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Discussion Starter #1
Hello!

I recently had a 5 channel Kenwood system installed in my 2019 Challenger... it is all Excelon stuff... apparently the best Kenwood makes.

Problem is, it is pretty underwhelming.

I had to keep the manufacture's head unit, because apparently nothing aftermarket is currently made for a 2019 Challenger.

In fact, they even had to install some sort of resisters to get the head unit to work with the system because it was cutting out at lower volumes.

The volume goes up to 39... but I can't go past 22 without distortion... and anything past 30... the bass literally backs off like it is being throttled.

I'm super unhappy.

The place I took it to pretty much told me they've done all they can do... but it has very little low end... just can't feel it enough, even with the bass on the EQ maxed out.

If I back down the mids and highs, and try to crank it past 22... then the whole system is totally wimpy.

Here are some questions...………………………..

Is the head unit really that important?
Isn't it only being used to send information now that an amp is pushing the system?

I don't know a lot about car audio... but since I have a 5 channel system completely installed now... I'd like to just start swapping out these cheesy Kenwood components for some better quality stuff?

Where should I start?
What's the best/biggest amp.. or should/can I use multiple amps?
What are the best subs?
Will I need additional batteries?
Will I need a bigger alternator?

Thanks for any suggestions!!!!
 

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Can you post a little more detail as to what equipment you had installed (brands, models, etc)? I have a 2018 Challenger and upgraded the audio system and the results are fantastic. I even use Kenwood Excelon speakers. :) I have the Kenwood Excelon KFC-XP6903C component set (6x9 midbass door speakers and 3.5" coaxial dash speakers) and the Kenwood Excelon KFC-X174 (6.5" rear-deck coaxial speakers).

Need more details as to what stock audio system you started with (base-level system, 6-channel amplified system, etc) and what equipment you had installed. We an go from there...
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Can you post a little more detail as to what equipment you had installed (brands, models, etc)? I have a 2018 Challenger and upgraded the audio system and the results are fantastic. I even use Kenwood Excelon speakers. :) I have the Kenwood Excelon KFC-XP6903C component set (6x9 midbass door speakers and 3.5" coaxial dash speakers) and the Kenwood Excelon KFC-X714 (6.5" rear-deck coaxial speakers).

Need more details as to what stock audio system you started with (base-level system, 6-channel amplified system, etc) and what equipment you had installed. We an go from there...
2019 Challenger SXT Head Unit... I was told there aren't any aftermarkets made for this car yet... so it is stock, for now.
Kenwood Excelon XR901-5 amp - 5 channel Amp
2 Kenwood Excelon KFC-XW1241HP subs woofers - 12" pair in a sealed box facing to the rear in trunk
Kenwood Excelon KFC-XP6903C 6x9's pair door speakers
Kenwood Excelon KFCX-174 6.5" pair - back deck
and I believe they put new Kenwood tweeters in the front dashboard.

I basically walked in the shop and said put in the best of everything Kenwood makes, because I always had good luck with Kenwood in the past.

They pretty much told me that was all they could do... so I'm looking to make some upgrades myself.

Now that the system is in place... I'm hoping I can get some tips to tweak this thing in and/or add better components.

I'm not saying it isn't good... just underwhelming... and I'd like a system with some headroom and more control of the sound.
 

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This is a long post that is kind of all over the place, but just spewing what info I know about these Challengers and their audio systems...

First, from the factory these cars use 6x9's in the doors, 6.5" in the rear deck and 3.5" speakers in the dash. To me, it would make more sense if they used the KFC-XP6903C (instead of XP6902C). The XP6903C contains a 6x9 midbass for the doors as well as a 3.5" coaxial for the dash (basically, a mid and a tweeter). The 6902C only contains a 2.75" "wide range" mid (no tweeter). It's not even a direct fit for the Challenger, while the XP6903C is. Then the 6.5" would go in the rear deck (they come with 6.5" speakers in the rear-deck, not 6x9). I mean they could have customized things to put the different sized speakers in every location, I guess, but it just doesn't make any sense to me that they would do that - at all.... Are you sure they used the KFC-XP6902C??

