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Old April 29th 2010, 20:41
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Post Sound Dampening and Audio Installation

by NO_H2O
Jan 24, 2003

If the only music you want to hear while driving your German Look Gem is the sound of big carbs chewing air and a 4 into 1 blasting it back out, this is not the tech article for you. But if you want some creature comfort and are thinking about an audio system installation, you might find some useful information here.

Overview

With the small area we have to work with in a VW, it doesn't take a lot of equipment to get a good sound, as long as we can quiet the beast in the back.

Step 1. HUSH. Sound Dampening

Depending on what point you are at in your project, you might consider applying some sound dampening to your car to quiet the air cooled monster that lives in the back. If you can knock interior noise down by 4db it is like doubling the power of your audio system. I find that sound dampening sheet goods are very easy to install and does a great job of killing road and engine noise.



Sound is transferred from one area to another as vibration. If you can stop the vibration you stop the noise. Sound waves also bounce much like a ball. Think of it like this. If you throw a ball against a hard surface (a wall) it will bounce back, it will also transfer a wave through that surface that will travel into the next space. Now if you hang a blanket on the wall and then throw the ball what happens ? The blanket absorbs the energy and the ball falls to the floor. If we can dampen the vibration of the sheet metal in our car we can cut down on the sound that is transferred into the car.

I used 4 1/2 rolls of 32"x54" self-adhesive sound dampening sheet goods in my car. Any sheet metal that would not show with the interior installed got a layer of this material. The pan, ceiling, fire wall inside and out, inside the door and quarter panel skins, everywhere I could put it prior to installing the standard interior components. I also used a 1" foam under the roof part of the headliner and 1/4" foam under the rest of the headliner.The headliner, carpet, side panels and seats cover everything nicely for a clean installation.



Step 2. Get Wired

Before you install any of the interior components, you should plan out all of the wires you will need. I made a wire harness with 2 runs of heavy duty speaker cable, an RCA cable, 12 volt power, ground, remote amp trigger, antenna coax and a small power wire for a remote amplified antenna. Tie it up in a neat bundle and run it down the heater channel on the passenger side just like the car's harness is routed on the driver's side.



There is a groove for the cars wiring harness on both sides as a VW came in both right and left hand drive. The car's wiring harness is routed on the driver's side. This way you will not have a big lump running down the middle of your carpet when it is installed. I also ran all the wires to the engine compartment for adding instruments like oil temp, oil pressure, cyl. temp, tach. Etc. Use different color and gauge wires and record what each is to be used for. This will make final installation much easier. Then you can install the interior.

Step 3. Pack it in

I built a console to hold the head unit and gauges. You can install yours in anyway you want. I used a high-powered head unit (52watt x 4 max) and powered both the front 5 1/2 " speakers in kick panels and 6 x 9" 3 way speakers in a speaker tray for the rear package area. For some added foundation I added a 8 " subwoofer in the back.



For this driver (subwoofer) I built a 0.6 cubic foot enclosure. Remember each brand and model driver requires a different enclosure size and style (vented or sealed). This is very important to get the proper performance out of the driver. You can get the formulas to calculate this from books or on the net. A good audio supplier can give you all the information you will need to calculate your enclosure.



I powered it with a separate amp using the RCA cable and wiring previously installed. You can use an amp with a sub crossover built in or install an inductor on the + side of the driver. This will pass only the low freq. signal to the sub. I used a 0.90mH coil with a 4-ohm driver, this will pass 750 hz. and below to the sub. Again a good electronics supplier should be able to help you chose an inductor that will work for your application. The amp needs to have adjustable input sensitivity so you can tune the sub to the proper sound level. Also the amp will need to be "bridgeable" if you are using a mono subwoofer.



With 52 watts x 4 to the full range speakers and 120 watts x 1 to the sub along with good sound dampening, you should have a system that both sounds great and doesn't take up a lot of space or budget. The comfort of the car should also be enhanced from having a nice quiet ride too. As an added note, I installed a hidden amplified antenna inside the back window. I mounted it on the 3rd brake light close to the glass. The standard antenna hole was deleted (welded) on my car.



I hope this article has given you some ideas and helpful information you can use when you are planning the layout of your audio system installation.
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