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-   -   Starting my first E46 install (lots of pics) (http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=443244)

RSL 02-10-2007 02:29 AM

Starting my first E46 install (lots of pics)
Work in progress of course. I've been out of car audio since about '92 and got an urge to put a system in my Coupe. I had absolutely nothing to do an install: no saws, no terminals, no wire, no old speakers laying around, nothing. While I do plan to swap almost everything with higher end stuff down the road, I went on the cheap here for hardware to start because I need every last little thing, right down to electrical tape. So I am concentrating on doing a "good" install now and then it will be easy to upgrade the speakers, amps, processors, etc. later once the ground work is done.

So now that you know why you'll be seeing mediocre gear in this install...

These will eventually find a home in a sealed 2.25 cu.ft. net box in the trunk. 3 JL 10W6v2 D6s. Undecided on the amp ATM.


Getting the wiring together was yesterday's project. Since I am keeping the stock headunit, I took out the stock amp, pulled out the wires I will be using, soldered up extensions to them, ran them to a convenient strip terminal where I can connect the amp/passive crossovers.

The stock tweeter and mid wires were pretty small (~22 gauge), so I tied the + and - for each together on each side to run to aftermarket tweeter.

From this:


...to this:


Top strip is ground, remote, remote, 12V all tapped from the factory wires. I would've like to put inline fuses in the 12V wires, but I didn't have any extra holders laying around, so I may go back and redo that as soon as everything is done. The ground, one remote and 12V will be for the EQX, which I am using to interface with the stock HU for the time being. I am not sure if I am keeping the stock ground, but we'll see what happens with ground loops after everything else is installed. The 2nd remote will be for the one amp that I will be running to start.

Bottom strip is LF mid, LF tweeter, RF mid, RF tweeter.

The two channels of wire to the right are the front L/R inputs that I will be using for the EQX. I had planned on just using the high level input on the EQX, but I bought used one and it didn't have the plug for them, so I may solder them to the high inputs or will just pull the wiring apart again and make them RCAs. I only have Monster 400MkII interconnects though and it would kill me to cut one or swipe the heads just for that :) I can't seem to find a place local with just RCA jacks? I guess I could just cut the 6 footer in half and use each half to do all 4 input channels since I'll want fader control down the road, but damn that cable was almost as much as the EQX, LOL.

I also managed to stuff all of the wiring up into the top of the shock tower to clean it up a bit.

That brings me to today's work...

I thought about mounting the mids for like a week before I even started anything. Of course, it's best to mount them to the door and I've see a couple different ways...most include stacking 2-3 MDF rings (bottom one cut appropriately to fit the indent in the door). Logical idea, but I wanted something as solid as possible and with more mass. Depth in the door panel is not a problem, so I thought why use only rings when a bigger baffle will fit?

So after thinking about it and making cardboard templates, I cut 2 pieces of 1/2" MDF. A single 1" would've been easier, but I couldn't find anything thicker than 3/4". In any case, the main support is 1" thick. Here they are test fit into the panel, but it will be mounted to the door.


Now to move the speaker closer to the grill (I REALLY wish the grill was easily removable), a single 3/4" thick MDF ring goes on top of the baffle boards. When installed with the boards in the door panel, the ring stops on the high part of the angled plastic ring on the grill (inside of panel), so that will have to be cut, along with all the little braces that stick out.


Here is a pic of the angled plastic ring cut off the inside of the grill (pretty much to the bottom), along with all the little protuding braces trimmed down (marked in yellow). From my best measured guess, the top of my baffle would be about 3/8" back from the trimmed grill ring on the inside once mounted to the door...will be close with the top mounted mid.


Got it mounted up. Before I did anything, I used masking tape to mark the outside of the door panel on the door (outer lines). More importanly, I also used it to mark where my baffle sat with the door panel on. I installed the panel with the baffle sitting in it and then pulled the panel back just enough to mark the edges of the baffle sitting flat on the door (inner lines).

This is one of the final test fits in the pic. I had to spend some time sanding/angling/rounding over to get the door panel to go on without any hang up at all. That was a bit of a pain, but the good news mounting like this is that it either fits *perfectly* or doesn't fit at all :) I am also test fitting the location of the ring in this one...it would be a whole lot easier if you could pull the grill or even see through it for that matter, but again, the panel only fits with the ring in one exact spot doing it this way, so it's just a matter of fudging it around until the panel clears it on all sides (which happens to put the mid dead center of the grill).