I'm assuming that your car came with the "base level" audio system (you can tell by seeing if there is any brand-name logo on the door panels such an Alpine, Harman Kardon, etc)? If no brand-name logo on the door panels by the speakers, then it's the base-level, un-amplified system.

Also, do you know how they got the signal for the aftermarket amp from the head-unit? For best results, you'd want to use a PAC Audio AmpPro 4 (v2), which gives you a nice flat low-level signal from the head-unit - which avoids things like bass roll-off, etc. Being that they had to use resistors for the amp, that tells me that they just used the high-level speaker wires to get a signal to the amp, which wouldn't fix the bass roll-of issue (which is why you are losing bass at higher volumes).

In my opinion, the best way to do this would have been with the AmpPro 4 OEM integration unit (v2 for non-amplified systems if you didn't have an amplified "up-level" system from the factory), a 6-channel amp for the 6 speakers in the car (if you want to retain the rear-deck speakers), a monoblock amp for the sub, the KFC-XP6903C speakers for the doors/dash and some sort of DSP system. Obviously, this would be way more expensive though. But a DSP will make a HUGE difference in the overall sound quality. I'd also make sure to check the speaker polarity. With my 2018 Challenger, the dash speakers were wired with reverse-polarity from the factory for some reason - so I had to swap the positive/negative wiring. I would make sure ALL of the speakers are wired with the correct polarity.

The 6x9 speaker included in those Kenwood Excelon component kits provide TONS of mid-bass - so you should NOT be lacking midbass if everything is setup properly. They are actually really nice speakers. I don't have any experience with the subwoofer aspect, but I just installed a tiny 8" under-seat sub in mine and I get plenty of bass even from that little thing.

I think a DSP would be a game-changer for your setup - but they require tuning. They allow you set levels of each individual speaker, setup time alignment and EQ (the Helix DSP.3 that I use has 31-bands of EQ per channel - instead of the 3-bands you have for the entire system). Really lets you fine tune things. Even an inexpensive Dayton Audio DSP-408 would make a huge difference with your setup. DSP is where it's at nowadays... I really don't think your speakers are the problem - probably just the overall way things are setup and the lack of a DSP. The stock head-unit is perfectly capable of providing a nice clean signal - but you really want an AmpPro 4 to extract that signal properly...

What it breaking up at higher volumes - the sub or some of the regular speakers in the car? I have a 75Wx6 amp going to the non-sub speakers and they don't break up at all. Something isn't right....
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Awesome info!!!

Thanks for that.

I likely have the speaker information wrong... I was going by memory and was looking at Kenwood's site for the numbers. I have the boxes at home, so I will update my post later tonight or tomorrow to reflect exactly what I have. Sorry about the bad information.

^^^ EDIT: Okay... I updated my post with my system information... I have the same speakers are you!

Bass roll-off and set up sounds exactly right. I am going to take a look at what was used to get the signal, and I'll report back..

I am also going to investigate the Dayton Audio DSP-408... it sounds like I will be getting one of those for sure because right now, I have no control over my over all sound... so I really want an EQ.

That was VERY HELPFUL to get me started thinking about what direction to go... thanks jtrosky!!!!

First order of business... get information on exactly what I have.

Then, the two items you mentioned are probably going to happen as long as they are compatible with my system.

I don't have any price limits on this per se... I've already spent a bunch... and I'll throw a couple more grand at it if that's what it takes. I just want a beast of a system!

I asked the place that installed this if there was anything else I could buy from them to get this sounding better, and they literally said... this was all they could do for me... I didn't expect that.

I feel like I'm on my own now.

Thanks again!!!
 

