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Discussion Starter #181
Yeah, me too.

For audio sound quality, the front doors made the biggest difference. The 6x9s push a lot of air. The doors had a lot of vibration and this would make the door rattle on the outside. I did the most sound deadening work to the doors, front a little more than the rear. I applied Dynamat to the outer door panels, then added another full layer to the inner panel with full coverage over the openings, then I added acoustic foam to the outer panels. There are no vibrations at all from outside the car and the sound quality is amazing.

For reduction of road noise, the floor install made the most difference. The second best was the addition of the roof and rear cargo area. I would put the hood next and last would be the fender panels. The rear fenders were worth doing to improve both road and sound quality with the subwoofer. The front fenders did not make any noticable difference, but sound cool and dead when you tap on them, so it was really just to complete the project.

Here is my recommended short-list of preferences for audio (first priority) and road noise (second priority)
Front Doors
Rear Doors
Floor boards
Cargo area with fenders
Roof
Hood
Rear Gate
Front fenders
 

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Hi Sdcerreta,

Could you kindly start a new thread but this time specific to maintenance and operation. Something like: my-2019-subaru-forester-maint & ops.

Here members can talk about maintenance and operation issues specific to their 2019 Subaru Forester if the Admin folks will allow it. Thanks, Marty
 

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Hey Scott,

I am curious if you or your audio installers provided any options for an easy speaker swap that is more plug and play. I am leaning towards changing out the speakers to get a cleaner audio while installing sound damping material. I would love to keep the functionality of the audio controls intact though.

Appreciate the helpl! This thread has been greatly helpful.
 

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Discussion Starter #185
Hi Kxc262,

My system retains all the standard functions, steering wheel controls, balance and fader options. Nothing was compromised from factory. The Fosgate remote controller adds control for the sub volume and punch levels. I used to have it set to control the main volume, but I always left it at max and used the radio knob or SW control, so I opted to change the function of the remote. Now I have full control over all the options offered by the Fosgate DSP.

I never explored a simple speaker upgrade, as I always intended to add in amps and go the full monty, but I did do a little testing along the way.

First off, I think it is important for you to share which audio package you have? These are all different and my experience is only in testing the HK upgrade package.

What I noticed early on when I added the U3 speakers and also the C.Mass RS3.5 speakers one at a time and compared it to the stock HK dash speaker is that the sensitivity of the HK speaker is really high. The volume with the RS3.5 and U3 was about half the volume. Sound quality was better, but there was simply not enough power from the amplifier to drive these speakers at a similar volume.

I believe the other stereo packages probably still used very high sensitivity speakers.

With this in mind, I think there are two considerations. 1. If you want to do a simple speaker upgrade, then you need to find a good quality speaker set that offers the same sensitivity as your stock speakers. I would also recommend changing one at a time so you can hear the difference in volume and sound quality before you commit. This may actually require a little trial and error, which means you need to buy from a good source that will let you try or return the unwanted speakers. Many of the reputable online stereo shops offer a decent return policy. 2. Commit to a full stereo upgrade with an OEM integration device like those offered by Fosgate or Audio Control or other similar products. Obviously this cost will skyrocket and it is not for everybody.

I think the best bang for your buck for a non HK system is to purchase the Fosgate Upgrade package which is built specifically for this car. You can get this new for about $350. Then buy a nice set of 3.5" dash speakers with a high sensitivity level and spend about $100 for the set. You will want a coaxial here. This will give you an awesome sound minus the sub, which is where all the fun is at. :) The Infinity REF-3022cfx looks like a potential good match.

For reference the C.Mass RS3.5 has a sensitivity of 87dB. The U3 has a sensitivity similar to the RS3.5, but I could not find the spec on their website. I would estimate based on my listening that the HK dash speaker has a sensitivity around 91dB or so.

If you are adventurous, I think you can add the stock HK sub with the correct panel for about $425, which is pretty killer considering that it is plug and play and will look factory. You will need to run a small amp if you add a subwoofer though.
 

