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Discussion Starter #1
Hey everyone my name is John and i'm new here. i have a 2007 civic SI in which I intend to upgrade the sound system with a subwoofer or 2. I know how to do the wiring and installing, I just need help with subwoofer, amp, and enclosure choices.

I have a friend with 2 12" kicker CompVR's in a kicker ported enclosure running on around 600 RMS watts in a scion tc hatchback. I really liked them and was looking for something close to this sound level or possibly somewhat louder.

I know i will need to compensate for the fact that my subs will be in the trunk where as his are actually in the car with him.

I know that the larger the box, the more the bass. However i dont want an overly large box (i need some trunk space). So i considered getting one fairly big sub (such as a 12" Fi Q) and putting it in a box that wont take up all of my trunk space. I presume that the high power of that sub would make up for the relatively small enclosure (i know its not ideal but its all i could come up with). However the only problem with this is that after reading several posts by Hans, i realize i might have to upgrade the battery. I would prefer not to do this. Is there a way i can reach the sound level i want on the stock battery?

I was told to sign up here and i would recieve lots of great advice. After reading several things written by VTEC and Hans, i can see this is true. So i'm open to any suggestions

John
 

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as the old saying goes, You gotta pay to play

if you want the output youre going to need to upgrade the support system, the stock battery is only useful to around 500W, its small and not built for such things, I put 600W though it and it ran OK, but in a matter of weeks it showed signs of going down and in a small matter of months it was getting to the point of being useless, no Ive got a Kinetik 1800 with Big-3 upgrade feeding nearly 1000W net system power and I have no problems, I was like you at first thinking no to a new electrical system but I learned the hard way rather quickly, so just to warn you right now, dont make that same mistake

now a tC comes with a group 34 Battery off the factory line, so theyre safe for more power fresh off, Honda in a bid to cut weight gave us little Group 51s, Ive got a friend running 2 Infinity Reference 12" woofers on 600W in his tC and his stock battery holds out just fine even pounding at engine idle, also doesnt hurt that their big 2.4 litre motor has the torque to spare on spinning a larger alternator

as for choice in gear its up to you and how much money youre willing to spend, Ive got a Stealthbox with a single 10W6v2 and I love the output on even my 500/1, same thing with say a 1000/1 would put down some obscene amounts of bass (by MY standards) for a package so small, I keep pretty much all my trunk, I have full access to my spares and I still have the slack in the trunk liner to adjust my rear shocks without any sort of silly extenders or cutting of the liner
 

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First off, if your plan is to run more than 500W RMS, consider a battery upgrade mandatory. There is no way around that. Upgrading your electrical system (battery & wiring) is essential. Even though you may have a 5000W RMS amplifier, it can't make any more power the the battery and wiring allow for. That means that if you are using the stock battery and feeding your monster amp with 4 AWG power cable, you are wasting your time. It takes power to make power. The energy the amp uses to move your subwoofer has to come from somewhere - that somewhere is your vehicle's electrical system.

As for the subwoofer choice, if output is your goal, you will more than likely be better off with a smaller subwoofer in a larger enclosure, than you would with a larger subwoofer in a smaller one. First step is to figure out how much space you are willing to give up in your trunk (L x W x H), and from that we can figure out what size speaker you will want to run. Larger enclosures boost efficiency, and help support larger port areas, which act as additional cone surface. For example, an SPL type 8" subwoofer in an output-oriented enclosure will offer greater output levels than a Non-SPL type 12" subwoofer in a more conservative enclosure.

The type of speaker you run will depend on the amount of power you have to push it. More powerful amplifiers allow you to run more robust speakers, which will again allow for more output. However, the additional power adds cost. Not only do the more powerful amplifiers themselves cost more, but the necessary electrical upgrades, wiring, and high power speakers are all more expensive as well. Just like speaker size, the more powerful speakers will not necessarily play louder in your application. For example, assuming you know what you are doing, a speaker rated for 200W RMS powered by an amplifier producing 500W RMS will generally provide more output than say, a speaker rater for 500W RMS powered by the same 500W RMS amp. Its not about how much power the speaker can handle, its about choosing a speaker that can make the most out of the power you have (and that doesn't mean using a 500W RMS speaker with a 500W RMS amp). So again, before you choose a speaker, you need to determine how much amplifier power you plan on running, along with a nominal impedance figure. For output type-applications, running at low impedances will allow you to get more power from the amplifiers, however, they will draw more current (meaning require more electrical upgrades) and run hotter, with reduced control over the speaker and sound quality. Higher impedances offer less strain on the electrical system, cooler temperatures, and increased sound quality & control. However, (in most cases) the amp will produce less power as the impedance goes up.

