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Hi all, first post here, I figured I'd make it a good one. I'm active on the Ford Focus ST Forum site and I posted my build thread there, but those guys don't seem to care as much about audio/acoustics as much as speed parts and talks about big turbos etc., so I figured I'd share with the whole Focus community what I've been up to.

I am just a hobbyist audio enthusiast, but I've done many builds over the years and learned a lot as I go. I readily accept any constructive criticism, and of course questions are great as we all learn from them.

This is the car


I started by measuring the available space and then created models in Sketch3D like I do a lot of my builds.




I decided to forgo the spare in this build, but I did model a smaller, simpler system that kept the spare and utilized the space around it, should I ever want or need to have the spare in the car.

This is the subwoofer box beginning. It is built in layers for strength and maximum use of space without being forced to use fiberglass. I hate using fiberglass so you'll see me go to extreme lengths to avoid it, even if it means using crazy wood shapes. This box is made mostly with 3/4" Birch ply, a strong and light wood overall. I prefer it to MDF most of the time due to its superior strength



This is a test-fit of the enclosure in the car


The goal of the system's design was to remain at the factory floor height, at all costs. This is the stock floor height with my subwoofer design under it


I believe in interlocking my build parts together and with the car as much as possible, to protect both the equipment and occupants in the car should a collision occur. An example of this is how I built the sub box to snug up against the factory floor spare tire stand-off, as shown here


The subwoofer I'm using is an Acoustic Elegance AV10H-D2. If you aren't familiar with the brand name, it is more popular in niche home audio crowds, mostly for their incredible large-format mid and subwoofers. John is the owner of the company, and one of his big things is ultra-low inductance and distortion with high excursion. This sub has very impressive specs tailored to these requirements. It is one of my favorite pieces of audio gear and probably will be with me a long time. The sound signature is really clean, almost clinical-like, but it can get downright abusive on high power/high excursion songs. I've yet to find a weakness other than the high weight, and relatively large depth (hence the need to pull the spare and use all the depth I could.) Oh and another disadvantage, it was made by hand and is discontinued, so this is all there is. :( It weighs 22 lbs


I'll continue my thread on another post.
 

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Here's the subwoofer enclosure after covering it in a nice black carpet



OK, let's segue over to another part of the job, which is running power. The battery is tucked under the cowl as most know, and is tricky to work on sometimes. Here's the cable disconnected


I pulled on the wiring as much as possible to separate it from the crimping, before cutting it off. This got me just a little bit more wire to work with


Surprise, there's actually two wires in one in that wrapping. That's new!


Meet its replacement, a Phoenix Gold integrated fused battery terminal. Wish these were still made, this one has been with me through 3 separate builds and keeps going right back into service, car after car. They don't make things with this type of quality any more, imo.



I pulled the insulation, and readied the factory cable


and installed! Tight fit, but it works and fits the factory cover




Continued in another post
 

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Back to the trunk area, I started work on the amp rack with the remaining space. This is 3/4" Birch ply with carbon fiber vinyl on top. Makes for a nice base



I love carnage shots


So the amp rack got a top board, also wrapped in black carpet. BTW this carpet isn't the typical stuff used to wrap speaker boxes, it is a thicker material I get from my local upholstery guy, he sells it to his marine customers and it works great for my needs. Really feels luxurious and it stretches like no tomorrow.

This is the amp rack in-progress. Initially I was going to run a pair of DLS amps, one I had done a simple refinish to a nice polish after getting a big scratch on the aluminum top. The other is still in raw form.


This is with the top subwoofer board cut to shape, wrapped, and with the subwoofer grille poking through. I'll cover this more later with more detailed pics, these were just on-the-fly as I was putting this together.



Here's some higher-resolution shots of the progress done so far.

Here's the bare floor, note the marker lines which associate each piece I've built with the floor shape


Better shots of the subwoofer enclosure



Better shots of the amp rack






Here's the enclosure and the rack in the car



Here's the subwoofer cover board



The cover boards I made actually fit the trunk better than the stock floor covering does on the edges





This is a very important trait of the design. The subwoofer grille and floor height match exactly. This lets the load of what's in the trunk distribute itself properly.
 

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Next up, I decided to start with the ground cable. Note, this particular iteration here was scrapped, so I'm only showing these pics for proper progression of the build. If you are following along, don't use this location as it introduced noise in my setup. The cabling techniques I used (techflex covering, heatshrink, etc) are all valid to follow though.
Cable made



This is under the seat, passenger side


Metal ground off factory bracket


Installed



Here's some more broken down pics of the amp rack as I made it. Note, this will also be redone eventually, I'm not 100% happy with it so I'll probably go after something more creative soon.


 

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Let's get back to this power wire run. It can be a little daunting on these cars, I've learned.