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Discussion Starter #187
Cool. In that case I think you should go with direct speaker replacement. If you can figure out and match the sensitivity of the HK speakers you should be all set. You have an amp and sub. So you can likely get a nice improvement in sound quality without spending too much. I think this system is the hardest to upgrade of all the audio packages.

When I started my project, I thought I could just pull the HK amp and replace it, but it carries too many of the other essential functions. So you will need a high end OEM integration processor and amps. You really can't do this for less than 2k.

If you go this simple route, please share your findings. I think many people could benefit from your system and it is much more practical than mine.
 

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Have you found a good way to wire from the engine bay to the cabin? Installing Baja squadrons and want to do it the best way. Not using stock fog light connectors as I want independent control so I can run my lights independently of the highbeams.
 

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Discussion Starter #189
Have you found a good way to wire from the engine bay to the cabin? Installing Baja squadrons and want to do it the best way. Not using stock fog light connectors as I want independent control so I can run my lights independently of the highbeams.
There are several entry points through grommets. My shop placed two 8 gauge power wires through these grommets with no trouble. Just make a small slit. Plenty of room to share with the other wires coming into the cabin area.

I am planning on doing a whole rewire for the audio power and ground cables. But, I am hoping to punch in under the seats rather than run the cables through the cabin. More details to follow and install will be on Monday, I hope.
 

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Discussion Starter #190
I am going to work on a power wire upgrade on Monday. In discussion with Critical Mass personnel they highly recommend an upgrade for these power hungry class A/B amps to stay cool and perform well.

The current power configuration is a 4 gauge power wire to a 150amp circuit breaker then two 8 gauge power wires running about 8 feet each through the cabin firewall and under each seat. There is a short eight inch 4 gauge ground wire running to the grounding bolt on the front raised section under each seat. This location was already being used on each side, so I added the amp ground wire to this location and grinded off some paint to improve the grounding point.

According to C.Mass they say the chassis ground does not work very well in modern cars and they strongly recommend grounding at the battery terminal. They also suggest 300 amps, no less and 0 gauge cable as far as possible then change to 4 gauge for each amp connection.

So I did some research and going to go with Stinger cables and connectors. I have Stinger parts already in use plus Stinger RCA cables. I also learned that it is best to upgrade the "Big 3" as many people call it. They even sell kits called the big three. The Big 3 requires an upgrade of three essential cables under the hood to maximize performance and decrease power draws that often result in headlamp dimming and flickering. These components are the 1. power cable from alternator to + battery terminal, 2. Ground cable from engine to chassis and 3. Ground cable from - batt terminal to chassis. All the parts arrived, but I am out of town for a sprint triathalon this weekend in Vegas so I should be able to do the install on Monday. I also bought a monster hydraulic crimper that can crimp connectors to this massive 0 gauge wire. Yay!


Configuration Challenges: (This may change)
There are several challenges ahead, mostly with the Big 3 upgrade. The battery terminals are specialized and have non-standard connectors. So this will require some rework of the existing cables and terminal ends. Also, the negative terminal has some sort of relay or isolator. So, I am not exactly sure what to do here, but I am thinking to cut the batt connector end off, bend the metal straight, drill a hole through the metal and mount this to the chassis ground. The other major challenge is the power cable from alternator to + batt terminal. In the middle of this cable there is some sort of relay or isolator. The batt connector is also non-standard so I would have to lop it off.

After first inspection, I thought I would just avoid the Big 3 upgrade. But, I love challenges and modz, so I found a reasonable work-around . . . in theory. So, for the power wire I decided to leave the standard (appears to be 4 gauge) power cable in place and I will run an additional 4 gauge power wire along side it. Hopefully, this will work and whatever that thing in the middle of the stock cable will be happy and continue doing its job and not send any signals to the computer saying that it is unhappy. For the engine to chassis connection, the stock solution is a 3/4" flat strap. There are pros/cons for straps vs. cables so I decided to leave the strap in place and I would run a 4 gauge cable in addition to this strap. The third upgrade is the negative batt terminal to chassis connection. The stock solution is an 8 gauge straight wire. This is a no-brainer. I will replace this with a 0 gauge ground wire to the stock chassis location and perform a little more paint grinding to improve the connection followed by painting with clear coat to protect that point from rust.

