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Disclaimer: this will likely be my longest intro ever :) feel free to skip to the build log portion of the thread :D

I would venture to guess that most of us here are in some varying degree, car enthusiasts as well as car audio aficionados. And as car enthusiasts, we each have some kind of "dream car" that we keep in the back of my mind....a car that we tell ourselves and our friends that "if i can have any car in the world, it would be the...."

For many, their dream car are insane hyper cars like a Bugatti, Lambo, Mclaren, Pagani, koenigsegg, or an american classic like a 69 camaro, or corvette ZR1, or a Mustang 350R (for those who like to scare crowds at a car meet :D).

On the other hand, for me personally, the perfect car has always been one that can do a wide variety of things well, fast, handles decently, safe, luxurious, comfortable, and most importantly, have a plenty of passenger and cargo room.

As such, especially since I owned a 94 volvo 850T5 Estate and fell in love with sporty wagons, my dream has been the Audi RS6 Avant. The image of a high horsepower, awd land missile capable of carrying 5 adults and a buttload of cargo is what i conjure up when daydreaming.

But as we all know, the deep rooted American hatred of station wagons made it amply clear...after a decade, that this particular vehicle will never make it over here.

The Merecedes AMG wagons, on the other hand, have always been available in the US, yet it never really appealed to me because after owning modified Subarus for the past 10 years, the thought of a 500 plus horse power RWD car just didnt resonate with me...Id like to be able to mash the gas at any time, without the fear of fishtailing, ruining a set of rear tires in a matter of weeks, or ending up on a mega-fail youtube video.:rolleyes:

Things all changed when the 2014 model of the E63 Wagon came out, for the first time, it came standard with all wheel drive...it also coincided with a significant face list that to me, made the front end of the vehicle a lot more attractive...and after watching a motortrend shoot out where the frigging thing ran a 3.4 second 0-60 and a 11.7 second quater mile....suddenly, i felt that my dream car is actually available and perhaps attainable...some day...due to its 6 figure price tag.

After about 4 years of waiting and thanks in large part to high gas prices, used 2014 models slowly but surely started falling into a range that i can almost accept...still, the wagon commands an almost 10 grand premium over a matching used sedan version, and trying to find one in the exterior color (white or silver) and interior color (black) i wanted, in a price range i can afford, in a car that is 10 times more rare than a SLS-AMG proved to be difficult.

After about 5 months of searching, a listing in northwest arkansas caught my eye...it was everything i was looking for and while the price was still higher than i wanted, with the big Four-Oh approaching, i finally decided that its now or never. Like opening up a shop when i was comfortable working out of my garage, this presented a risk, but I figured that i can find ways to save money elsewhere in my daily life that can account for the difference.

So after sending a friend to check out the car, followed by a long series of talks and emails and paperwork with the dealership, followed by yet another long wait for the transport company to pick up the vehicle, I arrived one fine saturday morning to find this deposited in our parking lot:























And here is a video i made of her in action :)

https://youtu.be/kQhQM4qLp-A

The most urgent task on my agenda, after taking delivery of the vehicle, was to get a system installed... Unlike most other shops, we do not have a demo room, instead, my personal vehicle has always been the selling card for potential clients, as i feel that a 10 minute session in a car will do far more to impress someone than having them listen to various speakers on a board. And having sold my Legacy, this was for sure an urgent matter.

Thanks to my awesome sales rep Scott of RPM marketing, and all my vendors that have always been there to support me, i was able to gather up all my gear in short order and get started. But i would like to take my time to thank each and every one of them right now for their support:

Scott of RPM
Orca Design
Morel
K40 electronics
Audiofrog
Stinger-AAMP
Northstar batteries
Firstech-Momento Cams

and of course, our own Jesse and Joey as they did an awesome job on various parts of the car. :)
 

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so...lets get started with the goals...and since its my own car, it was pretty specific:

1. achieve a nice level of sound quality

2. maintain as oem of a look as possible in the interior

3. Have full usage of the enormous cargo capacity of the vehicle

4. Have the ability to expand to multi channel audio in the future

5. integrate the K40 RL360i full radar/laser protection system

6. Have a bit of show factor but keep it 100 percent "Bing Style" (read fake floor :D:D)

i would say the hardest part of the goals was to maintain the oem look while trying to attain good sound quality, mainly manifesting itself in the midrange location...the stock location of the mid buried in the lower door was not going to fly, but i did not want to have any kind of bulging a pillar either....but thats where Joey's master craftsmanship and creativity came into play :)

Joey performed the A pillar, work, as well as various detailed tasks such as the ashtray controller mount, the LEDs for the K40 system, the custom rear mount laser difuser and the underhood fuse holder; while Jesse did a great job on the radar/laser package located in the front and rear bumpers; while yours truly did the rest.

lets get started :)

first order of business is the under hood fuse mounting. with the tight space of the car's wire routing, i chose to run 2 4 gauge power cables back, and as such a two output four fuse stinger fuse block needed to be mounted near the battery. However, this car has a big cover over the battery so Joey decided to build a mount fixed to one of the strut tower bolts...this putting the fuses close to the battery yet easy to access at anytime:



pop off the battery cover and you see a Northstar AGM battery replacing the oem verson:



some quick build pics of the mount and battery.

first joey came up with a little bracket that secures to the strut tower bolt:



then a mounting plate was welded to it and ground smooth:



then it was painted black and a little piece of foam was put down below the mounting bracket so it would not scratch or dent the metal and prevent scraping:





next the stock battery was swapped with the northstar unit, and we are good to go:





Moving on to the interior. so again, the goal here is to maintain as stock of a look as we can, and i would charaterize the car's interior as kind old school, certainly not as newage or edgy as an audi interior.





