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Discussion Starter #1
Thought I might put a build log together for my 03 Lexus RX 300. The work done has been ongoing over the last six months to get to the point that it is at presently. The vehicle came with the factory premium Pioneer system and factory amp going to seven speakers (four 6.5 inch door speakers, two tweeters, and a 5 inch sub. Upon inheriting the car from my wife, I decided to add a sub to give it a little more oomph and help the overall sound. To that end, I started researching subs and came across this site.
In the past, I have installed multiple systems in multiple vehicles usually running band pass boxes, or ported. In my last install I went with a single, sealed 12 and really liked the overall sound (musicality, low end response, etc.). Through the initial post (what kind of sub to get), I ended up ordering a Fi X-12 and started planning the box while my sub was being built.
My main consideration in this vehicle was keeping as much of the space available throughout. My first big surprise was how technology has progressed to the point that we can now run 12’s and\or 15’s in boxes that used to be used for 8’s and 10’s (dating myself, from back in the mid 80’s). I carefully measured my cargo area and decided that the best way to accomplish what I wanted was going to involve fiber-glassing around the rear wheel well. Having never done this before, I again visited DIYMA and searched and read, and searched and read until I felt comfortable enough to move ahead while waiting for my sub to arrive. I also sourced a small, Memphis MCD-250 to power it and ran the 4 gauge wire from the battery to under the passenger seat. After a few weeks of cutting, fiber-glassing, sanding, and carpeting I finally had a box yielding about 1.2 ft. for my 12. Fortunately, my sub arrived and I was able to put the two together and hook up everything up. I believed I was complete in my upgrade at this time and looked forward to just enjoying it through the coming years.
 

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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
As most of you know, it rarely is this easy. Through DIYMA, I started conversing with some of the people local to me and attended one of the G2G events to listen to some other vehicles and meet a few of the people that I had been messaging with. After hearing their vehicles and talking with them, another plan started to formulate. Just an idea at first, coupled with my daily reading of new topics and the classifieds section to get me motivated. Next thing I knew, I was getting in on a group buy for some H-audio speakers for my front doors (Ebony \ trinity combo). Like the sub, these were to take a while to be built, ship to the seller, and then ship to me. Of course, while waiting for them to arrive I started contemplating just what kind of power to push them with and of course I would need an adjustable crossover, right? I also needed to keep my factory head unit, as it doubles as a control center for climate settings, mileage, cd changer, etc… Then I stumbled upon the enormous MS-8 thread and started reading through that (every single page) before coming to the ultimate conclusion that I too, NEEDED this piece of technology. Fortunately, I was able to source one a few months old from the classifieds and had it sent my way. In addition, I found myself wanting even a little more oomph (250 watts isn’t near enough for a sub, right), so I picked up a new Massive amp (N3) for a song. Whew, NOW I was all set.
While looking for a small amp to run my forthcoming H-audio drivers, Crutchfield had a sale on their refurbished JL amps. The prices seemed too good to be true, so I ordered one (an XD600\6). Now I started wondering if my 4 gauge wire from the battery was going to be sufficient to run multiple amps, so I picked up some 1\0 gauge wire, etc., from the classifieds and started getting that in, before realizing there was no (easy) way to get that through the same grommet in the passenger side that I used for the initial install. Soooo, I ran it through the drivers side firewall, and under the drivers seat, where I could mount my fuse block, etc… I also unable to use my original 4 gauge fuse holder so had to source something else. I picked up a circuit breaker and started trying to figure out how and where to mount it. I really like the looks of the battery toppers seen on some of the installs here, and thought maybe I could make one on my own. I removed the stock battery holder and started looking at how best to modify it to work. That, some scrap metal, and my welder allowed me to build my own “holder”, Some sanding, some paint, and wire loom were used to maintain a fairly stock appearance under the hood while allowing easy ability to switch power off when working on the install.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Well, if I was going to go through this much trouble, and take the seats out to install my equipment, I might as well do some sound deadening while I am at it! Started researching the best way to go about this and managed to pick up some damplifier CLD tiles (again on the classifieds), and sourced 90 ft. of MLV to come my way. So started the gutting, removing all seats and plastic (except dash) below the window line of the vehicle. Fortunately, I was able to drive a second vehicle during this time, so I didn’t have to worry about driving this one while working on it. Took everything out down to the metal and started applying the damplifier.
 

