Boston Acoustics — a sound decision
A circuitous path, involving England, New York, rural Michigan, Indiana, and lots of parts in between brought Matthew Freeman to Charlottesville, where he's been writing about mobile audio/video for Crutchfield off and on since early 2000. He fosters an eclectic taste in film, and is fond of a wide range of music. A native of Albuquerque, New Mexico, he found his way to the University of Notre Dame, where, in an act of charity unsurpassed in the history of Western civilization, he was given a B.A. in English.
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When the offer came through to “audition” some new Boston Acoustics gear in my car ... well, I just couldn’t refuse. After all, it’d been an awfully long time since my last upgrade, and I was eager to check out just how good Boston stuff is these days.
After consulting with our Boston contacts, we decided that I’d put a set of SR50 5-1/4" components in the front doors, a set of SR80 6"x8" plate speakers in the rear deck, and two 10" G2 single-voice-coil subs in the trunk, all powered by a GTA-704 4-channel amp and a GTA-1000M mono amp.
To make the process more manageable, I chose to do the installation in phases, starting with the 4-channel amp and the speaker overhaul. The installation was pretty straightforward — but we’ll get to that below. Right now, I’d rather focus on the incredible sound.
At the start of the project, I had a moment's hesitation. After all, Boston was giving me the gear; what if I didn't like it? Could I trust myself to evaluate it honestly, and give it a poor review if I wasn't impressed? As it turns out, I needn't have worried.
The soundstaging from the components almost defies belief. On some songs, the stage seems to stretch all the way to the sideview mirrors, and well up the windshield. Using plate speakers in the back, which basically act as a second set of components, enhances the overall effect, creating a warm, enveloping soundfield with incredible definition and well-placed detail.
The frequency response I’m getting now blows me away, too. These speakers get deep when they need to — even without the subwoofers, I get a remarkable amount of tight, punchy bass. They play the high notes beautifully, too. I can hear really fine details, without a trace of harshness, so I don’t have to worry about ear fatigue. My music sounds natural, realistic, and totally alive. I’m having a hard time getting out of the car whenever I get where I’m going.
I’m extremely impressed with the quality of the power coming from the amp, too. Of course, it sounds best when cranked — the GTA-704 does love to stretch its legs — but even at low volume levels, I find I’m hearing way more detail than I was using just my Alpine receiver’s built-in amp.
A manageable installation
By and large, installing my speakers was a piece of cake. I’m lucky in that my car rolled off the assembly line with components, so I didn’t have to find a place to mount the tweeters. The rear speakers dropped right into the factory locations, while the component woofers popped into the doors with the help of an adapter plate. For now, the component crossovers live in the trunk, though when the subs go in and I apply Dynamat noise-killing material to the car, I’ll likely move them into the cab or the doors.
Installing the amp proved time consuming, as amps typically do, but didn’t necessarily pose any insurmountable challenges. I “pre-wired” in anticipation of adding the mono amp by running 1/0-gauge wire from the battery to a distribution block in the trunk. Smaller 4-gauge wire runs from the block to the 4-channel amp, and, soon, to the mono amp as well. I installed an in-line fuse holder and 200-amp fuse at the battery, plus used a 60-amp fuse and a 125-amp fuse in the distribution block. Factor in the fuses on the amps themselves, and there’s plenty of overload protection in my system.