I wanted a place to locate the Mosconi RC-Mini DSP controller and the K40 360 controller, and the natural place was the astray. I simply told JOey that ideally, i d like to retain the cig plug, and i want the stock sliding door to function normally. So here is what the center stack looks like, and the ashtray area when the door is closed, as you can see, 100 percent stock:





slide open the door and you see a new plate has been fabricated in place of the astray, that houses a completely disassembled and reconstructed mosconi RC-Mini, along with the K40 controller. The layout is virtually set by the space he had, and to be honest, i was quite surprised he was able to get both in there and retain the cig plug, as side by side in their stock form, the two controllers was much bigger than the asthray itself. a little slot upfront how houses the series of LEDs that serves as volume and level control for the DSP controller. Simple, effective, and very easy to reach :)





here is how he did it. first, here is the oem astray, now perhaps you can see what i mean by it being small.



the entire assembly was removed and the cig lighter plug was popped out:





next, the basic plate was fabricated using a piece of plastic, and all the cutouts slowly sanded to perfection:







then the piece was test fitted to the astray assembly:



and then joey disassembled the RC mini, separating the control board and knob, from the led display:









then, after several layers of high build primer, followed by fine sanding, the plate was painted black:



then the disassembled mosconi controller was mounted onto the board, and the K40 display snapped in...this was then tested to ensure everything worked and fit properly, and thus ready to go back into the vehicle.





 

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next up on Joey's list was to embed the LEDs for the K40 system into the dash. Unlike other systems, the K40 uses two LEDs to inform the driver if it has received a threat, laser threats trigger both leds together, while radar signals will flash one or the other, telling you if the thread is infront or behind you. so these two leds needed to be located in a place readily visible from the driver seat, but yet blend in when not flashing. so we chose the instrument cluster as the ideal location. so here is the look of the cluster with the leds not flashing, and as you can see, they are almost invisible...and no one can see them if they arent being told where to look :)



when they do flash tho, its immediately noticeable from the driver seat:



so here is what Joey did.

first, the gauge cluster was removed and the shroud taken off...and all the areas inspected to make sure there was enough room for the leds and wiring. check out how the "floating" speedo needle works...:)





once satisfied that there was enough room, joey marked out two drilling points for the leds, using a router bearing to ensure that they are identically located:





then the holes were drilled and the leds carefully secured and wired up:





and then the cluster was reassembled and ready to be put back into the vehicle:







now lets take a look at the magic performed by Jesse...and that is the installation of the front and rear radar detection units and front laser diffusers.

for the front, we chose K40's high end optix laser diode difuser, these are small and more effective than the traditional type...so here is what the front of the car looks like after they were intalled, as you can see, their tiny size means that unless you carefully look, they really do kind of blend into the bumper. they are located in an area in between the license plate and the headlight, splitting the difference between the two most common places to get targeted by the laser gun:









so lets take a look behind the scenes.

first, jesse popped off the front bumper completely:





then, using a piece of acrylic, he fabricated a mounting plate for the K40 front radar detection unit. special care was taken to ensure that it faced the front, perpendicular to the center line of the car to ensure its maxmum effectiveness.





the plate was then painted black, and the detection unit bolted to it via pre tapped threaded holes:





this was then bolted to the vehicle, again via tapped and threaded holes in the bumper support:







I then came in and routed the wiring for this unit into the underhood area, following and ziptying to oem wiring bundles:



to mount the k40 optix difusers, jesse first found a proper location for them and installed three aluminum rivetnuts into the bumper wall:



next, the supplied brackets from k40 was carefully blend to the precise angle and orientation, excess trimmed off, and repainted black:





this was then bolted to the car, while the optix diffusers were secured via 3M VHB body molding tape to the top of the brackets:





then the wires were routed along factory routes in the bumper, and the 2nd difuser added in an identical fashion:









Jesse then soldered on quick disconnect molex plugs on the wiring both in the bumper and from the car, to allow quick disconnect of the bumper if needed, and sealed everything:







I then routed this wiring bundle back into the car through the firewall, again, following oem routes where i can:









 

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now lets move to the rear laser/radar pacakge. for the rear of the car, where laser threats are far less likely, we went with a single k40 led based difuser. the trick was where to mount it. the rear flat portion of the hatch and the license plate are the primary targets, so we wanted to locate it in that area, versus the buttom of the bumper. K40 makes a pretty cool license plate frame that secures one of their diffusers but i already had personalized plate frames, so instead, i told Joey that id like to have a mount below the take gate handle opening, right above the plate, off set to the drivers side, as it is empty there...and to make it relatively stock looking.

