A repeat client from Baltimore, Maryland, came to WSS Westminster Speed & Sound with his brand-new 2015 Dodge Challenger Scat Pack 392. If you are not familiar with this Challenger model, it takes many of the performance functions from the SRT8 model, such as the 485 horsepower 6.4L engine and upgraded brakes and suspension, but you have to feast your eyes on the Shaker hood. It is a functional cold-air intake system that moves when you punch the accelerator since the hood scoop is directly bolted to the engine, not the hood.
Our last build for this client was a blue 2012 Challenger audio system. One of our guys went out to the new vehicle with him so they could look it over together, listen to the current audio system, and explore options for improving the sound quality and output of the system. We spent significant time on listening as he explained his thoughts about upgrades for this vehicle. He explained to us that he wanted to have a significantly better audio system this time around, so we knew we had our work cut out for us. We drafted our proposal for the audio upgrades, and he loved it, so we made an installation appointment.
Feature-Packed OEM Radio
This Challenger came with the 8.4” U-Connect touchscreen display with integrated navigation, a backup camera, satellite radio and more. There was no need to upgrade the existing system in the dash – it worked quite well. When it came to the sound, though, everything changed. It had no real output capability, getting grainy-sounding at any higher volume levels. Even at lower volumes, the sound was anemic and lifeless, even though this vehicle had the premium sound system with an upgraded amplifier and six speakers.
Challenger Factory Amplifier Proves To Be A Challenge
We knew we wanted to keep the factory stereo system in the dash, which meant keeping the factory amplifier intact. Dodge designs its newer audio systems with much of the control over the music happening inside the amplifier, so it needs to stay in the system for everything to work properly. Unfortunately, in trying to get the inexpensive speakers to sound better, Dodge also adds a large amount of equalization to the music. They also divide the music up into two signal paths: low frequencies and mid-high frequencies. In simple terms, this means the musical signal coming out of the Dodge amplifier has been modified, and we had to clean up the signal to get the new car’s audio system to sound good.
Audison Processor Helps To Tame The Factory Challenger Audio System
This is where the Audison Bit 10D processor comes in. It allows us to take the divided-up musical signal and get it back to a full-range signal. It also allows us to strip out the equalization that Dodge adds to the music. Now we have a full-range, unmodified musical signal just like the recording engineer originally made it. At this point, we have a good starting point as the base for our system.
Rear Speaker Retention Keeps Factory Safety Features
For this Challenger audio system, we decided to keep the factory rear speakers intact and let them play off the factory amplifier. We did this for a number of reasons. First, rear speakers don’t add anything to the music, since music in a car has two channels. It is not a home theater system. Second, keeping the rear speakers means the audible beeps from the rear parking sensors will still work. Under normal conditions, the client will simply have the sound faded to the front. Should he ever have a reason to want sound in the rear, he simply starts fading the sound rearward.
5 Channels Of Audio Will Have This Challenger Rocking!
This client likes listening to classic rock and heavy metal, and wants to recreate a live-concert experience on occasion. What this meant to us was lots of power along with speakers with lots of dynamic capability. The Bit10D gives us five discrete output channels – two for the front tweeters, two for the front woofers and a subwoofer channel.
Precisely Angled Audiofrog Tweeters
In the front, Westminster Speed & Sound chose Audiofrog component speakers. We installed the GB15 1.5” tweeters underneath the factory grilles in the dash on custom mounts. The factory paper tweeters were aimed straight up at the windshield, which is a bad idea. Since we were building custom mounts for the new tweeters, we were able to aim them up and in. If you can imagine placing your finger at the top of the windshield in the center of the headliner, that is where the tweeters are now aimed. Doing this eliminates some of the reflection experienced by firing sound right at the windshield, and gives the listener better imaging, which is the ability to place the different elements in the music.
Midrange Duties Handled By Audiofrog 6.5″ Speakers
We installed Audiofrog GB60 6.5” woofers in the factory locations in the doors on custom, composite mounts and applied Hushmat damping material to the doors to quiet the interior and eliminate the possibility of the door panel rattling or buzzing. We placed closed cell foam rings in front of the woofers, sealing them to the door panels, resulting in better mid-bass performance.
Great Output And Stealth Fit
In the rear of the vehicle, we installed a JL Audio Stealthbox in the driver’s-side rear cubbyhole to give the low-end bass performance the client needed. We like the Stealthboxes for a number of reasons. First, they fit perfectly and look factory-installed. Second, they are made of well-built fiberglass composites. Lastly, they include a JL Audio 12W3v3 12” subwoofer, which is legendary for sound quality coupled with great output.
Hushmat Maximizes System Potential
We applied Hushmat damping material to the whole trunk and rear deck lid of the Challenger to eliminate the possibility of rattling from the increased bass response of the subwoofer. If you have ever been around a vehicle with great sub-bass and heard it rattling, you know that is annoying. Even more important, the noise caused by the rattling will hurt the sound quality of the music, so we knew the trunk had to be quiet.
Plenty Of Power From Audison Amplifier
When it came time to power the system, we went back to Audison and chose the AV5.1K. It is an incredible-sounding amplifier, providing 1,000 watts of clean power to the subwoofer, 280 watts of power to the woofers and 140 watts of power to the tweeters. Having this kind of power reserve means the client will have almost limitless amounts of output. Our installers built a custom amp rack that fit perfectly behind the rear seat, color-matched to the factory trunk liner. An acrylic window lets people see this beautiful amplifier. We also installed blued LED backlighting to give it a lovely glow that matches the exterior paint.
Expert Tuning From The WSS Pros
Where the rubber meets the road in a good-quality car audio system is the tuning. The team at Westminster Speed & Sound has decades of experience in this area, so we went right to work once the installation part was done. Since the Bit10D processor gives us dedicated channels for every speaker, we were able to tune each of the five speakers in the vehicle individually. This included crossover points, crossover slope, output levels, digital time delay and 31 bands of equalization for each and every speaker. When you take a processor like the Bit10D and put it in the hands of a qualified tuner, the results can be extraordinary.
Control Over Two Listening Modes Via DRC
To take the final product to the next level, we installed a master controller for the processor – called a DRC – in the center console, aimed at the driver. It allows our client to adjust the amount of bass in the music, plus pick from two different tunes. We gave him a sound quality tune designed for lower listening levels, where he is looking to extract every last ounce of sound quality from the music. This is the studio tune, designed so you can close your eyes and “see” the music in front of you, played out across the dash. The second tune is the concert-level version. This is designed for when he wants to jam. We changed the crossover frequencies and output levels to give the client an experience that will rival the volume levels of any live concert.
Final Check Ensures Quality
Once our team was satisfied with the sound quality and the fit and finish, we did our final check-out of the vehicle. We do this for every project to make sure everything is working perfectly in the vehicle before it is delivered to the client.
Grinning Client Makes Our Day
As you can imagine, we were excited to see the expression on the client’s face when he picked up his Challenger. As we walked him around the vehicle, he loved how we kept everything looking as if it was factory-installed. When we cranked up the sound system for the first time, he grinned and said, “It surely sounds a lot better than my last Challenger.” That made our day, considering the last one was a great-sounding car.
When you decide you want to improve the audio system in your vehicle, we invite you to contact us HERE at Westminster Speed & Sound. Let’s set up an audio consultation where you stop by with your vehicle and meet with one of our team members who will work one on one with you to design and build the audio system that best fits your unique needs. It would be our honor to show you why Mobile Electronics magazine consistently names us one of the Top Retailers in the Nation year after year.