This is our target opening, which is behind the glove box. I removed the glove box and got this


I pulled away the insulation and reached the factory rubber grommet, and slit a small incision. This BTW is 4 gauge welding cable with tech flex covering




I ran the cable on the passenger outer side



The power cable pokes through on the engine bay side, and is routed with zip ties out of the way





Next up, I pulled the factory radio and soldered up my wiring to meet the processor and amps. This is the stock ST1 radio, a total POS and I'll be looking to an aftermarket solution soon. But, it produces a relatively clean signal to a point so it is staying for now. This picture isn't really helpful but w/e
 

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I'll get more up here later, just got busy at work.
 

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Time to continue:

Here's the wiring loom of the radio


I knicked the wiring of pin #2, which is "antenna enable" on the ST1 wiring. This will be my switched 12v. Not pictured (because I had a soldering iron in my hand), I took this knicked opening and wrapped around some basic 22 gauge wire, soldered and taped securely, so that's my tap.


Next up, door Molex!

Or rather, when I opened it up I realized I shouldn't even be touching it, because there's nothing I can do with it. Sometimes you can use a blank area in a Molex connector and drill through it, and run wiring of your own choice. In this case, I'll use the factory wiring instead. Not ideal, but not the end of the world.


Let's poke a hole in the A-pillar! This part of the build was scrapped for bigger, badder tweeters, but again in the interest of progression the way it happened out there in the garage. These are Bravox silk-dome tweeters, 3/4" nominal size, out of the Carbon Fiber series component sets when they were all the rage years ago. They are *quite good* but in the end this build deserved better so it got it.



Heavy deadening done to these



Forgive the crappy photography as I never take my DSLR out when working with dirty thing like deadening material, lots of sawdust, etc., so this picture is the epitome of awful. That said, you can barely make out the connector I used to wire these. I use XT60 connectors on any connection I can that might possibly need disconnected. I like these connectors because they provide almost zero loss, and they are fairly inexpensive when purchased in bulk. They are easy to solder and they are dependable. I highly recommend them!



Installed



Passenger side got some love too
 

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Next up, my favoritist job in the whole wide world.... DEADENING!

As my pillar pictures teased, I use Knu Konceptz deadening. Specifically, I use the Kolossus version. I highly recommend this product. Choosing it came from an epic research/testing thread on the DIYMA website, where a single forum member took it upon himself to test hundreds (may be thousands now) of samples of deadening products with scientific testing methods on a testing rig to measure results. Knu came out on top for the dollar and so I bought a bulk pack and gave it a shot. Sure enough, it is wonderful!

Here's much more of it in action. This is the trunk, notice the whole thing isn't covered as that really doesn't improve damping action of the metal.





Carnage shot! Note, the once-polished DLS amp is not any more. I "brushed" the metal to look just like its twin. Also, note the Soundstream processor. That went away later for a better one, but it was a nice experiment.



In this shot you can see I like to use barrier strips for most connections. I highly recommend this. It will allow quick disconnection if needed, but it will also allow quick changeups (like upgrading to different amps or processor), or change of polarity on a speaker for testing the different sound result. Easy, inexpensive, and time-saving in the end. And they look cool!



I moved on to the doors after getting the trunk deadened. I pulled the panel and started on it, passenger side first.





Note the baffle I made which mates the factory door metal to the speaker



Hey look you can see one of those XT60 connectors there in the shot


The door panel got similar treatments


This is a radiant barrier which has a moisture-resistant "jute"-like material on side, and this pretty foil barrier on the other. It is magic stuff, and I love it.


It lives!
 

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We have two front doors, you know









So a while back I showed pics of the ground location I chose, and I said not to follow me on that spot, because it introduces noise. Here is the replacement spot. This spot, by the way, is noise-free. I suspect the fuel pump was just too close in the previous spot I picked.
This is under the car, passenger side. This is what is under the muffler mount with that out of the way.


This is the muffler mount bracket. Sorry for the flash


I ran my 4 gauge ground through the passenger rear grommet located in the trunk, straight down to this spot and I ground off the paint for a bare metal connection.


Closeup of this grommet


This is it after it is sandwiched in position and torqued back down





Here's a temporary config with the new processor, the JBL MS-8. I also got down to one amp for a bit, due to space concerns and knowing I was going to get another amp anyway.


More uses for barrier strips!

 

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I decided to upgrade to a more powerful amp so I picked up a used Arc KS900.6 on eBay. It was sold in "Good Condition" with some basic fuzzy pictures, but one of those pictures included the power light on and the right color, so I bought it. Important sub-point on Arc KS amps, they have a diagnostic tool built in, where the power light will blink different colors based on different faults, so a pic with it working means it is probably working.

I got the amp, and yes it is working perfectly on the functional side, it was complete wreck on the cosmetic side. Oberve:









So I'll show you in just a bit what I did about all of this mess. For now, here's some progress pics of the amp installed and getting tested out. Good thing it sounded amazing!


These things (barrier strips) are so darn useful!




Carnage shot!



I decided to spend a few hours sanding, and repainting the amp cover.