so here is what he came up with...a neat little mount that tucks up right against the silver trim on the tailgate:





once again, lets take a look at how everything came together :)

first up again, jesse fabricated a mounting plate for the rear radar sensor out of acrylic:







this was then painted black, and everything bolted together into the rear bumper support area:







the cable for the sensor passes into the cargo area via a factory grommet, sealed with silicone:





next Joey started fabrication of his difuser mount. what he basically did, was to cutout the top left hand portion of the k40 license plate frame mount, and extended it with more plastic and blended it together to allow fitment into the space:













after repeated coats of primer and sanding, joey painted the whole mount black, and secured the k40 difuser:



this was then bolted to the underside of the hatch plate, and wires lead into the hatch area via a sealed hole:









next, it came time for me to figure out where to locate the brain and difuser modules in the car. I wanted a place where they were easily accessible for service and updates if need be, but with a car like this, it seems there werent a lot of free space. after a lot of headscratching and panel removal, i decided that i was going to embed them into the foam on the passenger side floor board. this portion of the carpet is hinged and designed to flip back to allow access to factory modules beneath a metal plate, and would give me everything i was looking for:

so first, the two modules were placed on the foam and the area traced out:





then working slowly with a razor, i carved out the space in the foam. what is nice is that this section of carpet is hardened, more like a piece of fiberboard, so it still provided a solid mounting baffle for the two modules. i then installed a layer of ballistik foam to further dampen the area and allow press fitment





then the two modules were prepped, wires extended out and tesa tape wrapped, and press fit into the foam cavity:





a piece of foam was also installed on the factory plate to prevent any kind of buzzing when the carpet is flipped back over. the wiring bundle was also secured to factory wiring beneath the plate and lead out to the kick panel area:



i located the GPS antenna of the k40 system above the right most front vent, where it has a clear shot of the sky with no metal in place, and out of sight:



the last piece of the K40 RL360i system is the speaker that gives audible warning when threats are detected and allow adjustment of options...this i located onto the passenger side under dash panel, keeping it out of place but still easily audible:











Before we get to the audio portion of the project, there was one last item to install, and that is the Momento dash cam...with a car of my dreams, i wanted to make sure that i am as protected as possible while driving. The momento M5 cam is a front and rear cam package that records in HD and has GPS location tracking. compared to some other cams on the market, it does come with a bigger display, which is harder to hide, but for me, i like to use its touch screen features to set things.

here is the entire package laid out:



the rear camera is no bigger than your average lipstick, and when mounted, it is virtually impossible to see through my tinted rear window:



open the hatch and you see the unit mounted on the center line of the vehicle, pointed backwards:



lets take a quick look at the wire routing of the camera, as well as the sound proofing of the rear hatch while we are at it :)

so here is the wiring for the dash cam, as it follows the stock wiring route, going through the factory grommet and into the headliner of the vehicle:








 

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at the same time, the wiring for the rear difuser was added to the mix and also routed through the same hole. to make things easier, i basically cut the wiring of the difuser (as joey was still working on the rear mount as i did this), and soldered it back together in the hatch after the difuser was mounted:













here you see the two cables, bundled together, as it comes out of the headliner, then routed down the passenger side of the vehicle:









since i had the hatch apart, i applied a variety of sound proofing on the panels. the plastic top trim received some GP STFU composite damper:









while the rest of the metal hatch and the main hatch panel received STP CLD damper:













the plastic trim that goes over the panel cover panel received foam, to decouple it from the metal and plastic it snaps onto:





by comparison, the front camera install was a piece of cake. after touting the cable into the area, i chose a location for the camera where it sees virtually all of the frontal area of the car, yet is completely blocked by the factory rear view mirror assembly as to not present a distraction to me while driving. the screen can be set to display both the the front and rear cams simultaneously and records both in full HD





 

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with all the peripheral stuff out of the way, we can finally get to the audio build itself.

Again, a reminder that i wanted the interior to look as stock as possible, thus utilizing oem locations where ever i can. so here is the view of the doors...completely oem looking, with the sail mounted tweeter location and the lower door midbass:





and to give you an idea of what the stock door looked like, here it is, whih is mostly sealed off with a plate and riveted in speaker.



so first order of business was to route two sets of speaker wires, for the midbass and tweeter, into the door via the the factory tube:



then the riveted oem midbass was drilled out, and rivet nuts placed in the original rivet holes.



the outer door skin was then smothered with 20 plus backhole tiles per door..with the brace directly behind the speaker receiving shaved tiles due to wndow clearance:











then, the outer door panel was sound proofed with STP CLD damper:



then, i fabricated a set of spacer adapters out of acrylic (here you see both front and rear), and painted them black:





and it was bolted to the door via the rivet nuts:



for midbass duties, i think some of you may have heard me rave about the gladen aerospace midbass...it just has always impressed me with its impact, precision and effortless extension, so i chose a pair of these for my own car. here you see them wired up, and installed into the vehicle:









i finished the process by sealing the edge of the baffle with focal butyl rope and a F.A.S.T. ring to seal the acoustic energy and direct it only out of the door grill:





then, the passenger door received the identical treatment:





















for tweeter duties, i went with a pair of tweets that i have always loved and one that i know can fit seamlessly into the small oem location...and that is the morel MT350 tweets from the titanium elate line up...and as expected, they simply press fit into the oem location:





i then turned my attention to the door cards. first, i had to do something about the stock midrange bolted to it infront of the midbass grille. i did not want to leave it there as it could resonate, but i didnt want to leave an open hole either wehre under certain lighting conditions, you can see through to the door panel. so what i did was to remove them, cut the cone and rip out the guts, trimmed a piece of stinger black foam, stuck it to the basket, and bolted it back onto the door card:











then the door cards received ample amount of STP CLD damper to reduce resonance and rattles, and i was careful to keep the factory jute barrier in place to act as a decoupler between the card and door panel:















finally, after the door was put back together, i hooked up the tweeter wires and ziptied the bundle, beneath the factory pop off panel at the front of the door, thus completing the front door portion of the build:



