Intro: As this is a budget-minded "stealth" install, it probably won't be as exciting to look at as some of the more over-the-top mobile entertainment/concert-house-on-wheels featured in some of the other build logs. That aside, I think there are a lot of us out there that have tight budgets and even tighter spaces to work with. My goal with this vehicle was to create an enjoyable high quality (think SQ) sound system that;
1. Did not compromise any stock functionality
2. Did not sacrifice any seating and
3. Did not draw any extra (unwanted) attention
4. Most importantly, fit the budget
The vehicle: 2009 Ford Ranger XLT Super Cab 2-door. This is my daily driver purchased in late 2011, and after promising myself for 3 previous vehicles, I was finally going to install a decent sound system. Space was extremely tight. It took a lot of careful measuring, comparing, and research but eventually I had a plan....
The Plan: I decided to go with an aftermarket deck to add some extra functionality. From there I chose a 5-channel amp to power the two pairs of 5x7 speakers and the sub, all in a compact size. I used the stock speaker size and locations to preserve with the stealth/unmodified theme. The subs had to be small enough to hide under the rear side-facing jump seats; I chose a pair of 8" subs to get the job done.
The Source Unit: I got a fantastic Black Friday deal on this deck, Clarion CZ-501 and its pretty much loaded with all the features that I wanted: 4v pre-outs all around, Bluetooth hands-free and audio streaming, iPod/USB input, front Aux, XM, HD radio etc. It also looks good, in my opinion, a classic overall feel to it. Also, see the absolutely tiny USB thumb drive on the far right side? Thatís a neat 16GB unit loaded with music!
Bass ****: Below the deck and A/C controls I mounted the Alpine RUX-**** to quickly control the sub level. I love bass *****!
4 gauge power cable. I spent a few extra minutes and made sure all the wiring looked as stock as possible.
I mounted the Alpine MRX-V60 amp behind the driver's side rear jump seat. It fits so well the seat can still fold up 100%. I normally leave the seat down to ensure the amp stays plenty cool. Which it usually does, itís a very efficient amp.
You'll notice I had to trim the plastic up a little above the amp to fit it properly. This area is almost never seen, which is how I like it.
For the front stage I selected the JL Audio C2-570x, these fit perfectly into the stock location. I used some sound deadening close to the speakers and covered most of the large holes. (Also not pictured is the fact that I used the sound deadening material and constructed a weather shield above the speaker so any water drops will run down and around the speakers rather than dripping onto the speakers themselves) Then I re-attached the plastic moisture barrier for good measure.
The C2-570x noticeable behind the grill. These speakers have a pretty good offset on the silk dome tweeters, really helps the overall imaging without modifying the door panels.
Now the hard part...fit subs somewhere in the rear of the cab without sacrificing the rear jump seats or any room for that matter. Yes, in case you're wondering the jump seats do get used quite often. I have two kids that sit back there on a regular basis.
I decided the safest route was to down-fire a pair of JL Audio 8w1-4 subs. This shows the general idea, and just how little room I had to work with. The front seats are pulled all the way forward.
The only way to maximize every square (and cubic) inch was to build fiberglass enclosures. I have never worked with the stuff before, so I knew I was in for a ride. I first removed a small plastic panel under the rear jump seats that cover up their hinges and seat belts, and then proceeded to tape up the area. I used cardboard to define the area under the seats and around the hinges.
The first few layers. It took me a few layers of playing with fiberglass and resin before I figured out how to work with the stuff. I learned to dab rather than brush the resin into the fiberglass mat. Also, that stuff stinks something fierce!
Dry fitting the MDF portions. I placed 8 feet, in pairs, around the bottom baffle to keep the enclosures propped up. I added bracing for strength and to help keep the fleece from sagging later.
After adding a few more layers of fiberglass and building the mdf portion, I joined the two halves together in place using fleece and resin. I also used fleece and resin to round the curve in the front. I then sealed all the mdf with silicon.
After strengthening and sealing the joint between the two halves (using, fleece, fiberglass, resin, and Bondo) I then wrapped them in fleece and applied liberal amounts of resin.
16: I then added more fiberglass and Bondo both inside and out. These things became increasingly ugly and became affectionately known as "Mr. and Mrs. Frankenbox". They may be ugly but I made them air tight and tough enough that they should survive the impending zombie apocalypse.
A last clearance test before wrapping in carpet, wiring and mounting the subs.
A local shop had some carpet that was pretty darn close, so after dressing them up in carpet, I installed the subs and added a small amount of fiberfill and wired them up to the amp (2 Ohm load) Pictured with the jump seats up.
Final resting place with the seats down. This is how it looks most of the time.
The damage: I tried to keep a running total on my expenses. I literally started with nothing, I had to purchase every little thing along the way to completing the build. I feel I did a pretty good job until I got to the materials used for the sub boxes. (Due to trial and error I spent a little more cash than I wanted to on them, not to mention a lot more time to complete the project) But overall I'm very satisfied with the system. Total cost ~ $1000
Conclusion: The system sounds fantastic. For the money spent there is plenty of detail at all volume levels and it does very well with any type of music thrown at it. The subs are very musical and mix well into the overall system. They wonít satisfy a bass head (which I am at times, I'll admit it) but during day to day use they continue to perform very well indeed. The system doesn't attract any unwanted attention. Also having all the seats and stock functionality are a huge plus. Because of the way I installed it, if/when I sell the vehicle it should be relatively easy to roll back to stock. I hope you've enjoyed this little build and thanks for viewing.