I completed the switch over from HAT speakers to the Critical Mass series. I am really impressed with this speaker lineup. I am using the best speaker in their 3.5” size, the RS3. Of the three speakers I have impressive. However, for me this hobby is really about testing, trying, breaking, modifying and tossing in the occasional oh ****, for good or bad.
I am using the RS69 thin speaker for the front doors and the RS6 for the rear doors. All these speakers feature carbon fiber cones and integrated high end tweeters. As I posted previously, one of the tests I wanted to perform was changing the front door crossover ranges to see if these speakers can improve the center stage and stereo separation. The HAT U69 speakers were running as a midbass with a bandpass crossover set at 50-315Hz. I tried the C.mass at this frequency range first. It provided a really nice midbass response. Super crisp and clean. However, I would say that the U69 pushed more air and was louder. The issue I had with the U69 is that it tended to overexert. I think the cone would hit the speaker grill and on very bass heavy songs it would rattle and sound poor. I really think I could have modified the adapter plates to move them further backwards, but I am not going to keep them. I really like the design of the RS69 thin speakers. These are shallow and stay away from the glass. The U69s also cleared, but they were much closer to touching the glass. The other benefit of the RS6 is that they produce great midbass without overextending and they actually add to the imaging and staging in this car. I ended up running the crossover as a bandpass from 80-16kHz. This is the best sounding front stage vehicle I have ever built. I am truly a fan of these speakers. The C.mass amps are sitting at the UPS store awaiting my pickup and it is killing me. I hope to install those this weekend to replace the JL Audio amps.
As I installed the C.mass speakers I added foam sound deadener to the outer door skins to further enhance the deep bass sounds in the doors. I also swapped out the poorly made wood speaker adapters with some plastic adapters. Here are the photos:
C.Mass Install-1: This is the front door adapter plate. These are made by Metra for Toyotas and Lexus model 82-8146. These fit the Forester perfectly and I was able to use the factory screw receptacles.
C.Mass Install-2: C.mass RS69 thin mount speaker. Beautiful front cone and very large integrated tweeter.
C.Mass Install-3: Back side of the RS69, which use a steel basket and neodymium magnets. A big improvement over the plastic baskets and traditional magnets on the Unity speakers. I thought these would be fine, but when mounting the plastic speakers, they tend to crack when tightening.
C.Mass Install-4: I cut the foam to fit several sections of the outer door panel and used 3M spray adhesive on the backside of the foam. Then I attached the foam to the panel. I did not cover the entire panel, but I would say I cover 60% in the front doors and 50% in the rear doors. I concentrated on the sections right behind the speakers. It really worked well at providing more sound quality and less door vibration heard from outside the vehicle.
C.Mass Install-5: Speaker installed with plastic adapters. I wanted to add a layer of foam to the outer ring of the speaker, like the factory speakers so that the foam would prevent vibrations when the door panel is installed. However, these barely fit and the door panels firmly touch the speaker outer ring. I do not get any vibration and the speaker does not touch the grills on deep bass notes like the U69s. I will keep monitoring this as I may make some changes in the future.
C.Mass Install-6: I installed foam in the rear doors and a little more Dynamat around the speaker mounts.
C.Mass Install-7: I used plastic adapters for the rear doors as well. These were sold as fitting the Subaru Impreza, Baja and Legacy. The mount locations looked right in the photos, but they do not line-up with the factory mounting receptacles. In general these were too small. So, to mount these I had to screw into the door panel metal, and these barely fit. I will likely go back and use Dynamat over the top of these or try to replace them.
C.Mass Install-8: After mounting the speakers to the plastic adapters I was able to add foam to prevent the vibration between the speaker and the door grill.
C.Mass Install-9: Here is a comparison of the RS3 thin speaker and the RS3 models. The RS3 has a larger tweeter and uses a combination of neo and standard magnets.
C.Mass Install-10: There is a height difference between these two speakers. The RS3 just barely fit on the passenger side. I did have to use a dremel to shave a little plastic tab in order to get the magnet to clear and enable the speaker to sit flush on the dash ring.
C.Mass Install-11: Backside view. RS3 thin mount uses neo magnets and RS3 uses both neo and traditional magnets.
C.Mass Install-13: What I really like about the RS3 speaker is that the mounting locations match perfectly with the Forester. The U69 and the RS3 thin mount speakers did not fit and I had to anchor the speakers awkwardly to the ring, but finding a good location was a challenge because the dash opening is not symmetrical.
C.Mass Install-14: Once everything was trimmed and ready, I stuffed fiberfill into the dash area. Which this is not necessary, I do run these speakers with a HP of 315Hz and they will produce some decent cone movement. The dash area underneath the speaker is not sealed. You can actually see all the way down to the floorboard. So, I added the fiberfill.
C.Mass Install-15: Mounted. Looks great.
C.Mass Install-16: The dash speaker grill fits, but it did rub on the tweeter grill, so I used the dremel to shave this down just a tad and it fits perfectly. No appearance changes to the grill when in place.