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Old 10-01-2012, 07:27 PM   #1
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Default CTS-V Audio System Rescue - why cheaper isn't always cheaper

Check out this installation blog to see the difference between a shop that knows how to hook up a stereo and a specialist that knows how to do the job right and make it sound great.


http://www.earmarkcaraudio.com/CTSV/CTSV.htm
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Old 10-01-2012, 07:56 PM   #2
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Cadillac CTS-V Audio System Rescue



This 2009 Cadillac CTS-V was brought to Earmark after the customer had a complete audio system and sound dampening installed by another local shop. Earmark technicians inspected the vehicle and we immediately discovered the installation was a mess and would need to be completely redone in order to satisfy the customer.

The customer complained that the audio system would make loud popping noises long after the stereo was turned off, the subwoofer was not centered in the enclosure/port, the "custom" tweeter installation looked terrible and the general cosmetic fit & finish of the installation was not acceptable.

A detailed explanation with photos will show the problems we found and what we did to solve them.



TWEETERS

First, the "custom" tweeter pods. The previous installer built in the tweeters using lots of bondo and left a very rough, uneven surface to the door frames which was simply spray painted black. Bondo is OK as a filler, but it has no structural integrity and will not adhere to molded plastic. The result was a rough, unfinished look that did not fit in with the refined interior of this Cadillac and would definitely not last very long before separating and cracking. Also, the driver and passenger side tweeters were not pointed in the same direction due to sloppy construction of the tweeter mounts.







Earmark rebuilt the tweeter mounts to be correctly aligned and recovered the entire door frames with black suede to match the interior of the vehicle.








DOORS

Next, the door speakers and sound dampening. The sound damening material had been applied randomly/haphazardly and was covering the power window motors and much of the factory wiring. It was not properly applied and was falling off the doors in many places.




Look carefully at the door speaker crossover. It appears to be mounted to the door.....




.....but when the sound dampening material is pulled back we discovered that the door speaker crossovers were not mounted at all!




The previous installer had mounted the crossovers to the sound dampening material ONLY with a piece of metal back brace and clips. This crossover would soon fall into the door cavity, scratching the window and damaging the crossover.




Here's another look at a door with the inner skin sound dampening material removed (it mostly fell off). Note the exposed wire connectors in the top left of the photo, these went to the tweeter. The speaker wiring was draped loosely in the door panel with crimped connectors exposed to the metallic backing of the sound dampening which sould easily cause a short in the speaker wire.

Also, the 3-layer wooden speaker baffle that adapted the speaker to the door was barely screwed together, but not glued together, and was only painted on the face. This baffle would not last and would soon be moisture damaged and come apart.




And a look at one of the rear doors, with sound dampening material placed randomly over factory wiring and power window motor.





Here's a shot of a door after Earmark technicians applied Blackhole Tile to the outer door skin and Hushmat to the inner door skin (the Hushmat is black, not silver, so it blends in on the black painted surface of the door). The Blackhole Tile is a coated water-resistant multi-layer high efficiency acoustical absorbtion pad applied in a "checkerboard" pattern to the outer door skin. The Hushmat, a sound deadening and absorbing material that also insulates against heat, is neatly applied to the inner door skin surfaces. These door speakers will show a noticable improvement in sound quality with this treatment, and the interior of the vehicle will be noticably quieter on the road.

Note the wiring - Earmark's speaker wires are soldered and heat shrunk and tied neatly to the factory wiring path. Also, the crossover is securely mounted to the door with a metal bracket that our technicians fabricated.




A closeup of the crossover mounting.




A closeup of the speaker wiring.




Earmark also added a set of speakers to the rear doors. Note that the crossovers are securely mounted directly to the door panel and all wiring is neatly run and connections are soldered and heat shrunk.




All 4 doors received Blackhole Tile to the outer door skin and Hushmat to the inner door skin.







SUBWOOFER ENCLOSURE

The subwoofer enclosure that was installed in the trunk took up a lot of trunk space and did not allow the customer access to the spare tire well which contains the emergency air pump in case of a flat tire. It was not possible to remove the tire well cover panel to access this storage area.

And now I'll let these photos of the subwoofer enclosure tell the story.....











Earmark fabricated a new enclosure of correct internal displacement that was wider and shallow enough to allow access into the spare tire well area.







The finished product is very clean and blends into the Cadillac trunk, giving no indication that there is a high end audio system hidden inside. The facade that covers the front edge of the amp rack has a plexiglas window backlit by white LED's to allow viewing of the amp rack, and the JL Audio and Cadillac logos were added to the window for an etched glass look when lit.







INTERFACE & AMPLIFIERS

The Cadillac CTS-V has a factory installed audio & navigation system with a motorized LCD monitor in the dash and audio controls integrated into the steering wheel and dash cluster. The customer understandably did not want to replace this system so he needed an interface device.

The previous shop installed an Audio Control LC6i interface, which Earmark replaced with an Audison BIT TEN D interface after cleaning up the wiring and returning the factory wiring to stock specifications. The previous shop had left factory control modules hanging by their wire harnesses, attached with sound dampening material or just shoved behind a carpeted panel. There were bare exposed wires, wires that had been cut and spliced many times, and just a general mess.



This was the mess we encountered when we removed the trunk panel to access the speaker wiring. The audio interface was hanging by a zip tie and was in close proximity to several factory modules, which could cause interference or noise in the audio system.





Earmark re-wired the audio system and properly mounted the Audison BIT TEN D interface to the amp rack, where it was away from any possible interference from the vehicle's electrical system. Note that all wires are neatly routed and secured with strain relief cable clamps.

The customer also upgraded to the new JL Audio V3 Slash amplifiers.