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One thing I did find is that this car already had a fair amount of factory applied deadening already, so my job was a little easier. I used up some of my cld tiles and managed to cover a fair percentage of the floor, as well as the outer and inner skins of the doors. As much as I hate to admit it, my OCD doesn’t allow me to have extra CLD laying around the garage for long. I ended up lining under the hood, under the front fenders, inside the outer skin of the engine compartment, as well as the outside wheel well in front (who knew how easy it was to get to once the plastic wheel liner was removed?). Another note to self, buy more Band-Aids. The foil on this brand of CLD was tearing my fingers up, and I ended up looking as though I got in a fight with a cactus.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I then moved on to the MLV install. This stuff wasn’t being used back in “the day.” It seemed too simple, and too inexpensive to work so easily. But it does, and it is well worth it to remove everything and do it correctly the one time. I was able to put down MLV up to the window line all around the vehicle. The majority of the noise I hear now seems to be coming through the window glass. Consider me happy. Anyone that is on the fence regarding MLV should seriously consider trying it. Even my already quiet car benefited noticeably from the addition of the items above.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
When considering amplifier install, one thing I subscribe to (from past experience) is that the harder it is to put something in, the harder it tends to be to get out (or steal). I also have no plans to compete, and wanted to keep the systems appearance as stock-looking as possible (within reason). I also wanted to do as much of this install without modifying, or changing anything I didn’t have to (including drilling holes). After removing the stock sub from under the passenger seat, I started eyeballing the factory mounts and thought I could come up with something incorporating the existing, threaded mounting holes. Out came the metal saw, some scrap metal and the welder and the process began. There was JUST enough room under the seats to fit the XD 600\6 and the Massive amp, but there is an air conditioning vent under there as well. I didn’t want to remove the vent and thought to utilize it, so a spacer was incorporated to lift the JL amp over and above it. I continued the theme to direct the airflow from the vent directly onto the massive amp directly behind the JL. That way, if the amps start to warm up, I can just turn on the AC to the floor and use an existing vent to do the work for me. Voila. Well, if I am going to add wood to my rack, I might as well make it match my dash (close, but not perfect), so as you can see throughout the pictures, I have stained the fuse block rack, front amp rack, the back amp rack, and the door spacers to match. I also added a “kick panel” on the back of each rack to keep feet from connecting with my equipment. When the seats are in place, everything covers up nicely.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
My original plan for the MS-8 was to put it under the rear seat, as it appeared to have ample room. Until you lay the seat down, in which that room goes away. Now where to put the MS-8 and the remaining amp to run my tweeters and center? Only space left is in the back, next to the spare. Out comes the wood, the saw, etc., as well as buying longer RCA cables to run to the back. As luck would have it, I was able to use the mounting location for the tire jack to attach the wood to the floor and then attach the ms-8 and amp there. Now that I have my space limitations figured out, I (again) sourced an amp (ADS PQ10) from the classifieds, which will give me 40 x 4 for my trinity’s and tweeters .
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Now my speakers had arrived, but my original plan on putting the widebanders in the dash would necessitate me removing my windshield to cut my dash, and relocate my current ducting. I needed a plan B, so at one of the local get together we all started looking at the A-pillars as a possible solution. And here I thought I was done with fiber glassing! The first set of pillars I put together myself in my garage and they turned out great (look wise), but once installed, were firing down into the dash. After talking with others in OKC, etc., I decided to fashion a 2nd pair and enlisted some help (again from Anthony at AHO). Together, we spent a complete Saturday (8-10 hours) forming the “new” pods, which turned out much better, and were angled more “on-axis” in the current configuration you see now. By enclosing the useless, small window in the pillar, we were able to create a fairly good sized enclosure for the mids (have some insulation in the pod, before venting down into the dash). I chose to use headliner material to cover the pillars and pods (as well as picking up a dash pad) to help keep reflections down where possible
 

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Discussion Starter #10
At this point, staging and imaging sounded really good but if I am going to run the MS-8, shouldn’t I also plan for a center? Back to the classifieds where I sourced a single, Morel 6.5 coaxial which was subsequently dropped in the dash (a fair amount of careful cutting by Anthony at AHO stereo). Of course, that involved considerable modification to the dash pad to make it work (pretty much re-did most cuts and re-sewed). The latest iteration was replacing the factory tweeters with a larger format tweeter (Digital Designs T2) covered in the same material as the a-pillars (black headliner fabric).
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I now find myself in the “playing\tuning stage” and continue to try different crossover points, eq settings, etc… to fine tune my install. I find myself very happy with the MS-8 and have enjoyed this build more so than any others from my past. The information available on this site has been both a blessing (some really good information) and a curse (it gets pricey) as I worked through my build.
In closing, thanks to the crew in and around OKC (Todd, Kevin, Jason, Ben, and Robert )for your input, support, troubleshooting, help, etc., as well as a HUGE thanks to Anthony at AHO stereo in Guthrie for working with and through some of the most difficult parts of the install. Mark Brooks at H-audio was instrumental in talking me into (and through) the install of the Ebony \ trinity speakers. John and Don answered many of my questions on sound deadening and helped me to make more informed choices. Finally, thanks to DIYMA, and the classified for helping me save monies while going broke.

System layout:
Front doors: H-Audio Ebony’s getting 200 watts each from JL XD 600\6 (bridged)
Center speaker: Morel Integra Ovation 6.5 co-axial getting 200 watts from JL XD 600\6 (bridged)
A-Pillars: H-Audio Trinity’s getting 40 watts each from ADS PQ 10
Tweeters: Digital Designs T2 (corners of dash) getting 40 watts each from ADS PQ 10.
Sub: FI X-12 in sealed, fiberglass enclosure getting 700 watts from Massive Audio N3
Processing: JBL MS-8
 

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Great install man! I like your pillar setup and under seat amp rack. Similar to mine. One thing I hate about the massive amps is the gains are on the sides and impossible to get to once installed under the seat. But it's stealth as hell. I'm planning on doing a dash mat as well.
 

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^^

X2!!!
 

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Wow you really went all out. Great build log. Very impressive how you essentially disassembled your vehicle's interior. I joined so I could view the pictures. Thanks for posting this.
 
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