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Phaeton Budget Build, a Return to Car Audio

7253 Views 10 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  Coppertone
First and foremost, I want to thank the forum members here for giving me an incredible amount of information to digest since I decided to re-acclimate myself with this hobby after some 20 years. The process has been highly nostalgic on my side, especially going through some of the ‘old school’ threads covering collectors and their passion for acquiring ‘sleds’ that I used to dream about owning as a teenager growing up in Southwestern Ontario. The car audio bug certainly bit me in the early nineties as a 14 year old dreaming about designing the ‘perfect system’ for my dream car.

At that time, I began building enclosures, along with assistance of my ‘shop’ teacher Mr. Macpherson, who was very helpful in teaching me the importance of bracing, clean cuts and perfect round-overs with the router. I suppose that a great many of you were first exposed to the idea that you could ‘build’ things with your own hands, which (I assume) eventually led many of you to positions in other fields.

I still remember working away in my high school electronics class to devise a latch circuit that would take an Orion 425 HCCA (the era’s de-facto high-current ‘cheater’ amp) from a 2 ohm (daily driving load) down to a 0.5 ohm monster fit for competition. Those were some incredible days, some 20 years ago, and I wanted to take a minute (now in my late thirties) to relay those on to you all, since so many of you have similarly taken the time to share great stories of your own.

Eventually, I ended up being offered an apprentice position with a gentleman by the name of Guenther Breckner (Gunner), who ran a small shop off Victoria Street in Kitchener, Ontario. It was a really cool, laid-back shop, called ‘Gunner’s Car Audio”. Certainly, we weren’t one of the ‘big guys’, like Autosonics (Scott Tucker) in Guelph, or Natural Sound (Ingo) down the street, but we made our bread and butter off CD deck installs referred to us by the big box store we shared our plaza with, along with the occasional ‘deviant’ seeking to dive into some truly high end gear.

When the rest of the guys were carrying Phoenix Gold, Alpine, Rodek and JL, we were focussed on carrying some rather obscure brands (at the time) such as Audio Art, Adcom, Celestion, Hart, Blade and the very first Audison amps. Looking back, on how revered all these lines are (today), puts a bit of a smile on my face (now), even though the brands were a source of a few confused faces on the part of most of my friends, who had never heard of all these strange marks.

The shop was full of interesting characters, there was “Rollie”, a delightful genius who never let his wheelchair impede his passion for all things electronic, who spent hours with me working through Rockford’s Term software on the old DOS PC devising new ways to ‘cheat’ output using extremely elaborate enclosure configurations.

There were a number of other clever guys that would stop by, including Ingo (installer from Natural Sound), and Albert, who had an incredible Celestion / Adcom setup in his 1990 Ford Thunderbird SC.

The shop itself functioned as a kind of ‘Car Audio Addicts Meetup Club’, preceding the days of message boards and Facebook. It was quite a place to grow up during my teens, and all the guys were always quite amused by ’The Kid”, who probably asked too many questions.

If any of these guys happen to use the board, I would love to hear from you and catch up after 20 years, or if anyone knows anyone of these ‘shop addicts’, please pass along my handle.

Ok, so that brings us to today. Recently, I began thinking about a modest build for my Volkswagen Phaeton.

Volkswagen Phaeton

For those of you, unfamiliar with the car, it is basically a VW branded Bentley Continental Silver Spur with an Audi V8 meticulously built in a glass factory in Dresden, Germany. To put it in C/A terms, the car is built like an old PPI A1200… It’s a tank, with a ton of room, so it will likely serve as a perfect candidate for a nice little build. The stock speaker system has fantastic default placements to work from and the car is dead quiet, even at speeds of over 100 miles per hour.

Phaeton Glass Factory in Dresden, Germany

Phaeton Featured on BBC's Top Gear

Since I’ve been reading the forum for the past two weeks, I’ve discovered there's an extreme amount of obsessing from guys asking a million questions about choosing A or B when it comes down to just about any buying decision. I suppose it was likely the same back in the nineties (constant debate on the merits of Linear Power vs. PPI vs. PG vs X). Really, what it comes down to, is putting kit in your car that you will be comfortable with, knowing that you can always change it out… Component selection comes down to science and facts – everything else relates to personal factors unrelated to sound production, including nostalgia, marketing and cosmetics.

