A repeat client from Charlottesville recently contacted Extreme Audio in Mechanicsville to inquire about upgrading the audio system in his new 2018 VW Golf GTI. He liked the sound system we had installed in his Nissan Frontier and wanted something equally cool in his new car. After looking at the Golf, we sketched out a few options to create a reference-level sound system that would not only offer stunning performance but look as though it came from the factory.
Custom A-Pillar Speaker Pods
One thing that separates a custom build from a standard installation is the attention to detail in materials and colors. The client wanted the Audiofrog GB10 tweeters and GB25 midrange mounted in the pillars for optimum staging and imaging. We designed a set of speaker pods in CAD that echo the style of the air vents and center console trim. Each pod includes five pieces: a matte black base, a gloss black insert, a silver trim around the pressed mesh grille and a silver Audiofrog logo in the corner. Everything but the mesh grille had been printed on a 3-D printer before we started the process of filling, sanding and painting the final product.
To accompany the midrange and tweeter, we installed an Audiofrog GB60 woofer in the factory speaker location in each door. We used Metra speaker spacer rings to provide additional mounting depth for the magnet assembly and applied several layers of SoundSkins Pro damping material to the door and speaker mounting surface to reduce vibrations and act as a gasket. The icing on the cake is a set of Fast Rings acoustic coupling gaskets.
Compact Car Audio System Amplifiers
A pair of compact amplifiers powers the system. We installed a JL Audio VX600/6i six-channel amp under the passenger seat and an ARC Audio XDi 650.1 monoblock under the driver’s seat. The six-channel amp from JL has an integrated digital signal processor that allows us to set crossovers, signal delay and equalization for each channel, as well as a pair of output channels that feed the ARC Audio amp. We connected the tweeters, midrange drivers and woofers to the six channels of the amp and the system subwoofer to the ARC amp. This fully active system gives us complete control over every aspect of tuning the system.
We mounted a DRC200 remote level control in the center console to allow the client to fine-tune the bass level and load VW GTI audio system presets easily.
Volkswagen Golf GTI Invisible Subwoofer System
Sub-bass is important in a high-end system like this. The client isn’t a bass-head, but wanted solid and clear low-frequency performance. Our fabrication team created a thin enclosure that fits between the spare tire and the false floor of the trunk. The enclosure is home to a single JL Audio 12TW3-D4 12-inch subwoofer. The sub fit nicely into the enclosure and fires down into the spare tire well. When the enclosure and trim panel are in place, the trunk looks completely original.
Mobile Sound System Tuning
With the fabrication process complete, the last step in this installation was to configure the sound processor in the JL Audio amplifier. We used our Dayton RTA microphone along with computer-based audio analysis software to balance the output of each speaker at the listening position. We finished by tuning the system to our reference response curve to deliver realistic and natural balance. Combined with the signal delay adjustments, the result is a realistic soundstage that stretches across the windshield of the vehicle. The listening experience is similar to that of a high-end home audio system or a world-class recording studio.
After about two weeks of work, it was time for the client to return to Extreme Audio in Mechanicsville and check out his VW GTI audio system. He loved the way the pillar pods integrated with the vehicle, and the sound from the Audiofrog speakers and JL sub put a huge smile on his face. If you live in the Richmond area and are interested in taking your mobile sound system to a higher level of performance, drop by our location in Mechanicsville or Midlothian and speak to a member of our team. You can also reach us by e-mail using our contact page.