Car Audio, Custom Fabrication, Mobile Electronics

LIS Audio How-To: Install Overhauls!

This blog is a compilation of more than a handful of encounters I’ve had with new client vehicles when it comes to fixing issues as we perform the installation. Most of these installations had aftermarket equipment installed prior to coming to us and I wanted to write this blog to show others what to look for in properly installed audio and convenience components. As well as what not to do… Read on to see the LIS Audio difference!

Simple Stereo Save…

A client brought their 2007 Jeep Rubicon in for a full stereo system upgrade, but we will pay specific attention to the installation of the aftermarket radio. The first thing I noticed once the dash bezel and radio were removed was the rat’s nest of wire that was hidden behind it. When the wire is not properly organized behind the stereo a number of issues can arise, including but not limited to; pinched wires, connections rattling loose, electromagnetic field interference, and even overheating.

When installing the old stereo they used a wiring harness integration module and added a back-up camera, which is included a lot of wiring to organize and tuck into the dash. The dash kit was modified for a larger 8 inch Touchscreen that the client no longer found necessary and wanted to switch for a 7 inch Touchscreen that would fit more seamlessly. The new unit offered many of the same features, just with a faster and more efficient interface.

I decided to remove wires and parts no longer going to be in use, and properly organized the existing wires along with the wires I added to integrate the new 5-channel amplifier. I also decided to use our traditional interior cloth tape and black zip ties to blend the aftermarket wiring in with the added wire. This way it all appears factory and stays reliable, knowing that our shop maybe the only people to ever see it. The installation went well and the system sounds great!

Component Speakers Done Right…

This client brought us some new component Focal speakers that he wanted installed in the front doors of his 2016 Nissan Armada. Once the door panels were removed it was easy to that the speakers we not properly installed or wire, though the installation was performed at a “professional” car audio shop. The fix here was to rewire the speakers in the doors and create new mounting solutions for the new expensive, very high-end speaker set.

As you can see the front speakers were secured to the plastic factory mounting brackets with 1/4” thick piece of rough cut MDF wood. The speaker baffles pushed the speakers into the door panel wearing down the speaker surrounds in the doors from the first installation. The wires to the speakers in the doors were crimp capped together in a location on the wire to where they would collect any run-off water accumulated in the cavity. When moisture is allowed to collect like this it can cause oxidization and make the wire connections brittle. The tweeters, located in the dash, were lovely mounted in with some 1/4″ wood plates and had multiple poorly made connections to each tweeter. Nothing we LIS can’t easily resolve.

I built custom speakers mounts out of MDF and spray painted them to fill the porous surface of the wood to insure moisture is less likely to be absorbed. I also add a small bit of Hushmat sound deadener to the backside of the speaker spacers to act as a rain guard, deflecting any direct water run-off. The new wires were soldered to the factory wires for the best connection possible and the ensure long lasting reliability. The tweeter mounts are made from a thin ABS plastic and wired with quick disconnects for easy removal, if necessary. The newly installed speakers sound phenomenal and our client now has not worries of future issues arising! Great sounding music and peace of mind for my clients, is why I do this!

Amplifier Fully Appreciated…

Our client approached us looking to upgrade his stereo system having installed the subwoofer amplifier in his 2002 Chevrolet Silverado himself. While adding new speakers with Hushmat sound deadener, upgrading the engine electrical system, swapping out the battery, upgrading the alternator and adding a 4 channel amplifier; we also decided to clean up the existing wire. Rather, replace and reinstall the equipment he has and upgrade the wire for more additions. Check out what we did to make this system more reliable and efficient.

The client brought a 1,000W RMS Skar Audio amplifier and wanted to add a 4-Channel amplifier that would keep up with his new sub-stage. The subwoofer amplifier had been loosely installed and improperly mounted. The wire that ran into the engine bay for constant power was taken through the fender which could cause arching if pinched that could lead to a fire in the vehicle. The RCA Interconnects we run on the same side of the vehicle which can create noise in the system due to the nearby power wire causing induction on the signal. The ground wire was also not properly installed and could cause noise and/or overheating issues with the amplifier, leading to failure.

We explained that most vehicle factory electrical systems can safely only handle an additional 1,000-1,500 Watts of power, depending on the vehicle. We added a 320A High Output Alternator, swapped out the Lead Acid battery for an AGM, and upgrade the engine electrical charging wires. These upgrades alone set the truck up to handle nearly 2,000W of additional power. The old RCA’s, with the new RCA’s, were run down the passenger side of the truck to avoid the power wire altogether. I built a simple amplifier rack to secure the two amplifiers and fuse holder on the back wall of the truck cabin. The ground was proper bolted, as you can see, and should have not issues of backing out or causing noise issues. Another fix in the books!