If the other factors did not matter, we would all be driving around with black, unbranded slabs of mundane heat sinks in our trunks. But they do matter (for most), which is why I understand some of the obsessions that materialize on these boards.

When it comes to amplifiers, at least for me, I believe strongly in driving your transducers with as much power as possible, within the finite limitations of space, current and budget. Audibly poor performance occurs strictly when an amplifier is overdriven into clipping or driven below its acceptable rating. So for this reason, my intention was to use as much power as I could and dial the amps back accordingly.

You will see later, that I was only partially successful within my parameters, but of course, life is often about accepting compromises. Thinking back to the ‘old school’ days, Richard Clark (who I have a huge amount of respect for), would use a collection of massive Alpine sleds in mono block configuration to power each of his loudspeakers. At the time, when amplifier power could easily cost over $2 per watt, I had imagined the guys at Speakerworks having incredible amounts of disposable income… Maybe they did, but likely they were just uncompromising car audio ’nuts’. Regardless, the IASCA trophies accumulated over the years proved a point, that all things being equal, mountains of power certainly didn’t hurt – if you could afford it.

Speakerworks Grand National Amp Rack

Which leads us to today, and why there are about a hundred pages of posts on the revered Precision Power P900.4 , a class D that produces 900 watts of power for less than a weekly bill of groceries. Twenty years ago, an amplifier like this would have cost well over a thousand dollars, so it was a bit of a shock (returning to the hobby), that quality power can now be acquired for around twenty cents per watt – astounding. This got me thinking… Perhaps one could design a system for around $1500 that would rival the performance characteristics of a system costing 3-10x more two decades ago?

To further wet my appetite, I began reading about all the possibilities that exist in the proper application of a moderately priced, well-engineered DSP such as JBL’s MS-8, and I was hooked. I had to step back and have a little fun with this hobby.


As a side note, I don’t really want to have much of a debate on class A/B vs D… In my case, I’m going to be going with A/Bs, but not because I want to keep things ‘old school’ but rather because they presented an incredible value (per watt) of clean power in an attractive chassis. I personally, see the merits in using heaps of class D power to reduce the strain on the electrical system, but since I am operating within what I would perceive as a ‘comfort zone’ with respect to my car’s available current, then class A/B it is. I will provide my rationale in greater detail below, and I am curious to hear any feedback or comments based on my approach.

First off, let me provide a bit of background on the Phaeton and its current audio package (standard configuration):

Volkswagen Phaeton Stock System

The car has what many would consider one of the greatest factory sound configurations that has ever been put into a car. I have the ‘non-premium’ variant, that has 10 speakers (instead of 12), no DSP, and around 200 watts of available power on 10 channels.

Phaeton Stock Audio Schematic

Stock Front Stage: Reverse mounted 6” mid-bass in the lower door, plus a 4” midrange and a tweeter in the A-Pillar. The premium version came with an additional set of 2” midranges; however, mine only has a small grill with nothing in behind.

Optional Midrange Placement

Six speakers in total in the front, in perfect placements. This was crying out to have a decent three piece component set installed. As a note, the drivers in the doors seem to be Blaupunkt models, but I suspect that they were produced by Dynaudio.

Stock Rear Fill: Also included a 6” mid-bass and 4” mid low in the rear doors.

In total, there are 10 speakers in the cabin running off a 10 channel amplifier hidden in the side of the trunk compartment. The stock head unit cannot be substituted as it runs all the suspension, control and climate functions of the car.

Recently, I installed a Dension box that allows me to play files off a thumb drive or iPod connected in the glovebox. After installing this unit and running through some listening tests, I became aware that the stock speakers sounded incredibly good on their own, and began doubting my ambition to alter it in any way. That being said, for such a modest budget ($1,500), what do I have to lose, if only to feed my ambitions to get back into the hobby again in a very small way.

Overall System Objectives

Over the past few weeks I cannot tell you just how frustrated I have become in continually hearing people talk about ‘Sound Quality’ systems. ‘Sound Quality’, compared to what, ‘Sound Pollution’? The posts from people asking for advice on designing a system that is 40% “SQ” and 60% “SPL” are all pretty comical.

