge of wire necessary, including replacing the power wire with 0 gauge. Still undecided on running a ground back to the battery, I was under the assumption that shorter ground is better.

You don't need to run a line from battery to rear for ground. Just find a good grounding point in the rear somewhere. Look in the ice threads, specifically look at Bikinpunks 3000 page thread. He found a good point and hasn't had any issues that I can recall with that point. The one issue he had was to do with his processor not gp. Shorter is better. That's what I've always known anyway, that's why I asked Hans to clarify why he runs a complete line from the battery.

- I'm a tad undecided on if I should still use the stock wiring. When I installed the components, I tried visualizing how I would run new speaker wire through the doors but I couldn't figure it out. Hopefully I can find something online or just play around with it and get it done.

Running speaker wire through the door isn't that hard. I'v got 12ga running in there. Take off the door panel, remove the kick trim panel. Get a coat hanger. Remove the boot inside the door jamb. You can reach it with you hands from the door. Run the coat hanger through it and tape up the wire. Pull it through, either direction you try, and that's it. Put the boot back on and done! I've acutally got a 12ga pair, and 2 pairs of 16 ga wires running through my boot. 2 14 ga would fit fine, or even 2 12's would fit but would take some finessing.

- Can I do the Big 3 myself? I'm very responsible with power, such as always disconnecting my battery before I do any work I think would affect the car power-wise. I pretty much did my audio install myself as well with supervision from my friends/family.

You can do the big 3 yourself. Run a power wire from the battery to the alternator, I used the rail above the radiator for this. You'll need to remove the battery to do the two grounds under there. Then I did one more on the other side. You'll see it. It's pretty simple. And if you have the battery power disconnected you should be fine. I'd tape it anyway to be safer but its not 100% necessary. Fuse the new power to the alternator, and put the stock alternator wire back on as well. Using the 0 ga, you may need to cut off the plastic housing around the power bolt on the alternator. I had to anyway, but maybe you can get away with out.

Thanks a lot for your help guys, means a lot to me.
That's what we're here for. I'm happy to help all I can. Post pics also it helps with answering questions you might have. Also it will help with interest in the thread. We wanna see what you're doing. Good luck and let me know if you need anything else!
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Does Hans' guide on the Big 3 have pictures on the step-by-step? I'm at work and can't see pictures, my home computer is out of commission as well so I haven't had time to read it in-depth. If I had pictures and the right tools and supplies, I'm pretty confident in myself to do it.

I'll post a build thread if I can find my SD card and take pics, might just buy a new one cause I can't find anything with the mess my room was in after trying to fix my computer. I'll remember to find it/buy a new one tonight and take pics tomorrow or Thursday morning.

Thanks again
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Buddy Club BC04-RSCON Racing Spec Condenser Voltage Grounding Kit

Useful or a waste like capacitors? I might use this thread to ask a bunch of other random questions I may have concerning my audio system. I'm thinking about starting a thread where anyone can ask simple questions (what subs/headunit should I get) instead of making a whole new thread about it.
 

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Hey Hans, i'm just wondering why you take the time to run a negative cable from the battery vs finding a good grounding location in the rear of the vehicle. This is the second time, at least, that I've heard you say this to someone. I'm not bashing it, just wondering why you would take the time and materials to do this?
There are many reasons for this. For one, it conducts better than the steel sheetmetal of the vehicle chassis (Flow in an electrical circuit is limited by its point of highest resistance... therefore having fancy 1/0 AWG power wire is useless if your ground only flows like 4 AWG). It also eliminates the possibility of your ground being less than adequate and causing equipment damage.

But most importantly, it eliminates the potential for the most common type of electrical interference from ground loops and modulation noise - again for multiple reasons.


Reason #1. Electricity always takes the path of least resistance. When you have equipment grounded at multiple points, there are multiple paths it can take back to ground. If on the way back to the negative battery terminal, it encounters multiple paths to ground, a ground loop can insue. With all the items on the audio circuit (and only the items on the audiuo circuit) grounded at a common point, attached to a main ground wire heading directly back to the battery, the grounds from all the devices on the audio circuit only have one choice of path to reach ground - through the main wire directly back to the negative battery terminal (which is ultimately where they need to go to complete the circuit in the first place). Think of it this way - rather than a maze of paths that hopefully eventually wind up back at the negative battery terminal, the wire offers a direct 4-lane superhighway, that only heads one direction... straight back to the negative battery terminal. Which would you prefer?