Cleaned up




Test-fit of the amp cover, now that its been fixed. As you might be able to tell, the goal was to match the MS-8's basic color and texture.


 

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The Bravox 3/4" tweeters weren't doing it for me, so I set off on an adventure to install something a bit better. This is the NVX XSPTW tweeter, which is actually an SB dimple dome tweeter well regarded in the home audio world. It just has a simple grille and mounting feature suitable for car audio, otherwise it is the same unit for about the same price. I made rings for them


That was tricky to make but this helps




It fits, with some hole enlargement.



Not pictured here was how I wrapped that sucker in vinyl. It was quite a feat, I admit...and I didn't expect it to work. So what I did was cut a strip of vinyl and apply contact adhesive. Then I rolled the vinyl on the little doughnut shape with some pressure and some stretching like rolling a tire over wrapping paper (lengthwise), and this stretch action caused the vinyl to curl back over the part and cover it completely on both sides! I just razor'd off the excess and cleaned up the glue, and it worked! Also not pictured but done was a heavy sanding on two edges of the doughnut's one side, so it wasn't really flat. It was more like a bent-up washer which allowed the spacer doughnut to take up some of the space on the A-pillar, which isn't flat either. Sorta looked like a Pringles chip on one side of the doughnut, if you can visualize. Anyway, here's the result, see how the top side of the spacer doughnut is thinner? That's the sanding work I was trying to explain




Both sides came out great



Here's some higher res shots with my DSLR





Fisheye lens (sorta) to get both pillars in the same pic



Believe it or not fellas and ladies, that's actually where I'm at so far.

To recap, the system is (currently)

Stock head unit
JBL MS-8 processor
Silver Flute 6.5" mids (these are in the process of being swapped out, not good enough)
NVX / SB tweets
AE AV10H sub
ARC KS900.6 amp


There's much more to come but as of right now, you are caught up as much as I've done and taken pics of.

Questions? Comments? [cheers]
 

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Love the build, love the choice of drivers. What don't you like about the Flutes?
 

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bizzy boy,,,,,,,awesome,,,
 

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All I can say is damn son, that's how you do work! I've been feeling so good about my build that I've been working on but it's nothing compared to this. I just gotta remind myself that I've got a family car out of my Focus, and I can't try to push the same SQLs that I used to.
 

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this is crazy awesome..... just :O
 

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Love the build, love the choice of drivers. What don't you like about the Flutes?
Well, per this thread (I'm Fourthmeal btw) Talk to me about your Silver Flute 6.5's - Car Audio | DiyMobileAudio.com | Car Stereo Forum I find them lacking in several ways. Mostly, the lack of bass impact which I suspect is due to low Qtc, makes them flop around in the doors which aren't ideal enclosures. Also their upper midrange is unrealistic, probably attributed to cone resonance/breakup. It isn't horrible but they aren't good enough. The Italian Audio Development mids I just purchased should solve that problem. :)


bizzy boy,,,,,,,awesome,,,
Thanks! Though this is through the course of a few months, since I've owned the car. I did start almost immediately after I purchased it though. That stock audio wasn't cutting it.

All I can say is damn son, that's how you do work! I've been feeling so good about my build that I've been working on but it's nothing compared to this. I just gotta remind myself that I've got a family car out of my Focus, and I can't try to push the same SQLs that I used to.
Thanks! As you can see though, my trunk is still 100% usable as stock, and if you need a design plan that keeps the spare tire, I have one drawn up in 3D and can share it sometime if you want. You would be able to use an 8" or up to 10" sub, like a pancake shallow Dayton as example. The factory floor height (for an ST) As for mids and tweeters, deadening, processor, amps, etc, well that's just a matter of budget, planning, and execution, and you can do that.

this is crazy awesome..... just :O
Thanks!


You guys would probably like my other car, its a 2013 Ford Flex. It has:
8 3/4" midbass in the doors (started with 5x7's)
two-way midrange and tweeter in A-pillars, fiberglassed and wrapped in matching vinyl
center channel upgraded to a 5" and tweeter two-way
hand-made passive crossovers in project boxes (one for each two-way, so X3)
fiberglass tub spare tire well sub box w/ two semi-shallow Exile subs
2 Amps tucked under the passenger seat
JBL Ms-8 processor and distribution block under driver's seat
Optima battery installed and custom-wired to the car.

Yeah, that one has some hours in it. Here's some teaser shots:








Seat is fully forward, in normal seating position the processor and distribution block is invisible

Amps are almost invisible with the seat in place, so here they are with the seat removed




The Flex has amazing sound quality, something I hope my latest upgrades with the Focus will help me get closer to.
 

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Small update, I've ordered the Scosche dash kit (from eBay, about $100), and the Scosche integration wiring harness and computer direct from their own website. There's a 20% off coupon "BOOM", be sure to use it if you order from their site. With 2 day shipping that ran me just a tick under $100 as well. I haven't seen a single review of this product so I'm technically a Guinea pig I think.
 
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