My view is:
A) you have a sound system in a car.
B) all things being equal, it should sound good – not bad.
C) SPL machines are designed to produce ‘burps’ or noise that registers on RTAs.

That’s it. You either enjoy music or burps, everything beyond that boils down to your extremes to satisfy your requirements.

Different Strokes...

Coming from a background in pro audio, I tend to roll my eyes a little bit with respect to all the audiophile nonsense that tends to populate online forums such as detecting the difference in cable types, isolation feet for amplifiers and so forth. For me, the best sound has always come from the FOH location on an arena floor – not a living room snooze-fest anchored by 20 watt tube amps and a set of over-priced mini monitors.

I Swear I Hear the Difference...

For this reason, my objectives were as follows:

System Objectives

-Ample headroom and low distortion
-Adequately large amounts of power within the limitations of the stock electrical system
-Use of all stock speaker locations (already prime real estate)
-Use of the factory head unit as source, with Dension interface
-Maximize vertical and horizontal space using only the front 16” of trunk space (approximately 20% of available space)
-Within the confines of this space, maximize the surface area of the low frequency drivers
-Keep the budget to a reasonable level of $1500, including all cable and installation parts

Musical Preferences

Without trying to offend too many of you out there, I see quite a number of ‘sound quality’ demonstrations on youtube, with music that I find less than exhilarating. I think most can probably agree that sliding a Diana Krall CD in for an afternoon drive is a bit of a bore. That being said, my musical tastes tend to lead more towards electronic music like techno and house, hip hop, R&B as well as rock with a bit of blues. My intention was to put together a system that was as dynamic as possible given my limitations.

The 90% Solution

Going back to my days studying economics, I’m a big believer in the principle of maximizing utility. To summarize, I believe that when looking at nearly every consumption decision, that you can achieve a level of satisfaction by engaging in decisions that take into consideration diminishing marginal rates of utility.

For example, when comparing a set of components valued at $300 to a set costing $3000, it would be difficult to ascertain that the fellow who spent 10 times more, derives 10 times the satisfaction as the more budget conscious consumer. I’ve looked at the different offerings, and I personally could not justify making car audio purchases that fall far on the right side of the bell curve of rationality.

I think within reason, and especially considering the incredible prices afforded for gear produced offshore, that it would be difficult for me (personally) to justify amplifiers and loudspeakers costing thousands. But of course, this is just a matter of my personal opinion – I’m sure there are many others that can justify why they spend many times more in the ‘constant pursuit’ of audio nirvana.

So for me (at least), and likely the vast majority of forum readers, my guess is that the 90% solution (at 20% the cost of the 100% nirvana) is more than enough to satisfy completely. When you factor in the low cost of DSP into the equation, along with strong installation techniques and methodologies, my assumption is that the differences become negligible.

Choices, Choices and Pulling the Trigger

As mentioned earlier, I think most pour far too much energy into the differences between one piece of kit and another. With DSP, low priced power, offshore production and good knowledge – nearly anything respectable in the market can be made to sound extraordinary – especially when making comparisons to the way things were 20 years ago. I will go through some of my selections below for the pieces that I picked, and the rationale for those choices given my limitations.

To ACTIVEate or Not?

Due to the low cost of amplification, I had seriously considered going fully active for the build. The problem was that if I were to use the JBL MS-8, that it would not give me enough channels, considering my aim to include 10 speakers in the cabin, with a subwoofer system in the trunk.

At the end of the day, I felt like I could live with a 3-way passive crossover for the front stage and individual electronic crossover settings for each of the two rear fill drivers being powered by the JBL MS-8. Had JBL introduced an "MS-10” with ten channels, then I would have been compelled to run 6 in the front, 2 in the rear (using a passive crossover), with the final pair on sub duty. So moving on, I’m not active on this go-around.

Front Stage

As mentioned earlier, I have three ideal spots in the Phaeton doors to mount drivers (6” mid-bass and 4” midrange in the door and a set of tweeters in the A pillars). When considering active, I had considered a setup with Silver Flute 6’s, and Dayton 4’s with Vifa tweeters for the top end, a combination that many of you speak quite highly of. Rather than overcomplicate things, I took a leap of faith and picked up a three way component set, the PPI P.65C3. The set was provided from a forum member Rockytophigh (thanks for the smooth sale), for only $200.

