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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I initially planned to wait until the build was complete before posting this but have decided to go ahead and make this an "in progress" build log and update it as it goes along. So let's get on with the show!


The Car:

After owning my previous car, a 2006 Civic Sedan LX, for 13 years and putting just over 250k miles on it, I finally upgraded. Yea!

(link to old build log here)

The new car is a 2019 Honda Civic Hatchback Sport (non-touring edition). I looked at and test drove quite a few cars. I really liked a couple but ultimately landed on this Civic for the following reasons:

  • I like hatchbacks. And, they are just easier to get bass right in, IME.
  • The gas mileage. I drive 80 miles round trip each day.
  • We already own a 2018 CR-V so I didn't really need a larger car for family stuff. I just need a good car that has a decent platform for aftermarket audio, enough space for me and my family to make quick trips around town, and something I could see myself still driving 10 years from now.
  • I think it looks pretty sharp.
  • It’s a budget friendly vehicle and leaves me enough money to cover the audio stuff.
  • It's fun to drive. It isn’t the world's fastest car but you have to remember I'm coming from a 2006 civic with 250k miles on it. So, this thing is almost like a race car to me. It's got some nice speed, takes corners like a champ... I won't be driving it like a madman but just being able to finally merge without fearing my engine is going to fall out from the workload it's under is a big improvement. :D


Here’s some pictures of the car the day I got it:



















 

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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
Audio and Install Goals:

The goal for this system is pretty simple: a relatively stock appearance.

Before I get too far in to the details, let me give some perspective here…

I’ve been around this hobby for a good while. I’ve had a very “extreme” build for a long time and I’ve had a system that sounds quite good and gets stupid loud, if I say so myself. I’ve also seen and heard many incredible vehicles running the gamut from extreme to rather stock installs. Some installs are easier to tune “out of the box” than others. Some offer things others can’t. But, for the most part, what I’ve experienced is that there has really never been a single defining characteristic to what makes one system sound fantastic other than a) a good install, b) an understanding of the equipment and limitations/implications of the gear/install and c) a good tune based on a & b.

When I think back to my favorite car audio systems as a whole package (sound + aesthetic), the cars that come to mind for me are: Kirk Proffitt’s Acura TL, Jason Bertholomey’s BRZ and Michael Myers' Scion. None have "extreme" builds. Myers has dash pods but it's nothing crazy. All have/had door mounted midbass and a (relatively) understated yet elegant install. There’s nothing that stands out, cosmetically, in a way that draws attention to itself. Yet, they all sound incredible. They just have great tonality and an incredibly enjoyable fun factor. It's like you get in and the speakers just get out of the way and you enjoy the system for what it is. I've done the waaaaay extreme thing: 10 inch midbass in the kicks with a 4 inch hole cut in the firewall, and 5 inch coaxials on the dash. And as great as it sounded, if I’m being completely honest with myself, I preferred what those cars had to offer as an overall package. Don’t get me wrong; I loved my old system. And it wasn’t terribly obtrusive, but for me, personally, there’s really something about having a system that sounds fantastic without seeing what you’re hearing. And while I’m at it, let me be clear that I’m not dissing others’ choices of what they do in their systems. I did things in my old civic that I’m sure others wouldn’t have cared for either. I’m just stating my personal likes/dislikes from my previous builds and drawing inspiration from those I have enjoyed that kept a more stock-like appearance up front.

So, with that in mind, I figure why not take some aspects of my favorites and combine it with some of what I’ve learned and use that to build what I like. And the goal with my new car, at least for the foreseeable future, is to try to target a system that has a relatively stock appearance up front and squeeze out all the sound quality I can within those constraints.

I took a short drive up to Audio X in Florence, AL to talk with Steve Cook about my ideas and get his insight on the new car install. Steve and his shop are known literally worldwide for creating some of the best SQ systems in the States and winning multiple championships in SQ comps. Steve also used to compete in SPL and still holds some world records I believe. So, the dude has a proven track record for building incredible systems that can sound loud and good. Years before I purchased this car I was saying I would have Steve and his shop do the work for me on my next car. And that's exactly what I'm doing. :) I could do it myself but frankly, I just don’t want to. I don’t have the time or desire to do this much, especially in this heat. Besides, his shop does better work than I do, for sure. I’ve known Steve for a long time. His work is incredible. With him being an hour from me, it was a no-brainer to have him do this install for me. Plus, the major benefit is I’ll actually have a completed system instead of me having the car apart for a year, slowly getting the install done (I know me, it would take that long, if not longer).