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Glad that was helpful.... I just went through this with my 2018 Challenger, so it's pretty fresh in my mind. :)

WIth my 2018, which had the "276W" amplified Alpine system from the factory (that 276W is max, NOT rms!!), I upgraded to the following:

  • AmpPro 4 for OEM integration
  • JL Audio XD600/6v2 amp (6x75W RMS)
  • Helix DSP.3 DSP
  • Kenwood Excelon KFC-XP6903C speakers for doors/dash
  • Kenwood Excelon KFC-X174 speakers for rear deck
  • JBL BassPro SL under-seat sub (125W RMS, 8" sub)
The nice part about using a 6-channels of amplification (instead of 4 channels for the (6) non-sub speakers) is that you have complete control over EVERY speaker in the car. Levels, EQ, time alignment, etc. If you only use 4 channels for the 6 speakers, then you have to connect both the door and dash speakers on the same channel - so you have less flexibility. I wanted complete control over EVERY speaker. So I can easily turn down just my dash speakers, if I want (for example).

The Dayton DSP-408 is what I would consider a good "entry-level" DSP (it's about $150). The Helix DSP.3 on the other hand is definitely a level up - but it's also ~$700. They basically do the same thing, but the DSP.3 has higher quality components, better software and is more flexible (31-bands-per-channel EQ instead of 10-bands-per-channel, augmented bass processing, better software, etc, etc, etc). The DSP.3 is just a better unit - hands down. Like I said, you get what you pay for. :)

Also, since the AmpPro 4 and Helix DSP.3 both have the ability to use an optical connection, I went optical between the AmpPro and Helix - so one thin optical cable instead of 6 thick RCA cables - plus no noise!!

Lots of options. Don't hesitate to ask if you have any questions along the way.

Just keep in mind that a DSP takes time to learn how to tune it. Obviously, folks here are willing to help, but if you don't want to be bothered, you could also find a shop that will tune it all for you.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Awesome.

Yeah... I might go south to Detroit and try to find a shop to look at doing this for me... but first I am going to investigate a bit to see how complicated it would be to do myself.

Where I live, there is literally no one that can help... I've been to 5 different places in a three city area, and they talk a good game, but they never call me back.

This one place got everything installed for me, but like I said... it is definitely in need of a better job of setting it up... they pretty much said that this was the best they could do for me.

I literally got more information from you in a few hours, than I have in a year from the local shops.

Thanks again!
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Okay... I just ordered some stuff.

I'm going to try to do this on my own.

I watched a video on the Dayton DSP-408 and they used a hand held oscilloscope and a phase meter... so I ordered all three, so now I'm committed, Lol.

Thanks again jtrosky… I have hope now, that I might get this worked out... but no matter what... I'm going to learn a lot!!!
 

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Don't forget about the PAC AmpPro 4 (v2 for non-amplified systems assuming your stock system is non-amplified). Actually, did you confirm if your stock system is amplified or not? It sounded like it wasn't, but then there was some mention of a stock subwoofer. I can't imagine a stock system would come with a subwoofer in the base-level non-amplified system.

I'm not very familiar with the non-amplified stock system, but the stock amplified systems have custom EQ curves to make the crappy stock speakers sound better. They also have bass roll-off at higher volumes. If you just use the speaker-level outputs from the head-unit, all of those problems will still exist - whereas if you use an AmpPro 4, it gives you clean, completely flat, line-level outputs that don't have the custom EQ curve and bass roll-off issues - plus it also helps with warning chime, bluetooth and nav integration.

You have to be careful here though. Depending on whether your stock system is amplified or not will determine which model of the AmpPro 4 you need. So you really need to figure out if your stock system included an amplifier or not (you wouldn't physically be able to see it - it's a tiny amp behind the dash).

There is a lot of "planning" that goes into these upgrades - just be careful that you plan ahead. :)

But if you love audio, you'll love tuning and customizing the system yourself - it's a lot of work, but it's very rewarding and you'll learn a TON along the way.
 

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Don't forget about the PAC AmpPro 4 (v2 for non-amplified systems assuming your stock system is non-amplified). Actually, did you confirm if your stock system is amplified or not? It sounded like it wasn't, but then there was some mention of a stock subwoofer. I can't imagine a stock system would come with a subwoofer in the base-level non-amplified system.