Phaeton Doors, Skinless

A few of the things I like about the PPI P.65C3 set:

-Fits into my stock driver locations effectively
-New tweeter type for car audio (Air Motion Technology / AMT), which I am excited to try
-The natural fiber composite cones (I tend to like paper / natural materials in the mids)
-Ease of installation using the 3-way crossover
-High level of power handling
-Strong reviews from many on the forum

I will write a brief summary on how these drivers sound to add to the many reviews that are currently listed in the forum once I get them installed, only time will tell; however, I am optimistic – especially for only spending $200 of my budget across six drivers.

Precision Power P.65C3 Component Set

Are there better 3 way component sets out there? Absolutely, but my guess that this is likely the best combination for around $200.

Rear Fill

This has been a bit of a difficult decision to make. The back seat of the Phaeton has these incredible seats that you can stretch out on, and I regularly have clients that I cart around town sitting in the backseat, so I played with the idea of adding another PPI P.65C3 3 way set in the back, with an additional PPI PC650.2 to power them.

What changed my mind, was when I went for a drive the other day, the stock speakers still sounded incredible! So it was hard for me to justify jumping through all the hoops at this stage to add another set – especially considering that the JBL MS-8 is bound to make what I already have back there shine even stronger.

So for now, I’m holding off on doing anything to the rear fill, and will power the Phaeton’s factory mid-bass and midrange off four channels of the JBL MS-8. If any of you have thoughts on whether or not it would be worthwhile to make the switch to the PPI set in the rear, I would be happy to hear your opinions. For now, we will see how it goes, and stick to the allotted budget.

The Low End

The Phaeton is a big sedan, it would be an ideal candidate for an infinite baffle setup, similar to how we used to construct back in the day using Celestion AD15H’s. I started contemplating taking seats out, sound deadening, isolating the rear shelf, bolting into the structure of the car and decided that it simply wasn’t worth it when many drivers these days work in extremely small enclosures.

Since producing ‘burps’ at high SPLs wasn’t the driving force behind the build, I started looking into combinations of drivers that would give me the greatest cone area of the forward facing plane of the trunk, while using the amplication on hand in the most efficient way. Since, I didn't want to power the subs with more than 700 watts total (ample in my mind), I began further examining the different combinations that were possible.

As mentioned earlier, I wanted to maximize 17” vertically, and 38” horizontally – without exceeding a total depth of around 16”. I played with the idea of using an array of 4x 8” drivers (had considered the Sundown Audio SD-2 8’s for their incredible excursion capabilities), but the problem is that I would be wasting valuable cone displacement (vertically), plus I would only be giving each of the 8’s only 150 watts RMS – not nearly enough to reach moderate levels of excursion.

Sundown Audio SD-2 8, A Worthy Contender

When looking a bit deeper at the 8” solution, I could see that the surface area for 4x 8” drivers would be approximately 200 square inches. So I started wondering how a pair of 15’s would do as an alternative, if I was going to use 17” of vertical space most efficiently, then perhaps 15's were the way to go? After a quick calculation, I figured that the pair of larger drivers would result in about 350 square inches of cone area, an increase over the eights of about 75%. Clearly, this was the way to go – the only issue was to find 15” drivers that worked well in small sealed enclosures of around 1.5 cubic feet.

Knowing that most drivers this size are more comfortable in the 2.5 to 4.0 cubic foot sealed range, I knew that by going with a small enclosure, it would be likely be a compromise on the low end extension and excursion of the drivers. If I could find a decently priced set of 15'’s that modelled decently well in a 1.5 cubic foot box, that I would be off at the races.

Originally planning on using pro audio drivers such as B&C’s and Faitals, I disbanded the idea because most required large vented enclosures. Browsing Sonic Electronics’ site the other day, I came across an incredible deal on a pair of JBL GTO1514D subwoofers. They were liquidating them for only $150 for the pair! They also modelled fairly well in small enclosures and would handle the amount of power I was willing to throw at them. After doing a little digging online, I saw that the frame structures were solid, the excursion was sufficient and that they had the modest clearance required to mount in a shallow enclosure (7”).