Obviously, there's a lot more to this than I am covering in this post. SQ systems and those designed for ground-shaking bass are two different animals. You can either go for one or the other, or shoot for a happy medium. I will assume from your first post that you are leaning more towards output volume than sound quality. If that is not the case, let me know and I will adjust my recommendations accordingly.


Hans
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Ok thanks! There are so many different variables in output level that the only way I know to describe what i'm wanting is to use an example. As I said earlier, my friend has 2 12" CompVR's in the ported enclosure directly from Kicker. They are running on (best guess) around 500-600W RMS in the back of his hatchback scion. Something decently louder than that is what I am looking for. Assuming I have to account for the fact mine would be in the trunk, I thought i would need more than 500W. Is this correct? Is there anyway i can get the sound level i want without the electrical upgrade? Or to get that level will it require much more than 500W and need an electrical upgrade?

Also, i'm not wanting pure output. I want something a little louder than those 2 Kickers but I want decent SQ hence my probably misguided choice of an Fi Q.

If, to get what i'm looking for, an electrical upgrade would be ABSOLUTELY necessary, could you give me some battery advice? I've already read your Big Three and Voltage Drop posts so I already have a general idea but i dont know exactly what kind of battery I would need or if it would require modifying the battery tray to fit it under the hood.

And for my final question. If the alternator charges the battery which in turn powers the electrical needs of the car, why would a drastic increase in battery power not also require an higher output alternator to charge it?
 

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Lets work through your questions.

First - The Hatchback TC has a distinct advantage for creating bass, in that you can fire the woofers at the base of the rear hatch. Doing this amplifies the sound, by creating almost a "wave" (like in the ocean), using the curved rear hatch as a horn. So its not just the fact that your subs are in the trunk that is an issue - hatchbacks naturally have this advantage with generating bass volume (which is why you see so many hatchbacks like CRXs, Eclipses, F-body Camaros, etc. in street class). So already, you are one down on your buddy in that department.

Second - Can you get that level of sound on 500W RMS without upgrading your battery? Possibly, but it would be very difficult without using your entire trunk or giving up your back seat. Everything is a compromise. If you walled your car and only ran 500W RMS, you'd probably still produce more output than your buddy's setup. Obviously, I'm not saying you should wall your car, just making a point that you can't beat physics, and everything is a give and take.

Third - You can certainly balance SQ and SPL, but once again, everything is a compromise. I'm not implying that by leaning towards output your system has to sound like distorted garbage. There are different levels of sound quality. For example, your buddy's CVRs in the kicker ported enclosure are FAR from a pusist SQ setup. So if you are happy with the way they sound, we can certainly match that level of sound quality without a problem. Now if you're looking to bring out the rich tonal quality on Handel's Organ Concerto... you are looking for a different type of setup.

Fourth - If you want more than 500W RMS, yes, a battery upgrade (along with good quality power wiring) is absolutley mandatory. About the largest battery that will fit underhood in our cars is a group 34 size unit. Any battery from a decent manufacturer will work just fine (Optima, Diehard, Interstate, Kinetik, Powermaster/XS Power, Xstatic/Batcap, etc.). Some are more powerful than others, but anything will be a ton better than the tiny stock battery. A group 34 battery measures approx. 10" long X 7" wide X 8" tall. Not all manfacturers use the "group number system" on their batteries, but most make a battery in the size you need. For instance, Kinetik calls their group 34 size unit the HC1800. Powermaster calls theirs the D3400, and Xstatic calls theirs the Model 3000. As long as its close to the 10" x 7" x 8" dimensions, it will fit just fine - you have a little leeway, size wise. As long as its not some fly-by-night company, it really comes down to what you can get a good deal on. Honestly, some of the best batteries for their size are for telecommunications applications, such as the North Star Battery NSB90 (which is too big for our cars, but just to make the point). The telecom batteries are usually more expensive, but offer a ton of power for their size. Shop around, see what you can come up with. Depending on how much power you plan to run, you may need additional batteries. More powerful amplifiers will require more battery power and larger power cable - which adds cost. Its important to figure out how much power you want to run before you start buying stuff, so you can come up with a realistic budget that works for you.

