If you pay attention to who is creating some of the most beautifully integrated audio system upgrades in the world, then Musicar Northwest of Portland, Oregon, will definitely be more than just a blip on your radar. One of their existing clients recently contacted them about upgrading the audio system in his 2019 Audi RS3 sedan. He wanted a sound system that would deliver reference-quality tonal balance, imaging and staging with the ability to get loud without distorting. In terms of design, the client knew the capabilities of the Musicar team and gave them carte blanche — with the caveat of not using up the entire trunk.
Bespoke Audio System Design
One of the many highlights of working with Musicar on an audio system is the privilege of having owner Tom Miller create the physical design of the audio system. Tom has risen to the status of industry master when it comes to providing clients with sketches and drawings of the projects he envisions. In the case of this Audi, he did a pen sketch of the trunk that includes a false floor and a down-firing subwoofer enclosure that will look like a piece of coach-built luggage. While some projects require a much more detailed rendering, this quick ballpoint drawing was more than adequate to give the client and the Musicar team a clear vision of the end result.
Since this Audi was to receive an entirely new audio system, the project started by upgrading the doors. The team removed the stock woofers and midrange speakers to make way for a set of Morel ADMW 9 woofers and a set of CDM700 midrange drivers. The 9-inch woofers are mounted to custom-machined composite adapters that space the woofer away from the door so that it seals against the trim panel. The 3.5-inch dome-style midrange drivers are attached to similar composite adapters that bolt into the original speaker locations in the center of the door. In both cases, wire pigtails wrapped in automotive-grade cloth tape connect the new speakers to the factory speaker wire connectors. Should the client want to return the vehicle to its original configuration at some point, everything can be removed with no signs of there having been a world-class audio system installed. A set of Morel Elate Titanium MT350 tweeters was assigned to deliver the highest frequencies in the sound system.
While the doors were disassembled, the Musicar team treated the inner and outer surfaces with layers of SoundShield damping material to reduce noise transfer into the vehicle. SoundShield is a three-layer damping material that includes a dense butyl base layer, a thick aluminum foil layer for structural rigidity and a layer of foam to prevent buzzes and rattles from wire harnesses.
Steel False Floor Amp Rack
Turning our attention to the trunk area, T.J. Carlson led the fabrication of the subwoofer enclosure, amp rack, trim panel and wiring. He welded together a steel support frame to hold the amplifiers and support the large subwoofer enclosure. The rack bolts to the trunk’s floor in six locations and retains access to the rear-mounted battery and the car’s jack.
The subwoofer enclosure is a T-shaped design with an angled front. The vented enclosure is home to a single Audiofrog GB12 12-inch subwoofer that fires down into the vehicle’s floor. Once the basic shape was created, Carlson began the process of reworking the leading edge to house an acrylic insert that would trim an Audi RS3 logo along with an aluminum accent strip. The edges of the enclosure have a red accent provided by a 1/8-inch layer of red acrylic and end caps that are wrapped in black vinyl. As with all Musicar upgrades, a quick-disconnect is provided so that the enclosure can be removed from the amp rack without modifying any wiring. Threaded inserts in the lower part of the enclosure allow it to be bolted to the steel frame to keep it rock solid in the vehicle.
Audi Audio System Amplification
A Helix V EIGHT DSP amp with an integrated digital signal processor delivers up to 75 watts of power to each of the six front speakers. The subwoofer is powered by an M ONE monoblock amp that can provide up to 600 watts of power for the subwoofer. The signal processing in the V EIGHT DSP allowed the Musicar crew to configure bandpass crossovers on the midbass woofers and midrange drivers, along with high-pass filters for the tweeters and a low-pass filter for the subwoofer. Next, they configured delays to align the acoustic arrival time of each speaker, then they smoothed the frequency response from each driver to compensate for the vehicle’s acoustics. The result of their calibration is an audio system that delivers a soundstage that spans the width of the dash and presents an experience as if the driver were sitting in the audience at a live performance.
The client was thrilled with the results. The Morel drivers deliver superb detail, and the Audiofrog subwoofer is tight and controlled with impressive low-frequency extension. As requested, there is still lots of room in the trunk for cargo. Musicar’s balance of custom design and world-class craftsmanship is highlighted by the unique enclosure.
If you’re interested in an audio system upgrade that looks and sounds genuinely spectacular, you can contact the Musicar Northwest team via their website. If you are a fan of their work, you can keep up with their latest builds by following their Facebook page, their Instagram feed or their YouTube channel. Thanks to Tom Miller, T.J. Carlson and the entire Musicar Northwest crew for sharing this amazing project with the readers of BestCarAudio.com; we truly appreciate it!