If you have been to any mobile enhancement industry events like CES or KnowledgeFest or attended a car audio competition like Aggieland, Steel Valley Regionals or the Spring Break Nationals, the name Brian Mitchell and cars like his 2014 Cadillac ELR should be familiar. Brian has been an Autosound competitor for decades and several years ago became Western Regional Sales Manager for ARC Audio of Modesto, California. This ELR and its audio system are unique in that they serve as both a competition vehicle and a test platform for the development of ARC Audio amplifiers, speakers, subwoofers and signal processors.
ARC Audio Front Stage Speakers
The current sound system uses a set of the new ARC Audio RS 6.0 6.5-inch woofers in the doors and a set of RS 4.0 4-inch midrange speakers and RS 1.0 1-inch tweeters in custom pods built into the A-pillars of the car. Before construction began, the angles for the mids and tweeters were fine-tuned to minimize reflections off the windshield and allow small amounts of reflection from the side windows to create the sensation of a wider soundstage. The pillar enclosures include a waveguide design that further reduces windshield reflections and are wrapped in genuine OEM Alcantara suede that cost Brian $200 per yard.
As the RS 4.0 and RS 6.0 speakers aren’t currently available with grilles, Brian machined a set that matches the cosmetic design of the RS 1.0 tweeter. The aluminum rings are painted with a translucent black paint to match parts of the dash and steering wheel.
Recently, Brian installed a 10-inch Arc 10 subwoofer in the passenger-side footwell. The sub is in a small enclosure that is finished with a 14×14 piece of factory carpet cut from a secondary full-size carpet piece. A RS 3.0 midrange in the center of the dash is used for processor testing but isn’t part of the competition system.
Cadillac ELR System Electronics
To compete successfully with the factory radio, Brian turned to the vehicle integration experts at NAV-TV for one of their M650-GM MOST 50 digital interfaces. This magic box puts out a SPDIF digital signal that connects to the optical input on the PS8-PRO signal processor in the car. A second preset on the processor accepts an analog signal from a Sony Walkman digital media player.
Signal routing, system equalization, crossovers and level controls are handled by the eight-channel processor before being fed to a trio of Signature Edition amplifiers. Brian has two processors in the car so he can switch back and forth between his competition configuration and the testing he needs to do as part of the product development process at ARC. Motorized acrylic plastic covers on the back wall of the trunk raise to show the face of the processors using a signal from the Compustar remote car starter and security system in the vehicle.
The ELR features a PSC remote for the DSP that has been built into the rearview mirror. The display is visible through the one-way glass, and the buttons and control knob have been relocated to the center console for easy access. Likewise, diagnostic LEDs from the three amplifiers are mounted in the mirror for easy monitoring.
Those Signature Edition amplifiers — an SE2300 and a pair of SE4200s — have been upgraded with a liquid cooling system that replaces the cooling fans. The amplifiers are mounted on a steel amp rack in the trunk of the car, and the system is wired with Stinger Pro Series power and speaker wire that is protected with Techflex braided loom and heat-shrink tubing. The SE2300 powers the subwoofer and the center channel speaker while the SE4200s are split to drive the left and right front stage speakers in a three-channel configuration.
The Cadillac features a Rydeen RDV360-3D camera system that provides a bird’s-eye view of the area around the vehicle on the factory screen. A BlackVue dashcam records everything in front of and behind the vehicle while it’s being driven, and a K40 RL360i radar detector and laser defense system alerts Brian to any speed traps while on his frequent cross-country adventures.
Brian just returned from the Aggieland VII sound-off in Texas where he not only won all the classes he entered but took top place in a no-holds-barred open competition against 37 other vehicles. This success is a testament to the hard work Brian has put into designing and installing the sound system in his ELR and to the quality and performance capabilities of ARC Audio products. If you ever get the chance, be sure to ask for a demonstration of Brian’s ELR.