Configuration Parts and Plans:
Positive Battery Terminal – Stinger SPT55301. One of the reasons I chose this battery terminal is for its size. Many terminals are so big, that you cannot clamp on jumper cables or a battery charge. So, I really like this versatile, compact design. Input has 4 gauge, 8 gauge and ring terminal. I will use an SPT5201 ring terminal junction that accepts two 0 gauge inputs.
Plan: 4 gauge x 2 from alternator into ring terminal. 0 gauge wire from ring terminal to circuit breaker. Other holes will be used for factory wires.

Negative Battery Terminal – Stinger SPT55301. Input has 4 gauge, 8 gauge and ring terminal. I will use an SPT5201 ring terminal junction that accepts two 0 gauge inputs.
Plan: 0 gauge wire from ring terminal to chassis ground. 0 gauge wire from ring terminal to distribution block located on firewall before tucking under the undercarriage. Other holes will be used for factory wires.

Stinger 300 amp circuit breaker - SGP0300. This will be mounted on driver side shock tower. 0 gauge in from battery and 0 gauge out to distribution block located on firewall before tucking under the undercarriage.

Distribution Blocks - SHD20. I will be using two. One for power and one for ground. This accepts one 0 gauge input and has two 4 gauge outputs. It will be mounted low on the firewall. The plan is to run the power wires out and under the car where it will punch into the interior through a factory grommet location under the seats where each amp is located. This is the plan and is very subject to change once I get under the car. The nice thing about running wire under the car is to prevent running chunky cables under the carpet where they can be seen and hard to hide. The other advantage is that these wires should be protected by the plastic shielding under the car. In case of wreck, I would rather have a fire under the car then inside the car, so not too worried about power wires on the underside if I can provide reasonable protection for them.

Power Cables – Stinger Pro Oxygen Free Copper (OFC). I will be using a mix of 0 gauge and 4 gauge cables in Blue for power and Black for ground. All cables will be protected by black braided wire loom and a series of Stinger fastening clips will keep the power and ground wires running parallel through their route.
 

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Discussion Starter #191
The power wire install has been completed. As usual, things went well, but not as originally planned. I was hoping to run the power cables under the car then poke through the floor under the seats. I pulled the Front and Mid skid plates along with the two front plastic panels from under the car. These plastic panels are straight forward. There are 8 pop fasteners and 4 bolts for each side. Once I got a good look at the under carriage I realized that there was not a good place to mount the distribution blocks. Furthermore, the undercarriage grommets were sealed with a protective coating and the metal is double layer.

So, I scrapped that plan and after another look I found a great entry point into the interior. In fact, I really don't know why the local shop sliced into a boot when they could have used this grommet right next to it. For anyone out there looking for a good entry point, I would highly recommend this one. It was perfect for two 0 gauge cables. I'm sure you can run smaller stuff through this with no problem.

This install took me all day, but it came out very nice. Here are the photos and details.

Power Wire Install-1: I started off the project with the engine compartment wiring. The Big 3 went as planned. I left the factory cable in place at the alternator and added a 4 gauge cable that went directly to the battery. I cut off the factory zip ties and stacked the new cable on top and zip tied it together. Plenty of clearance for the engine cover.

Power Wire Install-2: All cables were covered in braided wire loom to give a stealth appearance and provide a little more protection. Each end of the loom was treated with cloth electrical tape to prevent the loom ends from going wild. You can see the 300amp Stinger circuit breaker here. I decided not to lop off the stock connectors. If I did, the wires would likely be too short, so I kept the ends and made some modz. I cut off the tabs so the terminals ends were flat.

Power Wire Install-4: The Stinger pos batt terminal is quite small and I like it. Getting ready to install the new 4 gauge cable from the alternator and the 12 gauge wire from the Hell Horns in the batt terminal.