 

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The last piece of the front stage involved the delicate balance on the midrange mounting. there was no way i was going to use the stock midrange location at the bottom of the door, but at the same time, i wanted to make sure whatever customization we make still looked oem....and going into it, i knew i was going to sacrifice a little sound quality, or at the very least, ease of tuning, by having the midrange pretty severely off axis. the next tick was to figure what mid to use that isnt wider than the actual a pillar cover panel. luckily, audiofrog has just such a driver, the GB25, a 2.5" mid, is about 3/8 of an inch smaller than all the other 3" class midranges i have, that may not sound like much, but it makes a world of difference when i am trying to keep things stock looking. so basically, i told Joey to fabricate the most OEM looking pillars he can, and when it was all said and done, here is what he came up with.

the pillars are pretty off axis and follows the line and curves of the pillar and dash perfectly, a diamond shaped grille hides the mid and with its pressed metal grill, mimics the shape and look of the stock tweeter tweeter mounting to a certain extent. the entire panel was wrapped with black alcantara. i couldnt be happier with the outcome, as almost every person i have had in the car thought they came with the vehicle, and infact, some friends asked me if the stock tweeter mounting was aftermarket :D

















lets take a look at how it all came together.

first, i took off the stock pillar covers, and stripped the alcantara off of them and cleaned them up for joey...hey someones gotta do the grunt work right? :D





once joey figured out the shape, he masked the area and traced out the lines for the cutout:



next, using templates, he made a template of the basic shape of the baffle





then he backfilled the baffle to the dash so to ensire that the buttom of the pod will match the curvature of the dash that it sits on, then he transfered this new shape onto a new template







then using more templates and router techniques, he made the flush mount border wall and metal grille press template, and test fitted everything into the car:









he then made the final main baffle out of acrylic and drilled the holes and flushing mounting openings for the screws that will ultimately secure the midrange, as well as rabetting the edge so the midrange will sit flush with the baffle:









then, he lined the border of the main baffle with ABS strips to make the flush moutning walls that the grille will sit into:







the bottom ledge was tapped off with cardboard and tape to form the bottom shape, and then filler was used to form the bottom ledge of the wall as the baffle bottom is lower than the grill itself:







then he filled in the gaps around the baffle with filler to blend the shapes all together, and sanded everything smooth, and the pillars were installed back into the vehicle for a final round of back filling and sanding to ensure perfect fitment:









then the grilles themselves were made from acrylic off the templates he had made:





and then he carefully routered out a rabeted edge on the inside opening of the grille to secure his pressed metal grill:











next, using the templates he made earlier, he pressed out the two metal grills:







and then two pieces were test fitted together:





and the frame acrylic pieces were smoothed out and painted black:



the pillar themselves got some final finishing touches and this is what they look like before upholstery:

 

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then baffle was then masked off and glue sprayed:



he then wrapped them and handed off the pillars to me for final assembly, and this is what they look like, done in black alcantara with the audiofrog speakers securely mounted, flushed into the opening







after the speakers were wired up, the grilles were simply pressed into place forming the final product:











i also applied some CLD damper on the back to help with resonance:



and after running wires to the area (the passenger side you already seen in the shot of the dash cam wiring), the pillars were hooked up and installed, and a final shot of the fit and finish:







usually, this would be the end of the interior speakers in most of my personal vehicles, but in this car, after having experienced Gary Bigg's car at CES and the power of multichannel processing, i decided that i would leave myself the door open for the future of maybe doing this...when the upmixer becomes available. after seeing what would fit in the stock area and talking to Andy about it, i decided to replace the stock center channel with a focal utopia 3w2BE mid, while not a full range driver, it is capable of playing to 10khz and beyond which will do okay as a center, or at least good enough for me to learn how to tune a multi channel system down the road. i would have perefered to go with a c3cx, but it was about a quater inch too deep and i wasnt about to cut up anything in the dash. :)

so here the stock center channel has been removed, and new wires run to the area. if you look closely, you will see what looks like a pair of stock centr channel speaker wires have been extended and led back down as well. this is becuase the stock center speaker is not just one speaker, but two separate voice coils in one, making it two speakers in a single basket chassis...one coil is for the center channel, however, the other coil is for the MBRACE service, basically mercede's version of ONSTAR, and this speaker, would have to be relocated somewhere else so i dont lose audio output of that service. that is the set of speaker wires that has been extended and lead down:



from there, the 3w2BE simply drops in for a near perfect fitment, wired up and secured:







currently, that speaker channel is deactivated via the dsp.

here you see the wire for the center andt he new wire for the MBRACE speaker bundled and routed around the center dash vents on their way down to the lower dash area:



then i turned my attention to the relocate of the MBRACE speaker, and i found a good spot on the driver side lower dash cover panel. i secured the speaker to the panel, and then secured the grille that came with the 3w2BE onto it for some protection.







the stock plug for the MBRACE channel was soldered back onto the extended wires, and plugged into the speaker, and once the panel is back in, the speaker sits in a spot that my foot never comes close to, but tested to still be fully audible when the service is activated...the MBRACE service rep prolly had a chuckle when i told her that i was testing the relocated speaker :D





