Once upon a time......
I mentioned I would write this up one day.
Phase 1 $400
Selective Audio & Customs, Meridian MS
Amp Alpine 4ch
Fronts Rockford Fosgate w/ dual Tweeters
Sub Alpine S 1042
14” Box firing to side
PAC adapter 1ch to ea Fr/Bridge 2ch to sub
First Upgrade. OEM Fronts had blown out. Improvement over stock but channel that PAC adapter was connected to cut out on low bass notes at moderate volume. Sounded better than stock but no improvement in clean sounding volume level.
Phase 2 $1000 less $150 ebay sale of head unit and stock rears.
Jimmy's Car Stereo, Columbus GA
Major Upgrade but took 3 trips to get it close to right.
Head Unit Alpine 9857
Amp Alpine MRV-F450 V12 5ch
Rears Alpine S 6x9
Sub Custom Box
Misc Steering Wheel Controls & iPod connector
"1st time-Basic Installation. Looked good in the trunk and the box is exactly what I wanted.
2nd Time-They had only installed 1 RCA instead of 3.
3rd Time-SWC not connected correctly and tried to center up HU and pocket in dash. Still had problems with Sub cutting out on loud low bass notes. Decided to let someone else work on it.
Phase 3 $80
Best Buy, Kennesaw GA
Changed several settings on 5ch amp and rerouted all wires behind HU which allowed it to be centered in dash. Improved sound. Looked great. Took more Volume to cut out. Installer suggested that Focal were very good speakers and I should listen to them.
Phase 4 $600 less $50 ebay sale of R-F Fronts
Wrights Sound Gallery, Shreveport LA
Fronts Focal Polyglass components
Misc Robber squares in doors to dampen back wave
Big Improvement in Front soundstage. Also changed the way the Sub was connected. Now cut out at much higher volume.
Phase 5 $500 still have Alpine MRV-P450
Custom Audio, Evansville IN
Amp Alpine PDX-5
Sub no longer cut out but I could not get much volume as before even with 300 vs. 200 watts. Popping in fronts on heavy bass notes at high volume. At times I think that I can hear a difference in digital and analog amp. Ground hum in radio. Trunk installation looked amateurish but this was due to my wanting the switch made before I went on a trip.
Phase 6 $100
Benchmark Soundworks, Alpharetta GA
Amazing change using existing components.
The owner Gary Stackpole had been VP of Mobile Audio at Tweeter (Tweeter and Hi-Fi Buys) which is now defunct. He and a couple of his top installers Billy Brown and Fernando Melendez started the company. They had been responsible for a National Winner in USACi competition. I saw an ad in a local magazine and dropped by to talk about the disappointing performance of my system given the quality of the components. I showed him pictures of previous versions of the install (located here as well) After listening to the system, he suggested that a few tweaks to the crossover and gains would solve the problem. I began to realize why they had been top installers when I called to say that I had been caught in traffic and could not make it to his shop before closed. He asked what time I could get there and met me there at 8:30pm on a Friday night. He was on time and even opened up and parked it inside. They worked on it the next day and went way beyond the scope (see below) of what we discussed. When I said that while I appreciated all they were doing but was concerned due to budget constraints, he said the price would not change.
Subwoofer volume problem was due to dual voice coil Sub having only one voice coil hooked up. Connected voice-coils in parallel which drastically increased the volume that the sub could attain. Rear view vision slightly impaired by vibrations from sub-sound! Changed crossover at amp for the fronts from 80Hz to 120Hz. Popping went away, even at full volume on the most demanding music. Made other amp adjustments to gain levels to center up sound stage. Since I had been through many iterations of installs, each store had added splices to speaker wires. They minimized the number of splices. All of the wiring and cabling that was too long had been piled up under the seat and could have caused noise and interference. They fixed this as well. Added Dynamat to the doors and mounted acoustic blocks. Also mounted the Front component cross-over higher up on the side of the door inside the water shield instead of in the bottom of the door where it could get wet. Modified the Sub box by putting batting in the box, adding a protective ring, re-carpeting to match trunk, and mounting the amp vertically so that all wires are hidden and control panel faces the trunk. The work in the doors, to the sub-box, and other little things was more than expected. It was like they could not stand to see anything less than perfect.
We ran out of time to fine tune the settings at the amp and head unit. He called me back to ask how it sounded and get a date on when they could complete the work.
I have become a critic of automotive audio installers. The previous installers were not totally incompetent, they just could not get all the details right. Benchmark Soundworks is easily the best. They really only deal with top of the line components and truly understand automotive audio. I cannot express how thankful I am that I am finally getting what I paid for. I am planning on taking my other Riv to them as soon as I can afford to.
If you are considering a serious audio upgrade, want it done right, and can get your Riv to Alpharetta GA (which is a northern suburb of Atlanta,) Benchmark Soundworks would be a great place to go.http://www.benchmarksoundworks.com/
.........and Scott listened happily ever after.