The audio system installation in this 2014 Subaru WRX features not only excellent products, but each part of the project was planned and executed with the utmost precision to achieve the goal of creating an amazing musical experience. There are a select few shops around the world that could be defined as industry-leading in terms of their capabilities. Musicar Northwest in Portland, Oregon, is one of those retailers, and installation technician T.J. Carlson set to work on his personal vehicle to create an example of what makes him and the company he works for among the very best.
2014 Subaru WRX Front Stage Speaker Installation
The installation of the JL Audio C7-650cw woofers and C7-350cm midrange speakers in the doors started with sound deadening treatment using Soundskins damping material. T.J. created a set of three removable ABS plastic panels for each door to provide access to the window regulator and door handle mechanism, should it be required. The access panels are secured to the door with threaded inserts and sealed in place with silicone.
The focus of each project at Musicar Northwest is to integrate premium audio products into their clients’ vehicles while maintaining the same overall look and feel. Their focus is on the installation and not the product. As such, T.J. planned each stage of the door speaker upgrade using multiple sketches and drawings to make sure the components he added would look as though they belong. The C7-100ct tweeter pods in the sail panels are crafted of CNC-laser cut ABS plastic pieces and a molded mesh grille. Silver accents were added to mimic the two-tone treatment on the doors.
The installation of the midrange drivers beneath the door handles was chosen to help create a wide soundstage. T.J. told us that he drew four or five designs before settling on this final iteration. Once again, the use of the shop’s CNC laser was used to cut precision rings that would nest together to provide the final shape. The midrange drivers are angled rearward to ensure predictable response.
The final piece of the front stage speaker installation was to create mounting adapters for the C7-650cw woofers. CNC-cut plastic adapters with an angled top plate and threaded inserts ensure that the woofers have a solid foundation.
A set of C5-650x coaxial speakers are installed in the rear doors using a process similar to that used on the front doors. These speakers are fed with a left-minus-right signal with added to delay to increase the perceived size of the listening environment.
JL Audio System Amplifiers
T.J. chose two of the new VXi-Series DSP-equipped amplifiers to power the speakers in his WRX. A VX800/8i eight-channel amplifier and a VX1000/5i five-channel amplifier are mounted under the front seats on acrylic plastic panels that bear the Musicar Northwest logo at the front edge. The mounting plates are attached to the car with stand-offs to provide a level surface for a factory-installed look.
The VX800/8i is configured as a 200-watt-per-channel four-channel amp to power the woofers and midrange drivers in the doors. The four main channels of the VX1000/5i drive the tweeters and the rear fill speakers, while the 600-watt subwoofer powers a single, 10-inch JL Audio 10TW3 subwoofer in the trunk. T.J. told us he plans to update the grille once he has a chance.
T.J. used the integrated DSP processing along with a VXi-HUB and DRC-100 to configure and control the system. The DRC-100 remote is mounted on a custom panel in the center console and features a new control knob and clear acrylic accent ring that illuminates to match the DSP preset selection. T.J. has the system defaulted to the red preset so that it matches the rest of the lighting in the vehicle.
Power Delivery and Vehicle Accessories
The system is wired with full AWG-spec all-copper power wire. T.J. created a custom distribution bracket for the battery and ran dedicated 4-AWG runs to each of the system’s amplifiers. Of course, everything is wrapped neatly in automotive-grade cloth tape for a clean and tidy look.
T.J. has an Escort radar detector mounted just beneath the rearview mirror, and he added a ZW5 laser shifter system to deal with police lidar. In keeping with the integrated theme of the installation, the mute button for the laser system is located beside the DRC-100 control in the center console. With the system complete, JL Audio asked T.J. if he would consider driving the car up to Seattle for the Pacific Northwest Mobile Electronics Expo, where it would be on display in the JL Audio booth. T.J. was happy to help, and feedback on the car was amazing.
If you are interested in similar work on your vehicle, T.J., Tom and the crew at Musicar Northwest would be happy to help. They can be reached on their website, on Facebook and of course, be sure to check them out on YouTube.