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Basics of Car Audio (Speakers and Subwoofers)

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This is just a basic tutorial showing some of the hiding places for amplifiers, wires, and how to wire your amplifiers, speakers. It also goes into a brief description about how you can install your speakers, mount them or make custom enclosures.

First step: Disconnect the negative wire to the battery.
 
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Step 1: Amplifier Location and Install

Step 2: Determine where you want to put your amplifiers.

Don't forget if you have some serious subwoofers you may need a capacitor to offset them dimming your headlights during heavy hits.

Some ideas:
  1. Attach to the back of the subwoofer box
  2. Underneath the driver/passenger seat
  3. Behind the dashboard (smaller amps)
  4. Underneath the trunk near the spare
Always remember if you amplifier is in a tight space, install a fan for ventilation (computer fans work well)

After you figure out where you want to install you amplifier. Go ahead and put it in this location, test the feel and fit. Install it so that when your get your wires to it, it will be ready.

Step 2: Wiring to your battery

Step 3: Under the hood.

Purchase an Amplifier wiring kit meant for a system of your size. It should come with the correct gauge wires and also a fuse holder with fuse to protect your amplifier.

Invest in a crimping tool so that you can crimp the connectors to the wires without trouble. Some people try to use pliers, don't, it's more trouble than it's worth.

1. Start by feeding the positive wire from inside of your car to the engine bay. Locate a rubber hole that you see other wires going through and try to fit it through it also, or sometimes you may have to drill. Only drill as a last resort. Most cars now have a little extra room to fit more wires through.

2. Once you have the positive fed into the engine bay, attach it to your fuse box, then attach another piece of positive wire to the fuse box and crimp the other end. Attach the crimped end to the battery.

Note: At this time you are only attaching the positive wire to the battery, the negative wire can be attached to any metal on the car frame.

Want it to look stock? Go to your local auto store and buy some of the plastic casing so that you can wrap it around the wires. This will give you more of a stock look (i have wrapped my wires in the pictures above.

Step 3: Wiring the amplifier

4. Wiring the amplifier

Now every amplifier is different so here are some of the basics

A: You will always have a positive and negative.
1. Attach the positive to the battery with a fuse (outlined in in the last step)
2. Attach the negative to the car frame, this can mean going under the carpet or pulling trim to find a good bolt. If it seems to have a finish or wax or anything on it, sand down the area so that you get a good metal contact.

B: Remote wire, this wire basically controls if the amplifier is on.
1. If you are using a radio with a remote wire output on the harness you can attach this to that wire, simply buy a splice connector at radioshack or your local hardware store and splice into this remote wire.
2. If you do not have a remote wire, you can set up a switch simply find a 12v positive connection (such as the one already located on your amp) and connect the wire to the switch and the switch to the remote connector on the amplifier.

You always want the ability to turn the amplifier on and off, otherwise your amplifier will draw from your battery all the time and eventually drain it.

C: Attach the speaker wires to the terminals
You have many options for this, google how to connect your wires and the amplifier or read the manual that is provided. You will wire differently based on amount of speakers and whether you want to do series of parallel. Wiring can also change the amount of Ohms that you are drawing.

D: Capacitors
If you need a capacitor attach it between the battery and the amplifier. Follow the diagram that came with the capacitor or look up how to wire it, wiring will vary depending on the amount of capacitors you will be wiring in.

E: RCA cable installation
Buy a decent quality RCA cable
1. If you have an aftermarket radio more than likely you have an RCA output just attach your RCA cable from your amplifier to the RCA output on your back of your radio.
2. If you do not have an RCA output you must buy a Line out Converter, attach it to your existing in door speakers and then attach the RCA cable to this line out converter.

Step 4: Hiding your wires

5. Hiding your wires.

The best and most flush car installs are when people completely remove the objects in the way.

To help remove your panels, invest in a door panel removal tool. (Found online or at your local bestbuy/car audio store)

Hence, try to remove as much trim as possible, remove seats, lift carpet and always run through the side panels if possible.

1. Remove Side panels,
2. Remove a reasonable amount of your dashboard, as much as you need to work comfortably.
2. Run your RCA and Power cables on opposite sides of the car, this will help prevent distortion.
3. Run cables under carpet instead of above it. 
4. Remove your seats so that you can run them under it and install your seats over the wires.
5. If you cables must be seen, then cover them with plastic wire wrap from the auto shop, available in red blue and black most commonly. (more colors online)

Need to run your wires neatly through tiny surfaces? Buy a flexible push/pull rod/poll these will allow you to attach your wire to the rod and push it through something your arm cannot fit.

Step 5: Wiring to the speakers

6. Wiring to your speakers

Attach all the trim but leave the ends of the speaker wire you need to plug into the speakers/sub out!

After your wires are put into place, all you have to do is attach them to your speakers.

Now you have options for your speakers:
1. A prebuilt subwoofer or speaker box (like in my car)
2. A custom build subwoofer or speaker box (such as fiberglass etc

I'll emphasize each later.

Sorry I forgot take a picture of the subwoofer and speakers in my trunk but you get the jist.

Step 6: Extra Credit: Mounting and Custom Boxes

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Step 7: Optional mounting/custom boxes

Now you have many options once your speakers are wired up, or even before you have wired them up.

1. Buy custom boxes from car shop
2. Fiberglass a box for yourself (example below)
3. Take a pre-built box and use an indoor speaker mount to mount it to your car, it's Removable, twistable and easy! (I had these in first before I decided to fiberglass a custom box)
4. Get creative!

In the photos above, I'm about 2/4 of the way through making my own fiberglass speaker mounts. I still have to take that mold i made and fiberglass the speakers holes on it with some MDF circles and a sheet of fleece. Then sand the fiberglass and put some bonds and sand that. Then just paint and install!

Will update more about the custom fiberglassed box as I'm completing it.
trevorman1 year ago
This is a very good beginners guide to car audio. But before you go out and spend big bucks on a power capacitor, look at your alternator, if its under 100-85 amps, and your lights are dimming, you need a new alternator, power caps are for systems over 5000 watts RMS. RMS is the power it delivers constantly. The cap stores power and shoots it to your amp at is peak, when it hits the highs, or the lows and needs power. Generally you just need to upgrade your alternator, and the Big Three, wire to the alternator. Battery negative to chassis, Alternator to battery positive, Chassis to engine. Hopes this helps. And nice system you have there, what are you driving with those amps?
I don't know if it's a typo but I would rather say that a cap can already or especially be useful for systems over 500W RMS, depending on the power of your alternator. Because those systems already cause minor power problems, which can be solved with caps. And replacing the alternator is in most cases much more expensive.
richms1 year ago
Amp Under the passenger seat not the drivers is better since you can leave the seat out and go for a drive and see how it sounds incase you want to keep playing with things etc.

If you put it under the drivers seat you have to put the seat back in, go for a drive with it cranking, come back, pull things out, re-arrange them, put the seat back in etc. It gets old quickly.

Also if the rear seats fold down then dont put the amps on the back of them. Its a pain.
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