Power Wire Install-5: Then the top terminal post will hold the two cables and the Double 0 gauge connector will be on top. Since I did not lop off the stock terminal ends, I no longer needed the double connector. So, I bought a single 0 gauge and it should be here in a week or so.

Power Wire Install-6: The negative battery terminal was tricky. I did as planned and lopped off the neg battery terminal, while retaining the relay (or whatever that thing is). I then flattened a small piece of that terminal and drilled a hole through it. I did not have a good place to mount it, so I put it right back on top of the Stinger negative batter terminal.

Power Wire Install-7: All the cables are in place, looms are on and taped and battery has been connected. A quick car check and everything working at this stage.

Power Wire Install-9: Here is a look at the cable routing around the fuse block and pos/neg cables were segregated. The second step of the Big 3 was to upgrade the neg battery to chassis wire. Stock was a wimpy 8 gauge. I used a short 12" section of 0 gauge, sanded paint from the stock bolt location and mounted this ground wire. Sprayed clear coat to protect the bare metal.

Power Wire Install-10: Here is a look at the passenger side undercarriage. Both Front and Mid skid plates and the front plastic panels have been removed. The undercarriage is all double walled and sealed, so I decided not to drill through this section under the seats to run the cables.

Power Wire Install-11: Driver side view.

Power Wire Install-12: Here is the factory ground strap. A short 8" section. This is step three of the Big 3 upgrade. I kept the factory strap and added a 4 gauge cable to upgrade this section. I needed the front skid plate off to do this work. So, removing all the under paneling was not completely wasted.

Power Wire Install-13: This is the engine to chassis cable. I wanted to detail this work as I used the same method to treat all the cables in this project. Here you can see the 4 gauge cable with both ends crimped. I used a hydraulic crimper with changeable crimp plates to do this work. It was pretty easy and fast. All connections are rock solid.

Power Wire Install-14: Here you can see that the braided loom is in place and one end has a crimped connection with boot. The other end has the crimped connector, but the loom needs to be trimmed back and taped. Then the booth will go on last.

Power Wire Install-15: Here is the finished cable. Most of the other cable runs do not have crimp connectors, but all ends are taped before inserting into a set screw terminal.

Power Wire Install-16: Here you can see the stock strap and upgraded 4 gauge cable are in place. This is located on the passenger side bottom of engine.

Power Wire Install-17: Here you can see where the local shop cut into a boot and ran two 8 gauge cables for the amps. If you look to the right you can see a nice big opening into the interior space. I have the grommet removed in this photo. This is a perfect spot to run cables. It is up high on the firewall and about 4 inches above the carpet line and right next to the steering linkage and gas pedal mount.

Power Wire Install-18: Here is the stock grommet.

Power Wire Install-19: I used a 1/2" drill bit to cut two nice holes into the grommet.

Power Wire Install-20: On the interior side, I lifted a flap of the firewall protector to see the nice big hole from this grommet. This opening was precut. I did nothing here except pull the flap bag to expose the engine compartment for the photo.

Power Wire Install-21: When checking fit, it is perfect. A nice tight connection to prevent water from entering the interior space.

Power Wire Install-22: Here is a look at the cable routing and the cable through the grommet.

Power Wire Install-24: Here is the cable coming into the interior. The grommet is nice and big. This cable is chunky and even with two 0 gauge cables, the grommet has a little room for another smaller wire or two.

Power Wire Install-26: The two cables have been run through the grommet and the excess was pulled through. Nice and clean looking.

Power Wire Install-27: About 4 ft of cable has come into the interior. The ground cable was a bit longer. The plan now is to run this cable through the center console area. Since the ground cable is longer I will route this on the passenger side and the positive cable will be on the driver side of the console.

Power Wire Install-28: Since the engine compartment is done, I replaced all the underside skid plates and panels. I also put the engine cover back in place. Everything looks nice and tidy and stealth.