I also decided to change out my rear speakers in the car, one for future multichannel tuning, but also, being a mobridge car, once the stock amp was removed, i was left with zero ability to have anything playing on them, so here i stripped the back door and it is what lies beneath:



as it turns out, the rear doors are a HUGE PITA compared to the front door. i dont know who at Mercedes decided this but the rear speakers are riveted through the basket from the INSIDE of the door panel BENEATH the surround of the speaker. in other words, there is no way to remove the speaker unless you completely remove the outer skin or butcher the stock sepaker and grind down the back side of the rivets...ugh! not only that, they also decided to copy Honda, and made the stock speaker opening a tiny little thing on the metal that only fits their proprietary rear speaker with a tiny little basket and magnet. so after cursing my way to bust out the stock rear speakers, i took an air saw to the opening and made it big enough for my own aftermarket drivers.



i then ran two sets of speaker wires into the doors through the stock molex plug:



and sound proofed the outer door skin with a ton of blackhole tiles just like the fronts:





then the inner door panel was sound proofed with CLD, and new rivet nuts installed into the panel:



the painted acrylic spacer baffles were then bolted via those rivetnuts onto the door:





and for rear speaker duties, i went with a pair of the trusted morel hybrid integra 6 point sources, here they are with wires soldered onto them:



these were then connected and bolted to the spacers:







and a F.A.S.T. ring installed over them to direct the energy out of the grille only:



the same procedure was then applied to the passenger side door:



















 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
on the rear door cards, the stock tweeters were removed, plugged with foam, and the rear door card got sound proofed with CLD damper just like the front, with a little foam thrown in at a point of contact near the top of the doors:















So that is it for the interior speakers, before we get to the hatch area, lets take a look at the wiring running throughout the car...starting from under hood.

here you see the two 4 gauge power cables and the front laser/radar wires running from the battery to a factory grommet and into the interior, sealed with silicone and ziptied to stock wiring bundles:









from there, it goes into the passenger side kick area and meets up with the plethora of other cables:



i wanted the ability to add future accessories without having to tear the car completely apart, so i made a little distribution center for power ground and turn on wires using a euro style barrier strip, and epoxied it to an empty space on the passenger side kick panel wall:





once it was all wired up, it looked like this, with ample open spots for any future additions:



from there on, the main bundle travels through the car following oem wiring, whcih goes through multiple plastic channels under neath the carpet...quite a pain in the butt to pull up all the carpet, open them up and slide wiring through...but after a good day or work, they are done. i also added a mosconi AMAS2 BT high resolution streaming device in the passenger side floor, to use as a secondary source and demoing of the product to customers.









here you see the wires that go to the passenger side rear speaker entering the mix at the rear B pillar, i also took the time to apply a little CLD on the B pillar lower covering panel:





and this now complete bundle continues through the stock plastic ahnenls all the way to the area below the stock rear seats:





moving back to the front of the car, i separated all of the signal wires and ran them down the driver side, along with any power and ground and hookup wires for accessories located on that side, so here is that bundle traveling below the passenger side dash over to the driver side, ziptied and wrapped with TESA tape:



here are the wires for the mosconi controller, the K40 controller and also soldered wire from the cig lighter plug to serve as master turn on for all the accesories, in the center console area, as they go back and joint the fray:



that bundle then comes out of the driver side center dash, and is routered to their appropriate destinations:





the last bit of hook up on the driver side was for the two LEDs located in the instrument cluster, one for front and one for rear, coming from the main control module of the k40 system:





from the driver side kick area, the bundle mimics the passenger side, running all the way to the back seat area, with the rear door speaker joining in at the B pillar:













with the rear seat jute cover out, i sound proofed the area with some STP CLD damper:





and all the wires were organized, routed, secured, bundled and ran to the back cargo area:





and the stock jute cover was placed back on, and the stock rear seat went back on shortly after:





in the cargo area, you can see the various bundles as they entire the space, some via stock channels, some via a more centralized location. there is a big plastic plate sitting on metal that houses some stock modules like sat radio etc, this was removed, a layer of foam installed to prevent direct contact buzzing, and then reinstalled and all the aftermarket wiring bundles secured:



 

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Thus, finally, we arrive at the main attraction, the cargo area build. as mentioned in the goals, i wanted to make sure 100 percent of the space is usable, that means no raising the floor and it needs to be durable.

this let me say this, even though i have seen pics before i got the car, i never realized just how big the cargo hold is...it is more than 4 feet front to back and about 3 foot side to side... so here is the view of it all covered up, with the oem cargo mat in place, as you can see, 100 percent stock :)



remove the cargo mat and here is what you see. the entire main center floor has been replaced with a new floor. it is done in black alcantara because after going through the book, there is no carpet i could source that matches the stock carpet and none that would allow the small curvatures faetured on the floor opening. so alcantara it was. in the center of the floor, is a very large grille, it features a alcantara border and a vented center, covered in black trunkliner to allow air to vent through it.