Subwoofer-stage Fixed & Fit…

Our client brought us his custom 2004 Chevrolet 4500 dually truck that needed a full stereo system overhaul. The before and after of the sub-stage is what we will focus on in this portion of the blog. The subwoofer enclosure setup was not ideal for his taste of bass output or style he preferred for the vehicle. So, I set out to help him a get the output and look that he wanted while fixing any issues I found along the way. Which proved to be much greater than we will touch on here. You can read in depth about this full installation on our LIS Audio June Feature Blog.

The Chevrolet had a 12″ Kicker subwoofer with a prefabricated Kicker enclosure that is designed to fit many different vehicle applications. A single 12″ subwoofer in a passive radiated enclosure versus the entire cabin of a 4500 truck proved to be extremely weak compared to the speakers we planned to add and amplify. The sub and speaker amplifiers were secured to the vehicle but very poorly installed. Many of the wires ran over and under rails that could have caused serious short-circuits. I jumped in to fix it all to the LIS Audio standard.

The client wanted a couple of 12″ subwoofers behind the rear seat to give him plenty of bass. After some discussion we both landed on adding 4 8″ subwoofers in an enclosure that would be ideal for the airspace provided and the subwoofers. I prefer to use multiple smaller subwoofers with more power handling and linear excursion rather than that of a single traditional shallow subwoofer, even if the shallow subwoofer has slightly more cone area. I have also found it much easier to build a subwoofer enclosure within the specifications of smaller subwoofers vs shallow mount subwoofers in tight areas. At the end of the job, our client was extremely happy with the look and output we achieved.

Remote Start Removal & Renew…

Every winter we do tons of remote start installations and sometimes we need to remove old units to install our product, just like in this 2012 RAM 1500. The client simply wanted a remote started added that they could operate through the factory remote, which is typically pretty simple. In this circumstance there was no aftermarket remote and the client had no idea that the truck had an aftermarket remote start and security system already installed. Which certainly needed to be uninstalled before I could feel commutable about adding my own unit onto the circuits.

As you can see from the before photos, much of the unit was not properly prepped prior to installation as to make a clean and hassle free job of the work. Instead there was left behind a rats-net like configuration of wires with the modules zip-tied loosely in place, and not very well hidden for a security system. Many of the connections were not soldered, loose and many were partially exposed, which could’ve lead to much larger issues than the aftermarket remote start or alarm system not working that the client didn’t even know existed.

As you will see by the photos of the remote start unit I prepared for the job, the wires are nice and neatly with interior cloth tape to blend in with the factory wiring harnesses. One other major advantage of the Compustar/ArcticStart units that we use is not needing multiple separate modules installed to start and run the vehicle. The new remote start brain is also properly secured up and out of the way, but still easy to access if ever needs serviced. You can also see that the connections I have made are to a much higher standard, which is what sets us apart from a lot of the other shops adding aftermarket electrical components to vehicles.

Underhood Wire Comparison…

Some vehicles, like this 2003 Chevrolet Silverado, require additional upgrades under the hood in the form of larger wire, alternator amperage sizes, and/or additional battery storage. The system we planned to add has the capability of performing at nearly 3,000 Watts. Since this client is a Dj and likes to park and play his system, we needed more than enough power from our alternator and battery storage to allow the system to play for long periods of time with no issues.

The previous wire from the alternator to the entire vehicles electrical system was about 10-8 Gauge and would not allow for much more current than the truck needed for the factor components. The factory alternator only seemed to produce just about 130A of current which only lease us a bit of power left for the system. We also needed to do something with the lead acid battery under the hood, as it is not ideal for long periods of use while the engine is not running.

The engine compartment had space to add a second battery and holder. I went with an AGM Interstate Battery to replace the factory starting battery and added a second identical battery to the new position. A 370A AutoTech alternator was ordered and installed as well. We upgraded the entire charging system with 0 Gauge T-Spec oxygen free copper wire to ensure there was efficient and reliable current transfer. This things been rocking strong ever since!

And a little something pretty to look at!!

Here is just a little video you can watch for a bit of entertainment…

This is a quick video of the 1970 Challenger we did for the World of Wheels show in February of 2020.

Thank you for reading our LIS Audio Blog. Stay Tuned next month to see which build, or installation, makes the next feature. Who knows, it could be yours!!

Contact LIS Audio if you have any questions… 

Phone: 913-912-6990

Email: info@lisaudio.com

Address: 631 S. A-Line Dr, Spring Hill, KS, 66083

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