Initially I was thinking of trying to cram a 3 or 4 inch midrange + tweeter in to the sail panel but that wouldn’t work without sticking out like a sore thumb. Something I don’t want. Dash pods are also out because of the obtrusive aesthetic. No kick mounted midbass for now; I have no doubt down the line this will be revisited but that’s just not on the docket at this moment. Ultimately, after some test fitting, research of drivers, and discussion with Steve this is what I decided on:

Equipment list and some rationale:
  • Kenwood DDX9905S HU: Fine headunit. Comes from my previous car. No need to upgrade.
  • MiniDSP C-DSP with Dirac Live: Great results with it in my old car and I want to try it out on the new one.
  • ScanSpeak Illuminator D3004/6040-00 Beryllium Dome Tweeters in sail panels: Excellent on/off axis response. Relatively high sensitivity.
  • Dyn Esotar2 430 midrange in dash corners: The best pure midrange I’ve ever tested. Excellent linear response through its primary passband and great off-axis response. Small size makes it easy to fit in the “stock” dash corners. “Stock” meaning, there is not an OEM dash/windshield corner location for speakers of any size in this car. So, Steve and I talked about it and the plan was made to pull the windshield and cut in to the dash piece to create a spot for the mids in a sealed enclosure. The location will be made such that future upgrades/swaps (in case something were to blow by accident) can be easily handled without the need to pull the windshield again. The dash piece costs $65 to replace so not a big loss there.
  • Audio Frog GB60 midbass in doors: These GB60's have long linear throw, good sensitivity, and nice power handling in a small footprint. Great midbass for door installs.
  • JL Audio 12w6v3 – Never heard any complaints or had any complaints with a 12w6. Simple and effective. Also, I can remove it if I need more space for a trip somewhere.
  • Tru Technology Tungsten Grande Amplifiers: I'm not too much of an "amp guy". I kind of go with the flow there (no pun intended). My main concern is noise floor and power and reliability; as long as those are adequate I’m good. Having said that, with my new install I wanted to try something new amp-wise. While I was at Cook’s shop, I listened to Scott Brazelton's Lexus and was blown away at how good that system sounded without, literally, any EQ. Dude's running Dyn 430 midranges (which I already wanted) and Tru Tungsten Grande amps. I was sold on the combo. Plus, Steve is a Tru Technology dealer so no worries there if something happened to one of the amps. So, that's what I'll be running now.
    • Tru Technology Tungsten Grande TG-RS4 - Tweeters and midranges
    • Tru Technology Tungsten Grande TG-RS2 - Midbass
    • Tru Technology Tungsten Grande TG-RS2 - Subwoofer

The drivers I'm using are my “dream team” drivers for this kind of install. They're not necessarily cheap but considering the number of times I have “upgraded” my previous car's system over the years, I figure I’ll save money in the long run by getting what I really, really want the first time rather than settle for something that costs less but then feeling the need to replace it with something better later.

Within those confines, Steve and his guys have full reign to do what they need to do to make it work and add some of their own creativity to the install. I'm excited to see what they do with it.
 

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I’m currently loving the beryllium dome ScanSpeak D3004/6040-00 so far in the same location. I’m hyped to see your midrange placement when its done! My GB25 pillar pods are a bit unsightly.
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Like I said in the previous post, to get to the dash, the windshield was pulled. Doing this makes it easier to work on building enclosures in to the dash. Again, no OEM spots so they are making some for me. I think they had a bit too much fun, judging by the last picture. ;) :D

 

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That really is a great lineup of gear. Badass midbass, smooth midrange, and I'm sure detailed highs with great sparkle with those tweets. And always loved the w6 in the many installs I've heard it in. Good commanding sound that just plain works. And I get you on buying once and crying once. I finally learned that after all these years. And totally understand your reasoning for farming out the labor to get it done. Quite frankly I would too if I had the money and luxury of a second vehicle to drive. I'm sure you'll put an incredible tune on it that mirrors your personality. You sure kicked down boundaries with your old car and went from n00b to certified mad scientist. I got my fingers crossed that it will be ready 2 months from now;)
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I got my fingers crossed that it will be ready 2 months from now;)
Totally. Shooting for it to be complete in the next couple weeks so I can take it to finals in October. Right now the only missing puzzle piece is the amps. I talked to John @ Tru yesterday and he hopes to have them shipped out by middle of next week. And they are gonna be sweeeeet. ;) :D