Fifth - About the alternator, good assumption, but no... especially if you only are running one battery. If you have a bank of ten batteries in there, then yes, its nice to have a larger alternator to keep them charged. But for what you will be doing, the stock alternator will be fine. Just upgrade your big 3 wiring, no other mods will be needed.

Hopefully that covers everything... if I missed something, let me know.


Hans
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Ok since I refuse to give up all my trunk space a new battery and wiring is going to be mandatory for me. Can you give me suggestions on what battery you would get? I need one for a reasonably low price...preferably $150 or so if thats possible. Would a kinetik 1400 work?

Also, I just don't understand how if a battery has a higher output than the alternator, how could the alternator keep it charged?

So, assuming I get a new battery and wiring, how many watts am I going to need to get as loud as those 2 kickers? I know that depends alot on enclosure size so I will go ahead and say that I would prefer not to come out more than 15" or so from the back of the trunk. As for how tall the enclosure is, I could care less as long as it fits and i can get it in and out. As for width, I assume it will need to be pretty wide to accomodate for my not wanting it to be too deep.

So with these requirements, about how many watts RMS am I going to need? Also do you have any sub/box suggestions that will do what i need?
 

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So, assuming I get a new battery and wiring, how many watts am I going to need to get as loud as those 2 kickers? I know that depends alot on enclosure size so I will go ahead and say that I would prefer not to come out more than 15" or so from the back of the trunk. As for how tall the enclosure is, I could care less as long as it fits and i can get it in and out. As for width, I assume it will need to be pretty wide to accomodate for my not wanting it to be too deep.
It depends on how much RMS his compVRs are pushing. Lets say hes pushing 300 RMS to each and there rated at 400 RMS then it shouldn't be to hard to match. However, if hes pushing say 600 RMS to each one then it'll be a lot harder to match. Now just because he has two 12s doesn't mean you need to do two 12s to be just as loud. One 10, with the right enclosure and the right amount of RMS, can sound just as good, if not better then his two 12s.
 

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Just look for a good group 34 size battery. I gave you the dimensions in my last post. Like I said, it depends on what you can find for a good deal. Shop around. A Kinetic HC1400 is not a group 34. Their group 34 size battery is the HC1800. Again, look at the dimensions I posted in the last post. That is what you need to go off of.

You are confused as to how batteries work. The whole idea is they store a reserve of power, allowing a reserve to work with when the current demands exceed the ability of the alternator. Your radio isn't drawing full power all the time. Most of the time, your radio is on low volume, or not even on to begin with. The battery isn't being used most of the time, but for the times that it is, the alternator will recharge the battery during the less demanding periods.

For the enclosure, take a tape measure and figure out what dimensions you plan on using. From there I can figure out the volume you are looking at. If you are planning on using the slope of the back seat, break the measurements up into a triangular wedge and a rectangular cube - its far easier to do the math that way.

Power wise, its not so much a matter of how much power you NEED, as it is how much money you are looking to spend. Its going to come down to how much battery power you have, and how much you want to spend on an amp and speaker. How large an amp you can support is dependent on the amp hour rating of the battery. If you read my voltage drop post, it explains how to determine how much current draw a battery with a specific amp hour rating can support. If you want to run a more powerful amplifier than a single battery can support, you will need to add extra batteries in the trunk.


Hans
 

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Discussion Starter #10
What would you consider to be a good deal on a group 34 battery? And how many watts will the average one of those run?

As for the enclosure, I can go about 15-16" deep and about 36" wide. I do intend to use the back slope and the 15-16" was measured from the trunk floor. I didn't have time to get out a square and measure out how tall the top of the enclosure would need to be, but the front face of the enclosure would be perpendicular to the bottom of the box, and then from the top of the front, to the back (hopefully that made sense). And it would be however tall it can be and fit reasonably. Would that be big enough for what I need?

Also, I will probably have to buy a box because I seriously doubt that i'm sophisticated enough to build my own.