A factory neutral or "stealth" installation, at which Earmark excels, typically does not show all of the detailed work that goes into an involved, high quality installation. So what looks good on the surface can be ugly on the inside, and what looks simple on the outside can be very complex on the inside. This is why it's important to take your vehicle to a qualified specialist with a proven reputation for excellence.

And this doesn't even take into account how different an audio system can sound when the installation is done by a qualified expert as opposed to someone who just knows how to hook up the wires. At Earmark the job isn't considered finished when it's playing, we take the time to properly set up the gain structure of the system components, adjust the crossovers to suit the vehicle and equipment, and tune the system with select program material so that the end result is a system that not only looks great but also sounds great. That's why you bought the system in the first place, right?


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Old 10-03-2012, 03:21 PM   #3
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I just wanted to take a minute to thank Odin and Earmark for their flawless work. Man it was such a nightmare after seeing how the last "shop" hacked it up. Odin and his guys really did me right and took very good care of me. I'm EXTREMELY picky and look for flaws in anything that I buy/pay for. Needless to say I have zero complaints and I'm finally enjoying my car and what I paid for.

In the end I spent twice as much as what it would have cost to do it right the first time... I learned my lesson on this one big time. These guys that were refereed to me the first time oversold themselves and their work. They were just in way over their heads. I should have asked for more proof of their work.

Anyways, thanks again to Odin and Earmark. If anyone ever has any car audio, alarm or radar needs. I HIGHLY recommend Odin at Earmark in Plano.
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Old 10-03-2012, 08:40 PM   #4
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Good God, I would have freaked out seeing that mess. What a nightmare.
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Old 10-04-2012, 08:18 AM   #5
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Since I also try to take my paint protection installations to the next level of quality, I agree and appreciate that you guys take quality seriously! Good job, and keep it up!
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Old 10-04-2012, 08:22 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Invisibra_Norm View Post
Since I also try to take my paint protection installations to the next level of quality, I agree and appreciate that you guys take quality seriously! Good job, and keep it up!
Thanks Norm. I've seen your work and its obvious that you're a perfectionist. I like that, there aren't enough skilled trades people dedicated to getting every little detail right, and the ones who do really stand out.
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Old 10-04-2012, 01:18 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RAC3ME View Post
I just wanted to take a minute to thank Odin and Earmark for their flawless work. Man it was such a nightmare after seeing how the last "shop" hacked it up. Odin and his guys really did me right and took very good care of me. I'm EXTREMELY picky and look for flaws in anything that I buy/pay for. Needless to say I have zero complaints and I'm finally enjoying my car and what I paid for.

In the end I spent twice as much as what it would have cost to do it right the first time... I learned my lesson on this one big time. These guys that were refereed to me the first time oversold themselves and their work. They were just in way over their heads. I should have asked for more proof of their work.

Anyways, thanks again to Odin and Earmark. If anyone ever has any car audio, alarm or radar needs. I HIGHLY recommend Odin at Earmark in Plano.
wow I am sorry to see that happen to you man. I saw the pics and thought to myself I would never have done that installing it myself and I have only installed 5 or 6 stereos in my lifetime.

I honestly only pay to have someone do a better job than I would personally and its good to see examples like earmark's work on your V.

How is the final product? Does it blow your ears out? I find myself needing the stereo up at 90% volume when the windows are down on the highway to hear the music in my V. I still have a set of Boston Pro components in storage that I was saving for another SUV.
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Old 10-04-2012, 09:40 PM   #8
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I must chime in and say that the first job was total sh!t. I'm glad you found someone that is a true craftsman and believes in doing the job right! I'm a perfectionist at heart. (For those that have used my services they already know this.) It give me great satisfaction to see others take the same approach to their work. (Norm, you know I consider you in this category and Odin I'm glad to add you and your crew at Earmark to my list of businesses I will both recommend and use myself.)

Al, I'm really glad to see that your V is now rocking a killer sound system that is installed properly!
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Old 03-19-2013, 09:30 PM   #9
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The brackets/wiring on the first job is offensive! More often than not the age old adage that you get what you pay for holds true. Nice work.

Now please find me an all in one head unit that replaces all the orange on my dash!!
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Old 03-19-2013, 10:54 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Flakedsvt View Post
The brackets/wiring on the first job is offensive! More often than not the age old adage that you get what you pay for holds true. Nice work.

Now please find me an all in one head unit that replaces all the orange on my dash!!
Most of the better aftermarket head units have selectable illumination, so you should be able to get a really close, if not perfect, match to the BMW orange. The illumination is typically for the controls, obviously the LCD screen itself remains in full color (some are more subdued than others).
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Old 03-20-2013, 10:40 PM   #11
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Thanks - I'll have to stop by to look at my options...
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Old 03-21-2013, 12:14 AM   #12
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Earmark FTW. Love working with these guys.
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Old 03-21-2013, 01:03 AM   #13
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Thanks Scott! I'll be calling you next week to get that Radar Mirror for the Tesla Model S, he's doing it.
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Old 11-16-2013, 11:02 AM   #14
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Much better this go around! It looks like the first install was done by a 16 year old in his parents garage

Might have to swing by Earmark sometime and get a head unit installed.
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Old 11-16-2013, 01:13 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LinxuSx View Post
Much better this go around! It looks like the first install was done by a 16 year old in his parents garage

Might have to swing by Earmark sometime and get a head unit installed.

Bring it by, I'm sure we can get you a system that can be heard above that cam and headers LOL. Or just upgrade the head unit, if you're looking to get something with more features. The Kenwood double-din units look really nice in the C6, they look like they belong there. And they offer a huge improvement over the factory head unit.
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Old 01-12-2014, 12:39 PM   #16
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Incredible work! Quality before and after pictures showing and explaining the issues and why they need to be addressed by a PRO.
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