Just like a true car audiophile, get a new car and immediately rip it apart and start the install!
Exactly! I have literally been planning this for years. On more than one occasion, I'd make an update on my old Civic, be upset with my lack of good fab/finishing skills, and then exclaim to my wife that the next car was going straight to Steve and I wasn't going to mess around with my hack job installs. That's why I kept the old civic around instead of selling it or trading it in. Knew I'd need something to drive while the new ride was under the knife. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I’m currently loving the beryllium dome ScanSpeak D3004/6040-00 so far in the same location. I’m hyped to see your midrange placement when its done! My GB25 pillar pods are a bit unsightly.
I was between the Scan and an Accuton tweeter. Both have excellent response on/off axis. But the Accuton showed a high frequency distortion element to it that seemed odd. So I chose the Scan. This may get swapped out once a new tweeter is released but for now it seemed to be the best choice for my needs.
 

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Subscribed for this! I’m anxious to see what Mr Cook designs for you! With having the GB60s in there I’m surprised you didn’t go with the GB12 instead of the JL. Are they the normal GB60s or the specials ones that Andy makes on occasion?
 

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Audio and Install Goals:

The goal for this system is pretty simple: a relatively stock appearance.

Before I get too far in to the details, let me give some perspective here…

...

When I think back to my favorite car audio systems as a whole package (sound + aesthetic), the cars that come to mind for me are: Kirk Proffitt’s Acura TL, Jason Bertholomey’s BRZ and Michael Myers' Scion. None have "extreme" builds. Myers has dash pods but it's nothing crazy. All have/had door mounted midbass and a (relatively) understated yet elegant install. There’s nothing that stands out, cosmetically, in a way that draws attention to itself. Yet, they all sound incredible. They just have great tonality and an incredibly enjoyable fun factor. It's like you get in and the speakers just get out of the way and you enjoy the system for what it is. I've done the waaaaay extreme thing: 10 inch midbass in the kicks with a 4 inch hole cut in the firewall, and 5 inch coaxials on the dash. And as great as it sounded, if I’m being completely honest with myself, I preferred what those cars had to offer as an overall package. Don’t get me wrong; I loved my old system. And it wasn’t terribly obtrusive, but for me, personally, there’s really something about having a system that sounds fantastic without seeing what you’re hearing. And while I’m at it, let me be clear that I’m not dissing others’ choices of what they do in their systems. I did things in my old civic that I’m sure others wouldn’t have cared for either. I’m just stating my personal likes/dislikes from my previous builds and drawing inspiration from those I have enjoyed that kept a more stock-like appearance up front.

......
I have always liked hidden speakers. My litmus test for the best car audio systems I have heard is "Can I forget I am in a vehicle and just enjoy the music like it was being performed live in front of me?" In my nearly 30 years of car audio (started in 1989) I have probably heard only about 10 systems that have met that goal for me. For myself, I have had only one system that came close to doing that, and other systems I have heard were much better at it than mine was. Not even multiple world championship systems in MECA, IASCA, and USACi have passed this test, meaning a great scoring system does not automatically meet my standards. One of the biggest inhibitors to meeting my goal is realizing where the sound is coming from.

Ever wonder why MECA allows competitors to put covers on the windows and make the vehicle's interior as dark as possible? It's to let the judges and listeners to concentrate on the sound, not what they are seeing in front of them. Too many people listen with their eyes instead of their ears. In my competition career I have experienced biased judges that have told me that if they had known what brand of speakers I was using behind my black grill cloth, they would not have scored me as good as they did. I had one judge say where ever the speakers are mounted is where he scores the soundstage. The worst is SQ judges that ask what you are using in your system and where the speakers are before they judge you.

I hope you get your system installed (at least the 1st version of it :) ) and be at finals in Louisville. I plan on being there on Saturday and I would love to have a listen!
 

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Like I said in the previous post, to get to the dash, the windshield was pulled. Doing this makes it easier to work on building enclosures in to the dash. Again, no OEM spots so they are making some for me.
I thought about doing something very similar to this in my car, the newer Audi's have speakers in the dash corners, but knowing how much work it needed I never bothered. This was also on a 10 year old car.

Seeing how much they have pulled apart on your brand new car :eek:

You are braver than I am. Even paying someone else to do it, pulling that much apart on a new car I would be nervous.

Can't fault you at all for having someone else do the work though, like many others I'll be looking forward to the updates and hopefully some seat time in the future.
 

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How are you able to compete at finals with a new car. Are you Grandfathered in? If so, you certainly deserve it IMO.
 
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