About how much power will I need to get as loud as I want to in this size box? And what size/type of sub would I need? Thanks for your help

John
 

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Assuming there isn't some kind of sale going on or whatever, you are generally looking at $175-$250 for a new group 34 size battery, depending on brand. Batteries are great things to buy used. If you can find one in decent shape, you can save a lot of money... shop around.

How much wattage the battery will support depends on its amp hour rating, which will vary depending on the brand/type of battery. With any of them, you should be able to run at least 1000W RMS without a problem - some can support more (especially if you only play the stereo loudly for short periods of time).

If you are trying to get the most performance for your money out of the space, you (or someone else) are really going to want to design and build a custom ported enclosure for the car. Sure, you can buy some pre-fab box or sub/box combo, but the performance just isn't going to be anywhere near what you can achieve with a well engineered custom enclosure. Plus, a pre-fab box isn't going to fit perfectly in your trunk to the dimensions you want, making full use of your available space. If you want to just buy some pre-fab deal, i can't stop you, but I can guarantee that you will be missing out on a lot of output if thats what you choose to do.

With a solid 1000-1500W RMS of power going to a single woofer in a well designed enclosure, you will be able to get quite a bit of bass. First step is to decide what type of amplifier you plan on using, and what impedance you will be running at. From there, you can determine the type of woofer you will want to use. You want to look for an amplifier from a reputable company that is rated to make 1000-1500W RMS at either 1 or 2 ohms. Prices vary a lot, so your choices will depend on your budget. If you tell me how much you are looking to spend on an amp, I will give you a few recommendations.

When considering your overall budget, remember that there will be a lot of other expenses besides just the amp and the speaker. High quality 100% copper 1/0 AWG power cable is usually at least $3-$4 a foot. Then you need a fuse holder and fuse, crimp terminals, a way to attach the cables to the battery, speaker wire, etc. You will need to run remote wire and RCA cables for the amp, and purchase a line out converter if you're keeping the factory head unit. Then there's the wood, screws, glue, etc. for the speaker enclosure, as well as the cost to pay someone to build it for you. You really should consider upgrading your big three wiring as well, which will require additional wire and terminals. All of this is money you need to account for, before even talking about the amp & speaker. When making a budget, a lot of guys think its just the amp & speaker that cost money, which is not the case at all.


Hans
 

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Hans is right, the amount of money I spend on itty bitty small peices was pretty high. And make sure you absolutely get the correct ( quality ) peices from the beginning. Otherwise youll be redoing your work a few times as I did.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Ok what would be the consequences of not doing the big three just yet?

Also what all is involved in building a box yourself? Does it require alot of skill?

As for the amp, I would LOVE to keep it as close to $200 as possible. What impedance would you recommend? I was thinking 2 ohms because of an increase in SQ.

Excluding the amp, woofer, and enclosure, how much do you think I am looking at spending here? I'd like to not go too far over $800-900 for this entire "project"/
 

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$800-$900 for the whole project (at the kind of power level you are talking about) is gonna be very hard to accomplish. You may want to take a step back and re-evaluate.

You might want to go back to your original idea of running less power, meaning you wouldn't need to upgrade the electrical system as much, and the equipment itself will also be cheaper. It won't be as loud, but everything is a give and take.

Your other option is going to be to put the project on hold until you can save up more money, or work in stages.

To give you an idea of the kind of money you are talking about, even the cheapest amplifiers capable of making an honest 1000 watts RMS (at 1 ohm, amps making 1000W RMS at 2 ohms will be a lot more expensive) will cost you around $250-$300. The normal price range for amps making 1000-1500W RMS is in the $400-$1000 range, just for the amp itself.

It sounds like you may be in a little over your head here, price-wise.

As for the big three, especially if you ground to the chassis, its very important. If you are upgrading your electical system, its really something you should do. You can get away with not doing it, but its stupid. Why put so much effort into something just to be half-assed about it? Current in a circuit can only flow at the rate of its point of highest resistance. Meaning your money spent on fancy power cables for your amp is worthless if you're choking the rest of the circuit.