JBL GTO1514D, Incredible Bargain - And a Beauties, Too!

I ended up pulling the trigger on them as they met all my requirements (small sealed enclosure compatibility, budget, power handling and excursion). The only thing I wasn't a fan of is their use of poly cones. Although these cones are quite durable in the automotive environment, I would have preferred a paper / natural cone as utilized in many of the higher priced drivers. That being said, the plastic cones are going to be facing the cabin, never to be seen again, so this isn’t really a point of concern.

Is this the best sub in the universe? No! Will they produce far more low end than I could possibly need without over-extending themselves? My guess is yes, I will opine on them once I get them all set up. You will likely see me post at some point in the future about an upgrade (perhaps the GTI series)? But for now, and for $150 a pair, these will likely suit the application just fine.

Boxed Up

This (again) was a bit of an issue with me, since I have the tools and ability to make a ‘custom’ sealed enclosure myself. Had I been installing 30mm xmax drivers running off a couple kw of power, then I would have taken the time to build out a heavily braced, double-baffled ‘beast' that would have added an extra hundred pounds to my trunk.

In this case, I simply looked long and hard for a dual fifteen configuration with a slanted front (to bump up against my rear seats) made with 3/4” mdf as the new home for the JBL GTO subs. I could have spent a weekend of my time and a couple hundred dollars worth of material putting this together, but I’d rather spend the time at this point of my life on other things. All in, I ordered an enclosure online for $125, constructed in a purpose built factory using a CNC – I don’t think I would have likely been able to do too much better, regardless of time constraints.

The enclosure is a ‘truck style’ enclosure that will butt perfectly up against the back seats and occupy every inch of allowable vertical and horizontal space, occupying only 13” of trunk space. The back baffle will serve well to mount the pair of amplifiers, with the processors, cap, crossovers and power distribution occupying the front baffle (unseen) between the fifteens. This combination, for anyone considering a “small footprint” trunk install in a sedan, is likely the absolute most efficient use of space – aside from an infinite baffle installation.

I will also note, that I compromised space requirements slightly in order to reduce the amount of trunk space the subwoofer system will be occupying. The individual enclosures only have around 1.25 cubic feet of airspace, so I will be adding around 2.5 pounds of Fibrefill to each enclosure to give me a slight gain on the low end extension. I know this isn’t an ideal case, but it’s a compromise worth taking as a larger enclosure would have taken up considerably more trunk space. The golf clubs need a home, too – you know?

A note on pre-built enclosures: I know many of you cringe at the idea of using pre-built enclosures, some of the criticism is rooted in fact, and some based on prejudice. When browsing the online listings for pre-built enclosures, I was shocked and dismayed by the amount of vented ‘universal’ enclosures available for sale.

Some claiming that the enclosures were ‘tuned’ to X Hz, with no consideration at all about the driver that would eventually be installed. It made me think how 90% of the audio consumers out there would be much better off taking the efficiency loss in the 45 Hz + region and just going with tried and tested sealed designs.

For anyone reading this contemplating using ‘off-the’shelf’ pre-built vented enclosures – DON’T. If you’re going to go vented, do the research and model your driver’s T/S parameters to derive the correct tuning for the enclosure and your driver. If you don’t want to go through the hassle, go sealed – your drivers will behave more consistently, you won’t tank below the tuning frequency and you will get by with smaller enclosures. You will also extend your low frequency response far to the left, viva sealed.

The Juice

Amplification is the most heavily debated subject on the forum. This amplifier or that one? Class A/B vs D, on and on and on. I think the prevailing wind is that nearly all high quality amplifiers sound quite similar, and given that power is so inexpensive, that it would make sense to buy as much high quality power as possible – then dial it down to maximize headroom.

Clearly, the PPI P900.4 is a huge hit here, and for good reason! It supplies huge amounts of power in a small footprint, with exceptional low-noise levels for around a couple hundred dollars. It’s a real winner, but there are countless other amps out there that are (also) equally good, it all comes down to taste.

Tempted by the PPI P900.4... Ain't She Ugly?