Power Wire Install-30: Here is a look at the 0 gauge cables coming into the center console area. The ground cable cannot be seen, but it is on the passenger side under the carpet. There is plenty of height clearance to run these chunky cables.

Power Wire Install-31: Here you can see the distribution block location. There is a flap of carpet here that is tucked under. There is just enough clearance to fit under the AC duct. These blocks are pretty much under the center console storage box. I used self tapping sheet metal screws to anchor the block.

Power Wire Install-32: I was really pleased on how nice this turned out. Everything fit perfectly. I was a little scared that the console pieces would hit something, but nope. All was good. Here you can see the cable routing. One pair of pos/neg cables will go to each amp. I used 3 feet for each cable and did a little trimming at the amps for the perfect fit. You can also see a wire keeper in the middle which is screwed in with self-tapping screw.

Power Wire Install-33: The carpet flap is back into position and covers one of the blocks. The AC duct is also in position.

Power Wire Install-34: Wires trimmed and prepped. This is the driver side amp which powers the dash and front door speakers.

Power Wire Install-35: This is the passenger side amp which powers the rear door speakers and the subwoofer.

Power Wire Install-36: Both amps have been wired. I did a quick check and everything is golden. Woohoo.

Power Wire Install-37: Here is the final photo. Of course everything is hidden under the center console, but here is a photo of all the pieces back in place. You can barely tell that there is anything under the console at all, once the AC ducts and the carpet flap are in position.


This concludes the power cable upgrade. I have not had much time to test the sound system, but I used to have a little electrical hum under the hood, but it is gone now. No turn on/off pops and everything sounds great!
 

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Hi Scott,

Your audio install is looking great!

I've been trying to deal with a Starlink problem since my install was done. I have the red error light on my Starlink console on, and I get an email notification that I "may have an error with Starlink services". The console should, I believe, have a green light lit up. If you care to have a look at my thread it's here.

The guy at Subaru service checked the error, and 2 errors appear which are due to a problem with telematics, on the L & R audio circuit. He says the external amp is likely causing a different voltage and/or load than it expects, hence the error. Now that you have your external amp(s) installed, I'm interested to know if your Starlink console is still OK (green light on?).

My installer thinks the problem might actually just be that he incorrectly re-connected, or swapped, 2 similar looking cables on the back of the head unit. I don't think this is the case because we both looked at the connections, and compared them to the photos he took when he was pulling the HU. But his photos may not be 100% clear, and I'm hoping to see if you can help. Do you have photos of the head unit connectors when you pulled it? If so can you check something for me? Let me know, and then I'll try to ask what it is I'm looking to confirm.

Thanks!
Bob
 

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Discussion Starter #193
Hi Bob,

I never really paid attention before, but I have the red light on. I did notice this a long time ago when first installing the amp, but did not give it much attention. I never fully removed the HU. I just pulled it out enough to see how it fit into the space, but the wires were tight and I did not remove it fully, sorry.

Let me know if you find a solution for the Starlink. I will try my programmer tmo and reset it to see if the light converts to green.
 

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So you have the red light on too, that is very helpful to know. Since you didn't disconnect your head unit, this Starlink error must be caused by the external amp. Which means that my HU connections are probably OK.

I'm tot sure what programmer tmo is - are you able to connect a program to view the errors and clear them? Is that something that is available?
 

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Discussion Starter #195
Hi Bob,

tmo is tomorrow. Sorry for the shorthand.

The programmer I have is a simple OBD programmer that can read error codes. It showed no errors.

The service manual shows an advanced data connection for the Subaru techs to troubleshoot the entire car electronics. That is the screenshot you took in your thread. Its the Diagnotic Trouble Codes (DTC).

So, I am really at a loss here. The red light is concerning, but I don't really know what would fix it at this stage for me as the problem is likely occuring from the HK amp harness and not the harness on the HU.

So, I am curious to learn your progress as it may lead to a solution for me as well.

Have you considered buying the harness that Lou suggested?
 

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Discussion Starter #196
It has been awhile since I have posted an update.