lift off that cover and here is what you see...and you see a LOT. the space in the stock spare tire well cavity is huge, and at first, i thought "finally! i have enough space to not worry about tight fitment of products!" but soon, i found myself cramming more and more gear into the design until at the end, virtually every inch of space was taken up...aint that something :p

it features 5 different openings all relatively the same shape, at the very back, what appears to be two mosconi AS amps is actually 4 stacked together. on the bottom is an AS300.2 sending 1500 watts or so to the subs, a 100.2 powering the rear speakers with 100 watts a piece passive, and ontop of a 200.4 sending 200 watts rms to each midrange and midbass, and a 100.2 powering the tweeters with 100 watts x 2. if you are wondering how the center channel is powered, stay tuned. :) also note these are the more rare white finished AS amps versus the standard grey/silver.

infront of the amps is a trio of the new focal k2p E25KX 10 inch subs. as reviewed in the audi S5 build not too long ago, these are nothing like what you remembered focal subs as. they still have the great sound quality but unlike previous focal subs, these have a LOT of output, i mean a LOT, almost like something of a JL W7 class...very impressive. and i couldnt resist cramming as many of them as i could fit in the car. ideally, i would have liked to have them all the way in the back for sonic purposes, but as you will see in the build pics, that was not possible due to the shape of the well.

infront of the subs, are three seprate openings, one framing a Mosconi 8to12 Aerospace 12 channel DSP on the driver side, one framing the master power and ground distribution blocks from stinger, and the center...is a AMG logo infinity light. To be honest, i wasnt a huge fan of infinity lights when i first started doing them, s they are such a pain to fabricate for something usually pretty small, but somehow, it became part of my reputation, so i figured, might as well embrace it right? :D

the entire top trim panel is black vinyl, as are the walls lining the well, while the floor surfaces are all black alcantara.

overall, i dont think there is any guesswork involved in figuring who built this, i would say this is very Bingish indeed :p













along the opening of each cutout, and surrounding each sub, is a 1/4" edge lit acrylic layer, and here is waht they look like, lit up, along with the infinity light. if you pay close attention, you will also see that there is light coming from the space in between the top amps and bottom amps...and though its hard to see in these pictures, but on the two big cutouts, below that lit layer, is a second layer of painted acrylic border that is done in bright silver:

















and finally, lets take a look at what it all is like in the dark:



























 

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so onto the build pics of the spare tire well.

first, here is what the stock floor and spare tire well looks like. under the floor is a plastic storage tray and various stock goodies, and below that, is the uninflated spare tire and the stock bose subwoofer enclosure







once all that was removed, i am left with a carpeted well, and the secondary battery for the car's electronics:



once that was removed also, this is the bare space i had to work with. and here you see why the subs could not be located at the very back of the well, due to both the oem battery, but more importantly, the shape of the well whcih has a curved wall that is too shallow. but overall, cant complain as its a huge space:



first order of business was completely sound proof the well and tape it off for molding of the enclosure:





then, using various piece of wood, i built the back wall of the enclosure, to be secured usin an oem threaded bolt hole located on the battery mount. i applied some foam over the area where the box floor will make contact with the battery mount to prevent any buzzing:









then, i secured the back wall into the car where it needs to be, held down with the bolt ont he passenger side, and then duraglass was applied to seal off the ledges to the well to prevent any unwanted resin leakage





then, 6 layers of fiberglass mat was laid down and allowed to cure:





after enlisting master joey's help in removing this mold (may have been a bit tight in areas lol), and trimming it to the desired shape, i was left with this enclosure of roughly 1.9-2 cubic foot empty



i then kind for shits and giggles lined the interior wall of the box with a combination of blackhole 5 and focal BAM, the areas that did not receive the 5 is due to clearance with the sub.



then the enclosure was topped of with a piece of 3/4" mdf:





then i installed two additional rivet nuts into the floor of the well, this, along with the aforemetioned stock bolt hole seen below, will serve as the main securing points for everything:







next, i routered out an opening on the top of the box to allow fitment of the subs, and sealed off all the remaining opening along the top baffle and side walls:





then i made a little spacer piece with bracing that the subs will mount to, clear the bottom of the well, and sits at the appropriate height and location:





this was then secured to the top of the main subbox:







and test fitted back in the car to ensure everything lined up and is at the appropriate angle:



next, the box was pulled back out, and a little bridge platform was secured to the back:









this platform is where i mounted the two passive crossovers for the rear door morel integras, and also, a mosconi pico amp powering the center channel:



this was all wired up, and the bundles routered to where they needed to go:









at the same time, the subwoofer wires were routed into the box and laid out:

 

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turning my attention now to the oem signal integration, luckily for me, this car is a platform that Mobridge supports, so i can tap the oem optical signal for a great analog signal output. here is the stock amp located on the driver side quater panel before removal:



after i removed the amp, i tapped the stock plug wtih foam to prevent it from buzzing against anything, attached the mobridge MOST extension plug, secured everything down, and routed the new optical wires to the front of the well:



there, i secured the mobridge DA2 MOST optical preamp, and plugged in all the wires, this location is well hidden but still easily accessible for any servicing should i need it:









i also used a stock grounding bolt to act as my main system ground near the front of the well:



after all the peripheral wires for the rear cam, radar and laser accessories were bundled and ran along the passenger side, this is the empty well i am left with to start final assembly:



first, the subbox with the crossovers and pico amp was dropped back in, and those times wired up and the bundles routed,







next, i built a palatform board that the amp well itself will secure to, it also is cut out around the battery so if i need to remove it to replace it, i dont have to take everything apart and can instead flip the amps out and acces it:





at the front of the box, i built a L shapped baffle along with some spacers, the baffle will located my main barrier strips and the lighting controller and all my relays, while the spacers, along wtih rivetnuts installed into the top front portion of well, will give me mounting points for a second platform for the dsp, the distribution and the infinity light:













with that done, i turned my attention back to the subwoofer mounting. as you saw in the pictures of the finished product, each sub has its own lit ring around it, and this is how it all came about.