Building an enclosure (assuming you are talking about out of wood) is a type of specialized carpentry (aka - cabinet making). You need a basic knowledge of carpentry, along with wood-working tools. Is it hard? It depends on how good you are with your hands, how much patience you have, and the quality of tools you have access to. With a full wood-shop, a little patience, and some knowledgable help, it shouldn't be all that hard to get something that works. However, if you're trying to build the thing yourself in your driveway with a jigsaw and no help... you're not going to get very far.

I really think what you need to do is take a big step back from this and be realistic about what you are working with. It sounds to me like what you want and what you can afford at the momont are two different things. You may have to scale down the project, and just be happy with less bass than you want. You have to decide what is worth doing to you. Would you be happy with having more bass than stock, but less than your buddy with the two 12s? If so, you can get that for your $900 budget. If not, you're gonna have to save up more money, or give up more of your trunk.

Like I always say, this stuff is a compromise. You can't get something without giving up something else. Take my car for example. I wanted a lot of bass. Not a little more bass than stock... but the kind of bass that flexes the a pillar and bounces the wipers an inch and a half off the glass. The compromise I needed to make to get this is that my car no longer has a back seat, is full of batteries, piles of 1/0 AWG power cable, and thousands of dollars of audio equipment. Could I have gone with a smaller setup? Sure. But then I wouldn't have gotten the kind of output I was looking for. And that was the whole point of doing the stereo to begin with. So you have to start figuring out realistically what areas you are willing to compromise on and what ones you are not.


Hans
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Ok well I want however many watts it takes to get as loud as those 2 kickers. In the size enclosure I mentioned, what's your best guess on the number of watts i will need to run to get that loud? and what are several subs that you would suggest to do the job? I assume I will need only one
 

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Gotta love Hans, even though I consider myself knowledgable, im always learning something new with him around

but yes, compromise is a good bit of this sort of thing, I, as opposed to Hans, valued practicality and wasnt willing to compromise on that, so instead I compromised on my total ouput capacity, small woofer, small enclosure, small amps, so on and so forth, thousands of dollars in parts, labor, and custom fabrication later, Im sitting on under 1000W (spread across 3 small amps) and an electrical system to support it, I still have access to my spare tire, I still have 90% of my trunk space, I can still fold my seats and have the whole opening (sure I cant split-fold them like I used to, but that was a compromise I was willing to make)
 

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This thread makes me really curious to know what vtec and hans are rocking in their cars. Pictures please?! lol
 

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I seem to only have shots of the thing in stages, nothing really as is, Ill patch it together though, for now youll have to make do with a list

Alpine INA-W900
Alpine PXA-H100
Alpine CHA-S634
JL Audio 300/4
JL Audio 500/1
JBL GT5-A402
Focal 165KP Mids
Focal TN53K Tweeters
Boston Acoustics SX65
JL Audio Civic Coupe Stealthbox (10W6v2-D4)
 

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Ok well I want however many watts it takes to get as loud as those 2 kickers. In the size enclosure I mentioned, what's your best guess on the number of watts i will need to run to get that loud? and what are several subs that you would suggest to do the job? I assume I will need only one
To get the kind of results you are looking for, I would say you are going to need 1000-1500W RMS, going to a single subwoofer in a custom enclosure.

I still need accurate dimensions from you to determine the full enclosure volume (which means you need to go out there with a tape measure and a piece of paper and take down the rest of the figures), but more than likely, you will be talking about a single 10" subwoofer for that type of space.

First thing you need to do is decide on an amp, to figure out what impedance the woofer needs to be. Once you know the needed impedance, you can start picking out a woofer. You will be looking for woofers rated for 500-750W RMS. (Yes, i know it doesn't make sense to use an amp that is rated for 1500W RMS with a woofer that is only rated for 500W RMS - you're just gonna have to trust me on this one).

There are many good choices out there. You will want something that works well in larger ported enclosures with the kind of power you have to give it, and is known for its ability to play somewhat loudly. An Alpine Type-R is a common choice, and they are relatively inexpensive. Digital Designs 1500 & 2500 Series, Audioque SDC2.5, Kicker Solo Baric L7 or Comp VX, Rockford Fosgate Power T1... there are a lot of options out there for subwoofers that would work well for you. Pretty much any manufacturer you can think of will have a woofer that will work for your application. Some get louder than others, some sound better than others, but you have tons of choices for woofers that will work.


Hans
 
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