Reason #2. When you ground audio devices to the chassis, they effectively become tied into the circuits of whatever other electrical equipment is grounded to the vehicle chassis. This includes stuff like your headlights, windshield wipers, power window & lock motors, rear window defroster, fuel pump, etc. When the engineers design something like a fuel pump or a power window motor, they aren't concerned with whether or not it will cause ground modulation that effects high-end audio devices. Most electrical equipment (like motors, lights, etc. ) aren't all that sensitive to such things, and therefore it doesn't matter much that everything on the car gets grounded willy-nilly to the chassis. However, expensive electronic audio equipment IS very sensitive to these kind of ground distrurbances, which can induce noise (distortion) into the system. By running a dedicated ground directly to the battery, and connecting ALL OF and ONLY your audio devices to it at a single common point, you have placed your audio equipment on its own dedicated circuit, effectively separating it from all other electrical equipment in the vehicle, therefore making it more or less impossible to be affected by any outside noise. Again, it should be easy to see which is better if your goal is sonic quality.


Hopefully that answers your question.


Hans
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I'm going to try and rephrase what you suggest I should do with the ground wire so I can understand it better.

Run a ground wire the same size as my power wire from the negative terminal on the battery to a ground point in the car, then ground all of my audio equipment to that one ground point.

Should I keep the ground wire on the same side of the car (left) as the power wire as well?
 

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I'm going to try and rephrase what you suggest I should do with the ground wire so I can understand it better.

Run a ground wire the same size as my power wire from the negative terminal on the battery to a ground point in the car, then ground all of my audio equipment to that one ground point.

Should I keep the ground wire on the same side of the car (left) as the power wire as well?

Close. You run a ground wire, the same size as your main power wire, to the trunk of the car. But you don't ground that wire to the chassis (that would defeat the purpose of running the wire). Instead, you connect that wire to a distribution block (that youcan mount wherever is convenient for you), and connect the grounds for all the equipment on the audio circuit (amps, head unit, crossovers, EQ, line drivers, etc.) to that same distribution block at the end of the main ground wire coming from the battery. That way everything on the audio circuit is grounded at a common point on its own separate circuit. You're not including the chassis at all in the ground circuit... you follow?

And yeah, you can run the main ground wire down the same side of the car as the power wire. Just run it right next to the main power wire, no problems.

Hopefully that makes sense. If not, I can try to clarify if you explain what part is confusing you.


Hans
 

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Why, or how, is it better to run a ground wire from the battery to the amps/equipment?

Wouldn't it be better to ground the battery as close as possible to the battery using the same size as power wire? Complete the BIG 3, and just ground the amps in the trunk?

I have my amps grounded to the big bolts where the seats fold down with no problems.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
That makes sense, thank you. Chassis ground is eliminated.

I've seen a distribution block once but I've never seen one installed. I need to look at one installed to further grasp how the ground and power wires would plug in from the amps to the block.

They work like surge protectors right? In terms of splitting the power and ground signals I mean.
 

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Why, or how, is it better to run a ground wire from the battery to the amps/equipment?

Wouldn't it be better to ground the battery as close as possible to the battery using the same size as power wire? Complete the BIG 3, and just ground the amps in the trunk?

I have my amps grounded to the big bolts where the seats fold down with no problems.

Read my post, six posts above this one. Explains exactly why.


Hans
 

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Why, or how, is it better to run a ground wire from the battery to the amps/equipment?
As he just explained, you don't. You run a ground from the battery to a distribution block, in which you ground all your audio equipment to the distribution block. If you go up a couple posts he explains why.
 

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That makes sense, thank you. Chassis ground is eliminated.

I've seen a distribution block once but I've never seen one installed. I need to look at one installed to further grasp how the ground and power wires would plug in from the amps to the block.

They work like surge protectors right? In terms of splitting the power and ground signals I mean.

No, they aren't surge protectors. They are just chunks of metal with multiple places for wires to connect to, for exactly this purpose (running one big wire from the battery, and splitting it into multiple wires to connect to other equipment). They come in all different sizes and styles, with different size and numbers of connections. Some have stuff like fuses and voltage gauges in them (neither of which you need). Others are just your basic chunk of metal. Basically, its just a splitter, to turn one cable into a bunch of cables.

Here are some pictures of a few different styles to give you an idea:
























Hans
 

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Hello

Hello... I know this isn't the best place to introduce myself, but I wanted to say that I found this thread (especially Hans and scooter) very helpful for what I am trying to do in my '08 Si. I am still working on getting a 4ch amp (hopefully tube) for my Focal components and I will be following the grounding information you guys provided. Thank you.

DotKristian: Good luck with your installation... wish I could be more of a help, but it looks like you're in good hands. BTW, what brand of speaker wiring are you planning on using? Car audio is new to me, but from my experience in 2ch listening at home I found that upgrading speaker wiring can really make a difference (particularly in sound stage).

P.S. Sticky?
 
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