I have returned the CMass 8" sub, since the voicecoils were bad. I was told about a new speaker they have. It irritates me that CMass has a very cryptic way of marketing and showcasing their products. Nonetheless, I am a sucker for the exotic and rare. It seems they have an 8" model that was custom made for a few applications. It appears that it has been installed in about 10 vehicles and that is it. The deimensions are similar to the SS82 sub, that I first tried but has even more cone excursion. It looks to have twice the excusion, VMAX, as the model I was using.

I am trying to get some specs for this model, but for now it is most closely related to the famous UL12. So, I am calling it the UL8 for now.

So, the UL8 is on order and should arrive by week's end I hope. I do have a few photos to share.
 

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Discussion Starter #197
I've also been gearing up for summer and want to explore some offroads near Tuba City. The roads are notorious for deep sand. So, I picked up some recovery gear; an air jack, TRED Pro recovery ramps, auto tire deflators, snatch strap, receiver tow hook and a Smittybilt air compressor. Not all the gear has arrived yet, but here are a few photos.

Looking forward to getting stuck. :nerd:
 

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Hi Bob,

tmo is tomorrow. Sorry for the shorthand.

The programmer I have is a simple OBD programmer that can read error codes. It showed no errors.

The service manual shows an advanced data connection for the Subaru techs to troubleshoot the entire car electronics. That is the screenshot you took in your thread. Its the Diagnotic Trouble Codes (DTC).

So, I am really at a loss here. The red light is concerning, but I don't really know what would fix it at this stage for me as the problem is likely occuring from the HK amp harness and not the harness on the HU.

So, I am curious to learn your progress as it may lead to a solution for me as well.

Have you considered buying the harness that Lou suggested?
Hi Scott,

As for the harness Lou suggested - I guess I don't understand how a different harness would apply to me? Nothing was changed out on the back of my head unit. My installer spliced into the existing speaker wires to send speaker level audio to the new amp and then back to the new speakers.

My guy did say something about we could try adding a 'load' to the connection just after the output of the HU, before the amp input, and this might fool the HU into seeing the levels it expects. Basically, simulating the load of a speaker, rather than the amp. Not sure of what actual component he's referring to though.

I'll keep you posted on any progress.

Regards,
Bob
 

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I have heard two school of thoughts concerning Dynamat and any sound deadening material. Is it best to cover any and all possible surfaces? Or should one go in with an audio meter of sorts and cover only the problem areas. I can only imagine how much overall weight it adds to the Forester already. That would be my concern.

Love all these write ups! Thanks for all the info!
Measurements have shown that after applying butyl deadening sheets to ~25% of the sheet metal most resonance(90-95%???) is gone and at that point your money should go to a layer of closed cell foam under a layer of mass loaded vinyl. The foam decouples the mass loaded vinyl from the sheet metal that has been deadened by the butyl. The butyl dampening purveyors are never going to tell you that and will keep pushing that if it isn't as dead as lead when you knock on it add more. But, like all things for audiophiles(and other hobbies) thousand$ and ten$ of thousand$ are spent chasing that last 10% of performance improvement. Last summer we took my older kid's Jeep JKU down to tub and put in the butyl tiles, closed cell foam, and mass loaded vinyl. It is the quietest Jeep around. As to the weight question mass loaded vinyl weighs a 1lb/sqft. We likely added over a 100lbs to the curb weight of her Wrangler.

As an afflicted audiophile that was around the industry a couple of decades ago, I can tell you most people are never going to hear all the differences Sdc's system makes without a fair amount of audio experience, going to the lengths of sound dampening measures he went to, then sitting at a stop light when there is no wind noise either, and turn the HVAC blower off to hear the clarity, details, and imaging his system is capable of producing.

I'm already mentally spending thousands to mod a vehicle I don't own yet thanks to this thread.

Big thanks to Sdcerreta for his detailed documentation of his mods.
 

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Is there not edit function here?

I was going to add that my daughter can no longer take off her Jeep doors on her own due to the added weight.
 
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