I'm not very familiar with the non-amplified stock system, but the stock amplified systems have custom EQ curves to make the crappy stock speakers sound better. They also have bass roll-off at higher volumes. If you just use the speaker-level outputs from the head-unit, all of those problems will still exist - whereas if you use an AmpPro 4, it gives you clean, completely flat, line-level outputs that don't have the custom EQ curve and bass roll-off issues - plus it also helps with warning chime, bluetooth and nav integration.

You have to be careful here though. Depending on whether your stock system is amplified or not will determine which model of the AmpPro 4 you need. So you really need to figure out if your stock system included an amplifier or not (you wouldn't physically be able to see it - it's a tiny amp behind the dash).

There is a lot of "planning" that goes into these upgrades - just be careful that you plan ahead. :)

But if you love audio, you'll love tuning and customizing the system yourself - it's a lot of work, but it's very rewarding and you'll learn a TON along the way.
Audio control Lc2i LOC
 

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Audio control Lc2i LOC
Yeah, but that is nowhere near as good as an AmpPro for this type of situation. An AmpPro actually gives you clean line-level outputs directly from the head-unit instead of trying to "undo" the factory EQ "afterwards", which never works as well. Plus, the AmpPro also helps with other OEM integration items (bluetooth, chimes, navi, etc).

If you're spending this much to upgrade the factory audio system, I wouldn't skimp on this piece - it's much too important. If the AmpPro wasn't available, I could understand it, but if an AmpPro is available for the application, I would use it.

Also, I was wrong about needing the figure out if you need the AP4-CH41 R.2 or the original AP4-CH41. Apparently, the newer AP4-CH41 R.2 completely replaces the original - it will work with both non-amplified and amplified OEM systems. So no decision needed there. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Don't forget about the PAC AmpPro 4 (v2 for non-amplified systems assuming your stock system is non-amplified). Actually, did you confirm if your stock system is amplified or not? It sounded like it wasn't, but then there was some mention of a stock subwoofer. I can't imagine a stock system would come with a subwoofer in the base-level non-amplified system.

I'm not very familiar with the non-amplified stock system, but the stock amplified systems have custom EQ curves to make the crappy stock speakers sound better. They also have bass roll-off at higher volumes. If you just use the speaker-level outputs from the head-unit, all of those problems will still exist - whereas if you use an AmpPro 4, it gives you clean, completely flat, line-level outputs that don't have the custom EQ curve and bass roll-off issues - plus it also helps with warning chime, bluetooth and nav integration.

You have to be careful here though. Depending on whether your stock system is amplified or not will determine which model of the AmpPro 4 you need. So you really need to figure out if your stock system included an amplifier or not (you wouldn't physically be able to see it - it's a tiny amp behind the dash).

There is a lot of "planning" that goes into these upgrades - just be careful that you plan ahead. :)

But if you love audio, you'll love tuning and customizing the system yourself - it's a lot of work, but it's very rewarding and you'll learn a TON along the way.
Okay… I might not be understanding what the PAC AmpPro 4 is for...
I assumed because the shop I took it to already has the 5 channel system up and running, I wouldn't need this interface.

Also, it says it is made for 2014-2018 vehicles and I have a 2019 so I wonder if this would work with my car?
I believe this was the reason the shop struggled with the installation and had to add some resistors to get it to work.

What specifically is the need for the PAC AmpPro 4?

I have no problem buying it... I am just not understanding.

Thanks again!!!!
 

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jtrosky explained it here:

Yeah, but that is nowhere near as good as an AmpPro for this type of situation. An AmpPro actually gives you clean line-level outputs directly from the head-unit instead of trying to "undo" the factory EQ "afterwards", which never works as well. Plus, the AmpPro also helps with other OEM integration items (bluetooth, chimes, navi, etc).
Most factory speaker levels signals are processed (equalized) to work well with the factory speakers. One reason for the factory equalization is to attenuate the low end bass frequencies so as not to cause excessive distortion with the factory speakers. This can be a cause of "unimpressive" aftermarket subwoofer performance. The PAC AmpPRO intercepts the factory signal before this equalization occurs so that a full range pre-amp signal can be sent to aftermarket equipment.