With everything lined up and test fit a billion times, it was time to cut the holes and test fit the mid. Up to this point I still wasn't 100% sure that I wouldn't need to drop to a 1/2" MDF ring for a bit more clearance. You can see that I also made a brace to attach the right side of the baffle to the door...another brace will go on top as well to make it as solid as possible.


I haven't cut the door yet, but measuring the various depths of the indent on the door to the top of the ring, the shallowest place is 2-3/4" and the deepest is 3-1/8". I almost see no reason that a 3-1/4" deep driver couldn't go in once the door is cut. 3-1/2" might be pushing it, but I'll measure again once I cut the doors.


Yeah, you can't see it, but I promise it's in there and the panel is fully seated. Once I knew it was all going to fit with enough clearance, I took the pieces apart, glued them all together with TiteBond II and clamped them. Once I get the top brace made, both braces will also be glued to the boards.

BTW, I will be using closed cell foam to fill in the space between the back of the baffle and the indent in the door.


I was hoping to get both doors done today, but this one took way longer than I expected. I was getting pretty tired, but I whipped up a quick baffle for the tweeter. Pretty straight forward, so here are the pics. The screw holes are slotted a bit so I could adjust the exact placement of the cup in relation to the factory hole. I didn't have the right sized washers on hand, but I'll get them (and the right screws for the mid baffles) tomorrow. I just copied the stock baffle shape, but that can clearly be sized down a bit and I'll do that when it's off tomorrow.




Yes, the stock grill fits over it!

More coming as I progress....

hoppa79 02-10-2007 03:41 AM

wow, wish i knew how to work on car audio like you. awesome pics of your custom speaker brackets, keep up the good work.

JamesH325Ci 02-10-2007 03:42 AM

looking good.....can't wait to see the finsihed product.

mharv 02-10-2007 05:08 AM

Looks great and the wiring is especially neat idea...
so what size speakers have you put in...

Canuck328i 02-10-2007 08:36 AM

Excellent work dude. Sounds like your time with CA was from the late 80s/early 90s just like me. :)


Edscapade 02-10-2007 08:52 AM

Great Job....keep the pictures coming as you update!

RSL 02-10-2007 11:07 AM

Thanks everyone, I'll update with pics as I progress...

Marc, yep, that's the timeframe. I guess I'd been away too long...or maybe the non-H/K system drove me back LOL.

Carbon///M3 02-10-2007 11:08 AM

Great work thus far man!

Looks like you are doin in big

RSL 02-10-2007 11:34 AM

Thanks! I am concentrating on the install really...it's the groundwork of everything else that will come later (HLCDs, DSP, etc.). I am still a bit concerned that 3 10s might be more sub-bass than I want, but after hearing all the complaints about lack of bass/SPL from the trunk, maybe they are just what I need? I guess I'll find out soon enough :thumbsup:

Canuck328i 02-10-2007 12:45 PM

Have you thought of going "retro" with the components? Maybe pick up some stuff you used to use back in the old days - original Orion, RF Punch, etc. It's what I did (with PPI and AudioControl) and I don't regret it for a minute. Plus the stuff will last forever.


RSL 02-10-2007 03:53 PM

Yes I did! I might actually have a Power 650 and a Punch 150 around somewhere...I gave them to my bro when I "quit", but am not sure if he still has them. I wouldn't ask for them back even if he did I guess :)

I've been thinking about Soundstream Reference or Class A's, Orion SX's, Phoenix Gold M's and Zapcos. I see that Soundstrem is making new Reference amps too that are supposedly "as good" as the originals. I wonder if they solved the 1000SX and 10.0 Class A overheating issues?

I was also thinking about the OZ Audio separates, but ID has some new components coming out which should work well with horns, so I am going to run some Polk MMC6500s for the time being. I'll probably run them passive to start just because it's easier...at least they can be bi-amped on their x-overs.

I am kinda leaning toward the Alpine PDXs just because I want to try something "new" and they are small, but I picked up a Crossfire VR804 (4x100W) just to have something to run the doors with while I decide what I want for "permanent" :)

I am working on the driver side mid baffle now. The door panel on the driver side sits a bit higher, so I couldn't do an opposite copy exactly. I was hoping to breeze through that side, but it's taking just as much tweaking as the passenger side. Going back to it...

Canuck328i 02-10-2007 07:06 PM

Nah, go original dude - the overheating just "adds to the character". :)

I almost went Orion (used to compete with the original 425HCCA), but decided on PPI instead.

