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2014 Forester XT CVT
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Here’s my work in progress for my 2014 Subaru Forester XT audio install. I’ve been living with the terrible stock stereo for almost a year at this point, so I’m so happy that I’ve made some progress with getting new equipment in. Here’s what I’m going to be using.
Stock Head Unit
JL Audio Cleansweep
MiniDSP
JL Audio HD 900/5
Front Components – Rainbow CS 265 Vanadium
Rearfill – CDT Audio HD-6EX
Subwoofer – Adire Audio Brahma 12”

I debated on getting a new head unit, but since I had the Cleansweep from a previous install in an 05 Subaru Legacy that really wasn’t amenable to replacing the stock unit, it would save money and hassle by using the unit the Forester came with. This way, I also don’t have to worry about the functionality of the steering wheel controls, USB, Bluetooth capabilities, or the display screen I’ve gotten so used to viewing the music information. Also, since figuring out how to defeat the stock head unit’s loudness and EQ curves, I should be giving a pretty good signal to the Cleansweep that won’t adjust depending on the volume setting. The Cleansweep hopefully will flatten out any odd dips or spikes in the signal.

I’ve used the Cleansweep, HD900/5, and the Brahma in my previous install (3rd car for the Brahma actually) but hope that the Rainbows work out well and that I will be able to harness the capabilities of the MiniDSP.

I will be trying the Rainbows with both the woofer and tweeter installed in the stock door location. That way, PLD’s will be easier to deal with. But if I don’t like the tweeters installed there, I will try moving to the stock dash position, or I may have to suck it up and install the tweeters in pods on the A-Pillars. They will be run bridged off of the 900/5 to give 150 watts per side. The CDT’s will run off of the stock headunit power when I have people in the backseat to give them a little more volume, otherwise they’ll be faded out.

Initially, the MiniDSP will be set to cross the subs and components at 80hz with a 24dB filter, but that may change as I tune the system. I’ll be using the Advanced 2.1 plugin with the parametric EQ. I also went with the option of getting the calibrated UMIK-1 microphone to help set a baseline for tuning.

Ok, on to the pics so far!
 

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2014 Forester XT CVT
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12 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·
First step is running the wiring for the speakers and power. I have 4g wire running to the trunk of the car along the Driver’s side with 16g speaker cables, and a speedwire to connect the stock head to the Cleansweep as well as two more runs of 16g speaker cable.











Next, I found what I hope will be a nice Grounding point just behind the rear seats. Since there were already two holes there for wiring and clips, I was pretty certain that I wouldn’t drill through anything important. Sanded to get to bare metal and screwed the ground wires down.



 

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2014 Forester XT CVT
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Next, I started work on the speaker baffles. I got the set of baffles from phenryiv1 here (thanks so much for your help!) and that saved me a lot of time and effort since I don’t necessarily have the tools or steady hand for cutting these out myself. I did modify them a little bit by gluing down foam sheets on both sides to create a better seal for the speaker and a little bit of decoupling.







Then using some Metra adapters for the stock speaker wiring, I installed the CDT’s in the rear doors.





Now on to the “amp rack”, I used a sheet of MDF that I cut down to size in order to fit into the underfloor foam storage space. Nothing too complicated or show worthy, but cheap and functional.
I got some motherboard standoffs to securely mount the MiniDSP to the board.





Then I continued on to wire up the MiniDSP, Cleansweep, as well as the amp and passive crossovers into the car.



And that’s where I stand right now. Waiting on a wiring harness for the stock head unit to come in from AE64.com, and then I’ll be able to install the components in the front doors and put in the Brahma. I also have sound deadening to do with the Raammat/Ensolite package I got, as well as some cheap MLV from home depot that I’ll try out. Then of course comes the tuning and retuning, and possible relocation of speakers. Hopefully, I’ll be able to get it all up and running this weekend.

Any comments and suggestions on the install will be appreciated as this is definitely a work in progress. Thanks for checking it out!
 

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2012 2.5X 4EAT
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908 Posts
Looks good! Have you considered using cable conduit to protect/clean up your wiring (Post 2)? It's cheap, makes your install very clean, and it protects your wiring.

Also, does the amp run pretty cool? Or do you have some sort of airflow planned for the amp rack? I'm not a pro by any means, but when I see that, I'd be worried about enclosing everything in a small area with no air or way of cooling.

Does the rack pull out pretty easy to access the spare and tools? Or are you kinda giving that up?

I love watching these builds. Please keep us updated!
 

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2000 Ford Focus Wagon 5 speed manual
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463 Posts
You've still got a Brahma? That's gotta be what, 10 years old minimum? Sweet!

Anyways, looks awesome, keep it up!
 

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2014 Forester Limited CVT
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252 Posts
Looking pretty sweet. I cant wait to see more on your progress with this.
I was going to tell you how much you will love the JL Audio HD 900/5 amp (I have one in my summer car) however after looking closer it appears as you already know this :)

Looks good so far. Can't wait to see more.