An LOC only converts the factory equalized speaker level signal to pre-amp levels. They do not provide a full range un-equalized signal like the PAC unit can. IMO, an LOC should only be used as a last resort.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
jtrosky explained it here:



Most factory speaker levels signals are processed (equalized) to work well with the factory speakers. One reason for the factory equalization is to attenuate the low end bass frequencies so as not to cause excessive distortion with the factory speakers. This can be a cause of "unimpressive" aftermarket subwoofer performance. The PAC AmpPRO intercepts the factory signal before this equalization occurs so that a full range pre-amp signal can be sent to aftermarket equipment.

An LOC only converts the factory equalized speaker level signal to pre-amp levels. They do not provide a full range un-equalized signal like the PAC unit can. IMO, an LOC should only be used as a last resort.
Ah... excellent explanation... so then I went back and re-read jtrosky's explanation and he nailed it too.

This stuff is a bit technical... so reading this several times is definitely helpful.

The only thing holding me back from getting the PAC AmpPro 4, is it does not list a 2019 Challenger as compatible.

Question... can I set up the Dayton DSP-408 without the PAC AmpPro 4 and expect decent results until PAC comes out with something for my 2019 model Challenger?

Thanks again!
 

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Yeah, I didn't give the best explanation there... @Truhunter did a much better job of explaining. Just to recap:

Factory head-units normally don't have line-level outputs like you get with aftermarket head-units. What they did on your car was to just take the head-unit speaker output wires and wire them up directly to the amplifier (which supports both low-level and speaker-level signals). So anything that is normally sent your speakers from the head-unit is now actually going to the amplifier instead (which is why they needed to use those resistors - so the head-unit doesn't see the low impedance from being connected to an amplifier instead of a speaker as a "bad or disconnected speaker" and cut off the output from the head-unit). Basically, the amp has a LOC built-in already. The problem with this approach is that you still get the bass roll-off at higher volumes and you still get the factory-EQ'd signal from the head-unit, which is setup specifically for the cheap factory speakers.

The AmpPro will actually give you true line-level outputs from your stock head-unit - at that point, you can connect an amp just like you would with an aftermarket head-unit. No factory EQ, no bass roll-off, no amplification of warning chimes, no resistors needed, etc. Also helps with navigation and bluetooth integration and even gives you separate front, rear and sub line-level outputs (and includes a bass knob for the sub outputs as well). It really is a much better solution than the way they have it connected now (or using a LOC to accomplish sort of the same thing).

The AmpPro 4 does list the 2019 Challenger - like I mentioned, you want the R.2 unit:

Now compatible in non-amplified systems!

You can make it work without the AmpPro 4, but the results won't be as good.

Also - you may be able to find an AmpPro 4 on Ebay for less $$$, but you need to make sure you get the R.2 version (assuming you don't have an amplified system).

Can you please confirm whether or not you have a factory amplified system?
 

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Also - just to explain how the AmpPro devices work a little more - and how they got them to work with non-amplified Dodge/Chrysler/RAM vehicles....

Typically, these AmpPro devices only work with "premium" factory amplified systems. The only one that supports non-amplified systems is the one for Dodge/Chrysler/RAM vehicles (and it was just updated to allow that). Typically, the AmpPro device "intercepts" the low-level signal that is sent from the head-unit to the factory amplifier (which is why they normally only work with factory amplified systems). However, my understanding is that the head-units installed in the Dodge/Chrysler/RAM vehicles are the same regardless of whether the car came with an amplified or non-amplified system. Basically, these head-units have a way to switch between low-level and speaker-level output signals - and the AmpPro folks figured out how to set the head-unit to the "low level" signal mode even though there is no factory amp installed - and that's how they get a clean low-level signal from the head-unit in the non-amplified systems from Dodge/Chrysler/RAM vehicles.