For me, I am not concerned with space limitations for my two amplifiers, my charging system is rock solid, so I went with amplifiers that had a huge dollar to watt ratio, from a respectable brand, that would suit my tastes in the cosmetics department. This is why I didn’t choose the PPI P900.4 (pair) for the build, because I couldn’t live with how they looked. In my opinion, they are just about the ugliest amplifiers ever made – but aside from cosmetics, I would have been absolutely happy to have included them in this modest build.

So what did I end up going with? Some big, burly PPI Power Class two channel amps (model PC650.2), for a bargain basement price of $109 each (new). At a combined 1300 watts RMS, the dollar to watt ratio is a diminutive 16 cents. One will drive the 3 way components in the front and the second will drive a pair of 15” subwoofers in the trunk.

PPI Powerclass - 16 Cents per Watt!

I couldn’t believe that you could source a clean 650 watt RMS amp in 2015 for a hundred bucks, this was a perfect find that gave me sufficient power, clean looks from a brand (although has changed ownership) that I would be happy to have in my trunk.

The specs on the PPI PC650.2 are as follows: 195w x2 @ 4 ohms on the 3-way component set and 650w x1 @ 4 ohms for the pair of 15’s.

Although, I assume these are being liquidated, they present a serious value for anyone sharing similar design parameters as my own.

I had considered picking up a third of these amps to run my rear fill, but I’m going to elect to run these off 4 channels of built in amplification in the JBL MS-8. I may find that it isn’t enough, but I think (for now) it should get me most of the way there without further taxing my electrical system.

The Black Box

Just let me start off and say that advances in DSP have been the ‘holy grail’ of car audio. Whether you’re running a Bit-One, an Alpine PXA-H800 or a JBL MS-8, the amount of power, flexibility and performance packed into a small black box truly astounds me. I have tried my best to read through the thousands of posts on the forum focussed on the MS-8 and I can’t wait to have a unit like this installed in a car that does things we could have only dreamed of twenty years ago. Time alignment, phase correction, line driver, input conversion, crossover points, level matching – all automatic… What an incredible era we live in.

Ok Ok - Thank you Mr. Braniac Engineer Guys

If you rewind 20 years, the amount of gear required would have taken up an entire trunk, costing upwards of $5k. Further, you would have had to drive your car to some ‘guru’, who would need your car for a week to do setup and calibration. Now we have all the capabilities in one small processor? My sincere congratulations to the bright engineers at these companies for coming up with the single most revolutionary piece of kit ever to be included in a car audio system.

With all the great gear out there, I decided to go with the JBL MS-8, as it is affordable and can be configured automatically without an RTA. In the months ahead, I will likely be leaning on some of you for advice on parameters and tuning, unless of course, I get it right the first time through the automatic calibration of the system. I also wanted to acknowledge Andy Wehmeyer for all his great MS-8 related posts, your information has been outstanding.

The Nutz and Boltz

I have never been much of a fan of ‘kits’, I much prefer picking each and every one of my components. When it comes to cabling and connectors, I’m going with a one-stop-shop approach with KnuKonceptz. They have everything I need to do it right the first time all under one roof, all for just a shade over $200 dollars.

Got Spaghetti?

Budget and Summary

Alright, so all in, I was able to pick up all the gear for a grand total of $1,378.57, it should all start arriving in the next week or so and I will update as I get moving on the installation. Here is a summary, for any of you considering a similar build:

  • Front Stage: PPI P.65C3 $200
  • Subwoofers: 2x JBL GTO1514D $150
  • Enclosure: Double 15” Slant $125
  • Amplifiers: 2x PPI PC650.2 $218
  • DSP: JBL MS-8 $400
  • Capacitor: PPI C.F3 $60
  • Cable Set: KnuConceptz $222

TOTAL: $1378.57

Parting thoughts: If you are like me, and you are in the process of building a system and constantly obsessing about every comparison, review and test report… just know, that with a good DSP and around a grand… that you will end up with something incredible, if it is installed competently. So don’t worry so much, just jump in – pull the trigger on some kit, and start listening to music.

