Sound Decision

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I have been meaning to complete the audio system for the last few years.  The Nakamichi head unit has been flawless and the Hertz component system has been smooth and a dream to listen to…I just need MORE POWER!  So I have been doing tins of research and while my last audio build was probably a $5000+ system, I wanted to be a lot more modest with this build.  So I chose the Soundstream Tarantula Nano series 5 channel amp.  Whats great about this amp is its a Class D all digital amp that has a high clean power output with very low noise and very little power drain.  It also has a very small footprint and generates almost no heat.  Whats not to like right?  Oh and the price was probably about 1/5 the price of my last amp, the Audison 6.9.  Would it sound as good?  No.  I am sure of that, but that was in a newer Porsche Carrera, with modern insulation and a relatively quiet cabin.  The 2002 is loud.  Vintage.  No AC, so the windows are always down, and on nice days the roof is open.  So do I need the supreme audio quality?  No.  This is part 3 of my audio system.  Part 1 was the Nakamichi head unit.  Part 2, the Hertz components.  This will be part 3 the amp install, and the last part will be the Subwoofer to round out the system.

 

Amp configuration.

This is a 5 channel amp and since I am running front speakers and a subwoofer I only need 3 channels.  This will allow me to bridge the component speakers and run a clean 230 watts to them.  They are rated at 250 watts so thats a perfect match.  The sub will then get a clean 300 wats from the 5th channel.  All controllable from the head unit.  Nice!

 

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Initial impressions

Well its a beautiful little amp.  The size is small for a high power amp, but its solid.  Like an aluminum brick.  Its got a very nice milled aluminum look, like a Retina MacBook Pro.  Sexy.  Its got TONS of switches and pots on the side of the inputs.  This is because of the active crossovers this unit has.  High and low pass filters on the front 4 channels and a low pass filter for the subwoofer channel.  It also has 2 channel or 4 channel inputs, separate sub inputs and a subwoofer volume remote that can be mounted up front to control just the sub volume.  On the other side are the power connections as well as the speaker outputs.  Nice layout and there is a nice overhang so all the wiring will be concealed once mounted.  My mounting location will be under the rear seat on the drivers side.  The subwoofer will be under the rear seat on the passengers side.

Installation

This was very straightforward.  I bought a wiring kit and ran the wire into the engine bay, wired a fused, to the battery and ran things under the carpet for a no wire install.  I ran all the power wires down one side of the car and ran all the audio wires down the other side of the car so there would be no interference.  I ran 6 channels of RCA outputs from the head unit.  The 4 front channels and the subwoofer channels.  In no time all wires were run and it was time to turn the power on and test it.

 

Turned the key….lights!

Ok…good sign…turn the volume up slowly and no sound….

Uh Oh.

Turn it up a bit more…it was nearly all the way up and now I am beginning to hear it just barely…wait.  Its no louder than the head unit alone!  No way.  Then I realize there is an adjustable gain.  Turn up the input gain and then there is this nice, warm, clean sound….YES!  The tarantula on the top of the amp lights up in blue and there is a blue power LED on the side.  Very cool, except in my car this will be hidden.  No one will ever see this…lol. Oh well.

 

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The sound.  One word.  WOW!

I put on some Steely Dan, turned up the volume and the music literally jumped out of the Hertz component speakers.  Turned the bass up and wow.  Those speakers were happy and the sound was impressive.  Loud, clear, and zero distortion.  I quickly played everything from Jay Z to the Beastie Boys to Jamiroquai to Sade to Esthero.  All clear and crisp with full low end.  This was with virtually zero tuning and the gain not really set.  It was also in 5 channel mode.  The amp is rated at 85 watts per channel in 5 cannel mode. Tomorrow I plan on setting the gain and trying it in bridged mode.  This will put 230 watts to the speakers.  What I also noticed was before the amp install when I turned the radio up the lights dimmed, the radio display blinked and the gauges jumped.  After the amp install, even when cranked up there was none of that.  Sees this amp has very little power drain for the power its putting out.  Nice!

I drove around for about an hour after the install.  Listening to various things.  I noticed that the cars exhaust, which before was too loud, was now just right!  I can hear it just over the audio system…perfect!  The car is now nearly perfect for road trips…..

 

Next step is to do some tuning, then add the sub.  Stay tuned!

 

 

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