Nick
 

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2014 Forester XT CVT
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks for checking it out!
Schmee - I probably won't do conduit or techflex - I'm not going for competition and the wires are pretty secure as they are. I will be going back in and putting zip ties along them to keep them together so they aren't quite so loose. I didn't before as i was still working out the lengths of the wire that I needed as I routed them through.
As far as heat, in my previous experience with the amp, it runs pretty cool. I had it under the floor in the spare tire area there as well, and never ran into any heat issues. It's pretty efficient in it's power consumption and I rarely, if ever, run it full tilt. But the space in this car is a bit smaller, so hopefully it'll still have enough room to breathe a bit.
I still have access to the spare tire with the equipment installed. I won't be able to take the rack out unless I do a lot of disconnecting of wires, but I can lift it up and get the spare tire out if necessary. I'm going to look into some simple solutions to that though, either a simple rod to prop it up, or a hook that will attach to the top of the car so that I don't have to hold it up while trying to get the tire out.
And the Brahma.... yeah I've had that since it first came out (was an upgrade from the Shiva!) and I have always loved the way it sounded. Has great output when you want it, but the sound quality is amazing as well. I do feel bad that I'm only giving it 500w since it can easily handle another 500w in the enclosure size I have it in.
 

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2014 XT CVT
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Why not use the minidsp on the components?

Have you thought about using the minidsp to actively crossover the front component set? Seems like you might get the best sound by taking the passive crossover out of the equation and you can also take advantage of the timing features?

Funny to see an Adire mention, I was just considering whether it was worth driving the 13 hours to my parent's to pick up the Shiva I've had sitting there since 2002 or so.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
The drive might be worth it. I loved that sub, but the enclosure size didn't work out for me in the long run.

I did think about going full active on the fronts, but I'm going to give the passives a try first. They should be fine if I keep the woofer and tweeter together in the door, but if I decide to separate them, going active will probably be one of the next options, just use the crossover on the amp for the sub. Of course, if I do that, I may just put a 3 or 4" midrange in the dash locations and the tweeters on the A-Pillar. Since they'd be close together, that would get most of the audio spectrum coming from close to the same location. That would also mean getting another MiniDSP so everyone would have an output, and another amp......
I need to stop getting these ideas before I even finish with one install!
 

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03 Forester 2.5X 4 Speed Auto
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VERY clean. I can appreciate the work it takes to do an SQ install vs. just throwing speakers in. Good stuff man :)
 

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2014 XT CVT
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It actually did great in a cubic foot

What size box did you have it in? I had mine in a cubic foot box, it sounded really good, maybe not as much low low range but cabin gain, eq, and a lot of watts helped make up for the enclosure size.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I think I had it in a 2.5 cuft box? It was at least 2cuft. Just couldn't justify that in the trunk of my 95 legacy sedan anymore.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Quick update, I think I have all the parts needed to finish the install (except for deadening), and this weekend looks like it'll be perfect weather to be outside all day. Just wanted to update on the front components and how they look now that they are ready to be wired up and screwed in.
Here's the components mounted on the baffle



Here's what the rear looks like. Wasn't too impressed with the tweeter mounting options provided by Rainbow, but some back strap and screws should work out well.



I've added some thick weatherstripping to try and create a seal against the inner door panel. I'll have to see how this works since I'm not sure of the distance between the speaker and the inner panel.



And just another couple shots of how sad the stock rear speakers look.



 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Latest update, everything is in and running now. Still have a lot of tuning to do, but I think I've gotten the phasing correct for now. Sound is 1000X better than the stock, but stage height isn't quite where I want it, and the driver side speakers are a little muffled. I've raised the level of the tweeter on the crossover which has helped, but I'm getting some extra resonances on the driver side that I'm not hearing on the other. I'm sure that EQ will help that out a lot, but of course, I'm thinking about putting some 3" mids in the dash and the tweeters in the A-pillars. That would necessitate another amp of course, another speaker wire run, 0 awg power wire instead of the 4 awg in now, and cutting into the A-pillars...... It's barely in and I'm gonna redo it....
But on to some pics of where it stands now.

Brahma in it's enclosure


Installed in the trunk


Driver's side


Passenger's side
 

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Keep it up man good stuff! You build the box yourself? How'd you carpet it? I can't carpet to save my life
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Update to this build, I've decided to go further and install 3" mids (fountek FR89EX's) in the dash and put the tweeters in the A-Pillars. It will now be a fully active 4-way setup, and will have a 2nd amp installed (JL HD600/4), a 2nd MiniDSP, and while I'm at it, an Audiocontrol Matrix Plus Line Driver to boost the outputs from the MiniDSP to the amp. I'm getting hiss right now, and I'm thinking it's from having the gains up high since the MiniDSP puts out less than 1V on the RCA's. This weekend will have the lion's share of the work being done, but I've gotten a little bit done in the meantime.

First, I've put down a layer of CLD over the holes in the front doors. For the large holes, I cut out some aluminum mesh and put the CLD on top of it to stiffen it up.



I've also run another set of speaker wire up to the dash and mounted the mids. I had a bunch of carpet leftover from the sub enclosure from way back (the enclosure was originally built 7 years ago when I installed it in my 05 Legacy wagon), so I cut out some pads to put underneath the stock grilles to maybe absorb any sound reflections that might get caught in there.


 

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How do the full range mids sound?

I was very intrigued by those mids, the sensitivity seemed pretty low, however. How do they firing into the front windshield?

If you get a chance I would love to hear about how they sound without a tweeter, the response charts looked pretty good, would be interesting if they could pick up everything from midrange up.
 

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Next, I started work on the speaker baffles. I got the set of baffles from phenryiv1 here (thanks so much for your help!) and that saved me a lot of time and effort since I don’t necessarily have the tools or steady hand for cutting these out myself. I did modify them a little bit by gluing down foam sheets on both sides to create a better seal for the speaker and a little bit of decoupling.







Then using some Metra adapters for the stock speaker wiring, I installed the CDT’s in the rear doors.



Glad to help.
 
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