All the best,


Note: I will be posting my progress in the weeks ahead, looking forward to hearing feedback from everyone…
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1 - 11 of 11 Posts
This is THE ultimate car!!!!
My wife wants one worse than me.
There is a lady in our neighborhood that has the W12 version. She has had nothing but problems with it..... but oooohhhhhhh I so badly want that kind of trouble. LOLOLOLLOL
Im watching this one under a microscope.......
go active, class a/b for front stage, class d for sub duty, utilizes stock location for drivers, multiple subs driven to the lowest ohm ratings , fill the tank full of race gas, install VR engineering supercharger, multiple batteries....... dump it all into this car!!!!! do it now!!! take pictures!!!!! (can you sense my excitement???)
Hey hot9dog, I feel your energy, brother! No doubt, owning German cars like this can be a bit taxing on the wallet when it comes to repair bills. Two months ago, I completed a '5 year' service call that led to a nearly $10K bill. Things don't really go 'wrong' but you always want to be driving the car like it is 'new"

That being said, I bought the car for about 20% of what it costed new, and it is paid outright with no payments due - so when I have to make a repair, I don't really sweat it.

In case you are wondering, the car will move upwards of 200MPH and remain dead silent along the way. The Germans really know how to push things to the limit when it comes to engineering.

I will keep you posted as I progress along with the DIY build. Currently in Canada it really hasn't stopped snowing for the past 2 months, so the conditions aren't exactly ideal for 'shade-tree' installs. As soon as the weather breaks, I will begin making progress and post some updates.

All the best,

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Great writeup! Will be interesting to hear your thoughts on the build. One thing I'd suggest is to maybe get 2 more amp channels and run your front mid basses active on their own channels and the mids/tweets off the passive as one channel. I believe you should get some benefit in being able to time align them in those groups.

Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-N900A using Tapatalk
This is THE ultimate car!!!!
My wife wants one worse than me.
There is a lady in our neighborhood that has the W12 version. She has had nothing but problems with it..... but oooohhhhhhh I so badly want that kind of trouble. LOLOLOLLOL
Im watching this one under a microscope.......
I love your post, yes I read the whole thing!! This is the most understated luxury car ever built, in the states it was a flop for VW. At the time it was released the public couldn't fathom paying that much for the makers of the "bug". I know better and would love to own one myself. Great read, I will be watching you build. It's great that you posted the price break down. If I were to tell someone in the 90's you were to get what you listed for $1300 everyone would have a set of fifteens and a 3-way set in the front! What a time we live in, and you people thought Car Audio was a dying hobby. You just have to look elsewhere when it comes to brand sourcing since the market and economy took out most of the reputable brands that were made in USA.
knever3, thanks for the positive words! You're right, the car did not sell well in the United States (or Canada for that matter). I think when I last checked on Wikipedia, they had only sold about 85 cars here, so whenever I take it out I usually get lots of questions about it.

You mentioned the decline of car audio... I think this stems from two main issues:

1) Emergence of leasing / quick turnover of automobiles

It used to be more prevalent to own a car outright, these days, so many people lease cars and are apprehensive about making significant changes to them.

To further complicate matters, it is almost unheard of these days to remove a factory head unit and replace it with an aftermarket deck. Most people are unaware that companies such as Dension make interface kits that allow you to tap into factory head units. Using a line level convertor like the AudioControl units, it is now pretty easy and cost effective to add amplifiers and upgraded drivers throughout the cabin.

2) Public has slowly forgotten about 'hifi'

I can't remember the last time I went into someone's home and noticed even a modest sound system. It seems that with the advent of the iPod a decade ago, that convenience has trumped quality, and all you see these days are horrendous 'dock systems'.

This has sadly become the mainstream, so most have actually forgotten what good sound is like. The result of this in the automotive world is that when people forget that they like something, they have no motivation to attain it...

That being said, the activity on this board surely is a strong indicator that there a good many people out there that share a passion for great sound.
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I know a couple that has a Flying Spur and Phaeton. Nightmare cars to tint, lol.
Great write up. It really is a golden time for gear at the moment, but also a terrible time for the cars to put it in. But processors help with keeping factory systems.

I think the hardest thing for you to do will be to really improve on your factory gear. I love your thoughts on the point of diminishing returns. It's very easy to get caught up trying to chase perfection when you could already be 90% of the way there. Good luck.

Nice car by the way.

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I had almost forgotten I had subscribed to this until it notified me lol. Based upon his initial write up, this should be an epic low cost build.
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