first, i made a piece out of mdf, this is the spacer layer to give each subwoofer a pretty deep mounted well look, then the acrylic edge lit layer was copied onto it:





this then was transfered onto another board, and this is the main floor of the subwoofer display well. on the bottom of the space are triangles attached to give support to the entire board at the edges and corners but still leave room for the LED wiring:





the cutout shape was then transfered to the actual top mounting baffle of the enclosure, where the subs will actually sit on, those spacers blocks are there just to space the piece of the floor when i work on it as it has nails shot through it acting as locating pins so i know i can always sit the baffle back ontot he box at precisely where i want:





once the main mounting baffle was separated, here it is with all the threaded inserts installed onto it for the subwoofer to bolt onto:







this baffle was then painted black to hide any wood color, and secured to the top of the enclosure and sealed:





the trio of focal k2p 10" subs were then wired up and secured:



next top is this layer that flush mounts the subs. after separating it from the stack of wood and acrylic, i reduced the openings until it mached the outer diameter of the subs, and painted that piece black as well:





this piece was then also glued down and secured to the box, thus framing the subs in a flush mount opening:





i then turned my attention back to the amp rack, as i wanted to work on the main wells for the amp and subs together...so i again removed that back platform and installed various threaded inserts into it to locate the main amp rack well above it, and reinstalled it after:







this is the floor of the amp rack well, with cut out in it to route the lighting for the layer in between the amps. and various threaded insets installed to locate and secure the amps:





the top of the board was covered in black alcantara, while the bottom, to prevent any unwanted buzzing of wood on wood as its only securd along the perimeter, i covered it with a spare piece of grey suide i had laying around, note the channel on the bottom of the board for the led lighting wires to route through:







 

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now comes the kind cringe moment of the build. i thought about how to light up the area between the top and bottom amps so the bottom amp dont get lost and become invisible...since i was really showing so little of them. and after much thinking, i realzed that the only way to do this, and still give me enough clearance as to not make them come up too high, was to build a spacer out of edge lit acrylic and physically have the amps secure to them. this of course, meant drilling tapping these awesome rare white mosconi amps, well, at least the bottom ones...but no pain no gain right? :D

so i made up the template for the spacer/lighting layer, drille out the holes where i want them, and parked the holes onto the amp covers:





then, i removed the amp guts from the amps covers, and drilled and taped all my holes...cringing and sighing the whole time lol







next, i fabricated the spacer lighting layer out of acrylic, and clouded it:



and a strip of white led was attached in the middle via 3m VHB clear double sided tape:





then, the bottom amps were installed, and the acrylic lighting/support layer was bolted to the amp heatsink...i also cut out holes in the acrylic and the amp covers to allow me access to the gains of the bottom amps if i needed to simply by flipping the top amps up and back out of the way:





then the top two amps were bolted down via pre tapped and threaded holes in the acrylic, and all the wires attached:





with that done, i went back and finished the bottom of the subwoofer well, with its edge lit rings. here are the three piece seprated:



and the spacer and top pieces wrapped with alcantara:



and here you see the acrylic layer and the black alcatara spacer layer together, and led strips attached to it. they had to be together to do this because the two pieces are both 1/4" thick while the led strip is almost 1/2" wide.





then, all three pieces are secured together with about 14 bolts that go into threaded inserts on the bottom of the top layer, this forming the floor of the sub well:



next, i fabricated the amp rack well out of wood, and made the appropriate cutouts for all the cables, two slots on each side are for additional fans:





this was then wrapped in vinyl:





and each side of the well got spacers for the top floor, and two stinger fans to aid in the cooling of the amps. each side also got two metal L brackets that will secure the well walls to the well floor:









i then build the much shallower well wall structure for the subs, and also attached spacers to them. unlike the amp well wall, this piece secures to the sub well floor directly through the wood:







then, using the top of these wells as templates, i fabricated four piece of acrylic that will seve as the lighting and silver trim layers above the main well walls:





the silver trim layers were set aside, primered and painted with bright silver paint:





when they cured, the now clouded lighting layer was bonded to it, and led strips attached on the outer edge, and then, the area was sealed off wtih black duct tape to prevent lighting leaking out the back...not pretty but so far, the most effective way i have found to prevent lighting leaking from led strips:















next, in what seems like fabrication checkers, i jumped back to the front of the well to take care of the distribution block well. first, to prevent any barewood showing through the wire openings, i laid down a piece of "simpliciflock" adhesive backed material on the floor, withouts for all the threaded inserts that will locate both the floor and distribution blocks, along with the well wall structure:



next, these are the pieces that make up the distribution block well:




first up was to wrap the floor of the well with alcantara, and the two disbribution blocks located on top with bolts running through the floor plate and ultimately into threaded inserts on the floor, thus securing both the blocks and the floor plate:







this was then bolted to the floor in the well, and the well wall structure was also secured to test fit it:



next, the dsp is mounted, along with the two spacers, and the two peices of acrylic lighting layer attached for test fitment



once happy with the final fitment, the distribution block well wall piece was then removed, and wrapped in vinyl:



 

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then it was finally time to do all the wiring...and there was a LOT of wiring...maybe the most ive ever done as this is for sure the most number of channels i have installed into a single car with the most number of lighting layers and accessories.

firing out the routing so that the amp well wall piece can still drop in took a lot of trial and error, but in the end, here are the shots of all the wiring as they are properly located, secured and routed. i turned on the middle layer light to better show case the wiring:













then, all the well walls were secured down onto their respective floor pieces:





the two lit layers for the dsp and distribution blocks were clouded, and led strips attached, and taped to ensure no lighting leakage. in these cases, the strips are wider than the 1/4" acrylic but since the acrylic is bigger than the actual surfaces that they cover, the excess led strip just hangs below the acrylic pieces:













and finally, all the remaining pieces, including the barrier strips were wired up. only took me like a gazillion hours of hunched over with my spine slowly turning to dust, and looks a bit chaotic, but i promise you there is a method to the madness...somehow :D

















the last thing i had to fabricated was the darn infinity light...and i was able to do so despite constant harassment from Joey and Jesse...so...good for me right? :p anyway, first, i made a spacer layer out of acreylic that secures to spacers attached to the floor below, this will serve to act as a mounting base for the light, and raise it to the specific height that i wanted:



this was then bolted in place via threaded inserts:



 

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next, i carefully fabricated the various layers that makes up the infinity light...all out of 1/16 inch acrylic.

on the bottom is a one way mirror, followed by a spacer ring painted black, followed by a clear piece with a white amg logo sticker attached from the bottom, which will light up when light is shown throught it, followed by another piece that is a ring clouded to give a visual frame of the logo, followed by another black spacer ring, and finally topped off with a piece of two way mirror. feels tired just saying all that





when all the layers are done, i put it all together and wrapped the outside edge of the two lit layers with a led strip:







when that was all done and then this completed light was bolted back into the car and wired up, along with the silver and lit layers above all the other openings.







after that...well, lets take a quick travel back in time before i finished all the wiring, and see the top main trim panel i made using all the various cutout lit acrylic pieces as templates. luckily for me on this car, the well opening is a perfect rectangle, so overall it was a bit painless. the bottom of the piece has several locating dowels to go into the well walls below, and four master mounting points to bolt onto the supports:





then this piece was wrapped in vinyl, and i also attached a little black plate at the front of it, this is so the top portion of the stock cargo floor, whcih slides and snaps in, can apply downward pressure on the front of this trim plate, as all the mounting points are at the back:





this was then installed into the vehicle, secured and the aforementioned front stock floor piece snapped back in place:



in turn, before this trim panel was wrapped, i used it as a template to make the cutout on the top floor panel. this piece required some backfilling at the front corners so it can proper sit over two metal brackets that used to secure the stock spare tire well cover:



when that cured and was sanded down, and dowels installed to locate it onto the trim panel below, it was wrapped with black alcantara:





and before it was all done, i applied some foam panel below the hatch opening scuff plate as the old plate was dented and i bought a new ones to replace it.





the very last piece of the puzzle was the grille...which i wanted to be presentable from both sides and with an alcantara border. after joey gave me some ideas, i went to work. so basically, the grille is a two piece structure, the main piece, out of 1/2" mdf, has two center vented cutouts with grill attached. while the outer border received a big rabet pass to make it into a 1/4" edge.



this piece was then wrapped top and bottom with black carpet, with the carpet terminating at various rabeted edgs along the outside permieter:



then, a seprate ring was made out of 1/4" mdf, reduced to the precise dimensions and wrapped in black alcantara:



the two pieces are then glued together, thus forming the finished grill:





thus completes this monster of build log...almost feels as tiring as the build itself :)

so...how does it sound? well...at first, maybe suffering from the effects of my nearly 3 weeks straight of 11 hours days (including weekends) to build the damn thing, i had a frustrating time to get it right, but then i brought me Mike aka lycancatt and like magic, with a few hours of tuning, he got it dialed down almost perfect.

the imaging is really good and well centered, the stage hovers a few inches above the dash with almost no rainbowing. the depth and width of this car is the best i have ever had in my personal vehicle, owing perhaps to the locations chosen, but is wide past the pillars and depth slightly beyond the window in some songs.

tonally, the midbass impact, as expected out of the gladen aerospace drivers are superb, even with a 24 db high pass filter at 80, they kinda wanna extend low, so we left a gap there between the sub and the midbass at 80 and 65. the midranges and the highs are very detailed but smooth, i turned down the tweeters a bit from mikes tune as my own personal preferene is for extremely laid back (some say boring :D) highs. the trio of focal subs can provide more bass than i ever want, but when turned down, blended very well with the rest of the front stage. i think with some more break in and tuning time, it will get even better. it may not be tuned to score super high in sq comps, but for me personal taste and demoing to customers, i love it! the biggest remaining issues is solving a few rattles in the car, and actually, the entire car body doesnt rattle at all, rather, the big overhead console, and the main sensor array tray on the top center of the windshield, provided some issues, but i am slowly but surely solving them one by one. :)

overall, i think this is easily the best sounding personal vehicle i have ever owned, and i plan to own my dream car for many years to come :)

as a final note, here is a little video i made of the hatch area portion of the build with lighting.

https://youtu.be/SGa5J_NrUvA

cheers,

Bing
 
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