Dynamat installation and pre-wiring for amplifiers
Michael is Crutchfield's senior creative director for mobile electronics. As a lifelong performing musician and composer, he has released seven albums for Breezeway Records and appeared on many others. His band, Sokoband (formerly "Soko"), was an active part of the Charlottesville's creative music scene in the 1990s, and has continued to record and occasionally perform. Sokoband releases have included contributions from musicians like Leroi Moore, Tim Reynolds, Steve Kimock, David Darling, George Brooks and David Matthews. An avid consumer of non-fiction and a choosier consumer of fiction, Michael loves reading, writing, philosophy, science, technology, and language.
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The perfect Dynamat installation, thanks to our installer.
So a couple of weeks ago we made some major headway on the project. Matt Freeman, our mobile electronics catalog editor and Michael Richardson, Crutchfield mobile installer extraordinaire, and I spent a day double-lining each door with Dynamat Xtreme and routing the 1/0 Streetwires Ultra Flow power cable into the truck (here are our current power and ground cable offerings).
Mastering the Dynamat
Super-installer Michael Richardson is so smooth with the knife that he applies Dynamat with left-to right readability, no visible seams, and an absolute minimum of wrinkles. He readily acknowledges that no one will see his perfect work once the door panels are re-hung, but for him it’s a higher calling. (While I was satisfied with my own work, rest assured I won’t be posting any pictures of it.)
Double-lining the doors might sound like overkill, but by clamping down on the vibrations of the actual skin of the vehicle, you're really taking a serious bite out of road noise. Couple that with a solid sonic barrier on the interior panel (and covered gaps in the framing) and you add the benefits of increased isolation from external noise, reduction/elimination of internal buzzing and rattling, and better sound damping within the cab.
The same door with the panel back on, before re-attaching the sail panel. Michael’s super-clean work is again apparent.
The inside of the Yukon’s left front door panel. You can see the cut-out for the woofer (mounted in the door frame) and the actual tweeter mounted in the panel itself.
Here’s the right rear door with the panel removed, just prior to an application of Dynamat. Note the factory whizzer cone speaker with fabric stretched across the driver.
Me holding the rear speaker
I took that speaker out in order to fully cover the factory opening in the door frame (at Michael Richardson’s excellent suggestion). I was then able to cut a hole for the speaker in the Dynamat itself and drop the speaker back in, thus ensuring a solid seal behind the speaker. No noise or air is getting around that thing now. Can’t wait to put some “real” speakers in there soon.
Remember I mentioned double lining? The left rear door was the first one we did – before deciding to double line. Therefore, I had to piece the material in behind what I had previously installed – to cover pretty much the entire skin of the door (ouch). Oops, I said I wasn’t going to show you my work …
Instant luxury car
The difference was immediately apparent upon climbing into the front seat at the end of a pleasant day's work. Before we even turned on the stereo, we could "hear" the quiet. It felt like being in a professional recording studio. I popped in a disc of some of our final and near-final mixes. For the first time I could hear bass guitar articulations that were previously inaudible. The upper midrange was much more sculpted and clean, thanks to the reduction in reflections and reverberations. I turned the key. Engine noise was no problem; I could still hear everything clearly, without notching up the modest volume level.
The GMC Yukon became a Lincoln Navigator. Stereo or no stereo, I highly recommend an application of Dynamat to transform your ride into a dead-quiet one. I wish I had taken a before/after dB reading. I have no doubt we'd have seen at least a 3 dB difference.
We cut the Dynamat to fit around the hood's bracing. We also have a Dynamat hoodliner we'll add later.
Prewiring for the amplifier installation
We found a location high and to the right of the brake master cylinder with plenty of surface area where we could drill a hole big enough to accommodate the garden hose-sized power cable we ran from the battery to the rear of the truck. The original plan was to put both amplifiers (a 4-channel for the 2 sets of speakers and a sub amp) in the cavernous space under the rear bench seats. However, the rear seats collapse down and fold forward, giving me a Chevy Suburban-like cargo area. Given the potential need to haul music gear, I'm sold on the idea of keeping the floor clear.
We chose to route the power wire straight back from the battery to the firewall on the right-hand side of the engine compartment.
So now I'm thinking about putting the amplifiers in the rear quarter panel storage area. There isn't room for two amps, though, so I'll either have to find a spot for a second amp elsewhere or rethink the need for two amps. (I really want a stealthy installation.) It's possible I could get a 4-channel amp to drive the front components and the subwoofer, while relying on the Alpine head unit's internal power for the rear door speakers.
I'm open to suggestions.
(Oh, and thanks to Jason, a loyal customer who contacted me with some great ideas from his Tahoe installation and generous offer of service manual info. I'll be in touch.)
Ultra Flow cable feeding into the vehicle’s cab via a hole drilled into the firewall.
The cable comes through on the driver’s side.
Read the entire Building a Mobile Listening Lab series:
- Laying the Foundation, Part 1
- Laying the Foundation, Part 2
- Laying the Foundation, Part 3
- Dynamat installation and pre-wiring for amplifiers
- Installing the front door speakers
- Video: factory vs. aftermarket speakers
- Rear speakers, amplifier, and subwoofer
- Report on the Yukon system's performance
- The ultimate in system tuning
- Video: Alpine's IMPRINT signal processing in action