If you haven't done much with current subs, you'll find out things are much different these days. My original competition box in 1990 had 4 Alpine 6102 ten inchers that required 1.6cuft each! These days you could put 4 10s in that 1.6 cubes alone. Unfortunately I haven't found subs that sound quite as "warm" as those Alpines did.

At least with electronic components they can last years and years. The only speakers I still have from back then are a pair of Orion 6.5" midbasses - the foam and cone are still perfect, and they went into sealed under-dash enclosures to handle midbass duty with Infinity 4" + 1/2" separates in the doors (both at the bottom in the factory midbass location), all in 3 way active config. The staging and imaging is astounding considering it is all analog processing. For once I've built a setup I haven't screwed with for nearly two years!

Sorry for going OT bro, just love talking about the old days. :) Back to your install thread...


rcurley55 02-10-2007 07:50 PM

It's looking good - nice work.

I'm all for new amps - I've been there, done that with old ones and I gotta say, I prefer the new stuff....

Thanks for the detailed shots on the doors - I'm going to have to redo mine to get the new drivers in any way

Nelson 02-10-2007 08:03 PM

Holy ****, nice work.

RSL 02-11-2007 12:11 AM

Thanks guys!

Rob, I hear ya on the amps...seems like LOTS more power for the $$ than there was 10 years ago. I have more pics if you need and of course, if you have any questions, just ask, but it's pretty straight forward.

Did you notice the deepest part of the indent to the top of the ring was 3-1/8"? :thumbsup: The door would need to be cut anyway because a magnet would probably be too wide to stay at that depth uncut, but it looks like 3-1/4" deep mid should be doable.

The drivers side door was a total nightmare, LOL. The panel was ~3/16" higher than the passenger side for some reason so I ended up having to do all kinds of trimming/sanding/angling tweaks to get it to fit and keep the bottom of the baffle on the high edge of the door. It's still a little tight, but I've had enough of that thing for the night...paint is drying on it now. I think I am going to save cutting the doors til next week so I can get the power cables and amp installed tomorrow instead.

Mark, no problem man..."old school" was last week for me :) Small sub boxes = awesome. I am waiting to see the IDQ v3s. If they put them out on time (ha), the JL's may not even make it in if I haven't made a box for them by then.

I'll post some more pics later tonight after I take a shower and chill for a bit...

RSL 02-11-2007 02:49 AM

I started today by gluing together the passenger door baffle:


While that was drying, I got to work getting the stock wiring ready for the aftermarket stuff. Here I connected the + and - for the mid and the tweet like I did in the back. Soldered and heatshrinked.


Once done with that, I fabbed up a longer brace for the open side of the baffle, glued it to the baffle and painted the whole thing. That sure is flat black. I am still toying with the idea of adding another brace on top, but as it is, the door would bend before that thing moved.


It's kind of hard to see, but I used closed cell foam to seal up the area between the baffle and the indent in the door. I will likely need to pull that back out until I cut the doors or that's going to be the worlds smallest sealed enclosure :)


Allen head wood screws....gotta love it.


When I was done with that, I spent the rest of the day making the drivers side look like the same thing, but this time I left the foam out because I don't think it will work well until I cut the door.


Driver side tweeter baffle. Painted and used the correct washers this time (did the same on the passenger side).


Last look before I put the stock grill back over it:


While I was at HomeDepot this morning for screws and stuff, I noticed that they had the cheesiest RCA heads, so I got them :) I figured I'd give them a shot before trying to the solder the wires to the line level or cut up the 400MkII cable.


I also wired up the passive crossovers. These are meant for bare wires, but I wasn't having any of that. I got terminals on all of them, but what a pain. As you can from the lower pic, the terminal insulation pretty much goes all the way to the x-over cover. I'll be looking forward to pulling them apart again tomorrow to mount them....NOT.



That's about all for today. I wish I could've gotten the amp wiring done, but I farted around with the driver side baffle way too long...at least it's coming out nice and solid. The only thing that might keep me awak tonight is wondering if there is enough clearance for excursion on the mids...man would that suck if they hit after all of this!

Cruzer03 02-11-2007 05:46 AM

Great job, keep us updated!

BreakMyWallet 02-11-2007 11:30 AM

looks awesome

Alex** 02-11-2007 04:11 PM

this is just the thread ive been looking for.

have you got a picture of the door card before you trimmed the plastic and showing exactly what you removed?

basically id like to do this in my M3 Vert with as little cutting as posible

Alex** 02-11-2007 04:18 PM

have u cut metal in the door or just plastic in the door card?

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