It's fantastic that they figured out how to do this with the base-level non-amplified system cars. Really gives those folks with the base-level system a way to get a good, clean, low-level signal in order to add aftermarket amps, etc.

Hope that made sense. :)

In comparison, without the AmpPro, you'd have to take the speaker-level output signals and de-EQ the factory EQ (along with signal summing, etc), which isn't an easy task. It's even harder if the car only sends bass frequencies to the door speakers and mids/highs to the dash speakers - then you need to get into signal summing as well. That is why the AmpPro devices are so well-regarded - it gets REAL ugly if you try to accomplish the same thing from the speaker-level outputs (and will never quite be as good).
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Yeah, I didn't give the best explanation there... @Truhunter did a much better job of explaining. Just to recap:

Factory head-units normally don't have line-level outputs like you get with aftermarket head-units. What they did on your car was to just take the head-unit speaker output wires and wire them up directly to the amplifier (which supports both low-level and speaker-level signals). So anything that is normally sent your speakers from the head-unit is now actually going to the amplifier instead (which is why they needed to use those resistors - so the head-unit doesn't see the low impedance from being connected to an amplifier instead of a speaker as a "bad or disconnected speaker" and cut off the output from the head-unit). Basically, the amp has a LOC built-in already. The problem with this approach is that you still get the bass roll-off at higher volumes and you still get the factory-EQ'd signal from the head-unit, which is setup specifically for the cheap factory speakers.

The AmpPro will actually give you true line-level outputs from your stock head-unit - at that point, you can connect an amp just like you would with an aftermarket head-unit. No factory EQ, no bass roll-off, no amplification of warning chimes, no resistors needed, etc. Also helps with navigation and bluetooth integration and even gives you separate front, rear and sub line-level outputs (and includes a bass knob for the sub outputs as well). It really is a much better solution than the way they have it connected now (or using a LOC to accomplish sort of the same thing).

The AmpPro 4 does list the 2019 Challenger - like I mentioned, you want the R.2 unit:

Now compatible in non-amplified systems!

You can make it work without the AmpPro 4, but the results won't be as good.

Also - you may be able to find an AmpPro 4 on Ebay for less $$$, but you need to make sure you get the R.2 version (assuming you don't have an amplified system).

Can you please confirm whether or not you have a factory amplified system?
No... although I did not take the old system out, so I can not say with 100% certainty... I think I would have noticed a sub.
I looked on-line and the SXT model I have says Alpine upgrade was an option with a subwoofer... I did not have that option... so no.

I am definitely going to purchase the AmpPro 4... done deal! I am not prepared to skimp at this point.

Thanks again for steering me in the right direction!!!!
 

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No... although I did not take the old system out, so I can not say with 100% certainty... I think I would have noticed a sub.
I looked on-line and the SXT model I have says Alpine upgrade was an option with a subwoofer... I did not have that option... so no.

I am definitely going to purchase the AmpPro 4... done deal! I am not prepared to skimp at this point.

Thanks again for steering me in the right direction!!!!
I'm just curious - where did they physically install your amp? Have any pictures?

On my 2018, I installed everything in the spare-tire well styrofoam "organizer" that is where a spare tire would normally go. Worked out REALLY well - completely hidden under the "trap door" in the trunk. I even managed to bolt the amp board down using the spare-tire hold-down bolt. :)


 

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I'm just curious - where did they physically install your amp? Have any pictures?

On my 2018, I installed everything in the spare-tire well styrofoam "organizer" that is where a spare tire would normally go. Worked out REALLY well - completely hidden under the "trap door" in the trunk. I even managed to bolt the amp board down using the spare-tire hold-down bolt. :)
Wow... that's really slick.
Mine is just a generic box holding the 12" subs... the amp is velcro'ed to the right side of the cabinet.

After seeing yours, I feel like I need to do better, Lol.
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